Raptors’ VanVleet, Anunoby garnering interest as trade deadline looms

As the Toronto Raptors prepare to embark on a season-long seven-game road trip on beginning in Sacramento on Wednesday, the spectre of the NBA’s Feb. 9 trade deadline looms large over the club.

Sitting on a 21-27 record and in 11th place in the Eastern Conference, rumours are swirling over a potential sell-off of some of Toronto’s key assets such as Pascal Siakam, Fred VanVleet, O.G. Anunoby and Gary Trent Jr.

Here’s a look at the latest reports that have hit the Raptors hot stove.

Clippers want VanVleet, Lowry

The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor is reporting that the Los Angeles Clippers are interested in acquiring a couple of Raptors legends.

O’Connor reported that the Clippers are looking into trading for former Raptors point guard Kyle Lowry and current point guard VanVleet, reuniting one or both of those players with Kawhi Leonard and Norman Powell in Los Angeles as the Clippers hope to replicate what Toronto accomplished in 2019.

According to O’Connor, if the Raptors are looking to make a trade, it’s more probable that they look to move VanVleet and/or Trent Jr. at the deadline because they’re both, essentially, on expiring deals with player options for next season.

VanVleet’s potential fit with the Clippers is obvious. He would give L.A. an option at point guard, either as a starter or as a backup, and the space provided by the likes of Leonard and Paul George would open up his lethal off-ball game again as well.

As the NBA Trade Deadline approaches, interesting in the Raptors’ core pieces is picking up around the league. (Getty Images)

Lowry, on the other hand, doesn’t make quite as much sense. Since arriving in Miami from Toronto through a sign-and-trade transaction in the summer of 2021, he’s struggled to stay healthy and his production has dropped immensely. The 36-year-old is averaging a modest 12.8 points and 5.4 assists per game, while shooting 40.9 percent from the field and 34 percent from three-point range — all down from his career averages.

Surprising package offered for Anunoby

Anunoby is among the hottest names on the trade market right now and the Raptors have reportedly already taken a look at at least one significant offer.

Toronto was reportedly offered three first-round picks for their 25-year-old two-way star, the Toronto Star’s Bruce Arthur reported in his latest column.

Given how valuable an asset Anunoby’s game would be to any team in the league, who this mystery squad in pursuit of him might be is anybody’s guess, but to be willing to give up three firsts speaks to how the rest of the league views him.

According to O’Connor, the Raptors would likely be looking for two or three unprotected first-round picks for Anunoby or Siakam, which is probably what the hold up on such a transaction might be.

Those three first-round picks that have reportedly been offered up for Anunoby might be coming with some unattractive protections attached to them.

In these negotiations, the Raptors look like they’re the ones with leverage. They have to make this advantage count.

Raptors interested in a three-team trade to bring back Poeltl

Jakob Poeltl, the talented former University of Utah centre whom the Raptors took with the ninth-overall pick in the 2016 draft, could be returning to Toronto.

According to LJ Ellis of Spurs Talk, a San Antonio Spurs-focused blog, offers the Raptors have made for Poeltl are becoming “increasingly aggressive.”

Of the multiple deals on the table, Ellis reports that the one that’s gained the most traction would be a three-team swap that would see the Raptors dealing Trent Jr. as part of the transaction. Ellis didn’t offer any insight on who the third team might be.

Like Anunoby, Poeltl is among the most talked-about names out there with the trade deadline closing in. He’s averaging 12.3 points and 9.2 rebounds on 63.3 percent shooting this season and will become an unrestricted free agent in the summer.

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