Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Toronto Raptors

So Raptors fans the summer-o-fun in the NBA has improved several franchises, but has claimed a victim or two as well...YOUR TORONTO RAPTORS are among the victims...so far anyway...T.O. lost Chris Bosh but the return assets may yet be fruitful...the return assets are 2 first round picks (one was Toronto's originally, but it was traded to the Heat in a previous Heat/Raps deal - T.O. will get that pick back from Miami in this trade, and the other 1st round pick is Miami's own draft pick which is likely to be a poor draft spot as Miami will surely have a great Regular Season record and not offer a high or even middle draft spot) and there is potential brewing as Bryan Colangelo also received a $14.5 million Trade Exception (in the NBA the total $$$ value of players traded in any trade must have combined/total salaries within about 10% of each other, so the Trade Exception is $$$ added to the trade to help the total contracts match - it has to be used within 1 year and can only involve 1 player, but the trade can also include $$$ or draft picks)...we just saw the Utah Jazz replace Carlos Boozer in a trade with the Minny T-Wolves for Al Jefferson using the $14.5 mill Trade Exception they received from Chicago in the Carlos Boozer sign-and-trade...The Jazz used the Exception and as a result there were no players off of the Utah roster that went to Minny...Bryan Colangelo will be using the Exception the Raps now have in a similar move...it is almost as good, if not better then having $ for free-agent spending...the Trade Exception puts the Raps in play for guys throughout the Association who have high salaries (the assumption is that a high salary means a player of high talent) but are in need of a change of scenery, either as per them, or as per their current organization...with that said we see that the Raps are now in the trade market which has a lot more players to choose from then just having Cap space to pursue the free-agent scraps still available on the market...

So instead of wondering what free-agents are left to hopefully improve your Raptors you can now expand your imagination to include adding players from other rosters...

If you are a Raptors fan you already know that this team has several deficiencies, and for me the place to surely start is on defense...this team was the worst defense in the Association last season...this team was also 19-0 when holding an opponent under 100 points so when they actually did defend the results were ideal...seems easy to me to want to start the re-tooling of this franchise with defensive upgrades...so far though the off-season moves (overpaying Amir Johnson and trading Türkoğlu for Leandro Barbosa) do nothing to address that so we will need to hope that the Trade Exception can bring back an asset that can address the defense on this unit...I would submit that the draft day additions of Ed Davis and Solomon Alabi pictured here doing battle vs each other in the NCAA will help the interior defense, but more will be needed as we know that rookie big-men in the NBA often find themselves with foul trouble issues which does affect their playing time...not long ago we thought that BC had added Tyson Chandler and Boris Diaw to really help address the interior, but Air Jordan put an end to that good news story...so who are the guys out there that we can speculate/hope the Raps can add with the Trade Exception?

For me I have my hopes set on big-men who can provide consequences at the rim on defense (teams ran lay-up drills vs Toronto last year - we hoped Reggie Evans would help out but due to injury the jury is till out on Evans)... I am looking at guys like LaMarcus Aldridge / Marcus Camby (Portland)...Paul Millsap (Jazz)...Marc Gasol / Zach Randolph / Hasheem Thabeet (Memphis)...David West (New Orleans)...Antawn Jamison / Anderson Varejo (Cavs)...Chris Kaman (Clippers)...Kenyon Martin (Nuggets)...Andris Biedrins (Golden State)

If you are more interested in improving the Raps on the wing here are some Small Forwards to consider...James Posey / Peja Stojaković (New Orleans)...Gerald Wallace (Bobcats)...Trevor Ariza (Houston)...Andrei Kirilenko (Jazz)...

There may be Shooting Guards available if you feel that DeMar DeRozan requires more time to develop a complete game (and are underwhelmed with the other Shooting Guards on this roster like Marco Belinelli and Sonny Weems)...guys like Stephen Jackson (Bobcats)...Jason Terry (Mavs)

Anything there to interest you?

I am in the minority in that I still have good hopes for Andrea Bargnani...at 24 years old his best days are still to come...if you consider him a Dirk Nowitzki-type of player then consider that Disco Dirk became the stud as we know him around this age...the only bright spot I can point to for Jay Triano as a Head Coach is that Bargnani has shown consistency and improvement under Triano's lead...I am a big believer that his development has to, and will continue...as Andrea is not a force on the defensive end despite being 7 feet tall the need for a gritty, legit shot blocker under the rim is magnified

The Guard spot is interesting currently as Leandro Barbosa pictured left will surely get playing time and he has shown himself to be the Brazilian Blur when healthy...he does play the same position as DeMar DeRozan so between the 2 of them the Raps have quick/athletic/attacking Shooting Guards who both need to improve their jump shots...Raps also need improved consistency from Marco Belinelli and Sonny Weems in order to justify playing time for them at the now crowded Shooting Guard spot (could either of them be in a Jose Calderon/Reggie Evans package?!)...running the offense currently is Jarrett Jack and Jose Calderon...we know that BC tried to trade Calderon to Charlotte with Reggie Evans for Tyson Chandler and Colangelo-drafted Boris Diaw but Bobcats owner Michael Jordan re-nagged...awkward for any team to have a player(s) know that the organization tried to trade them only to have the other team nix the deal...Jose must be playing a waiting game at this point as he is clearly on the trade market as the Raps look to use him to get a different kind of asset in return...looks like the team will be run by Jarrett Jack...I do not mind that but I certainly wonder who will be added by BC to compliment Jack at the PG spot...I am underwhelmed with current back-up Marcus Banks and his $4.8 mill, and I am underwhelmed by Jose Calderon´s OLÉ approach to defense so I am all for a shake-up with Toronto`s Point Guards...

So where we are currently is that our team is guided by a Point Guard who may be better served as a back-up...a 2nd year Shooting Guard that needs improvement in a lot of areas...a team with no real quality Small Forward...and the big-men spots are Bargnani plus an overpaid Amir Johnson with Reggie Evans and Joey Dorsey...(side note - WHY folks did BC give Johnson a 5 year / $34 mill contract recently for this career 4.8 points per game player?!?!  WHO was he negotiating against?!?!  Often times if you are a Canadian team in various sports we know that you have to overpay as the cost of doing business to get players to come north of the border, or to stay here, but in this case what other team was offering Amir $7 mill per season?!?!)

GOOD LUCK Mr Colangelo...as I have written here before the list of GM's that are better then you and doing a better job than you is growing every day (ESPECIALLY now that a guy like Kevin Pritchard is free from his Portland job...great GM)...the franchise was once thought to be in good hands with you but Raps fans are as disgruntled currently as they have ever been...and it is your poor moves that have put us in this place so all eyes are on you to rectify this sinking situation...(final side note here...for me BC has to be held accountable for the numerous poor trades (may never recover from the Jermaine O'Neal trade)...poor free agent signings (he lost me the day he signed Jason Kapono to that big contract)...poor timing of the firing of Sam Mitchell, and to have Jay Triano as your Head Coach is really really really weak...for me the time to make the inevitable move on firing Triano was right after the season ended as that would have perhaps had them in the Tom Thibodeau hunt, but alas he signs on with Chicago and that city just got a GREAT up-and-coming Head Coach where we are still left with a glorified assistant running our on-court product and that is BC's fault)

keep sending me your thoughts/feedback...always welcomed and appreciated