On the eve of free agency, two of the smarter general managers in the NBA have whipped their wands around to conjure up a deal that helps both of their franchises. The Raptors’ Masai Ujiri and the Hawks’ Danny Ferry orchestrated a trade sending Lou Williams and Lucas Nogueira up north in exchange for John Salmons.
For a trade containing no big and exciting pieces, I seem to have an exorbitant amount of thoughts on the deal and you’ll be lucky enough to hear them right here!
First of all, it seems as though Atlanta will buyout Salmons’ contract, which is non-guaranteed, meaning they will only pay him $1 million of the $7 million remaining, freeing up $4.5 million in cap space. According to NBA soothsayer, Adrian Wojnarowksi, the Hawks would like to lure Luol Deng to the ATL using the newly acquired cap space.
Because Salmons has been, honestly, below poor the last few seasons, the chances of him latching onto another team and having any sort of impact are marginal.
The pieces moving from Atlanta to Toronto are what interest me the most though. Lou Williams is an intriguing addition. He has never been a star, fantasy or otherwise, but has been a solid contributor. Last season, as Jeff Teague and Kyle Korver‘s backup, Williams averaged 10.4 points, 1.3 three-pointers, 3.5 assists and 0.8 steals in 24 minutes. He shot only 40.0 percent from the field, but it must be kept in mind that he was returning from an ACL injury suffered in 2012-13 and suited up for only 60 games. His status is Toronto is unknown though. As things stand now, he’ll be a bench piece, backing up Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan, but also in competition for minutes with the recently tendered Greivis Vasquez. Toronto has flexibility, with both Lowry and Vasquez being free agents, so if either gets an offer they can’t match, Williams is a ready made number two to whoever remains in Toronto. Assuming only one of Vasquez and Lowry remains in Toronto, Williams projects as a top 160 player next season and should look a bit better than last season as he feels more comfortable on his surgically repaired knee.
The player I like the most in this deal is Bebe Nogueira. I was super pumped that he was coming over from Spain to play with the Hawks this season, as he was a completely different type of centre that Atlanta currently has. I guess since they drafted Walter Tavares in the second round on Thursday, they deemed Nogueira excess to their needs as they dealt him before even suiting up.
Last season, Nogueira stayed in Spain, but hurt his knee and managed just 18 games. In those games, he averaged 6.2 points, 4.1 rebounds and 1.6 blocks in 17 minutes with a PER of 23.9. When I first heard the deal, I was a little disappointed, because my joy at Nogueira coming over was dampened. But on second thought, I love this deal for Toronto and Nogueira.
At centre, the Raptors had Chuck Hayes backing up Jonas Valanciunas, hardly an inspiring choice or else they’d need to swing Amir Johnson to the five and play Patrick Patterson and Tyler Hansbrough at the four. Now, with Nogueira on board, they have a legit seven-footer to help out and Nogueira has a defined role.
A quiet part of this deal is that Nogueira is Brazilian and with the Raptors shocking everyone by picking Bruno Caboclo with the number 20 pick in the draft, getting a countryman into the franchise is brilliant from Ujiri. Quickly on Caboclo, Fran Fraschilla said he was two years away from being two years away, but that couldn’t be more inaccurate. Caboclo will be playing in Summer League and will be on the Raptors’ roster this season He may not contribute much early, but we will see him in a Toronto jersey this season. He is very much like Giannis Antetokounmpo last season — full of potential and the team wants him to realise that potential on their terms. If you are in a dynasty league, Nogueira and Caboclo will be guys you should look at.
Nogueira won’t be relevant in standard leagues unless somethings happens to Valanciunas (who I’m very high on), but he has a lot of long term value.