Toronto Raptors' Top Trade Targets
After staying relatively quiet during free agency, the Toronto Raptors have started the 66-game season without making much of a splash towards upgrading the young roster.
As usual, Toronto's off-season additions looked solid on paper, but the group has been mediocre thus far.
It was hoped that veteran big men Jamal Magloire and Aaron Gray would be able to give Toronto some inside presence for at least 20-24 minutes each, but so far Magloire has only managed to stay on the court for 13.2 minutes per game while Gray is yet to make his regular season debut after experiencing a rapid heart rate in practice.
The NBA trade market has changed considerably since the start of the season and there are a number of teams that still need to balance out their rosters.
Toronto is not free of imperfections either, as they try to compete using the same undersized front court duo that crowned them dead last in defense last year.
Despite this, they have been putting up a very good fight in their games and could be one or two pieces away from becoming defensive headaches for opposing teams.
Now, we'll take a look at some very intriguing prospects that could be plugged right into Dwane Casey's rotation and make a difference.
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
I have to say, I was truly shocked when I came across Monday's news story on NBA.com that stated DeMarcus Cousins has asked for a trade out of Sacramento.
The sophomore out of Kentucky was labelled by many as the steal of the draft in 2010, after Sacramento selected him fifth overall. He went on to average 14.1 points and nearly nine rebounds despite playing only 28.5 minutes a night.
Cousins has had a lot of negativity thrown his way over his work ethic and attitude, but there's no denying the fact that he has the size and talent to make several All-Star teams in the NBA.
If the Raptors could pick up Cousins, they'd instantly fill the void at center for years to come.
There is the issue of his attitude, but I am a firm believer that the "locker room cancer" label is way overblown for most NBA players and that Cousins, specifically, will not be a concern for the Raptors.
In Sacramento, the Kings' coaches have tried a stiff-arm approach in dealing with Cousins, and he hasn't responded well. In a Raptors uniform, Cousins will be catered to as the single true center on the team. Cousins is good friends with his teammates and his demeanor could be help Toronto find their identity.
The trade will require some very talented assets from Toronto which could include a package of Ed Davis, James Johnson and a protected future draft pick. The Raptors could also choose to trade the rights of last years fifth overall pick, Jonas Valanciunas, for Cousins.
The trade would work for Toronto, and Sacramento might not get a better offer than that.
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
Kyrylo Fesenko is a 25-year old center out of Ukraine who might be able to do exactly what Aaron Gray and Jamal Magloire haven't been able to so far.
Fesenko has great size at 7'1", 280 pounds, and the free agent has been targeted by a number of teams, including the Warriors, Heat, Raptors and Mavericks. But, Toronto should quickly swoop in and pick him up before someone else does.
ESPN's Marc Stein reported that the Dallas Mavericks are in the lead and that the Raptors have withdrawn from the chase.
I don't know why Toronto would drop out.
Fesenko nearly signed with Golden State for a measly $1.1 million, and Stein's report suggested that the Mavericks are offering the minimum. Even if the Raptors offer Fesenko a one-year contract of about $2.5 million, they will land a serviceable big man without really affecting their cap situation in a negative way.
Fesenko, like many big men, has struggled with playing time in his four years in the league, but his limited contributions will still be appreciated on the Raptors.
If bigs Aaron Gray, Jamal Magloire, and Fesenko could manage to bring defense and energy for only 10 minutes per game each, the Raptors could still be much better off in the paint than they were the last two years.
Raptors sign Fesenko for $1.5 million—or as high as $3 million—on a one-year contract.
Christian Petersen/Getty Images
Chris Kaman is a very underrated big man.
In a league where Tyson Chandler's 9-and-9 stat line got him a max deal, Chris Kaman's ability to score, rebound and defend with the best of them is very under-looked.
Kaman was traded to the Hornets in a package that sent Chris Paul to the Clippers. The Hornets already have veteran big Emeka Okafor manning the five position, and they should look to move Kaman, who's $13 million price tag is not suited for someone coming off the bench.
The Raptors will become a very balanced team with Kaman suiting up for them, and the duo of Kaman and Andrea Bargnani could result the best offensive front court in the NBA.
Defensively, Kaman will flourish, and the rebounding machine might wind up averaging well over 12 boards a game next to Bargnani.
This trade could make the Raptors surprisingly good, and they could even find themselves in the playoff race in April. But maybe more importantly, they could possibly clear up nearly $30 million in cap space for the summer of 2012.
That's about enough for two max contracts. Scary.
Raptors trade point guard Jose Calderon and two second round picks for Chris Kaman.
The trade will benefit the Hornets, who are lacking a true point guard after dealing All-Star Chris Paul. The Hornets have won two of their four games thus far, and they could repeat last year's success without Paul if they agree to this trade.
Jose Calderon is showing us that his underwhelming play the last two seasons was really the result of Jay Triano's flawed system. Under Casey so far, Jose Calderon is averaging 13 points, 9.3 assists, and is providing efficient outside scoring with improved defense.
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images
D.J Augustine is proving he's capable of being a starting point guard in the league, despite standing at only 6'0" tall.
Last season, Augustine averaged over 14 points and six assists. So far this season, he's looking to improve those stats even further.
Despite his capability, the Charlotte Bobcats may look to move Augustine so that rookie guard Kemba Walker could take over the reigns at point guard.
Augustine's rookie contract will be expiring after this season, and the Bobcats should look to move him before he's due a pay raise.
Raptors trade Jerryd Bayless for D.J Augustine.
The Raptors receive a very capable point guard whose playing style better fits the team. Bayless is arguably just as good—and possibly better than—Augustine, but he's failed to establish a starting role in his three seasons in the league.
The Bobcats could like the idea of adding on Bayless because of his ability to play as a shooting guard as well as the point guard, where as Augustine is too small to play the two.