Sitting in the middle of the Eastern Conference Play-In race with two weeks before the NBA trade deadline, the Toronto Raptors may look to bolster their position through the trade market. According to a Q&A piece for the Athletic by writers Eric Koreen and John Hollinger, an aggressive approach could lead the Raptors to a big deal with the Portland Trail Blazers.
According to Koreen — the Athletic’s lead writer for the Raptors — Toronto’s biggest need is a “shooter with a little bit of on-ball creativity.” The Blazers are overloaded with four sweet-shooting guards who can create their own shot, so Hollinger pinpointed the teams as sensible trade partners. He said Toronto’s package would likely revolve around guard Goran Dragic’s expiring $19.44-million contract, while Portland could send shooting guard Norman Powell back to Toronto for an odd reunion.
Hollinger: Nooooorm!!! I kid, but Portland is the obvious place to look for guard help right now, with youngster Anfernee Simons scorching hot and both Powell and C.J. McCollum being natural twos. Something like Dragic, Khem Birch and Malachi Flynn for McCollum works, just barely, but it really handcuffs the Raptors tax-wise because of McCollum’s salary. A deal for Powell wouldn’t do that, although it would somewhat oddly reunite the two players who recently were traded for each other in Powell and Trent Jr. and would likely cost the Raptors a first.
Hollinger also said Toronto may shop around one-time All-Star forward Pascal Siakam — a player who has been linked to Portland in trade rumors in the past. However, Hollinger didn’t list Portland as a current suitor for Siakam and speculated a deal for Siakam at the deadline seemed unlikely.
Toronto center and former Oregon Duck Chris Boucher has had an up-and-down 2021-2022 campaign, but has been averaging 12.1 points, 7.4 rebounds, and 1.3 blocks since December 1. Still, Hollinger is cold on the possible return Boucher’s $7.02-expiring contract with bird rights could bring back to Toronto on the market.
Hollinger: I think they’d be lucky to get a second-round pick, to be honest. It’s not that he’s bad, it’s just that he’s too weird a player for a lot of teams to figure out where he’d fit in how they play. Additionally, I don’t think teams place a lot of value on his Bird rights given that he’ll probably come in below the midlevel exception – if you really want the guy, you can just sign him this summer. Are there exceptions? Sure. I could see his game maybe appealing to Charlotte or, if the Rockets trade Christian Wood, Houston. But I wouldn’t get my hopes up here.