A week ago we talked about a New York Daily News report that mentioned the Raptors as possible suitors for Jeremy Lin, by way of a potential back-loaded contract.

Already this week, the New York Post writes that “a source confirmed” Toronto will be an offer sheet suitor for Lin and ESPN.com has Toronto No. 1 on a list of teams besides the Knicks that might go after the young point guard.

One thing that hasn’t been given much thought yet though, is whether Lin would be a good fit in Toronto and whether signing him long term would be a good decision.

To really get a grasp on an answer to those questions, we have to look at what the options are at the point guard position for the Raptors next season, and going forward.

The obvious option is to keep Jose Calderon around for the last year of his contract (at around $10.5 million). Calderon has proven to be an underrated and probably an under appreciated starting point guard who can make teammates better offensively, but who is still a liability defensively, despite some improvements in that area of his game this past season.

I get the feeling that Calderon is one of those guys you kind of take for granted while he’s here, and then realize he’s hard to replace once he’s gone. Nevertheless, he’ll be 31-years-old when the 2012-2013 season begins, and his durability has always been an issue. Calderon has only played a full 82 games once in his seven-year career, and has missed 13-18 games in a season five times already.

Jose can probably evolve into a solid veteran point guard off of the bench for a contending team in the next season or so, and if it happens in Toronto, that’s great. But realistically, it’s hard to see him keeping the starting job with the Raptors much longer.

Jerryd Bayless is a gritty young point guard who has yet to be given a full time starting opportunity in the NBA. When he has started in stretches for the Raptors, he’s looked absolutely lights out and actually plays a similar style (penetrating, driving to the basket, putting his body on the line to score and get to the line) to a guy like Jeremy Lin.

Bayless enjoyed his best offensive season in the NBA this past year, and finished with an above average Player Efficiency Rating of 17.7. But like Calderon, his durability is far from a safe bet. Jerryd is tough, but his somewhat reckless style of play could also be damaging to his body and long term sustainability. He’s missed 54 games over the last three seasons, including 35 of 66 games with various injuries this season.

If given the opportunity, Bayless (who is actually just three days older than Lin) might have just as high a ceiling as Jeremy Lin, but based on his issues staying healthy early in his career, I hope the Raptors can keep him around on his approximately $4.1 million qualifying offer for next season. If he stays healthy and earns a long-term extension after that (which I obviously hope he does), all the power to him.

Like Bayless, Lin provides some high risk, high reward potential. The 23-year-old burst on to the scene this season with one of the best starts to a “starter’s career” in NBA history, literally rescuing a team’s season in the biggest and most demanding market in the NBA. However, he was also shut down for the season with a meniscus tear and only played four more games than Bayless did in the lockout-shortened 2011-2012 campaign. In just two years in the NBA, the undrafted Lin hasn’t played more than 35 games in a season yet.

But there is one area where Lin’s presence cannot be doubted.

Outside of Lin looking like a more complete basketball player than Bayless this season, he also has astonishing marketing potential and can be a legit international superstar if he continues to perform on the court. In a multicultural hotbed like Toronto, that cannot be understated from a business perspective. While it would take a risky gamble to acquire Lin, it could pay massive dividends both on and off the court for the Raptors.

I doubt Jeremy can put up the inflated numbers he posted in that Linsane stretch last season, but I do think he can be an above average NBA point guard for the foreseeable future.

As for Nash, I got pretty deep into why acquiring him (at the right price) can never be a bad move a couple of weeks ago, so I won’t give you that spiel again.

The way it breaks down is this. If you want to play it safe, you keep Calderon around and either hope Bayless emerges as a potential star at the point or perhaps you draft a point guard that you think has that capability. It wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world for a young point guard to learn from a guy like Jose Calderon.

If you want to see what Calderon can fetch you as an expiring contract on the market, then maybe you trade Jose and give Bayless an opportunity to prove himself as a full time starter for the year.

If you’re up for a gamble, and think this team can be pretty good as early as next season, then jumping into the bidding for the likes of Steve Nash or Jeremy Lin is for you. Nash is a bonafide Hall of Famer, one of the greatest point guards of all time, a proud Canadian, and despite his age, has proven to still be one of the more reliable point men in the Association. If the Raptors can nab him, it’s hard to see the fault in that acquisition.

If the Knicks land Nash, then prying Lin out of New York should become a little easier (if Nash signs elsewhere, you’d have to assume the Knicks do whatever it takes to retain Lin).

Lin is an exciting young player with team-leading potential who could be a marketing and business bonanza. If he’s a hit, you strike gold both on and off the court. If he’s a miss, you probably end up with a very bad contract on your hands that isn’t exactly easy to get rid of.

