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Magloire Fits Raptors' "Building" Plans

Jamaal Magloire could be just what the doctor ordered for the defensively challenged, and financially limited Raptors.
Jamaal Magloire could be just what the doctor ordered for the defensively challenged, and financially limited Raptors.

While nothing's official yet, it sounds like the Toronto Raptors are about a day away from signing free-agent center Jamaal Magloire. The HQ takes a look at the potential signing and how he fits with the team's short and long-term plans.

Yesterday afternoon, Toronto Raptors' President and General Manager Bryan Colangelo spoke with the media regarding the upcoming season.

It was the sort of media pow-wow Colangelo has typically had where he talks in generalities about the upcoming season, and wades through some macro level issues regarding the team.

However something felt quite different about this presser.

Sure, there were the usual Colangelo cliches, and Dwane Casey spoke of how much work had yet to be done, something we've heard from former Raptors' bench bosses like Sam Mitchell and Jay Triano, but there was one quote that really struck a chord with me.

Said Colangelo:

"We're laying the foundation for what's next. When Chris Bosh decided to leave, we decided to go in a different direction and that's where we've found ourselves." "You are competitive, you do want to win every game, but the reality of it is, this year, it isn't in the cards. We're going to do everything we can to fight and if we somehow get to the playoffs, that will be a great story and we'll all be talking about it."

As colleague Ryan Wolstat of the Toronto Sun pointed out, it's not quite Rob Babcock's "throw the white flag before the season even begins," but it's from my vantage point, the most candid and realistic take that Colangelo's ever given regarding his Raptors, during his tenure.

And I have to applaud that.

As opposed to the Babcock comment that was essentially a PR disaster as soon as the final words were off the tip of his tongue, here Colangelo is saying what we all know to be true, that this team doesn't have the same talent as the league's top squads, but he expects it to go out and fight hard every game while embracing a new coach and culture.

BC's not advocating tanking, no sane GM can do that, especially coming out of a lockout that will surely impact revenue at the gate, but he knows that there are only so many times you can fail to advance past the first round of the playoffs, or fail to reach them at all, all the while claiming "we're not far off."

To that end, the reported interest the Toronto Raptors have in Jamaal Magloire makes a ton of sense.

Toronto's waiting on its Lithuanian Golden Child, Jonas Valanciunas, and needs a stop-gap solution at center for this season. Of the available free agent options, the desired ones (Nene, Tyson Chandler, etc) are too pricey, and others, even those such as rumoured soon-to-be-King Chuck Hayes, aren't exactly going to put this team back into the playoffs.

Yet a veteran voice who can hold his own on the defensive side of the ball is a must.

See this is where things get tricky for Colangelo.

On one side, he needs to get this team back on track and part of that means getting it to understand the word defense to some degree. The team has to show some form of improvement in the next two years for the sake of fan and player retention, never mind him keeping his own job. He claimed yesterday that the team is no longer "talking about re-building," but looking for solid "building blocks" for the future.

That's why it's probably been incredibly tempting for Colangelo to make some form of splash via free-agency when it opens at 2 PM EST tomorrow, even with a limited amount of funds to work with. This is what he's done in the past, he's a tinkerer and loves to move the pieces around. And what's one way to encourage your fan base and show current players that you're serious about competing? Bring in some free-agent names people recognize!

And yet as tempting as it may be, he knows that even mid-sized free-agent splashes this off-season are likely only going to result in another middling incarnation of the Dinos, one that won't make the playoffs, or advance very far, especially considering the available free-agents this off-season.

It's the old "rock and a hard place" situation.

Colangelo needs the team to lose a good chunk of its games in effort to get a higher draft pick, but can't have the team being blown out each night, killing all fan interest and completely demoralizing his young talent that he may wish to retain, and who are trying to learn a new system under a new coach.

So and that's why this Jamaal Magloire signing would make a great deal of sense.

Magloire isn't going to repeat his All-Star season with the Hornets when he averaged a double-double of 14 points and 10 rebounds. (I know, I know, Jamaal Magloire was an All-Star?)

But he's still a very capable rebounder and shot-blocker and one of the better defensive options out there in terms of veteran, free-agent centers. His averages of nearly 11 rebounds and 2 blocks per 36 minutes over his career back this up, and his advanced stats bear out the benefits of having him on your club.

In fact it's Magloire's horrendous free-throw shooting that keeps various marks such as PER and Wins Produced from being quite respectable. He's averaged only 45 per cent from the charity stripe over his last five seasons despite being a respectable free-throw shooter upon entering the league, an enigma noted by Wages of Wins a few seasons ago.

Considering his rebounding rate the last few seasons was nearly on par with Reggie Evans (20.47 for Magloire versus 21.5 for Evans), and they have a similarly limited offensive skill set, Magloire effectively becomes a cheaper, better defending and shot-blocking version of Evans.

And a nice PR story as a Canadian to boot.

The one-year contract he's reported to be signing in fact will be a huge factor here as it gives Toronto a lot of flexibility the season after next, something that was unlikely should the Raps have chosen to pursue players like Hayes, DeAndre Jordan, or perhaps even Jeff Foster and Kwame Brown.

So Colangelo adds a cheap, short-term solution at center, one that won't impact future cap space or likely the club's wins total this year, and yet takes hopefully a baby step towards defensive improvement with the signing, all in one shot.

Like Ricky from Trailer Park Boys would say, Colangelo gets "two birds stoned at once" with the move, one that I'll be quite pleased with if/when it's announced tomorrow.

Sure, it's not a glamorous move from a fan perspective. Magloire averaged less than nine minutes a game for Miami last year, and played in only 18 contests.

But if you're wondering if he can still be effective in doses, all you need to do is rewind to Toronto's last game of 2010-11 season. The Miami Heat, minus LeBron, Wade and Bosh, trounced the Raptors 97 to 79.

Magloire was a plus 22 on the night, outrebounding Toronto's bigs, all by himself as he finished with 19 boards in 29 minutes.

Sign me up.