Decisions made coming up to the NBA trade deadline could be the toughest calls for the Toronto Raptors GM Bryan Colangelo since his arrival in 2006.
But since the Raptors ownership group, MLSE has picked up Colangelo’s contract option for next season, the Raptors GM has no excuses for not doing what he believes is best for the Raptors in both the long and the short terms.
Colangelo has to balance:
What he has now; with,
What he might have next season;
The chance any changes disrupt his team’s chemistry more than the potential benefits of the player(s) acquired; and,
The possibility of new more stringent salary cap rules in 2011.
Does Colangelo bring in a veteran for a year or two and really up the odds of winning it all now versus keeping a young stud who could develop into a star but won’t get any respect from the biased NBA referees come playoff time this year?
The short answer may be; never, ever pass up a chance to win it all now for a chance to win it all later. As most of the time, the later never happens.
But any trade begins with; what do the Raptors have to offer?
Starting with players most Raptor fans are not losing sleep over and moving forward:
- Patrick O’Bryant was acquired as a project and at this point, most would say the project has failed.
POB’s value is as an expiring contract worth $855,000 of trade ballast to meet NBA CBA requirements.
- Reggie Evans has yet to play a game for the Raptors. But it now looks like he will see the floor just in time for the trade deadline. A great rebounder, and a known tough guy, Evans is also famous for his “hands of stone” around the basket.
At this point, Evans is either the equivalent of acquiring that important extra big man for the stretch run and the playoffs or trade bait for another team with those needs.
At about $5 million for this year and next, Evans earns the right amount to be an important trading commodity.
- Marcus Banks has earned the respect of Raptors fans by being that all important third string point guard who filled in admirably when Jose Calderon was injured.
But at about $4.5 million this season and next, Banks is earning too much for his spot in the rotation and should be considered unmovable unless he is part of a larger deal.
- Rasho Nesterovic has been the Raptors most reliable third string big man and would be greatly missed if Bosh or Bargnani were to be injured, however briefly.
The ultimate reserve, Rasho comes in ready to play without notice.
His expiring contract at the BAE could make Nesterovic useful in trade as ballast with the interesting prospect of the Raptors re-acquiring him a month later after he was bought-out and waived.
- Marco Belinelli, a favorite of Bryan Colangelo, earns about $1.5 million and the team has already picked up his $2.4 million option for next year.
Belinelli is a shooter who makes 40 percent of his shots from any range and provides about eight points in 19 minutes. He is young, fearless, and likely to keep getting better. But he is also very hot or very cold and there is little indication of which Belinelli will show up on any given night.
Someone the Raptors could include in a trade without severely affecting team chemistry, Belinelli definitely has trade value for the right team. But it seems unlikely he would be traded on his own.
- Sonny Weems has turned into a very nice pick-up by the Raptors but his $736,420 salary doesn’t make him a very useful trade piece.
When given significant minutes in the rotation, Weems has produced and at just 23 years old, this virtual rookie has impressed on a similar scale to rookie DeMar DeRozan.
At his salary, Sonny Weems probably has too much value to the Raptors to be included in a deal.
- Antoine Wright has the all-important expiring contract that so many teams are clambering for. But at a salary of around $2 million, Wright’s recent play may have made him too valuable to be included in most trades.
The most talked about Raptors trade prospect may no longer be available. It will take a special deal to pry Antoine Wright away from Jay Triano’s clutches now.
- Amir Johnson also has an expiring deal and at close to $4 million, Johnson earns enough to be a significant part of a trade.
But Johnson has also played better than most people expected and it may all be a result of Reggie Evan’s being injured. No matter, Johnson is now a fan favorite and a player Colangelo would probably like to keep.
Even providing five points and five boards in just 17 minutes doesn’t make Johnson an untouchable and he could be a key piece in a big trade.
- The Raptors 9th overall pick, DeMar DeRozan is having a good rookie year.
DeRozan has made 45 starts for the Raptors and on an adjusted 36 minute basis, the rookie is averaging 14 points, 5 boards, a steal, and 0.6 of a block as a shooting guard. DeRozan looks like the real deal.
Any team looking to trade a quality starting wing to Toronto is likely asking for DeRozan in return. It is going to be very tough for Colangelo to let him go.
- Currently, the most often discussed Raptor in trade speculation is Jose Calderon.
Even though Calderon may be having an off-year by recent standards, Jose is one of only a few NBA players who have put up a 40/50/90 season of shooting.
A great distributor and efficient scorer, the only knocks on Calderon have been his recent injury history and suspect defense. Calderon had an all-star worthy performance just two seasons ago and should have a very high trade value.
At an $8 million salary, Calderon is one of the few Raptors who could be available that would actually facilitate a major trade.
- Jarrett Jack was acquired in free agency this past off-season.
An effective starting point guard at a modest salary, it is highly unlikely Colangelo would consider trading Jack at this time.
- Hedo Turkoglu was acquired in free agency this past summer.
Turkoglu is the starting small forward Colangelo wanted to bring NBA playoff finals experience to his young team. The five-year $50 million contract was well within what Colangelo was willing to spend to attract this proven veteran.
Even though his 12.4 points, 4.5 rebounds, and 4.3 assists are below his last year’s numbers and many people’s expectations, it is hard to imagine the deal that would pry Turkoglu loose.
- Bryan Colangelo’s 2006 first overall pick, Andrea Bargnani is having a career-year.
Don’t bother asking, you don’t have enough to get him.
- Toronto Raptors All-Star Chris Bosh is also having a career-year.
Colangelo has told everyone since the summer, at every chance he is given, “Chris Bosh is not available”.
- The Toronto Raptors first round pick belongs to Miami (lottery protected). Therefore, Toronto does not have a first round pick available to trade this season.
The Toronto Raptors apparent needs can be summed up as: Veteran Starting Shooting Guard. Que the requests for Andre Iguodala, Josh Howard, Caron Butler, Kevin Martin, etc ….
From on-line polls, there is no doubt that the majority of fans would like to see Iggy in a Raptors uniform and would be prepared to give a lot to see that happen.
Earlier this year, the Raptors desperately needed a back up small forward, but with Antoine Wright’s improved play and the discovery of Sonny Weems talents, this need is no longer so glaring.
And, as the most observant have noted, if the Raptors trade Jose Calderon, the deal had better include a decent back-up point guard coming back to the Raptors. Having Marcus Banks as the primary back-up is a little disconcerting.