On this morning’s Rapcast I mentioned that I don’t think trading Rudy Gay for expiring contracts makes any sense, for various reasons.

The comments to that post have been such that I feel like I need to explain that stance further.

Foremost, I’m anti-tanking. Yes, it’s Andrew Wiggins, but there’s only a 25% chance the last place team gets the number one pick. Yes, it’s supposed to be a good and deep draft class, but a) who knows how the year will play out, and b) does this mean an eighth pick, for example, will still be franchise altering? And yes, the Raptors as currently constructed are, in the absolute most optimistic scenario, a second round playoff team, and that doesn’t quite cut it in the eyes of some fans.

However, there are already a handful of teams lined up to tank. This not only increases the difficulty in acquiring strong lottery odds by increasing the loss total necessary, but it also significantly lowers the barrier to entering the playoffs. The playoffs bring additional revenues that are mostly profit, and MLSE is in the business of making money. Since I don’t really care about the linings of their pockets, playoffs also bring additional excitement, make the team more attractive to free agents and help develop the players on the roster.

So to review:
*major competition for tanking
*low barrier to entry for playoff ball
*no certainty of franchise improvement with tanking

The argument holds that it’s really difficult to win an NBA Championship without at least one superstar. I understand that reality and I understand Wiggins could be that guy one day. But Masai Ujiri showed in Denver, like Indiana showed this year, that you don’t need a superstar to be a pretty good team. If you’re okay with the Raptors building to being “pretty good,” then making improvements without tanking is attractive. Of course I’d love a championship, but I’d also be ecstatic to just cheer for a team that is “pretty good” or even “really good” instead of “perpetual lottery fodder.”

And I think Ujiri has the mindset and the assets in place to make the team better in small steps. That is, there’s a path to making the team better without tanking. That may very well include trading Rudy Gay, but not for expiring contracts alone.

The deal I’m referring to here is the rumoured offer of Charlie Villanueva and Rodney Stuckey the Pistons sent Ujiri’s way. The only world in which that’s an acceptable offer is one in which the goal is clearly tanking – as polarizing as Gay may be, he’s still a pretty good NBA player. Yes, he’s overpaid, but he’s a net positive for the team. One would think Ujiri would at the very least require some form of draft pick or young player compensation to entice him to move Gay.

And that’s because Gay, although expensive, isn’t too cumbersome a contract to keep around. He’s due $17.9M this season and has a player option for $19.3M for 2014-15. If he exercises the option, well, it’s another year of paying superstar money to a guy who is good but not elite. That’s unfortunate, but it would also make him a huge expiring contract to deal (an attractive means of acquiring assets from a rebuilding team). In addition, there’s the chance he doesn’t exercise said option.

This is, I think, the issue that most people had with my stance against the trade. People see “$19.3M option” and it’s difficult to envision a situation in which Gay declines it.

But it’s entirely possible, and not all that ridiculous. Look at these three possible career arcs for Gay:

1) Exercises option, gets hurt in 2014-15, can’t sign a big money deal and has to play on a David West-like “prove it” contract before getting big money again (if he ever can – see Josh Howard as an example).
2) Declines option, signs 4-year, $48M contract (not unrealistic given the money just offered to Tyreke Evans and Andre Iguodala), hits free agency again at age 31.
3) Exercises option, plays well enough, signs free agent deal at slightly less than scenario 2 but more than scenario 1.

Those aren’t an exhaustive list of possibilities, but they’re probably the three most prominent ones Gay and his agent would consider. The decision will come down to how well Gay plays this year and his own personal risk preference – $19.3M for a year sounds really good, but $48M guaranteed sounds even better and is, you know, guaranteed.

If you don’t think Gay would get $48M over four years, consider the 4-year, $56M deal Andre Iguodala was allegedly offered by the Kings. It’s been taken off the table, but some ESPN contributors pegged 4-48 as the lowest Iggy could expect.

Iguodala is a better player than Gay, especially on the defensive end, but he’s also two years older than Gay will be next summer. Gay had a higher PER and rebound rate, a lower turnover rate and similar block and steal numbers. Iggy had the edge in True Shooting Percentage, assist rate and, of course, defense (pick your stat, or just use your eyes or reputation or whatever). Iggy is better, but he’s older. Whether you see value in it or not (I don’t), Gay also has the “clutch” reputation. He can also create his own shout and score in bulk more capably than Iguodala.

All of that is to say that Gay will have suitors, and if he has a strong 2013-14 it might be in his best long-term financial interest to decline his player option.

The possibility of that move makes dealing him strictly for expiring contracts, without receiving any additional assets in return, ludicrous. The team would be swapping him out for lesser players to avoid potentially paying him in 2014-15, clearly signalling a tank (and even then, not a good one considering you’d still want to receive some sort of future asset in the deal).

I understand that some people are a part of Tank Nation and as such won’t agree with holding Gay no matter what. There are others who might want Gay traded regardless. I’d suggest taking a more realistic view at what tanking for 2013-14 is really providing the team while reconsidering what Gay’s trade value might be beyond expiring contracts.

I’m not against dealing him, but the return needs to tangibly help the team moving forward, not just save some money for a hypothetical free agent and improve the odds of potentially landing a hypothetical superstar, however certain said star might seem. See how many probability-qualifying words I had to use there? That’s why I feel how I do about tanking.

  • maya

    Fine choice of a photo. LOL

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

    I think you hit the nail on the head. If you’re happy with a pretty good team that you might be able to cheer for in the playoffs, then tanking has has absolutely no attraction. Of course, Leiweke has gone on record and said the goal of the team is not simply to make the playoffs. It’s to win a Championship.

    I don’t want the Raptors to be the Milwaukee Bucks. Teams don’t gain respect by being playoff fodder. They gain respect by going deep into the playoffs and actually having a legitimate shot at being a contender.

    As for Gay, I am glad Ujiri didn’t accept Detroit’s deal because it simply wasn’t good. Throw in Caldwell-Pope and Knight, and I’d do it, because the Raptors need to get picks and/or prospects back. In fact, I’d rather take back a longer contract if it means getting getting more value back. Cap space would be nice, but I’d much rather have draft picks and prospects.

    • SR

      Tim – I agree. As has been mentioned before, scouts are predicting that 8 players in the 2014 draft have legitimate NBA all-star potential. The Raptors currently have 0 all-stars on this roster.

      I’m totally comfortable with asking the hard questions about where this team is headed as constructed, as opposed to just being happy with limited success in the near future. I did not enjoy the Chris Bosh era very much, which is what this roster is set up to accomplish – annual dog fights for the playoffs and quick exits. Remember all those Chris Bosh offseasons? Internal development was going to get us over the hump (Andrea Bargnani!), FA acquisitions were going to get us over the hump (Hedo! Jermaine!), trades for good guys and personal friends were going to get us over the hump (TJ! Jarret Jack!). How did all that pan out? In hindsight, everybody from Bryan Colangelo to Doug Smith to most fans on these blogs admitted it was basically a waste of time to try to find pieces to fit around Chris Bosh (a perennial all-star, a level of talent this roster does not currently possess) and to cross your fingers for internal development, impactful coaching changes, and exceptional on-court chemistry. This roster is set up perfectly to repeat the same mediocrity, fueled by the same blind optimism.

      “At least it’s the playoffs!” I didn’t enjoy the first-round-out playoff years that much, did you? You know what I really liked? Having a legitimate, tier-1 NBA talent and legitimate aspirations for deep playoff runs when Vince was in his prime. Now that was fun and, in my opinion, worth some short-term pain.

      • Steve Lam

        Totally agreed.

        And with the point of possibly attracting FA’s because we might make a slightly deeper run in the playoffs due to a lot of teams tanking? Players aren’t THAT dumb. They’ll know exactly why/how the raptors got there. Same with how everyone knows the final stretch of wins against playoff teams at the end of last season obviously didn’t mean anything.

    • ezz_bee

      Tim, I’m curious about what you think of the Pacers. Would you consider them championship contenders? I would obviously love for the raps to win a championship, but winning a championship is only ever realistic for one team (when there is by far and away a vegas favourite), and often not even one team (although admittedly somebody has to win it. If you were the GM of the Pacers would you say, “we don’t have elite talent, and therefore should tank?”

      As a fan, I’d be happy if the raps were the pacers, a team that seems like it’s only 1-2 good contributors away from getting into the finals.

      Pacers a good example why the “treadmill” argument is always accurate. Three years ago the Pacers would have easily qualified as a treadmill team, but were able to make the jump to contention without having to tank.

