Raptors Make a 6'11" Splash

Written by guest contributor Kenneth Wong.

On the eve of the NBA Draft, our hometown Toronto Raptors have made a huge change to the organization by acquiring all-star centre Jermaine O'Neal from the Indiana Pacers. In the deal, the Raptors give up TJ Ford, Rasho Nesterovic, and their 2008 17th pick (all pending physicals).

It's obvious why Brian Colangelo traded Ford, Nesterovic, and the 17th Pick. Ford was expendable after Jose Calderon proved he could play as an all-start caliber point guard in the NBA by putting up 11.2Pts, 2.9Rebs, and 8.3Asts all in 30mins:18secs a game. Add on the three years left on his contract ($25.5million for the next three seasons), it was obvious throughout the NBA that Colangelo was going to deal one of the two starting point guards, turns out it was Ford. Rasho Nesterovic and his $8.4 million contract, which ends in 2008, was simply a salary dump. With respect to the 17th pick in the draft, the pick could turn out to be between a number of players. But in my opinion, this trade was to win now and with all due respect to Rasho, he isn't the type of player to bring us a championship.

Now that Colangelo has made yet another great trade for the Raptors, on paper, it seems like the Raptors have a great chance to compete with the newly crowned champions, the Boston Celtics, and even match-up against some of the best teams in the West. With this trade comes a new style of basketball for the Raptors. Instead of spreading the floor, using fast breaks, and trying to score with ball movement, the Raptors will turn into a half-court style offense. The front line of O'Neal, Bosh, and Bargnani, who are 6'11, 6'10, and 6'10 respectively, will bring Toronto the size it has always wanted but could never find.

This is a great trade for both teams. The Pacers get Ford who will change the offense from a half-court style to an open style basketball, comparable to Steve Nash's Phoenix Suns, where they will use fast-breaks, shoot plenty of 3's, and play small ball. With the likes of Granger, Dunleavey, and now Ford, the Pacers have the ability to move the ball and score quick buckets. The Raptors get the centre they wished for who can rebound, use brute force/the low post to score, and who draws double teams leaving open shots for the likes of Parker, Kapono (2-time NBA 3-point champion), and the highly improved jump-shot of Calderon.

This deal really was a win-win situation for both sides. Now let's just hope health isn't a problem with the upcoming season.

Photo by myersmoments.

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