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The Off-Season Ahead - Part II

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Welcome to Toronto Travis Outlaw...

Welcome to Toronto Travis Outlaw...

On Tuesday, Howland took a look at some transformations he’d like to see take place amongst the Toronto Raptors this summer. He examined both big and small changes and most importantly noted just how hard it is for Toronto to make trades at this point in time. It’s more likely that things heat up around this time next month when the NBA draft should give teams a better idea of who will have what in terms of personnel.

And then of course come July 1, when it’s open season on free agents, we’ll really see the trade pot start to bubble.

So let’s get to it.

Trade Assets
I’ll start with examining the Raptors in terms of each player’s trade value. As Howland and others have discussed on the site, the main problem going into this off-season is that the Raps only have a handful of players with real trade value, and most of these shouldn’t be going anywhere. The "dream off-season" of course could entail pulling off a sign-and-trade of Rasho for Andre Iguodala but let’s try to keep this as realistic as possible.

Tier One Value Players:

Realistically, the Raptors only real trade assets at present are Chris Bosh, Jose Calderon, Jamario Moon (mostly because of his bargain-bin salary) and Anthony Parker. These players could all provide a definite boost to another NBA team and represent core pieces of the current Toronto squad. Three of the four are starters and Jose started for over half of the season in TJ’s absence. Of these four, Anthony Parker looks the most likely to be moved. He’s still one of the best long-distance shooters and defenders at his spot, only has a year left on his contract, and could be a nice complementary piece to a contending team looking to shore up its personnel slightly.

Jamario has such a low salary he’d be tough to deal individually to get equal value in return but perhaps he could be included in a package deal as extra enticement for a prospective trade partner.

CB4 isn’t going anywhere so that leaves Jose Calderon, who we’ll discuss in more detail later on.

Tier Two Value Players:

After that, Toronto’s next best pieces all have issues of various sorts that prevent them from being A1 trade chips:

-Jason Kapono because of his off-year and high salary,
-TJ Ford because of his health and attitude issues,
-Andrea Bargnani because of his regression last year,
and Rasho Nesterovic because his salary right now (assuming he re-ups) is still probably too high to be a big trade chip until we get closer to next year’s trade deadline.

The rest of the team? Well unless another club suddenly decides that Kris Humphries is the second-coming of Bill Russell, or that Jorge Garbajosa will return to his old self, I just can’t see much interest coming Toronto’s way for the likes of Baston, Graham and co.

To me, deciding what Ford’s future here in Toronto is, is the most important decision Bryan Colangelo needs to make this summer. Jose fans don’t want to hear it, but really, Calderon is by far the Raptors’ best chance to land another solid piece of the puzzle.

Therefore:

Toronto re-signs Jose Calderon and trades him and Joey Graham to Portland for Jarrett Jack, Joel Przybilla and Travis Outlaw.

There would probably have to be some other minor adjustments made to this deal to make things work financially (Outlaw is a base-year compensation player) but the general idea is that Portland gets the starting point guard they long for while unloading some fringe players who could really help the Raptors.

Why Portland Makes This Trade: Well, for starters, they finally get a top point guard. This means that they can play Brandon Roy as a creator at the 2 or 3, and even though they lose Outlaw, it opens up a spot for Rudy Fernandez, last year’s late-round draft steal. Fernandez’s agent has been concerned about lack of playing time amongst the glut of 2’s and 3’s in Portland and this trade would certainly free up some space. (Oh…and it doesn’t hurt that it reunites him with Calderon, two main cogs on the Spanish National team.) In addition, Pzybilla’s role will be greatly reduced with Greg Oden coming back next year so he is expendable. Portland is loaded at the 4-5 with players like LaMarcus Aldridge, Channing Frye, prospects Josh McRoberts and Joel Freeland (and dare we say Raef LeFrentz), so they are in good shape in terms of "bigs."

Joey Graham’s time is up here and he simply gives McRoberts someone to hang out with on the Portland bench.

Why Toronto Makes This Trade: I love Jose too but if you can get a shot-blocking center, a great defensive back-up point guard, and an athletic 3 for Jose, you do it. This would address three main issues that have plagued Toronto recently and would give Toronto the following line-up:

PG: TJ Ford, Jarrett Jack
SG: Anthony Parker, Jason Kapono,
SF: Travis Outlaw, Jamario Moon, Jorge Garbajosa
PF: Chris Bosh, Andrea Bargnani, Kris Humphries,
C: Joel Przybilla, Rasho Nesterovic, Maceo Baston

That’s a pretty solid group.

That leaves two roster spots open as well and from there Toronto brings over Roko to play the third stringer role, and uses its draft pick on a player to back-up the 2/3 spots. I still like Chris Douglas-Roberts but perhaps a 2 in the mould of Russell Westbrook falls to them.

That’s the other great thing about dealing with the Blazers. This is a team that is looking to get older and already has a ton of unsigned talent playing overseas. They have four more draft picks this year (one first round lottery pick and three in the following round) so Toronto could look to grab their late lottery pick or some second-rounders to make things work.

Perhaps best of all, this trade means that Bryan Colangelo doesn’t have to sacrifice his long-term planning. Parker, Garbajosa, Moon, Bason and Rasho all come off the books next summer giving Toronto tons of room to go out and sign another star to play with an already solid cast.

And in the same light, the Legomaster keeps all of these expiring contracts as trade chips come the deadline in February. If Toronto needs an extra piece for a deep play-off run, Colangelo will have some parts to work with.

Financially this trade basically closes the books on both Carlos Delfino and Primoz Brezec obviously, but would mean that Toronto starts the season with the following roster:

PG: TJ Ford, Jarrett Jack, Roko Ukic
SG: Anthony Parker, Jason Kapono, Chris Douglas-Roberts
SF: Travis Outlaw, Jamario Moon, Jorge Garbajosa
PF: Chris Bosh, Andrea Bargnani, Kris Humphries,
C: Joel Przybilla, Rasho Nesterovic, Maceo Baston

The other side benefit of this deal is that Ford is now the number one guy again, no more split minutes, and perhaps he then plays at an All-Star level in the East. The team has a nice balance of athleticism, shot-blocking, rebounding (Przybilla averaged 8.4 rebounds and over a block a game last year), scoring and 3-point shooting. And instead of trying to force Andrea to play the 5, Mitchell can bring him off the bench at either position.

Granted, it’s tough for me to see TJ Ford’s name still on this roster but I’m just not sure you can move him for anything more than an expiring contract. Ford’s trade value just isn’t that high and if both he and Jose are brought back next year I foresee another year of turmoil.

One of Michael Grange’s readers put forth the idea of dealing Ford for Malik Rose and if BC is adamant about fixing chemistry, that might not be such a bad idea. Perhaps Toronto could even get a young prospect like Wilson Chandler thrown in to make the salaries match up.

If not Outlaw...how about Malik Rose?

If not Outlaw...how about Malik Rose?

And from a longer term perspective, acquiring Rose would give the Legomaster another large expiring contract to combine with Rasho’s if he’s looking to really overhaul things come the summer of 2009.

The problem with trading either point guard and not getting a back-up in return (unless Toronto really covets the services of Mardy Collins) is that then the Raptors need to go out and grab one via free agency. Chris Duhon would be tops on my list but Toronto doesn't have a lot of loot to go around and there are other areas that need to be addressed.

Can you afford to deal from a position of strength (point guard) and not solve any of your team's weaknesses?

That's going to be a very large question for Bryan Colangelo this summer...

FRANCHISE