With no guaranteed money tied up in Terrence Ross next season, this may be the perfect time for the Raptors to capitalize on his trade value.
Drafted by the Toronto Raptors eighth overall in the 2012 NBA draft, the third-year forward has been a valuable contributor to the team. However, after a 3-7 stretch, Dwane Casey decided to bench Ross and shake up the roster. DeMar DeRozan moved to Ross’ small forward position, while Greivis Vasquez swapped in for DeRozan at shooting guard.
The move worked. Ross had one of his best shooting performances of the season, going 7-for-12 for 16 points while grabbing five rebounds. However, in his second game off the bench against the Memphis Grizzlies, the inconsistency continued and Ross was held pointless in 18 minutes of action.
Although Ross started the first 40 games, it was clear that Casey wasn’t too happy with his performance. Ross’ minutes have dropped substantially from 31.1 minutes per game in December to 22.1 minutes per game in January.
Ross has seemed displeased with his limited minutes. During the Raptors game against the New Orleans Pelicans on January 18, sports columnist Cathal Kelly of the Globe and Mail summed up Ross’ frustrations best, tweeting:
Over on the bench, Terrance Ross is not a happy man. Every Raptor sub jumped up for that Patterson 3. He remained nailed to his seat.
Although his emotions seemed better in the 92-89 win against the Milwaukee Bucks on January 19, Kelly’s comments should mean something. If the Raptors want to go far in the playoffs, everyone is going to have to pull for each other. There can’t be one bad apple that is only concerned about his individual play instead of the team’s play.
With that being said, right now is the perfect time to trade him. Ross has an expiring contract, is a young talent, and is a very valuable trade asset. He’s a plus wing defender, but James Johnson has proved that he can play that role substantially. The Raptors need a rim defender, and Ross could be the glue to put a trade like that together.
The best-case scenario for the Raptors would be to trade Ross, and maybe Landry Fields (who also has an expiring contract) for a big man and a reliable backup point guard. If the Raptors received the latter, it would allow Vasquez to continue to play starter minutes and Lou Williams wouldn’t have to control the second unit. Williams would be able to play as the second-string shooting guard and look for open shots instead of running plays, as the only play he knows how to run is isolation.
In terms of the trade market, Miles Plumlee would be a valuable addition to the Raptors lineup. At 6’11” and 255 pounds, he has the ability to protect the rim and finish around the basket. Plumlee’s playing time has dwindled for the Phoenix Suns this season and it seems to only be dropping with the addition of Brandan Wright. Therefore, a new home may benefit the third-year center exceedingly.
Per 36 minutes, Plumlee is averaging 8.5 points, 9.7 rebounds, and 1.8 blocks, while Ross is averaging 14.8, 4.3, and 0.9 steals. With Toronto starved for more rim protection than they’re getting, Plumlee’s statistics are more valuable to the Raptors than Ross’.
Although it may not even take Ross to trade for a big man, the Raptors should seriously consider utilizing him to add depth to their roster. His sulking personality isn’t going to the help the team in the long run, and his inconsistency could end up hurting the Raptors in the playoffs.
Ross’ stock is probably at its peak right now because he has shown that he can score in bunches (once dropping 51 points on the Los Angeles Clippers), is an above-average defender, and is still very young. If the Raptors are going to make a lengthy playoff run, they need to maximize this asset and gain the inside help that they desperately need.