Man with a plan

RaptorBlog founder and self proclaimed “Blog Father” Scott Carefoot did a fine job posting on the Barbosa to the Pacers trade amid all the madness that was NBA deadline day 2012, so there’s no need to go over the trade again.

What I did want to get into is what the immediate future now looks like for the Raptors in the post-Barbosa era, both from an on-court angle and from a financial perspective.

I’ll start with this. Leandro Barbosa and the now officially waived Anthony Carter played approximately 1153 combined minutes for the Raptors this season, which works out to 26.8 minutes per game over Toronto’s 43 contests. Even with a healthy Jose Calderon, that’s an extra 27 minutes that Jerryd Bayless and Gary Forbes, and maybe even DeMar DeRozan, can share. Remember that Bayless has a qualifying offer worth over $4 million for next season, so it’s imperative that the Raptors’ brass gets a good enough look at him to be able to make a fully informed decision.

We’ve always known this season was supposed to be about development and analysis of the younger Raptors, and with Barbosa and even the little used Carter now out of the way, the Raps can take another step towards that development and analysis.

On to the finances.

The Raptors now have around $11 million or $12 million in cap space that they can use between the end of their season (which should come to an end on April 26) and July 1, when the 2012-2013 season will be officially open for business. That flexibility can be used to obtain more draft picks, or of course, to obtain an actual player before the start of free agency, which is a positive, since a lot of players end up getting overpaid after July 1.

Thinking further ahead (and assuming that the NBA’s salary cap stays around $58 million), the Raps are in line to have about $14 million or $15 million in cap space if they choose to extend the aforemtnioned qualifying offer to Bayless. If they were to renounce that option on Bayless (which I really can’t see them doing without Barbosa in the future plans), the cap space grows to $18 million or $19 million.

But let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves, as those figures don’t take into account the two top-10 draft picks the Raptors are expected to be paying next season. According to this NBA rookie salary scale, Jonas Valanciunas will be paid about $2.8 million in his rookie season. Assuming that the Raptors select somewhere between No. 1 and No. 8 in the 2012 draft, you then have to add another $2.1 million to $4.2 million in player salaries.

So, the Raptors will likely add anywhere from $4.9 million to $7 million in payroll between Valanciunas and their 2012 pick, and that’s not including the two second round picks that they now own, which are non-guaranteed contracts. If Bayless gets his $4.1 million option, the Raptors would be in line to have about $49 million-to-$52 million committed to 12 players next season.

Those players would be Jose Calderon, Jerryd Bayless, DeMar DeRozan, Gary Forbes, James Johnson, Linas Kleiza, Andrea Bargnani, Amir Johnson, Ed Davis, Aaron Gray, Jonas Valanciunas and 2012 pick. We’re obviously not looking at a championship core there, but if the 2012 pick is a good one, which it should be, and Valanciunas lives up to the hype, you definitely have a solid foundation, without having an insane amount of financial commitment.

I know a lot of disheartened Raptors fans will read a post like this as blind optimism, but I maintain that if the Raptors get one of the studs coming out in 2012, they’ll have a good enough core and financial situation to lay the building blocks for future success, and it would take blind pessimism to ignore that. Of course, it all does depend on how Lady Luck treats Toronto on lottery night.

The next six weeks of Raptors basketball should be intriguing to monitor. The 63 days between April 26 and June 28 (Draft day) could be fascinating and future-shaping.

Comments (27)

  1. I am pretty sure the Raps only have one second round pick (Indy’s) this year. Didn’t they trade their own pick?

  2. I just pray the Raptors get a franchise player in this draft (please let it be Anthony Davis, please let it be Anthony Davis), or else their future is going to look a lot like Atlanta’s recent past, if they’re lucky. If they’re not it will look like Milwaukee’s.

    I’d say there’s a hell of a lot riding on this draft.

