5 Money Saving Trade Ideas for Toronto
The Toronto Raptors are projected to have a payroll around $50 million for the 2011-2012 season. The Raptors are a lot better off now than they were last season when they paid out nearly $70 million in salary.
Even though Toronto has plenty of flexibility now, the direction that the league's financial situation is heading isn't going to help Toronto. With the current rules, the Raps could have expected to spend around $15-$20 million on free agency this offseason, or they could have waited a year and had as much as $30 million to spend in 2012. Unfortunately, the league wants to shrink teams' flexibility by imposing a hard cap.
Many mistakenly label Toronto as a "small market," but the reality is that even though the Raptors haven't spent like contenders recently, they are a team which is willing to spend big if they feel they can compete (i.e. Jose Calderon extension, Hedo Turkoglu signing, Jermaine O'Neal addition, etc). Therefore, a "hard cap" won't benefit Toronto all that much because we may be forced to spend less when it'd be in our best interest to spend lots.
Another proposed change to the CBA is an amnesty clause which would allow Toronto and all teams to waive a player. This exception would definitely help teams like Los Angeles and Orlando, who are stuck with a lot of dead weight on their Rosters, but Toronto has worked very patiently to remove most of its bad contracts already (we didn't use the Bosh exception!). Giving all teams an option to waive a bad valued player when Toronto had just done so the hard way is a total slap in the face. Sure we can still make use of the tool, but it will benefit other teams that we're competing with much more than it could benefit us.
Moving forward the Raptors have a decent roster with some valuable talent, but knowing Bryan Colangelo, the team will still look at every trade possibility that could somehow improve the team. Every player is unique in his own way, but there isn't a player on the team that can't be flipped for someone of better value.
Players like Bargnani, Calderon, Johnson and Kleiza are all fairly expensive, while players like Barbosa and Jerryd Bayless will require resigning next summer, and that could also effect Toronto's flexibility down the road. I'm not suggesting trading any of these guys for cheaper players is mandatory, but an extra $4 to $5 million a year could go a long way when you're trying to lure top tier free agents.
Here we'll be looking into trade scenario's that could possibly improve the team while also helping Toronto financially.
Pay-Less Instead of Bayless?
Scenario: Jerryd Bayless for Tony Douglas + Renaldo Balkman
New York receives Jerryd Bayless who is arguably the better player than Douglas. Bayless is bigger and can do everything which Douglas can, but is also a better passer and defender. Bayless probably has more potential than Douglas, and you can tell by looking at their age and situations last season. Bayless could flourish playing in New York just like Raymon Felton did last season.
The Raptors might down grade a little at the point, but they could save themselves a lot of money by doing so. The trade would require Toronto to take back more in salary, but because Bayless' contract expires next summer they'll be much better off financially by completing such a trade. Tony Douglas was only a sophomore last season and he proved to be effective in 24.3 minutes per game. Per 36 minutes, Douglas was good for 16 points in both his rookie and sophomore seasons, and even if he doesn't improve exponentially, we're almost guaranteed to receive a solid guard in return for Bayless. Douglas has two years remaining on his rookie contract.
The winner of such a scenario would be Toronto because neither player is expected to be a whole lot better than the other, and having to stick with Jose at the point over Bayless isn't going to make a huge difference next season. The $3 million raise that Bayless will likely receive could be the difference between signing Gerald Wallace or the lesser Nicolas Batum next summer.
Johnson for Wright
Scenario: Amir Johnson + Second round pick for Dorell Wright
The Warriors bolster up their front court with the addition of Amir Johnson. Johnson could provide a great defensive boost off the bench for the Warriors, and he could even start in case David Lee or Adris Biedrins miss some games due to injury. Johnson could really break out playing for Golden State, a team which has a history of getting the most out of its players offensively. The Warriors will lose a legitimate starter in Dorell Wright, but they could replace him with Reggie Williams, a player who has proven to be a scoring threat when given minutes.
The Raptors will receive a very underpaid player in Dorell Wright who can score and play defense. While Amir Johnson is a valuable young big man, the Raptors will not give him the minutes he will require to contribute significantly. The Raptors will also save a few million in the next two seasons.
Toronto will be the winner of this trade simply because many expect the team to sign a starting small forward paying "starters money," but this scenario will get the Raptors a legitimate starter for half the price.
Technically the ESPN Trade Machine suggests that both teams benefit from the trade with Golden State winning "+2" games while Toronto wins "+1" games, but I personally feel the Warriors could find a similar talent to Johnson in this years free agency pool.
