Why Raptors trade for Ochai Agbaji and Kelly Olynyk actually makes a lot of sense

Masai Ujiri made a solid move here.

Utah Jazz v Milwaukee Bucks
Utah Jazz v Milwaukee Bucks / Patrick McDermott/GettyImages
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The Toronto Raptors did not wait long to get some sort of deal hammered out on Trade Deadline Day. Masai Ujiri flipped a very late 2024 first-round pick projected to be in the late 20s, along with Kira Lewis Jr. and Otto Porter Jr, to the Utah Jazz for center Kelly Olynyk and guard Ochai Agbaji without giving up Bruce Brown.

Social media had fun ripping the Raptors for this trade, apparently unwilling to realize that giving away the least favorable of their three first-round picks in a weak 2024 NBA Draft is not the same as what they did to acquire Jakob Poeltl last year.

While Olynyk, who will be slotted in as the team's new backup center behind Jakob Poeltl, might be the name with more pedigree, this trade is all about Agbaji. Toronto under Ujiri has made a habit of giving former top draft picks a second chance, and Agbaji is next in line.

Agbaji has had a weird season in Utah. His 3-point percentage hasn't been what they expected, his overall scoring has dipped, and he has been in and out of the starting lineup. However, there are flashes of the star from his Kansas days. Getting his jumper back on track should help a strong athlete with quality defensive skills thrive in Toronto.

The Toronto Raptors made a solid trade to get Ochai Agbaji, Kelly Olynyk

Essentially, the Raptors are gambling on the notion that the next 2.5 years of Agbaji in Toronto will give the team more to shout about than whomever they could pick in the late 20s with the OKC selection. Still just 23 years old, Agbaji is worth giving an extended look in the rotation this year and the next.

While the starting lineup will largely remain unchanged, the idea of a second unit led by two former Kansas Jayhawks in Agbaji and Gradey Dick could have some long-term success if both of them keep nailing 3-pointers.

As for Olynyk, Michael Grange of Sportsnet hinted that Toronto made this trade with the intention of signing him to be their backup center in 2024. Given his height, supreme passing ability, and efficiency both inside and outside the arc, he looks like an ideal fit for what coach Darko Rajakovic wants to do offensively.

In exchange for a pick that would likely be used on a developmental player who would spend more time in Mississauga than Toronto next season, the Raptors solved their backup center problem and added a quality two-way guard who could blossom after being given a second chance. Not a bad deal by Ujiri.

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