Put your money where your mouth is!

Two major items this morning. The NBA’s moratorium period has ended and they have released the salary cap and tax level number for the upcoming season. The salary cap will be $57.7 million and the tax level is $69.92 million. The previous year’s salary cap was $58.68 million and the tax level was $71.15 million. The NBA states that “although the league-wide revenue increased by 2.5% this past season, the decrease in the salary cap and tax level for the 2009-10 season is the result of the formula used to set the cap and tax under the terms of the collective bargaining agreement.” So we all have a little less of the pie to work with but overall the drop isn’t much. The other major news of the day is ESPN’s report that Andrea Bargnani is being extended for five years at $10 million per. That number is about 1.5 million over his qualifying offer for 2010-11 which stood at 8.5 million.

This is definitely the safe way to go, otherwise we would’ve risked losing him next summer if a team signed him to an offersheet which we couldn’t match for whatever reason. It also protects us against any new CBA worries such as salaries going up. Hopefully he has a phenomenal year which would make this deal look like a steal. The flip side of the coin in him reverting to his form of his sophomore year and the first half of last year, basically he’s been great for 50% and terrible for 50% but even then it’s a gamble you just don’t take. One thing to keep in mind: if Bosh re-ups at the max, we’ll have 42 million tied in 3 players and 50 million tied in 4. In comparison, the Spurs have 48 million tied in 4 players next year, the Lakers have 52 million tied in 3, the Magic 50 million in 3 and the Cavaliers 55 million in 4. So its not a number that will prevent us from signing the role players needed to fill out the roster, but at the same time know that the teams I mentioned have arguably more solid cores than us. Money well invested for the Raptors?

There’s also this report by RR enthusiast Michael Grange where he says that the Turkoglu deal could take a few more days even though the Grand Turk is already in town.

So, where are we otherwise? Probably debating whether we should renounce those contracts before we sign Hedo and then deal with the rest of the roster in some haphazard way where we parlay Kris Humphries into a more serviceable and less frustrating player. Or of course there’s a chance we execute a sign-and-trade like the one rumoured the last couple days which would see Marion go to Dallas in exchange for Jerry Stackhouse and his 2 million guaranteed contract, who we would either keep on the bench for comedy purposes or more likely, release into the wilderness again. This deal does not benefit the Raptors much at all, it’s more a favor to Marion than anything else and at best it might yield us some cash or future considerations. There’s also some small talk out of LA that the Clippers might be interested as they can afford to pay him more than the MLE. As they say, there are no good options, just bad ones and inconsequential ones.

From what we can tell Colangelo wasn’t kidding around about trying to put a contending team out on the floor, his moves of late remind me of the quick-fire shooting-from-the-hip Glen Grunwald. They’ve got a touch of tact, a whole lot of desperation and a follow-through of a home run swing, question is whether he’s connecting or not. To his credit he’s also trying to correct his many mistakes one by one, the latest of which is him trying to unload Marcus “Cap Hold” Banks in a Marion sign-and-trade. Unfortunately for us, even the spendthrift Cuban isn’t willing to pay someone as unworthy as Banks a penny more than he deserves.

As discussed over the last couple days, a trade is the likeliest way a couple real players can end up in Toronto this year. Problem is that we haven’t got much to barter with other than Kris Humphries and those 3 million we keep hearing over and over again (which I thought could’ve been used wisely in the first round). When Colangelo was fleeced by Riley into taking on Banks and giving up a first round pick, the only safety net the Raptors had was a Marion sign-and-trade which as mentioned isn’t happening since nobody’s buying his Matrix role anymore. That leaves us with only one thing as trade bait – more draft picks.

Who needs Rasho when you have this guy?

BTW, how nice would O’Neal’s contract be to have right now? Or more specifically, no Marcus Banks to worry about, a first round pick in hand and another asset in Jamario Moon to trade. Anyway, I’m getting off topic, what I’m trying to say is that after Humphries and the 3 million, we only have draft picks left as bait and right now Colangelo’s got to be thinking whether to risk even more of the future in order to fix the present. If he’s really serious about contending next year he’s going to have to bring in some bodies.

A starting five of Bosh, Bargnani, Turkoglu, Calderon and DeRozan complemented by a bench of Evans, Humphries, Banks, Douby, O’Bryant, Ukic and (maybe) Delfino is good for a 6th seed and a prompt first round exit. A defensive minded shooter of the Raja Bell, Rasaul Butler or James Posey variety is necessary to support the shooting-guard, and we need someone who can do what they told us Marcus Banks could do. Take a look at Rafer Alston, a spark of the bench who can break down his man and not panic when the defense reacts, how far do you think Roko is from doing that? If I had my pick I’d make try and wiggle hard for Grant Hill who both Boston and New York (I know) are interested in. Our other division rivals (if you can call them that after the 0-for season series), the Celtics, have inked Rasheed Wallace to the MLE.

Right now Colangelo has to go all in to acquire proven bench talent to keep up with the division and it might have to come at the cost of sacrificing even more draft picks. Usually I’m not a fan of giving up picks but if that’s the only way of not doing another half-ass job of assembling a bench, so be it, trade ‘em. Worry about acquiring them later, under a new GM.

Kelly Dwyer is very luke warm about the Hedo deal and I see his point. After all, Turkoglu was at best considered a role player for the majority of his career and suddenly he’s propelled himself into the pseudo-elite of the NBA. It’s a jump that’s going to be hard for him to sustain, to his credit he’s done it for two years but expecting five more is a stretch. Even then, Dwyer’s criticism of the deal is based on what the situation will be three years from now where he alleges that Hedo will be riding the pine and will be significantly older than the rest of the crew. Wrong. He’ll be 33, Calderon will be 30, Bosh will be 28 and Andrea will be 26. That’s hardly an unreasonable age difference. His skill-set will probably decline but let’s remember that his game isn’t dependent on quickness or athleticism, it’s based on craftiness. The obvious key to him being a productive member of the group will be health and so far in his career he’s been great. In his 10 seasons he’s played an average of 75 games per season and has never played less than 67 games.

Or if worst comes to worst, we can deal him to a contender looking for that missing piece at some deadline. God knows that some GM will deem Lebron, Kobe or Chris Paul needing help for that stretch run and will be willing to pull the trigger on a now proven playoff performer. If need be, we shouldn’t have any problem offloading Turkoglu’s contract in the next 2-3 years, year 4 will be tough but year 5 will see his value rise as an expiring contract.

There’s a spanking new poll on the site which asks you to pick between a guy who gets his ass kicked by his sister and another who wears makeup. I can see a cat-fight breaking out. Another quick note. If you want to stay right up to date with Raptors news throughout the summer, look no further than our twitter account which AltRaps is all over as if it were Cinnamon from the Rail.

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