      Personally I think the “tank” or “not tank” overlooks what’s really important. Good value contracts. Obviously, draft picks are perhaps the most value for money contracts in the NBA, so the tanking argument supports that. Drafting is also a good place to get elite talent, so the tanking argument supports that as well.

      However, I would argue that drafting well, is more important that drafting high, as a lot of top tier talent comes after the first 10 picks.

      Secondly, what good is top-tier talent if you got a bunch of over paid (and often over the hill) role players surrounding that player? Basically the Lebron – Cavs, and Howard – Magic?

      You franchise player gets pissed because they aren’t winning and bolts for greener pastures.

      The smart money is to acquire the best value/money contracts you can get, because even if it leads to what seems like the mediocrity treadmill (good players but no elite talent), you put yourself in the best position for 1 of 2 things to happen.

      1) you have assets you can package to get elite talent when that talent gets embittered with its current team. Example – KG to Celtics.

      2) You have a good enough team that when one of your higher draft picks emerges as a legit talent it can take you over the top. Example – Paul George being drafted 10th by the Pacers.

      I’m not saying I’m against tanking, I’m saying you try to move non-value contracts for value contracts, if you happen to make your team better or the same in the process, that’s not a problem. In the long run teams that are able to maximize the value they get from their contracts are more likely to succeed, even if they don’t get high draft picks, than teams that get a succession of high draft picks, but draft poorly, and/or give out bad contracts (Khan era Wolves, Maloof era Kings).

      • PinkyandtheBrain

        Minnesota, Sacramento, etc. are more of an issue of completely incompetent management than tank/don’t tank or draft vs. trades/FA development, wouldn’t you say?

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

          I’d say definitely. Too many people mistake poor management for the perils of tanking.

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

        The thing about the Pacers is that they completely lucked out by finding a potential franchise player with the 10th pick. That’s lightening in a bottle. You can’t copy it because it’s so incredibly rare nowadays with better scouting and no high school players.

        You could acquire assets and hope to trade for an elite player, but, again, the odds of doing so are slim. Most elite players choose where they want to be traded to. And why is he being traded? Is it because he’s going to become a free agent? Then you’re making a huge gamble by giving up assets for maybe a one year rental. He is being traded because he’s too old and his original team needs to rebuild? Well, then you’ve got a small window in which to compete.

        Houston getting Harden and Boston getting Garnett were definitely examples of success. But Howard to the Lakers and Bynum to Philadelphia are not.

        As you allude to, if a team has poor management and makes poor decisions, it doesn’t matter whether they tank or not, they still won’t be successful.

        • ezz_bee

          And I would argue that the inverse is true as well, if a team that has good management and makes good decisions, it doesn’t matter whether they tank or not, they still WILL be successful.

          Dirk was drafted 9th… where were Rondo, Nash, and Amare drafted? Yes the higher you draft the HARDER it is to get good talent, but “catching lightning in a bottle” is what you are trying to do whether you draft 1st or 51st, and I would argue that the problems with drafting make that route more risky than trying to build a roster through “known” commodities.

          Even if we say, that drafting anywhere after the 10th pick is a waste of a roster space (which I’m sure you DON’T actually agree with). I would still argue that you can get a 5-10 pick by trading picks with a team that’s going to be in the lottery.

          Where was Chicago when the won the lottery? Where was Orlando when they won? As long as you own a pick that’s in the lottery you’ve got a chance at getting that lightning.

          Also, you still haven’t directly answered the question of the Pacers, have they reached that level of contention that makes it worthwhile or do they need to be torn down and rebuilt because they don’t have that elite talent. Although, I’m guessing that maybe george is your elite talent that makes it a real contender?

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

            A good GM can definitely build a good team without tanking. But Nash, Dirk and Amare were all drafted more than ten years ago. Things have changed since then. It’s MUCH more difficult to find elite players lower because they rarely fall, anymore. Amare, Garnett and Kobe were drafted out of high school, and that’s out now. Dirk (and Tony Parker) were drafted at a time when international players were undervalued and not heavily scouted. The era ended when Bargnani was drafted number one on the off chance he might turn into Dirk. If Valanciunas had come out even five years before he did, he probably would have been a mid-to-late first rounder in part because he wasn’t coming over right away.

            When George came out, I said he might have more potential than anyone in the draft and wanted the Raptors to draft him. If he continues to progress and becomes the elite player he looks like he can be, the Pacers can definitely contend.

          • ghostdini

            Pacers went to the ECF and lost in 7 games and they’re a young team with room to grow. I’m pretty sure they’re already a contender.

          • ghostdini

            As far as elite talent: Hibbert, based on his 2013 playoffs is quite possibly the best all around center in the league. George is an all around superstar in the making.

        • Tinman

          So what your saying is you were not wrong, Indiana just got lucky

    • Tinman

      Aren’t you the guy who about a year ago told us we should not follow Indiana’s example?


    • raptorspoo

      I was thinking Stuckey, CV, 2012 1st and Knight.

      It would essential be a 2014 1st rounder + Knight for Gay and the other two would be throw-ins to make the deal work. Considering the pick should be a lower pick if they have Gay, I’d say that’d be fair – that’s if they don’t pull a ‘Raptors’.

  • PBJake

    The problem with tanking is that it will take multiple lottery years to accumulate to something to the calibre of OKC. KD, Westbrook and Harden were acquired in three different drafts, which means getting lucky in one draft doesn’t mean that you’re done. It’s a process and to be successful at it, you have to be patient with it. In addition, there are always Thabeets or Bargnanis who don’t turn out exactly the way to expect them to. All in all, a lot of the things have to go right in the years going forward even if we end up drafting Wiggins next year for all the tanking to be worth it. It’s just not.

    • SR

      You’re absolutely correct, but look at what you’re saying. Drafting KD, Westbrook, and James Harden-type players is a problem because the franchise had a couple years of crap between the Ray Allen/Rashard Lewis era and the KD era? I’d take that timeline to attain that level of talent in a heartbeat, wouldn’t you?

      What kind of talent have the Raptors, in their entire history, acquired without the draft? They haven’t acquired so much as a single current all-star through trade or free agency, have they (honest question)? Why are we hoping for significant progress with a limited roster now?

      BTW – the Pacers are being referenced a lot in these discussions as an anti-tanking model, which I find odd. They have two current all-stars: they drafted Paul George and they traded an established NBA player (JO) for a draft pick named Roy Hibbert. To me, this is an argument for acquiring top talent through the draft more than an argument for internal development/progressing without a “star player” (nevermind that Paul George has arguably already become one).

      In fact, look at the four conference finalists this year:

      – Pacers – drafted George and (basically drafted) Hibbert
      – Miami – drafted Wade, who was the cog that brought James and Bosh into town
      – Spurs – drafted Duncan, Parker, Ginobli, Splitter
      – Memphis – this is the team anti-tankers should be referencing – they drafted Conley but traded for/signed Gasol, Z-Bo, and Tony Allen

      Of course there are multiple ways to build a team. I wouldn’t have a problem with an anti-tanker who had a desire for significant roster improvement via another route, but this “I’d just be happy with limited success” sentiment is ridiculous.

      • ezz_bee

        The question I would ask, is tanking the ONLY way to acquire talent through the draft? I would say no.

        • ezz_bee

          Again, I’m not against tanking, I’m FOR acquiring valuable assets. It is conceivable for Ujiri to trade Gay, Derozan both either, for contracts that are better value, but still allow us to maintain competitiveness.

          Being competitive, while increasing assets is not necessarily better or worse, than being uncompetitive and increasing assets, IMO.

          The only question is which route give you the most return value for current contracts, and I think that is answered on a case by case, based on what the market is offering, NOT on a “tank” or “don’t tank” scenario.

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

            The fact is that a team that doesn’t draft in the top five has almost no chance of drafting an elite player and your chance of drafting in the top five while remaining competitive is even less.

          • SR

            ezz_bee – I totally agree, and I’m also usually anti-tanking and more for “acquire value and talent by whatever means available” approach, as you are.

            For me the needle has swung this offseason because the 2014 draft is so great, the current Raptors roster is clearly limited (to the point where even the most optimistic fans say “MAYBE we can make the 2nd round” – in a year with a record number of teams tanking!), and the recent management changes seem to make this a sensible time to chart a new course for the franchise.

