A word about the title pic. This is the generic pic of a team who is getting their asses handed to them. Too often this year we saw the Raptors in that pose, and I don’t know why, but it feels good when I see someone else looking so depressed that you’d think they’re facing the electric chair.

As teams bow out of the NBA playoffs, one of the first reactions I have is thinking about what they might do next year in order to get better. The second thought I have is whether the Raptors can sneak in there and help them out while strengthening their squad as well. Once the salary page for the team is analyzed, the focus shifts on who the Raptors would like from their roster. Take the Hawks for example, they’ve got one foot in the grave against Orlando and once the Magic take care of formalities, it’ll be the third straight season the Hawks will have failed to venture deep into the playoffs. They’ve gotten to the second round the last two years, lost in the first round the year before that, and going even further back, they had eight straight seasons in the lottery. As a team, they’ve got good young talent in Al Horford, Josh Smith and Marvin Williams, but after that we’re quickly talking about rented-guns like Jamal Crawford, aging players such as Joe Smith and Mike Bibby, and the mixed bag of Jeff Teague etc.

It’s a roster that, although talented, has reached its maximum and with Joe Johnson being a free-agent, the Hawks have some decisions to make. And whether to fire Mike Woodson or force him to use a trimmer isn’t the main one. The Hawks got to the second round with a smaller payroll than the Raptors, but that won’t be happening anytime soon. The Hawks have $48M tied in salary for next year and that’s without Johnson; if they choose to re-sign him to a long-term max or close-to-max deal, they’d have to cross the tax to sign Al Horford, who becomes a restricted free-agent come next summer (let’s see if the Hawks hand him a $50M/5yr deal this summer!!). The Hawks are 18th in league attendance which means gate-revenues aren’t exactly rolling, and for a team to be that poor in attendance and cross the tax is rare. Of the 12 teams that paid the tax this season, only one of them is below the Hawks in attendance – the Wizards. The point (which makes sense to the point of being obvious) is that you have to do well at the gate in order to spend, and the Hawks simply don’t do that, which is a strong indication that they won’t be able to tender big contracts to Johnson and Horford.

Where am I going with this? Well, it’s a Sunday and I’m killing time till the Arsenal game so I was really thinking out loud more than anything, but could the Hawks be a trading partner for the Raptors? They can’t possibly stay put this off-season because they’re at a crossroads – go the extra mile and make a play to be a serious contender, or….I’m not sure what. I don’t see the Hawks being in the race to land a second star for Johnson, as I said, they just don’t have the money which means they’ll be trying to sell Johnson in a sign-and-trade. The only team desperate enough to offer him max-deal type money is New York which has a ton of cap room and are itching to sign just about anybody with a reputation. In fact, my sixth sense tells me they could even be interested in Hedo Turkoglu if a three-teamer could be orchestrated. Hawks fans are hoping Portland is interested since they “missed out” on a swingman in Hedo, but that’s really about it.

But wait. Last time I checked we were in desperate need of a swingman and Joe Johnson happens to be just that; if the Raptors are able to re-sign Bosh, adding Johnson via a sign-and-trade could instantly bring credibility to the Raptors. And I mean instantly. Not since Vince Carter have we had a player who could create his own shot at the SG, and adding this new dimension to the squad could go some ways in remedying the situation. Unfortunately, this is the point where most of my hopes turn into ashes and die. We have nobody they want. Other than Bosh, the only truly tradeable commodity is Jarrett Jack (for contract and play reasons) and perhaps the rookie-scale contract of DeMar DeRozan, which isn’t going to be enough.

I considered Andrea Bargnani as a possibility but the Hawks have two much better big men in Josh Smith and Al Horford, so they’d probably laugh at that, especially once they see Bargnani’s paperwork. This is unfortunate, because the more I think about it, the more I feel that Chris Bosh is looking to join a partner in his quest for a championship and he does not believe that Andrea Bargnani is that guy. How do I know that? It’s bloody obvious. If Colangelo insists that Bargnani be a major part of this team, I don’t see Bosh buying into it, and I don’t blame him. Colangelo just might be given the ultimatum of either choosing Bosh and parlaying Bargnani into something resembling a #2 option, or sticking with Bargnani and rebuilding while letting Bosh walk. I fear he’ll choose the latter.

Richard Peddie talked about still having confidence in Colangelo. Here are some direct quotes from the article:

“He came in with great DNA and great credibility and this is a tough time for Bryan,” Richard Peddie, the chief executive officer of MLSE, said. “He’s feeling it.”

“He’s in the last year of his contract and we will probably talk to Bryan about an extension but nothing is going on right now,” Peddie said. “… Bryan will go to the board in the next month or two and talk about his plan for the next year and everyone will see if Bryan is comfortable with it and we’re comfortable with it and that will dictate what we do in the future.”

“I think he wants to stay [and] it’s a two-way street. I still think he’s really an excellent choice. I really do,” Peddie said. “ I look around and think, geez, who else would I want?”

Yeah, I have to agree with Peddie here, there is NOBODY else more desirable than Bryan Colangelo. Is he being serious or is just plain ignorant? Can’t figure out which, but despite the quote, there seems to be just a little less blind confidence in his abilities and the fact that they haven’t inked him to an extension says that they are, deep down, questioning his team-building skills.

I don’t know much about Richard Peddie except that there used to be a site called firepeddie.com started by Raptors fans which is no longer active. Even Leaf fans have wanted his head on a platter, and I know that Leaf fans are the most rational and clear-thinking people on earth so MLSE should really fire him. Now.

Anybody see this flowchart on the Score about where Bosh will go?