I’m not one for hyperbole, but this is probably Bryan Colangelo’s biggest summer of his tenure so far in Toronto.
In the past, Colangelo has made headlines for signing Hedo Turkoglu, losing Chris Bosh via free agency or trading for Jermaine O’Neal. This summer Colangelo has oodles of cap space, a top ten draft pick to dangle in front of other teams and a need to make a move of substance if he wants ownership to keep him around past this season.
Colangelo is known for being quick to pull the trigger on moves, and with cap space and a need to impress ownership, look for him to make some bold moves this summer.
Starting on draft night, look for Colangelo to deal Toronto’s first round draft pick. Yes, the eighth overall pick could net Toronto a nice young player, but the reality is the Raptors won’t be starting two rookies next season. Jonas Valanciunas will be given the starting position at the five as long as he comes into training camp hungry so Dwane Casey can’t afford to give another raw rookie extended minutes next season.
Throw in the fact Toronto needs a veteran wing who can score and defend and the idea of a trade makes a lot of sense. Plus, Toronto has a bunch of cap space on draft night due to a trade deadline deal that saw Leandro Barbosa head to Indiana for a shipment of Gatorade. Just kidding, sort of.
Names like Rudy Gay, Andre Iguodala and Kyle Lowry have been thrown around in recent weeks. While all of those players would provided an instant bump in Toronto’s starting five, the player who I would target is Josh Smith.
Yes, I realize Toronto wants to play Andrea Bargnani at the four and Valanciunas at the five, and Smith is a four, but why not insert Smith as a starting small forward? He has the athleticism to guard small forwards but his shot blocking and rebounding would make up for Bargnani not being a great rebounder.
Can you imagine the damage that trio would cause? It would make Casey salivate heading into training camp at what he could achieve on the defensive end with Smith and Valanciunas anchoring his defense.
Heck, it could even make some of Bargnani’s defensive woes look somewhat invisible.
Now, why would Atlanta deal a player who should have made the All-Star team last season? The salary cap next season is going to be close to $72 million and with only six players under contract they have already committed over $60 million in salary. Ouch. That’s not looking good for a franchise that is near the bottom of the NBA in attendance and has said they won’t pay the luxury tax.
Again, Iguodala, Gay or Lowry would look great in Toronto, but if Colangelo really wants to swing for the fences, the ideal target should be Josh Smith.