With the NBA trade deadline inching ever closer, teams have already begun offloading some of their older, more disgruntled players. Just last week the Detroit Pistons bought out Blake Griffin — who subsequently signed with the Brooklyn Nets — and now San Antonio’s LaMarcus Aldridge and Houston’s P.J. Tucker have reportedly played their final games for their respective teams.
With chaos always comes opportunity and the Toronto Raptors certainly have a need for a big, but do these grizzled veterans make sense for the Raptors?
San Antonio Spurs: LaMarcus Aldridge
Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich broke some news on Wednesday night when he announced the team had agreed to mutually part ways with the 35-year-old Aldridge.
The seven-time All-Star is the final year of a three-year, $72.3 million contract extension and after starting the season as the Spurs’ starting centre, he’s worked his way out of the starting unit and now out of the rotation. While his 13.7 points per game might still attract some interest, he’s been a net negative for the Spurs this season who have been 8.1 points per 100 possessions better when Aldridge is on the bench, according to NBA Stats.
If the Spurs think they can trade Aldridge, it won’t be to Toronto. He’s due $24 million this season and with a 15% trade kicker, there isn’t a deal for the Raptors to make without sending back someone significantly better than Aldridge.
If there’s any chance Aldridge finds his way to Tampa, it’s through the buyout market and while the Raptors did famously get a meeting with Aldridge in 2015, it’s unlikely he would sign with Toronto who has no track record of bringing in big-name buyout players.
Houston Rockets: P.J. Tucker
If an Aldridge deal is pretty much impossible, at least a trade with the Houston Rockets for P.J. Tucker is somewhat plausible.
The 35-year-old Tucker has reportedly asked to be traded to a contender and will not play another game for the Rockets until a deal gets done, ESPN reported. While Tucker has certainly had a down year, at least some of that has to do with his unhappiness with his situation in Houston. He’s averaging just 4.4 points per game and his shooting numbers have fallen off a cliff.
If Toronto were to go after Tucker for his third Raptors tour, it would have to be a low-cost acquisition to help bolster Toronto’s lackluster frontcourt. If Houston were interested in a few low-cost, back-to-the-rotation players to make salaries match and a few second-round picks, there might be a deal to be made. Anything more for Tucker isn’t going to be worth it for Toronto as the organization tries to balance short-term success and long-term aspirations.