Tuesday March 31 2009 – 11:40am Eastern (Toronto, ON)

This decision is still 3+ months away.  But I thought I’d take an early look …

Depending on what Toronto does with Anthony Parker, Joey Graham, Carlos Delfino, and more; and depending on how things play out with the NBA’s B.R.I. (Basketball Related Income) – which helps determine the cap and tax number – Bryan Colangelo and the Raptors should have around $10 million to spend in free agency this summer (give or take). 

The most glaring need for the Raptors would seem to be the 2-3 (SG/SF).  The team needs another legit scorer and they need to address their defence as well (hopefully with the same player) — someone who can guard the likes of Kobe, LeBron, Wade, and more.

Yes, there’s a decision that needs to be made RE: Chris Bosh.  And if he is traded, you may be able to address the 2-3 via that deal. 

Yes, there’s a draft coming up in June that could help with this decision as well. 

And, yes, there’s a CHANCE that any player (Jose Calderon, Andrea Bargnani) could be moved … but I think it’s a safe bet to assume that this team – at the very least – is set at the point (Calderon) and up front (Bargnani) at the very least.  But after that, there are holes at SG (Anthony Parker – free agent) and SF (Shawn Marion – free agent).  And, again, Bosh may be a question mark.

So based on that, let’s take a look at some of the SG’s and/or SF’s that are available on the open market this summer and who may be a fit for the 2009-10 Toronto Raptors:  

Ron Artest – Defence, grit, attitude.  But the right fit in the locker room?  And is he enough of a scorer?

Ben Gordon – Can he defend or is he just a scorer and that’s that?  And is a shot-happy 2-guard a good fit with Andrea Bargnani (whether Chris Bosh is still around or not)?

Wally Szczerbiak – He is a former All Star but at this point of his career he seems like the perfect fit as a second-unit guy, not someone you’d rely on for 35+ minutes per night and 18-20+ points every night.  

Allen Iverson - Depending on the length, this MAY be Iverson’s last contract.  He is one of the greatest scorers in the history of the game but I don’t know that he’ll be making his next destination north of the border.  And at this point, I don’t know if he has the overall package (factoring-in age too) that the Raps would be looking for.  

Marquis Daniels (*team option) - Some of his personality issues that were called into question in Dallas seem to have been cleared up in Indy.  He’s long and he can defend but can he take his offence to that next level if he were more of a focal point?  

Trevor Ariza – Much like Daniels, the biggest question may be if he can raise his offensive game on a consistent basis.  Right now, he seems to be doing so in LA – since moving into the Lakers’ starting line up.  There’s no doubt that he has the athleticism and D.  

Jamario Moon – Personally, selfishly, I’d love to see Jamario back in Toronto one day, but he is not going to be brought back as a marquee signing to start at the 2 or 3.  It’s just not happening – nor should it.

Keith Bogans – A solid veteran that would be a good second-unit guy, but he’s not the answer to your issues if you’re looking at him for the starting 5.

Desmond Mason – Coming off a major injury, I’d be very hesitant.  He’s a GREAT guy and he’s shown the ability to fill it up in the past, but is his game on the decline - especially with the injuries?  That’s a fair question, no doubt.  

Hedo Turkoglu (*player option) – Alright, he’s not a 2-3.  He’s a 3-4.  But he can handle the ball as well – even play a little point-forward.  His overall game is solid but you’ve got to wonder how the offence would work with another big that likes the jumper more than he likes the post.  Whether it’s Bosh-Turkoglu-Bargnani or just Turkoglu-Bargnani … I don’t know if the pieces match.  Plus, I don’t see Orlando letting him walk anyway.

Grant Hill – He’s a future Hall of Famer in my eyes, but at this point in his career, he’s simply not the answer for T.O.

Matt Barnes – He’s a piece to the puzzle … but I don’t see him being the kind of guy that could elevate his game to the level that the Raps would need/want on a nightly basis.  

Shawn Marion – You’re already seeing him get a 30-game tryout with the Raptors.  He seems to have an endless amount of energy and he addresses your need for a quality defender and rebounder.  He’s shown some grit as well and whether it’s been ‘good’ or not, he has shown a willingness to be a voice in the locker room too.  The question is though – can he create his own shot or does he rely on others too much?  But Marion – in my eyes – would have been a guy Toronto looked at in free agency even if they hadn’t already traded for him.

