NBA Trade Rumors, Oklahoma City Thunder, Toronto Raptors

Around the NBA in 15 trades 2019: Day 10, Raptors and Thunder

Back by the popular demand of pretty much only myself, it’s the second annual edition of Around the NBA in 15 Trades. We’re taking all 30 teams in the lead up to the Feb. 7 trade deadline and finding a happy middle ground for prosperous barterdom.

Usually, the trade deadline brings deals between contenders and teams steering into the skid of tanking, exchanging win-now players for draft assets and/or salary relief. Today’s fake trade applies those same principles but takes two teams currently occupying top-3 seeds in their respective conferences.

Raptors Get

G/F Alex Abrines; G/F, Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot; PG, Ray Felton; 2020+2021 2nd Round picks

Thunder Get

SG, Norman Powell

Why the Raptors do it:

Norman Powell was a playoff hero two seasons ago, but hasn’t seen his role in Toronto increase, never averaging over 20 minutes on a per game basis. He’s on a long-term contract at a reasonable pay. But if he’s not an essential part of the team, the Raptors could use the freed up salary.

Kawhi Leonard has a player option for next year that, unless something goes terribly wrong, he’s sure to decline. Toronto needs to glom as much cap space as possible to pursue him. Expunging Powell’s mid-size contract liberates a bunch of room.

All three players returning to Toronto in this fake deal come off the books after the season. The picks are their sweetener for doing business.

And who knows, maybe if the Raptors fuse Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot to the defensive devastation quartet of Leonard, Danny Green, Serge Ibaka and Pascal Siakam, TLC can develop his potential to be an athletic stopper through osmosis.

Why the Thunder do it:

The Thunder are Sisyphus and a two-way shooting guard is their boulder. If it feels like they’ve been looking for the right backcourt complement for Russell Westbrook in perpetuity, it’s because they have. It takes a particular player type that would succeed in that situation.

They need to excel in a secondary role and not get stifled by playing alongside the commandeering force of Westbrook. Yes, Oklahoma City had James Harden once upon a time, but he wouldn’t have become JAMES HARDEN with the Thunder. Victor Oladipo (RIP) didn’t blossom into a star until getting traded to the greener pastures of Indiana.

Next: Around the NBA in 15 trades 2019: Day 9, Pacers and Timberwolves

The Thunder also cycled through all defense/offensive repellents in Thabo Sefolosha and Andre Roberson, essentially playing a man down on offense. Terrance Ferguson has shown flashes recently but is still super young and OKC needs someone who is postseason ready right now.

The ideal backcourt mate for Russy Stardust would be an already-developed, plus-defender, who can shoot. Powell checks all those boxes and would fit seamlessly into a lineup with Westbrook, Paul George and Steven Adams.

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