The Toronto Raptors may not end up with Kevin Durant when all the dust settles after his trade request, but it won’t be for lack of trying. Masai Ujiri has ensured that Toronto is constantly mentioned as a landing spot as the trade saga rages on.
Toronto’s odds, slim as they are, improved slightly on Thursday night as the Phoenix Suns tied Deandre Ayton’s restricted free agency offer sheet. Now untradable until Jan. 15, Durant’s supposed favorite destination has lost its top trade chip.
The Warriors have been mentioned, but no one believes the reunion is happening in earnest. With the Heat unable to return Bam Adebayo to Brooklyn, Miami may not have the collection of assets needed to lure the Nets. This is where the Raptors could slip in.
While other contenders might be desperate to trade KD for bankruptcy this season, the Raptors seem more than content to sit back and avoid hastily launching some of their most prized players. Brooklyn may not realize it, but Toronto plays it expertly.
The Toronto Raptors could win in the Kevin Durant draw.
While a package of OG Anunoby, Gary Trent Jr and copious amounts of draw control may not sound like the world-shattering package Brooklyn wants, but every team that could give the Nets a mind-blowing haul is slowly dropping out of the running. . Toronto may be one of the few teams still standing.
Brooklyn is likely taking advantage of the desperation of some of the other teams in the chase. The allure of KD could be so intoxicating to teams like Miami and Phoenix that they end up giving Brooklyn that extra pick or that mortgage-for-the-future player. The Raptors don’t have to do this.
Toronto are more than willing to continue letting rookie of the year Scottie Barnes develop alongside Fred VanVleet and Pascal Siakam while Anunoby and Trent provide support at both ends. If Ujiri and Sean Marks find themselves locked in a staring contest, it would take quite a reversal for Ujiri to blink first and concede.
Toronto probably won’t trade for Durant, but their trading strategy is the best way to try to strengthen Brooklyn. If the Nets eventually give in and take the best deal available, the Raptors will be waiting there. If Brooklyn holds up, Toronto can start the season fully confident in their team.