Blogger Knows Best: Inside the Toronto Raptors
Team Name: Toronto Raptors
Blog Name: RaptorsRepublic.com
Blogger Name: Raps Fan (Sam)
1. Based on preseason expectations, how would you grade this season? Please list your team's top three accomplishments.
This season was a failure. We went from 47-35 in 2006-2007, to 41-41 in 2007-2008, to 33-49 this season. Bryan Colangelo came out during the summer, acquired Jermaine O'Neal and then proclaimed this team the best Raptor team he has ever assembled.
There were, however, those of us who shared Sam Mitchell's view that this wasn't a very athletic team, but a basketball wise one, and what this team really needed was a wing player who could defend and create his own scoring opportunities (my man-love was directed at Mickael Pietrus), and not a cripple center who was 3 seasons and a couple bad knees removed from being a force in the league. Many predicted 50+ wins (Toronto Media and fans), I had them down for 42/43 wins depending on injuries. Either way...miserable season.
Top Three Raptor Accomplishments:
a.) The emergence of Andrea Bargnani (if you consider 15pts and 5rebs a game for a 7 footer an accomplishment)
b.) Bryan Colangelo clandestinely scape-goating Chris Bosh for the ills of this franchise (why people would trade Bosh right now is beyond me)
c.) Putting more money in the ownerships’ pockets (two banks, a teachers’ pension fund and a real-estate mogul).
2. How would you assess the competency of the team's current GM and scouting staff?
I'm not a fan of Bryan Colangelo. I feel like his dad helped him out a lot in Phoenix, and that we should have hired Jerry for the job. Lets just recap some of his moves:
The bad moves:
* Drafted Bargnani over Rudy Gay, Lamarcus Aldridge, Brandon Roy - Colangelo is the only person in the league who makes this decision again knowing what we know about Roy
* Signed Jason Kapono to a 4yr/$24mill contract (put me in contact with Kapono's agent ASAP).
* Gave Kris Humphries an unnecessary extension at about $3mill and change - the guy is not in the teams future plans, and gets an extension? Why?
* Traded 2 second round picks for Carlos Delfino then let him walk after the season when we needed him - Colangelo clearly has something against draft picks.
* Talked extensively about how important Jorge Garbajosa was to the Raptors, but hasn't replaced him in two seasons after getting injured.
* Traded T.J. Ford, Rasho Nesterovic, Maceo Baston & Roy Hibbert for Jermaine O'Neal & Nathan Jawai.
* Replaced TJ Ford with Will Solomon and Roko Ukic - absolutely a bad move.
* Signed Hassan Adams as our much needed combo guard/wing defender - the guy just plane sucks.
* Bought out Garbajosa's contract instead of trying to use him as an expiring contract trade filler - made no sense to anyone, I wasn't alone here.
* Traded Jermaine O'Neal, Jamario Moon, & a 1st round pick for Shawn Marion, Marcus Banks, & $3mill
* Looks like he will make Jay Triano the head coach - I'm sick of rookie head coaches, this will be the third in a row.
He's made a couple good moves:
* Signing Anthony Parker and Jorge Garbajosa from Europe - Parker has been a day 1 starter, and Jorge was our glue guy who has been sorely missed the last two seasons.
* He traded Rafael Araujo for Kris Humphries - this was good for our cap situation, and Hoffa needed to leave Toronto a.s.a.p. because of the success of that draft pick.
If that doesn't bring this mans vision, judgment and decision making ability under scrutiny, then you're one of the fools who bought seasons tickets to the Raptors this season after the prices got jacked up 17% for an inferior product.
3. Which young players (if any) can step to the forefront in the future?
Andrea Bargnani is the only young player that has a bright future. He is a talented player, but is pretty one-dimensional. No one is questioning his offensive prowess – you have to love a 7 footer who has three point range on the jumper AND can take the ball to the rack off the bounce. But aside from scoring, he doesn't do anything else really well.
He grabs about 5 boards a game, but they seem to just come to him, he doesn't fight for them. His defense has improved, but he isn't close to being a presence in the paint, not even someone who changes shots. He does get about a block a game, but again, the dude is 7 feet tall, he puts his hands up, and he's almost touching the rim.
Stepping to the forefront may not be in the cards, but he should be a solid player who puts up between 18-20pts a game, but gives little else of value. Will he get a fat contract? Hell yeah, probably in the 5yr/$55mill range, maybe more if Leon Rose can sell Colangelo as well as Colangelo sells most of the Raptor fans in Toronto. Is he worth it? Maybe. Is he a cornerstone of an NBA franchise? No.
4. Time to play fantasy GM: what move that was made the past few years would you undo and what move would you currently make for the team to assess immediate or long term needs?
Easy, the Jermaine O'Neal move. Colangelo compromised the depth of this team at the point guard position (TJ Ford) and front court (Rasho Nesterovic and Maceo Baston), while throwing in a 1st rounder (who became Roy Hibbert) and taking back a 2nd rounder with heart problems (Nathan Jawai). Not to mention Jermaine O'Neal was a lock to miss at least 15 games with no clear backup at the time (Bargnani only came into his own after Sam Mitchell got the axe). I would also undo the deal for Shawn Marion, which is a continuation of the O'Neal trade. While I like what Marion does for this team, his price tag was way too high. We gave up Jermaine O'Neal ANOTHER 1st rounder (lottery protected) and Jamario Moon for Marion, Marcus Banks (one of the worst contracts in the whole league), and we already had Jason Kapono making about $6mil.
The number one thing I would do is get Bosh signed to an extension. The Raptors can't afford to chase another star (Vince Carter, Tracy McGrady, Damon Stoudamire) out of the city. This team would be tattered ruins if Bosh was traded for 50 cents on the dollar. Trading Bosh is not an option unless he flat out says he wants out, and he has said he wont ask to be traded. I wouldn't even investigate it, quietly or otherwise.
Going forward, even if Marion was resigned to a contract (I wouldn't offer more then a 3yr/$18mill deal), the Raptors still need another wing who can create his own scoring opportunities and play solid defense. I would ink Anthony Parker to a 3yr/$7.5mill deal. That still leaves two gaps, starting shooting guard and back-up small forward. For the starting 2, I would throw Ben Gordon a 5yr/$47.5mill contract. He would be hard-pressed to find something competitive, especially from the Bulls. For the back-up small forward, I would go after one of Rodney Carney or Matt Barnes, offering a 3yr/$9mill deal.
5. Best case scenario: where would you realistically like to see your team at this time next year?
They should make the playoffs. The top 4 seeds in the East are fairly set in stone (Cleveland, Boston, Orlando, Atlanta) with the rest of the 5-10 seeds pretty interchangeable depending on how hot they get or injuries. If Colangelo doesn't get Bosh re-upped, the team needs to win next season, or we risk CB4 walking at the end of the year, and getting squat. I don't have to tell you how bad it would be to lose your franchise player and get zero in return (just ask Orlando how it felt when Shaq up-and-left).
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