Perhaps one way for the Toronto Raptors to avoid paying luxury tax penalties next season is to trade 25-year-old big man Jonas Valanciunas.
Zach Lowe wrote that while he would make sense for the Magic, the two teams are forbidden to make trades with each other because Toronto let former team executive Jeff Weltman out of his contract to join Orlando.
Instead, Lowe suggests they move him to the Phoenix Suns for Tyson Chandler (via ESPN):
“Toronto gets a win-now veteran and the same years-and-money reduction; Phoenix exchanges a geezer for a 25-year-old. Eh. Unloading deals that extend past the summer of 2019, when some of the bubble contracts come off the books, is going to be really hard. The market will loosen up in July, when more cap room pops open and those deals creep a year closer to expiration.
But if the Raptors were to unload his salary on another team for someone less desirable than Chandler, Lowe believes that they may need to include another asset to sweeten the deal.
As such, the alternative is that Toronto could look to trade Valanciunas for a non-center, which would allow Jakob Poeltl and Lucas Nogueira to develop as young big men behind Serge Ibaka.
Team executive Masai Ujiri has said they are not going to just give him away. But earlier this offseason, we learned that the front office for the Raptors has sought to trade the Lithuanian-born NBA player since the trade deadline last season.
They reportedly spoke with the Detroit Pistons and New Orleans Pelicans during the season. Toronto engaged with the Suns, Hawks, Kings, Trail Blazers and Hornets around the 2017 NBA Draft.
According to Sports Illustrated, the Phoenix front office expressed legitimate interest in Andre Drummond. But considering they were not able to land the Detroit-based rebounding machine, perhaps Valanciunas could be an interesting backup plan.
Valanciunas would fit well with a young core that is highlighted by Devin Booker as well as Josh Jackson and Marquise Chriss.