It's a better trade for the raptors
They get 3 good players
and 2 futurs player
5-1 the raptors made a good trade
The nets got robbed.
Dec. 18, 2004. 09:54 AMWas that really all they got?
He was fragile, inconsistent and oh-so-soft, but Vince Carter was still the Raptors' offensive heart
They traded him for two aging journeymen, a guy who probably won't play and a couple of draft picks, Dave Feschuk writes
Whether it's 30 years from now or 30 minutes, observers of the NBA are going to weigh the pros and cons of the biggest transaction in Raptors history and say exactly the same thing: "That is all they got for Vince Freakin' Carter?!"
There'll be condescension and indignation and maybe even a little outrage in their voices, and in a lot of ways, the tone will be justified. Vince Freakin' Carter, after all, is still one of the biggest names in basketball, still a seller of jerseys and a getter of all-star votes despite all the injury and the inconsistency and the maddening lack of competitive aggression he's displayed during the not-so-graceful descent from his 2001 high point.
And as for the players who are Bay Street-bound after yesterday's landmark trade with the New Jersey Nets — well, not one is anything approaching a corporate endorser. The biggest name coming this way, Alonzo Mourning, is a former all-star who received a kidney transplant a year ago tomorrow and who is currently ravaged by what the Nets' Web site described not-so-comfortingly last night as a "litany of injuries." The rest of the deal includes a couple of first-round draft picks and frontliners Eric Williams, 32, and Aaron Williams, 33.
When you consider the Canadian franchise's luck with guys named Williams — not to mention its aplomb in squandering first-round draft picks — this is scary territory, indeed. The deal rids the club of a cancer but brings in vital-organ issues. It rids the marquee of its biggest name and replaces it with, in the best-case scenario, two names we won't know for some time.
In other words: Rebuilding, no matter the club's official spin, is officially in progress.
"Whether this is the best (deal) or not is probably not going to be determined until we find out what happens with these draft picks and you give them three years in the league," said Rob Babcock, the rookie general manager. "But I think immediately, right now ... it makes us a better basketball team right now."
The more you think about this deal, though, the less there is to like. Babcock said the duelling Williamses bring "interior toughness and defence and rebounding." But Aaron Williams, a 6-foot-9 centre, has never been exalted as either an above-average rebounder or defender. Eric Williams is, indeed, an ace defender with three-point range, but is no monster on the boards. Both players are best described as aging journeymen.
Because of that — and because Babcock acknowledged last night that Mourning may never play for the Raptors — you'll never stop the second-guessers who'll say the GM could have fetched more for Carter if he'd waited longer.
Turning around Carter's career, after all, was a challenge many NBA clubs were willing to undertake — thus the "barrage of phone calls" Babcock said he fielded since a rumoured trade with Portland first made headlines a month ago. If that many wolves were at the door, surely there would have been more — offering more — in coming days.
Carter, even at his worst, is still a go-to scorer. And he's most certainly due for a renaissance, however temporary and however maddening to Raptor fans, in the Meadowlands. But who'll provide the lost offensive punch in Toronto?
Thing is, the price of these three Nets and those two draft picks wasn't just Carter — it includes the price of all those ultimately underperforming players whose presence was designed to make Carter extend his contract in 2001. The tally was more than $200-million-some in salaries, from Hakeem Olajuwon and Antonio Davis to the Williamses, Alvin and Jerome. None of them will play for the Raptors this season — Davis' ghost is represented by the shell of the player formerly known as Jalen Rose.
It's hardly Babcock's burden to bear — and no one's saying he doesn't deserve more time to learn this business — but you can't overlook that Carter's run here went from delightful to disaster in short order; that the CEO who presided over the entire mess, Richard Peddie, is still in office; that nothing has actually changed about the way this franchise operates.
Don't forget: An organization that says it's losing money in a hockey lockout saved as much as $30 million (U.S.) in future salaries yesterday. If and when those draft picks turn into something serviceable — if and when the new-found "financial flexibility" that Babcock talked about is employed to some competitive advantage — then maybe the Raptors can claim some kind of victory in this deal. Until then, the upside isn't grandiose. Maybe there's some pressure taken off forward-centre Chris Bosh, the stressed-out sophomore. Maybe Sam Mitchell, the hard-nosed coach, will turn a couple of hard-playing Williamses into the missing ingredient that edges this moribund club closer to .500.
Until then, "That is all they got for Vince Freakin' Carter?" is this trade's dubious legacy. Merry Christmas, New Jersey.