Hypothetical – Raptors Win the Lottery

What if we find out at 830pm tonight that we’ve won the Draft Lottery?

The odds are just 3.55%, but let’s explore the hypothetical – tonight, on ESPN, between 8 and 8:30 EST, we find out that the Toronto Raptors have, indeed, won the NBA’s Draft Lottery and will select first overall in the 2012 NBA Entry Draft.

Yes, the odds are slim, but it’s not like we have much else to talk about, and 3.55% is a heck of a lot higher than 0%, so it’s worth exploring. So…the Raptors now have the #1 pick come June 28.

Congratulations, folks, we now have just selected Anthony Davis first overall out of Kentucky.

This is absolutely cause for celebration.

After a whirlwind two nights of partying and celebrating, it’s now June 30. Free agency begins tomorrow, and we’ve had to scrap our offseason plan because we didn’t think there was anyway we’d be so blessed as to get The Unibrow in black and red. So where do we go from here to put a competitive team around our newly-found dynamic frontcourt duo? What does our roster look like?

Starter Jose Calderon DeMar DeRozan Linas Kleiza Andrea Bargnani Jonas Valanciunas
Salary (M) 10.6 3.3 4.6 10 3.3
Back Up Jerryd Bayless Gary Forbes James Johnson Anthony Davis Amir Johnson
Salary 4.2 1.5 2.8 5.1 6
3rd String Ed Davis Solomon Alabi
Salary 2.2 0.9
Our FAs Ben Uzoh Alan Anderson Aaron Gray
Jamaal Magloire
*Bayless’ amount is his qualifying offer
*Alabi’s amount is a team option
*Jonas’ and Davis’ amounts based on rookie wage scale
Total Salary 54.5
Salary Cap 58
Cap Space 3.5
2nd Round 0.8
MLE-under 2.5
MLE-over 5

Based on this breakdown, it’s obvious that the Raptors still need some wing help pretty desperately. Given the cap figures for the rookies, the Raptors have about 3.5M in cap space. They would also receive a 2.5M mid-level exception for teams under the cap (or 5M if they go over the cap before July 1, I think, though I’m not positive), per the new CBA, and they also have the 37th overall pick in the draft.

Since the NBA Gods already smiled on us once with the #1 overall pick, let’s also assume they allow PG Scott Machado to remain on the board at #37, thereby giving us our 3rd string point guard. Sensing no team will offer him a full mid-level, Bayless opts to sign his qualifying offer, play out the year, and become a UFA next season.

That leaves us with 2.7M to grab at least one difference-making wing player. Obviously, that’s not enough money. Our options then become:

1) Roll with DD, Forbes, JJ, and Kleiza. While it’s not flashy and wasn’t overly successful last year, the relative strengths elsewhere could overcome this weakness. You could also factor in (hopefully) some improved defense from DD and some further development from Forbes and JJ.

2) Amnesty Kleiza to make a run at a better SF. This would clear 4.6M off the books, giving the team 7.3M to spend under the cap, not quite enough to lure an RFA like Batum. Maybe this figure gets you a Jeff Green, but any deal with him is obviously heavy on health risk. You could also use the cash on a 2-guard, but that kind of cash has you more in the J.R. Smith range than the Eric Gordon/O.J. Mayo range.

3) Amnesty Amir to make a run at a wing. This clears slightly more cash (6M, giving 8.7M to spend), and also gets rid of the roster crunch at the big positions. That extra bit of cash available may help with luring one of the aforementioned RFAs.

4) Try to make a trade. I’d assume Amir would be the preferred trade bait, but it’s not clear exactly what is value would be, although maybe he’d be a decent consollation for a team sign-and-trading an RFA if we kicked in a future pick or that 2nd rounder? I don’t know, this is a complicated option, I guess, and Ed Davis may have more value in a trade due to his contract.

5) Play Bargs at the three. This couldn’t be a full time move as he’d be torched defensively by most other threes, but it would give the Raptors an imposing lineup for certain looks. Playing this big spreads out some of the minutes among the front-court players while also hiding the weakness at the wing. How feasible is it? I would assume Casey would be open to trying it for 2-3 minute stretches, especially against teams with non-scoring threes, but it doesn’t really solve the roster imbalance. It’d still be very interesting to see though.

6) Trade Bargs. Annnnd cue the arguments. I could explore, but this seems like an idea better saved as an article for AFTER (if) the Raptors win the lottery. What could you get for him? Do you have enough offensively without him? Can he play extended time at the three? Debate!

I’d probably roll with option #3, amnestying Amir and making a run at one of the RFA wings like Batum, Gordon, or Mayo, if a trade was too complicated or returned too little value. You’d also have the benefit of KNOWING they were going to sign with you before amnestying Amir (or Linas), so the risk is mitigated there in the sense that you’d only do it if you were positive of the signing (although the risk of the team matching the offer still exists). I know some won’t like losing a capable role player with strong peripheral statistics, but if Anthony Davis was brought into the picture, something would have to be done about the logjam there, and Amir has the most burdensome contract of the group.

Anyway, this was all hypothetical of course, so don’t put me through the ringer. I am very interested to hear, though, how you would all handle the roster moves for the rest of the summer if we win the lottery tonight.

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