Archive for the ‘Mickael Pietrus’ Category

It’s not earth shattering news by any stretch of the imagination, but ESPN’s Marc Stein dropped this on us Tuesday evening:

Bryan Colangelo has long been a fan of Pietrus’ game, and this isn’t the first time the Raptors have been linked to the Frenchman. In fact, Pietrus appeared to be headed to Toronto for the lockout-shortened season last year before a knee injury halted those plans.

At this stage of his career, Pietrus will be but a bit player, here to simply fill the hole at small forward. With Landry Fields and Alan Anderson out, with Terrence Ross still way too small to play the three and with DeMar DeRozan comfortable at shooting guard for the time being, the Raptors’ current options at small forward are pretty much Linas Kleiza and Dominic McGuire.

McGuire’s a good defender who leaves you with an offensive handicap and Kleiza is a chucker who can’t shoot, so you can see why the Raptors feel they might need to shore up the position with a veteran option in the short term.

If this goes down, the Raptors will not be much better, if they get better at all, but Dwane Casey will have another option and a little more flexibility with this undermanned team, and that’s really all this would be about.

The real interesting part about this acquisition, should it actually happen, is which of the 15 Raptors will be waived to make room for Pietrus. I was originally under the impression that teams could free up space by sending a player to the D-League, so I thought maybe Quincy Acy was headed for some development time, but it sounds as though a player will need to be waived.

If there’s one thing Bryan Colangelo has proven in his run as Raptors President and General Manager, good or bad, it’s that he knows how to execute an off-season roster shake-up.

Well, BC was at it again this off-season (and by off-season I mean December 9-December 10), trading and un-trading for players while signing guys left, right and centre. Only this time, it’s a little different than the splashes he made in the summers of 2006 and 2009. No big-name free agents. No surprising blockbuster trades. Just a few guys that will fill out a probable lottery team’s bench…and that’s okay.

Here’s a basic summary of what’s transpired for the Raps over the last 24 hours or so:

- The Mickael Pietrus trade has fallen through after Toronto’s medical staff realized the Caribbean-born Frenchman will need another two-to-four weeks to recover from a knee injury. Pietrus and his $5.3 million expiring contract aren’t coming to T.O.

- Raptors sign 26-year-old restricted free agent Gary Forbes to offer-sheet (Financial details not yet known. Offer sheet expected to be a two-year deal with team option for third season. Nuggets have three days from Saturday to match Toronto’s offer).

- Raptors sign 32-year-old, nine-year veteran Rasual Butler to one-year deal (Financial details not yet known).

- Raptors reportedly sign 27-year-old, four-year veteran Aaron Gray to one-year deal (Financial details not yet known).

- Raptors reportedly sign 36-year-old, 12-year veteran Anthony Carter to one-year deal. (Terms of deal not yet known). Side note, I kind of wanted the Raps to put in a bid on Chauncey Billups just to spite him. He totally deserves it after his childish out-burst. In short, Billups is “tired of being the good guy.” It’s alright Chauncey, with LeBron trying to turn face again, the world needs more bad guys.

If the Gray and Carter deals are made official, here’s what the Raptors’ roster will look like come opening night:

Point Guards: Jose Calderon, Jerryd Bayless, Anthony Carter

Shooting Guards and Small Forwards: DeMar DeRozan, Leandro Barbosa, James Johnson, Rasual Butler, Linas Kleiza (recovering from micro-fracture surgery), *Gary Forbes (Denver has a ton of cap space, especially if they don’t re-sign Nene, so they may just match a cheap enough deal for Forbes)*

Bigs: Andrea Bargnani, Ed Davis, Amir Johnson, Solomon Alabi, Jamaal Magloire, Aaron Gray

It looks as if Colangelo achieved what he set out to do – fill out the roster with cheap veterans on short-term deals. Hopefully these vets can give Dwane Casey quality minutes when called upon and be guiding voices for some of the Raptors’ budding young players. That’s really all that should be asked of them.

With the additions of Magloire and Dwane Casey himself, the Raptors should be at least a bit better on the defensive end, which will hopefully prevent the usual 40-point blowout Toronto has averaged about once every couple of weeks in the last few seasons.

As I’ve stressed in my recent posts, if Casey can get this team to consistently compete on the floor and play a gritty style of basketball, the expected plethora of losses and unofficial tanking will go down a lot easier for Raps fans.

I hope those fans realize that while difficult to accept, these “non-moves” are actually the right moves for a team that wants to build a consistent winner in the future, not just a perennial .500 team for the present. No executive wants to be in a position where you’re just filling out a flawed roster with cheap vets while thinking about next season already.

But if you are going to find yourself in that position, you better recognize it early, before you make any moves that are going to set you back any further. With this flurry of minor transactions over the last few days, the Raptors have showed that they do recognize the position they’re in, and will remain patient and committed to a re-build.

It’s about time.

For the time being, the Toronto Raptors continue to do exactly what Bryan Colangelo said they would do, and that’s add veteran players with short-term contracts to fill holes in the current line-up.

Yesterday, it was the signing of Canadian centre Jamaal Magloire. Today, it’s the reported acquisition of Mickael Pietrus from the Suns in exchange for a second round draft pick that may never be swapped.

Pietrus, who probably had his worst season since his rookie year last season, comes at the expense of $5.3 million, which is too much for what he provided last year, but is ultimately forgivable since the Caribbean-born Frenchman has just one year remaining on his current deal.

It should also be noted that this is another case of Bryan Colangelo acquiring a player that he originally wanted years earlier, but again, we can’t really knock BC here. With Sonny Weems in Lithuania, Linas Kleiza recovering from micro-fracture surgery and free agent Julian Wright apparently more interested in a “music” career, the Raptors had to fill a hole at small forward behind James Johnson.

Now they’ve reportedly done that, without sacrificing an ounce of their precious cap space heading into next season. For a team that everyone knows isn’t necessarily interested in winning too many games or making the playoffs this season, this is a solid pick-up.

If this deal goes through as planned, the Raptors will head into a hurried training camp, which starts today by the way, with a roster that includes Jose Calderon and Jerryd Bayless at point guard, DeMar DeRozan, Leandro Barbosa, James Johnson, Mickael Pietrus and Linas Kleiza at the two and three positions with Andrea Bargnani, Ed Davis, Amir Johnson, Jamaal Magloire and Solomon Alabi rounding out the roster as the team’s five bigs.

To me, if you add a veteran point guard and either another big or wing player, that roster is complete. Not good by any stretch of the imagination, but complete.

Barring a Dwane Casey defensive-made miracle, that team should lose a lot of basketball games, which means Raptors fans should be able to start drooling over the loaded 2012 draft class soon.

I know it seems pathetic to be excited over a team I am predicting will be among the worst in the NBA (again), but I really do think this team will improve its defence and culture under Casey while losing all those games this season. I also believe they will have no choice but to compete every minute they’re on the floor if they want minutes.

The young players that belong will be separated from the players to be left by the wayside after this season. The team will play hard, they will play (better) defence, they will hopefully entertain. If the 2011-2012 Raptors can do all of those things, maybe steal a win from a top team every now and then, and still end up with a record bad enough to get a high pick in a good draft, then this season will be totally worth it.

Then they can add a good amount of cap space (on track to have about $13 million come off the books after this season), that expected high draft pick and Jonas Valanciunas to the players that proved they belong this season.

And then fans, dare I say, the Toronto Raptors will have a solid building model in place.

For this season though, get ready for a lot of these kinds of jokes from people who like to rip on this team and on us Raptors fans.