Nobody seems to know what the Raptors front office is up to, and that’s about the same number of people who agree on what they should do. Five Raptors Republic writers offer their takes on five burning questions about the Raptor’s offseason agenda and the team’s direction moving forward.

1. Do the Raptors need to start over and rebuild?

Zarar Siddiqi: No, because there are no guarantees that another rebuild would produce different results, or that the player they might end up drafting in the lottery is going to amount to more than whatever Terrence Ross is.  If the Raptors tank and fail to get a major talent in the draft, it would be a massive waste of time. The current nucleus is not complete by any means, but smart additions can make the team competitive.  Forget tanking, instead take advantage of the opportunity afforded by a weak East.

Tim W.: Tank, rebuild, fix. Whatever you want to call it, the Raptors need to do it. That is unless you’re happy with a mediocre team fighting for a playoff spot year after year.  Someone brought up the example of Houston, but last summer, they amnestied their leading scorer, let their second leading scorer go for nothing and traded their third leading scorer for a lottery pick and they stockpiled draft picks and prospects. And that was after hovering just above .500 the previous 3 years.

Andrew Thompson: The oldest player amongst the Raps’ starting five is 27 years old; they already are rebuilding. Tanking has one of two purposes: add a dynamic young contributor to an already good team that’s injured (Harrison Barnes to the Warriors), or trying to land a franchise player. In addition to being terrible, you have to be exceptionally lucky in order to accomplish either. In the last 3 drafts, there have been exactly 3 franchise players (Paul George, Uncle Drew and The ‘Brow). The Raptors are not getting Harrison Barnes or the top pick; let’s try another route.

Garrett Hinchey: Yes – to an extent. Assuming the endgame of this franchise is to win championships, we’ve learned from basically all of NBA history that a team needs a historically great player to anchor the franchise to. Without one on the current roster and no way to get one, something’s gotta give, unless Masai has a master plan that I can’t fathom.

Blake Murphy: Hell no, I want no part of another tank and rebuild. There are some pretty decent pieces in place, pieces with trade value if they don’t quite fit the long-term vision. Ujiri has shown he’s capable of building a competitive team without tanking for a superstar.

2. What one player would you be unwilling to part with in a rebuild?

Zarar Siddiqi: Nobody is off the table because nobody has come close to showing that they’re on their way to be an All-NBAer.  If the roster is to be deconstructed, it would make little sense to part with Jonas Valanciunas as he’s got a rookie-scale deal and is enroute to becoming a player that every winning team has.  He may not be a superstar, but he’s serviceable.

Tim W.: I would hazard a guess and say everyone is going to say Valanciunas. I don’t say how you can say anyone else. Good, two-way centers are incredibly rare and valuable in the NBA, and Valanciunas could end up being a very good one. I doubt there is a deal out there that would convince me to part with Valanciunas, at this point.

Andrew Thompson:His name is Jonas. There are maybe a dozen good, two-way, starting centers in the entire league. Valanciunas is 21 years old, makes barely a third what Thiago Splitter and DeAndre Jordan make and already contributes just as much. It’s just too hard to find quality bigs.

Garrett Hinchey: I’d include Jonas as part of any potential rebuild so I’ll remove him from the discussion. Not including him, I’ll go with Amir Johnson. His energy on the court and in practice is contagious, he pairs well with Jonas in the short term and as a solid bench big in the long term, he’s on a good contract, and I think he still has some upside at 26

Blake Murphy: Jonas Valanciunas, of course. Everyone is available for the right price, but he’s young and has the highest upside on the roster. It would be a step backwards to move him to rebuild – you’d be just hoping to get a player as good as JoVal may eventually be with a draft pick, anyway.

3. Is the next step for this team through trades, free agency or the draft?

Zarar Siddiqi: Trades.  Free-agency is extremely difficult unless S&Ts are arranged, and the draft requires a level of patience that neither the fans or the front-office has.  It’s best that the Raptors use the draft as a concurrent  supply-chain, rather than as a dependency for being good.  Of course, this requires good drafting.

Tim W.: First thing, trade Gay, DeRozan and Lowry for draft picks, prospects and replacement-level players to fill out the roster. Then “develop” that talent over the season, and aim for the draft.  If a James Harden-like deal comes along, then great, but I certainly wouldn’t bank on it.

If Ujiri can get a first round pick for Bargnani, then those three have to get some sort of a decent return.

Andrew Thompson: Trades.  Ujiri rebuilt the Nuggets on the fly in two years without a lottery pick or a big free agent signing. He is also the Omar Little from HBO’s The Wire to the New York Knicks Barksdale crews. I honestly believe that he could rob them of Madison Square Gardens at this point.

Garrett Hinchey: Assuming the next step is a rebuild, history tells us that it’s trades or the draft for Toronto. I’d go with the draft, personally, in that Masai has been proven to find value there in the past and that it’s been the proven model for non-marquee destinations to wind up with franchise players, which I really do think should be the goal for any NBA team.

Blake Murphy: It has to be trades, unfortunately. Bryan Colangelo didn’t leave the salary cap situation in a great way, so the Raptors are in a place where if they want to unload salary they may have to be willing to take some back. That’s manageable but it rules out free agency as a path to improving beyond the MLE.

4. What is the ceiling of the current team moving forward?

Zarar Siddiqi: As the roster stands right now, in a weak East they could easily be the seventh seed, but would have little to show in terms of growth going forward.

Tim W.: The ceiling for this current roster is somewhere between the current Milwaukee Bucks, and Joe Johnson’s Atlanta Hawks. If that excites you, then we have completely different goals for the Raptors.

Andrew Thompson: Next year? 6th place. Toronto, Washington, Detroit and Cleveland will be in line for 6th through 9th, and I’m betting in that order. Beyond that, this team reminds me a lot of the Indiana Pacers going into 2011-2012. What would we have said their ceiling was moving forward—because I’m guessing that one win away from the NBA Finals wouldn’t have come up.

Garrett Hinchey: If we get a Landry-ish backup big and a serviceable backup power forward in the draft, I’d say that it’s not crazy to think this core could compete for a 3-6 seed in the playoffs in the next few years. The five projected starters were a .500 team last year, they should all have some amount of improvement as they age and become more comfortable with one another, and the Atlantic looks weak for the next couple years with the Sixers and Celtics joining tankapalooza 2014.

Blake Murphy: First round playoff exit. There’s nothing wrong with that, especially after five years of missing the playoffs. I’d be happy as a fan (and writer) to have more to write about for longer and with a competitive team, and MLSE would love the playoff revenue. But I don’t see how they’re a top-four team in the East.

5. Would you be less inclined to watch a Raptors team next year that is rebuilding, again?

Zarar Siddiqi: Yes, since even tanking is going to be competitive next season, it would be extremely painful to watch this team lose on its way to having a 10% chance of gaining one decent player.  The year to tank was 2011-12, and the Raptors did a horrible job of winning meaningless games and cost themselves Damian Lillard and Harrison Barnes.

Tim W.: I have watched all but a handful of games through both the Rob Babcock and Bryan Colangelo/Andrea Bargnani years. And I suffered through the early expansion years. I’m not going anywhere, now. If the Ujiri can give me some hope for the future, rather than more mediocrity, then I’m on board. Besides, I want to watch Valanciunas develop

Andrew Thompson: I’ve watched multiple summer league “games” on NBA TV this week alone. I have a sickness. So I can’t pretend that I wouldn’t watch. But it would be like finding out that there was a 5th Indiana Jones movie coming out. I know that it’s going to be terrible, but I absolutely love the franchise, and I will undoubtedly find myself with a ticket, even having rationalized excitement based on low expectations and nostalgia. Then, 2 ½ hours later, I will leave, angry.

Garrett Hinchey: It depends on the way they go about it. If they do a Sixers-style rebuild where they move their more established players for young guys with real upside, then I’d watch that for sure. If they do a Celtics-style rebuild that involves trading off all their assets for picks and essentially bailing on the season, I’d get it, but who’d really want to watch that?

Blake Murphy: Tell you one thing, I’d be quite upset that RR splurged for season tickets during an offseason where ticket prices went up. I had season seats in a rebuild year in 2011-12 and dropped them – I’d likely suggest the site do the same if the team hit the reset button yet again and expected the money to keep coming in.

  • raptorspoo

    I’m with you all the way Timmy!

    Like I’ve mentioned before, this team we have now could be “built in a day” with cap space. Think about all the players we could have gotten with the $28 mil that Gay/DD are making – just this year alone! Iggy, Mayo, Smith, Jefferson, Ellis, West, Milsap, Kmart, etc. And I’m not even mentioning restricted FAs.

