Peja StojakovicToronto Raptors President/GM Bryan Colangelo is not held in particularly high regard these days. Here’s ESPN.com columnist Bill Simmons on Colangelo: “He didn’t just ruin the Raptors these past four years; he shoved them down the stairs, beat them to death with a baseball bat and buried them in a sanitation site.” Considering the current state of the Raptors, it’s pretty hard to argue with that assessment. But what I will say about Colangelo is that he probably executes more surprising transactions than any other GM in the NBA. Whether or not they’re transactions that help his team is another story entirely.

I was at my parents’ house this morning and was discussing the state of the Raptors with my father. I told him that sometime this season, Colangelo was probably going to have to trade either Jarrett Jack or Jose Calderon and Jack was more likely to be shipped out because of his contract. Sure enough, Jack has apparently been traded to one of the elite teams in the NBA where he’ll backup the league’s best point guard. Assuming he cares more about winning than being in the starting lineup, this is a pretty good development for Jack.

As weird as it seems to identify Jarrett Jack as the “key player” in a trade, that seems to be the case here. While he’s had a rough start to this season, the Hornets obviously see him as an upgrade over Jerryd Bayless as Chris Paul’s backup. Since Paul’s contract expires in 2012 and there might not even be a 2011-12 NBA season because of Collective Bargaining Agreement issues, it’s understandable that the Hornets are trying to do whatever it takes to convince Paul that he should sign an extension with the team. Upgrading his backup is a smart move in that context.

Peja Stojakovic and Marcus Banks are both expiring contracts and that’s mostly how they should be viewed (although we’ll get back to Peja later). David Andersen isn’t technically an expiring contract but his 2011-12 contract is only guaranteed for $185,185. So when we push aside the financial aspects of the deal (which probably include part of Toronto’s trade exception from the Bosh “trade” to Miami, since the deal doesn’t seem to work out on its own), it’s basically a swap of backup point guards. Since Bayless is younger and cheaper, it’s safe to say he’s a downgrade from Jack.

I’m not an expert on Bayless by any means but from what I’ve observed about him, he’s an undersized, athletic combo guard who can’t shoot, defend or pass particularly well. Try to contain your excitement. The one thing he’s good at offensively is getting to the free throw line. Otherwise, the best thing I can say about him is that he’ll definitively end the debate about who should be the Raptors’ starting point guard this season — Jose Calderon has the job until he inevitably sprains his ankle again.

Why did the Raptors make this trade? I’m not entirely sure. Based on the details I have now, it appears that the Raptors will save around $3 million over the course of all the players’ contracts, so there’s that. But more importantly from the fans’ perspective, Stojakovic is almost certainly the key figure in this trade for the Raptors — and not because of what he can do on the court. Sure, he’s one of the great three-point shooters in NBA history and even now that he can’t do anything else, he still has some use as a guy who can stand in the corner and make 40 percent of his treys. It will actually be kinda surreal and fun to see him dropping long bombs in a Raptors jersey for a little while.

But let’s be clear on his real value to Colangelo — it’s not his three-point shooting, it’s his $14 million expiring contract. And that’s what scares me about this deal. When you combine that expiring contract with what’s left of the trade exception from the Bosh deal, Colangelo has some assets that he could potentially use to put this team right back on that treadmill that allows this team to either barely miss the playoffs or barely make the playoffs so they can get demolished in the first round.

Haven’t most Raptors fans bought into a full rebuilding project at this point? This roster is frankly embarrassing when you compare it to pretty much every other NBA roster. The Raptors need star talent and the only realistic way they’re going to acquire that talent is through the top picks in the next few drafts. If Colangelo sabotages the franchise’s chances of landing one of those potential stars by forcing the team back into a cycle of mediocrity, I will be one of the last remaining people to get on the bandwagon proclaiming that he should be replaced by pretty much anyone besides Isiah Thomas.

