Thursday July 30 2009 - 5:07am Eastern (Toronto, ON)
Marco Belinelli to the Raptors, eh?
Well that one sure came out of left field.
If nothing else, give Bryan Colangelo credit for one thing: He keeps his moves VERY quiet. Since coming to Toronto, how many signings or trades have been a complete shock to all of us (yes, I’m including the media)?
This summer has been unreal. Like the players or not, did you see the Reggie Evans deal coming? How ’bout a 4-team trade that would allow the Raps to sign a marquee free agent, keep their Mid Level Exception, and give them cap flexibility for next summer? How ’bout the signing of Jarrett Jack to an offer sheet?
How ’bout Marco Belinelli for Devean George?!
Colangelo has coveted Belinelli since he came into the league as the 18th overall pick in 2007. In fact, there were rumblings of a possible deal for the Italian guard last season – that likely would have seen Joey Graham heading from Toronto to Golden State.
The 23-year-old guard has, admittedly, had an “average” start to his NBA career. After struggling through his rookie season, Belinelli had a chance to bust out a little bit last year … given the glut of injuries the Warriors were experiencing. He started 23 games for the Bay Area Boys – including an impressive 15-game stretch from mid-December to mid-January where he averaged more than 15 points per game and earned a ton of respect from his teammates.
Speaking about Belinelli back in December 2008, then-teammate Stephen Jackson told the San Francisco Chronicle:
“When (Marco) wasn’t playing, when he said he wanted to be traded and all that stuff, I was like, man, we’re going to lose a good player. He’s a guy that got caught up in a numbers game, and I’ve been through that too. I’m glad he’s taking advantage of his opportunity, because that’s what it’s all about.”
That opportunity will now come in Toronto.
Belinelli is a 6’5″ shooting guard with solid range, good athleticism, and strong ball-handling skills — good enough to even see some minutes at the point if need-be. And despite what you may have read in other columns or blog, the guy isn’t a stiff on the defensive end either.
Again, let me quote the SF Chronicle from December 2008 regarding Belinelli’s defence:
” … The second-year guard has gone from benchwarmer to starter in wake of injuries to Jackson and Jamal Crawford. Known as a shooter when he entered the league last year, Belinelli has blossomed into a part-time point guard and, perhaps most surprisingly, a full-time defender. Though Belinelli isn’t the quickest athlete, he plants himself where his opponent wants to go more often than not. And Warriors coach Don Nelson has become comfortable enough with Belinelli’s defense that he’s matched him against the likes of (Ray) Allen and Kevin Durant.”
I liked the prospect of George playing for the Raptors this season. He was a guy that I thought would bring some veteran experience to a relatively young Toronto line up. And the fact that he had an expiring deal next summer, made him that much more valuable given the free agent sweepstakes that are coming in 2010. But if you’re Bryan Colangelo, and you’re given the chance to pick up a young up-and-comer with a lot of upside in return for an aging vet who is on the downside of his career, you jump at that chance. Besides, the likes of Chris Bosh, Hedo Turkoglu, Jose Calderon, and even Evans should be enough of a “veteran” presnce in your line up … and from the financial side of things … Belinelli could be off the books next summer as well (like George would have been) if Toronto decides against his 4th year option.
This is a very good deal for the Raptors. In fact, check out what long-time Warriors (and previously LA Lakers) writer Tim Kawakami had to say about this trade in his San Jose Mercury News blog:
” … Even I didn’t imagine Nelson/Riley would give away Belinelli to Toronto for something as meager as George, who I know fairly well since I covered him his rookie year with the Lakers and have watched him fairly closely in the many years since.
This is just a dump. A we-don’t-know-what-to-do-with-this-talented-player dump. A terrible, misguided, noxious dump by a team now run by an erratic, tired coach and a GM who does his bidding.
George is 8 years older than Belinelli, by the way. He has a $1.6M expiring contract this year, but Belinelli’s would’ve expired next summer if the Warriors didn’t pick up his option, plus Belinelli is MUCH MUCH BETTER than George.”
It should be noted that this trade has yet to be finalized by the league, but it is expected to go through the NBA Offices some time before Noon on Thursday. At that point the deal will be done: Belinelli for George and cash considerations.
And one final note for those that care (and I think this has little-to-no significance): apparently the “cash considerations” of this deal equate to the Raptors picking up a significant chunk of George’s $1.6 million salary this season.
Anyway … another solid move by Colangelo and Company. The rebuild of the Raps continues.
Time will tell if this transaction has any impact – good or bad – on Carlos Delfino.