2014 Free Agency

Jack Goes To Toronto

In Free Agency on July 21, 2009 at 4:41 am

Jarrett Jack spoke to the Indy Star

The Indiana Pacers will not match the four-year, $20 million offer the Toronto Raptors made to restricted free agent Jarrett Jack, Jack told The Indianapolis Star in a telephone interview late Sunday night.”It took a minute, but I was able to secure a contract for four years,” Jack said. “I’m looking forward to playing with Chris (Bosh) again. It will be like our freshman year (at Georgia Tech) all over again.”

The Pacers had until today to make a decision.“It was a very difficult decision because Jarrett proved last season what he can bring to a team,” team president Larry Bird said in a statement this afternoon. “We thank Jarrett for his contributions to the Pacers, both on and off the court, and wish him the best in Toronto.”

Jack said he is scheduled to fly to Toronto today and a news conference is planned for Tuesday.

Jack spoke kindly about his time with the Pacers

“I wanted to be a Pacer come next season,” Jack said. “I’m indebted to coach (Jim) O’Brien for what he did for me last season. Not only him, but also Larry Bird and (general manager) David Morway. They put me in the position to play well and get a long-term contract. I’ll always be indebted to them.”

Toronto Raptors

I think this is a terrible signing for the Raptors

The Length Of The Contract

I didn’t want the Raptors to add any contracts that lasted beyond two years. They have a nice rebuilding opportunity that summer, a rebuilding option that they are going to need, and it shouldn’t be burdened by unnecessary contracts.

Of course, I was willing to make exceptions for exceptional talents, but Jarrett Jack is by no means an exceptional talent, and certainly not at that pay level.

This was a deal breaker for me, but even if it wasn’t, this deal had many more areas where it would fall apart.

Jarrett Jack’s Game

Description of Jarrett’s game — Jack of all trades, master of none — Jarrett Jack is mediocre or slightly below average pretty much across the board, which does make him a decent all-round player … but he has very few high level skills.

Jarrett Jack is a poor defender at the point guard position, he lacks the lateral quickness to stay with opposing point guards and gets burnt repeatedly on the defensive end. At the two guard, he’s decent, but undersized and not all that talented defensively to begin with. Jack is also a mediocre rebounder for a point and a poor one at the two.

Offensively, Jack is a good complementary scorer with good scoring efficiency. He’s a solid jump shooter (35% from three), and a slightly below average but aggressive penetrator (more huffing and puffing than a quality end product, also more scoring than passing). He is solid at getting to the free throw line, uses his body well (like a bull when he goes to the rim, rams through anything in his way) when he gets to the rim to draw fouls, and knocks down FTs at an impressive rate.

Jack is not a prototypical point guard; he’s not a good floor general, he’s not good at creating plays for others, and has poor vision for a point guard. However, he is unselfish, he will dribble the ball up and move the ball around, letting his teammates get involved.

The Money — Backup vs Starter

There’s two situations where I would be okay with the money Jarrett Jack is earning:

  1. The team has locked down their four starters at their four other positions, they’re all highly talented players and capable of leading their team deep into the playoffs. All that is left is adding a good role player at the point, someone who is solid and stops the team from failing due to a weak starting point guard. In this role, a $5 million salary for a player like Jarrett Jack is fine (slightly overpaid, but fine).
  2. A team on the verge of a title is looking for a primary backup guard, their owner green lights the move regardless of what effect it’ll have on the luxury tax.

Otherwise, adding a four year $20 million contract is a bad decision.

And frankly, I think it’s a very poor decision when that backup guard will be playing behind a Top 15 PG in the NBA in Jose Calderon who will be commanding 30-35 minutes a night leaving only 13-18 minutes for Jack at the point (with the rest of Jack’s minutes coming as a two guard).

The Wing

I wanted the Raptors first priority to be adding a wing player. I wanted to see the Raptors add an above average defender, and an above average rebounder, while being an acceptable offensive player.

I felt the limitations of the Raptors main cast of characters made this type of player necessary, and very important to next season. Unfortunately, now that the Raptors MLE is all but used up, it’ll become a lot more difficult for the Raptors to acquire this player.

Raptors Overall Defense

With the MLE now used, the Raptors main lineup is now starting to get a lot clearer.

