With the trade deadline approaching some teams need to decide whether to buy or sell their players. Two weeks ago we looked at the Knicks and the Bulls today we will continue examining teams on the cusp with important decisions to make. This week we will look at the Toronto Raptors and the Utah Jazz.
The Raptors are in an interesting position. Presently they are in eleventh place, out of the play-in game and sit four and a half games out of sixth place. They have what would be considered a veteran team.
The Raptors have all of their first round draft picks for the rest of the decade. They do not have any additional first round picks. Toronto management cannot be happy with their situation because as an organization they are not happy with just making the playoffs especially with what one would consider a veteran team.
This year the Raptors are over the cap. Next year Fred Van Fleet and Gary Trent Jr. have player options. Both players appear to be willing to become free agents. If they do Toronto will dip under the cap by a little over thirty million. Pascal Siakam is signed for next year at thirty-seven million. OG Anunoby is also signed for next year and has a player option for the year after. His contract is more moderate coming in a little below twenty million. The team also has Scottie Barnes for at least two more years and barring something crazy happening will re-sign him when he is a restricted free agent.
When you look at the Raptors you see a team that doesn’t mesh well as a team and is at a crossroads. They should begin to replace some of their veterans. Van Fleet and Trent should be on the market and moved by the trade deadline. If not the Raptors run the risk of losing both for nothing. The question becomes who to keep to team up with Barnes. My choice is to try to re-sign Anunoby and try to deal Siakam. Though Siakam makes a great deal of money he could be the piece that puts a team over the top.
It’s time for the Raptors to realize this group has gone as far as possible and it’s time to sell.
The Jazz are in a nice spot as they appear to be set up for the future while being a lower level playoff team now. This is all because of the trades Danny Ainge made in the off season. Trading Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell and getting the haul they got has helped set them up. The Jazz have three first round picks in 23, one in 24, three in 25, one in 26, three in 27 and 29 and one in 28.
In addition to this Utah is in good shape with regards to the salary cap. They project to be under next year. Their future assets are also pretty good. They have Lauri Markkanen, a probable all star, signed for two more years after this year. They also have Collin Sexton signed for three more years. Rookies Walker Kessler and Ochai Agbaji have bright futures while Jordan Clarkson will be a free agent and all indications are Utah wants to sign him.
If the Jazz make no progress in their negotiations with him by the deadline he could be traded. In addition to this Kelly Olynyk a free agent after this year, Malik Beasley has a player option next year and Michael Conley with one year left on his contract are all players that could help other teams and should be on the market.
In a few years the Jazz have the opportunity to be an upper level team if they play it right. As for now the verdict is to sell Conley, Olynyk, Beasley and if he doesn’t re-sign Clarkson. The Jazz could then build around Markkanen, Sexton, Kessler and Agbaji.