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No Duhon...next step?

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The Chicago Bulls match of Toronto's contract offer to restricted free agent Chris Duhon means that unless Alvin Williams makes a miraculous recovery in the next 2 months, the Raptors will be only 2 deep at the point guard position. Names like Janero Pargo, Dan Dickau, Earl Watson and even Travis Best have been bandied around but none would have had the upside of Duhon. This however means that the Raptors have a significant portion of their mid-level exception to use as Matt Bonner remains unsigned. With teams exercising the "Allan Houston clause" in the new Collective Agreement several interesting free agents are now on the market. While the reality of seeing many of these players in Raptors jerseys next year is slim to none, Raptorshq takes a look at the cuts up to now and 3 players who might garner interest from the team.

Jerome "Junk-Yard Dog" Williams: This might be the most interesting of the waived players so far. The NY Knicks were long believed to be cutting Allan Houston and his ungodly contract thereby establishing the amnesty clause's "the Allan Houston clause" nickname. However it appears that Houston may never be able to play again and be forced to retire thus ensuring the Knicks are off the books for 75% of his contract which would be covered by insurance. This then meant cutting another overpaid player such as Malik Rose, Maurice Taylor or JYD to further the Knicks' savings and JYD was the annointed one. Of interest to the Raptors, JYD may make sense. While the Raptors have 14 players under contract right now, (Matt Bonner would make 15), it could be argued that a hard working, athletic, defensive-minded power forward such as JYD would be a much better fit to the team then a Lamond Murray, Aaron Williams or even a Loren Woods. JYD would be a great role model for Charlie Villanueva not to mention a more then adequate replacement for the potential loss of fan favourite Matt Bonner. A perfect fit in Sam Mitchell's system, he could probably be obtained at a reasonable price as well given his age and love for the city of Toronto.

Ron Mercer: The New Jersey Nets waived Mercer saving 1.76$ million on next year's payroll. Mercer has never lived up to his draft billing and frequent injuries (he missed 63 games last season) have slowed him even more. Mercer is probably not much of an interest to the Raptors who already have a similar player in Lamond Murray. However the Raptors may need all the scoring they can get next year and if injuries hit any of the team's young prospects, a healthy Mercer might be a short-term answer at a reasonable price.

Calvin Booth: The Bucks, who acquired Booth in a trade from the Dallas Mavericks last season, ensured that the 29 year-old center would have a new home next season by waiving him today. Booth has had some bright moments over his career but has been plagued by injuries and lack of playing time through most of it. From a Raptors viewpoint Booth makes some sense but only because of the current options at the Center position. Booth has at times been a dominant shot-blocker and rebounder but has also been extremely frustrating due to his potential. As a Raptor Booth could provide some much needed interior defense and shot-blocking and could possibly make Loren Woods and Aaron Williams expendable. However given the Raptors history of centers it's more likely he gets confused by the metric system, puts on too much weight or becomes the bain of Raptors' fans spending the majority of his time on the injured list.

Other players: While there are much bigger names out there it is doubtful that the Raptors in their current state have any shot at them. Derek Anderson, cut by Portland, appears to be seriously considering the Lakers. Brian Grant, cut by the same Laker team, appears to be zeroing in on a team and the Bulls and Heat are rumoured to be the leading candidates. Aaron McKie was waived by the 76ers and has stimulated interest in teams such as the Knicks and Nets. Finally, the Christies (Doug and Jackie) were waived by the Orlando Magic and it seems fairly certain that they will be signalling to each other in Dallas next year. Michael Finley is rumoured to be the Mavericks' amnesity clause casualty but at this point nothing has been confirmed. Raptors GM Rob Babcock admitted that none of the aforementioned players was a realistic option for the team as most would likely sign a short-term deal with a championship contender given their age and experience levels.

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