NBA trade rumors are heating up and will be blazing over the next six days until February 18 when the league trade deadline passes.
Many of these trade rumors are not realistic and have no chance of happening, but one trade that could occur is the New Orleans Pelicans trading veteran power forward Ryan Anderson. One of the places the 27-year-old sharp-shooter could end up is Toronto, as the Raptors are interested in upgrading their power forward position, according to Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press.
Toronto is on pace to set a franchise record for most wins in a season and is in position to steal the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference. The Raptors are 35-17 on the season and are three games in back of Cleveland for the top record in the conference. Toronto has been one of the hottest teams in the NBA since the calendar turned to 2016, going 15-4. The Raptors need just to play .500 ball (15-15) the rest of the season to set the franchise record for most wins.
Toronto has two All-Stars in DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry while also having a stout defense – the Raptors are fifth in the league, surrendering 97.4 points. The Raptors rank 15th in the NBA in scoring and shooting percentage, though they are third in three-point percentage (36.8 percent). Toronto is also an average rebounding team.
Luis Scola, who the Raptors brought in this offseason, has started every game at the four position and has been relatively productive. Scola is averaging 9.4 points and 5.3 rebounds while shooting 45.0 percent from the floor in 22.9 minutes a game. However, the 35-year-old has only scored in double-figures once in nine games and has seen his total production dip the last two months. Scola is better suited for a reserve role at this point of his career. Patrick Patterson, Bismack Biyombo,and James Johnson aren’t really scorers either.
Toronto is currently relying on three players for the majority of its scoring and the Raptors don’t get much offensive production from their frontcourt reserves. Center Jonas Valanciunas and small forward DeMarre Carroll are also scoring in double figures, though Carroll has been out since early January with a knee injury and has only played in 23 games this season.
Anderson would definitely help the Raptors in the scoring department and is an excellent marksman from beyond the arc, though he has struggled in both departments this month. In seven February games, Anderson has been held to single-digits four times and is averaging just 11.3 points while shooting 36.6 percent from the field and 21.4 percent from beyond the arc.
Before this poor stretch, Anderson was in the midst of the best season of his career. He is still averaging 16.7 points while shooting 43.1 percent from the field and 38.3 percent on three-pointers in 31 minutes off the bench. Anderson is the quintessential stretch four and has outstanding range, though he is a poor defender and not a great rebounder.
Bleacher Report is reporting that New Orleans is currently taking calls on Anderson’s availability, they aren’t looking to trade him, though that is expected to change. Anderson is in his final year of his contract and the Pelicans will likely try to get something for him and Eric Gordon rather than losing them for nothing. New Orleans (20-33) isn’t completely out of playoff contention but the Pelicans currently sit in 12th position in the Western Conference, 6.5 games behind Utah for the final playoff spot.
There are a couple of issues with the Raptors attempting to trade for Anderson. Among those issues, Anderson is making $8.5 million this season and the Raptors would have match for that salary to trade for him since they are over the cap and don’t have a trade exception according to TSN.ca. Thus, in order for the Raptors to acquire Anderson or any other player they would have include either Patterson or Cory Joseph along with a first round selection. Also, Toronto is not the only team interested in Anderson as Washington, Houston, Phoenix, and Sacramento has also inquired about his availability.
ESPN is reporting that the Raptors have also inquired about the availability of a few other power forwards: Denver’s Kenneth Faried, Brooklyn’s Thaddeus Young, as well as Phoenix’s Markieff Morris and P.J. Tucker.
[photo by Gerald Herbert/Associated Press]