    For five years we’ve built a team (and absorbed many a loses) that we could have built in a day in free agency. Absolutely pathetic.

    Tank this year and add your Gays and Derozens later if it pleases you.

    • goraps

      everyone of the writers says JV is untouchable- we drafted him at the 5th pick. the draft is the answer. get as many picks as possible. there will be talent in the lottery and value in the late first round. even without wiggins, i’d be happy with julius randle, esp. if he is paired with a later pick – i like wayne selden. the future of the league is in that draft just like the league is dominated by the 2003 draft today.
      i could care less about being the 8th seed. watching gay in iso at the end of the game with a chance to beat the bobcats, etc. does he hit the shot or miss? i dont care. develop jv,ross, acy. i liked watching jv and acy develop last year. ross im not sold on. hopefully he gains confidence in his shooting. however, his baseline put-back dunk was the most exciting play i saw last year on the raps. havent seen something like that in raps uniform since vince. derozen has moments but not at that ceiling.
      in conclusion, i agree with tim w. we’re not the pacers. rudy/derozen are not paul george. they’re closer to ellis/jennings (in terms of impact and winning). i’d way rather watch the 2014 draft class develop in the league (hopefully on our team) than watch rudy gay run a treadmill for the next two years.

      • raptorspoo

        Well said.

        I’d much rather enjoy watching the youngsters being put through the fire.

    • Ion66

      You can build a team in a day, but you can’t guarantee chemistry, and you can’t develop the needed rhythm and chemistry immediately. I can’t make a real assessment of a teams ability, until they develop together somewhat. Good talent that gels, is better than very good talent that doesn’t gel for instance. I get tired of all new rosters that have no history/chemistry, and take most of a season to start to show what they can do AS A TEAM…..I can’t make a real decision here, until we know how Masai is going to deal with a few key positions that need sorting. I don’t know if Fields is 100% and got his shooting back. I don’t know if Gay can improve his shooting with better vision and maturity of shot selection. I don’t know if Kyle has adapted his game to the team as it is, and if we’ll see some consistency of play from him. I don’t know if Acy is the real deal. I don’t know if a 3rd year with the new coach finally focusing on defence is a fit for the style of team we have, and I don’t know how the rest of the coaching staff is going to flesh out, and how that will play into how the team performs. I wouldn’t call for a blow up, unless this team, in whatever form hits the courts once Masai is done his work, fails to make the playoffs. I’d like to see a couple of decent talents arrive here, before I say I’m sold (too many shooting guards, no PG depth) enough to be excited to see how we do. The thing is, we started to get some chemistry, and play well down the stretch. If the coaching style/staff don’t mess that up, I want to see what we can do in terms of winning, more than I do in terms of losing.

    • ItsAboutFun

      “Like I’ve mentioned before, this team we have now could be “built in a
      day” with cap space. Think about all the players we could have gotten
      with the $28 mil that Gay/DD are making – just this year alone! Iggy,
      Mayo, Smith, Jefferson, Ellis, West, Milsap, Kmart, etc.”

      Utter silliness. You think cap space suddenly makes you an automatic destination for who you want? The players from your list, that are worth talking about, had plenty of suitors with cap space, but decided upon ones that suited their desires the most. What the heck makes you think that simply having cap space would get you what you want to accomplish your vision of being “built in a
      day”?

      To say nothing of why you shouldn’t want some of these guys anyway. Let’s have a look at your list:

      – Iggy- Kings had cap space and went after him hard. No luck. Cavs went after him. No luck. Denver wanted to keep him. No luck. Maybe some others. If you tore our team down to JV, Ross, Acy and scraps, why the hell would Iggy have chosen to come here? Cap space alone would not have got you Iggy. Not available

      – Mayo- No thanks! When a guy with his skills can’t get a starting gig, can’t even stick with a team, red flags about character/personality would keep me away. If you haven’t noticed, the Raps have been trying to put a team together of hard working, good character, team oriented players. Mayo doesn’t seem to fit that bill at all.

      – Smith- He had other suitors too, and chose to go to the one team that offered him what he’s always coveted, his own SF position, where he can chuck to his hearts content. Just because desperate Joe Dumars is dumb enough to give him that, doesn’t mean Ujiri is. Would not have happened.

      – Jefferson- a beast on offense, but a zero on defense. No thanks. His choice of Charlotte gives you an idea what his goals are. No thanks.

      – Ellis- So you’d want a 27 year old, who chucks up more shots, at a worse rate of success, to replace a 23 year old gym rat dedicated to the team. No thanks

      – West- It’s pretty obvious that he likes his home in Indiana, and wasn’t going anywhere, cap space or not. Not available.

      – Milsap- Though undersized, he’d have been intriguing, but no way of knowing even he’d have been the least interested. The thing is, we already have a younger, cheaper, more efficient version in Amir, which seems a heck of a lot smarter for rebuilding.

      – KMart- Not even guessing if he’d want to come here (why? to be part of a rebuild?), but you would want to rebuild with a 30 year old, with no defense, instead of a 23 year old? Makes no sense.

      At the end of the day, your vision of what could have been done with cap space is pure speculation, based on little in reality, and/or makes no sense.

      • Kupooo

        You my friend just hit then nail that sealed the coffin. As you stated FA is not the way to go for Raptors…they won’t come and trades can be do-able but not easy. I have to agree with Tim W. DRAFT is the way!

        • ItsAboutFun

          If embellishing a misinterpretation of what I said is a nail that sealed the coffin for you, good luck with that.

      • raptorspoo

        I think you misunderstood my post buddy.

        That’s exactly what I’m trying to say. If you have a real vision then you can’t “build it in a day” BUT if you want to build a team like the Craptors then YES, you can build it in a day.

        Stupid money is what dictates where FAs want to go. Why do you think players want to resign with the Raptors? Because we’re winning so much? Because they love the city? Most of that list of players would go where the money is at. And if you’re talking about players with deficiencies, why don’t you add Gay and DD to the list too?

        The point of my post is that you can get good fillers with cap space but it’s hard to get the heart of a team through FA, hence we need to tank. And if you think Gay and DD are the heart of a championship team then good on ya!

  • Mugsy

    Good write-up. Its interesting how many people favor JV and his upside and yet when thinking about the team’s future don’t really mention his improvement as the cornerstone. This isn’t really a disagreement with what anyone said, but more so my opinion that no matter which way the Raptors front office decides to take the franchise, their success will depend on his development maybe more than anything else.

    If they tank, he’ll be crucial. If they don’t and keep the roster relatively untouched at least for a season or two, it will be him who might take them past simply being a first round playoff team. If by the third season he develops into something close to an all-star and the rest of the squad has a similar level of talent we may turn into a competitive team without drastic moves. I like the Pacers comparison, especially in this respect, Hibbert took a few years but is now one of the games better big men, Granger is similar to Rudy and the other positions are comparable too. Clearly to get to that East conference finals level we’d another great draftee (ala George) but thats a move or two away and really doesn’t require a complete haul-over.

    And as a fan i gotta throw this in there- JV has more of an upside than Hibbert did in his first couple years. With his work ethic, dont see why he cant reach his level or surpass it.

  • sleepz

    “Hell no, I want no part of another tank and rebuild”
    When was this team a part of the first one?
    The Raptors tried to ‘compete’ in a weak Eastern Conference last year and were a lottery team. Another question that should have been asked is how as a fan would you feel if they tried to compete with this roster in 2013/14 and still failed to make the playoffs (a likely scenario). Where would it put this team then?
    When Rudy Gay is your best player and making franchise money you are destined to go no where.

    • smh

      Exactly. When did they EVER tank and rebuild?

      No disrespect to Zarar, but what’s the point of a team that will perpetually become playoff doormats? If you wanted a 6-8 seeded playoff team year in and year out, we might as well just have kept Colangelo, then choose a team to root for in the finals.

      • SR

        The Raptors never intentionally bottomed out/stripped down their roster – in fact BC was constantly criticized around here for not fully committing to a proper rebuild. Even Casey caught plenty of fan flack for “winning too much” 2 seasons ago. But now the “we’ve already been through a tank/rebuild” fits the narrative of fans desperate to make the playoffs, so hey, why not re-write the last 5 years (which were crap years not because of an intentional rebuild, but because Bosh walked and left this team with a massive talent gap).

        I find it ironic that most of BC’s offseason sales pitches are now being propagated with this roster (which is still a BC roster, by the way) by the very fans who wanted him out. Internal growth! Chemistry! Eye surgery! Shot reconstruction! Playoffs, here we come!

