How To Fix The Raptors (Part 2)

Posted on December 2, 2009 | 8 Comments

In the first part, I looked at (mostly) what could be done internally to help the Raptors. I came to conclusion that lineup and coaching changes don’t really fix was is fundamentally wrong with the Raptors and wouldn’t really have much of an effect, at least positively. Today, I looked at trades.


He’s obviously been a weak link defensively, and on a team that is as bad defensively as the Raptors are, he’s an obvious target. If Calderon were on a better defensive team, his defensive deficiencies wouldn’t be such a problem but on the Raptors, he’s fully exposed. Teams can, and have, won with PG’s are are average, at best, defensively. Calderon can be a very good offensive player, and is a better PG than many Raptor fans seem to understand, but when opposing PG’s keep circling dates against the Raptors because they know they’ll play well, it’s a problem.

Unfortunately, there’s a difference between wanting to trade a player and being able to. Scott Carefoot, over at Raptorsblog, recently ran a contest of sorts. He, himself, couldn’t figure out a half decent trade involving Calderon, so he enlisted his readers. The best they apparently came up with was a very mediocre deal involving Detroit that I don’t think improves the Raptors much, if at all. I’m not willing to trade Calderon away for spare parts when improving the defense of the team around him would help more.


With the season going down the toilet, the chance of re-signing Bosh seems to be getting slimmer and slimmer. Well, I might agree if it were later in the season, but since we’re barely into December, I’m not willing to lower the lifeboats just yet on the season. If the Raptors are still playing this way come February, then we can discuss trading Bosh.


While teams can, and have, won with mediocre to below average defenders at PG, they rarely win with poor defenders in the middle, especially if the other front court player isn’t a Defensive Player of the Year candidate.  Boston has Garnett (and Perkins and Wallace), Orlando has Howard, Atlanta has Josh Smith, the Laker have Gasol and Bynum and Denver has Nene and Martin. While Bosh isn’t an elite defender, he’s been better this year, but it’s his scoring and rebounding that make him so invaluable. If he’s not a stopper, he’s at least keeping opposing teams off the boards because he’s grabbing them himself. The same cannot be said of Bargnani.

Going into the season, Bargnani was thought by many to be the strongest link defensively. He seemed to play pretty well last season, at least guarding his man, and was the team’s leading shot blocker. Well, watching him play this season, I have to say that of all the offenders on the defensive end, Bargnani may very well be the worst.  While Calderon doesn’t have the footspeed to stay with quicker guards, he seems to put in effort, at the very least. Bargnani, for much of the time, seems completely disinterested in playing defense at all. His rotations are beyond horrible and he doesn’t seem to understand the simple principle of boxing his own man out (this after spending the summer with Moses Malone). In the game against Boston, Triano ended up benching Bargnani for much of the fourth quarter because he was so ineffective and probably should have done the same against Phoenix.

To me, the player most in need of being traded, and the player that will have the most positive effect on the team by being traded, is Bargnani. A blasphemous thought to many Raptor fans, it’s becoming more and more apparent that he’s not the player many hoped he would be and is an ill fit on a team so lacking on defense. It’s not that I don’t think he can be successful. I think he could prosper on a team like Chicago or Houston, that is already strong defensively, especially in the front court. On the Raptors, however, his lack of rebounding and defense consistently hurt the team.

So, as I stated with Calderon, there’s a difference between wanting to trade a player and actually finding a deal. Well, thanks to RealGM Trade Checker and ESPN’s Trade Machine, I’ve found a few possibilities. Now, I have no idea whether the other team would pull the trigger, but I think they’re good deals for both teams.


Andrea Bargnani
Antoine Wright


Luol Deng

As I stated, I think Bargnani could fit in well in Chicago, because they are a good defensive and rebounding team, and would be able to mask his weaknesses well. They are, however, a horrible offensive team, especially from beyond the arc, and could desperately use Bargnani’s shooting. He’d be a favourite target on kickouts from Rose.

Luol Deng, despite being several inches shorter, is a better rebounder than Bargnani and a solid defender. He is a very good scorer, but not a great outside shooter. His rebounding would allow Turkoglu to move to PF and not have the rebounding suffer. While it wouldn’t give the Raptors a great defensive big man, it shores up the wing defense and the Raptors don’t lose any scoring.

The big problem with this trade is that Deng has been scoring in the 20′s lately, and Chicago would probably not be all that anxious to deal him right now. The only thing working in the Raptors favour is the Bulls record, which is not very good, so far.

DEAL # 2

Andrea Bargnani
Marcus Banks


Andris Biedrins
Kelenna Azubuike or Brandan Wright

If anyone can use Bargnani, it’s Don Nelson. Nelson LOVES players like Bargnani and I’m guessing would go for this trade. Taking on Banks and his contract might be a bit of an issue, but there’s not really any other way to make this trade work.

