As the trade deadline approaches, it’s important to take a look at some of the so-called tradeable assets on this Raptors team. What are the strengths and weaknesses of a player, looking at the current and future possibilities, and of course salary situations.
Salary: $5-6 million guaranteed through 2010-2011 season.
Strengths: The best pure shooter on the Raptors’ squad. He is able to take shots from just about anywhere on the court and has some surprising ability to shoot off the dribble. He also is not afraid of taking the ball to the hoop and has adequate ball handling skills to do so.
Weaknesses: Although he is not a terrible defender, the Raptors defense relies a lot on player judgment and Jason Kapono sometimes makes improper decisions. More importantly, his foot speed is often not quick enough to match up with most other SFs in the league. Has difficulties rebounding.
Comments: As the Raptors’ big off-season signing, Jason Kapono came into Toronto with a lot of hope and attention. The reigning three point shooter, Jason Kapono has kept his shot accuracy in the high 40’s for most of his career before leading the league last year. The idea was that having Anthony Parker on one side and Kapono on the other would decimate teams. The question is though, how has this plan fallen apart so terribly? Even in the days of Dell Curry and Dee Brown, the Raptors never had difficulties getting the ball to the appropriate three point specialist and still found a place for them on their roster despite their defensive ineptitudes. Jason, unlike those two other shooters, can actually defend a little due to his size and youth. However, this year, they have encountered a lot of difficulties getting Kapono a lot of good open looks.
Accuracy-wise, it hasn’t been a problem, but it’s just the volume of shots. In recent times, Kapono has only managed to get two or three shots within his time on the floor. More concerning is that while he’s an important offensive threat, the Raptors continue to try and use defense to beat teams. Therefore, is Jason Kapono an unnecessary commodity? As the other bench player with a huge contract, Jason’s name is going to come up as fans envision ways to balance out contracts.
The fact is, I like Jason Kapono’s game and what he brings to the table. The Raptors, in the best of nights, do not have many players that can create their own shot off the dribble. Surprisingly to me, Kapono is one of those guys. It’s unfortunate, though, that the Raptor’s defensive rotations are so poor on some nights that help defense doesn’t come often enough to bail Kapono out of a situation. Add to the fact that he’s often playing with a second string point guard who’s very poor at recognizing open shooters that are two or three passes down the line and you have a recipe for disaster for our guy from UCLA.
So what’s the deal? The fact is, Jason Kapono has not really gotten a good shake as a Raptor so far. He managed to get into a rhythm at the beginning of the season, but being dumped on the bench and now without a good point guard playing at his side, he’s had to find some way to get playing time and shots up without ruining the chemistry of the bench. More importantly is Jason’s ability to shoot off the dribble. It’s not something that anyone else can do on the Raptors’ squad except for TJ Ford and Jose Calderon. He’s not prone towards turning the ball over when driving to the paint, which is a great sign. In the end, he just needs to work on his rebounding and his defensive intensity. Although this year might be a struggle for him, I believe that in the next few years, he could develop into an essential part of our Raptors squad, especially on a bench that will continue to struggle to score in the immediate future. If a team is interested in his new contract, I don’t see his loss as being completely detrimental, but I also think that he’ll prove to be more valuable than most people believe in the future.
Verdict: Pretty much an untradeable contract, being that it’s the first year of a four year deal. Only worth trading if a strong wing player comes back.