Asset Valuation and Redistribution

With December 15th just a couple of days away, the day when free agents signed over the summer are eligible to be traded, and the Rudy Gay deal already old news, it’s probably a good time to take a closer look at the assets the Raptors still have

I'm telling you Dell, Tyler Hansbrough is the perfect replacement for Anthony Davis.

With December 15th just a couple of days away, the day when free agents signed over the summer are eligible to be traded, and the Rudy Gay deal already old news, it’s probably a good time to take a closer look at the assets the Raptors still have, as well as the new ones, since it’s Masai Ujiri probably isn’t done dealing.

In the press conference to discuss the Rudy Gay trade, Ujiri gave this rather revealing quote:

“The one thing I can say is we won’t be trapped in the middle, I can honestly say that. We will not be stuck in no man’s land, that’s for sure.”

It’s really hard to claim, now, that the Raptors aren’t in rebuild mode, although it’s kind of difficult to call it a rebuild when there wasn’t much building there in the first place. The Raptors are currently sitting at 7-13, which is fairly similar to the starts they’ve had the previous two seasons1.

On a side note, I don’t recall a season that had so much trade discussion so early. Whether it’s because of the loaded upcoming draft, or the fact that so many teams are underperforming, but there are more early season trade rumours swirling around than I remember.

I had actually started this column before the Rudy Gay trade went down, and had written up a lovely breakdown of Gay and the options for trading him. Yes, Sacramento was one of them, but I also mentioned Cleveland, Milwaukee, Detroit, Washington and Minnesota, none of whom apparently wanted anything to do with him.


There is some confusion over my reaction to the trade. I never said I didn’t like it and in fact said the opposite. I like it, but I was hoping for more and I thought the timing of the trade wasn’t the best. I did mention, in my now deleted Rudy Gay portion, that Gay would be extremely difficult to trade and might need to be held onto in order to increase his trade value (something that admittedly may or may not have happened).

One thing I also hadn’t taken into consideration was the $4.6 million trade exception the Raptors now have from the Rudy Gay deal, which could come in very handy in any future deals this year.

With Gay now a memory, whether you are on board with the apparent rebuild or not, we now have to look at the rest of the team and try and evaluate what assets the Raptors have and what they may be worth around the league.


Important Stats:
PPG: 21.5
TS%: .527
3PT%: .347
RPG: 3.6
APG: 3.1
PER: 17.4
WS: 1.8
Salary: $9.5 million a season over next four years


DeRozan is having a career year in his fifth season and, apart from the game against Phoenix, is on a torrid pace offensively recently. He’s an incredibly hard worker, a solid citizen and has shown steady improvement since entering the league.

His play has been good enough to be mentioned as a possible All Star reserve, so that has many Raptor fans excited about his future.


Most of the teams that could have used Rudy Gay could use DeRozan. But there are more teams that would be more willing to trade for DeRozan because while he’s basically Rudy Gay-light, without the heavy contract and some of the other problems that come with Gay’s play (like Gay’s anger at the ball, which causes him pound it against the floor incessantly and recklessly throwing it against the rim).

Atlanta, Detroit, Milwaukee, Cleveland, Denver, Minnesota, Dallas and Oklahoma all could use his services and have the assets that the Raptors could use. Many of those teams are also in a position where they could feel some pressure to make a big move.


DeRozan’s value has never been higher and it’s not likely to get any higher. That’s not to say that he won’t improve any more, but trade value isn’t directly related to how good a player he is or what his production is. In the NBA, potential has more value than almost anything else, and right now DeRozan is at the apex of potential and production.

DeRozan isn’t quite as good as some Raptor fans seem to believe, but he’s become the Raptors’ most valuable asset, outside of Jonas Valanciunas.

Grantland’s Zach Lowe recently had this to say about DeRozan:

DeRozan has improved incrementally in almost every one of his pro seasons, and he has much wider appeal around the league than Gay. He’s passing better and shooting the 3-pointer at a career-best rate, though we’ve seen DeRozan have hot 3-point streaks that prove fleeting. He’s still a midrange type who plays (mostly) below-average defense and is due $9.5 million in each of the three seasons after this one.


