For the first time in awhile, I believe the Raptors are in the strongest position in years.

Huh?! Bear with me.

NBA Championship teams almost always have one of the the following two traits:

  • Being a historic franchise in a large market.
  • Having one the top few picks in an excellent draft.

We can safely say that the universe of large market teams with a history of winning consists of two teams – and perhaps four in total. Fifty-five percent of the NBA championships have been won by the Celtics or Lakers franchises. That’s 33 out of 60 (yes, I left a couple defunct 40s/50s franchises off). Add the largest market team, the New York Knicks, that have won only twice (sadly), so that takes us to 35.

We also have six Chicago Bulls teams that have won. Chicago is a great market with a long history, but could also be characterized within our second trait: a top pick (#3, some dude named Michael Jordan). Also in that draft was #1 pick Hakeem Olajuwon, who lead his team to back-to-back championships.

We’ve covered 44 out of 60 titles already with three big market franchises and only one draft!

So, what’s left?

The San Antonio Spurs won four (David Robinson #1 pick, Tim Duncan #1 pick), the Bucks won once (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar #1 pick), so did the Blazers 1 (#1 pick Bill Walton), 76ers (Moses Malone #5 in ABA) and Heat (Dwyane Wade #5 and Shaq #1). The Detroit Pistons won three, twice with Isiah Thomas (#2 pick). We are now at 54 out of 60 (I left one Detroit team off, see below).

There were only a handful of teams that didn’t directly draft their All-star (2003-04 Pistons only had Darko Miličić as a top pick #2 in 2003 who obviously wasn’t key to that winning season). Otherwise, they drafted smartly higher up and traded for their key players.

I think its fairly clear. You generally win in this league by either being a big market to draw top free agents (Boston, Los Angeles, and New York). There may be a second tier of “big draws”, being Miami and New Jersey with a combination of life style, money and/or marketing power,. But beyond that teams are usually left to the lottery to find cornerstones.

The Toronto Raptors have a good sized market (yes, its a basketball market, our American friends will eventually figure that out). The Greater Toronto Area (GTA) is 5.6 million strong and, as Canada’s only team, you could argue the home team for 35 million. Perhaps the size of market is not entirely relevant, since we have little “history” (four winning seasons in fifteen years). NBA players love to visit, but many certainly don’t put Toronto at the top of their free agent list. Its more about its history of winning than weather (though some will argue differently).

So with this knowledge in hand, do we:

  1. Maximize the expiring deals and TPE to materially improve and take on longer term contracts from financially strapped and/or non-playoff bound teams?
  2. Spend the remainder of the season developing our youth and trade for youth/picks?
  3. Somewhere in between?

I argue for #2. We need to look to get top pick. We have Miami’s 1st pick this year which certainly won’t translate into a top pick. But ours may. I’m against tanking as I have debated with Michael Grange over the last couple of years. But I don’t think we were ever far apart – I was more against tanking late in 2009 as it wouldn’t matter much (only a spot or two at best). However, Mr. Grange started his argument to tank earlier and it potentially could have resulted in a much higher pick. I remain against purposely losing. I’m the “honour the game” type of guy. And perhaps this is cheating my argument some, but I do support playing our youth (Davis, DeRozan, Alabi, Bayless, Johnson) “more than normal” minutes than they may “deserve” with the purpose of getting them more experience. I’m all over working on development in game situations where we run plays for our young players even if it may not be the optimal shot. I want at least some of them in late-game situations even if it’s not our best lineup per se.

Isn’t this just another form of tanking? Maybe, depends on exactly how we define it I suppose. However, I propose coaches/management instill in the players the goal is always to win and never “throw” a game. I want the young core to win together. I want them to have a last-second-shot-to-win-it experience. But with playing our inexperienced players and thus suboptimal lineups, we are likely to lose more over the course of the season. I see it as a win-win.

What are the odds that we’d draft a “superstar”?


So what are the odds that we draft a superstar? Thankfully 82games did this exact study.
It appears we likely need a top 5 pick.

“But there are no guarantees” some have argued with me in the past. Yes, its easy to name several top 5 picks that have been busts. But can I easily name many more “game changers”?! (Hint, the answer is yes). “What’s the alternative?”, I ask. Trade our expiring deals for longer deals, but better players? Where does that leave us? Another 7th place finish, first round exit and a high pick? Probably. I’ll take the risk of selecting a high pick bust instead, thank you.

GM, assistants and scouts
There is little use in fans debating whether Chris Bosh was enough of a cornerstone to “build around”. That shipped has sailed and I do not entirely blame management for trying to put those last few pieces around him. It was always a tough task and we could debate the merits all day, but its time to move on. We have what we have and that includes a large TPE and significant expiring contracts. With the CBA around the corner, let’s use our upcoming cap space wisely. Its a big asset.

Salary space to work with…

Source: HoopsHype

Let’s look at the 3 to 5 year rebuild despite the urgency to get better now. The Raptors are right in the middle of the pack for attendance despite a poor record. Sell the fans on the build commitment, which involves patience to “do it right”. Draft and trade for young players that have a winning first mindset. Ones that are true teammates. Its difficult, but can me done.

“… it’s hard not to be selfish. The art of winning is complicated by statistics, which for us becomes money. Well, you gotta fight that, find a way around it. And I think we have… // We got 12 guys who are totally committed to winning.” – Isiah Thomas, during the 1989 playoff finals.

Coaches
It’s a tough balance between letting the young players play through some mistakes, but also creating a culture of accountability. They need to develop the young players by testing them in the heat of battle, and if they don’t perform or neglect their duties, then that will give an indication of where they might lie in the Raptors’ future plans (ahem, Sonny Weems).

Fans
If a multi-year plan to build a winner is put forward, is there enough fan support for the idea for MLSE to be bold enough to implement it? Look, very few organisations/owners are willing to suffer through years of losing tens of millions of dollars. It’s just not realistic and I do not expect anything different from ours. Owners have many investment opportunities to generate returns and while a very few are willing to take losses for their “hobby”, its just not realistic for them to endure many years of negative returns. Unless you have $400 million and like to lose money, let’s just accept this.

We do have a supportive base it appears. There are many “fair weather” fans everywhere, but I believe fans will support the franchise in the rebuilding years IF a clear plan is delivered and executed on. MLSE has significant profit leverage if they can build a winner – Maple Leaf Square is just begging to host a multiple playoff series.

MLSE should not be considered a penny-pinching organization. The Raptors have always been in the middle of the pack or closer to the top-third in NBA salaries (currently 15th), so to say they aren’t willing to spend is incorrect. It’s true that they have never shattered the luxury cap barrier, but has there even been a reason to? Have the Raptors ever really been one mid-season move away from something special? Probably not. On this point we may have to take Colangelo’s word that the board is willing to cross the luxury-tax bridge as long as it’s justified towards winning. I noted before in this that winners spend well over the cap. But this post should have been the “prequel” to it. You need to have the foundation in place before you add that last missing piece or two.

So. Things aren’t as bad as ESPN might have you believe, in fact, they’re looking up.

  • Nilanka15

    Great article. I’m totally a proponent of option number 2 as well. Playing the “vets” heavy minutes this year (Calderon, Barbosa, Kleiza) does absolutely nothing to help us improve this franchise. We may lose some fans in the process of rebuilding, but honestly, they’ll be back in a few years once we’re back facing in the right direction.

    In the meantime, all I want to see from the kids is improvement. Triano seems to be a great “player’s coach”, but not much of a disciplinarian. I suppose only time will tell whether that kind of personality is suitable for the situation at hand.

