Welcome to a new series on my blog called “How I Would Manage” where I take a sports team and give my thoughts on what I would do if I were the General Manager, or Coach (in some cases).
This is one of those ideas that will either be brilliant, or get cancelled after the pilot episode and no one will notice.
I’ll set the scene before I get into my suggestions. Please note that my suggestions may be vague or may not even fit into a salary cap. Just know that I don’t care. Thanks!
About two hours ago, the Toronto Raptors traded DeMarre Carroll and a 1st & 2nd round pick in next year’s draft, to the Brooklyn Nets for Justin Hamilton.
This trade is nothing but a salary dump for the Raptors. Carroll has been a disappointment for the last two seasons and I don’t think anyone could see him coming back for a third year and making any sort of impact.
His body is breaking down and it became abundantly clear to everyone that his time was up. Good luck to him, though. Should get a lot of shots up in Brooklyn.
Here is a positional breakdown of the Toronto Raptors, so you know the characters involved.
Point Guard – Kyle Lowry, Cory Joseph, Delon Wright, Fred Van Vleet
Shooting Guard – DeMar DeRozan, Norman Powell
Small Forward – OG Anunoby, Bruno Caboclo, Malcolm Miller
Power Forward – Serge Ibaka, Pascal Siakam
Centre – Jonas Valanciunas, Jakub Poeltl, Lucas Nogueira, Justin Hamilton, Kennedy Meeks
Patrick Patterson (OKC), PJ Tucker (Houston), and DeMarre Carroll (Brooklyn) are gone.
Time to begin the “How I Would Manage” portion of this post.
Be aware, a lot of what I’m about to say is based on hypotheticals and things I can’t control. There might not even be any conclusion to what I’m saying.
I’ll be using the ESPN NBA Trade Machine in order to see if trades make sense in terms of salary.
Alright, this team needs players. Anunoby probably doesn’t start the season with the team, unless his knee injury is fully healed and he’s ready to go. Even then, I don’t know if he’s thrown into the starting spot right away.
Which means, I am basically the starting Small Forward for the Raptors right now.
Sure, they can start Powell and DeRozan but I don’t like that. You’re giving away too much size to the opponent and I don’t like DeRozan matching up defensively against a lot of Small Forwards in the league.
So, that’s settled. Powell is the 6th man.
Ideally, I’d have this team stock up on players who can play multiple positions. Players who can be a Small Forward but easily shift down to Shooting Guard or up to Power Forward when the team needs to go “small”.
The Raptors don’t have anyone who can do that right now. Carroll and Tucker could swing between SF and PF last year, but Carroll wasn’t effective enough and Tucker didn’t provide much offense (which is fine because he was brought here for defense).
So that’s my first goal – find wing players who can play multiple positions.
Second, get shooters. I don’t trust anyone on this team to hit a consistent three pointer, other than Lowry. That’s a problem.
Third, unclog the log jam at the centre position.
Fourth, bring in a veteran presence/voice of wisdom.
Fifth, an overall sense of defense.
How do we do this? I have no clue. But here’s my attempt.
I don’t think Valanciunas makes it to training camp. I think he’s a good player, but his style of play no longer fits with how the Raptors need to play in order to keep up with the rest of the league.
That’s a problem because every other team in the league might have the same reaction. “He doesn’t fit what we’re trying to do.” The reason he doesn’t fit? He doesn’t space the floor – that’s fancy basketball talk for “He can’t shoot the three”. And he’s slow. And he’s not the greatest defender.
He’s never really been a guy who the Raptors play in crunch time in the fourth quarter. They always prefer to have someone quicker out there who can rotate on defense.
It’s time to trade JV. Find a team willing to take him, and move him.
My first phone call would go to the Atlanta Hawks, just because they recently traded Dwight Howard away and are the first team to come to mind when I think of who could use a new starting centre.
That being said, JV is making around $15 million next season and in the NBA, player salaries need to match (or just about – 125% + $100,000) in trades. I don’t know if that’s possible with Atlanta, unless a third team gets involved.
Side note: I wouldn’t trade for anyone on Atlanta except Bazemore and they’re not going to trade him, anyway.
With Atlanta off the table, I’d call the Memphis Grizzlies and figure out what the asking price is for Marc Gasol. Both players have three years left on their contract, with Gasol making close to $23 million next season.
I’m not naive enough to think that offering JV ($15.4M) and Cory Joseph ($7.6M) for Gasol ($22.6M) would be something that interests Memphis. It probably isn’t.
For what it’s worth, the trade works financially.
Oh yeah, did I mention that I would also trade Cory Joseph and let Wright and Van Vleet take over as the backup point guard?
If there is no traction in Memphis for a Gasol trade, move on.
Call up the San Antonio Spurs. There’s no way they take JV and Joseph for Aldridge, is there? I know, I’m reaching. But hey, Aldridge isn’t happy there, apparently.
