Apr 12, 2013; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Raptors center-forward Amir Johnson (15) and Toronto Raptors forward Rudy Gay (22) defend against Chicago Bulls forward Carlos Boozer (5) at the Air Canada Centre. Toronto defeated Chicago 97-88. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

Amir Johnson - Stay or Go?

Amir Johnson played a large role for the Toronto Raptors last year; the question today is does he stay or should he go?  To craft an answer, I need to look at his strengths and weaknesses.  So what does Amir Johnson bring to the table?  Amir is beloved by the fans (although being beloved didn’t keep Alvin Williams in town).  Johnson has a great motor, winning a lot of loose ball hustle plays and battling for rebounds.  I am a big fan of those intangibles a player can bring, however metrics do make up a lot of today’s discussion.   This year Amir achieved his career high in points per game (PPG) with 10.0.  Amir also had his career high in minutes at 28.7 up from 25.7 his previous best.  Lastly on the stats push Amir set his career high in rebounds this year as well with 7.5.  Johnson plays tough and gritty, and has exceptional durability, which is a premium quality with so many injuries in the NBA over the past few years. Amir showed great grit and determination while playing through twisted ankles and other stinging injuries, indicating a high pain threshold. 

Apr 19, 2013; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Raptors center/forward Amir Johnson throws out the first pitch before a game between the New York Yankees and Toronto Blue Jays at the Rogers Centre. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

Now let’s take a look at some of the reasons he might go.  Masai Ujiri desperately needs to find value in a trade involving Andrea Bargnani.  Amir Johnson might be one of the pieces teams will be asking about to make a trade for Andrea favorable for them.  One might consider that with both Andrea’s and Amir’s salaries in a trade it would be hard to take back as much in return.  That would create some useful cap space.  Much like Brian Boake before me, I hate to use salary in a discussion about a player’s value.  That being said, we can’t ignore the topic. I find myself looking at the 6.5 million this season and over 7 million in 2014-15 that Amir would earn with the Raptors.  Perhaps this will be too much to pay a role player in the new Raptors regime. 

Given the arguments for stay and go, I would like to emphatically say STAY!  The Raptors have zero depth at the Power Forward/Centre position at this point with only 5 players for those 2 positions.  Andrea is already on the trading block which leaves Amir and Quincy Acy on the depth chart at Power Forward.  Quincy is a promising young player with a lot of energy; however losing both Andrea and Amir would leave the Raptors very vulnerable to injury.  Depleting the roster like this would not be in Toronto’s best interests.  I believe Amir would serve the Raptors best coming off the bench as a Power Forward or Centre, but for now he is our starting Power Forward.  With the Raptors current depth chart, getting rid of Amir Johnson would make no sense for the Raptors.  With all that said Amir Johnson will not go anywhere.  Isn’t that right Masai Ujiri?

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