The Raptors search for a third point guard was supposed to be decided during Summer League play. It was going to be a showdown between Tu Halloway and Ben Uzoh. Uzoh had the inside track after playing fairly decent ball this summer. Halloway never played a game for the Raptors summer league team and Uzoh wasn’t spectacular. Bryan Colangelo changed plans however and moved to sign away Chicago Bulls backup Point Guard John Lucas III to play third string here in Toronto.
An interesting move, albeit a somewhat confusing one, since Uzoh finished last year so strongly and played decently in Summer League. However Lucas does represent an upgrade at the point and one that can be depended on to play increased minutes should an injury occur.
Lucas is a different kind of player than Uzoh and will be looked to provide scoring off the bench. One of his strengths is his ability to fill the bucket. He also has a tendency to take a great number of shots. He does have decent percentages from three, but certainly needs to work on his shot selection.
The move though makes sense if you look at what is likely to happen before the season starts. Jose Calderon is not necessarily going to start the season with the Raptors and if he does, he likely won’t finish it with the club as he’s made his unhappiness known to management.
Lucas was the primary backup last year in Chicago when Derek Rose was lost to injury and had a fair amount of success during that period. He was a large part of the offense during Rose’s absence and led the team on the floor fairly well.
Last year as a backup Lucas averaged 7.5 points and 2.2 assists with a PER of 16.3. These aren’t bad numbers for a backup though he is definitely not known as a distributor. Colangelo and the Raptors were probably aware of this fact and likely see Lucas as added scoring off the bench.
On the surface this move seems to indicate that a Calderon trade is around the corner. Though nothing is imminent rumours have begun to surface that the Hornets might be an ideal trade partner as they lack a clear number one option at the point. Lucas would be good insurance if such a move is made.
Fans have not taken to the signing with a great deal of excitement, but the fact remains that Lucas is going to be counted on to score, not distribute. His contract ($3 million over two years) is not going to break the bank and as long as Calderon is here, he won’t be playing heavy minutes. He also proved himself last year in Chicago and can be counted on to run the offense if the Raptors get hit with the injury bug again this season.
Lucas is a solid, low risk high reward kind of deal. And if he doesn’t mesh well with the team or coach Casey the second year is a team option, allowing the raptors to walk away if the fit is not a good one.
A clever pick up that upgrades the depth and quality on the Raptors bench.
The Zan Tabak Herald