But I’m not lighting my torch just yet. Let’s see what Colangelo has to say about this trade and I’m not going to assume that he’s going to sabotage the rebuild just because it seems like something he might do. Hell, based on this team’s recent history, let’s see if this trade actually goes through. With my luck, I just wasted almost 900 words on a rumor.

Comments (21)

  1. Some guesses:

    - BC goes after Iggy. Philly sucks, Iggy is apparently disgruntled, and maybe it’s fate that BC belatedly rectifies the Hoffa over Iggy travesty.

    - BC holds onto money for offseason and tries to land Marc Gasol while hoping to land Barnes or Irving in the draft.

  2. “But let’s be clear on his real value to Colangelo — it’s not his three-point shooting, it’s his $14 million expiring contract. And that’s what scares me about this deal. When you combine that expiring contract with what’s left of the trade exception from the Bosh deal, Colangelo has some assets that he could potentially use to put this team right back on that treadmill that allows this team to either barely miss the playoffs or barely make the playoffs so they can get demolished in the first round.”

    Precisely. Ugh.

  3. Bill Simmons is the expert columnist you hang your hat on? This deal is great for the Raptors. Jarett has been terrible this season, both offensively and defensively. Jose has been a better defender and that’s not saying much about Jose, but it speaks volumes about Jack. Bayless is both cheaper and younger and he is better defensively than Jack. And having Stojakovic’s huge expiring to use in a trade is great. There is some young talent here and combined with a couple of vets, they could be a decent team.

    Rooting for the team to do poorly just so that they can grab a high draft pick in a weak draft is garbage. If you want to sit through that, you can go root for the Clippers. They have been “rebuilding properly” through the draft for decades.

  4. If Colangelo just lets the money off the books at the end of the year how much cap space would the Raps have next season

    There might be some good players available at the deadline. Iggy or one of the Memphis guys Mayo or Gay.

    Also if the lockout happens would the Raptors be in a better position after the lockout??

  5. Personally, I like the deal right now. Losing Jack will help them considerably in their quest to lose the most games possible. But you’re right, as long as Colangelo remains the Raptors’ GM, his attempts to make this a .500 basketball team are a constant fear. I don’t believe he’s ever fully committed himself to this rebuild.

    Oh, and I remember when I got banned from RealGM years back for using terms like “treadmill” and “cycle of mediocrity,” and bashing Chris Bosh’s poor defensive play. How quickly things do change.

  6. David: It’s impossible to know how many cap space the Raptors or any team will have next season because of the upcoming CBA negotiations. At the moment, there seems to be less than a 50 percent chance there will be a next season.

  7. Scott, you friggen nailed it. The Raptors can’t not become the new Indiana Pacers. They need to let their youth development and draft top end talent.

    BC trying to save his job, might set this franchise back for years.

  8. Correction: Rather can’t become the new Indiana Pacers.

  9. Getting high draft picks, particularly in years like ’11 when there aren’t any concensus top picks is only valuable when someone who hasn’t proven himself to be terrible at making draft picks is doing the choosing.

    Cap space is only valuable when someone who hasn’t proven himself to be only capable of damage control for all his horrible decisions is doing the buying/trading.

    Youth in players is only valuable when you have a coach who hasn’t progressively made a team worse in the 2 1/2 years he has undeservedly had the job.

  10. All this really shows is that BC has no plan and is just pulling things out of his ass. In the off-season he blows all his cap money on a backup PF with a fouling problem, and Kleiza. Now he’s got one of the worst starting point guards in league and two combo guards to back him up and 4 small forwards. This team has no hope. Hopefully one day DeRozan will figure out how to dribble.

    At least we’ve added a player who doesn’t care something this team was lacking following the Turkoglu deal

  11. My my, so much cynicism on this forum…relax a little will ya?

    Tell me what YOU would do if you were in Colangelo’s situation. Would you give Bosh that max contract? Or would you trade him for garbage at the deadline, like VC a few years back. Come on, you have to remember, he didn’t draft Bosh, he tried putting pieces around him, ones that everyone thought would work, and they didn’t–Bosh is not a franchise player, we all (hopefully) know that by now.

