TORONTO – The Toronto Raptors tied up some loose ends ahead of the NBA’s trade deadline, making deals with the Utah Jazz and Brooklyn Nets.
Guard Ochai Agbaji and Canadian centre Kelly Olynyk were sent to Toronto from Utah for guard Kira Lewis Jr., forward Otto Porter Jr., and a 2024 first-round pick on Thursday morning. Guard Dennis Schroder and forward Thad Young were then traded from the Raptors to Brooklyn for guard Spencer Dinwiddie — who was immediately waived — early in the afternoon.
They were relatively minor deals compared to two Toronto made in the past six weeks: Defensive wing OG Anunoby and power forward Precious Achiuwa were sent to the New York Knicks for guard Immanuel Quickley and Canadian wing RJ Barrett on Dec. 30, and all-star forward Pascal Siakam was moved to the Indiana Pacers on Jan. 17 in a blockbuster trade involving Lewis, two other players and three first-round picks.
“I think the heavy lifting was done this December-January and this deadline continued on that path.”
The Raptors held three first-round picks, potentially four depending on how they finish in the final standings, in this summer’s draft heading into the deadline. The lowest of them will be sent to the Jazz as part of the deal for Olynyk and Agbaji.
“If it ends up that we’re in the top six or out of the top six, especially the way that the new NBA rules are, to try and game that doesn’t make a ton of sense,” said Webster about the rare decision of a rebuilding team like Toronto to trade a first-round pick.
“At the end of the day, it’s going to be the lottery balls, so I don’t think there’s a ton of ‘let’s do this or that.’ I think the big priority for us is playing that young group together.”
Olynyk, born in Toronto but raised in Kamloops, B.C., was the captain of Canada’s bronze-medal winning team at the FIBA World Cup this past fall. He and Barrett, who is from Mississauga, Ont., are part of the core of players who have committed to play for Canada at the Paris Olympics in July.
“We love them as players first and it’s great that they are Canadian, they want to be here,” said Webster. “I think that’d be the other piece, which is having players that want to play here goes a long way on many levels.”
Bruce Brown was one of the pieces sent to Toronto by the Pacers for Siakam. Many pundits considered him a valuable trade commodity because he’s a flexible role player on the floor and has a second-year team option on his contract.
Webster said that the Raptors weren’t offered any deals for Brown that met their threshold, however, but he could still be dealt ahead of the draft on June 26.
“I also think if you look around the league today, there weren’t a ton of major moves,” said Webster. “There may be some larger macro elements in the NBA contributing to teams going for it and making big deals.
“We’re happy with Bruce, we’re happy to continue on with him.”
Olynyk is averaging 8.1 points, 5.1 rebounds, 4.4 assists this season. Agbaji, the 14th pick in the 2022 NBA draft, is averaging 5.4 points, 2.5 rebounds and 0.9 assists.
“Hard working, high character, two-way player, kind of fits the bill of guys we’ve pursued over the years,” said Webster of Ochai Agbaji, whose name is pronounced OH’-chai AH’-bah-jee.
The 30-year-old Porter has been snake-bitten since signing with Toronto on a two-year deal in July 2022. He underwent season-ending surgery on his left foot after playing only eight games last season. He missed several weeks in January with a knee injury this season and hasn’t played since returning.
Lewis only played in one game with Toronto — earning a personal foul in 1:33 of playing time — after he was sent to the Raptors as part of the Siakam deal. He is averaging 2.8 points, 1.1 assists and 0.9 rebounds over 16 games this season.
Schroder signed a two-year US$26 million contract with Toronto on June 30 and was the Raptors starting point guard at the beginning of the season. Quickley’s arrival from New York moved Schroder to the bench.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 8, 2024.