In what is sure to be a heated summertime debate the Raptors may be faced with a choice that no man should have to make: a choice between John Lucas and Sebastian Telfair. The latter is an unrestricted free-agent while the former has one year left on his deal, and early speculation is that Bryan Colangelo, in a bold and rambunctious move, may bring both guards back, giving the Raptors lethal depth at the point guard position.

While the younger Telfair has seen three fewer springs, it is the older and mayhaps wiser Lucas that boasts a team-low 7.0 TOV%. Although the relevance of that statistic is hotly debated, NBA experts almost unanimously agree that is indeed a statistic and therefore carries some value. Lucas had a pre-season which, if there was a Hall of Fame for pre-season performances, would surely make him a first-ballot entry. He struggled to start the season and continued struggling in December. And also in January, but as soon as February hit, that is when the real John Lucas emerged and shot a blinding 51% for the month. His value as a game-winner was also clear to the naked eye as he supplied valuable ammunition at Indiana and New York in the midst of the Raptors brief but legendary play for the playoffs.

Lucas may have his detractors, like those who value passing and prefer point guards being less prone to the over-dribble, yet even they are forced to concede that he is capable enough to carve out a space on an NBA roster. The dilemma facing the Raptors may be that they already have Kyle Lowry as a starter, a player who much like Lucas, prefers the scoring role rather than the passing. Lowry has undoubtedly made some strides this season as a playmaker, especially later in the campaign, but it is his similarity to Lucas in being a scoring guard that may result in Lucas being considered surplus to requirements. This is where Telfair can eek into the picture.

Now that the nasty rumor about Telfair’s last name being DNPCD has been put to rest, it is possible that the youngish (27) point guard may be able to make one final push in the NBA. After all, Steve Nash didn’t win his MVP till he was 30, so there is a chance. On a serious note, Telfair has shown little to warrant a contract from the Raptors and boasts an unspectacular 25% shooting rate when “at the rim”. On the positive end, he is young. Or at least, youngish. Did I mention that he’s young…ish?

Childish banter aside, here’s a comparison of the season that just passed. It may come down to three-point shooting, which the 26th ranked Raptors (34%) may value, and if that’s the case then Lucas has the edge: 38% to Telfair’s 35%. If it’s playmaking the Raptors desire, it’s Telfair who gets the nod with a 2.6 AST% over Lucas’ 1.7%. Defensively, Telfair is the better player, but he’s also more turnover-prone than Lucas. This is simply too close to call.

In the end it may come down to the Raptors having no draft picks, no cap space, and owning Telfair’s Bird rights, that results in them bringing back both guards in roles similar to the past season. With no bargaining chips on the trade market and having only minimum salaried free-agents to pick from, the Raptors will have to get creative in how they intend to contend for the eight seed next year, and one of the plays may be just to retain their point guard situation. This tandem is only a problem if they’re headlining the scoring off the bench, and if Terrence Ross and Landry Fields can carry that scoring, it may not be the worst thing in the world if Lucas comes back as the official backup instead of the third-stringer that he was the past year. As for Telfair, you always need a third point guard and the minimum might just even cut it with him.

The larger question being posed here is about just how Bryan Colangelo will improve this roster considering the financial shackles it’s in, and without having any significant trade chips. That is what makes this off-season so interesting.

The player, GM and coach season recaps start tomorrow.

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27 Responses to “John Lucas or Sebastian Telfair, Debate Rages On”

  1. Ben

    Lucas had a rough start, but post-calderon trade he showed good form and consistancy. Besides, Raps need all the shooters they can get.
    Wouldn’t mind both, but if I had to choose, I’d keep JL3.

    • Nilanka15

      Yeah, Lucas is pretty much worthless as a 3rd stringer. His decent stretch was after the Calderon trade when he was playing 20 mpg consistently.

      I’m still trying to figure out why we gave up a pick for Telfair. Is a 3rd string PG that important in a lost season?

      • DumbassKicker

        It’s protected top 36, and the lower of 2 picks they have, either their own or the Kings, which is liable to be in the 45th pick range. *yawn*

        From the playing time allotted, it’s obvious Telfair was picked up as much for a trial to see if he could be the #2 PG next year. He’s not, so that eliminates him in the search for that #2 this summer. Hohum.

        • Nilanka15

          You would think the more obvious play was knowing that Telfair stinks before acquiring him.

  2. PBJake

    JL3 brings more intangibles and personality to the game when he steps in. At the end of the day, Although the former may not necessarily beat him in stats, I get a bit more excited watching JL3’s swagger on the court than Telfair,
    On the other hand, Telfair’s distribution is needed more to feed our bigs and guards, none of whom are really creators.

    Overall, it seems like a wash with both players being better in different categories. I personally would go with Lucas simply because I think he’s a better 3pt shooter than he’s shown this season and can shoot around 40-42% given some consistent minutes next year. He also adds spirit to the team.

