Raptors at the Trade Deadline – Time to roll the dice?

With the 2016 NBA Trade Deadline fast approaching, many teams are looking to improve their roster and make a deep run at the NBA Championship. One team that is considered to be a ‘buyer’ in the trade market is the Toronto Raptors. However, with the team’s success so far this season, being second place in the Eastern Conference standings, one could argue that a trade at this time could do more harm than good.

The Toronto Raptors are presently enjoying one of their most successful seasons in franchise history. With a record of 35-17, the Raptors are quickly closing the gap and giving LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers reason to continuously check the rear view mirror in the Eastern Conference.

Raptors at the Trade Deadline – Time to roll the dice?

For the Toronto based squad, despite the success they have enjoyed so far this season and hot off hosting a very well-received All-Star weekend, they must still look to earn the respect of the rest of the league. With the memories of last years’ post-season series against the Washington Wizards, where the Raptors were quickly disposed of in a first round sweep, one might not be as convinced of the team’s ability to knock the defending Eastern Conference Champion Cavaliers off their throne.

During the off-season, Raptors president and general Masai Ujiri addressed the need for change and retooled the team with a bigger emphasis on defense. This was seen by signing Canadian point guard Cory Joseph, defensive minded shot blocker Bismack Biyombo, experienced veteran Luis Scola and versatile swingman Demarre Carroll.

All of these additions have played roles in the success that the Raptors have experienced this season.

However, with Carroll missing a number of games after being sidelined with plantar fasciitis and a knee injury, and with his playoff status being currently uncertain, the team has relied on its bench depth to pick up the slack. With DeMar DeRozan continuing to elevate his game, as well as contributions from James Johnson, Terrence Ross and even Normal Powell, the Raptors have been able to stop the bleeding on the wing.

One area of concern that the Raptors will need to address is the power forward position. As it stands right now, they are playing both Luis Scola and Patrick Patterson evenly and have had decent results in doing so. While production from both players has been relatively solid, there have been times of inconsistencies and streaky play from both Patterson and Scola. This has cause for concern with the playoffs quickly approaching as there is no room for error in the post-season.

In the past few weeks, the Toronto Raptors have been linked to a number of power forwards as the Trade Deadline approaches. Players such as Brooklyn Nets forward Thaddeus Young, New Orleans Pelicans forward Ryan Anderson, and the polarizing Phoenix Suns forward Markieff Morris have been reported as to being available for trade. To pull off a deal involving any of these players, there can be significant roadblocks and consequences to such a move.

First, as all teams mentioned above are over the NBA salary cap, making the trade work from a financial perspective could pose to be problematic. Meaning, any trade will likely have to include Patterson and another piece to make it financially possible.

Second, none of the players mentioned above seemingly put the Raptors over the top as championship contenders. While Young, Anderson, and Morris all offer a unique skillset, they may not fit into the Raptors style of play as well as Patterson seemingly does.

Finally, a trade happening at this point of the season could have unforeseen consequences on the court, in terms of overall team chemistry, and even in the locker room.

At first glance, Phoenix’s Morris may appear to be a considerable upgrade over Patrick Patterson due to his abilities to stretch the floor, create his own shot, and be solid on the defensive end. However, Morris troubled past and recent scuffle with teammate Archie Goodwin has definitely hurt his trade value and public image. By rolling the dice on someone as as talented as Morris, the risk seems to be only slightly higher than the reward payoff would be.

As it stands right now, the Toronto Raptors have been able to hold their own this season despite injuries to key players such as Carroll and centre Jonas Valanciunas, who missed a considerable amount of time earlier in the season. The consistency and depth of both the starting unit and the bench has been something that the Toronto squad has been able to hang their hat on for the past two seasons.

While players do in fact exist on the trading market that would definitely improve the Raptors championship aspirations, such as Los Angeles Clippers forward Blake Griffin or Atlanta Hawks forward Al Horford. Such a trade may in fact be too rich for the Raptors without parting with a number of key players and draft picks.

By making a trade for a non-All Star calibre of player, one could make the argument that it would not be worth compromising the very valuable and potent team chemistry that the team has spent the last few seasons establishing.

With the NBA Trade Deadline quickly approaching on Thursday February 18, time will tell what the Toronto Raptors decide to do to improve their chances of making a run at the NBA Finals.  The Toronto Raptors will look to take on their Eastern Conference rival Chicago Bulls on Friday February 19 and we will just have to wait and see if there is a fresh face starting at the power forward position for the Toronto squad.