The Toronto Raptors surprised many around the NBA by winning 48 games last year, but this team hasn’t been as much of a pain to play against during the 2022-23 campaign. Masai Ujiri and his team currently stand at 13-13 with losses to the Magic, Pacers, and Thunder on the ledger.
The Raptors have been viewed by many as a team that could make some trade noise if things start to stagnate. With Pascal Siakam likely to earn a very expensive new contract and multiple key players potentially hitting the free-agent market, there’s motivation to get a deal done.
Toronto is a roster that is clearly lacking in several key areas, as they have one of the league’s worst half-court offenses despite having Siakam on the floor and are weighed down by a defense that is wildly inconsistent. A few more months of this play may break Ujiri.
According to ESPN’s Zach Lowe (ESPN+ required), rival executives are reportedly preparing for “fireworks” out of Toronto if they are around .500 by the time the deadline comes around. If that’s the case, no one except Siakam should feel comfortable about their position.
Toronto Raptors rumors: Will Masai Ujiri make big trades?
Gary Trent Jr. has been the subject of many trade rumors in the last few months, as teams like the Warriors are reportedly eyeing him. Given the fact that he can opt out of the last year of his contract and his defense has declined, the Raptors may decide to move him before his price tag gets too high.
The Raptors could move Juancho Hernangomez and Otto Porter Jr. once December 15 passes. Toronto is still extremely unlikely to trade Scottie Barnes, but his slight regression this season has likely made Ujiri more receptive to discussing him in a trade than he was a few months ago.
Even with his struggles, Barnes and Siakam are probably the two players who are off limits. While Toronto would obviously like to keep Fred VanVleet, the idea of paying him a ton of money might not be as appealing to a team that is clearly pivoting to a Siakam-led attack.
With a need for more offense in the half-court and perimeter shooting, the Raptors may need to give this roster a serious system shock to keep pace with the rest of the conference. That could come via an earth-shattering trade, as Ujiri is not one to settle for being in the middle of the conference.