The Grand Turk lands in Toronto. What’s not to like about the talent coming our way? The question that remains is what follow-up moves Colangelo will make in order to fill out four empty roster spots. Yeah, four. Let’s recap:

Starters: Calderon, DeRozan, Turkoglu, Bosh, Bargnani
Bench: Evans, Humphries, Ukic

That’s 8 accounted for roster spots. 12-8 = 4. In case you were wondering what happened to the rest of the bodies, here they are: O’Bryant, Banks and Jawai. Yeah boys, we’re pretty thin as things stand today. Remember how last year we made the mistake of “concentrating” talent into 7 spots (of which included Kapono – har har) and got bit by the depth bug. Well, we’re in danger of falling into that trap again unless Colangelo manages to translate Marion’s bird rights, Parker and Graham (LOL) into something that can dribble a ball without banging it off their forehead.

So how to fill those roster spots, here are some things to remember:

  • The deal is approximately 5yr/$53M.
  • We don’t have a mid-level exception. You only get that if you’re over the cap. Since we were under it when the summer started and will cross it only when delighting the Turk, we don’t get an MLE. Yeah, sucks.
  • The Magic are not going to sign-and-trade for Turkoglu. They don’t care about him, they’re hoping Vince left his panties in NJ much like how NJ hoped Vince left his panties in Toronto.
  • Shawn Marion apparently turned down a 4yr/32M deal which is a lot like me turning down a one-night stand with Megan Fox. I highly doubt any team will offer him anything close to that but here’s hoping a crazy-ass GM is drunk on Drambuie and wants to sign-and-trade. The money’s on him settling for a mid-level exception, though.
  • Parker/Delfino. The Celtics are pondering on Parker but we’ll be lucky to get anything for him. Delfino is someone you just flat out sign at this point without worrying about a sign-and-trade since he actually is a serviceable backup. He played for us under Mitchell which is like saying a violinist was being conducted by a drunk Homer Simpson. Give Delfino another chance, he’ll make ya proud.

Here’s why we’ll need to renounce our free-agents before we sign Turkoglu:

The Raptors have to renounce Marion, Parker and Delfino because, even though they are free agents, they still count against the team’s cap, at varying amounts depending on how long they’ve been in the league. Free agents stay on their team’s cap until their team either re-signs them, or renounces them, or the player signs with another team. Renouncing means that the team can no longer exceed the cap to re-sign the player, or use any cap exceptions like the mid-level exception to re-sign them. The players could conceivably be re-signed by their old team, but would have to be signed using existing cap room or minimum salary amounts, and in this case, Toronto’s plan is to use all of its cap room (about $10 million) on Turkoglu.

This is why we’re hamstrung when it comes to sign-and-trade options:

What I mean is this: To sign Hedo, the team needs roughly $10-million available to them below the salary cap. To get there the team will renounce their rights to Shawn Marion, Anthony Parker and Carlos Delfino – this is well-covered territory. However, a sign-and-trade scenario can only take one of two forms, neither of which appears available to Toronto.

The first is that before the Raptors sign Hedo, they sign-and-trade one (or more) of their free agents. They cannot do this because the money coming back their way would eat into the $10-million needed to sign Turkoglu. The second option would be that they sign Hedo, commit all available salary cap space to him, and then sign-and-trade one of their former players. This, too, does not work because the team has lost the Bird rights of their players and can therefore not exceed the salary cap to sign them in the first place. They also cannot trade one of these players pre-signing Turkoglu for a trade exception since all exceptions count against the team’s cap.

Hopefully that cleared things up, if it didn’t, try this from Raptors Forum:

Signing Hedo will take up all (or almost all) the cap space. If we had re-signed Marion and gone over the cap, we would’ve been able to use the MLE since we had Marion’s bird rights. Since we are spending all the cap space on a new player, we cannot use the MLE. Note also that there is quite a bit of room between the cap and hitting the luxury tax, which is designed to let teams re-sign their existing players, so there is really no chance of us hitting the luxury tax.

If we sign Turkoglu, there are only a few options:

1) Biannual exception; should be around $1.5-1.8 million
2) Minimum contracts
3) Sign-and-trade AP, Delfino, or Marion for a pick and a trade exception. Then flip the pick and trade exception for a player. In a sign-and-trade, we cannot take on any salary because it would prevent us from signing Turkoglu, so that’s why we would have to make use of a trade exception.

BC must have something else up his sleeve, or else this roster is going to be extremely lacking in depth.

Basically, we can’t take back any salary in a sign-and-trade since it would put us over the cap and not allow us to sign Turkoglu, and we can’t execute a sign-and-trade after signing Turkoglu since we won’t have the Bird rights for our free agents (seeing how we renounced them to free up space). We have to hope that a team is willing to trade us a trade exception or draft picks (which could help us in a subsequent trade where we exchange bodies). The other options are 1) sign players with minimum contracts 2) find a taker for someone like Marcus Banks or Kris Humphries.

For completeness I have to mention that there is a third magical unlikely option. That’s where Hedo defers the BULK of his contract into the later years and gets paid something like 3M his first year which would technically keep us under the cap and allow us to sign more free agents. But he’s not crazy so its not really an option. Sorry for wasting your time.

Now, BC is not an idiot and will not repeat last year’s mistake. He knows the situation and has to have something planned for the remaining three or four roster spots. I don’t think he’ll look to Europe to sign Will Solomon 2.0 again which leaves a trade as the likeliest option. So go ahead and rip that trade checker to pieces. I also suspect that we’ll be losing another draft pick in a trade if one does happen.

