When I sat down to write about the Toronto Raptors’ need to find some front court help among available free agents, I thought I would need to exercise care in not writing about too many possibilities. HA – I repeat – HA. I can’t remember a more depressing list of free agents in any year for any roster spot. No wonder these guys are on the market. Masai Ujiri needs to think long and hard before he lets go of our incumbents, Amir Johnson and Patrick Patterson.
Let’s see…should we recycle James Johnson (which would probably cause coach Dwane Casey to quit, given the bad blood between these two) or Kris Humphries (who couldn’t jump when he was younger and has been in the NBA for 10 years)? Al-Farouq Aminu is looking for work, but needs the basket to be about a foot larger before he’ll be a meaningful contributor to any team. Gordon Hayward is a fine player, but likely to resign in Utah. He’s also a starter, but wouldn’t be in Toronto, where he’d back up DeMar DeRozan and Terrence Ross. There’s no chance Hayward would accept a demotion, nor should he. Gustavo Ayon, like Hayward a Restricted Free Agent, is an experienced big body, but strictly an emergency choice in my view.
How about we poach another New York Knick? Cole Aldrich’s career was hanging from a precipice before decent play in April brought it back. Whether one month from four disappointing years can be considered proof of improvement is highly debatable. He’s been with 4 teams in as many seasons, never a positive sign, but he was selected with the 11th pick by Oklahoma City, a team with excellent scouts. As I’ve repeated many times, big men mature later (a maxim originally attributed to Bud Grant, the great football coach). I’d take a chance on Aldrich as our backup centre/forward, recognizing that he might pile up more DNP-CDs (Did Not Play – Coach’s Decision) that minutes. He would be cheap insurance for Jonas Valanciunas. I realize Aldrich is listed as a centre, but I’m not getting hung up on that. He’s mobile enough to play power forward with JV on the floor, or move closer to the basket when Amir takes the spot. Aldrich made 26 of 30 free throw attempts last season, and shot over 54% on his field goals, so he’s not hopeless with the ball.
I liken Cole Aldrich at this point in his career to Spencer Hawes, another big man I had no use for until recently. Cleveland will probably hang onto Hawes, who’s going into his eighth season and has never been better. Sometimes you just have to have patience. We Raptor fans have that quality, many times over. Bring Cole Aldrich to Toronto, Masai.