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Sunday Thought - Should the Raptors be Making a Play for Fernandez?

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Rudy Fernandez has been doing a good job lately of wearing out his welcome in Portland...but should Toronto be looking to acquire his services?

Sometimes in the NBA, the best trades are the ones that aren't made.

Early in the off-season, a large rumour was floating around the NBA draft, that the Toronto Raptors were looking to acquire Portland Trailblazer forward Rudy Fernandez in exchange for a package that would include the Raps' lottery pick.

Whether this was an actual deal that was on the table or not, no one knows for sure.

And even if it was, it never came to fruition.

Maybe Toronto thought Portland was asking too much, and maybe Portland was leery of letting a proven talent go for a roll of the dice draft pick, no matter what the lottery positioning dictated.

Again, who knows.

However, while the rumours surrounding Toronto's interest in Rudy have died down, Mr. Fernandez hasn't been any less of an off-season topic of discussion.

Earlier in the week his agent went public with a quasi trade demand, going as far as saying that Fernandez would sit out the next two seasons on his contract if need be, so he could return to Europe afterwards. The result of this outburst was a nice fine thanks to Mr. Stern, but in any event, it's obvious that his time in Portland is coming to a close. Add in the fact that the Blazers drafted two swingmen types this summer, signed Wes Matthews, and look to have a healthy Brandon Roy and Nicolas Batum returning, and even if Rudy did make peace with the Blazers, there isn't exactly a ton of playing time now for him.

Cue the low-ball offers.

While the Knicks reportedly have offered a swingman of their own, Wilson Chandler, in return for Fernandez's services, I'm guessing there have been several other much less savory offers sent Portland's way.

So should Toronto be sending an offer of their own? After all, the Raptors apparently did want to get in on the Rudy action earlier in the summer apparently, could use some more depth at the 3, and of course, love their foreign players.

Strictly from a financial standpoint, a deal for Rudy is quite possible, it just depends what Portland is looking for. If they're just looking to move the disgruntled Spaniard without taking on any future contractual commitments, a simple move like this could work.

Or if the Blazers want to make things a bit bigger, and clear room for some of their youngsters, maybe something like this.

Now admittedly both seem unlikely because of the lack of talent Portland gets in return, so if Rudy goes, maybe DeRozan or Weems has to go to the Blazers in exchange, who knows.

As well, because "Traded Player Exceptions" can be broken into pieces under the CBA, the large exception obtained via the Bosh deal could be used in part to sign Fernandez, negating the worry about sending a contract (or contracts) of equal size back to Portland.

But more to the point, should Bryan Colangelo be even entertaining notions of trading for Rudy?

On the pro side, we're talking about a very athletic 24 year old who's shown in the past that he can light it up at a moment's notice thanks to his wide array of offensive skills. When he was drafted by Phoenix and subsequently acquired by Portland, everyone expected him to be the next big European star.

However through two seasons, he's looked more like Joey Graham than Drazen Petrovic, especially during the times he should have had plenty of opportunity to step up.

Best example? - Last year during Portland's playoff race. With Roy out for six games, Fernandez averaged only 8 points and shot only 37 per cent from the field. And because he's never been known as a defensive stopper, when his offense goes...well...

Sound familiar?

Toronto currently has enough players who fit this mould as is so you can understand why I'm hesitant about them bringing in another.

And looking at the advanced metrics regarding Rudy, the picture doesn't get much rosier.

Last year's numbers represented a major drop-off from his rookie season, even though he played only about two less minutes a game on average, and had a very similar usage rate. His win score dropped from 6.1 to 3, and his PER dropped from a league average mark of about 15 to 13.1.

The cause of the drop? Primarily it was Rudy's shooting.

Since the 2008-09 season, only Desmond Mason had a poorer shooting percentage from 2-point range, outside the basket area. Last year Fernandez struggled in the same way, and while he still hit 3's at a good clip (37%), it was still down from his 40% mark in his rookie year.

He simply wasn't as efficient a scorer, and again, considering he got to the line less than twice a game and didn't contribute much in any other area (2.7 rebounds on average and 2 assists), this pulled everything down. To emphasize the point, Fernandez's defensive win score dropped only from 1.8 to 1.6 but his offensive win score fell from 4.3 to 1.4.

So what does all of this say?

Well to me it says buyer beware if you're a Raptors' fan. Fernandez seems a bit too Marco Belinelli for my liking and his skill sets simply don't do enough to complement the current group of players to make this a home-run acquisition. I'd go as far in fact as to say that he's a bit like Carlos Delfino light; both can fill it up on O and are extremely streaky shooting-wise, but Delfino rebounds and defends. In fact both had very similar seasons statistically outside of the latter two areas as you can see here.

Of course it really all depends on what Portland wanted in return for Rudy right?

If suddenly the Blazers throw out an offer like the ones outlined above well...