Almost all citizens of Raptors Rapture Nation expect Fearless Leader Bryan Colangelo to drop the other shoe before the NBA trade deadline of February 21. In other words, somebody (or somebodies) currently on the roster is going to get traded, amnestied or waived.
BC has proven to be unpredictable in his decision-making. The man-crush on Rudy Gay he must have quietly had for years was consummated last week, at a steep price to our team’s immediate future (Jose Calderon) and long-term health in the front court (Ed Davis). He’s also gone over the salary cap, which I would have guessed he’d been ordered to avoid.
It’s the big man situation which is most worrisome. We currently have Andrea Bargnani, Jonas Valanciunas, Hamed Haddadi, Aaron Gray, Quincy Acy and Amir Johnson up front. Only Amir is a proven NBA-grade player. The rest are borderline D-Leaguers (Haddadi, Gray), rookies (JV, Quincy) and the captain of the All-NBA Most Disappointing Players team (do I need to say?). The likelihood of getting relief in the draft is almost nil, so any immediate improvement must come via trade.
This post will endeavour to create a workable trade for Andrea which nets us a serviceable big. I’m going to assume that AB has returned and shown enough skill to be of interest to an opposing General Manager. (I’m not going to burden you with a “I’ve worked out a trade for Kyrie Irving (or LeBron James, or Kobe”) premise. Both of us already see enough of that nonsense online, or hear it on sports radio – you don’t come here for silliness.)
Let’s start with the idea of finding a motivated “seller”. Who can use a stretch-4? Whose fans are clamouring for a trade in order to turn around a disappointing season? Could the answer to both of those questions be the same team – the Los Angeles Lakers? Pau Gasol is the Lost Boy in La-La Land these days, and could be pried away. If we trade AB, Linas Kleiza and Aaron Gray, the trade works. However, Lakers’ GM Mitch Kupchak is nobody’s fool, and I can’t imagine him accepting Kleiza under any circumstances. How about AB & Landry Fields for Pau? Yes, it works, and it passes the no-Kleiza prerequisite, so that’s what we’re going with (Before we drop the deal with Kleiza in it, I thought you might be amused to learn this: the Machine forecasts the win-loss impact of trades. Much to my surprise, both of these deals have the same impact! The Raps gain 2 wins, and the Lakers surrender 1.)
There’s risk for both teams in this deal. The Raps acquire an expensive talent on the down side of his career, and stray even further into luxury tax land. The Lakers are taking back 2 players with enormous question marks – will AB ever reach his potential, and is Landry’s jump shot gone forever following his arm surgery?
There are significant positives too. The teams are trading, and eliminating, headaches. Both franchises are comfortable with European players (maybe Pau could tutor JV?). A Raps starting five of JV-Pau-Rudy-DeMar-Kyle would be at least competitive, and potentially much better than that. With Amir hopping off the bench as the first big, we’d have a solid rotation up front. Assuming Alan Anderson and Terrence Ross rediscover their shooting skills, we’d be covered at the wing spots. John Lucas is little more than a stopgap at the point, but Rome wasn’t built in a day.
What do you think, Raps fans? We’d enjoy hearing from Lakers lovers as well.
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.