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The Toronto Raptors were at the center of rumors leading up to February’s trade deadline but ultimately decided to hold onto their primary players.
They might not take that same route in the offseason.
“I think everybody in the league knows that Toronto is going to be heading to a breakup,” a league executive told Steve Bulpett of Heavy.com.
Another league source said, “they’re going to get rid of some of their assets and just go in another direction” and listed O.G. Anunoby and Pascal Siakam as potential candidates to be moved via trade.
Toronto surely didn’t expect to be at this point coming into the 2022-23 campaign. Expectations were high after a 48-34 effort the previous season, especially with a core of Fred VanVleet, Siakam, Scottie Barnes and Anunoby entering the new year with more experience playing together.
Yet the end result was a 41-41 record, plenty of inconsistency and the No. 9 seed in the Eastern Conference. It was a fitting conclusion when the Raptors blew a 19-point lead to the Chicago Bulls in Wednesday’s play-in tournament game and saw their disappointing season come to an end.
The loss immediately brought the future into focus.
VanVleet has a player option for 2023-24, and head coach Nick Nurse has already been connected to other openings even though his future with Toronto is yet to be decided. He may be one of the best coaches in the league, but Josh Lewenberg of TSN noted “it certainly feels like this is headed towards a split.”
Potential departures of Nurse and VanVleet could signal something of a rebuild around Barnes, who was the 2021-22 Rookie of the Year.
Trading Siakam and Anunoby could help the team land additional draft capital or young players to accelerate that rebuild and put it back into contention in the Eastern Conference down the line.
Just like at the trade deadline, the Raptors will be one of the teams to watch in the early portion of the offseason.