I’m getting that feeling that the Raptors are going to be in contention, or making a move, to land just about anyone of value who’s on the market this summer (not free agents, strictly on the trade front). Oooohhh, Ujiri has a blank slate because he doesn’t have an emotional attachment to anyone on the roster. Ooooohhh, this team will be made in Masai’s image, so that means less of what we have, and more of what made Denver so great. Oooooohhhh, Ujiri is going to stir the pot, mix a mystical potion and rebuild this team stat; 3 moves till check-mate.
The reality is that this team didn’t have a draft pick this season (for the record, I don’t value anyone who got drafted 12+ more than Lowry), there is no cap flexibility, and Bargnani’s value is less than it’s ever been (or so it seems). So with the rumours that they are in the lead with Orlando for the Bledsoe sweepstakes, you have to expect a franchise altering move. The only way the Raptors can be in the conversation for players of the calibre of Eric Bledsoe is to dangle DeRozan, all the while taking back filler to make the salaries work.
Been playing with trade machine, and have two scenarios that work:
Raptors do it because they get Bledsoe, obviously, and Butler’s contract comes off the books. The Raptors get deep at the point, Ross gets more minutes, Butler is a legit backup to Gay and comes off the books at the end of the year (there isn’t a great deal of savings because most of Butler’s expiring will go to paying Bledsoe his com’upins). The Clippers get a young, starting calibre shooting guard to pair with Paul in the backcourt.
The above reasons, plus the Raptors get defensive minded (more-so than Bargnani, anyways…) center who can run the floor and camp out in the paint. The Clippers get a stretch big who Paul can play pick-and-pop with, who also doesn’t take up space in the paint where Griffin likes to operate. The change in scenery and Doc Rivers whispering/shouting in his ear might make a new man of Bargnani.
Scenario 2 might need to be sweetened with a 2nd rounder and some cash since Bargnani has more years on his deal than Jordan. but they aren’t terrible moves as far as the Clippers are concerned (and if the Nets were able to get Garnett and Pierce for Humphries, Wallace and Brooks, this is a much better haul IMHO). They get an elite athletic wing, who can play outside-in, and are able to stretch the floor with a big giving Griffin more room to operate in the paint. Guys like Odom and Barnes can pick up the slack with rebounding, and you hope coaching can make up the difference in the gap between expectations and reality when it comes to Bargnani as an NBA basketball player.
For the Raptors, this poses a few interesting questions:
- You have to assume that Bledsoe gets upped. What does that mean for Lowry? Does he get re-upped as well? Can they co-exist? Does Lowry get traded?
- Who would want to see a backcourt of Bledsoe and Lowry get 20+ minutes a night?
- Is Ross ready to step up into big time minutes for a 2nd year player who had an up and down rookie season?
Put me in the supportive camp for making this move. It gives the Raptors options, assets, and expiring contracts; if worse comes to worst, this is a lateral move that doesn’t have long term implications. In fact, it cleans itself up and clears cap space in exactly 12 months. If they can swap Bargnani for Jordan in the process, well, it makes it that much sweeter and makes Masai’s first move as a the GM a home run.