Grade the Trade: Raptors take on famous son to help West contender in new pitch

The Toronto Raptors could use their cap space to facillitate deals among better teams this summer. Does this deal move the needle for the Raptors?
Chris Boucher, Toronto Raptors and Tim Hardaway Jr., Dallas Mavericks
Chris Boucher, Toronto Raptors and Tim Hardaway Jr., Dallas Mavericks / Tim Heitman/GettyImages
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The Toronto Raptors are a long ways away from the Conference Finals.

In terms of years they are not impossibly removed. The Minnesota Timberwolves and Indiana Pacers made the Conference Finals this season without a single NBA championship to their name, and the Wolves had not reached that point since 2004 during Kevin Garnett's best run with the franchise. The Raptors made it as recently as 2019, when Pascal Siakam -- now on the Pacers -- helped them win the franchise's first championship.

To get back to that point, the Raptors will need to make savvy signings and trades to build a roster than can compete at the highest levels. That may mean using their cap space this summer not to sign a win-now player, but rather to take one on via trade in order to facillitate a better team getting even better. Such a service by Toronto will be paid in draft capital, a valuable asset to have, even if it also means the ignominy of acting like a "rebuilding" team.

Well, that's what the Raptors are, and the more they lean into that reality the better chance they have of building a collection of assets that will equip them to make the same kinds of "win-now" moves down the road.

Can the Raptors swallow their pride and make a "win-then" trade?

Enter the Dallas Mavericks, a team that made a surprise run to the Western Conference Finals with an ensemble cast around Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving. They may continue winning, knocking off the Minnesota Timberwolves and triumphing in the NBA Finals. More likely, their unexpected run will taper off at some point, and they will go home without the ultimate prize.

That would put the Mavericks in a very different place this summer, with a core in place ready to compete at the highest levels and a need for the right kinds of role players to elevate them to the top of the mountain. Could the Toronto Raptors help them get there? Let's look at an offseason plan for the Mavericks proposed online and how the Raptors could take part in a four-team whirlwind.