            Add all that to the limited success the Raptors have historically had in adding honest-to-goodness top-flight talent through trades and FA, and I think you’ve got a few good reasons to plan on making high lottery picks in the next 1-3 seasons.

            My biggest beef in recent comments here is with “I’d just be happy with the 1st round!”

            • ezz_bee

              Yes I agree, just making the playoffs, is NOT satisfying enough. For me you have to win 2 games in a conference finals to be considered a finals “contender” and that’s what my standard is for any raps team.

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

          Tanking isn’t the only way to acquire talent through the draft, but what are the chances of finding an elite player outside of the top five, nowadays? And what are the chances of being able to trade for a top five pick in a draft like 2014?


          • ezz_bee

            I agree, getting a top 5 in 2014 is unlikely, which is why I would try to target teams that are going to be bad a few years down the road, and trade for draft picks 3-4 years ahead.

            Although this is definitely a case of tanking, I think Boston did a great job with the Nets trade.

            • ezz_bee

              Although, what are the odds that even by dangling anyone and everyone on the roster (not named Jonas) to do we get a top 5 pick in 2014?


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

                No one is giving up a top 5 pick next year without getting an elite player in return. The only thing you can do is trade for a team that thinks it’s going to be better, convince them not to protect the pick, and then hope they either have a major injury or get lucky in the lottery. Probably not very likely.

                • ezz_bee

                  So we agree. Because you can do the above without tanking.

          • ezz_bee

            Anyway, I’m not anti-tank, I just think you make the trades that bring in the most value, which almost certainly means a priority on draft picks, and the higher the draft picks where possible.

            I also think that Ujiri follows the same thought process, and I’m happy to let him decide how he acquires that value. At least initially it looks like he makes good decisions.

            • SR

              Ha – It is funny how what we think means jack sh*t, and I’m really, really curious to see how Ujiri is going to play this out. He’s so patient and methodical, he’s hard to read.

          • Tinman


      • theswirsky

        Memphis traded a former #3 pick in Pau Gasol for and expiring contract (Kwame) and the rights to Marc Gasol.

        They clearly tanked to get to where they are today.

        • SR

          This is true. That would be similar to the Raptors trading Gay for a pick (or picks), wouldn’t it?

        • ItsAboutFun

          That trade was not at all about tanking. WITH Pau, they were already in the middle of a 2nd straight year of 22-60 (like 9-20 at the time), and they did not simply get Kwame and rights to Marc Gasol. They also got 2 x 1st round picks.

          • theswirsky

            You don’t believe trading a perennial all-star for 2 future first round picks, a player not even in the NBA yet, and Kwame Brown, who you have no intention of resigning, is a move that will lose you games in the foreseeable future?

            That couldn’t be a more clear tank move. Thats a defining tank move.

            • ItsAboutFun

              lol, forgetting for a moment your failure to mention that they had already been losing games at the same pace for 1.5 years (there was NO drop after the trade!!), not only did you fail to mention the 2 first rounders, but now you’re trying to invent stuff to justify this “tank” opinion. “Perennial all-star”???? It was his 7th year in the league and he’d been an all-star ONCE, two years earlier.

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

      Unless you acquire the assets (picks and prospects) before you tank. If the Raptors can get a couple of first round picks and a couple of prospects (like a rookie or two) for Gay, DeRozan and Lowry (and possibly Amir), then you aren’t adding to a team devoid of talent. Right now, the Raptors already have Valanciunas, who would be a big piece. And Ross, who could end up being a decent player.

      For sake of argument, let’s say the Raptors are able to get Caldwell-Pope and Knight for Gay, Derrick Williams for DeRozan and a mid-2014 pick for Lowry. If they can draft Wiggins, they already have Valaniunas, Ross, Acy, Caldwell-Pope, Brandon Knight, Derrick Williams and whoever they get with their mid-first rounder. That’s a VERY young team, but they’ve got a whole lot of assets they can develop, package or a combination of the two. And none of them have onerous contracts that would lower their value.

      • ItsAboutFun

        LMAO, you trying to outdo Babcock? Thankfully, Masai is taking the calls from Dumars and the like.

      • cd hall

        you forgot AMIR—-he is an asset that can be kept or turned into another asset!!!

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

          I didn’t forget I’m I left him out intentionally because I’m conflicted about what to do with him. Keeping him hurts your chances of tanking, but I’d rather not trade him. Ultimately, I’d like him to schedule his offseason surgery for training camp, and then have him miss half the season. I don’t see that happening.

      • ezz_bee

        I think the plan above, (minus the getting lucky part with wiggins) is not a bad idea. However, due the the young assets that have talent, I don’t think it would fit Phd. Steve’s definition of tanking. That said, I’m not entirely sure tanking has ever been tried in the NBA by his standards, so maybe that’s why it’s never worked?

  • Kupooo

    As a long time fan of the Raptors what really got me into this team was Vince Carter + Tracy McGrady. Ignore the fact how they left but since they left we have not went past the first round. I definitely didn’t enjoy the Bosh years with 1st round exits. All of you are saying that we need 1-2 star players or elite players. As for as I’m concern tank for another season and swing for one of the top 8 elite players is something I prefer. Being honest I feel we have one in development as in Val our center. Look at how overpaid centers are. Val just need to bulk up a little more. He already shows he can get rebounds, shoot free throws and be a threat down the post. If we tank and being realistic not getting the #1 pick but look at our prior 3 years: 2011 – 5th pick, 2012 – 8th pick, 2013 – 12th pick. I think we can possibly get into the 5th~8th spot.

    And it would not really be rebuilding it would be just waiting for one more season. With two impact players Val + 2014 draft pick plus role players surrounding them it would be fun to watch. If Gay can net us another top 8 – 2014 draft 1st round draft pick that would be awesome…hell maybe we can get another future 1st round draft pick for others years and trade a package to move up in the 2014 draft who knows. The fact is we need to get something interesting that would make other good players to even sniff north of the border. Showing up and getting swept in the first round in a NBA upcoming year that’s known to be easy to get into the player offs would not attract FA. Just be honest they’ll still see Raptors as a non-champion team and hence would not come. All this talk of getting into first round play off to attract FA IMHO is BS. Would a FA like to play with a future project Lebron James / Dwayne Wade type player that would most likely get you deep into the playoffs or a first round knock out team in the weak East? I say be patient…2014 draft and the 2014-2015 will be a chemistry year and in 2015 is when we’ll hit it into the playoffs. By the end of 2015 we’ll known what pieces we’ll need to push us further. Guess what 2016 we have two first round draft picks…umm. I like to take my chance in tanking then be stuck in no man’s land.

  • raptors phdsteve

    For those who argue for Raps to join the list of teams tanking for
    Wiggins (or any other of the elite players in next years draft): name the last team to tank, win the lottery & then win a

    • ezz_bee

      Oh I know this one!

      San Antonio Spurs!

      Then tanked, drafted Duncan, then won a title!

      • ezz_bee

        What do I win?

        • raptors phdsteve

          first you need to correctly answer the question.

      • raptors phdsteve

        not true. David Robinson got injured early in the year and was out all season. they were a 50 win team. Boston was the team who tanked that year to get Duncan and in the end got nothing becuase of the lottery system.

        • ezz_bee

          I pretty sure it counts. Yes, the injured Robinson is what helped them “tank”, and is a fluke that wasn’t planned, and I wasn’t a spurs fan at the time, but I’ve been told by more than one who was, that they definitely did their best NOT to win games that season.

          • ezz_bee

            Also it’s possible for more than 1 team to tank during a single season. So whether or not Boston tanked, has no bearing on whether SA tanked.

            However, it does highlight the fact that you can tank and it not turn out great.

            • raptors phdsteve

              agreed! but Spurs did not tank.

          • raptors phdsteve

            you cant pre-plan injuries. take the franchise player off any team for 3/4s of the season and their win total will significantly drop– but that is not tanking. Tanking is when the team deals away all of its assets, or in advance plans out ways to loose games by depleating thier roster of its talent. Spurs may have reacted to the loss of duncan, but did NOT go out after that and trade Elliot, Johnson, etc. thats why they won the title the next year, becuase they kept their team intact. they just got lucky and own the lottery-much like bulls with D Rose.

            • ezz_bee

              This is my problem with the whole “to tank” or “not to tank” so often it just becomes semantics on whether or not a team “really” tanked.

              As someone else pointed out, did Memphis “tank” when they traded Pau for expirings and the rights to Marc? And had this years Memphis beating SA and Mia (I know not really realistic) would they have “tanked” to do it?