    He’s a great basketball savvy, that possesses more knowledge than any of us. Frankly, I blame MLSE.

    Have faith, now he has the chance to start fresh, give it some time, and let the former NBA executive of the year work his magic.

  12. Here’s the thing about the Raptors tanking this season… their talent might be suitable for tanking, but their mindset isn’t. Most of the things which made last year’s team worse than it was on paper have turned around to start making the Raptors better than they are on paper. Last year’s fractured, selfish locker room has turned into this year’s improved team play. Last year’s apathy towards defense has turned into this year’s gradual embracing of it. Last year’s focus on off-court issues have turned into this year’s focus on making things work on the court. All of these things have absolutely nothing to do with Brian Colangelo and absolutely everything to do with the personnel that we do have manning up, and growing into the roles they have and the players they can be.

    In part because of these things, we are also seeing dividends that will pay off in the future – the development of Derozan, Weems, Bargnani, and Johnson; the maturity to be able to close out games – but are also starting to pay off in the present. None of these things are going to make the Raptors world-beaters, but I’m starting to think that this group as constructed is going to win 27-30 games rather than the 20 or less that some of the pundits predicted. And my guess is that even 27 wins is going to put them ahead of Philly and the Clippers for sure, as well as a couple of other teams (Washington and Minnesota, maybe?). Finishing ahead of 4 or more teams means that we’re likely drafting fourth or lower; unless a draft year is unusually deep at the top end, we’re not especially likely to draft a player with visible superstar-level upside with the pick we have. Like most of the teams not at the very top of draft, we will be doing our homework and hoping to snag a Stephen Curry or a Rajon Rondo by seeing something that other teams don’t.

    So the problem with tanking (for us) is this: for us to tank effectively enough to obtain a superstar talent, we need to have a team that is sufficiently dysfunctional to hinder the development of the talent we have in order for us to obtain more talent than we have already. But if we have a team that is that dysfunctional, we stand to lose some of the gains that we have already made so far this year in terms of the development of Weems and Derozan in particular.

    One more thing: one doesn’t necessarily need to have a historically abysmal team to grab a lottery pick; one merely needs to have the right kind of assets to trade for one when a lottery-bound team is desperate or stupid enough to trade for them, or a future lottery-bound team covets the assets you have. And we all know of GMs out there who have been obliging in this way (See: NY Knicks). So it’s not just lucky bottom dwellers which catch a break; it’s also treadmill teams (or even league-leaders) which have been sufficiently savvy with their wheeling and dealing of the assets they have.

    With this understanding, I’ll be content with anything done with the Bosh trade exception, and with Peja and our other expirings, that gets us quality assets in return. And given the situation with the CBA, we may be able to pick up good assets in return.

  13. Interesting – - Jerryd Bayless was on the U.S Select team in 2008. Guess who were the coaches? Head coach – PJ Carlesimo; assistant coach – Triano…
    http://www.usabasketball.com/mens/national/mselect_2008.html

  14. if this is true…

    i guess this means barbosa slides over to backup jose…

    peja becomes one of a glut of small forwards who need minutes…

    and bargs becomes our only big man who can score outside 5 feet….

    could be worse i guess.

  15. don’t know much about bayless but hey he could work out better than jack was.

  16. As an original and forever Raps fan but current Blazer season ticket holder, thought I’d pass along a little info on Bayless…

    No joke: Bayless was nicknamed T-Rex in Portland because he was SO aggressive. On offense he has a Magette-esque nose for getting to the foul line (no small feat for young ones who usually have to work to get calls their way) as well as a willingness to throw himself into the paint to make it happen. Not a ton of offensive fouls bowling guys over either. His jump shot has improved out to 3 point range, but is still at this stage inconsistent.

