As the summer comes to a close (ugh), Raptors fans might see another small tweak to the current roster here and there but as of today, with the trade for Amir Johnson and Sonny Weems, it’s a sure thing that the 2009-2010 Raptors team is going to look nothing like last seasons.
Dealing Roko Ukic and the rights to Carlos Delfino for Amir Johnson and Sonny Weems has left me in awe of the Legomaster’s skills when it comes to assembling a roster.
I know Franchise and I have sometimes been left scratching our heads at some of the moves BC made this summer, but this is definitely not one of them. I applaud this move. Actually for this piece, I am going to do nothing but sing Bryan Colangelo’s praises.
Outside of the cornerstones of this franchise in Bosh, Bargnani and Calderon, BC has completely retooled the Raptors roster. If you are a fair-weather Raptors fan and you attend a game early this coming season you are going to need a program because there are a lot of new faces.
Before the off-season began I had a check list of things I felt that the Raptors needed before they could really be considered an upper echelon team in the East. It was a long list….extensively long and with some pretty big items. I expected it would take a couple of seasons before BC could right the ship. Now, after all the wheeling and dealing that has gone on this summer I can honestly say there is nothing left. All the little boxes have check marks in them. With the acquisition of Amir Johnson and Sonny Weems it has been a complete, almost flawless summer.
As I mentioned here, up until yesterday the flurry of moves left we wondering just how much better this team was going to be given it still had some glaring flaws both in the defensive and rebounding departments. Well BC obviously felt the same way and addressed both needs by grabbing a young big man who, in limited minutes, has shown both a propensity to blocks shots but also get on the boards with vigor.
Amir Johnson is a young player with a lot of raw talent. For his first two seasons he found himself stashed away on the Pistons bench due to the long jam of talented big men in front of him. Despite limited playing time available his performance on the practice court was so strong that Joe Dumars rewarded him with a 3 year $11 million dollar contract. Although I have watched Amir on a number of occassions in order to get a full picture of what he will bring I reached out to the SB Nation Detroit Pistons blog Motown String Music. We will be posting his breakdown later today.
From where I am sitting it is clear that Amir has a lot of untapped potential and although he is going to be battling for minutes with the likes of Reggie Evans and Rasho, I believe he can carve out a niche for himself on this roster. I would actually like to see him step-up in camp and take Rasho's minutes. Why? Despite not being anywhere near 7 feet, Amir might be the only true shot blocking presence on this team and if he manages to stay out of foul trouble his rebounding skills will be in high demand. Much like Reggie Evans however, his free throw shooting leaves much to be desired. Is Amir going to turn the Raps defense into a juggernaut? No. Will it be a solid addition? Absolutely.
The addition of Sonny Weems is also noteworthy. Since leaving Arkansas he has spent most of his time in the D League he did put up enviable numbers while there. Weems has always been a scorer but doesn’t have a lot of range. Most of his scoring is mid-range jumpers and getting to the rim. Although he has a very big wingspan he is not known for his defense. It will be interesting to see if Weems ends up as the 13th guy on this Raps squad, is sent back to the D-League or if BC has some other plans.
So that is a breakdown on what is coming the Raps way. Now on the way out is Roko Ukic and Carlos Delfino.
It’s somewhat unfortunate that the Raps have dealt Roko Ukic. Ever since he was drafted I believe Raps fans all around had high expectations of this young man. I remember being extremely satisfied with Rob Babcock on draft night when he snagged the young point guard in the second round. It wouldn’t be surprising to see Roko blossom into a solid PG in the NBA or back in Europe. Unfortunately Roko was the victim of a numbers game….as in the numbers associated with the Marcus Bank’s deal. The Raps were not going to be able to keep four PG’s on the roster and Roko was simply the odd man out.
I can’t say I am disappointed that the Carlos Delfino era is now over in Toronto. Ever since the season ending press conference where BC strongly suggested that he would be returning to the club, Delfino’s name had been bandied about more than it deserved. To me it felt like a mini Brett Favre saga – Will he sign? When? To me it got old and quickly at that.
I won’t try to understand some people’s desire to see him back in a Raps uni. His inconsistent play and sometimes lax attitude always left me wanting more. He will probably have a solid game against the Raps this season but I feel confident in saying the others will be totally forgettable. Given his contract demands I can’t say I am sad to see him go. Even if Amir is a complete bust his contract expires at seasons end.
This deal does bring some questions to the fore. For example, does this deal essentially put the nail in the coffin in regards to Pops Mensah-Bonsu’s career as a Raptor? I would believe that it does. What does this mean for Quincy Douby? Has his solid showing in Summer League gone to waste now that the Raps have Sonny Weems? I would say Douby’s agent should be asking around to see who else noted his solid performances.
In the grand scheme of things these questions are of lesser importance. What is important however is the renewed sense of optimism I have about this team and the man in charge….at least until he gives Bosh the max or when Hedo’s play takes a nose dive in two seasons…..