NBA Roundtable

Trade Idea: Raptors Salary Dump

In General NBA, Trade Talk on November 29, 2009 at 11:42 pm

I read this trade proposal by verbatim over on Raptors Republic earlier

After the latest loss, I feel an unreasonable amount of pessimism. If BC made the following trade I would be happy:

Banks (or Evans), Belinelli, Calderon, Johnson, Weems

I do not think Houston would do it. It would be a great way for us to rebuild though, by giving us lots of capspace and a major player in the 2010 market. Plus we get to keep DeRozan who has shown flashes of promise.

As the team stands now, can Bosh and Bargnani play solid team defence? No. Is Calderon the right pointguard for a team with weak interior defence? No. Maybe there are personnel issues here, not just better coaching and line shakeups needing.

I wrote a response or two in the comments section … in summary saying that

  1. I think Houston would consider it. Jose Calderon would be a big upgrade at the point. The Rockets don’t seem to have McGrady in their long term plans. And that Houston have some but not max-contract cap flexibility, and do not seem to be planning on being big players in the 2010 free agency period, so taking on Jose’s + other contracts that last to 2011 isn’t too big of an ask.
  2. Also that the deal would be a lot better for Houston if one of Evans/Banks were dropped in favour of Amir Johnson. Less contracts for 2011. So it’s basically Jose + $5 million of bad contracts in exchange for an expiring contract with some spare parts thrown in.
  3. That I would prefer the Raptors to plan around 2011 rather than 2010. That moving Banks+Evans would come at too high a cost (lose valuable trade assets) with not enough gains. Better to wait for them expire since it’ll only be a year later and keep more options open for the future.

Anyway, that’s the background … then I began writing a new comment and soon enough I was off a long tangent wondering about the virtue behind this type of a salary dump. The comment got quite long so I decided to post it here instead.

The Trade Idea

  • Toronto sends out — Jose Calderon + spare parts (Weems + Belinelli) + bad contracts (Evans + Banks)
  • Toronto receives — Expiring contracts of an equal amount

I’m going to ignore the McGrady part of the discussion and focus solely on the cap space + how beneficial that cap space could be for the Raptors.

The Salary Dump

Raptors Salaries

(1) Bosh — $16.57 million
(2) Hedo — $9.8 million
(3) Bargnani — $8.5 million
(4) Jack — $4.6 million
(5) DeRozan — $2.45 million
Total — $41.92 million

Plus additional charges for open rosters spots + possibly a low lottery pick which would range from $3.33 million to $5 million in additional costs (cap holds).

That would take the Raps salaries to $45-47 million against a salary cap of $50.4 to $53.6 million which would leave them with $3 million to $8.6 million in cap space.

Side Note: Raptors own a lottery protected first round pick to the Miami Heat as part of the Shawn Marion trade. So if Toronto fails to make the playoffs they’ll keep their lottery pick but if Toronto makes the playoffs then they’ll lose their mid-first round draft pick.

Questions To Ponder

Please feel free to come up with your own answers to any of these questions … these are merely my opinions + assumptions + expectations

First Section

#1Can one reasonably expect to acquire a better player than Jose Calderon with that space?

(1) If the Raptors (a) lose their draft pick, and, (b) the cap ends up being as a high as possible … leaving the Raptors with max or near-maximum cap room. Let’s say $7.5 to $8.5 million.

It’s possible that the Raptors find an upgrade over Calderon if equipped with $8 million or so in cap space … but I think it’s far more likely that Toronto, even if the money is well spent, acquires a comparable talent rather than an upgrade.

(2) If the Raptors end up with their lottery pick or if the cap ends up being somewhat lower, then, Toronto will be left with the equivalent of the MLE to spend.

I don’t think the Raptors can reasonably expect to upgrade Jose Calderon with their MLE alone. And even if they could do so … they could still make that move with Jose still on the roster and then use Jose in a more beneficial trade instead. Moving Jose brings no additional (marginal at best) benefits to this MLE plan.

