Raptors Get Tougher, Trade Kapono for Evans

Take a good look at that guy – He’ll be a fan favourite in Toronto before long, that much I can guarantee.

If Raptors fans were impressed by Pops Mensah-Bonsu, wait until Reggie Evans gets a chance to display his hustle and emotion inside the ACC.

In case you missed it, Toronto and Philadelphia made a deal today, as sharpshooter Jason Kapono was shipped to the 76ers for power forward Reggie Evans.

From Doug Smith:

“Evans, a 6-8, 245-pound power forward, is considered one of the more physical players in the league. Toughness is an aspect of the game Toronto has been lacking for years.

While he’s not an offensive threat – averaging just 3.3 points per game last season with the Sixers – his rebounding average of 4.6 boards in just 14 minutes per game should earn him some playing time with Toronto.

Kapono, one of the top three-point shooters in the NBA, never really found a niche with the Raptors, who signed him as a free agent before the 2007-08 season. The 6-8 Kapono averaged just 8.2 points per game and shot only 42 per cent from three-point range last season.

The deal also gives Toronto some financial flexibility.

Evans is owed $4.6 million next season and $5 million in 2010-11 on his contract.

Kapono’s deal will pay him $6.2 million this coming season and $6.6 million the season after.”

If you can’t tell, I’m excited about this trade. Most (all?) Raptors fans knew this team needed some toughness, and badly needed someone to rebound and play defence. That man is here, and out is a man who never found his game in Toronto.

Jason Kapono has been very disappointing since signing with the Raptors. There’s no doubt he can shoot, as evidenced by multiple 3-point championships, but Kapono simply hasn’t…shot…There’s no other way to say it – The man often passed up open shots, confusing both teammates and fans. In the right situation, Kapono can thrive, and this trade may be a win-win for both parties. Philly already has slashers and big men in place, and they’ve needed shooting since trading Kyle Korver to Utah. It wouldn’t surprise me to see Kapono play a decent role on that team.

As for the Raptors end, forget the stats. Throw them out the window, because they don’t matter. Obviously, averaging fewer than 5 points and 5 boards a game doesn’t look great on Evans, but stats aren’t what he brings to the table. Evans will play more minutes in Toronto, and his rebounding numbers will jump.

More importantly, he won’t take plays off, he’ll wear his emotions on his sleeve, and he’ll be the guy other teams HATE to play against. And I can’t say that about any players from last year’s team.

I’ve been a Reggie Evans fan since…well…forever, really. He’s always killed the Raptors, and for once, there’s a player in town who won’t be called “soft.”

And, of course, the Raptors actually save some money in this deal, which is no small feat considering the floundering economy. It’s a great start to the offseason for Bryan Colangelo, amidst much criticism from the fanbase.

The trade does make the Raptors very frontcourt heavy, and pretty much negates the possibility of drafting a big man like DeJuan Blair. Either Pops, or Patrick O’Bryant will probably be on the way out, or the Raptors may not sign veteran Rasho Nesterovic, as previously rumoured.

The trade also opens up a spot in the backcourt, which will likely be filled by either a free agent, or a draft pick (Maybe both). Potential picks like Tyreke Evans or Demar Derozan would have less competition, and it’s the type of pick that now makes even more sense.

This move was very under the radar, and it begs the question – What else does Colangelo have up his sleeve?


Smith is here.

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