It should be interesting to see how it all plays out in the next few months.  But if the decision were mine, in no particular order, the 5 guys I’d be looking at the most would be:  Artest, Gordon, Marion, Daniels, and Ariza.

And keep in mind, if you have about $10 million … there’s a VERY good chance (especially given today’s economic climate) that you’ll be signing any one of these guys for $5-$7 million … so there should be money left to spend on other complimentary pieces as well.

Off to Orlando shortly.

Talk to ya tomorrow – when the VLOG finally returns!

E. Smith

33 Responses to “Looking Ahead”
  1. 1.

    We need to do what Kentucky is doing . Hire a coach who players might want to play for -someone with a bit more status around the NBA .
    I would be tempted to trade Bosh for a lottery pick and a starter maybe if he wants out .Although Colangelo made a disaterous trade – Ford for O’Neal- he might get lucky for a change .
    There is nothing terribly wrong about blowing up this team .

    - Chas Calz
  2. 2.

    Thanks as always for the comments Chas. But let me quickly weigh-in before I leave for the airport:

    A – you can’t compare college coaches and situations versus the pros

    B – this blog is not meant to be a trade idea thread. I’m dealing with the 2-3 specifically … and who could come in via free agency.

    - E. Smith
  3. 3.

    Thanx fir correcting me , Eric . As you know, I do like your blog , and apologize for frequently messing it up .
    I want a better Rap team next year , and the quickest way to improve it to hire a better coach imo.
    As you know, I feel Sam Mitchell was a perfectly adequate coach and firing him was a major blunder by an arrogant , highly-overpaid and overrated GM .
    Everything starts with a coach solid coach and a GM who can judge talent . We seem to neither right now , judging by our record .

    - Chas Calz
  4. 4.

    Hi Eric

    The one guy I would not trade is Bargnani. I have watched every game this year and he is getting better with every minute he plays. His upside is scary. I really believe that we will be fine if we resign Marion, Bosh stays, we upgrade SG, and we add some pieces to the bench. This team could be very strong next year with a little luck in the draft as well.

    - Don
  5. 5.

    Just read the Raptors.com article from Toronto Star . Colangelo is again making excuses for the mess he has made of the season .
    First he makes of be deal of 4 home wins over teams 27-111 on the road
    To use O’Neal’s injury as an excuse is bizarre . He was damaged goods when Bryan traded for him .
    Then he uses Calderon’s injury as an excuse when he traded away Ford .
    Then he tries to convince us that 20-36 is a better record than 8-9.
    Colangelo should have taken the year sabattical and I presume Raps would be around .500 and getting ready to be led into the playoffs by Sam Mitchell, assisted by Jay Triano .

    - Chas Calz
  6. 6.

    Hey Eric. Im just wondering if BC is still into the European Movement (as a fan i still am). Also if he is wouldnt a european coach make sence? Finally what do you think about Roko, I think if he develops a jumper he is a point gaurd for the future.

    My last comment is on Bosh. I dont want him to leave but what is is value in a trade ?

    - Luka from Maple
  7. 7.

    I’m all for defence, grit and attitude but do we automatically have to get a jerk with it?

    No to Artest please.

    Conversely, I’m all for a great guy but not at the expense of getting the job done.

    So, no to a Moon return.

    I would take a look at Marion again.Ben Gordon is interesting.

    Go Raps in Orlando.

    - Gary
  8. 8.

    I am truely looking forward to the off-season moves. After the NBA DRAFT….after the playoffs. ;)

    - Steven
  9. 9.

    What about Odom? I was a little surprised you didn’t mention him. I’m under the impression he is one… isn’t he? What do you think?

    - Dean
  10. 10.

    Eric…the Jamario Moon guy you referred to above…is the same guy that the Raps rescued from the D League?

    The same guy that was in the Slam Dunk ’08 contest?

    If so…why in the world would you want HIM back on this team? If you haven’t yet noticed, what we lack the most is players with tenacity, unafraid to tear through a defence on the way to the hoop, get knocked down in the paint, help aggressively on defence, hustle for loose balls, get in opponents faces, etc etc. j

    Jamario Moon is the exact OPPOSITE of what the Raps need to become a Top 4 team!!

    And about this Colangelo guy — enough is enough!! He has already become a caricature, larger than life, more useless than the suits he wears.

