We continue our shopping trip with a discussion of how the Toronto Raptors can buttress the shooting guard spot. I say “buttress” because I think the team is committed to DeMar DeRozan and Terrence Ross, so there won’t be many minutes available at SG. It follows that a free agent who wants to sign and actually play will need to be more of a combo guard. While it’s a nebulous term, I think of a combo guard as a more selfish version of a PG, yet someone who can handle the rock better than a prototypical pick-n-pop SG. A combo guard should be able to be paired on the floor with any other guard in the closing minutes of a tight game.
Mar 17, 2013; Minneapolis, MN, USA; New Orleans Hornets guard Roger Mason Jr. (8) against the Minnesota Timberwolves at the Target Center. The Timberwolves defeated the Hornets 97-95. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports
Before we look at free agents, we must turn our attention to the SG mess at the end of the Raps’ bench. Linas Kleiza has a player option at $4.6M, which he is sure to exercise. While it’s easy to say Linas should simply be Amnestied, if you use it on him, you can’t use it on Andrea Bargnani. A decision on Kleiza may have to wait a few months, even into training camp. Ultimately it will come down to determining if he will ever be healthy again. If no, take the hit, and move him on, perhaps with a buy-out and waive rather than Amnesty. If yes, bring him to camp, and find out what he can contribute.
Alan Anderson and Mickael Pietrus are Unrestricted Free Agents. Alan revels in his role as Beloved Elder Statesman, and is a fan favourite, but his production tumbled dramatically as the season wound down. He gets a camp invitation, and no more, which is better than I’d offer Pietrus.
Scanning the free-agent list, we see an inordinate number of yesterday’s-news players, like Jerry Stackhouse, Corey Maggette and Ben Gordon. Roger Mason Jr. has had many opportunities to hold a job, but it hasn’t happened. Both Monta Ellis and Kevin Martin will want huge money and a starting gig, so that’s a double whammy. Tyreke Evans is available, but his career has stumbled since his brilliant rookie campaign. We’ve already got a backslider named Landry Fields, we don’t need another.
As we continue our excavation, some intriguing names appear, like Ronnie Brewer, Martell Webster, Gary Neal and Wayne Ellington. Ronnie is nobody’s idea of a star in the making, but has size and experience and is a solid defender. He’s not someone you want shooting the ball. Martell has enjoyed a comeback season in Washington, starting 62 games, so I doubt he’d come to Toronto to sit. Gary’s game has improved in San Antonio (whose doesn’t?) and he will probably be re-signed with a hefty raise. Wayne has bounced around more than you’d like early in his career, but can shoot and defend. He’s big for an SG, and not a ball handler. I don’t think he’s a fit for the Raps, but Wayne will help somebody.
Feb 27, 2013; Oklahoma City, OK, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder forward Ronnie Brewer (8) enters the game in action against the New Orleans Hornets during the second half at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports
This exercise has proven to be a disappointment. I suppose I can see inviting Ronnie Brewer and Roger Mason Jr. to camp; both have positive reputations as low-maintenance types. Let them battle it out for 2 jobs with a healthy (?) Kleiza and Anderson.
Help me out here, Rapture Nation. Leave some better options in the Comments.
Brian Boake is Senior Editor for Raptors Rapture. “Like” Raptors Rapture on Facebook and follow us on Twitter @RaptorsRapture for all the latest news and updates about the best damn NBA team from Canada.