In the run-up to the NBA trade deadline of February 20, we have concentrated on moving Kyle Lowry. I want to flip around the telescope, and consider what kind of players the Toronto Raptors should be bringing in, rather than who should be sent away.
In my view, we need the following, in order:
- an old-fashioned, glass-pounding heavyweight power forward
- a true backup centre
- a shutdown wing
Today, we’ll take a closer look at the power forward. Amir Johnson is our incumbent PF, and he’s been given every opportunity to establish himself as the double-double machine we need in that spot. However, he’s coming up short, particularly in rebounds (6.7 PG). Big-bodied 4s like Blake Griffin can also cause Amir grief, because he lacks the bulk to keep them out of the paint.
Of course, Blake Griffins, or even Griffin-lites, aren’t hanging around street corners; they are already gainfully employed, at eye-popping salaries. We aren’t likely to extract DeAndre Jordan, Jared Sullinger or Andray Blatche without giving up a cornerstone, so I’ll confine my speculation to PFs who might be going to waste elsewhere.
There are a bunch of The Usual Suspects who are being bruited about as available in trade: Kris Humphries, Ersan Ilyasova, Glen Davis, Spencer Hawes, even Brandon Bass. You got your mention, fellas, but I’m movin’ on. Here are a pair of young big men who intrigue me: Bismack Biyombo (Charlotte Bobcats) and Greg Smith (Houston Rockets). Biyombo is a prime example of a project player, one who is drafted on potential rather than achievement. It’s not often these guys work out, but teams keep trying. The ‘Cats are waiting for a switch to go on in the mind of the Congolese-born Biyombo, though I have to believe they are ready to listen to offers.
Smith wasn’t drafted but has found a spot anyway, which displays admirable perseverance. He’s not going to be an All-Star tomorrow, but he’s young (23) and could improve. At 6’10” & 250 lbs., he’s solid enough to take the interior pounding. The Rox are a dark-horse title contender, and may welcome a veteran who can help them in the playoffs.
I’m going to trade for both of them, just for the intrigue. [20-second timeout: Neither of these deals are rumors, merely speculation on my part. If I'm working off a rumor, I'll say so.] Biyombo was chosen #7 just 3 years ago, so Charlotte will want more than merely Steve Novak. In addition, toss them the 2 second-rounders we’ve got coming this summer (from the Kings and Thunder), and we’ll call it square. The Trade Machine says this deal has no impact on either team’s win totals. That’s also the result of my trade for Greg Smith, in which we send Austin Daye (and a second-rounder, because I’m feeling generous) to Houston.
Hopefully that’s enough food for thought. Over to you, Rapture Nation. Is there a power forward rotting away elsewhere whom you’d like to bring to Toronto to compete for Amir’s job? Let me know in the Comments. If I like your suggestion well enough, I’ll flesh it out into a post and offer a hat tip.
We’ll examine our needs at centre and on the wing shortly.