Tomorrow, July 1st, at 12:01 AM the free agency period begins. Ben Gordon, Hedo Turkoglu, Jason Kidd, Mike Bibby, Carlos Boozer, Chris "Birdman" Andersen, Lamar Odom, Trevor Ariza, Rasheed Wallace, Allen Iverson, Shawn Marion, and Ron Artest are just a few of the big name players that will be without a team. But the big question is--who will the Toronto Raptors go after? Considering the very disappointing year the team had last year, and seeing that this is Chris Bosh's final season under contract, the Raptors must do whatever they can do to have a great 2009-2010 season. So far, they've done a good job by acquiring big man Reggie Evans, and drafting DeMar DeRozan in the draft. Carlos Delfino is also rumored to come back to Toronto. But, unfortunately, that's not enough--the Raptors must to a solid job in free agency, and bring in proven veterans to make the ball club better.
Despite the rough economy, the Raptors are one of few teams who will be able to show the big bucks to free agents. The Raptors are rumored to be interested in Orlando's Hedo Turkoglu. Turkoglu reportedly wants a 5 year/$50 million deal. On March 19th, Turkoglu blew out his birthday candles for the 30th time, so I have an issue with his age. Will he still be effective when he's 34 or 35? And at that point, will he be worth $10 million? I suppose when Turkoglu gets older we can try to trade him, and dump his contract, but will other teams still want him and his big contract? I would love Hedo Turkoglu in a Raptors uniform, and I think he does deserve $10 million a year. But I would prefer a deal that's a little shorter, maybe 2 or 3 years. But unfortunately, I'm a believer Turkoglu will sign with the Detroit Pistons. Last November, the Pistons traded away Chauncey Billups strictly for financial reasons, and I'm guessing Allen Iverson won't be back next year. So therefore, Detroit is going to have tons of money on the table to offer to some big name players. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if Carlos Boozer joins Turkoglu in Motown. With the market becoming thinner, and the economy getting worse, the offers Detroit will make are going to be hard to resist.
Another option is retaining Shawn Marion. Marion, like Turkoglu, will be an unrestricted tomorrow, and will be free to shop around with other teams. Bryan Colangelo has publicly said Marion would like to remain a Raptor, and the Raptors would like him back. Marion turned 31 last month, so it'll be interesting to see how many years the Raptors throw at him. Rumor has it, the Raptors are prepared
to offer the 12 year veteran a 3 year/$21 million deal. Back in 2002, the Suns gave Marion a 6 year extension worth over $80 million. During that span, Marion approximately earned $14 million. But at the end of the day, Marion needs to realize he is 31 years old, so he will need to be prepared to take a big pay cut. In my opinion, this 3 year/$21 million deal the Raptors may give Marion is perfect. His numbers have dropped over the years, but he's still got a lot left in the tank. He's probably one of the most impressive athletes in the league, because he's an excellent penetrator, shooter, rebounder, and he can block shots. If this rumored deal is true, Shawn Marion should take it. I believe at this point in his career, he's worth around $6-8 million a year.
Many Raptor fans believe Lakers' Trevor Ariza may come to Toronto. But I don't think this is very realistic. Being only 24, Ariza has a very promising future, and he was a big part of the championship run for the Lakers. Considering his age and potential, I don't see how the Lakers can let him go.
The Raptors need to bring in a proven player who will be able to contribute immediately. But, hopefully they don't spend too much money, so a little cap room is saved for the summer of 2010. The Raptors certainly need to do something on July 1st, but I don't think we need to go crazy. If Colangelo can bring in a Hedo Turkoglu or keep Shawn Marion, we'll be a much better team in the 2009-2010 season. It looks as though Carlos Delfino will be back in a Raptors uniform next year, so he'll give us a big boost, whether it be off the bench or in the starting rotation. Pops Mensah-Bonsu was given a qualifying offer on Monday, and he'll give us lots of energy off the bench. And don't forget, we traded to get Reggie Evans, and drafted DeMar DeRozan. Those moves alone make us much improved.
It will be interesting to see how the 2009 Free Agency period plays out. Hopefully, Bryan Colangelo will have the phone handy at 12:01 AM on July 1st. I have complete trust in Bryan Colangelo. I believe he will indeed turn this team around, and make us contenders in the Eastern Conference.