Raptors player swaps

Raptors player swaps

There’s no question that the trade the Raptors consummated with the Knicks prior to the turn of the year had to be done. At 12-20 and two-fifths of their 2023-24 campaign in the rear-view mirror, they were in danger of taking a third early vacation since securing their lone championship in 2019. And so they pulled the trigger on a deal that netted them RJ Barrett and Immanuel Quickley even at the expense of OG Anunoby. The loss of the latter was not inconsequential; they parted ways with a second-team All-Defensive selection. Then again, they needed to do something — anything, really — to jump-start their run for respectability.

The Raptors are just four games into their new look, so drawing definitive conclusions there from may well be an exercise in futility. That said, there can be no discounting the myriad ways in which their move has injected life into their otherwise-moribund season. For one thing, Anunoby’s departure provides some breathing space to a previously congested frontline composed of bodies with interchangeable skill sets. For another, the arrival of Barrett and Quickley gives them more offensive options to consider. Not for nothing have they gone three and one since the roster changes; the increased firepower brought them victories against the Cavaliers, Grizzlies, and Warriors.

The Raptors aren’t done with their personnel tinkering, to be sure. They continue to dangle Pascal Siakam to parties on the lookout for an upgrade at the four spot, although obstacles abound. Their leading scorer is on an expiring contract, so bringing him in would be tantamount to taking a risk. And if the grapevine is to be believed, it’s precisely why the Kings bowed out of contention for him; he is said to have refused to commit to a new contract with his prospective employers. Not that there won’t be others in their doorstep; among those who can benefit from his help are the Warriors and Mavericks.

There’s still a month the to go before the trade deadline, so the Raptors have some leeway to weigh their alternatives.  On the other hand, they will have to negotiate 15 matches between now and February 8, so it makes sense for them to pull the trigger on any player swaps sooner rather than later. And, until then, anything is possible. The annals of the National Basketball Association are filled with shockers that have made lasting impacts either way.


Anthony L. Cuaycong has been writing Courtside since BusinessWorld introduced a Sports section in 1994. He is a consultant on strategic planning, operations and human resources management, corporate communications, and business development.