It's been a while since we've had a deal to genuinely get excited about here in Raptor-land and there are just so many ways to look at this particular deal – and therefore a number of ways I want to break things down.
On the one hand, you just have to be impressed by the magnitude of this entire trade. Involving four teams in a trade situation is never an easy task, and it gets even more interesting when not every single team is just going after players, but actual cap room and financial obligations. For example, Orlando was seen as a team that could get absolutely no benefit from this trade and would potentially strengthen their Eastern Conference rivals. And yet, here we are talking about how Orlando has facilitated a sign and trade that allows the Raptors to keep their Mid-Level Exception (MLE) as well as their Bi-Annual Exception (BAE) for this off-season. Orlando in turn, gets some cash (from both Toronto and Dallas) and a meaty trade exception from the Jerry Stackhouse deal.
Speaking of Stackhouse, the only reason Memphis was involved was to pick up his contract in order to gain extra cap room. A 2016 draft pick was also included in order to facilitate the deal since Quincy Douby was unavailable to be traded due to the nature of his contract. Extra cash from Toronto and Dallas was also sent to bolster the deal.
Then of course, there are the "human" pieces.
Dallas gains Shawn Marion, Kris Humphries, Nathan Jawai, and Greg Buckner. Toronto gains Hedo Turkoglu, Antoine Wright, and Devean George.
The Toronto Raptors have positioned themselves to remain active in this off-season while shoring up some of their depth in troubling areas. What has long looked like a possibly sticky contract for a very good player in Hero Turkoglu has turned into a deal that also nets the Raptors SG/SF Antoine Wright and SF Devean George all at the cost of Kris Humphries, Nathan Jawai, some cold, hard cash and the Raptors' trade exception. While neither George nor Wright will be All-Stars, they are veteran pieces that have been through several playoff battles and shoot a decent percentage from the free throw line. They both have size and address the Raptors dearth at the wing positions and their contracts are only for one year.
Oh, and the Raptors keep their mid-level and veteran exceptions.
But here's the deal. The plan isn't complete. It's obvious that the Raptors still have a few more steps to go in the summer.
Yesterday they kept inching towards a completed roster by signing DeMar DeRozan to a two-year rookie deal with team options for the 2011-12 and 2012-13 seasons.
Then there is Anthony Parker, and Carlos Delfino.
Anthony Parker has yet to officially sign his deal with Cleveland at the time of writing this post, and Bryan Colangelo has been saying in public that he's still willing to inquire to see whether Parker is available.
As a mentor, a backup point guard, a team leader, and a pretty good defensive/offensive player, he's a person that should be on Colangelo's radar, especially since he's a Larry Bird Exception candidate who can be re-signed without the use of either exception. Similarly, Carlos Delfino also can be re-signed without the use of exceptions thanks to the Raptors attaining him in the trade with Detroit from a few years ago thus retaining his rights. Oh, and all qualifying offers are still on the table, allowing the Raptors to match contracts.
Which just might leave the entire Mid-Level Exception open to grab another big piece.
As Bryan Colangelo mentioned yesterday, his phone has been ringing off the hook with offers and inquiries. There are many players still available for purchase, including the much talked about Linus Kleiza. If the Raptors need to take on more than one player (i.e., if Parker finally signs with Cleveland) they could use their MLE to sign more than one player, say for example Jarrett Jack and Linus Kleiza. (If indeed both players were available for that discount price.)
However, the Raptors may want to look even further. What if they were to use the entire MLE on just one player? Would that allow the Raptors to go after such players as Marvin Williams, Josh Childress, or Ramon Sessions?
The possibilities available to Colangelo have just increased exponentially, and TSN.ca’s Tim Chisholm in this piece presents a few more possible ideas for Raptors’ fans.
In the days leading up to this deal, I've been waiting to pass judgment on the whole deal until it was finalized. My hope was always for a sign-and-trade that would help the Raptors keep their exceptions and Colangelo has done just that. The surprising parts of this deal are that the Raptors have added two more pieces bringing the roster size up to 12 players. The Raptors could even possibly waive a player and take on four more contracts. I'm very comfortable with how things have shaped out financially on this deal and while we'll be arguing about how this roster will look together on the floor all summer, at least Colangelo has secured key pieces without tossing away flexibility on his secondary talent. After all, it's been his golden plan to re-establish a team that will be comparable to his 2006-2007 club and he's finally got a chance to do so, with the coaches he wants, and the situation he's designed.
The Raptors are far from done this off-season and it remains to be seen just how Colangelo will bring his plan towards completion.
This isn't the end of the ride, but merely crossing the first hill.
PS – The entire Raptors press-conference with Hedo can be viewed here at Raptors.com.