The Toronto Raptors entered the 2018-19 NBA season as one of the top favorite NBA teams to fully dominate the LeBron James-less Eastern Conference. Since the regular season officially started, the Raptors continue to live up to expectations, and as of now, they are on a five-game winning streak, sitting in the No.1 spot in the Eastern Conference with a 33-12 record.
If the Philadelphia 76ers and the Boston Celtics don't improve their chemistry, the Raptors will have a strong chance of making their first appearance in the NBA Finals this season. Becoming the new ruler of the Eastern Conference is definitely attainable for the Raptors, especially if they manage to remain healthy throughout the season. However, beating the reigning NBA champions, Golden State Warriors, in a best-of-seven series remains a big question mark.
Grant Hughes of Bleacher Report recently created several trade ideas that could prevent the Warriors from winning their third consecutive NBA championship title this season. For the Raptors, Hughes suggested that they could trade for Courtney Lee of the New York Knicks.
Hughes believes that the Raptors have the type of defense that could limit the Warriors' production on the offensive end of the floor. Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green could guard the Warriors' best scoring options, Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry. What the Raptors need to defeat them is to improve their ability to convert those defensive stops into points where a reliable three-point shooter like Courtney Lee could help.
"The blueprint for shutting down Golden State's elite offense is uncomplicated when you've got stoppers like Toronto does. What the Raps may not be able to do in a potential Finals matchup, though, is shoot well enough to make all that ridiculous defensive personnel matter. The Raps are 23rd in three-point accuracy, and Green is their only high-volume shooter north of 37 percent on the year. To beat Golden State, you have to have multiple threats stretching the defense and punishing the occasional lapses of off-ball focus we've seen crop up with the Warriors in this, their worst defensive season of the Steve Kerr era."In the proposed trade deal by Bleacher Report, the Raptors will be trading Norman Powell, Malachi Richardson, and a 2019 second-round pick to the Knicks for Courtney Lee. The deal works on ESPN's NBA Trade Machine.
Since the Carmelo Anthony-era in New York came to an end, Courtney Lee has been in and out of the Knicks' rotation. At this point in his NBA career, Lee definitely wants to play for a legitimate title contender like the Raptors rather than staying on a rebuilding team. Despite being the odd man out in New York, Lee could still be a great addition to a team that needs a lockdown defender and floor spacer.
The Knicks will surely love dumping Courtney Lee to the Raptors, but it is less likely that they would take Norman Powell in return. The Knicks will prefer to trade Lee for expiring contracts in order to help them to create enough salary cap space to sign a max-level free agent next summer.