There seems to be far too much angst over the possibility of trading what is basically a slightly above average shooting guard who doesn’t really have a lot of the traits that you find on Championship teams. He can score, yes, but he’s a below average rebounder, defender, and he doesn’t have a very high basketball IQ, despite the work he puts in at the gym.

He’s endearing because he works hard and is a proud Raptor, but those aren’t reasons to keep him.

And while he’s a good scorer, always beware the good scorer on the bad team. DeRozan isn’t any more an elite scorer than Aaron Afflalo (21.9 ppg) or Evan Turner (20.7 ppg), two young shooting guards who score about the same as DeRozan does. But Afflalo does it far more efficiently, and Turner is a strong defender, rebounder and passer, as well.


One of the reasons the Raptors have had the rather forgettable history they have is that they rarely end up selling high on their assets. They either hold onto a player too long so that his value declines (see Andrea Bargnani, Vince Carter and even Jose Calderon), or waits until he leaves via free agency.

Whether you agree with tanking or not, Philadelphia sold high on a player who wasn’t quite as good as he probably appeared, in Jrue Holiday, and now have a brighter future by having traded him.

I doubt Toronto can get the haul for DeRozan that the Sixers did for Holiday, but I think there’s a market for DeRozan and I think they should act quickly before Philadelphia and Orlando decide to offer up Turner and Afflalo respectively.

While he’s well liked, DeRozan is a highly replaceable player playing at a highly replaceable position. Keeping him would be more emotional than basketball. I’m not suggesting trading him at any cost, but he’s got value and there’s a good chance some team will get desperate enough to overpay for a young, athletic scoring guard.

As a footnote, my favourite DeRozan trade proposal involves a three way deal sending DeRozan to Detroit, Kyle Lowry to Chicago and getting back Chicago’s Nikola Mirotic (currently playing in Europe), Charlotte’s first round pick (via Chicago) and possibly Chicago’s first round pick and salary in the form of Charlie Villaneuva and Jonas Jerebko. Greg Monroe would also go to Chicago and Taj Gibson would be sent to Detroit.

This would be the perfect trade because it does absolutely nothing to help the team immediately and everything to help the team starting next year.

My second favourite deal is a much less complicated DeRozan to Atlanta for Dennis Schroeder, Elton Brand and either Atlanta’s first round pick or Brooklyn’s (which Atlanta owns for giving them Joe Johnson!!!).


Important Stats:
PPG: 14.6
TS%: .563
3PT%: .361
RPG: 3.8
APG: 6.7
PER: 17.5
WS: 2.4
Salary: $6.2 million (expiring)


When Bryan Colangelo traded for Lowry, the hope was that he would finally be the answer at point guard for the Raptors. He came to the team with a bulldog reputation on offense and defense. In just over a year, Lowry seems to be on his way out of town, just like so many other rejected Raptor point guards before him.

Still, like DeRozan, he’s having a career year, despite the presence of the ball-stoppin Gay, and has played well.


Unfortunately, there is not a huge market for point guards right now, especially fairly average starting ones like Lowry. If you look up and down the league, most teams are pretty set at the point guard position. Lowry would make a great backup guard for a contender, but I would certainly be hesitant to give up assets to bring Lowry off the bench, considering his reputation as being a bit difficult, and the fact he’s a free agent at the end of the season.

Most contenders would not want to risk the drama just to strengthen their bench. And if you’re a team that is rebuilding, chances are you’re not interested in giving up anything for what is likely a temporary point guard upgrade.

That said, there are a few teams that are in need to a point guard upgrade. Those teams are New York, Chicago, Milwaukee, the Lakers, and there’s an outside chance Sacramento would want to take on Lowry after losing all their depth at point guard in the Rudy Gay deal.

Edit: New York has been mentioned as a possible destination for Lowry, as well as Brooklyn and Golden State.


While Lowry has played well this year, he has two things working against him. The first is the afore mentioned strength at the point guard position around the league. The second is that Lowry could very well leave for nothing at the end of the year, so trading for Lowry would be considered a rental for less than a season. If the other team can get Lowry to agree to an extension prior to the trade, then more teams might be willing to discuss a trade for him.