    I don’t listen to a single word that comes out of his mouth. He commands zero respect.

    - brento
  11. 11.

    Perhaps you misunderstood Brento. I like the guy. I’ve gotten to know him personally. Hence the reason I’d like to see him back. But I guess you missed the part at the end where I said he won’t be signed and “Nor Should He”

    - E. Smith
  12. 12.

    Brento before you criticize everyone think ABOUT IT!

    - Raps Fan
  13. 13.

    Eric, what about Odom like what Dean said because he can get us the board and score! And if Andrew.Bynum comes back do you thin Odom would be on the bench? I do!

    So, a guy like Odom who would want to play a lot minutes fits the Raptors!

    Ben Gordon is the player we all want do you think Bryan.C will use all his money getting a guy like him because John.Salmons and Leul.Deng are very good solid players so, Ben Gorden is the best player for the raptors!

    - Raps Fan
  14. 14.

    If and *IF the Raptors get the second pick do you think a Ricky Rubio is a perfect fix for the raptors?

    Everyone compares him to Nash and if we trade Jose for Nash that would be a start for this team in the of-season!

    Jamal Crawford
    Ben Gordon

    Are the player Mr.Bryran.C should sign! or trade for!

    - Mr. General Manger
  15. 15.

    I’m sure Jamario is a nice guy. Maybe you’re in too tight with the guys to have an objective opinion.

    Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that the personality of a player shouldn’t be a consideration when a GM is considering an acquisition…but being a nice guy simply can’t take precedence over what a player brings on the court.

    In fact, I think his “nice” demeanor is likely holding him back from further developing his game. I believe that most NBA players are capable of being above average contributors — but, what often holds them back is their mental approach.

    Perfect example…Chauncey Billups versus Vince Carter.

    Billups overachieves because of his remarkable mental toughness and ability to better those around him.

    Vince underachieves because of his inability to translate his phenomenal physical attributes into a winning repertoire, and his inability to inspire those around him.

    Just my two cents worth.

    - brento
  16. 16.

    You’re right Brento, “IT’S JUST NOT HAPPENING, NOR SHOULD IT” is not objective. You got me

    - E. Smith
  17. 17.

    Odom is an option I guess, but much like Rasheed (who I left off as well) I see him as more of a 4 … and I’m not convinced that he’s a guy you can roll out there every night to guard the athletic 3′s around the league (Kobe, LeBron, Pierce, and so on)

    - E. Smith
  18. 18.

    Do you think a Ricky Rubio is a perfect fix for the raptors in the run and gun game?

    - Mr. General Manger
  19. 19.

    I don’t think we should all become obsessed with this “who can we get” phenomenom.

    What happened in Boston, prior to the start of last season, is a rarity. The idea of signing a superstar to lead a team deep into the playoffs in a very risky concept. With chemistry accounting for most of a team’s success, simply adding good (or even great) players guarantees nothing more than having a group of talented athletes on a team.

    There have been dozens of teams with plenty of talent, who achived little in the playoffs. The Raptors, in fact, built around Vince Carter, with guys like Oak and Antonio Davis to support him, failed because of Carter’s inability to carry a team on both ends of the court and inspire his teammates to greatness.

    This is precisely why the great NBA coaches and GM’s are so valuable. They find hidden talents (ie. Billups), and inspire them to overachieve, freeing up extremely valuable cap space to sign the appropriate role players.

    So many fans think that Boston simply threw together Garnett and Allen with Pierce and fully expected the team to run away with the title. This could not be further from the truth…this was, in fact, a very risky situation for the Celtics. There was no guarantee it would work — but the chemistry of those three players, coupled with the obviously inspired play of guys like Rondo and Perkins, led them all to greatness.

    This is exactly where Bryan Colangelo has proven himself to be entirely overmatched as an NBA General Manager. Nearly all of his acquisitions have been either failures, moderate successes or insignificant.

    I have no faith in his ability to get this team back into the playoffs.

    - brento
  20. 20.

    Problem is, you’re making a BIG leap from “who can we get” to “this guy is the savior for the franchise”

    Nobody – including me – suggested that any of these players would be a white knight riding in to save the Raps.

    But if there’s $10 million (or so) to spend, it will be spent, and that’s all this column/blog was about. Don’t try to twist it and make it into something it wasn’t.

