Tuesday, July 2, 2013

No More Mago

Did you soak your undies yet? In a few short fortnights, the Toronto basketball club dismissed, first, the architect of ineptitude and namesake of this journal, then followed it up by packing the 7' lightning rod of pasta into a pot and boiling him el dente until he's served up again in midtown Manhattan.

This is not your grandpa's dinosaur-themed NBA team.

While berating some blowhard writer (just kidding, Bill!) a couple years ago, for suggesting that the Raptors amnesty Jose Calderon, I dove into the prospect of using the still-unused amnesty provision to artificially clear cap space. Weighing the two obvious candidates -- Linas Kleiza or Andrea Bargnani -- I concluded that Kleiza was the most expendable player for the simple reason that I had a hunch that some mouth-breathing general manager could down enough single malt to talk himself into sending something back for the chance to regret ever meeting the Lowman Roman. But that was then, and after getting heckled out of existence in Toronto, I assumed the window to flip him had passed and that there was nothing out there besides an opportunity to take back someone else's albatross; your Richard Jeffersons, etc.

So imagine my surprise when new man-crush Masai Ujiri turned turd into (not gold but...) nickel? by turning an unplayable misery into "Steve Novak, Marcus Camby, a 2016 first-round pick, a second-round pick and likely Quentin Richardson."

I won't pretend this ransom is king's but really, bringing in anything besides a carb headache is gravy. Novak is a specialist on a reasonable-for-a-specialist contract who will play 18-20 minutes a game and change the gravity of how defences set up against the otherwise awful three point shooting that has defined this team since Calderon was traded. Camby, one of the great defensive centres of all time, will be either on the end of the bench on a contender or will retire in the coming months. QRich Van Horned himself into a payday and will more likely be smoking dubes with Darius Miles next season than playing in the NBA (though if you are considering tanking the season, why not play a dude who shoots every six seconds?). Though the picks are low, low picks can (with extraordinary scouting) become incredibly valuable, allowing a team to cheaply fill a bench with team-friendly terms and hope someone turns into Chandler Parsons.

Better still, the salary commitments for the next two seasons is brought down $2-$3 million. Win-win-win-win-win.

It's been said a few times this past week that mirroring what Ujiri, Bryan Colangelo's first big (and maybe best) move was trading Hoffa for Humphries. Getting other teams to take on your problems is just as tough as acquiring a game changing player. Let's hope this is where the similarities end.

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