picketfence
Masai Ujiri has finally accepted the Raptors 5 year, $15 million offer to run the basketball side of the team and wasted no time putting his own stamp on the team. Why he took so long doesn’t matter now, so I don’t see the point of dwelling on it.

While Ujiri’s hiring is definitely reason for optimism among Raptor fans, considering what they’ve been through lately (or really for most of their 17 year existence), history tells us we probably should temper those expectations. For a couple of different reasons.

When Bryan Colangelo was hired to great pomp and circumstances back in 2006, I was one of the many Raptor fans applauding. I knew he’d never built a team that had made it to the Finals, and was well aware of his disregard for defense, despite the overwhelming evidence that you need to be good at it if your really want a legitimate shot at winning a title. But he also had great success in Phoenix, drafting four All Stars including an MVP, with the highest pick being 9th, putting together a team that went to the Conference Finals twice and tied a franchise record with 62 wins, in 2005, the year he won his first Executive of the Year award.

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Despite the flaws of his teams, and thus in himself as a General Manager, there was reason to be optimistic when he came to Toronto. Especially considering the act he followed.

By any measure, Colangelo had a better resume when he took over the Raptors organization than Ujiri does right now.

Like Colangelo, Ujiri won an Executive of the Year award building a high performing regular season team that was too flawed to be a real title contender. In fact, even Ujiri himself admitted, before the playoffs, that Denver wasn’t a contending team despite winning 57 games, which was good for the third best record in the West and a franchise record.

Ironically, the Denver team Ujiri built seemed to be a more successful model of what Colangelo was trying to do in Toronto. An athletic, starless team who could outscore most of their opponents and entertain the fans. Unfortunately, history tells us that’s not how you build a true contender.

And coincidentally, Colangelo and Ujiri were both wooed away from running other successful teams with a 5 year, $15 million contract.

RAPTORS MASAI UJIRI

Now I am not suggesting that history is about to repeat itself, so there’s no reason to jump to any conclusions. What Ujiri has over Colangelo is that Ujiri understood Denver was not a real contender, despite winning all those games. Colangelo has never shown himself to be that much of a realist. While Colangelo is known for his ability to sell the moves he makes as better than they actually are, Ujiri is known more for his “refreshing honesty“. In that way, they couldn’t be more different.

Of course, there are other differences that give Raptor fans reason to be optimistic. Ujiri is already apparently looking to trade Bargnani, something Colangelo never did. That in itself should be music to many fans’ ears.

Ujiri also is known to have the patience that Colangelo has lacked over his tenure in Toronto. And while Colangelo certainly liked to push the narrative that the Raptors were on the forefront of analytics, reality has shown things to be somewhat different, at least in practice. Ujiri, on the other hand, has been a regular attendee of the MIT Sports Analytics Sloan Conference, and has been known to take a strong interest in analytics.

And trading for a rather unpredictable player, like JaVale McGee, is also something Colangelo probably would not have done, although it’s hard to say whether or not that’s a strength, especially after giving McGee a 4 year-$44 million extension that now looks like a bad deal.

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That does bring up a few more similarities between the two, unfortunately. Like Colangelo, Ujiri hasn’t been shy about handing out big contracts to players that don’t always deserve it. As mentioned, he overpaid McGee, who promptly fell out of the starting lineup. He then gave Danilo Gallinari a four year, $42 million extension.

While Gallinari is a good player, he’s not worth the borderline All Star salary that he’s currently making (what is it with Ujiri and Colangelo overpaying tall, jumpshooting Italians?). Next year, Denver will be paying four players more than $45 million, and not one of them made the All Star game this past season, and may not make it next year, either.

It is very difficult to predict what Ujiri will do and how he will do as General Manager of the Toronto Raptors, though. Colangelo’s tenure in Toronto looked nothing like his years in Phoenix. Joe Dumars went from looking like a genius who built a “starless” Championship team (I would debate the starless part) to a guy who would fit in nicely in Bill Simmons’ non-annual Atrocious GM Summit without even changing teams. Grantland recently had an article talking about this very thing.

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The fact is that Ujiri has been put in charge of a Raptors roster that looks nothing like the one he was given in Denver. Denver won 53 games the season before he took control. They’d made the playoffs the previous seven seasons, and featured one of the best players in the NBA, Carmelo Anthony. The Raptors are an overpaid, underperforming team who couldn’t make the playoffs in an Eastern Conference that featured an 8th seed Milwaukee team basically going door-to-door asking teams to overtake them so they wouldn’t have to face Miami in the first round.

We have already gotten a glimpse of what might be up Ujiri’s sleeve, with him basically gutting the front office of the team, including the team’s longest serving employee, Jim Kelly, and the guy Colangelo was recommending take over his job, Ed Stefanski. It’s hard to imagine him getting rid of everyone that put this mess together and then decide to stay the course with the guys on the floor.

Dealing Andrea Bargnani is Ujiri’s first priority. But there’s also a theory out there that MLSE may want to blow this whole thing up, hence the renaming rumblings. So is tanking for Toronto’s own Andrew Wiggins or others in the deep 2014 draft in play? If that’s the case, trading Kyle Lowry now might be a good place to start.

John Chick, CBC Sports

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It’s no secret that a complete teardown would make me happy and, at this point, I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see that happen. Ujiri has the security of a five year contract, which should give him enough time to blow up the team and build it back up the way he wants.

It is important, however, to keep in mind that Ujiri has never built a contender, and he’s never worked in the front office of a team that has ever made it past the first round of the playoffs. He doesn’t have the Championship pedigree that a guy like Sam Presti had before taking over the Thunder organization. That’s not to say Ujiri doesn’t know how to build a contender or isn’t the right man for the job, but for those of us that remember how similar the mood was when Colangelo took over seven long years ago, we shouldn’t just assume he’s going to be the Mesai(ah) of the Toronto Raptors.

Just to stoke the fires of speculation, a little, there was this little tidbit…

And for those waiting for the Underrated portion of my recent series, it’s coming, but more pressing things have pushed back the release date a little.

  • unknown

    ‘Always look on the bright side of life….’

  • raptorspoo

    Riddle me this… why don’t GM’s utilize their financial situation more as a tool/strategy.

