The Key to the Treasure Chest of ‘010
Too many acronyms? Who cares, the Raps may soon have the best frontcourt in the Eastern Conference. According to the Indianapolis Star (via the Arsenalist), Jermaine O’Neal could become a member of the Toronto Raptors. And we’d get rid of TJ Ford? Outtttttstanding.
The Star is reporting that a TJ-Rasho-17 package could net the Raps the veteran lefty. Though I am a little tentative to include the 17, if the Pacers demand it, BC should pull the trigger. JO is a defensive force who could instantly improve one of the Raptors’ key weaknesses. Throw in the rebounding help, the guys averaged 8.8 or more 6 of the past 7 seasons*, and this deal is money for the Raps. Although Rasho is an effective, intelligent baller, his exit, like TJ’s, was inevitable considering the attractive combo of his play and expiring contract. Speaking of expiring contracts…
Unlike the many pundits who feel JO’s exorbitant contract is a negative, to me, it’s the most enticing aspect of the deal. I’m shocked more teams aren’t chasing JO. Why? Primarily because JO’s deal ends in 2010, or the year of the greatest free agent class of all time. Here’s the mind-boggling list of 010′ FAs (lifted from Stop Mike Lupica):
LeBron James (player option, likely)
Dirk Nowitzki (player option, unlikely)
Josh Howard (player option, likely)
Dwyane Wade (player option for 10/11, unlikely)
Michael Redd (player option for 10/11, likely)
Tyson Chandler (player option for 10/11 – 50/50)
Eddy Curry (player option for 10/11 – 50/50)
Amare Stoudemire (player option for 10/11, unlikely)
Chris Bosh (player option for 10/11, unlikely)
How disgusting is that?
Basically, this deal is an experiment that cannot fail. For the next two years, rolling the dice with an injury-plagued JO is much more appealing than extending Teej’s pouting. Best-case scenario, the two lefties dominate the post, allowing countless doublers to be burnt off wide-open threes from AP, Kapones, and Calderon. Worst-case scenario, and it’s pretty bad, JO goes down to injuries and we’re stuck with regular Humph time. Whatever, the possible reward is worth the risk.
Making the worst-case scenario much more manageable is what would follow. After 2 years, if JO falters, which I admit seems pretty likely, there’ll always be the light at the end of the tunnel that is Manu. Or Rip. Or Lebron. Or Melo. Or D-Wade. Or Redd. Or Captain Jack. Or Dirk. Or Josh Howard.
Honestly, this contract, considering the timing and value of the deal, is the most valuable expiring contract in the Association. Having JO in 2010 guarantees a premier player that summer. Plus, if the Raps’ realize the premier FAs of ‘010 won’t sign with Toronto, they could move JO to a team with a hardon for one of those dudes. What could we get for that contract? Think of the possibilities. If my scenario plays out, as I hope and pray it does, then TJ-Rasho-17 now could, and this is an enormous could, turn into LeBron later. Insane hypothetical, I know, but still within the realm of possibility. A possibility that makes the 17 an afterthought. Make it happen BC.
*Some nice cherry-pickin’