ShamSports

What’s worse than not being in the playoffs? Watching the C**tics excel in it. Long layoffs in the post-season are never good, especially in the case of the Magic who were on a roll in the first two series. The last thing you want to do when you’re beating teams by 30+ is to take a break because you’re tired of kicking ass. I’m not too worried, though, Stan Van Gundy doesn’t look like the guy who’ll let his team die without a fight, that honor belongs to Mike Woodson.

As the playoffs trudge along, there will be a Raptors moment in it. Not in the actual playoffs of course, but at 7:30PM on Tuesday when the NBA holds its draft lottery and DeMar DeRozan represents the Dinos. You know what, I always hated the word “Dino” associated with the Raptors, it makes the dinosaur, a viscous creature by any regard, sound like it’s little cuddly squirrel. Instead of picking out the first four letters of the word, I much rather have picked the last four – The ‘Saurs. There you go, much tougher. Back to the lottery – so DeRozan will represent the ‘Saurs which has to be a rather unexciting point in his life. Colangelo’s too embarrassed to show his mug around so he sends the rookie who must hardly feel thrilled about being the face of a lottery team. Speaking of thrilled, the Sixers, who have the sixth pick, have a countdown going on their website.

If you’re of the disposition that the Raptors need Chris Bosh, head on over to BoshTown.com to show your support (or whatever). I went there, not to show my support because I don’t care what Bosh does, but to steal the pic in the title of this post (that’s how I roll). There’s a bunch of stuff there like how Bosh is the Raptors leader in points, rebounds, double-doubles, fourth quarter choke-jobs and free throws, but somehow I don’t find that very impressive. I mean, yes, it’s nice that he’s been able to accumulate those stats, but I think the site is being unfair by not mentioning his whopping three playoff wins. No matter what you feel about the teams around him, fact is that Bosh as a centerpiece hasn’t produced much, and if you ask B-Co (that’s what I call Colangelo now), he’ll tell you there was enough talent on the teams he assembled to at least make mild noise.

PHDSteve says he’s willing to bet his first born that the Raptors will be drafting Avery Bradley. The rationale is good: we don’t need a true PG since we have Turkoglu and we need a defensive-minded guard with upside. The Raptors are definitely looking at PGs despite having two tied to long-term deals, they’re working out Jeremy Wise on June 3rd. Obviously just because you work out a guard doesn’t mean you’re going to draft a guard, but I do believe B-Co has realized that he doesn’t need both Calderon and Jack, and that that money could be used wisely elsewhere. However, let’s keep in mind that as of right now, we have two big men under contract – Reggie Evans and Andrea Bargnani, and Bargnani plays like he’s 6’4″. I wrote a while back about how we should be careful not to overpay Amir Johnson, and that belief has been reinstated by some of the solid reviews guys like Ekpe Udoh, Greg Monroe and Hassan Whiteside are getting. There are no better contracts in the NBA than rookie-scale contracts (just ask the Blazers), and with the Raptors feeling the salary cap pinch, it would be wise to stock up on those while rebuilding the core.

Core. What is the Raptors’ core if Bosh leaves? Bargnani, Calderon and Turkoglu? Or is it DeRozan, Weems and Bargnani? How about DeRozan, Johnson and Jack? Regardless of how you assemble the marginal talent we have, no permutation of it will be acceptable as a “core” of a franchise. You could argue that in the East, the Bulls, Bucks, Bobcats and even the Nets after they get John Wall, will have a better core than the Raptors. That should serve as all the more reason to use this draft to keep up with the Joneses. So, without further ado, here’s my plan:

  • Trade Bosh to Houston and see if you can get Shane Battier, Jared Jeffries and Jordan Hill, all three are expiring deals. Off-loading one of Calderon or Turkoglu would be great, but the deal works without them. Battier is a solid teammate and professional who can teach DeRozan and Weems a lot, I cannot overstate that.
  • Draft a defensive big – Ekpe Udoh ideally, but even consider Daniel Orton or Hassan Whiteside.
  • Sign Amir Johnson to a three year deal no more than $3.5M/yr, if he doesn’t take it, let him walk. This gives us a frontline of Bargnani (crap defensively) and big guys with length who can play help defense. There’s also Reggie Evans (expiring) who will be better next year just by, hopefully, being injury free.
  • Buy a pick in the late first or early second round and see if you can get Willie Warren or Avery Bradley, unlike Steve, I don’t think you need to draft Bradley at #13. Unless his stock shoots up big time, he should be available later.
  • Trade Jose Calderon, maybe to Los Angeles or even the Knicks who will be desperate to spend once LBJ says no to them.

Will this solve our problems? No, but at least it’ll shed some salary, infuse some talent into the team and make us a little younger. I’m resigned to the fact that Turkoglu is an unmovable contract and all we can hope is that he turns it around next year and maybe, just maybe, plays well enough that a contending team will come calling at the deadline and offer some younger talent.

Have a gander over to the forums where there are a few discussions going on, one of which being who fits us the best – Bynum, Beasley, Noah or Lee, and whether LeBron will be okay with Delonte as a step-dad.

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