You may wonder why I haven’t yet started a “Campaign to fire Bryan Colangelo” in this space. Well, there are two main reasons.
- To this day, I do not know basketball like I know hockey. At this moment, without cable and without league pass, I watch way more college basketball than NBA basketball, and I am still not confident enough with watching a particular player to know what he might turn into, where he needs to improve and so on. To give you an example: a few years back I was a major booster of the Turkoglu acquisition. I will never live that down.
- Basketball is not hockey: There are only 12 players on a basketball team, and you really only need about 9 everyday contributors. Moreover, a star (or two) can totally transform a basketball team unlike one can in hockey. The best and most valuable players in the league play the vast majority of a game – at both ends – in basketball and the same cannot be said for hockey. This means that you can theoretically transform a basketball team through free agency and trades – like the Celtics did in the last decade – rather than through the draft, which is different from hockey.
But the more Colangelo I get, the less faith I have (with a few major exceptions). I don’t like this trade.
Grizzlies get: Ed Davis, Austin Daye, Tayshaun Prince and a 2nd rounder
- Yes, Davis did not progress last season. Yes, Davis’ current hot streak has not been very long and he could relapse at any moment, but I think it was still too early to give up on him and I think that the Raps significantly hurt their future by moving him. I’m not sure where he fits on Memphis, but he does add depth to their front court.
- I know nothing about Daye, except that his per 36 minutes stats are pretty decent for a backup 3.
- Prince is obviously not his old self, but he is a better long-range shooter than Gay (not saying much), he is way more efficient, and he is a way better defender. Depending on how healthy and “not old” he is, he might make Memphis a better team in the playoffs.
- As you know, I hate giving up picks unless we are getting back something worthwhile.
Pistons get: Jose Calderon
Yes, the Raptors pretty much had to move Calderon at this point as his value was the highest it has been in a few years. It works for the Pistons because they get a huge upgrade at PG (at least on offense) and an expiring contract at the same time, so they can let him walk in the summer and sign someone younger. I feel like Jose was perhaps a little more valuable than just one part of three leaving Toronto, but at this point everyone knows how bad he is on D and it’s hard to convince people about how great he is at the other end.
Raptors get: Rudy Gay, Hamed Haddadi
This trade “solves” the Raptors “point guard controversy” and it also frees up the logjam in the front court. (Haddadi is not expected to play for the Raps.) However, it creates a brand new logjam at the wing (i.e. the 2-3) unless Gay can play some minutes at the 4.
The biggest problem with this deal is that Gay, so pretty much everyone agrees, is basically a better, more expensive version of Derozan. So the biggest question is ‘what happens when both Derozan and Gay are on the court at the same time?’ And the second biggest question becomes, “what happens when Lowry sits?”
Obviously this is not the final version of this new edition of the Raptors as I think everyone now agrees that Bargs is not long for Toronto. But frankly I am not really sure what a Lowry-Derozan-Gay-Johnson-Valunciunas lineup achieves; this starting 5 doesn’t exactly inspire me with confidence. Maybe that’s a playoff team – maybe – but it’s not a great playoff team. And I really doubt anyone is going to want to take on Derozan’s contract if Ross indeed proves he should have the starting 2-spot. So I can’t say I’m very happy right now.
But really, you shouldn’t take my word about whether or not this deal makes any sense for the above. Just read Zach Lowe. He makes me feel better.
Editor’s note from the future: Reading this when Derozan and Gay are on the Spurs together is quite amusing.