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Report: Raptors intend to buy before trade deadline

Portland Trail Blazers v Toronto Raptors

TORONTO, ON - JANUARY 23: Fred VanVleet #23 of the Toronto Raptors leads the team in a huddle before playing the Portland Trail Blazers during in their basketball game at the Scotiabank Arena on January 23, 2022 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Mark Blinch/Getty Images)

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Raptors president Masai Ujiri said another championship is his only goal. Not the postseason. Not even the playoffs.

But with Toronto (22-22) ninth in the Eastern Conference, right in the thick of the play-in mix…

Josh Lewenberg of TSN:

The February 10 trade deadline is three weeks away and, according to multiple league and team sources, the Raptors intend to operate as buyers.

Toronto could just be canvassing to better understand players’ values. It can be difficult to assess how committed a team is to buying. Just because the Raptors look like they’re negotiating in that direction doesn’t mean they’ll actually pull the trigger on a win-now trade.

How would this fit Ujiri’s title-or-bust approach? Toronto seems unlikely to get into at-all-serious championship contention this year with a trade, though perhaps Ujiri disagrees in this wide-open season. Fred VanVleet has been awesome, and the rest of the roster has talent. Even if he doesn’t believe a 2022 championship is realistic, Ujiri might value playoff experience for the long-term core just as it relates to title pursuits down the road.

The Raptors have all their own future first-round picks, most of their own future second-rounders, Malachi Flynn, Precious Achiuwa, Gary Trent Jr. or even OG Anunoby in the right deal. (I highly doubt Scottie Barnes is going anywhere under any circumstances.) Toronto could use help at center and more reliable depth at every position.

If they truly want to buy, the Raptors have plenty of trade possibilities.