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Numbers Game: Raptors deal Salmons; get Williams, Nogueira

Scott Cullen
6/30/2014 2:51:38 AM
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The Toronto Raptors got a couple of pieces from the Atlanta Hawks in exchange for a veteran with a contract that will be bought out.

Numbers Game looks at the deal that brings Lou Williams to the Raptors.

The Raptors Get: SG Lou Williams and C Lucas Nogueira.

Williams, 27, has been a productive scoring guard off the bench for much of his career, but he struggled last season, posting his worst Player Efficiency Rating (PER of 14.24) since his rookie season of 2005-2006. Williams shot 40.0% from the field, including 342% on threes, his worst in both categories since 2008-2009, so he's not exactly at peak value.

Three times in his career, including in 2012-2013, Williams has averaged better than 14 points per game, yet he's come off the bench in 500 of his 554 career games. He's a perimeter player who is taking fewer two-point shots. Last season, Williams took 4.3 twos per game, compared to 3.9 threes and his 3.0 free-throw attempts per game was his lowest since 2006-2007; these are signs of a player who isn't getting to the rim.

Defensively, Williams is below average; a shooting guard in a point guard's body, he doesn't have the physique to handle stronger guards, nor the height to deal with bigger guards. Williams does have quickness and can use that to his advantage but he's consistently rated as a subpar defender.

Despite those limitations, Williams can be a useful second-team gunner and there's room for that in the Raptors' rotation. Williams is going into the final year of a contract that pays him $5.45-million in 2014-2015.

Taken with the 16th pick in last summer's draft, Lucas Nogueira is a skinny 7-footer who, as might be expected, has potential as a shot blocker, but the Brazilian they call "Bebe" is considered raw, not unlike the Raptors' first-round pick in this summer's draft, Bruno Caboclo, who also happens to be Brazilian.

Playing in Spain for Estudiantes last season, Nogueira put up 6.3 points, 4.1 rebounds and 1.6 blocks per game in 16.0 minutes per game. He turns 22 this summer and could still use time to develop, but is a nice upside play for the Raptors.

Nogueira has a contract with Estudiantes that runs through next season, so that will give him additional time to round out his game before worrying about how he might fit into the Raptors' plans.

The Hawks Get: SF John Salmons.

Salmons is a 34-year-old swingman whose best days are well behind him. He hasn't shot 40% from the field in the past two seasons, and shot a career-low 36.3% from the field last season on his way to scoring 5.2 points per game, his fewest since 2004-2005.

He's showing the wear and tear of playing 874 career games. Salmons can still knock down a three, but he's no longer quick enough to get to the basket, nor is he quick enough to defend wings effectively. This could very well be the end of the line for Salmons.

The value to the Hawks is that Salmons has a $7-million contract that only requires a $1-million buyout, leaving the Hawks with lots of room to maneuver as the NBA free agent market gets into full swing. Carmelo Anthony, Luol Deng and Lance Stephenson could be among the more appealing wings that the Hawks may try to lure with more than %15-million in salary cap space.

This is a case where the Hawks got what they were after, increased cap space, and the Raptors got a few assets in return for providing it. Williams offers some immediate help, and is a trade chip with an expiring contract if the season goes awry, while Nogueira presents some upside for the long run. As it stands today, the Raptors are a better team for having made this trade.

Scott Cullen can be reached at Scott.Cullen@bellmedia.ca and followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/tsnscottcullen. For more, check out TSN Fantasy on Facebook.




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