So not two days after I discussed the Raptors PG dilemma, it appears that dilemma has been solved. The winner of the PG showdown is Jose Calderon. That is if you think becoming the undisputed starting PG on one of the worst teams in the league is winning and being traded to one of the best teams in the league in a city that will be about 20 degrees warmer in a couple of months losing. I guess it’s all about perspective.
So Jarrett Jack, David Andersen and Marcus Banks are on their way to New Orleans and Peja Stojakovic and Jerryd Bayless are the newest Raptors.
The first question is why would each team do this?
For New Orleans, it’s obvious. They’re 10-1 right now and are trying to give Chris Paul a reason to stay. Jack gives them a legitimate back up PG, something they lost when they traded Darren Collison for Trevor Ariza, and a roll Bayless couldn’t fill. Andersen gives them an offensive minded backup center, a position they had very little talent at, and Banks is an expiring contract.
All in all, I’d say this is a very good deal for New Orleans, especially since Peja and Bayless were barely playing for them and not doing it well when they did.
Jack often looked bad in Toronto because he was being asked to do more than he really should. As I stated in my previous post, Jack is, ideally, a backup PG who was starting in Toronto. While he was having a bad beginning of the season with the Raptors, last year he shot a career best .412 from 3 point range, hit a good percentage from the field and the line and dished out 5 apg in just 27 mpg.
Andersen performed better in Toronto than, I think, anyone imagined he would. In limited minutes backing up Bargnani, he showed range right out to the 3 point line, which should prove valuable playing with Paul, an ability to rebound the ball and a grittiness that John Hollinger apparently knows nothing about- he apparently called him softer than cotton candy (thanks to Raptors Republic for that info).
Both Jack and Andersen are probably happy with the deal. While Jack loses his starting position, he should still get plenty of minutes behind Chris Paul, whose minutes are being limited to prevent injury, and will probably get a chance to play beside him, as well. Jack’s been in the league 6 years without a playoff appearance, so being on one of the better teams in the league should be a revelation for him.
Andersen will probably get the same amount of minutes with New Orleans as he did with the Raptors, but be on a winning team. And who wouldn’t want to play with Chris Paul?
Banks has gone from having almost no chance of playing, but being on a lottery team to having almost no chance of playing, but being on a winning team. At least the view from where he will be sitting will be better.
For Toronto, the deal isn’t as simple as plugging holes or even getting better. It’s not nearly as cut and dried as it is for New Orleans. First and foremost, it clears an extra $3 million for next summer. No one knows what the salary cap will be next season or even whether there will a next season, so it’s really hard to predict what it means in terms of cap space. That $3 million, however, is probably around what the Raptors would like to try and extend Weems for.
There’s been some discussion about the potential of Bayless, and he has several things going for him. He’s 22 years old, is very quick and is aggressive at driving to the hoop. On the downside, he’s 6’2 but has absolutely no point guard skills, can’t shoot and can’t defend (although I just read that the coaching staff thinks he can be a good defender, so I guess we’ll see). Bayless is the perfect example of why I’m so against drafting undersized shooting guards with the hope of converting them to PG. Bayless was a very good scorer in college who was drafted way too high by Indiana, who ironically shipped him off to Portland, in exchange for Jarrett Jack, among others.
While I wasn’t a fan of his game, I actually did think he might have a chance to succeed in Portland, since Brandon Roy would basically be the PG on the floor, allowing Bayless to play SG on offense, but defend the opposing PGs. Unfortunately, he couldn’t get off the bench and he played so well that Armon Johnson, a 2nd round pick in the 2010 draft, was ahead of him in the rotation at the PG position. Amazingly enough, Portland was able to get a first round pick from New Orleans in exchange for Bayless.
Bayless is young, so there’s still the possibility of him developing, but I wouldn’t count on it. While both Portland and New Orleans gave up too much to get him, for Toronto, he’s a low risk gamble which might pay off. Still, more than likely, the PG of the future for the Raptors is either playing in the NCAA right now or in Europe.
It seems like forever since Peja was playing on a contender in Sacramento and was considered one of the better SFs in the game and perennially making the All-Star team. Now, he’s a vastly overpaid 3-point shooter whose more valuable as an expiring contract than as an actual player. I think there’s still a chance he could be bought out or simply waived, but I think Colangelo might try and deal him closer to the trade deadline if he can.
Some have speculated that acquiring Peja might be a prelude to either trade him for a overpaid veteran like Andre Iguodala, or possibly signing Erick Dampier. The trade does open up a roster spot, and there are many who feel that Colangelo will not be able to sit and watch the team lose and will try and do something to try and make a run at the playoffs.
I don’t know, especially after reading this quote from Colangelo:
“Our plan of developing our existing young players and acquiring future assets remains our focus in retooling this Toronto basketball team.”
To me, I think this move opens up a spot for Ed Davis, who is expected to get a few games in the NDBL next week before he makes his NBA debut. Reggie Evans has been doing what has been asked of him, and Amir Johnson’s improved play is demanding he play more minutes, so the return of Ed Davis from injury made me question where his minutes were going to come from. It was obvious some sort of trade had to happen since the Raptors have more players deserving minutes than actual minutes.
I think this is probably it until we see exactly what Ed Davis has to offer. The Raptors PG situation is actually worse, but in a season where wins aren’t important, that doesn’t really matter in the long run. Calderon, as I’ve stated, was my choice all along to start, but having both Jack and Calderon was a safety net. While they lack a real backup PG, for now, Barbosa can backup Calderon, as well as Bayless.
I would have liked to have seen the Raptors try and pry away a pick from New Orleans, but they already gave a first rounder away for Bayless, it’s doubtful they’d be anxious to lose another one in order to get rid of him.
Something that probably has passed under the radar for many is that Miami lost it’s 5th game of the season, this time to Memphis. Miami is currently on pace for a 50 win season, which might be great for a lot of teams, but would be a disaster for the Heat after what they were able to do in the offseason. And they’ve got a losing record on the road. If the playoffs started today, they’d be tied with Atlanta for the 4th seed.
Now as I previously said, I do expect them to improve, but I don’t think anyone would have guessed they’d be where they are now at this point in the season.
On the other end of the spectrum, one of my favourite teams, the Spurs, are looking like the Spurs of old. They’ve won 10 in a row and have the best record in the league after beating the Cavs. Most surprisingly, they are currently second in the league in scoring. Richard Jefferson looks like he’s finally figured out how to fit in, and is currently shooting a career high percentage from the field and from beyond the arc. If injuries don’t visit them, they’re going to have to be a favourite to return to the Western Conference Finals for the first time in three years and might have a shot of beating the Lakers to get to the Finals. It’s a long season, however, and you never like to predict things this early. Still, you have to be happy if you’re a Spur fan. Or a Spur player.