This season has been tough to watch for Toronto Raptors fans. After a disastrous start to the season, this team finally seemed to find a bit of a rhythm. Stringing together some wins, but continuing to lose some games that Masai Ujiri-led Raptors teams of the past would have had no trouble closing out.
Early February though, this team was starting to make some noise, beating the Brooklyn Nets, Philadelphia 76ers and Milwaukee Bucks (twice) in a matter of weeks. Then the novel coronavirus decided to ravage the whole Raptors organization.
Since initially losing half the coaching staff including Head Coach Nick Nurse and several key players, the Raptors have been struggling, including inexplicable losses to the Detroit Pistons and Atlanta Hawks. So what is this team? Some nights they look like they could make serious noise in a not as competitive Eastern Conference and other nights they look like a lottery team.
It’s time for Masai Ujiri and Bobby Webster to make a decision. This current in-between does not help anyone. It’s time to go all-in or complete fire sale mode.
What does going all-in look like for the Toronto Raptors?
The Toronto Raptors have several burning positional needs. This makes going-all in terms of building a championship roster a tough task. If we’re looking at one big hole to fill – the Raptors need a forward/center with size and skill. The backcourt right now is filled with talent, but the frontcourt is struggling.
To go truly all-in it’s got to be a star talent. A capable veteran that is a small upgrade over Aron Baynes isn’t going to get it done. A name like John Collins or Nikola Vucevic could be the answer the Toronto Raptors need and could immediately get this team in the contender conversation.
In a weird, borderline random year, being aggressive would give the Raptors a leg up amongst the bottom seeds of the East. Although it may be tough to fight their way back into the upper echelon of the standings – the Raptors could be confident knowing they’ve beaten the best with their current roster.
What does the Toronto Raptors selling out look like?
It is time for the Raptors to start planning for life after Kyle Lowry. Although Lowry recently stated his desire to retire a Raptor, he definitely left the door open to moving elsewhere, be that at the deadline or this offseason.
Another player on an expiring deal is Norman Powell. Even though selling high on him could make sense, comments somehow called for him to be safe over Kyle and Fred VanVleet. Powell has been playing lights out basketball recently, but with an expiring deal, he’s certainly a question mark to return.
Sure, the Raptors have beaten the big guns of the Eastern Conference, but do you truly trust them against the Nets or 76ers in a seven-game series as things stand?
Toronto could call it a bye season and sell off their top expiring assets in Lowry and Powell for what would be monster returns. Multiple firsts and young stud players aren’t unlikely combined returns from these two game-breaking vets.
The Raptors could use the returning assets to build depth while also going after a big name with their upcoming cap space. Victor Oladipo? The Raptors could also flip those assets for another Masai Ujiri blockbuster. Bradley Beal?
What should the Toronto Raptors do?
The March 25th trade deadline is coming fast and Masai and Bobby Webster have a decision to make.
If the Toronto front office can swing a big deal before the deadline and boost the frontcourt – it’s not a stretch to say this team could be seen in the Eastern Conference Finals. That will be tough considering the current climate though and would surely cost the Raptors a contributing piece or two, but it’s not out of the realm of possibilities.
The easier direction right now would seem to be fire-sale mode. As tough as it would be to see the likes of Kyle Lowry and Norman Powell playing in another uniform, organizations get in trouble when they get caught in nostalgia and it would be tougher to see these two players walk away in free agency with nothing to show for it.
Clock is ticking.