The Toronto Raptors are a good team. But the talent gap between the Raptors and the East-leading Cleveland Cavaliers is staggering. Ahead of next month’s trade deadline, here are five players that could help Toronto close that gap.
1. DeMarcus Cousins
The Sacramento Kings’ centre could very well be the third star the Raptors need to combat Cleveland’s “Big Three.” Cousins has bonded with Toronto’s Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan on the 2016 Olympic team, and stirred up rumours through a now-deleted picture of him in Raptors shorts.
But Raptors general manager Masai Ujiri has spent the last few years creating a culture of professionalism for this Raptors organization. That culture could be spoiled by Cousins, who’s shown to be a loose cannon throughout his career.
2. Taj Gibson
Taj Gibson has never averaged more than 13 points a game in his career, but the Raptors don’t really need him as a scorer. Gibson is another reliable defender who isn’t a liability on offence. Acquiring Gibson from the Chicago Bulls would also reunite him with former USC teammate DeMar DeRozan.
3. Serge Ibaka
Toronto will appreciate Ibaka’s quality rebounding and intimidating presence on the defensive end. The Congo-native has been linked to trade rumours because of the Orlando Magic’s crowded frontcourt. It includes star Nikola Vučević and former Raptor Bismack Biyombo.
4. Jahlil Okafor
The biggest benefit of obtaining Jahlil Okafor could also be the biggest risk for the Raptors: his youth. While trading for Okafor would be a financial steal (he’s still on a rookie contract), Toronto really doesn’t know what kind of player they’ll be getting from Philadelphia in return.
5. Paul Millsap*
There’s an asterisk beside Millsap’s name, because Atlanta Hawks general manager Wes Wilcox recently announced they’ve taken the 31-year-old off the trade market. Acquiring Millsap should be Toronto’s top priority when he becomes a free agent this summer, as his stats address two current holes in Toronto’s game: three-point efficiency and rebounding.
Who do you think the Toronto Raptors should trade for? Who should they offer to other teams to make a move? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.