Ranking Raptors’ Top Trade Targets After 2023 NBA Playoff Loss
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The 2022-23 NBA season could go down as the end of an era for the Toronto Raptors.
Or maybe it will be merely remembered as a momentary step back ahead of several big steps forward ahead.
Toronto came into this campaign as a second-tier team in the Eastern Conference but one seemingly with the experience and talent needed to frighten anyone in the first tier. However, the Raptors never found their expected rhythm and wound up stumbling into the offseason far sooner than expected, getting bounced out of the play-in tournament by the Chicago Bulls.
Now, the Raptors head into a summer that could change everything—or change very little. It’s all up to the front office, which has to decide how much it believes in this roster and whether keeping this core together remains the best path forward for this franchise.
3. Draft Picks
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Breaking up this core and rebuilding around Scottie Barnes is absolutely on the table for Toronto this summer. It might be the best time to do it, actually, since both Fred VanVleet and Gary Trent Jr. can (and should) decline their player options to enter unrestricted free agency.
If the Raptors take that path, then they have to flip the win-now players they have for long-term assets. Pascal Siakam would be an obvious trade candidate. They’d get a fortune for him. O.G. Anunoby is a less obvious choice—he is young enough to hang on to at 25 years old, depending on how long the front office thinks a reset will take—but he’d bring back a haul, too.
Toronto has been good enough for long enough that the franchise almost never has access to top prospects. Since 2013, it has only drafted in the top 10 twice, getting Jakob Poeltl at No. 9 in 2016 and Barnes at No. 4 in 2021.
That’s why external picks are so intriguing. And with Anunoby as young as he is, it’s not out of the question that a team in prime draft territory would flip a good pick this summer to get him in hopes of taking a huge step forward next season.
2. Dorian Finney-Smith, Brooklyn Nets
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Staying pat and making marginal moves wouldn’t be the most interesting offseason for the Raptors, but it might be the most likely. They might not feel close enough to contention to make an all-in push, but they also might think this group is too good to break apart.
If Toronto winds up operating with a limited trade budget, Dorian Finney-Smith should be a top-tier target.
It’s hard to tell where the Brooklyn Nets are headed, but there aren’t many scenarios in which they compete for a title during what’s left of the 29-year-old’s prime. Even if the Nets don’t blow it all up, they could unload win-now pieces like Finney-Smith for assets to build something up around Mikal Bridges.
Get Finney-Smith to Toronto, and the Raptors would have simultaneously scratched itches for perimeter defense and long-distance shooting. His versatility would shine in this defensive system, and he’s a good enough shooter (37.7 percent from deep the past three seasons) to buy this offense some breathing room.
1. Jaylen Brown, Boston Celtics
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A Jaylen Brown trade is admittedly hard to picture with the Boston Celtics in full-on championship pursuit mode, but maybe a premature playoff exit could change things. After all, the star swingman could reach free agency next summer, and it sounds like he’s keeping his options open.
“We’ll see how they feel about me over time and I feel about them over time,” Brown told The Ringer’s Logan Murdock. “Hopefully, whatever it is, makes sense. But I will stay where I’m wanted. I will stay where I’m needed and treated correct.”
If Brown winds up on the trade block, Toronto should ring up Boston as soon as possible. He’d be the perfect piece for this team, basically a turbo-charged version of O.G. Anunoby with a lot more in his offensive bag.
Get Brown, re-sign VanVleet and hold on to Pascal Siakam, and that sure sounds like a trio capable of making major noise in the Eastern Conference.