With the preseason finished, the Raptors are gearing up for their season opener on Wednesday against the Knicks at the ACC. Today’s subject in our preview is point guard Marcus Banks:
Bad contracts. The way NBA teams throw money around, each has at least one rotting away at the end of the bench. For the Raptors, it belongs to Marcus Banks, who was picked up to make the Jermaine O’Neal-for-Shawn Marion deal work a little less than two years ago and has played a grand total of 284 minutes in 28 games with the team since. Fortunately for Toronto, the five-year, $21.3 million deal Banks signed with the Suns in 2006 is set to expire at the end of the season.
To Banks’ credit, aside from his contract, he’s done nothing to wear out his welcome in Toronto. He hasn’t complained about his role, has been good with young players and even did a serviceable job when forced into action last season whenever Jose Calderon’s nagging injury of the week popped up. In a stretch from December 8 to January 3, Banks relieved Jarrett Jack and helped the Raptors run off wins in eight of 12 games, including an eight-point effort in a win over the Spurs in his final game before assuming his former role upon Calderon’s return. In all, Banks averaged 5.0 points and shot 53.4% from the field.
The Suns signed Banks to his big deal with plans of turning him into a combo guard and having him contribute to their up-tempo attack. Fresh off his best year with Minnesota in 2006-07, he came in and averaged just 4.9 points in his first year, doing little to justify the investment. Though he showed flashes in the Vegas Summer League the next offseason (including a then-record 42 point performance), he never settled in Phoenix and was shipped with Marion to Miami for Shaquille O’Neal at the deadline in 2008. A year later, he and Marion came to Toronto for the other O’Neal.
With spot duty, Banks doesn’t figure to have any impact on the Raptors this season, and with little hope for competing, his expiring contract likely isn’t going to be a valuable trade piece. Still, here’s hoping he plays enough to earn another NBA contract, even if it is a fraction of the one he’s on now.
2009-10: 22 games (no starts), 53.4& from the field, 29.2% from three and 82.8% from the line, 5.0 points, 1.0 rebounds, 1.2 assists and 0.55 steals in 11.1 minutes per game.
What to expect: With Calderon and Jack still around, Banks will spend a great deal of time in street clothes. He’ll likely be pressed into action due to injuries now and then, and hopefully will do as competent a job as he did last season.
Check out the other Raptors we’ve previewed: Andrea Bargnani, Jose Calderon, DeMar DeRozan, Jarrett Jack, Sonny Weems, Reggie Evans, Leandro Barbosa, Amir Johnson, Linas Kleiza, Julian Wright, David Andersen and Ed Davis.