With the 2012 NBA Draft less than a month away, teams picking inside the top 15 but outside the top five are searching for maximum return on their selection. Some squads have their eye on a young prospect who they feel may end up filling one of their voids. Others, like the Toronto Raptors, don’t see a guy like that in this year’s draft.
The Raptors have the No. 8 overall pick and, according to ESPN, they want to package it in a deal for an “elite” small forward. Who are the two best available small forwards who will likely be dangled as trade bait in the offseason? Yup, Andre Iguodala of the Philadelphia 76ers and Rudy Gay of the Memphis Grizzlies.
Given the fact that Toronto management has also made it no secret that that it intends to target Steve Nash this summer, it’s safe to say that this latest rumor falls in line with the rebuilding strategy that the team apparently has put together.
Clearly, the Raptors are looking to reinvigorate their franchise not by building up their young talent, but by bringing in established, proven veterans. As noted by Marc Stein and Chad Ford:
With a slew of league execs having converged on Chicago this week for the NBA's annual pre-draft camp, sources told ESPN.com that the Raptors have at least two known trade targets: Memphis swingman Rudy Gay and Philadelphia's Andre Iguodala.
The Raptors, sources said, are prepared to part with their lottery pick in this month's draft at least partly because they have a lottery pick on the way. Lithuanian star Jonas Valanciunas, selected No. 5 overall by Toronto in the 2011 draft, is poised to join the Raptors next season after the young 7-footer quickly established himself as one of the most exciting big men in Europe.
It’s feasible that, depending on who they ultimately end up trading with, the Raptors may also have to part ways with someone like point guard Jose Calderson.
Expect Toronto to be at the center of a lot of rumors before June 28.