One of the more aggressive teams in a rather tranquil trade deadline period are the Toronto Raptors, eagerly seeking an upgrade at power forward, with feelers out in every direction: The Brooklyn Nets and Thaddeus Young, Phoenix Suns with Markieff Morris or P.J. Tucker and the Denver Nuggets with Kenneth Faried.
The Raptors have two first round picks to deal, including the one that belonged to the New York Knicks, which should mean a lottery pick. But with the franchise believing for possibly the first time they can seriously make a challenge in the Eastern conference (only two games behind the Cleveland Cavaliers), Masai Ujiri does feel it’s going to take something more, especially in the frontcourt, to improve their hopes of upsetting the Cavs in the playoffs and maybe overtaking them as the number one seed in the East.
The angle they’ve been working on for the longest time has been getting both Markieff Morris ($8 million a season) and P.J. Tucker at once (earns $5 million). Tucker isn’t much of a scorer but a fantastic defender and Morris, when he isn’t busy fighting someone on the bench, is a very talented forward who can score from a lot of different spots, probably not hurting the team’s spacing and shooting. They’re getting 9.4 points per game from Luis Scola, who is a free agent at the end of this season.
If only offense is what they’re after, Thad Young might be the right choice. Young is averaging 15.1 points per game on a bad Nets team although he has been struggling for beyond the arc, shooting just 0.4 times per game, hitting 21.7% of his shots. The problem with Young is his contract: Signed through the 2017-2018 season on more than $12 million a season, and he has a player option for 2018-2019. That might be a bit too much to take for a player who doesn’t add much besides decent scoring.
Kenneth Faried is no longer the guy with a lot of upside and potential waiting to erupt. He’s scoring 12.5 points per game and showing a whole lot of progress since his breakout season. He brings energy, some defense and is one of the best offensive rebounders in the NBA. While it’s not bad to have such a player on the team, it feels he’ll be something of a misfit for the Raptors, who are mostly looking for someone who can help them stretch the floor and put some points on the board.
Faried signed a four-year, $50 million extension in 2014, with his contract running through the 2018-2019 season. The Nuggets wouldn’t mind giving him up for a first round pick (just one) considering they know his upside, but he’s the least likely of the players for the Raptors to go after. In any case, trading for these players should involve someone else from the Raptors leaving, and they might be a little hesitant to break up the team chemistry they’ve been building for the last three seasons, the moment they sent away Rudy Gay.