Currently, the Raptors have one point guard officially signed for next season: Rafer Alston. Rumours persist that the team will sign TAU Ceremica point guard Jose Manuel Calderon once the NBA Collective Bargaining Agreement has been ratified. With the â€œLayup Kingâ€ Milt Palacio likely heading out of town, GM Rob Babcock needs to add another point guard.
In alphabetical order, here are eight free agent point guards that the Raptorshq staff would like to see in a Raptors uniform next season. (*2004-05 salary info courtesy of basketball-reference.com)
Steve Blake (Restricted)
2004-05: 4.3 points, 1.6 assists, 0.9 turnovers, 14.7 minutes per game in 44 games with Washington. 32.8% FG, 38.7% 3PFG (93 attempts)
2004-05 Salary*: $620,000
Blake is a heady point guard who looks to get his teammates involved. He is a good defender, but is often a detriment to an offense as his jumper is wildly inconsistent. While there are better options, Blake might be a nice cheap stopgap for the Raptors.
Dan Dickau (Unrestricted)
2004-05: 12.5 points, 4.9 assists, 2.0 turnovers, 29.4 minutes per game in 71 games with New Orleans and Dallas. 40.5% FG, 34.7% 3PFG (245 attempts)
2004-05 Salary*: $893,400
Dickau became a fan favourite during his time at Gonzaga. He bounced around the league a bit after being drafted by Atlanta. He got his chance to shine last season when Baron Davis was hurt and then dealt to Golden State. He can score and has proven that he can run an offense well. Definitely a possibility for the Raptors.
Chris Duhon (Restricted)
2004-05: 5.9 points, 4.9 assists, 1.5 turnovers, 26.5 minutes per game in 82 games with Chicago. 35.2% FG, 35.5% 3PFG (265 attempts)
2004-05 Salary*: $385,277
Duhon drew a lot of interest early on from teams such as Orlando, Portland and New Jersey. However, each of those teams has gone in a different direction, leaving Duhon without many offers. We feel that Toronto should take a shot at him. While not flashy, Duhon is well-schooled in running an offense, doesnâ€™t take bad shots and doesnâ€™t force the issue, always looking to get his teammates involved. Kind of an anti-Rafer, I guess. The Raptors should definitely look at signing Duhon.
Marko Jaric (Restricted)
2004-05: 9.9 points, 6.1 assists, 2.0 turnovers, 33.1 minutes per game in 50 games with the Clippers. 41.4% FG, 37.1% 3PFG (151 attempts)
2004-05 Salary*: $2.1 million
A 6-7 combo guard, Jaric has drawn a lot of interest, especially from Cleveland. While we here at Raptorshq would love to see Jaric in Toronto, that possibility is not likely. The smooth Jaric can score both inside and outside and his length is very helpful on defense. Whoever gets Jaric will be mighty pleased.
Tyronn Lue (Unrestricted)
2004-05: 11.2 points, 4.6 assists, 1.5 turnovers, 28.7 minutes per game in 70 games with Houston and Atlanta. 45.1% FG, 35.5% 3PFG (155 attempts)
2004-05 Salary*: $1.6 million
While not a personal favorite of the Raptorshq staff, there is something to be said for the way Lue performed in a less-than-ideal situation in Atlanta last year. He is a strong, on-the-ball defender, distributes the ball well without turning it over and has a knack for knocking down the big triple. That being said, itâ€™s not all good news with Lue. His shot does have a habit of deserting him at times. While a good fit in Toronto, he will probably sign somewhere else for too much money.
Jannero Pargo (Restricted)
2004-05: 6.4 points, 2.4 assists, 1.4 turnovers, 14.2 minutes per game in 32 games with Chicago. 38.5% FG, 34.8% 3PFG (66 attempts)
2004-05 Salary*: $695,046
Fans who attended the Steve Nash Charity Classic in late July were treated to some stellar play from Pargo, the former Raptor. The highlight had to be his mid-court bounce pass alley-oop to Andre Iguodala. Could he repeat those feats in the Air Canada Centre come November? Itâ€™s a possibility. The Bulls have nine free agents, including Eddy Curry and Tyson Chandler and may not have enough money to resign Pargo. Heâ€™d come cheap relative to many of the players on this list, although do we really want to resign another ex-Raptor point guard that we previously didnâ€™t want?
Earl Watson (Unrestricted)
2004-05: 7.7 points, 4.5 assists, 2.1 turnovers, 22.6 minutes per game in 80 games with Memphis. 42.6% FG, 31.9% 3PFG (163 attempts)
2004-05 Salary*: $1.458 million
Watson backed up Jason Williams in Memphis for the past three years after spending his rookie season in Seattle. The UCLA product is a very solid defender and is very good at distributing the ball. Although he played with Baron Davis in the UCLA backcourt, he needs to improve his offensive game.
However, he is not likely to sign with the Raptors. As much as we would like to see Watson in Toronto, he is probably going to sign with a contending team.
Jay Williams (Unrestricted)
2004-05: Did not play. Recovering from injuries suffered in motorcycle accident.
2004-05 Salary*: $1.55 million
Williams may be the wild card in this entire situation. The Raptors have made no secret of their interest in the former Duke star, who has missed the last two seasons recovering from injuries suffered in a motorcycle accident. Williams has been working out with Tim Grover, Michael Jordanâ€™s former trainer, and is looking to get back to the NBA. If he makes it back, the team that signs him will be getting quite the bargain, considering that Williams was the #2 overall pick in the 2002 draft.
Others: Damon Jones, Miami; Brevin Knight, Charlotte; Travis Best, New Jersey; Keith McLeod, Utah; Howard Eisley, Utah
Conclusion: Heading into the season with Alston, Calderon and Alvin Williams as your point guards is not a situation that we are comfortable with. While players such as Keyon Dooling, Antonio Daniels and Juan Dixon have signed elsewhere, there is still some talent available for the Raptors and their mid-level exception.
While players like Watson and Jaric are not likely candidates to join the Raptors, they could still sign a Dickau, Duhon or Williams and ease the point guard fears of Raptors fans everywhere.
- Jeff Chapman