Toronto Raptors executive Masai Ujiri orchestrated a trade deadline that, in the eyes of some, can be viewed as a tad underwhelming. Not for a lack of movement, with Norman Powell being moved in a straight-up player deal, while Matt Thomas and Terence Davis also were moved out West in separate deals that each brought back future 2nd round picks.
The surprise was the fact that the biggest trade chip on the Raptors, and maybe the whole league, in Kyle Lowry didn’t get traded. The Philadelphia 76ers, Miami Heat and Los Angeles Lakers all made an effort. At the end of the day, Ujiri had a firm value on the player and wasn’t going to give him up for anything less (even though Lowry might leave in free agency).
It is no secret that Powell is going to command a hefty pay raise in free agency this offseason, but it was even less of a secret that the Raptors weren’t going to be willing to give him that contract this summer. When Thomas and Davis were moved, it seemed like the Raptors were just opening up roster spots for the incoming players in any Kyle Lowry deal.
Now though, it looks like the Raptors realized their guard depth and decided to get some assets for some depth players while getting some future money off the books.
The Toronto Raptors will be very active in 2021
This offseason was supposed to be the “Summer of Giannis”, but with Antetokounmpo signing the supermax extension before this season – there were questions if the Raptors’ plans were foiled. The people asking these questions don’t know Ujiri. He has a Plan B, Plan C and Plan Z.
The moves made at the NBA Trade Deadline are proof that this Raptors’ organization is trusting the process and trust this young core. This summer, the Raptors have a ton of money coming off the books and the 2021 offseason is beginning to look like a monumental one for this organization.
Looking forward to the Toronto Raptors’ 2021 offseason
Whenever the Raptors season ends, the work will begin. They will only have 5 guaranteed contracts on the books with tons of money to work with. The NBA cap looks like it will stay flat, but the flat cap could even be seen as a benefit for Toronto, as they shouldn’t have as much competition from bigger markets or teams with more space that could just outbid them.
The Raptors also are pretty loaded with assets when it comes to solid prospects, and having most of their future draft picks and all of their first-round picks is a very enticing sell.
The Raptors are nowhere near a complete rebuild, and Ujiri isn’t afraid to make some big moves in the interest of winning. Although some of the biggest 2021 free agent names are off the board now, there are still some superstar names on the board.
Some monster restricted names that could be interesting to go after include Hawks big man John Collins. Even some ‘lower tier’ guys could still have a big impact, like Sacramento Kings center Richaun Holmes.
Trade-wise, don’t be surprised to see the Raptors in the mix if a superstar becomes available. If Bradley Beal says enough if enough or any star power forward/center comes available, Ujiri should have no problem paying the price for an organization changer.
This summer will surely be interesting and if the Raptors deadline moves show anything – management is getting ready to reset and get this team back into contention as soon as this offseason. This organization is too talented to mull in mediocrity and Masai Ujiri will surely not let that happen.
Speaking of Masai, the first order of business this offseason should be trying to lock him up.