Recent reports suggest the Raptors spent a good deal of time partying this season. Much ado about nothing or a reason for the teams poor play? Raptors broadcaster Eric Smith tackles this topic.
Nobody in the front office, from the player-friendly Isiah Thomas to the more aloof Bryan Colangelo and the sincerest spirit this side of Dudley DoRight, Glen Grunwald, have been able to give this team a positive identity. None have been able to make the Raptors a franchise for which NBA players want to play.
The athletes that do come here either end up frustrated with the franchise’s inertia, or become mere basketball mercenaries putting in time until a better invitation beckons.
“Teams who are succesful have that swagger and believe that this is the way life is and that they have an entitlement to success. There is cohesion, a sense of fighting for the same thing, not just a contract for next year,” says Bert Carron, a psychologist and one of Canada’s most highly-regarded experts on group and team dynamics.
“Teams that are zero-and-20 never have team reunions. Success produces togetherness.”
The Raptors never seem to get it together compiling just three playoff game victories in the past eight seasons. The Raptors, says Carron, “from their inception, have had athletes trying to get out of town. That sense of this is a place to play and we’re as good as anyone doesn’t seem to be there.”
That was all supposed to start to change this year with new players and a new attitude.
Some blame Colangelo’s reliance of European players, noting they are soft. But, let’s be honest, this team hasn’t scared anyone but it’s fans in years, well before Colangelo went puddle-jumping.
The Raptors have been regarded as pushovers, particularly since the Vince Carter era. They have a reputation as a team that can’t — or won’t — fight through adversity or stand up for each other.
These guys kick butt about as often as the cute, cuddly kittens in those Charmin’ bathroom commercials.
Toronto is a true international city, a place where the nightlife comes in all sorts of flavors and truly goes on into the hours where few good things happen. NBA players genuinely like the city and trips there. For players on the Raptors, it takes a certain level of professionalism not to get sucked into that.
But if this is true — and that is a mighty big if, mighty big — this is more about the players than the place. Frankly, if you want to find trouble in Salt Lake City you can find it. Well, maybe a bad example. If you want to find trouble in Sacramento you can find it. Or Oklahoma City. If you’re undisciplined, the trouble will find you, no need to be in Miami or New York.
If — again big if — this is true, some roster changes may be needed. Because this is about the players, not the city.
Williams can control both of those factors, and his offseason regimen will determine whether he can again raise his ceiling next year. The 22-year-old Seattle native will spend a majority of his summer at a new house in his hometown, working out under Raptors assistant coach Eric Hughes – who spent several years as director of summer player development for Goodwin Sports Management there – alongside Raptors guard DeMar DeRozan, who started for Toronto throughout his own rookie season.
But the Bulls said goodbye to their best outside shooters to clear roughly $20 million in cap room for the summer. It puts a different spin on this series to imagine the Bulls facing the Cavs next year with Chris Bosh in uniform.
During Monday’s TNT studio show, Charles Barkley suggested teams should appreciate beating the Bulls now, because it might get tougher in the future.
The team’s most glaring need right now is an outside shooter, which makes Atlanta’s Joe Johnson an obvious target. But Bosh is so ready and available now, he almost has to become the priority.
After a rough season, Toronto management probably expects Bosh to leave. Raptors general manager Bryan Colangelo has been talking up a sign-and-trade in an effort to get something in return for their all-star power forward.
The Bulls can sign Bosh outright and he couldn’t ask for a better opportunity – major market, competitive team, an all-star point guard and an energetic center to do the heavy lifting on defense.
Bosh’s other strong option will be to join Dwyane Wade in Miami, but the Heat will have to rebuild the supporting cast. Given the choice of playing center himself or playing next to Noah, that’s probably no decision at all for Bosh.
The Bulls’ plan this summer will be to find a way to sign both Bosh and Johnson. That will require a sign-and-trade with another team taking back Luol Deng or Kirk Hinrich. A long shot, definitely, given the size of those two contracts, but tossing in Taj Gibson or draft picks as sweetener could help their cause.
Antoine Wright: Get out Bird. Wright isn’t really that good of a defender, but on this team he is Alvin Robertson. Wright plays hard on defense and is tough so he gets playing time on this team. Unfortunately, he is horrid on offense. I cringe every time he launched a three. If he can hit 40% from three point line, he will have a career in the NBA, but he couldn’t. He won’t be back next season which does say a lot about his defensive abilities. Grade C-
I wouldn’t be surprised if he did end up re-signing, though. While there are a lot of choices for him, there is a question of how many are willing to pay the max for him, and there is also a question of whether other situations are better than Toronto.
Bosh is adamant that he doesn’t want to be anyone’s second banana, and with his experience with the Raptors, is he going to want to go to a new team that is rebuilding? I don’t think so. In my next post, I’m going to layout who I think has the best shot at getting Bosh, who Bosh should choose and who would benefit the most from him.