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The Toronto Raptors and Miami Heat came to agreement on a pretty big trade Friday, and since both teams are in the Eastern Conference, I think that the trade can impact the Celtics. Let us investigate…
Raptors Get: Shawn Marion, Marcus Banks, cash
Heat Get: Jermaine O’Neal, Jamario Moon, future first round pick
On the face, the trade looks like a wash. Both Marion and O’Neal have bloated contracts that expire in the next couple of years, and Moon and Banks are bench players. But, after taking a closer look, the trade appears to help both teams.
Here’s a look at the new players coming to the Raptors.
Shawn Marion was, for years, the most consistent force in fantasy basketball. No other player produced in every single stastical category as well as Marion. After his trade to the Heat from the Suns last season for Shaquille O’Neal, Marion’s production took a dip.
This year, Marion has produced some good numbers (12.0 ppg, 8.7 rpg), but nothing close to his usual output (17.9 ppg, 10.0 rpg for his career). Part of the problem was that the Heat, without Shaq, are undersized, and relied to heavily on Marion and Udonis Haslem to cover the big men of other teams.
Sadly, the most attractive quality Shawn Marion brings to the Raptors is his big fat expiring contract worth $17,180,000. Marion wants a long-term contract, but in this economy (even though the NBA has a salary cap), he probably won’t get a contract worth $17 million again. I expect a five-year deal in the neighborhood of $10 million per year. Are the Raptors ready to pay that? Probably not, but I bet they’re waiting on the free agent class of 2010, when their own superstar, Chris Bosh, will be up for free agency.
Let’s face it, Marcus Banks is not a good NBA player. The former Celtics “point guard” is a master or persuasion though, as he manages to convince team after team that he’s a good player. He came over to the heat last season with Shawn Marion in the Shaq trade largely because his salary plus Marion’s nearly equated Shaq’s (roughly $20 million).
Banks had fallen out of favor with the Heat and wasn’t even in their regular rotation. This year, Banks has averaged 2.6 points on 38.5% shooting and 1.4 assists in just 16 games. I’m sure he’ll find a way to help out the Raptors, who have the rare fortune of a lot of big men and few guards. He’ll most likely back up Jose Calderon until the Raptors realize he’s not very good.
OK, so what is the plural form of the Heat? Is Heat singluar or plural? I am SO glad I don’t work in Miami as a sports writer…either way, here’s the new players for Miami’s NBA team.
Yet another O’Neal will now man Miami’s center position. The AP has been calling O’Neal a “true center.” I’m not sure I’m willing to go that far, but I will say he’s way more true than Joel Anthony, Udonis Haslem, and the rest of the little big men on the Heat. Either way, O’Neal’s arrival will help Miami on the court right away.
First, it allows Udonis Haslem to retain his natural position of power forward. Rookie Michael Beasley can now move into the small forward slot and O’Neal will slot in at center. The Heat just got a lot bigger even though Marion (6’7″) himself is no shrimp.
Contract-wise, O’Neal is due to make $23 million next season, but the Heat will be free and clear by the summer of 2010. This will allow them to re-sign Dwayne Wade and perhaps pair him with another player (Chris Bosh?). Many teams, including the Celtics, will be free and clear by that summer, which makes sense because there’s going to be so many good free agents available.
Jamario Moon is definitely the most underrated player in this deal. The Heat were a largely undersized team, but by replacing Marcus Banks with Moon, it gives them options at the forward position.
A good fantasy player, Moon fills the stat sheet nicely. This year, Moon has averages of 7.3 points, 4.6 rebounds, 1.2 steals, and 0.8 blocks. This line translates to a really good player off the bench in actual basketball who can play 15-20 minutes and make things happen quickly.
With this trade, the Heat become a better team today and may give the Celtics a hard time in a playoff series. By hard time, I mean that the Heat may win one or two games in the series and give the Celtics trouble in the other wins. As it stands now, however, the Celtics are still a better team and will show that if the two teams meet in the playoffs.
The Raptors become a different team. Instead of two of the same players in Bosh and O’Neal, Bosh gets a nice complementary forward who can score, but most important can play quality defense. With the acquisition of Marion, Bosh and even Andrea Bargnani can be better players. This won’t affect the Celtics this year, but if Toronto is able to sign back Bosh and bring in another player during the 2010 offseason, then they could compete for a division title.
The Heat, Celtics, and Raptors will all be players on the 2010 free agent market, so the trade only confirms that fact. But, for now, the trade helps neither team join the ranks of the elite in the East.