The Toronto Raptors had, by most accounts, a disastrous season; arguably even worse than the Portland Trail Blazers’ 2022-23 campaign.
The Raptors entered the year with superstar Pascal Siakam, one of the best defenders in the NBA in OG Anunoby, a steady veteran point guard in Fred VanVleet, the 2021-22 Rookie of the Year in Scottie Barnes, and a group of players and coaches with championship experience.
With all that, Toronto finished ninth in the Eastern Conference before letting a 19-point lead slip away in a play-in loss to the Chicago Bulls.
So where do the Raptors go from here?
Perhaps some of them can head West and turn a disappointing season for what was expected to be a contender into a rare offseason of hope for a franchise in desperate need of one.
The Raptors potential losses could become the Blazers gains
Toronto’s failed season, and its miserable ending, could be of significant benefit to that plan.
Things have reached a breaking point in the Raptors organization, at least according to one league executive, who said as much to Steve Bulpett of Heavy.com (h/t Bleacher Report):
“I think everybody in the league knows that Toronto is going to be heading to a breakup,” the executive said.
“They’re going to get rid of some of their assets and just go in another direction,” another exec added.
It wasn’t a major NBA secret that Portland coveted Anunoby at this past season’s trade deadline. The Blazers remained in the hunt for Toronto’s three-and-D wing until time officially ran out.
There’s certainly a possibility Cronin revisits that situation, assuming he ever left it in the first place.
Siakam would be an even bigger get for the Blazers. He’s a legitimate superstar, a 29-year-old two-time All-NBA player who averaged more than 24 points per game this season, despite the struggles surrounding him.
Longtime Toronto coach Nick Nurse, who helped the franchise to the 2019 NBA Championship, appears ready to move on. There have been no reports coming from Portland that Blazers coach Chauncey Billups is on the hot seat, but if a coach of Nurse’s caliber becomes available, that discussion should at least be had internally.
As the Trail Blazers prepare for a summer of major upheaval – whether it’s Lillard who ends up traded or a significant chunk of the team around him – Toronto’s potential losses could become Portland’s gains.