OK, how do I make this interesting. How about we swing it this way: Does signing John Lucas open the door for a Jose trade? No. Well, maybe, but nobody can be bothered to look into this any further than the Raptors signing a third string point guard as insurance to injury. Lucas is the son of John Lucas the coach, who also had a brief stint as a consultant with the Raptors working with T.J Ford.
Lucas the point guard had a cup of coffee with Houston after being drafted in 2005, before leaving for Europe and the Italian league. Last year in Chicago he backed up Derrick Rose (who doesn’t leave many minutes for his backups), and now he’s in Toronto on undisclosed terms. The Raptors had to wait until James Johnson’s $2.8M were cleared in the Sacramento trade before making this signing, so I’ll presume that it’s around the same money (Update: It’s apparently $1.5M).
What this signing does is give Casey another shooting option as Lucas is a career 39% three-point sniper. You can now see how this team is shaping up to be – agile defensively on the perimeter, and mobile big men who can cover ground in the middle, with Jonas obviously a big part of that. The Raptors now have some options in terms of how they want to play. There’s always a pick ‘n roll game with Valanciunas, you can go through Bargnani isolations, Lowry’s burst at the point will always present some options, DeRozan should be a bigger threat as an off-the-ball player and initiator, and supplying the outside artillery are Ross, Fields, Calderon, and Lucas. It’s not exactly high-caliber offensive, but at least there’s a method to the madness and something that resembles a plan.
Another positive here is that the Raptors aren’t burgeoned with massive unreasonable contracts. Given the money that’s been thrown around at Omer Asik and Jeremy Lin, Amir Johnson’s got quite a reasonable deal that extends to 2014/15; Kleiza has a player option of $4.6M the year after next, but that can be amnestied after he helps Jonas settle in, Calderon has value and is expiring, which means that Andrea Bargnani’s $33M owed over three years is the only major contract. The Raptors have a year to see what they want to do with DeRozan: if it works out, great, if not, then we hopefully have Ross who is at least physically a comparable player.
The poison pill signing of Fields is the only questionable move of the summer, largely because it was done to lure Nash and is now being framed as a strategy. I can swallow that, though, all he has to do is return to his rookie-year form. Besides that, the summer has been pretty much as one would have hoped. The biggest thorn for me is winning those meaningless games, because if Harrison Barnes proves the doubters wrong, I’m going to hate my life. Otherwise, the Raptors have addressed the point guard position (which this site has been begging them to address for years now), they’ve added cheap outside shooting, and have made measures to improve defensively.
As much as we all hope for home runs in the draft and free-agency, considering the realities of being the Toronto Raptors and the mess that Colangelo has put this franchise in, he’s done a commendable job of taking the right steps forward. He’s still in the hole big time for his time in Toronto, but at least he’s learning and finally doing something right. Maybe it’s Stefanski’s influence or maybe it’s Casey push, probably a bit of both with a touch of on-the-job training.