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Raptors as Sellers, Part 1: Trade Returns for Fred VanVleet and Gary Trent Jr.

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It’s easy to look at the Raptors’ position in the standings, the number of contenders in the league, and conclude that the Raptors would be better served to punt this season. From a value proposition, that’s probably correct. A lot more teams than usual can make a legitimate case that they can make deep playoff runs this year, and the Raptors, ranked 11th in the East entering the second half, are clearly a level below the top five. conference teams, to say nothing. of the five additional teams between those contenders and the Raptors. Even a 26-15 second half would probably keep them cruising in the Play-In Tournament.

The Raptors, if they decide to make some of their best players available, would have some of the most desirable targets in what is looking more and more like a seller’s market. Tournament Play-In has made it harder for teams to pack it into February, while the four truly horrible teams in the league (Houston, San Antonio, Detroit, and Charlotte) aren’t loaded with talented players looking to trade who could play important roles in good teams. If the Raptors made Pascal Siakam available, he’d be the best player on the market, depending on how you feel about Bradley Beal and DeMar DeRozan. OG Anunoby would be the best 3 wing and D. Fred VanVleet and Gary Trent Jr. could start or fill massive roles as third guards for a contender. No other team that is a potential seller could offer so much to a good team.

However, what would it be like to be a salesperson? Either an intentional one-year step back (not unlike the Tampa Tank) or a complete overhaul (trading of Siakam and two or three of the other players mentioned) leading to a multi-year rebuild around Scottie Barnes and future picks. lottery game, it’s helpful to know what pieces you might get to speed up any of the processes.

I don’t expect the Raptors to trade any of the four players until the end of January. With that being said, I thought this would be a useful exercise in understanding what the market could generate.

One note: These aren’t all the trades he’d make if he were in charge of the Raptors. I tried to err on the side of asking for more rather than less in hypothetical trades, but the idea is to give you an idea of ​​what the potential returns for the Raptors’ center pieces might look like. (And, more importantly, this should help show what is unreasonable to expect.) Similarly, my colleagues who helped me here are looking at these trades in a sort of vacuum rather than judging them based on the totality of the market.

We’ll start today with VanVleet and Trent, as they are in similar contractual situations. (Unlike Trent, VanVleet could still sign an extension with the Raptors before this offseason.) We’ll get to Anunoby and Siakam tomorrow, trades that would require a philosophical switch from the Raptors (and get more in return).

Fred VanVleet

(VanVleet is making $21.25 million this season and has a $22.82 million player option for 2023-24.)

VanVleet means a lot to the Raptors, on the field and culturally. It’s important to try to break away from the second half to a degree, but not completely: Leadership is important to any team, and VanVleet carries a lot of weight within the organization.

If you’re the Raptors, you have to look ahead to their free agency and know how much you’re willing to invest in VanVleet’s 30 years. The Raptors lost Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green in 2019 free agency because they were trying to keep a championship team together, and they lost Marc Gasol and Serge Ibaka the next offseason in part because they were trying to keep cap space to chase. Giannis Antetokounmpo in free form. agency in 2021. (Antetokounmpo signed an extension with the Bucks soon after.)

There is no such concern with this kit. They’re not a championship contender, and the front office isn’t trying to create salary-cap space right now. While not having VanVleet on the books could help create cap space in the long run, moving him wouldn’t help them add players in free agency any time soon, at least not by itself. Prior to this streak, Masai Ujiri was known for holding onto his players, even at sub-optimal salary, so as not to lose them for nothing.

Even in a year of abysmal shooting, VanVleet continues to have a positive impact on the Raptors. To trade him, the Raptors would probably want multiple quality, cost-controllable assets (young players or picks), or just one great one.

For Magic: VanVleet and Khem Birch (two years, $13.65 million remaining)
To the Raptors: Cole Anthony (2 years, $9.15 million remaining, likely RFA in 2024), Mo Bamba (2 years, $20.6 million), Terrence Ross (1 year, $11.5 million) and a top pick 2023 round protected top 8

The magic view: This has to be a no for the Magic. Orlando is not a destination for free agency, and the way the Magic will get through this rebuild is through good drafts and trades for a top free agent under contract. VanVleet is primary, but will likely exercise that player’s option. The Magic can’t risk a pick, even a protected one, when the commodity they’re trading for isn’t a sure thing. — joe vardon

To the Lakers: VanVleet
To the Raptors: Patrick Beverley (one year, $13 million), Kendrick Nunn (one year, $5.25 million), Max Christie (two years, $2.74 million, RFA in 2024) and a 2027 first-round pick

