Toronto Raptors fans are eyeing the trade deadline with as much interest as they are the next few games on the schedule. With Scottie Barnes establishing himself as a star in the making and the core currently unable to mold themselves into a winner, a trade could finally be in the works.
Pascal Siakam and OG Anunoby have dominated trade discussions amid their impending free agencies, and the team’s poor 12-18 might give Masai Ujiri the kick in the rear end he needs to realize the roster as currently constructed is not going to win much if anything.
The Raptors have been linked to deals with both Western Conference contenders like the Sacramento Kings as well as playoff hopefully in the East like the Indiana Pacers and Atlanta Hawks who need one more big name that can help set themselves apart.
No matter who the Raptors end up making a deal with, the starting lineup will be quite different after the deadline comes and goes. Ujiri can set Toronto up for long-term success if he makes prudent trades that improve the spacing and overall offensive creativity in their starting units.
The ideal Toronto Raptors starting lineup after the 2024 trade deadline
Center: Jakob Poeltl
When you're getting paid just under $20 million for the next four seasons, you're going to be in the starting lineup. While Poeltl has drawn the ire of vocal segments of this fanbase for his inconsistency this season, the best nights the 7-1 big man puts on the floor make his contract look like an underpay.
While he does clog up the paint due to his lack of offensive skill, the fact he's a great finisher in the interior has helped Toronto get some tough points during offensive droughts. His defensive potential and skill as a screener are apparent, and his best basketball is still very firmly in the windshield.
The Toronto Raptors should dream of trading for Keegan Murray.
Power Forward: Keegan Murray
The Kings don't seem overly willing to part ways with Murray right now, and the Raptors' advances for the former No. 4 overall pick were turned down in the past, but the dream scenario still consists of Monte McNair's steely resolve eventually whittling away and Murray ending up in a Raptors uniform.
Murray brings first-rate shooting ability with a higher offensive ceiling than most of the players picked in his class. While he isn't a finished product quite yet on the defensive end, getting Murray for a player in Siakam who could hit free agency after the deadline would be a gigantic victory of seismic proportions.