My thoughts on Jose.

The NBA Trade Deadline is one week from yesterday (March 15), and as such it’s probably time to take a look at the very last event we Raptor fans have to look forward to until the NBA Draft in June.

Yes, I know Andrea Bargnani’s impending return to the court is the major news headline, but is there any value in dissecting how he could have improved this team from a lottery one to a first round playoff exit if healthy? Perhaps, as it’s actually been quite a story how this low-on-talent Raptors squad has played consistently competitive basketball without their top player and only crunch-time scoring threat. That said, it’s an issue that will probably be touched on heavily over the weekend with a pair of games Saturday-Sunday.

Instead, let’s have a look at the roster, player-by-player, and theorize about potential deadline scenarios.

The Untouchable
Andrea Bargnani – In previous seasons, his name would have most certainly been involved in trade rumors. As a highly paid, one-dimensional player on a rebuilding team, he’d be the first man out the door. That is, unless a new coach, an offseason of recommitment, and a stunning 13-game sample could lay the foundation for changing everyone’s opinions about him. Bargs played the best ball of his career when healthy this year, and there’s no way Colangelo moves him without a longer look at how he performs in Casey’s system.

The Slightly-More-Touchables
DeMar DeRozan, Ed Davis, James Johnson – These three are in a sort of limbo with the franchise, with their long-term ceilings in question but their floors already apparent. They are each clearly rotation players, but for a franchise looking to acquire high-end talent, none are untouchable if the right deal came along. Still, the type of team looking to acquire this type of player is likely a team in a similar spot to the Raptors. So, unless it’s as part of a multi-team deal that comes out of nowhere, I think you’ll see these three stay put at least until the offseason, when Colangelo knows who he’ll be drafting and where that leaves the team’s talent distribution.

The Contracts
Linas Kleiza, Amir Johnson, Gary Forbes – Both Kleiza and Johnsons clearly have value and could be potent bench players in a contender’s rotation. That said, Amir has three years remaining on his deal after this season, for a total of $19.5M, while Kleiza has a full year at $4.6M and then a player option for the same amount. While neither is grossly overpaid, teams would be taking on a player with a contract paying him a premium, and it seems like contending teams looking to add “the last piece” would be looking at better contracts or higher-end players. Despite decent performance, I think Colangelo would be hard-pressed to find a taker on either without taking a similarly bad contract in return. And finally, there’s the saving grace for Kleiza that he could be a big help with the transition when fellow-Lithuanian Jonas Valanciunas comes over next season. Amir, however, has no such redeeming quality and may be expendable in the offseason with Bargs/Jonas/Davis/Draft Pick all in the mix. Oh, and I included Forbes simply because no team would want to guarantee a 2nd year to a bit player unless he’s a salary-matcher in a bigger trade.

The Rentals
Aaron Gray, Rasual Butler, Jamaal Magloire, Anthony Carter – None of these players have much trade value on their own, but you’d think the Raptors would explore moving at least one of them for peanuts. Gray is probably safer in TO than the others (and was only included here because there’s nowhere else to put him), as the “soft skills” that Butler, Magloire, and Carter bring are all kind of redundant. There are rumors already that the Raptors are trying to shop Carter for something in the neighbourhood of a top-59 protected 2nd round pick, so he’s also a buy-out candidate. No, there’s no value returned there tangibly, but it opens up a roster spot to give some D-Leaguer a chance to prove himself worthy. I think at this point everyone knows how I feel about keeping three “savvy veterans” eating playing time and a roster spot on a rebuilding team, and if there’s a contender out there willing to give ANYTHING for Butler’s supposed range, Magloire’s toughness, or Carter’s assistant coaching, then by all means pull the trigger.

The Project
Solomon Alabi – Why does he even exist at this point? He’s played 7 minutes without a point or rebound, has a -7.95 PER (yup, negative, that’s 3rd-worst in the NBA ahead of only Brian Skinner’s 4 minutes and Hamady Ndiaye’s 3 minutes). In 9 D-League games he was alright, putting up 9.1 points, 7.7 rebounds, and 1.9 blocks in 21 minutes, but he should be back down there for another few years, not sitting at the end of an NBA bench. So what’s his purpose? He’s an $830,000 expiring contract (team option…yeah, right) to toss into a deal. I’d imagine that’s it.