  • Homer2004

    espn has always been anti raptors and dont like Euros!!!!

  • Neil514

    well said. very interesting read.

  • sleepz

    If this is the planned course of action (which I have no issue supporting), I would hope that the Raps would focus on trying to not just acquire picks for this years draft. There are some players there in 2011 but 2012 might yield some real top tier ballers for years to come (Rivers, Irving, Wroten).

    Hopefully mangement (and I would prefer this to be NEW management) will see that the light at the end of the tunnel is possible, if you are patient and make the goal championship focused.

    • http://twitter.com/Liston Tom Liston

      Aha! That was something I meant to add. Obviously try to work 2012 picks, if possible given the the potential for draft eligible players to hold out given the CBA uncertainty. We have two first round picks this year anyway.

      • sleepz

        I agree. That being said I don’t think the last lockout had a dramtic effect on players staying, as I believe that was also the year the Raps drafted Carter.

        • Nilanka15

          Let’s pray there’s a miraculous resolution between the league and union before this season ends.

  • Employee

    It’s great to develop young players, but coaches also like being employed and need to win to do so. It has to come from above that they have that green light to play the raw rookies

  • Mediumcore

    Great article, and I agree that there is a lot of hope for this team. Actually, I’d say we’re closer to the light at the end of the tunnel than most would think. We already have a few really good looking bigs o this team with Ed and Amir and hopefully we can sign Reggie to a more manageable contract to come off the bench. And with Andrea having as good a year as he is we might be able to move him for picks, cash, a good wing etc… I’d say we just need to work on the guards and small forward positions and we’d be half decent.

  • WhatWhat

    The team’s just missing its alpha dog, totally agree with the article.

  • DonCarlos

    LOL at “the vets”. Calderon and Barbosa are 27 and Kleiza is 25. They’re as much a part of the mid-term future as the Young Onez.

    While I’m loving that Calderon is making a huge comeback, part of me is jealous that Dallas is getting Chandler’s big comeback season and not Toronto.

    • Giolondon999

      About the vets comment don’t worry Nilanka doesn’t usually knows what is talking about ….him and Timmy would be a great curling team!

      he rather start Weems than Kleiza because Kleiza is a ” vet” and Weems the furure ….wow!

      • yertu damkule

        you do realize that nilanka used ‘vets’ in the same way you did i.e. emphasizing that they aren’t true ‘vets’ as one would normally associate with that term (via quotes), but merely that they have more pro bball experience than some of their teammates.

      • Nilanka15

        Gigolo, if you assume that Barbosa and Calderon would be regular contributors to this Raptors team in 3-4 years, then let’s just say, I’m relieved you’re not employed by MLSE.

        • Giolondon999

          ah ah ah ! I’m relieved that you are not employed by MLSE too !
          you put Kliza in the same situation of Barbosa and Calderon Kleiza can be at least a a very good sixth man for the future , he covers multiple position ect. many of you should be Clippers e Minny fans you love that rebuilding staff !

          • Nilanka15

            I’ll admit Kleiza’s got potential based on the last few games. But I originally included him with Calderon/Barbosa based on his first 20 games.

            • Jonathan

              What Linas Kleiza are you watching? This guy was not ready to have come from europe. Huge dissappointment..

    • hotshot

      Please check the players age.

      Calderon is 29 years old and Barbosa is 28.

      I know its not big difference but when it comes to how many years you want to commit to a player then it does.

    • J Shalla

      calderon is 29 and barbosa is 28

    • Kelsie Mcpherson

      Interesting observation.

      What is to be made of Jose Calderon? If the GM had his wish earlier in the year Jose would not be playing here, so he wasn’t considered a part of the immediate or long-term future before the start of the season. Did they not trade him after this because they re-considered or the deals dried up? Now that Jack is gone and Jose is still here, is he now a part of the future or is he still being offered but there are just no takers at this time? I’m puzzled as to how or if he fits in. A long time ago I remember the Raps trying to trade A. Williams for I believe D. Fortson which was reneged becasue of Alvin’s knee and in hindsight turned out alright for the Raps. Is this a similar situation or did Raps miss the boat in shipping JC out?

  • Bryce

    wake up, please.
    the size of potential market means nothing here (i bet Portland is a bigger basketball town than GTA).
    draft picks? are you kidding me? like we know how to draft and those who actually became star players ever sticked around after their rookie contract is up.
    i am proud Canadian who happens to like basketball more than curling, but the reality is…. com’on, let’s face the reality. Championship? give me a break

    • http://twitter.com/Liston Tom Liston

      Why not? Is Anaheim a hockey hotbed? Did they win the Stanley Cup? What about Carolina? What about Tampa Bay? All the kids there grow up playing hockey?

      Plenty of US cities are football first or baseball first. Does it matter the order?
      San Antonio has 1.4 million people and have won four times.

      Basketball was invented by a Canadian. And last time I looked, league rules allow for the a champion north of the border. Why settle for a lesser goal?

      • Theswirsky

        comparing hockey to basketball is comparing apples to oranges.

        I think Bryce has a point. Just saying a market is X size doesn’t mean thats the true market value of a location. India is the 2nd most populated country on earth… should be no problem selling ground beef there right?

        Now that doesn’t mean a championship can’t be won here. Rather its going to be tougher than other markets. Tougher attracting FAs and tougher keep players when FA comes around. The decision making, pricing of players etc is going to be different than other areas. Simply put location is still an added barrier.

        • http://twitter.com/Liston Tom Liston

          “Just saying a market is X size doesn’t mean thats the true market value of a location.”
          You’re both right. Didn’t intend to imply differently. I do think if San Antonio can do it, we can.

          • Theswirsky

            Oh no doubt it can be done. I would also point out San Antonio also took guys that had (for lack of a better term) a good mind set (David Robinson, Tim D) and , and non-American players (I guess Timmy D is kind of a halfer in that sense to)

            The raps are going to need to avoid guys who ‘need’ the attention…. although thats alot easier said then done.

    • Nilanka15

      Bryce is just a puckhead who’s pissed the Leafs have been the NHL’s Clippers for the last 40 years. He’s never heard of Vince Carter or Chris Bosh (2 “star” players who signed extensions in Toronto).

      • Theswirsky

        yet they both checked out before their contracts were up. They were also restricted FAs. The Raps could match any other contract (and offer more). Its not the same as UFA.

        • Nilanka15

          They signed extensions. That means they CHOSE to stay. If they wanted out earlier, they would’ve simply asked the Raptors not to match any offer when their first contracts expired.

          Regardless, Carter checked out early cuz he’s a douche. New Jersey, and Orlando have since dealt with his same douchiness. And Bosh remained a Raptor for the duration of his contract. He may have mentally checked out, but it’s hard to stay motivated when you know a better opportunity awaits. Speaking from a psychological perspective, there aren’t too many people who work their asses off after giving their current employer 2 weeks notice, know what I mean?

          • Theswirsky

            Question (unanswerable though): Would they have signed extension if there was no RFA period? Its easy to say they chose to stay, reality is they had no choice. Both also showed signs of (at the very least) thinking of leaving prior to their contract being up

            You can also look at the slew of people who didn’t want to come, people who chose/refused to come and people who wanted out.

