NBA Roundtable

Where Does Toronto Go From Here?

In Free Agency on July 9, 2009 at 10:00 am

Quick recap on the trade last night for the Raptors

This is quite simply a stunning trade for Bryan Colangelo. Regaining the Raptors trade exceptions, not having to renounce his own free agents, and moving Humphries two year deal for expiring contracts. Unbelievable!

Bryan Colangelo deserves a round of applause!

The Raptors suddenly have a ton more options at their disposal. What should they do with them?

The Current Team

Starters: Jose Calderon – Demar DeRozan – Hedo Turkoglu – Chris Bosh – Andrea Bargnani

Rotation Players: Reggie Evans

Deep Bench: Roko Ukic, Marcus Banks, Quincy Douby, Antoine Wright, Devean George, Patrick O’Bryant, Nathan Jawai

Brief Analysis

The Raptors have four of their starting five locked up, with the final spot open, likely for whichever player offers the best mix of defense + rebounding.

The Raptors have only one established rotation player, a guy capable of going out and giving you 20 good minutes a night consistently. He is a backup big man. Therefore, the Raptors need help at the backup point guard position, and on the wings. The backup big man, Reggie Evans, is also an undersized power forward and a poor defender, so another big would be nice but the other two holes are the club’s first priorities.

The Raptors have seven six deep bench players, players who the team shouldn’t rely on for extended minutes. If truly pressed, the Raptors could play Ukic or Wright, but it’s not ideal. Having seven six players you can’t trust for meaningful minutes is ridiculous, that numbers needs to be trimmed down to a maximum of four, and preferably only three.

Raptors Needs

Prioritize the Raptors needs

#1 A rotation worthy wing

#2 A backup point guard

#3 A second rotation worthy wing

#4 A big man

The Raptors Assets

What assets do the Raptors have to fill their needs?

  • The Mid-Level Exception
  • The Bi-Annual Exception
  • The option of resigning their own free agents — Carlos Delfino (restricted), Anthony Parker, Pops Mensa-Bonsu (restricted)

The Raptors Options

Prior to free agency I wrote three posts looking at the best free agents at the guard position, on the wing, and the big men spots. Also, here’s a full free agent list. After having a quick look over on that list, it’s clear that most of the best talent is already off the market, or is beyond the Raptors reach (Paul Millsap types).

So, what is left?


  • Flip Murray
  • Anthony Carter
  • Minimum contract guys: Ronnie Price, Royal Ivey, CJ Watson


  • Marquis Daniels
  • Linas Kleiza
  • Keith Bogans
  • Von Wafer
  • Josh Childress
  • And a bunch of minimum contract players

Big Men

  • Brandon Bass
  • Drew Gooden
  • Rasho Nesterovic
  • Glen Davis
  • A few minimum contract players

Brief Analysis On Raptors Options


I like Flip Murray the best. He is coming off a career season and is somewhat risky as result (may revert to the norm, which is an unimpressive sight), but he’s decent and has by far the most upside to any of the free agents there. Murray was brilliant last season for the Hawks last season.

Anthony Carter is the second best choice. He’s a dependable veteran who plays defense, rebounds, can play both guard spots, and is a serviceable offensive player. He’s a solid role player.


With four of the five starting positions locked down, and with each player there likely to play 35 minutes or so apiece, it’s important to find a suitable fifth starter. Their are two areas of emphasis for this player, and they are defense + rebounding, due to the limitations of the other starters.

Marquis Daniels is my first choice. He’s a very good rebounder for a two guard and a decent rebounder for a small forward. He’s also a good defensive player, not a standout but unfortunately nobody else on the list is either, but he is a good defender. I think he’s got the best mix of defense + rebounding off of that list.

Daniels is also a good offensive player; he can pass, dribble, good slasher, but a poor shooter. With two jump shooting big men like Bosh and Bargnani, and two other talented shooters, Daniels’ weaknesses as a shooter are unimportant.

Quick thoughts on the other wings

Linas Kleiza is a good wing but his development as stagnated in Denver, and I think he needs more minutes and preferably a starter’s role to fulfill his potential, which the Raptors do not offer. Kleiza is also a poor fit next to Hedo Turkoglu, because Kleiza is a weak defender, and neither player is capable of defending quicker two guards. In order for the Raptors to get a positive contribution out of Kleiza, they’d have to play more small ball with Kleiza at the power forward slot. So he’s a good player, however, I do not like the fit.

