Some names have been thrown around in recent days that have made us stop and take notice, even if nothing is imminent. Even if such speculative trades never materialize or even come close, it still says something about the Toronto Raptors and GM Masai Ujiri’s frame of mind. It would be nice if these rumors have more than just entertainment value; if it could tell us about where the team hopes to upgrade or shed weight could give us a glimpse into a future that still is more fluid than anyone would like.
We’ve heard about Rajon Rondo to the Raptors; we’ve heard about Jeff Teague or Kenneth Faried. Just a week ago the word around the league was that Kyle Lowry was not going to be made available and the Knicks, who were interested in his services again, had to look elsewhere.
But then there was news of Rondo, which certainly came out of left field. The reports were that the Raptors would “love” to add Rondo, but he steadfastly stated that he would not re-sign in Toronto if he were traded there. Given their asking price, which apparently is a ton, presumably Lowry and much more, there is no absolutely reason to do such a deal. It does, though, give us something of a barometer for which to view these options as the Raptors continue to win and have control over a weak division.
Assuming that Rondo would have cost Lowry and multiple first-round picks, it is sure that this option never gained an ounce of steam. Even if he had given an indication that re-signing in Toronto was a possibility, it would have been a significant risk. We’re not sure that we could trust Rondo on a young, evolving team. His demeanor would have been a curious fit, although it’s not out of the question that the maturity that Lowry has shown in Toronto could rub off on Rondo. The situation is obviously moot now, but it does speak to the issue that for the right “guy,” Ujiri could abandon whatever plan he is currently formulating and change course. We’re not speculating here, but we do get the impression that he is willing to let moves come to him and adapt instead of the other way around.
We’ll admit we would be intrigued by a Jeff Teague deal. Right now the Knicks are after him as their Lowry consolation point guard, but a three team deal which could net Teague and a first round pick, the reported asking price, would be a green light for us. I don’t see a deal more lucrative than the current one being floated which would only net them Teague for Lowry and the Hawks getting Iman Shumpert. If somehow, though, they could coerce a future first round pick, they should do that and feel great about it. We really like Teague.
There are other deals being thrown around, including one where the Raptors get Faried. As much as we like his blue collar, overachieving game, Patrick Patterson has been everything we hoped he would be and more. We don’t see Faried as an upgrade in the frontcourt.
Yesterday, Masai Ujiri did an interview on Sirius XM radio and said, “You have to have a vision and build something sustainable. It has to be gradual. Patience is key.” No one ever knows what to make of statements from the GM. We learned our lesson from trying to decipher years of David Kahn’s trying to outsmart everyone in the room, only to fail as real GM’s looked on and laughed. Granted, Ujiri’s statement is probably just some stock statement that summarizes his overriding philosophy, but if we were simply trying to take a broad view of the context here, it appears that this is still a major work in progress for him. We’re not saying that’s bad in this case, by no means is this team a finished product, but we hope he realizes that the ingredients he has now is, as a base, a recipe for sustainability.