      • Bryce

        haahaa that’s the first time someone called me a puckhead.
        The only thing I know about hockey is the Leafs suck.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1647990022 Dan Clark

    http://www.forbes.com/lists/2009/32/basketball-values-09_NBA-Team-Valuations_Rank.html
    Bryce you should be suprised to see that the raptors are 11 on the Forbes list of most valuable franchises. That is 5 spots ahead of Portland. Maybe you should know what your talking about before you say it.
    To your comment on star players not staying after their rookie contract is up is b.s as well. Vince signed a massive long term deal after his rookie contract and for some reason I also believe Bosh did the same thing.
    KNOW YOUR SHIT RETARD!

    • Theswirsky

      value of a franchise has nothing to do with attracting FAs or keeping players.

      • Bryce

        Just saying the population, stats, Forbes, or whatever don’t give you a winning team.
        Again, that’s a mistake people make… they look at it and say “on the paper, we could be a really good team”. ON THE PAPER….. they don’t decide who wins the Championship on paper.
        Anywas, as a REAL fan I really want Raptors to do well. Just wanted to remind people that a lot of elite teams never won a ring, Raptors need to get to that level first before talking about Chamionship.
        It a combinaiton of players, coach, managermant, CULTURE, and TRADITION.

    • Ihatehaters

      Hahahaha. You’re the retard, Dan!

  • Tinman

    Wow, you missed the obvious. We already have that number 1 pick. Its funny, I remember a poll with GM’s conducted days after Andrea’s draft that asked two questions. Who would win ROY – Bargnani ranked 5th or 6th, Second question was who would be the better player in 5 years, and Bargnani ranked first.(by the way, Rondo didn’t rank). That prediction appears to be accurate, looking at his draft class today(Rondo excepted).

    2- not sure what assets we have beside our young players? I am hesitant to trade Calderon, because I think he has got five good years left. When healthy, he is a good PG. Kleiza? Not sure he would garner much interest.

    #1 . If we can part with Peja and Reggie’s(who I’d resign next season on the cheap) expiring deals, I’d rather roll the dice and get potential and draft picks. With the TPE, will take a two year contract, as long as potential or draft picks are included.
    Only other assets we have are listed in #1

    ..which brings us to my choice

    #3 – I share your sentiments. I find it an exciting time to be a Raptor fan. I see nothing but continued growth for Bargnani, who quickly has shown that he can score with the best of them. Even on the defensive end. He will get better. By the end of his contract he will be an AllStar. Amir will learn how to stay on the floor. And when he is on the floor, he helps the team win. Davis and DeRozan are still kids. They are still both two years away from showing us what they have. And thats OK. Dorsey, Wright, Alabi and Bayless. Oh yeah, and our lottery pick coming up.
    Use our assets listed in #1 wisely, positioning ourselves to make a go 3 years from now, when our youth will be ready to compete against the best.

    • Nilanka15

      The assets are exactly what you speak of:

      – Young players like DeRozan, Weems, Bayless, Amir, Davis and Alabi (maybe Kleiza). They may or may not end up being part of the rebuild, but at the moment, that’s a lot of young talent on the roster. Raw, but talented.

      – Approx. $20 million in expiring contracts in the form of Peja, and Evans.

      – The TPE

      – 3 picks in the upcoming draft (1 lottery pick, Miami’s pick, and a 2nd round pick…I think).

      Given everything above, we’re in a very solid position to improve the roster compared to a lot of other teams.

      • Tinman

        I was responding to Tom’s 2nd option
        “Spend the remainder of the season developing our youth and trade for youth/picks?”
        which implied keeping the young players you mentioned.

        I also addressed the TPE and expiring deals in next paragraph in response to Tom’s 1rst option.
        “Maximize the expiring deals and TPE to materially improve and take on longer term contracts from financially strapped and/or non-playoff bound teams? ”

        Really should read what I write.

  • Pizzaman1

    Tinman nice post.
    I also would not trade Jose unless we have a real good point guard to replace him with. He is a solid PG, who can hit his jumpers, and make passes. Right now we have no one else even close to being able to do that. We have some good young developing players and we’ll know more by the end of this year just how good some of them can get.

    • Tinman

      Yeah, but you know Tim is gonna show up and burst my bibble.

    • http://twitter.com/Liston Tom Liston

      I like Jose Calderon as more of a mentor as well as a example of “how to be a great teammate”. I’m less concerned about his ability as I’m not sure winning 29 games versus 25 (by playing more youth) helps us. I’m fine with keeping him as a mentor as his contract will expire as the crucial 2nd phase of build occurs.

      • Tinman

        If we keep him and he is healthy, he is our starter. This is our blip season. Next season we make the playoffs, albeit as a lower seeded team. We’re grabbing our lottery winnings and going to the show!
        A healthy Jose is a good PG. All the excitement over Bayless, I’ve seen nothing indicating he is better suited to start over Jose. Don’t get me wrong, I wish for the most from him and hope this turns out to be on of BC’s better trades. I hope he goes into the offseason and works his ass off at his weaknesses. Hang out with Amir and Demar.
        Jose is not old. If he stays healthy he’s got 6-7 years left. He plays more of a cerebral game. Three, four, five years from now you can switch him to backup once we are sure have a quality starting PG.
        In total agreement about good teammate. None better than Jose. The longer he stays the better. He has been a class act from day 1.

    • KJ-B

      I like Jose, it’s fragility I don’t like… He’s a nice player, when he’s on the floor–but I’d hate to have to follow a guy makin’ $10 mil a year to nowhere eXactly–it’s professional sports and it means salaries can’t be wasted just for the sake of spending ‘dough’…

  • Pizzaman1

    Yes that’s expected but everything you said made perfect sense, and it is the way the experts called it and it is the way it is materializing

  • Jdifr

    Excellent article and posts. This team has a bright future. Right now, the players we have are good depth or 2nd tier players. On a championship contender like the Lakers or Celtics, Bargnani might be the only guy from the current squad who would start. In a few years time, he may be joined by Amir, Demar, Ed Davis, etc. This year needs to be about developing these young guys and acquiring a top 5 pick. So much talent should be available. Kyrie Irving, Harrison Barnes, Perry Jones, just to name a few. If you can get one of these and use our cap space and trade exemption, we’ll have the building blocks for a great future. Don’t forget, the current crew of championship contenders: Lakers, Celtics, Spurs, Mavericks etc. are all getting old. The Big 3 of the Heat are young but there’s so much money tied into the 3 of them that it will be hard for Pat Reily to surround these guys with decent talent should a hard cap come into play during the next round of negotiations. I’d venture to say that in the next 2-3 years, the NBA landscape will change dramatically. With some good planning and luck, the Raps have a big chance to be at the top in the not so distance future.

  • Brain Colangelo

    I agree with #2 as you’ve articulated it but let’s be clear that it does not mean that we’ll see a SF+ DeRozan, Bayless, Davis/Johnson, Alabi to close games. That would be brutal. The point is to put these guys into situations where they can learn, be tested by pressure and flourish. That’s why it’s helpful to have a Jose Calderon on the floor – so the team learns to play the game the right way and to make the most of their talent. He’s the only Raptor who plays well above the ceiling imposed by his god-given talent. With effort and smarts he has raised his ceiling.

  • Pizzaman1

    Jose is a great teamate to have around, plus he is the only real point guard we’ve had for awhile now. Jose has the skills if he stays healthy to play 5 or 6 more good years and he helps make others better. I’m hoping that Bayless can develop his jumper, and develop as a real point guard but while I like his speed and demeanor, I think he is and wants to be a scorer first and a playmaker 3rd or fourth.
    No question Jose is the catalyst to steady the team, get players their shots, and make everyone fit in. When Bayless started even though some of the play was exciting, it looked like a pick up game with everyone looking for their own, versus an organized offence with Jose.

