NBA Trade Deadline: Toronto Raptors Fail To Make A Move

Sep 29, 2014; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Raptors general manager Masai Ujiri during a media interview at Raptors Media Day at The Real Sports Bar Toronto. Mandatory Credit: Peter Llewellyn-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 29, 2014; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Raptors general manager Masai Ujiri during a media interview at Raptors Media Day at The Real Sports Bar Toronto. Mandatory Credit: Peter Llewellyn-USA TODAY Sports /

Despite lots of talk regarding activity from Masai Ujiri and the Toronto Raptors, they did not make any moves at the trade deadline.

The Toronto Raptors are currently in the second seed in the Eastern Conference. In what could almost be considered the golden age for a franchise that has been submersed in mediocrity for the majority of their existence, this season has seen the team put forward arguably its best roster ever.

Despite the strength of the roster and the levels of success they’ve reached to this point, many expected general manager Masai Ujiri to be a buyer at the deadline and to be aggressive in solidifying the team’s hopes at a long playoff run. However, that did not come to fruition.

Despite being linked to names like Markieff Morris, Thaddeus Young, P.J. Tucker and Ryan Anderson, the Raptors will close out this season with the same roster they had coming into the year. As Ujiri noted in his press conference today, “maybe our acquisition on this trade deadline is DeMarre Carroll,” which is a fair point considering Carroll is a much better player than anybody that was moved today.

With that being said, it is a little disappointing to see that no move was made when teams like the Detroit Pistons, Charlotte Hornets and Washington Wizards — all possible first round matchups for Toronto — made moves that will make them much tougher teams.

In looking at the contributing factors that lead to this being a fairly quiet deadline, a few things stand out, the first of which is the high asking price for many of the expiring contracts up for grabs. Potential star upgrades such as Al Horford or Dwight Howard were reportedly coming with a price tag of a first round pick and a promising young player.

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Considering that either could walk for absolutely nothing in just a couple months, it would be an unnecessary risk, especially for a player that likely would not elevate the Raptors above the Cleveland Cavaliers or any of the contenders out West.

When it comes to the rotation players that could have assisted the Cavs, such as the ones I mentioned above, there really weren’t a ton of great options available. While Morris is a tremendously talented player, he isn’t a knockdown shooter or a great defender, two things that the Raptors would value highly at the power forward position.

Also when you look at him being moved for two solid role players and a first round pick, that’s a very high price for a volatile personality that is currently facing legal troubles.

Ryan Anderson would have been an intriguing option, but was on an expiring deal and wouldn’t necessarily move the needle this season. So one has to wonder if it would be worth risking a first round pick on a few months of service from a player that won’t change what point of the year your season ends.

The one player that I thought the Raptors would have a good shot at that didn’t get moved was Thaddeus Young. Young would have brought a toughness to the team and a powerful scoring punch. The skilled defender is on the first year of a freshly signed four-year extension with the Brooklyn Nets and would have been a near perfect fit next to Toronto’s locked in starters of Kyle Lowry, DeMar DeRozan, DeMarre Carroll (when healthy) and Jonas Valanciunas.

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While the team was reportedly aggressive in trying to get a deal done, the Brooklyn Nets were not interested in exploring any deals on Thursday. Brooklyn hired new general manager Sean Marks from the San Antonio Spurs just hours before the deadline. Marks reportedly did not want to make any roster decisions prior to seeing the team play together and having time to personally see exactly where they stand.

That’s an understandable stance to take in a very unique situation, but it was an unfortunate break for a Toronto team that could have benefited from the services of Young.

So while none of the future assets were used, the Raptors are still in a good position moving forward. They will likely receive the 2016 first round pick of the New York Knicks in the upcoming draft and will have plenty of cap space to chase free agents. With the number of legitimate options available at the deadline, coming out empty handed is not the worst-case scenario.

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As more and more of their core gets locked up long-term and space begins to dwindle, so too will the margin for error. The team must manage its assets carefully and maximize whatever space it has. They are still in a great position to reach the Eastern Conference Finals, will receive an influx of young talent in this summer’s draft and are in position to make a splash in free agency.

Not a bad place to be for a team on the rise in the league.