    - E. Smith
  21. 21.

    I agree with you, Eric. I wasn’t implying that you were trying to “save” the franchise.

    It’s just that, while I’m not exactly ancient (I’m 38), I’ve been watching pro sports since I was a very young child (mainly baseball, but also hoops and hockey). I’ve seen a lot of super talented players and teams underachieve. I think many fans become obsessed with the idea that good players equals championships, and that simply is not the case.

    I don’t like the idea of fantasizing about trades and signings. The processes involved in these transactions are far too complex for us to comprehend. There are too many variables that affect how a team will perform…far more than how high a guy can jump, or how fast he can run.

    Particularly in this age of salary caps, there is a huge amount of pressure on management to organize winning teams. In Toronto, the issue is compounded as it seems evident there is a large group of NBA players unmotivated to play in Canada.

    I’m just stressing the importance of team chemistry…as opposed to building a Dream Team.

    Even those teams have failed.

    - brento
  22. 22.

    FOCUS RAPTORS FANS!! No more Eric Smith bashing or fire coach J talk. I think it goes without saying that too many ppl put Colangelo on some type of mantel after year one and now are digging his ditch. Let remember it wasn’t to long ago that this team was in the hands of BABCOCK a.k.a ‘how in the world did you get this job.’

    And i did come across something interesting last week raptors fans….

    Brian Colangelo’s TO DO LIST

    5. Buy more ties

    4. Sign another 3pt shooter

    3. Euro scouting trip

    2. Trade Bosh for Biedrins

    1. Give Jay Triano a big multi year deal

    don’t deal anyone but i made a few adjustments and they looked like this…

    5. Buy a mid to late first round pick

    4. Sign a guard who doesn’t live by 3 and can create his own shot.

    3. * REMEMBER TO DRAFT ONE OF Demar Derozan,Earl Clark or Tyreke Evans

    2. Bosh is only traded for a all star level player or young potential all star and picks.

    1. Hope Sam Mitchell gets a job so i can hire a REAL coach!!

    - clutch_k
  23. 23.

    Luka from Maple: You really want this team to fall big don’t ya?! Why in the blue hell would you bring in a coach from the Euroleague when you have choices from NBA experienced coach/knowledge like Mark Jackson and/or Avery Johnson? Mr. General Manager…I say Ricky Rubio can goes somewhere else. You got better talent hopefully you guys have been watching NCAA basketball and not just talking March Madness.

    - BOJACK
  24. 24.

    What’s with all the Colangelo bashing? It wasn’t too long ago that people wanted to run Bargnani out of town, and now he’s considered an integral piece of the team’s future. DON’T LET FRUSTRATION BLIND YOU FROM THE BIGGER PICTURE! Like Bargnani, more than half the league wouldn’t waste a second picking up Colangelo.

    Mr. General “Manger”?, your ideas for rebuilding the Raps are as flawed as your ability to spell. Trading a young, creative PG, with potential(Calderon)for an OLDER, less athletic former MVP who is on the decline (Nash) is beyond comprehension. Also your picks for Free Agent additions are terrible. Just what we need, Crawford and Gordon, two guys who take tons of shots to be effective, and are lazy on defense. It’s better to keep Marion and hope that Gerald Henderson from Duke is still available when the Raps get to pick. Worst case sign Ben Gordon or draft Willie Warren from Oaklahoma.

    - Chalen
  25. 25.

    Delfino was greatly missed this season and no one should be signed until this guy is back. Banks is hear to play and it will be at sg as long as bosh is on the team. Kapono has to be a specialist and off the floor when the team is down. This is a 50 win team with delfino on it.

    - Rob from brantford
  26. 26.

    “I don’t like the idea of fantasizing about trades and signings.” – So why are you posting? You are correct about team chemistry but that another topic entirely.

    I would go with Marion or Gordon but the raps need much more than a free agent to turn things around – that something we should all be able to agree on.

    - Mehket
  27. 27.

    Wussup E!

    Man.. some crazy comments out there. I say let’s enjoy what’s happening with the raps right now and see if the “chemistry” is FOR REAL.. Let’s be honest I’m very pleased with what I’m seeing right now. $10 million will be spent I agree, and on that note all we would really need is to keep marion, stick with triano and sign or draft that #2 man. Believe me, there are SO MANY 2 man’s out there, yes you named a few, but look at the NCAA and the big things alot of the 2 men are doing there. Well everyone thought I was crazy b4 for saying this, but man did we really miss out on acquiring Gerald Wallace!!! Later E!