        • Defensive Rap

          lies, they’re all lies.

          If you wanted BC gone, how can you not want a rebuild of the mess he left behind?

          If you liked BC and what he did, then fine. But if you felt he was the problem, than how can you say what he left behind is the correct way to move forward? If you feel that way then you never wanted BC to go in the first place. And if you didn’t want BC to go, then you need to give your head a shake.

        • sleepz

          Eye surgery. lol
          When that is part of the optimism going forward there should be immediate cause for concern.

          • ItsAboutFun

            LOLOLOLOL, a simple eye surgery to correct a shooters vision is “immediate cause for concern”???? How so?

            • sleepz

              Fans using this as hope are insinuating that the eye surgery has affected his game previously and that he will be an improved player now because of it.
              That’s a leap of faith I don’t care to take.

              • ItsAboutFun

                Hey, if you consider the notion that a pro basketball player might be better due to correction of an eyesight problem, to be a leap of faith, I don’t know what valid thing to say that wouldn’t be insulting/demeaning. *another head shaking moment*

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

                  It’s a reach. Unless his eyesight was so bad he couldn’t see the hoop, or his depth perception was a big problem, then I don’t see what eye surgery would do. Becoming a good shooter is mostly about technique and muscle memory, which is why you need a lot of repetition and why good shooters can hit shots with guys in their face.

                  The other thing is that eye surgery won’t help his inconsistent defense, and it probably won’t help his poor decision-making, especially late in games. It also won’t make him drive more to the hoop and take fewer long twos.

                • ItsAboutFun

                  Well defense and decision making isn’t part of this topic, but thanks for your input,,,,, I guess.

                  Aside from that, the discussion was about optimism that his shooting may be better, seeing that he actually did have an eyesight problem, and has had surgery to correct it. If you can’t see that through your “technique and muscle memory straw man” argument, perhaps you need more than corrective eye surgery yourself. Yes, technique and muscle memory is important, but dare I say good eyesight is even more important in virtually any function, of any sport, requiring precision. To say otherwise is being blind (pun intended, and being kind), imo.

                • sleepz

                  Preach.

            • sleepz

              And when did Gay become a shooter?
              He’s a shot taker, but very few would classify him as a shooter.

      • Tom

        The year we had the 5th Pick, with Irving at the top of the board. We didn’t commit to a winning season, we started and played 3rd string benchers, we had young pieces to develop, but we lost the lottery. Time to move forward and develop what we have unless we decide to tank again and again and again.. till when?

        We had that Italian goof and we stocked on young assets with salary cap and we moved on.

        You speak like tanking is an exact science and the fact its not that and you make your best moves with what you have.

        The build wasn’t exactly a home run either. I think last year we were supposed to begin to see the fruits of tanking but we had a horrendous start, that team should not have lost that many without some adjustments made to curb the record, keeping Bargs, and saying he is our all-star and go to guy (words of casey) was the biggest mistake the franchise made, they were fully invested in Bargs and his injury was our saving grace. Lowry did not produce, DD was up and down. Casey can take credit for a bunch of lost games. But the fact remains we went through that process, because we lost out on a first draft pick doesn’t mean we didn’t tank. We just didn’t tank enough, even that is still not enough some times..

        • Rubuntech

          What is at issue for Masai is the question – is there enough of a core to move forward with. If yes, trade and draft to build on it. If not, we know the answer to that. The problem with tanking is as previously pointed out by Zarar, there is only a 10% chance of getting a draft win – couple that with the fact that no-one short of Lebron is really guaranteed. Look at high draft picks such as Thabeet, Milicic and Barganini – they were all top 4 consensus and were not blown picks or picked high by dubious scouting. Then look at later picks: Rondo, Fareed and there are others. We don’t blame BC for drafting Bargs, I have never seen a reference of that written in
          this fine blog – what we blame him for is how that talent was managed. What is needed to turn this T-Dot franchise around is top talent evaluators, talent managers and best in league scouting. That is what I believe, above all else Masai brings that BC did not.

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

            My question is, where do people get these arbitrary numbers for success in the draft? With such a loaded draft, as the 2014 draft is, the chance of securing a potentially elite talent is WAY better than 10% if you’re one of the less than half dozen teams that are tanking.

            I also don’t understand the oft cited argument that tanking isn’t a guarantee of anything, because no one has ever claimed it was. And show me a guaranteed way to acquire an elite player and I’ll give you a job as a GM (well, I’ll get you one). Is keeping the current core together and trying to trade for better pieces a guarantee of anything, even the playoffs? Can anyone guarantee me this team will make the playoffs next season? Can anyone guarantee me that Ujiri will be able to turn the current pieces into a contender? Can anyone guarantee me that stars later in the draft?

            • Rubuntech

              I can only guarantee that the sun will rise tomorrow morning. All else is about good planning and good management of the roster. Star players can be made available at the trade deadline from losing team eager to dump salary. The trick is to manage cap space and have an environment where the player wants to stay. Creating that environment is what the new Raptors management are trying to develop. Then we should be able to attract free agents and be a BB destination of choice.

              For the draft, elite talent should be available but they are still just prospects. The other thing is that every GM knows the draft is potentially the best in years – acquiring picks will be harder than ever – even with dangling the current starting roster with their high salaries in a negative cap year and the start of uber luxury tax penalties. There is a lot to consider and risk either way but it appears apparent from lack of trade activity on the home-front that Raptors are staying the course. I am throwing my hat in that ring.

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

                What you’re suggesting is to rely on a form of player acquisition that has never worked for Toronto, or most of NBA cities, outside of Los Angeles, New York or Miami. In fact, the only teams that have ever been able to sign elite players (while they were still elite) have been teams that have previously won an NBA title. Toronto obviously can’t be included in that category, nor will they ever be without acquiring an elite player first.

                As for the draft, obviously it’s a risk, as anything is. This is where I don’t understand your argument (or others) is that you’re willing to have faith in the abilities of Ujiri to trade for the right pieces, but not in his ability to draft the right pieces. Either he’s a good judge of talent or not. If Ujiri is a GM who can build a contender, then he’s most likely going to have the ability to tell the difference between a Jonas Valanciunas and a Hasheem Thabeet. This is one of the arguments against tanking that bothers me. They seem to trust Ujiri to somehow turn an overpriced, mostly mediocre roster into a contender, but not to make the right choice in a loaded draft.

                • Rubuntech

                  Your arguments definitely have merit and I do agree to a point. Every player in the league is drafted with few exceptions and entry level contracts allow it to be done frugally. With what fans have had to put up with since Vince stopped trying, we would ask those same fans for 4 more seasons of losing, bad BB? That is what it would take to build the right way, with likely just Val as a holdover from the current roster. As other people have stated, Val is destined to be a top NBA centre but not likely someone who can change games in the way that D12, Abdul Jabar or Olajawan could; so we still don’t have a game changer. So we start with the 2014 draft with one good piece and the hopes that we win at the draft. I think the price of winning an elite player is too high as odds are we could end up with another good piece but no game changer. This is the extent of my argument here.

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

                  If a rebuild is done well, the Raptors could be vying for the playoffs in two more years (obviously best case scenario). If the Raptors were to rebuild, they wouldn’t have to do it from scratch. They have Valanciunas. They have Ross. They might still have Amir. And they would have the pieces they would get from Gay, DeRozan and Lowry.

                  In four years, where will the current team be? They could miss the playoffs next year, and then do a rebuild? Not only do you miss cashing in on the talent-rich 2014 draft, but you probably lose Lowry for nothing (his contract expires next summer) and risk losing Gay for nothing if he decides to opt out. THose are two assets gone.

                  For those saying they want to wait and see what happens with the current team, failure doesn’t just mean waiting a year to tank, it means putting the team back years.

                • ItsAboutFun

                  And your big argument for tanking is that it’s a loaded draft, yet most of these kids haven’t even stepped on a college court yet, never mind played a college season, when many evaluations change again. As a most recent example of how quickly things can change upon leaving high school, a year ago Shabazz Muhammad was projected as a can’t miss NBA star and 1st overall pick. One college season later, he’s the 14th pick in a very weak draft.

                  There may well be 1-2 superstars in that draft, though we don’t know. Your suggestion is based on the hyped premise that 6-8 high school kids are future superstars, and that’s far from realistic in the crapshoot that the NBA draft has always been.

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

                  Shabazz Muhammad was NEVER considered a can’t miss NBA star. Ever. He was a guy who had a lot of hype but scouts had a lot of questions about. And if you’re going to bring up Harrison Barnes, I argued endlessly, even while he was in high school, that he wasn’t an elite player. And I’m not a professional scout.

