With the loss of veterans like Patrick Patterson, PJ Tucker, DeMarre Carroll and Cory Joseph, the Toronto Raptors lost a combined 27 years of experience. This caused the front office searching for guys to fill the gap that was left by some of their key veterans. In hopes to add a veteran presence, the Raptors signed CJ Miles from the Indiana Pacers to a 3-year, $25 million deal during the off-season.
In order to add CJ to the Raptors lineup, the Raptors had to finalize a deal with the Brooklyn Nets which sent DeMarre Carroll along with future first and second rounds picks for center Justin Hamilton (who was later waived). Once that was made official, the Raptors was involved in a sign-and-trade deal with the Indiana Pacers that involved moving Cory Joseph for draft rights to Emir Preldzic. By doing this, the Raptors were able to release the $30 million attached to the two years left for Carroll’s contract and still stay under the NBA’s salary cap.
So what is it about this guy that had the Raptors crunching the numbers and moving pieces in anticipation for his arrival?
CJ is a 6’6” shooting guard who was drafted 34th overall in 2005 by the Utah Jazz. In his 12 years in the league, CJ has played for the Utah Jazz (2005-2012), Cleveland Cavaliers (2012-2014) and his most recent team, the Indiana Pacers (2014-2017). CJ averaged 9.8 points, 2.5 rebounds and 1.1 assists during his 12-year career thus far.
Becoming an unrestricted free-agent this past off-season couldn’t have come at a better time for CJ as he was coming off one of his most successful years in the league. In 2016-2017, CJ averaged 10.7 points, 3.0 rebounds, 43.4% from the field and 41.3% from the three. As per Coach Casey’s parting words after the miserable sweep from the Cavaliers, there was going to be a culture change and that’s exactly why the Raptors went after CJ Miles. Picking up a guy who can shoot the three off the bench was something the Raptors were hunting for this off-season. With the loss of Carroll, Tucker and Paterson, Raptors were left without players who can shoot the 3 and needed someone who could run alongside Kyle Lowry as another option. By adding a guy like CJ, pressure is taken off Kyle Lowry who shot 41.2% from beyond the arc as it helps spread the ball and (hopefully) decrease the number iso plays drawn up by Coach Casey.
Knowing CJ’s reputation around the league, it’s clear to see that CJ was picked up by the Raptors in order to fill the role of being the reliable 3-and-D guy. This was something that they were not able to get from DeMarre Carroll. But does CJ really compare to Carroll? Was letting go of key guys like Corey Joseph and some future picks worth it? In order to see how the two compares, let’s look at their numbers from last year a little more closely…
Various factors were involved in why DeMarre didn’t turn out to be the guy Masai was hoping for when he signed DeMarre. However, it can be argued that the biggest reason why the signing of DeMarre was such a flop was because of the amount of money we paid him to, estentially, sit on the bench. In the two season DeMarre was a Raptor, he was paid $27.7 million for playing in 94 games from a total of 164 games. This translates to DeMarre only playing 57% of the time but still taking home the full pay cheque. On the other hand, CJ Miles averaged 70 games during his time with the Pacers and was paid about $13.18 million for 3 years. Considering the similarities between the numbers they produce, Raptors are essentially getting the same guy but for almost half the price. The discrepancies in price for the same amount effort seems to be enough for some fans to say it’s already an upgrade.
In 2017-2018, the Raptors will be paying CJ $8.3 million to be that spot up shooter and to provide some defense on the other end of the court. The only glimpse we’ve seen of CJ were during his two pre-season games where he has averaged 15.5 points, 2.0 rebounds, shot 57.9% from the field and 46.7% from the three. Keep in mind that this is pre-season and the sample size is extremely small but from what we have seen, CJ will be able to provide energy and movement on the floor. CJ recognizes when the shot isn’t a good look and has no problem dishing it out to his teammate as the better option. There’s also a sense of confidence in his style of play, knowing his spots on the floor and allowing the ball to find him naturally. But the final spot in the starting lineup hasn’t been reserved for CJ just yet. Norman Powell who has recently re-singed with the Raptors for 4 years is also being considered for the fifth spot in the lineup. But is this really a bad problem to have? The Raptors have to choose between a proven veteran who lives for the long ball or the youngster who has shown that he’s deserving of more playing time. We’re good with either options.
Another reason why the Raptors front office liked CJ is because of his mentality when it comes to his role within the organization. Despite some inconsistencies from players of past and present, one thing that has remained true within this organization is their attitude towards team work. Like the guys on the team, CJ is all about what is right for the team. Whether it’s being that starter who gets things going on the right note or being that spark off the bench, CJ has expressed that he will do what’s best for the team and what fits. Through his time in the league CJ has taught himself to play more than 1 position so that he can be used in these exact situations. He knew that if was pinned as just one role, his value would diminish. Now the Raptors are able to use him in a variety of situations and can rely on him to get it done.
Looking at the numbers and the history of CJ miles, this guy checks-off some of the boxes that the Raptors have been looking to fill. Should he remain healthy, CJ will be a reliable catch-and-shoot guy who will provide for you on both ends of the court. However, don’t expect him to be a saving grace for this organization. CJ solves some problems that the Raptors have coming into the new season but doesn’t solve all of them. What we can say for certain is that he will provided the much needed help the Raptors have been longing for.