A Rundown, What Not To Do…And My Best Case Scenario

As I figured, none of the big three free agents made any decisions on the first day. There goes the theory that everything was planned weeks ago. Of course, there was some action the first day. The best news for the Raptors is that Amir Johnson re-signed. More on that later.

Money, money, money, money!Joe Johnson was one of the players I thought had the least chance of going back to his home team. Now he’s re-signed with the Hawks, continuing them on their course to high level mediocrity. If anything was apparent during the playoffs, it’s that the Hawks are a team built to compete, not win. The smart thing for them to do would be to make some deals and change the structure of their team. The smart thing is not the likely thing, however. My money is on them thinking a new coach is going to be ails this team.

Memphis, who is apparently hemorrhaging money and didn’t even make the playoffs this past season, gave away the first ridiculous contract of the offseason, signing Rudy Gay to the maximum. Anyone who isn’t sure if Bosh is worth the maximum should agree that Memphis drastically overpaid a guy who has never even made the All-Star team before. Shouldn’t that pretty much be a prerequisite to making the maximum? Sure, I like Gay, but since he was a restricted free agent, couldn’t Memphis simply have waited and seen what he was being offered instead of throwing him everything on the first day of free agency? That probably would have been the smart move. Of course, when has anyone used “smart” and “Chris Wallace” in the same sentence?

Minnesota was also another surprise newsmaker, bidding against no one to offer Darko Milicic a 4 year $20 million contract. Now Darko did a fine job in Minnesota, and they should probably jump on any free agent that actually WANTS to go there, but I would have thought it would have been prudent to wait until after they deal Jefferson to sign Darko. Now it’s pretty much a foregone conclusion the T-Wolves have to make a deal. Not a good position to be in.

Milwaukee re-signed John Salmons, who I figured was on his way out after the acquisitions of Corey Maggette and Chris Douglas-Roberts, and added another jersey to the already full closet of Drew Gooden. Gooden is on his eighth team in 8 years and hasn’t played defense or passed the ball at any of his stops. Is he really worth the full MLE? No wonder Gooden jumped on it. Now I have liked what John Hammonds has been doing in Milwaukee, but neither Maggette nor Gooden have played defense since college, and the Bucks got to where they are on their defense. Adding talent is always nice, but I don’t know if I like where this team is headed.

Amir Blocks

This brings us back to Amir Johnson. I felt re-signing Amir was very important for the future of the franchise. Before the offseason started, I felt that a 3 year, $15 million contract offer to Amir might be enough to bring him back. Unfortunately, $5 million per season is what the inferior Darko Milicic signed for. Then Milwaukee signed Gooden for nearly $6.5 per season. Now, Gooden certainly is talented, but I think it’s ironic that he signed with the Bucks on the same day Amir re-signed with the Raptors. To me, Amir is exactly the type of player the Bucks need and the type of player that would thrive in their system. Instead, they traded him away and signed Drew Gooden. Personally, I’d much rather have Amir.

So, because of Gooden getting $32 million over 5 years, it was evident that Amir would have to get more than that. Apparently he had interest from Phoenix, Golden State and one other team, so Colangelo had to bid against others. I don’t know if Colangelo had to outbid, or simply match the other teams’ bids, but a 5 year, $34 million contract, while seemingly high for a player who only scores 12.7 ppg in 36 mpg, is probably not bad value. I read one comment that bothered me a little, and that’s that Amir is overpaid because his skills are so easily replaceable. Pat Riley has said that hustle is a skill, and in the NBA, it’s not a common skill. And that’s not even close to all Amir brings. He’s a 23 year old, highly athletic big man who rebounds, defends, hustles and is extremely efficient on the offensive end, despite not being much of a scorer. Basically everything Bargnani is not. Personally, I’d rather pay Amir $34 over 5 years than Bargnani $50 million over 5. While Bargnani is going to get you points, Amir is going to do the little things that actually help a team win.

