Apr 14, 2013; Toronto, ON, Canada; Brooklyn Nets point guard Deron Williams (8) makes a move to the basket against Toronto Raptors point guard Kyle Lowry (3) at the Air Canada Centre. The Raptors beat the Nets 93-87. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

Improving the Raptors - Part 1: Point Guards

The season is over, and it’s time to go shopping. The Toronto Raptors finished 34-48 and out of the playoffs, and is certain to shake up its roster. Let’s begin a series examining of how to improve our team with a look at the point guard situation. 

The first question to be posed is whether to bring back Kyle Lowry, whose final contract year is not guaranteed. The answer is Yes, Kyle should be brought back, and I would be astonished if he was cut loose. Kyle played well in the season’s final 15 games or so. He curbed his feisty nature and tendency to whine at the officials, and the calming effect seemed to have a positive impact on his game. His passing improved greatly late in the year.

If Kyle is at the top of the depth chart, who’s backing him up? The duopoly of John Lucas and Sebastian Telfair is not a serious option for a contending team. Lucas will be almost 31 at the start of next season, and shot the ball this year like he’s twice that age. John is a favourite of Dwane Casey, which may ensure his return, and has a team-option contract at a reasonable $ 1.567M. I expect the Raps will pick up his option, on a “better the devil you know than the one you don’t” basis. If I were running the squad, I’d decline it, toss a bone to Coach by inviting John to camp, and declare two slots open for competition. 

Telfair, brought in as insurance for the playoff run, worked out about as well as the run itself. His career, which began with lofty expectations, appears sure to skid to an ignominious end very shortly. 

Apr 15, 2013; Charlotte, NC, USA; New York Knicks point guard Pablo Prigioni (9) dribbles the ball during the first half against the Charlotte Bobcats at Time Warner Arena. Mandatory Credit: Curtis Wilson-USA TODAY Sports

Free agents PGs of interest include Jeff Teague, Pablo Prigioni, Beno Udrih, Nate Robinson and Jarrett Jack. Jose Calderon is Unrestricted, but I suspect Bryan Colangelo believes that ship has sailed, which is a shame – if Jose would return for 2 years @ $5M per, we’d be in great shape. There are also an ungodly number of guards whose best days either never arrived or are way behind them, like Will Bynum, Chris Duhon, and Devin Harris. Rodney Stuckey has a Player Option at $8.5M, which I’m sure he’ll exercise. I doubt there’s a GM anywhere who would pay him half that. Jerryd Bayless is available, but he’ll never get another sniff in Toronto under current management. One hopes that BC has a Euro surprise player he’d like to bring across the pond. 

Apr 1, 2013; Atlanta, GA, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers point guard Shaun Livingston (14) looks to pass the ball while being defended by Atlanta Hawks point guard Devin Harris (34) during the first quarter at Philips Arena. Mandatory Credit: Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports

The Raps will be hard up against the salary cap, particularly if Rudy Gay is extended, so price will be very important. I’d be happy with Prigioni (we need more veterans on the Raps) and perhaps CJ Watson, who has a player option with Brooklyn but might head north for more money. Shaun Livingston would provide size and defense, positive attributes for a second-unit player.

Who do you like? Let me know in the Comments.

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