The Raptors' Offseason - Steps in the Right Direction for Colangelo?

Re-signing Aaron Gray wasn't the same as trading for Dwight Howard, but it's yet another subtle move that should help the Raps next season.

This morning as I was deciding what to write about on this Friday, I stumbled upon an article by the "NBA Geek," referenced on Wages of Wins.com.

It was a "Top 10 Worst Contracts of 2012-13" piece, looking at some of the terrible off-season signings made by clubs.

Naturally, I expected that upon glancing through the article, I'd find the latest and greatest in Bryan Colangelo's long line of questionable payouts, found there-in.

But no, not a Raptor among them!

Instead, a bevy of truly horrendous deals, ranging from Michael Beasley to Brook Lopez, leaving the Raptors on the sidelines for once, looking in.

And when you think about it, in actuality, besides maybe Landry Fields, I probably should have been surprised to SEE one of Colangelo's offseason moves show up.

Drafting Ross, Acy and bringing over Valanciunas - check.

Re-signing bench back-up in Alan Anderson and Aaron Gray and bringing on PG help in the form of John Lucas III - check.

Trading a future draft pick for Kyle Lowry - check.

Signing Landry Fields to a three-year deal...well.

Ok so as most folks know, I do have some issues with the Fields deal. Not necessarily that it's way out of wack, as I do think we'll see a player much similar to the one who had a very strong rookie campaign, but it's a lot of dough for a complimentary piece.

Sure, if the club was adding Fields as a final piece in their championship puzzle, I'd get overpaying a bit more.

But the Raps are a ways away from that lofty status, so even having the $6M or so averaged out on the Raps' books for three seasons, well, it stings.

However it's no Jamal Crawford signing. From the NBA Geek post:

7. Jamal Crawford, 4 years (2 guaranteed), ~ $5 million per year

Jamal Crawford is one of those guys who has just perpetually mystified me. I mean, even way back when Isiah Thomas gave him a boatload of money to play for the Knicks, everybody recognized that he was just a chucker. In a 12 year career, he's only put up above-average true shooting a few times (but that hasn't stopped him from taking more than the average number of shots), and not once in those 12 seasons has he been average or better at rebounds or turnovers. And he's not racking up steals or blocks either. In other words, he is a shooting guard that isn't that great at shooting and doesn't do anything else. Seriously, why the hell does this guy keep getting paid!? Do NBA GMs know that executing a killer crossover does not actually give your team any points? A team that needs to go from good to great has wasted $9 million on Crawford and Billups when it could have had players like Ronnie Brewer or Matt Barnes for 1/3 the price. Epic Fail. They'd better hope that Odom reverts back to his old self. And of course, if he does, the team will be great, and management will look like geniuses. Blind squirrel -> nut.

Even if Fields can't return to his 39 per cent shooting mark from long-range during his rookie campaign, Fields does a number of other things well that will help the Raps. Remember, part of the equation in terms of evaluating off-season additions, is who said additions are supposed to replace.

In this case if Fields plays the 3 spot, at worst I think he'll have the same impact as James Johnson, at best, he's a definite upgrade.

And looking over Bryan Colangelo's other moves this off-season, you could say the same thing.

I truly believe that Terrence Ross will be a better NBA player than DeMar DeRozan when all is said and done, and therefore while Ross is no Anthony Davis, at worst he pushes DeMar for minutes and gets a shot playing both the 2 and 3 positions.

I think the team could have done better than Acy with their first second-rounder, but at the same time, they could have done worse too.

We are all well aware of the upgrades Kyle Lowry and Jonas Valanciunas represent, especially down the line in terms of Big Val, and Gray, Anderson and Lucas III all provide productive options as long as they're not playing 30 minutes a game.

So other than swinging for the fences and nabbing an Andre Iguodala, or moving someone like Andrea Bargnani, the latter which you knew was never going happen, it's hard to be too upset with the job BC did this offseason. I wasn't a fan of the James Johnson trade, but it was more because of the original price paid in obtaining Johnson, and the history on that transaction. As we saw in my link yesterday to the PJ Tucker situation, who knows how bad things were with JJ behind the scenes, and trading him for a second-round pick could truly have been a big addition by subtraction.

I still think this club needs a lot more top-tier talent to really get to that proverbial next level, but all in all, there's progress here by the club in my books. Most of the moves they made this off-seaon were subtle, but should have a positive impact on the team's record next season.

As D-Stance essentially noted in his comment to my Valanciunas post on Wednesday, "the Raptors aren't the Thunder yet, but they're at at least making progress."

And that's something I haven't been able to say the past few off-seasons.

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