For the last decade, the Raptors were the picture of franchise stability. Head honcho Masai Ujiri had built a self-sustaining machine—the Raptors were fundamentally the Raptors, regardless of which players cycled through. Dwane Casey gave way to Nick Nurse; DeMar DeRozan was replaced by Kawhi Leonard who was replaced by Pascal Siakam. This year, though, the Raptors’ familiarity with each other has only bred contempt. Everybody is unhappy. With the season-ending play-in flameout against the Bulls proving once and for all that the status quo is untenable, the Raptors enter the offseason as the nexus of offseason trade rumors.
““I think everybody in the league knows that Toronto is going to be heading to a breakup,” an NBA executive told Steve Bulpett of Heavy Sports.
Outside of trading Scottie Barnes, everything seems on the table for the Raptors. Fred VanVleet, the team’s homegrown All-Star point guard, could hit free agency this summer if he opts out of his deal; OG Anunoby was a trade deadline target for nearly half the league before the Raptors chose to hold onto him at the 11th hour; superstar forward Pascal Siakam is too old to endure a long rebound and the Raptors could kickstart a rebuild with the haul they’d get for him in a deal.
“They’re going to get rid of some of their assets and just go in another direction,” a league source told Bulpett. “Who it is, I don’t know. But I know that (OG) Anunoby’s name comes up all the time. Interestingly enough, (Pascal) Siakam’s name is not as well regarded as you would have thought. The guy gets buckets. He can score. But [I] think he and Gary Trent carry the same label. They can score, but I’m not sure they help you win.”
Beyond all the trade rumors that surround the Raptors’ offseason plans, even head coach Nick Nurse seems to be on the outs. With Nurse entering the final year of a lucrative four-year, $32 million contract that runs through the 2023-2024 season, neither side seems all too interested in continuing their partnership.
“I like their talent level,” the league source continued. “We’d love to have some of that. But together, what they have doesn’t work. It just doesn’t. I think Nurse has been around, and he realizes when the bloom is off the rose.”
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