A few months ago I wrote an article detailing what I believed should have been Bryan Colangelo’s agenda this summer.
The main focus was to satisfy Chris Bosh’s desire to add a more talented wing player and hope that Bosh would resign, while also resigning Amir Johnson and adding a few more pieces to try to create a playoff team and maybe even a championship contender.
That dream has gone out the window. Basketball analysts have been speculating for months that Bosh was the most likely high level free agent to sign with a new team this offseason. Even Colangelo admitted the other day that Bosh will likely leave the team this summer.
The Raptors are now entering a semi-rebuilding mode and have a lot of decisions to make.
The team drafted forward Ed Davis out of North Carolina with the thirteenth pick in the draft. This was an unexpected move since Davis never worked out for the Raptors. Most experts believed he would have been off the board when Toronto was drafting.
Davis is a power forward and ironically, his favourite player is Bosh. He is a talented rebounder and shotblocker. Davis won’t be able to fill the void left by Bosh’s inevitable departure, but he will help stop the bleeding.
The Raptors also have reportedly come to terms with Amir Johnson on a new five-year, $34 million contract.
This might seem a little high for Johnson, however, the market price was set when the Milwaukee Bucks resigned Drew Gooden to a similar $32 million deal.
I expect both players to have similar roles with their respective teams and I’m sure Johnson’s agent used Gooden’s contract as a baseline for negotiations.
Johnson is only 23 years old and still could develop into a solid player.
The good news though, is if Johnson doesn’t develop, as Colangelo anticipates, his contract will expire right around the time Davis’ rookie deal is up and is eligible to sign an extension.
Hedo Turkoglu came out the other day and stated he no longer wants to be traded.
This is probably a good thing because if the Raptors were to lose both Turkoglu and Bosh without receiving much in return. Toronto would be seriously lacking talent-wise next year.
Ultimately I would not be surprised if Turkoglu was moved this summer, but at least publicly supporting the team this gives management more flexibility to negotiate with other teams. Colangelo won’t be forced to except a completely lopsided deal.
The biggest area of weakness right now is still up front. If and when Bosh leaves, the Raptors are going to need to find some way to replace his production.
A few names that are being floated is David Lee and Amare Stoudemire.
Colangelo is reportedly very high on Lee and would like to work out a Bosh/Lee sign-and-trade with the New York Knicks.
The Raptors also contacted Stoudemire once the free agency period began. Colangelo was the General Manager in Phoenix when Amare was drafted. However, Stoudemire is reportedly close to signing a max-contract with the Knicks.
This is problematic for two reasons. First, that means the Raptors can’t acquire him, not that the team really stood a chance anyway. Second, it would prevent Toronto from getting Lee in a sign-and-trade.
The Knicks have the capspace to sign two max-players this summer, but I doubt Donnie Walsh was planning on a Stoudemire/Bosh combo. He will likely try to acquire a wing player to go with Amare.
The best possible scenario would be to send Bosh to Miami.
This would allow him to team up with Dwayne Wade and the Raptors could get back their own first round draft pick, from the Jermaine O’Neal trade, a trade exception, up to $16 million, and maybe Michael Beasley. The key to that deal would be the trade exception.
It is good for a year and would allow the Raptors to acquire a player from any team whose salary is $16 million or less. Some possibilities include Loul Deng and Emeka Okafor.
The Bulls are trying to move Deng to free up more cap-space, but I’m not so sure the Raptors would want him.
Okafor is a solid front court player. He is good for a double-double and would help one of Toronto’s biggest weaknesses, namely rebounding. As well, the Hornets are trying to avoid paying the luxury tax and moving Okafor’s contract would help.
However, the draft-day trade of Morris Peterson might be enough to help the team’s financial problems.
This is not a rumor that is being circulated, I have no reason to believe it would happen, but Phoenix might be willing to move Steve Nash.
Owner Robert Saver has historically been tight with his wallet, and if Stoudemire does sign with the Knicks the championship window has closed.
This could prompt Saver to move Nash and enter a rebuilding stage.
What I do know is that nothing would make Toronto and Canadian basketball fans happier then to see Nash in a Raptors uniform.
The team also still needs to do something with its point guards. Jose Calderon again expressed his desire to stay with the team; he and Jarrett Jack have repeatedly stated their belief that the two can coexist.
However, I believe one of the two will be moved this summer.
Toronto was also looking to sign Steve Blake. I’m not a big fan of Blake’s game, but the free agent point guard crop isn’t great this year. However, it is being reported he will sign with the Los Angeles Lakers.
If management has decided to trade one of the two current point guards, the team will likely use the mid-level exception to sign a veteran point guard.
Someone like Blake would command the entire MLE.
The team could also look at either Raymond Felton or Luke Ridnour. Both might cost more then the MLE, and at least Ridnour would not help Toronto’s defensive problems.
The Raptors are unlikely to bring back most of its veteran free agents; Rasho Nesterovic won’t be with the team next year, and Antoine Wright became expendable with the emergence of Sonny Weems.
Patrick O’Bryant has been invited to play on the Raptors summer league team, but with the team drafting Solomon Alabi, I see no reason to bring O’Bryant back.
The last thing the Raptors need to do this summer is try to package the expiring contracts of Reggie Evans and Marcus Banks.
Neither player has a future with the team, and it would be nice to use the two of them to acquire a useful piece. Marvin Williams and another player with approximately a $2 million salary would work. The Atlanta Hawks are rumored to be shopping Williams.
He hasn’t lived up to his draft position and with the new $119 million contract the team just gave to Joe Johnson, the Hawks could use the cap relief.
Williams was the number two pick back in 2005. The Hawks drafted him based solely on potential, but it wasn’t a good pick since the team needed, and still needs, a point guard.
Either Deron Williams or Chris Paul, who were drafted third and fourth respectively, would have look great running the point for the team.
Marvin Williams hasn’t had a great career so far but could benefit from a change of scenery. Since the Raptors are going to be a young team looking to the future acquiring someone like Williams wouldn’t be a bad idea.
At the end of the day I expect this to be a very active summer for Bryan Colangelo. He is nearing the end of his contract with the Raptors and needs to show his success in Phoenix wasn’t a fluke.
There are a number of directions this team can go and I’m very interested to see what Toronto looks like when the season tips off in October.
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