The Toronto Raptors will be better in 2021-22 than they were this year given the monsoon of misfortune that crashed down onto this team. Despite that, this front office knows that staying complacent is a good way to end up getting lapped by teams who took a more proactive approach to roster construction.
With the Eastern Conference starting to become deeper than it has been in years, Toronto’s best chances for improving via the trade market could be in the West, as that conference is littered with teams who are outright tanking or looking to retool and figure out a new approach.
The Raptors were hit with a serious double-whammy that could impact their success in the long term. Not only did they miss the playoffs, but every team in the Atlantic Division made the postseason. Three of the top four seeds in the East are Toronto’s division rivals. Simply put, they need to either get better fast or commit to a full-on rebuild.
The Raptors could have cap space, which may end up being a harbinger of a team that is willing to make some moves to return to their previous lofty heights. If that is indeed the goal, these three Western squads could have a truckload of assets, both tangible players and intangible picks, that Toronto could pilfer.
The Toronto Raptors could trade with one of these 3 West teams
1. New Orleans Pelicans
The Pelicans got the most important box of roster building checked off. They landed a potentially transformational talent in Zion Williamson, and they paired him with a solid perimeter running mate in Brandon Ingram. However, as has been the case with New Orleans over the years, they can’t seem to put that final piece together.
The Pelicans missed the playoffs again, and despite the leap Williamson took, there are rumblings that the team and coach Stan Van Gundy don’t vibe very well together. This makes for a very challenging offseason, as the Pelicans could go in one of two directions.
The Pelicans could give the Raptors some talented players.
They can either commit to building through the draft thanks to the multitude of Anthony Davis picks while selling off expensive contracts like those of Eric Bledsoe and Steven Adams. However, they might also start mortgaging parts of the future in order to turn Zion, Ingram, and Quality Tertiary Star To Be Named Later into a playoff team in the West.
If the Raptors are eyeing either picks or players, New Orleans could be a very fertile ground from which they could snipe some coveted assets. It all depends on how aggressive Pelicans boss David Griffin is in committing to Zion before he starts looking to go somewhere else when his rookie deal is up.