Starters: Calderon + DeRozan + Hedo + Bosh + Bargnani

Rotation Players: Jack + Delfino + Wright + Evans

The more and more I think about Hedo Turkoglu playing for Jay Triano, the more I think that Hedo is going to loaf defensively. Turkoglu has been a good-to-very good defender under three coaches and they were Rick Adelman, Gregg Popovich and Stan Van Gundy. Under the rest of his coaches, Hedo slacked off defensively and was a poor defender. I don’t think Jay Triano will be able to command the respect needed to get Hedo to play good defense for the Raptors next season, especially not when there are so many other defensive problems around Hedo in the lineup.

There’s three players who I think can play good defense next season, and one maybe defender. Those three players are Hedo Turkoglu, Chris Bosh and Antoine Wright. Turkoglu and Bosh are both good defenders, while Wright is only slightly above average. As I just said, my confidence in Hedo giving a good defensive effort next season is fairly low, and my confidence in Bosh is equally low (since Bosh was below average defensively last year under Triano). I expect Antoine Wright to give his best efforts defensively, because it’s the only way he can get on the court.

The one maybe good defender was Demar DeRozan, but judging from his summer league play, he’ll take some time to get his defense in gear. So I wouldn’t be counting on him.

As for the rest of the Raptors lineup — Bargnani, Evans, Calderon, Jack and Delfino — I rate Carlos Delfino as a slightly below average defender … while the rest are either poor or very poor defensively.

To conclude, as currently constituted, I expect the Raptors to be one of the 10 worst defensive teams in the NBA next season.

The Money Part Two

The Raptors have around $62 million tied up in eight players heading into the 2010/11 season, assuming Chris Bosh resigns for a maximum contract. By the time the Raptors fill out their roster with minimum contract players, that figure will rise to $66 million or so.

The luxury tax threshold is currently $69.9 million and is expected to fall hard next offseason. The Raptors could already be on the verge of crossing that threshold next season, without spending any further money.

If the Raptors do spend more money this offseason — say Delfino for a three year $10 million contract — that will almost certainly wipe out their chances of being able to spend any money next offseason. Leaving them to minimum contracts, or slightly above the minimum, to upgrade their roster.

In other words, signing Jarrett Jack now, takes options off the board next season. I think the Raptors could have gotten a better player for their money next year than Jack.

My Preferred Player

There were two players I wanted the Raptors to look at: Flip Murray and Anthony Carter.

Since Jarrett Jack is a solid reliable backup guard, rather than flashy, explosive and somewhat undependable guard, let’s then assume Colangelo would have been more interested in Anthony Carter (my second choice) than Flip Murray (my first choice).

I would have liked to have seen the Raptors sign Anthony Carter to a one or two year contract. They may have gotten him on a minimum deal, but if not, they very likely would not have had to go above $2 million per annum.

Anthony Carter is an above average defender, a slightly above average rebounder, and a serviceable offensive player. Offensively, Anthony Carter shoots less than Jack, which is a good thing because he’s not as good a scorer as Jack is, or as good a shooter, and not as efficient as Jack is.

Conclusions

I think this is a terrible signing. I do not think Jack is worth the money paid to him and I think, in time, the Raptors will regret this contract.

It’s not as bad as Jason Kapono’s deal … but it’s bad.

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  1. I don’t have time to respond to everything in your post, but I think attacking Jack on his rebounding was a little off base.

    Last year he out rebounded Jose, Nash and Devin Harris, just to name a few.

    You say that BC should have been interested in Flip Murray when Flip is not only way older but also a far worse rebounder than Jack.

    Am I missing something here?

  2. Hello PG, welcome to the site!

    I wasn’t attacking Jack, I was just trying to describe his game. I said Jack was a mediocre rebounder for a point guard, which he is. He averages one rebound roughly every 10 minutes which is average for the position. Now when Jack is playing the two guard position, relative to his position, he is a poor rebounder and that will be a problem for Toronto because Jack could be playing up to half his minutes at that position.

    You’re right, Flip Murray is a worse rebounder than Jack — heck, he’s been a worse player than Jack for most of his career — my interest in Flip Murray over Jack is financial. Murray would cost less money, leaving the Raptors more money to spend on filling other holes on their bench. I think Murry + Player X for the MLE is a better deal than signing Jack for the majority of the MLE. Also, Murray would have cost the Raptors less guaranteed years which is my single biggest problem with this signing for the Raptors.

    Now if the money was equal between Jack and Murray, I absolutely would prefer Jack over Murray. Jarrett Jack is one of the better backup point guards in the league, and he’s a far more dependable player than Flip Murray.