In summary, I doubt the Raptors manage to upgrade Calderon with this cap space. They could get a comparable talent to Jose … if they get the best possible scenario cap wise which is a substantial risk to take.

#2 Can one expect to acquire a better player via free agency than the Raptors could get via a Calderon trade?

Tough to say. I imagine it would be a comparable opportunity.

Free agency would open up a higher risk/reward opportunity though.

#3After the Raptors sign someone with that cap space … where are they as a team? A similar .500 type ball club? Perhaps a 45-50 win team?

They’re still pretty much where they are.

A frontcourt of Andrea Bargnani, Chris Bosh and Hedo Turkoglu would maintain a lot of Toronto’s defensive + rebounding problems. Even if the Raptors acquired a superior fit (roster wise) than Calderon it will difficult to both make major inroads in that area with those players maintaining large roles on the roster + make a larger overall contribution than Calderon.

If Toronto were able to bring in a high quality defensive big man who plays 33-35 minutes a night you could make a better case for improvement. But as long as Bosh, Bargnani and Hedo are kept together that won’t happen.

#4 From where the Raptors are then … how do they become a championship contender?

So, I think the Raptors would be in a comparable situation win/loss wise + a comparable situation trade asset wise.

They’ve made no major in-roads in the talent department + created no future opportunities to improve the talent.

Basically, they’re in the exact same spot as they are now. Just with somebody other than Jose. And it’s one where there’s no clear path for the Raptors to continue improving the roster with the eventual goal of contending for an NBA title. Same same, just different.

Second Section

#5Okay, but what if Chris Bosh is a free agent. What happens if he leaves? That would free up a lot of extra cap space and give the Raptors a lot of options? How does that change the picture?

The Raptors would gain an additional $16.57 million in cap space.

That would give the Raptors between $20-25 million in cap room.

#6Will any of the top tier free agents (Bron, Wade) be willing to sign in Toronto with Bosh and Jose gone? With only Hedo + Bargnani remaining? Will any second tier $10+ million free agents (Joe Johnson) sign with Toronto? Will third tier (Rudy Gay) free agents?

I don’t think any of the top tier or second tier free agents will consider joining the Raptors under those circumstances.

That leaves the Raptors with the third tier talent — generally players who have not made an All-Star game yet or who are borderline All-Stars. Who are young and have potential but are not finished products. The type of players you generally have to over-pay and who need to develop further to become good signings down the road.

Extreme examples

  • Good cases — Gilbert Arenas + Carlos Boozer + Lamar Odom + Monta Ellis + Luol Deng
  • Bad cases — Larry Hughes + Eddy Curry + Al Harrington + Jamal Crawford + Peja Stojakovic + Bobby Simmons

2010 Free Agency List

Here’s a few players who will be available in 2010 who the Raptors could look at:

  • $12-15 million range — Carlos Boozer
  • $10 million range — Rudy Gay, Luis Scola (30 years old), Josh Howard (team option), David Lee
  • Under $10 million (mostly MLE types) — Anthony Morrow, Ronnie Brewer, Tyrus Thomas, Raymond Felton, Travis Outlaw, Mike Miller, Linas Kleiza, Carl Landry, Al Harrington, Darko Milicic, Channing Frye, Kyrylo Fesenko, Javaris Crittenton

#7So, the Raptors would be hard-pressed to upgrade Chris Bosh in free agency?

Yes, that’s what I think.

If the Raptors spend their money extremely well they could make a short term improvement. Say two $12 million guys or two $10 million guys plus a $5 million one. If they spent that money well they could become a better team in the short term … but they’d be severely light in top tier talent.

When your best player is a Hedo Turkoglu or a Caron Butler or a Monta Ellis … you’re team just isn’t going to go that far. This is a league that’s dominated by elite talents and they’re just not that.

Chris Bosh is a far superior talent (All-NBA caliber player) than anyone the Raptors can expect to sign (borderline All-Stars) in a free agency.

#8Play out an example

I think most would note Rudy Gay as a prime target. An athletic wing with oodles of unfulfilled potential who depending on his future development could become quite the player. So let’s say the Raptors nab him on a starting salary of $11 million per annum.

