Archive for the ‘Los Angeles Lakers’ Category

I’ll preface this by saying that I don’t think trading Jose Calderon is as dire a need as a lot of other Raptors fans believe. It’s not the worst thing in the world if Calderon is the team’s starting point guard heading into next season. Having said that, I’m obviously still of the belief that if you can find a deal that gives the Raptors more flexibility, draft picks and young assets to build with, I’m all for it.

With that, and given that the NBA’s trade deadline is now just a week away (Thursday, March 15), here are three realistic trade proposals I’ve come up with involving Calderon and the Raptors. The key word here is “realistic.” I didn’t try to find trades that land the Raptors a superstar or a first round pick from a cellar dwelling team. These are all deals that I believe could conceivably help both teams involved and that would all work, according to ESPN’s trade machine.

Trade 1: Toronto trades Jose Calderon to Portland for Raymond Felton ($7.5 million expiring contract) and a draft pick

This is the trade most fans are talking about, and it does make a lot of sense for both teams. Portland gets an obvious upgrade at the point in Calderon, who they can keep next season, while the Raptors get a point guard who can simply finish the season in Toronto, but more importantly, the Raps get an expiring contract. I would want the Trail Blazers to throw in a draft pick, as Calderon is a much more valuable player than Felton is right now. The problem is that the Blazers could be a lottery team, and I can’t see them parting with a lottery pick just to acquire Jose.

Trade 2: Toronto trades Jose Calderon to Atlanta for Kirk Hinrich ($8.1 million expiring contract) and a draft pick

While Josh Smith could be on his way out of Atlanta, as off right now, the Hawks are still a legitimate Eastern Conference playoff team that I can’t see blowing things up and rebuilding just yet. They could be eliminated in the first round of the playoffs, but there are also stretches where they look poised to make another deep run. With this deal, Atlanta improves greatly at the point and gets a lead guard who does a fine job taking care of the ball, something I’m sure a playoff team might value. Just like with my proposed Portland trade, the Raptors get a half capable point guard on a fairly large expiring contract to finish off this rebuilding season. And just like the Portland deal, I’d still want the Hawks to throw in a draft pick to even things out. Atlanta should be picking somewhere between 17 and 25 in the draft, so they might be more willing to cough up a first round pick than the Blazers. Though perhaps second round picks are more realistic in these proposed deals.

Trade 3: Toronto trades Jose Calderon to Utah for Devin Harris or for Trade Exception and draft pick

While I see a Calderon for Harris swap as “realistic,” I would not support such a trade. Harris will still be owed $8.5 million next season, so the Raptors would basically be downgrading their position at the point simply to save a couple million dollars next year. For anyone thinking Devin Harris is still a younger point guard with some untapped potential, he’s actually only 17 months younger than Calderon. This would be making a deal simply for the sake of making a deal. It doesn’t make much sense for the Raptors. As for the other proposed trade with the Jazz, the Raptors could simply take on a $9.7 million trade exception (from the Mehmet Okur trade) and perhaps even take Utah’s second round pick. Minnesota owns Utah’s first round pick this season (lottery protected), and I doubt the Jazz would be willing to part with Golden State’s top-seven protected first round pick. A trade for the exception, without a player coming to Toronto in return, would give the Raptors more financial flexibility over the next year and would likely give them a better chance in the draft lottery.

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If the Mavericks weren’t in the running for Deron Williams and/or Dwight Howard this summer (and I believe they are the dark horse team that could scoop up both), I’d suggest a Calderon for Kidd trade that nets the Raptors a $10.1 million expiring contract. While I think Calderon would be an upgrade over Kidd for Dallas, I don’t think the Mavs would be willing to mess much with their chemistry or would be willing to mess with their advantageous cap situation this off-season.

Worth mentioning: The two teams who might just need Jose Calderon the most, or at least who are in most need of a point guard, are the Lakers and the Magic. The problem is that neither team has the type of assets Toronto covets and even the Lakers’ trade exception from the Lamar Odom deal wouldn’t cover Calderon’s nearly $10 million salary this season. For the Lakers or Magic to acquire Jose from the Raptors, the deal would have to involve a third team or more. If L.A. or Orlando can get a third team involved that brings attractive assets to the table for Toronto, then either team could be in the mix.

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All of the proposed deals mentioned involve the Raptors clearing cap space for this off-season, but it’s important to remember that Toronto probably doesn’t figure into any of the big free agent targets’ plans. If Calderon had two years or more left on his deal, I’d want the Raptors to rid themselves of that contract as soon as possible. But realistically, Jose’s contract doesn’t hamper the Raps this summer (Toronto should have at least $10 million in cap space) given the team’s still modest expectations.

This is why as enticing as cap space would be, I still say that the Raptors should be looking for draft picks or young assets in potential Calderon deals. If there isn’t a good deal to be made, then there’s nothing wrong with letting Jose run the offence with a team that will once again be young and fairly inexperienced next season.