Von Wafer is interesting name. He’s a good scorer, efficient, and a good defender. However, he’s a lousy rebounder, which hurts his case for the Raptors. I’m also uncomfortable with his past lack of effort in areas outside of scoring (prior to Houston), and as a result would rather see him on a more defensive minded veteran team. I think that type of team has a much better chance at getting Von Wafer’s best effort.

I do not like Josh Childress’ game (can’t shoot, can’t create his own shot, and is a defensive liability) and I absolutely hate his price tag. I’m not interested in him.

Keith Bogans is a fall back type player. He’s a good defender and a good shooter offensively, which makes him a good role player. His lack of rebounding is a problem for me.

Big Men

Brandon Bass is the best on this list. He’s a good-to-very good defender, an very good athlete, a decent rebounder, and an excellent midrange shooter. He’d be a really nice piece for some small quick Raptors lineups, while not losing too much defensively or rebounding wise. Bass’ price tag is the problem, he’d likely cost most of the MLE, which would make it difficult to fill the other holes on the wing and at the point guard position.

Rasho Nesterovic could be a legit 260lb seven footer for the Raptors. Himself, and Evans, would be fairly immobile as the primary backup big men though … plus his game looked on the decline last season in Indiana. It would be nice to get a guy who can set good screens though.

Drew Gooden is a good offensive player, good rebounder, and a poor defender. The Raptors have enough poor defenders, especially with their bigs. I’m not interested in Gooden.

I do not think Glen Davis is worth the money he’s asking for, so I’m not interested in him.

Favoured Road For Raptors

What is my preferred road to take for the Raptors?

Raps’ Own Free Agents

I’d like to see the Raptors sign Carlos Delfino. His good rebounding, versatile and quality offensive play, and decent defensive ability would be a nice addition to the Raptors.

I’d also like to see the Raptors sign Pops Mensa-Bonsu to a minimum contract. His athleticism, defense and rebounding, would be a nice fit in a quicker Raptors lineup.

And finally, I’d like to see the Raptors set Anthony Parker free. He’s not a good enough rebounder, his defense is mediocre, and his offense is starting to decline. There are better options elsewhere and it’s time for Toronto to look at them.


Most of the top free agents who were in this price range have already been signed by another team, so there are only a few options left for the full or near-full MLE and I’m not overly enamoured with any of them. Instead, I’d like to see the Raptors split the MLE up into two, and sign two players.

The first priority is Marquis Daniels. I’d like to see the Raptors sign him, and give him the starting position. The second player I’d like to see added is Flip Murray.


I wouldn’t spend this. I don’t think the Raptors need to use this, and who knows, it may be more useful next offseason.

If the Raptors were to use the LLE, I’d like to see them offer it to Rasho Nesterovic.

Raptors Lineup

Starters: Jose Calderon + Marquis Daniels + Hedo Turkoglu + Chris Bosh + Andrea Bargnani

Rotation Players: Flip Murray + Carlos Delfino + Demar DeRozan +Reggie Evans + possibly Pops Mensa-Bonsu

Bench Players: Roko Ukic, Antoine Wright

That would give the Raptors a strong 9/10 man rotation.

The only perimeter player who cannot create off the dribble and pass the ball is Demar DeRozan, which is nice versatlity for the Raptors to have offensively. That’s two point guards, and three wings, who can all create with the basketball. That will help make the Raptors more difficult to defend, and make them more effective in a spaced out offense.

The Raptors will also have two point guards with big size, which will help defensively, and also give them more lineup flexibility because Flip Murray can easily play some two guard in smaller lineups.

I like the rebounding ability of the wings. An excellent rebounder in Delfino, a decent one in Hedo, another good rebounder in Daniels, and DeRozan who hopefully will be a good rebounder as a rookie. Defensively, they should be solid enough.

I think the Raptors are better off playing Bosh or Bargnani at center, or possibly Reggie Evans, as often as possible. I think this team will be better if they can keep a quick pace, and space the floor out as well as possible. That’s why I preferred to have Pops, rather than a larger big to go alongside Reggie or the starters.


A quick word on 2011

Currently the only contracts the Raptors have on the books that summer belong to Andrea Bargnani, Jose Calderon and Hedo Turkoglu. The Raptors have no other unnecessary contracts in the way.