I like Scola as the best player on the list but he seems a bit old to be giving long money too on a large contract when you’re not likely to be contending for a title. So to replace Bosh, let’s say they sign David Lee for $9-10 million.

And with their leftover funds, assuming the Raps get max cap space of $25 million, the Raptors pick up Travis Outlaw for $5-6 million. Okay, so that would give the Raptors a lineup of:

Jarrett Jack + DeMar DeRozan + Rudy Gay + David Lee + Andrea Bargnani
Sixth man — Travis Outlaw

How good is that team? Borderline playoff team? Is that even better than the Grizzlies current top six players? Where does that team take the team over the next 2-4 years?

It’s still a middling short term situation + a lousy medium-to-long term situation for the Raptors. A comparable situation to the one they’re currently in … just with different players.

#9If the Raptors spend that money, and let’s say they spend it relatively well, are they an improved squad over Chris Bosh’s Raptors? Where are they as a team? Are they a .500 squad? Are they a 45-50 win squad?

Most likely, the Raptors are in a worse situation than they are now because they lost Bosh and were unable to replace him.

Second most likely, assuming the Raptors spend their money well and build a more balanced ball club, the Raptors are a comparable to slightly improve team.

Least likely, and extremely unlikely at that given the free agency options —  assuming the Raptors spend their money extremely well (home run type moves) — Toronto is now an improved side in the short term but has massive long term problems with no clear plan in how to make the next step and become a contender.

In summary, there’s no high quality play available here for the Raptors.

#10And, after that season, how do the Raptors go forward? How do they turn that nucleus into a contender?

If the Raptors spend the money they’re pretty much screwed.

A lot of long contracts with mixed trade value and a lack of quality prospects on the roster.

#11 And if the Raptors don’t spend money?

No real chance that this one happens … but anyway … then they should begin a long drawn out rebuilding process and the Raptors could actually have a future down the road.

Of course, this means parting with Andrea Bargnani + Hedo Turkoglu because neither player fits into a rebuilding process.


I do not think moving Jose Calderon in an attempt to also move Banks + Evans + Belinelli from the Raptors books is a positive move for Toronto. Not as a stand alone move.

If the Raptors followed up that trade by also moving Jarrett Jack + one of Andrea Bargnani or Hedo Turkoglu — consequently creating enough guaranteed cap space to sign a max contract — the idea could have some legs to it.

However, the move by itself, looks like a poor play. The Raptors would be losing a good talent in Calderon just to remove two poor contracts which will be off the books a year later anyway … and they’ll be doing it for an option that is very likely to make the team worse and/or even if it plays out extremely well it will still leave the Raptors in a comparable situation to the one that they’re already in.

And finally, it doesn’t improve the Raptors options/future should Chris Bosh bolt in free agency.

  1. Bargs, Patrick O’Brien & Sonny Weems to New Jersey for Tony Battie & Yi Jianlian (if both have decent bills of health).

    Jose to New York, Toronto gets Kyle Lowry from Houston and the bloated contract of Jared Jeffries from NY, Houston sends T-Mac to NY and gets Wilson Chandler, Eddy Curry, Al Harrington and Chris Duhon.

    NY gets a real PG and sheds a bit of salary for the summer of 2010 and a chance to see if T-Mac has anything left in case he’s the consolation prize for them in the summer of 2010. He might be a fan draw this year as well.

    Houston gets rid of T-Mac, gets Wilson Chandler as a promising young piece, still has a back-up PG, gets some offence in Harrington without long-term salary issues and gets a big body to deal with the Lakers and others in the playoffs. Not sure if that’s enough to have them make a deal like this but apparently they’re talking to NY about T-Mac.

    Toronto gets a better defensive PG in Lowry, gets rid of their other huge defensive liability but should still have some offensive punch in Turk and Bosh. Offense off the bench is still and issue for the Raps but that seems to be an issue now and Bargs won’t do well coming off the bench if his history is any indication. They also get rid of their chemistry issues in my opinion by dealing Jose and Bargs. Battie is a decent defender if healthy. Jianlian might be an ok back-up PF.

