On Thursday night, I wrote about where the acquisition of Kyle Lowry leaves the Raptors. The major component of that post was a look at the point guard situation in Toronto, where Lowry joined Jose Calderon and restricted free agent Jerryd Bayless.
So much for that, as on Friday, the Raptors pulled their qualifying offer (roughly $4 million) to Bayless, officially making the 23-year-old guard an unrestricted free agent. The biggest difference, of course, is that the Raptors no longer have the option to match any offers for Bayless. If he and another team come to an agreement on a contract, he becomes an ex-Raptor.
Based on his youth, his upside, his performance when healthy last season and his competitive drive, you would have to figure that there’s at least one team out there with their eyes on Bayless. And now that those teams don’t have to worry about offer-sheets and everything that comes with them, someone can probably land Jerryd Bayless on a very team-friendly contract.
Scott, Oliver Macklem and I discussed Bayless’ expected departure at length in the latest edition of RaptorBlog Radio, so I won’t go into too much detail right now, other than to say that I was a big supporter of giving Bayless a chance to start at the point for an extended period. When given the minutes, Bayless put up some very impressive numbers (18 points and six assists per 36 minutes last season, while shooting over 40 per cent from deep) and produced at a rate comparable to guys like Lowry and Goran Dragic. And remember, Dragic is going to make $7-8 million per season for the next four years.
Unfortunately for Bayless, Lowry (who also has a team-friendly and very reasonable contract) plays a similar style, albeit in a much more polished form, and Jose Calderon’s game could be very complimentary to Lowry’s, especially with Jose coming off of the bench. Regardless of what you think about Jose, he would be a solid point guard option off the pine, and his $10 million-plus payday this season is actually a nice trade chip as a large expiring contract.
With Lowry and Calderon, the Raptors now have a very formidable combination at the point, and if you were hoping that the acquisition of Lowry meant Calderon’s days in Toronto were finally coming to an end, you were sadly mistaken:
Calderon? Growing sense w/rival teams is Raps either use Spaniard’s expiring deal in trade or just keep him. Scratch him from amnesty lists
— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) July 6, 2012
With that, I’ll say that Linas Kleiza and Amir Johnson better up their games in 2012-2013, because the amnesty bulls-eye is now pointed squarely at them.
In closing, I’ll share this tweet from @gourmetspud from a few days ago, which hilariously and perfectly captures the mood right now:
Ford, Jack, Bayless, Nash. Somewhere Jose Calderon stares into a mirror, pounds his chest and screams “KEEP COMING MOTHERF#*@#S” in Spanish.
— Gourmet Spud (@gourmetspud) July 4, 2012