              Do the Miami Heat count, since everyone pretty much accuses them of tanking during during the 2002-2003 season in the Lebron Sweepstakes? Sure they didn’t get Lebron, but they did get Wade, who won a campionship in 2006.

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

              So you’re suggesting a better strategy for a team is to luck into a number one pick?

              • raptors phdsteve

                yup- its the only way teams actually aquire elite, franchise players. Luck.

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

                  I don’t think luck is a model you can follow.

                • ItsAboutFun

                  You’re catching on??

                • SR

                  Aiming for multiple high draft picks isn’t about luck – it’s about increasing your odds for landing significant talent.

                  “Tanking” for one year and landing Wiggins would be good luck.

                  OKC (Seattle) landing Durant at #2 was luck.

                  OKC (Seattle) unloading Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis to acquire Jeff Green (5th pick) and head to the lottery (20 win season) where they picked up Westbrook, Harden, and Ibaka in the following seasons had nothing to do with luck – that was a planned strategy and good drafting. It’s a viable approach for increasing your odds of landing top-tier talent.

                  Similarly, unloading overpriced contracts from a roster that’s not that great to begin with, and planning to head to the draft a few times to acquire top-tier talent – that’s definitely doable for the Raptors.

                • ItsAboutFun

                  There was luck in every one of those picks, as there is in every pick, every year, but it’s hilarious that the only team in 30 years anybody can point to as proof of “tanking works”, is OKC. A team whose owner didn’t care one bit about the fans in the seats, because he was doing all he could to move the team, which he did.

                  That’s the model you want to follow? Do you have season tickets? Those are the people management has to answer to. ALL of them, not a bunch of whiney, self-entitled internet kids (not saying you’re one) that spend nothing. Season ticket holders don’t want a fire sale of assets for garbage, on the outside chance, with a wing and a prayer, that we get lottery luck, drafting luck, and yet more drafting luck for a couple more years before even having a winning team to spend money on.

                • Guy

                  You can’t say it’s not about luck when you use the words ‘increasing your odds’. By acknowledging there are odds, you’re acknowledging luck is involved. If luck played no part, there wouldn’t be any odds to speak of.

                  In regards to OKC, they got Durant because Portland took Oden. If Portland takes Durant, maybe OKC takes Oden. It wasn’t strategy that allowed them to get Harden at #3, they got lucky when Memphis took Hasheem Thabeet at #2. Tell me that wasn’t lucky? Same goes for Westbrook. In order for OKC to get him at #4, both Miami & Minnesota had to pass on him at picks 2&3 by selecting Beasley & Mayo respectively. Ibaka was taken 24th. Call it good drafting if you like, & it may very well have been, but when a guy picked 24th turns out as well as Ibaka has, the team that took him had to get a little lucky.

                  Lebron James was a sure-fire, can’t miss player & obvious #1 when he entered the draft, but in order for a team to get him they were going to have to get lucky in the lottery.

                  Lastly, given how rarely things unfold for lottery teams as they have for OKC, the Thunder should be viewed more as the exception than the rule. Much the same way the 03-04 Pistons are viewed when talking about teams without a superstar winning the title.

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

                  EVERYTHING requires some luck. But there’s a difference between blind luck and playing the odds intelligently. I think you realize that. It seems to be semantics that you are arguing so I don’t see the point.

                • Guy

                  We’re not talking about blackjack or some other form of gaming where the odds can be played or manipulated in your favor. We’re talking about a lottery, which is based entirely on luck. Where the absolute best possible outcome, as far as the odds are concerned, is if you finish dead last & have a 1/4 chance of picking 1st overall. The only spot where you can determine your own fate, otherwise you’re dependent on what teams do ahead of you. Making it even worse is the fact the worst team overall has the 4th best success rate(13%) of getting to pick #1. The team’s that have had the best rate of success is the 3rd(16.4%) & 5th worst(9.4%).

                  What you’re advocating is minimizing the risk of failure, & there is a big difference between minimizing the risk of failure & playing the odds intelligently. Playing the odds intelligently would entail a far greater chance of success than what you advocate.

                  I’d say I think you realize that, but it’s clear you don’t.

                • SR

                  Guy – you’re just arguing for the sake of it, which isn’t very interesting.

                  OKC is the only example for tanking/building through the draft? What? It’s the most recent example in this thread and that’s about as far as that goes.

                  Seattle/OKC intentionally unloaded overpriced contracts to obtain talent through the draft. 2004/5 they had a 50 win team that won the division. 2007 they unloaded players who cost too much and had a limited ceiling. Spring 2008 they wrapped up the season with a 20 win team. Spring 2012 they were in the FREAKING NBA FINALS. If you call that “shitting on the fans,” then I wish MLSE would shit all over us so we could go from the lottery to the finals in four damn years. I call setting your team up for Chris Bosh-type success is “shitting on the fans.” It’s called being satisfied with mediocrity and limited success. How is this doing your season ticket holders any favours? It’s the very thing MLSE is constantly ripped for by Toronto fans and media, yet when presented with an alternate path to real success that includes a bit of pain, all of a sudden everyone’s happy with the MLSE status quo? Enjoy your one-and-dones.

                  I realize the draft is a lottery and explicitly tried to explain the difference between banking on landing a certain player/winning the entire lottery after a single-season tank, and just tearing down a roster and intending to accumulate as many picks as possible and draft high for 1-3 years. There’s a big difference there between trusting in poor odds and blind luck (“Diggin for Wiggins!”) and having a legitimate plan to acquire talent via the most fundamental means the league has in place for talent acquisition – the draft.

                • Guy

                  As I said in another post, OKC is the exception, not the rule. Yea, they put themselves in position to get high picks, but so many other things fell into place for them. In the 1st draft draft, Portland took Greg Oden instead of Durant. In another both Miami & Minnesota passed on Westbrook to take Michael Beasley & OJ Mayo. In another Memphis took Hasheem Thatbeet instead of Harden. OKC benefited tremendously because of the missteps of others. How would OKC look today if you replaced Harden & Westbrook with Beasley & Tyreke Evans?

                  But if you think OKC is only the most recent example, what are the other teams that have tanked their way to a title, or title contender?

                • SR

                  How about 2 out of this seasons 4 conference finalists? The Pacers completely dismantled the Jermaine O’Neal era team and rebuilt around draft picks, returning to competitiveness in just a couple seasons with an entirely new, and young, group. The Grizzlies unloaded their franchise guy (Pau Gasol) for two first round picks and the rights to a prospect, Marc Gasol.

                  You’ll notice in my other comments I’m not advocating “tank for Wiggins” or any of that nonsense – just dismantling a limited roster to acquire talent through the draft. There’s a long history of doing exactly that.

                  Your “everything is connected” argument is moot, because it’s true for EVERYTHING that happens in sports, not only for draft picks.

                • Tinman


                • Guy

                  Yet, with your continual assertion that tanking is what the Raptors should do, luck is exactly the model you’ve been endorsing because draft picks are determined by a lottery.

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

                  There’s a difference between relying completely on blind luck and increasing your odds.

                • Guy

                  You can’t talk about increasing your odds in a lottery & dismiss that luck is involved, blind or otherwise.

        • Christopher Bird

          Robinson being injured was the catalyst and San Antonio then tanked like crazy in 1996. They rested Elliot longer than they had to and signed creaky veterans who couldn’t really compete for the year.

          San Antonio recognized that, due to Robinson’s injury, 1996 wasn’t their year. They immediately took steps to be as bad as possible so that 1996 wouldn’t be a lost year. That is the DEFINITION of tanking.

    • SR

      phdsteve – Ha! I used to make this argument against tanking myself. I have since seen the error of my ways, so maybe you will, too 😉

      It’s not about guaranteeing a championship – it’s about your best chance to acquire the level of talent required to have legitimate championship aspirations.

      The fact for the Raptors is that in their entire history, the best they’ve been able to do via trade and FA is Hedo Turkoglu, Jermaine O’Neal, Jalen Rose, TJ Ford, Antonio Davis, etc. Take all the best players the Raptors DID NOT draft, and you’ll come nowhere near an NBA title.

      Now, take all the players the Raptors drafted in the lottery – Vince Carter, Tracy McGrady, Damon Stoudamire, Chris Bosh, Marcus Camby…. Aren’t we getting a lot closer to championship-aspiration talent?