    New Jersey has a better big in Lopez to pair with Bargs so they get an offensive PF who fits well with them.

    No one completely hamstrings themselves with cap issues.

    Probably a lot longer than you wanted in a comment but I can’t help but think Colangelo actually didn’t go far enough in blowing up the Raptors this summer. I’d love to be wrong about Bargs since his game pleases me but I’m coming to think he takes more off the table than he puts on. And he’s a mediocre fit at best with Bosh.

  2. Hey Sam,

    Probably a lot longer than you wanted in a comment

    No, it’s all good. Long comments are welcome …

    but I can’t help but think Colangelo actually didn’t go far enough in blowing up the Raptors this summer.

    Fully agree

    The Trade Idea

    Just get my ducks in order here …

    Toronto receives Kyle Lowry + Yi Jialian + Tony Battie + Jared Jeffries in exchange for Jose Calderon + Andrea Bargnani + Sonny Weems + Patrick O’Bryant.

    (2) Houston receives Eddy Curry + Al Harrington + Wilson Chandler + Chris Duhon in exchange for Tracy McGrady.

    (3) New York receives Tracy McGrady + Jose Calderon in exchange for Eddy Curry + Al Harrington + Jared Jeffries + Chris Duhon + Wilson Chandler.

    (4) New Jersey gets Andrea Bargnani + Sonny Weems + Patrick O’Bryant in return for Tony Battie + Yi Jialian.

    Thoughts On Trade

    (a) Kyle Lowry is a free agent this summer. Is Lowry considered a long term piece? Is the plan to re-sign him to an extension or let him leave?

    I presume Lowry is a long term fixture … because if he’s only an expiring contract than his talent whether good or bad is of little long term consequence/benefit to a team in the Raptors position.

    I think Amir Johnson would be the key piece in a trade like this. If he were playing 30+ minutes a night as a starter alongside Bosh. Then I think the Raptors could be an average defensive team. Lowry helps some here too, but for me, Amir is the key.

    Without Bargnani and Calderon the offense would fall pretty hard but it should still be solid. The team’s rebounding would improve greatly if Amir played more + Lowry’s excellent board work. The Raptors should be a slightly above .500 team in that scenario. A playoff team (draft pick goes to Miami).

    (b) Salaries — If Lowry were to stay, he’d likely cost $3.5-4.5 million per annum. Yi is also on the books for 2010/11 for $4.05 million. Jared Jeffries has another $6.88 million. While Battie is an expiring.

    So the Raptors would be swapping $17.5 million in contracts for $15 million in contracts. No cap flexibility until 2011. In 2011, they’d be left with about $46 million on their payroll if they signed Lowry to a new contract. Assuming the cap rises some … the Raps would have around $10 million in cap space.

    Team — Bosh + Hedo + Jack + Lowry + DeRozan + 2011 mid-first round pick.

    (c) Yi is poor player. He is a poor-to-very poor defensive player + a largely ineffective offensive player due to his poor shot selection, lack of aggressiveness, inconsistency and general inefficiency. Yi is a solid rebounder though.

    I don’t see Yi being anything other than a negative for the Raptors in terms of on-court contributions … plus I don’t think he’d show any more development in Toronto than he did in New Jersey.

    (d) I think the Raptors end up losing two prized assets in Jose Calderon (player and trade asset) + Andrea Bargnani (trade asset) and the team doesn’t get enough back in return for them either from a talent perspective or a cap perspective.

    Bargnani and Calderon are the two best assets in the trade.

    (e) I wouldn’t put much stock in those McGrady-to-NY rumours. The Knicks don’t have anything of value to offer the Rockets. I don’t think that part of the trade happens.

    (f) New York gets a great trade. Clears their cap and sets themselves up for free agency. Adds the best player in the deal in Jose Calderon. Only loses a decent-to-mediocre prospect (Chandler) in the process.

