As pointed out by my Raptorshq colleague Dave Randell in his past article (When 3/5 is a Failing Grade), the Raptors have never had a true center roaming the Air Canada Center paint. The current rumours surrounding the Raptors and their efforts to obtain local product Jamaal Magloire would in effect resolve this issue if indeed he were to be obtained. Magloire was an All-Star for his then Eastern Conference squad, the New Orleans Hornets in 2004 and is a dominant presence on the defensive end...something the Raptors are sorely lacking.
The reported offers thus far have been that the Raptors would deal their two first round draft picks (7 and 16) for Magloire. Apparently that asking price has been too steep for Raps GM Rob Babcock, and he has countered with the 7th pick and a combination of players such as Morris Peterson and Aaron Williams. The question is - do either of these deals really make sense? Here's a breakdown of the pros and cons of a potential trade.
Part of Magloire's lure may be more to do with the fact that he's from Toronto and would love to return home then anything else. As the team has seen in the past (Damon Stoudamire, Tracy McGrady,) it's not always easy for the Raptors to retain or attract players. Therefore a player of Magloire's caliber, who WANTS to play for the team, is obviously big on the plus side of such a deal. Secondly, big men who average close to double digits in scoring and rebounding are hard to come by. Magloire would immediately boost Toronto's undersized and unintimidating front line, and would make a great tutor for players such as Pape Sow and Rafael Aruajo. Just the experience of practicing against Magloire each day would put Hoffa's development light years ahead of his current path, practicing against Loren Woods.
Magloire would also inject some much needed interest locally in the team. As a local product who attended Eastern Commerce in East York, Magloire would be a success at the gate as well as on the hardwood.
Finally, the most important rationale for the deal may be the benefits extended to Chris Bosh. Bosh is seen by many as one of the next great superstars and a player capable of being a major franchise piece. Keeping Bosh is essential for the rejuvination of the franchise and Magloire would allow Bosh to play his natural position without having to constantly guard the opposing team's best big man. This would have the two-fold effect of enabling Bosh to complete his rise to stardom and be an enticement to re-sign with the team when his contract expires in 2007.
Of course like every story, there are two sides. As appealing as it is to obtain Magloire, there are a few issues that must be considered.
First of all, this year's draft is viewed by most as being quite unusual in the sense that there is very little difference in talent between players in the mid to late first round and early second round. Even late in the second round a team has a great shot of adding an important piece to their team. Therefore dealing both of the Raptors first round picks seems quite steep. The team needs help at a variety of positions and with the impending loss of Milt Palacio and Donyell Marshall to free agency, needs to fill as many holes as it can. This draft appears to offer a number of players who could fill these holes.
Secondly, is Magloire being over-rated? Sure he's a good shot blocker, great rebounder and decent scorer but is he the long-term solution for a rebuilding squad? When he was an All-Star in the Eastern Conference there were very few true centers. With the Raptors, he would now face the prospect of battling players like Shaq and Emeka Okafor among others and it's doubtful he would return to his All-Star status.
Magloire's age is also a factor considering the age of the Raptors other building blocks (Bosh, Hoffa, Bonner, Sow etc). Perhaps drafting a younger big man, who could grow into Sam Mitchell's system with Bosh and Co. would be better for the long term. There are some enticing big men in this draft perhaps available at 16; on paper a Fran Vasquez seems to be very similar to Magloire and would come at a much cheaper cost.
The Raptors have a great chance of landing an important building block with the 7th pick. With the number of trade rumours flying around, it's conceivable that a player like Chris Paul could fall to the Raptors with that pick. What happends if Babcock deals the 7th pick only to find out that such a player would have been available! Last year the Phoenix Suns dealt their 7th pick thinking that Luol Deng and Andre Iguodala would be gone by the time they picked and both ended up being available. Deng and Iguodala would have both been major pieces to their team and may have helped prolong the Suns series against San Antonio this post-season.
In additon, dealing both the 7th pick and the 16th pick (which could be equally as good a player based on this year's pairity) makes little sense for a team who desperately needs an infusion of young talent. Even dealing the 7th pick, Mo Pete who started to come into his own again last season, and the serviceable Aaron Williams seems a bit steep. This scenario will depend on who is remaining at 7 for Babcockto make such a deal. A better deal though would be dealing the 16th pick and the aforementioned players.
A final point in the Magloire trade disection is his current contract. Magloire's deal has only 2 years remaining on it and if adamant about returning to Toronto, the Raptors should be able to make a good push for him in at the end of the 2006-07 season. Ironically, this coincides with the end of Jalen Rose's enormous deal and Chris Bosh's contract. The Raptors, considering they don't add any significant contracts, would have ample room to work with to sign Magloire and use this signing as an incentive for Bosh to re-up.
Based on this breakdown it appears that the Raptors can go in a few directions. From a long term perspective it appears that an exercise in patience is the best way to go at this point. The Raptors do not want to get themselves into another Vince Carter situation in losing Bosh but if Babcock can draft good young players, continue the team's development and then make a strong pitch for Magloire and maybe a few other veterans at the end of 2006-07, this team will be in good shape.