Jose Calderon

Did you catch the ESPN breaking story about how the Raptors have a backup plan if Colangelo’s contract is not extended? Hope you’re sitting down:

Sources close to the situation told ESPN.com this week that the Raptors do have a backup plan if the current management — at the urging of staunch anti-Colangelo board member Glen Silvestri — decides it’s best to make an immediate change. Or a change after June 30.

One possibility management is considering, sources said, is naming Raptors special advisor Wayne Embry as interim GM. In that scenario, Embry and longtime Raptors senior director of player personnel Jim Kelly would then either be asked to oversee Toronto’s draft in Colangelo’s place, or Embry would simply become interim GM as of July 1.

Did you notice a name missing from the potential interim Raptors management team? Yes, Maurizio Gherardini is nowhere to be found which is quite surprising because after all he is the Assistant General Manager. It’s not a surprise that Colangelo and Gherardini appear to be tied at the hip in this possible management shuffle, they came in together, backed Bargnani as their horse and have little to show for after five years on the job. If Colangelo leaves Gherardini certainly can’t carry the show on his own, it would be like Will leaving Fresh Prince and Carlton taking over. Wayne Embry could hold it together for a month or so in the role of Uncle Phil, but it’ll eventually lead to a bust-up because he doesn’t have the patience to handle Andrea Bargnani, only too immersed like Hillary, the rich and spoiled darling.

The degree of uncertainty in the organization is best illustrated by the Raptors not picking up Jay Triano’s presumably cheap contract option for next year. As Stein mentions, the deadline for that is June 15th. In Bryan Colangelo’s season-ending press conference he gave Triano full praise for his work, complimented him for earning the respect of the players, for having the players work hard, and flat-out said that Triano had done what was asked of him as head coach. Yet his option is still not picked up. Does Colangelo as the current GM not have the authority to exercise the option on a coach he clearly likes? What is preventing him from starting the off-season by truly endorsing his coach, and transitively, the season the team had, by signalling the return of the head coach? Right now the phrase “lame duck” is popping into mind.

Financial Flexibility

Bryan Colangelo (and the TV crew) are always reminding us about the Raptors’ “financial flexibility” so I figured I learn what they’re referring to. I’m not a capologist by any stretch, however I do own a calculator watch.

The salary cap for last season was $58M, assuming it only changes (a function of basketball-related income blah blah blah) by a negligible amount, the Raptors will be approximately $10.9M under the cap as their guaranteed salary for next season is ($47.1M – assuming Barbosa picks up his $7.6M option). What does this mean? The Raptors have ~ $10.9 to spend on unrestricted free-agents without the need for a sign-and-trade. Usually that number gets evaporated real fast when signing your own restricted free-agents who have cap-holds. Luckily for the Raptors, their RFA’s are Julian Wright and Joey Dorsey, two guys they would feel very comfortable saying goodbye to.

Ah, we’re forgetting the draft! Assuming the Raptors keep their pick and it’s the third overall pick, the first year rookie-scale salary for him would be $4.2M! So you can subtract that number from $10.9 to get $6.7M. That’s really how much the Raptors can spend on UFAs, assuming the cap stays where it is.

If they do waive their RFAs and Barbosa picks up his option, the Raptors will have 10 players under contract: Calderon, Bargnani, Barbosa, A. Johnson, Kleiza, DeRozan, Bayless, Davis, J. Johnson and Alabi. So they’ll need to fill out at least two roster spots, which can be cheaply done by signing minimum-salary players, after all if it’s a rebuilding year so why not? Assuming they get filled for $1M each, the Raptors now have $4.7M to spend on UFAs. And that number folks, is less than the mid-level exception (which the Raptors will not have on account of being under the cap). Did a screw up somewhere in the last two paragraphs? I’m sure you’ll tell me if I did.

If a splash is to be made in the market it’ll have to be via trade, and maybe even by using the remaining $9M of the Chris Bosh TPE, which Colangelo said he is unlikely to use. You heard the word “asset” being thrown around a lot which is telling because assets are what you need to make trades. I don’t figure that our savior of a defensive center will sign for $4.7M, if he is to come he’ll be shipped here as part of a package. As much as Colangelo says that nobody is untouchable, I’m willing to bet DeRozan, A. Johnson and Davis are off the block and being groomed as the new nucleus. This means the only true valued assets are Calderon, Bargnani and Barbosa (how much injury has affected his value remains to be seen). Don’t kid yourself, none of Kleiza, Bayless, J. Johnson or Alabi have trade value on their own, which means it’s not hard to figure who’s on their way out.