  • Daniel

    I am shocked by the lack of historical perspective by the author even when historic data is being used. Winning teams are veteran teams that have found the right ingredients in management,coaching styles and players. There is no one formula to combine them all in determining the future. Only losing teams and mediocre teams talk about development and what not. That’s BS for fans’ consumption. You don’t give minutes to develop: talent always shines. The system and the style of play are as important to success than players’ talent. I was never concerned about Bargnani because I knew it was a matter of time before he’d play up to his talent level.
    Until DeRozan develops a shot, Amir learns how not to make stupid fouls, Weems learns to play within the team’s concept, Davis learns the speed of NBA game,and Bayless learns, well, everything about being a PG, we will not be a good team. The reality is they may never learn regardless how many minutes they play. Some of them will become good NBA players for us, some of them will have to be traded to acquire good pieces. Bottom line is only vets know the right way and only they, in real games, can show the young players how to win in NBA.
    It’s up to management and coaching to determine who’s talented or not. We can get 5 #1 draft picks and still going nowhere. I said it before: losing teaches only losing whereas winning is the only path to success.

    • http://twitter.com/Liston Tom Liston

      The San Antonio Spurs were 21 and 61 in 1988-89.
      They were coached by Larry Brown.

      The San Antonio Spurs were 56 and 26 the following year.
      #1 pick David Robinson joined the team after his Navy commitment.
      They were coached by Larry Brown.

      Explain.

      • Daniel

        Spurs is my favorite team in NBA at large and I watched them for 30 years. It was, in statistical terms, an outlier year. It was the second year of Larry Brown and they added a few pieces that made them better in the biggest turnaround in NBA history. However they needed 10 years of establishing a winning culture and the luck of drafting Timmy after a season riddled with injuries in order to win championships.
        I am quite suprised by your argument because you know very well I can pick numerous years when drafting #1 didn’t do anything for a team, short or long term.

        • Theswirsky

          agree… its not where you draft but who you draft. However picking high will mean first option at ‘the player’. So while it gives you the greatest chance of success (in a sense) it doesn’t guarantee anything. (eg. Kobe and Jordan)

        • http://twitter.com/Liston Tom Liston

          “I am quite suprised by your argument because you know very well I can pick numerous years when drafting #1 didn’t do anything for a team, short or long term.”

          Understood. But like I said in my post, would you rather than a good chance at drafting a James, Howard, Wall, Griffin etc, but potentially get a bust OR be more assured of drafting an average player (that may also be a bust).

          Life is about taking chances while chasing the ultimate reward. Being mediocre forever is not what I’m about personally.

    • http://twitter.com/Liston Tom Liston

      “The reality is they may never learn regardless how many minutes they play.”
      The reality is they may. Sitting the bench will ensure we will never know.

      “winning is the only path to success.” So, how do we go about winning then?

      • Daniel

        We currently have top 10 offensive PG and C and top 10 rebounders at PF position. The rest are a bunch of prospects and spare parts. The management have to make sure we have top 10 players at the other positions with the skillset we need to compete. Prospects should play only if they fulfill a goal that the management and coaching established in advance. What is the goal? What are the goalposts? We don’t know. What we do know is that the last 5 years of BC failed. Can he be trusted with another 5 years?
        Bottom line is we live in a world-class city with world-class companies, hospitals, universities and people. We should demand excellence from our sports franchises and nothing else. If a team or a player doesn’t perform then cut the losses. The coach should be tough in instilling the highest values.
        Look at d’Antoni in New York or Phoenix: no contribution, no play, vet or draftee. I like Amir, Davis and DeRozan still intrigues me among the young players. Reward them with minutes that are being earned instead of given. Make them work hard in practice and work smart in games. Make sure they hate losing and cannot sleep after every loss. The Bulls didn’t make Jordan, he made the Bulls. F..ing primmadonas never win anything.

        • http://twitter.com/Liston Tom Liston

          I said much of this in the post and obv agree. I would note that we do not have many vets that are earning minutes either. Need more guys like Evans that get after it every possession.

        • FAQ

          BC and Triano are developing the weak links in the Raptor roster so they can become trading chips for better players. I think we all can appreciate that it’s difficult to assemble a half-decent half-winning team from scratch … after all the Raps were blown up twice in the last 2 seasons … it’s a work in progress.

        • Rexdale

          isnt that kinda contradictory saying that jordan made the bulls but you said that the coach/franchise should make the winning culture?

    • Sek99

      Not necessarily. Look at the Thunder. Brooks won Coach of the Year. They only added Harden from the year before, and turned from a bottom dweller into a playoff team that gave the lakers a run for their money. I agree that system, veterans and all that play a part, but Harden wasn’t exactly ripping it up out there. They just grew together, developed together, and became a better team for it. Development does happen, but right they’re touting DD as having potential I honestly don’t see in him. Same for Bayless. They can both be good one day, even starting caliber, but I don’t see them being guys seen on a good playoff team. It starts with talent that can develop and than putting it in the right system with the right coach and culture. So I guess, I sort of agree and disagree with you at the same time.

    • Brain Colangelo

      the choice is not between being a good team and a young team with promise, it’s between youth and perpetual mediocrity. Were I in position to choose I would choose youth because this team is not winning anything this year or next year, except perhaps the right pick #15 overall and we all know that’s no prize.

  • wienermobile89

    Nice piece, Tom. I have basically nothing to add, except that the opening picture makes me miss watching the Raps in the playoffs so bad. I don’t mind waiting 3 or 4 years though – as long as it means they’ll actually make some noise once they get there.

  • RapthoseLeafs

    .
    This may seem radical, but I believe MLSE must enter the luxury tax zone sooner, rather than later. In other words, anytime would be a good time. A higher luxury tax means more money to play with …… like monopoly, but with a twist.
    And no, I do appreciate money.
    .
    As the CBA became more intricate & absorbing, it gave unique deals – like Boston’s Garnett & Allen – a greater chance to succeed. Teams in the Luxury tax zone (almost all contending play-off teams), have a greater ability to absorb high salaries in trades – salaries which coincide with greater talent (for the most part). And when there are the duds, the effect can be minimized.
    .
    In normal circumstances (without a large amount of Expirings + TPE), a team like Toronto would be unlikely to muster Boston-like deals. But without getting fixated on just Boston, non-luxury teams have less contracts to move, than a team like the Celtics. Last season the C`s had a 15 million dollar luxury tax hit – meaning their payroll was at least 15 million greater than Toronto (Raps being under the threshold). For a team like the Lakers, they had an additional 21+ million to “move around”, than the Raps did last season.
    .
    Luxury Tax Teams (Past Season)

    Lakers: $21.42 million (over).
    Mavericks: 17.79 million.
    Celtics: $14.98 million
    Cavaliers: $14.8 million
    Knicks: $14.65 million (the exception)
    Magic: $12.07
    Spurs: $8.853
    Nuggets: $5.19 million
    Suns: $5.01 million
    Heat: $2.83 million
    Jazz: $1.99 million

    One could argue that play-off teams got there first, then elevated to become part of the L-Tax group. Boston would – again – be contrary to that theory. I could also point out that Boston was a lousy rebounding team, when they won it all, but that would be another story.
    .
    For this season though, Toronto is in a unique spot. It has the resources to absorb some decent talent. It also has draft picks. And as much as I believe the draft is sacrilegious – for the right player, why not? The draft can be a crap shoot at times, and this year’s draft is like a black hole – an unknown. It`s possible that a number of eligible picks decide to wait out the new CBA. Add to the fact that the East is pretty weak after 5 or 6 teams, and the odds are T.O. will be walking away with another 10th – 15th pick.
    .
    I never advocate trading draft picks, but with the uncertainty for next season, there will be teams (with a difficult financial status), who will move a player against their better judgment. Fearful of the new CBA, and its`impact …… Toronto can jump on that.

