“If you want peace, prepare for war” attributed to Vegetius, late 4th century AD Roman
While we might feel all warm and tingly about how much Kyle Lowry says he enjoyed his ’13-’14 season as a Toronto Raptor, there is no question he’s a smart guy in an enviable position. His superb season at point guard turned General Managers’ heads all around the NBA, and he’s an Unrestricted Free Agent. Our team might be primus inter pares (first among equals) in Lowry’s heart, but his head will largely govern which team gains his services.
Let’s consider our roster the day after Kyle announces he’s becoming a Los Angeles Laker, or whatever. First off, we just “found” about $11 million in our budget, that being the amount allocated for Kyle. The salary cap is around $63 million, so if we simply retained everyone we’d be under the cap by $3 million. The buyout of John Salmons (but not Amir Johnson, please) will happen regardless of Kyle’s status, so we’ve now got another $6 million. I hope Masai Ujiri hasn’t cut ties with Greivis Vasquez, because he just became our Game 1 starter at the point. Vasquez’s backup will be either Dwight Buycks or Julyan Stone, at least according to the depth chart. I happen to think Nando De Colo would be just fine at point.
All of this cash jingling in our pants pocket means we can be buyers in free agency. Who is of interest? Several readers have suggested Luol Deng, a veteran scorer who always looks better than his team. I think he’s too expensive – he got $14M last year, and I don’t think he’s worth 10. How about P.J. Tucker? He once wore Toronto colours, but didn’t get a proper look. I like players like Tucker and Alan Anderson who have plied their trade around the world. They’re humble, and they work hard, because they’ve ridden the buses elsewhere and don’t want to ever do that again. I suspect coach Casey and P.J. would bond instantly. Besides, he won’t cost a fraction of Deng’s demands. Trevor Ariza has also been mentioned by readers, and I’m much warmer about him than I am about Deng. Like Tucker, he’s a defensive-minded hustler who can score if left uncovered, and he won’t cost the earth.
I realize neither Tucker nor Ariza are point guards, but there’s always room on my team for quality swingmen. Who’s worthy of consideration among true point guards? Shaun Livingston, who gave us trouble in the playoffs, is Unrestricted. He’s OK, but not the playmaker I’d like to see. Rodney Stuckey has been stuck in the slow lane most of his career, but was decent this season. We could do worse. Ramon Sessions has been productive wherever he’s gone, and I strongly suspect he’d like to be out of Milwaukee. Their rebuild is just starting, and he’s not a kid.
I’ll consider trade candidates soon. Anyone have a favourite free agent or trade-possibility point guard they would like to see as a Raptor? Let me know in the Comments.