Of trades and some Magical shooting
Looks like, for a day at least, we’ve got ourselves a series.
Of course, the Magic had to shoot like they’ve never shot before and the Lakers had to channel Shaq at the free throw line for it to happen but it’s 2-1 and until Game 4 is in the books we can all hope for something sweet to develop out of this.
The locals? Well, the locals were busy, which threw a big wrench into my plans for an afternoon on the couch but if you wanted Raptors news, you sure got it yesterday.
And seeing how quickly that came up, who knows if there might not be more on the horizon.
If there is, we’ll be there.
For now, we’re here. And here it is:
|TANNIS TOOHEY/TORONTO STAR|
|Reggie Evans and Kris Humphries will continue their battle and decide the first big off the bench for the Raptors next season.|
Decisions, decisions, decisions.
Here’s how the money for the summer works, and be mindful that none of the figures are precise because no one – not even the teams – knows the exact salary cap level until the league beancounters get through surfing the books in the first week of July.
If the Raptors renounce every free agent they have – Shawn Marion, Anthony Parker, Joey Graham, Pops Mensa-Bonsu and Carlos Delfino – they should have right around $8.9 million to spend.
If they don’t exercise the options they have on Patrick O’Bryant and Quincy Douby, that number bumps up to about $10.1 million.
So, here’s the deal and the question facing Bryan: Do you want that money to spend -- likely on one significant free agent -- and have no shot at bringing back any of your guys or even signing-and-trading them while filling out the roster with minimum salary players and your draft pick while not having the mid-level salary exception to spend because you’re under the cap?
Or do you want the option to do sign-and-trades, maybe keep a Parker or Marion and have the mid-level as well as the draft pick?
I’ll tell you one thing: If he opts for the first, he’d better be sure that one big free agent is going to come because the prospect of sitting around with a bucket full of money and no one to give it to while your roster needs help is ugly.
And who is that free agent? Could, or would, he make a run at Hedo Turkoglu on the off-chance he could get him? Is Lamar Odom worth the gamble and would he listen if Bryan called? Ben Gordon worth it? Or Ariza? Boozer?
If I’m Bryan, and judging by my paycheck and fashion style I’m certainly not, I don’t renounce anyone to keep my options open, I hope I can find a good sign-and-trade for Marion if he won’t take $7 million a year to start on maybe a three-year deal and I hang on to the mid-level exception because I think there are going to be some relative bargains out there this summer.
My man Phil in Philadelphia caught up with Jason – I’ll give it a shot today – and writes his trade story this way.
One from the mail:
Q: Raptors acquire toughness and rebounding, beat grunts lose a good quote. Knowing you will cover the basketball skills I am curious as to how Evans compares to Kapono for personality?
Ed S, Hamilton
A: My man Phil, along with another friend in the business who knows Evans quite well says he’s a friendly guy, really nice off the court, not a great quote but a solid one.
His nickname’s the Joker, which can’t be a bad thing, I guess. But if we cross him, I’d be a bit worried that one of his best friends in the world is apparently Roy Jones Jr.
Speaking of the Finals, I have one question to ask: Why in the world did the Magic trot out Nick Anderson to try to pump up the crowd before the game?
Nick Anderson, by all accounts, is a very, very nice guy who does a tremendous job in community relations with Orlando and had a nice career down there.
But Nick Anderson and the NBA Finals?
Remember, it was his four bricked free throws that cost the Magic the first game of the last Finals they were in, shots that reverberated around the franchise for more than a decade, misses that made Anderson’s life a living hell.
To put him in the pre-game spotlight? That was a gamble.
Guess it paid off, though; Kobe and the Lakers shot free throws like he did that fateful night.
Stan-ism of the night.
Hey, coach, how’d you get Rafer going so well:
“I'm a motivational genius, that's what I am. I thought for two days about what to say to him, and I said, ‘play your game.’ You can write that down. That’s a quote. It took me two days to come up with that.”
Oh yeah, the trade.
What’s it mean for the rest of the Raptors bigs?
Bryan made it very clear yesterday – and you know he’d have spoken to Jay about this – that Kris Humphries and Reggie Evans are going to fight it out to be the first big off the bench behind Bosh and Bargnani. I have no idea who’d win that fight, I presume Evans because he’s a better rebounder and tougher post defender.
Bryan also suggested that they’d keep Patrick O’Bryant because he’s intriguing but I figure he’s a 12th, 13th, maybe 14th guy on the roster.
The GM didn’t say it out loud but every indication is – as it’s been since the day after the season ended – that there is no room for The Legend, which is something I’m quite fine with. The trouble? Toronto’s still smallish off the bench with its bigs.if it’s Evans and Hump, which is why I’m hearing they remain entirely interested in Rasho.
Oh yeah, the Finals.
The Magic have now shot the highest percentage in an NBA Finals game, 62 per cent last night; and the second lowest percentage in an NBA Finals game, 29 per cent in Game 1.
Oh yeah, the Raptors.
(Sense a trend here?)
Forget all about any reports you read coming out of Europe about Giorgos Printezis.
There are no plans at the moment to have him as much as come to training camp let alone any kind of contract offer.
And talking to people who actually saw him in person at the European Final Four, he’s years and years and years away from being able to play at the NBA level.
Oh yeah, the Finals.
A Phil quip? An oddity, but …
Hey, coach, how come your bigs had such low rebounding numbers?
“What kind of rebounds are they going to get?”
Speaking of …. ah never mind
So, all in all, what about the trade? As I’ve mentioned, it’s good, not spectacular, maybe not even great, but a good one.
Evans obviously ups the toughness quotient around here and that was one of the team’s glaring weaknesses last season and something Bryan was adamant about addressing.
Now, Evans is not a saviour, he’s a career 52.5 per cent free-throw shooter so he can’t be on the court down the stretch of a close games but he’s an upgrade.
Jason obviously never fit in particularly well here, blame for that can be shared between him and the men he was coached by, and I’m sure someone will emerge to fill that three-point shooting void. Perhaps AP in some return role? Maybe Delfino?
This deal was one of a few I think we’re going to see this summer and as a first one, I think everyone can be happy with it. Not drive up and down Yonge Street honking your horns happy – this isn’t like winning Game 1 of the first round of the Pucks Playoffs or anything – but happy nonetheless.