                  Professional scouts haven’t been this excited about a draft since 2003.

                  Again, though, if you trust Ujiri to be such a good evaluator and judge of talent that he can turn an overpaid team full of flawed players into a contender, why do you not trust his talents to be able to draft successfully in one of the most loaded drafts in a decade?

                • ItsAboutFun

                  “Professional scouts haven’t been this excited about a draft since 2003.”

                  What pro scouts, what are their credentials, and what are they saying? Or are you simply parroting what you’ve read in the media?

                  A serious question, because:
                  1. Your argument has consistently been that a team doesn’t have to have lottery luck and get Wiggins, because there are 6-8 future all-stars in the draft. I’d like to know what you actually know about what the scouts are saying. Some may be high on several players, but most seem to understand how much of a crapshoot the draft is, never mind predicting what high school kids will turn out to be. Who is saying what?

                  2. Whenever someone points out that even if a team lucks out and gets the next LeBron, it’s very difficult to keep them, when surrounded by junk, or when teams that have tanked for years still aren’t anywhere,,,,, you say it’s all about bad management, of which scouting is a big part of it. When you add all those teams up, there’s a very small handful of teams that you say are being managed well, so wondering what scouts from the teams you say are being managed well are saying, because the rest don’t matter, or do they now?

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

                  I meant to say that pro scouts haven’t been this excited about a draft since 2003.

                  And my argument has NEVER been that you don’t need a lottery pick in this draft. It’s been that if they don’t get Wiggins, then it’s not a big deal. If the Raptors go forward with the core they have, they’ll most likely vie for a playoff spot and draft someone from 14-18. That’s not high enough to have a good chance at getting a star, even next year.

                  The fact of the matter is that LeBron didn’t leave Cleveland because they tanked to get him. He left because they hadn’t surrounded him with enough talent for him to feel he could win. And he was right. Danny Ferry did a poor job trying to surround LeBron.

                  Carmelo didn’t leave Denver because they tanked to get him. He left, in large part, because they couldn’t surround him with enough talent to be a contender.

                  Nosh didn’t leave because Toronto tanked to get him. In fact they didn’t tank. He left because Colangelo couldn’t build a decent team around him to get him past the first round.

                  Bad management is usually the biggest reason elite players leave because it ain’t the money. Give a player a reason to stay, and he usually will.

                • ItsAboutFun

                  You didn’t answer the question, so I take it you’re bombastic declaration of what scouts think is nothing but parroting what you’ve read in the media, and you have no idea who is actually saying what, or that they may even be scouts from teams you say are mismanaged. It’s not the first time that it’s become evident that your “opinions” are selective media driven, not knowledge based.

              • Kupooo

                Rubentech…I’ll reference an article I found in HoopsHype…note the chances of getting an “All-star” Player through FA / Trade vs Draft. Now go back also and tell me who was the last “All-Star” Player we got in a Raptor’s uniform and how did we acquire it.

                – Bosh (drafted him)
                – Vince (got his draft rights on draft day…note we actually drafted and traded our higher pick for a lower pick so ya)

                So…draft seems pretty strong reason to tank IMHO

                http://hoopshype.com/articles/sierra/how-stars-got-to-their-teams

    • ItsAboutFun

      “When was this team a part of the first one?”

      You may be able to claim it wasn’t a “proper” one, but that’s nothing but a matter of opinion. Since Bosh left, no wildass Hedo or J.O. type trades/FA signings have been made, and a commitment to build with youth has been adhered to. We already had a lottery pick, in DD, in the fold, and 3 more lottery picks followed, while filling out the rest of the roster with short term, low cost bench guys.

      Stubbornly hoping AB would finally get it was a mistake, but we started last year with 4 lottery picks already. If anybody had been asked then if they’d have taken Rudy Gay, to fill a need for a quality SF that has existed since VC left, plus a first rounder, for AB, Davis ( a bench player), and Jose (who had run his course here, and was leaving anyway), who the hell would not have taken that? Seriously.

      You may not be as high on the talents as some, but a “rebuild with youth and let them grow” has most certainly begun. JV (21), Gay(26), DD(23), Lowry(27), Amir(26), Ross(22), Acy(22), with currently 4 1st round picks over the next 3 years, is a rebuild with youth.

      Before making proclamations of how this team will go nowhere, we need to see how they fit together and develop this coming year, to say nothing of what Ujiri may be able to pull off with trades.

      • sleepz

        I think I am able to claim there wasn’t a rebuild because quite frankly there wasn’t one. If something wasn’t done completely or correctly, how can you now claim it was done?
        Sicne Bosh left there have been no JO or Hdeo type trades?
        What was the Rudy Gay acquisition?lol
        They were ‘committed to rebuidling though youth’ but traded away their first round pick last year.
        Just because DD was in the fold and they hurried to re-up him doesn’t make this a rebuild. You don’t stop drafting youth until you have a core unit to miove forward with. BC has never drafted a player that didn’t immediately become a part of his ‘core group’ and he showed that with the Bargnani fiasco, and now the haste to sign Demar not shortly thereafter.
        They also decided to trade way one of those young players that was part of the so called rebuild in Davis the moment he actually started to get some burn, so they could then committ to a bloated salary for a player who’s team was openly trying to rid themselves of his fat contract.
        So they have Demar, JV, Ross and Quincy Acy and this is the youth movement you are referring to? This is a rebuild? Shouldn’t the Raps have more control over their salaries if they were rebuilding properly? Being able to keep your young players on managable contracts is a major benefit of going with young players. Raps are capped up dude.
        None of the Raps young players have shown they should be part of core nucleus going forward. I like JV but he has accomplished nothing thus far and Demar scores points but doesn’t do much else and most importantly doesn’t affect winning, thus far in his career.
        Btw, I wouldn’t have made the Gay trade. They should have kept the team the way it was last year before the Gay deal (and Lowry trade), as we would have had been in a position to add another draft pick in this years draft and would have been able to spend another year evaluating the youth on the team going into a draft that could possible yield a true franchise talent on a rookie salary scale contract.
        There’s been no rebuild around these parts.

        • ItsAboutFun

          “If something wasn’t done completely or correctly”

          1. Who said anything about it being complete?
          2. What makes you the judge of what’s correct?

          You’re entitled to your opinion, but let’s not mistake it for the gospel truth.

          • sleepz

            You yourself said I may be able to claim it was not a proper as it is my opinion.
            My claim is that there was no rebuild done around here anytime under BC’s watch and I tried to provide some facts to support my opinion.

        • Rubuntech

          I don’t get all of this Rudy Gay hate (I know mild compared to Bargnani). He comes in as a centrepiece to a new offense and defense, playing with a capable, but flawed shooting guard who wants his shots and he was expected to turn it all around? The guy is paid too much and may not be a franchise guy but he is a very athletic 6’9″ guy who can score in a number of ways and stresses defences. I don’t think the Raptors were ready for him or he ready to be the leader we all wanted him to be. The offense did not adapt seamlessly to him. This guy could be great next year.

  • Bendit

    Until we become an attractive spot for good free agents to seriously consider we should go the trade/draft wisely route…or waste the money on those just looking for a pay day. MU seems to be avoiding the f/a route which is a good thing. I believe it’s going to be at least a two season slog to real and sustainable respectability. Adopt the Boston route.

    • some random guy

      All that MU has to work with is around 5 million for Free Agents right now. Those are just bench warming spots to fill out.

  • theswirsky

    So we have 1 pro-tank. 1 probably tank (Garret – I think that fits his discussion) and 3 no tanks.

    The 3 no tanks all say the Raptors are best of starting to make trades going forward.

    But do we not realize how difficult trades are to accomplish? Between the rules of the CBA, what a team has and what a team wants, making a trade, especially a trade of significance, may be the single most difficult thing to do in the NBA. It requires alot of luck itself to happen AND there are no guarantees they will work out either even if they are accomplished.

    GMs likely have hundreds of trade negotiations going over any season, and only a very small % of them ever turn out. If we believe reports out of Memphis it took nearly 2 years for them to move Gay! They needed to find a team that would 1) be able to fit the deal under their salary situation 2) be willing to pay his hefty salary 3) have peices that would save Memphis cap space 4) willing to give them or get them players that would both help now and in the future. When it finally happened it was thanks to a GM who was desperately trying to save his job mid way through a season.

    On top of that, if this team wants to make a trade to bring in a valuable player, they are going to have to almost assuredly give up a valuable player as well. What that means is a team could just as likely create a whole while it tries to fill a whole when its trying to improve. Then they may also be competing against other teams on the trade market for whatever player they are interested in, and in the end either not land them or have to offer up more assets.

