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News » Toronto Raptors Getting Inside 2008-06-30

Toronto Raptors Getting Inside 2008-06-30

Toronto Raptors Getting Inside 2008-06-30
Every transaction is a gamble, and the Raptors have taken a big one with their major offseason acquisition.

In a bold move by general manager Bryan Colangelo, Jermaine O'Neal, who has missed large chunks of the last four seasons, is headed to Toronto. In return, Indiana gets T.J. Ford, Rasho Nesterovic, Maceo Baston and the 17th pick in the NBA draft (Georgetown's Roy Hibbert). The Raptors also got C Nathan Jawai, who was drafted by the Pacers.

O'Neal, 29, is still owed more than $44 million in the final two years of his contract, and his injury history makes people wonder if he'll be durable enough to come close to regaining the form that once made him one of the top big men in the Eastern Conference.

But if he can be that guy again, the prospects of an O'Neal-Chris Bosh front line, with former No. 1 pick Andrea Bargnani coming off the bench, delights the Raptors.

Toronto was 29th in the NBA in rebounding last season, and O'Neal's presence anchoring the defense was more than enough to lead Colangelo to pull the trigger on the deal.

That was the single biggest concern of the front office as it headed into the summer, and there was no one either in the draft or available in a trade that better fit the need than O'Neal.

The move -- and O'Neal's price tag -- make it a virtual certainty that Toronto won't be a big player in free agency because of financial restraints. Under the league's arcane salary cap rules, the transaction can't be officially announced until July 9.

SEASON HIGHLIGHT: If there was one in a season that had to be considered a disappointment with a 41-41 record and a first-round playoff ouster, it was the emergence of rookie Jamario Moon as a key member of the rotation. The longtime minor leaguer started the final 75 games of the regular season, set franchise rookie records for rebounds and starts and took part in the All-Star Weekend dunk contest. He has solidified himself as the team's most athletically gifted player and should provide depth for seasons to come.

TURNING POINT: The Raptors had never looked better than they did on the night of Dec. 11, when they dismantled the Hawks in Atlanta. But the night turned from great to ghastly when T.J. Ford was hammered by Atlanta rookie Al Horford driving to the basket in the final minute. Ford missed the next 25 games with a neck and spine injury, and while Jose Calderon emerged as a bona fide starter at point guard in his absence, it messed up the team's rotation, chemistry and balance. The Raptors never really got it back entirely together.

Author: Fox Sports
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Added: June 30, 2008


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