With the 2013 offseason in full swing, the Toronto Raptors are at an interesting crossroads.

New general manager Masai Ujiri has replaced Bryan Colangelo. Consequently, the former Denver Nuggets headman inherited Colangelo’s roster and coaching staff.

It stood to reason he might want to make some changes on both fronts. And boy did he. The new headman in Toronto reportedly traded away Andrea Bargnani to the New York Knicks in exchange for Marcus Camby, Quentin Richardson, Steve Novak, a first round pick and two second round picks.

The transaction slightly alters Toronto’s player salary structure.

The Raptors have numerous players signed to big money contracts. For instance, Rudy Gay will make $17.8 million in 2013-14 and DeMar DeRozan will make $9.5 million during that same season.

Those two cap figures are part of the reason the Raptors are going to be over the salary cap in 2013-14 based on their player salaries. Potentially, Ujiri could dispose of Kyle Lowry’s non-guaranteed contract for 2013-14.

Toronto could have stood pat and comfortably headed into the next season with the same roster but management clearly had other ideas in mind.

The biggest obstacle that stood in the way of the Raptors maintaining the status quo: The punitive nature of the tax penalties going into 2013-14.

In addition, one had to question the franchise’s willingness to pay such hefty sums for a team that might miss the postseason once again. Indeed, with Gay in a Raptors uniform, Toronto was a .500 team in 2012-13 (oddly enough, when projected over a full 82-game schedule, that would have gotten the Raps into the postseason dance).

If we look a little towards the future, the Raptors should have a bit of cap room in the 2014 offseason.

Potentially, the Raptors can add a solid player or perhaps two rotation guys when the calendar flips over to July 2014. But between now and then, Toronto will have to work through trades if they are going to bring in talent. Also, if they wish to additionally reduce payroll, swapping players is an option but so is using the amnesty provision.

Our very own Garrett Hinchey did a good job of chronicling the challenges involved with using it on one of the players on the team. Its use will however trim the bill and help secure cap space.

It’s worth noting that the front office has decisions as far as the direction to take moving forward.

As Zach Lowe pointed out at Grantland, teams with poor records in 2012-13 might want to be bad in 2013-14 with scouts projecting a loaded 2014 NBA Draft. Then again, the new general manager might have other things in mind.

Indeed, it’s entirely possible that Ujiri might want to construct a playoff team. If such is the case, he will have to make a few moves to accomplish this. Again, he has no allegiances as far as players are concerned. Thus, everyone could potentially be on the trading block.

The domino most were expecting to fall was Bargnani and he has been jettisoned. His production simply did not match his salary and consequently he was the most obvious player Raptors fans wanted gone.

For those wondering if the Raps could have obtained more for Bargs, he was not an attractive asset. Bargnani is a stretch big man that does not stretch the floor. Have a look at his spot up 3-point percentages in his most recent seasons per Synergy Sports:

Season Spot-up 3PT FG%
2010-11 .336
2011-12 .289
2012-13 .306

Just so we’re clear, spot up jumpers are typically open ones. A stretch big making less than a third of his open treys is not a great shooter at all. For the sake of context, Ryan Anderson and Dirk Nowitzki — big guys that actually stretch the floor — converted north of 38 percent of their spot up shots from long-range in 2012-13.

Now that Bargnani is gone, Toronto must look at other moves if they wish to acquire talent.

The Philadelphia 76ers traded Jrue Holiday to the New Orleans Pelicans for Nerlens Noel. The swap is a direct indication that Philly is comfortable with being bad.

This allows them to clear up some cap space, develop younger players and acquire future players via the draft. The 76ers are going to tank, but perhaps they could use a veteran big man to assist in mentoring Noel.

Toronto can opt for a high risk and high reward transaction: a sign-and-trade for the services of Andrew Bynum.

The collective bargaining agreement states that a team cannot receive a player in a sign-and-trade if by the conclusion of the transaction they are above the tap apron ($4 million over the tax level). The Raptors are currently over the salary cap, but are not yet as of yet projected to be a luxury tax team.

Thus, swapping Camby and filler for Bynum in a sign-and-trade works if his contract is in the $7 million per year range. Bynum’s deal would be a two-year contract with a team option for the second season. Toronto could acquire him in this move within the confines of the CBA. Whether or not Bynum’s injury has lowered his value that far is unlikely, but other assets could be added to make the math work.

If Bynum can suit up for north of 50 games, the Raptors are quite possibly a playoff team. If he misses most of the season, Toronto can change course and tank midway through the season and end up with a lottery pick.

The Bargnani transaction coupled with Toronto’s reported interest in Eric Bledsoe suggest Ujiri is looking to make deals and change the roster. In the event the Raps pull off the rumored Bledsoe swap, it changes the team’s direction. There is potential for salary cap relief depending on whom the Raps would take back from the Los Angeles Clippers.

No matter how we look at things, it certainly seems as though the time for the Raptors to improve their outlook is now. Raptors fans might be happy to know that Ujiri is clearly aware of this.

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  • Wiley

    No, we do not want Andrew Bynum.

  • Amigo

    Still on Bargnani. Move on. Just blow this mess and tank as hard as you can. MU will get 3 years free of boos at just 9 milion, we get Wiggins and a ton of rookies. Ross Val Wiggins, Life is Beautiful

    Novak is the next Kapono

    • Moe

      Its not that simple, we can’t just tank and get wiggins… Others are tanking too and this is a lottery format.

