In an attempt to stand ethically correct, the Raptors decided not to lose on purpose and are now stuck in pre-free agency limbo.
The 2012 NBA draft is sure to produce many valuable players but in terms of "stars," many consider this a top heavy draft class.
With the eighth overall pick Toronto has a few options. They can settle for a long-term piece such as Perry Jones III or they can gamble with high risk-high reward players such as Damian Lillard or Austin Rivers. After four losing seasons, it seems everyone in Toronto wants nothing other than a playoff team next season.
So what now? The Raptors must strike while the iron is hot and make any trade decisions early before other teams have time to adjust their rosters and prevent any assets from falling through the cracks.
Toronto has over $25 million to spend before hitting the luxury tax and the consensus amongst fans is that when Toronto decides it's time to win, they should do it with everything they've got and avoid turning into the Toronto Maple Leafs (i.e not being good enough to win, but not being bad enough to snag a top pick).
Luckily the NBA is wide open with dozens of trade possibilities for Bryan Colangelo and us fans to fiddle around with. So without further ado, here are some smart trade possibilities that could propel Toronto into the playoffs next season.
Toronto Raptors trade the No. 8 pick, the No. 37 pick, the No. 56 pick and Ed Davis to the Sacramento Kings for Tyreke Evans.
The Sacramento Bee reported that the Sacramento Kings are "not expected" former Rookie of the Year, Tyreke Evans a contract extension.
What does this mean? It may not mean anything as any front office executive with a brain would know not to let a young man of All-Star caliber walk; however, Sacramento's lack of confidence in Evans suggests that he may be available.
Sacramento is a team with seemingly no sense of direction, but they actually wanted to win. Last summer they traded for John Salmons' horrible contract in hopes of making the playoffs a la Indiana Pacers, but failed miserably. Next season SAC will likely try again, and it's become abundantly clear that lowering (through trade) the number of ball-dominating guards on that team is their top priority.
This puts Toronto in a very good position. The Raptors need talent and Evans should be an All-Star. Evans is a point guard with shooting guard traits, but that's no excuse for Toronto as one of their biggest needs is a "PG of the future".
On Toronto Evans will be a monster on the boards playing under Dwane Casey, and his slashing could complement Bargnani very well.
The downside to Evans would be Demar DeRozan plays a very similar game and a scenario that leaves Toronto with both players will result in one of the worst shooting backcourts in the league. This, however, shouldn't be a huge concern. Evans can play the majority of his minutes with Kleiza and Bargnani, and DeRozan with Calderon.
The trade provides Toronto with a very potent point guard duo, and will allow them to focus their flexibility on a free agent rather than gambling with our assets on costly trades.
The Kings have a number of very good players but need a glue guy to produce at a high level. The eighth overall pick could land them Perry Jones III who would be a perfect fit, and at the same time the Kings will still have plenty of flexibility moving forward by acquiring Ed Davis who is still in his rookie contract.
Overall, it would be a great trade for both teams that would likely lead to further trades involving a small forward for Toronto. Nothing too complicated, however, and the talent level of this Roster will skyrocket with the addition of Evans.
Toronto Raptors trade Jose Calderon, Ed Davis, possibly James Johnson and the No. 8 pick to the Memphis Grizzlies for Rudy Gay.
Probably the most overheard scenario for Toronto all week, the Toronto Raptors could target Rudy Gay.
While I personally am no believer in chasing after huge contracts, adding Gay will still give Toronto the results it's looking for.
A trade sending Jose Calderon, Ed Davis and possibly James Johnson to Memphis for Rudy Gay gives Memphis more talent spread out over a number of assets which will allow them to avoid falling into the luxury tax threshold.
Because Memphis is already a team that gets production from a number of different players instead of resorting to one go-to player, this trade could be exactly what they need.
Jose Calderon will be the best backup point guard in the NBA and Ed Davis provides excellent insurance in case Randolph goes down with injury. Meanwhile, the Grizzlies will receive the No. 8 overall pick that could land them a very productive player from the get-go, and a future All-Star on a rookie deal.
