I left off from last week critiquing Jeff Blair’s article on Sportsnet on what his definition of going “all-in” meant for these Toronto Raptors. Now that the hoopla of All-Star weekend is over and the trade deadline is almost here we can re-focus on the Toronto Raptors media coverage and, oddly enough, the trade piece they all seem to be missing.
In my last column I teased a possible trade piece that would define going “all-in” and become serious contenders in the Eastern Conference Playoffs. His name is Dwight Howard. Let me be absolutely clear, I am not the biggest Dwight Howard fan. He’s slightly past his athletic prime, he has subpar winning intangibles and he can be a bit of a primadonna. However, as a third option he would put us on par with the other serious Eastern Conference contenders when it comes to star power. Although Dwight’s star has somewhat faded, he’s still considered one of the elite centres in the league when he’s on his game. His averages of 15 points 10 rebounds and 1.5 blocks are still relatively impressive. Let’s not forget, he’s a 4x defensive player of the year and was the second best player on a Western Conference finalist last year.
As opposed to the Toronto Maple Leafs who never even attempt to go for a marquee star (unless you can consider management as stars), I think it’s time the Raptors take a page out of the Toronto Blue Jays playbook and try and get that Troy Tulowitzki or David Price, even if it’s for only 1 year (Howard has a player option next year which he may or may not exercise). For whatever reason, the Toronto Sports Media conveniently leaves his name out when discussing trade possibilities, despite the fact that the Houston Rockets are actively shopping him.
Mike Ganter of the Toronto Sun writes
“The truth of the matter is anything Ujiri might want to do between now and 3 p.m. Thursday when the trade deadline expires is extremely limited.
Short of parting with any of his core pieces, bringing in any one of the rumoured available players is going to be very tough”.
I’m sorry Mr. Ganter, but Masai’s options are not limited when you accept the fact that the only “core” pieces on the Raptors are Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan. My trade by the way would look like this. In less than a minute I came up with a trade that works for both teams while giving away no more than a couple role players and a prospect. Whether the Houston Rockets would accept this deal is a real possibility, in my opinion.
Doug Smith of thestar.com writes.
“It’s far easier to say that Masai Ujiri should go get some upper tier power forward but if he has to send out so much salary it guts the team somewhere else, it’s not worth it”
As I stressed in my previous article, Lowry and DeRozan are the team. The rest of the guys are interchangeable role players. Both writers mention the names Thadeus Young, Markieff Morris, Al Horford, Ryan Anderson, Kenneth Faried etc, but they forget to mention the biggest fish of them all – Dwight Howard. The one guy who is actually being publicly being shopped, is a future hall of famer and who is still only 30 years old!
I’ll say it once and I’ll say it again, you won’t be a real contender in these playoffs without at least 3 star caliber players. You aren’t gutting the team by sending glorified role players for Dwight Howard. I’m shocked that Mike Ganter or Doug Smith can’t see this. Instead they entertain deals that will either bring back marginally upgradable talent to fill a “need”, players barely rumoured to be shopped, or to stand pat entirely.
It’s just remarkable that one of the most dominant defensive forces of our generation is not being mentioned. It says a lot about the conservatism of the Toronto Raptors sports media – to essentially think small once again. This is a win now league and he gives us the best shot for a deep playoff run. The numbers work, its time to roll the dice and take our shot.