After being swept by LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference semifinals, the Toronto Raptors decided to make a roster overhaul. They included one of their star players, DeMar DeRozan, in a trade package to acquire Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green from the San Antonio Spurs. As of now, the Raptors remain active on the trade market with Jimmy Butler of the Minnesota Timberwolves as their next target.
Jimmy Butler has recently demanded a trade from the Timberwolves after a rumored dispute with his young teammates Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins. Butler gave the Timberwolves a list of his preferred trade destinations which include the Los Angeles Clippers, Brooklyn Nets, and the New York Knicks. Toronto may not be on Butler’s list, but Raptors President Masai Ujiri does love making a huge gamble.
According to Paolo Uggetti of The Ringer, Ujiri could take advantage of the drama in Minnesota as he did with Kawhi Leonard and the Spurs. However, Uggetti believes that the Raptors will be needing to explore a trade package centered on Kyle Lowry to convince the Timberwolves to engage in a blockbuster deal involving Jimmy Butler.
“With discord brewing in Minnesota, it could be the perfect time for Ujiri to step in. An offer that includes another All-Star player (ahem, Lowry), and a young guy who isn’t OG Anunoby, plus picks if needed, could do the trick. Which team could top a package headlined by one of the league’s best point guards—who just so happens to be the sort of salty, pitbull defender that Thibs loves—especially with Butler able to walk at the end of the season? Butler and Kawhi on the court together would be explosive. On defense, they would turn the perimeter into a hunting ground.”
Trading Kyle Lowry is undeniably a tough decision for the Raptors, and it will definitely hurt lots of their fans in Toronto. However, trading another fan-favorite superstar will be worth it if it could give them a higher chance of fully dominating the Eastern Conference next season. Like Kawhi Leonard, Jimmy Butler is also considered as one of the best two-way players in the league.
The tandem of Leonard and Butler will make the Raptors the best defensive team in the upcoming 2018-19 NBA season. The departure of Kyle Lowry will give the Raptors a huge hole to fill at the point guard position. However, as The Ringer noted, Leonard and Butler can both take the responsibility as the Raptors’ primary ball handler. Also, in Lowry’s absence, Raptors young point guard Fred VanVleet will be given the opportunity to shine and prove that he is ready for the starting role.