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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Should the Raptors make this deal?

There are a few different angles to consider with a trade of this nature. The first is the actual value of the trade itself. In this deal, the Toronto Raptors would be taking on all $16.1 million of Tim Hardaway Jr.'s salary, as well as gaining the player himself, and receiving three second-round picks in return.

One pick is the 58th and final pick in this year's draft, likely simply a sprinkling of leverage to get a preferred two-way player. The second is Toronto's own pick in 2025, which could easily be one of the 5-10 best second-round picks in a much stronger draft. Finally, Dallas owns Miami's 2028 second, a pick that has a lot of variance but certainly has some upside to be in the top half of the round.

It's important to remember that this deal isn't simply about taking on $16.1 million in salary for three seconds, as while Hardaway is overpaid he isn't overpaid by all that much. The Raptors could also benefit from a player with his skillset, playing opposite RJ Barrett in the rotation and giving Toronto both shooting and bench shot creation. Taking on Hardaway is more about three second-round picks to pay a $12 million player around $16.1 million.

The other angle that the Raptors need to look at is the opportunity cost. Is there something better that that can do with that salary space, be that re-signing Gary Trent Jr. or another player? It's not obvious which player is a better one to have on this roster moving forward between Hardaway and Trent, so in that scenario, it's probably better to take the picks and have the salary slot open up next summer. Perhaps a better player lurks in free agency, but that player doesn't come with a trio of picks, either.

Making this deal would allow the Raptors to simply stay above the salary cap, keeping Bruce Brown with the hopes of trading him and using the full Mid-Level Exception and Bi-Annual Exception to pursue another forward and a backup point guard. The Raptors can also hope that Hardaway has a strong start to the season and then flip him to a contender looking for bench scoring at the deadline.

This is not a slam dunk trade, and there may be a better move out there. If this comes on the table, however, the Raptors should give strong consideration to the move and further add to their collection of draft assets with which to build the best long-term team.

Grade: B+

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