Butler, Gray, Forbes, Carter – Low Key Signings Suit Raptors Just Fine

James Johnson’s suddenly got some work to do.

Rasual Butler signed with the Raptors, there’s talk of Aaron Gray (backup center from NO) signing as well, and there’s the Forbes offersheet as well. Oh yeah, Anthony Carter too.

Super quick thoughts.

Butler – Defensive minded guy who is a career 36.1% shooter from three. Obviously, the franchise couldn’t afford to start the campaign with James Johnson as the lone option at the three, and they’re taking action to add some depth to the position without asking Kleiza to pretend to play it. It’s a stop-gap signing which should spread the floor out more without compromising defense (see Jason Kapono). As has been preached on this site for some time now, there is no reason for the Raptors to be signing anything close to an expensive player unless it’s a legitimate building block. Butler will likely do whatever Julian Wright did, only he won’t be null and void on offense. Still though, loved Wright’s point-forward work.

Forbes – Poor James Johnson. He just went from surefire starter to fighting with three other legit threes for playing time. The sharp-shooting swingman was praised by George Karl last season, but I doubt the Raptors are testing the Nuggets’ resolve by signing the undrafted second-year man to an offersheet. This could be a perfect “buy low” signing because he seems to have a fire burning in him, and will compete with anyone for minutes. Anytime somebody goes undrafted and fights his way back into the league so soon has to be admired.

Gray – Can’t say I’ve seen much of him other than whenever the Hornets are on national television. This signing, like Magloire, Butler and Pietrus, is in the mold of defense, and you have to love that. The Raptors aren’t signing bandaids for deep problems, they’re buying time until they’re in a position to play the market and the draft. This is the right move, be patient. We’re not the NY Knicks who can afford to test fits for their team by splurging money around without having to worry about long-term repercussions and tax issues, the Raptors have to pretty much flatline and go from there.

Carter – Not sure if we really needed a tweener, but what the hell. Carter is an experienced guy and Dwane Casey is pretty clear on why he’s here: “What we want to do is put veteran players, veteran leadership around Andrea and DeMar and James and our young guys.” I kind of view him as the Mark Jackson of this team and expect him to be third string all the way, either at the PG or the SG (where he has enough experience playing). Unless of course, Calderon is dealt/amnestied.

These signings would take the training camp roster to 15 players, and in doing so the Raptors haven’t made one fiscally questionable move. All they’ve done is improve their woeful three-point shooting, improved their interior defense (albeit not by much, but still), and added defense at the wings where it was sorely lacking. There

There aren’t any expectations being set for the post-season, and this truly is shaping up to be a training camp of a season. The rebuilding might have finally just started.

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