    Now here me out here. GM’s do “partly” use this strategy eg. BC signing Fields to a ridiculous contract to try to get Nash. A different type of example is when Houston signs Osik to a contract that the Bulls can’t match. To me this is the ‘tip of the iceberg’ for this strategy.

    Now I’ll give you a situation to explain what I mean. Ujiri’s is supposedly cleaning house and ‘possibly’ plans to rebuild. Most expect a proper rebuild in 3~5 years (realistically). I tell you it’s very possible to do it in one. Here’s how:

    1. You keep Val and trade everything else of some value. Pick up another solid future piece, hopefully another pick for next year and expiring contracts. Example: We trade Gay for Eric Gordon and DD, TR and whoever to a crappy team for their unprotected pick next year. (I am just throwing names as examples so please don’t blast me by saying Gordon is such and such)

    2. We are so depleted talent wise that we naturally tank next year. Hopefully we chose the right crappy team to deal with and we get 2 top 5 picks (in a very top heavy draft) and we pick up say Wiggins/Harrison, or Parker/Harrison, or Parker/Smart, etc. Now we’ve got Val, a solid piece that we’ve traded for, and two superstar quality picks. Let’s just say for argument sake that we didn’t get that solid piece and just got a great draft pick, so we’d have our lotto pick, one more pick, plus Val. Hopefully we’ve done a good job of ridding us of all contract, now we have picks and a lot of cap room.

    3. HERE’S THE ICING ON THE CAKE > now have enough cap space to give at least two RFAs to max contracts plus some so we go out and sign two great players to max contracts WHO AREN’T WORTH MAX contracts eg. for 2014 : Favors, Hayward, Sanders, (maybe) Wall, George, Monroe – later 3 would prob get max anyways. For 2015 : Bulter, Faried, Leonard, Thompson, Kanter. Bottom line is if we can’t sign two in 2014 then try again in 2015.

    4. Convince good but aging Vet to come to TO by overpaying them so that they can fill out the roster, give minutes, most importantly coach the younguns and be role models.

    Within a years time we’d have at least a couple superstar and a couple star quality pieces to build around.

    To wrap it up:
    – My question is: why don’t GMs stop looking at players for the exact value they’re worth, rather use their financial situation as a strategy more?
    – For the Raptors, money is not an issue right? When we have to resign the potential superstars, the other max contracts are going to be expiring. We can pay them more realistic rates at that time and maybe they’ll take even less because they understand the special circumstance that they’re in (like OKC players do) – and even more special cause we’d be willing to go into lux tax. I mean, 5 years ago, who wanted to play for OKC?
    – There are a many combinations to this equation and doesn’t necessarily have to be the moves that I mentioned but this is something not only the Raptors can do but a few other rebuilding teams and it absolutely boggles my mind why teams don’t utilize this strategy to its full extent.

    • raptorspoo

      Sorry, this was longer than expected but had to get it off my chest. I might not be as articulate or as structured as these RR writers but hopefully you got my point.

    • brother

      I like the radical thinking; here’s why I don’t think that GMs take the risk: it is hard to acquire great talent, even by free agency. For the Raptors, especially via free agency. Lots of the guys you’ve mentioned are going to get big money in the 2014, 2015 free agency market. How many of them would sign in Toronto? Remember, a free agent gets to do WHATEVER he wants. If he wants to play in NY (best city ever) or Chicago or LA, he just says so and those teams make it happen (within reason). What young, hot, NBA star “wants” to play in Toronto over say LA or NY? None.

      We’ve got lots of experience in Toronto dealing with this issue. In recent years, Colangelo has finally admitted that it is a real problem.

      So you blow it up and trade away Gay and Derozan and Lowry for expiring contracts and draft picks and peanuts and you risk opening the next season with NOTHING on the floor. Will Solomon, Roko Ukic, the Collins brothers, a decrepit Allan Iverson. This is who will come to town as free agents when money is the only allure.

      SO what you need to do is FORCE players like Gay into town and trade one asset for another. A contractually obliged Gay has no choice but to come to town. Same with Lowry. That’s why you can’t give up assets for nothing – which out of frustration, I’d nearly be willing to do. But it doesn’t matter how much money you have if there’s nothing to buy. And that’s exactly the situation that Milwaukee and Toronto and Utah and Charlotte find themselves in. Why play in Minnesota when you could be on the beach in Orlando? Why play for a loser in Toronto when you could play for a perennial winner in LA for effectively the SAME money? Simple, you wouldn’t.

      Why do you think there are so many ludicrous extensions in the NBA? HOW else are you going to get Kevin Love to stay in Minny if you don’t resign him to a crazy amount of money over a crazy amount of years? You’ve already got him cornered and he’s got a house and his car and a few local friends and things have been rosy with management for a few years. He’s feeling good, and wow that’s a lot of money. “Okay let’s do it!” The Minnys and the Milwaukees and the Torontos (see Derozan, Gay, Lowry), are stuck. They lose Derozan to open free agency and he’s gonzo. Period. So you sign him in a non-competitive environment to a ludicrous amount of money. Problem solved. You retain your asset (at whatever cost) and you avoid watching will solomon and roko ukic run the fast break 12 months later.

      • SR

        I mostly agree with you. However, just because a lot of lower-profile franchises overpay players like that, should the Raptors be going with the same flow?

        The Spurs have been very disciplined in avoiding this very thing, which has equipped them for long-term success with their core. They are a very small market team and they have a constant rotation of role players cycling in and out of their roster every few seasons. They are not afraid to move a talented, established role player for an unproven guy who commands less $$ (e.g. George Hill > Kawhi Leonard). They quickly dump anyone who isn’t playing up to his contract (e.g. Stephen Jackson, Richard Jefferson). They talk their stars into taking less money, which is not only about Tim Duncan – many stars in all major sports have taken a discount to stay with a competitive, well-managed team that they feel gives them a shot at a championship (even Tom Brady!). As an aside, I think the stereotypical egocentric “Me! Me! Me!” athlete profile is a bit overblown. Guys sign for below max-value all the time, for a variety of reasons.

        A team has to be disciplined, but not just cheap. If you’re just cheap like a few small-market teams, you let guys go without a backup plan for acquiring replacement talent. A quality franchise like the Spurs has a plan they’ve invested a lot in – internal development, great scouting, great drafting. They also have a fantastic coach who finds a place for cheap guys with a particular skill that a lot of other teams may have passed over (e.g. Matt Bonner).

