A quick glance at the season-ending roster of the Toronto Raptors does not inspire hope for next season. Let’s examine who’s likely to be back, who’s on the bubble, and who is almost certainly gone.
The core group consists of:
- Kyle Lowry
- Jonas Valanciunas
- Rudy Gay
- DeMar DeRozan
- Amir Johnson
- Terrence Ross
These are the players who are least likely to be traded. No one is “untouchable” but these guys are close.
Next we have the ones [with contract status] whose future employment with the Raps is dubious:
- Andrea Bargnani [2 years & $22M to go!]
- Landry Fields [2 years & over $12M]
- Quincy Acy [only this season is guaranteed, & for <$1m]
- Alan Anderson [no contract for next season]
- Aaron Gray [Player-Option for > $2.5M]
- John Lucas III [Player-Option for > $1.5M]
Finally, here are those who will need a miracle to even be extended an invitation to training camp:
- Mickael Pietrus [no contract for next season ]
- Sebastian Telfair [likewise; showed very little in his audition]
- Linas Kleiza [a wreck physically - Player-Option contract, but I suspect he will be bought out]
I want to concentrate our attention on the middle group, starting with AB. He will be back, at least for some period of time, simply because there’s no reasonable alternative. He’s not a trade candidate; what General Manager in his right mind would trade for him? I pushed for him to be dumped, along with Fields, on the Lakers, in exchange for their expensive misfit Pau Gasol, but that was before AB suffered his season-ending second arm injury. While amnesty remains an option, I am doubtful Bryan Colangelo (assuming he’s still around) will cross that Rubicon unless it’s painfully obvious during camp that Andrea is finished as an NBA player.
Fields is more perplexing, if that’s possible, than AB. He was never able to demonstrate any shooting prowess even after he returned from his elbow surgery. In his rookie season with the Knicks he hit 86 3-pointers, then 31 in his second. In his third season, now in Toronto, he made….2. It’s entirely possible that the Raps are the unhappy possessors of the two most untradeable contracts in the league. Can Landry heal, regain his touch, and contribute next season?
Quincy is on the dubious list because he’s still not a core player, but he showed considerable moxie upon his return from the D-League, and may be a trade candidate. I believe he will open the season as a Rap – he’s something of a fan favourite for his hustle and fearlessness.
Alan Anderson has earned another season as a Rap, but shouldn’t be averaging 23 minutes per game. One of the kids, in particular Terrence Ross, needs those minutes to develop. Alan is cheap and productive, and I hope he’s back. If not, he’ll find another team. He’s a proud journeyman, and worthy of his hire.
Aaron Gray has one more season on his generous contract, and will likely have the chance to see it through. Somebody’s got to back up Jonas V. However, he’s one of those players who often gets tossed into trades to make the salaries work, so Aaron leaving as part of a multi-player transaction would not be a huge surprise.
John Lucas is another man with a player option, which I would assume he’ll exercise. However, he did not have a satisfactory ’11-’12 season, and will be hard-pressed to make the team. I expect there will be a number of point guards getting a serious look before and during training camp. As the Raps don’t have any draft picks, there’s no relief available from that venue.
To sum up this lengthy treatise: even if the Raps bring back everyone from our dubious list, which I doubt, there will still be jobs open in the backcourt and small forward. While Colangelo doesn’t like cattle-call training camps, he may have to hold his nose and invite a lot of hopefuls. The team has almost no depth, and if Bargnani and/or Fields don’t bounce back, the situation will be grave.
Brian Boake is Senior 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.