Since winning the title in 2019, the Toronto Raptors just haven’t been able to muster the same magic. To be fair, star forward Kawhi Leonard left the team and they have made the playoffs a few times but as of right now, they seem to be trending more downward than upward.
The roster still boasts some talent on it but that talent just hasn’t translated to winning basketball games. And now there are questions surrounding head coach Nick Nurse and whether there is frustration with him. The Raptors currently sit in the 12th spot in the Eastern Conference with a record of 23-29. They have shown that they lack the ability to hang with the elites of the conference and are stuck in his weird mediocrity. So where does Toronto go from here?
First off, the team needs to decide what they want to do with guard Fred VanVleet. VanVleet is still only 28 yards old but has a player option after this season for almost $23 million. He is still a very good player in the NBA, averaging 19.2 points and 6.5 assists per game this season. If Toronto made him available before the trade deadline coming up, teams surely would be lining up to get him.
Personally, I think it’s time for the Raptors to trade VanVleet. He isn’t getting any younger and his trade value is as high as it ever will be right now. They will have a ton of teams offering strong, competitive deals in order to get the services of VanVleet. The asking price is reportedly high and rightfully so.
Next up is what they do with players such as Gary Trent Jr. and OG Anunoby. Trent Jr. has a player option on his deal after this season like VanVleet so trading him could make some sense. Anunoby has an extra year on his deal than the others so the team may want to hold onto him at this point and time.
There will be a lot of moving pieces for the Raptors as the trade deadline comes up here soon. The team could even entertain trading star forward Pascal Siakam if they wanted to really blow things up. It’s unlikely and they probably want to build around him and forward Scottie Barnes. These are the core pieces of this franchise and will be the building blocks for Toronto going forward.
The Raptors could part ways with some of their players to bring in some real assets to start building this franchise back up. The worst place to be in sports is dead-set in the middle of the pack and that is exactly where the Raptors are. Toronto has some soul searching to do and starting things over may be the best route for this proud franchise to take.