The headline to this post was designed to let you know up front how ambivalent I feel about the trade the Toronto Raptors made with the Atlanta Hawks. GM Masai Ujiri swapped over the hill swingman John Salmons, and received guard Lou Williams and Brazilian prospect centre Lucas Nogueira, who’s playing in Spain until 2015. Whether Lucas actually makes a trip to this side of the pond is unknowable, and I’m going to drop him from the discussion. Similarly Salmons, who is likely to be waived by the Hawks, is departing this post.
Lou Williams is not a stiff by any means, and I’m happy he’s a Raptor, but not now. I confess I don’t understand Ujiri’s thinking here. The team could have waived bye-bye to Salmons with a $1M going-away present, and freed up $6M in salary cap space. That headroom will definitely be needed as the team enters serious negotiation with Kyle Lowry, yet there’s less of it. Tyler Hansbrough was extended, another move I didn’t expect, given the whispers about how Psycho-T had alienated his ‘mates with his refusal to play through injury.
The NBA is roiling this week. Rumours are rife of new alignments in Miami, Houston, Chicago, the Lakers, of free-agent pitches and fast rebuilds by the league’s sexy teams. Whither Carmelo, LeBron, Dwyane, CB4, Luol Deng, Jeremy Lin, Kevin Love? Is it conceivable Masai is calling teams desperate for cap space and offering them our expensive ballast (Landry Fields, Chuck Hayes, Steve Novak) for draft picks or foreign players’ rights? When our former guys arrive, they are offered a fat cheque by their new team, and told to go away. The glamour squads get the space they need, and we get futures for players who are clogging up our bench and our cap. I think building a team by the frantic collection of free agents is a strategy guaranteed to flop, but that appears to be the course the Lakers, for instance, are taking.
I re-read the above, and wonder if I’m losing my sanity. Yet the NBA currently is more than a little nuts, and Masai is going to do his level best to take advantage. I wouldn’t have believed it possible we could receive value for the shell of John Salmons, yet Masai did, just like when he dealt Andrea Bargnani, then Rudy Gay.
Lou Williams may be nothing more than a trading chip, but he’s also a keeper if needed. In other words, if Kyle re-signs, Lou can be moved on for frontcourt help. If not, he’s a useful backup to Greivis. In that sense, I like the deal, as it’s a “heads I win, tails you lose” proposition. On the other hand, we lose the cap space.
I think I need an aspirin. Can you help me out, Rapture Nation? Please offer some Comments that will clear the smoke.