Mar 3, 2014; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Brooklyn Nets center Jason Collins (98) defends against Chicago Bulls power forward Taj Gibson (22) in the second half of NBA game at Barclays Center. Brooklyn 96-80. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

Free-agent target for Masai Ujiri: backup centre

Mar 7, 2014; Chicago, IL, USA; Memphis Grizzlies power forward Jon Leuer (30) is defended by Chicago Bulls center Nazr Mohammed (48) during the second quarter at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

Just before trade deadline day, I postulated that the Toronto Raptors needed 3 types of players to help in the playoff push, and beyond. While GM Masai Ujiri didn’t trade for a rebounds-first (starting?) power forward or backup centre, our highest priorities, we did swap Austin Daye for Nando De Colo. I’ll be watching NDC closely in the next few weeks. Coach Dwane Casey has gone on record to say he wants to get De Colo some minutes – can he be the answer for our third need, that of a shutdown wing player? Let’s hope so. In the meantime, I’m going to have a look at the free-agent list, and suggest some backup centres our GM should target in the summer.

The search for a useful player to provide Jonas Valanciunas with 15 minutes of rest per game is no easy task. We need to find a veteran who’s comfortable sitting a lot, but he has to be able to hold his own on the court when he’s called upon. A mentor for our often-troubled young Lithuanian would be ideal. Our new centre can’t cost a boatload of cash, because our salary cap problems will take several more years to overcome. [20-second timeout: how Masai Ujiri can bring order out of the chaos which is the Raps' payroll situation will be a summertime series, so watch for that.]

The list I’m working from is much shorter now that we’ve established our criteria. Anderson Varejao will be too expensive and gets hurt a LOT. Nazr Mohammed would come cheap, and probably has the self-effacing personality, but is about 9,000 years old (well, OK, he’ll be 37 by next season). Anyone want Aaron Gray back? Jason Collins might be a great fit, assuming his attempt to re-establish himself as a player (while ignoring the hoopla) is a success. Samuel Dalembert and Joel Anthony are a pair of Canadian bigs who I suspect have played their way out of the league. I used to like Chris Kaman, but he’s gone a little nuts, so scratch him. The Raps are an organization which has no time for immature players (cf: James Johnson), and that’s fine by me.

Curb your enthusiasm, Rapture Nation. There’s not much out there at our price range. I’d be happy to see either Collins or Mohammed receive a training camp invitation.


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