This site is too often accused of being pessimistic in its viewpoint of the Raptors. I’m here to change all that. As we bid farewell to long-time servant Chris Bosh, the character that was Hedo Turkoglu, and the generally likable Jose Calderon, it’s time to welcome and look forward to a new breed of Raptor. One that plays hard and makes us all nostalgic about those hardworking beasts of the past, beasts such as Kevin Willis, Charles Oakley, Reggie Slater and to a much, much, much lesser extent, Vincenzo Esposito.
Bryan Colangelo’s had three summers to capitalize on the momentum of the 2006-07 season and it’s led to three massive letdowns. In each case, the goal in pre-season was to win a round and we failed to achieve that by a mile. You could even call it Bryan Colangelo’s three strikes. No matter what you think of Bosh (franchise player, poser, overrated, or whatever), he was a good player and the Raptors have screwed themselves over by not dealing with the situation in time, and now risk losing him for little, if anything.
They actually had Hedo Turkoglu pop out of a bunch of kids at his signing. After learning more about his character, I’m starting to think he hunted them after the signing, slapped them and took their lunch money. Full credit for Bryan Colangelo for swinging for the fences, unfortunately, the guy hits more deep fly-outs than Ed Sprague (look it up). Browsing the forums we’re apparently interested in Mo Williams, he of the short height and scoring mentality. It’s part of the exodus in Cleveland which would see them land another Raptor in Jose Calderon. The move works money-wise and would give the Raptors a scorer who isn’t the greatest defender, although he does put the effort out.
Is it a good deal for the Raps? Probably a lateral move more than anything, scoring isn’t our problem, rebounding and defense is. It also depends on how much you value Jose Calderon, if you’re of the belief that we’re going to get anything more than marginal talent in return for him, I hate to disappoint and say that Mo Williams is probably in the upper echelon of what you might get for Calderon. I know the opposing team’s announcers always rave about Calderon, but GMs and analysts see him in a much different and truer light. As much as I’d like to nab Lou Williams from Philly, it’s not going to happen. As for this deal, it makes sense if we’re going to push to contend next year, but I’d rather trade Calderon to Miami for a trade exception and a pick. Stockpile them.
The situation the Raptors are in calls for new thinking and ideas; instead of repeating the mistakes of the past three years by investing in “has beens” who have been great for other teams but have the odds stacked against them in repeating their performances in a Raptors uniform, it’s time to invest in potential and youth. Whether we draft Ekpe Udoh or the “best player available” or make a play for Ricky Rubio, they’re all better options than rinse-and-repeating by going after expensive free agents. We are in no position to attract the free agents that truly matter and who could change the fortunes of a team, so the next best thing is to develop your own. We’ve developed Damon Stoudamire, Vince Carter, Tracy McGrady, and Chris Bosh, there’s no reason that we can’t repeat those feats. If we are in a position to sign free-agents next summer, there’s not much to be had but there are a couple quality bigs in Al Horford and Joakim Noah that, even if you overpay, would be worth the extra buck because of their youth and the upside they’ve shown.
It’s tempting to have a bridge in a transition period and contend and rebuild at the same time, but those situations are hard to produce because they depend on a team having rookie-scale contracts for players who are starting to emerge. Portland and OKC are two great examples, but even those two franchises paid their dues and success didn’t come overnight. The Raptors have yet to pay their dues, and Bryan Colangelo should realize that there are no shortcuts to contention. With DeRozan, Weems, and Johnson all thirsty for experience and playing time, it makes little sense to put them in bench roles where they’ll struggle to find consistency, a year or two of full-time NBA ball could be just what they need to go from a potentially decent players to potentially special.
The NBA Finals. I don’t know what my reaction will be if the C**tics manage to win this, I might just go on a shooting rampage starting with the mailman. Watching Game 2, you realize the importance of a guard who pushes the ball up the floor like there’s a 4 second limit for the backcourt violation, initiates action aggressively, and to top it off, hits the offensive glass on every single possession. Rondo’s aggressiveness is contagious and he’s making things happen out of thin air by exploiting the smallest of gaps in LA’s high-screen defense. While we’re discussing the C**tics, where would you rank Baby Davis compared to Amir Johnson? It’s an interesting debate, isn’t it? Davis currently makes $3M/year and is a free-agent next summer.