Once Jose Calderon's contract expires, Memphis will have some much needed flexibility next summer to further improve the Roster.
Toronto will receive Rudy Gay, an All-Star caliber forward. In the Grizzlies' last season Gay averaged 19 PPG, but on Toronto Gay could average well over 20 PPG.
Toronto has a gaping hole at the SF position and will fill it by adding Gay. Even though they will then need a PG to lead the team, Toronto will find it much easier picking up a veteran PG in free agency than signing a highly productive forward.
The trade still leaves Toronto will plenty of flexibility for the summer, which it could use to sign superstar Steve Nash, Chauncey Billups, Lou Williams or a number of other attractive free-agent targets.
Overall, imagine a lineup of Steve Nash/Billups, DeRozan, Rudy Gay, Bargnani and Jonas Valanciunas. If that's not a playoff team, I have no idea what is. Unfortunately, it's doubtful that Memphis will want to move Gay as that team is already a contender with no need to make any risky trades.
Toronto Raptors trade the No. 8 pick and Amir Johnson to the Houston Rockets for Kyle Lowry and the No. 14 pick.
The Toronto Raptors are looking to get younger at the point and Kyle Lowry is a talented young point guard who is entering his prime.
Kyle Lowry would have been an untouchable piece had it not been for his public insistence that the Rockets should fire head coach Kevin McHale or trade him.
Lowry averaged a very solid 14.3 PPG and 6.6 assists this season, but could do even better for Toronto considering he lost playing time to Goran Dragic towards the end of the season.
This trade will give Toronto a very formidable backcourt to pair with a solid frontcourt. The team will then be able to allow Ed Davis to develop with more minutes, and they will have the green light to pursue an expensive free agent such as Nicolas Batum.
The No. 14 pick will also give Toronto the option to gamble on a high-risk high-reward prospect without having to worry about setting back the rebuilding process. Players that could fall to 14 may include Arnett Moultrie, Moe Harkless, Austin Rivers, Tyler Zeller, Kendal Marshall and Meyers Leonard.
The Rockets would want to do this trade because they don't need Lowry. Goran Dragic showed the Rockets he could produce just as well as anyone else on the Roster this season, and the eighth overall pick will give Houston a franchise building block to work with.
The icing on the cake for Houston would be Amir Johnson who could finally tap into his potential. Johnson is already a very solid player with a very high field-goal percentage, and he'll finally see a more assertive role in Houston as the aging Luis Scola starts to decline.
Overall Toronto gets the best of both worlds through this trade. They manage to snag a talented player and don't miss out on this year's talented draft pool of prospects. Depending on how seriously Houston took Lowry's comments, this could be a very solid option for them as well.
Toronto Raptors trade Demar DeRozan and the No. 8 pick to the Charlotte Bobcats for Kemba Walker and the No. 2 pick.
The Toronto Raptors get that PG of the future and also get an All-Star with the second overall pick.
They have to let go of DeRozan in order to do it, but it's not a terrible idea considering his stats were effected favorably as he played for a losing Toronto squad. It's also good news that Toronto won't have to sign him to an expensive extension this offseason.
The Cons to this for Toronto is that if these young acquisitions don't provide immediate production, the playoffs will not be a sure thing. This worry is easily extinguished when you realize that Toronto is almost guaranteed to be a major player in a few years and could still be a playoff team if they spend wisely in free agency.
If I were Toronto I'd take Walker and draft Gilchrist, then sign a pair of inexpensive veterans to help carry the load if the younger players aren't ready to produce immediately. Antawn Jamison, Ray Allen, Jason Terry and Marcus Camby are all temporary options that could fill any remaining holes in the Roster.
According to a tweet from Alex Kennedy of HOOPSWORLD, the Charlotte Bobcats are looking at trade scenario's involving the No. 2 overall draft pick.