Ari GoldIn other Raptor news, Bosh met with Toronto, but there is apparently little hope among Raptor brass he will re-sign. I’d love to have been in on that meeting. You know what keeps going through my head? The show Entourage. In the middle of season 3 when Vincent Chase has fired his agent, Ari Gold, because of a couple of big screwups. Much like Bosh and the other free agents, Vince goes from agency to agency as they pitch him why he should sign with them. All the pitches end up being the same, including Ari’s, which Vince walks out of. It turns out all Vince wanted Ari to do was apologize. If only that was the case with Bosh. I don’t think a simple apology will be good enough in Colangelo’s.

So with one of the pieces for the summer in place, there are some questions about what it is that Colangelo is trying to do. One of the more disturbing bits of news I heard was that the Raptors had interest in Amare Stoudemire. Excuse me while I gag. The argument seems to be that Amare would be able to replace Bosh, although I’m at a loss of why you’d want to do that. With Bosh, the team missed the playoffs, were a disaster on the defensive end and proved that you need more than just scoring to win.

And now you want to replace Bosh with Amare, apparently believing that will improve the team.

This is the guy who the Laker big men basically humiliated, highlighting just how bad Amare’s defense is. And I won’t even mention how every single Phoenix player has mysteriously regressed upon leaving Steve Nash’s domain.

Chris Bosh leaving is a disappointment, but as the late Phil Hartman once said on the very funny show, NewsRadio, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade, and then toss it in the face of the person who gave you the lemons until they give you the oranges you asked for in the first place?”

Colangelo needs to realize that retooling is not going to be the way to go. Sure, it will help reassure some of the ticketholders that only see one season ahead, and aren’t worried about the difference between competing and contending. Bringing in Amare, or some other move like it, will certainly make the Raptors more competitive, but it’s not going to make them contenders. They need to rebuild, not retool. One of the reasons I liked the drafting of Ed Davis was because he can be the symbol of the type of team the Raptors need to turn themselves into. He’s a smart, defensive player who does all the little things that you need to do to win. He’s San Antonio, not Phoenix. I don’t know about you, but I want San Antonio. San Antonio won three Championships and was one of the most dominant teams in the last ten years. Phoenix entertained and did well in the regular season, but never made it to the Finals.

Colangelo needs to rid the team of the lazy, underachieving players and focus on getting young, talented and hard working players that don’t mind doing the dirty work.

Speaking of which, I’ve decided to share what I hope are the types of deals I hope go down this summer. They’re certainly best case, but if all the stars align, these are the types of deals I’d like to see happen…

1. Bosh is sign-and-traded to the Nets for Derrick Favors and a $12 million trade exception.

2. Bargnani is traded to Minnesota for Ricky Rubio and Corey Brewer and a trade exception.

3. The Knicks, after striking out on the free agent front, agrees to trade for Turkoglu in exchange for Eddy Curry and his expiring contract. Eddy Curry is then bought out.

4. Trade Corey Brewer and part of the trade exception to Houston for the expiring contracts of Shane Battier and Jared Jeffries.

The Raptors go into the season with…

Jose Calderon (Jarret Jack, Marcus Banks)
DeMar DeRozan (Sonny Weems, Marco Belinelli)
Shane Battier (Jared Jeffries)
Derrick Favors (Ed Davis, Reggie Evans)
Amir Johnson (Solomon Alabi)

The team is most likely not a playoff team, but have the right type of players on the team, a few good, smart veterans, a very young core, the likelihood of a high lottery pick next season and a franchise point guard, in Rubio, on his way. If the team looks even remotely like that next year, I’ll be happy with how the offseason transpired.

12 thoughts on “A Rundown, What Not To Do…And My Best Case Scenario

  1. This is the problem of having Colangelo running the team.

    He’ll take a run at Amare and then would add him to a team with three PF’s already under contract. Insane and what makes me laugh is if he were to get him he’d call it an “upgrade” at the 4 position. Getting Favors as well is an issue because once again they are stacked with PF’s. He is a talented prospect but I’ll take my chances with Davis just the same as there is not a world of difference setting those 2 players apart which is probably why NJ was looking to deal this pick to Indiana in a Granger deal. Amir is NOT a centre and should never be confused for one.

