Article Written by Adam Corsair (@AdamCorsair)
The Toronto Raptors have made their NBA Trade Deadline presence known by trading away Jonas Valanciunas, Delon Wright, CJ Miles, and a 2024 2nd Round pick to Memphis in exchange for Marc Gasol.
Toronto is planning to send Jonas Valanciunas, Delon Wright, CJ Milles and a 2024 second-round pick to the the Grizzlies for Gasol, league sources tell ESPN.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) February 7, 2019
Before we even get into what Gasol means for Toronto, I want to first thank JV for all that he’s done for the city and team. Seriously, listening to the dude in any interview, seeing how hard he worked, and how passionate he was about the city of Toronto was nothing short of joyous. A class-act, through and through, and someone that was a staple for the Toronto Raptors since 2012 as part of the “We The North” era Raptors’ fans fell in love with. From his playoff performance against Indiana, to the dunk against Milwaukee, to the Itty-Bitty-Ballers, to his crazy shitty car, he was just great for this team.
He will be missed and will be very well received whenever he comes back to Toronto.
As for Delon Wright and CJ Miles, the writing seemed to be on the wall for each of them. Delon was on a team with two other PG’s - one the defacto starter and max salaried player, the other just recently signing a new deal with the team. Approaching the off-season as a Restricted Free Agent, it was very unlikely that the Raptors were going to try to retain him and wanted to move on from him now if it meant acquiring a game-changer. I think it’s safe to say that we’ve seen Delon’s ceiling and, ultimately, he wasn’t going to be a necessary piece in the team’s pursuit of a Finals appearance.
With Miles, he showed signs of decline throughout the majority of the season, even though he showed signs of life up until this point. It was probably somewhat of a “sell-high” for the Raptors and, like Wright, was needed to match salary to get a guy like Gasol.
Both had their moments with the team, but I don’t think anyone thought they were part of the long-term plans. At least I didn’t. I wish them nothing but the best and hopefully a change of scenery offers them better opportunities. I’m sure Jerry Stackhouse will have a lot of fun with some of his old friends.
On to Gasol.
Lowry— Raptors Nation™ (@WeTheNorth__) February 7, 2019
The Raptors are better as a result of this deal. Yes, Gasol is on the decline in comparison to the peak of his career. Yes, he is about 8 years older than JV. And yes, his cap hit next year will be pretty big (if he opts in to his player option which, at 34, he probably will). But what he offers is a veteran presence that has the ability to push the needle for the team a bit more than JV could. Like Kawhi and DeMar, JV and Gasol will now be compared for however long the latter remains a Raptor. That may be unfair, but I believe that will be our natural inclination.
I get that the initial sticker shock in terms of the quantity of players heading to the Grizzlies compared to what the Raptors are getting may make it seem a bit lopsided. But what the Raptors have given up on defense from Delon, they get a bit more in Gasol. What they’ve given up in 3 point shooting in Miles, they get in Gasol (especially this year) at a more reliable rate. What they’ve given up in rebounds from JV, they get better in Gasol in addition to more rim protection. In short, the Raptors are better, even if the trade isn’t the same in terms of person-to-person.
Now, completely admitting that I have a lot more Gasol footage to watch, what I can tell you is that he’s an outstanding passer and rim protector. A former Defensive Player of the Year, he’s averaging 15.7 ppg and 8.6 boards and 1.2 bpg. He offers a bit more from the outside than JV has, with shooting about 34% from deep at a little over 4 attempts per game. With the ability to stretch the floor more for the team and provide jjjuuusssttt a bit more shooting, it’s hard to argue that the team isn’t better as a result.
Marc Gasol passes 65.7 times per game –– 3rd-most in the league behind Ben Simmons and Nikola Jokic. Going to be a great facilitator in Nick Nurse's offense. Now, he has more shooters, another versatile guy in Siakam to work with, and a badass like Kawhi. I like this for Toronto— Shane Young (@YoungNBA) February 7, 2019
On paper, that is.
The main concern I have here is chemistry. Lowry + JV’s pick & roll offense was almost flawless and I’m not sure Gasol is capable of being the same type of player. The Raptors’ offense has always been heavily reliant on the P&R, so having a guy like Gasol forcing it when it’s not a strength of his may be to the team’s detriment. He’s more of a player that sets a pick and moves to the side for a quick jump shot (pick & pop). Which is fine, if the Raptors are able to utilize that. There’s evidence to suggest that they do, as Serge is a similar type of player that thrives better with his elbow jumper than a P&R. But, if they play to Gasol’s strengths, it may mean a decent reduction in the P&R altogether.
On the other hand, maybe he’ll be utilized in the P&R just fine. With a familiar face in Lowry (they played together, briefly, in Memphis), perhaps there is a level of conversancy with each other. I may be looking into this too much as there are plenty of other dominos to fall. We can speculate as to how the Raptors will use him in terms of scheming and usage, but we won’t know until this Saturday in New York against the Knicks, the earliest.
Regardless, having a guy like Gasol on your team adds both measurable and immeasurable value. With playoff experience under his belt, the mere thought of having him as an addition for this team is encouraging. Are they better than the Bucks? At present time, no, but the buyout market will dictate a lot regarding the Raptors’ future. My hope is that Ujiri and Webster are super aggressive in acquiring shooters to solidify the bench (Miloš Teodosić and/or Wayne Ellington anyone?).
I get this pulls at the heartstrings of Raptors fans as JV was a special player. But moves like these have to be made in order to give the team a better shot at a championship. This certainly pushes the Raptors closer to that.
Let’s get it!
Oh yeah, and Monroe was traded, too….. for some money… that’s all.
Follow South of the 6ix on Twitter (@SouthOfThe6ix)