10 Players the Toronto Raptors Should Target Between Now and the Summer

Mark BirdsellContributor IIIJanuary 15, 2011

10 Players the Toronto Raptors Should Target Between Now and the Summer

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    The Toronto Raptors are 13-26 and according to Hollinger’s Playoff Odds,  are on pace for a 30-52 finish. 

    Entering this season with the loss of Chris Bosh and Hedo Turkoglu, I anticipated the Raptors would max-out at 35 wins.  If they reach that number, the team has overachieved.  A mere 25 wins wouldn’t surprise me either.  Anyone who thought the Toronto could win 40 plus games was living in a fantasy world.

    Bryan Colangelo has been focused on building a team around Chris Bosh since he arrived in Toronto.  Now that Bosh is gone,  Colangelo can build any type of team he wants and simply collect young assets.

    Bringing in veterans and big name players has two major problems—these type of players generally come with a high price tag and, they won’t be useful to the team a few years from now when Toronto’s young core can develop into a playoff team.

    The model Toronto should follow is Sam Presti and Oklahoma City Thunder.  He traded away all of his veteran players and has since put together a solid core.

    With that in mind here are ten players Toronto should keep an eye on, as they are young, talented and could develop into an important part of the Raptors’ organization.

DeAndre Jordan

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    DeAndre Jordan is likely on the radar of any team in need of a center.  He was a second round pick of the Los Angeles Clippers in 2008 and is developing into a very good defensive center. 

    In 29 games as a starter this season Jordan is averaging 7.5 points, 8.1 rebounds and 1.8 blocks per game, in 27 minutes of playing time.  He has benefited from the injury to Chris Kaman who has played in only 10 games this season.

    Jordan is unlikely to be a player that the Raptors can acquire by the trade deadline, but he should be one of Bryan Colangelo’s targets this summer in free agency.  He is an unrestricted free agent and in line for a substantial pay increase. He currently makes $854,389.  How much of a salary increase Jordan will get will likely depend on the rules of the new collective bargaining agreement.

    However, the Clippers already have $12 million dollars committed to Kaman and may not be willing to meet Jordan’s demands to keep him around as a backup.

Al Thornton

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    Al Thornton is a restricted free agent this summer and is in a similar situation to DeAndre Jordan.  He is second on the depth chart at small forward behind Rashard Lewis, who still has two years and roughly $40 million left on his contract.

    The Washington Wizards acquired Thornton last year in a three team trade with Cleveland and the Clippers.  Since arriving in Washington his numbers have dropped, along with his playing time.  However, given consistent minutes he could be a value contributor.

    Thornton was a first round pick of the Clippers back in 2007.  He is 6’8”, 235 lbs and as a starter in 08-09 averaged 17 points and 5 rebounds per game.

    Small forward is still the weakest position for the Toronto Raptors and unless the team can get a stud in this summer’s draft, an upgrade is needed because Linas Kleiza and Sonny Weems aren’t getting it done.

Hasheem Thabeet

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    Hasheem Thabeet has been a disappointment since being selected no. 2 overall in 2009.

    If Toronto was to acquire him it would be based on potential, not for what he has done up to this point in time.

    He is 7’3” and at Connecticut was a shot blocking monster.  He fits what the Raptors need, a defensive center.  Even though Andrea Bargnani is playing well I think his more natural position is at power forward.  Thabeet would be asked to block shots and rebound only as Toronto has enough offense already..

    There are a number of reasons this situation would work. Memphis won’t want to pay Thabeet to be a backup and have recently extended Rudy Gay and Mike Conley. Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol are both looking for a big pay day this summer. 

    Finally, the Raptors could simply acquire Thabeet by using part of its trade player exception and wouldn’t be required to give up any key players.

Marc Gasol

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    Chris Wallace is never going to be able to live down the Pau Gasol trade he made a few years ago.  He gave the Lakers Pau for almost nothing and then traded for Zach Randolph a player with an identical contract.  However, the one thing he did right was insist that Pau’s younger brother be included in the trade.

    Marc Gasol is developing into one of the better centers in the league.  He is a restricted free agent this summer and Wallace has stated he will match any offer Gasol gets.

    Therefore, the only way a team is going to be able to get Gasol is to call Wallace’s bluff and overpaid for the center. 

    I can guarantee though Toronto won’t be the only team this summer attempting to lure Gasol away from the Memphis Grizzlies.  The New York Knicks among others already have their sights set on the Spanish center.

