Carlos Delfino a Reality for the Raptors?

JEREMY KEENANContributor IJanuary 9, 2009

As any analyst would say, the 08-09 Raptors are in desperate need of a solid defensive two or three.

Well, of course they are. Opposing teams SFs have been lighting up the scoreboard all season long. Unfortunately, after the signing of Jermaine O'Neal and the deal to lock up PG Jose Calderon, the Raps were out of cap space for SF/SG Carlos Delfino.

Delfino came to the Raps via Detroit in June of last season. As is to be expected, there was a lot of speculation around the Raps GM bringing in Delfino a year and a half ago. 

It's always hard for fans to gauge international players who didn't earn their stripes in the NCAA. But with a full season with the Raptors under his belt, no one could deny his value to the team, having added 9.0 points, 4.4 rebounds, and 1.8 assists in 23.5 minutes per game. 

Carlos' major upside is his ability to defend the majority of the premier SG/SFs in the league.  He has a good frame at 6'7", 230 pounds, good quickness, and great defensive positioning.

Although averaging slightly less than a steal per game, the defense was always there.  He seldom turns the ball over, and has the grit and tenacity to take it to the rim. 

I have been telling anyone who will listen all year they need to get this guy back. Last weekend, Raptors GM Bryan Colangelo in an interview alluded to the fact that he was in contact with Delfino's agent regarding a return to the team. 

To further this possibility, the Raptors traded Hassan "Hot Sauce" Adams to the LA Clippers for an upcoming draft pick and cash. Although Hot Sauce was only making the league minimum, any salary room the Raps can eke-out will be beneficial. 

But will Delfino be interested in leaving his team BC Khimki of the Russian League?

He is averaging 10.06 PPG, 4.26 RPG, and 2.69 APG. Although his offensive numbers haven't gone up dramatically, he is still the great defensive player. BC Khimki has a legitimate chance of winning the Russian League, and he may be tempted to remain winning with former Raptor teammate Jorge Garbajosa and former Raptor Milt Palacio.

I believe that if the Raps GM gets permission to exceed the luxury tax this year from owners, MLSE, or is able to pull off a miracle trade, Delfino will be a Raptor again by February. 

He will increase their perimeter and interior defense, especially in the East against Rashard Lewis, Paul Pierce, and Vince Carter. He will also be able to spell Calderon, bringing up the ball allowing Jose to hit more three-point shots.  

The downside is the cap. The Raps have no room this year and precious little room next season with a number of players in need of re-signing in the offseason, notably Anthony Parker.