steph

Kyle Lowry. Smart move, even if it means we had to do a reach around to get there. Colangelo finally upgraded the point guard position by installing a defensive player as a starter, an action that followers and fans of this team have been calling for for years. This is not a move that required great thinking, anybody who has seen Jose Calderon play the last few seasons is painfully aware of his shortcomings on defense, even though he does his level best every night while giving unquestionable effort.

Calderon has been a great servant to the organization for seven years, and my hope is that he remains with the club till the end of his career. It would be great to have our first “Raptor lifer”, and there’s hardly anyone more gentlemanly than Jose Calderon. On the other hand, since Bayless has had a QO extended to him and Calderon’s contract is expiring, it would also make sense if Calderon’s on his way out, in which case it would be nice to see him get a ring. Perhaps he’s the point guard that Dallas or Miami will chase.

Liston, Blake and the Insider snippet posted a couple days back already provide the gist of Kyle Lowry, and the comment sections are flooded with opinions and takes on the player, leaving little for me to do.

To qualitatively sum up Lowry:

  1. An ever-improving offensive player who is not content with his current skill-set and looks to improve each season
  2. 26-year old who has enough experience to guide this team of youth, and fits nicely into a window where the Raptors could make a run for the playoffs
  3. Very good defensive player who wants to play that side of the ball (which Casey will obviously love)
  4. Had a bit of an issue with McHale, which eventually resulted in him demanding a trade, and that’s something Casey has to contend with, but that’s part of a coach’s job. Lowry’s been given teh proverbial “fresh start” here, so there’s a chance he comes in with his attitude reset
  5. Can more naturally play the up-tempo game than Calderon, and has more sense and patience than Bayless in terms of decision-making
  6. Is under contract for two season, meaning there’s no immediate retention issue to deal with. He’s due to make $5.75 and $6.12 million, and will likely demand a big raise after that if his form continues. Since BC loves overpaying, this is a good fit
  7. 5-year veteran out of Villanova who spent 2 years in college before coming out in 2006 (yes, he’s got a good relationship with Alvin Williams); he’s 6’0″, so on the shorter side but has a little of Carl Landry in him, where plays bigger than his height

Considering the set of point guard free-agents this year that a rebuilding team like the Raptors should have been targeting (basically, everyone but Nash and Nelson) Lowry is a good nab. There’s concern that he might not be as fluid on the pick ‘n roll as Calderon (or obviously Nash), thus slowing the progression of JoVal, is to me a very low risk. JoVal will have to earn his minutes just like everyone else, and one shouldn’t expect the Raptors to be looking at him as option 1 or 2 in the early going. You hear the term gelling a lot (often as excuses by apologist media members – remember Hedo?), but this is a situation where that actually applies. You have a guy coming fresh into North America, a new point guard, a rookie sharp shooter, and likely a departing Calderon who everyone is used to playing with. It goes without saying that training camp will be critically important next season.

Casey on Lowry:

He’s a hell of a competitor. He’s their heart and soul and spirit of their team and I love the way he plays

Lowry thinking he’s good enough to be a “foundation” guy and the beef with the Rockets:

It has nothing to do with Goran. I’m not happy with the way coaches handled things. If management wants to do something to keep Goran, I think I’ll have to be moved. I think I’m still a foundation guy. You can build around me. If I’m not here, that’s welcomed. If I’m here, I guess that’s welcome, too.

How his personality and play fits on the team is only left to speculation. It would be expected of him to play two-man games with Bargnani, and being cognizant of Ross as a shooter and DeRozan as a slasher, while at the same time using his own offensive threat as a weapon. Offensively, I’d say top priority would be to set him up comfortably with Bargnani, who is often the originator of the offense. Picking out shooters to keep the floor spaced is going to be critical, especially now that JoVal will be manning the painted area, where having less clutter of defensive players swiping the ball from you greatly helps. Maybe some video analysis is in order here.

Let’s look at the likely depth chart:

PG: Lowry, Bayless
SG: DeRozan, Ross
SF: Fields, J. Johnson, Kleiza
PF: Bargnani, A. Johnson, Davis, Acy
C: JoVal

Of course, this is without taking into account the rumblings that are already starting regarding Calderon, DeRozan, and Davis.

No matter where you slot Kleiza (PF or SF), it’s not hard to tell where the log jam is. Having Amir Johnson and Ed Davis on the roster seems redundant, the Raptors need to pick one and I’d go with Johnson. The Raptors should not entertain the idea of having either of them slot over to center, even if it’s for limited minutes. That is a bad idea. I’m not advocating bringing back Magloire, and have reservations about guys like Robin Lopez, who might be on other teams’ radar. The free-agent center crop this summer isn’t very strong, so expectations here need to remain in check. Personally, I would target someone like Zaza Pachulia, who will only add to the interior grit of this team. He’s not perhaps as mobile as a Casey center operating in the zone needs to be, but he sure puts the bang in banger. Hey, if you hate a guy when he’s playing against you, you know you want him on your team.

A little later in the day we have an update on what Jonas has been upto.