  3. I think you’re being a bit too presumptuous about Jay Triano. I’d be wary of reaching too many conclusions based on the half season he’s coached so far. He inherited a team that had developed a bunch of bad habits during Sam Mitchell’s tenure, and whose talent didn’t lend itself to one cohesive gameplan. The fact is, he doesn’t have an NBA coaching resume right now. There’s a very real chance that he could get Hedo to play good defense, especially with a defensive specialist in Marc Iavaroni as his assistant.

  4. I think the credibility of this article is severely damaged by one of your early assertions: that you don’t want the Raptors to take on any contracts that last beyond two years. If you had taken the trouble to explain WHY, (aside from asserting without evidence or explanation that they will have a nice rebuilding opportunity in two years), then perhaps I would agree. But you don’t, so I can’t.

    It is perfectly clear that Colangelo’s strategy this season is to set the stage for Chris Bosh resigning with the Toronto Raptors in 2010. To that end, he is locking down solid players for 4-5 year contracts in order to remove all uncertainty from the roster for Chris. Chris now knows who the starting pointguard, small forward, shooting guard, and centre will be for the Toronto Raptors for the forseeable future. They are all players he likes and respects (except DeRozan, who instead offers the potential to be an allstar teammate in the future) and that complement his game. Jack is one more piece along those lines: he will be a solid bench contributor for the Raptors, who can play both SG and point, and who was Chris’s roommate in college.

    Signing 2 year contracts is contrary to Colangelo’s plan. He wants 1 year contracts (to make room to resign Chris and other 2010 free agents) or long term contracts (in order to build a stable long-term rotation around Bosh). The contract is a fair one for a player of Jack’s calibre, and he fills needs for the Raptors. It seems a solid signing to me.

  5. Hello Chutney, welcome to the site!

    There’s definitely a fair chance that Jay Triano shows a lot more defensively after having a full training camp to implement the system he wants defensively. Likewise, there’s a fair chance that Hedo Turkoglu plays good defense next season because certainly capable of it.

    I only really made assumptions about Hedo and Bosh … even if those two where to play their best defense … I would still expect the Raptors to be a poor defensive team. There’s just too many defensive weaknesses elsewhere.

    Chutney, what are your expectations for the Raptors defensively next season? Do you think they’ll be a good squad on that end of the floor? If so, why do you think they’ll be good defensively?

  6. Hello Malefax, welcome to the site!

    Sorry, I’ve explained by issues with contracts that last beyond two years in previous posts I’ve written on the site over the past month. That’s why I didn’t go into any further detail in the above the post.

    Quality Of The Roster

    I do not think it’s wise for the Raptors to pin themselves down to a lot of medium-to-long term contracts because I do not think they’ll be successful enough to warrant that. I think their lack of cap flexibility will come back to hurt them down the road.

    Now obviously, if one were to believe that this Raptors lineup will be successful — for example, a #4 or #5 seed in the East and a potential contender in the next 2-3 years — then my fears about the Raptors lack of cap flexibility would be unimportant/irrelevant. No need for cap flexibility if you’re already successful. But if a team is unsuccessful, then cap flexibility can help the team make changes and bring about improvements … and I think the Raptors will need that flexibility.

    It all comes down to highly one rates the current cast of characters playing for the Toronto Raptors.

    As for my rating of the team, I think they’re a borderline playoff team, one of several squads in the East fighting for the final two playoff spots. At the moment, I think it’s a coin flip as to whether or not they’ll even make the playoffs.

    Improving The Squad

    Furthermore, I’m worried about how the Raptors improve from their current position.

    Prospects — There’s DeRozan, who is a good prospect. Bargnani depending on how much potential one thinks is left there. Not a lot of other young talent on the squad, Roko Ukic, and then mostly established players. I don’t think there’s a lot of internal development here outside of DeRozan.

    Draft — The Raptors will be a good enough squad to avoid getting a high lottery pick, so I think they’ll be in the #11-#16 range on draft day which will make it difficult to get top talent through the draft. The Raptors will also have to give up their 2010 pick if they make the playoffs, due to the Shawn Marion trade.

    I’m uncomfortable with the Raptors roads to improvement. I’m not wild about the present, and I think their options for improvement look murky at best. I felt that the team needed to guard their remaining cap flexibility because it was one of their best options for upgrading the roster.

    Two Years

    To explain the two years remark, in 2011/12:

    (1) The only contracts the Raptors had on their books where Andrea Bargnani, Jose Calderon and Hedo Turkoglu and possibly Chris Bosh if he resigns. Also DeRozan.
    (2) Reggie Evans, Marcus Banks and Roko Ukic will be off the books which will free up somewhere around $11 million.