    This might be a bit ballsy, and completely against the grain, but T.O. needs to create it`s own version of a Winner. The NORM doesn`t work here.
    .
    .

    • Daniel

      Good post. Farm teams don’t go far. Blue Jays bought their way to the championships and Toronto was thrilled. I’m so sick of losing.

  • Dobsully

    The bottom line is how much money you spend. Why didn’t you look at what the
    championship teams spend on salaries in comparison to the other teams.
    You write this fancy article which doesn’t analysis the most important factor.
    Money. Until the league follows the NFL and the NHL with a hard salary cap
    Toronto has no chance of even coming close to winning a championship.

    • http://twitter.com/Liston Tom Liston

      I absolutely did. From the article: “I noted before in this that winners spend well over the cap. But this post should have been the “prequel” to it.”

      It has a link to this: http://raptorsrepublic.com/2010/05/06/winners-spend-well-over-the-tax/

      The question is: do you need to build a base of talent first and THEN spend for the remaining key pieces? Or can Toronto simply just pull a Miami and sign all the pieces via free agency?

      I say the former.

  • Sek99

    Everyone here is betting we get a lottery pick it seems. The east isn’t exactly locked up, and now with Jennings out and Bogut as injury prone as he is, who else do we have to fight for the 8th seed? Philly? Unless Turner, well, uh. . . turns the corner they won’t be very good. I don’t think Holiday is all that good, Iggy’s playing hurt, and they have no defense with Spencer Hawes in the centre. Bobcats are already looking to rebuild, so unless we really start bombing, or give all our players away, we could be looking at 8th seed in the playoffs, or a another 9-13 pick. I will actually eat my own eyeballs with a spoon if we get 9-13 pick and have to hear about how the guy has potential for the next 4 years until he cuts. Seriously, spoon to eyeball, maybe I’ll post it on youtube. But seriously, rebuilding means we have to tank or get a steal at 9-14. There’s a lot of bad teams this year, and rebuilding is tough considering a bunch of other teams are trying this as well (Cavs, Boobcats, Pistons, Philly,) some teams are just not winning (Wolves, Clippers) and the teams that are rebuilding, like the Cavs and Boobcats, are willing to get rid of all their half-decent talent to do it, and unless we trade Bargnani, it’ll be hard to compete for that valuable 1-5 spot.

  • Sek99

    Also forgot to mention that if the Suns learn that Carter is a bum and actually start losing enough to trade Nash, there’s another team that may look to rebuild. Same goes for Houston now that Yao may have to retire, Nuggets if Melo leaves and the pieces they get back don’t take them to the playoffs. There’s only so many stars in a draft, and in this NBA, pretty much ten other teams or so are looking to or may at some point look to rebuild, which doesn’t bode well for trying to rebuild through the draft.

  • Mauro

    The only thing that this article doesn’t take into consideration is the future… CBA.
    I think that, or we have head up( or leaks) of what the new CBA will look like, or there is only one solution: flexibility.
    Its pretty clear that if a sort of hard cap will be implemented, this will reduce the strength of teams that are deep in the luxury tax.
    Flexibity at this stage its the only fixed asset its interesting to have

  • KJ-B

    I’d say that the one area you failed to address in your brilliant analysis Mr. Liston, is the area of expertise which WE TRADITIONALLY LAG BEHIND IS, USED TO AND SEEMS WILL CONTINUE TO BE IS COACHING… Premium level coaches just don’t want to live in Canada at this stage/age when their children are in school and growing up in a non-US based culture…

    It’s not that Toronto’s bad, it just ain’t American enough… Which is why we’ve always hired assistant coaches here except for Lenny (see: Grandpa age)… The ‘cable comment’ from Bosh and the ‘food’ comment from Carter is what has most coaches staying away–the older you get, the more set in your you get… So that being said, I am firmly of the opinion that Triano’s no way near elite level in NBA iQ but he does love Canada, and this is his dream job, so if he can keep his head above water and learn from PJ then MAYBE we might just have something good after all!

    If you check the HIStory of the NBA, you’ll see that 100% of the winning teams had 100% amazing coaches–go figure that 1… (Phil Jackson’s only won 11 of the last 20 Finals, PoP 4, Brown 1, Rivers 1, Tomjanovich 2, Riley 1)

    • Nilanka15

      Everybody has a price. During the Babcock debacle, did anyone anticipate someone as high-profile as Colangelo (who’s as American as you’ll get) being persuaded to fly north? It can be done man. Money talks.

      • KJ-B

        I’m mixing up the ‘reply’ button on the new interface–the Colangelo thing was 4u + the Celts thing for Rexdale, big UPs!!! Uhmm… Rex, u raise an interesting point because NBA championships do make HOF coaches… I just dunno if we can stare one of those guys here and I’m really uncertain if an emerging coach with true potential and mad skillz like a Tom Thibodeau, 1st year w/Bulls, would try to come to the raps to get their 1st championship…

        Eg. Avery Johnson going to the Nets with Proko on one end of the spectrum and SMitch his assistant coach on the other end of the spectrum, who all of a sudden has discovered the concept of manners south of the border–nothing like being a medium-sized fish in a tiny pond… I love TORONTO but does the NBA??? I just think we’re stuck with Triano for better or for worse–maaaybe PJ if things go awry…

        • Superjesusman

          WTF did you just say?

          • KJ-B

            My response @ 11:54 was mostly, by content, directed to Nilanka. Under the old comment-interface setup, you’d reply to the person whose comment appeared last, now you can ‘directly’ reply. Speaking of which, thanks for the callout, I meant to say “steer a coach in our direction…”

            Opposite ends of the spectrum would be a sought of way to explain coaching merit in Avery Johnson and a less sought after coach hired as an assistant in S(am) Mitch(ell). Sam acted like King Kong while he was in Toronto, but now he’s a humble lieutenant for the glitzy New Jersey Nets/Brooklyn New Yorkers saying all the right things… It’s just how funny how coaches on the lower end of the totem pole come to Canada and act so entitled, like Kevin O’Neill (who’s also found proper manners for dealing with the media in the NCAA at big time programs in Arizona and now USC) and like Canada should be kissing up to them for coming up here and them saving them. Butch Carter also thought he ran the world for a quick second, when he made a play for Glen Grunwald’s job as GM–unfortunately that move might have cost the Raps Vince Carter, as he and Butch, Chris Carter of the Viking’s brother had mutual love/respect. If you recall it was reported widely than Sam and Vince came to fisticuffs inside the Raps training facility…

            Which brought me to my conclusion: I guess we’re stuck with Jay, because as a Canadian, he couldn’t wish for a better job other than the ol’ Grizzlies job where he was a colour analyst… ((Was that better English, I’ve been noticing, after the fact that some of my posts have gotten a bit ragged with respect to syntax))

            • KJ-B

              EG “sought” instead of “sort” I think I should use Google Chrome lOl…

    • Rexdale

      LOL, i remember a few years back when the Celtics were TRASH….. Doc rivers was about to get fired, now hes a future HOF coach? Thats ridiciolous

      • KJ-B

        That’s the Celtics you’re talking about–they already had 16 banners hangin’ from the rafters when Doc came thru + Paul Pierce… Since everybody has a price why hasn’t ‘everybody’ come to Toronto??? For that fact why hasn’t everyone come to LA…Clippers?!? Phoenix Suns were being bought out at the time and the new ownership group wanted Steve Kerr an Arizona Wildcat legen–besides, when has Colangelo met a euro city he doesn’t like; Toronto’s as good as it gets for him and his French wife, as in France not Québec, wife… Est-ce que vous comprenez mon ami?

