The Toronto Raptors did not make any blockbuster moves at this year’s trade deadline, but they quietly improved their current roster while protecting their future.
No doubt that the Toronto Raptors’ focus at the deadline was to move disgruntled point guard Goran Dragic, even for a role player like Thaddeus Young. Dragic came to the Raptors in the off season with Precious Achiuwa as part of a sign-and-trade deal for Kyle Lowry. It was clear from the beginning that Dragic did not want to be a part of this team saying that he has, “higher ambitions,” during an interview in August 2021. Dragic has been away from the team since November 2021.
The Thaddeus Young-Goran Dragic trade allows the Toronto Raptors to have financial flexibility as they have some breathing room from the luxury tax line without Dragic’s contract. It also provides them more bench scoring, albeit at a position where the bench is full of depth according to Sportsnet Central analysis.
Toronto Raptors receive: Thaddeus Young, Drew Eubanks, and a 2022 second-round pick via Detroit.
San Antonio Spurs receive: Goran Dragic, a 2022 first-round pick — the pick is lottery protected; meaning that if the Raptors land one of the top 14 picks in 2022, the Spurs pick will move to 2023. If the Raptors land one of the top 13 picks in 2023 then the Spurs will get two second-round picks the following year.
San Antonio has since bought out Goran Dragic and Toronto has waived Drew Eubanks making them both free agents.
The Toronto Raptors ultimately got what they wanted at the trade deadline. They got rid of Dragic’s big contract, picked up a gritty young veteran to complement their core in Thaddeus Young, and managed to retain an open roster spot all while only slipping slightly in the 2022 draft.
Although many Raptors fans may disagree with the acquisition of another power forward when the team desperately needs backup guards and a traditional centre, it is not the worst situation. Young will provide a much-needed boost of the bench which was one of the main focuses for the front office, according to many experts.
It is important to note that the Raptors did not give up anything significant to get rid of Dragic.
Sliding 11 spots in the draft to the No. 31 overall pick is not anything to be concerned about, said Raptors general manager Bobby Webster during his post-trade deadline press conference.
“You slide a little bit in the draft, and you pick up a player that you know you think can help you… realistically, we don’t see a ton of, you know, incremental change between those picks,” said Webster.
Waiving Drew Eubanks also re-opened a roster spot that the Raptors can fill in many ways before the March 1 roster deadline. They have the option to sign a G-league player, offer a contract to a two-way player like Justin Champagnie (who has proved to be a valuable part of the rotation at times), or try their hand in the buyout market.
The Raptors did not fulfill all their needs, but they are in a much better spot than they were prior to the deadline considering they were not willing to give up any core players or take on extra money.
Salary and luxury tax implications
This trade not only benefited the Toronto Raptors roster but also allowed for some breathing room from the luxury tax line.
NBA luxury tax is implemented when a team exceeds the pre-determined salary cap with their payroll. The amount of luxury tax depends on how much over the salary cap a team is. The money is distributed evenly amongst non-taxpaying teams across the league at the end of the season.
Dropping Dragic’s salary will save the Raptors around $900,000 in salary for the rest of this season, which gives them about $3.4 million until they must pay into the luxury tax. This means they can be more aggressive in the buyout market.
Looking to the playoffs and beyond
Looking ahead to the playoffs this year, the Raptors are not projected to make it past the first round.
When asked about their chances in the playoffs this season, Raptors reporter Aaron Rose said they did not have the opportunity to make any significant moves that could propel them to contend for a title in a competitive Eastern conference.
“There wasn’t really a deal that would have pushed them into the second round without giving up a core player which they weren’t going to do or taking on a ton of long-term money… They needed a backup point guard, a backup shooting guard, and some sort of traditional centre at the trade deadline, and they didn’t fill any of those needs,” said Rose in an email statement.
In terms of the 2022 offseason, the bench needs to be addressed. It is evident that the Raptors front office is committed to retaining their core five and have the money to do so. They will have about $33 million to add a player after paying current salaries and incentives.
Contact Information Aaron Rose – [email protected] OR 647-202-6063