For some reason, despite a lot of good decisions over the years, the Denver Nuggets decided to let go of Masai Ujiri, who then signed with the Toronto Raptors to be their GM for the next five seasons. It didn’t take him long to starting doing a lot of good, mostly by getting rid of the Andrea Bargnani and Rudy Gay contracts via trades.
The first move Ujiri was congratulated for turned out to be finally finding someone who is willing to rid the Raptors of Andrea Bargnani, the number one pick in the 2006 NBA Draft. A player who has outlived his welcome, Bargnani was never more than an ineffective, offense only kind of player. A center or power forward with no defense and very soft on the boards. He traded him and the $23.3 million he was still owed.
What did he get in return? Marcus Camby, already released from the team; Quentin Richardson, waived from the team; and Steve Novak, who is a slightly expensive for the $3.7 million he’s paid each season, but three point shooters are the trendy thing nowadays. What more? He got two second-round draft picks and one first round draft pick out of the Knicks just so he could do what he intended to – dump Bargnani’s salary on someone else.
Next up was getting rid of Rudy Gay, who might have been scoring plenty of points, but doing so with terrible numbers. He’s shooting 38.8% from the field this season while scoring 19.4 points per game. The Raptors already have a younger version of Gay who loves to hog the ball and put up shots, DeMar DeRozan, who is also cheaper. DeRozan is signed through the 2016-2017, but for $9.5 million a year, something the Raptors can live with and makes him also movable if need be. Gay? He’s due $17.8 million this year, $19.3 million next year. That’s just too much for a player who doesn’t like being criticized, so he barred displaying box scores in the locker room.
With Gay, he sent away Quincy Acy and Aaron Gray. In return, he got John Salmons (a bad contract with $14.5 million over the next two years), Patrick Patterson ($3.1 million, last year on the deal), Chuck Hayes (2-years, $11.6 million on them), Greivis Vasquez (Excellent one year deal for $2.2 million). He didn’t exactly clear tons of room right now, but he made the situation better, and probably improved the on-court and dressing room chemistry. That’s not going to win the Raptors a championship this year, but puts them in a better position to succeed in the very near future.