STOP THE PRESSES!
THE RAPTORS COMPLETE A TRADE!
Yes, the Raptors finally pushed a trade through the NBA machine, netting them the season-altering presence of…David Andersen?
Okay, so it wasn't the mind-altering move that many had hoped for, but after weeks of botched transactions, some embarrassingly so, the fact that ANY move went through seems like a reason to celebrate down at the foot of Bay Street.
In reality this trade is far more about addressing depth than being about impacting the coming season in any meaningful way. The move in question is the acquisition of 6-foot-11 centre Andersen from the Houston Rockets in exchange for a 2015 second round pick.
It is presumed that the Raptors used the trade exception granted to them in the Leandro Barbosa/Hedo Turkoglu deal from earlier this month to absorb Andersen's $2.5-million contract. Since the Raptors would like to have the roster flexibility to send rookie Solomon Alabi down to the D-League during the season, they needed depth at centre to account for his absence. They now have that depth with Andersen, who will have a role, albeit not a huge one, for the club this coming season.
Think of Andersen, in terms of his role on the team next season, somewhere between Jake Voskuhl of two years ago and Rasho Nesterovic of three years ago. He'll be looked to as a contributor more than Voskuhl was when he played depth centre behind Bargnani and Jermaine O'Neal, but he won't be quite as important as the semi-starter Nesterovic was in Sam Mitchell's last full season as head coach. The role isn't pure token white centre, but it does hew to some of the stereotypes associated with that role.
Basically Andersen, an Australian native, is a skilled big man who excels as a shooter and not so much as a defender, so when the team needs some outside scoring punch from their reserve bigs, he'll get the call.
He's something of a poor man's Brad Miller, one could say, and when the Rockets acquired Miller this summer, that made Andersen expendable. He played for multiple titles in the Euroleague (2001, 2006, 2008) and his acclaim was high enough that when he was brought over to Houston last summer, most expected he'd be the team's starter at centre in place of the injured Yao Ming. While coach Rick Adelman ultimately decided to let the 6-foot-6 Chuck Hayes start instead, Andersen remained an active part of the team's rotation all year before a sore back knocked him out of action during the team's last month of play. He finished the season averaging 5.8 points and 3.3 rebounds per game, while also shooting 35% from three-point land.
It's hard to pinpoint exactly how Andersen fits into the club's plans at this stage because few believe the current makeup of the roster will last until training camp. However, it is very reasonable to assume that Andersen will get minutes as a centre, and he'll blend well with guys like Amir Johnson and Ed Davis since he can spread the floor for them while they work their stuff inside. He'll probably average no more than the fourteen minutes per game he averaged last season for Houston, and could well average less depending on subsequent moves and how well certain combinations prove to be on the floor with the team's young core.
Let's put it this way, since this is what we know: This trade definitely slams the door shut on Rasho Nesterovic coming back to the team, and it re-affirms the certainty that Dwayne Jones will never play a game in a Raptors uniform. This trade doesn't really address any of the team's defensive needs, but it doesn't really create any new holes either.
He'll be a situational player most of the time, being brought in to exploit certain matchups, but his playing time will be at the mercy of the play of Bargnani, Johnson, Davis and any forthcoming big men the team may acquire before October. He's no slouch, and he may yet prove to be worth more as an NBA player than he got to show last season, but for now his biggest claim to fame in these parts is the fact that he's a player the team was actually able to successfully trade for without the basketball gods kyboshing the deal.
For Raptors fans, and for Bryan Colangelo, that alone is enough for now.