Scanning the scene

Colangelo's labeled the Raptors as "buyers" this trade deadline but what exactly he's buying is anybody's guess. It could be a tweak for salary cap reasons or it could be a mini-overhaul of a position, the rumour mill has us interested in Josh Howard, a player that was mentioned last year around this time. You…

Colangelo’s labeled the Raptors as “buyers” this trade deadline but what exactly he’s buying is anybody’s guess. It could be a tweak for salary cap reasons or it could be a mini-overhaul of a position, the rumour mill has us interested in Josh Howard, a player that was mentioned last year around this time. You have to believe that where there’s smoke there’s fire which means Colangelo is at least open to the possibility of a shake-up as long as it makes sense. The 2/3 positions have given us minimal point production this year (21st, 22nd in the league) as Turkoglu has failed to get himself going and DeRozan and Belinelli struggle with consistency. Is this reason enough to address the wing spot?

We’ve come this far without any significant production from our main off-season signing and banking on him to find his game and carry his weight could be too much to risk for Colangelo, especially if it threatens another first-round exit. The options at SF remain extremely thin with Antoine Wright second in the depth chart. Making a move for a high-caliber player such as Caron Butler or Josh Howard (although he has regressed) would involve parting with a strength, likely Jose Calderon. A move like that would be lateral at best because you’re giving up someone who has proven to work well within the offense for another X-Factor that’ll require time to gel. Do we really want to go that route again?

Unless a team is willing to take on Turkoglu in return, there’s no reason to add another expensive scorer at the position by giving up a great locker-room guy like Jose Calderon. There is one exception: Andre Iguodala. I consider him to be in a different tier than Howard or Butler who is a good scorer but a suspect defender. Iguodala is locked into a $13.5M deal till 2012-13 with a player option the following year. Giving up on Jose Calderon here is a no-brainer as we would’ve acquired the perfect complement to Bosh. Iguodala would take over starting SG duties with DeRozan backing him up and Belinelli sharing ball-handling duties. In fact, this trade works with or without Johnson and we could throw in a pick to sweeten the pot. With Evans coming back from injury, there is a contingency plan to fill the void left by Johnson and we get a ball-handler in Ivey.

Targeting Iguodala, 26, is more viable than going after Howard or Butler who are both 29. If we’re thinking of finally partnering Bosh up with an All-Star caliber player, having similar career-windows is a big bonus. However, making a play for Iguodala will be tough as the Suns have reportedly offered Stoudemire in exchange for him and Dalembert. There’s also Houston which is offering Tracy McGrady’s expiring contract for the same package. As a Raptor fan you have to wonder how great it would be right now to have Jermaine O’Neal and his $23M expiring contract around. Oh, to think about it.

Josh Howard is the type of player that’ll take this team nowhere. He’s a good scorer but he’s far from the impact player that we would need and I’d be reluctant to break up our PG-combo just for him. There’s also little reason for Dallas to be interested in Jose Calderon since they already have Jason Kidd locked in till the 2011-12 season. Kidd’s playing 36mpg which doesn’t leave much ball-handling for Jose to do. The Mavericks boast Jason Terry as their SG which makes me doubt they’ll play Calderon over him; with Jose Barea doing a good job of backing up Kidd, the Mavericks (5th best in the league in protecting the ball) have no incentive of altering their PG setup. Make no mistake, the Mavericks want Bosh and nothing else, that’s not going to happen. Howard does have a team-option for next year so trading for him could mean cap relief to sign a free-agent as early as this summer.

Caron Butler has had an off year. His scoring average has dipped by 4 points, his assists have been halved at 2.2 and his FG% and 3P% have taken a dive. This could be a case where Washington wants to clean the house up a little and would be willing to sell players at lower values. Butler’s play certainly hasn’t helped the sale and whoever acquires him will know that this year is an anomaly and not the norm. Butler’s on the hook for $10M till 2010-11 and is in desperate need for a change of scenery. How he might fit in with the Raptors is anybody’s guess, but I just don’t see it happening at the SG as that’s a position he just hasn’t played in Washington. As I already said, Hedo would need to go.

Kevin Martin’s name was being bounced around last month and that’s because Tyreke Evans and him can’t seem to play together and the Kings are 2-13 in games the two have started. Sacramento is doing a proper rebuild and is looking for financial relief (on the hook for $12M per till 2012/13) more than talent, and that’s something we can’t provide, nor would we want to because Kevin Martin is an overpaid one-dimensional player that will always start for a losing team.

Other than the big names, there are options like Mike Miller and Troy Murphy, both playing with teams well out of the playoff race. There’s an element of redundancy with acquiring Troy Murphy as we’ve already got Andrea Bargnani, but the rebounding and three-point shooting he would provide as part of the second unit is attractive. Miller’s a legitimate 40% shooter but we’ve already got an equally good but less consistent model in Belinelli. To bolster the second unit we could also look at Marcin Gortat in Orlando who isn’t happy with his playing time, not sure if we would offer more than 13 minutes but he would provide some good screens and consistent rebounding. The contract is a mess, though, approximately $7M till 2013-14. Here are a couple of creative ways of getting Biedrins without giving up part of our core.

Leaving talent and salary alone for a bit, the issue with this team continues to be lack of leadership, discipline and consistent effort. I don’t know how much of that Reggie Evans will solve, but a shrewd pickup would be someone who could keep this team in check. A verbal veteran that’s a bit of a psychopath, can’t really think of anyone. The need for defense is there but it would have to be an almost perfect move for one player to make a noticeable difference in that area (mind you that we are top 12 in defense for the last 25 games). Defensively, we are what we are. Other than effort there is no tweak that we can make which will fix our defensive woes, we have to overcome that problem by playing solid team defense instead of solely relying on man-coverage, something we’ve done a good job of late.

We’re 0-3 against the C**tics, 1-3 against the Magic and 0-2 against the Hawks. The team as it is would have trouble in a matchup against any of those teams and Colangelo will take that into account. If the goal is to rack up regular season wins, the current team can do that to the satisfaction of the fan base, if the goal is to excel in the playoffs, we will obviously fall short. That’s the reason I feel that a move is coming.