Since the 2017-18 NBA season started, Jonas Valanciunas emerged as the likely trade candidate for the Toronto Raptors. His name was frequently involved in rumors that would give the Raptors a superstar center before the February 8 trade deadline. However, the latest NBA rumors suggest the Raptors will be making a trade that will give them a stretch big that will enable Serge Ibaka to become Toronto’s starting center.
The Toronto Raptors are one of the NBA teams who dreamt of contending for the NBA championship title this season. So far, they are on a three-game winning streak and reside in the third spot in the Eastern Conference. As of now, the Raptors are considered as a strong playoff contender in the East, but their current roster is obviously not enough to beat LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers in a best-of-seven series.
In most trade rumors swirling around Toronto, Jonas Valanciunas is considered as the main trade chip. One of the interesting scenarios was the deal that would send him to the Memphis Grizzlies for Marc Gasol, per Chris Herrington of Commercial Appeal. However, it will make more sense for the Raptors to trade for a big man who can help them improve their floor spacing.
Simon Neuwelt-Broder of Raptors Rapture proposed a deal that would trade Nikola Mirotic and Quincy Pondexter to the Raptors in exchange for Jonas Valanciunas. This will give them a reliable power forward who can shoot the ball from beyond the arc.
Since his return from an injury, Nikola Mirotic has been very impressive on both ends of the floor. In five games, he’s averaging 20.0 points and 6.2 rebounds while shooting 53.8 percent from the field and 50.0 percent from the three-point range. After having an altercation with teammates Bobby Portis, Mirotic continues to find his way out of the Chicago Bulls.
K.C. Johnson of Chicago Tribune reported the Bulls are already gauging the trade value of Nikola Mirotic in the market. The suggested Raptors-Bulls trade will let Mirotic play for a contender. The starting lineup of Mirotic, Serge Ibaka, OG Anunoby, DeMar DeRozan, and Kyle Lowry will give opposing teams a huge headache on the offensive end of the floor.
Acquiring Jonas Valanciunas doesn’t make a lot of sense for the Bulls since they currently have Robin Lopez and Cristiano Felicio. However, as Johnson noted, the Bulls are also finding potential trade partners for Lopez. Valanciunas is only 25, young enough to be part of a rebuilding team like the Bulls. If the deal will become a reality, it will definitely help the Raptors and the Bulls fill up the needs to improve on their roster.