Raptors: To the Point

By Jeff Wong

Now that the Toronto Raptors are officially eliminated from playoff contention, it’s time for Raps fans to enjoy their annual “what-does-our-offseason-look-like” game. Let’s indulge in some fantasizing.

First, the point guard spot.

General Manager Bryan Colangelo has started to address the 2006-2007 season with the non-guaranteed signing of Andre Barrett. Impressed? I wasn’t either. I actually yelled “What?!” when I saw it on the ticker . However, this does set the stage for further changes to the point position. At the start of ’06-’07, the roster will include the following players (excluding Alvin “The Black Knight” Williams): Andre Barrett (5’10”, age 24), Jose Calderon (6’3″, age 25) and Roko-Leni Ukic (6’5″, age 22). According to RaptorBlog, Ukic may be coming to North America “sooner than expected.”

Colangelo has already been quoted by the Star as saying, “Another young guy with no experience may not be the best thing for this team,” and all of the above indeed have little NBA experience. Obviously, then, the Raptors will look to trade for or sign a veteran who doesn’t mind splitting time with a couple of rookies (this excludes Mike James, of course). My guess is that Barrett and Ukic would duke it out for the 3rd guard role. If Ukic is good enough to open the season, then Barrett is released. Otherwise, Ukic goes down to the D-League until he’s ready. According to my projections that leaves the rotation with a veteran, Calderon, and Barrett or Ukic.

Are there enough minutes to go around? Some have argued that Ukic is more of a combo guard and can get minutes at the two spot, while others say he is strictly a one, being effective only with the ball in his hands. If the former is the case, then this could work.

As for Barrett, I see him as a stop gap and insurance. Nothing personal, but size matters, and the ceiling is higher (no pun intended) for the Euro-guards.

Who are the veteran PG candidates? Some have suggested Speedy Claxton (this year a “NOOCH” behind Chris Paul). An interesting side note on Claxton is that according to Chuck Swirsky the Raptors’ brass in 2000 were interested in drafting him. Who else might be available and willing? Eric Snow? Darrick Martin? Rod Strickland? Thankfully, Colangelo probably has more ideas than I do. One thing’s for sure, if the two youngsters are meant to see significant floor time, the vet will have to be past his prime and resigned to being a career backup.

I would enjoy this group as the ’06-’07 Raptor point guards because Calderon is already a fan favorite, Ukic is a flashy and talented 2nd round steal, and whomever Colangelo gets for the remaining spot will no doubt be effective, at least for the short term.

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4 thoughts on “Raptors: To the Point

  1. Nice analysis. Colangelo’s not gonna come out and say it but we can all read between the lines. James doesn’t fit the practical-point guard role so he’s outta here. Calderone will hopefully move up in the ranks while a couple of others duke it out for the other spot.
    Too bad though, I wanted to see the “Black Knight” gallop into the ACC one last time.

  2. great article Jeff! I agree that Speedy would be a perfect fit. Something I have heard talked about is Luke Ridnour heading to Toronto in exchange for our first round pick in this summer’s draft – I’d LOVE it if that deal happened.

  3. I’m pessimistic about the Black Knight riding again. It’s hard on the knees and coconuts aren’t cheap. 🙂

    Don’t get me wrong: I like Alvin’s grittiness, but I also remember him leading fast breaks to the 3-point line and jacking up shots when the rebounders aren’t in position (sound familiar?).

    I like the sound of Ridnour, too. He’s a young (’03 draft) point guard that would certainly accelerate the rebuilding of the team. But does that mean trading some youth out to get some veteran balance in? Or would there be a 3-guard system a la the Chicago Bulls, with Ridnour – Calderon – Ukic? That sounds exciting, too. Don’t know how willing Seattle is to deal him, though.

  4. Ridnours been complaing about a lack of minutes because he starts games but doesn’t play in the fourth quarter so he’s been pouting. Since they obtained Earl Watson the Sonics have fallen in love with his passing and defensive intensity.

    Will the Sonics deal Ridnour to the T Dot? I doubt it… but a Raps fan can dream!

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