The Curiosity
Jerryd Bayless – Bayless has shown that he can be a semi-effective scoring guard off the bench. He’s also more or less shown he can’t be trusted with the keys to the offense. So where do we go from here? Well, he’d be handy to have around as a stop-gap in the event Calderon is dealt, but if Jose stays put, then I think it’s possible you could see Bayless shipped out in a deal similar to the one he was acquired in (moving of the deck chairs, so to speak). His qualifying offer for next year is over $4M, which might be too prohibitive for the Raptors to pay to a back-up. Again, this is all conjecture and his status depends entirely on the club’s plans for Calderon this year and next. I don’t see any way they’re both here at a combined $15M next season.

The Shopped
Leandro Barbosa – When the lockout more or less forced Barbosa to pick up his $7.6M player option for this season, I figured it was only a matter of time before he was moved. He’s an expiring deal, a proven bench scorer, and someone with ample playoff experience. His contract isn’t friendly, but there are teams with trade exceptions big enough to take it, allowing them to acquire him simply for picks. I’d list the potential suitors and analyze but honestly, probably every team in the playoff hunt would be interested for the right price. The Lakers could offer picks and the Lamar Odom trade exception; the Pacers could offer Louis Amundson and a low pick, while using their cap space to absorb Barbosa; the T-Wolves could gamble and offer Michael Beasley’s Crazy Ass, although Colangelo allegedly turned down a free Beasley in the Bosh trade; the list goes on. I can’t see Barbosa wearing a Raptors uniform on March 16, but it wouldn’t surprise me to see him dealt at the very last minute as teams wait to see what other teams do on deadline day. You can’t expect much in return, but a low-1st or high-2nd would suffice for a player not in the long-term plans.

Jose Calderon
I’ve been taken to task by commenters before for suggesting the team hang on to Jose, but allow me to present my argument one more time:

*There are no elite point guards in the range the Raptors are expected to pick.
*The draft has been downgraded from superb to merely good.
*His $10.5M expiring contract could be a huge trade chip next year.
*He’d be a great mentor to any young PG.
*He’s still a very good player, and the Raptors might not be too bad next year.

Add all of that up, and I’m standing firm that I’d only move him for either a lottery first, or a late first paired with a prospect. And by prospect I don’t mean Darius Morris – for those expecting a straight-up Lakers deal for Morris, a 1st, and the Odom exception, think again. I’m sure Colangelo realizes the market for Calderon would be just as big next year with the expiring deal, and the team has said they’re not actively shopping him. A prospect who can’t crack the rotation on the league’s thinnest team and a pick in the 20-30 range just won’t do it (unless, of course, you have Calderon act as a spy and sabotage the Lakers, pushing them into the lottery…*evil laugh*). As for other suitors, there are plenty…

Magic – if they decide to keep Dwight, they’d love to add another PG. He’d be a great fit, too, as he’d be hidden defensively with Dwight’s presence behind him. That said, the Magic have little in the way of expiring contracts or young assets, so a multi-team deal would probably be necessary.

Lakers – Again, they’d have to come more correct than Darius Morris. I’d be asking for Goudelock and both their’s and Dallas’ 1st rounders, but again a multi-team deal is more likely.

Blazers – eww, would you take Ray Felton back? It’d be an expiring contract, but are the Raptors going to be in the free agent market this summer? It’s an interesting destination, as the Blazers could kick in a mid-1st pick or a middling prospect like an Eliot Williams or Luke Babbitt.

Jazz – they may have fallen too far out of the race now, but they have the Warrior’s 1st, top-7 protected, and could offer Devin Harris’ $8.5M contract for next year. The hope with Harris is that Casey could get him to buy-in and return to the defensive stalwart he once was, but the Jazz might rather roll the dice on keeping him and the pick over Jose, while focusing on dealing from their deck of bigs to upgrade the point.

Others – Like Barbosa, the market for an experienced and highly effective vet with a defined role is large. Jose’s contract for next year eliminates some suitors (Mavericks), while his D wouldn’t be as easy to hide on a team with already poor defense. That said, I’m certain the Hawks, Pacers, Thunder, and others would kick the tires to see what the asking price is.

I still honestly think the odds of a Jose deal are just 50/50. The assets of interested teams just don’t match up well with what the Raptors are looking for. And I know I’ll likely get the “he’s old, we’re rebuilding, take any picks you idiot” response multiple times, but just keep in mind the points in favour of keeping him I outlined above. It’s not crazy to think Colangelo might want to keep Jose in the mix a while longer, at least until that “PG of the future” is identified.

  • RyanRobinson

    About how I would summarize things. Jose shouldn’t be traded, at least not right now. He’s held the team together with Bargnani out. On the NBA Today podcast last week, he was even listed as a Top 10 PG (8th or 9th)! Raptors fans tend to really under-estimate him. Of course if a good deal comes along (lottery pick or other young PG talent), I’d be a little more accepting to see him go, but generally speaking I don’t think that will happen.

