This week the NBA will have its trade deadline and there will be rumours all over the web this week about “this player” and “that player”. Names like Josh Smith, Pau Gasol and even Chris Bosh are already getting tossed around trade circles. It’s a nutty time of unsubstantiated rumours, people with little to no knowledge of anything spreading baseless gossip and reporters, fans and players reading into things that may or not be there. And in the end there is usually more talk than action.
The Raptors have not been frequently involved in trade rumours, but they do have some chips to play in the possible wheeling and dealing that will be done over the next few days.
The NBA deadline, unlike the NHL and MLB, usually has a calm feel to it. There isn’t a great number of trades, but often there are a few that change the course of the post-season. The Kendrick Perkins for Jeff Green trade stands out from last year.
And sometimes the trades are small ones that help teams in the future. In years past the Raptors have made small trades that ended up having longer term benefits. A young Doug Christie was acquired once upon a time from the Knicks for Willie Anderson and Victor Alexander. That trade looked okay when it happened, but the Raptors ended up enjoying many successful years with Christie as a starter. A move of veteran players for one that would help in the future.
Last year the Raptors swung a deal with Chicago, giving up a first round pick, for a guy named James Johnson. That has turned out swimmingly for the Raptors so far as well. Johnson now looks like he’ll be in Toronto for a long time and is quickly becoming a fan favourite.
So the trade deadline can certainly be intriguing, if nothing else.
Let’s take a look at some Raptors that are out there in the trade market and the likelihood of them being moved.
1) Leandro Barbosa
This remains the most likely Raptor to be traded. He has an expiring contract that makes him financially attractive to potential suitors and he is a speedy veteran that would be a welcome addition to any bench in the entire league.
Barbosa is instant offense. He can get to the rim quickly and scores in bunches.
He certainly isn’t a pass first point guard, but he would look great coming off the bench for any playoff team out there. He scores, gives his team a boost when he comes into a game and can play a number of positions.
For a team like the Lakers or the Celtics he would be a welcome addition and would bolster their second unit scoring.
What makes Barbosa the more attractive is that his large expiring contract for this year ($7.6 million) that the team acquiring him could turn around and use to add other players, with the cap space, at the end of the year.
The likelihood of this happening seems to be lessening however as Barbosa has stated that he’d like to sign and is willing to talk extension. Whether Bryan Colangelois interested in this remains to be seen.
If a team is willing to part with a young wing player or a first round draft choice I think Colangelo would do a trade in a second. It, however, remains highly unlikely he’ll be offered that much for Barbosa’s services.
Outlook: Teams will be interested in Barbosa and will make offers but they likely won’t be what Colangelo wants. Barbosa could prove to be more valuable this off-season when they use his millions in cap space to sign a free agent.
2) Jose Calderon
Say it Ain’t so! Jose is my favourite player on the Raptors. He has been since he wrestled the starting spot away from TJ Ford back in 2007.
He remains a solid point guard, but it is beginning to look like Calderon may not fit into the youth movement that is currently under way in Toronto.
He is a veteran Point guard that protects the ball and doesn’t turn it over and has the ability to score from anywhere on the court. In a playoff series a player like Calderon would be perfect coming of the bench. A JJ Barea type that can score and pass, but unlike Barea, Jose plays the game safe. Perfect attributes of a backup playoff point guard.
Now tonight, in the worst game ever played on the planet Earth, Calderon was injured and could miss significant time. If he is still healthy I believe that it is unlikely he gets moved, but then again the market for point guards just got another buyer in Minnesota. (We know how much David Khan likes his point guards).
If a team feels like they need to have a point guard that can score and protect the ball then you may see Calderon move, but thanks to his potential injury he likely wont. His contract, once considered one of the worst in the League, is getting more attractive every year. He now only has this year and next before free agency.
If Jose is not traded this week, his name will likely be mentioned again next year. His contract expires next year and that capspace will be very attractive to somebody, plus he’s a good player.
Then again, if he ends up being healthy I could see the Lakers or Blazers being interested in him as either a starter or back up.
The Raptors would likely want a draft pick and/or an expiring contract that runs out this year in return.
Can they get that for Jose?
Outlook: Despite his defensive liability, Jose is one of the better point guards in the league. He protects the ball, gets his teammates involved and shoots the lights out from pretty much anywhere on the court. He’s great in the locker room and constantly works hard. Any team would be lucky to have him.
His contract and potential injury, however, make it highly unlikely that he will be moved this year.
And that’s just fine with me as I feel Jose could be a strong part of the rebuilding process and the steady hand that helps guid this young team.
3) Amir Johnson
Amir Johnson, although only 24 years of age, is playing in his 7th NBA season. He has all kinds of talent, but still struggles to be consistent on both ends of the floor.
With Toronto’s front court becoming more and more crowded the time has come to move either Amir Johnson or Ed Davis. One or both of them could be on the move at the deadline. Amir is a good rebounder, energizer off the bench and just a great all around guy.
He would be a great asset for any team in the league whether it’s a team in the playoffs or not.
Outlook - It would be a good idea to hold on to Amir. His potential has still not been realized and will likely make a great partner for Jonas Valanciunas next year. He’s willing to play center or power forward or come of the bench. If he can ever get his fouling under control, would be a valuable piece to a playoff teams bench. The Raptors hope to be a playoff team next year.
Ultimately, moving his contract at the deadline will be hard to do at mid-season.
If Amir is going to go it’ll likely be in the off-season when it is easier to organize a deal. The crowded front court needs to be solved, but not until the off-season.
5) Ed Davis
As with Amir, Davis is part of a very crowded front court. It is almost hard for him to find minutes now and will be even harder when Jonas arrives.
Ed is on his rookie contract and is therefore not tricky to move at all. Any team looking for depth at power forward could take a chance on him. He’s young, plays strong defense and rebounds the ball well. He still has lots to learn and needs to put more effort into getting stronger, but if he’s available there would be plenty of teams interested in a promising young PF.
Outlook - Might be the easiest to trade this year because of his manageable rookie contract. He still has plenty of room to grow and mature and the Raptors have only begun to see the type of skills he is capable of. It might not be time to walk away from Ed just yet. Getting rid of Davis is a tough call that will likely be made in the off-season.
6) Rasual Butler
He seems like the most likely to get traded in my opinion. His imprint on the Raptors this year is rivaled only by the impact Solomon Alabi has had. He has been invisible on the court and on the scoresheet. He is not going to get Colangelo much more than a late 2nd round pick, but for a team looking to add some veteran presence, Butler might be worth a look.
Outlook - He isn’t high on anybody’s list, but he would certainly add veteran depth to a contender and would cost next to nothing. He plays tough D and can apparently shoot the 3. Players like Rasual are the ones that usually get moved at the deadline. It is possible.
At the end of the day, the Raptors are already in a good position for next year with a high draft pick, lots of capspace and a pretty solid core of young players to build toward the future. A trade isn’t necessary, but if there is something out there that will help the Raptors get better, expedite the rebuilding process or add a first round pick or two then Bryan and Ed Stefanski would be wise to consider a move.
I have a feeling it will be status quo leading up to Thursday. However, I had that feeling last year and Colangelo ended up going out and picking up James Johnson. That move has paid off well and hopefully so will whatever move he chooses to make this week.
The Zan Tabak Herald