The Toronto Raptors are not exactly a model franchise for winning in the NBA. After all, up until the past few seasons, the Raptors have routinely been looked at as one of the worst franchises in the association. Luckily for the Raps, they were able to hire Masai Ujiri and he has taken them from the basement to one of the league's better franchises in the past few years.
Yes, that is right I said it, one of the better franchises in the league. The Raps have tons of assets such as their D-League team right down the street, and they also have several good young promising players that will help keep them at the top of the league standings for the next few seasons, at least.
Part of the Raps' recent success has been their willingness to be active on the trade market. Whether it was Glen Grunwald, Rob Babcock, Bryan Colangelo, or Masai Ujiri, it seems like there have been a lot of trades in the teams recent history. The 2016-17 NBA trade deadline was no different, as the Raptors made two pretty significant trades, while many other teams around the league remained idle. This made it interesting to go back and look at some of the recent trades in team history. There have been some very good trades and there definitely has been some bad ones.
This article will prove that there has been both good and bad trades in recent Raps history by focusing on the eight best and seven worst trades since 2000. Overall, I must say it was pretty surprising to see that the Raptors have made some really great trades over the years. With a franchise that has not experienced much success, you do not expect them to have a good trade history. As you will see, this is not the case with the Raptors.
I also must say that the recent trade for P.J. Tucker deserves an honourable mention, but I just could not put him on this list yet.
15 Best - Trading for T.J. Ford
At the time, trading Charlie Villaneuva for T.J. Ford looked like one of the silliest trades in Raptors history. Villanueva had just come off a very good rookie season and Ford had battled injuries throughout his career. Ford also was undersized and had a shaky jumpshot. This led to questions if Ford would ever be capable of being a starting point guard in the NBA.
However, Bryan Colangelo proved to know what he was doing in this trade. Villaneuva had some decent seasons after his rookie year, but never really developed into a star that people thought he would after his rookie year. Meanwhile, Ford became an important piece to the Raptors and led them to a division title as their starting point guard and helped bring excitement back for basketball fans in Toronto.
14 Worst - Trading for Hakeem Olajuwon
There is no denying Hakeem Olajuwon was a great player. However, he came to the Raptors at the end of his career and was not effective. He also played through injury pretty much his whole Raptors career. In total, he only played in 61 games during his one season with the team and remember, to get him, the Raptors had to give up two draft picks, including a first rounder in a sign and trade.
To make matters worse, the Raptors were coming off a then franchise high, 47 wins. I am not saying the acquisition of Olajuwon was responsible for the Raptors significant drop off, but it certainly was a factor. The fit was just not right and Olajuwon was an old man (in basketball terms, of course) by the time he donned a Raps jersey. Overall, it was a nice effort by the Raps to add some star power, but a move that turned out to be a poor management decision.
13 Best - Acquiring a 1st Round Pick/Norman Powell for Grevis Vasquez
How Masai Ujiri managed to obtain a first round pick AND Norman Powell for unloading Grevis Vasquez is beyond me. I understand that Vasquez did show signs of being a clutch player in his time in Toronto, but still, this is a player with a lot of injury history that had never proven he could consistently start for a winning team. Yet, the Milwaukee Bucks decided to pull the trigger on the aforementioned trade and the Raptors have benefited greatly since.
Not only were the Raptors able to acquire a draft asset, but they acquired and a young and upcoming player in Norman Powell. Powell has shown signs of being a very good bench player that can start when needed. Powell has also shown the ability to play well in big games, as witnessed last season. Overall, this was a great move by the Raptors.
12 Worst - Trading for Peja Stojakovic
The Raptors had signed Jarret Jack to a four year $20 million contract. Jack was playing very well for the Raptors, but they still decided to trade him along with David Anderson, and Marcus Banks for Peja Stojakovic and Jerryd Bayless. The Raptors wanted to rid themselves of a point guard controversy with Jack and Jose Calderon, but what is wrong with having two solid guards on your team?
