Raptors could find Christian Koloko upgrade in Pacers trade target

TORONTO, ON - OCTOBER 2: Masai Ujiri President of the Toronto Raptors (Photo by Mark Blinch/Getty Images)
TORONTO, ON - OCTOBER 2: Masai Ujiri President of the Toronto Raptors (Photo by Mark Blinch/Getty Images) /

The Toronto Raptors came into the 2023-24 season with big expectations for second-year big man Christian Koloko, but a mysterious respiratory condition has left him sidelined for the first chunk of games. Could Indiana Pacers big man Daniel Theis be the solution to the Raptors’ woes?

With Koloko sidelined, Darko Rajakovic has tried to alternate between Precious Achiuwa and Chris Boucher as he tries to find a viable backup behind Jakob Poeltl. It will surprise no one to learn that neither of them has been able to provide a convincing facsimile of Poeltl’s low-post game.

Theis is garnering some trade interest, with the Los Angeles Clippers in hot pursuit. If Theis, who was a Raptors target once upon a time, is truly out there to be had, Masai Ujiri would do well to get on the phone with Indiana and see what the going rate for him is.

If the Raptors want to acquire a proven veteran defender and rebounder that won’t demand the ball and isn’t going to cost an arm and a leg, Theis could be the guy. Of course, the Raptors will need to sustain their winning ways for Toronto actually to move forward in that direction.

Could the Toronto Raptors trade for Daniel Theis?

Theis has barely gotten on the floor for Indiana in the last few years, but he has built a fairly solid career for himself as a backup rotational big, primarily with the Celtics. Theis averaged 8.2 points and 4.9 rebounds per game in 2021-22, the last time he was a regular rotational presence.

Theis may not have Koloko’s height, but what he does have is the same rebounding and interior defense Toronto has prioritized. While he lacks the energy of Chris Boucher and athleticism of Precious Achiuwa, Theis provides more interior muscle than the former and less wild inconsistency than the latter.

Theis and Raptors point guard Dennis Schroder already have some established chemistry, as the pair suited up together for the German national team at the FIBA World Cup. Theis averaged 10.9 points and 5.4 rebounds per game on 59% shooting alongside Schroder for the gold medal winners.

A low-risk addition who could help a bench that is crying out for consistency add a veteran presence with an abundance of rebounding and post defense skills left in the tank, Theis could be an ideal Raptor if Masai Ujiri has the foresight to get a deal done.