Sebastian Telfair trade helps Raptors' post-Calderon point guard depth


The Toronto Raptors brought in Sebastian Telfair to play backup point guard at the trade deadline, a spot that had been an issue for them since trading away Jose Calderon. He'll fight John Lucas III for the spot.

The Toronto Raptors landed Sebastian Telfair, a player who will almost certainly contribute as a backup point guard, for little in return

The full trade features the Raptors sending Hamed Haddadi and a 2013 second-rounder to the Suns. It's great value for a person who will likely play regular minutes: Haddadi, a seven-footer thrown into the Rudy Gay deal, was unlikely to ever play with Toronto due to issues with getting the Iranian a Canadian visa, and even if he had been able to suit up, has never averaged more than 2.5 points per game.

And Telfair will play right away. Gay was a nice get for the Raptors, who have won six of ten since acquiring him in the midst of a 22-33 season. But to get him, the Raptors had to give away their starting point guard, Jose Calderon. That bumped Kyle Lowry into the starting lineup and John Lucas III - previously a reserve playing sparing minutes - into the rotation. Now, Telfair steps in.

Read Raptors HQ's breakdown of the trade

Out of Lincoln High School in Brooklyn, Telfair was supposed to be the next big thing. His senior year of high school spawned a documentary, a book, and his picture was on the cover of Sports Illustrated and Slam - where he appeared next to LeBron James. But even then, there were questions about his game. At 6-foot-nothing, Telfair doesn't exactly have NBA size, and his jumper has always been suspect. He went 13th overall, and although he never became a star - his career highs are 9.8 points per game, back in 2008-09, and 5.9 assists, in 2007-08 - he's proven himself as a consistent backup point guard, if a bit of a journeyman. Toronto will be his eighth team in his nine seasons in the league.

It's unlikely that Telfair pushes Lowry out of his starting role: he's shown he deserves it, with double digit points in all but two of his ten starts since the Gay trade, with three double-doubles. But one would imagine that Telfair steals some of the minutes Lucas has been getting. It's clear that Lucas has NBA talent shooting the ball, hitting 5-of-5 and 4-of-6 from downtown during his newfound stretch of minutes. But Lucas shoots the ball a lot, without really passing much: he only has three assists in one of the ten games since the Gay trade. And mixed into those nice outings were games where Lucas would take ten shots in 15 minutes and score six points. Telfair's a much better passer, less of a liability on defense, and is shooting a career best 38.1 percent from three.

Both Lucas and Telfair are undersized point guards. Essentially, the two will go head-to-head for the second-string spot in Toronto. It's also a tryout for next season - with the playoffs unlikely, Telfair not under contract next year, and Lucas having a $1.6 million team option, the two will try to prove they deserve to be back next year.

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