On one hand, you could say that attempting to build a championship caliber team in Toronto requires near perfection from a management perspective, and therefore that taking risks is too big a gamble. On the other hand, you could say that the only way to break into the NBA’s elite class of organizations while running the Raptors is to take big risks and hope you hit a few home runs along the way.

Which side of that spectrum Bryan Colangelo and company are on will go a long way in dictating how the Raptors establish themselves at the point guard position this off-season.

Comments (21)

  1. I think it’s time for the Raps to have a dynamic point guard that can run and agressively break down the defence. Lin, Nash, Bayless (and obviously Dwill which is farfetch option) all fit that mold.

    Jose is solid and a great teammate. If he agrees to take a paycut and stay on the bench here long term, all fine by me.

  2. Well, to be fair, we still have the NBA draft lottery to see where the Raptors stand and what the Raptors do in the draft (whether it’s trading the pick, moving up/down. That will likely be the key initiator to figure out their off season plans.

    But as it stands now, assuming they land an 8th overall pick, they might as well take Kendall Marshall. I’d rather see him be the starter or the backup to Bayless next season rather than overpay for a 38 year old Nash or a Lin whos only started 25 games in his career. If you can get Lin at a decent price, then fine.

    But it’s very unlikely that you get him at a good price because you have to outbid New York for him.

    • I really like the idea of draft Marshall, sign Nash, amnesty Jose, let Bayless sign elsewhere. Marshall gets a 2 year internship under the best pass first PG of the last 15 years. Nash gets to ride out into the Canadian sunset. I never have to watch Bayless pointlessly dribble away the first 15 minutes of a shot clock.

  3. I’m totally against signing the Raptors signing Lin. Teams that are successful over the long term don’t overpay for average talent. We would have to overpay to get Lin, reducing our financial flexibility to shore up the gaping holes in the lineup elsewhere.

    A good GM (i.e. someone like the Spurs GM) would spend his time trying to find/discover the next Lin and signing that person to a reasonable contract, rather than overpaying for the real Lin, who is as much hype as substance.

  4. The ideal PG situation is to
    1) let Bayless walk, he is not a PG
    2) amnesty one of my all-time fav Raptor, Jose Calderon
    3) depending on draft position, grab a PG, dealing down if possible
    4) sign Nash for 3 years with a team option for a 4th – there is no better leader available for a young team

    Second best scenario is
    1) Bayless still goes
    2) we keep Jose and depending how season goes, either deal him near deadline if the team flounders, or if we have any success, keep him and resign him at fair price. Would love for him to retire a Raptor.
    3) still draft a PG

    Both scenarios leave us cap flexibility

    Whatever contract Lin signs, it will become a burden to the team that signs him.

    • Amnesty Calderon? Seriously? He’s probably one of the easiest players for the Raptors to trade this offseason or next year. There’s no reason at all to use an amnesty on him.

      • Uh, yes there is.
        You amnesty him if Nash agrees to sign. His salary covers the cost of Nash.

        You did read my whole post right?

        • What are you talking about? The Raptors can sign Nash without using the amnesty on anyone.

          And even if that were the case, you trade Calderon, not amnesty him. Kleiza is the most suitable amnesty candidate if you must use it on someone because he brings back the least in a trade. Like I had said, Calderon is one of the easiest players to trade and would bring back assets to the team.

          You did read my whole post right?

          Besides, Nash’s contract could be just as much of a burden as Lin’s would be. You would actually sign him to 7-10 million for 3 years and a 4th year team option? How is that the most ideal PG situation? The fact that it would take Calderon’s amnestied salary just to sign Nash at 38 years old is even more of a reason not to sign him.

          In fact, Lin is probably a better future investment for the team than Nash is at the exact same price, assuming you had to pick one.

          • We will not keep Jose if(big if) Nash signs with us – too much money at PG.
            An expiring contract is not as attractive as it used to be – see Barbosa, Leandro.
            Would I offer Nash 3 years with a 4th as an option at 7-10 mill? In a heartbeat, yes.

            Let’s just say we disagree on Lin’s value.

          • and disagree on the value of a 38 year old PG

          • I’m not saying that we’d keep both Jose and Nash if that were to happen. I’m simply saying you don’t amnesty a player that’s very tradable. Obviously we’d get rid of Jose, but it wouldn’t be through an amnesty is all I’m saying.

  5. wow amnesty Calderon you”re out to lunch dude and getting lin is just as nuts as the amnesty idea love the raps but until we can keep our drafted talent were never going to win an nba champship

    • Trade Calderon and Bargnani for Pau Gasol and Trade Exception, throw money at D-Will and try and get, a serviceable 3 in the draft.

      • Do you honestly think that the Lakers would give up Gasol for Calderon and Bargnani? Come on, they could do much better than that.