While the Raptors would miss Bargnani’s scoring and ability to spread the floor with his outside shooting, Biedrins, who’s been underused under Don Nelson, is a very good rebounder and shotblocker who would bring a lot more energy to the center position. He takes high percentage shots and runs the court very well. He’s certainly not as talented offensively as Bargnani, but he knows how to play the other end of the court a lot better. He’s kind of like a Latvian version of Amir Johnson, but a little bigger.

If the Raptors could get Azubuike in the deal, it would go a long way to shoring up the wing position and would probably play the bulk of his minutes behind Turkoglu. Brandan Wright is injured and would be insurance in case Bosh end s up going.

DEAL # 3

Andrea Bargnani


Wilson Chandler
Jared Jeffries

Of all the teams that might be attracted by getting Bargnani, New York is near the top of the list. D’Antoni was a big Bargnani fan when he was drafted and should be amenable to taking him on. There is a big question with this trade with the Knicks not wanting to take on extra salary this summer, and with Bargnani’s extension kicking in I’m not sure whether the Knicks would be willing. Still, if they are, it gives the Knicks more scoring punch, which they lack right now.

While the trade doesn’t get back a big man in return, Wilson is a very good rebounder and defender. In fact, Wilson, in many ways, is very much like a (slightly) younger Trevor Ariza. If Wilson started at small forward, the Raptors could shift Turkoglu to PF and Bosh to Center. Wilson would immediately become the Raptors best defender, guarding the opposing teams’ top wing players and Turkoglu is big enough to guard most fours in the league. It would create just as many matchup problems as with Bargnani at center.

Jefferies is not a bad throw in who can play both PF and SF and is a good defender, although a below average rebounder.


Andrea Bargnani
Antoine Wright


Shane Battier
Chuck Hayes

Now, again, I have no idea whether Houston would do this, but I think they certainly get something good out of this. They are a good, scrappy, defensive team that lacks good scorers (their best scorer is Ariza, who’s shooting an anemic 38%) and are below average from the field and from beyond the arc. They could use Bargnani, especially if Yao has trouble coming back or plays limited minutes upon his return.

I’ve always been a fan of Battier, who is the player that stats don’t tell the whole story about. He just knows how to play. With both he and Ariza, Houston’s two best players are small forwards and while Battier has been playing out of position at SG, with Tracy McGrady’s expected return soon, Battier will be the odd man out.

Battier could start at either SG (with either Johnson or Hayes stepping in at C/PF) or SF (moving Turkoglu to PF) and immediately give the Raptors a boost defensively. Hayes doesn’t have much offensive talent but is a banger who hard worker who is the type of player the Raptors lack.

The only issue I have with this trade is Battier’s age. He’s 31 and has already played the best ball of his career. Still, it’s not as if he relies on athleticism and has such a high IQ he should be able to adjust to age well.


However much I’d love to trade Bargnani for Joakim Noah, I just don’t see Chicago pulling the trigger on that one. Noah would give the Raptors exactly what they need (interior defense and rebounding) and while he’s not a good scorer, he’s a good passer with a high basketball IQ.

And while all the trades would benefit the Raptors in some way, none of the four are great and flawed in some way (either the Raptors don’t get an interior defender back or they lose scoring). Besides, I’m not sure whether Colangelo is ready to trade Bargnani just yet, and I might tend to agree.

November and December are usually bad times to try and make a trade. Teams playing badly aren’t quite ready to panic or give up on the season, and better teams still want to wait and see how good they’ll be.

If the Raptors do make a move, January or February is the time to make it. By that time, Colangelo will really know whether this team is working or not.

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Join the discussion: 8 Comments


  • Patrick Smale

    Personally I don’t relish trading Bosh but if the feeling is Bosh is gone then move him now before he gets injured or the season is lost because of your stated reasons. I would trade Bosh to NY who wants 1 or 2 of the big names in 2010 and in exchange try to get David Lee and either Chandler or better yet Galliano. The Raps would have to eat another player (say Larry Hughs) to make the numbers work.

    Over 48min the difference between Bosh and Lee is 6pts (advantage Bosh). Everything else is a wash. Lee may be a better interior defender and his points come in the paint.

    The depth is increased with the second player and now BC has even more ammo for future moves, and Lee is a $8-10M player on a resign, giving even more options in the off season. Bargnani was signed to his deal as a security and replacement if Bosh left.

  • Tim W.


    You lost me when you said to trade Bosh to New York for Lee. Lee is certainly not just six points worse than Bosh. Bosh is a MUCH better scorer, rebounder and shot blocker. And I don’t know where you got that he’s a better interior defender than Bosh. While Bosh is not a great defender (he’s been slightly above average this year), he’s a much better defender than Lee, who is quite a poor defender. Always has been. I could not imagine having both he and Bargnani on the same team, especially if your defense is already weak. And while I’ve never felt that the number of blocks a player gets is an indication of how good a defender he is, a 6’10 guy averaging 0.4 bpg over the course of a career is quite bad.

