1. Bruce Brown Jr.
Current team: Toronto Raptors
Better Trade: Bruce Brown Jr. to New York Knicks
The Toronto Raptors decided to retain small forward Bruce Brown Jr. at the trade deadline on Thursday. Brown was obtained from the Indiana Pacers as a component of the Pascal Siakam trade. The Raptors possess a team option worth $23 million for Brown in the 2024-25 NBA season, granting them flexibility during the offseason.
It is important to highlight two key points. The New York Knicks had an exceptional deadline day, ranking among the top teams in the league in terms of trades (and if we consider the OG Anunoby deal, one of the best trade seasons overall). On the other hand, the approach taken by the Raptors was somewhat perplexing, considering the season they've had, and the necessity to rebuild their roster.
Although the Knicks made solid acquisitions in Alec Burks and Bojan Bogdanović from the Detroit Pistons, a deal involving Brown could have further improved their deadline performance, and certainly would have benefited the Raptors.
Initially, reports indicated that the Burks deal was a standalone trade that involved sending Quentin Grimes to the Detroit Pistons. If that had been the case, and the assets used to acquire Bogdanović (including Evan Fournier's salary) were instead sent to Toronto for Brown, the Knicks would have become a smaller but more versatile team, especially on the defensive end.
Early in the day, Michael Scotto of HoopsHype reported that the Knicks and Raptors had indeed discussed this possibility. However, it became known that New York was looking to part with a first-round pick in the 2024 draft, considered a weak draft class, and that didn't appeal to Toronto.
Considering that the Raptors have significantly more losses than wins, they should have seriously considered this option. While it is true that this draft class may lack some star power, Toronto has previously discovered talent later in the first round (such as Anunoby and Siakam).
At present, the Raptors should prioritize their need for shooters, and acquire assets that are conducive to rebuilding their roster after the trades of OG Anunoby and Pascal Siakam. At the trade deadline, they should've gone after draft picks and young talent, rather than veterans Brown and Kelly Olynyk whom they acquired at the trade deadline from the Utah Jazz.