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Jump Ball - Who Is Mike James?

Franchise: Ok, let's cut right to this. I think Mike James has helped the team a lot this season...but long term, I think Calderon is the better answer. So if Babcock can't get a trade to work to get us someone of equal or better value...let him walk. I think there's some decent point guards in the draft this year and if we're building for the future, let's not get caught with this stop-gap solution.

Howland: What are you, Mr. Peanut? Have you gone nuts? You must be thinking about the 2005 draft when you mean "good, young PG's." Rajon Rondon...suspect, Randy Foye I can't comment on because I have not seen him play enough, and Gibson? Gibson couldn't hit a jump shot it if was a Fisher Price "My first Hoop". I say sign James, but I take the same stance I took on Bonner in the off-season, don't over pay. 3 years 18 ? Sure. With a team option? Sure. 4 years more than 25? Nope. This guy is all pride, how can you not want this on your squad?

Franchise: For the record I think Rondo just needs a jump shot. He's crazy athletic, already a great defender and a pass first guard with great court vision. I don't want to have to worry on each possession about whether our point guard is going to look for Bosh and run the coach's play, or jack up an ill advised shot. And you know as well as I do that James DOES that...he's no Rafer...but you dubbed him "Space Mountain" for a reason. Rondo would be the lazy river in comparison...without the lazy.

Howland: Ok, first off I have my doubts whether Babcock takes a PG in the draft. That's what Roko is for, the future. So yeah until Roko is ready maybe James is a stop gap. Is there a better one? If Roko comes over James can play the last year or two as a PG/SG and a change of pace to what Calderon brings to the table. Changing the pace is key in the NBA. Fact is you can't give the ball to Bosh EVERY time and until we find a solid second option (MoP is a third option, even Mitchell doesn't run plays for him) in a scoring swingman who can create his own shot, James is a good scoring option.

Franchise: For a lawyer-by-day, you've made some good points. But I worry about the money situation. I think James is going to want a lot and the rumour is that Babcock will only offer 4 mill a year which I think is pretty fair. You and I were running through this the other day actually and if he wants 6 a year that's getting into Keyon Dooling "I'm overpaid" territory. I mean, it's on everyone's minds...what if we lose him for nothing? He might decide to go to a winning team for less too! The last thing the fans want is another Donyell situation.

Howland: I am not so sure Mike James is a Steve Miller Band fan and doubt he "Takes the Money and Runs". He has to know the minutes are to be had provided he plays within the system. The guy is not in Alonzo territory where he feels he deserves a Championship. He is the Anti-'Zo, so I doubt he leaves for similar reasons as Marshall. But hypothetically if he does leave, is it the end of the world? Aaron Williams comes off the books, and if James does too then we actually have some cap space to be active with. If Babcock manages to trade Eric Williams for an expiring contract then we will be real players in the FA market. Peja's value is down, and our city already loves him, spend some cash on a mean inside out game with Peja and Bosh? And what about Desmond Mason? Could he be the athletic swingman we need? There are options, and if Bosh re-ups there is no telling what guys will want to play with him and a PG in Calderon who gets you the ball in the right spots. That being said James is the exact personality we want around this team, takes nothing for granted and plays with a chip. No one better to have around our young guys like CV Smooth.

Franchise: I can think of one person better to have around the rookies, Isiah Thomas. He'd renegotiate all their deals so they would be maxed out at every opportunity. I agree with you about James leadership characteristics, heart, desire, etc. But I'd argue that Calderon has the same heart and competitive spirit and doesn't feel the need to hoist up jump shots immediately after the team gets an offensive rebound. I think my problem with James is that because of his desire to win, he sometimes forces the issue resulting in bad shots. And I think having a point guard like that is really going to be a hinderance for the rookies in terms of their confidence and getting touches. James sometimes gets that look that screams "Hoffa, are you NEW?, don't EVER take a shot like that again...matter of fact, give me the ball, I'll just do it myself." I worry about this. Also, I worry that Roko isn't coming over for another 2 years...

Howland: Well then I think you made my point, sign James for three years at reasonable coin in the meantime. However I will say this; if we can trade James for immediate value I would. Perhaps for the first time ever, I agree with Doug Smith. Call Memphis and offer them James and Eric Williams and maybe even the Denver pick, or swap the Denver pick for their first rounder along with Battier and Dahntay Jones. According to Real GM it works under the cap (Trade Checker ID: 2837472). I just think Mike James is great value for our team, or for getting great value in return. I'd prefer to sign him when you think long term and Roko/Calderon and their growth, but if there is a trade that "makes sense", then I don't fight Babcock in swinging a deal.

Franchise: Ok, well I guess we're not gonna disband the site over this first jump ball after all. Bottom line for both of us here at the HQ is the same...if the Raps can get Mike James at a reasonable price on a short-term deal then do it up. But if a good trade presents itself then keep dealing for the future and solidifying this young roster.

Franchise: As a final note to our readers, check the Toronto Star all week to see the running conversation we had with the Star's Chris Young, and several other bloggers concerning the Raptors. It's no Howland/Franchise jump ball, but it does cover everything from Sam Mitchell to this year's draft.