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Raptors Contemplate Trade Possibilities
Posted By Stephen Brotherston On March 8, 2012 @ 3:00 pm In All,Main Page,NBA | No Comments
The NBA trade deadline is only a week away and the Toronto Raptors have already made their first move, albeit a very small one. Surprisingly, the normally secretive team has been fairly open about their trade plans: Don’t expect to be bowled over by a roster overhaul during the next few days.
“We know where we are in our program and what we are trying to do and what is going on with the big picture plan,” said head coach Dwane Casey. “I know what our needs are, we know what our needs are, and Bryan has a great plan. We have flexibility and we are going to have to be selective as far as what we get and how we go after it and make sure we execute it. It’s a big off season for us to go along with the growth of some of the guys that we have.”
“I don’t foresee anything,” continued Casey about the trade deadline. “That’s out of my department but I don’t foresee any of it as far as any moves – major moves or minor moves. Maybe minor, but I don’t see anything major as far as anyone in the locker room.”
Even minor moves could come as a surprise, but there are possibilities.
Casey did confirm the well known fact that Anthony Carter was no longer with the team. The veteran guard could be traded by the deadline or bought out, but in either case, this move is not anticipated to have much impact on the roster. Casey was quick to praise Carter and the other veterans President and General Manager Bryan Colangelo added to the roster at the start of the season.
“Anthony did a great job for us,” said Casey. “I don’t want to diminish that because he set the tone in training camp. He was one of the great defensive minds in training camp. He and Jamaal and Rasual, all three came in and set the tone and it was exactly what we needed.”
Just slightly off the trade radar has been the Raptors back-up point guard Jerryd Bayless. Toronto didn’t pick up the final option year on his rookie contract and can make him a restricted free agent this summer in keeping with Colangelo’s plan for salary cap flexibility, plus Bayless has not made a secret of his desire to be a starting point guard at some point in his career. Coach Casey however handed the starting job back to the veteran Jose Calderon and assigned Bayless the back-up role. This marks the third time in his short NBA career that Bayless has been stuck behind a veteran point guard who is playing well.
“Sooner or later I do want to do that and hopefully some day that happens,” said Bayless. “But right now I am here and this is the role I have been given so I am going to do whatever to help this team.”
In an effort to get Bayless more minutes, Casey has started the young combo guard at the two several times, but this isn’t the role Bayless wants. When asked about it, Bayless was emphatic.
“I am playing the backup point and I’d rather play backup point and continue to do what I am,” said Bayless.
Bayless has been a solid player for the Raptors, both off the bench backing up Calderon and providing scoring from the off guard position and he isn’t causing any waves, but it seems unlikely the Raptors will be his first choice as a free agent and if the team wants an asset in return, the trade deadline may provide their best opportunity.
When asked about his players’ trade deadline concerns, Casey indicated no one was asking to leave.
“I haven’t sensed that,” said Casey. “It may be individually, but I haven’t asked and we don’t even talk about it.”
The only hint that the Raptors might be thinking of handing some back-up point guard minutes to anyone else came in the context of Carter’s departure.
“I think our next step is to look at Gary Forbes a little bit at the point at some point,” said Casey. Whether it’d be foul trouble or whatever, he is our next candidate to play (the point).”
Probably the biggest reason the Raptors do not anticipate any major moves at the trade deadline is the wish list of attributes for any future additions. The Raptors plan on being a lot better next season.
“Experience along with the young guys we have coming in is going to be important,” said Casey. “I don’t think we can bring a lot of young guys in next year and expect to make the big steps that we want to make next year. We have to have some experienced guys, guys who are tough, battle-tested, been through the wars and I think that is going to be important and Bryan has his eyes on some guys who are free agents next year. Toughness and shooting are two of the keys.
“I am talking about experience maybe 25, 26, 28. There are some 36, 37, 38 year olds I would take, but I would rather have it a little younger.”
The moves Colangelo might have made at the deadline were foretold by the GM himself earlier this year.
“Every time I get lured back in, it proves Ed (Stefanski) worth to the equation cause he said I’ll tackle you on the way to the phone if you want to pursue that,” explained Colangelo at the start of the season.
The Raptors plan all along has been to preserve their hard won salary cap space and draft picks and any moves were to be targeted towards hitting the ground running next season. This doesn’t exclude the possibility of trades during the season, but it does make any significant moves much less likely. Minor moves with players not anticipated to be on next season’s roster are all that is to be expected at this trade deadline.
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