        Anyway, I’d rather see the Raptors have some discipline with an eye to the future rather than overpay mid-level guys just because you’re afraid of losing them. That’s an absolutely killer M.O. You can’t win championships like that – just look at the mess this franchise is in right now, looking at paying the luxury tax after missing the playoffs again and without a 1st round pick. That’s what overpaying out of fear will get you.

        I hope this will be different with Masai. He was very level-headed during the Melodrama, when a lot of other GMs would have pulled a panic-move much sooner. (Rob Babcock!)

        • brother

          I’m just saying, it is what it is for Toronto. Do I want the Raptors to be run like San Antonio??? HELL YES. But that’s dreamland, not the reality of their current situation. Is the George Hill for Kawai Leonard example a good one? Maybe. But could you sincerely have predicted the development of Kawai Leonard? Wow. I couldn’t have. The Spurs head office are amazing at what they do and they also tend to get pretty lucky (Duncan pick, Leonard trade, Parker, Duncan’s health, Matt Bonner’s lights out three point shooting, Danny Green’s play, etc, ad infinitum).

          My only point was, the Raps don’t dump Gay and Derozan and Lowry and the like for no return or non-market value return and start again because they’d be starting again with no assets which is realistically a terrible problem for a 2nd tier NBA team. You need tradeable assets, because you can’t count on the free agent market; 2nd tier teams have a terrible time attracting top talent without overpaying (e.g. Nash, Derozan, Landry Fields, the Bargnani extension, Turkeyloo, etc).

          • SR

            I don’t think “it is what it is” for Toronto at all. I agree with you completely in how you’re describing the Raptors up to this point – I’m saying they don’t have to (and should not) go on operating like they have been, even if it’s common practice for lower profile NBA franchises to overpay talent out of fear of losing it for nothing. (I’m also not talking about how the “rebuild” should proceed.)

            Re: the Spurs, I’m talking about their methods, not necessarily the results. That you wouldn’t have predicted how Leonard progressed is exactly the point. The Spurs didn’t think they were getting a player that would be that competent that soon, but they traded George Hill for him anyway. They always do that – they keep costs down now, but always make moves with an eye to the future (they thought Leonard would work out nicely over the next couple of seasons, even if he was an immediate downgrade from Hill).

            If the Raptors did this, they would have never paired up Rudy Gay (having given up long-term prospects for immediate, very expensive relief) and DeMar DeRozan (by giving him a contract he may struggle to live up to). Small market GM’s often make short-term, panicky decisions like this, being more preoccupied by job security, ticket sales, just being better than last season, etc. Let’s see some more long-term vision and roster discipline.

            • brother

              The Spurs wouldn’t do what you’re suggesting either; they would not trade one of their top 3 players for a non-market value return. The Spurs traded Hill whilst they had Parker, Duncan, Ginobli, etc in the background. The Raptors can’t trade Gay or Derozan or Lowry or JV for nothing, because then they’ll have nothing left but a lottery ticket. They can’t do that. Neither can the Spurs. Look don’t get me wrong, As a GM, I would definitely take a flier on a bunch of rookies with potential on the hopes that one of them might turn out big, but not at the cost of your only marquee players.

              In exchange for Bargnani? Absolutely. In exchange for Calderon’s expiring contract? Absolutely. In exchange for Derozan and Lowry? You can’t, because then who’s left to play on opening night? Lucas and a maybe rookie on whom some other GM already gave up? They just can’t do that. They have to sell tickets even during a rebuild. Despite your best intentions and my wanting-ness to agree because then I don’t have to stare at the likes of Rudy Gay next year or god forbid for five more years after an extension is signed, the problemo is that you can’t just flush him down the toilet because he’s got too much intrinsic value. You have to get value for him in a trade or you can’t let him go. See the Bosh incident for what a screwup it is to let guys go for nothing. Bosh could have been traded for a Lottery pick!!!!!!! or a serviceable big or a quality young point guard. Instead: NOTHING!!! You cannot do that. The Spurs don’t do that. They get great value out of every asset they have.

      • raptorspoo

        What I mean is signing a player like Hayward to a max contract. Or Butler. I mean who in their right mind would give max contracts to those two?

        You see my point. I don’t mean overpay a $8~10mil guy by paying him $11. I mean, pay him $13+. I think every player in their young career would jump ship for that much.

    • Amigo

      I believe you are near the truth. A GM with 5 years (15mil) contract can sleep happily by tanking for 2/3 years. Now that BC is gone and Bargnani will be soon the team will improve dramatically and will become a blockbuster under our new Guru.

      Sarcasm: A future all star J. McGee inked to a very cheap contract, Wilson Chandler (one of the best sg in the league) inked 5 years 37 milions.First round loser Andre Iguodala 6 month rent costs a 1st round pick, Afflalo and Al Harrington contract.

      I m expecting the new GM to explain, if he can, his past role in TO regarding picks and acquisitions. It woul be candid and honest as he is described by the new adoring media

    • Manu

      Tanking, and tanking for potential supers, while can make you a great team it doesn’t always work. Take for example the Cleveland Cavs, who have consistently picked up top drafts picks since the departure of Lebron, 3 years in, they are still bottom feeders, so tanking is not a quick solution, it will stick take 3-5 years for a proper rebuild, and with the Toronto training staff, development has never been a focal point and player development has not always been the best, we can take DeRozan for example, who has not had good development and therefore lacks in major areas, he came into the league as a slashing scorer with poor defense, to this day, he is the same thing with a bit of an added jump shot, his 3 pointers are still very weak and his defense still lacks, so without the proper coaching staff, tanking for high draft picks and potential superstars are pointless

      • raptorspoo

        trade varejao away and now you have room for at least two max contract and a solid base of players to woo them. All of a sudden everything is looking roses.

        I’d love to be in their position now.

      • raptorspoo

        Also, to add to my last point.

        Clev made 2 wtf moves with tt and waiters.

        Imagine they made the obvious choices in Val & say Barnes. They’d be in a EVEN better position with huge cap space.

  • CJT

    While I certainly understand the temper expectations opinion. It seems to me that expectations are exactly what we should have for a young talented GM who we are paying 3M per year for. I think we should expect a lot from him and I hope he is able to deliever on those expectations. I am not a big fan of the “if you keep your expectations low, you are less likely to get disappointed” direction. I would not want to go in to each season with anything less than high expectations for my team. I understand this is a sport and a form of entertainment and am therefore not emotionally involved in the way that some of the more rabid fans are. I want the best for the team and I have high expectations for Ujiri. Go Raps.

