Trade deadline week is here. The New Orleans Pelicans’ 10-game losing streak might have dampened their enthusiasm for making a win-now trade, but no potential buyer has as much to offer a seller as the Pelicans. The inverse is true of the Toronto Raptors.
With that in mind, Pelicans beat writer Will Guillory and Raptors beat writer Eric Koreen of The Athletic discuss what the two teams could offer each other.
Guillory: Thanks for doing this, Eric.
I know the Raptors have kept you busy over the past few weeks. It seems like a new rumor pops up about the team you cover daily. The Kyrie Irving trade to Dallas has certainly shifted the attention a little bit (we’ll get to that later). But Toronto will remain one of the main characters in this year’s trade deadline drama until Thursday.
Much of the league has been patiently waiting for the Raps to complete their current seven-game road trip to see which direction they want to go. That trip ended with Sunday night’s win in Memphis.
In general terms, what’s your feel on the plans Toronto’s front office has going into trade deadline week? Are you anticipating fireworks or do you think it’s still too early to call?
Koreen: Before the Irving trade, I definitely would have said that one of their four veteran starters — Pascal Siakam, O.G. Anunoby, Fred VanVleet and Gary Trent Jr. — would be on the move before Thursday. I’d still lean that way, but the prospect of Kevin Durant becoming available in the summer might make teams think a little harder when it comes to throwing draft picks and young players into trades. Sure, there is always going to be a next star to become available, but this one is a predictable case, and he is one of the best players in the game.
But there are enough teams with realistic chances to make deep runs this season that I still expect good offers to be there for the Raptors. I don’t think they’re in a position where they have to trade someone, although not trading either of their players on expiring contracts, VanVleet and Trent, while also not getting rid of some salary on next year’s books would be problematic. Even if the Raptors were in a position to re-sign both guards, they would be flirting with the luxury tax, if not over it, before they can think about adding any players. For a team that has proven to be mediocre, that’s problematic.