    Its the part that amazes me when it comes to people who are against this team tanking, willingly also admitting FA is not a reliable route for this team to take (which it isn’t), just think ‘we can make good trades for the team’. But that is far from reliable or even likely. Just like there are no guarantees in the draft, there are no guarantees in trades. Very few trades benifit both teams, whether short term or long term. At the same time there is a whole series of uncontrollable events, that need to take place for them to go down. Its one thing to trade a 2nd round pick for Sebastian Telfair, or to dump a player. Its a whole other thing to make any moves of significance with a team thats over that cap, has high priced contracts that aren’t expiring, and generally has few valuable assets that the team can willingly afford to give.

    Masai fell into a perfect situation in Denver with the Melo deal. Melo, who is viewed as a superstar, demanded a trade to NY, while the Nets were just about to move to NY. Both of those NY bound teams had already been starting their rebuilds and both had assets. That was pure luck. Luck that he had 2 big money teams, who had plenty of valuable assets both wanting to win now and having a player who is viewed as a superstar wanting to go there. I applaud him for what he got in return, but lets not pretend he was scraping the bottom of the barrell with that situation.

    People love to say Masai needs to ‘be opportunistic’. But what they are really saying is sit back and hope something out of your control becomes available then jump on it. But thats nothing but pure luck. For Masai to really be opportunistic he needs to go out and create opportunities for himself. The single greatest opportunity available for this team at this time is the draft. A real opporuntistic individual creates their opportunity. They don’t sit around and wait for the old cliche of opening the door when it knocks. They open that door and track it down.

    Lets stop hoping the team gets lucky. Lets starting hoping this GM has a pair big enough to throw the roulette wheel out the window and start creating his own luck.

    • SR

      Spot on!! I’d rather have a plan, even if it means some short term pain.

      Also, I think the “let’s stick with this roster” sentiment is just delaying the pain. What happens in the next 1-2 seasons when the Lowry/Gay contracts expire? Then what? “Maybe a trade will come up” and “maybe we can re-sign them at more reasonable contracts” don’t do it for me any more than “let’s tank for player X!” This team can fast forward 2 seasons by moving a couple of its highest contracts right now – with a great draft and FA class looming in 2014, and JV two years younger with plenty of time remaining on his rookie deal.

      Normally (always until now) I’d be against another rebuild/tank/whatever – I totally understand the sentiment of “let’s just get to the playoffs first.” But I think the timing this season is a huge opportunity that should not be overlooked. It’s the right time to unload high-priced contracts to put picks/prospects/cap space around JV/Ross/whomever in order to build a team with a much higher ceiling than this one. Aside from everybody’s frustrations with 5 consecutive non-playoff seasons (understandable), this is a great time for a rebuild.

    • ItsAboutFun

      So if trades are so unlikely to benefit both teams, how would you suggest Ujiri strip the team down with trades that will benefit the Raps? Instead of grandstanding generalities, how about providing some specifics of how you might do it. Then we might have something to discuss, that doesn’t seem contradictory.

      • theswirsky

        Well Gay for 2 expirings would have been a start……
        Like I said in my post, if you had read it, dumping player and making small trades isn’t the problem.

        • ItsAboutFun

          Oh, I read your post, and see absolutely no reason why you would suggest I didn’t, but then you’re infamous for making things up.

          So you say a good start is to trade our best player for nothing but scrap. Then what? More of the same? Then what? Put your arm around JV and ask him to hang in there and develop, while surrounded by garbage (yeah, great opportunity to develop!), because we have our eye on a couple of high school kids that will be able to help him be a winner in 3-5 years? You’re going to send that message to a highly competitive young professional athlete whose career could end before he even has the slightest chance to compete? I fail to see the wisdom, but carry on from your “start”?

        • SR

          @ theswirsky – It’s not worth it. He’s not reading anything.

          • ItsAboutFun

            Yet another empty, baseless statement. Do tell what I didn’t read. And don’t babble about the random details I didn’t respond to. Just because a post has oodles of gobbly-gook, doesn’t mean a person has to respond to all of it, to have a relevant response. Now your post,,,,, that’s outside of relevant, simply baseless drivel,

            • theswirsky

              oh sorry now the response to my post make sense – it was the p00kice! I didn’t realize it was you. Foolish me. You wear so many masks I’m never quite sure which one you’ll have on.

              • Defensive Rap

                Trade our best player for scrap. I guess that is one way to look at it.

                Trade our worst contract for expiring contracts that help facilitate the rebuild is another way to look at it.

                Masai couldn’t pull the trigger though for several reasons.

                1. it was too quick and would signal to the league very early on that he was tanking and there was a fire sale at the ACC.

                2. it wasn’t a great deal (no picks, no young players coming back)

                3. he needs time to assess the situation and doesn’t need to do something just because he needs to do something. Whatever he does it will be on his terms and this deal obviously wasn’t right for him at that time.

  • Christopher Bird

    I’m firmly in the rebuild camp. This isn’t a playoff team, and I think many of the writers above have overly glowing expectations of how well the Raptors will perform this year.

    We’ve already seen the Rudy Raptors go up against teams like Washington, Cleveland and Detroit – we were .500 against them, for the most part, and that was last year before the Wiz added Otto Porter, before Cleveland added Bennett and Jarrett Jack and possibly Andrew Bynum, before Detroit added Josh Smith. Atlanta lost Smith and managed to improve by replacing him with Paul Millsap. The only team at our level of competition whose roster has not obviously significantly improved is Milwaukee, because they’ll probably end up losing both Monta Ellis and Brandon Jennings – but OJ Mayo and Jeff Teague (if Milwaukee can get Teague, they’re chasing him) are probably an improvement over Ellis/Jennings as a backcourt, and the Bucks also added Zaza Pachulia and Carlos Delfino to give them greater depth. Meanwhile, what have the Raptors done? Next to nothing, and that’s not Ujiri’s fault: BC quite deliberately built a team with absolutely no financial maneuverability. We are stuck where we are while all of our competition gets better.

    We’re still fundamentally the same badly designed team we were last year – a team that starts three players who need the ball often in order to contribute points (DeMar, Rudy and Kyle), a team with multiple low-efficiency volume scorers, a team with mediocre perimeter shooting. Getting rid of Bargs was a start, but only a start. We need to move Rudy and DeMar and probably Kyle and get the best possible value for them while we still can – one more losing season and their contracts will be hung around our neck for seasons to come.

  • Rap fan 2

    I think everyone makes some valid points here, however my intuition would be more inline with Tim W.. I’ve been a Raptor fan since day 1 and I’ll still be one after they win their first championship.

    I really think that getting into the draft and drafting well is the key to fast tracking towards that championship. The next step would be in chronically developing all your prospects and all of your players. If we are lucky perhaps we’ll get one or two hall of famers in the process. I think someone brought up stockpiling assets or prospects is another key. The point I want to bring up on trading is that nobody in their right mind is going to trade with you if you have nothing of value to trade with. Once we have this developed and higly talented core group of players then I think it would be easier to go after free agents to complement and fill out the roster. I have to say that Houston GM Daryl Morey has vision. He’s on the ball. I also like the aggressive way he went after restricted free agents Asik and Jeremy Lin. If your franchise sees more value in those restricted free agents than the player’s own team sees them than I think it’s a good way to steal them away.

    Getting and optimizing on your draft picks, spending max money on player development, changing the way the world sees the Toronto Raptors from a marketing and cultural stand point is the way towards success I think. You need some luck along the way too. Team wise we have to play elite defense and have highly efficient offence a la San Antonio Spurs. I loved watching that Spanish team the Raptors played against in exhibition season two or three seasons ago. Their passing was incredible. They were even better than last seasons Spurs.

  • thegloveinrapsuniform

    If you look at the draft picks from the past 10 years, and maybe even 20 years, not including 2010-2012 since they are still on rookie contracts, how many were actual franchise players, drafted in the top 5 AND stayed with the teams that drafted them? I maybe wrong on this and please do correct me, but the only ones that come to mind are Durant, Wade and Duncan, and maybe Love but i have a feeling he may be on the block sooner than we think.

    First, there’s no guarantees that with tanking you’ll get a franchise player, no matter how deep the draft. Second, obviously with tanking comes loses. We’ve all see teams drafting “franchise players” and eventually losing them because the team cant manufacture wins instantly. Part of a franchise player’s DNA is the drive to win. Lastly, even if you already have a franchise player, you cant win with just a franchise player, you need other good to great pieces around him to contend. how are you going to attract FAs if you keep losing? For every lebron james theres three kwame browns.

    with the current roster, IMO, theyre maybe 1 or 2 complimentary pieces away from making the playoffs, specially on a weak east. show the league that you can win and make the playoffs, get that winning vibe and culture and hopefully carry that momentum to the next season. other players will see that this team is winning, and hopefully would want to be part of the winning culture.