    • Marz

      You can expect a lot, sure. Just don’t expect magic. Ujiri is human, he makes mistakes. An example of this is the Nene contract, in my opinion.

      If the expectation is a perfect GM track record, then it’s too high.
      If the expectation is a 50+ win season come October (a la Denver), then it’s too high.
      If the expectation is patient, sensible moves over the next 5 years, then it’s fine.

      • WhiteVegas

        I think the Nene contract was just to make sure he didn’t walk for nothing in return. Ujiri dealt Nene 3 months after signing him to the new deal. The fact he was traded so quickly after signing a new deal points to trading Nene was always the plan, but you can’t trade a player not under contract.

        • Marz

          I’d argue trading him 3 months later was a result of not thinking he was worth the money or buyer’s remorse. Why not sign and trade him to Washington earlier? And why overpay him so much?

          • CJT

            Or he raised his value to get better assets back. I think it was the plan to be honest. In fact many on these boards pointed to this strategy after the DD signing. Thinking it was the plan to sign and then trade him for better assets during the season. I certainly don’t expect a perfect record, that is just silly to expect that. But I do expect shrewd moves and constructing the team to the best of his ability. I think Ujiri will not be shy about making moves to rid himself of any and all contracts that he does not think fit well with the team and style of play. That is my expectation, to use assets more productively than BC did. But my expectations are high for him in this and other regards,

          • WhiteVegas

            Why would he have buyers remorse when at the time Nene was healthy (started 27 out of 28 games) and playing great? The only ones with buyers remorse were the Wizards when Nene went down with injury shortly after arrival.

    • SR

      I’m great with high expectations, but I like to see them accompanied by a lot of patience. I’m fine with blowing up this roster (or whatever) at this point, but far too often fans have a “video game GM mode” impatience that leads to all fan discussions being about trading everybody, firing everybody, and rebuilding the whole team CONSTANTLY. It’s kind of boring.

      So much of the team-building process is tied up in opportunities that are outside of your own team’s control. If you happen to have the assets in place when a disgruntled star is available (e.g. Deron Williams, Chris Paul, Dwight Howard, Carmelo Anthony….), then great. But what if you want to make a move this year but only Rudy Gay is available? What if you have money for the FA market and the highest profile guy is Hedo Turkoglu? What if you win the 1st overall pick and you’re looking at Andrea Bargnani instead of Andrew Wiggins? Your local GM can’t control any of this stuff.

      Opportunity is why guys like Danny Ainge and Joe Dumars look like geniuses one off-season and then incompetent buffoons for the next 5 years.

      • CJT

        Completely agree with you. I am not advocating the impatient constant rebuilding type actions. I am fine with making a move and seeing what gels, letting the team grow a bit with a coach and a real focus. I feel like our team focus has either changed or been nonexistent for many seasons, it will be nice to create a long term vision and work towards that goal.

      • Statement

        Well said, I agree 100%.
        That said, though I disagree with tanking in general, this year seems to be a prime year in which to do it.

  • Nilanka15

    Quick! Someone from RR offer Colangelo a gig as a writer. Get him out of MLSE stat!

  • WhiteVegas

    I’m blown away that Tim would take a negative glass half empty look at the Ujiri hiring. Absolutely blown away….

    On a less sarcastic note, it’s clear Tim was grasping at straws to make an argument against Ujiri. The only arguably poor decision he made was resigning McGee at $11M per year, but that tends to be the going rate for big men these days. If you’re a fan of advanced statistics, then McGee (.163 WS/48, PER 20.7) played much better this year than Nene (.116 WS/48, PER 17), in roughly the same amount of minutes, for $2M less per year. Nene should have played way more minutes than McGee considering he starts and McGee comes off the bench, but once again Nene was hurt for a large portion of the year. If you compare their per 36 numbers, McGee is the better player, so there is an argument that a healthy McGee is still better than a healthy Nene.

    Unlike the BC situation with Turkoglu, trading Nene wasn’t fixing a mistake, it was utilizing an asset before it lost value. Ujiri had the foresight to see that Nene’s injury problems weren’t getting any better, and it was time to deal him for a younger, healthier asset. So he resigned him and then dealt him 3 months later. The McGee signing only looks somewhat bad in hindsight because McGee hasn’t been able to establish himself as a starter, despite excellent defense and physical tools (if he had a better head on his shoulders he could be one of the best centers in the NBA). I’d still rather have McGee on my team than Nene since McGee has shown he can stay healthy for a full season and isn’t in decline. Better to take a chance on a young healthy guy who has shown immaturity problems than a mature old guy with serious injury concerns.

    He also signed Afflalo to a much better deal than the one BC signed DD to, and then used Afflalo to bring in Igoudala.

    No idea why Tim thinks the Gallinari extension was a bad signing. The guy is a phenomenal 3pt shooter who averages 16.2 pts, 5.2 reb, 2.5 ast, all while playing decent defense. He also has the versatility and size to effectively play both forward spots. If you think Gallinari wouldn’t have been offered at least that much ($10M per) on the open market then you’re fucking crazy. It wasn’t a knee jerk extension like the DD signing, Gallinari had actually already proven himself worth that much (he’s been playing great since 2010).

    Those kind of moves, moving assets before they lose all value, are what the Raptors have been missing. If Bargs was dealt years ago we probably could have gotten draft picks and some decent role players. Now we’ll be lucky to get anything of value.

    So if people’s expectations are that Ujiri will be able to move Bargs for an All Star, then they do need to be tempered. But if your expectations are that Ujiri can and would be willing to move anyone on the roster for good value in return, then I think your expectations are just right. If he wants to trade any of DD, Gay, Lowry, Ross, or Amir, I think he’ll be able to get us a very good return that fits a cohesive plan moving forward. Bargs and Fields are different animals due to BC fuckups (not trading Bargs years ago when he still had value, and Fields due to the awful deal BC gave him).