Bayless has been respectable in his NBA career, but he was just a worse version of Jack. Meanwhile, Stojakovic had a great NBA career, but by the time the Raptors traded for him, his best days were long gone. Stojakovic only went on to play two games for the Raptors before being released. Meanwhile, Jack went on to be effective for other teams, including a third place finish for 6th man of the year in Golden State.
11 Best - Trading for Lou Williams
The trade to acquire Lou Williams was another brilliant move by Masai Ujiri. The Raptors were able to acquire a sixth man of the year type player and an intriguing prospect in Lucas Noguiera for a player that was rarely used in John Salmons. Additionally, Salmons' best days as a player were clearly behind him at the time of this trade.
Williams went on to play for the Raptors for one season, winning the sixth man of the year. He was a huge piece for the team down the stretch of games and was one of the most consistent performers throughout the year. In addition, Noguiera is still with the Raptors and has shown the ability to be an effective second unit player. He has gotten some solid playing time this season and has shown the ability to pass the ball exceptionally well for a big man, and he can change shots on the defensive end.
10 Worst - Chris Bosh Trade
There are two problems with the Raptors trading Chris Bosh: the timing and the return. It was obvious to people that follow basketball that Chris Bosh was going to leave the team when he was a free agent. Therefore, Colangelo should have traded him much earlier, instead of waiting for a sign and trade during free agency. Colangelo could have justified keeping Bosh if the team was a legitimate threat to win in the playoffs. However, they were a low seed playoff team, best case scenario.
As a result of waiting too long, Colangelo was only able to acquire a late first round pick for Bosh and a trade exception, that was not even fully used. Safe to say, the Raptors would like a do over here.
9 Best - Trading for Amir Johnson
Every team could use a player like Amir Johnson. He has an incredibly high motor, puts the team first, and is an overall solid player. The Raptors were able to acquire Johnson (and Sonny Weems) from Milwaukee for a relatively small package. In all, the Raptors traded the rights of Carlos Defino, who was likely never going to play in a Raptors uniform again, and Roko Ukic.
Overall, Johnson will be remembered for his role in turning the Raptors into a winner. He was there for the bad times and stuck with the team. He was the starting power forward for many years and will always remain a fan favourite. I know many Raps fans were sad to see him go to Boston.
8 Worst - Trading for Rudy Gay
I understand the thinking of Bryan Colangelo when trading for Rudy Gay. Colangelo wanted to acquire a dynamic player that would generate buzz in the city of Toronto and to be fair, the Raptors did not have to give up anything out of this world to acquire him. Overall, Gay had the potential to be a star and Toronto was desperate after losing Chris Bosh so this trade did make some sense at the time.
However, it turned out to be a terrible trade for Toronto. Gay had too many similarities to DeMar DeRozan, which will be touched on a little later in the article. Luckily for the Raptors, Masai Ujiri was able to trade Gay away, which will also be discussed later in this article.
7 Best - Trading for Serge Ibaka
This a relatively new trade in Raptors history, but there is no denying it was a great move by Jeff Weltman and Masai Ujiri. The Raptors have lacked a dynamic power forward for a long time and players such as Pascal Siakam and Patrick Patterson just were not getting the job done as starting fours.
Cue Serge Ibaka. The Raptors were able to acquire Ibaka at the trade deadline for a late first round pick and Terrence Ross. While the Raptors do miss the shooting of Ross, there is no question they needed a defensive presence in the paint. Ibaka has fit in perfectly with the Raptors and if he decides to stay long term, this trade will go down as one of the better moves in Raps history. Now, the Raps just need to get Kyle Lowry healthy to see how good they really are.
6 Worst - Trading for Jermaine O'Neal
Trading for Jermaine O'Neal was the ultimate gamble by Bryan Colangelo. Colangelo needed to make a big move to show Chris Bosh that the organization was serious about winning. The idea was that O'Neal and Bosh could form a twin tower and be unstoppable on both offense and defense.