Wilson Chandler

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    Wilson Chandler will be one of the most difficult players on this list to acquire.  Donnie Walsh and Mike D’Antoni have made it known that they want Chandler to be with the New York Knicks for years to come.

    However, if Carmelo Anthony doesn’t become a member of the New Jersey Nets and the Knicks can’t acquire him by the trade deadline then in order to acquire him in free agency this summer New York must renounce the right to Chandler.  If that happens then Chandler is on the open market.

    He isn’t a player that does anything great, but he does everything very well.  he can rebound and block shots and is developing a good three point shot.

    Chandler is averaging 17.5 points, 6.3 rebounds and 1.4 blocks per game this year with the Knicks.  He is working hard on developing his game and would be a welcomed addition to any team.

Jeff Green

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    Jeff Green is talented and part of Oklahoma City Thunder's young core, but he is constantly playing out of position.  With Kevin Durant locked in at small forward, Green is forced to play at the 4 spot and he isn’t big enough to guard most power forwards.

    That along with the fact that Sam Presti gave Durant a 5-year contact extension and declined to extend Green’s deal might lead one to conclude that Green’s days in OKC are numbered.

    He is a restricted free agent, so OKC has the right to match any offer.  However, how much money will Presti be willing to commit to an undersized 4. 

    He is averaging 15 points and 5 rebounds per game and much like Wilson Chandler, doesn’t do anything great but is a great glue guy and would be a good upgrade at the 3 for the Raptors

    The Thunder have a number of promising big men, but none have consistently stepped up and that is what the team needs to move forward.  As a result, Green might be the odd man out and if that is the case the Raptors need to be ready to pounce on the opportunity to pick up a versatile player.

Thaddeus Young

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    Thaddeus Young fills out the trifecta of small forwards.  He is similar to Wilson Chandler and Jeff Green, but I don’t feel as talented as either.  He is a combo forward, capable of playing both positions, but is unlikely to develop into a star.

    The Philadelphia 76ers have almost $100 million locked up in Andre Iguodala and Elton Brand.  They also have young Jrue Holiday and Evan Turner. Young might be someone who slips through the cracks.

    He wouldn’t be my first choice, but could be a nice consolation prize if Bryan Colangelo is able to work out a more successful deal.

Carl Landry

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    Carl Landry has fallen out of favour in Sacramento.  Paul Westphal seems to have settled in on a starting front court of DeMarcus Cousins and Jason Thompson. The presence of Samuel Dalembert doesn’t leave much playing time for Landry.

    Landry’s stats are down from last year and he doesn’t look nearly as promising as he did while a member of the Houston Rockets.

    Landry is an unrestricted free agent and I expect him to be traded by the deadline or sign elsewhere this summer.  He is a hard worker and could contribute to any team in the Association.

    However, with the money Bryan Colangelo committed to Amir Johnson and drafting Ed Davis,  signing or trading for Landry might not make much sense.  There is a lot of overlap in their skill sets, but it can’t hurt to acquire a talented player no matter what his position.

Chris Douglas-Roberts

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    Chris Douglas-Roberts is an interesting player.  He was a second round pick of the New Jersey Nets a couple years ago.  This is his first year in Milwaukee. 

    His playing time has been erratic, but that is because the Bucks have a glut of wing players.  The team resigned John Salmons and brought in Corey Maggette, CDR was signed merely as a backup plan. 

    Regardless, he has shown flashes of what he can do with consistent playing time.  CDR would be a cheap pickup for any team, but he is also a restricted free agent, which means Milwaukee has the right of first refusal.

    He might not fit in well with the current Raptor squad, but if Bryan Colangelo is unwilling or unable to bring back Sonny Weems and Julian Wright, Douglas-Roberts is an option for a wing player off the bench.

Joe Alexander

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    Joe Alexander was the 8th overall pick in 2008. However, because of injuries, he became the highest draft pick in NBA history to not have his 3rd year option picked up.

    Alexander signed on with the New Orleans Hornets in the off season, but was quickly cut from the team.

    He is currently playing in the D-League with the Texas Legends, where he is averaging 20 points and 10.9 rebounds per game.  He was almost called up by the Dallas Mavericks last week, but Donnie Nelson decided to go with Sasha Pavolvic instead because of  Pavolic's experience.

    Alexander is working hard on his game, attempting to dispel the perception that he is only an athlete and not a basketball player.  The way he is playing someone is going to give him a shot. The one caveat is Alexander is averaging 43 minutes per game and therefore his stats are skewed a bit.

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