With just two days left before his team opens the NBA regular season, the Raptors head coach saw two of his three point guards hobble off the Casino Rama floor during an inconsequential intrasquad game for marketing purposes, watched as his starting small forward missed a chunk of the game after getting poked in the eye and then saw his starting five once again put out a rather awful effort, even though they were playing their backups in a meaningless pretend game.
Right now, there is no joke to tell. He is confronting the expectations being placed on him. They are impossible to quantify, as being able to restore hope to a wayward franchise cannot be described with a simple metric.
Another win for the Raptors — OK, they were playing themselves so it hardly counts — but still no indication the slow starts by the expected starting five have been cleaned up this pre-season.
By the time the day [July 1] ended, Batum says, 16 teams had called his agent, Bouna Ndiaye, to express interest. Minnesota, New Orleans, Toronto and Cleveland were most aggressive. And despite what you might think, Minnesota did not offer the most money. A source with knowledge of Batum’s free agency says Cleveland offered a whopping $52 million.
So the Raptors finish the pre-season at 6-1, a high-water mark for the franchise in the get-ready games and life is grand, right? Hold that thought.
The Toronto Raptors are in the wrong place at the wrong time.
It’s too early to say whether Valanciunas is ready to be a legitimate NBA starter, but there’s a lot to like about this kid as he tests the NBA waters for the first time.
Raptors fans aren’t known for their tempered expectations, but this year they have a lot of reasons to be excited, as the team is finally poised to contend in the East.
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