Well, that did not exactly work out. For starters, O'Neal's best years were clearly behind him and his knees were damaged goods. Did the Raptors think he was going to be more durable with age or something?
Nonetheless, O'Neal and Bosh did not gel well together and the Raptors struggled as a team. As a result, the Raptors lost out on a mid-level first round pick that turned out to be Roy Hibbert. Hey, at least the Raptors realized their mistake and traded O'Neal to the Miami Heat that same season.
5 Best - Trading Away Andrea Bargnani
My first thought when Andrea Bargnani was traded: Finally, I will not have to watch those Primo Pasta commercials anymore.
Sometimes the best move you can make is an addition by subtraction. That is exactly what happened when Masai Ujiri pulled off a remarkable trade to get rid of Bargnani. Even better is that Bargnani was traded to a division rival in the New York Knicks. Therefore, the Knicks had to fall in love with Bargnani's potential, only to be heartbroken in the end. To make matters even better for the Raps, they were somehow able to get a first round pick from the Knicks when dumping Bargnani.
To be fair, Bargnani did have some good moments, but his inconsistent motor and his rebounding numbers for someone so big made it easy to dislike him as a basketball player.
4 Worst - The Sign and Trade for Hedo Turkoglu
This trade is a hindsight situation. At the time, many people praised the trade the Raptors made to get Hedo Turkoglu. However, he just never panned out in Toronto. Turkoglu showed he could be a very clutch player after coming off a NBA Finals run with the Orlando Magic.. However, with the Raptors he proved to be anything but clutch. From day one, Turkoglu complained that he did not have the ball enough and had a poor attitude. Luckily, the Raptors were able to trade him and his terrible contract away.
Overall, you know it is bad if your time with a team will be remembered for an interview where you only answered with the word "ball." The Raptors sure have come a long way in trades since then.
3 Best - Trading Away Rudy Gay
Rudy Gay has had a solid career and this is by no means a shot at him. However, the Raptors had a younger and similar player in DeMar DeRozan. Gay and DeRozan's game did not mesh well together, as they were much too similar. Thus, the Raptors had to move on from one of the players.
Not only was it great to send Gay to another team, but the return the Raps received was pretty good as well. The Raptors immediately improved as a team after the trade and even made a playoff appearance that season. Players such as Patrick Patterson and Grevis Vasquez were huge pieces that helped the Raps elevate into a winning team. Four years later and the trading of Rudy Gay is continuing to pay dividends for the Raptors.
2 Worst - Trading Away Vince Carter
The reason basketball is popular in Toronto is because of Vince Carter. To this day, he is still probably the best player in franchise history.
Yes, Carter wanted out of Toronto, but that did not mean the Raptors had to give him away for basically nothing. In total, the Raptors traded Carter away for Aaron Williams, Eric Williams, Alonzo Mourning, and two first round picks. Alonzo Mourning never played a game for the Raptors and Aaron and Eric Williams were average players at best. The two draft picks did not turn out to be anything great either.
Bad, right? I have not even gotten to the worst part, yet. This trade sent Carter to a division rival, where he excelled. What was Rob Babcock thinking??
1 Best - Trading for Kyle Lowry
It is undeniable that Kyle Lowry has become one of the top players in Raptors history. With Lowry as the starting point guard, the Raptors have set multiple franchise records, including victories in a regular season, and an Eastern Conference Finals appearance. Lowry has also set the record for most three pointers made by a Raptor.
Remember, the best part about this trade was that Lowry was a "Plan B." The Raptors were unable to sign Steve Nash, so the Raptors traded for Lowry instead. Nash went on to struggled before retiring, while Lowry has been an All-Star nearly every season. Add in the fact that the Raptors only gave up a heavily protected first round pick and rarely used Gary Forbes and this was a great deal by Bryan Colangelo.