The Toronto Raptors are in the midst of a disappointing season. Their roster was considered ideal for the modern NBA, loaded with 6’7 two-way wings that would be switchable and versatile on defense and be threats as scorers. So far, this hasn’t been the case.
There are many reasons that could explain the Raptors’ shortcomings. If you are an optimist, you can point to injuries to key players as the reason the Raptors are off to a sluggish start. On the other hand, you could say this roster is just not good enough to be a threat as a contender as it once was.
The Toronto Raptors’ uncertain future.
Toronto has very tough decisions to make as a franchise regarding its future. Fred Van Vleet and Gary Trent Jr. have player options for next season; both are expected to decline their respective options and become unrestricted free agents in the summer. Meanwhile, OG Anunoby can decline his own player option the following offseason and become an unrestricted free agent.
While Pascal Siakam’s contract straight up expires in the 2024 offseason. All of these players are core pieces for the current iteration of the Raptors, and all of them are in line to seek considerable salary raises. Which begs the question: Should Toronto retain this core? If you go by the results so far, the answer is a resounding “no.”
So, what direction should the Raptors take? According to the league’s best insiders, Toronto was one of the teams that showed the most interest in trading for Kevin Durant before he retracted his trade request. However, it was reported that they were unwilling to include Scottie Barnes in any of their offers.
This was a very surprising position from the Raptors, who had the opportunity to once again pull off what they did with Kawhi Leonard, adding a superstar player to a core of very good players. with the added bonus that, unlike Leonard, Durant wasn’t going to be a free agent after one year. On the contrary, KD would’ve been locked in for the next 4 years, opening what would’ve been a 4-year title contention window.
The Toronto Raptors have limited options in which to improve.
There aren’t many moves out there that could improve this current roster the same way a Kevin Durant addition would’ve improved it. which means there aren’t many pathways to turn this team into a title contender. Therefore, Toronto has a very hard choice to make: stick with the course and be satisfied with being a fringe playoff team, retool the roster in hopes of netting better results, or blow it up and rebuild around their promising second-year forward.
This picture could be seen as doom and gloom by Raptors fans, but it may be a blessing in disguise. As of now, Toronto’s core players would still be very valuable in the trade market. They could acquire hauls for Pascal Siakam and OG Anunoby and a decent package for Van Vleet. Also, by trading away these players, they could throw their hat in the Victor Wenbanyama sweepstakes.
If things break their way, they could be looking at Wenbanyama and Barnes as their cornerstones for their next iteration. while also having massive hauls of draft picks at their disposal. They would also be shedding their biggest salaries, which would clean their sheets for the future and give them more cap space to operate with.
In other words, they could become the Pelicans of the east and could very well be in the mix of contenders in a non-distant future as the Pelicans are now. One thing is for certain: the current roster is not good enough. The Raptors should make moves before the Trade Deadline, whether to retool and tweak things or reset the roster.