There are things in Lowry’s favour, though. His contract, while expiring, is very good value for what he brings to the table. And he has good all around skills, which should, on paper, translate to him being able to fit into a variety of situations.



Due to Lowry’s expiring contract, it’s almost a given that Lowry is going to be moved. Better for the Raptors to get something for him now rather than nothing this summer.

The problem with Lowry isn’t that he’s a bad player, because he’s not. Unfortunately, he’s also not a really good one, either. He does play with a chip on his shoulder, but that comes with both positives and negatives, and those negatives are often too much to bare. His decision making, especially when times get tough, is often poor, and he is far too willing to get into a shooting match when the smart thing to do is get the ball inside.

The best point guards are generally smart, calm under fire and mature beyond their years, and none of that describes Lowry. A tough point guard oozing with attitude and with always something to prove might be entertaining for the fans, but that rarely translates into winning.

Because of Lowry’s expiring contract, to get maximum value for him, Ujiri must be willing to take back a longer contract (otherwise you’re just trading expiring for expiring), and that’s not going to return much value. It’s not as if we’re talking about Rudy Gay-type money, here, and the Raptors are going to be well under the cap, anyway.

Packaging Lowry with a valued asset with a longer contract (like DeRozan or Tyler Hansbrough) will minimize the risk the team has acquiring Lowry and maximize his value.

The Lowry to New York deal doesn’t make a whole lot of sense on the surface, since they have no draft picks to return and the only asset they have worth taking is Iman Shumpert, but if a third team is brought in then it might return a draft pick.


Important Stats:
PPG: 11.4
TS%: .643
MPG: 28.7
RPG: 6.6
BPG: 1.0
PER: 17.6
WS: 1.9
Salary: $6 million a season for this year and next year ($5 million is guaranteed next year)


I’ve never felt Amir has truly gotten his due in Toronto. Yes, he’s a fan favourite, but most see him as simply an energy player, easily replaceable and whose best role is off the bench. And he’s much more than that. He’s been the team’s best player since Chris Bosh left for warmer pastures, and still might be the Raptor who has the most impact on the game, despite the fact he’s not the scorer DeRozan is.

It’s no coincidence that the better he plays, the better the team plays. Amir actually shoots a better percentage of close shots than LeBron James, and only three players in the NBA shoot a better percentage from that range. And it’s not as if those shots are all dunks and layups. He’s got an incredibly accurate short hook that he can seem to hit over just about anyone.

And on defense, opponents shoot just 46.6% at the rim against Amir, which is the same as Andre Drummond and Al Horford.

There are not a lot of players that are as low maintenance, but with as high an impact as Amir has.

And while he started out the season rather poorly (for him), his improved play has him playing as well as he ever has.


I don’t know if there is a team in the league that wouldn’t jump at the chance to acquire a player like Amir who has the impact he does at both ends of the court, but not everyone has the assets or would be willing to alter their team enough to get him.

Amir would fit in far more seamlessly than DeRozan or Lowry because he’s such a low maintenance player who doesn’t need the ball to have an impact.

Portland, Denver, Minnesota, the Clippers, Golden State, San Antonio, Houston and ironically Memphis will probably all be putting together trade proposals for Amir.


Amir is one of the best values around, for his production, and because he is so low maintenance yet so impactful on both ends of the court, there should be plenty of suitors for Amir. He’s only 26 years old, despite this being his eighth season, plus he was developed surrounded by players who knew how to win.

Amir is never going to make an All Star team, and he is what he is, after 7 years in the league, but what he is will help any team win.


In any other circumstances, I would consider Amir close to untouchable because of what he brings and what he costs, but for a team in the position the Raptors are in, he’s a bit of a luxury. In many ways, he reminds me a bit of when Matt Bonner, another fan favourite, played for the Raptors during a time when his three point shooting and smart play was wasted on a team that was going nowhere.

Amir is more talented than Bonner, but like Bonner, having Amir play his prime years on a rebuilding teams seems almost a waste of his talents2.

Still, because Amir is still a role player, no matter how impactful, it doubtful that the Raptors could get the type of return on him that would make trading him worth it. The only way I can see Amir being traded is if he’s packaged with other players in a larger deal.

