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Old 05-05-2011, 09:03 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Chisholm Breaks Down BC's Worst Moves

3. JO Trade

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The issue with acquiring Jermaine was the price that the team paid to get him. Coming off of a rather humbling defeat against the Orlando Magic in the first round the Playoffs, the Raptors had a bounty of needs. In addition to needing a defensive center, they needed team-wide rebounding, improvement at the small forward spot, better shot-creation on the wings and an overall upgrade in the talent level of the team. To acquire those assets the Raptors had Rasho Nesterovic's $8.4-million expiring contract, they had the 17th pick in the NBA draft and they had T.J. Ford, who had become redundant after the emergence of Jose Calderon. Those were the three big assets that the team had to play with that summer in their pursuit of improving their talent base. In an act of overwhelming hubris, however, Colangelo used all three assets to acquire O'Neal and deprived the team of the chance to improve several other areas of want that summer. His acquisition severely depleted the team's talent reserves, forced them to give extended minutes to Joey Graham, Jason Kapono, Will Solomon and Kris Humphries and basically cost Sam Mitchell his job and the Raptors a shot at returning to the Playoffs. It also left the team's three best players (Chris Bosh, Andrea Bargnani and O'Neal) as three true power forwards, meaning that not only did he create tremendous positional redundancy but he also forced his best players to spend lots of time playing out of position just to keep them on the court. Despite these drawbacks Colangelo felt the deal was worth the gamble, but you didn't need hindsight to know he was damning himself before the season even started.

In the NBA, you cannot ignore the virtues of depth. Unless your top-six players are SO good that they can take on the additional burden of replacing an injured player's production, you basically have to have a reserve of talent to draw on to keep you afloat for the duration of an 82-game season. When Colangelo traded all of his assets in one trade to acquire one player, he basically said that Chris Bosh, Jose Calderon, Jermaine O'Neal and Andrea Bargnani were going to be enough to carry his Raptors DEEPER into the Playoffs than they had been the year before with a glorified D-League team backing them up. The assemblage didn't even last a whole year, as Colangelo dumped O'Neal on Miami to get Shawn Marion to Toronto, which actually may have salvaged the whole affair had he not ran headlong into the second biggest blunder of his tenure as Toronto's GM immediately thereafter.
2. Turkoglu S&T

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Of course, that's not what happened. In the summer of 2009 the free agent class was pathetically weak in terms of top-tier star power. That meant Colangelo, armed with only $10-million in cap space, could land the summer's big fish and he couldn't resist the opportunity to do so. Hedo Turkoglu was coming off an electric run to the NBA Finals with the Orlando Magic and Colangelo felt he could bring the kind of matchup headaches that had flummoxed Orlando's Playoff opponents to Toronto in his last-ditch bid to convince Chris Bosh to stay a Raptor for the long-term. He even managed to orchestrate the acquisition without dumping all of his assets (again) by turning the signing into a complicated four-team sign-and-trade transaction, which allowed him to fill out the rest of the team with actual NBA players. With all of the hoopla surrounding the netting the summer's top free agent, though, he never seemed to stop and seriously consider WHY he was spurning Marion and signing Turkoglu in his place, and the Raptors paid dearly for his hastiness and reckless abandon.

What Turkoglu wound up bringing to Toronto was redundancy. His biggest strength, his playmaking abilities, required him to have the ball in his hands, but Toronto already had a ball-dominating point guard in Jose Calderon and they weren't inclined to trade him in the wake of acquiring Hedo. Without his playmaking abilities to fall back on Hedo is just a low-percentage shooter that doesn't play particularly great defense, doesn't run the floor well and has a reputation for being ornery when things don't go his way (see his one year in San Antonio). Toronto didn't have the environment to make him thrive, and as a result he stumbled through his worst year since playing his single season for the Spurs.
1. Jason Kapono

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What the Raptors needed, though, was clear. They needed defense and rebounding. They were ranked 21st in field-goal percentage against that season and they were 27th in the league in rebounds per game. Going into an off-season without a draft pick, cap space or available trade pieces, they had to spend their mid-level exception wisely to maintain and improve upon their unexpected winning momentum. When a young team suddenly improves and crashes the Playoff party, it takes tremendous front office dexterity to not backslide the subsequent year, as the 2011 Milwaukee Bucks and Charlotte Bobcats will attest to. What did the Raptors do? They signed Jason Kapono, a three-point specialist, to their full mid-level exception. Lunacy.

Why is it lunacy? Because the Raptors were already one of the best three-point shooting teams in the NBA. Instead of the Raptors actually addressing an area of need like defense (Mickael Pietrus, Matt Barnes) or rebounding (Brandon Bass) they signed a terrible defender and non-rebounder for their full mid-level exception - with the maximum five years, no less - so that they could shoot more threes than the high-percentage looks they were already getting from Parker, Calderon and Bargnani. Colangelo actually made a savvy move to acquire Carlos Delfino prior to signing Kapono, which helped keep the Raptors afloat that season (of course, you could also interpret that move as making a Kapono signing that much more redundant), but that couldn't completely stop the backslide that was about to happen.
Chisholm: Rating Colangelo's worst moves as Raptors GM
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