        • Nilanka15

          If MLSE offered a ridiculous contract to Jeff Van Gundy, don’t you think he’d consider it? But why would MLSE throw their money away on a coach without a real team to work with right now? Let’s rely on Colangelo and Triano to get this team up to respectability in the next 2 years, and then go after a high-profile coach who could make the difference between a 45 win team, and a 55 win team.

          The idea of Americans having an aversion to Canada is grossly overrated. It’s overhyped by the media too. The potential to win is the biggest attractor of all.

          • KJ-B

            ‘Potential’… My point exactly… Perception is the reality when it comes to media… Until we win with consistency, I don’t expect any big names… I suspect, unjustly so, that Toronto’s name will be bandied about when the cba comes up and the ‘c’ word is brought up…Americans barely know about the other 49 states, to assume they’re educated about Canada, is a very narrow minded view from here… I believe it was Ed Davis who was late to his presser because of a passport.

      • http://twitter.com/Liston Tom Liston

        I’ve made that same point in the past – thank you for bringing it up Rexdale.

        Google search “doc rivers fire him”
        http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/page2/story?page=simmons/061115
        There was even a dedicated website! http://www.fireglenndocrivers.com (now gone)

        So Doc coaches the Celtics to a 24 and 58 (his THIRD year as coach). They acquire Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen and they win it all. So was it more about A) the players they acquired or B) the coach.

        • KJ-B

          He still had to coach the players, and they had to respect him… I’m not sure All Stars/Future Hall of Famers respect Triano in this way, not even in the same way they held Mitchell, who was a peer of and consequently praised by Charles Barkley for bringing toughness to the Raptor franchise–toughness we’re still craving here; Reggie excepted.

          • jimmie

            This is opinion. I’ve heard and read differently re: players’ respect for Triano — both Raptors and Team USA players. So either they’re being disingenuous, or your opinion has no basis in fact. It’s easy to blame the coach when the players don’t perform.

    • http://twitter.com/Liston Tom Liston

      Toronto is one of the very best cities in the world. Cannot imagine – GIVEN the right group of players – a coach wouldn’t want to coach here.

      There are a handful of coaches that make a significant impact on their team. I don’t have a long list of ones that had tremendous success without tremendous talent on their team.

      • KJ-B

        Ya, but he’ll have more of a European perspective–because Americans tend to think that Toronto is part of the EU, lOl!!! On a different front, I actually think that Montreal, would be a good spot for the Hornets–did you catch the crowd for the Knicks preseason game?!? WhooaH….Hate to say it but Mtl showed up the T-Dot, right there!

        • Nilanka15

          MTL fans show up T-Dot in every sport…except baseball…where attendance stinks/stunk in both cities.

          • KJ-B

            But you gotta admit–THAT CROWD WAS a-LIVE!!!!

  • Gues102

    Great post Tom, I agree the number 2 is the best option. Its hard to pin point the right balance between minutes for youth and giving them experience vs. doing whats right to win. For example I don’t play Calderon 40 minutes a game because it would stunt Bayless development but I also don’t split the minutes between them to get Bayless experience, there is a happy medium in there somewhere which is hard to define (such as its hard to define “tanking” as everyone would have their own opinion). I also agree that winning and talent needs to occur before spending into the luxury tax and aquiring veterans. Signing free agents at random will not work (possibly overpaying to bring a FA to a losing team). Patience is good, aquiring youth and draft picks allows not only the ability to develop talent but makes it possible to pull off the big trade (a la Boston and KG) which I would suggest might be an easier way to get better rather than signing freeagents (again i suggest the tade for established players does not need to happen until they are a couple pieces away from being a contender).
    Doing inventory I think you keep Calderon as a base, the mentor, the rock of the franchise, you keep Bargnani (despite his issues is well worth his salary). Reggie needs to be traded for assets (can always come back as a free agent), Barbosa should be traded for assets, Kleiza can go either way (he adds a different dimension to the team, the salary is ok) depending on the return. Weems is the only other part of the team that I would trade (though would not get much back for him unless he was included in a larger trade) everyone else you hope develops into an asset (either for you or a tradeable asset to another team to fill in gaps at another position) The hope is they will develop redundant starters (Derozan and Weems or Davis and Johnson) so you can trade one to fill in a hole at the 3 or 5 spots. I believe that BC is currently on the right path and not much to change.

    • Rexdale

      who said bayless will ever be our future Pg? he will not be our PG, he isnt suited to be that. and i hate when people talk about “hampering someones development”. iTs just like 3minutes.. it doesnt mean they will develop into an allstar. you know when theyre good and when theyer average ok

      • KJ-B

        I disagree in that nothing’s guaranteed in the NBA… Jose Calderon is anything BUT strong and is just a whisper away from going down–Bayless, is not a natural PG but, you never know if he can make the transition a la Westbrook/Holiday from the 2 to 1.

  • Rexdale

    you need to have a few Vets not all youth… hows that gonna help them . has it helped the clipppers rebuild so far? (yes)

  • cb

    waffles.

  • FLUXLAND

    Lotta sugar coating going on, Mr. L! : ) Nice pitch!

    I’ve brought up that Zeke quote in many discussions. It’s what people, sometimes, forget about ball at this level –

    “The art of winning is complicated by statistics, which for us becomes money”.

    Players are thinking about a lot more than winning when they are on the floor, as gents and stats take away from the ability to “honor the game”.

    re: MLSE – it’s the only (or, of a few) “corporate” owner in the NBA; their goals have nothing to do with WINNING. They are concerned with turning a profit while “entertaining the customer” by giving him/her what they want. BC is the perfect GM for this kind of (marketing) endeavor, and winning/losing is just the residual of the aftermath.

    • http://twitter.com/Liston Tom Liston

      I hear you. A counter argument would be that a deep playoff run would add another 200,000+ butts into the ACC (at higher and higher prices), $11 Beer, Real Sport B&G, Jerseys, etc.

      That would be the profit maximization solution.

      • Theswirsky

        thats just the things… to say MLSE’s goals have nothing to do with winning is simply a fallacy. Winning = $. If MLSE’s goal is to maximize profits, then winning is also goal.

        That said their ONLY goal isn’t winning… so they won’t treat the team like Mark Cuban does the Mavericks.

        • FLUXLAND

          Fallacy? How so? Have you ever heard anyone within the Raptors organization say they want to win the chip? No, you haven’t.

          There is ONLY one goal. Winning. Point being – MLSE wants to make money first, if they win … that’s just a bonus. And THAT is just wrong.

          • Theswirsky

            have you ever heard anyone in the Raps organization say they don’t care about winning only profits? No they haven’t.

            if winning means $ (which it does for numerous reason… ticket sales, playoff tickets, air time, jersey etc) then MLSE wants to win. However their only goal isn’t winning.

      • FLUXLAND

        That’s not a sure thing, is it? What I mean is… the year Boston won it, they barely broke even. I read this in an article from a Boston newspaper (I’ve been looking for it ever since), and it also went on to discuss how all the teams in professional sports that have ever won “the whole thing”, had done so within the first few years of inception. Or at the very least made “the final round” early and then won somewhere down the road.