This will give Charlotte an immediate star in DeRozan for Kemba Walker who struggled in his rookie season. Charlotte may want to stick to point guard D.J Augustine after his breakout year, and they will have plenty of solid prospects to choose from at No. 8 overall.
Overall it's a great trade for Toronto and it's also a fair deal for Charlotte. Despite this I doubt such a trade would be likely because Toronto is high on DeRozan and Charlotte would be foolish to write Kemba Walker off after only one season. This could definitely go down if Diop's contract is included, but then again, I'd personally hunt down Bryan Colangelo if he touches that contract.
The Raptors need a small forward and Andre Iguodala is a coach's dream in terms of hustle and versatility. The price at which Andre Iguodala must come may seem steep, but giving back Linas Kleiza's contract helps ease the pain somewhat.
The Sixers played very well this season but are cash strapped moving forward. As great as Andre Iguodala has been for them, they don't necessarily need him with the young Evan Turner waiting in the wings.
This trade provides the Sixers with some flexibility to help re-sign key players Spencer Hawes and Lou Williams, and at the same time they can secure Jrue Holiday by offering him a contract extension early.
The Sixers will receive a talented young player in the draft and will likely appreciate Linas Kleiza as well who can provide them with a scoring punch.
On Toronto Kleiza had too many similar players playing with him, and on Philadelphia Iguodala had too many similar players on the floor. This trade will help get the most out of both players.
It's also worth noting Toronto's current GM, Ed Stefanski, was formerly the GM of the Sixers. A trade between the two teams could go through smoothly considering Stefanski's former ties with Philadelphia executives.
Overall this is a great trade for both teams, but I feel Philadelphia will win out from the deal. They will have the option to add a very talented big man to replace the aging Elton Brand, and Jared Sullinger is a great fit for them, and at the same time they will receive a very underrated contributor in Linas Kleiza. Toronto will achieve instant gratification by making the move and will compete for a playoff spot next season. The only issue for Toronto will be three-point shooting from the wing positions, but that can be remedied by targeting sharp shooter Nick Young and Steve Novak in free agency.
Toronto Raptors trade the No. 8 pick and Ed Davis to the Milwaukee Bucks for Brandon Jennings.
Toronto needs a PG and Jennings played like an All-Star last season. Furthermore Jennings will have a great backup in Jose Calderon which will be huge for him. Not many remember, but when the Bucks last made the playoffs Jennings was backed up by a very efficient Luke Ridnour, and had sharp shooters John Salmons and Carlos Delfino help him spread the floor. On Toronto Jennings will have Bargnani, Kleiza and whomever they sign in free agency.
Jennings will play alongside childhood friend Demar DeRozan and the two will help Toronto compete for a playoff spot without getting significantly older by adding a veteran.
The Milwaukee Bucks would be smart to go for this trade because their undersized backcourt and thin frontcourt make them vulnerable against almost every playoff contender out East.
The Bucks will get to choose from a list of very talented young prospects including promising point guards Kendal Marshall and Damian Lillard. The Bucks could opt to play Monta Ellis at the point guard position all together and draft Dwyane Wade clone Dion Waiters or Jeremy Lamb.
The Bucks will also receive the talented Ed Davis who can turn out to be a double double player starting next season. Davis, who struggled trying to find playing time in Toronto, will provide Milwaukee with an enforcer alongside Drew Gooden and Ersan Ilyasova.
Another important factor behind this trade is Jenning's contract. The Bucks have been frustrated with him at times, but will have to offer him a lucrative extension in order to secure their asset. This trade saves them millions in salary cap flexibility moving forward.
Overall the trade is solid for both teams but better for the Bucks long term. The Raptors will have a very dangerous backcourt and the addition of Jennings' personality on the court will also help them form an identity similar to that of Oklahoma City and Memphis. Toronto will be cash strapped after next year, but should be in the playoffs with a potent lineup of Jennings, DeRozan, a talented free agent, Bargnani, and Valanciunas.