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Free Agent Verbal Agreement Roster Analysis: Raptors, Rockets, Lakers

We’ve already looked at Detroit’s probable new roster after their early verbal agreements.  We’ve had 5 more major verbal agreements in the days since then: Hedo Turkoglu to the Trailblazers.  Turkoglu changing his mind and switching to the Raptors.  Ron Artest to the Lakers.  Trevor Ariza to the Rockets.  Marcin Gortat to the Mavericks.  Of course, I’m not convinced the Magic are going to let Gortat leave without matching, so that evaluation will wait until the Magic formally take a pass.  Other than Gortat, let’s take a look at how the recent verbal agreements would effect some rosters.  Existing free agents/restricted free agents not under contract or without a verbal agreement will not listed on said rosters.

Toronto Raptors

Word is, Hedo Turkoglu is signing with the Raptors, which would be in keeping with their burgeoning Euro-player motif.  It would seem likely that if Turkoglu signs, Shawn Marion will likely be cut loose.  Perhaps all their free agents, for that matter.  The real questions will be how the finances of signing Turkoglu effect the potential re-signings of Anthony Parker and Carlos Delfino.  And, of course, the potential trading of Chris Bosh hangs over the team like a circling banshee.

As it stands, the starting front court is solid enough, but thin.  Calderon is solid, but Banks has been a quick trade from his last two stops.  Douby was a big scoring at the 2 in college, but has thus far been sparingly used and attempts have been made to make him a point guard with middling results.  Ukic is also sparingly used.  Parker’s return seems like something they at least need to think about.

The Raptors continue to be a perimeter-oriented team, pending a trade or another significant signing.  Backcourt depth is a serious issue and even with a Parker return, shooting guard could use an upgrade.  If they want to run, you’d like to see a little more depth.

I like Turkoglu over Marion.  You lose a little rebounding and defense, but you gain shooting, playmaking and the ability to create his own shot.  Turkoglu’s a couple years younger and Marion might be starting to slide a touch, so long term planning favors the change.

C:Andrea Bargnani; Patrick O’Bryant; Nathan Jawai
PF: Chris Bosh; Reggie Evans; Kris Humphries
SF: Hedo Turkoglu; DeMar DeRozan
SG: Quincy Douby; Roko Ukic
PG: Jose Calderon; Marcus Banks

Houston Rockets

Let’s see now.  McGrady out for at least half a season?  Check.  Yao’s status completely unknown?  Check.  Artest gone to LA?  Check.  Yeah, just a little bit up in the air in Houston.  On the other hand, Trevor Ariza, who rumor has it agreeing to terms, is joining the Rockets to replace Artest at two of the three positions he covered (SF and SG).  Oh, and Ariza just turned 24.  If the rumor mill is accurate the Rockets will have the rapidly developing Ariza until he’s 29.  Of course, there’s now noise from shooting guard and unrestricted free agent Von Wafer’s agent that he’s looking to move elsewhere.

Projecting the Rockets depth chart is always an interesting thing, because so many of their players can play multiple positions.  The actual rotation will fluctuate based on who’s healthy and the match-up of the night.  They really don’t have a center if Yao is out.  They don’t have another center under contract that’s over 6’9”.  On the other hand, they took the Lakers to 7 games in the playoffs with (allegedly) 6’6” Chuck Hayes at the center.  Scola can score in the post more than he’s given credit for, but this team is desperate for some size and another post scorer.

The questions with the Rockets:

  • Is Yao in or out?
  • Can they get some size in free agency or trade for it?
  • Can they gut out enough wins for Yao and/or McGrady to heal and make a play-off push?
  • Or are they going to be pulling a San Antonio? (Whoops, Robinson’s out.  But now we get to draft Duncan.)

OK, they’ve got a little more to work with than the Admiral had around him prior to the Duncan draft.  Still, with the injuries and mystery surrounding the extent of Yao’s foot, the Rockets are a huge wildcard at this point.

C: (Yao Ming?) Chuck Hayes; Luis Scola; Carl Landry?; Joey Dorsey? Brian Cook?
PF: Luis Scola; Shane Battier; Carl Landry; Chuck Hayes; Brian Cook; Joey Dorsey
SF; Shane Battier; Trevor Ariza; Brent Barry?; Chase Budinger
SG: Trevor Ariza; Brent Barry; Jermaine Taylor; James White
PG: Aaron Brooks; Kyle Lowry; Brent Barry; Sergio Llull

Los Angeles Lakers

In a strange sense, you could almost call the Artest and Ariza switch a trade.  The Lakers looking for right now and the Rockets looking a hair further down the road.  And for the Lakers, this is great.  Artest can play SF, SG, and if Odom gets hurt, even put in some floor stretching minutes at the PF.  His presence instantly makes the team tougher, and pending re-signing Odom (no agreements announced, but likely), LA has to be seen as the team to beat next year.  You might want to see another natural power forward on the roster, and you probably do need to lock in Shannon Brown for a few years, since Fisher’s age is getting up there, but the Lakers look to have 3 years before Bryant and Artest start showing their age and they’re going to be a handful.

The roster, minus unrestricted Lamar Odom (feel free to pencil him in as back-up PF and SF) and restricted Shannon Brown looks like:

C: Andrew Bynum; Pao Gasol; Didier Ilunga-Mbenga; Chinemelu Elonu
PF: Pao Gasol; Ron Artest; Josh Powell
SF: Ron Artest;  Luke Walton; Adam Morrison
SG: Kobe Bryant; Sasha Vujacic; Ron Artest; Sun Yue
PG: Derek Fisher; Jordan Farmar;

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