Toronto Raptors: What to Make of the DeMarcus Cousins Speculation

There has been a lot of talk recently, connecting the Toronto Raptors to DeMarcus Cousins, but how realistic is such a trade?

The NBA season is still nearly two months away, but anticipation is already reaching fever pitch among Toronto Raptors fans. This vibe is understandable, given the team is coming off the best campaign in franchise history.

As we count down to October 26th, one thing that has become noticeable recently is the ongoing speculation connecting the Raptors to DeMarcus Cousins. It should be noted that none of the rumors are coming from any of the major media outlets, but how feasible is such a trade?

If we look at this scenario objectively, the number one factor to consider is money. In that respect, the Raptors are already in trouble, given they are currently nearly $13 million over the salary cap.

People may well point to the luxury tax, which Toronto can certainly afford, theoretically giving them another $6 million to play with. However, even taking this into account, they still don’t have enough space for the last two years of Cousins’ contract, which has him being paid just over $35 million.

As such, the only way the Raptors could make this work, comes down to who they’re prepared to give up. Right away, the most obvious candidate is Jonas Valanciunas, who also plays the centre position and is due to be paid just under $30 million during the next two seasons. (In addition to another year and a player option in 2019-20.)

The question is, would the Kings accept this deal? While Valanciunas is an extremely talented player with a lot of upside, Cousins is definitely the better player at this stage and only a couple of years older.

Depending on how serious Masai Ujiri would be about obtaining the two-time All-Star, how much more would he be willing to give up? For example, would the Raptors part with one of the two first round picks they have for the 2017 draft?

Or would Ujiri consider adding Terrence Ross into the deal, especially given that he is repeatedly mentioned in potential trade packages? (Although adding Ross would then also take the Kings into luxury tax territory.)

Toronto Raptors

Nov 3, 2015; Dallas, TX, USA; Toronto Raptors center Jonas Valanciunas (17) reacts to a missing a rebound against the Dallas Mavericks as guard Kyle Lowry (7) and forward Terrence Ross (31) look on during the first half at the American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

One other factor to consider in all of this is team chemistry. How would adding Cousins impact the harmony of the team?

Valanciunas was arguably the Raptors best player during their playoff run last season. And yet — as things stand — he remains the third scoring option on the team, behind DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry.

The 2011 fifth overall draft pick seems happy to go along with this, such is his team-first and laid back attitude. However, what is the likelihood of Cousins accepting a similar situation – let’s not forget there are questions about his maturity, at least on the court.

Of course, we could go back and forth all day, coming up with various reasons why the Kings’ centre is and isn’t likely to come to Toronto. Ultimately though, when it comes right down to it, we don’t realistically envision any such trade happening.

Let’s just assume for a moment that there IS some validity to the Cousins speculation. Would you want him on the Raptors roster and if so, what would you be prepared to give up to get him? Let us know in the comments section below.