    The one thing Bayless isn’t is a floor general. He can drive and kick to the open perimeter guy with grace, which in combination with his bulldog athleticism led to getting many assists way. But that’s about it.

    Defensively he was equally aggressive, but at this end of the floor he tended to pick up a lot of fouls as a result (2.1 per his 17+ mins last year). Watching him I often thought this was because he knew he was only going to be out there for a little bit of time, so fouling out was never going to be an issue.

    Which brings us to why Portland traded him. Here’s a good summary of why from the lugubrious-but-insightful Dave at BlazersEdge:

    http://www.blazersedge.com/2010/10/23/1770206/jerryd-bayless-the-difference-between-good-and-right

    Remember that the new coach of New Orleans is Monty Williams who was a Blazers assistant last year. He would have recommended to the GM to go out and get Bayless.

    Bottom line: no one in Blazers nation was like “thank god” when he got traded– we all understood it was a numbers game. Recently, with Roy’s knees turning into Jermaine O’Neals, many are expressing regret about losing him. Since it seems the new Raptor identity is to be centered around “scrappiness”, Jared Bayless will in my opinion make an excellent fit.

  17. “The Raptors can not become the new Indiana Pacers”

    trying to remember the last time the pacers actually had even a mediocre team? Because they weren’t the worst team in the league they made mistakes? I don’ t care how hard you try to suck… someone can always suck worse. As Bane said, how has rebuilding through the draft been good for the clippers? Thats been going on for 2 decades now (seriously the worst team in the league… AGAIN!). Sure seems like everyone’s darlings the Blazers are in great shape going forward…

    You try the best you can every year an let the chips fall where they do. The Raps could end up with the best #1 in the history of basketball… then again he could bust his knee tripping up the stage to the podium.

    Don’t rely on the draft or expect anythign from it. You may end up with Bargnani

  18. Something is telling me that this may be a prelude to another deal, if so the picture may become more clear then. Whether it is a deal soon or as late as the offseason we will need to see. From the point of view of the Hornets, it was for financial reasons alone to ensure they are under the tax because this deal looks more favourable for the Raps.

    If not we all know Jack was brought in to pacify Bosh in hopes of keeping him. Once Bosh moved on I think it was just a matter of time that he was gone. I think Coangelo gave him some time to see if he was on board with the rebuild project, and as his performance so far indicates, he is proffessional, but we can definitely see he would rather be somewhere else.

    So bottom line this was more of a personel trade bringing in a player who has the potetial upside, another name player who will may put a few more seats in the stands during a rebuild year, not to mention add some more scoring punch. In exchange helping out a team get under the tax, and giving Jack a change of scenery and a chance to play for a playoff contender. All this done without undermining the rebuild project and retaining the Raps felxibility to go after some quality talent in the offseason.

    We will need to wait to see how things pan out.

  19. This move to me looks like a move for the future more than anything. Bayless is a good player who should fit in well with this young core. Stojakavic is servicable and should spread the floor for guys like Weems and Derozan when hes on the floor. If this move gives Jose the confidence he needs by not looking over his shoulder and of course Ed Davis will be back soon and Anderson would have been sitting down by Dorsey. Im sure there are more moves to come. It just looks like if BC was worried about losing his job after this season he wouldnt have mad a move like this. Im pretty sure barring disaster that he will be resigned. Atlest will be a welcome site to see on the defensive end

    PS. It is ok to have fans say they want there team to tank for a good draft pick but to say you think the team and palyers should tank is just something that doesnt happen.

  20. You guys shouldnt listen to what i say, I’m an idiot and really have no idea what im talking about. I make all this shit up. I don’t even watch the games.

  21. Remember your man crush on Amir? I had something similar with Bayless, especially after seeing him in college and a few Portland games, he looked like a mini-Barbosa. I’ve never seen him have a terrible game, and I for one am quite happy with this trade to bring in this young guy who could be a good player.

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