According to Marc Stein of ESPN, the Toronto Raptors are very close to signing Tyler Hansbrough. Normally I’d post this as a put-back rumor but the details filtering in seem to be of the reliable and less-speculative nature.

 

You may know Hansbrough from one of several ways:

*One of the top college basketball players of all time.
*Coming close to blows with Jonas Valanciunas.
*Being extremely annoying at the NBA level.

With that last point said, Hansbrough seems like the ultimate “hate to play against him, love to have him” kind of guy, and I think Pacers fans and Tar Heels fans would attest to that.

The forums already have a discussion going, and Zarar had previously identified him as an extreme buy-low candidate.

In basketball terms, Hansbrough is a very capable backup power forward who became available because the Indiana Pacers rescinded his qualifying offer. That $4,135,391 qualifying offer would have allowed the Pacers to match any offer for him as an RFA, but with their re-signing of David West and being a team that doesn’t spend recklessly, they perhaps didn’t want to risk him accepting it and being on the cap at that hit.

Enter the Raptors, who can sign him to any terms they like as an unrestricted free agent without the worry of a team matching. While some may scoff at it because his offer was rescinded, the two teams are in very different circumstances. The Raptors have just Steve Novak, Quincy Acy and Aaron Gray coming off the bench as bigs, so additional depth there was a necessity.

The current depth chart would look something like this:
PF: Johnson, Hansbrough, Novak (also a three), Acy
C: Valanciunas, Gray (and perhaps but probably not Camby)

When you consider that Hansbrough is also capable of backing up the five in a pinch, he could be a fine asset off the bench. I have seen some suggest on twitter that what he brings is a bit redundant, but he’s far more versatile than Gray and far more polished than Acy, and overall the best of the three.

But what about the cost? The Raptors, you may be aware, have just their exceptions to play with this offseason as a cap team. I doubt Hansbrough would command the mid level exception, which is more than his qualifying offer was, but he may be looking for more than the bi-annual exception which starts at $1.96M this year. It’s possible his salary comes in somewhere in between, which would suck in theory- it would then count as a chunk of the MLE and render the Raptors unable to use it. However, if they’ve filled the backup four spot, the depth at other positions may be something they’re looking to fill via minimum contracts and not a big splash MLE signing.

PG: Lowry, Stone
SG: DeRozan, Ross, Richardson
SF: Gay, Fields, Novak (also a four)

The Raptors now have 14 players under contract (13 if you exclude Camby). They either have their full mid-level and minimum exceptions to fill the roster out OR a part of their MLE and the full bi-annual exception. You’d assume they want another point guard and then possibly another swingman who can space the floor.

But that’s that, and we’re talking about Psycho T.

Hansbrough is a hustle player, through and through, a guy who defends actively and hits the glass while driving opposing players nuts. He can’t score but he actually draws a lot of fouls because he works so damn hard and can get to the rim, so he’s not without offensive value. He’s also improved over his four years in the league, posting a career-high rebound rate this season with a near-career high true shooting percentage. If you believe in such things, his Win Shares on both ends of the floor reached career highs on a per-48 basis.

There’s a definite role for guys like Hansbrough, and I’m glad to have him on the Raptors. He might come off like a tool…

…but as mentioned, he comes off like a basketball version of Darcy Tucker, a love-hate player who the white-collar-but-we-want-to-be-blue-collar Toronto fans will embrace the first time he knocks an opposing star on his ass. Once the terms of the deal are confirmed, this post will be updated with the relative figures. Perhaps it’s not journalistically correct to write the post as if it’s a done deal, but it’s Stein and I’m confident only the figures and term are left to come in, not a last-minute change of heart…because Hansbrough doesn’t have one.

UPDATE: Holly MacKenzie is reporting it’s a multi-year deal, which makes me think this definitely won’t be for the bi-annual exception.

A one year value-raising deal could have been had for less than $2M, but with a multi-uear deal on the table this one will probably be closer to half of the MLE (so, think north of $2.5M but probably not much further). That’s a fair price for a guy of Hansbrough’s skill level, and if the Raptors had swung and missed on their other MLE targets, I think it’s more than a “spending it to spend it” move. Hansbrough can help, and as much as I’ll struggle to root for him, this is a very low-risk deal.

UPDATE: It’s official, per Mark Spears of Yahoo:

Doug Smith said it’s a two year deal but that doesn’t seem right given other chatter. I’d still expect something north of $2.5M but if it’s just two years Hansbrough likely would have commanded closer to $3.5M. It’s term over dollars a lot of the time for players, so a two-year deal is going to be more expensive in annual value terms.