    Barbosa is definitely the main piece to be sending out. I like him, but he is much more valuable as a bench scorer for a contender than he is for the Raptors.

  • Nilanka15

    Your thoughts on Jose make sense, but what happens if Jose (after playing for Spain this summer), pulls another hamstring next season, and misses 15-20 games in January/February?  His trade value would then primarily be based on his expiring contract, and not his on-court production, which might mean we get less in return.

    Calderon has a history of injuries after representing Spain in the off-season.

    • CalgaryRapsFan

      Injuries – you could paint the same “what if” scenario about every player in the league, not just Calderon.

      Calderon’s trade value – I bet a lot of playoff teams would love to add Calderon this year, but don’t want to give up assets (prospects & draft picks) AND pay Calderon next season.  Next season, I could see an even greater demand for Calderon by playoff teams, since they could pony-up the assets without having to worry about him beyond their playoff run (as an expiring contract).  As long as he is healthy and playing well, I could actually see his trade value driven even higher than it is right now.

      • Nilanka15

        “As long as he is healthy…” is the key component here.

        It’s true we can theoretically worry about potential injuries with every player, but some players present more risks than others.  Calderon isn’t in Greg Oden territory, but he’s hardly an iron man either.

        • CJT

          Does the team have a say in whether the players are able to compete in these events?  Do they need permission or something?

          • CJT

            By that I meant internation competitions in the off season.

            • cesco

              They are allowed to represent their country in international competition as long as it does not interfere with the games they have to play in the NBA . They do not need permission as exemplified  by Garbajosa who went to play for Spain a few years back against the advice of the Raps medical staff because of his foot injury that had not completely healed.

  • CalgaryRapsFan

    Excellent write-up and a fair, honest evaluation of our “talent.

    I wouldn’t be at all surprised if the Raptors wind up doing nothing but trading Barbosa for cap space (TPE or expiring contract) and a pick.  I would actually be upset if the Raps didn’t do this with Barbosa, unless  there was never an offer like that on the table.

  • Dan Levine

    Great summary. And while I agree that it’s unlikely the Raps keep both Bayless and Calderon, I’d say it’s definitely possible (Jose is massively underrated and BC may not be ready to give up on Bayless).

    I’m thinking Bayless is Barbosa-light, and could always take over that 3rd guard spot, coming in the game to provide an offensive spark when the starters sit. Mostly, I can’t see the Raps holding onto both Bayless and Barbosa.

    One more point about Jose – he doesn’t get nearly enough credit for making his teammates better. Calderon will do wonders for Valanciunas (especially on the pick and roll) if he stays next season.

  • Valit

     Totally agree on your points. Unless there is a an amazing deal for the benefit of the club, I would hang on to him for another year ( at least). I know some of the points of the sell Calderon army are valid, but in the same time people are assuming too much for past history. For Ex, it is true he has a history of injury after playing for Spain, but that doesnt mean he will have it again and on the reverse who can guarantee that the PG of the future will not blow his knee up or something like that? Things can happen in either case and for better or worse I still think the main priorities for next year should be a very good SF and backups for 5 , 1 and 2 ( In case Barbosa leaves)

  • Tim W

    Mark My Words:

    There will be no trade this time around. None !!!
    Barbosa will get signed to a 4 year deal worth 24 million in the off season.

    The ONLY player that BC should move now is AB. His value is high and this team does not need him. This is the ONLY WAY going forward without effecting Amir’s development and the chemistry of this team.

    • 2damkule

      you really have nothing better to do than to pretend to be someone else, in an attempt to do nothing but stir up shit?

      • CJT

        At least he didn’t say Reconize.

    • Gman

      Mark My Words:

      Crack is a hell of a drug…

  • Jeffrey Thompson

    I agree w/ trading Jose.  he’s not making the raptors any better and it is best to do so while his value is at the highest it has ever been

    • Dan Levine

      He’s not making the Raptors any better? “Better” is subjective. The Raps would probably have 6 wins without Jose this season – have you seen the team when he subs out of the game? I’d love to see what a guy who’s averaging 9 assists/game with crappy supporting cast/no shooters around him could do with decent teammates. 

      • Nilanka15

        6 wins would be far better for this teams future than the current 13 wins 😉

    • CJT

      Why do you think his trade value is at its highest ever?  Because he does make his teammates better.  That is the only reason a contending team would want him don’t you think?

  • Statement

    I thought Anthony Carter was gone?

    • 2damkule

      i think they’re holding onto him to see if they can deal him, but if not, he’ll be cut loose for good.

