Watching the Raptors the past couple of games it seems that they are a better defensive unit and have a better flow both offensively and defensively with a nine man rotation where Belinelli is getting the minority of minutes off the bench when playing along Johnson, Banks, and Weems.
I am convinced that the Raptors are a better team with the ball out of Calderon’s hands when he plays. During games he tends to dominate the dribble which does not help all other players get in the flow of the game. Both Torkoglu and Bargnani need the ball in their hands to get into the game.
Jarrett Jack passes the ball to the high post or top of the key as soon as he crosses mid-court which enables the rest of the team to touch the ball and feel more “involved” in the offence earlier in the shot-clock. Both Banks and Jack are much better on-ball defenders than Calderon is or will ever be. Both are willing to sacrifice their body because they are not always concerned about injuries.
I loved the fact that BC signed him to a long term contract because he felt that he was going to be the Raptor’s PG of the future. Calderon is a great backup point guard that would excel in a team where he backs up another starting PG that is injury prone or is of equal quality. That team in no longer the Raptors. I like the combo of Jack and Banks much better that Calderon and Jack simply because I do not think that they play well together.
Another topic I would like to discuss is the need for a high scoring “sixth man” off the bench to supplement the rotation of Weems, Banks and Johnson. Right now Belinelli is not it. Is he ever going to be it? Not sure. One of the things discussed in the media when he was acquired from Golden State was the fact that he was not given a chance to prove what he is worth under Don Nelson. He has been given the chance under Triano but has not taken advantage of it. He is intense and plays hard but does not have a consistent scoring punch and his defense is suspect at times. Not sure if he is injured or something else is affecting his play but if the Raptors are going to make any noise in the East they need a better sixth man.
In order to acquire this type of player you would have to part with someone like Calderon to make it happen. The one thought that stayed in my mind when I start surveying potential trading partners is ability to score on consistent basis and length of contract. The one player that came up who fills this profile was Larry Hughes who is currently warming the NYKs bench……
I know many of you will say Calderon for Hughes? Are you crazy? Well not really. Here is the thought process behind it:
Hughes is on his final year of his 13 million contract and if BC were to trade Calderon and Evans for him the financials would work. This would instantly give us cap relief at the end of the year to resign Bosh and bring another quality player for the mid level exception.
Hughes will be motivated to produce in whatever role he has with the Raptors and keep in mind that he helped the Cavaliers and LeBron during their run to the NBA finals.
The third and most important factor in all this is even if the Larry Hughes experiment did not work (he is injury prone as well) the current rotation has enough chemistry to finish the year as the #5 team in the East which will probably be around the .500 mark.
So it’s a low risk move that could result in a strong Raptor finish along with some noise in the Playoffs if the right matchup is there. Colangelo gets rid of a contract or two that could keep him out of this coming summer’s free agency frenzy.