Apr 30, 2014; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Raptors guard Greivis Vasquez (21) on the bench in the final minutes against the Brooklyn Nets in game five of the first round of the 2014 NBA Playoffs at the Air Canada Centre. Toronto defeated Brooklyn 115-113. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

Greivis Vasquez returns, & a few surprises - Raptors roster updates

Greivis Vasquez has agreed on a two-year deal with the Toronto Raptors, which will provide him a significant raise. He’s going to receive $13M, or more than twice his rate of last season. GV had been very clear about his desire to return to our team, and I think he’s a top-tier player on the second unit. Whether rotation players should be commanding over $6M/season is a question I’ll leave to others. GV can shoot the 3-ball, and is a strong passer. If nothing better is available, he’ll dribble-drive into the key to launch runners. As a defender, Grevis barely rises to the level of adequate, which is the main reason I’ve never wanted to see him in a starter’s role. He’ll get plenty of burn as Kyle Lowry‘s backup, and on the court with Kyle when we’re closing out victories.

There’s been concern expressed about the need to add a defensive-minded wing player, particularly after watching Joe Johnson destroy us in the playoffs. I’m stunned to learn the solution Masai Ujiri has come up with is another Johnson, praenomen James, the very same malcontent who was banished to Sacramento two seasons ago. James is returning, after agreeing to a 2-year, $5M deal. One can only assume Dwane Casey was consulted about, and is at peace with, this fellow’s return. James can defend, but he drove everyone nuts by deciding, based on no evidence at all, that he’s a jump shooter. Watching him brick shot after shot was too much to bear. If he’s content with shutting down the other guys’ hot hand, and grabbing some boards (both of which he’s very capable of), James will be fine. Should he start deluding himself that, because he’s LeBron’s height and weight, he’s his twin in offensive skill, he’ll be pasted to the bench in short order.

Finally, Lucas Nogueira may be Toronto-bound this season rather than next. Scuttlebutt says Masai wants to buy out the remainder of his contract with a Spanish club, whereas DeAndre Daniels may be Europe-bound. Why not offer the Spaniards DeAndre instead of money?

By my calculations, Masai currently has our ’14-’15 salaries owing at just under the projected cap number of $77M. If so, that would be an accomplishment of astonishing magnitude by our GM. He might actually be able to rest for a few hours.

Tags: Greivis Vasquez James Johnson Masai Ujiri Toronto Raptors

  • Gary Slippoy

    Good job, Masai. Can’t wait forbthe season to start.

    • Newmarket_Brian

      Hi Gary:
      It’s been a long time since I’ve been as excited about a Raptors’ season as I am about the one coming up. Our team is youthful, yet experienced, and everyone wants to be here.
      Thanks for commenting.

      • Gary Slippoy

        I agree. Nice to see players WANTING to come to Toronto. Most players couldn’t wait to get out of here.

      • OleWhatsHisName

        I agree. I am also very excited for the upcoming season. They are going to be an exciting team to watch – regardless of how many wins they are able to get. However, I’m not just excited for this upcoming season. Masai has been incredibly crafty with his recent signings and masterfully adept at working with the cap to position us for the future. Having stocked (or restocked, depending on how you look at it) our up-and-coming team with plenty of young talent – they’ll have the cap room as early as next year to perhaps add a max player (hopefully a superstar!) fingers crossed!

        • Newmarket_Brian

          Hi Ole:
          Your thought about adding a superstar is intriguing. I think I’ll write a post on the topic.

  • Trevor LeSueur

    One question heading out of free agency is the backup center position but maybe Raps seem to think that Nogueria has developed enough to play in the NBA (which I am fine with, excited to see what he can do). James Johnson is a good pickup (considering the cap room the team had left) and should provide solid energy and defence off the bench behind T-Ross. His shooting has improved a bit but hopefully he’s a little more mature and smarter in his shot selection. After checking out his highlights from this past season, it has me a little excited of just the kind of energy he can bring back with him to Toronto.

    Some interesting news is that there is a 3rd point guard spot open since De Colo’s departure and I really hope Myck Kabongo can prove himself in Summer League and win that battle.

    I keep going on here lol but Raps got a lot accomplished during free agency. People thought we were getting Lou Williams to prepare for a Lowry or Vasquez departure but now we have all 3!! Raps backcourt is going to be dangerous to say the least.

    Amped up for this coming season!!

    • Newmarket_Brian

      Hi Trevor:
      The issue with James Johnson isn’t below the neck. He’s blessed that way. He suffers from Joey Graham Syndrome – how to turn athletic ability into results on the basketball court. And he’s cranky. I’ll be watching him closely in pre-season.

  • Abused Raptors Fan

    I honestly don’t mind the contracts Masai handed out to GV and Patterson this offseason, as our current roster construction facilitates greater balance between the salaries paid to the key players within our rotation, with an emphasis towards quality depth and a well-rounded attack. What’s more, those 2 contracts will become valuable trade assets in the future, as both GV and Patterson could start on a number of teams, while both salaries remain small enough to provide flexibility yet large enough to bring back a decent return. And, should either fail to play up to the expectations that are sure to accompany such contracts, neither will hamper the teams flexibility long term.

    P.s. For future reference, I think you are confusing the salary cap, the luxury tax threshold, and the tax apron. Here, the salary cap is a soft cap which puts a limit upon player movement (approx. $65mm in 2014-2015), with the tax threshold basically serving the same function with greater restrictions on player movement whereby teams can only make roster moves through the use of a variety of exceptions (I.e., the mid-level, biannual or traded player exceptions). Finally, the luxury tax apron essentially functions as a hard cap in the NBA as it almost completely inhibits any player movement by those teams who exceed this number, which is set at $4mm above the tax threshold (approx. $76mm for 2014-2015).