Even if I were a betting man, I wouldn’t wager a whole lot on Jose wearing Raptor red past the February trade deadline. Several commentators have suggested he may be gone long before that, a view which gains credence when we read that BC has told Jose he’s a trade candidate. I detest trying to understand the NBA’s Byzantine trade rules, but doing so is a necessary evil for purposes of this article. Let’s start by postulating what is optimal for the Raps. To me, that’s easy: a guard who can play today, and a draft pick. (Remember we’re giving up our first-round pick to Houston to complete the Lowry trade. While I’m happy with paying that price, I’d like to backfill.) But which teams are plausible takers for the much-loved Spaniard?
[20-second timeout: When Harry Truman was U.S. President, he once cried out in despair during a dizzying budget meeting "Can't someone find me a one-armed economist? I'm sick of hearing "...on the other hand."" That's how I feel when I delve into NBA trade rules. No wonder every team needs a capologist.]
The Lakers have serious championship aspirations & would love a pass-first, low turnover PG like Jose to back up Captain Canada. The Lakers are wealthier than your average oil sheik, and won’t mind paying the luxury tax on Jose’s hefty salary. Of course, the Lakers have to offer something tasty for the Raps to bite. Here’s where the path gets rocky. When Jose is gone, who’s left as the backup PG? John Lucas III has looked fine so far, but it’s pre-season. Do we really need to trade now for another forward or wing? If so, we’ve got bigger problems.
When I spin the ESPN Trade Machine, I learn that we can trade Jose, & receive in return Steve Blake, Chris Duhon, Andrew Goudelock & Robert Sacre. Does that trade make my heart flutter? Certainly not, but what if we squeeze hard enough for them to throw in their first-rounder next year? Now the deal is much more compelling, as we’ll be getting back some veteran guards to protect Lowry, a big Canadian with upside in Sacre, and the pick. That’s a deal we could do tonight.
Closer to the deadline, what if the Spurs, another team with legitimate title dreams, find themselves perilously thin in the backcourt? Would they give up talented head case Stephen Jackson? (I know, I know – he’s not a PG, but we’re speculating here. This is a deal BC should only consider if we’re headed to the playoffs & want to add some veteran toughness.) That trade works 1 for 1, but we don’t sign off unless they give us their pick. As both contracts are expiring, we could wave Stephen good-bye at year’s end, enjoy the pick, and still ask Jose to come back at a more reasonable rate for ’12-’13 (oddly enough, the Trade Machine suggests that the Spurs improve by 1 game with this trade, but the Raps fall back by 6…somebody doesn’t like Jax!)
There are no doubt limitless possibilities, but there’s a headache in my future, so I’m stopping. Please offer up your optimal trade thoughts in the Comments. Fierce “Jose is a Raptor forever” types are also welcome to weigh in.
Brian Boake is a staff writer for Raptors Rapture. “Like” Raptors Rapture on Facebook and follow us on Twitter @RaptorsRapture for all the latest news and updates about the best damn NBA team from Canada.