Even then, Amir is someone one of the few players on the team I would like to see sticking around because of the intangibles he brings to the team, both on and off the court.


Important Stats:
PPG: 9.3
TS%: .522
MPG: 27.4
RPG: 7.5
BPG: 0.9
PER: 13.2
WS: 0.9
Salary: $3.5 million in his second year of a rookie contract.


Last year, Valanciunas was touted by many as the future of the franchise. While he only played 23 minutes per game, he showed enough promise and production to be able to make it onto the All Rookie second team and had Raptor fans putting him on the ‘untouchable’ list. He had one of the best true shooting percentages in the league and in the last month of the season had one of the highest PPP in the entire league. He seemed almost unstoppable.

Unfortunately, this season has seen a bit of a regression for Valanciunas. His shooting percentage has fallen off a cliff (comparatively), he’s getting to the line at a much lower rate, and his defense has been spotty, at best. About the only improvement we’ve seen from him is in the rebounding department, but the improvement has been nominal.

That has caused many fans to suddenly question whether Valanciunas is ever going to live up the the hype.

There are several things to remember, though. The first is that Valanciunas is just 21 years old, and hasn’t even spent an entire year in North America. While he’s got talent, he was always going to be a project. And projects take time to develop. Most European big men come over after they’ve developed into a force in Europe, and that didn’t happen with Valanciunas.

Valanciunas is never going to be an elite center player, but it’s far too early to start making judgements on a big man as young an inexperienced as Valanciunas. Roy Hibbert spent four years in college and still struggled early, but is now one of the best centers/centres in the league. Serge Ibaka took time to develop.


No matter what you think of Valanciunas’ future, every GM would love to get their hands on a center/centre with his talent and skills. Because he would return a lot of assets and require time to develop, not a whole lot of teams would be able to have an enticing enough package to get Valanciunas.

Boston, Atlanta, Washington, Charlotte, Oklahoma and Phoenix would be the only teams in the league who have the desire and assets to be able to pry Valanciunas away from the Raptors. There are numerous other teams that will probably try (Lakers, San Antonio, Portland, Dallas) but simply don’t have the assets.


No matter how Valanciunas is playing right now, he’s still got loads of skill and potential. He’s still one of the most promising big men in the league and only 21. He plays with passion, works hard and doesn’t back down.


No, he’s not looking as good as he did last season, but he’s still the same player. Casey has never displayed much acumen at developing big men, and none of the big men looked all that good playing with Rudy Gay. It’s so difficult to acquire a center/centre with the potential Valanciunas has, and while the Raptors could definitely get good value for him, the chance they will end up regretting the trade is high. And since Valanciunas isn’t at the point where he’s having a big positive impact on the game, then keeping him in a year they seem to be tanking does no harm to the team’s prospects.

With Gay gone, maybe Valanciunas will end up getting more touches and more minutes, which should help his production and confidence.

If the Raptors are offered a ludicrous deal, then fine. Otherwise, it’s simply not worth trading him.


Important Stats:
PPG: 6.4
TS%: .559
MPG: 20.3
RPG: 6.1
PER: 14.6
WS: 1.1
Salary: $3.2 million (first in a two year deal)


Tyler Hansbrough is the kind of player that opposing fans (and teammates) hate with a passion, but hometown fans love to watch play. He doesn’t play a lot of minutes, but when he comes in you know you’re going to get hard-nosed play and hustle. He’s not quite as good defensively as his reputation suggests, but he’ll do a lot of things to annoy opposing players. And he’s got a very strange knack for drawing fouls on the offensive end.


Hansbrough is an acquired taste. You get the feeling he’s not the most well-liked player on his teams, and while he rebounds and hustles, he’s never come close to shooting 50% from the field. The fact that Indiana let him walk and the Raptors were able to pick him up for as little as they did might be an indication that he doesn’t have a whole lot of value around the league.

It’s likely that if he’s traded, he would be packaged with one of the more valuable assets, so it’s difficult to say where he might go, but Detroit (if they trade Monroe), Cleveland, Charlotte, Washington, Portland, Denver, Minnesota, the Clippers, Golden State, Houston and Dallas could all use his services, and since the Raptors wouldn’t be asking much back, they wouldn’t need a lot of assets to get him.


