Williams provides the Raptors some extra backcourt depth in case either Kyle Lowry or Greivis Vasquez leaves in free agency. That was not the primary motivator for the Raptors behind the trade — they are simply trying to use Salmons’ unique contract to obtain an extra asset, or in this case, two. Williams is not a classic point guard, in the way Lowry and Vasquez are. However, he could run the offence in a pinch, and gives the Raptors a little bit more flexibility should one of Lowry, an unrestricted free agent, or Vasquez, for whom the Raptors can match any offer, leave the team.
Once the Williams-Salmons trade is finalized, the Raptors will have around $40 million in committed salaries. Should they exercise Amir Johnson’s $7 million team option, that figure will rise to $47 million—still a full $16 million shy of the projected salary cap. That’s where things get a bit tricky. It’s certainly possible that a rival team in need of backcourt depth will trump the $3.2 million qualifying offer currently on the table for Greivis Vasquez, who emerged as a key part of Toronto’s rotation despite his ostensible role as Lowry’s primary backup.
Only $1 million U.S. of Salmons’ salary is guaranteed, while Williams has one year and $5.45 million remaining. Atlanta now has considerable money to spend to enhance its roster, while Toronto could still stay under the luxury tax, even if free agents Kyle Lowry, Patrick Patterson and Greivis Vasquez are retained, though spending the mid-level exception as well likely would not be possible. With Williams in the picture though, Vasquez might become a casualty, if Lowry is convinced to stay, even though Vasquez is a far more traditional point guard.
But the possibility does exist that the top two point guards from a year ago could be gone (although I think it would kill Greivis to leave) and the prudent thing to do is find a way to protect yourself. Williams may not be all that great but he is an NBA veteran and that has to be a bit soothing at the very least as the Raptors go into a very important off-season stretch. I guess you could also see Williams as, perhaps, an asset to be flipped if things work out the way some want and both Lowry and Vasquez come back. His contract is expiring, he does have some game left and perhaps once the zaniness of the first 10 days of free agency ends, there’d be a need for him somewhere in the league. I don’t know about Bebe, he is interesting young big and you can’t have too many of them but there are buyout issues with Estudiantes and he fits perfectly with what Masai’s long-stated intentions are, gathering bits for the future and future growth. I do think Masai needs some kind of credit for getting this deal done; yes, it helps the Hawks clear some cap room and might allow them to pursue a top-end free agent but the Raptors got some useable bits for someone who wasn’t going to be here anyway.
It’s not a perfect trade, as Williams could be a bust and Nogueira, who apparently has a decent-sized buyout from his Spanish team, may not be over for another season. But there’s not much downside here for the Dinos. Williams only has a year left on his deal so it’s a small rental if he doesn’t perform like his 2010-2012 self, and it enable the Raps to keep their mid-level exception in all likelihood. (We’ll see what happens with Lowry, Patterson, Vasquez etc.) It’s a pretty solid move for the Hawks too. While I’m surprised they threw Nogueira into the deal, they can now waive Salmons so that they’d only be on the hook for $1M of his $7M salary. (Sidebar, WHY IS JOHN SALMONS BEING PAID $7 MILLION DOLLARS FOR THIS UPCOMING SEASON???!!) That gives them another piece of cap room and it looks like they’ll have enough to go after a big-name free agent if they so desire. Best of all though… BEBE AND BRUNO.
Caboclo also comes with the kind of work ethic coaches drool over. Consider he arrived in Toronto mid afternoon Friday and following some meet and greets within the organization and a dinner he was back in his hotel by about 10:30. The excitement of the night before kept him up until 4 a.m, but at about 11 p.m. Friday night he decided he needed to get a little sweat on so he and Resende headed over to Raptors practice gym to get up some shots. According to Resende, the novelty of having a practice gym available to him was something that was just too good to pass up regardless of the time of night. “He hasn’t been practicing for like the last couple of days, or three days. So he said, ‘I need to get the feeling for the gym and I need to get the rust off’, and then he decided to come (Friday) night,” Resende said.
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