      But back to your question, if the final validation is championship or not, then you need to make the argument that “The only realistic way to win an NBA title is to be the Boston Celtics or the Los Angeles Lakers,” because those teams have won 33 titles and been to the Finals 52 times. 16 teams have split the other 34 titles, and their odds get much worse if they don’t include Michael Jordan or Lebron James.

      So, I think your “challenge” is a bit misleading. As many teams as have tanked, drafted in the lottery and NOT won a championship – how many more have counted on internal development, trades, and FA acquisitions and also NOT won a championship? It goes both ways and doesn’t really prove much. Your best shot at acquiring top-flight talent is really the question.

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

      The question is moot. Tanking wasn’t nearly as necessary for non-prime destination teams because more elite players could be found outside of the top five (because of high school players and less evolved international scouting).

      When Dirk came out, there had never been an elite international player. Four years later Nikoloz Tskitishvili get drafted fifth and eight years later, Andrea Bargnani gets picked number one.

      There aren’t any more Kobes or Garnetts because there aren’t any more high school players, anymore.

      Three things have changed the draft. Better international scouting, better analytical analysis, giving scouts a better indication of how productive a college player is likely to be in the NBA.

      And trading for an elite player, if you’re not a prime NBA destination or don’t already have an elite player is next to impossible.

      Who is the last elite player to be traded or signed to a team outside of New York or Los Angeles that did so successfully and didn’t already have an elite player?

  • raptors phdsteve

    I think Tim W., Sr, ezz_bee, all make good points- but my point is simply tanking cant be strategy because there is no proof that it works. There is no model (OKC, SA, MIA, LAL) to follow. James from the New Orleans site wrote this piece http://www.bourbonstreetshots.com/2013/03/22/untying-winning-and-losing/
    which I think adds nicely to our discussion

    • SR

      @phdsteve – nice link – that’s an in-depth look at it.


      ^^ Also a good one, which doesn’t even argue for my current point of view.

      Generally I’m anti-tanking – I’d just be fine with this Raptors team at this point in time unloading the likes of Gay and DD/Lowry and planning to add a couple high draft picks to the core rather than shooting for the 1st round this year. Really it’s more of an honest-to-goodness rebuild that involves unloading over-priced contracts and planning to draft quality talent – is that so screwy?

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

      I’ve already argued there IS no successful model you can follow because each case is completely unique and involves things that simply can’t be duplicated. No one is going to do exactly what the Spurs, Lakers, Heat, Mavericks, Celtics or Pistons did because you can’t.

      You can’t expect to have David Robinson, have him injured in a year a TIm Duncan goes number one and luck out in the lottery. You also can’t plan to find a Tony Parker late in the first round or a Manu Ginobili in the second round anymore.

      You can’t expect to draft a Kobe in the middle of the first round and sign a Shaquille O’Neal in the same offseason.

      You can’t expect to find a Dirk Nowitzki at #9, anymore.

      And you can’t expect to already have a Wade and add a LeBron and Bosh in one move.

      You also can’t say that tanking CAN’T be a strategy because it’s never resulted in a Championship simply because there’s not logical reason it CAN’T work.

      The article you linked to is interesting, but his argument is flawed. I’ve seen a similar on on Wages of Wins. The problem is that most teams that are in the lottery are there because of poor management, not because of a tanking strategy. And even teams that tank may have poor management.

      Both Cleveland and Denver tanked to draft LeBron and Carmelo. Their failure to win a title had nothing to do with their initial strategy to get an elite player and everything to do with their inability to properly build around their elite players. In fact, Cleveland was able to get to the Finals with LeBron DESPITE poor management.

      Tanking is simply an initial strategy to get an elite player. It’s not a strategy to build a Championship team. That comes after.

      • Tinman

        There’s a dead horse – lets go beat it

      • ItsAboutFun

        The pro-tanking people are blind to the MANY ill effects of tanking, or too young to comprehend.
        To say that failing after tanking and getting a “superstar”, is because of bad management,,,,,,, that’s partially correct, but putting the cart before the horse in a way. It was the same bad management that decided on the tank to begin with!! It’s a losers game, else the 22 teams that haven’t won a championship in 30 years would be doing it all the time. Do you really think you understand the business of the NBA better than almost every GM in the NBA? Sheeesh

        • SR

          It’s exactly what OKC/Seattle, the Pacers, and the Grizzlies have done. They all unloaded franchise players in the last 6-7 years in order to acquire lottery picks and prospects and they’ve all become conference finalists/contenders within just a few seasons. But don’t let history get in the way of your hyperbole.

          • ItsAboutFun

            Pacers did not tank, nor did the Grizzlies, but continue inventing shit.

            • SR

              Did I say they tanked? Did you? Who said tanked? I’ve been talking a lot about unloading large contracts for picks and prospects, which is exactly what the capped-out, no playoff appearance Raptors should be doing right now (and is exactly what OKC, the Pacers, and the Grizzlies have all done within the last 6 years – all very recent examples). Aside from that, maybe you left that comment in the wrong place? Otherwise I’m not sure who you’re talking to.

    • ezz_bee

      I hate to do this, but the argument that you can’t do something in professional sports, because it hasn’t been proved to work by other teams, is bullshit.

      Personally, I don’t care whether or not something has worked in the past or not. I also think that the new CBA has changed the landscape, to such a degree that even if tanking COULDN’T work in the past, doesn’t mean it isn’t the BEST possible method now.

      But again, I think the term tanking has to many different meanings to different people, and there are some basic premises of what tanking is, and has it happened, and yes that was a tank, or not that wasn’t really a tank because, all adds up to us beating the same dead horse.

      Here is my position on how you win a championship. Draft smart, extend and sign players to reasonable contracts, and keep doing that, until you get lucky.

      The question isn’t to tank or not to tank, the question is, do you have a GM that is a good talent evaluator, and has the discipline to sign players to appropriate contracts.

      Fortunately, I’m still in the honey moon phase, where I think Ujiri is good at that.

      • SR

        ezz_bee – In the past I would have agreed with you, but that very approach just took the Raptors through the Chris Bosh era. That was pretty lame. How will the next 7 seasons be any different? This franchise has never acquired top-tier talent through trades or FA, ever, and if this roster achieves optimal success as a 6-8 seed, it will also never be able to draft franchise-player talent. I think at that point you’d just be hoping to accumulate enough reasonable contracts and young prospects to one day make a move like Knicks-Carmelo, Nets-Williams, or Rockets-Harden. That’s a possible outcome, but it’s just as much of a blind luck unknown (being in the right place at the right time with the right assets) as aiming to win a lottery.

        • ezz_bee

          The Chris Bosh era was DEFINED by trading draft picks (good value) for old washed up guys (Jermaine O’neal) and over paying free agents to come (Turk). These are the EXACT opposite of what I am advocating for. BC was a good drafting GM, who loved to trade his draft picks.

          We had some bad luck with injuries a couple of seasons, but BC demonstrated that he tried to acquire TALENT at the EXPENSE or VALUE. Although he wasn’t the only GM doing it, that method /philosophy doesn’t work anymore.

          I don’t buy the never argument. Eventually every team gets lucky, we got lucky with vince and tmac. And just because you’ve made the playoffs doesn’t mean you can’t trade a with team that won’t. Possibly even trick a team that was good, but you think is going to be terrible into a trade where they give you an unprotected pick.

          At this point IF Ujiri COULD manage to off-load gay, derozan, and even lowry, and/or amir, I’m still not sure that lands us a top 5 pick. I also don’t think that we get draft picks that aren’t AT LEAST top 3 protected, so the odds of getting a top 5 are very small (has to land in 1 of 2 spots).

          IF Ujiri believes he can pull off a tank this season, I’m happy for him to try it. I just don’t think it is a sure fire plan, because we have assets that are difficult to move, and even in cases where they are movable, I’m not sure we can be BAD enough to get a top 5 pick, and I don’t think teams are particularly interested in trading draft picks for 2014.

          Your better off trying to get picks in a draft 2-3 years down the road.

          • SR

            ezz_bee – I agree with your take on the Chris Bosh era/Colangelo’s management.

            Still, don’t you end up advocating “keep doing what we’re doing and who knows, maybe we’ll get lucky”? How is that less of a crapshoot than “Diggin for Wiggins”? (Honest question.)

            That could work, but right now I think the odds of success are better if you unload big contracts for picks and prospects. The Raptors most intriguing core pieces are very young and the next draft is great – these are the prime reasons to do this now instead of in 2-3 seasons. Is JV gonna want to re-sign if the team’s just starting a rebuild at the end of his rookie contract? Probably not. Start the rebuild now and hopefully your roster has made significant improvement by the time he’s ready to re-sign. That’s why the time is right now.

