The Toronto Raptors are coming off a disappointing 27-45 season in which they failed to make the playoffs after seven consecutive appearances. That makes their upcoming 2021 NBA offseason all the more pivotal.
With franchise cornerstone and emotional leader Kyle Lowry hitting unrestricted free agency and uncertainty as to how the roster will be built out at the top, Toronto has its work cut out to reascend among the Eastern Conference’s elite.
Here’s a look at the latest rumors surrounding the Raptors, along with some potential trade scenarios they could pull off this summer and free-agent targets they should consider.
Toronto Raptors rumors: Team shut down massive Ben Simmons trade offer
The Action Network’s Matt Moore reported that the Raptors were offered Ben Simmons in exchange for Kyle Lowry, OG Anunoby, Fred VanVleet and the fourth overall pick.
That seems like a steep price for a guard with plus size and elite defense who can’t shoot. Anunoby is already an elite wing defender, VanVleet has a knack for active hands in passing lanes, and sacrificing the fourth overall pick as part of the package makes it all too costly.
If the Philadelphia 76ers truly believe Simmons is worth that type of haul, they have another thing coming.
Toronto Raptors rumors: Buzz leading into 2021 NBA Draft
The Ringer‘s Kevin O’Connor reported that the Raptors have been trying to move up from fourth to third overall in the NBA Draft order. Thus far, the Cleveland Cavaliers haven’t budged. O’Connor also reported Toronto’s interest in Florida State swingman Scottie Barnes is legitimate.
Barnes’ defensive upside and playmaking ability off the bounce is worth getting excited for, but two other prospects make a lot more sense for the Raptors to take: Gonzaga guard Jalen Suggs and USC big man Evan Mobley.
Kyle Lowry is far from guaranteed to return to Toronto. Keeping the veteran leader would mean a big chunk of cap space spent. Instead, Suggs could be the new backcourt mate for Fred VanVleet.
If Toronto really does want to move up to No. 3 in Cleveland’s place, Mobley should be the pick if he’s there. He’s a 7-footer with great shooting touch, handles, and elite rim protecting ability. He’s a potentially transformative force who’d be a fascinating frontcourt addition next to Pascal Siakam.
Frontcourt may get boost from Nerlens Noel this summer
SNY.tv’s Ian Begley reported recently that New York Knicks big man Nerlens Noel is expected to draw interest from the Raptors.
Naturally, any team in the market for a strong sub off the bench in the frontcourt should be keeping their eye on Noel this offseason. Despite falling short of the high expectations once placed on him, Noel is an excellent defender. His per 36-minute average of over three blocks across the past three seasons shows his value in the paint.
It’s fair to wonder if Noel’s best basketball is ahead of him, too. He was part of the overcrowded group of bigs during the Philadelphia 76ers’ Process era, which eventually led him to Dallas. Unfortunately, Noel predated the Mavericks’ drafting of Luka Doncic, so he missed the boat on that one.
Then, Noel was in Oklahoma City, and we all know the Thunder are in a perpetual rebuild. He was playing on a one-year prove-it deal in New York, and should cash in pretty nicely on the open market.
Toronto Raptors rumors: Gary Trent Jr. expected to remain with team
Due to be a restricted free agent this offseason, Gary Trent Jr. arrived in a deadline trade from the Portland Trail Blazers this past season, but appears likely to stick around in Toronto, per The Athletic’s John Hollinger.
Trent is a career 39% 3-point shooter whose explosive scoring ability from the perimeter is something the Raptors definitely need going forward. At only 22 years old, Trent is an excellent role player who still has upside to develop even more on both ends of the court.
No word yet, or any indication, as to what the Raptors’ plans are for the No. 4 overall pick in the 2021 NBA Draft. They have a golden opportunity to get another young, blue-chip player to build around. At least for now, it looks like Trent fits into their plans no matter who they take.
Toronto Raptors rumors: Pascal Siakam could be traded to Golden State
The Athletic’s John Hollinger reported that Siakam has caught the eye of the Golden State Warriors, and they may package James Wiseman and the 2021 NBA Draft’s seventh overall pick to try to acquire the Raptors star.
