The Toronto Raptors are definitely a year away from being remotely interesting, with no offense intended toward DeMar DeRozan, Linas Kleiza and The Gaping Void Left By Andrea Bargnani's Injury. Dwane Casey has done some good things in a half-season in charge in T-Dot, but the prize in his eyes -- Mr. Jonas Valanciunas -- won't arrive until the summer. Along with it should be a top-10 pick in the 2012 NBA Draft. Those two pieces will have Raptors fans as stoked as anything seen on the court this year.
(Bargnani's pre-injury breakout wasn't too shabby, though.)
NEEDS & TARGETS
The Raptors do have a couple of pieces that could draw eyes from around the league. Foremost is Leandro Barbosa, the lightning bug who has remained largely anonymous since moving north. Leandrinho is on an expiring $7.5 million deal; there are a couple of playoff teams -- the Clippers, Lakers, Timberwolves, Celtics, Hawks, Magic and Pacers come to mind -- who could use some wing scoring off of the bench.
The other backcourt player who could take an audience is Jose Calderon, the pass-happy point guard who has the honor of being Toronto's highest-paid fellow. That's a problem, not just because it's tough to move a $9.7 million contract, but because Calderon is on the books for $10.5 million next season. That's a big pill to swallow.
SALARY CAP SITUATION
The Raptors have a salary figure of $53 million, according to ShamSports.com. That works two ways: the Raptors can help a team get under the luxury tax by absorbing a contract, but Toronto won't be able to, say, deal Barbosa for a trade exception without sliding under the minimum salary threshold. The team needs to take something back if it deals Barbosa, either in a straight-up trade or in a separate imbalanced deal.
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