10 players Raptors could target at NBA trade deadline

Donnovan Bennett joined the Jeff Blair show with Ashley Docking and Sheri Forde to talk about how he thinks Masai Ujiri and Bobby Webster might approach the trade deadline.

Less than two weeks away from the NBA trade deadline, the Toronto Raptors find themselves in second place in the Eastern Conference — a position that sets them up to be buyers come Feb. 7.

Toronto has established itself among the league’s elite, but still has concerns to address. Nick Nurse’s team shoots the ninth-most three-pointers in the NBA, but ranks 23rd in terms of three-point percentage. There’s hope that existing roster players will be able to find consistency from long range and break out of personal slumps, but exploring the trade market would be one way to improve in this department.

Secondly, depth was supposed to be a strength of this team entering the season after the “Bench Mob” wreaked havoc on opposing second units last year, but that hasn’t been the case. Bolstering the bench is something that would serve the Raptors well down the stretch.

The Raptors also find themselves in the middle of the pack in terms of rebounding, and do not have a natural backup power forward behind Pascal Siakam after Serge Ibaka’s full-time move to centre this year. Finding another big man to slot in at the four spot could be a focus for president Masai Ujiri and general manager Bobby Webster in the coming weeks.

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While some believe the Raptors should go all-in to try and win a championship this year, the trade deadline isn’t the be-all and end-all for this club. If Toronto can’t find the right deal by Feb. 7, the buyout market is a legitimate way to improve the team later in the season.

Since the deadline is drawing closer, here are 10 names the Raptors could target in trades that would fit their current needs:

JaMychal Green

Position: PF
Age: 28
Current team: Memphis Grizzlies
Contract status: Unrestricted free agent after this season. $7.67 million contract in 2018-19.
2018-19 stats: Games played: 36 | Points per game: 10.5 | Assists per game: 1.0 | Rebounds per game: 6.6 | Field-goal percentage: 49.5 | Three-point percentage: 39.1

After a hot start, the Grizzlies have gone into a tailspin and find themselves well back of the playoff race. Memphis is willing to listen to offers for stars Marc Gasol and Mike Conley, but also features some supporting pieces that could be useful to contenders. Green is someone who would plug three holes at once for the Raptors in that he’s a reserve power forward who rebounds well, and is also capable of knocking down three-pointers. The fact that he’s a rental player means the Raptors likely wouldn’t have to cough up too many assets to acquire him.

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Green looks like a good fit for the Raptors’ frontcourt. (Brandon Dill/AP)

Garrett Temple

Position: SG/SF
Age: 32
Current team: Memphis Grizzlies
Contract status: UFA after this season. $8 million in 2018-19.
2018-19 stats: GP: 48 | PPG: 9.6 | APG: 1.4 | RPG: 3.1 | FG%: 43.0 | 3P%: 35.6

Sticking with the Grizzlies, Temple is another veteran who might be of interest to the Raptors. The Louisiana native has long been known for his defensive prowess, but has also developed into a reliable long-distance shooter as his career has progressed. He likely wouldn’t be Toronto’s top priority, but could prove to be a useful floor-spacer for the second unit and solid insurance if another wing player were to get injured.

Vince Carter

Position: SG/SF
Age: 41
Current team: Atlanta Hawks
Contract status: UFA after this season. $2.39 million in 2018-19.
2018-19 stats: GP: 43 | PPG: 6.8 | APG: 1.0 | RPG: 2.7 | FG%: 40.6 | 3P%: 37.1

A return to the Raptors in the twilight of his career would be the epitome of poetic. Carter has come a long way from his early days in Toronto, going from high-flying all-star to mentor. He would be another veteran leader in the locker room for a Raptors squad with championship aspirations, although playing time would be hard to come by.

Trevor Ariza

Position: SF
Age: 33
Current team: Washington Wizards
Contract status: UFA after this season. $15 million in 2018-19.
2018-19 Wizards stats: GP: 43 | PPG: 12.1 | APG: 3.8 | RPG: 5.8 | FG%: 38.2 | 3P%: 33.7

The Wizards claim they aren’t interested in tanking and won’t make star Bradley Beal available for trade. As Washington fights to return to the playoffs, it remains to be seen whether or not other roster players will be on the trade block. One name to keep an eye on is Ariza, who is one of the top “three-and-D” players in the NBA. The Wizards traded Kelly Oubre Jr. to Phoenix earlier this year to acquire the 33-year-old, so they might be reluctant to part with him after such a short period of time. Some extra incentive for the Raptors to acquire Ariza? He has a close relationship with Kawhi Leonard, which could be useful as Toronto continues its efforts to convince Leonard to stay north of the border beyond 2018-19.

