Even at this Week 1 juncture, there are strong indications in circulation that Toronto is exploring its trade options rather vigorously in hopes of constructing a roster that can finally halt a five-season playoff drought.
The Raptors, I'm told, came into camp with an open mind under new front-office boss Masai Ujiri, willing to even consider an extension for Rudy Gay if they liked what they saw.
The strong sense now, though, is that the Raps are prepared to trade virtually anyone on the current roster if a suitable offer presents itself.
"Anyone but [Jonas] Valanciunas," says one plugged-in source.
The National Post's fine columnist Bruce Arthur reported this week in a long piece on Ujiri that the Raps have indeed discussed the prospect of moving Gay before the NBA's Feb. 20 trade deadline. Yet it should be noted that Anyone But Valanciunas also means two more vets in place before Ujiri's arrival -- DeMar DeRozan (who this time last year was just receiving a contract extension from then-GM Bryan Colangelo) and Kyle Lowry (who'll be an unrestricted free agent come July) -- are likewise in play.
Gay, meanwhile, rates as one of the league's more fascinating cases after Toronto's previous regime gambled on the notion that the former Memphis Grizzlies max signee could be a co-cornerstone with Valanciunas. How tradable, really, is Gay when he's making nearly $18 million this season? The sense out there is that the Raps, who only just got him in January, are determined to find out.
Rival teams are still formulating their projections on what Gay will do at season's end, when he has the option to become a free agent or play out the final season of his last Memphis contract at a heady $19.3 million. You hesitate to simply assume that Gay, even at his relatively young age, will opt for free agency, because the likelihood is that the annual salary in his next deal won't be nearly that high. He'll undoubtedly be tantalized by the prospect of free agency in a summer where there will be cap-room teams looking to spend, but choosing to play this contract out is not inconceivable.
Here's what we can tell you right away: The Raptors, with the blessing of splash-loving new Toronto sports czar Tim Leiweke, are already looking around.