Baron Davis might be the luckiest man on Earth, according to today’s Opening Tip.

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Let’s continue the discussion PhDSteve left off on yesterday.

10 -17.

.357 win %.

15 games behind the division leader.

3 games out of the final playoff spot.

5 losses in a row.

When I was a kid, I loved sticker books. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, X-Men, even the NBA had their own brand of collectible books. There was something fantastic about coming home from the convenience store with as many cellophane-packed surprises in your hand as you could afford, tearing them open, and finding the correct player/superhero/freak reptile to occupy a vacant numbered spot. Each new sticker in the book was  a step closer to completion, which, of course, was victory.

 

But the reason these sticker packs were so genius is because they were a total catch .22. As you got closer to finishing the set, you began accruing more duplicates with each pack you bought. These were stickers you couldn’t use, a waste of your hard-scavenged change. Unless you were one of those kids rich enough to buy out the corner store’s supply in search of those evasive final few, there was only two things to do for those serious about taking their sticker book to the next level: pray or trade. And since praying never worked (my incomplete, dust-covered sticker books sit as testament),  you had to find a friend who collected stickers, present to them your surplus inventory, and negotiate a deal to get what you need to complete the set.

 

Obviously you can see where I’m going with this. Yes, I’m still looking for a Magneto hologram. But what I’m really saying is that Bryan “The Illusionist” Colangelo needs to be looking long and hard at what’s available to finish HIS “sticker book”, the ’08-’09 Toronto Raptors. Colangelo’s problem, to go back to my sticker-thin analogy for a moment, is that he’s got fifteen extra Craig Elho stickers (there was one in every pack!), but so does everybody else. Because his adhesive arsenal is so thin, BC doesn’t have much to offer… and what he does have won’t yield the return he -and we – are looking for.

All that can be said, has been said. Arsenalist has made much mention of beating a dead dinosaur in his post game reports. Fundamental flaws, perimeter and penetration defense, lack of athleticism, depth, and focus…they might as well have their own keyboard shortcuts the way this season has been going.

Let’s take a look at what we have, what others might see in them, and whether we should keep them or deal them off to the highest bidder.

Jermaine O’Neal

Despite the opinions of some of my colleagues, JO has been the concrete in the Raptors interior foundation this season. Sure, that foundation is cracked. The house might not be liveable with much more duress, but JO has been the proud, experienced veteran we hired. Foul trouble and injuries aside (back to this in a minute), Jermaine has proven he can still be a solid contributor the offensive and defensive glass. As a defensive anchor, he’s a presence that’s always ready with the block, and deters as many shots as he swats. On offense, he’s limited but spends so much time around the rim, he’s going to get his.

The issue is, it’s hard to be consistent when you’re always injured, recovering from injury, or in foul trouble. These are very familiar plagues that every GM in the NBA is all too aware of. His monstrous contract works both for him and against him. Jermaine would have suitors, that’s for sure. If I had to assume his open-market value, I’d have to say that it’s based on 45% skill/leadership and 55% expiring contract. But would BC give up his $22mill off the books in the Summer of Bosh? I’m not sure he should. When O’Neal and Bosh are clicking, they’ve been a pretty dominant 4/5 duo, on the stat board at least. Problem is, BC may have no choice.  I can’t see the Illusionist being able to pull off a “major” move without him being shipped out.

DinoSays: Trade him.

 

Chris Bosh

It goes without saying that Chris is easily the biggest worm BC can put on his lure. Yet I just said it. That’s because trading a piece of Chris’ stature and salary is one of the only ways we can get more assets back than we offer up. I’m talking three-for-one, something like that. Something that takes away one great player, but brings back three damn good ones. That makes the TEAM better, doesn’t it? And Colangelo would likely get to choose from multiple offers, which makes the Bosh bait one of the only where BC can use leverage to pit teams against each other.

