The On Deck Circle

The unofficial home of Real Talk

Raptors GM For a Day

Posted by Blake Murphy on June 5, 2008

My buddy Sam over at Raptors Talk had the great idea of holding a symposium of Raptor bloggers to see the range and depth of ideas the blogging community has about the Toronto Raptors offseason.

You can check out the entire piece here, and it’s definitely worth a look. Sam is great for putting this together, and a lot of the ideas are solid.

Obviously, mine were the most solid (solidest?). Check my part out after the jump!

Name: Blake Murph

Unfortunately, the big trade I’ve wanted for a long time has a big snag – Corey Maggette has a player option for this year at slightly less than his actual value, at $8.4M. However, one can assume he would exercise the option this offseason since very few teams have the cap space to sign him to a bigger deal, and because he could use his Bird Rights with the Clippers to work out a sign-and-trade extension. This deal, then, assumes Maggette receives a 3-year, $33M extension (note that this ups his trade cap hit from $8.4M to roughly $9.5M). While this may seem expensive, it is about market value for a player with his track record, and is something the Raps can afford given the rest of this deal.

The trade is: T.J. Ford, Rasho Nesterovic, Joey Graham, and a 2008 2nd round pick for Corey Maggette, Tim Thomas, and Brevin Knight.

For the Clippers, they get an up-tempo young point guard with considerable upside to replace or insure against Shaun Livingston. Ford would fit well in a pick-and-roll offense that includes Brand and Kaman, and he’d be given more freedom to score, a skill he can’t fully utilize in Toronto’s offense. The Clippers also take a flier on Graham as a back-up wingman, something they need, and they acquire Rasho’s contract either as a trading piece or for sizable cap space the following offseason.

For the Raptors, they have to swallow the last two years on Thomas’ bad contract, the only bad part of this deal. Knight could fill the role of third point guard, a cheap option as insurance to Ukic. Finally, Maggette gives the Raptors a good deal of what they have lacked the past few seasons – scoring, shooting, and a strong get-to-the-rim mentality. Maggette is heavily underrated because of injury trouble early in his career and another injury three seasons ago, but he’s played 145 games the past two years. Additionally, he fits in well with a 38.4% 2-point shooting clip last season and has scored at least 16 points per game in each of the past six seasons, including three years of over 20 a night. Most importantly, Maggette has got to the line an average of 7 times per night for his entire career, a rate that increased to 10 trips per contest this past season. For a team that has trouble getting to the rim and the line, Maggette is a perfect fit who also doesn’t give up much on the defensive side of the ball. This ignores, too, that he’s a good rebounder for his position and cashes over 80% of those trips to the line.

FA Signings:
Jose Calderon is brought back. Absolutely. Does a 5-year, $44M deal sound reasonable to you? Yup, me too.

You can’t really call it a signing, but bringing Roko Ukic over from Croatia is a must-do. He’s at the point now where he has an NBA-ready body and offensive game and more time in Europe is probably only of marginal benefit. Ukic is 6’5” and has a great scoring touch, making him a valuable back-up point guard for 12-15 minutes a game, allowing Jose to get more serious run. He should come over for something to the tune of 3-years, $5M, likely with a mutual option at a higher price tag for a year or two after that.

Otherwise, the team has just the mid-level exception to use, and a lot of that will depend on if the trade above can possibly happen. Sign-and-trades for picks or cap space are largely out of the question since the team won’t go into the luxury tax zone and they’ll be on the doorstep with these moves. Thus, given a $5.5M limit to sign players but with only one orster spot to fill, a Kapono-sized player could be added to the mix. That said, if my proposed trade, the Ukic cross-over, and a Lopez draft pick all went into effect, the team has little in the way of glaring needs. Thus, I’d add some depth at the center position, but that player would be one available for the veteran minimum since the team has Maceo Baston as a stop-gap already. Kwame Brown and Jamal Magloire are possibilities.

Obviously, I’m not too sold on any affordable free agents. They’ll simply be roster filler and depth, so the team can afford to go a little on the cheap in this regard.

With the 17th pick, if it’s not traded, I think Robin Lopez out of Stanford makes the most sense. He’s a 7-footer and has an NBA-ready body, giving the Raps the size and strength they sorely need in the middle. He’s a fantastic interior defender and shotblocker already and indications are that his downside is Anderson Varejao (and not just because of the From Justin to Kelly afro), and it’s all uphill from there. Not only is he a strong compliment to Bosh, allowing him to tally more weak-side blocks and guard the lesser skilled big, he is also an ideal energy player off the bench should the team continue to force Andrea into the starting center role.

That said, I’ve heard rumblings that Colangelo is willing to move the pick (fair enough) or try and slide up into the lottery, which makes a little less sense to me. Lopez is a great fit at an affordable price, and unless you’re moving into the top-5 there’s really not a must-have talent on the board.

The Raptors would have a pretty formidable roster given these moves, and would somehow stay safely below the expected luxury tax line in making these improvements. The point guard duties would be handled by Calderon (a huge plus), with Ukic and Knight fighting for backup minutes. At shooting guard, Anthony Parker and Jason Kapono would split time, with Kapono getting some of Delfino’s 07-08 minutes after his strong playoff performance. Delfino is allowed to walk, by the way. At small forward, Moon would be relegated to the more-appropriate role of energy player, backing up Maggette (Tim Thomas would stay on the bench, please). Bosh would be the power forward with Humphries and a returning Garbojsa vying for back-up minutes. Finally, Andrea Bargnani would see time at the three, four, and five while Robin Lopez shuts down the lane at the 5-spot the rest of the time. The rest of the bench would consist of Maceo Baston and Kwame Brown/Jamal Magloire fighting for Inactive List immunity. Take a closer look:

PG – Calderon, Ukic, Knight
SG – Parker, Kapono
SF – Maggette, Moon, Thomas
PF – Bosh, Garbajosa, Humphries
C – Lopez, Baston, Brown/Magloire
Andrea Bargnani – wherever they plan to put him now, but probably at SF/PF/C.

Given this roster, the Raptors would have roughly $66.2M committed in salary, a figure that is well over the expected cap threshold but safely below the anticipated luxury tax line of $70M.

Tell me that’s not a team that can do damage in the East.

3 Responses to “Raptors GM For a Day”

  1. AJ Says:

    What’s up with Stanford and having twin centres? First the Collinses and now Lopezes

  2. Blake Murphy Says:

    Don’t worry, the Lopez brothers are far superior to the Collinseseses in every respect, right down to the hair.

  3. TSmith Says:

    Good sir, yours was the only plan that had any semblance of reality or notion of what the this team we all love as to do to ACTUALLY get better. Making deals simply for the sake of doing anything is what gets GMs in trouble. Trading malcontent starting PGs that can’t distribute the ball, thats what gets GMs contract extensions. You know what to do BC.

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