So Raptors fans, this is it. 13-17. This is what we have to show for the first 30 games of the 2009-2010 season. Weren’t we told that this season would be different? Weren’t we promised by management that this team would compete, play defense, and challenge in the East? Wasn’t a full training camp, the toughness of Reggie Evans, and the addition of a fourth quarter closer supposed to fix the problems with last year’s roster? We were told that 2009-2010 would be better.
And now, the excuses continue:
- Reggie has been injured
- Jose is injured
- Guys aren’t comfortable yet
- Guys don’t trust each other on D
- We don’t shoot enough 3’s?
In football, Bill Parcel’s has a great quote, “you are what your record is” and what we are is a team, who 30 games in is: 13-17, 4 games under .500. That means, just to finish 41-41 (forget about winning 45+ games and cracking the top 5 in the East) we will need to go 28-24 and play at a .530 clip. And yet, for a team playing .433 ball, for a coach who has lost 2 out of every 3 games he has coached at the NBA level (and by an average margin of double-digits) that seems pretty lofty, no matter what the schedule looks like. Let us not forget that this team’s longest win streak this season is 3 games (and that included an OT win over 8-17 Washington, and W’s over the 10-16 Bulls and the 5-23 T-Wolves).
Take a look at what remains on tap for the Raps and (play the game yourself) check off which games you think are wins and losses and then total them up. By my most optimistic accounts, the team could go 25 and 27 – nowhere near enough to finish .500. If they were to play out the rest of the season like this, they would finish with 38 wins. Ironically, that still may be good enough to land the 7 or 8 seed in the east and a first round match up with Boston or Orlando. However, that wont be good enough to keep Bosh, and furthermore, you are better off for the future of the club to be in the lottery than you are to be the 8th seed in the east. I’m not sure that the geniuses at MLSE feel the same way. In fact, I’m pretty sure they would rather have a home playoff game than a chance at a game changing point guard in the draft. So, assuming that the 8th spot is NOT good enough for this club, there are at this point 4 options:
1. Tweak and make a run at the 5 spot
We all by now have heard the Jack Armstrong sound bytes about how this is the 5th most talented team in the East and that they should be striving for the 5th seed. So assuming it will take about 45 wins to get the 5th seed, you would need to tweak the existing roster and the mood in the dressing room to get this team to start to achieve to its potential.
Here tweaking would mean something along the lines of:
- Firing the coach
- Signing a vet, a recent retiree (i.e.: a Stackhouse or Bowen) to help shore up the dressing room and provide some solid minutes off the bench (12-15)
- And perhaps a minor deal for a legit point guard to handle some minutes while Jose is injured, i.e.: Belinelli to (insert team of choice) for (insert point guard of choice).
2. Cash in on your assets and rebuild on the fly
Here, you would acknowledge that this year is a write-off (may make playoffs but won’t win a round), but that you are not that far off from being a competitive team in the East. To choose this option you would also have to believe that Andrea has enough in him to take over this franchise. So, the key to rebuilding on the fly is to cash out your best asset (Bosh) while the value is still fairly high. The peak point for trading Bosh has already come and gone and the price of what you can expect in return will continue to decrease with every calendar day that passes and every Raptor loss. We should be looking at moving Bosh before the season is totally ruined and teams know that you have to move him or else watch him walk. Over the last month in my podcasts I’ve suggested several trades that you have voted on, sending Bosh to places like Chicago, Miami, Houston, Utah and OKC. In each case the package that has come back has included, some form of cap relief, a starter/younger prospect and a first round draft pick. Any package must include a first rounder, a current starter, and either cap relief or a young prospect.
Make a move like this, and you can continue to build around a young nucleus of guys like Andrea, Marco, Amir, DeMar, Sonny, and Jarret, who are all under 25. Besides, you can’t be much worse without Bosh. Really.
3. Blow it up and start again
Here is an option, why not blow it up? Why not make everyone available and start dumping players for expiring deals and number ones:
- Turkoglu, Calderon, and Banks to Houston for McGrady and a #1
- Bosh to Utah for Boozer and a #1
- Bargnani to Miami for Haslem and a #1
The point here is that it doesn’t matter what you get back, all you are looking to do is move out any contract that exists beyond this year and accumulate as many #1s and as much cap space as possible for 2010. If you were to go this way, it is possible that all that remains on this team come July 1st is DeRozan, Johnson, 50 million in cap space, and 5 first round picks in the upcoming draft. FYI, the draft looks to have some really strong prospects in addition to John Wall, the stud PG. And with all your team’s top players gone, Triano is free to coach without criticism, you can give significant minutes to DeRozan and Johnson and see what they can do, and you are likely to challenge both NY and NJ for the rights to draft John Wall.
4. Stay as is
History has shown that this is Colangelo’s most likely course of action. In fact, on CBC during halftime of Sundays game versus New Orleans, Colangelo said that he has no plans to either fire Triano or overhaul the roster. And while his words are inspiring and can make even the most disheartened Raptors fan, like myself, believe that there is better to come in 2010, the proof is in the figgy pudding. And so 2009 ends exactly the same way as 2008 did, with an underachieving roster, a coach without a proven track record for success, a significant amount of fear surrounding Chris Bosh’s approaching free agency, and no apparent cause for concern from MLSE or no stated intention to make the necessary changes to right the ship.
FYI, last year we were 11-17 on Christmas day.
As always, standing in the key, I’m the Dr., I’ve got my feet planted and I’m planning on taking a charge!
Note: Check back later to hear the Christmas Carols being performed!