Jose Calderon for Jameer Nelson
Scenario: Jose Calderon for Jameer Nelson
The Orlando Magic are in a tight position where they could lose Dwight Howard if the team doesn't improve significantly. Many fans feel the team should upgrade at the point and replace Jameer Nelson. Nelson was an All-Star three seasons ago when the Magic lost to the Lakers in the NBA finals. Last year, however, Nelson's stats were mediocre, averaging 13.1 points and six assists.
Ever since coming into the league Nelson was labelled a "score first" point guard, and some feel Orlando would do much better with a distributor. Jose Calderon is a top-five point guard when it comes to sharing the rock, and he's also a great shooter that will thrive in Orlando's system. Though Jose has his own flaws on defense, Nelson wasn't very good on that end of the floor either. Jose Calderon has spent the past three seasons playing with Andrea Bargnani, maybe he could take a huge leap forward in a new environment similar to the way Steve Nash broke out only after leaving Dirk's team.
The Raptors would receive Jameer Nelson who could be better for the team. Nelson plays with heart, and is a proven floor general and leader. Some Raptors fans would argue Jose Calderon is the better overall player when you consider his court vision, but remember, the Magic had won 52 games last season. Putting Nelson on a bottom dwelling team like Toronto could result in a much better statistical season.
If the Raptors are really not headed anywhere like some suggest, the trade won't make a big difference, but at least the Raptors will save $2 to $3 million over the next two years.
I believe both teams will win from this trade since both players are similar in talent, but they will be better fits if they switched teams.
Kleiza for Ilyasova
Scenario: Linas Kleiza + second round pick for Ersan Ilyasova
Ersan Ilyasova is not a happy camper. In an interview with the Turkish website Salsabasket, Ilyasova was quoted saying “I have one year left with Milwaukee Bucks and everything is in standby. I definitely want to leave the team." The Bucks forward averaged 9.5 points and 6.1 rebounds last season but didn't get much playing time with forwards Drew Gooden, Luc Richard Mbah a Moute and Larry Sanders sharing the same position as him. The Bucks would be smart to trade him, and Linas Kleiza is a very good offensive player who fits well with the team.
The Raptors should want Ilyasova because he's only going to cost $2.5 million next season, and he is a very talented player. Per 36 minutes, Ilysova averaged nearly 14 points and nine rebounds, he is a good shooter who is also fairly young at 24 years of age. Ilyasova will be moving from one crowded front court to another, but Toronto could play him at the small forward slot more often. Ilyasova might enjoy playing in a big city like Toronto, but even if he leaves after one season the Raptors will still be glad that they don't have to pay for Kleiza the next three years.
I think Milwaukee will be the winner of the trade simply because Kleiza will be used more than Ilysova, but I don't think Kleiza is the better player. ESPN's Hollinger analysis projects he will improve in almost every statistical category for next season. Toronto could definitely benefit from this trade if they find a way to move another power forward.
What Will Denver Do If Nene Says Nay?
Scenario: Andrea Bargnani for Nene
The Denver Nuggets are in a tight situation. Three of their role players have signed with China, and center Nene has opted out of his final season with Denver and will be entering free agency. While I personally believe Denver is one of the best situations for Nene because they have loads of cap space and some good players on the roster, no one can tell what Nene's next move will be.
Nene finished last season averaging 14.5 points and 7.6 rebounds. Nene led the league in field-goal percentage and helped the Denver Nuggets reach the playoffs despite losing Carmelo Anthony.
If the Nuggets feel they cannot retain Nene, they could sign and trade him to Toronto for Andrea Bargnani. Bargnani is a dangerous scorer and could very well be the best player on that team next season. With Lawson, Gallinari and Bargnani on the team, the Nuggets will have an easier time resigning Aaron Afflalo and adding other free agents.
Teams like Miami, New York and Portland will surely be targeting Nene, but those teams don't have the financial resources that Toronto has. There are a number of decent teams that could offer Nene a generous contract extension but Toronto could be the best situation. Washington, Indiana and Los Angeles (Clippers) are all teams with some good pieces, but all of those teams are locked in at the center position.
On the Raptors, Nene will be the anchor on defense, and here he will have another gritty front court partner in Ed Davis. The Raptors will add Jonas Valanciunas to the team next year, but that won't be a problem because if Jonas is ready to start, the Raptors could slide him over to the four slot—which is the position he prefers to play.
Overall the Raptors would be the huge winner in this trade because they will receive a very talented center, they'll clear the log jam at the power forward position and they will still be in position to sign a "max" free agent. The Nuggets might get back a good player in Bargnani, but maybe they could find someone just as good but cheaper by pursuing David West in free agency.