Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Sources: Bucks to acquire Delfino

Once again, the Toronto Raptors are set to make another off-season move.

According to ESPN's Marc Stein, the Raptors and Bucks have agreed in principle to a deal that would send Roko Ukic and Carlos Delfino via sign and trade to Milwaukee, while the Raptors recieve big man Amir Johnson and Sonny Weems.

Delfino, who played in Russia last season, is now a restricted free agent. Back in June, the Raptors gave Delfino a qualifying offer, but it was later withdrawn due to the Turkoglu signing. When Delfino last played for Toronto back in the 2007-2008 season, he put up career numbers--averaging 9.0 points and 4.4 rebounds in 23.5 minutes per game.

Roko Ukic is a guy who has a ton of potential, yet he hasn't lived up to it. While he showed flashes of being a great PG last season, he hasn't put it all together. Considering the Bucks lack of PG's, maybe Roko will get more opportunities to show what he's got.

Financially wise, this is an excellent move for the Raptors. Amir Johnson gets paid $3.5M next season, in which will be his final year under contract.

Personally, I don't mind this deal. I didn't expect Delfino to return anyway, considering the Raptors acquired Marco Belinelli, DeMar DeRozan, and Hedo Turkgolu this past off-season. But at least by getting Amir Johnson, the Raptors are getting something in return. It also doesn't look like Pops will be back in Toronto next year either. Rumors have spread that he's been visiting with the Rockets and Cavs. According to ESPN's John Hollinger, Johnson is actually a little underrated, and may find minutes in Toronto, unlike Detroit

2007-08 season: Remind me again why this guy didn't play more? Johnson shot 55.8 percent, had the second-best rate of blocks in basketball, ranked in the top third of centers in rebound rate, and lost his minutes in the postseason to Theo Ratliff. Really.

Sure, he's a bit raw. Johnson was mistake-prone, with 10 offensive fouls and six illegal defense violations in just 769 minutes, and he wasn't always in the right spots on D. But he was also devastatingly effective, ranking 14th among centers in PER. There is absolutely nothing in his track record to suggest this was a fluke either -- his numbers from his previous two D-League seasons and his scraps of NBA time have all been outstanding.

Scouting report: Johnson is listed at 6-9 because that was his height when he turned pro out of high school, but he now appears to be 6-11 or even seven feet. He has a thin frame and still needs to add muscle, and he has no perimeter game to speak of -- last year he was 5-for-26 on shots outside the immediate basket area.

However, he's a freak of an athlete. Johnson has made at least one crowd-wowing play every time I've seen him perform, whether it be a flying swat or a soaring follow dunk, and despite his slender frame he's a superb rebounder. Right now his biggest issue is his propensity for turnovers, but otherwise he appears to be one of the game's top big man prospects, a Marcus Camby in the making.

2008-09 outlook: Johnson unquestionably needs to play more, but it's hard to see how he'll crack a rotation that includes Antonio McDyess, Rasheed Wallace, Jason Maxiell, and Kwame Brown. OK, scratch that last part, but the first three guys will be difficult to displace. Somehow, the Pistons need to get this kid (he's still only 21) at least 20 minutes a night to let him develop, because game experience is probably his biggest need and he's shown he can run with the big boys.

Most similar at age: Andris Biedrins

All in all, Bryan Colangelo has made yet another quality move. Maybe Delfino and Roko are gone, but this off-season was all about re-shaping the franchise. The Raptors have done that. It's time to forget about the past players, and look into the future. With the moves the Raptors have made this summer, the team is certainly hoping a brighter future is in store.

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