    Let the other teams breed these so-called franchise players and let the opportunistic masai work his hands and pry them from the teams that drafted them. it can and has happened. harden, bosh, james, anthony, howard…..theyve been traded.

    • SR

      When you look at the last 10 years, how many teams that missed the playoffs for 5 consecutive seasons stuck with their current roster and won championships? There’s no guarantee that sticking with bad contracts will enable your GM to work some magic and turn a capped out, non-playoff roster into a championship calibre roster via a couple trades and a bit of internal development. Give me one example of THAT ever happening, if that’s our criteria.

      Harden, Bosh, James, Anthony, Howard have all been traded to teams with – #1 prospects, #2 picks, #3 cap space. Whether you use those in the draft and wait for internal growth, or you jump-start your rebuild with a trade for a franchise player, prospects/picks/cap space are essential. The Raptors are young, but not talented enough. They need to acquire more talent without taking on more salary.

      • SR

        It should also be noted that Bosh, James, Anthony, and Howard had a short-list of teams they were willing to be traded to (don’t know about Harden). Toronto was not on any of those lists.

        What has Toronto’s biggest FA/trade acquisition been since 1995? Honestly? Hedo? Really, your odds are better of landing Andrew Wiggins than they are of expecting the Raptors to all of a sudden land franchise talent through a trade, given the history here. Forget franchise talent – even upgrading from Rudy Gay via trade would make that the best trade in Raptors history. But hey, that’s a reasonable expectation to put on the GM! Certainly more reasonable than expecting to draft good talent. After all, the draft is a crap shoot.

        • Rap fan 2

          I totally disagree with this one point that what happened in the past is what is going to happen in the future. That’s a totally defeatist outlook. It’s the wrong attitude to take. For one thing, the GM responsible for the Hedo trade is no longer here. As Raptor fans we have to change this attitude of once a loser always a loser. It probably won’t go away until we move closer to winning a championship. Look at the Lakers, they don’t have this defeatist attitude. They are looking at loosing of Howard as no big deal, we’ll just after Lebron or Carmelo next. Whether or not the Lakers get them is not the point, it’s the winning attitude I’m talking about here. Chronically optimistic !!! We need to move towards this winning mindset and culture.

          • SR

            It’s not about defeatism, it’s about NBA reality. Players frequently have a say in trades (especially franchise players), and they are often not open to going to low-profile, non-playoff teams – this is a fact, not a matter of optimism/pessimism. The reality of it is reflected in the Raptors history. The significance of it adds weight to the value of building through the draft. Since there are a lot of probabilities discussed when it comes to the draft, that also becomes part of the equation. It would be “once-in-20-years” scenario for the Raptors to land All-Star talent via trade/FA (again, this is a historical fact, not how I feel about it).

            It’s just a response to the first comment in this thread, it’s got nothing to do with my optimism re: this team.

            • 2damkule

              the players mentioned only had a ‘say’ because they were FAs (or soon-to-be FAs in melo’s case) & the ‘trade’ was only an attempt to procure anything resembling value back in return (as well as a way to maximize the contracts for those FAs). melo had a ‘say’ in where he was dealt because NY was one of the few places he was willing to sign with as a FA, so teams didn’t want the risk of giving up a substantial chunk of their future for a rental.

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

                The vast majority of elite players are traded for one of three reasons. The first is that they are getting older and the team isn’t anywhere close to building a contender in time (Barkley, Garnett), the second is that the player is too much of a handful (Iverson), and the third and most common reason is that the player’s contract is going to expire soon and the team doesn’t think they will be able to re-sign him (Deron, Melo, Chris Paul, Howard).

                The Raptors aren’t in a position to take advantage of an older elite player because they don’t have the talent to be able to win with him, giving up a lot of assets for a headcase is too much of a gamble, so that leaves the last option, which doesn’t work in Toronto’s favour, quite frankly.

                • SR

                  How often does a franchise player express no concern about his destination and end up in a low profile market? Honestly? Once a year? Once every two years? Do you think the chances of this happening and the Raptors landing said player are better than your chances in the draft? I don’t. For me, that’s all this discussion comes down to – I really think Toronto’s odds are better in the upcoming draft and 2014 FA class.

        • Guy

          To use the Raptor’s history as a reason to say they can’t be expected to land franchise talent is to say Ujiri will do nothing but follow in the same path as BC, Babcock, et al. You’ve already concluded, despite no evidence to support this, Ujiri is incapable of building a team other than through the draft.

      • thegloveinrapsuniform

        I think its a little silly to think that just because some of us dont want this team to tank that we believe that this current roster is the be all end all of the Raptors franchise. Its not. What i said was acquire other pieces, maybe even trade a few pieces to get this team to consistently win and make it to the playoffs. Get the momentum going, even if it means first round exits for the next two years. maybe get Gay to re-sign of course at a cheaper price, and attract/trade for other superstars to play alongisde him and JV.

        It also amazes me that people here are talking about “contending” and “championships” when the team cant even make the playoffs. Winning consistently to make the playoffs will not get you stuck in mediocrity like Tim W. says unless your GM is dumb enough to not do anything about it. And Masai is not dumb. Everytime you make the playoffs, you still find ways to make this team better. Leiweke already said it, they will not be content on just making the playoffs but to contend for championships. But it takes steps. And making the playoffs FIRST should be the first step.

        • SR

          Exactly – let’s “hope” we can “attract/trade for other superstars.” Just like the Raptors always do. On the other hand, Toronto never finds superstars in the draft. (/sarcasm)

          The Leiweke reference is spot on, but I take it to mean that he’s not content with the kind of roster the Raptors have right now, where you goal is simply to make the playoffs. A first step, for me, involves having a play for your second step. “Maybe a trade will come up?” is not a plan for the second step – that’s as much of a shot in the dark as tanking for Wiggins. In both cases you’ve just got your fingers crossed.

        • theswirsky

          “What i said was acquire other pieces, maybe even trade a few pieces to get this team to consistently win and make it to the playoffs. ”

          and what are those peices? Who is available? Who do we give up? What team does what deal? Do we know of real possibilities (and not ‘I’m thinking something like trade player A off Toronto for player B off of Atlanta. Atlanta does it because…. Toronto does it because…’ I’m talking real solid evidence that player B is even on the market, and Atlanta wants player A) or are you guessing that something may become available that works for Toronto?

          “maybe get Gay to re-sign of course at a cheaper price, and attract/trade for other superstars to play alongisde him and JV.”

          and when have other superstars wanted to play in Toronto? Or any other unattractive market for that matter?

          This is just a pure guess. “If we win MAYBE superstars will sign here”. Problem is there is no evidence that that is a possibility. Its a hope and prayer, nothing more.

          These are the exact types of luck and hope based reasoning I spoke about above.

      • ItsAboutFun

        “how many teams that missed the playoffs for 5 consecutive seasons stuck with their current roster”

        How many Raps were with the team 5 years ago? One, Amir, so your basic premise is out to lunch. Since 5 years ago, looking at the current roster, we have 3 lottery picks under development, oldest of 23, Gay with 1/2 a season (not 5 seasons), Lowry with an injury plagued 1 season. To equate this current team to 5 losing seasons is ridiculous.

        • SR

          Aaaand, that’s the sound of you missing the point, ItsAboutFun – something that happens for you about as often as DeMar misses 3’s.

          • ItsAboutFun

            Cute little refrain, though mindless. My point was that your opening salvo was unrelated to any discussion about the Raptors, rendering the rest of that post pointless. No point, means no point to miss.

            • SR

              Whoosh.

              • ItsAboutFun

                hahahaha, Timmy deleted another post. Sad.

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

                  I deleted another post because your reply to someone (not me) was simply an insult and served no other purpose. What’s sad is that you can’t seem to make more than a comment or two without insulting someone.

                • Guy

                  If the name of this site was ‘The Picket Fence’, you’d be well within your rights to remove any comment you didn’t like because it would be your site & you make the rules. But this is isn’t your site, it’s Raptors Republic, & in regards to RR, you are simply a contributor, an employee if you will, & therefore do not have the authority to decide… on your own… what is or isn’t acceptable, especially without allowing the rest of us to view said comment.

