Bryan Colangelo and the Toronto Raptors are heading into one of the biggest off seasons in franchise history. One of Colangelo's biggest tasks this off-season will be to address the overflow of frontcourt players that the Dinos currently possess. The HQ's Scott Campsall takes a look at which players will be most likely to be moved this off-season.
With the Lithuanian center Jonas Valanciunas due to arrive in Toronto next season, the Raptors’ frontcourt is suddenly looking a little overcrowded. The Dinos will have Andrea Bargnani, Amir Johnson, Ed Davis and James Johnson in addition to Valanciunas all under contract and all vying for minutes at either the four of five positions next season.
It doesn’t take a mathematician to figure out that there will not be enough minutes to go around for all of those players, not in Toronto anyway.
This then begs the question: which of these players will still be in a Raptors’ uniform come next season? The question isn’t nearly as easy to answer as it probably should be.
You would have to guess that given the hype around Jonas Valanciunas and everything that Colangelo and Casey have been saying about the seven foot Lithuanian, he would be the untouchable in that particular group of players—and the entire team for the matter.
It would also seem as though Amir Johnson is a pretty safe bet to remain on the roster in light of his inconsistent play this season and the fact that his price tag makes him a more difficult player to move then Ed Davis or James Johnson.
James Johnson’s ability to play multiple positions, and defend multiple positions makes him an asset to this team going forward. The fact that he can play that wing position, which is an area of need for the Dinos, makes him more valuable to the club as a player on their roster than as a potential trade piece. Although, if the right deal came along I doubt Colangelo would hesitate to move him.
That leaves two forwards: Ed Davis and Andrea Bargnani.
The logical move here is to trade Bargnani right? His value is sure to be at an all-time high as he is coming off of a season in which he finally showed flashes of All-Star talent. At worst he is seven-footer with one elite skill—he can score—and frankly, a change of scenery could do a player like Bargnani some good.
From a Raptors’ perspective, they would get an opportunity to rid themselves of one of the biggest enigma’s in franchise history, while also presumably adding some decent pieces in the process. They would be improving their defense by virtue of simply removing his sub-par play on the end of the floor from their everyday lineup. In addition, they would have the opportunity to add Ed Davis into that starting lineup where, at the very least, he would add some more rebounding and defense to a front line that could end up being one of the best in the Eastern Conference in a couple of years if given the right opportunity to grow and develop together.
But, as we all know, that isn’t the most likely of scenarios. While Colangelo has admitted recently that he would be open to moving Bargnani if the right deal were to fall into place, the likelihood of him actually trading the man he selected with the first overall pick in 2006 is quite slim.
In reality it is Ed Davis who would appear to be the player most likely to be shown the door this off-season. Ed Davis is the youngest of that group; he also has the smallest salary and the biggest potential upside, having played in only 131 NBA games.
As many are suggesting, packaging a player like Ed Davis with the Raptors' draft pick would be a great way to move up in the draft and could allow the Dinos to select a player who fits an area of need, while alleviating the logjam in the Raptors' interior and would also come at little financial cost to the team acquiring Davis. This is something that is much more challenging to do with a player like Bargnani or even Amir Johnson without being forced to take back a bad contract in return.
Given the cap flexibility that Colangelo has acquired, it would also be easier to swap Ed Davis for a veteran player with a larger salary, providing the other team involved in the transaction some salary cap relief.
Despite the fact that holding on to Ed Davis rather than Andrea Bargnani may be the better move for the organization, Ed Davis' versatility as a trade chip make him much more likely to be moved in a trade this off-season.
Although the time may be right for Colangelo to finally unload Bargnani, it looks like Colangelo will be able to find another excuse--albeit a somewhat reasonable one--to hang onto him and deal someone else instead.
But, hope still remains that this could be the off-season where things finally change. All we can do now is sit back and wait.