        And throw money at D-Will? Even if the Raptors threw a max deal his way, he wouldn’t sign with the Raptors.

  6. Great article but I dont think Bayless is a PG.
    I could be wrong and maybe he turns out to be like Billups; a great combo guard.

    $4.1? mill for BAYLESS?! If u amnesty Klieza and let Bayless walk that equals around 8mill in cap room. I really dont see either as a integral piece for a contending team.

  7. I’d agree with those that said good teams don’t overpay for mediocre talent.

    My ideal would be to draft a PG with one of our 2nd rounders (maybe Wroten or Teague if they drop, otherwise Maalik Wayns or that international form the Czech republic (satorinsky?), keep Calderon and Bayless. We go forward with that, and at the deadline we trade Calderon.

    Key is we maintain our flexability and don’t blow a wad of cash just cuz flawed players are available.

  8. Does anyone know what the PERs were for Lin, Jose and Nash? Just wondering how they compare to Bayless and his 17.7 rating. I’m sure Nash is still in the 20s, but I don’t know where Lin and Jose fall.

  9. Something no one ever seem to consider, talking on players, is the level of brains they get in their skulls.
    Jeremy Lin may not be the greatest of future PGs, but surely is one of the smartest in the business. Like Nash and Calderon, he makes up for many things by his own head, by adapting to circumstances.
    How about Bayless wits? People like him are clearly challenged – at first sight – and manager/coaches take note of that.

  10. The choices (if possible) seem to be between:

    1) Jose Calderon – a very good PG, and one of the top distributers in the league. Highly efficient, low turnovers. Not a good defender. Just past middle age basketball wise (31 years old), but has always based his game on IQ over athleticism. Last year of a contract, next contract will be a fraction of the existing one.

    2) Jeremy Lin – an unknown quantity until part way through last season. Took the league by storm for 3 weeks, then fell off a cliff. Ends up remaining an unknown. Is young and did show alot of potential. Medium efficiency, good distributer, TERRIBLE turnover rate, bad defender. Sold tickets like crazy. Contract will need to be long term and of a decent size to out bid the knicks. Bonus: can only go right, doesn’t handle ball pressure well

    3) Kid Canada – every basketball fans favorite Canadian. Every Canadians favorite basketball player. Former 2 time MVP PG, one of the best in history. Very old in basketball terms, but historically shown an ability to over come that. Extremely efficient, top distributer in the league, high turnovers, bad defense, high IQ player. Contract will be large but not long (2-3 years). Minutes have been steadily decreasing and has serious back issues but was still an all-star worthy player this year. NOTE: Phoenix’s conditioning staff is considered the best in the league. Toronto does not have Phoenix’s conditioning staff

    So I look at those 3 and can’t help but wonder how doesn’t Jose make the most sense? His contract is expiring and will be the lowest of those PGs the season following this. He still has half a decade of basketball left in him. Lin just had a major injury, Nash has serious back problems, Jose misses games here and there due to strains and twists…. so I’m not sure how Jose’s injury problems are any more prevelant than the other two. People can knock Jose’s defense, but if the other choices are Lin or Nash thats hardly an upgrade… actually both could be considered a down grade. Jose is very reliable, Lin is complete boom or bust situation, Nash similar, but based on age and health instead. He has also shown to be a true professional, a leader, and willing to take anything the opposition throws at him (KG or brands elbows) So why would we give up on the longest tenured and reliable raptor in history for high risk players?

    “astonishing marketing potential ”

    and there you have it… the REAL reason the Raps are after Nash or Lin. This isn’t about the long term quality or benifit of this team, its about dollars and cents and Bryan Colangelo selling tickets so he doesn’t lose his job.

  11. I only have to agree with the thought that Calderon is probably the best option out of the Jose/Lin/Nash triangle.

    Very much a humble opinion, but I don’t like Lin. Thought he was heavily overrated even during the so-called-linsanity. Mostly because if you let any guy in the league take at least 30 shots, he is bound to hit around 8, add 8 frees and a voila – 24 points. With 6-8 turnovers in all those games, I’m not impressed. Sold tickets and jerseys though…

    Nash is great and I’d love him, but the risks are there – Rapsfan above has the right arguments.

    I’m just thinking in terms of who would be the best option to utilize the young Valanciunas. He’s very eager and able to free himself for a pass, also quite capable at pick n roll where he needs a quick pass-first PG.
    Nash brings the veteran’s touch with the hope that he would like the young talent and would feel a connection to feed him passes.
    Calderon is quite similar with high passing capabilities and hopefully a willingness to invest time and balls into developing this youngster.
    In Lin my only hope would be that they both are young enough to form a bond and if Lin raises his passing efficiency – then maybe. Otherwise – an experienced pass-first PG is much better for a young big man.

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