    • Stephen Gordon

       He is, but he is still on contract so they are still able to trade him. I wouldn’t hold my breath.

  • sleepz

    The problem with trading Jose is the style they play (half court, limit possessions, very little transition) suits him. You trade him and the offence becomes worse, especially with a sg like Bayless running the offence.

    That being said, others have acknowledged the fact that he is a player that will get injured and is he your pg moving forward in a supposed ‘rebuild’?

    Definitely food for thought on both sides of the equation.

  • 2damkule

    hey blake…perhaps something that would help throw some water on any ‘jose-to-LA’ trade proposal is:

    a) LA can’t combine the TPE with another player in an attempt to land Jose (so, it’s not feasible to trade jose to LA for moore, a pick & the TPE), &
    b) LA’s TPE isn’t large enough to absorb Jose’s salary.  unless i’m gravely mistaken, the ‘trade exception’ rules (i.e. those that provide flexibility in ‘matching’ contracts) don’t apply with TPEs (since the TPE is, itself, an exception, and you can’t combine multiple exceptions in the same deal).  at most, i think the variance between the incoming player’s salary & the TPE can be $125K (and i’m not even sure if that’s true)…but even factoring that in, the TPE still isn’t big enough to absorb jose.
    c) there aren’t many teams out there that are actually in a position to acquire jose; it would only make sense for a playoff-bound team to target him, but most such teams are already set at PG (if they weren’t…well, they probably wouldn’t be playoff teams, unless they had significant superstar power at other positions); as such, there are very few out there that actually *need* a PG…for most, jose would be a lateral move; for others, he’d be added as insurance/back-up…but that’s a hefty price tag to pay a back-up (with an injury history).

    IMO…other than barbosa, the johnsons (amir & james) would seem to be two of the very few raptors that other teams could take serious looks at.

  • Kcharito

    Nice thoughts and analysis. I agree at most of part. I could not put JJ in the list you included him, cause he’s showing great defensive skills, and his offense consistency is improving game after game. If i wanted to select a potential trade, I may look in our PFs (Amir or Davis). None of them is great, Amir’s real value (and talent) doesn’t corresponds to his salary, and Davis seems to be worse than expected. In this position we have Bargnani too.
    Especially if we draft another big body (there are plenty in the forthcoming draft), I believe that we could trade one of them for a better guard (if there is any that could be acquired now), especially if we let Barbosa go. Is there any chance of keeping Barbosa? He’s happy with his role (I believe), so even if his salary is high, and he’s over 30 years old, he’s too good coming from the bench.
    I agree with you totally on Jose and Bargnani. These two players are necessary for the team IMO. And Bayless? He isnt sth special too, but unless we find another high prospect (or we draft a top pick guard), he may stay here. From the “rentals” i choose Gray to stay as a backup Center. Even if im not expecting Valanciunas to shine soon. I hope that Im wrong, he’s too talented, but not NBA ready.
    The ideal scenario would be to take a strong, talented center (there are few in the league) and have Valanciunas too. But he will need the minutes to get his “NBA eligibilty”

    A playoff Raptors team IMO should have for starters: Jose and Andrea, a “scoring machine” in SG, a SF who can score but defend (Chandler?, or even JJ if he stays in the same level), Jonas (or a stronger body who can defend and score),
    and for the bench a high draft pick in PG or SG (if we trade DeRozan), Barbosa or DeRozan(but i dont know how DeMar could react as a bench player), Amir and Gray (or Jonas if we get a strong C). Am I dreaming too much?

  • Lorenzo

    Trading Jose is not a good idea. Mark my words, Jose will make Jonas a lot better, not only statistically. 

  • Sbrother

    Barbosa isn’t being shopped – there is no evidence that Colangelo is actually shopping anyone besides Carter and plenty of comments from Colangelo and Casey to suggest they aren’t doing anything until the summer free agent period.

  • Lambda

    You forgot about the draft rights to Jonas.

  • ad

    The NBA trade deadline is the biggest dud in all of pro sports. Its #1 in rumors but dead last in activity. If the raptors do anything significant or any significant trades happen id be pretty surprised.

  • CantDL

    Last year was pretty big for NBA trades. This year’s been rushed so i dont expect much activity. 

    I don’t buy into the Jose’s too old for the team. Trade Bayless away, he can’t run a team.

  • RapsM

    Im gonna miss Amir when they trade him. No one else hustles on this team like him.