    • Agreed. They’re an Anthony Davis, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Harrison Barnes, etc. away from being on their way to something real.
      They’re a Perry Jones III away from being mediocre.

      • I’d say they’re an Anthony Davis or Michael Kidd-Gilchrist away from being on their way to something real. Harrison Barnes is a nice player, but I don’t see him being anything more than a really nice player. And I don’t see anyone else being a franchise player in this draft. For the Raptors, it’s top 2 or bust.

        • I agree, Barnes is a nice player but nothing to get excited about. Push come to shove, I’d rather Beal over Barnes.

          Love the way MKG plays. A frontline of Valanciunas, Bargnani, and him looks mighty good on paper.

          • Personally, I’d love for the Raptors to get the top pick and then trade for Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, but I can’t see Colangelo wanting a front line composed completely of rookies.

            Getting Anthony Davis would solve a lot of Raptor problems. I know everyone loves how Bargnani is playing this year, but your team will always be limited if one of your big men is a below average defender, no matter what he does on offense. Chicago would trade Boozer in a heartbeat, if they could, and New York is coming to grips with the fact that even Tyson Chandler can’t make up for Amare’s defensive deficiencies.

            Personally, if the Raptors don’t get a top 2-3 pick, and I was Colangelo, I’d offer up my pick and literally any player on the roster (excluding Valanciunas) in order to draft either Davis or Kidd-Gilchrist. In the end, that’s how important I see getting a franchise player is in this draft.

            Oh, and I’m not impressed at all with Drummond, but he very well could surprise in a different system. Still, someone with the physical tools he has should be playing A LOT better than he has.

        • Now Tim you are setting your hopes too high. Dropping outta the top 5 would be a major disappointment.
          But I do agree, barring someone standing out in the tournament, that Davis and K-G stand out in this draft.
          Who’s to say if we pick near 5 that BC doesn’t drop down via trade to the mid teens and grab a PG. Picks 5 – 12 seem to be mostly bigs no better than what we have.

          • If the Raptors don’t get.a top 3 pick, they need to something big. And I don’t see what trading down will do, quite frankly. They’ll need to hit it out of the park.

      • I like both Barnes and Gilchrist at #3. But if the Raptors get #2 pick, I think they need to take a serious look at Andre Drummond. Hasn’t exactly turned a lot of heads with UConn, but I think with the right system, he could be the 2nd best NBA player in the bunch.

        You could easily move Jonas to PF, in fact I think he’d be better suited for PF. A Valancounas-Drummond (or Davis obviously) front line would be one of the best in the league in a couple of years.

        I think Drummond is the type of player that could win multiple DPOY awards.

        • Where does Bargnani fit into a Valanciunas/Drummond front line?

          • Bargnani would either come off the bench as their 6th man, or they trade him. I think a rotation of Valanciunas/Drummond/Johnson/Davis up front would be fantastic.

            However, Valanciunas fouls a lot. So the minutes will definitely be there for Bargnani for a steady 25-30MPG off the bench, if they were to keep him.

            But either way, I think Drummond is the 2nd best player in this draft. Getting him or Davis in June would be a successful draft IMO.

          • BP,

            Would you not be worried about Bargnani regressing if he were asked to come off the bench? He’s never played well in that role and I don’t like the idea of a high-cost, high maintenance player coming off the bench. That’s too much of a recipe for disaster.

          • Well, obviously my first choice would be to trade him somewhere. The problem is, there aren’t too many teams who want a PF/C that doesn’t defend particularily well, and then have to pay them 10-12 million for the next 3 years.

            So I would think that really limits the potential suitors to only a few teams.

            The other solution, would also be to have Valanciunas be the bench guy for a season or two until Bargnani has a more tradable, expiring contract. Which, I think Valanciunas will come off the bench to start the year with whoever they draft, so it may not be out of the question either.

          • Ya, Tim that was actually one of the teams I was thinking as a possible destination. Bargs would actually work well with Howard.

            NJ, Denver, Phoenix were the others.