Lakers’ opinion: Yes. I think VanVleet’s (relatively) offseason, particularly as a 3-point shooter, would give the Lakers pause. They need shot and size/length on the perimeter and in the attacking zone. VanVleet clearly doesn’t address the latter need, but he could address the former if he returns to the shooting standards of his career. He still scores well in all-in-one metrics anyway, and I think the talent upgrade (in terms of actual rotation pieces, it’s basically Beverley for VanVleet) is big enough for the Lakers to say yes to the offer. — jovan buha

To Mavericks: VanVleet
To the Raptors: Josh Green (two years, $7.86 million), Davis Bertans (three years, $49 million, including player option for 2024-25) and a 2025 first-round pick

The Mavericks’ opinion: Dallas isn’t expected to trade first-round picks or a young player like Green in any situation this season; the front office understands that their ammunition needs to be saved for a major move in the next year or two. This is not the kind of deal that would tempt them. VanVleet would help the Mavericks, but he doesn’t fit his timeline and doesn’t offer the defensive upgrade they want for their 23rd-ranked defense, according to — tim cato

Gary Trent Jr. (Mark Blinch/Getty Images)

Gary Trent Jr.

(Trent is making $17.51 ​​million this year and has an $18.56 million player option for 2023-24.)

Trent will be 24 this offseason compared to VanVleet’s 29, which theoretically should make him more attractive on the free agent market — and more attractive to the Raptors. However, he’s not as complete a player as VanVleet and has a less impressive resume.

Given the rarity of the Raptors’ past three seasons, it’s still hard to judge whether Trent would work better as a starter or sixth man on a good team. He has a limited track record as a productive starter on a good team, but he clearly has the skill set to be a good scoring-minded guard in the NBA. He has already shown it.

The league craves a little more size and defensive flexibility from its starting wings. However, Trent has improved since his early days with the Raptors, especially on teams that place a high value on creating turnovers, and he has room to grow. Trent could help some of the scoring-deficient contenders, and as with VanVleet, any team that acquires him also gets the rights to him as a Bird to help retain him in free agency.

To the Knicks: Trent
To the Raptors: Derrick Rose (one year, $14.52 million, plus team option for 2023-24), Immanuel Quickley (two years, $6.49 million, RFA in 2024), Mavericks/Knicks’ worst first-round pick in 2023

The Knicks’ opinion: I don’t see the Knicks doing this, especially with the way Quickley is starting to turn him on. He has become the New York team’s best defender on the perimeter. Trent is a quality scorer and shooter. He can get hot. But I’m not sure that’s what the Knicks need, especially considering there’s a chance he could end up on a lease if he decides not to take their player option this summer. Quickley, on the other hand, still has a rookie contract for the next year and a half. — fred katz

To the Clippers: Trent
To Raptors: Terance Mann (three years, $23.9 million), Luke Kennard (two years, $28.51 million, plus team option for 2024-25), 2028 first-round pick

The Clippers’ opinion: Trent’s arrival in Los Angeles would be hilarious after he was traded to the Raptors for 2019 NBA champion and reigning Clipper Norman Powell. At 6-foot-5, Trent would give LA the kind of defender who forces live turnovers, the weakness of a strong Clippers defense. Trent is a decent 3-point shooter and a strong finisher. But this is too much for a player who can become a free agent in 2023. Mann is a valuable multi-tool who just became the starting point guard whose extension takes effect next year, while Kennard is the better shooter. in the team. The Clippers shouldn’t waste first-round picks when they’re already paying Oklahoma City for the Paul George trade, either. — murray law

To the Lakers: Trent and Juancho Hernangómez (one year, $1.84 million)
To the Raptors: Beverley, Nunn, Christie and a top-8 protected first-round pick in 2027

Lakers’ opinion:
Maybe. I think the Lakers will probably do this, depending on what else is out there. But I bet they’d either refuse to include Christie, who they’re high on for the long haul, or fight to have the 2027 pick protected by the lottery. Trent Jr. would improve his 3-point shooting, perimeter defense and overall offensive firepower, but he’s still on the smaller side among small forwards. They need someone else in the 6-foot-7 to 6-foot-9 range. (Author’s note: It’s too bad the Raptors don’t have any of those guys.) I think they’d prefer VanVleet alone, given his All-Star pedigree, or a bigger deal as the next trade. — buha

let’s get wild

To the Lakers: VanVleet, Trent and Chris Boucher (three years, $35.25 million)
To the Raptors: Russell Westbrook (one year, $47.06 million), Christie, 2027 and 2029 first-round picks

Lakers’ opinion: Yes. I think this trade checks multiple boxes for the Lakers, bringing in an All-Star-caliber talent (VanVleet) while adding 3-point shooting (Trent Jr.) and size/length up front (Boucher). They’re turning Westbrook into two good starters and a big, solid bench. Two first-round picks is a steep price, obviously, but if you were considering that package for Myles Turner and Buddy Hield, I think this deal has a similar impact. — buha

(Top photo: Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)

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