In the aftermath of the Raptors’ first winning road trip of five games or more in over 10 years and the team soaring up power rankings all over the internet (this will be short lived), some very interesting news kind of slipped under the radar.
A HoopsWorld article on Monday stated that “the Raptors are shopping” and that the team would like to pick up some additional draft picks. The post added that Jose Calderon and Leandro Barbosa could be moved to acquire a traded player exception (TPE) or to acquire “smaller assets.” This, in itself, isn’t really news, since a lot of Raptors fans assumed Barbosa’s expiring contract and Calderon were on the block for the rebuilding Raps.
But it’s what HoopsWorld says the incoming TPE/assets could be used for that I really found interesting. Basically, the article says that the Raptors will use those pieces to try and acquire restricted free agent Wilson Chandler (whose rights belong to the Nuggets) once he is free to leave his current team, Zhejiang Guangsha, of the Chinese Basketball Association.
If this report is indeed true, it raises many questions. How much is Chandler worth in an offer sheet and/or sign-and-trade deal? Can the Raptors get better value than Chandler by trading Barbosa and Calderon? Can Chandler be a significant piece of the puzzle for a young team that claims to want to build an eventual title contender, not just a mediocre playoff team?
Since being selected 23rd overall by New York in the 2007 NBA Draft, Chandler has averaged 13.9 points on 45 per cent shooting (32.4 per cent three-point shooting) to go along with 5.2 rebounds, 1.8 assists and nearly a block per game. Not bad for a guy who will only turn 25 in May.
In China, Chandler is averaging 26.4 points, 11.2 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 1.2 steals. Obviously those numbers should be taken with a mountain of salt, but hey, at least he’s performing impressively in a league he should be dominating, instead of making CBA headlines for having a crazy family.
Chandler can be a very dangerous offensive weapon in the NBA and already looks like a good defender, with the athleticism and the body to be a great defender at his position.
Some knocks on his game are that he can sometimes force too much on the offensive end and can be wildly inconsistent in terms of his scoring. In addition, despite his impressive numbers, Chandler has never finished with a Player Efficiency Rating above 15 in his four-year NBA career.
Personally, I like Chandler’s game from what I’ve seen in his first four NBA seasons with the Knicks and Nuggets and thought he was good in a supporting role for a couple of playoff teams last season. But I don’t necessarily like him as a fit with the Raptors right now, not as a restricted free agent anyway. He is more the type of player that a contending team could add to put them over the top, or an already good team could add to make them a legit contender. In short, he’s a finishing touch.
I don’t see him as a future building block for a rebuilding team unless that team already has a young franchise player in place. The Raptors still don’t have that player, and they still don’t even know what they have with some of the young talent currently on the roster, so it doesn’t make much sense to me to get into a bidding war for Wilson Chandler.
Salary cap space will be critical for the Raptors rebuild going forward, so until this team has young pieces in place that I’m confident could evolve into a winner, I’m not going to get excited about using some of that precious cap space on a good, but not great young player.
Not to mention, the stacked 2012 Draft is loaded with potential at the wing positions that will have higher ceilings than Chandler and will obviously be much cheaper to obtain (though this is dependent on the Raptors finishing with a poor enough record and some lottery luck).
If the Raptors could find a way to acquire Chandler without giving up much in terms of cap space, I’d be all for it, but I doubt that’s possible.