      • Nothing is simple in the NBA. There are never any guarantees whatever your strategy. The good thing about this coming draft is you don’t need the number one pick for a chance at an elite player. It’s expected to be the most loaded draft since 2003.

    • NyAlesund

      How can we get Wiggins? The draft is a big gamble. You can tank since the first game and finish like the Bobcats!!!

      Also, we do not play the post season since 2007 and I think that is the time to play a PO series.

  • Rick

    Good move with bargnani! But if he trades dd that’s just stupid! If he’s gonna tank to get wiggins that’s just stupid because its a gamble!!!!! If they’re complaining about money now with dd and gay then were never gonna win a title. You need more than 2 allstars

  • arsenalist

    This: http://memedad.com/memes/9191.jpg

    I suppose the next couple moves will tell us what Ujiri is planning here. Also surprised that Lowry’s contract hasn’t been dealt with yet. Looking at the PG he had in Denver, I’d question whether Lowry is the type of PG that Ujiri would covet.

    Other than Valanciunas and Johnson, everyone is on the block and at this point, I’m having a really difficult time figuring out whether Ujiri is aiming for the 2014 draft, or feels he has enough to make a respectable run in 2013-14.

    • Duncan

      i think we could do ok in the playoffs, but you are right. his lack of activity with certain players has me confused as well

  • aaron.in.toronto

    Wow are you actually suggesting that the Toronto Raptors NBA franchise trade for Bynum after we just got rid of Bargnani that is maybe the last available player that i would take.

    In fact there is no scenario that would make me take Bynum, that might be the worst idea i have ever seen on this site. (…and that is saying something…)

    On second thought maybe this is the most evil geniusy thing ever! That move would almost lock in that the Raptors would have the worst record in the NBA, giving us the best chance at Wiggins.

    Nicely done, sir! searching for sure things in this league is beyond difficult, and you just found one.


  • lilmamba_

    finally, i’ve been wanting to read an article like this for the last seven years. well writen my friend, well writen

  • vino

    The more I read similar ideas about our future… the more
    depressing they become in context to latest moves by our new GM. No, we do not
    need Bynum! As a matter of fact, we do not need to add anybody with $5+ million
    per or more (unless he is a stud, which is not happening) at this point. I
    mean, just look around at what’s going on – AK 47 opts out of guaranteed $10
    mil for the next season, Ellis opts out of $11 mil for the next season and
    others… is that the new “competitive” CBA they fought for?! The matter of fact
    is that there will always be GMs who will overpay for limited talent/potential.
    That would have been a BC move. No more!!!

    I have not voiced my opinion on tanking yet, but here it is –
    yes, go tank next year… but do it properly –trade Gay for a high pick, ala
    Holiday trade (even without a prospect coming back) – yes, a top 5 protected
    from a team like Detroit/Charlotte is awesome (plus a short bad contract)! If
    teams like the Pistons, Cavs, Bobcats/Hornets want to invest in semi-talented players
    – good for us! If Uriji can convince someone to trade such pick for Gay instead
    of signing a free agent SF (AK47, Iggy, J.Smith) for roughly the same amount –
    go do it! If they are that stupid – take advantage! Sign young, cheap players –
    similar to what Houston has done recently… to find a guy, who could emerge for
    the future, someone like Chandler Parsons; see what you can get for Lowry and
    DD; gamble (cheap, short – non guaranteed 2-3 years deal) on a player like Oden
    (maybe) or offer something reasonable to a young guy like Mozgov… Flip what you
    can for picks (except JV) with a hope to package 2, 3 picks to move up next
    year… if not to #1, then to # 2-5, if we fail in this tank mission. Maybe
    package 2 first rounder picks with our own pick (after tanking) to move up. By
    the way… how hard is it really to lose as many games as possible?! Maybe a bit
    harder when other multiple teams are trying to achieve the same result; but not
    that hard! And yes, 25% chance is an awesome chance! Enough has been said here
    about tanking, and I certainly don’t want to divert this thread into another M1-A1
    Abrams… just got a bit frustrated with the Bynum idea (yeah, $7 mil per, right…
    !) Here is one of the best recent
    articles on why we should tank:


    Blows my mind when people here post their preferred rotations
    for the next season. Open your eyes – NO MORE 7-11!!!

  • Wiggins2014

    Raptors have to TANK!!!!! Wiggins is the TRUTH!

    • Duncan

      but no chance on getting him

      • None? The NBA lottery must work differently than I thought.

  • rapierraptor

    Hansbrough is now an unrestricted FA. I like his toughness off the bench.

    • CJT

      He is a goon. I don’t think he meets the players of high character requirment that we seem to demand of our players. Pass.

  • Age

    Raptors should persue brandon jennings with jennings derozan gay is a core power 3 and potential to be top 5-6 in the east with all do respect to miami brooklyn indiana new york and chicago. also amir johnson is a fighter but if they can land a scoring big man they will be set amir johnson terrence ross will be key off the bench

    • Ack! Jennings is a career sub-40% shooter, a horrible decision-maker (probably not something you want from your PG) and makes Lowry look like a consistent defender. Adding him to a starting unit of Gay and DeRozan would be begging for another trip to the lottery. Add Jennings to the long list of player Raptor fans inexplicably coveted because they had decent stats on the surface but had major flaws in their games and poor advance stats. like Al Jefferson, Monta Ellis, Rodney Stuckey, among others.

      I’m not a big fan of Lowry, but at the same price, I’d take him over Jennings. At twice the price, which is probably what Jennings will cost, it’s a no-brainer.