    The money owed to role players like Evans and Banks stops the Raptors from being able to be players in the 2010 free agency, should they keep Chis Bosh. But when their contracts expire, an opportunity presents itself.

    Even if the Raptors resign Chris Bosh, if they can trade one or two of those three expensive contracts (Hedo, Bargnani, Calderon), they could create a lot of cap space and be big time players in free agency that summer. Being able to acquire an elite player with their cap room, while hopefully keeping Bosh and one of the other three, could instantly change the Raptors fortunes and turn them into a very good team.

    Final Words

    To summarize, I wanted the Raptors to maintain every morsel of cap flexibility that they had left because I do not feel this current squad will be successful enough and I worry about how they’ll improve if they do not have cap space. This is why I was/am against the Raptors signing contracts that last longer than two years, it’s a deal breaker for me.

    Malefax, I’d be very interested to know your thoughts on the team … how good a squad do you think the Raptors will be next season?

  7. Excellent article vivisecting Jack’s (many) weak spots. I certainly would not be able to write it down point by point, but I remember Jack from Blazers days. He was outplayed by Steve Blake in every aspect. And Blake earns $4 mil. season as Portland starting point guard, while PG is considered as problematic position of otherwise full of talent Blazers’ roster. Why pay $5 mil for player inferior even to limited Blake?

    As for Jack’s stats in Indiana last season ( 13.1 points, 4.1 assists, 3.4 rebounds in 33 minutes ) , those are clearly inflated. Dunleavy missed 64 games, Marquis Daniels missed 28 games, Granger missed 15, TJ Ford 10, Tinsley was suspended by team entire season (no joking, only joke might be Pacers), backup PG Travis Diener missed 27 games with injury. Comes late season, Pacers are without half of rotation players (Jarrett Jack was only player that played 82 games, followed by Brandon Rush that suited 75 times, other played even less games), Pacers are out of playoff race, with their running style all games are finishing like 130-120 for opponents … of course that only fully healthy PG is racking late season stats in Ramon Sessions style. Look at early season stats when Jack was just backup PG with some SG minutes. 26 minutes for 9+3+3. And with Calderon healthy, 24 minutes is most he’ll get in Toronto.

    Really don’t understand why Raptors are paying career backup PG almost full MLE money. Players with much more offensive skill and much more upside like Nate Robinson or Ramon Sessions can be signed for that money. For 12 to 15 minutes that will be left behind Calderon, reliable veteran that would play for 1 to 2 millions can be acquired, like mentioned Anthony Carter or Anthony Johnson. Or just let Ukic to learn things through playing, not sitting on the end of bench for that million + something money. Just don’t use $5 million on untalented rotation player.

  8. Talking about Cap space being available or not in 2 years. BC had limited Cap space to work with this year and at the end of his transactions, will have added 8 or 9 new players to the roster.

    With a need for ,and a will to make change, there is always a way, for a competent GM.

    If the Raptors are not mid NBA in defense this year, it will be a complete failure by Triano and Iavaroni as coaches, because the talent is there, even last year they at times played good defense, just not for 48mins or every game.

    It is Iavaroni’s role to instill that commitment from the players, and the most important improvement the team must make, as the offense will look after itself.

  9. For a different view of Jarret Jack, and his potential to help the Raptors, go to T.JoseCaldesports, and read You don’t know Jack.

  10. Dave,

    I didn’t necessarily disagree with your end conclusion, just some of the statements leading up to it.

    I don’t think Hedo will be a defensive liability this season, and I also disagree with your belief that Bosh is one of the few decent defenders on this team. I think he’s always had the ability to be that, but he’s yet to show much of anything on the defensive end. He’s routinely outmuscled by stronger players and plays poor fundamental D (doesn’t engage post players before they get an entry pass, often fails to box out). He should be an intimidating help defender, but he recognizes/reacts too slowly.

    I believe the Raptors will be a poor defensive team this season, with the potential to be a middle-of-the-road defensive team (which would be a promising development, if they’re offense ends up as good as I think it’ll be). Calderon isn’t as poor a defender as he showed last season, and it’s a question mark how competent he can be as a fully healthy starter. I also believe Bargnani’s a pretty decent one-on-one defender that needs to improve his help D, but the stats from last season don’t really back that up so I’ll just have to sit tight and see if I’m right this season.

