After Toronto offered Landry Fields a contract that New York almost certainly won’t match and drafted Terrence Ross with the eighth pick in the draft, the Raptors gained two more players who could play small forward for them in the 2012-13 season.
Whether DeMar DeRozan plays shooting guard or small forward next year, either Fields or Ross will play with him for the majority of each game. Along with Linas Kleiza, these three would give Toronto a nice rotation of swingmen.
It appears that the odd man out is James Johnson.
After his semi-breakout season last year, coupled with an affordable contract, James Johnson is one of the most valuable assets the Raptors have right now. The Raptors are rumoured to be shopping Jose Calderon, so trading James Johnson for a back-up point guard would make the most sense.
Minnesota has already lost Michael Beasley this summer, and Portland will probably match the offer sheet they gave to Nicolas Batum this week. Trading for James Johnson would give the team a quality on-ball defender and a little scoring and rebounding at the small forward position. With Ricky Rubio returning from injury and J.J. Barea coming off the bench, Luke Ridnour is expendable for the T-Wolves.
The trade works on ESPN’s trade machine.
After the contracts given to Goran Dragic and Jeremy Lin this week, Ridnour is a bargain at only $4 million for next season and $4.3 million the year after. Last year, Ridnour averaged 12.1 points per game and almost 5 assists per game—similar numbers to what Lin and Dragic averaged with their teams.
Ridnour would give the Raptors scoring off the bench and would help lead a quality second unit consisting of Fields, Kleiza, Ed Davis and Amir Johnson. While the Brooklyn Nets might have the better starting line-up in the Atlantic Division, Toronto has a chance of finishing ahead of them with a much better bench.
This trade makes sense for both sides, and would help both teams reach the playoffs in their respective conferences.
While Johnson may turn out to be a quality starter in the NBA, he will have a tough time finding playing time in Toronto next season and should be dealt to improve the team for 2012-13.
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