            If Toronto is somehow able to draft Davis or Drummond, I would deal him for expiring contracts and first rounders if they were offered. Otherwise, keep him and wait for a better offer.

      • MKG is rumoured to be staying at least another year… this one actually sounds serious, unlike other players in the past where these words rang hollow

        • Matt, although I’d like to see what he can do for Kentucky next year without Davis, it’s HIGHLY unlikely he stays another year.

          He’s all but gauranteed himself in the top 5 of this years draft. Not sure what staying another year would do to help him much.

        • I heard the same quote from Kidd-Gilchrist. I agree he sounds serious. If the Raptors get the first pick, then I would like to see him return. If he can work on his jump shot and come out in a season or two more polished, it’s better for everyone.

          If the Raptors DON’T get the first pick, then screw all that. I see him as the second best player in this draft and I would selfishly want him to come out.

          • BP,

            I hear what you’re saying, but if he can continue his play, even at a slightly lower level, I think several teams would want him. I’d especially look at Orlando if Ryan Anderson gets signed away by someone else.

          • Ya, Tim that was actually one of the teams I was thinking as a possible destination. Bargs would actually work well with Howard.

            NJ, Denver, Phoenix were the others.

            If Toronto is somehow able to draft Davis or Drummond, I would deal him for expiring contracts and first rounders if they were offered. Otherwise, keep him and wait for a better offer.

  3. There is, on this draft and on Jonas. The ceiling for those two players could be high enough to really compete, or as you mentioned, they could just turn out to be a couple of mediocre lottery picks….

    That’s one of the risks of building through the draft. I think it’s the right thing, but there definitely is no guarantee that one or two trips to the lottery will spring you out of the basement.

  4. Your expectations for this team over the next five seasons and how you feel about the potential foundation of the team should go hand in hand. If you as a fan are just dying to get back to the playoffs, I don’t see any reason why the current team + Jonas and 2012 draft pick can’t get you there but if you long for anything more than a quick first round exit then it’s hard to be happy with that group of players even with Jonas and any 2012 draft eligible player outside of Davis.

    That’s why any debate about the evaluation of the players we are trying to build around is pointless because everyone has different expectations for the team and that completely changes how they look at said players.

  5. Off topic but there was no contact button on the site. Anyways, TJ Ford announced his retirement earlier this week after another neck injury. He spent two seasons with the Raptors so it would be good if Scott or Joe did a little write up on him. He wasn’t the greatest player in Raptors history but he was good, enthusiastic and seemed to give it his all during his time here. For that and the circumstances surrounding his retirement, I think he deserves a bit of recognition.

  6. Tank Nation FTW!!!

    The Nets got better. The Wizards got better (two less headcases). And by losing Barbosa, we got worse and get to see what Bayless can do with more minutes.

    Great day for the Raptors, and if we can luck ourselves in to an Anthony Davis… then we’d have something to get excited about.

    And, if not, MKG, Beal or even Barnes (in that order) would be a nice addition. I’d be shocked if we didn’t pick a wing player in the draft considering the quality of them and the bigs we have on roster.

    Tank on, my dear Raptors.

  7. We cannot forget that this is a point guards league and without a star PG , we won’t get far in the playoffs even if we do get Anthony Davis. Just ask the Atlanta Hawks how badly they need a PG.

    • Name the last All NBA PG to win a Championship. In fact 3 of the last 5 Championship teams didn’t have All-Star PGs. PGs are all the rage in the NBA, but that’s because there are so many great ones.

      The Last team to win a Championship without an All NBA big man were the Chicago Bulls, who also had the best player in the history of the game.

      The Atlanta Hawks have floundered because they don’t have a truly elite player on their team. In the NBA, you generally can only go as far as your best player. And Joe Johnson is their best player. He’s a very good player, but he’s a 50 win player, at best. The Hawks represent the ceiling the Raptors would have run into if they had actually built a better team around Bosh.

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