Raptors expect a quiet trade deadline

FRANK ZICARERLLI, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 7:15 PM ET

LOS ANGELES — Barring something completely unforeseen heading into Thursday’s trade deadline, the Raptors figure to be quiet when all is said and done.

For the rebuilding Raptors, there’s no point in pulling off a deal that compromises the development of their young and emerging core, no sense in adding a big contract when so much salary flexibility has been already been created.

At the same time, if a deal presents itself that is simply too attractive to turn down, you know general manager Bryan Colangelo will do it.

But for now, don’t expect anything of any consequence.

“I will say there’s all sorts of conversation as we always do as a matter of course,’’ Colangelo relayed from Arizona on Sunday after leaving the league’s all-star weekend for a scouting trip.

“A lot of deals have been talked about, small deals that involve tweaks to the roster. I’d characterize them as opportunity-type deals.”

The post all-star break begins on Tuesday when the Raptors travel to Charlotte to play the Bobcats.

The following night, the Raptors play host to Chicago, the first of a four-game homestand before Toronto takes it act to London, England, for a two-night stand against New Jersey.

DeMar DeRozan is enjoying a breakout season in this his second in the NBA, slowly breaking out of his shell by being a little more aggressive.

In time, DeRozan must be more demanding in wanting to have the ball in his hands and making plays.

The way he tried to engage the Staples Center crowd during Saturday night’s slam dunk event was encouraging, a sign that perhaps the L.A. native is willing to embrace more responsibilities.

It was sad to see how the judges didn’t reward DeRozan with a better score on his first attempt, an injustice that may have knocked out eventual champion Blake Griffin from the final round.

Athletically, DeRozan is the complete product, but now comes more development, something the Raptors can achieve only by getting him more opportunities to create off the dribble.

Andrea Bargnani can score, for that no one can question.

The questions with Bargnani remain his indifference to rebound the ball and his inability to provide weak-side help on defence.

But as the Raptors get ready for the post all-star break, the focus must be on Ed Davis.

Here’s a kid who has an instinct for the basketball coaches can’t teach, a game that has yet to be developed but one that needs to be explored.

The only way Davis can improve is by getting him more minutes, more touches in the post and more opportunities, even at the expense of losing games or exposing weaknesses.

As Reggie Evans recovers from his foot injury and as he eyes his long-awaited return, it’s incumbent on the Raptors to sit down with this proud veteran and reinforce the long-term goals of the franchise, which sadly does not include Evans, who becomes a free agent this summer.

Davis and Amir Johnson, another young building block, need to be playing more together, getting a rhythm and comfort for each other that dictates more minutes.

If that means less minutes for Bargnani, then so be it.

It’s always been the contention from this space that Bargnani, given his offence-first game, is best suited as a sixth man on a quality team.

With the Raptors rebuilding, he’s become the first option almost by default.

Minutes will be allotted for Bargnani and touches, for obvious reasons, will be given, but Davis cannot be overlooked.

An off-season knee injury has limited Davis to 39 games, including three starts.

He averaged 6.3 points, 4.2 rebounds and 22.1 minutes heading into the break, numbers that simply must increase, beginning on Tuesday when the North Carolina product returns to Tobacco Road.

This summer looms for Davis, just like it did last off-season for DeRozan.

To his credit, DeRozan came into his second season with a few new wrinkles to his game, but he still needs to get better defensively and develop a three-point shot.

Davis, on the other hand, needs to bulk up and get stronger.

More than anything, at least for now, he needs minutes.

When the Raptors convene in Charlotte early evening on Monday, the team’s youthful path must be maintained.

But it’s a road that has to involve Davis more than he has until now.


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