    The Raps should be in rebuild mode yet this GM keeps on slinging out the long term deals (although I do appreciate Amir’s game) instead of trying to get rid of contracts (Jose, Turk, Bargnani). I know you like Jose but they need a true shot creator more than anything on this team. No more ‘facilitators’ will do especially at the money both Jose and Turk are receiving.

  2. I really enjoyed reading your article, until the end. those trades are terrible. sure it sets the raps up for the future, but I wouldnt be a big fan.
    Bosh to NJ for Favours and TE would be nice, but Bosh lighting up the raptors 4 times a year would suck.
    Instead of trading Bargs we need to get him a strong 5 who will rebound and allow Bargs to step away from the basket.
    i do like the Turk for Curry deal, but once again trading a “potential star” to a division rival.

    • sleepz,

      I don’t think anyone should be jumping to any conclusions regarding what Colangelo’s plans are. It was an unsubstantiated rumour and that’s all. I certainly hope it’s not true, but I’m not going to believe anything just yet.

      It’s incredibly early in the free agent process and I don’t think Colangelo can do anything else until the Bosh situation is settled. Giving Amir a long term deal was smart because he’s a 23 year old big man with still a lot of potential. And he’s the type of guy you want on your team.

      I do like Calderon, but there’s a reason I’m looking for the Raptors to go after Rubio. I just think you don’t need to move Calderon right away. This team isn’t going to compete, so grabbing a true shot creator would certainly help the team in the short term, but when rebuilding, who cares about that. I’d rather find the right PG for the future, not settle on someone who is what they need right now.


      TO be honest, I wrote the last part at about 1 in the morning, and thought twice about it afterwards. I was more concentrating on what TYPE of transactions I’d be looking for and the type of roster I’d like the Raptors to end up with. I agree, however, that sending Bosh somewhere West would be probably better. The rumoured Houston deal would be great, I think. I was, at first, against getting so many veterans from Houston, but there’s a danger in not having any veterans. Grabbing Scola would allow the Raptors to trade Bargnani, and Ariza and Battier would give the Raptors a young player AND a good solid veteran. Personally, I don’t see why Houston would do it, because they’d leave themselves pretty thin, especially at SF.

      As for Bargnani, I think it’s best if he were just moved. No matter who the Raptors team him with, you’ll always be at a disadvantage with him on the floor. His best position is center because the only thing he does well on defense is post defense. Moving him to PF will take away his biggest strength on defense and makes him defend quicker players, which is a weakness. And on offense, he’s best when being guarded by a slower footed defender. He doesn’t have the ability to punish smaller defenders, so there’s no advantage to him being defended by quicker, smaller defenders. If the team is going to rebuild, they need to get rid of Bargnani. I know he’s got his fans, but you just don’t win with guys like him. You need big men who are above average defenders and rebounders to win. Period. Otherwise you’re always at a disadvantage. Why start at a disadvantage? If you’re rebuilding, why not start with a position of strength, not weakness. Both Amir and Davis are good rebounders and defenders. Keep them and find more like them.

  3. Tim,

    re: Jose Calderon (Jarret Jack, Marcus Banks)
    DeMar DeRozan (Sonny Weems, Marco Belinelli)
    Shane Battier (Jared Jeffries)
    Derrick Favors (Ed Davis, Reggie Evans)
    Amir Johnson (Solomon Alabi)

    1. You’re not from Toronto, are you?

    2. How many games do you think the Raptors would win next season with this line-up?

    3. IMO, trading for a vet like Battier only makes some semblance of sense, if Chris Bosh was to be re-signed.

    4. IMO, tanking is not the way to go, in the Toronto marketplace.

    5. IMO, swinging for the fences was the wrong move to make at the wrong time, each of the last 3 off seasons … but, this summer – after flaming out, again, in March and April – would have been the right time to reaer back and attempt to “go yard”, if the Raptors were ever serious about building a championship team around Chris Bosh [which I still don’t believe they ever really were about doing].