            Finally, if you’ve got cap flexibility, picks, and prospects you can always make a big move for an available franchise talent instead of sticking with the slow rebuild – think of how the Rockets just acquired James Harden.

            • SR

              Here’s another example – the Paul Pierce/Antoine Walker Celtics were a playoff team that had no roster flexibility and had hit their ceiling. They unloaded Walker for a bunch of stiffs and a first round pick. Why would a playoff team unload their second best player?

              The next draft they picked Al Jefferson, Delonte West, and Tony Allen. Those prospects and the cap flexibility they got allowed them to make moves for Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett, putting together a championship team.

              That’s all I’m saying. Not “tank” for Wiggins (a shot in the dark). Capped out teams with no room to maneuver and a low ceiling unload contracts for picks and prospects all the time. You don’t have to aim to win 15 games and be the worst team in the league. It’s just an honest rebuild that acquires talent through the draft. Most rebuilds don’t require you to become the 30th team in the league and land a once-every-10-years prospect. Well managed teams reload much faster than that, and I expect Ujiri will not be mucking about the NBA basement for 5 or 6 seasons, regardless of the approach he takes.

              • ItsAboutFun

                We already did the “draft high picks” phase, being in the lottery for 4 straight years, and have 3 top 9 picks under development, but y’all want to start all over again before they develop! Shit, maybe y’all are deluded enough to think your better judges of talent than people employed by the NBA, but I’m looking forward to our 3 top 9 picks developing with a still young Gay, with new eyes, a healthy Lowry with new attitude in his contract year, and a still young Amir, and a young repaired Fields. Y’all are just all gaga over the hype of high school kids and want to dismantle 4 years of lottery building for the hyped fantasies of 1 draft. Most season ticket holders, you know the people that matter to management, want something different than blowing it up, tanking, and praying for as much luck as OKC had for a few years.

                • SR

                  The first half of your comment I’m fine with – I like this roster and I would enjoy watching them in the short term. I still think they have a limited ceiling which is going to limit the fan enjoyment of the product on the floor, and ultimately I’d prefer them to unload a couple of these contracts and aim for higher quality talent via picks and prospects in return.

                  Which is where I completely disagree with your final thought. Are fans of the Hawks, Bucks, Sixers, etc. having tons of fun? Are low-seed, low-ceiling playoff teams fun to watch year in and year out? Absolutely not – I call THAT selling your fans a bill of goods. “Hey! At least we’re in the playoffs!” I would absolutely follow a team through some dismal W/L seasons to see them acquire franchise-calibre talent.

  • SR

    How about this – OKC/Seattle (KD era) is an oft-cited as the “now that’s how you manage a franchise in the modern NBA” model (at least before unloading Harden). What did they do to become contenders?

    They drafted Durant in 2007 and promptly dumped Ray Allen (for Jeff Green, essentially) and Rashard Lewis (for nothing). Why the heck would they do that? They had just won 50 games and the division title with Allen and Lewis in 2004/05. Shouldn’t Durant develop in a “winning environment”? Shouldn’t they move forward and see how the team gels, or if they couldn’t get more substantial talent via trade or FA?

    They didn’t – they unloaded overpriced contracts, acquired a prospect (Green), and became a 20 win team in Durant’s first season. They then went to the lottery several times and came up with Westbrook, Ibaka, and Harden.

    Is that just lightning in a bottle, or is that sound methodology? They became bad quite intentionally in order to draft more talent to add to KD, rather than working with what they had.

  • team tank

    lol this is pretty dumb. there is 0% chance rudy gay would decline a 20 million dollar option to sign a 48/4 year contract imo.

    do you realize that he would need a 28/3 year contract just to break even with that scenario if he does pick up his option?

    stop making silly, silly assertions.. these are the types of articles that makes raptors republic a joke to nba fans

  • aaron.in.toronto

    I want to win, period. I have been supporting this team for years and years and I want a REAL chance to win it all. That means we need to get a high draft pick and get a player like Durant rose or lebron, then make all the right decisions to build around the star player.

    Most times I agree with Steve but I think this opportunity with the 2014 draft is different then other years where tanking would be not that great of an idea, the model is just to get one elite level player then there is no set way to do it.

    Tanking is just a word building a team is a process and just going forward and tryi g to get the best players you can through free agents and trades is short term thinking with no vision, when you are building a house you don’t just skip the foundation and worry about it later or try to improve the foundation once the house is already built, the league is full of those types of teams and I’m sick of us being one of them. The raptors are a unique situation and I think we need to start with a real player that can possibly take us to the promised land.

  • aaron.in.toronto

    I agree with Tim w making the post season as joke like the bucks will do zero to improve our situation

    We already did that with Vince and with bosh, that approach is exactly what we have been doing for the last years and look at the results, how can you ignore history and what has actually happened with the team when saying what we should do?

    This team is going nowhere till we get a player like wiggi s has the potential to be so let’s go for it

  • Falseprofit

    I have to agree with the no tanking crowd. Even if the team pull off a solid tank job, there is no guarantee whoever they pick up will be good enough to build a team around. Projections are often wrong. Granted there is no guarantee the team will be a playoff contender either. But I will take a 7-9 in the East playoff raps team over four or so years of garbage ball. Valanciunas will likely improve, Gay will be good enough to bag 20 p games. DD won’t get any worse either. So I’ll the chance of pulling off a surprise run in the playoffs over several wasted seasons of brutal basketball that will turn even more ppl off to the Raps. That will likely happen even if we were to draft a top prospect.

    • Kupooo

      So you’re happy with being stuck in no mans land? Not good enough to go deep but don’t suck enough to be the worst (which was exactly how we were with Bosh era…if you’re satisfied with that good for you but that’s not fun to watch for playoffs out 1st round everytime). NBA is not NHL or the NFL. NFL games are one game to the next round now you can luck and go far. NHL teams as well have a history of low seeds taking out top seeds due to match ups which require 3-4 lines and how to shut down their top scoring line. NBA is NOT like that…if you can’t shut down the opposing team’s elite player you’re pretty much toast. You don’t see many low seeds take out top seed in NBA history. Like I stated above we have Valanciunas which I think could be an elite player. DD and the young core I would like to keep but tank for one year, see if Gay/DD can get us any better assets if not I’m ok to keep them both but would prefer to trade one as our wing is pretty log jammed.

      So here is what I’m saying:

      1) Keep young core whose developing nicely
      2) Tank one season to get a top 1-8 pick (projected as much as 8 solid elite talent)
      3) Trade one wing player DD/Gay if it net as better future assets.

      One year of sucking I can take to make our 2014-15 year better. Just think:

      – Valanciunas, DD, Ross, Amir, Lowry our nice young developed core + 2014 top draft pick now that’s planning plus don’t forget we will still have our 2015 1st round plus 2 x 2016 first round (one from NYK). We can use these future 3 picks to secure good NBA ready needed position players. I think that’s planning on building a championship. I’m not saying tanking to land only Wiggins there are still Jabari Parker, Randle, Embiid, the list goes on…you should see the talent is so stacked in 2014. IMHO any of the top 8 picks in 2014 will pretty much do better than your 2013 first pick. I’m just saying one year pain can net a huge positive and going deep for years to come plus more 1st round draft picks for upcoming years to make sure we stay there. That’s just my take.

  • aaron.in.toronto

    I just don’t understand saying no tanking because their is no sure thing, at least there is a chance and the chance is a lot better than not getting an elite player through the draft

    Trying to do it any other way is almost guaranteed to fail, look at the teams that drafted star players recently they are the ones who might win, it is teams building the other way that are almost sure to fail, how can you not see that? Look at the Knicks or the leafs they tried the reload over and over again and have never even sniffed the championship, NY traded for melo for Christ sake and they are joke even playing in the Mecca.

    If watching this team since 95 hasn’t taught you that yet maybe there is no hope, even guys like Vince and bosh never even got us close, we need a legit superstar or we will never attract to pieces we need to truly compete

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

    It seems to me most of the people who don’t want to tank are the one’s who are more likely to settle for less, and more risk averse. The thing is that great things are rarely done by settling and not taking risks.

    Anyone with Championship aspirations for the Raptors have to be, at least, open to tanking, if it will give the Raptors a chance to land a superstar. You can argue that it’s not the best path to build a contender, but you can’t dismiss it outright, because it does give you the best chance to draft a superstar.

