It likely only matters if Kevin Durant is available too
How does the latest round of Kyrie-drama impact the Raptors? Nobody in sports seems to bring drama as consistently and loudly as Kyrie Irving, for at least a while longer, a member of the Brooklyn Nets. His latest trade demand, after finding his way out of Cleveland and Boston previously, makes the final few days before the NBA’s February 9 trade deadline quite a bit more interesting. Is there a team willing to gamble on an ultra-talented, but incredibly distracting player that misses tons of games for one reason or another? Better yet, is any team actually willing to commit long-term to such a wildcard?
Only the Lakers make any sense.
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But what it does is potentially lessen the suitors for the likes of O.G. Anunoby, Fred VanVleet and Gary Trent Jr. because a team or two might want to go for Irving. That might be a stretch though, as we can’t see teams lining up for Irving. What’s a bigger deal, Raptors-wise, is how just about every team would want to see if this means superstar Kevin Durant is available again. If he is, it will likely be harder to move Anunoby because Durant is a much bigger fish. If he’s not available, the Irving market shouldn’t be a big deal in these parts.
AROUND THE RIM
- I don’t love talking about all-star snubs (they should expand the rosters to 15 players to avoid this annual topic), but not having Siakam on the team is pretty egregious. His offensive numbers are at worst equal to those of DeMar DeRozan and Julius Randle (at worst, I’d argue they are better) and he’s an excellent defender, as opposed to those two being well below league average. Chicago and Toronto have nearly identical records and even if you factor in New York’s success, every team in the league would rather have Siakam over Randle for a reason. He’s better and he has been better this year. I’d also quibble with Jrue Holiday making the team and Jimmy Butler not, especially since they’ve missed around the same number of games (the only argument for Butler ever not to make it is how many games he isn’t available for). In the West I’d probably pick De’Aaron Fox over Damian Lillard this season but that’s a pick’em situation. Add Anthony Edwards to that argument too. Jaren Jackson Jr. was an interesting choice too.
- Was odd to see Scottie Barnes hoist up seven three-pointers a game after he got up six. Until these two games Barnes had not attempted six or more three-pointers since December 5 and he’d only done it five times all season. Put another way: Barnes has attempted 13 three-pointers in February, in just two games. In all of January (16 games) he attempted 33. He hit nine in January. He’s already hit five this month.
- Houston is such a puzzling team. What are they doing? Just waiting until they see if they get one of the two potential franchise changers at the top of this draft it seems. But what about developing the young guys? Youngsters seem to pop in and out of the rotation on a weekly basis. Eric Gordon keeps playing, which helps nobody. Don’t you want to see what you have in players like TyTy Washington, Josh Christopher (outstanding in summer league and against the Raptors on Friday) and others? Don’t you want to figure out who is part of the core along with Jalen Green, Jabari Smith Jr. and Alperen Sengun and the incoming high-lottery selection? A once great franchise has been spinning its wheels for too long. Only Charlotte seems more lost. And I understand the appeal of Green, especially after watching the ascension of Anthony Edwards, another scoring guard with athletic gifts, but they should have picked Evan Mobley, Scottie Barnes or even Franz Wagner (though that would have been seen as a reach).
1 Fred VanVleet
2 Gary Trent Jr.
3 Alperen Sengun
Honourable mention: Eric Gordon, Josh Christopher, Pascal Siakam