Now, granted, Hollinger just mentioned Siakam as a “name to watch” among the various strategies the Warriors could deploy to make “more immediate upgrades to the roster.” Nevertheless, where there’s smoke, there’s fire, and Toronto may want to sell high on Siakam while it’s possible.
Siakam would command a ton of trade value, and it’d take something extraordinary for the Raptors to commit. Because Golden State probably can’t offer enough on its own, another team could become involved.
One piece in the deal could be Andrew Wiggins, who was born in Toronto and would likely embrace a homecoming if he had to be traded anywhere.
Toronto Raptors rumors: Pascal Siakam likely to miss start of 2021-22 season
When news broke of Pascal Siakam undergoing shoulder surgery, the timeline for his return was set at around five months, but that tentative span wasn’t super specific. The buzz coming out of Toronto thereafter suggests Siakam isn’t going to have a recovery process that puts him ahead of schedule.
With the NBA resuming action for a new regular season on October 19, Siakam is reportedly not going to be cleared for contact until after Raptors training camp, per Sportsnet’s Michael Grange.
Not being cleared for contact means team drills are out of the question for Siakam, so he’ll have to rehab his shoulder extremely well in addition to doing all he can to keep in basketball shape. Of course, that can’t really be achieved until he gets some live game reps under his belt.
It can’t be understated how big of a blow Siakam’s absence could be at the dawn of the 2021-21 campaign. These Raptors are trying to wash the bad taste of this past season out, and not having one of their best players, in addition to potentially losing Lowry, is going to make that task even harder.
Toronto Raptors rumors: Kyle Lowry a target for the Knicks
SNY’s Ian Begley named the New York Knicks as a specific team who could be interested in Kyle Lowry in free agency.
That’s a tricky situation, because what could the Knicks realistically give Toronto in the exchange that’d result in a satisfying sign-and-trade? A third team would probably need to come in to facilitate such a deal.
If New York ends up signing Lowry outright, well, the Raptors are just flat out of luck.
Toronto Raptors trade scenarios for 2021 NBA offseason
A Kyle Lowry sign-and-trade
You can imagine the mutual respect and adoration between the Raptors and Kyle Lowry. They’ve been together for so long, and have a championship during that span. Lowry is 35, though, and Toronto has a big decision to make in terms of whether to pay him big money again, or to just go younger.
Among the stars who are going to hit the open market, it feels like Lowry is among the most likely to willingly facilitate a sign-and-trade agreement. Lowry reportedly wants at least a two-year deal worth $25 million per season.
That’s definitely workable, and some team that really wants him may even be willing to go higher than that for Lowry. After all, he had a solid 2020-21 season, averaging 17.2 points, 5.4 rebounds and 7.3 assists. Lowry still seems to have plenty in the tank.
Any fringe contender would be wise to kick the tires on signing Lowry — even if it’s for more than they’d like. This is where a sign-and-trade arrangement, potentially between more than two teams, would come in handy.
Teams could make a big offer for Pascal Siakam
Trading Siakam would definitely be a shock, because he’s made so many improvements to his game in a short time, and at 27, still has lots of upside to explore. That said, since he took on a more central role over the past two seasons, his overall efficiency has gone down.
The question is, will Siakam be good enough to carry Toronto to title contention? Or should the Raptors sell relatively high on him now, and attribute some of his regression in 2020-21 to the aforementioned shoulder injury?
It’s something that Toronto’s front office should at least kick around. This is one of the NBA’s premier personnel departments who’ve grown exceptional in-house talent and also made some great veteran additions in years past.
Siakam is at something of a crossroads, but trading him would have to fetch the Raptors a huge haul. Watching him flourish elsewhere would especially sting if the compensation didn’t match up.
Toronto has to be careful with its approach to Siakam’s future. He’s as important as any current player to the franchise’s long-term outlook, whether he’s cashed in as a trade chip or he stays to be the new face of the organization.
Top Toronto Raptors free-agent targets this summer
- Dennis Schroder, guard, Los Angeles Lakers
- Lonzo Ball, guard, New Orleans Pelicans (restricted)
- Taj Gibson, forward, New York Knicks