GM Turned Miracle Worker? How Bryan Colangelo Saved the Raptors Future

Dannie HaynesContributor IJuly 12, 2010

The revolving door that is the Toronto Raptors' off-season keeps on spinning.

We all knew Chris Bosh was on his way out of town. Who knew that both Hedo Turkoglu and Jose Calderon would be following him? It is a new beginning for many Raptors fans who have accepted that next season should be a sombre one. With the trading of these two, Raptors management has put themselves in a position to spend in upcoming free agency classes (Chris Paul/Deron Williams, anyone?).

The Raptors opened with trading Hedo Turkoglu, last year’s prize acquisition turned disappointment extraordinaire, for a serviceable backup in Leandro Barbosa, along with a trade chip in Dwayne Jones.

This will allow Barbosa to either become a starter for the first time in his career, or give the Raptors a former 6th man of the year who provides explosive scoring and savvy perimeter defence.

This alone would be a fantastic trade for Raptor fans. Toronto would ultimately be shedding away two years off Hedo’s contract. Both players make roughly the same amount per year. On top of that, Barbosa is one of the quickest players in the league, and able to defend multiple positions.

While I won’t disagree with Turkoglu being the better player of the two, having Barbosa on the team will allow the Raptors to run a very up-tempo system. They already have one of the most athletic back-courts in the league with the likes of Demar DeRozan and Sonny Weems in the fold.

The pairing of Jarrett Jack and Barbosa would also be one of the best defensive back-courts the Raptors have put together in quite some time.

What the Raptors lose is one of the premier point-forwards in the league. Turkoglu has the ability to stretch the floor, create mismatches, and make plays better than anyone standing at 6’10. The only problem is that he didn’t fit in with the Raptors, and was not worth the money they paid.

Now for the second aspect of this trade: Sending Jose Calderon and Reggie Evans, along with the newly acquired Dwayne Jones, to the Charlotte Bobcats for Boris Diaw and Tyson Chandler.

This trade may have ensured Brian Colangelo’s extension with the team.

By turning Calderon’s three-year, $30 million deal into Chandler’s one year, $12.8 million and Diaw’s two year, $18 million contracts, the Raptors are now in position to make a big splash in free agency as soon as next year.

Worst case scenario: Both players are unable to play to their potential, and become bargaining chips in possible trades for teams looking for expiring contracts. Best case, both play to their potential, and give the Raptors fans some hope this upcoming season.

If Chandler can have the same chemistry with Jarrett Jack as he did with Chris Paul, he could very well turn back into a legitimate double-double threat. Especially with the lack of rebounding from the Raptors front-court to begin with. A better, and more realistic hope is for him to simply be healthy, play defence, and rebound. If he can do that, he will fit in nicely with the Raptors.

As for Diaw, he could be the wild card in the deal. With a potential logjam of power forwards on the Raptors roster, it is definitely a possibility he gets flipped to some other team. Rumors have the Raps looking for one more trade this off-season. With as many as six power forwards on the roster, look for one of them to be moved.

Considering how bleak (and expensive) the Raptors future looked last week, these two trades are no doubt a success. These were not made in hopes of building a championship contender (even playoffs still seem a lofty goal), but simply to shed salary in order to prepare for life without Bosh. We in Raptorland have grown used to Colangelo’s flipping of players, and until he commits to rebuilding, we will still remain pessimistic towards our future.

For today, though, I must congratulate Raptors management. You made the right decision. And these Toronto Raptors will be fun to watch.

Just hope they don’t pull a New Jersey.