Hansbrough has a reasonable contract that extends just to next season, and, on paper, is a great big man to have come off the bench. But Indiana not wanting him back and the fact that he didn’t seem to have a whole lot of suitors around the league makes me wonder about his value.

Perhaps other teams wondered whether Hansbrough wouldn’t flourish as much outside of the Indiana system?  Who knows. Maybe his play on a team like the Raptors has actually increased his value.

Either way, he’s probably a guy who is going to be traded within a bigger package, so as long as he’s not a negative, which I don’t think he he, then his trade value is fine.


Hansbrough is 28 years old, and doesn’t actually do a whole lot on the court. He’s a nice player to have off the bench for 15 mpg, but you don’t want him having a bigger role than that.

Hansbrough’s biggest asset right now is that he can be thrown in on a bigger deal to make it a bit more enticing and to make salaries work. There is really no point in keeping him, especially now that the Raptors have acquired a couple more front court players.


Important Stats:
PPG: 6.9
TS%: .524
3PT%: .371
MPG: 19.9
RPG: 2.6
PER: 10.2
WS: 0.5
Salary: $2.7 million in his second year of a rookie contract


Right now, Ross’ biggest claim to fame is winning the dunk contest last year,in one of the more forgettable dunk contests. Raptor fans will, unfairly or not, too often view Ross as the guy the Raptors took instead of Andre Drummond.

He was drafted with the reputation as a excellent three point shooter and defender, neither of which he’s shown a whole lot of consistency at. He’s shown marginal improvement in a couple of areas, but it’s still difficult to tell whether he’s got much of an NBA future.


There was a rumour going around the Cleveland was offering Dion Waiters for Ross, but it’s doubtful there was any truth to those rumours. I’m not sure there would be a lot of teams lining up to trade for Ross, and he would most likely simply be an enticement in a larger trade.


Ross has shown very little so far in his young NBA career, but is still young, athletic and has some potential. Players in Ross situation are common enough that his value would be fairly low.


It would be disappointing to give up on Ross so early, but I’m not sure he’ll ever become good enough that the Raptors will regret trading him away. He’s young enough and with enough potential, it’s probably a good idea to keep him around during the rebuilding process, but if adding him to a deal gets something nice back, then the Raptors probably shouldn’t hesitate to add him.


Important Stats:
PPG: 3.2
TS%: .411
MPG: 15.2
RPG: 2.9
PER: 8.5
WS: 0.2
Salary: $6.25 million this season and next season


Let’s be clear. Landry Fields is horribly overpaid. Colangelo overpaid someone in order to try and block someone else from signing someone so they would have no choice to sign with the Raptors. The fact that those two players are Landry Fields and a 82 year old Steve Nash makes it all the more stupid.

And to make matters worse, it turns out Fields’ decline in play had been because of a nerve problem in his shooting arm. Not good.

While he can’t shoot, he is a very good defender, passer, rebounder and high IQ player. If he could actually shoot, he might be quite valuable.


None. Nobody wants to take on that contract for a player who can’t shoot.


Did you read what I wrote above? It’s still true.


Despite what I’ve said, I simply don’t understand the desire of Raptor fans to try and trade Fields. He’s got negative value, so the Raptors would have to give up something for another team to take him. They already will have loads of cap room this summer (and maybe more if they trade DeRozan or Amir) so there is no reason the Raptors need to be unchained from his contract.

And despite his shooting problems, Fields is actually the type of player that usually ends up on a Championship team, somewhere. He’s smart, plays defense, understands how to play in a team concept and plays better the more talent he has around him.

Fields’ contract only goes for one more season after this one, and it’s doubtful the Raptors will need the extra cap space before then, so it makes far more sense to hold onto Fields and then when his contract comes up, if his shot has improved, sign him for a more reasonable contract when his present one expires.