        What people (like the Swirsk down here) forget is that the deeper you go, the more cost you incur as well. Not to mention, the league shares revenue with the teams that don’t make it. It’s not a simple equation…winning does not equal profits.

        It also stated that past a certain “window time”, most teams never win anything. I am sure this can be verified with a little research.

        Either way… MLSE is making hand over fist as a middle of the pack team (at best), there is little to no incentive for them to take on more risk without guaranteed returns.

        • http://twitter.com/Liston Tom Liston

          Understood. I would need to research it further.
          I did find this right away:
          http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qn4188/is_20080418/ai_n25352408/
          “The magazine claimed that the Jazz’s first NBA playoff stint since 2003 helped them earn $114 million in revenue for the 2006-07 season and $5.7 million in operating income (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization).”

          And that’s in Utah. Given the leverage with MLSE other assets (Real Sports, Apparel, etc..) you could see even more than that.
          Our ticket prices are fairly high and they escalate dramatically every round of the playoffs.
          It also seems to me you renewals would be sky high as well as new season ticket sales.

          I would need to do further research, but I think there is a case to be made.

          • FLUXLAND

            Fair enough.

            Tough draw with the Jazz there. Sloan at the helm since the beginning of time tips the scales somewhat, IMO. It sure is an efficiently run model, however. Also, (and I am not sure if this needs clarification; winning – as in IT ALL), they never have won it all, right? note: Falls into the parameters of that article, as well – no winning early, no winning at all.

            Further drawing from memory, and reminded by your reply – I’m pretty sure it mentioned threepeats and deep perennial playoff pushes as when the money comes rolling in; presumably because of the things your mentioned: merch, renewals, semi casual fans, etc. So, I’d imagine I’d be hard pressed to make an argument against profits being made at that stage, yet it doesn’t take away form the “fact” the 1st year is very high risk and even when successful, it’s BEP.

            This brings us back to MLSE – again (IMO) they are not taking that sort of high risk anytime soon. Investing in if, maybes, candies and nuts is not their M.O. From a business point of view, there’s no argument, it’s well run…but how is it not glaringly and blatantly obvious what the bottom line (pun intended) is? Entertainment and profits… then basketball.

            btw, it’s not just EBIT, I think. Luxary tax, etc. And again, no incentive for them to complicate the numbers, when things are going well.

        • Theswirsky

          I do understand the “deeper you go, the more cost you incur”.. but the more you cut inputs (or chose not to spend on inputs) the smaller the return on your investment can be. The balance is cutting costs to save on returns or increasing investments to increase returns.

          So investing more into the company (ie. spending more on wages etc) can increase your total revenue and thereby increase your profits. Just like cutting costs can increase profits. The difference is constantly cutting costs or maintaining the status quo does not promote growth (in general)… and that is not the plan of a ‘good’ business.

          What it comes down to is their stategic plan and their balance sheet numbers. I don’t believe for a second that losing = increased profits. And I believe that, in general, winning = increased profits. Therefore if MLSE’s goal is to maximize profits, then their goal (in the long term anyways) is to win. Now this doesn’t mean that every single year they plan to spend as much as possible, but rather balance costs, vs revenue, vs long term plan for profits.

          • FLUXLAND

            Investment strategies/philosophies aside, agreed that it will come down to the acceptable PM.

            What I’m saying is, MLSE, provided with options:

            a. basement dweller
            b. mid rounds playoff pushes and losses
            c. annual borderline playoff team.

            They will always choose C, because it’s the only one that requires little investment with lots of return. The first two seal your fate and people stop coming. C allows you to sell hope under the “never know what could happen” umbrella.

            So yeah, agreed losing doesn’t equal profits. But winning only does when you actually win it all. Therefore, MLSE chooses neither – middle of the pack bubble team is where they figured out they make the most coin – and thereby I agree they do checks and balances.. but there is no long term planning of any kind. BC carousel of trading shows that much.

            It’s not if they want to win and make money, it’s what order they go about it. Because if you build it they will come right? If you win, you will make money, right? So why are you worried about making money first, if you are really trying to win and you know winning will bring the money?

            Also, doesn’t the fact that most NBA teams are discussed based on their coach or as an extension of its coach, while you and I are discussing MLSE, tell you something?

            • Theswirsky

              A team can do alot of things with the $ they decide to spend; be successful, not be successful, be mediocre, or somewhere between all of those.

              This notion that MLSE is gunning for ‘c’ is baseless. The fact that they haven’t reached anything beyond C does not me that B (or A for that matter… although I think we both agree thats not true) isn’t their goal. Every company sets goals… not all of them reach it, or reach it at a different time. This isn’t a mom and pop company that is happy breaking even, making a little profit etc because they just ‘love what they do’.

              How do you figure winning only means $ if you win it all? You don’t think being even slightly more successful will bring in more $? Both through selling you brand (ie. building interest) and selling your product (tickets, concessions, gear etc). You don’t think that winning more games, although not being a championship team, won’t get more TV coverage? Won’t bring more people to games? Won’t sell more jerseys? Won’t get more people interested in the team? The idea winning only means more profits if you win it all is completely inaccurate.

              Not quite sure exactly what the ‘coach’ has to do with this idea of MLSE and the concept of winning. The discussion of a ‘coach’ (or any individual player/person for that matter) is an entirely different debate. That is very much micro, this discussion is very much macro.

              You are simply making arguments based on this ’emotional’ distaste for MLSE (which I’m not opposed to), but it doesn’t make your argument accurate. In fact in business ‘theory and philosophy’ it is quiet inccurate. Would I prefer an individual owner who was wanted to win regardless of the costs, yes. Is MLSE more concious of costs vs returns than a Mark Cuban, sure. But that doesn’t mean that MLSE isn’t trying to win, or is trying to be ‘mediocre’. So say that MLSE sucks, argue that an individual owner would be better, argue that MLSE needs to be less risk adverse. But don’t come in here with some baseless conspiracy theory that MLSE is only trying to be successful up to a point in order to manipulate a fan base which will maximize its profits.. its not based in fact or the reality of ‘good business planning’.

              • FLUXLAND

                So, in your first sentence you do agree that a business does make the decisions about how to run their business. In this case, MLSE.

                I guess our disagreement lies in their motive, and as much as you want to accuse me of being a conspiracy theorist, you have no evidence to back up the claim they are trying to win. (note: I have already made the distinction between winning as a result of the chips falling where they may, and actually trying to win the whole). There is nothing in the history of the entire organization that indicates they are in fact trying to win the chip, they are CLEARLY content with the current situation. Unless of course you are going to try and convince me that what BC is doing and his basketball philosophies have something to do with Championship caliber basketball. Everything you are saying is not based on any fact whatsoever… just on your opinion they are in fact “trying to win” or simple disagreement with my point of view.

                Seeing how we can`t get our hands on the NBA books, the winning and profits question cannot be answered, but with Stern saying the L lost hundreds of millions last year alone, I really doubt playoffs equal (large) profits. So, no, I don`t think being slightly more successful is bringing in boat loads of cash. Certainly not enough to increase risk for MLSE.

                Lastly, to clear up. Elite and good teams are talked about with the realm of the coach. What the coach says/does/ how he goes about things. You don’t hear about Jerry or Wycliffe 90 percent of the time when the Lakers or Celtics are discussed, do you? All anyone every hears about with the Raps is BC and MLSE. What trade is BC pulling now or how MLSE is going about their business. Again, what does that tell you? Countless examples in the L of teams turning things around when the right owner is involved and also disasters when the wrong one is, as well.

                p.s. ” Don’t come in here with some…” Look, I’m not your parents, siblings or your kids if you have any… they might like that tone and crap from you and take it – I don’t and no one here should take either. And last I checked you got involved in my discussion, so calm yourself down.

