If someone had told me that a little over two months into the offseason, the only players remaining from last year's squad would be Chris Bosh, Jose Calderon, Morris Peterson, Joey Graham and Pape Sow, I would have laughed out loud and said "yeah right, and let me guess, John Salmons will consider signing as a free-agent but bolt for Sacramento..."
Ok maybe not quite.
But I at least would have scoffed at the notion.
I really felt that Hoffa and both Williams' were virtually untradeable, Bonner was valued to some degree as a long range gunner and CV Smooth was going to be Raptor for a long time. But in the blink of an eye, Bryan Colangelo really has re-made this franchise into his own team and shipped all of them out.
Our current poll question asks if Raptor fans believe Colangelo is done "shucking and jiving" for the time being and so far it looks like most people believe that he is. I concur with this and think that things will finally settle down on the Raptors' transaction front until we near the fall and training camps get underway.
However that hasn't stopped us here from thinking out loud as to what other moves may be on the horizon for Colangelo and co.
1. Evaluating Pape Sow - As we've previously discussed, Sow's recent injury comes at the worst time for the young forward. A solid summer-league performance, especially in terms of rebounding and defence, would have gone a long way in helping Sow's cause for minutes next season. As it stands right now, Sow will probably play spot minutes at the 4 and 5 spots with maybe even some time at the 3. Sow brings heart and hustle but is still extremely raw and foul prone. His offensive game is definitely limited and to get minutes over the likes of Kris Humphries, Uros Slokar and even PJ Tucker, Sow's going to have to show that he can score the basketball a lot better. With the team's newfound depth, and Pape's current injury, looks like Spidey's behind the 8 ball already.
2. Deciding what to do with Joey Graham - Yes, I've harped on Joey enough already this summer so I'm not going to beat a dead horse here. But the fact remains that given Colangelo's "proactive" nature, Joey's really going to have to show the staff something this year if he wishes to remain in Toronto and his tenure may in part depend not only on his own development this coming season, but also on...
3. Morris Peterson's impending contract situation - If Joey struggles this year he simply may not play much. But as my associate Howland recently pointed out, Joey may not be the "most likely Raptor to become extinct" - Morris Peterson unfortunately has that dubious distinction. Peterson at this point is Toronto's most tradeable asset (Bosh isn't going anywhere) and while he'll probably wish to remain with the team, his looming contract situation makes his return uncertain. How much will Peterson be looking for? Howland believes the price will be somewhere around Quentin Richardson's last contract amount and I think that's a pretty accurate guesstimate. If Graham has a solid season, Colangelo may feel that Peterson can be traded/let go to make room for Joey, a much cheaper option at this point so long as improvement has been made. Howland agrees with this "point per dollar" analysis and if Joey has a breakout season, it will be tough to validate signing Peterson to a huge deal unless...
4. The new signings don't work out - This is the other topic Howland and I were discussing recently. As Howland correctly pointed out, yes all the players Colangelo has brought in from overseas have had great international success - but it's still quite conceivable that the chemistry isn't there, and things just don't work. Even in the NBA's local market, signings that look like sure-fire steals for teams can eventually look quite disastrous (think Denver signing Kenyon Martin to a max contract.) So if this occurs, Colangelo and co. are going to have a tough time ridding themselves of these deals until a few years down the road. This invariably comes into play when considering the futures of both Graham and Peterson, especially since Anthony Parker plays the same positions. And if Parker flops, Joey doesn't improve and therefore Toronto has to re-sign Peterson for what he's asking, where does that leave...
5. TJ Ford - Howland, still being opposed to the CV Smooth trade talent-wise, also brought up the fact that unlike the "cap-friendly Villanueva," TJ is going to get paid after this season. So will the Raptors pay some big bucks to keep both Peterson and Ford, especially if Ford underperforms and Charlie is lighting it up in Milwaukee? And this in turn effects Jose Calderon. If TJ spends a season looking like a good backup point guard instead of an NBA starter, more moves will have to be made possibly including Calderon. There's no point trying to run your team with two backup point guards. We've all seen how successful that's been for teams like the Hawks (Lue and Ivey) and Celtics (Banks, Atkins etc.)
No, we don't have the answers to many of these questions and we may not until Toronto has played a good chunk of next season.
But one's thing's for certain. Trade deadline sure will be interesting once again next season for the Raptors...