    • khandor,

      1. Well, if you look on the sidebar, it pretty clearly states I live in Vancouver, but that’s only for the last 16 years. I’m originally from your area.

      2. I think that lineup would win about 20-25 games. I never said they’d make the playoffs. In fact I said they wouldn’t.

      3. I’ve always been against getting Battier for the very reason that he’d help a contender far more, but if the Raptors end up with the core I suggested above, they’re going to need some solid, steady veterans who can show the young players the right way of playing. The danger of losing is players learn bad habits, but with the sprinkling of the right veterans, that hopefully won’t happen.

      4. The Toronto sports teams all suck and are the butt of jokes in Toronto. I think it’s safe to say that the way things have been done in Toronto has not worked. I think someone actually having the guts and vision to do things the right way would end up being a hero in Toronto.

      5. If Bosh returns, great, but either way, the Raptors need to rebuild.

      If Colangelo does things right, the Raptors still can get enough pieces that rebuilding won’t take long. A team with Derrick Favors, Ed Davis, Amir Johnson, DeMar DeRozan, Sonny Weems, Marco Belinelli and Rick Rubio is one hell of a good young core. If they can get Harrison Barnes in the draft, or another similarly skilled player, how long do you think the team is going to be in the lottery. I’m guessing two years at the most. And for once the Raptors will have a team that will be able to (hopefully) stick together for more than a couple of years.

  4. Pingback: The AltRaps Toronto Raptors Evening Brew for July 2nd | The AltRaps Blog

  5. Tim,

    The key move in what you’ve outlined here would be getting Rubio for Bargnani, a move which I would whole-heartedly support.

    Yes, a complete re-build could succeed, in the Toronto marketplace, as you’ve suggested, if it’s done properly.

    IMO, there is not much chance of this happening, however.

    It will take a series of good, solid, long term moves, going forward from here, if the Raptors are ever going to turn this ship around and head towards a championship.

    Under the direction of MLSE, unfortunately, I don’t ever see this happening, for the Maple Leafs, Raptors or TFC.

  6. I can honestly say I’d be okay with each and every single one of those trades. Who cares if Bosh or Turkoglu go to a division rival. If that’s the best deal possible for your team, you make it regardless. And it’s funny, because people constantly play down Toronto’s 47-35 season because it was an easy division, and yet it seems all they care about is making sure their division rivals are weak. If Toronto doesn’t make the right moves moving forward, it won’t matter.

    I do wish Amir had been signed to a cheaper contract though, if only because the size of the contract is what defines a player as good or bad. Turkoglu for $10+ mil a year is bad; Turkoglu for $5-7 mil a year is good.

    • khandor,

      I don’t think MLSE will have much to do with what happens with the Raptors, and if they do, I think Colangelo will leave, as he did in Phoenix. I think MLSE trusts Colangelo more than any other GM they’ve had and basically give him leeway to do what he wants. Hopefully Colangelo feels the way you and I do about rebuilding. So far, his moves lead me to believe he very well might.


      I think, if it hadn’t been so late, I probably would have thought through the trades a little more, but the gist of what I want is there. I’d certainly love to get Derrick Favours, and I think he and Davis would be quite a unique and intimidating pairing eventually. Favors is only 18, and if he grows any more, I think he’ll be able to play center. He very well might be able to right now.

      Rubio, obviously, is the other guy I’d really love to get. I mean, if there wasn’t a better match than Rubio and the Raptors, I don’t know what it is.

      It’s funny how contracts seem to immediately change the minds of fans. Everyone loved Amir when he was making $3 million a season, but at $6.7 million (averaged out), he’s getting a lot of hate, as you well know. The thing is, his contract might very well be structured so that he’s making $5 million next season, and then $9 in a team option year 5. No one knows, at this point. It’s all speculation at how the contract is laid out, and without knowing that, it’s hard to really evaluate it much. I though Bargnani making $10 million this season was a little too much, but he’s making $8 million, with the numbers going up each year. I like that much better (especially since I’m hoping the Raptors aren’t going to be paying him for most of it).