                  Instead, you deleted his comment simply because you didn’t like it. That’s akin to censorship &, I assure you, is more offensive than any perceived insult ever posted here…. making you the worst offender.

                  If you were truly worried about offensive & insulting behavior, you’d apologize to everyone for placing your judgment & values above everyone else’s & re-instate his comment.

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

      “If you look at the draft picks from the past 10 years, and maybe even 20 years, not including 2010-2012 since they are still on rookie contracts, how many were actual franchise players, drafted in the top 5 AND stayed with the teams that drafted them?”

      http://hoopshype.com/articles/sierra/how-stars-got-to-their-teams

      • thegloveinrapsuniform

        What is the percentage of these teams drafting franchise players, that player staying till the team won a championship?

        • 2damkule

          but even if the player doesn’t stay, he’s still an asset. what a GM does with that asset is what makes/breaks franchises. not being in a position to draft high (and, ostensibly, draft a ‘franchise’ type player) takes away that asset. i’m not one to believe that just because something happened before it’s going to happen again, but at least ujiri has shown some ability to recognize a situation & move forward proactively. the one thing i think he has over BC is that he seems to understand the mindset of the modern player better…he knew (or at least strongly believed) that melo wasn’t going to re-sign w/ the nuggs, so he moved proactively to ensure that his team wouldn’t be left standing at the altar.

      • Defensive Rap

        hmmm, is the speaker suggesting that drafting in the top 5 is a bad strategy?

        How many free agents have been signed to huge deals that did not result in them staying with that team for championship? Are they suggesting FA signings are a more proven way to get elite talent. Ha.

    • Defensive Rap

      From all the statistical data over the last 7 years I know one thing that we can guarantee.

      Rudy Gay is not a franchise player and not worth close to his huge contract.

      And how many franchise players have come from outside of the top 5 draft picks? Hint, Kobe is one if you like Kobe. Rose, Durant, Lebron, Wade, Bosh (hehe), Garnett, Duncan, and most were taken in the top 5.

      Tony Parker wasn’t as well, but there are few exceptions.

      We can also guarantee that having two wings on the floor at the same time that don’t shoot the ball close to an average NBA player at their respective positions is a guarantee for failure.

  • SR

    The optimism for next season is unwarranted. The other “bad” teams – Detroit, Cleveland, Washington, Milwaukee – have ALL loaded up with new talent this offseason through FA, trades, and the draft. The Raptors have done nothing but trade Bargnani. I think we’re kidding ourselves here – this roster is going to be in a dogfight to make the 8th seed, in spite of the fact that a few teams like the Celtics and Sixers are tanking.

    Aside from aiming to get a good pick out of the 2014 draft (where landing a franchise player will take tons of luck, but landing a player better than T. Ross would be more than reasonable), the 2014 FA class is AMAZING. The amount of contracts coming off the books as RFA or UFA in 2014 also means there’s going to be tons of roster upheaval next summer (and this summer has already been insane). The Raptors would really, really benefit from having roster flexibility next season. Right now they have none.

    Re: improve through trades – How, exactly? Generally speaking, you can trade bad contracts (Rudy Gay) for more bad contracts, or picks/prospects. I’m not sure why the expectation that somewhere along the line Ujiri will be able to turn bad contracts into more helpful players is considered a safer bet than the draft and roster flexibility. Look at what Memphis got out of Rudy Gay – Tayshaun Prince and Ed Davis.

    • thegloveinrapsuniform

      I definetely agree with you on the “raptors not doing anything” part. and its actually getting frustrating to see that other teams are loading up while Masai sits in the shadows. But who knows maybe he is up to something.

      the “bad” teams thay you just mentioned, correct me if im wrong, but havent they drafted “franchise players”? and here you are, 3 years later, labeling them as “bad” teams. Detroit, is now going after Josh Smith, who at one point in his career was potentially a franchise player. Cavs, clearing up to get Lebron. My point is there is no need to tank to get good players. If you happen to draft them, lucky you. But to get guaranteed, proven franchise players, you trade or sign.

      No contract is untradeable. Lewis got traded. Arenas got traded. Its up to the GM to manufacture deals that can work for the team, be it short term or long term. Give your Raptors team a bit of credit here. You have good assets and good players if you decide to keep them.

      What i also find funny about Tim’s analogy and most of the people here as well, is that a lot of people keep saying that, for lack of a better term, most of the Raps pieces suck. Rudy Gay is no franchise player, Lowry cant run a team, Derozan has a bad shooting percentage. And yet, to tank, these three should be traded away. Well if they suck so bad why not just let them stay and run this team to the ground? To acquire picks? Flexibility? But you guys are also saying nobody other teams will take them for “good” pieces. why would we want even worse pieces in return then? I’m confused.

      • 2damkule

        geez guys…the bargs trade isn’t even officially complete yet, and we’re already complaining that ujiri is sitting in the shadows? how ’bout we try out a little patience? maybe – MAYBE – making trades in the real world isn’t exactly like fucking around on the trade machine?

      • Defensive Rap

        Trade or sign? Really. How do we trade for a franchise player?
        How do we sign one? Given the current roster, what top level FA looked up the Raps this off season?

        Given the roster what pieces could we put together to get a top player traded here?

        But we can trade Gay, Lowry and Demar for picks and prospects. If we worked our way to get Wiggins on a rookie deal, then we could approach FAs with something tangible and hopeful. Come play with the ROY and next superstar in the NBA and we have one of the most promising Centres as well. Both are on rookie contracts and both are exceptional people with great character.

        Right now the pitch is, come in and play with Rudy and Demar. Don’t expect a lot of touches and don’t complain that the least efficient shooters on the team take the most shots. Brutal.

  • dogfight

    You guys would be killing Colangelo if he were here suggesting this was a 5-8 seed roster.

  • tonious35

    Two likely scenarios: 1) Playoff Exit as a 7th seed, still find a way to buy 2014 late round picks or 2) If season fails, pad the stats of Demar and Rudy and trade them for higher 2014 1st round and 2nd round picks.

  • tonious35

    If Jonas becomes Noah or 2012-2013 Omer Asik in 4 years, I’m still cool with that.

    • thegloveinrapsuniform

      I really dont know why people do not consider Jonas as a franchise player. his average in 23min is pretty much the same as to what Omer and Noah averages in 36mins. If JV gets consistently 35-40mins a night, he can well avg 15-20pts, 11-12 rebs and 2-3blks. arent these franchise player numbers?

      • tonious35

        I see Jonas as a key cog player with loyalty on this team. He will not score the winning basket in the final seconds, but he will always be there to defend the paint, grab the extra board to increase our possession times, and be ready to nail the free throws at a 75%-80% clip

        • 2damkule

          well, he may not score the winning basket (because teams rarely run plays in the post at crunch time anymore), but he’ll be the guy fighting for the offensive board off a horrible rudy gay/demar derozan iso heave, and maybe winning it at the line.

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

        A franchise player is more than just about surface numbers. Al Jefferson averaged 22-11 his first two years in Minnesota. Hell, look at Bosh’s numbers with Toronto. Neither of those guys were/are good enough to be the best player on a contender.

        Valanciunas could become a very good player, but I see him as, eventually, the second best player on a contender. Maybe third.

        • dogfight

          A solid two-way centre is a big help to any great team, but rarely the #1 guy. Then you’re talking about a Duncan, Hakeem, Kareem, Russel, category of players if you want to look at #1 bigs on championship teams. Even Shaq needed Kobe and Wade to win championships. JV still needs a Kobe/Wade.

        • thegloveinrapsuniform

          That is true. But when can you actually judge him as a non-franchise player? I mean both Bosh and Jefferson were regarded as franchise players early in their careers, right?

          Would you agree that if Minny and Toronto actually built their teams correctly around Jefferson and Bosh respectively that they would have both been contenders?

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

            I never considered Jefferson a franchise player, and I only regarded Bosh as a possible borderline franchise player. I thought, at the time, the bold move for Colangelo to have done when he took over the Raptors would have been to trade Bosh, who I thought had more in common with Shareef Abdur-Rahim than Tim Duncan.

            • Defensive Rap

              Al Jefferson is a franchise type player on the offensive end.
              He is far from an adequate defender.

              You got to play on both sides of the ball as a centre/pf. He doesn’t and therefore is not as valuable as a franchise type player. Not even close. Amir is just as valuable to win games IMO.