    • vino

      Tim W. has his own views, often contradicting logic and common sense… but his write-ups frequently generate good discussion topics; probably these two facts are linked

      Just to add to your summary, Ujiri has built flexibility/depth into his Nuggets team. Players like Mozgov, who Karl publically admitted should receive more minutes, and Hamilton have untapped potential. Also, signing Lawson to 12 mil/per for four years is a good deal. I wonder how much BC would have given him (close to max?!)…

      Realistic expectations for our new GM should be building us a contender within 4-5 years. If anybody thinks it should take anything less than that he is dreaming.

      • http://www.wearingfilm.com/picketfence/ Tim W.

        “Tim W. has his own views, often contradicting logic and common sense.”

        I’d love to debate any points you feel lack logic or common sense.

    • CJT

      How much did the Nets offer Humphries! McGee has far more potential that he does in my opinion.

    • http://www.wearingfilm.com/picketfence/ Tim W.

      I’d hazard a guess that only a handful of people on this site that would see what I wrote as negative. There’s a difference between a negative piece and something that looks at all different angles, which I felt I did. It seems to me that some people just want puff pieces that aren’t critical at all, and that’s not what I do. I don’t find those articles interesting in the least.

      And the fact is this article in no way makes a case against Ujiri, and the fact that you read it that way makes me think that you tend to take ANY criticism as completely negative. I’m not against the hiring of Ujiri in the least. I simply want to wait and see what the results are before running to judgement.

      • WhiteVegas

        “There’s a difference between a negative piece and something that looks at all different angles, which I felt I did.”

        You missed a ton of angles, conveniently all the overtly positive ones. No mention of his draft history (Faried, Fournier). No mention of resigning Lawson. No mention of the haul he got for Melo. No mention of resigning Afflalo to a very nice contract, and then turning him into a far superior Igoudala.

        Could you also please justify this statement?

        “While Gallinari is a good player, he’s not worth the borderline All Star salary that he’s currently making”

        Gallinari makes $10M per year. I don’t think that’s quite borderline All Star salary, but regardless, how is Gallinari not worth $10M per year? You’re trying to turn a very reasonable contract into a negative.

        • ItsAboutFun

          LOL, yeah that “all different angles” line is almost worthy of a punchline to an SNL skit.

        • http://www.wearingfilm.com/picketfence/ Tim W.

          I think Ujiri’s success are pretty well known, which is why most Raptor fans are excited about the hiring. He just won the Executive of the Year award, so the only reason to rehash a lot of his accomplishments is to give Raptor fans even more gratification.

          It seems some fans can’t stand ANY criticism of the Raptors, or at least criticism they don’t agree with. Guys like Doug Smith are good at writing articles like that. You get no real depth or good analysis from him, but that’s not what he’s for. He’s there for fans, like possibly yourself, that just want to feel good about being a Raptor fan even when there’s little reason for it.

          Despite your accusations, I’m not negative. I just don’t try and write about rainbows and unicorns when there aren’t any. I was one of the few who loved the Valanciunas pick immediately, and defended the Amir re-signing when it happened. Hell, I wasn’t even very critical of the Landry Fields signing. I’ve always defended Calderon as being underappreciated by most Raptor fans. And there have been numerous other times I’ve praised moves or players that most others were critical of.

          But you’re complaining that I’m not writing fawning articles about a team I don’t think is very good and won just 34 wins in a horribly weak Eastern Conference, and was thought of so highly by incoming management that most of the people responsible for it’s construction have been fired. Considering what’s going in with the Raptors, right now, I’d say the tone of most of my articles is pretty accurate.

          • WhiteVegas

            If you wanted to provide depth and analysis, why only look at 2 signings by Ujiri, instead of all the signings he’s made? He’s only been GM 3 years so the list of signings is rather short. That would actually make for an interesting article that would give you plenty of opportunities for in depth analysis (how did the signings compare to others around the league at the time? Were the signings overpaid, fair value, or underpaid? etc….) Instead you opined about how similar hiring Ujiri was to hiring Colangelo, without any depth or analysis.

            I’d also still like a response as to why the Gallinari extension is a bad contract? If Ujiri had let Gallinari get to free agency, he absolutely would have been offered more on the open market. Ujiri used the same strategy, signing players to a reasonable extension instead of letting them reach FA, with Afflalo and Lawson. BC tried to use that strategy with DD but then shot himself in the foot by not offering a reasonable extension, but an exorbitant one, somehow bidding against himself.

            • http://www.wearingfilm.com/picketfence/ Tim W.

              What I find ironic is that you do nothing but criticize my articles for being too critical of the Raptors. You’re doing to me EXACTLY what you complain I do. I certainly don’t mind specific criticism of my arguments, but to complain I’m being too negative? So if I’m being negative, what is it that you’re being? Are you going on the notion that two negatives make a positive?

              You seemed to miss the point of the article in your rush to criticize it for being too negative, while also ignoring the parts where I talk about how Ujiri is a clear improvement over Colangelo. The point of the article was in the title, not to look, in depth, at Ujiri’s history. I thought it interesting the similarities between the hiring of Colangelo and the hiring of Ujiri, of which there are quite a few. And I thought that was a good way to point out that we need to temper expectations.

              At no point did I argue that Ujiri wasn’t a good hiring. And I think you’ll admit that if I did I wouldn’t be shy about saying it.

              As for the Gallinari extension, I’m not sure how you can argue it was good. And just SAYING “he absolutely would have been offered more on the open market” doesn’t actually make it true. You need SOMETHING to back that statement up. You may be right, but we simply don’t know.

              The fact is that Gallinari averaged 16.2 ppg, which was good for 37th in the league, on a decent, but not great 56 TS%. He’s a below average rebounder for his size, a below average defender, and, besides scoring, doesn’t really do anything at an above average rate (although you his passing is pretty good). I don’t think his contract is horrible, but if you’re paying $10 million a year for a 16 ppg scorer who doesn’t do a whole lot else, then you’re paying too much.

              • WhiteVegas

                When I criticize your articles I do it with counter arguments, not straw men about rainbows and unicorns. You seem to like debate in the comment section and I’m one of the few people that will give you an intelligent one. Gallinari is not a below average defender. According to 82games.com his opponent counterpart PER was average to slightly below average, depending on whether he was guarding a SF or PF. He splits time almost evenly between the positions and can excel at both, something quite rare in the NBA today, as well as something else that increases his value. He also hit 37% of his 3pters while taking over 5 a game, another elite skill he brings to the table. His rebounding is decent for a SF but slightly low for a PF. He plays with Kenneth Farried so it’s not like there are tons of loose boards for him to grab so you have to take that stat in context, and even out of context it’s perfectly acceptable rebounding numbers for a starting SF. He basically puts up Rudy Gay numbers but with much more efficiency on offense. Easily worth $10M in my eyes.