    - Duane
  28. 28.

    It’s interesting to read how Orlando Sentinel puts a different spin than Colangelo on the Raps ” surprisingly dreadful season ” .
    They note “the trade ..for Jermaine O’Neal backfired” ..
    ” Raps couldn’t recover after their coach was fired ” .. They do mention Calderon’s injury , but of course they lost Nelson – and so traded for Alston .
    Do you think Colangelo is capable of considering a Glen Grunwald apology speech at the season’s end or will he continue to spin, make lame excuses and blow smoke at us ?

    - Chas Calz
  29. 29.

    Bryan Colangelo is a massive underachiever.

    He underachieved in Phoenix, losing nearly EVERY year in the first round.

    And, over the past two seasons, his transactions and demeanor have shredded our team into one of the worst on the NBA.

    A moderate amount of talent, but an incredibly uninspiring group of athletes.

    And while the athletes are, of course, responsible for their oncourt play, the GM is almost entirely responsible for this “team”‘s performance.

    Note, that I’ve left the coach out of the discussion. As I’ve mentioned before, Colangelo threw Triano directly under the bus when he arrogantly and foolishly fired Sam Mitchell at the WORST possible time of the season. Sam may not have been the right guy for the long term, but BC firing him at 8-9 ruined the season for Sam, Triano and the rest of the team.

    And Calderon’s injury was no more debilitating than so many other NBA injuries, many of which affect stars, not just good point guards.

    The moment I hear BC talk of injuries to this team, I get that ol’ Raptors angry feeling…

    This team has not significantly underachieved. They’re just not very good. And it starts with the management team…which seems totally out to lunch.

    - brento
  30. 30.

    I’ll tell you this. Glen Grunwald sent his apologies to the fans after missing a season. Now as much I am admitting it, that showed that he cared for the Raptor fans. Now…let us see what what type of character and a GM Colangelo is. If he doesn’t do that Grunwald done when he was a Raptor GM, then you have seen the real BC.

    Duane, you are right and wrong about one thing. Triano is an okay guy and a good coach. Just that he is much better as a high school and/or college coach. Just not NBA DNA type of coach. As for the Gerald Wallace issue, he would have been a sweet pick-up for real. But he is much better relationship with Michael Jordon than Bryan Colangelo and Gerald is making BC pay for not looking interested in him.

    Clutch_k, I like option number 3 better on who to draft. As for the rest of them, that is a total mess. And I rather keep Bosh and bring him with proper players like one of the guys you see on E. Smith’s list. Odom, Ariza, Gordon, Marion. One or two of these guys could be helpful along with one of the draft pick choices between Earl Clark, DeMar DeRozan, Tyreke Evans, Jeff Teague.

    A lot has to be done once this season is over and tune into the NBA playoffs to do some scouting report on who we can snatch.

    As for the Raptor scouts, they need to be cleaned out for good!!

    - BOJACK
  31. 31.

    Well said Brento, It’s funny how some dillusional fans think that a team that finishes .500 one season and then twenty games under .500 the next, just needs to be tweaked a bit and that the Gm has done this so called good job.

    I have totally no confidence in BC’s ability to make the raps a top 4or 5 contender in the east, especially when he calls a team like this the best team he has assembled since being here. BC clearly has an ego and if this season doesn’t deflate it, there is only one thing that will. Today on PTS with Bob Mcowan, BC as usual Blames this season on injuries and the changing of players, first of all with or without Chris Bosh and\or Calderone both of whom we lost briefly, we should not get blown out by New York or lose to the Thunder or Bobcats twice, Injuries is a lame excuse, in fact many teams that beat us througout the regular season beat us without there star player. BC always wants a free pass like he got in phoenix with his father, which is why he was able to fire six coaches in ten years without being accountable for the suns lack of ability to get pas the first round,
    He needs to come down of his high horse and take a page out of Glen Grunwalds book when it comes to drafting trades, and assembling a proper chemistry.

    - Thomas
  32. 32.

    trade jose for a creating point guard and draft a two, sign a 2 or a 3 and we wiil be fine

    - jose hater
  33. 33.

    Like who Jose Hater?

    - Raps Fan
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