Neither Jonas Valanciunas nor Serge Ibaka came off the bench for the Raptors once during the 2017/18 season, with Ibaka serving as the club’s full-time starting four while Valaciunas started at the five. However, the Raptors still aren’t sold on the Valanciunas/Ibaka pairing in their frontcourt, since they believe both players are most effective as centers, team sources tell Josh Lewenberg of TSN.ca.
Lewenberg reiterates what has been reported several times since the end of the season, indicating that no one on the Raptors’ roster is untouchable in trade talks this offseason. So both Ibaka and Valanciunas could find themselves on the block in the coming days or weeks.
Of the two, the Raptors would likely prefer to move on from Ibaka, who has the more expensive contract and is coming off a disappointing postseason. Ibaka, who struggled with consistency from beyond the arc and on the defensive end, will earn $21.67MM in 2018/19 and $23.27MM in 2019/20.
Valanciunas, on the other hand, was once considered the Raptors’ most obvious trade candidate, but he expanded his game in 2017/18, playing improved defense and even flashing a three-point shot — the veteran center knocked down 30 threes last year after having made one in his first five seasons. He’s also slightly more affordable, with a $16.54MM cap hit in 2018/19 and a $17.62MM player option for 2019/20.
While there’s no guarantee that either player is traded this summer, the Raptors will be looking to cut costs somewhere in order to re-sign Fred VanVleet without going deep into luxury-tax territory, and youngsters Pascal Siakam and Jakob Poeltl could be ready to handle more minutes up front.
Ibaka and Valanciunas are the third- and fourth-highest-paid players on the roster, making them prime trade candidates if Toronto is reluctant to move star guards Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan. Norman Powell and C.J. Miles could also be trade chips.