                • http://www.wearingfilm.com/picketfence/ Tim W.

                  I hope you’re not suggesting mine are straw man arguments, because even my staunchest critics will say that I do backup my arguments.

                  I will admit that you generally backup your arguments against me. There are one or two others that don’t, however.

                  As for Gallinari’s defense, that stat you brought up is not really a good indicator of how good a defender a player is. You have to take into consideration who he generally defends (he’ll usually defend the weakest wing player), the defense his team plays (very help defense driven), and various other factors.

                  Have you watched a lot of him play, because from what I’ve seen, his defense is not horrible, but it’s still below average.

                  And for a 6’10 player, he’s not a good rebounder.

                • Tee

                  Tim you are missing the point.

                  the NBA isn’t Walmart: You don’t just walk through it and say, “Hey, I like that player and I’m going to pay the cheapest to get him and place him on my team.” -This is Bill Simmons’ tiring topic of conversation.

                  There are a lot of variables in the NBA including Agents, other GMs and players. This makes it like a chess match between 30 teams.

                  I think his point is you gotta do what you gotta do to acquire, retain, draft and especially trade players.(Im not even going delve into NBA market values and inflation). You’ve suggested that you look at things from a fan/analytics perspective which may make some of your points valid but not the complete story. For example, ask George Karl if Gallo is worth 10mill. He recently stated he was a very important part of that team.

                  There is another universe in the NBA that we are not privy to. Keep that in mind when you write your fan-critiques.

                • http://www.wearingfilm.com/picketfence/ Tim W.

                  Perhaps you’re missing the point. Most teams have a relatively finite amount of money they are able to spend on salary. Bad teams, or teams with bottomless pockets, tend to overpay marginally talented players because they play a larger role on their team than they should because the team is not very good.

                  Take the Raptors, for example. Before this season, loads of fans argued that his salary was fair because he scored 20 ppg and was the team’s leading scorer, ignoring the fact that he scored 20 ppg and was the team’s leading scorer because the team sorely lacked talent.

                  On a good team, a player like Bargnani would not get enough shots or minutes to score 20 ppg, so his salary only makes sense on a bad team.

                  Obviously Gallinari is on a good team, but with all due respect to him, he’s a fairly replaceable player. And the fact is he hasn’t played a full season in more than three years, so that plays a BIG part in it.

                  As for what George Karl said, what exactly would you expect? Ask him about most of the Nugget players and you’ll get the same answer.

  • johng_3

    So we should do a complete reconstruction even with young guys like JV (20 years old), DeMar (23 years old), Rudy (26 years old), I do agree his contract is bad, Amir (26 years old). We do not need that. Just fix up some messes like Andrea, Kleiza, Fields and the starting PF and PG situation (deciding if you want Lowry or not), and we are on our way. Sorry, I don’t think this fanbase has another 3 years of patience to wait for another teardown to wait for some next generation superstar that your dreaming about in some draft in the future.

    • http://www.wearingfilm.com/picketfence/ Tim W.

      I would not trade Valanciunas. Let’s be clear about that. But having youth doesn’t necessarily mean you are going to be a good team down the road. DeRozan is simply not the type of shooting guard who can help a good team. He’s poor defensively, isn’t an efficient enough scorer to be a 1 or 2 option on a good team, can’t create shots for himself and can’t hit the three. The fact he’s 23 is great, but after four years in the league, playing as many minutes as he has, players simply don’t make the developmental leaps DeRozan needs to.

      Gay is a good player, but he’s more inefficient than DeRozan, is far too inconsistent on defense, and makes poor decisions down the stretch. He’s that tease type of player that makes coaches and fans think he COULD end up being great, but never actually puts it together. And there’s a reason you rarely find guys like that on good teams.

      And the argument that the fanbase doesn’t have the patience for another 3 years of rebuilding only makes sense if the team was actually pretty good right now. They’re not. They won 34 games in a VERY weak East and In fact, there’s a decent chance they won’t make the playoffs next year, so not only do you have an overpriced, overrated roster, but they’re not even winning. How patient do you think Raptor fans would be with that?

      • Tee

        “DeRozan is simply not the type of shooting guard who can help a good team.”

        Man, DeRozan is like the third option on our team. That’s exactly his role. Its too early to talk about him in that context. Thats a pretty heavy handed statement.

        Did you ever say anything like this about Bosh?

        Be honest….

        • http://www.wearingfilm.com/picketfence/ Tim W.

          Well, DeRozan is actually the second option on the Raptors, and it seems some Raptor fans are either greatly over valuing his skills, or expecting more development from a 4 year player with his experience than is historically realistic.

          People talk about it being too early, but you have to look at history here, which I think most Raptor fans simply don’t do. DeRozan has played 32 mpg over 4 full seasons. His age doesn’t matter. What matters is his experience. You look at the vast majority of players who have played nearly 10,000 minutes, as DeRozan has, and you’ll find that most improve only marginally after that.

          And not that it has anything to do with the argument, but no, I never said anything remotely like that about Bosh. I had hopes that Bosh could be a franchise player during his first season, but by his third season, saw his as, at best, a second best player on a contending team.

          • Tee

            next year:
            Jv first option inside.
            Gay 2nd option, maybe Lowry. Its debatable.

            • http://www.wearingfilm.com/picketfence/ Tim W.

              You think Valanciunas is going to be the first option next year, and get more shots than anyone else on the team? Maybe if they gut the team. And I wouldn’t want Gay or Lowry as the second option, either. Gay is more inefficient than DeRozan and Lowry is, well, Lowry.

              • Tee

                ummm correct me if im wrong but isnt JV( &Acy) the most efficient player on the team Tim?

                Thats the stat you just used to justify/disprove my point.

                • http://www.wearingfilm.com/picketfence/ Tim W.

                  Being the number one option on a team is about more than just being efficient. There are half a dozen players on the Spurs that are more efficient than Tony Parker, but Parker is their number one option because he is also the best scorer, and because if you make any of those guys the number one offense their efficiency will go WAY down.

