Many are discussing the Toronto Raptors potentially landing Kawhi Leonard. But one interesting note: they debated adding Andrew Wiggins.
While the centerpiece of a deal for Leonard would include DeMar DeRozan, he was also reportedly floated in recent trade negotiations with the Minnesota Timberwolves last year.
According to Marc Stein, the front office in Toronto was willing to trade DeRozan to Minnesota for a Canadian-born star (via New York Times):
“But I have little doubt [Masai] Ujiri is willing to trade any Raptor on the roster if he finds a deal he likes — even after LeBron James’ departure to the Western Conference. The Raptors, I’m told, held exploratory discussions in the summer of 2017 with Minnesota on a deal that would have been headlined by DeRozan and the Timberwolves’ Canadian swingman Andrew Wiggins.”
This is nothing new for executive Masai Ujiri, who has long been enamored with Wiggins.
ESPN’s Chad Ford noted that “no one covets” Wiggins more than Ujiri prior to the 2014 NBA Draft in which Wiggins went No. 1.
His name is constantly brought up as a potential trade target for Canada’s only NBA team, writes Jon Krawczynski (via The Athletic):
“Wiggins’ Canadian roots could make him an attractive option for the Raptors and good reason to hope that they could get the best out of him while playing in his backyard. In some ways, DeRozan could provide a good blueprint for Wiggins to follow. DeRozan didn’t become a real star in the league until his fifth year and has proven to be effective even though he isn’t a knockdown three-point shooter.”
His brother, Nick Wiggins, played for Toronto’s development team (Raptors 905) in 2015. It’s also worth noting that, prior to entering the league, Wiggins said he would love to play for the Raptors.
Wiggins has received high praise from Toronto point guard Kyle Lowry, who was once linked to trade rumors with Minnesota for him as well.
Here is what Lowry said about Wiggins when asked back in 2015 (via ESPN):
“I think the sky’s the limit for him. [With] his talent level, I think he has the chance to be something special and one of the top players in the league for years to come.”
If he were playing in Canada, it could potentially attract other top players from the country – both young and old – to want to play for the Raptors. There is no shortage of talent from the nation, especially with top prospect RJ Barrett set to come into the league next season.
Keep an eye out for a potential deal between the two parties, especially if Toronto is unable to land Leonard.