How Ujiri, Webster could be approaching the weeks ahead of trade deadline

Amit Mann and Katie Heindl discuss what Masai Ujiri and Bobby Webster are considering ahead of the trade deadline. Full episode discussing the major storylines around the team is on the ‘Raptors Over Everything’ podcast feed.

Video Transcript

AMIT MANN: I'm going to put you in the shoes of Masai Ujiri and Bobby Webster. How are you approaching the next three weeks or so? And what is going to be swaying you? What are things that you're considering from the players? What are things that are going to help you decide where you're going to be going come trade deadline time?

KATIE HEINDL: I'm probably looking at the next-- I'm looking at the must-wins. I'm looking at, like, that back-to-back Charlotte-- those Charlotte games. Certainly, I'm looking at the Knicks. I'm looking at coming out of this home stand maybe 4 and 2, if you can help it. And that helps to solidify things.

Though if I'm looking to make any moves there, I'm future-casting them to the best of my ability, I'm also going back and seeing, like, who did we try and get in the summer? Oh, right, we thought about getting Bogdan for a minute. We were trying to get some help for Fred.

AMIT MANN: Yeah.

KATIE HEINDL: That would help to quickly organize things, at least in some capacity. Because right now, it's a little bit like Whac-A-Mole. To start the season, you had a couple smaller problems. But now, they've fed into larger, disparate problems, like, oh, we're talking about identity, team identity being up in the air, right?

If this is a team that seems to respond best in panic, which is what happened last night, that's not a steady state any team can really live in. You're going to get really burnt out. It's not sustainable. You're not really going to-- well, you're not going to win games that way, let alone-- there's no talk of playoff contention, really.

And as I mentioned before, I would also hesitate to blow it up because the league is in such a place now where you have so many contenders, like, stuck in the middle with each other. It takes so much more to pull away than it did even two seasons ago. So I wouldn't necessarily want to blow it up because you're looking at being maybe not even this-- what we think right now is very bad.

You're probably looking at being worse, even if you're going to the lottery, which I just do not see them doing because it's very unreliable in itself. There's, like, no guarantees, you know? So I think you probably have to go out and address the bigger, glaring problems.

Like, seems like you do need a center or some semblance--

AMIT MANN: Yeah.

KATIE HEINDL: --of [AUDIO OUT] you hoped Thad-- I don't understand why Thad isn't playing anymore. When he has played, I think he's done a good job, a better than nothing, nobody being there kind of job in that role. So you've got to address that.

I think you need some help for Fred, as I said before. Of course, you need shooting. But I don't know where that comes from because you did try and address that, and he's out. Otto Porter, Jr., is out now, probably, as we said, for the season.

I don't envy the position they're in. But I think it should be perhaps a little bit more intentional. Like, they did say these two-- last season and this season were seasons to watch and look and see what they had, and how to decide to build on that.

So I think there's going to be some pruning of the team. There's going to be some movement.

AMIT MANN: Sure.

KATIE HEINDL: I think they always told us that. So I don't know if it will seem-- any move is going to seem a little bit drastic because you're probably going to lose-- you're going to have to lose some favorites--

AMIT MANN: Yep.

KATIE HEINDL: --and rotational mainstays if you're hoping to recoup-- I do not like speaking in this language. But I feel like this is what people want. But that's just the practicalities of it, right?

AMIT MANN: Mm-hmm.

KATIE HEINDL: Otherwise, what, you get to the end of the season. You take a look at your contracts that are expiring. You decide who you want to keep, who's most integral to the franchise and what you're trying to move forward.

But as I said before, you've lost so much of the team in trades, and also letting guys walk away since you won the title, that it's really changed. So right now, it's kind of like they can go in any direction. I think what I would like to see, if I were them, is just to pick a direction--

AMIT MANN: Yeah.

KATIE HEINDL: --and stick with that.

AMIT MANN: Mm. It's funny talking about identity and vision because it's like they have one, but they've got to get the--

KATIE HEINDL: I don't know that they do.

AMIT MANN: No, you don't? With, like, Vision 6-9 and everything?

KATIE HEINDL: I feel like I just don't. What is it? It's just a body type.

AMIT MANN: Yeah.

KATIE HEINDL: We haven't really seen it, like, execute to its full potential, or even capacity on the floor.

AMIT MANN: That's true. It might be because it's hard to find--

KATIE HEINDL: Fun to talk about.

AMIT MANN: Yeah, sure. And it could be because finding that many players with versatile skill set is hard, right?

KATIE HEINDL: Yeah.

AMIT MANN: It's a certain height. You want them to be able to run, pass, shoot, score, finish, everything like that. Like, you want to develop them. And I think that's what we're seeing here, is that it is hard to develop and build and contend all at the same time.

You have several players-- like, look at it. Like, Pascal and Fred, then there's a big drop-off in age. Obviously, you got Otto Porter, Jr., and Thad Young. But there is a massive drop-off.

So you have a lot of players up in-- they're ready to go. They want to get there, but they are not there yet. And so for me, I hear what you're saying. Like, you have to pick a side.

You've got to pick what you want to be next season. That's what it comes down to for me. And I think that's going to reveal itself within how the Raptors play.

If they do play well, if they get-- if they find their stride and they start winning games and all that kind of stuff, then yeah, find yourself an expiring contract. I think I would lend towards getting some kind of versatile combo guard as opposed to a rim protector because I think they're harder to get.

There's going to be a few guys in free agency that could be up for grabs come the summertime. But with Precious back, especially, I think you want to explore that. You want to give him some time. And I think he's going to help your team, too, when he gets there.

So you have, in a way, acquired a rim protector. A 3-point shooter? I don't know if he's going to have that. But you have at least-- you got a rim protector in house now. And I think you've got to see where that goes.

But a combo guard would help one of their biggest issues. And those are ones that are easier to find within the NBA. Rim protectors are a lot harder. So they're a lot more scarce.

But I do think if things go the other way, and we're like, let's just end this bad boy, I think you do need to make a decision with the roles that I mentioned, who you want to decide are going to be your guys next season. You got Fred VanVleet and Gary Trent, Jr., both on player options. I'm pretty sure Gary's going to opt out of it because he should.

Fred, I mean, I would think he would, too. I mean, we'll have to see how things go this season. If he finds that things aren't really going the way that he wants to, he thinks he can probably perform better next season, make that year, then become--