  11. I also think you overstate how important the contract length is, Dave. In the event that this experiment doesn’t work (ie: the team doesn’t gel or Bosh leaves), Jack wouldn’t be that difficult a contract to trade away. He’s shown productivity and durability so far and his stats will probably be boosted from playing on an offensively-oriented team with so many weapons. I think it’ll raise his trade value enough to where we could dump him to another team, if necessary.

  12. Hello Silvio, welcome to the site!

    I hold the same opinions as you do about Jarrett Jack’s time in Portland. I thought Blake was far and away the superior player. I also agree that Jack’s rightful spot is as a backup guard in the NBA, I don’t like him as a starter (and I do like other role players at the position, like a Rafer Alston or a Derek Fisher). I just don’t think Jarrett Jack adds enough to a team to be a 30+ minute a night player. I’d either need to see more of a defensive impact from Jack at the point, or more playmaking ability offensively, to like Jack as a starter.

    Production wise, I expect Jack to have a comparable season next year for the Raptors, as his final season in Portland.

    Hello Johnn19, welcome to the site!

    Great recommendation by the way … T.Jose Caldeford has a very good article on Jarrett Jack. Well worth reading for anyone that hasn’t seen the article already, there’s some great stuff there.

    My expectations are low on Iavaroni. He did a woeful job in Memphis, forcing the ownership to step in and hire Kevin O’Neill to take over the defensive side of the ball club after his failures on that end of the court. I’m also highly dubious about the credit Iavaroni is given for this defensive workings in Phoenix, because that club ran D’Antoni’s defensive philosophies rather than Iavaroni’s.

    Chutney,

    I agree with most of what you’ve said. I’d disagree on Bosh though, I think he has shown above average defense in the past, although there wasn’t much sign of it last season.

    As for Jack’s contract and his consequential trade-ability … yes, I’d agree that Jack will very likely be trade-able prior to the two year mark should the Raptors want to rebuild.

  13. Thanks for the thoughtful response to my comment, Dave.

    With regard to what I expect from the Raptors next year, I am kind of torn. I have a fair amount of respect for statistical analysis like one finds on 82games.com etc., and according to a lot of those measures Turkoglu is overrated and Bargnani is mediocre. So by those sorts of measures one would expect the Raptors to be, as you said, a borderline playoff team. I also know that, as a Raptors fan, my objectivity on the topic is questionable. :p

    However, the Raptors have a great deal of potential upside. I don’t know if you’ve looked at Bargnani’s stats from last year closely, but basically he went through a sea-change around December 31 and turned into a 20 ppg player. He’s only 23 and he gives every indication, in my opinion, of being able to improve his game substantially — in particular, over the course of the year he started to improve his shooting off the dribble in midrange and close, and stopped drawing so many charges when he tried to put the ball on the floor. He already is extremely difficult to guard, and it’s hard to say what his ceiling is offensively. There is also room for considerable improvement in his rebounding (obviously), and his man-defence has shown concrete improvement as well. His potential upside is very, very high.

    Calderon and Bosh are also at ages where, although their stats are unlikely to change dramatically, they are likely to continue to get better.

    The Raptors last year were in a situation where they had no bench depth (Will Solomon, we shan’t miss ye), had festering sores at the 2 and 3, and lost their starting C and PG for a good chunk of the season. On top of that they switched coaches. This year their roster is completely remade, except for Bosh, Calderon, and Bargnani, and in my view the quality of their supporting cast has dramatically increased. In particular, last year the Raptors were absolutely killed at the SF and SG spots: for a good part of the year their SF options were Jamario Moon and Joey Graham.

    Jarrett Jack may not be an all star, but last year our backups at the guard position were a ham sandwich and a poster of Vanilla Ice. I think Colangelo is wise to find quality bench players and sign them to solid deals. The 4 core Raptor stars: Bosh, Calderon, Bargs, and Turk, have a lot of upside potential and a way better supporting cast than last year. Except for Turk they are also surprisingly young.

    To me the Raptors season will depend mostly on Bargnani’s play, and on team defense (which is sort of hard to predict given new coach, many young players, and nearly all new roster). If he reverts to bust form, and the Raptors can’t defend, then the Raps will be hard-pressed to make the playoffs. But if Bargnani improves on his second-half play last year, the Raptors will have one of the best offenses in the league, and even average defense will have them vying for the 4th seed, in my opinion.

  14. To illustrate what I mean by ‘festering sores at the 2 and 3′, I present the following for your enjoyment:

    http://www.82games.com/0809/0809TOR5.HTM

  15. Great comments Malefax.

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