Reports are floating around that the Toronto Raptors feel like they’ve peaked with the current group of players and instead of wallowing in the mud of mediocrity and first round playoff exits, will try to get the most out of players like Kyle Lowry, DeMar DeRozan and maybe even Jonas Valanciunas through trades.
The Raptors made the playoffs these last two seasons, improving significantly the moment they got rid of Rudy Gay. But in both years, they were thwarted by Paul Pierce-led teams. First in 2014, losing in seven games against the Brooklyn Nets, followed by the massive disappointment this year; getting swept by the Wizards despite home court advantage.
So is Masai Ujiri blowing things up? Possibly. The thing about all three players is that they won’t be too difficult to move. Lowry didn’t look his best late last season, but he is an All-Star and on a decent enough contract ($12 million a season) which won’t seem too big once the new salary cap sets in.
DeRozan is younger than Lowry and makes less money than him: $9.5 Million a season, and maybe it’s smarter to move him before he opts out of his deal in 2016, asking for more money. For a guy who scores over 20 points per game, that’s not a bad salary at all if you’re the team thinking about adding him.
Valanciunas is only 23, but the Raptors aren’t sure if he’s someone to build around or that they’ve already seen most of what he can do. He did average 12 points and 8.7 rebounds per game last season, but he’s often left on the bench late in games and might be quite limited in his potential.
For players or for picks? Not quite clear. There have also been mentions of the Raptors trying to work out a trade with the Kings, either for DeMarcus Cousins or Ben McLemore. But right now this is just about being open for business, not concrete offers and leads.