Sonny Weems is off to a Lithuania on a deal without a NBA opt-out. Unlike Deron Williams’s deal with Besiktas, which allows him to return to the NBA in the case the labor dispute is resolved, Weems is committed. Not that NBA teams would be starving for Weems’ services, and it was possible that even without a lockout Weems would play in Europe next season. The labor situation is growing somber by the day and the list of casualties to Europe will only increase since apparently the players union is urging its members to look for pay cheques elsewhere.
Having extended a qualifying offer to Weems, the Raptors still retain his rights and will have a chance to match an offer if he ever does return to the league and ends up being good (Chisholm has more on that). However, those thoughts are farthest in Bryan Colangelo’s mind right now who must be feeling quite happy with Jonas Valanciunas’ performance in the U-19 tournament. What was that line he had again? 26 points, 24 rebounds, 5 blocks, 3 assists, 8/19 FG and 10/11 FT. I know he’s playing against some guys who have yet to shave, but still, you have to admit it feels nice.
Back to Weems, does his extradition to Europe affect the Raptors? That depends on your definition of affect. In the basketball sense, no. Why? Because Weems wasn’t very good last season. His WS/48 (I know, I know, I hate using this stat as an overall measurement of a player but it seems to be kind of popular so what the hell) was -0.011 – that’s only ahead of Solomon Alabi. So for me to suggest that losing Weems somehow makes the Raptors worse would be like saying The Bachelorette became crappier since the guy with the mask got kicked off. No. Both the Raptors and The Bachelorette will be bad next season regardless of what happens.
He does have a friendship with DeMar DeRozan who would probably, and I’m speculating here, like to see Weems on the same team. However, I don’t read DeRozan as a bloke who would let the business of basketball and friendship interfere with each other to the point of hurting his image or career. So if the Raptors in some crazy configuration of a NBA-Lithuanian-Russian trade sent Weems to a team in a remote Siberian outpost where he got paid in snow, ice and wolf bites, DeRozan wouldn’t blink. I don’t think Dwane Casey’s the type of guy who would pander to his “stars” in any way, certainly not by signing buddies. On that note, it still bugs me that we invited Joel Bosh to summer league.
There’s also this speculation which could mean DeRozan would play in Europe too, but I’d be shocked if he’d go on a deal without an NBA opt-out.
The Chisholm article linked earlier talks about developing Weems on somebody else’s dime. I get that line of thinking but how he let James Johnson beat him to his job I will never figure out, and it’s what makes me question whether Weems isn’t just another in the line of Kareem Rush. I know he was injured, but damn dude, you had a starting job on a lottery team locked up and you let it slip just out of sheer unconcern. I was really banking on him to come through and give everybody including DeRozan stiff competition. Sonny, you broke my heart (insert kiss of death). The only people “developing” on the Raptors are DeRozan, Davis and Valanciunas, and that too mainly because of intrigue. You can extrapolate the ceiling for the rest and the phrase role player keeps coming to mind.
This could be said for most bad teams in the league. Minny with Rubio and Love. Cleveland with Irving and Thompson. Sacramento with Cousins and Evans. Washington with Wall and Vesely. You get the idea. All teams, poor ones especially since they can’t attract good free-agents, cling to the hope that they can grow their next superstar, so the Raptors are in a boat being shared by plenty of other teams. So far they’re not exactly ahead or behind anybody in terms of player development, and the only team in the NBA’s bottom ten that can say they have a true superstar on the roster are the Clippers with Blake Griffin, and maybe, just maybe, Golden State with Stephen Curry.