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.