On Thursday morning, a report from SNY’s Ian Begley it transpired that in December knicks offered the raptors two first-round picks for OG Anunoby. This comes after it was reported earlier this week, by the Bruce Arthur of Toronto Starthat the Raptors received an offer from an unnamed team of three first-round picks to Anunoby.

So far, Masai Ujiri has not moved.

But how long will it remain like this?

It’s not just Anunoby that Toronto is sitting on as a potential high-value trading piece. Pascal Siakam is an All-NBA player. Fred VanVleet is an All-Star. Gary Trent Jr. would be a coveted shooter/defender for just about any contender.

If the Raptors wanted to give in to this season’s struggles and put a ceiling on this current core of players, they would be in a position to take Oklahoma City’s road to a rebuild. Scottie Barnes becomes his Shai Gilgeous-Alexander building block, and everyone else goes crazy over a truckload of project capital.

Let’s say Siakam is worth three first-round picks. I’m announcing for three more. VanVleet potentially two. Another for Trent. That’s nine first-round picks, plus Toronto controls all of its own picks going forward. That’s a big booty, but if you’re the Raptors, are you ready to start over? The reason why these players would be worth so much is because they are so good. Hard to replace.

Maybe the Raptors go the route of trading a couple of guys, but keep a core intact. If that’s the case, the VanVleet and/or Trent will most likely be shipped. Assuming Trent declines his player option for next season, both will be unrestricted free agents this summer.

Earlier this month, ESPN’s Tim Bontemps reported that Toronto offered VanVleet the maximum four-year, $114 million extension allowed. VanVleet turned it down. from ESPN:

But one thing is clear: VanVleet believes he’s worth more than Toronto can currently give him.

“Without going too far… [I’m] I’m just trying to put myself in a good business position and not take an extension on a deal that was done three or four years ago,” VanVleet told ESPN.

“I felt like I’ve outgrown that contract so far. So I’m just trying to put myself in a position to put the cards in their hands. They have to make a decision from an organizational standpoint.”

“I love it here. I love being a Raptor. I have a great relationship with Masai and Bobby so I’m confident we can find [a deal]. It’s a great partnership we have, so going forward, I’m not going to make it easy for them and they’re not going to make it easy for me either, and that’s how it goes.”

At the 2021 trade deadline, the Raptors traded Norman Powell to the Blazers for the same reason they could end up trading VanVleet in the coming weeks. They didn’t want to pay Powell what it would have cost to keep him, and they didn’t want to lose him for nothing in free agency.

If you are Ujiri, this is a good problem. Lots of good players that other teams really covet, and he’d probably be fine keeping too. On that same 2021 deadline, it seemed almost like a formality that the Raptors would trade Kyle Lowry. But they didn’t.

Ujiri is not going to compromise. We know a lot. We also know that “good problems” are problems after all. This is not an easy decision. He would certainly trust Ujiri to put together a contender if he suddenly found himself armed with an OKC-like barrel of spikes, but there’s no guarantee. And it can be a long process. Tea Thunder they’ve been at it since 2020 and are only now becoming a .500 team because SGA has become an MVP level player.

Does Barnes really have those kinds of advantages? I would say emphatically no. I think he’s a guy you build around, not around. Same with Anunoby. Siakam is the star, but he will be 29 in April. His schedule wouldn’t fit into a Barnes/draft capital plan.

I don’t know the correct answer. That’s not my job. I guess VanVleet and Trent will move on, and Siakam and Anunoby will stay. That would give Toronto at least two more first-round picks to add to its own chest, which would be a pretty good package to hit the market in an attempt to bring in a star alongside Siakam and Anunoby. That would seem to be the shortest path to contention.

But which star is going to be available? And could the Raptors outbid an OKC or Houston or New York, all of whom are also armed to the teeth with draft capital? Would they be giving up a really good group of players for a chance to become great, only to end up in the same place or even worse than where they started? Go ask a Blazers fan about it.

These are all theoretical questions, but you can bet that Ujiri is considering. These Are The Decisions GMs Get Paid Big Dollars to make. They are not easy. The only thing we know for sure is that if Ujuri decides to trade any of these boys, she won’t be short of suitors.

By sbavh

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