The Toronto Raptors have been fairly active this offseason. Andrea Bargnani‘s name was thrown in and around with the teams like the Los Angeles Clippers, but, with league approval, he will be sent to the New York Knicks in exchange for a 1st round draft pick in 2016, Steve Novak, and Marcus Camby. The one trade proposal that attracted some mixed feelings – that was first reported by Y!’s Adrian Wojnarowski - was the Golden State Warriors offering forward, David Lee for Bargnani.
Now, obviously this trade proposal garners some serious attention, but let me tell you why this trade would not have benefited the Raptors the way many fans think it may have.
First of all, David Lee is an absolutely awful defender. With Bargnani, we all knew the help side defense was always his worst liability, but he was always able to stay in front of his match-up and guard them straight up. David Lee is a bad help defender, rarely there on time, and can’t guard a single big in the league; poor lateral quicks, and bad court awareness.
David Lee also has a terrible contract, and with the new collective bargaining agreement plus the salary make-up of this current team with Fields, DeRozan, and Rudy, it would have put this team in a bad spot. Lee roughly has $44 million dollars left for 3 years! Goodness, talk about overpaid.
Lee would be entering his 9th NBA season, and is currently 30 years old. The fact he has already hit the 30 mark (arguably the official “old” in the NBA), and has hit his ceiling as an NBA player, his talent would be good enough to take this team as far as the 1st round. He is NOT an elite level power forward in this league, hard to argue he wasn’t an all-star, but it’s hard to argue the lack of great bigs in the game today. Point being, he WOULD NOT have taken this team to the next level.
Raptor fans should be at the very least pleased they did not accept this trade. Salary cap issues, no space for young guys to develop and grow, more liabilities defensively on the floor; it’s a recipe for a mediocre team, and that’s obviously not the vision Tim Leiweke and Masai Ujiri have for this franchise. In conclusion, David Lee is a solid power forward in this league, but not the type of player they need now, and not the type of player that fits in the future.