As the NBA trade deadline came and went Thursday, the Toronto Raptors swapped centre Hamed Haddadi --a remnant from the Rudy Gay trade
-- and a second-round draft pick to the Phoenix Suns for veteran point guard Sebastian Telfair
While the trade seems innocuous on the surface, there is certainly risk that the Raptors traded an asset for nothing.
The Raptors needed another point guard, there's no denying that. While John Lucas III has been playing well of late, his streaky shooting will fizzle out. At that point, his value on the court plummets due to his sub-par playmaking ability.
The steady hand of Telfair will allow the ball to be spread around to the bench unit, consisting mostly of players with a shoot-first mentality. In the short term, the move is solid -- Telfair is a slight upgrade over Lucas and will provide some much needed stability.
But here's the catch, Telfair is an expiring contract -- he's a free agent at the end of the year.
There's a chance he'll be playing for another team at the start of the 2013 season.
So what did the Raptors really acquire? Possibly a two-month rental of a back-up point guard.
What did the Raptors give up? Hamed Haddadi is not the issue. He's a sub-par player who will be lucky to be playing in the NBA after his contract expires. The concern is the inclusion of the second-round pick.
Now, history has shown us that Raptors management has never been able to translate second-rounders into anything meaningful. When the notable standouts are P.J. Tucker and Roko Ukic, you know you're in trouble.
So Raptors fans are justified in believing that these late picks hold little to no value.
However, other teams have found value late in the draft. While you're unlikely to hit a home run and snag a star player, rotation players are available. In fact, here's a list of second round players, drafted in the past five years, who have started for their team this season:
- Jeffrey Taylor (2012)
- Jae Crowder (2012)
- Chandler Parsons (2011)
- Kyle Singler (2011)
- Isaiah Thomas (2011)
- Lance Stephenson (2010)
- Landry Fields (2010)
- Danny Green (2009)
- DeAndre Jordan (2008)
- Omer Asik (2008)
- Nikola Pekovic (2008)
- Goran Dragic (2008)
- Mario Chalmers (2008)
There are also several non-starters who have had single/multi-season impacts.
Now this is not a criticism of the Raptors for not obtaining these players, and I do acknowledge only a few second-rounders pan out, but to ignore the success stories and merely discard future picks is baffling.
There is a distinct advantage to targeting and grooming your prospect into a rotation player, avoiding a costly alternative in free agency (cough cough, Landry Fields).
In the end, there are two grades for the deal.
B+ if the Raptors are able to sign Telfair at season's end to a reasonable contract, solidifying the backup point guard position for several years.
D- if Telfair joins another team via free agency and the Raptors lose their second round pick for nothing.
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