If you really think about it, it’s not that Hedo move that has hamstrung us, it’s the O’Neal trade that’s still haunting us. We traded the 17th pick (who could’ve filled a roster spot this year), Rasho (very serviceable big man) and T.J Ford (who could’ve been converted into a body) for O’Neal who we later gave up (including Moon) for Marion (who we are likely to lose for nothing). And I’m not even going to bring up Marcus Banks and the first-rounder. Is the O’Neal trade worse than the Vince Carter trade? You bet.

So Bryan, the ball’s still in your court.

Back to Hedo for a moment. Here’s his attorney talking about how Toronto crept into the picture:

“It’s hard to pinpoint a turning point,” Babby said. “Toronto kind of jumped in at the last minute with a proposal that gave him pause–not so much from a financial standpoint, but…they hadn’t made a formal offer until then. I had to communicate that to Hedo, and that gave him pause.”

You know, a real clever GM would’ve seen Turkoglu’s ability before he blew up with the Magic and acquired him for nothing when he was with the Spurs rather than splurging over him. This guy was practically begging to play for the Raptors, pity his last two seasons weren’t in a Raptors uniform. The pros and cons of acquiring him are well documented and there will always be naysayers for any signing, but at some point you have to roll the dice and acquire a finished product, especially if you’re trying to get our superstar to stay put. Here’s how I see the good and bad of this trade.

Pros:

  • Size: At 6′ 10″ he is a matchup nightmare for just about anyone. His improved post-up game and ability to finish in traffic gives the Raptors a potential night in and night out double-team threat other than Chris Bosh. No more giving the ball to Bosh and watching him devour the shot-clock like a carnivore. Turkoglu can create his own shot and setup teammates, he’s the point-forward that we hoped Delfino would be.
  • Take a break Jose: Hedo is an excellent passer off the pick ‘n roll which we so like to run with Bosh. Usually these sequences ended with Calderon passing it back to Bosh at the perimeter and yelling something incoherent in Spanish, but with the ball in Hedo’s hands he can a) finish the play or b) find options since his height increases his vision, he showed a real ability to find shooters with the defense clamping down.
  • Shooter: He shot 36% from three-point range last year and is a career 38% shooter. Nothing terribly great but he is streaky and has the ability to take over the game with his outside shooting when hot. The good part about that is that he doesn’t settle or remain content with the jumper.
  • Clutch: Were you tired of watching Chris Bosh try to play hero and fail over and over again? Well, now we have a ball handler who’ll be willing to take a shot instead of trying to find a scapegoat. No offense to Jose but our fourth quarter offense under him was nothing short of watching a baby get asphyxiated. Adding another ball-handler who isn’t afraid to hoist it will only help.
  • Quickness vs Skill: Marion’s game is predicated on quickness and Hedo’s is not. Both would’ve been 35 in the deals that were offered and I’d rather have a guy who isn’t so dependent on the first step since that’s the first thing to go. Hedo’s not getting any shorter and he strikes me as a wily old veteran who utilizes his mind and lives off pump-fakes, jab steps, and hesitation moves. It’s no surprise that he’s gotten better with age, kinda like Cindy from the Rail (email AltRaps for photos).
  • T.O: A player chose Toronto over an American city, that too Portland and Brandon Roy.

Cons

  • Too much money/years. Paying anyone over 30 more than 10M a year will raise some eyebrows and there’s a chance that Hedo’s over the hill. The Magic got two great years out of him and acquired him when his stock was at an all-time low. Are the Raptors too late in this acquisition? No doubt, but that’s why the Magic GM is considered a good one. Colangelo’s buying this stock when it’s at its highest and when something is at its apex, it can only go down. Unless its Google. Hedo’s averaged 17/5 and 20/6 in his last two seasons, the chances of him repeating those feats are low. Playing with a dominant center like Dwight Howard makes one look good and Turkoglu benefited greatly from the attention defenses paid to Howard, it remains to be seen whether Bosh can do the same for him.
  • Defense. Shawn Marion is a better defender. We will need to provide more help to Turkoglu than we would to Marion. Is Hedo a bad defender? No, he defended Paul Pierce, Lebron James and Kobe Bryant in these playoffs and used his size impeccably. He doesn’t have the lateral quickness to negate the offensive player’s drives but uses his size exceptionally well and can afford to give space while still challening the shot. For what its worth, Caron Butler will have a tougher time hitting game-winners over Hedo than Marion.
  • Cap: He’s going to be occupying a big chunk of the cap which definitely reduced the flexibility we might’ve had, however a starting SF was never going to come cheap and we should deal with it. Can’t complain about everything, fact is that the NBA is an expensive market. Unless you want to sign Jamario Moon and his sinful grin, you’re going to have to shell out cash.
  • Rebounding: If he starts with Bosh and Bargnani he’ll have to step up his rebounding, or at least box out. Bargnani is atrocious and gets pinned too often to be counted on to clear the glass or box-out. Hedo will have to utilize every inch of his big frame to help out Bosh and so far he’s never proved himself to be a great defensive rebounder. I sense a Bosh-Evans-Turkoglu frontline to get heavy minutes.

Overall, it’s a good move once you consider team needs. Sure, there’s a chance that he’ll become a burden in years 4 and 5 but that’s too far into the future to speculate upon. Look at it this way: if there’s interest around the league in a 34 year old Anthony Parker, there’ll definitely be interest in a 34 year old Hedo Turkoglu. It’s now up to the ingenuity and creativity of our GM to fill out the rest of the roster properly, something he failed to do last year.

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