The current owners of the fourth-seed in the Eastern Conference, there’s every reason to believe the Raptors will be active buyers at the trade deadline. But who will team president Masai Ujiri and GM Jeff Weltman target? As things currently stand, the Raptors will enter the second half with their 2015/16 rotation in place, sans Bismack Biyombo.
DeMar DeRozan has been vocal in his push for Toronto’s front office to acquire help; telling Laura Armstrong of the Toronto Star “help is a great word with any team. Anybody could take help any day if it makes you better, a team better, anything.” DeMarre Carroll echoed DeRozan’s sentiments, noting that the team’s starting unit has been stretched thin amid a playoff run.
One form of help (albeit a flashy one) could come in the form of Serge Ibaka. This past week, Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders indicated the Raptors as a potential “long-term fit” for Ibaka’s services. Ibaka’s in the final year of a four-year, $49MM contract, but the Magic’s asking price is believed to be high. Provided Dwane Casey and the Raptors don’t need to sell off rotation players to acquire him, Ibaka would be a considerable upgrade over Patrick Patterson and Pascal Siakam in Toronto’s frontcourt.
Josh Lewenberg of TSN doubled-down on the team’s need to pursue a trade, citing the team’s recent struggles (Toronto has gone 4-6 over their last 10 games). While the team had offseason acquisition Jared Sullinger tabbed for a starting role, the former Celtic is still working to get in shape after suffering a fractured right foot in October. The Raptors have long admired Paul Millsap‘s game, Lewenberg writes, but the Hawks appear unlikely to deal him amidst their pursuit of a four-seed.
Ryan Wolstat of the National Post cited Ibaka and Millsap as ideal fits, while throwing Taj Gibson, Trevor Booker, and Wilson Chandler in the mix as potential trade targets. While Booker isn’t a “sexy name,” compared to Ibaka or Millsap, he has quietly enjoyed a productive for the 9-44 Nets. Averaging 10 points with 8.7 rebounds, the 29-year-old Booker is in the first year of a two-year, $18.375MM pact. Booker’s “doggedness,” on each end of the court is a trait the Raptors could use, Wolstat notes.
What do you think? Which target makes the most sense for Ujiri and Weltman to pursue? What’s Toronto’s ceiling for a 2016/17 playoff run?