  7. Tim,

    If the Raptors trade Marcus Banks and Reggie Evans this summer … as their expiring contracts … in exchange for a player [or two] who can play in the team’s rotation this season, will this effect your opinion of how Bryan Colangelo feels about re-building the Raptors vs fielding the best team possible for this coming season?

    i.e. IMO, Bryan Colangelo has not shown the signs that he is in favour of undergoing a total re-build with the Raptors, which would require tanking for the next few seasons and trading current assets for future ones.

    • I’d have no problem with the Raptors adding a player who can play now, or even a solid veteran, depending on his position. I think the Raptors have a number of young, talented pieces (Davis, Alabi, Johnson, Weems, DeRozan and Belinelli) that a total rebuild is not necessarily in order. While I really think the team needs to focus on the development of younger players, I think a team comprised solely of young players can be dangerous for their development. Without a few veterans, even ones who play in excess of 20 mpg, is important. I think the type of veteran is incredibly important, which is why I’d love to get a guy like Battier, who is a solid veteran leader.

      And I don’t think the Raptors have to “tank” for the next few years. I think, if Bargnani and Turkoglu are traded this summer, and if the Raptors can somehow grab Rubio, I can see the Raptors competing for the playoffs in a year or two. Obviously that depends on the quality of lottery pick they get next year and when Rubio comes over. That may be optimistic, but I think the Raptors are ahead of where the THunder were when they drafted Durant. I think there are only two players from the team that drafted Durant that are still on the roster today. The Raptors have a number of good, young core players, already.

  8. Tim,

    1. What have you seen to this point to indicate that any of:


    fit the description of being “a good young player” for a team which can grow into a championship calibre outfit down-the-road?

    [i.e. IMO, none of these 6 players has yet shown that he can be a legit No. 2 option for a Top Notch team in the NBA.]

    2. What gives you any sort of hope that Bryan Colangelo has any intention, whatsoever, of trading Bargnani and Turkoglu this summer?

    [i.e. IMO, he has zero interest in doing this now that it looks like CB4 will not re-sign with the Raptors.]

    3. When the OKC Thunder began their re-build they had seasons with the following win totals:

    05-06, in Sea
    – 35-47
    – had Allen/R, No. 5 [overall] Draft Pick/1996
    – had Collison/D, No. 12 [overall] Draft Pick/2003
    – had Ridnour/L, No. 14 [overall] Draft Pick/2003
    – had Lewis/R, No. 32 [overall] Draft Pick/1998
    06-07, in Sea
    – 31-51
    – Rick Sund/GM was fired
    – Sam Presti/GM was hired, from the SA Spurs
    – fired Bob Hill [head coach]
    – hired PJ Carlesimo [head coach]
    – did not re-sign Lewis/R
    – traded Allen/R to Boston
    07-08, in Sea
    – 20-62
    – added Durant/K, No. 2 [overall] Draft Pick/2007
    – added Green/J, No. 5 [overall] Draft Pick/2007
    08-09, in OKC
    – 23-59
    – fired PJ Carlesimo [head coach]
    – promoted Scott Brooks [head coach]
    – added Russell Westbrook, No. 4 [overall] Draft Pick/2008
    – added Serge Ibaka, No. 24 [overall] Draft Pick/2008
    – added Thabo Sefolosha, No. 13 [overall] Draft Pick/2006, via trade with Chicago
    – added Nenad Krstic, via UFA signing
    09-10, in OKC
    – 50-32
    – added James Harden, No. 3 [overall] Draft Pick/2009
    – added Eric Maynor, No. 20 [overall] Draft Pick/2009

    4. Realistically, do you see something like THAT ever happening in a market like Toronto, under the direction of a GM like Bryan Colangelo, for an ownership group like MLSE?

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