Alex Kennedy of Hoopsworld has compiled a list of players who in his view have been retained too long by their current teams. A number of our previously analyzed trade candidates are named, including Paul Millsap, Ben Gordon and Pau Gasol. Andrea Bargnani (quel surprise!) makes the list, as does Al Jefferson of the Utah Jazz, a team which has more than its fair share of committed fans. Readers of ours who commented on my post about trading for Millsap have suggested that Big Al is the most likely member to be moved out of the embarrassment of riches which is the Jazz’s front court.
Jefferson’s contract, which pays him $15M, expires this season. He can be acquired by the Raps if they send Bargnani and Landry Fields to Salt Lake City. Fine, but does this deal make sense for both teams?
This season is Al’s 9th in the NBA, and he appears to be a cyborg. His stats are eerily similar from year to year, so I’ll only take note of his Per-Game career numbers: 16.3 Points, 9.0 Rebounds, 1.4 Blocks in 30.5 Minutes. Why he has been traded from Boston to Minnesota to Utah is difficult to fathom, as I get no sense that he’s a headcase. He was suspended by the T’Wolves during the 2010 playoffs for a DWI arrest, but that is the only blot I could find on his record. Perhaps we should consider the glass half-full, and view his tour of various teams as part of a maturation process. Does he want to settle down and help a team in, say, Toronto, build for a championship run?
Al’s presence would immediately provide the scoring balance which has been so sorely lacking since our inside game departed with Ed Davis. Al starts tonight at power forward or centre. The bigger issue is his contract status. Ideally Al’s arrival in Toronto would be highlighted by a splashy press conference in which a multi-year contract extension would be announced, at a hefty raise. However, a proven scorer/rebounder big man like Jefferson can write his own ticket this off-season, and odds are he’s not signing anything until he’s been romanced by a number of teams.
Here’s the question, Raps fans – do we want to rent Al Jefferson for 3 months, make the playoffs, and hope he’ll re-sign once he’s decided the team and the city is where he wants to be? If we take that risk, and get spurned, we’ve lost Bargnani and Fields forever. It’s true their departure wipes $16M off our salary cap for the next two seasons, and perhaps we don’t want them here under any circumstances. But as of this writing they are our most valuable trade assets, and could be swapped for players with non-expiring contracts.
I’m going to hop off the fence – if I’m Bryan Colangelo, I’m making the pitch to Utah. I think this is a sound deal for both teams. Neither of our guys will clog up the paint or poach minutes from Utah’s youthful big men. The Raps get a reliable scorer in the low post like we haven’t had since Chris Bosh’s departure – and perhaps Al will stay.
What do you think, Rapture Nation? Am I dreaming in Technicolour? Please drop a Comment.
Brian Boake is a co-editor 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.