    I’m not sure why so many Raptor fans have a fascination with Lee. I’m guessing it’s by people who haven’t watched him play all that much. He’s a half decent player, his stats are overinflated in D’Antoni’s system. If the Raptors DO trade Bosh, and that’s something they shouldn’t even think about until late January at the earliest, they desperately need to get a top notch interior defender or the result is going to be the same, but without Bosh’s consistent scoring to bail the team out. Talk about losing a season.

  • khandor


    1. IMO, none of the Raptors’ prospective trading partners you’ve suggested in this thread would actually be inclined to go for any of the deals you’ve identified.

    2. Part of how Bryan Colangelo’s has gotten himself [and by extension his team] in the mess he’s in today is by making far too many trades/player acquisitions in a relatively short period of time.

    Just like I said during the summer of 2008 … when Bryan Colangelo made the ill-conceived trade for JO … and during the winter of 2008-2009 … when he made the ill-conceived for Shawn Marion … and during this past off-season … when he made the ill-conceived trade for Hedo Turkoglu … what the Raptors’ GM actually NEEDS to do, if he’s going to be able to stop the bleeding and get this thing turned around properly, is: [1] STAY THE COURSE; and, [2] Develop An Appropriate Long Term Comprehensive Plan Of Attack, based on a different Basketball Philosophy than the one he has used up to this point in his professional life for the construction of a NBA championship-calibre organization.

    An incessant stream of non-integrated player and coach/staff acquisitions is NOT the way in which a Top Notch NBA GM goes about building his team, if he really knows what he’s doing in this business.

    PS. An integrated series of constructive line-up changes is the better way to go, at this point of the season; provided that they’re actually the RIGHT ones. :-)

  • Steve

    I have to honestly say almost all the trades you recommend suck. Why is nobody mentioning the “Coach” whom i personally think is the main problem i wouldnt trade Bargnani i would just except the fact he sucks defensively. All We really need is two big defensive players in the middle and the Raptors as whole change. Lee for Bosh is best recommendation you made but Lee isnt leadership material in my opinion.

    Shane Battier
    Chuck Hayes YUCK.

    Bosh for two defensive players that WE KEEP THIS TIME. the raptors always dump defensive players it’s like it’s in our DNA or something when they traded JYD I was like what the heck is going on here. I will explain the raptors in a few simple words ” A Team full of ROLE PLAYERS” that’s the problem even the coach is a Role player the team is BLAND, maybe it’s the fact our city’s economy is booming at the moment I dunno but we need some character on the raptors some toughness some players with personality that reflects on the basketball court.

    The fans in europe are usually crazy because there players are “Boring” to watch from Larry bird to Magic Johnson to Michael Jordan these men had character attitude, Swag, arrogance, even dare i say Charles oakley even though his skills was no where near the previous legends mentioned he had attitude a sense of purpose these Raptors look dull like some robots. Trade Bosh and Fire Jay Triano they both need go. i love bosh but he’s a natural role player like a James Worthy, or Scottie Pippen put Bosh along side a great Player thats a championship I guarantee it. But as a leader he’s not built for it. It’s evident

    I knew from the moment the Raptors put Triano in we would have these problems it’s starts form coaching i’m a fan and Triano looks soft from here. I wasnt a huge Sam Mitchell fan but Sam gave you you something to think and talk about. Wrap Bosh up in a nice package and get us Two rebounders one of which can shot block We already Have the offense, and please 6ft 9 and up no midget power forwards. Take the pressure off Barny and you’ll see him go to work. When he’s not the main attraction he shines just watch him

    Replace Triano with someone hard nose otherwise the team will be leaderless, this year should also be prospecting year where the raptors should look for a hot new propect or a free agent or something for next season YES I said next season because we aint winning no championship this season lol simple math i’m out its late peace!!

  • Tim W.


    You might be right about the trades. I think Golden State might go for the trade, though, especially if Nelson remains with the team.

    And while I do think continuous change can be harmful to a franchise, it’s not as if Colangelo could really stand pat. Did you really want him to stay with the same team after the 07-08 season? You don’t seem to recall the second half of the season, when Ford started causing problems, and how the team got completely spanked by Howard in the playoffs. Ford HAD to be traded, and the team needed a legit center. Bargnani had not shown he could handle that role and Nesterovic was simply not starting material anymore. You expected Colangelo to do nothing? Personally, I wanted Nene for Ford, but I have no idea who was available.