There are those that would call it sacrelige to even think of trading The Dreaded One. He’s too important a cog in the system to remove – the whole team would break down. The playbook, fan base, front office, everything is predicated on CB4. In some ways it would hurt even more than when Vince left, because we couldn’t hate him for leaving. Just like we can’t hate him when he leaves in 2010 (cause it’s gonna happen).

But even if he seeks greener warmer more American pastures in free agency, he’ll still rudder this ship for another two seasons. And dealing with the fallout of losing Bosh at such a dark point in Raptor history might be too much for this fragile and emotional fanbase to handle. Plus, BC’s too smart to go down as the man that traded Chris Bosh rather than trying to resign him.

DinoSays: Keep him.

 

Jose Calderon

Raptors fans have had a much sharper magnifying glass with which to analyze Jose’s hiccups this season than the rest of the league. I’m pretty sure people take note of his decent numbers, excellent assist-to-turnover ratio, and see a spot on their roster. He’s still a second-tier PG in this league, and that’s not debatable. Ocho’s one of the shiniest diamonds in Colangelo’s pinkie ring, sure to have every GM at least hear him out. I’ve been as big a Jose supporter as anyone these past few season, but like I said before, when all you’ve got is Craig Elho’s, sometimes you have to trade a ‘Nique or two to get what you want.

Unfortunately, he’s the one Raptor I would take completely off the table. Not because we just signed him to big money long-term, but because we don’t have another PG on the team. We wouldn’t win another game for the rest of the season if we didn’t get a PG back in the deal. 

DinoSays: Keep him

 

Willie Solomon

I don’t even want to waste your time. He makes me pine for Darrick Martin. That’s bad. Boxscore Willie is dead to me – do whatever it takes to get him off the roster. I’m going to puke if I type one more word about him.

DinoSays: Trade him, sell him, burn him, ANYTHING.

 

Jason Kapono

I can’t think of many teams who would pass up the best three point shooter in the league. Contenders with inside presences or penetrating point guards would jump at him. Unfortunately, I don’t think J-Killa is putting forth the performances necessary to get his name on the top of many trade lists. That being said, I believe a savvy GM will see his value and snatch him up, because despite his deficiencies Kapono’s a much better player than he’s showing here – and if not better, at least more effective. He’s got a very palatable contract for a starter, though not so much for a specialty player. They know that BC’s negotiating from a point of weakness and can hold off a bit longer in the season to properly identify their playoff needs.

But on a team with so few desirable pieces, you have to give up something of value. And since we’re not getting much out of him anyway, we likely won’t miss him until he drops eight 3′s on us in his new uniform. 

DinoSays: Trade him.

 

Andrea Bargnani

Veggie Lasagna…what to do, what to do. We’re getting close to the breaking point with this kid – where we either have to deal him now before he loses whatever little value he had left after last season, or we have to commit to riding out his contract in 2012. I don’t see any other way this can end.

He’s still on the books for $6.5mil next year and $8mil the season after, which certainly makes a project less attractive, especially when you’re talking about a project that a team has already invested so much time and money in, with an unacceptable return on investment. But I bet if we spliced together a Bargnani highlight reel, we could dupe some half-wit GM (who’s got MJ’s cell?) into sending something worthwhile back. 

Personally, I think Bargs still has upside.  He’s the best shooter I’ve seen that can’t hit an open jumper. And as much as my eyes bleed whenever he hoists a straight legged, long rebound 3, when he drives and plays in the post, he’s an asset. We’ve seen some serious blow-bys to the rim from this slow, awkward white dude, which is more than we can say for freakin’ Moon.  Yes, he’s a young, still-developing asset… he just doesn’t feel like a lost cause.

DinoSays: Keep him

 

Anthony Parker

The ship delivered its cargo and has since sailed. It’s unfortunate that you don’t get points for being a nice guy, because the only player on the team to win an MVP award would be an All-Star. But now he can’t play 48 minutes and has lost his defensive edge. Parker’s been serviceable and consistent over the duration of his tenure here. We should get whatever we can for him, consider the AP era a win, and move on.  It’s a contract year for AP – why run the risk of another wingman leaving like MoPete did?

DinoSays: Trade him.

