Pick, Blog and Roll

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Raptors buy some defense

The Raptors have traded Matt Bonner and Eric Williams to the Spurs for seven-foot center Rasho Nesterovic.

The Humphries-for-Hoffa swap appears to have been the precursor to this deal. Both trades point to an attempt to bolster Toronto's interior toughness.

While the Raptors will miss Bonner's 3-point shooting, they won't miss his lack of defense. And defense is the one thing that Nesterovic brings to the table.

Rasho's statistics are a bit misleading. He's not a great player and is overpaid at $7 mm per season, but he's reasonably mobile, fills a need, and doesn't immediately impact the team's cap space. He's also played sidekick to some very good players (Tim Duncan, Kevin Garnett), which has its benefits.

There are better centers available (Joel Przybilla, Samuel Dalembert, Jamaal Magloire), but all would come at a higher cost -- whether the loss of cap space, a high draft pick, or simply missed opportunity to clear the roster of excess baggage. In a sense, the Raptors acquired Nesterovic for free, losing only two players who weren't in the team's long-term plans. A future second round draft pick was also included -- it's not much of a loss, and these types of picks exchange hands all the time.

Toronto "won" the highest opponent shooting percentage contest last year, largely due to defensive lapses and uncontested baskets in the lane. Which is another way of saying that adding Nesterovic is an attempt to fix a very specific, but high impact, problem with the roster.

It should be noted that Bonner and Williams are free agents after next season, while Rasho's contract runs for another three two years. So the trade does have ramifications for longer-term cap flexbility. But if Nesterovic plays a good one-trick pony, this will be a minor inconvenience.


  • Hey man,

    I saw ur post at Raptorblog so I followed your link. I like alot of your analysis.

    - TJ Caino

    By Blogger Ryan Cain, at 1:07 AM  

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