                  If you ask Valanciunas to be the number one option on the team, his efficiency will go down because he’s simply not good enough yet to handle that role.

                  Jose Calderon and Amir Johnson are/were also two of the four most efficient scorers on the Raptors, but can you imagine either of them as first, second or even third options? I’m big fans of both, but if you do that you’re asking for trouble.

                • HogyG

                  I can Appreciate JV not being considered the #1 option at the moment, but it could be very easy imagining him in that role in the near future. A future the Raptors will hopefully be gravitating towards. After seeing Hibbert be effective with his limited offensive weapons this playoffs, it’s easy for someone to put Jonas in the #1 option in the future, especially when you consider that JV seems more offensively gifted and smooth this season than Hibbert ever did in his rookie outing.

                  I realize while typing this that Hibbert is not the # 1 option for the Pacers on a nightly basis, but he certainly was the hinge pin for the series against the Heat. That being said I must also point out that JV already isn’t afraid to demand the ball in the paint (something a #1 option does and something lacking from our team) and moves fast and smooth like an athletic big man and does not move all awkwardly on the court like Hibbert, who reminds me of the Alien Queen at the end of Aliens as she moves across the hanger deck fighting Ripley in her power armor. Just crazy long legs that never can fully straiten and slowly make ground one long step at a time.

          • ItsAboutFun

            “People talk about it being too early, but you have to look at history
            here, which I think most Raptor fans simply don’t do. DeRozan has
            played 32 mpg over 4 full seasons. His age doesn’t matter. What
            matters is his experience. You look at the vast majority of players who
            have played nearly 10,000 minutes, as DeRozan has, and you’ll find that
            most improve only marginally after that”

            1. ” His age doesn’t matter.”??? Huh? In what world? That has to be one of the most ridiculous statements I’ve ever seen here. Perhaps that should read “doesn’t matter to YOU, in support of your opinion”, but in the rest of this world, it does. Us humans aren’t robots coming out of a factory with all the same parts and programming, to say nothing of how rate of development can be hugely affected by coaching/system/teammates/etc. (does Kahwi develop the same under Sam/Jay/Casey as he has under Pop, or DeMar under Pop instead of Sam/Jay/Casey?). Aside from vastly different environmental factors, we all develop, physically and mentally, at different rates, which is a big part of why when speaking of a player reaching his peak, average age of 27 is what’s referenced, not X thousands of minutes.

            2. “You look at the vast majority……. most improve only marginally after that”

            So how does some nebulous (do you have facts to support this history that you say most fans simply don’t look at?) most/majority of players translates to certainty, as you present it, that DeMar fits into this most/majority category of yours, and not the minority you imply? Why?

            3.”you have to look at history here, which I think most Raptor fans simply don’t do.”

            Here we go with that “most” thing again. I don’t know what data you have to support this, but when looking at what “history” you speak of, you’re talking of most Raptor fans not looking at your interpretation of history, based on your opinions, right?

            • http://www.wearingfilm.com/picketfence/ Tim W.

              In regards to age, you may find it ridiculous, but this isn’t a controversial notion, here. NBA experience tends to matter more than age when looking at NBA development. It’s not as if there are guys coming into the league at 16. These are all adults. The whole peaking at age 27 belief came into being when players were coming into the league at 21 and 22. Now, you’ll see a lot of guys reaching their prime at 25.

              • ItsAboutFun

                Well, we’re making progress with you recognizing that your “His age doesn’t matter” is a “notion”

                Notion:noun; a general understanding; vague or imperfect conception or idea of something.

                The next step is to recognize that it IS “controversial” to every related scientific study, ever done, that says not only that most people are still going through significant physiological and mental development at 23 years old, but that we are all made differently and do so at different rates, at different times. Not only that, but as significant as different environmental factors (in this case, pre-NBA, as well as NBA team,coaches, systems, etc) can affect this varied rate of development, but even twins brought up in the same environment can develop at different rates, both physically and mentally.

                “NBA experience tends to matter more than age when looking at NBA development.”

                Again, we’re making progress in that you at least recognize that age does matter. On the other hand, which matters more is an opinion based on unscientific notions, rather than historical facts that you say most fans don’t pay attention to. Also, you speak of a number of minutes on the floor as “experience”, without taking into account any factor whatsoever that influences the quality of that experience. For example, learning and playing under Triano, beside Bargnani, never playing in the playoffs, is vastly different experience than playing under Pop, beside Duncan, getting playoff experience. I’m saying throwing out some arbitrary “X” number of minutes as some accurate guage of a player’s chances of developing much further is simplistic opinion, imo.

      • johng_3

        Derozan is 23 and has plenty of time to develop into becoming a better shooter and defender. The guy has not even reached his prime. So your just going to presume in 4 years (which is so far away), Derozan won’t be that good and can’t develop these skills. I never knew you could tell the future.

        Gay, (which I never liked the trade) is inconsistent on D and is turnover prone. But I have to give him a full season with this team to evaluate him. Next year, Raps should put a better offense in for him where they don’t just iso for him every play. The turnovers aren’t all his fault, some of the blame has to go to the coaching staff for the bad play calls.

        And how patient would our fanbase be with your complete overhaul (say 3-4 year plan) and no playoffs since 2006. You think us fans have the patience for that?

  • Guy

    The author of this piece says he was applauding Colangelo’s hiring, but anyone that’s read his commentary the past 1-2 years wouldn’t know it because he’s spent that time taking a dump on BC. In other words, he disagrees with his own opinion. Also, recently, the author was urging all of us to slip into panic-mode over Colangelo being retained because of the potential, almost inevitable problems that will arise. His presence, he argued, could make the new GM hesitant or reluctant to make decisions regarding personnel BC hired. Considering how Ujiri has swept the front office & scouting staff clean of people BC hired(excluding Kelly), it seems the panic he was so desperately trying to spread was nothing but paranoia. There were a few people on here that suggested he relax and temper any expectations of problems arising. A suggestion he attacked & met with ridicule. The irony of this same author now suggesting tempered expectations in regards to the GM he was so worried about is quite comical.

    His initial opinion about the last GM was off. His initial worry-fest regarding this new GM also appears off. Two for two. Thanks for telling us all how we should feel, but when considering any advice, I look for someone with some actual credibility.

