Although the Raptors came away with a big victory against the Cleveland Cavaliers last night, headlines were inundated with details surrounding a big trade between the Milwaukee Bucks and the Golden State Warriors. It seems as though this isn't Raptor related news, however for the HQ's Scott Campsall this trade conjured up memories of a past Toronto trade. For better, or for worse.
Last night the Raptors played a great game on both ends of the floor, taking out a surging Cleveland Cavalier ballclub. The win came thanks to a great defensive effort, as well as an extra push from a number of key contributors off of the bench.
Given the circumstances under which this trade came about, I couldn't help but be reminded of one particular Raptors trade of the past.
The deal itself did not carry with it the same luster, or media coverage that the Ellis for Bogut swap will, but the circumstances behind both moves are surprisingly similar.
At the time of the trade the Toronto Raptors were coming off of a season in which they had just made the playoffs for the second year in a row, but had been eliminated in the first round for the second year in a row.
Ford was a part of an effective one-two punch at the point guard position with current Raptor guard Jose Calderon. While the combination was effective, the Raptors were clearly not going to compete for a title with the combo and lacked the interior presence beside Chris Bosh that they would need in order to get deeper in the playoffs.
There were also rumblings that T.J Ford was unhappy with his minutes and the fact that he was coming off the bench after being the starter for the club the season before.
With the Raptors looking at little-to-no cap space, the only way to address these issues was to make a bold move-and a bold move they made, targeting an injury prone former All-Star who had outstayed his welcome in Indiana.
The move will go down as one of the biggest failures of Bryan Colangelo's career, but more importantly it was a response to a larger problem that both the Raptors and Pacers faced then and the Bucks and Warriors face now. And that is the desperation involved when your team has reached a crossroads.
Both the Warriors and Bucks have certainly reached a crossroads this season.
The Bucks have become a team that are perpetually in the race for one of the final playoff spots in the East, but have never been able to get over the hump and enter that upper echelon of quality teams that compete for a title on a yearly basis.
They have spent the last few years building around a core of Brandon Jennings and Andrew Bogut, but injuries to Bogut and some ill advised free agent signings have derailed their progress and killed their financial flexibility.
Now, after back-to-back seasons of underachievement and serious injuries to their star player--who has quietly asked to be moved--the Bucks have been left with no other option but to move their often-injured center in an effort to rid themselves of one of their more problematic signings in Stephen Jackson; as a result, they will take a gamble on perhaps one of the most enigmatic players in the league, and an unproven former lottery pick. In short, this a desperation move.
From a Warriors perspective, this was a deal they had to make for many of the same reasons. The Warriors have some talent on their team, yet the combinations they throw out on the floor on a nightly basis just haven't gotten the job done. They have spent years attempting to build around an inefficient scorer in Monta Ellis with little success.
In the offseason the Warriors had an opportunity to alleviate themselves of an albatross of a contract in Andris Biedrins via the Amnesty clause, but opted to use it on Charlie Bells' much more modest of deal in an effort to land free agent center DeAndre Jordan. Jordan did sign an offer sheet with the Dubs, however it was quickly matched by the Clippers and the Warriors were left empty handed with Biedrins' contract still counting against their cap.
By moving Ellis, Udoh and Kwame Brown for Bogut and Jackson, the Warriors are getting the center they have always wanted, and are finally getting an All-Star level talent in return for their top scorer; but in the process the Warriors are taking back Stephen Jackson and his hefty contract which lasts for the remainder of this year and the next--not to mention all of the potential off the court issues that he has been known to provide in the past.
It is possible that both trades could work out for each side--Udoh is a young big with loads of potential and Andrew Bogut is a potential All-Star when healthy--but the fact remains that this deal was one made out of desperation for both teams, attempting to stay afloat after years of botched rebuilding efforts.
And desperation is exactly what brought Bryan Colangelo to make that move on draft day in 2008, as well as the deals that succeeded it.
In the years following that 2008 draft day trade things haven't quite worked out for the Dinos. Jermaine O'Neal wasn't an All-Star anymore and was traded for Shawn Marion who helped the Raptors win meaningless games that year, pushing them out of the top of the lottery. The following season, Marion was a part of a trade that landed the Raptors Hedo Turkoglu and again, we all know how that worked out.
Four years removed from that June evening and the Raptors finally appear to have learned from their mistakes. With a core of young talent and some financial flexibility the Dinos are in a solid position to become a winning team going forward.
Looking at the deal between the Bucks and Warriors, as well as some Raptor deals of the past, there is one thing I am sure of: it is far better to be the up and coming team, than the one that backed into a corner and forced to make a move.