    (g) New Jersey doesn’t have to give up much for a player like Bargnani. This is a relative steal for them … trade wise.

    My Trade Idea

    I was pondering a trade earlier today which has some similar faces in it to the one you’re describing …

    If the Raptors decided to move Hedo Turkoglu … I feel it would be best that Toronto try to trade Hedo for cap flexibility rather than talent because I don’t see the Raptors upgrading Hedo from a talent perspective given his age + contract.

    So, if Toronto failed to get an expiring contract for 2010, I was thinking they should try to contact the Knicks and agree to take Jared Jeffries off their hands in return for Wilson Chandler.

    ** Raptors — Pick up a decent role player + prospect and get cap flexibility for the next nearest free agency window (2011).
    ** Knicks — Swap dead weight (Jeffries) for talent (Hedo) and be better equipped to entice free agents to come to NY in 2010. At a cost of Wilson Chandler who is a mediocre prospect at best.

    I’d rather trade Hedo for expiring contracts but if that wasn’t available I think this would be the next route I’d like to see the Raps try to take.

  3. Last winter what I said was that Bryan Colangelo SHOULD NOT have traded Jermaine O’Neal and Jamario Moon to Miami but should have simply stayed the course, after acknowledging the mistake he made in bringing JO aboard in the first place.

    Did Bryan Colangelo not go far enough this past summer in his efforts to re-construct the Raptors team?

    No, it’s the exact opposite.

    Bryan Colangelo has consistently shown that he does not know when to stop from tinkering further with his team’s roster and, instead, sit back and watch it grow gradually because he has put the right pieces into place from the get-go.

    4 years ago, I observed that what the Phoenix Suns had actually done during the Bryan Colangelo era was, in fact, NOT very remarkable at all, given the plethora of resources and opportunity the man had been given BY HIS FATHER, as the principal owner of the team, and that if he chose to conduct himself in a similar way during his time in Toronto, there’d be little doubt whatsoever that the Raptors would be able to turn a huge profit while making no major headway in the league as a legitimate contender for a NBA championship anytime in the immediate future.

    Well, four years later … is there anyone in Raptorville today who still happens to think that what I said then was, in fact, wrong?

    PS. There are ways out of the current mess the team finds itself in but trust that they DO NOT involve making major moves that encompass trading either Chris Bosh or Jose Calderon.

  4. Dave – you paint a grim picture, but I can’t disagree. The raps are in a very bad spot right now, largely thanks to the moves BC made over the past calendar year (trading JO to absorb Banks, re-upping Bargs for big $, signing Hedo for even bigger $ given his age, signing Jack for big $ given his talent). Personally, I don’t think trading Jose is the answer. He’s one of the few players on our roster with above-average talent at the NBA level.

    I think we need to find a sucker to take Bargs, but not as a giveaway; we can get some talent in return, and it should be young, versatile talent, or we should just bite the bullet and take an expiring deal + a couple picks. Getting rid of Hedo is near-impossible at this point, but maybe a contender will want some depth/experience come playoff time.

    I also think we need to do a FAR better job of building via the draft. Every good team, no matter what they’ve got, continues to add pieces via the draft. Instead, BC seems to see fit to trade away all our picks and sit on the sidelines year to year. DD is one of the few bright spots this season, and there’s really no reason why we shouldn’t have a nice 2nd-year guy developing alongside him…

    We need to keep Bosh at all costs, IMO.

  5. Maybe a shorter version of my idea is to say that the Raps are likely at the point where they need to rebuild. My trade idea is just a thought (a rather drawn out one admittedly) and maybe not a good one, although getting some defence at the PG position might be the only “quick fix” available. That said, it’s a quarter of the way into the season. Maybe this team turns it around. Given they seem as mentally soft as all the other mediocre teams of the Colangelo era I doubt it but what do I know?

    And while I think the SSOL Suns were one of the best teams never to win it all (and very much a championship-calibre team), I have come to believe that Colangelo is unlikely to build a winner. He won’t let a plan develop over longer than a season and seems to be always trying to hit the home run.