 

Kris Humphries

Humph is one of the most attractive pieces on this squad…or would be if people could see what he could do. Curly Sue is a hustle-first physical banger, a rarity in this touch-foul NBA. He’s not even THAT BAD on offense when his shot selection is under control. I’m stretching a bit, but he’s like the homeless man’s Paul Millsap. Unfortunately, it’s hard to project value when you don’t play. I think any trade that Humph’s involved in won’t reap greater or equal value, and if he got some minutes could become more polished and turn into a regular contributor.

DinoSays: Keep him.

 

Joey Graham

Speaking of minutes… guess it was all he needed. Say whatever you want about Joey, but he’s basically doing everything Moon is supposed to but doesn’t, and is the only player under 6’11 on this team willing to take it to the rack. He rivals Jermaine O’Neal as the most aggressive Raptor, and Toronto is a glaring example that this cannot be taught. We can stop saying Good Joey and Bad Joey, because what we’re seeing is J-O-E-Y, all 360 degrees of him. And as strange as this feels to type, we can’t afford to trade Joey. We need what he brings to the court, unless we get someone with superior-yet-same skills back. And no one’s making that trade. So I’m curious to see what happens after 40-odd games of regular burn, something he’s never had before.

DinoSays: Keep him.

 

Jamario Moon

It’s about time we officially take the “Jam” out of his name once and for all.  

Jumpshotio Moon has taken a bigger step back between his rookie and sophmore seasons than “Heroes”. His lack of intensity, rebounding, and aggressiveness is a constant drain when he’s on the court. He, like Solomon, makes us worse. Even when he leaps for a board or extends for a steal, he still doesn’t do what he’s supposed to. And I just can’t accept that. 

So who would want Jumpy? Well,  it’s working in his favor all the hype and national coverage he received as last year’s feel good story. Hollinger is convinced he’s a defensive ace, and I can guarantee you more NBA folks read Hollinger than the ol’ Republic here. I can see someone taking him – he’d be an alluring fit with NellieBall in GS, or D’Antoni in NY.

DinoSays: Trade him.

 

Roko Ukic

Since Will Solomon transitioned over to his nely created position of Screwup Pointguard, we don’t have another backup PG.  Bottom line is that he’s played just 27 NBA games, has good length and size for his position, and despite looking like he’s about to piss himself whenever he’s on the court hasn’t been the worst guard on the team. There’s no shortage of young European projects available for the so-inclined GM, so no one’s going to come a’ ringing for Roko. I don’t see a reason not to give the kid a chance. Sure, we could trade him, but who would want him? 

DinoSays: Keep him.

 

Jake Voskuhl

Anyway, I’m sure there’s a rule against trading a guy you just signed as a free agent mid-season, and there was a reason he wasn’t on a roster before last week. I mean, seriously?

DinoSays: Who cares?

 

Hassan Adams

Ha-ha-ha-Hassan, you make me laugh. The supposed “man who got away” from the Nets? You’ve logged a grand total of 47 minutes through 27 games. Yep, less than a full game.

They say action speaks louder than words, but inaction speaks louder than both. Even if BC wanted to trade him, he’d have to showcase his talents, or lack thereof – and he can’t even bring himself to put Hassy on the court. In a season like this, I’m sure he’s been given every opportunity to step up and prove himself in practice. Clearly Adams will have the last laugh, because the joke’s on us. Good one, Bryan!

DinoSays: Stuck with him

 

Nathan Jawai

Unfortunately for us in Toronto, the NBA is not the auto industry. Otherwise, Jawai would be great to trade for parts. There’d be interest in dissecting his big body and grabbing an arm here, a hip there.

That’s enough ribbing Nate. It’s not his fault he hasn’t played. We have no idea what we drafted with this guy – and we may never. But I wouldn’t trade him for our sake (and his) until we can see him on the court.

DinoSays: Keep him.

 

I don’t have the answers, but damned if I don’t have suggestions. With a handful of doubles, what moves can The Illusionist make to complete his stickerbook?

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