The Toronto Raptors continued their downward slide, as old friend Norman Powell took them down as a member of the Portland Trail Blazers. Despite the fact that Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum were in the lineup, the story of the evening was once again was Aron Baynes and the lack of depth at the center position.
Baynes, thrust back into the lineup once again, continued to show what a downgrade he is from Marc Gasol and Serge Ibaka. While new additions Gary Trent Jr. and Rodney Hood showed they can play some defense and hit a few buckets, it’s nothing but ash in the hands of a lineup that was obliterated by Jusuf Nurkic, Robert Covington, and Enes Kanter on the glass.
While some of Toronto’s rivals in the Eastern Conference, especially the Brooklyn Nets, have been very active on the buyout market, a Toronto team stuck in Tampa for the season and mired at the bottom of the standings isn’t a very attractive destination. Despite that fact, Nurse will be looking hard at potential acquisitions.
Nurse said that there will “hopefully” be some more bigs out there, but tried to tamp down the excitement just a tad by saying that he will “keep rolling” with Baynes if the front office doesn’t land a replacement.
Who can the Toronto Raptors sign?
The Brooklyn Nets have been cornering the market on bought-out big men, as they already added Blake Griffin and LaMarcus Aldridge on short-term deals for the playoff push. Gorgui Dieng landed with the San Antonio Spurs despite his connection to Masai Ujiri. The Raptors might not be able to land one of them, but they shouldn’t be discouraged.
Al Horford could get bought out by the Oklahoma City Thunder, who have already chosen to shelf him in favor of playing a younger center in Moses Brown. If the Raptors want a potentially easier option, the Sacramento Kings might buy out Hassan Whiteside as they opt to use Richaun Holmes as the starter.
If the Raptors aren’t going to tank, they need to find someone that can replace Baynes in the rotation, as every Raptors fan has been driven to the point of absolute disgust watching either Baynes fall on his face or Pascal Siakam struggle to play center.
It might be tough to convince bought-out players that will certainly have options to come to Toronto, but the chance to come to the Raptors and start instantly has to be enticing for players in need of a statistical bump.