  • 511

    With Bargnani hovering around the edges, waiting to play again, ank-tay ity-cay gets interesting. Whatever anybody might think about whether it’s right or wrong, good or bad, strategically solid or plain messed up … there’ve been games that could’ve been won had management really wanted to. (And you’ll never convince me otherwise.) But what to do now? The thing is, when Bargs was last playing, the team without him was in obvious disarray. Since then, they’ve learned how to play reasonably well (without him) – way better, I’d say, than their talent-level might’ve even suggested – so … how do they keep themselves – with Bargs back – near the bottom of the pack without being ridiculously obvious about it? It’ll be interesting … if not awkward, real awkward, at times, I’d guess. Because I’m sure that they don’t want to just go out there and waste all those lost games that they probably didn’t have to lose, during these past weeks. One thing for sure (as far as I’m concerned, anyway) … Casey really really knows wtf he’s doing. For him to have been able to manage these games in just the particular way that he has – if you get me – it’s been near-genius. When he gets that boost in talent that is coming next year (JV and draft-pick/free agent and/or trade) watch the f**k out. Don’t let anyone here kid you; this guy knows what he’s doing like few in the league do. And BC hiring Stefanski to bounce things off of / do whatever he does was also a very smart move, imo. I’d wager that this team is gonna make noise starting next year. They’ll be talking about us. Watch and see. 

    • cesco

      I don’t think they tried to lose games intentionally . BC and Casey must have decided that evaluating every player by putting them in crucial situations ( like with Butler ) they would have a better idea as to who should stay and who should let go . With Andrea , winning as many game as possible ( and playing around .500 ball ) till the end of the season will confirm that the team is ready to make big noises next year as you say .

      • 511

        Hey cesco, you’re probably right. Although, I suspect a game can probably be managed to increase the odds one way as opposed to the other … but what do I know? Just throwing stuff against the wall. 

  • Marshjeff

    Raptors – Jeff Teague, Marvin Williams
    Chicago – Josh Smith, Willie Green, Anthony Carter
    Hawks – Carlos Boozer, Michael Beasley, Luke Ridnour
    Wolves – Jose Calderon, Rasual Butler 

  • mountio

    For the record, Jose for Goudelock and TWO first rounders is the definition of a pipe dream.
    I buy the argument that hes easier to take on for a team next year when you dont have another year of contract .. but even then, are we realistically going to get more than a late first rounder (which appears to be his market value now?)? I think no, and thus Id rather get that pick now so he can have an extra year to develop with the team, AB, JV, etc next year.

  • fk

    I think we should try to get something of value for Bayless as I wouldn’t pay 4 million a season for his services or potential.

    • mountio

      bayless has zero value

      • CJT

        He has zero value on the trade market, but hasn’t shown that he has a whole lot of value to the Raptors either.  Let him walk at the end of the season?

        • mountio

          yup .. not sure what other choice we had. If he signed for something like 2-3 mm a season I might think about keeping him .. but there is no way in hell we would get anything back in a trade

          • fk

            Thats easy then. Just don’t extend.

  • Ridoba

    Good analysis! My only doubts are that Barbosa brings that much back, being a rental. I also doubt that we get what we want for Jose and keep him like you suggest.
    I also think we need to show a little more love for Aaron Gray. We need a big body banger to absorb minutes and play tough against some big guys so that Jonus does not break down. I’d even keep Magloire as he does his job well.
    If I were management, I’d keep Bargs out another week or work him in very slowly. We do not need any wins to mess up next year right now. If the Raps select at 4, they will get at least one of Gilchrist, Barnes, or Robinson. Robinson is a PF, but a freak athlete who can defend from 2-5. He shoots the 3 well and rebounds better than anyone else in the draft. He becomes a 3 on defence and a 4 on offences, seeing as that AB is not really a post player. The match ups against us will be difficult with Robinson able to shoot the three and destroy a 3 in the post. If they put the 4 on him, Bargs will be defended by 3’s and won’t see a hand in his face all game. Sit Bargnani a few more games and draft Robinson!

    • Toshmon

      I think Robinson will be a 3 too

      • Brian B

         That’s not how most draft reports project him, though it is a risk

    • Brian B

       Barnes and Kidd-Gilchrist are both 3s. They don’t even play PF on their college teams, though Barnes took minutes there today when Henson was injured and Zeller and McAdoo got into foul trouble. Since NC State is undersized, he faked it, but struggled compared to his usually role.

  • Ridoba

    Thanks for the response. I guess that I was not clear. I know that kidd-gilchrist and Barnes are 3’s, and thus fill needs for us. My point, unclearly made, was that Robinson was a suitable pick even if he is a 4, and will be 3,4 tweener in the NBA because Bargnani plays a 3 on offence. So, Robinson kind of fills the offensive role of the 4 that AB really is not, and a defensive 3.