After parting ways with head coach Dwane Casey despite recent success, the next move for the Toronto Raptors may involve a big draft-night trade.
According to Marc Stein, the Raptors are interested in trading for former Kentucky star guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. The 19-year-old prospect has not worked out for any teams yet, so this is particularly newsworthy. He also declined to mention which teams he met with at the combine.
Gilgeous-Alexander is originally from Ontario, where the capital province is Toronto. It would be a homecoming of sorts after he left to spend one year in college at Kentucky.
Stein added that no one on the Raptors is off-limits as they pursue a “top-10 pick” in the upcoming draft. Gilgeous-Alexander is expected to be selected somewhere between No. 8 overall and No. 11 overall on Thursday.
It’s worth mentioning that the Raptors are not a franchise known for leaking much information before the draft; they are typically private about this type of information. But if the rumor has validity, expect several teams in that range to inquire about a move.
Adrian Wojnarowski recently reported that there will be quite a few teams looking to move around in the draft (via ESPN):
“I think there’s going to be a lot of action and trades. I think there’s going to be some trades up in the lottery. I think there’s going to be a lot of moving around. I think teams value guys at so different; there’s not a great consensus, really, after No. 1, there’s not a consensus. So I think there’ll be some teams trying to get up higher and some teams trying to get out.”
One team that could be interested in such a deal would be the New York Knicks, who could pursue a package of players like OG Anunoby and Delon Wright.
This report that the Raptors are aggressively targeting Gilgeous-Alexander lines up with rumors that point guard Kyle Lowry is “very available” this offseason. Toronto’s backcourt of Lowry and DeMar DeRozan, while successful, has had trouble making much impact in the Eastern Conference postseason.
Meanwhile, a young prospect like Gilgous-Alexander would likely fit in well with Toronto, as they’ve targeted players who are similar to him in recent years (see above). He would likely step in as the long-term replacement for Lowry regardless of whether the 32-year-old point guard is included in a deal to acquire the Top-10 pick.
Gilgeous-Alexander has a long wingspan and is a serviceable two-way player who is skilled on offensively and defensively. As a freshman, he ranked Top 5 in the SEC in both Offensive Win Shares and Defensive Win Shares. He also ranked No. 3 in his conference in assists per game and steals per game.
Given that he will be on a rookie contract, he will also be a tremendous value for whichTever team lands him later this week.