The Toronto Raptors aren’t losing enough, so Masai Ujiri is trying to kick things up a notch, and get rid of more players who might help the team in its tanking efforts. Next on the list of tradeable players? First is their point guard Kyle Lowry, who will be easier to move than DeMar DeRozan.
Lowry has a problem – he’s a good point guard, but that’s the least unique commodity in the NBA right now. Making $6.2 million this season, the only thing he has going for him is that there are teams in need of a backup point or maybe even a decent starter, and that his contract runs out at the end of the season. The problem? No team right now with young players to move has an actual need for a rental piece like Lowry, as the Knicks and the Warriors might be interested, and maybe even the Bulls. The problem is that they don’t have anything to give the Raptors for Lowry, who is averaging 14.4 points and 6.8 assists per game.
DeMar DeRozan is another issue. He is very difficult to move for a couple of reasons: His contract runs through 2017, owed $28.5 million over the next three years. The other is that Ujiri isn’t sure whether moving DeRozan is the right decision. He’s averaging 21.8 points per game, and has been playing better since the Rudy Gay trade. He is only 24, and might be worth keeping around despite the attempt to lose any long term and expensive contract.
Teams are actually more interested in Amir Johnson (owed $7 million next season) and Jonas Valanciunas, a second year player with a deal until 2017. Right now Johnson is untouchable, and it seems that Valanciunas, despite his problems on defense and not actually making enough of a step forward this season, seems to be in the same situation.
Ujiri was hired so the Raptors will clean up the stables and get rid of anything they don’t see a bright future with while improving their chances of getting a franchise changing player like this draft is supposed to be filled with. He’s been doing a good job so far, but it’ll get more difficult moving the next set of players he’s intending on moving.