Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Cut and Run

Bill Simmons and Jonathan Abrams over at Grantland discussed the best possible use of an expected "Allan Houston" amnesty provision in the next CBA. This time, not only would teams gain relief from the luxury tax but the salary cap itself, in exchange for buying out the contract.

This is how they sliced up the Raptors' impending decision:


Abrams: Linas Kleiza. It would be tempting for the Raptors to use the clause on Jose Calderon, whose contract guarantees him $20.3 million over the next two years. Kleiza's contract (signed last summer) is equally awful and pays him $13.8 million through 2013-14.
Simmons: Disagree. I'd rather chop Calderon's $20.3 million. I'm pretty sure paying eight figures a year for a backup point guard isn't getting you anywhere with a harder cap. Although really, they should see if they can use the clause on Bryan Colangelo — that's the worst single Raptors contract, right?

First, as the BitterRaptorFan, I appreciate Simmons' longstanding recognition of the scourge that is Bryan Colangelo. I really, truly, genuinely think it's important that the most influential sports writer today reminds the world that us Raptor fans are chained in a dungeon of awfulness and it's BC who's wearing the leather mask. 
But, after that I must take a stand against the long-held but futilely incorrect notion that Jose Calederon (and his contract) are impeding the Raptors towards long-term success. While Jose is not in the tier-one, elite level of a Chris Paul, Steve Nash, Rajon Rondo, Derron Williams, Russell Westbrook, Jason Kidd or Derrick Rose,  he's been in the second tier consistently, and the Raptors' best or second-best player since the dawn of the Bosh age. While casual observers knock his defence (it can't be denied that he's basically a pylon with cool sideburns on D) let's not forget that no point guard has played more than a few minutes of defence-a-game since Chauncey Billups in the '04 Finals.
I don't think I have to make the offensive case except to say Calderon is Tony Parker with a few less layups, a few more 3s and assists, and to my knowledge, Jose's never slept with Brent Barry's wife.
The $20 million owed to Calderon over the next two years is fair. No better point guards for less money are showing up in the next two years (sorry Jerryd Bayless but you know you're Juan Dixon 2.0, right?) and there's so many other more pressing issues for the Raptors (shooting guard, small forward, centre) that it only makes sense to cut Calderon if you're the kind of basketball mind that believes only one player should shoot in the fourth quarter.
Look, the real leech on the Raptors' payroll is, obviously, Andrea Bargnani. No Mago is due $41.5 million over the next four years, over which he may solidify himself as the most detrimental player to ever play in the NBA. That said... Sigh... *Deep breath*... It is still impossible to determine whether there is trade value for him. We know that Jose Caleron is almost worth Tyson Chandler. But I've still never seen a reasonable offer for Bargnani that lets me know whether the other 29 teams are in on the joke or not.
Kleiza, on the other hand, is just dead weight. The Raptors bid against themselves to sign him and wouldn't have been able to trade him the day after. He's unplayable and everyone knows it. I bet if he was given the amnesty out, he'd be back in Europe within a week.
So, the answer to the Raptors' amnesty issue is really, how stupid do we think the rest of the NBA is? 
Cut Kleiza and express courier Bargnani to Cleveland, I say. LOCKOUT!

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