Monday, February 16, 2009

Raps Pull the Trigger

The trade that has been rumored for several weeks now has finally gone down. In a swap approved Friday afternoon by league officials via conference call, the Raptors have agreed to send disappointing former All-Star Jermaine O'Neal and inconsistent swing man Jamario Moon to the Miami Heat, along with a future draft pick. In return, the Heat will send another former All-Star in Shawn Marion north of the border, where he will be joined by seldom-used guard Marcus Banks and about three million dollars of cash considerations. Now that this deal graduated from rumor to reality, what does it mean to both teams, and who got the better end of the deal?

Well first from Miami's point of view, this deal seems to have been an addition by subtraction scenario. They give up Marion, who was under producing this season anyway, but by doing so also cleared up some valuable minutes for Michael Beasley at the small forward spot. They add the low-post presence they so desperately need in O'Neal, who not only can contribute offensively in Miami's half-court system, but also could prove to be invaluable to the team as a defender in the second half of the season and into the playoffs. If that isn't enough, the also provide some much needed depth and athleticism by adding Moon, who's production could flourish with a change of scenery. Overall, it was a very solid trade for Miami and it should help them and improve the team as they make their playoff push.

Now from Toronto's side, it appears to be a win-win scenario as well. They get an established wing player in Marion for starters, who essentially is like a more matured Moon. His point production may be down in Miami this year, but his defense is a constant and more importantly, his rebounding is something the Raps have a HUGE need for. He will blend in to the offense well, doesn't need any plays run for him, and will score and get his rebounds from hustle plays and put backs. His price tag is a bit steep, but think of him in the same concept as leasing a car. His contract is out after the end of this year, so Toronto can take him for a test drive until then. If he works out and they want to keep him, he will be an asset to this team. If however they decide he didn't pan out, they let him go as a free agent and in exchange get a TON of cap room to go after someone else, or more importantly put towards the "Keep Bosh in Toronto after 2010" fund. Either way, they get some kind of benefit to the team. Marcus Banks may not figure into Toronto's long-term plans, but this team IS lacking at the backup point guard position, so don't be surprised if Banks ends up getting minutes. The guy is like a poor man's Eddie House, and given the time, can light it up off the bench. He provides a veteran presence, which is an upgrade over Ukic, is an above average shooter from long range (also an upgrade), and can play defense. The team wants to bring Ukic along slowly and let him develop, and with Solomon seemingly banished to the end of the bench, Banks could step in and contribute right away.

Overall, it was a win-win for both teams, which is why they both pulled the trigger. Both Miami and Toronto had some major holes in their teams, recognized them and hopefully filled them. However, don't assume that this is the only deal you may see before Wednesday's deadline Raptors fans. Colangelo has a history of adding to big deals with a variety of smaller ones featuring role players and draft picks, so don't rule anything out.

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