According to the august institution of the New York Times, and its representative, the man once known as Steiny Mo, the Raptors may be involved in the DeAndre Jordan sweepstakes. Here’s March Stein’s tweet on the matter:
They would likely need a third team to help facilitate, but the Raptors have tried to work their way into the DeAndre Jordan trade mix, league sources say— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) February 8, 2018
Forgive me if I appear to be a bit sceptical. There’s been chatter about this deal with other teams (namely the Cavaliers) to try and pry away the fire sale-ing Clippers’ big man. For all of Jordan’s free throw shooting woes (he’s up at almost 60 percent this year), the centre still puts up averages of 11.5 points and 14.9 rebounds (including 4.2 on the offensive end), while patrolling the paint, which is apparently good for one block per game. He’s also shooting 65 percent from the field, which is an admittedly easy thing to do when most of your shots are dunks with extreme prejudice. It’s simple but effective stuff.
For the Raptors, the utility here is obvious. They could use more rebounding, they could use a strong presence at the rim, they could use a guy who could swat the ball into the stands or dunk it into the core of the planet. Sure, Jordan can’t play crunch time minutes because of his mostly bad free throw shooting — but still, we’re talking about a player who’s been in the top 10 in defensive win shares the past four seasons, and who’s been in the mix for the Defensive Player of the Year award. Pairing Jordan with a point guard like Kyle Lowry could be fun too, especially given the latter’s ability and propensity to look for good lob targets.
The problem of course is, what do the Raptors trade away to get him? Jordan is due $22.6 million this year, and has a player option for next year at $24 million. It feels likely he’d take it. That means we return to that old hobby horse of ours: trading Jordan for Jonas Valanciunas. It’s really the only way to make the money (and roster balance) work, and it’s the only way the Clippers can sort of save face, since Jonas is a bit younger and has a different set of centre skills.
But if you’re Toronto, and you’ve watched this version of JV in 2018, do you still want to make this deal? I say no. Sure, the extra rebounds would be nice, and maybe Jordan is a bigger deterrent at the rim. And OK, maybe he’s a step or two faster than JV out on the perimeter or in the pick-and-roll. But Valanciunas has shown some great touches to his game as of late, and while he’s not Draymond Green with the playmaking or the shooting, he’s a step way up from Jordan. JV may be owed more money (he’s got two more years on his deal, plus this one), but his fit on the Raptors is feeling better these days.
Is a pairing of Jordan with Serge Ibaka that much better? Can he help the Raptors offense be that much better? Is there a reason to get involved in the Jordan trade market beyond looking for salary cap relief in 2019?
What do you guys think?