                • Theswirsky

                  sigh… yes neither of us have the books. So neither of us have 100% factual information.. that I will not disagree with.

                  The difference is in the theory of good business. Since neither of us have the books/minutes, the only thing you can look at is what would a good business would do (not in the sense of morally good but rather good business practice). The reasonable assumption has to be that they are, generally, trying to be more successful because it will lead to $. I know you don’t believe that, but its the only reasonable argument given the complete lack of information.

                  Again… you may not like BC/MLSE but that doesn’t mean he/they aren’t trying to win. There is an enourmous difference between being unsuccessful and not trying to do something. You are using your own basketball philosophies and the Raptors results and applying them to MLSE business practice. They do not necessarily overlap at all.

                  Stern and finances are so much more complicated then you realize. The economy in the states is crap, there are many teams that are simply in poor market places, etc. Again these are numerous micro issues you are applying to a macro debate… it doesn’t work. It would take me hours to break down the financial situations there and I’m simply not going to do it. Needless to say it doesn’t apply to wins = money (atleast not in the general sense we are speaking) Coaches same thing.. micro vs macro.

                  I don’t expect you to change your mind or your thinking on this… but if you really want to make that argument, make it with information not your misinformed argument based on nothing other than your emotional relationship with MLSE/BC.

                  PS I never said winning would bring in a boatload of cash… but rather would, in theory, lead to maximizing profits. I guess the reality is I am trying to argue business/economics with someone that doesn’t have anything more than the basic understanding of these things. Nothing I dislike more than the passing of inaccurate/misinformed information, even if I agree with the reasoning behind it (ie. having MLSE as an ownersip group sucks and has sucked to date)

                • FLUXLAND

                  OOOOHHHH… In thoery? HAHAHHAHHA. Well then.

                  “I guess the reality is I am trying to argue business/economics with someone that doesn’t have anything more than the basic understanding of these things.” Too funny.

                  Big assumption, my friend..yet of course.. you are entilted to your opinion. What I will agree to is that is a serious lack on information to argue with, and I really don’t think the business of the NBA, is as you said, a regular mom and pop operation.

                  You are basically saying they are “winning” simply by being a franchise of the NBA. Again, operating a business within the NBA and winning a chip are two different things.

                  Although, I’m not sure how you entirely dismiss my argument with “innacurate” info – do the last 15 years count for nothing? The reality is you are arguing if they are trying to make money.. which again, would be dumb to argue since simply by being a franchise would imply so. I’m arguing their priorities… but I undrstand my arguments are based on (historical) speculation.

  • Rexdale

    I remember in the summer when Triano talked highly of Alabi and said he was lucky he was there. why cant he be used now as a shot blocker?
    What if he didnt have the heptatitis, where do you think he should have landed in the draft? any thoughts

    • Nilanka15

      I’ve been wondering the same. He was projected to be a 1st rounder before the health concerns were surfaced…which would mean he was evaluated as a player who “should” be able to contribute more than he has so far…especially on a roster with no true defensive presence in the middle.

  • Bo4

    Tom, I suppose that your not mentioning Sonny Weems in that original list of young ones was just an oversight. I’d even include Soloman Alabi, Joey Dorsey & Julian Wright as bench/list players.

  • Bo4

    Sign Marc Gasol as a RFA. Draft Kyrie Irving. Trade the TPE for Gerald Wallace. Keep Amir Johnson, Ed Davis, Joey Dorsey, Soloman Alabi, DeMar DeRozan, Sonny Weems, Leandro Barbosa, Julian Wright, José Calderon & Jerryd Bayless. Trade Bargnani, & Kleiza for upgraded or additional future draft picks. Let Stojakovic & Evans walk away for nothing. Peak in 3 or 4 years.

    • Nilanka15

      Wallace will be 32 in four years, and based on the physical nature of his game, will be hard-pressed to maintain his high level of play at that age. And that’s also ignoring the fact that he’s probably one concussion away from ending his career.

      But I like the idea. If there’s a younger, untapped version of Wallace around (maybe Al Thornton or Thaddeus Young), might be worth exploring.

      • Bo4

        G. Wallace $10+M, 28, 17.83
        A Thornton $3+M, 27, 9.04
        T. Young $3+M, 22, 13.21
        Hmmmm … If not Wallace, not Thorton. Young.

      • Bo4

        Nilanka, why would Philly’s GM want to trade Young to us? He makes $3+M, so he wouldn’t return much to Philly. He’s a young, reasonably talented, reasonably-priced NBA player, the kind every GM wants on his team. I wouldn’t bet on it happening at all.

        • Nilanka15

          I simply brainstorming on what kind of young, Gerald Wallace-type players are around, but you’re right…odds are he’s not available.

  • Ihatehaters

    According to this article, winning an NBA championship requires either:

    (1) Being a historic franchise in a large market; or,
    (2) Having one the top few picks in an excellent draft.

    Well, there is not much the Raps can do with respect to #1 (except maybe move to Brooklyn and wait 25 years to become a “historic” team).

    As for the second contention, the facts don’t seem to support it. While Tom cited a number of first overall picks that won championships, none have been in the last decade. If you look at the teams that have drafted in the top 5 for the last 10 years (which is where the ratings drop off the most precipitously in the above chart), none of them have won a championship. The last top 5 draft pick to subsequently win a championship with his team is Darko Milicic – and, he hardly played any role on that Detroit team.

    This is not to say draft picks are not important – but, it doesn’t support the statement upon which this entire article is founded. Which leads me to believe that “tanking” for a long time and simply stockpiling draft picks won’t be enough to win a championship (Clippers? Trail Blazers?).

    Like life, there is no magical blue print for success. You formulate a plan, execute to fullest, and hope for the best. The problem for the Raps lately (always?) has been that there plan is disjointed, making even the best execution moot. Even the Raps “assets”, although young, are really a bunch of mis-matched pieces: a scoring centre that can’t defend; a high-flying SG that can’t dunk; etc. Not dumping on these guys – every player has their flaws. But, the Raps don’t seem to have any master plan in mind that they are building towards. Just collecting a bunch of young dudes, throwing them together and trying to make NBA gumbo. Adding more young guns or gunz or onez or whatever, through the draft, isn’t going to help.

  • Bo4

    Ihatehaters, you need to realize that, since NCAA players now leave after one year, those players are going to take what, eight to nine years before they peak. Of course, they haven’t won a championship, yet! They haven’t peaked, yet!!

    • Ihatehaters

      I do realize that many players now leave after one year. But, my post referred to players drafted over the last 10 years – therefore, the first half of these players have either peaked or are about to peak.

      That said, my point was that consistently drafting in the top 5 doesn’t necessarily result in a championship. Subscribing to your 8-9 year rule, there are players that have won championships (Gasol, for example, was drafted 9 years ago)… they just haven’t won it with the team that drafted them. A strategy of stockpiling #1-5 picks for a number of years is no guarantee of a championship, as no team (other than Detroit) drafting #1-5 has won a championship, even those that drafted 7-10 years ago (who’s players theoretically have now peaked).

  • FAQ

    Detroit – 115 .. Toronto – 93 …….. not even close.

  • CP Style Guide

    This blog needs a copy editor. This article looks like it was written by a high school dropout.