A Matrix revolution

FRANK ZICARELLI, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:56 AM ET

No matter what people think of Bryan Colangelo's latest attempt to upgrade the Raptors, and no matter what future move he has in store, the club's general manager had to do something.

The off-season trade for Jermaine O'Neal wasn't working and it wasn't going to work, even if the six-time all-star had stayed healthy and even if he and Chris Bosh figured out a way to play off each other.

The acquisition of Shawn (The Matrix) Marion, 30, from the Miami Heat -- a trade that has been rumoured for about a month and finally was consummated yesterday -- addresses some glaring deficiencies on the court and gives Colangelo some much-needed salary flexibility this summer.

Marion's expiring contract looms as a huge piece for Colangelo when he gets a chance to sit face-to-face with Bosh to discuss his star's future.

Without O'Neal, the Raptors will be vulnerable in the post and the team is suddenly thin on bigs. But that is the price you pay when nothing else is available to shore up both short-term holes and position oneself for the future, a future that doesn't look as bleak today as it did yesterday morning.

The Raptors also forked over forward Jamario Moon and a lottery-protected draft pick, and got guard Marcus Banks and $3 million US, money that will come in handy in these cash-conscious times.

Give Colangelo credit for at least recognizing a problem and dealing with it, one of many he'll have to address as he attempts to surround Bosh with bona fide pieces prior to next summer's mother of all NBA free agency season.

Of course, it was Colangelo's decision to part with T.J. Ford last summer in a multi-player deal with Indiana that fetched O'Neal. And by any definition, a Ford-for-Marion deal is a no-brainer.

"The talk is about winning now and putting the best players on the floor now,'' Colangelo said during a conference call.

Banks, 27, can have a presence, but the jury is still out on a guard whose NBA history is that of being a throw-in player in trades. Moon simply wasn't in Toronto's plans.

With Thursday's NBA's trade deadline fast approaching, there is still time for Colangelo to engineer another move, though it won't have the repercussions or the potential impact of yesterday's deal.

Anthony Parker's expiring contract, his professional approach and low-maintenance attitude, is coveted. Jason Kapono's shooting intrigues teams, but his contract, which has two years and some $13 million US left, isn't quite as appealing.

Joey Graham -- a restricted free agent this summer -- has been playing well of late, so there is a market for him.

Whether it's Parker, Kapono, Graham, trading the rights to Carlos Delfino or a combination, the Raptors would want a frontcourt piece in any deal, assuming one can get done in the next few days.

Forget the frivolous talk of moving Bosh or Andrea Bargnani or Jose Calderon because none are going anywhere.

The Raptors will run more and will space the floor more once they reconvene from the all-star break. They can still go inside to Bosh or Bargnani in certain matchups, but the team will play in transition.

Marion is best suited in an offence that pushes the ball, a style that made the Matrix the rarest of NBA players during his days in Phoenix.

In Miami, the team ran primarily after forcing turnovers.

Much like O'Neal's time in Toronto, Marion was an awkward fit with the Heat. He's not the player he once was with the Suns when Steve Nash was happy and the team was coached by Mike D'Antoni.

But adding Marion will immediately help the Raptors because he remains a unique talent. As well, the Raptors' team chemistry has improved without O'Neal.

There is still plenty of work that awaits Colangelo, but the GM no longer should feel boxed in.

The move for Marion is a step in the right direction, both for now and for this summer because there is flexibility, roster-wise and cap-wise.

It'll be wise for Colangelo to do more because, simply stated, more has to be done.

FRANK.ZICARELLI@SUNMEDIA.CA


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