This is a doozy. Marc Gasol is a hell of a player, even at 34-years-old. His prime lines up much better with Kyle Lowry and Serge Ibaka, and his contract ends after 2019-20, just like 90 percent of the Raptors’ roster.
Gasol can do a lot on the court. Here’s what I wrote two days ago when we heard they were considering trading for Gasol:
Marc Gasol is a former defensive player of the year from the center position who can stroke the three (34.4 percent from deep on 4.2 attempts per game). (Keep in mind, Joakim Noah has won the defensive player of the year award more recently than Gasol, so don’t assume he’s still the same caliber of all-nba defender.) This year, Gasol is averaging 15.7 points, 8.6 rebounds, 4.7 assists, 1.2 blocks, and 1.1 steals per game. Still, he is in the middle of a something of a down season, but much of that can be explained by the outright horrible-ness of his team. Maybe. He’s also 34 years old, and Valanciunas is only 26, so that’s something. Valanciunas gives Toronto a lot, but Gasol would almost certainly give them more. He’s still a solid rim protector and more versatile on offence. Toronto would also have to betting on Gasol’s long-term health.
Gasol is probably a better player than Valanciunas, but he doesn’t offer all of the same skills. He generally pops after setting picks, which Ibaka is already excellent at. He doesn’t provide the same rolling and finishing skills that Valanciunas does, and no one else on the roster can do those things. Still, he is much closer to a third option on offence than Valanciunas was, or at least than he was being used as. Gasol could probably be their second option on offence.
We won’t know whether Gasol or Ibaka will start, but my bet is that it will be a time-share, with Gasol starting maybe 70 percent of the time. He is an improvement to the team, but that won’t stop keep emotions out of the picture. I, like many others, will miss him.
Jonas Valanciunas was one of the more beloved Raptors players in franchise history by fans.
6th in games played. 2nd in rebounds. 7th in points. 3rd in blocks.
The JV hive was real. He had an endearing personality, and one hell of a beard.
I’ll miss him a lot.
— Chris Walder (@WalderSports) February 7, 2019
Do you want your heart broken?
Spoke with JV this morning … he was brimming at the prospect of returning to Raptors lineup tonight: “I am really excited. I was really looking forward to this day and there you go. If nothing crazy happens, I will be playing." The NBA is crazy and so he's gone.
— Michael Grange (@michaelgrange) February 7, 2019
Otherwise, CJ Miles and Delon Wright are both kind, likeable people who brought specific skills to the Raptors. Miles was supposed to be an elite shooter (and I still believe he is), but his slump has affected his playing time. Wright is probably the best ball-handler off the bench. Neither of them was going to see many minutes in the playoffs, so I’m sad to see both go, but neither affects the Raptors’ future to a great extent.
The Toronto Raptors now have 11 people on the roster. They may be undermanned tonight in Atlanta, but that will certainly change going forward. Even if they convert Chris Boucher to a full roster spot, they will still need to add multiple players. Whether that’s from the buyout market or happens before the trade deadline, they aren’t done yet.