The Toronto Raptors have now played 31 games since Ed Davis and Jose Calderon were traded to Memphis for Rudy Gay. That’s sufficient time to draw some conclusions. I’ve already expressed how the loss of Jose has damaged our favourite team; I don’t plan to plough that ground again. Instead, I’m going to explore the possibility that taking Ed Davis out of our roster was a bigger mistake than has been recognized.
The only decent segment of the Raps’ schedule commenced on December 14 with a home victory over Dallas. From then until the trade on January 30, the Raps were 12-10. Since the trade, which was billed as the big move to push us into playoff contention, the Raps are 12-19. The playoffs, a mathematical longshot when Rudy arrived, are now officially toast. What’s worse, if that’s possible, is the fact the Raps have floundered against the league’s worst teams. We’ve lost to Charlotte, Detroit, Cleveland and twice to Washington. In short, this trade has been a disaster.
So what’s gone wrong? Let’s answer that by glancing at a 3-win stretch over the Christmas holidays against New Orleans, Orlando and Portland. In those games, Ed Davis averaged 17 points and 6 rebounds, while Amir Johnson contributed 12 and 6. But it wasn’t just the points those two were consistently providing – it was how they were getting them. Amir and Ed were getting noticed around the NBA for their ability to create high-percentage shots for each other. Amir would receive the ball at the foul line just as Ed was cutting to the hoop – a quick dish from Amir and presto, easy bucket for Ed. The young power forward received his chance after Andrea Bargnani’s elbow injury, and he was making the most of it. The two bigs were relieving the scoring pressure from the backs of DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry.
To me, this is the crux of the matter. When Ed was dealt away, the Raps lost some scoring balance between their back and front court players, and that precious equilibrium may never return. Now Ed languishes on the bench in Memphis, Jose is playing out the string in Motown, and the Raps are dysfunctional. Who won this trade anyway?
We’ll explore the impact of the trade on the Raps’ present and future roster tomorrow.