  3. Statement

    Is there anybody out there that’s better who the Raps can afford?

    I’d say Shaun Livingston but he can’t shoot the three.

    Actually, I really like Livingston as a backup cause he’s cheap and

    Just bring those two jobbers back and hope Lowry stays healthy. If not, coax Alvin Williams out of retirement.

  4. Statement

    If Telfair stays, he has to change his Bassy nickname.
    I suggest Assy, Gassy or Bast-bast

  5. Statement

    @Calgary Raps Fan:
    Why do you want to get a PF to supplant Amir in the starting lineup. Amir was the Raptors best player this year. He is worthy of starters minutes.
    I’m not sure how anybody can still consider Amir a backup at this point.

    • Velalakan Mano

      He’s a back-up on a good team but a starter on a bad team….the Raptors are somewhere in between…not good or bad, you never know who they’ll beat or lose to on any given day…THAT is not a good indication of a good team. The Raptors need a GO-TO STAR…Rudy Gay is a second option on most teams, a third option on really good teams….HOPEFULLY the Raps blow out the 2013/2014 season and lose horribly and get a chance to pick one of the top 5 coveted picks in the 2014 NBA draft because NO SUPERSTAR is coming to Toronto, even at max money. The Raps organization will bring both BC and Casey back, they both have one year remaining, and see if they can change it around…most likely not…remember, the Raps started winning when teams started shutting down and resting players….so in reality, their record should be as worse as last year. Plus, their are players on this team that jack up shots like their trying out for prospective suitors…these players wouldn’t be doing that on a good team, they would be reminded of what their role is….but the Raps are like a try-out team for players looking for a career. Miss the days when Oakley, VC, TMac, AD, Christie and the rest made up the Raps. This current team is made of walk-ons, Euros, average draft picks and over-paid players.

    • Nilanka15

      I think it’s for offensive balance. We don’t have a legit offensive threat in the post yet…someone to demand consistent double-teams. As much as I appreciate Amir, he’s an opportunist when it comes to his offense. Not someone you can design sets for.

      Having said that, if Amir remains the starter, I won’t be disappointed.

      • Statement

        Bottom line…..the team is much better with Amir on the court than off it. Therfore, he should play starters minutes.

      • Statement

        Tried to respond before, but didn’t go through.
        Bottom line….the team is much better with Amir on the floor than off of it. Therefore, he should play starter’s minutes.

  6. corey

    Neither is worth keeping. Throw both overboard… with Anderson. As for the team itself? No pick. No cap space. A roster with huge deficiencies. And… Status quo. Another season of Colangelo and Bargani. Barring a roster shake-up, I’m done with this team.

    • Tim W.

      I know there’s been some talk about Calderon coming back, but Colangelo knows there’s way too much danger of him taking over Lowry’s starting role again. Can you imagine how embarrassing that would be for Colangelo. He traded away a lottery pick for Lowry, and watching the guy you had all along take his starting spot for the second time.

  7. RapthoseLeafs

    A great discussion to have Arsenalist. At least people won’t be calling each other stupid on this one. Or whatever … … I hope.

    Anyways, I’m of the mind that Raptors have to find a true PG with decent skills – good defense, and good ballhandling. Scoring can be the achilles heel. For me, the PG position is the biggest “purchase” or contract amount (to be spent), that should happen in the off-season.

    Should Lowry go down for 5 – 10 games, I would be nauseated by the thought of having JL run the Offense for that period of time. In essence, we would be a “Lowry down for 10 games” away from kissing the play-offs goodbye. As such, obtaining a quality back-up – IMO – is the big move for the summer. I’d rather run with the current core, and focus on the Bench & this position. As to the core, that may or may not include Bargnani, but so be it. If the intention during the summer is to move AB, and that brings back contract “weight”, then I’d rather amnesty him.

    But I digress.

    If Lucas comes back, it should be as the 3rd string guy. If he’s our 2nd string, I will lose my mind. He has POOR skills at quarterbacking a team, let alone the 2nd unit, where they especially need that mentoring / leadership.


  8. Marnix Saynor

    I’d take Telfair in a heartbeat. He fits our style perfectly he’s a great defender, unselfish but quick and gets to the rim and runs the offense like a Calderon would PASS FIRST if we have scoring off the bench which we should in T Ross and Anderson he is the better option.

  9. Louvens Remy

    How about taking a run at Beno Udrih? He can play the 2 as well. He’s experienced. He’s ok at the 3. Pretty good passer. Great change of pace guard from Lowry, but can sometimes create his own shot. How about Jimmer Fredette off of Sacramento? We need 3 point shooting and he can come relatively cheap. He doesn’t bring the defense but he has a great attitude and who knows he may grow into something special if given the chance.

  10. Jake Richards

    I think the experience is definitely important. Lucas is a very professional, knows what he wants and where he wants to go, but Telfair skills and your youth have much weight ..


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