    And the trade for Marion ended up helping team start winning at the end of the season. Unfortunately, Marion didn’t want to re-sign, so Colangelo had to make more trades, or the Raptors would have gone into the season with…who, exactly?

    How do you turn a team around without actually getting pieces to do that with? It’s not as if Colangelo is making trades just so he can do it. I think you’re way off base here with your criticism of Colangelo. And while I’ve stated many times I haven’t agreed with every move Colangelo has made, I don’t fault the guy for trying to build something, because he is.

  • Tim W.


    My question for you, is at what point do you feel the Raptors had the talent to remain pat? The year they won 47 games, Colangelo did nothing over the summer except sign Kapono, to shore up the SF position and give the Raptors outside shooting. Now, I didn’t like the signing because I felt Kapono was overrated, but it’s not as if Colangelo has shown he trades too much. Only when he needs to.

  • Tim W.


    Well, I think it depends on your opinion of Bargnani. Apparently you think he’s more valuable than I do. khandor, doesn’t think any of the other teams would go for it.

    And a lot of people are talking about the coach, but he is far, far from the main problem. Simply put, the coach doesn’t have that big of an effect on the team. No coach is a miracle worker. They’re not going to magically turn the team into a good defensive team. I think fans knee jerk reaction, sometimes, is to blame the coach when a team I playing badly. Triano hasn’t been perfect, but he’s done a lot of things right. Firing Triano will do absolutely nothing to turn this team around. Nothing.

    And if you’re going to keep Bargnani, you need to trade more than Bosh. You need to trade Turkoglu, Calderon and find a shooting guard who is above average defensively, because the team needs to be an elite defensive team in order to hide Bargnani on that end of the floor. You also need a SF who rebounds really well to make up for Bargnani’s lack of rebounding. It’s a lot easier to trade Bargnani than trade everyone around him, which is what you’d have to do in order to compete with him on your team.

    And I never suggested Bosh for Lee because that is an awful, awful trade for the Raptors. You want defensive players, yet you suggest Lee? Are you kidding me? You do realize that Lee below average defensively, worse than Bosh, don’t?

    Not sure why you think the Raptors always trade their defensive players. And you’re talking about completely different regimes, here. And what `defensive players’ are you talking about trading Bosh for?

    Are we judging players by how they look??? Triano is soft because he `looks’ soft?

    And by the way, we here at the Picket Fence are not big fans of run on sentences because they are difficult to read and understand and often times I don’t really want to read the whole thing because it is somewhat confusing although maybe its just me getting old i dont know but i just find it a little difficult to read sentences like this one dont you?

  • khandor


    After the 2006-2007 season Bryan Colangelo SHOULD NOT have added a player like Jason Kapono. He SHOULD HAVE, either:

    i. Stood Pat [ala Gillick, during the BJ's build-up years]; or,

    ii. Added another defensive/rebounding player.

    After the 2007-2008 season Bryan Colangelo SHOULD NOT have traded Ford + Nesterovic + the flipped Draft Pick for Jermaine O’Neal. He SHOULD HAVE:

    i. Traded ONLY TJ Ford.

    Byan Colangelo has a history of making too many changes at the same time AND not giving his team a legitimate chance to grow together because he is TOO IMPATIENT and is missing the type of Basketball Acumen which can make stop thinking and saying such stupid {and WRONG] things like:

    A. The team that started out the 2008-2009 season was the “best yet, on paper” since he’d been put in charge of the Raptors;

    B. The team that began this season would be trying to win 50+ games, because that would be what’s required to get the #4 spot in the EC; and,

    C. He has “no doubt” this current team, as cpresently comprised, has a great deal of TALENT and SHOULD be playing at a HIGHER LEVEL than it has to this point season;


    Trust that there is no Raptors fan anywhere who wants this team to succeed more than yours truly … but it is painful to these eyes to have to watch just how little the Raptors’ present Management Team actually knows about what it takes to WIN BIG in the NBA game.

    The fact is that:

    * Jerry Colangelo was an owner/GM in the NBA for 40 years and managed to reach the FINALS on only 2 occasions, losing each time.

    * The USA National Team which Jerry Colangelo first put together for the World Championships and the Olympic Games … FAILED TO WIN THE GOLD MEDAL in those events, despite representing the most powerful basketball nation on earth.

    * The USA National Team which Jerry Colangelo put together for the last Olympic Games did manage to win the Gold Medal … by the skin of their teeth … against a country that had no business whatsoever being within 20 points of Uncle Sam’s brigade.

    * The Phoenix Suns and Toronto Raptors teams put together by Bryan Colangelo have yet to advance to the NBA Finals even 1 time and have only advanced to the Conference Finals on 1 occasion.

    Based on the evidence, thus far, I am not someone who is holding their breath expecting that a NBA team headed up by either Jerry or Bryan Colangelo will be winning the league championship any time soon.

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