    • Guy

      Seems to me, some of the people who advocate tanking are the one’s who have little integrity, are arrogant & very dismissive of the fan base at large. People that say they’d love to see some playoff basketball for a change are insulted, told they settle for less & have no championship aspirations because they don’t embrace tanking….. a strategy that has yet to produce a single championship in 20+ years.

      But does this squelch their argument that tanking is the best way to a championship? Of course not. They simply add further insult by saying any team that tanked, gotten a franchise player & not won is poorly managed. How can you argue with that?

      • SR

        Guy – This is how I spell “respect the fans” – C H A M P I O N S H I P S. If you spell it O N E – A N D – D O N E, then that’s your prerogative. It’s a free country. Enjoy the “Rudy Gay is our franchise guy” era.

        • Guy

          I must have missed where I said I think Rudy Gay is the franchise guy. Can you point out where I said that? Take your time.

          Until you can point to a team that’s tanked & won a championship, especially without getting lucky along the way draft-wise, you better check your spelling because it’s way off.

          That said, I’ll say this…If you were looking for the dumbest thing you could possibly say, congratulations, you found it, because it doesn’t get any more foolish than to suggest your view of tanking is the only way to a championship.

          • SR

            Guy – Those conversations you’re having with yourself are great. I like how you provide both sides of the dialogue. Keep on not reading comments and just writing whatever the hell you want. Thumbs up.

            • Guy

              I stand corrected….. That was the dumbest thing you could possibly say. Congrats.

          • Kupooo

            Same can be said the other way. Lets be honest we’re not a top destination for FA so what chances do we have to land huge FA….zero! Just look at our history. B. Colangelo has satisfied the fan base by pulling these moves to make us falsely believe we can be a championship team yet his moves hasn’t even gotten us into the playoffs. Yes, its a gamble but this upcoming years draft is worth the gamble when there is a possible 8 elite players on it. You don’t have to hit #1 you just need to hit #1-8 that’s why so many teams want to tank. Its risk and reward.

            Put it in the prospective in financial terms. If you were young and had $10K right now would you stick it into a GIC / Bond paying you 1% (your no tank route which is the safe route. You won’t get any worst than before but not much better either). Or take a gamble and put that cash into say for example a gold prospect mining company (penny stock) or some tech stock (like “Apple” if you went 5+ years back was worth $100-ish and now 4x that, at it’s height worth 7x that) and look good at having a chance to strike rich. You may lose it all (example Blackberry which was worth $100+ 5 years back but look at it now) but those are the risks you have to take in order to win.

            Millionaires didn’t build their assets based on safety but based on good probable outcomes knowing there is risk involve. Yes, you can get burned but how else would you do it? Or let me ask you this have you every bought a lottery ticket 649 / lotto max. If yes why even though you know your chances are a lot less likely to win. Why not save your few bucks and put it in a savings account? If you have not bought one in your life I can so see why you’re against any type of risk…

            • ItsAboutFun

              It gets really sad when tank proponents resort to this “not 1 but 8 elite players” hype. Most of those kids have not even seen a college court yet, never mind the NBA. Yes, it would seem there’s a very good chance that a few of these kids turn into all-star type players, but ya gotta put different glasses on if you think 8 elite players.

              Perhaps for those that haven’t been around long enough, in the entire history of the NBA scouting HS and college kids, every year highly regarded HS phenoms take a big drop when they play college, and every year college stars take a big drop when they face men in the NBA, and every year NBA rookies have great 1st years then drop off from there.

              Yet people here, and elsewhere, can’t help themselves in getting wrapped up in the hype of not 1, but 8 high school kids being can’t miss elite NBA players??????????? Mind boggling.

              • Kupooo

                Here is a Hoops Hype article regarding star players…of the last 300 all-nba selections note that 65% was DRAFT!!!


                So please tell me the other 35% is from FA & Trade and we already know Toronto is not a designation for both those options so scrap that 35%. Please now tell me how else would you get one? Yes, it’s a chance at greatness and 65% of the time that’s how it’s done! Why do you think GMs do the tank route. Enough said?

                • ItsAboutFun

                  That’s really simplistic reasoning, but now tell me how many of those players didn’t move on to other teams before winning anything.

                • Kupooo

                  Tim Duncan, Dwayne Wade, Dirk Nowitzki, Tony Parker, Kobe Bryant, Paul Pierce, Manu Ginobili, David Robinson, Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Andrew Bynum, Rajon Rondo…I might of missed a few but remember some of those names repeat year over year.

                  Remember our FA & Trade is less likely so do you like a chance at greatness?

                • Kupooo

                  One last thing Raptor’s deepest run into playoffs was with a drafted all-star Vince Carter (that charts includes draft night trades under “draft” which we did trade that draft of Vince Carter).

                  Last time Raptor’s sniffed playoffs was drafting their own All-Star “Chris Bosh”….see a trend here?

            • Guy

              What kind of comparisons are those? My goodness……

              But why am I not surprised that you give an example where it’s only black & white, & you’re side is the winner. Not tanking is a 1% GIC (essentially nothing) & your tanking is a home run gold stock. Come on now. Personally, I’d explore other options, because there are other options, specifically real estate. ie Revenue property, etc, by either buying one myself or investing in a company that does. A long term investment that always appreciates. But that’s just me.

              What’s interesting about your financial example is that it only considers one person. It fails to take into account the large fan base. Ya know, the people paying their money. If you invest 10K & lose it, it’s only you that’s affected. But if a thousand people gave you 10K to invest for them & you lost it, how do you think your ‘That’s how millionaires do it’ speech would go over with them? It’d probably be the last dime you’d see from them because your credibility would be shot.

              And in regards to your 6/49 scenario… yeesh. Of course I’ve bought lottery tickets. But I fail to see how spending 5 bucks on a lottery ticket makes anyone some sort of caution to the wind risk taker.

              • Kupooo

                Did I say my side is the winner? I did say you can lose it all and also I did mention “tech” stock not just gold. It’s not so black and white and realistically $10K can’t buy you any real estate and I don’t trust those REIT company like Skyline. I feel like they are another “First Leaside Scam” but that’s getting off topic. Not all “long term continues to appreciate”….Lehman Brothers, Nortel, and Enron are some examples. There is no guarantees just better outcomes and how much risk you willing to take.

                The bottom line I’m saying is if you’re willing to take a gamble next year’s draft is well worth the risk because chances of “good probable” outcome is higher than previous few years.

                Guy, I think you should re-read my comments (and I don’t mean it in a disrespectful way). I think you took my comments the wrong way. As with the Millionaire comment I’m saying that before Millionaires got to where they were they took some calculated risk that is all. Ones that were in their favor. My whole comment was just regarding “RISK and REWARD” and how the RISK for the 2014 DRAFT is well worth it sets us back a year. All I’m saying is lose the season on purpose and develop the core and draft an extra piece.

                I’ve said in other post I like the core but missing 1 elite. How we are right now isn’t going anywhere better. Willing to let go a player like Gay/DD cause our wing is log jammed for good return + possible picks.

                I’m just trying to put my thoughts in another way to perhaps get people to think what I’m thinking it may be not great comparisons to you but might make sense to others.

      • ItsAboutFun

        “Seems to me, some of the people…………………”

        Guy,,,,,,,,,,,, spot on and priceless!

  • aaron.in.toronto

    The things people are saying are so wrong I can barely even type

    I will support the team and hope we win every game regardless of which players are on it or our choice of direction ( tanking or not) but if the team you want is closer to the bucks then the bulls then we are not on the same page

    Go raps, lets just try to go all the way to the top
    Believe we can be champions and take the pain necessary to get there, hoping for 8th is just not in my DNA


  • Miller Regent

    I would just like to contribute one line of thought that I don’t think has been directly hit upon. That being the raptors starting 5 of Lowry, DeRozen, Gay, Johnson & Valanciunas had the best 5-man unit defense in the league at one point 3/4 of the way through last season. I honestly think that this unit can replicate that in the upcoming season & I suspect that Masai Ujiri would like to see if they can do it again as well.

    Yes this was a small sample size and some advanced metrics complicate the true value of a team BUT why not play this team until the trade deadline and see if they have top level defense in them? Why does Gay or DeRozan NEED to be traded now? If they don’t have that level defense in them come the trade deadline then I am ALL IN for tanking.
    However, if that defense there…. just look at what the pacers were able to do with the league best defense…

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

      That starting unit is not as good as the very small sample size suggested.

