1. to repair, especially to dismantle and reassemble with new parts: to rebuild an old car.
2. to replace, restrengthen, or reinforce: to rebuild an army.
3. to revise, reshape, or reorganize: to rebuild a shattered career.
Yes, dismantle. I like that word and it’s what needs to be taken to heart this summer. I find that we as fans forget the dynamic and changing landscape that Raptorland has been of late, there is so much roster turnover with the Raptors that it’s entirely possible that there will be yet another massive revamp of the roster, like it has been in past years. I lost track when trying to figure out the turnover of late, but it’s at least 8 players for each of the past three seasons. And that’s when the Raptors were trying to contend.
Now that the project is in rebuild mode, what kind of an exodus should we expect? That is dependent on whether the current regime (or the incoming one) has an evaluation of the players on the roster, and I don’t think you need to be well-versed in NBAism to figure out what to keep and what to boot of this lot. The last thing the Raptors want is to waste precious playing time on players that aren’t part of a larger plan, and the action this summer should be swift and purposeful. So yeah, I expect lots of new faces once again.
DeMar DeRozan, Ed Davis are the two players that should be automatically penciled into next year’s roster. DeRozan because he’s shown improvement and growth, and has the necessary work-ethic demanded of a good NBA player. Davis because we’re short of big-man defense and he’s a young guy who brings it along with a proper and serious attitude. His rookie deal makes it at even easier decision, and frankly, he hasn’t done anything wrong that would deserve criticism, let alone a boot.
Amir Johnson is in the ‘maybe’ pile and I’ll tell you why. He has proved to be good money for his contract and has a very desirable toughness to go along with his defensive game. I know saying this about a 23-year old doesn’t make great sense and is a risky proposition, but what makes Amir Johnson so attractive to the Raptors will make him doubly so to other teams. If the Raptors are considering trading their pick, add in Amir Johnson to the package and now you can bring in something of real substance. I feel that we can extrapolate what Johnson’s career will be and it’s going to be steady and sound. Right now the Raptors are in the hunt for talent and the dice needs to be rolled, Johnson is a great bait
The ‘out’ pile is sure to raise some eyebrows but when you’re tasked with the duty of rebuilding, you have to be ruthless. Andrea Bargnani gets the axe. Why? It’s been five years and we’ve seen what he can do, and it’s not very interesting. Carrying him over to next year would be going against the spirit of the rebuilding process because he’s gone from being a part of the core to a remnant that reminds you of sadder days. If this is truly a rebuild, he has to go. Same with Calderon.
Reggie Evans, Linas Kleiza and Leandro Barbosa are part of the “your act is getting old” group. They’re not classified with Bargnani because they don’t carry the Chris Bosh era stench, which Bargnani like it or not does. They were all brought in here with an eye to fill out the roster in order to compete, now that the mandate has changed it’s time to move them. Evans is a hard worker and a great teammate, he’s also taking minutes away from Davis and Johnson. The latter trumps the former. If the Raptors acquire that elusive defensive center who will play 35 minutes a night, there’s not going to be much to go around in the big spots because Davis and Johnson cannot handle the three for a minute.
This next pile is like CSI Miami, it’s not very good but if nothing else is on I’ll watch it. Barely. James Johnson, Sonny Weems, Joey Dorsey and Julian Wright. None of these guys are scheduled to be starters in the league anytime soon, and it shouldn’t take a GM more than a season and a half of seeing them play to make a decision as to whether they’re suited to be part of a rebuild process where the identity of a franchise is being transformed. These are guys you look to move as part of a package because on their own they don’t fetch anything. I doubt anyone but Johnson (still under his rookie deal) will return, although I could see Bryan Colangelo bringing back Sonny Weems to appease DeMar DeRozan. Hate that.
Jerryd Bayless is in a category of his own. I’m thinking he’s coming into next year expecting to be the starter if Jose Calderon departs (or even if he remains?). I wonder what his reaction would be to the Raptors drafting a starting point-guard. The commonly held belief is that Bayless is a score-first PG who is suited in a role off the bench (as most score-first PGs are). From Bayless’ perspective, he’s got to feel that he’s on the cusp of becoming a starter in the league based on his good play towards the end of the season, and the confidence shown in him by the club. For my money, Bayless is a keeper as a backup PG, but if the Raptors end up drafting a college kid to play the starting point, I can’t imagine Bayless taking it too kindly. Maybe it’ll motivate him and he’ll try to usurp the new guy, but I think he’s had enough of that already in all his NBA stops. It’s not like the team would bench the new kid because of bad play, I mean, when you draft that high you do it with an aim to develop and expect mistakes.
Next up are Alexis Ajinca and Solomon Alabi, both should get full-time jobs rescuing cats who get stuck in trees.
So, in summary, here’s my order of preference:
DeRozan, Davis, A. Johnson, Bayless, Barbosa, Kleiza, Calderon, Wright, J. Johnson, Bargnani, Dorsey, Evans, Weems, Ajinca, Alabi