Despite losing Kawhi Leonard in last year’s free agency period, the reigning NBA champion Toronto Raptors have managed to remain competitive in the Eastern Conference in the 2019-20 season. As of now, Toronto has won seven of their last 10 games, sitting in the No. 4 spot in the Eastern Conference with a 23-11 record. Instead of becoming active sellers, as predicted earlier this season, rumors are circulating that the Raptors could turn into buyers and try to make major roster upgrades before the February trade deadline.
According to Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated, after seeing his team’s current performance, Raptors President of Basketball Operations Masai Ujiri could once again make big moves that could improve their chances of dominating the Eastern Conference and defending their throne this season. Mannix mentioned several players who could be on the team’s radar before the trade deadline. These include Kevin Love and Tristan Thompson of the Cleveland Cavaliers, Jrue Holiday of the New Orleans Pelicans, and Robert Covington of the Minnesota Timberwolves.
“The Raptors could be active everywhere. They have the expiring contracts. They have the intriguing young players. They have the future draft picks. They could probably pluck Toronto native Tristan Thompson out of Cleveland anytime they wanted. If they got aggressive, they might be able to quickly cut a deal for Kevin Love, too. Versatile wings like Holiday and Robert Covington could be in play.”
Love and Holiday would be incredible trade targets for the Raptors. Though they are not as dominant as Kawhi Leonard was last season, the two veterans are both capable of filling the hole he left on the offensive end of the floor. Love would give the team an All-Star-caliber big man who is capable of knocking down shots from beyond the arc. The potential arrival of Love wouldn’t force Pascal Siakam to make huge adjustments to his game as the Cavaliers star knows how to efficiently play alongside ball-dominant players.
Meanwhile, Holiday wouldn’t only give the Raptors a very reliable scoring option but also a great perimeter defender. Though he normally plays as a point guard, he likely wouldn’t have a hard time developing chemistry with Kyle Lowry in Toronto’s backcourt since he can excel on the floor even without the ball in his hands.
Though they aren’t superstars, Thompson and Covington would also be good additions to the Raptors. Thompson, a Toronto native, would boost their frontcourt, while Covington would give them a three-and-D wingman who could serve as Siakam’s primary backup. He could also be used as the team’s starting small forward when they choose to use Siakam at the four.