      And the reason you don’t keep Gay and DeRozan until the trade deadline to find out is because then you’d most likely have won too many games to have a decent shot at a top pick, so then there’s really no point in tanking, anymore. Plus, you’ve got fewer trade partners, as many teams won’t want to alter their roster during the season, unlike during the offseason when nearly all teams are open to roster moves.

      Let’s say the Raptors play 50 games before the trade deadline (which would be close to the number they would) and win 20 games. That pace is is probably not good enough to make the playoffs and would be an indication the team is not going to be good. But with 20 wins, the Raptors would have to go nearly winless the rest of the way to have even decent odds of getting a top 5 pick next year.

  • GetReal

    Did you just call this team a 2nd round team at best case scenario? LOL. This team is a playoff team at best and only NOW because there are really 5 playoff trams left in the east. LMAO

  • some random guy

    What happens if the Raptors tank and end up with a high draft pick, a draft pick like Brandon Roy… not only have you wasted all the assets to tank, but the player to save the franchise is constantly injured and you have simply wasted another 5 years. Best bet to get Wiggins is in 8 years, sorry to tell you. And that is when he becomes a UFA.

    • Kupooo

      Tanking a season doesn’t mean to trade all our young core away. Trading a few pieces DD/Gay to say get a Brandon Roy when health which was 4 years wow my god that could be a team getting closer to champion and attracting actual good FA for once.

      Val, Gay, Amir, Ross, Roy…..I’ll take that for four years I’m sure that would put us over 1st round playoffs and possibly deeper. Risk and reward……you can say the same what if you draft a “Wade”

      FYI Wiggins in 8 years is so far away in the next 7 years what are we going to do sit and watch Val, Amir, and the likes to walk off the team. You don’t think there are other 29 teams trying to get him. Hell we can’t even get Nash here past his prime so what makes you think Wiggins will come in 8? Wishful thinking…

      • ezz_bee

        I think is argument is that we aren’t going to get Wiggins ever. Which is probably more likely than any other outcome.

        • Kupooo

          Sadly, I fear it is. If by chance we do hit him in the lottery I’m going to buy a Lotto Max / 649 ticket that same day LOL. Being realistic as much as all of us want Wiggins in TO the chances of that happening is slim to none. But I still think getting a crack on the top 8 elite talents next year is still a high possibility. Right from the start I have said if we can be part of the top 8 picks next year we could be set. There was an article I think it might be Tim W. who linked it to 76ers/Boston. I like that article. Basically it says they’re set for success (highly probable) but it could still blow up in their face. I am hoping its the same for us. Keeping DD / Gay I have no problem with they are solid pieces just not to build around. I just feel Raptors have a lot of solid players and they need that one-two piece to come around. Maybe I’m high on Val but I think he would be one that can be build on we just need an extra one from 2014 draft.

          • Bouncepass

            Why would having the 8th best player put us ahead of the teams that got #1-7? The point is that if the draft is so strong next year, the top 1 or 2 might get better players than the others, but otherwise everyone improves their team by the same amount. I think that there are more creative ways to build a team. Getting a mid-round pick next year might turn out as good as #6-8. Scouting 18 year olds is not an exact science (see Shabazz Muhammad).

      • some random guy

        Read it over again, this time very very slowly. I never said Wiggins will come in 8 years, I stated that its the best chance the Raptors will ever have to get Wiggins.

        • Kupooo

          You expect Wiggins best chance is through FA? We can’t even get Nash not in his prime over…I think draft is higher chance than FA. Look at our recent history….tell me which Raptors made the All-Star team that came from FA? ZERO! Only two made it…Vince Carter & Bosh both were from drafts!!!

          • some random guy

            Again read it over very very slowly.

          • some random guy

            So we should tank? potential not even get a good pick, or the pick doesn’t develop into a franchise players. And we are stuck out of the playoffs or any chance of championship for another 5 years? spend a good decade out in the wilderness with nothing to show for it. Raptors have a great core, its far better to get pieces and let the young team develop and build chemistry around each other then hoping the Raptors will get lucky for once. Also, Raptors don’t have a great history of drafting players as a whole, so there is that also, lol. Must add, Vince wasn’t drafted by the Raptors on draft night. Which gives the Raptors more options in that you can trade for the draft pick later on after the draft, which may allow a better trade result for the raptors (especially if they don’t have to tank, and can keep more assets intact). If you do want the drafted player you don’t actually have to get the draft pick.

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

              “Raptors have a great core,”

              And therein lies the chasm between us. If you think the Raptors have a great core, obviously you don’t want to blow it up. I, for one, don’t like the Raptors’ core one bit, save for Valanciunas, so I want nothing more than to get rid of players I think are flawed and overpaid.

              • some random guy

                I tend to think that no matter what players a team gets there are always flaws. Especially if you watch all 82 games of one team. When you watch 3-4 games of another team it is easy not to see the flaws in their players games and think there lineup is good. I personally don’t think we will ever have a team without flaws, or some guys overpaid. However, even if you think its not a good core, there are better options to trade the pieces you have for pieces you want, tanking isn’t going to answer anything unless we somehow can manage all 4 first overall picks.

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

                  Some flaws you can deal with, others you can’t. Gay’s inefficient scoring, poor decision-making and inconsistent defense are not flaws you can deal with if you want to be a contender. Same with DeRozan and his poor defense and lack of three point shooting (in today’s NBA). And Lowry’s poor decision-making as a point guard can also hurt a team.

                  As for your comment about not being the answer unless they somehow manage to get the 4 first overall picks, I really don’t understand. You think the Raptors need 3-4 elite players IN ADDITION to Valanciunas and whoever else they get back in return for Gay, Lowry and DeRozan? Why? Let’s say the Raptors trade Gay for Tristan Thompson and the Cavs 2014 pick and Kyle Lowry for Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and DeMar DeRozan for Marcus Williams and a first rounder. And then let’s say they actually get Wiggins. THat’s a team of Wiggins, Valanciunas, Amir, Ross, Thompson, Caldwell-Pope, Williams and whoever else the Raptors are able to get with the extra picks.

                  I like that team going forward WAY better than the one they have now.

    • Bouncepass

      Even when Brandon Roy was healthy, and even with a #2 and #1 pick along with him, the Portland Trailblazers’ never made it past the first round of the playoffs. They won a total of 6 playoff games. Sure, Oden was injured early in his career but that happens now and again. My point is that tanking is not a predictable strategy to improve the franchise, and most teams that have been doing it end up being terrible or mediocre for years. With everyone tanking this year, it might be a good time to move in a different direction.

      • some random guy

        Completely agree. And also, Raptors have a very young good core to work around. Gay is only 26, and the others are younger. Keep this core and let them play together, and there are many years for chemistry, development, and to also draft and trade other key pieces.

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

        NOTHING is a predictable strategy to improve a franchise. Very few teams actually tank, and a lot of those just have poor management, so it doesn’t matter what they do.

        And the number of teams that are tanking is overblown, I think. Philly is bad, that’s clear, but most of the other teams don’t seem to be actually trying to get worse.

  • TEJ

    The Raptors should never choose to tank. First of all, it is too much of long shot at getting good lottery picks in next years draft even if you do choose to tank since you know how the season is going to turn ou. Also, due to rudy gay and Demar derozans improved level of play during the last 5 games of the season, they should atleast see what they turn out for another season. Also, it is reported that rudy not only gained 10-15 pounds of what is called good weight, but also had corrective eye surgery which will make him shoot the ball better. After all this, there is stil more potential for rudy gay, even at the age of 26. If they can add more good role players to their team, they can make a deep playoff run with all the teams choosing to tank this year.

    • GetReal

      Yep its always smart to pick a 5 game sample (meaningless last 5 games nonetheless) to make decisions on the future of your team.

  • Daniel McIlroy

    Duncan, drafted way back in 1997, is the only guy on the San Antonio team who was drafted in the top five. He’s the only guy they have who was drafted in the top ten. Duncan and Kawhi Leonard are the only players taken in the top fifteen.

    They seem to have assembled a decent team anyway.

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

      Yes, and all it took was getting the number one pick in a year when one of the best players of his generation was available. And good management and coaching.

      • ItsAboutFun

        “all it took was getting the number one pick in a year when one of the best players of his generation was available.”

        And how often does one of those come along? But your answer is to sell the farm, hoping that a high school player (yeah we really have a good idea how they’ll all turn out in the NBA, right?) that we’ll be able to draft will become one of them?

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