NBA Rumors: Rival Execs "Bracing For Fireworks" From Toronto Raptors

The Toronto Raptors are off to an uncertain 13-12 start to the NBA season. Certainly not where they hoped to be at this point. No doubt, injuries have played a big role, as team MVP Pascal Siakam has missed 10 games, and other core players—Scottie Barnes, Fred VanVleet, Chris Boucher and Precious Achiuwa—have all missed varying amounts of time. 

But, according to ESPN's Zach Lowe, keep an eye on this situation as we get closer to the trade deadline, now just 60 days away:

Rival executives are watching Toronto closely, bracing for fireworks if the Raptors are hovering around .500 in two months.

He points to three main questions that the organization has to answer:

  1. Will team president Masai Ujiri stick with a middle-of-the-road team? 
  2. Does Fred VanVleet fit their vision of the all-6'9" long, verstatile, guard-1-through-5 athletes? 
  3. Can Barnes, OG Anunoby and Siakam fit together long-term?

As was the problem last season, the Raptors continue to struggle in the half-court, ranking 30th in the league in half-court scoring efficiency. Their long-range shooting has been very problematic. VanVleet is shooting just 33% from three, Gary Trent is at 32.9%, and Chris Boucher is at 29.2%. Otto Porter Jr., the shooter they added in free agency, has missed his usual big chunk of games to injury and has only played eight games thus far. 

Ujiri doesn't like to be middling. He wants to compete for championships. So as Lowe suggests, if they don't go on a run soon, those "fireworks" he mentions could make for an "explosive" trade deadline. 

Photo: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports