It appears that fans at the Air Canada Centre will once again be applauding the exploits of Matt Bonner aka the Red Rocket next season. The Raptors and Bonner agreed on a 2 year deal worth 4 million dollars. The deal gives the Raptor's, Bonner's "Bird Rights," enabling them to re-sign Bonner after the deal's expiry in the 2006-07 season without being penalized for exceeding the salary cap. Last season Bonner earned the league minimum of $385,000 but was a crowd favourite and a dead-eye shooter averaging 7.2 points and 3.5 rebounds.
While Rob Babcock may have come under fire in the past for various decisions (Rafer Alston's contract, the Vince Trade etc), you have to commend Toronto's front office job in this case. We here at Raptorshq love Bonner but as we've previously stated, he was simply not worth his 3 million asking price. This deal however gives the Raptors the opportunity to continue overseeing Bonner's development while not overpaying and giving them the option in 2 years time to re-sign the player if he continues his growth.
On a larger scale, very quietly this offseason Babcock has started to right this ship. At a relatively low price Babcock this summer has brought in defence, athleticsm and leadership through the draft and free agent signings while continuing to cut bad contracts. The Bonner signing brings back a fan favourite whose play off the bench, shooting touch and enthusiasm was quite valuable at times last season. Yet at the same time the contract gives the Raptors flexibility down the road in terms of trading or re-signing the former Gaitor. The next offseason steps will be addressing the situation with some of the Raptors seldom used veterans such as Lamond Murray and Aaron Williams and addressing the point guard situation. It's been all quiet on that front in terms of rumors but regardless, the attempt at Duhon and reports of including Rafer Alston in proposed trades hopefully gets the talented but volatile Alston on the same page as Sam Mitchell and the rest of the team next season.