    • http://www.wearingfilm.com/picketfence/ Tim W.

      That was some hilarious satire. Thank you for that.

      • Guy

        Being able to deride someone by using their own words & history is always a pleasure, so I’m glad you liked it. But what I really like about it, it’s not just hilarious, it’s accurate.

        • http://www.wearingfilm.com/picketfence/ Tim W.

          Sorry. I actually assumed you were being satirical because I figured no one would seriously leave a comment like that.

          Let’s clear up a couple of things.

          I’ve never hid the fact that I was a supporter of Colangelo up until about a year and a half ago. I didn’t agree with most of his moves (which I’ve gone on record stating) but respected his abilities enough to give him the benefit of the doubt. When the evidence became too much for me to ignore, I changed my opinion.

          That doesn’t mean I disagree with my own opinion. That means I changed my mind after seeing the evidence. That’s what normal people do. That’s what Colangelo should have done with his opinion on Bargnani, but didn’t.

          In hindsight, I realize I should not have given Colangelo the benefit of the doubt despite disagreeing with his moves. And that’s part of the motivation of the article.

          As for the “panic” I seemed “desperately trying to spread”, where do you come up with thoughts like this? I wrote an article that spoke about the dangers of keeping Colangelo on board. It ended up being just one of dozens of articles, across the internet and in newspapers, that brought up the same concerns. Concerns that were echoed by Sam Mitchell, in an interview. Yet you want to paint me as some hysterical doomsayer running from door to door warning the townsfolk the sky is falling. And I’m not really sure why you’re doing that other than perhaps because you don’t like my opinions.

          And to say I was “wrong” about it isn’t a valid argument. Unless you actually KNOW that Ujiri wasn’t concerned about Colangelo retaining the presidency and that wasn’t one of the reasons for his delay in accepting the position, and that none of the other GM candidates had any concerns about it, I am at a loss as to how you can say I was wrong.

          Besides, if you’re looking for things I was wrong about, you don’t have to make stuff up. I thought Cleveland should have traded up in the 2011 draft to take both Kyrie Irving and Derrick Williams. They’re probably glad they didn’t. I also said the Evan Turner was a special player, before the 2010 draft, and thought Cole Aldrich was a good pickup by the Oklahoma Thunder.

          I also said that Jarrett Jack was an excellent defender, when Colangelo signed him. That wasn’t true then and it’s not now.

          All the things I was wrong about are out there for everyone to see and easily search for.

          Thankfully, I’m right a hell of a lot more than I’m wrong. And that’s one reason why some people, like yourself, are filled with such glee at the moments when you can point to my errors in judgement because, otherwise, where would the fun be in it?

          On a final note, I find your reaction (and a small handful of others) to my article intriguing. I never come out against Ujiri’s hiring and even bring of a number of things that make me optimistic about it. But, for some reason, ANY questioning of anything the Raptors do seems to be verboten. You seemed to get upset that I dare question Leiweke for keeping Colangelo just as you get upset for me daring to suggest that we don’t assume that Ujiri will be able to turn the team into a contender.

          Bare in mind, all I’m suggesting, as the title clearly states, is that we temper our expectations of Ujiri. Not that I don’t think he was a good hire, or that the Raptors should have hired someone else. But even tempering of expectations is too much for you.

          That’s just odd.

          • Bendit

            A “tempered” reply.

          • Guy

            You know what isn’t odd? To see another long-winded blah-fest in response to someone dismissing your opinion. It falls completely inline with a desperate, and actually quite sad, attempt to validate oneself. Jarret Jack? Yeesh.

            The way I see it, you’re initial reaction to Colangelo’s hiring turned out to be misguided, & you’re worry-fest about the dangers of retaining Colangelo, to this point, also seems misguided. Whether Sam Mitchell shared your opinion or not is irrelevant. The reason I can say so is because there hasn’t been one report thus far suggesting Ujiri expressed concern, & given how he’s removing many people BC hired, he’s providing legitimate doubt it’ll be an issue going forward.

            All I’m saying is this, since your initial reactions in these two areas have been less than accurate, any suggestion you make as to how we all should feel can be taken with a grain of salt, or simply disregarded. It appears you don’t like someone suggesting your opinion can be dismissed. Unlucky for you.

            As I said in my initial posting, Thanks for the advice, but I’m gonna hold out for someone with more credibility. I suggest others do the same.

          • Guy

            From today’s presser with Ujiri…..

            ‘Ujiri shrugged off suggestions that the relationship between the current and former GMs could be awkward.’

            “There’s no issue with Bryan Colangelo,” he said. “None whatsoever.”

            Yes, it certainly appears suggesting your worry-fest over the new GM & Colangelo was unnecessary & misguided was really outlandish on my part.

            Please, resume your hysteria.

  • RedEyedJedi

    I’m going into this one cautiously optimistic.

  • Statement

    Tim W, I like your articles and think you are a very good writer. However, you just rub me the wrong way for some reason. Anyways, that’s not really your problem as you aren’t going to change who you are on my account.

    I’m still gonna read your stuff because I find it to be insightful, even though I know I’ll be annoyed.
    When I guess I’m trying to say is, keep up the good work and I’ll try to debate and not criticize, even though I just kinda did, lol.
    #backhandedcompliment.

    • http://www.wearingfilm.com/picketfence/ Tim W.

      Thanks. As for rubbing people the wrong way, I think ANYONE with opinions does that. There are guys who can’t stand Zach Lowe, and I think he’s the best NBA writer in the business. My problem is that I try and converse with my critics, assuming I can have an intelligent discussion with them and most of the time that’s just not true. That’s a flaw I have in real life, too. I assume that ANYONE can be reasoned with, as long as your argument is logical, and I keep discovering that’s not true.

      There’s a reason why most writers don’t start replying to comments (you’ll notice few do it here). It’s a black hole of misery. Ah, live and learn.

      • ItsAboutFun

        Lordy! What’s your guage for what is or isn’t “intelligent discussion”? I see a number of people trying to engage you as such, but it appears that anyone who questions your pretentious opinions/logic, you consider not being reasoned or intelligent. I’ve yet to see you admit that you could be wrong about anything! Dude, if you’re going to continually present your opinions as fact/logic, and treat opposing opinions as ill-informed/unintelligent, you’re going to have a harder and harder time finding intelligent debate.