Dwane Casey

I don’t want to speak for the hopes and desires of all Raptors fans throughout this season, but in my mind, sensible Raptors fans want the team to play competitive games and show some promise for the future while still losing most of their games so they get a high pick in a loaded draft. If you’re part of “my group”, then you were pretty happy with the Raptors’ dramatic two-point loss to the Lakers this afternoon.

Here are my six thoughts on Game No. 29: Lakers 94, Raptors 92.

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Start time: 1:00 PM ET
Channel: TSN
Probable starting lineups
Toronto: Jose Calderon, DeMar DeRozan, James Johnson, Amir Johnson, Aaron Gray
Los Angeles: Derek Fisher, Kobe Bryant, Metta World Peace, Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum

Injury report

Toronto: Jerryd Bayless is doubtful for today’s game, while Andrea Bargnani is out.

Los Angeles: No injuries reported.

How pissed off is Kobe Bryant after getting beaten and outscored by Jeremy Lin and the Knicks on Friday? Raptors coach Dwane Casey has predicted that Kobe will come out like a “wet hen” today, which means that DeMar DeRozan will have his hands full trying to keep Kobe from dropping 40 on him.

The Lakers have lost three of their last four games and they’re seventh in the West going into this game. They have to view this game as a must-win so they don’t start slipping out of the playoff picture. Surprisingly, the Raptors are only the fifth-worst team in the East right now with their 9-19 record — they’d be second-worst, ahead of the Hornets, in the West.

This is the Raptors’ fifth Sunday game of the season, but their first Sunday game in Toronto. They’ve traditionally fared well on Sunday home games — they were 5-6 in those games last season, compared to 17-54 in their other games.

Random thoughts…

This rumour is so foolish that I didn’t even want to waste 10 minutes writing about it, but I figured I should at least let everyone know that this nonsense is floating around.

The top “story” right now on BallinEurope.com, a European ball site affiliated with ESPN’s True Hoop network, is about a reportedly proposed trade (via BlogdeBasket.com) between the Raptors and Lakers that would see the Raptors acquire Pau Gasol and Derek Fisher in exchange for Andrea Bargnani and Jose Calderon.

First of all, this trade would go against everything this Raptors season is supposed to be about. You don’t rebuild or build for the future by trading for a 31-year-old with $57 million left on his contract over the next three seasons. Anyone looking at this ridiculous “proposal” and thinking, “great, we rid ourselves of Bargnani and Calderon,” needs to realize that the Raptors would be giving up $62 million in salary over the next four seasons to take on $64 million over the next three years.

A deal of this nature wouldn’t really change Toronto’s financial flexibility, wouldn’t make them much better, if at all, in the present and wouldn’t make them any better in the future.

Hilariously enough, according to a commenter on the BallinEurope report, the “source” of this rumour seems to be a commenter on a previous John Hollinger ESPN.com chat who posted this proposal under the handle “John Hollinger.”

For the record, Hollinger himself has denied any connection to this ridiculous rumour:

Call me your full-service Raptors blogger today. I did the game thread, the liveblog, and now I’m posting this  mini-recap. I’m going to make this short, though, because I’ll be doing the standard video breakdown tomorrow.

With Andrea Bargnani and Sonny Weems sitting out with injuries, the Raptors fared about as well as could be expected against a bigger, more talented Lakers squad. The Lakers used their size advantage to outrebound the Raptors 46-35 and their 31-21 advantage on made free throws made up the final scoring difference. It doesn’t get much more fundamental than beating your opponent on the boards and at the free throw line, and that’s exactly how the Lakers won this game.

When Matt Barnes plays the same number of minutes as Kobe Bryant (28 minutes of playing time each), that’s probably a sign that the Lakers don’t take a particular opponent very seriously. The Raptors made it interesting when they took a 34-28 lead after the first quarter as Amir Johnson scored 12 points on 6-for-6 shooting, but Amir appeared to tweak his lower back near the end of the quarter and he was rendered mostly ineffective for the rest of the game. Linas Kleiza led both teams and tied his season-high with 26 points and DeMar DeRozan impressed by scoring 23 points and going 11-for-11 from the free throw line. But when the Lakers started to assert themselves in the second quarter, it was pretty clear how this game was going to turn out.

There’s no shame in losing to the two-time defending champs by 10 points when you’re missing two of your starters. And when you consider that Ed Davis was held scoreless subbing in for the injured Bargnani, I have to wonder if this might have been more of a contest if Andrea was able to play.

Raptors Player of the Game: Jose Calderon — 36 Min, 20 Pts, 8-14 FG, 2-5 3Pt, 2-2FT, 3 Reb, 12 Ast, 2 Stl

Lakers Player of the Game: Pau Gasol — 30 Min, 19 Pts, 9-15 FG, 1-2 FT, 8 Reb, 4 Ast, 1 Stl

Goat of the Game: Ed Davis — 17 Min, 0 Pts, 0-3 FG, 3 Reb