With a day off in Raps action, Franchise looks at a few different topics of interest to the team including the possible impact of the proposed Carmelo Anthony deal on Toronto, and a few players of interest in the D League that the Dinos may want to take a look at.
Is Carmelo Anthony this generation's Shawn Kemp?
Oh I'd argue he's a more talented and better all-around player, but for those who remember, Kemp, as a member of the Sonics, was one of the most sought-after players in the league at one point thanks to his ability to bring in fans due to his Blake Griffin-esque game.
But an MVP candidate or franchise cornerstone?
Not so much.
I remember this vividly as a former Cavs' fan of course, as while Kemp put up big numbers with Cleveland for a few seasons, his weight also ballooned to Oliver Miller-esque proportions and it quickly became obvious that he needed serious help to carry a team past the first round of the playoffs.
John Hollinger went into this in detail recently on ESPN (Insider), but it's hard to say that the Nets potential acquisition of Carmelo Anthony will put them on the same level in the East as the Heat, Magic and Celtics, or even the Knicks and Hawks. A potential starting line-up of Chauncey Billups, Richard Hamilton, Carmelo Anthony, Kris Humphries and Brook Lopez is decent enough, but New Jersey has only 10 wins and therefore would need a huge run to finish off the season to make a dent in their conference, let alone sneak into the playoffs.
As I read through the various takes on the situation, I realized that the one big plus that no one was talking about was the impact the trade would have on various other clubs in the East and West this season. In particular, what about the Dinos? There were rumours Bryan Colangelo was trying to get in on this trade in some capacity but beyond that, should this deal go through, in the short term, I'd argue it would be a big plus for the Raptors' franchise.
Well for starters two of the three teams in the current trade scenario live in the East, New Jersey and Detroit, and both would seemingly improve should the trade go down. Considering Toronto is neck and neck with Detroit in the standings, and not that far ahead of New Jersey, an improvement from these clubs as the season winds up would represent a major boost to TO's lottery chances come June.
As mentioned, Jersey would get an elite scorer in Melo, a possibly rejuvenated RIP Hamilton, and a solid, albeit aging, point guard to replace Devin Harris. There's not much there for bench options, but that threesome along with Brook Lopez should be good enough to make a late playoff run, and possibly around 35 to 38 wins, provided a trade takes place sooner rather than later. Toronto is currently on pace for about 29 wins, a number I don't see changing much, so that would vault them ahead of the Nets in the lottery race.
Well I'd argue it's a bit more of an addition by subtraction situation.
Without a knowingly disgruntled Hamilton, the Pistons locker room chemistry would likely improve, and Ben Gordon, having a miserable year at present splitting time with RIP, would be allowed to take over the 2 guard role. Troy Murphy was a very valuable player for the Pacers before being banished to Never-Never Land by the Nets this year, and should improve the overall talent on Detroit as well. The Pistons would also land Johan Petro, something they're apparently reluctant to do thanks to his giant contract, but talent-wise he'd likely be a non-factor on the roster.
Detroit gives up only the aforementioned Hamilton in the deal as well as middling prospect DaJuan Summers, and considering they're only a game back of Toronto now in the standings, it's not hard to think that the proposed Melo deal would also give them a slight edge on TO standings-wise when the year comes to a close.
Which again means the Raps jump up a spot in the lottery.
Looking at the standings right now, Toronto has the eighth-worst record in the league.
However the Melo deal would very likely see two of those eight leap-frog the Dinos, and the Clippers have been playing much better of late too, creating the very distinct possibility that TO finishes with one of the five worst records in the league.
And from my perspective, looking at the top prospects in the upcoming draft, I think a bottom five finish is essential in giving the club the best shot at a true top-five prospect, something I'm not confident they'll have at their current pace.
In addition, such a move could solidify the East's playoff picture for the season after this one as it's hard to see another club displacing Boston, Miami, Orlando, Chicago, New York, Atlanta or yes, New Jersey. Yes, that leaves one playoff spot open, but Indiana, Milwaukee and Philly would likely battle it out meaning another great shot for Toronto at the lottery, and a means of accumulating top, cheap, talent.
Am I saying I want to witness another 25 or 27 win season after this one?
But as Michael Grange pointed out yesterday morning, without a serious influx of talent, the Raptors will be dwelling in irrelevancy for at least the near future, and currently the best fix is to obtain fresh new star power.
Turning back to this season, it's been obvious that the Raptors could really use a true third-string point guard on their roster. Injuries have forced Leandro Barbosa and even Julian Wright to man the spot at times, and while Toronto flirted with signing Bobby Brown after Summer League, they decided to stick with the Calderon-Jack combo and instead stock up on "bigs."
We've seen the results, and lately there's been talk that after releasing Ronald Dupree, the Raps would look to grab a top point guard from the D League.
To that end, I talked to SB Nation and Ridiculous Upside's Scott Schroeder, the foremost D League expert, on some possible options for Toronto. Aside from pointing me in the direction of some top options overall, he noted a few specific options at point including Mustafa Shakur and Cedric Jackson. While he wasn't high on Jackson, the former point guard for the Raps' D League squad, he also suggested a few other names like Walker Russell Jr. and recent Villanova star Scottie Reynolds, all of whom have had success running the show in the NBA's Developmental League.
One final option he noted, and one I'm a big proponent of, was for the Raptors to look at some combo guard options like Kyle Weaver and Trey Johnson, more legit NBA players thanks to their other offensive and defensive attributes. I've always been a big fan of Weaver since his days at Washington State and I think in a pinch he could certainly set up Toronto's offence, plus be a boost defensively, the main attribute that got him drafted by Oklahoma City in 2008.