Nobody panics when things go “according to plan.”
The Toronto Raptors had a good thing going. An all-star duo that enjoyed playing alongside each other like few others do, a head coach who stood the test of time, and wins over a five-year period unlike anything the franchise had seen before.
President Masai Ujiri decided that wasn’t good enough. He wanted great, he wanted a championship, and so he traded all-star DeMar DeRozan, someone whose name had become synonymous with the franchise, for a superstar in Kawhi Leonard from the San Antonio Spurs. If Mr. ‘I am Toronto’ could be traded, anyone could.
So now, with Anthony Davis trade rumours at full tilt after his request for a trade away from the New Orleans Pelicans and oddsmakers putting the Raptors in the mix to land him, summer-acquisition Danny Green noted on the most recent episode of his podcast, Inside the Green Room, that there has been a bit of an impact on his new-ish teammates.
“It’s a little different being in a different locker room, discussing that type of thing or guys feeling a little unsettled, or uncomfortable, or not quite so safe. [In] San Antonio, we didn’t make many moves or shake things up. Most guys felt pretty safe in that things weren’t going to happen or any big changes.
“But here, you know, I feel like because of the whole DeMar situation, guys, nobody feels kinda safe, we’re practising now, things are going well, but we won’t know exactly what’s gonna happen ’til trade deadline. We’re light-hearted about it, [make] jokes about it, but at the end of the day, guys know it’s a business and they know that most teams aren’t going to pass up on a guy like that and, a lot of times, you might be a piece that [could] be moved. End of the day, by February, you could be in a whole new city with a whole new team.”
That’s the reality of the NBA, but still one that appears to be taking some getting used to for players who have been with a franchise that has prided itself on continuity and chemistry over its most successful period. But Ujiri and the rest of his front office have shown that as gut-wrenching as the emotions behind a trade may be, bringing the Larry O’Brien trophy to Toronto remains the topmost priority and nothing will get in the way of that goal.
The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor reported on Jan. 29 that the Raptors are expected to make an offer along with the Los Angeles Lakers, New York Knicks and Milwaukee Bucks. Add to that, the fact that the Boston Celtics are out of the trade deadline picture due to Kyrie Irving’s ‘Rose Rule‘ contract and the Raptors move a bit further up the line in possibly making a deal happen before the Feb. 7 trade deadline.
While it appears the Pelicans are in no rush to make a deal and figure out their best course of action in the summer, that Toronto has suddenly put itself at the forefront of these superstar trades is a major step outside the box many have put them in for years.
For those Raptors players who may be feeling the heat of all this trade talk, though, this certainly isn’t the plan they had in mind.