This is important to note, because if things do not go as well as hoped, and they won’t, the Raptors will need a way to change up … and this is where that option is.

If things go estray, the Raptors can dump one or three of those contracts and gain good-to-excellent financial flexibility and then rebuild around the players they want to … depending on who they are, that could be a quick one summer retooling process or a longer blank canvas type of rebuilding.

Sum it up

This is the Raptors fail-safe. Their way to change the course of the ship if they’re unhappy with where they’re heading.

It’s two years away which is a nice distance. It’s far enough away to accurately judge how good the current team, and core of the team, actually are and to get a good read of where they stand in the Eastern Confernce landscape. It’s also not so far away, that you go bananas waiting to end this thing if things get really bad.

Why am I mentioning this?

I’d like to see the Raptors keep all their free agent signings to two year contracts to keep this option open.

That’s Delfino and the usage of the MLE, both kept to two year contracts.

  1. You don’t see Matt Barnes as an option as the backup SF?

  2. Hey EarthJuice,

    I should have included Matt Barnes. Personally, I’m not a fan of his, I think his defense is too poor, but yeah I should have included him.

    Is Matt Barnes someone you’d like to see the Raptors acquire?

    Some other likely minimum contract wings that I didn’t mention, but who could be interesting targets for the Raptors — Ime Udoka, Walter Herrmann, Wally Szczerbiak, Desmond Mason, Rodney Carney, Kareem Rush.

  3. Dave,

    FYI …

    At this point, where do you see the Raptors finishing in the Eastern Conference standings at the end of the 2009-2010 regular season schedule?

    Should be very interesting to see if there’s a difference bewteen how “Raptors fans” respond to this question versus “fans of other NBA teams” versus “Unbiased NBA Observers”.

    In which of these three generic categories would you place yourself?

  4. Khandor,

    I’m still somewhat undecided. At first blush, I have the Raptors in that borderline playoff team grouping, fighting for one of the final seeds and quite possibly missing out altogether.

    I’m going to have a longer look at the picture later on today, or maybe tomorrow, and decide which teams I think have the best chance of emerging from that group.

  5. would ime udoka be an affordable option for the backup wing position? especially compared to delfino.

  6. Hey Dino Gunner,

    Definitely. Udoka will likely sign for the minimum, and he’s a good player, so he’s a good option for the Raptors.

    I rate Ime Udoka as a better defender than Antoine Wright. I think Udoka would become the Raptors best defender and key stopper, helping the Raptors defensively immediately. Udoka is also a very good rebounder for a two and a good rebounder for a three. He can also hit the outside shot with good consistency.

    I think Udoka would do a lot to help the Raptors next season. He’d be a great target, I’m a big fan of that idea.

    I would still sign Delfino though, despite adding Udoka. I’d be bringing in Ime Udoka to replace Antoine Wright, rather than Delfino.

  7. If we sign both of these players, wouldnt we get very close to the luxury tax limit if not over? Also, (i know jack’s deal insitigated it) but wouldnt delfino’s confirm that Toronto will not spend any money next year especially if the luxury tax limit is decreasing? I would rather sign udoka, and sign another big man (maybe pops) to the minimum. Next year, regardless of the decreasing cap, I would aim to add a MLE free agent next year; one who could really round out our starting five. For example I would really go for someone like Joe Johnson and even though he is worth more than the MLE, he might take it because of a depressed economy (and less salary being offered) and to compete with bosh (if he sign), Turk and Calderon. He would also go a long way to solving our defending and rebounding issues at the sg spot, another late game shooter and would provide a good mentor for DeRozan.

  8. Dino Gunner,

    I haven’t done the numbers on where the Raptors cap stands after signing Jack … but they should have plenty of room under the luxury tax this season to take on Delfino’s contract, but not enough room next season to have Delfino + MLE.

    What the Raptors can do, is overpay Carlos Delfino for one season instead of offering him a more reasonable figure over several seasons. Say $5-6 million for one year … I think the Raptors are far enough below the tax to offer that. Then, Delfino comes off the books in one year’s time, making him an unrestricted free agent, while also giving the Raptors the financial flexibility they need.

    As for Joe Johnson, he will definitely not be available for the MLE next offseason.

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: