It seems the Raptors are following through on their plan to rebuild the team bit by bit after the Raptors have reportedly traded a protected second-round draft pick for the Suns forward Mickael Pietrus.
Pietrus could help fill the void at small forward forward for the Raptors, while his $5.3 million expiring contract makes his acquisition a low-risk high-reward scenario.
Pietrus was traded halfway through last season to the Phoenix Suns in a blockbuster trade which also included Marcin Gortat, Vince Carter, Hedo Turkoglu and Jason Richardson. Pietrus saw his role shrink in Phoenix where he was forced to share playing time with Grant Hill, Jared Dudley and Josh Childress.
The Suns probably decided they won't need Pietrus on the payroll this upcoming season after retaining defensive specialist Grant Hill. The Raptors will now have a savvy defensive-minded forward who could very well be their starter next season. Playing for the Suns, Pietrus averaged 7.4 points in 18.1 minutes of play. Per 36 minutes, Pietrus put up a very solid 15 PPG, and he could very well see starters minutes with Toronto.
The Raptors finished last season starting James Johnson at the small forward, but now, the young Johnson will have to work much harder on both ends of the floor to compete for playing time.
Personally while I believe this isn't a "big" deal, last year we witnessed many low-key trades turn out to be very beneficial for the rebuilding Raptors squad such as trading for Jared Bayless and James Johnson. The Raptors have a reputation of trading away second-round picks, and Raptors fans should be happy Colangelo is refraining from overpaying free agents in a time where many teams seem desperate to add talent despite the relatively shallow free-agency class (Golden State offered what to Tyson Chandler?).
This may be the beginning of a number of small Roster tweaks that will be made by the Raptors. The Raptors have already signed Toronto native Jamaal Magloire and thrown an offer at Denver's Gary Forbes. With new owners to report to, Colangelo would be smart to refrain from any risky transactions for the time being.
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