    I strongly suspect the Raptors lose Bosh this season and remain a middle of the road (i.e. 6-10 seed in the East) team for years to come. Hope I’m wrong because watching them do well in the playoffs would give me more pleasure than watching any other team but I guess I’ll just have to settle for watching quality basketball being played elsewhere.

  6. Hey Scott G,

    Towards the end of last season and throughout the summer I made the following comment:

    Bryan Colangelo should not make moves based on trying to keep Bosh in Toronto. Nothing he can do at this point will improve the Raptors enough to convince Bosh that the Raptors have a better opportunity to win a Championship than some of the offers he’ll get during the season (Miami, Chicago, Cleveland).

    It’s not an achievable task. Colangelo can’t win. It’s a lose-lose situation (doesn’t convince Bosh + wastes opportunities to improve Raptors). Forcing moves for short term success to build around Bosh for this season will only dig the Raptors a deeper hole. There’s no upside to this plan.

    That last section there is a pretty good summary to how I’d describe the Raptors summer. Now, fast forward to today, what’s done is done … but we have another key period (trading deadline + after that the draft) for decisions by Colangelo.

    The rules haven’t changed. Colangelo is still incapable of creating a good enough situation (not enough time or assets to do the job) to convince Bosh his future is in Toronto. So now comes another key period in the Raptors future … does Colangelo continue down this road and make the situation even worse? Or does he begin to rectify it?


    (1) I fully agree Bosh is a hugely important figure for the Raptors. All-NBA caliber big men are extremely valuable. I just don’t think anything further can be done from a basketball standpoint to get him to stay. It’s just too late in the game for this (two years ago, yes, today no).
    (2) Despite the Raptors being unable to create that situation … I still think they stand a good chance of getting Bosh to stay. There’s a lot of financial incentives in staying with his home team.

    Bargnani Trade Value

    24 year old seven footers who are scoring 18-20 points per game always have trade value … always! There will always be GM’s who will want to take a chance on a seven footer who can give them 20 points a night. Especially a sweet shooting seven footer with potential (suckers).

    Anyway, trading Bargnani is the Raptors single best opportunity to improve. Both because of the removal of his lack of on-court contributions + his high trade value.

    Just by trading Bargnani and making some changes to the supporting cast in the offseason … I think the Raptors could build a 50+ win team.

    The difficult question is where do they go from there? Further rebuilding (Hedo/Jose) looks the best option. It could work out without the added rebuilding of the core if the trade is particularly good (established perennial All-Star or a prospect who develops into that … vs an expected result of a player who is a borderline All-Star talent or a notch below), or/and if DeRozan (or future draft picks) develops especially well … but further rebuilding, I think, is the best play.

    Hey Sam,

    I think Colangelo could do a very good job for the Raptors once he gets over this Bargnani obsession. How long that takes is anyone’s guess …

    I agree that the Raptors need to rebuild. Bargnani has to go and possibly one of Hedo/Jose too to facilitate such a process. The Raps also need to completely re-do their supporting cast (except for Amir).

    It’s amazing how intelligent a player like Tim Duncan can make a GM look. A player like that can work alongside anyone and makes everyone around him better. He covers up mistakes and makes good decisions look better than they actually were. In contrast, it’s also amazing how bad a player like Andrea Bargnani can make a GM look.

    Remove Bargnani from the equation and things will begin to look better in a hurry for Colangelo.

    Point Guard Defense

    I don’t believe this will be able to provide a quick fix for the Raptors. The primary problem to the Raptors shoddy perimeter defense (point guard in particular who suffers this more than anyone else) is the big men’s inability to cover the pick and roll. No point guard is going to change that.

    Improved point guard defense to improve the Raptors terrible overall defense is a band aid … like Reggie Evans makes the Raptors tougher team is a band aid.

    It’s a small change in the grand scheme of things defensively and it’ll have little net effect. And when you combine that with the loss of Jose’s valuable offensive contributions … then you have a situation on your hands where it’s extremely difficult to come out a winner.

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