A Substitute for War

Basketball philosophy

Predicting a trade: Amar’e Stoudemire to the Raptors

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Amar’e (Photo credit: SportsAngle.com)

Last summer I predicted the Raptors would trade for Rudy Gay, based on Bryan Colangelo’s history – favoring highly priced, big name players who fills the latest “biggest hole”, which at the time was wing offense. I had the trade right, but the timing wrong – Gay ended up in Toronto at the trade deadline, not before the draft.

This post is the sequel. I’m predicting Toronto trades for the biggest, baddest (not in a good way) contract in the league, Amar’e Stoudemire’s. Here’s why

– Toronto can construct a deal with little financial hit or burden to them. Dealing Andrea Bargnani, Landry Fields and Aaron Gray for Amar’e, adds 2.0 million in salary this season and 5.65 million in 2014-2015, both likely inconsequential to a free spender like Colangelo. Replacing Fields with Kleiza in that deal, makes their salary increase in 2013-2014 3.6 million and in 2014-2015 11.9 million – a bigger hit, but easily believable with Colangelo’s history, especially if ownership is willing to pay the luxury tax.

Because Bargnani and Fields are so unproductive for the Raptors, they do not take much risk on in that deal at all. If the worst case scenario happens for Stoudemire’s production, by the season after next, he’s a huge expiring contract which gives them flexibility at the deadline or in the summer. The long term damage of trading for Stoudemire if it doesn’t work out is NBD. Also since Bargnani and Fields’ contracts are such embarrassing mistakes for Colangelo, managing to dump them both will appeal to his PR side.

– As I mentioned, a signature of the Colangelo era is plugging the biggest hole from the season before, in as much a “big media splash” way as possible. The team lacks offense from the frontcourt right now, which makes Amar’e fit like a glove. Amir Johnson and Jonas Valanciunas compliment him, as energy rebounders who have the effort to cover his lapses defensively. With Kyle Lowry, Demar Derozan, Rudy Gay, Terrence Ross as perimeter offensive players next to that frontcourt, the Raptors easily have the talent and look of a playoff team in the East if they stay healthy – they’re already expecting to compete for the playoffs next year, by adding Amar’e even if he only plays 50 or 60 Gs, Colangelo may see the Raptors ending their playoff drought next year a foregone conclusion, with the biggest question as whether they’ll finish top 6. After missing 5 straight years, if Colangelo is extended for another season it’ll be by promising a playoff season next year. Without capspace or a draft pick, making a big Amar’e move will be one of his biggest options to try and have a booming season. The key to figuring out how interested Bryan Colangelo will be in a deal, is to ask “What is the best case scenario for this trade – if I just ignored the possibility of it failing?” The best case scenario for this roster is very very high. It’d presume Amar’e stays healthy and plays like an all-star, Gay breaks out to an all-star caliber season, Lowry plays like a top 10-15 PG, Derozan takes another leap as a scorer with the pressure taken off him efficiency wise, Amir has even better year statistically, Valanciunas and Ross both make leaps forward and prove to be blue chip young players. If all that happened the Raptors would be looking at a top 5 or 6 team in the East. With a strategy defined by ignoring the downside and presuming “I can get out of a mistake if I screw it up”, this should appeal to Colangelo.

I consider a straight up trade of Amar’e for Bargnani, Fields and Gray to be a near no-brainer for the Raptors, considering the lack of financial risk or assets given up, for a high upside acquisition in Stoudemire. The better question is whether the Knicks will ask for the pot to be sweetened. They would dump Amar’e to get more cap friendly and healthier players. With Bargnani’s injury history and his and Fields’ contract, that doesn’t do much for them. With Melo and Steve Novak, finding more stretch 4 play isn’t a pressing need for them. Fields played well in New York, but there’s a reason they didn’t match his offer sheet at that price.

My take: More would have to be given from the Raptors. Here’s the deal I predict:

Toronto gets:
Amar’e Stoudemire

New York gets:
Andrea Bargnani
Landry Fields
Aaron Gray
TOR 2014 1st (lottery protected, until 5-6 years from now when it becomes unprotected)

Toronto gives up a real asset in a future 1st round pick, even if it’s lottery protected. The logic by the bullish Colangelo may be that he projects the pick to be outside of top 18 based on the quality of the new roster, thus a pick he’s willing to give up value wise. By rolling out Lowry, Derozan, Ross, Gay, Amar’e, Amir, Valanciunas, Colangelo does his best to make a big enough splash, to get the Raptors to a top 8 seed next year with an upside higher than that. He gets to sell the team is the most talented the Raptors franchise has seen and has the upside to win now and then progress up the East. As the league’s signature hype man, it fits his profile.

New York gets value back for Amar’e via that pick, as well as fills out their bench with two players in Fields and Bargnani, hoping the latter breaks out with a fresh start. They move on from the injury history of Amar’e and the eventual problems that would come from playing him as 6th man and they clear a little money in 2014-2015. For a guy that most agree has the worst contract in the whole league, this is as fair value as they can expect.

Written by jr.

March 20, 2013 at 3:50 pm

Posted in Basketball

Tagged with , ,

3 Responses

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  1. With STAT(a healthy one), Toronto would probably be the funnest team to watch.


    March 21, 2013 at 8:15 am

  2. I was curious if you thought Bargnani could flourish in NY. It wasn’t until Bosh left that his shooting percentages dropped. Before that he was league average or better from distance. Obviously defenses were able to key on him without many other scoring options in Toronto. Carmelo should allow him a lot more open looks. Or do you believe he’s aged to the point where his skills have deteriorated. Only 27. Been injured a lot the past couple seasons.

    Mike S

    August 4, 2013 at 1:19 am

    • I think he can do better and become a respectable 6th man (think Al Harrington’s role). I just feel they already had a good and better person to play Bargs’ role in Novak. The axe hanging over the Knicks head though in my opinion is Tyson Chandler’s age. Heading into 13th season from the 2001 draft – a draft filled with guys who feel washed up or near it like Joe Johnson, Pau, Jason Richardson, Gerald Wallace, Richard Jefferson, Shane Battier, Troy Murphy, Mehmet Okur, Gilbert Arenas (dropped out for other reasons), Brendan Haywood. Chandler, Tony Parker and Zbo (though he’s fallen off the last 2 years quietly statistically) who are from that draft had already done well to be relevant this late with their peers dropping like flies, but it may be too much for them to pull off one more year, especially Chandler who leans on his physical tools. The Grizzlies have the pieces to do fine with Zbo becoming an amnesty candidate, but Parker and Chandler losing their fastball this year would be devastating for those two teams, especially the Knicks who are trying to convince Melo to stay


      August 6, 2013 at 9:23 pm

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