Jeff Green

Position: SF/PF
Age: 32
Current team: Washington Wizards
Contract status: UFA after this season. $2.39 million in 2018-19.
2018-19 stats: GP: 45 | PPG: 11.5 | APG: 1.7 | RPG: 4.6 | FG%: 47.0 | 3P%: 35.8

Another Wizard of note is Green, who was part of the Cleveland Cavaliers team that swept the Raptors out of the playoffs last spring. He’s a cheap, expiring contract with plenty of playoff experience. Like Temple, he shouldn’t be a priority for the Raptors, but could be worth a flier if the asking price is low enough.

The Jeff Blair Show
Maybe a Wizard not named Bradley Beal can help the Raptors
January 25 2019

Noah Vonleh

Position: PF
Age: 23
Current team: New York Knicks
Contract status: UFA after this season. $1.62 million in 2018-19.
2018-19 stats: GP: 46 | PPG: 8.7 | APG: 2.0 | RPG: 8.5 | FG%: 47.0 | 3P%: 40.2

The ninth-overall pick in the 2014 draft has bounced around early in his career, with the Knicks being his fourth different team in five seasons in the league. He’s getting starts in New York with Kristaps Porzingis still injured, but figures to return to a reserve role if and when ‘The Unicorn’ is able to return this year. With the Knicks firmly out of the playoff mix and Vonleh due to hit free agency this summer, it would make sense for New York to gauge the market for the Indiana University product. If the Raptors are interested, they wouldn’t be the only Eastern Conference powerhouse sniffing around.

E’Twaun Moore

Position: SG/SF
Age: 29
Current team: New Orleans Pelicans
Contract status: UFA after next season. $8.81 million in 2018-19, $8.66 million in 2019-20.
2018-19 stats: GP: 43 | PPG: 12.4 | APG: 2.1 | RPG: 2.5 | FG%: 48.4 | 3P%: 42.3

The Pelicans have taken a step back in 2018-19, and will have to fight tooth-and-nail to even qualify for the playoffs. They’re 4.5 games out of a post-season berth right now, and a bad two-week stretch leading up to the trade deadline could make them sellers. Moore is an appealing trade chip, particularly because of his 42 per cent clip from beyond the arc. His contract expires at the end of next season, which is when the likes of Kyle Lowry and Serge Ibaka come off the books as well.

Joe Harris

Position: SG
Age: 27
Current team: Brooklyn Nets
Contract status: Unrestricted free agent after next season. $8.33 million in 2018-19, $7.67 million in 2019-20
2018-19 stats: GP: 45 | PPG: 13.5 | APG: 2.5 | RPG: 3.7 | FG%: 50.0 | 3P%: 47.1

Brooklyn has taken a big step forward in 2018-19, and has ridden a five-game winning streak all the way to the sixth seed in the East. The Nets are hot right now and some playoff experience could be beneficial to the young squad, but if they cool down over the next couple weeks they could be inclined to move some players. Harris has the third-best three-point percentage in the league at a gaudy 47.1 per cent and is a key member of Brooklyn’s rotation, but at age 27, the late-bloomer might not be viewed as part of the long-term core. If he’s available, the Raptors could certainly use a shooter of his calibre for the right price.

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Harris (12) is shooting a gaudy 47 per cent from three-point range this season. (Frank Franklin II/AP)

Bobby Portis

Position: PF
Age: 23
Current team: Chicago Bulls
Contract status: Restricted free agent after this season. $2.49 million in 2018-19.
2018-19 stats: GP: 17 | PPG: 12.5 | APG: 1.4 | RPG: 7.4 | FG%: 42.2 | 3P%: 37.0

Still just 23-years-old, Portis might be the odd man out in the Bulls’ frontcourt. Chicago’s future up front seems set with Lauri Markkanen and Wendell Carter Jr. looking promising early in their respective careers. Portis has battled injuries all year, but is a strong rebounder and a capable three-point shooter. He’d be a boost to the Raptors this year, and if Leonard were to leave in the summer, Portis could be a young piece to help the Raptors re-tool on the fly. His youth likely means he’d have other suitors, not just among playoff-bound clubs, but rebuilding teams as well.

If there is a podcasting odd couple, this might be it. Donnovan Bennett and JD Bunkis don’t agree on much, but you’ll agree this is the best Toronto Raptors podcast going.

Anthony Davis

Position: PF/C
Age: 25
Current team: New Orleans Pelicans
Contract status: Player option after next season. $25.43 million in 2018-19, $27.09 million in 2019-20.
2018-19 stats: GP: 41 | PPG: 29.3 | APG: 4.4 | RPG: 13.3 | FG%: 50.8 | 3P%: 32.5

The chances of the Raptors swinging a deal for Davis are minuscule, and it remains to be seen whether or not the underachieving Pelicans will even look to move him at this year’s deadline. If New Orleans does decide to make him available, any contending team not named the Boston Celtics would be foolish to not at least make an offer. The Raptors would be able to put together a compelling package of young players and picks, and will have the added benefit of their Atlantic division rivals not being permitted to trade for him by the CBA unless they trade Kyrie Irving, too. A lineup featuring both Davis and Leonard, two of the NBA’s premier two-way players, would be a sight to behold. Don’t hold your breath on this one, though.

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