But still, JV and Joseph seem like a downgrade for the Spurs, don’t they? Nevertheless, I would inquire about Aldridge and see if something could be worked out. Probably not.
Lowry, DeRozan, ____, Aldridge, and Ibaka looks like a pretty good starting lineup to me.
I really don’t know who else would bite on a JV deal. Whoever gets him isn’t getting him to bring $15 million off the bench. Maybe Dallas is interested? The only fit for the Raptors could be Wesley Matthews. He fills a need. I don’t know.
Let’s move on.
Cory Joseph. I like him, but I like Delon Wright’s potential more. I also think Van Vleet is going to turn into a better version of Joseph. Therefore, the only Canadian on the team is expendable.
With a salary of $7.6 million next season, he could be used in a trade package with JV, or by himself.
What about Cory Joseph to Portland for Al-Farouq Aminu? Aminu is nothing special offensively, but is a great defender who can guard multiple positions. Also, an article on the internet said he’s good at guarding the perimeter. The Raptors need that.
Aminu would be the new defensive stopper, replacing Tucker.
Just a thought.
I sorta cringed when I typed that suggestion out. Not good.
Portland could use a backup point guard though…
If not Aminu, I’d sign Thabo Sefolosha. Again, not great offensively, but he can guard the best player on the other team so DeRozan doesn’t have to.
He is versatile, can play defense, and brings a veteran presence. That checks off three of my five goals.
So at this point, let’s imagine JV and Joseph have been traded and we’ve acquired Aminu or Sefolosha, and mystery items for JV.
Starting Lineup: Lowry, DeRozan, Aminu, Siakam, Ibaka
I put Siakam in there because apparently Jerry Stackhouse told one of the announcers doing the Summer League games that Siakam is the Raptors’ best defender. Though with this lineup, the offense suffers too much.
I also like Poeltl coming off the bench and having a chance to be something more than the 4th or 5th offensive option.
This is hard.
That starting lineup I just suggested is awful.
Alright, scrap trying to figure out trades that probably won’t happen.
Let’s look at free agents.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, SG – I’d pass on him just because I don’t want the lineup to be too small. I’m not pushing DeRozan to SF. Besides, KCP is a career 40% shooter from the field. Not good enough for me.
Tony Allen, SG – I’d take him on my team any day. All he does is defend, but he’s one of the best in the league.
Shabazz Muhammed, SF – Hey, he can score. I don’t think he’s a three-point shooting threat, though.
C.J. Miles, SF – I’ve liked his game ever since he was a teenager on Utah about ten years ago and barely got any playing time. Seriously. Here’s the three-point shooter this team needs. I don’t know if he comes here, however.
Arron Afflalo, SG – He’s getting older and injuries are starting to creep in, but he could be a shooter off the bench…?
No one else in free agency looks interesting. Maybe we should go after KCP. I don’t know.
This post has been a colossal failure.
I think the young players – Wright, Van Vleet, Powell, Siakam, Poeltl, maybe even Bruno – will be bigger contributors this year. That alone makes this team better.
That might be the best way to go for the Raptors. Continue building from within and when an appealing player becomes available via trade, they have the pieces to make the deal.
All I know is that Joseph and JV can be replaced by guys already on the roster. I think Poeltl can take a big step this year if given the opportunity. I also think Nogueira can get back to what he was during stretches last season – a guy who blocked shots, got rebounds, ran the floor, and caught alley-oops.
I’m comfortable with Poeltl and Nogueira taking over the centre position (I gulped as I typed that), especially considering the fact that this team will probably finish most games with Ibaka at centre, and Lowry, DeRozan, and Powell (?) taking up three of the other four spots.
Anunoby probably becomes a late game finisher if he’s as good as people say he is.
I don’t know where this team is supposed to get wing help from, though. I don’t know who is supposed to come in and shoot threes next season.
Making trades is hard. Signing players is hard. Developing players is hard.
Who knows, maybe Bruno shocks the world and is finally ready to contribute real minutes next season?
In an ideal world, we have Lowry, DeRozan, Anunoby, Ibaka, Gasol as our starting lineup heading into the playoffs.
Off the bench is Wright, Powell, 3 & D Guy, 3 & D Guy, Poeltl.
Is that team good enough? Well, I could argue no team will be good enough as long as LeBron is still in the East, but that’s a blog post I’d rather not write.
I think I’m done. If you read this, thank you. It took a turn after I realized how hard it was to speculate and build a team on “what-ifs” and “maybes”.
I don’t know if I’ll do a “How I Would Manage” type post again. Maybe I’ll wait until the NHL season starts so I can just draw up line combinations, which is much easier than what I attempted to do today.
One last thing, if any of my suggestions in this post happen in real life, I’m bragging about it. Be ready.
Follow me on Twitter @CappyTalks.