Important Stats:
PPG: 4.2
TS%: .478
3PT%: .347
MPG: 14.3
RPG: 1.4
PER: 8.6
WS: 0.3
Salary: $3.75 million this season and $7.25 over the next two years


Steve Novak came over from the Knicks in exchange for Andrea Bargnani, so no matter how Novak plays, fans will probably be forgiving. For a guy with such a deadeye reputation, though, Novak has been pretty mediocre from behind the line this year.

Of course, one needs to only look to Dwane Casey to understand why. In New York, Novak got lots of open looks. In Toronto, Novak has had to create a shot himself more times than I care to think. When you have a shooter of Novaks talents, getting plays to make him open is probably smart.


There are plenty of teams that would love to have a shooter like Novak, but not a whole lot that would want to take on his salary. It’s not obscene, but he’s definitely overpaid. Like Hansbrough, Novak would probably be a throw in on a larger deal to sweeten the pot. “How about I throw in Novak? I know you guys need three point shooting. Will that get it done?”

Lots of contenders would probably like a guy like Novak, and it’s conceivable Ujiri could move Novak alone just to clear his contract. If that’s the case, I would look to Brooklyn, Detroit (who aren’t contenders, but need outside shooting), Miami, Portland, Oklahoma, Minnesota (see Detroit), the Clippers and Houston.


If it weren’t for his contract, more teams would be interested in a shooter like Novak, but he’s overpaid, so the deal would have to be just right.


Novak is a very nice shooter, but his talents are obviously being wasted on a team like the Raptors. If the Raptors can add him to a larger deal or move him for an expiring contract, then they should do it.


Important Stats:
PPG: 9.8
TS%: .536
3PT%: .320
MPG: 25.8
APG: 5.3
PER: 14.5
WS: 0.9
Salary: $2.1 million this season with a qualifying option next season


Greivis Vasquez is really the only decent player the Raptors got in return for Rudy Gay. He’s a hard-nosed player who distributes the ball well and watches opponents drive by him like a McDonalds drive-through clerk.

Because of NBA rules, Vasquez would only be able to be traded by himself until about a week before the trade deadline, when he can be packaged in a larger deal.


Vasquez would make a very good backup point guard, and teams are always in the market for one of those. Indiana, Chicago, Milwaukee, Oklahoma, the Clippers, Golden State and New York are probably the teams that would be most interested in acquiring Vasquez.


Vasquez is a nice point guard in a league full of nice point guards. He had a very good year in New Orleans, but he’s best suited in a backup role. Lots of team would want a guy like Vasquez, but not a lot of teams would want to give up a whole lot for him.

He has a very good salary and the team receiving him has the option of matching any offers for him at the end of the season, or letting him go, if they want. That’s probably the most valuable part about him.


Vasquez is probably a very good player to have for a team like Toronto. He’s not good enough, especially defensively, to make an impact in the win column, but he moves the ball and will keep players and fans happy by making the offense look better.

And with his contract situation, the Raptors can choose to re-sign him or let him go for cap space at the end of the season.


Important Stats:
PPG: 6.9
TS%: .457
3PT%: .231
MPG: 24.4
RPG: 5.8
PER: 10.4
WS: 0.3
Salary: $3.1 million this season with a qualifying option next season

The Raptors were looking at Patterson in 2010 before drafting Ed Davis, and I have to say I couldn’t understand why. He was a big man who played small, wasn’t good defensively and really didn’t do ANYTHING at an above average rate.


Patterson is at the point now where he’s only a throw in for another team, but he’s young enough and has a few talents that might sweeten a trade deal.


Last year, Patterson was traded for the 5th player in the previous year’s draft, so he might have some value to someone. Of course, it was Sacramento that gave up Thomas Robinson for Patterson, so maybe that says something.


Who cares?


I put all these guys together because they have zero trade value, bring nothing to any team and are only good as throw ins to make salaries work.

Still, they all are in the NBA, so they have to be proud of that.

  1. Last season the Raptors were 4-16 in their first 20 games and the previous season they started off 6-14. Ironically, their first season without Bosh, which was SUPPOSED to be a lost year, the team started off 8-12. The more talented the team is supposed to be, the fewer games they seem to win to start the season.
  2. Wouldn’t it be ironic if, like Bonner, Amir somehow ends up on the Spurs? That would be great for both the Spurs and Amir, who would flourish in that system.

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