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Could Trades With 76ers Hold the Raptors Future?

It’s an open secret that the 76ers would like to move any or all of Evan Turner, Thaddeus Young and Spencer Hawes for expiring deals and draft picks as was confirmed by Keith Pompey on Philly.com (again) and with Toronto holding a shaky grasp on third place overall in the Eastern Conference, will President and General Manager, Basketball Operations Masai Ujiri bolster his roster with 76ers castoffs?

“The 76ers’ focus in the days leading up to Thursday’s NBA trade deadline is acquiring draft picks, according to an Eastern Conference executive.”

In the close quarters of the 4, no 5, maybe 9 team race for playoff spots 3 thru 8 in the NBA East, acquiring additional talent for future draft picks could be the difference between being in and out of the playoff picture in April.  You’d think teams would be tripping over themselves to get President and General Manager Sam Hinkie on the phone, but apparently it’s just not that easy to get teams to part with draft picks this season.

Teams like the Knicks and Nets don’t have picks to part with and other teams are valuing their draft picks very highly.

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Despite the 76ers terrible record and wildly inconsistent play, all 3 of these players could help most teams this season and beyond.  Hawes is a legitimate stretch 5 with good size on an expiring $6.6 million deal who is still just 25-years-old.  The same age as Hawes, Young is a young impressive forward that might be best off the bench like he was 2 and 3 seasons ago, but is considered overpaid at $8.85 million this season with another year on his deal plus an Early Termination option for just under $10 million in 2015-16.  Turner, also 25, was the second overall draft pick in 2010 and will command a significant salary bump as a restricted free agent this summer (but probably a lot less than feared) and is a high potential wing if he matures into the talent envisioned when he was drafted.

All of them expected to be moved long before now and despite some excellent individual numbers this season, the question on most general managers’ minds will be, have these 3 players grown tired enough of losing to accept a role on a team looking to win?  No one in a playoff race needs a player looking to get theirs in order to maximize the next contract, but if these 3 players haven’t figured it out yet, this year’s nice individual stats hasn’t exactly boosted their trade (or next contract) value.

In Toronto, Ujiri’s issue is the unexpected strong team chemistry that has developed with the 4 players he acquired from the Kings in December.  However, the veteran John Salmons’ $7.6 million salary isn’t guaranteed for next season and has a $1 million buyout that will be exercised.  Chuck Hayes is a really nice veteran mentor who plays hard, but at $5.9 million guaranteed for next season, there would be less expensive options to fill this role if he could be traded.  Tyler Hansbrough’s deal isn’t guaranteed for next season, but at $3.3 million, he was and is a value signing.  Three-point specialist Steve Novak still has 2 more years on his deal at just under $7 million total, but he would be a better fit on a contending team (and that might be Toronto eventually).  Toronto has players they could move, however, Ujiri has made it very clear that he isn’t very interested in moving his best young assets and he values his draft picks pretty highly as well.

At the start of this season, the Raptors set their sights on the NBA All-Star game that is coming to Toronto in 2016 and it isn’t very likely that rookies and sophomores will be leading the charge to contention.  Young up-and-coming players that can make an impact 2 years from now will look a lot more like the 3 players the 76ers want to move than some fresh-faced 20-year-old.  Unless Ujiri has another target in mind – say soon to be free agent Luol Deng or someone better – this group of 25-year-olds might be as good as it gets.

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Casey likes stretch big men and this team could use another forward or wing that can score.  Hawes plus one of Evans or Young would represent a significant upgrade in talent for Toronto.  Ujiri has a wealth of second round picks to include in a deal thanks to the Knicks and it is unlikely the 76ers can do better than a heavily protected or late first round draft pick in any deal, if at all.

It’s not an easy call and the Raptors can probably stay well above .500 for the rest of this season by doing nothing, but Toronto could win big by taking a risk and making a deal with the 76ers.  This is the kind of move that could significantly upgrade the talent on the Raptors now and in the future.

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.
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NBA Eastern Conference Preseason Forecast Review

1. 40-12 Indiana Pacers – 49-32 last season, originally projected 55-27 (4th)
The Pacers are a team on a mission and taking nights off is so last year.

2. 37-14 Miami HEAT – 66-16 last season, originally projected 60-22 (2nd)
The HEAT still have the best player in the NBA, but sometimes that just isn’t enough during the long regular season.

3. 28-24 Toronto Raptors – 34-48 last season, originally projected 44-38 (7th)
The Raptors should be in seventh place with their record, but as the rest of conference has underperformed, they are enjoying a more lofty position.

 

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