First up, respect to AltRaps for breaking this story first on any blog or website.

You have to love moves that have no negative possibilities and the Belinelli trade is just that. This one falls in the “doesn’t hurt” category. As in, it doesn’t hurt to have some more insurance at shooting guard. Or, it doesn’t hurt to have another ball-handler who can get hot from time to time and finally, it doesn’t hurt to give Bargnani a real friend on the team. The 6′ 5″ Italian was lost in the shuffle in Golden State and a change of scenery will do him some good, but the stark reality remains that he’s unlikely to get the 21 minutes he got last year, unless of course Delfino is out of the picture. Look at it this way: it’s better to have a deep and meaningful bench that could come in handy than have Devean George at the end of it playing tic-tac-toe with Marcus Banks.

Why did we do it?

Credit to Colangelo for creating something out of nothing and believe me, Devean George was nothing. At best he was going to be third on the depth chart at any position and I’m sure he wouldn’t have been thrilled. Colangelo nips the possibility of a disgruntled player in the bud and acquires a young, skilled player who will have a chance to crack the rotation in training camp, that’s more than what you could say about George who is coming of knee surgery to repair cartilage damage.

After recognizing the crappy qualities of Will Solomon and Hassan Adams, Colangelo’s tried to acquire Belinelli last year in November but the offer which apparently involved Kris Humphries was promptly turned down. Sources in Italy continued to link him to the Raptors for obvious reasons and when the trade didn’t happen by the deadline, everyone was silently surprised. After all, we needed help in the backcourt and Belinelli wasn’t playing in GSW. It only made sense. Now that the point-guard position is settled it’s time to worry about the backup wing and he’s perfect insurance in case we can’t get Kleiza or Delfino to sign. If Colangelo deems him worthy of significant minutes it’ll allow us to fill out that final roster spot with a big man instead, something we need even more.

What do we have in him?

He is a scorer, a dramatically inconsistent and frustrating one but he is a scorer. On any given night he could be our Vinny “Microwave” Johnson or our Fred Jones, you just don’t know what you’re going to get. When he’s on, he’s unstoppable and when he’s not, he’s terrible. He dropped 37 in a summer league game in 2007 and the Raptors received first-hand punishment last year in Golden State when he dropped 23 on us circus-style. That inconsistency is what kept him out of the lineup in GSW who already have enough players who take terrible shots. He played the majority of his minutes at SG last year and spent the rest of them at the SF, but take that with a grain of salt because Don Nelson’s offense doesn’t define positions, just players. He’s a basketball player that can make stuff happen if you give him the freedom and he’s going to get that chance. Just like Douby, he’ll have an opportunity to steal minutes away from Antoine Wright and Jarrett Jack at the SG. Whether he has the discipline to stay in control of his talents and harness his offensive urges remains to be seen. Even if he doesn’t, at the end of the day we get a 23 year old for a 32 year old.

Is he good enough to get time?

His playing time will depend entirely on whether we manage to sign Delfino because that’ll determine if he’s 2nd or 3rd in the second wing depth-chart. Suddenly signing Delfino isn’t that important and we’ve gained a bargaining chip in the negotiations – we already got somebody inconsistent! Belinelli’s lack of strength on the defensive end is a concern but you could easily argue that he’s a better offensive weapon than Delfino. Belinelli’s a career 40% three-point shooter (Delfino is at 36%) and has a quicker first step, something coaches in Golden State and Europe felt he doesn’t utilize nearly enough. He’s got the slashing ability to use screens and then unleash a shot using his high release-point, something similar to what Anthony Parker did well his first year with the Raptors.

Theoretically speaking, if Belinelli could usurp Wright as one of the off-guards and get consistent minutes at the position, we could move Jack over to strictly backup PG duties, but I don’t see it happening because of Belinelli’s defense. Jack is just too good and strong of a defender to not guard the tougher SGs out there. Belinelli’s best shot at making a mark is at SF where the competition isn’t as stiff. If Delfino is out than all he’s got to do is beat Wright which isn’t inconceivable. Really, can’t say much about his role on the team until we know what we’re doing with that final roster spot.

Salary Impact

None. George makes $1,600,000, Belinelli makes $1,547,640 and both are going to enter the final year of their contracts. Belinelli has a team-option followed by a qualifying offer which works out to the Raptors’ advantage since if he shows something good, we can get him cheap ($2.4M and $3.4M, respectively). The Raptors send some cash to Golden State to make up the difference in talent and age. The amount can’t exceed $3M and it certainly isn’t even going to be close, I’m almost ready to call the amount negligible. The cash does not count against the cap for either team and if anything, we end up shedding $52,360 off the cap. Why Golden State would do this trade is a mystery and the only thing that I can conjure up is that maybe it’s easier later on to trade a player who doesn’t have options and qualifying offers attached to him. That and they believe in Anthony Morrow.

Keep in mind that the salary cap and tax will be lower next year and if Bosh signs an extension at the max, we’ll have to cross the tax level to sign these players.

Check back later in the day for a podcast.

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