The Toronto Raptors are following the 2002-03 Cleveland Cavaliers' playbook. The Cavs tried to be coy about their motives, but that was the year they put themselves in position to draft a 6´8 high school phenom from Akron, Ohio. During that season, the Cavaliers traded starting point guard Andre Miller, Darius Miles, sharpshooter Wesley Person and swapped leading scorer Lamond Murray for an injured Yogi Stewart. Their final game of the season was a loss to the Toronto Raptors, which tied them with Denver for the most lottery balls.
Flash forward 10 years and the Raptors are in copycat mode. On Sunday, ESPN New York reported that the Raptors are close to finalizing a trade that would send power forward Andrea Bargnani to the Knicks in exchange for Steve Novak, Marcus Camby and a 2016 first-round pick (2016 is the year after Melo's contract expires. Slick move Toronto). However, the hope is that the trade ends up being Andrea for Andrew — Wiggins.
Steve Novak and Marcus Camby are pawns. The Raptors are clearly dismantling their roster in anticipation of the 2013 NBA Draft. Just days ago, they were also offering DeMar DeRozan (and Bargnani) in exchange for Eric Bledsoe to the Clippers. And don't be surprised if Rudy Gay gets the boot as well in the coming weeks or months. The Raptors have their sights set on their homegrown rising superstar.
The Raptors are in a difficult position. Most NBA free agents avoid Canada and it's impossible to build a contender organically. Every world-class draft pick to come through their organization from Vince Carter to Chris Bosh to Tracy McGrady eventually bolts town.
Wiggins is their LeBron. He's an athlete native to T. Dot and unlike King James, he appears to enjoy low-key living off the court. Theoretically, being drafted by Toronto would be as much of a positive to Wiggins as it would be for the Raptors. Canadian Anthony Bennett's selection by Cleveland was a pleasant surprise, but Wiggins is the real prize.
New general manager Masai Ujiri is no fool. There's nothing worse than being a middling NBA franchise trapped in purgatory between being a near-playoff squad and mediocrity. Last season, the Raptors finished with a 34-48 record, but finished four games behind Milwaukee for the eight-seed in the East. Toronto isn't going to develop into a playoff threat.
This is an opportunity unlike any other, but in order to take advantage, the Raptors will have to strip down their parts and go all in for 2014. The Knicks received a valuable asset in their quest for a title, but the Raptors hope that in a year all the losses will add up to a franchise player who'll actually stick around. If the NBA's Canadian Revolution begins, the Raptors want to lead the way and I can't blame them.