Take Toronto Raptors +3 for your NBA Picks

Jason Lake

Tuesday, February 18, 2014 12:23 PM GMT

Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2014 12:23 PM GMT

Two of the best basketball betting values in the Eastern Conference get together on Tuesday when John Wall and the Washington Wizards host (presumably) Kyle Lowry and the Toronto Raptors.

Jason’s record on his early NBA picks for 2013-14, up to February 17 inclusive:

62-53-1 ATS

17-13 Totals

It’s that special time on the NBA betting calendar when we all have to keep on our toes. The trading deadline is 3:00 p.m. ET on Thursday, which means a ton of players – mostly of the “somewhat useful” variety, but perhaps including a star or two – will be on the move. And that means we have to be careful with our NBA picks. Even if the team we like is adding a quality player instead of subtracting, it can take a while for that player to pass his physical and suit up.

When the trade involves the Toronto Raptors, that process can also include getting a work visa. Remember, it took Jose Calderon several days to get his papers sorted out last year after he was dealt to the Detroit Pistons. Does new GM Masai Ujiri have anything up his sleeve for this week’s deadline? If so, by the time you read this, the Raptors might be shorthanded when they visit the Washington Wizards on Tuesday (7:00 p.m. ET). The NBA lines have Toronto getting three points with a total of 195.

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Lookit All these Rumors

Now that we’re approaching the deadline, the rumor mill is churning at full speed, and we’re once again looking at the possibility of Kyle Lowry (20.1 PER) getting dealt to the New York Knicks. This trade was in the works back in December, but Knicks owner James Dolan apparently didn’t want to get fleeced again after the Andrea Bargnani deal. That hesitation might end up costing him; if New York wants Lowry now, it’s going to cost a pretty penny.

How pretty? Since trades are negotiated through the press these days, we “know” that the Knicks are now willing to include Iman Shumpert (9.9 PER) along with a protected first-round pick in 2018 – Toronto already has the 2016 pick and a second-rounder in 2017 from the Bargnani trade. Any deal would presumably also include current Knicks starting PG Raymond Felton (12.4 PER). The Raptors are still reportedly holding out for Tim Hardaway Jr. (13.8 PER) and the draft pick.

But that’s all rumor mill stuff. In the meantime, the Raptors (28-24 SU, 31-20-1 ATS) have been one of the hottest teams in the East since trading Rudy Gay to the Sacramento Kings, and Lowry has been their best player. The only reason they have to deal him is because he’s about to become an unrestricted free agent. It’s a good reason, mind you, but the Raptors are in a much better position to retain Lowry than they were when Tracy McGrady, Vince Carter and Chris Bosh skipped town.

Can You Sign Me Now?

The Wizards (25-27 SU, 29-23 ATS) find themselves a little deeper in no-man’s land than the Raptors do. Their rebuilding project has gone reasonably well, putting Washington in sixth place in the East, three games ahead of the ninth-place Pistons. It’s hardly a comfortable position to be in, though, and since the Wiz already have enough young players – led by All-Star point guard and Slam Dunk champion John Wall (19.8 PER) – they’d like to upgrade the roster for a playoff push.

Problem is, there’s not much room to do so. The Wizards have the maximum 15 guaranteed contracts on the roster, they’re only $1 million below the salary cap, and they already sent Emeka Okafor’s expiring contract to the Phoenix Suns for Marcin Gortat (16.0 PER). So there’s a very good chance we’ll see both the Raptors and Wizards as-is when they meet at The Phone Booth. In which case, Toronto is still carrying tons of NBA betting value in an inelastic market that just won’t recognize how well this team has been playing. What will it take? A near-upset of the Miami Heat in the second round of the playoffs? Make it so.

NBA Pick: Take the Raptors +3 (–104) at Marathon

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