        • 2damkule

          yeah, i agree. but god damn, i’ll take it. i don’t think he’s the 2nd coming or a potential MVP, but he’s got a chance to be a 2nd or 3rd team all-nba in his prime. at worst, he’s a guy who you’ll be able to have on the floor at crucial moments…they won’t (or shouldn’t) need to hide him on D ever (even now, as scrawny as he is, he’s done at least a decent job holding his own). he’s a consistent performer who should improve little by little with more reps. he’s not likely going to be a ‘go-to’ guy (but how many 5’s truly are?), but given how this league is going small, having a guy like JV as PnR partner, glass eater, FT-line-getter, as well as someone who runs the floor well & just flat-out HUSTLES…well, a team could do a lot worse than have him as their 2nd (or 3rd) best option.

          of course, they still need a 1st/2nd option. that’s kind of the tricky part…

      • DanH

        Jonas might never be a dominating franchise C like Shaq, but he seems a lock to be a useful, solid C with good help defense and efficient offense. Sort of core piece that is essential to a team winning. Might need star power to come from elsewhere, but that doesn’t make him any less valuable to the team.

  • Nilanka15

    I wish Ujiri had a few more moves under his belt to give us a clearer picture of how he intends to proceed next season. The uncertainty of his plan is driving me bonkers.

    Regardless, I can’t wait for the season to start….that is until we win 4 of our first 23 games….

    • arsenalist

      Look on the bright side. Even if we start off 4-19, at least Ujiri won’t trade Valanciunas, a future pick and Lowry for Al Jefferson.

      • SR

        Ha, actually 4-19 would be a nice Plan B even if Ujiri goes ahead with this roster. The worst-case-scenario would be to end up just under .500 and barely miss the playoffs.

        Aside from that, I’m also super curious to see what he does over the coming seasons…

      • Defensive Rap

        If we start 4-19 than Masai is a genius and will take the ball and run with it.

  • aaron.in.toronto

    Sign me up for the Tim scenario.
    I like Jo Val, I’m curious to hear what people think he will turn out like? I think he can be a combo of Noah and Gasol but I’m not sure if he will be an all-star type player unless he consistently puts up good scoring and/ or is dpoy, I believe he can do those things and will be a valuable piece when we become a high level defensive team.
    I just don’t see a trade for a Harden level player coming our way.
    Does any one have any ideas about who we could land trade wise that might fit the Harden mould and make it possible to follow any of the scenarios presented other than going into the next couple drafts with high picks and getting a star?

    • One relaxed guy

      About JV: This is the guy that played professional basketball in my home town before he went to NBA. So I’ve seen him play in youth championships, European tournaments, International tournaments and NBA. The funny thing is that, apart the youth tournaments, JV so far looks best in NBA. It seems that this league is where JV fits right in. However, I don’t think he will turn out to be an elite player, most likely an all most all-star or all-star type of player. Defensively he will probably end up as an above average player. He’s going to be a good shot blocker, pretty good help defender, pretty good rebounder (not elite), but the question remains will he be able to become a solid player on individual defense. So far he’s too impatient and inexperienced, there for he bites on pump fakes and reacts way too slow on the rotations. But this is a rookie we’re talking about. This is a guy from a country that nobody knows about, with a name that is really difficult to pronounce to foreigners, who, when I saw his interview before the 1st regular season game against Pacers, reminded me of Vakidis from the film Semi-pro. Don’t get me wrong – as a basketball (not only NBA) fan I love this kid. And I wish him all the very best. Now offensively he can be very good. He has a pretty good basketball IQ, technique, skills and soft touch and that’s why he can develop into a very good and consistent mid-range and free throw shooter (he’s already good) and he will most likely improve his skills at the low post. He’s also pretty quick for C position. That means that in 1-2 seasons he can already become a second scoring option in this team and far more effective and productive than DD is. Weak spots: I don’t think he can be someone like Marc Gasol. Because M. Gasol is a perfect passer with a great court vision and he’s an elite defender. And to be honest JV has a really crappy court vision. Actually he starts to panic pretty fast when opposition doubles defense against him – this is one off the issues that he will have to face in the upcoming season (the element of surprise is gone). So, I don’t see him as a C who will be able to pass the ball well. But who nows, back then, when M. Gasol was still playing in Europe he didn’t look like a good passer either. And now it’s beautiful to watch him. I wouldn’t say that not being that extremely athletic like D. Jordan or J. Mcgee, or Drummond is a very big weakness. Because these guys can only rely on their strength and extreme athletic abilities but they lack good basketball IQ and they basically have no shot. There for guys like these rarely contribute well in the playoffs (and this is only my thought, remember M. Gasol – smart C against D. Jordan – very athletic C in 1 st round of the playoffs? that’s what i mean). At the end (and I’m really sorry for writing so much) JV is a very loyal, resolute, hard working and devoted guy, so even if he turns out to be very good I’m more then sure that he won’t quit on Raptors. No matter what. Because I believe that he sees Raptors as his home and home is what you don’t abandon.

  • aaron.in.toronto

    I agree that the draft is a crapshoot but;

    -I see going for trades/free agents as possibly even lower odds

    -also I think that this particular draft and our specific team and situation makes the draft scenario the right one for us now, whereas the build nurture would be my preference most other years

    Not to mention both approaches are necessary like someone else said Jonas needs to develop as well if we want to be really good (DD, Ross, and Lowry are also possible pieces if we do get a star in the draft)

    It’s not one way or the other, it’s how you combine the approaches and which players are kept imo

  • One relaxed guy

    I support the idea of tanking. For a long time I was very much against it and maybe the fact that I’ve changed my mind shows that I’m easy to convince but now Raptors have an actual and very favorable chance to choose the direction they want to go. They have overpaid players who, despite their salaries, have good trade value (Gay because there are teams looking for a star player and DD because he has nice ppg numbers and he’s still young). I know that people who are against idea of tanking say that there are no guarantees that it might actually work. The problem is that current Raptors team can be named only as a playoff contender. Sure Raptors have pretty high chances to be 7-8 seed team in 13/14 season but what about the long term future? Even if Raptors get into playoffs they will drop out right after the 1st round. So the question is: do you want to just get in the playoffs once in five years or do you want to compete and maybe become an actual title contender and have a team which can be a long term playoff team? I understand that Raptors fans are very impatient after long years of… well I don’t even know how to say this politely… being not exactly good but I think it’s worth the risk. Considering current Raptors position (talent level in the roster, bad contracts, good young prospects) the road to success through trades is not very likely. Unless Ujiri is an actual miracle worker.

  • ahoang

    “Andrew Thompson: Trades. Ujiri rebuilt the Nuggets on the fly in two years without a lottery pick or a big free agent signing. He is also the Omar Little from HBO’s The Wire to the New York Knicks Barksdale crews. I honestly believe that he could rob them of Madison Square Gardens at this point. ”

    MU COMIN YO

    *MU WHISTLING*

  • Ion66

    Much of this comes down to bad timing. If this “deep” draft was a year later, we’d be better able to know what we have, and how far off we really are from being a 2nd-3rd round playoff team. We’re too young and talented to blow up (to me anyhow) at this point, because we have a lot of players who have potential for growth, and a team that’s close to developing real team chemistry. My best case scenario, if all the stars aligned, and the Tanking Gods smiled on us, is to be the Cavs, with LeBron. A team with a real chance of a title, but probably not enough depth to actually do it, for all the same reasons. Give me a solid team that can compete, deep into the playoffs consistently, over the mere chance of being that Cavs team any day.

  • thatpeterguy

    Let’s follow the tanking logic vs. winning now logic.

    OPTION A: We trade away DD (23) and Gay (26) who are both young and entering their prime for a young stud prospect this year and presumably another one next year who will both hopefully in the next three years develop into players who have a decent chance of being better than DD and Gay are right now. We are also going to assume the both of their games are going to work together better than DD’s and Gay’s do. The cost of this will be 3 more years of horrible losing basketball that further cements this team as a perennial loser but the plus is that it will take us from having two borderline All-Stars who don’t play well together to two bonafide All-Stars who hopefully play well together.

    OPTION B: We try to establish a winning environment with the new regime. We shoot for the playoffs with a team that should very realistically contend for the last few playoff spots. We will likely be bounced in the first round but the already young team will have developed year together and be in a position where we are a young playoff team with big pockets which is about as attractive a situation as you can ask for if you are a free agent. Suddenly we can realistically sign a semi big name free agent to add to the puzzle.

    As a Raptors fan since Isaiah broke threw the Raptor logo wearing that god awful leather Raptors jacket I am a lot more into option B. We are already young and have some talent. If we get a chance to trade away DD or Gay for another young talented piece then alright but to throw away a few seasons so that maaaaaaaaaaybe the young guys we draft will be a notch or two better than the current young lottery picks we have is not a good gamble. If getting rid of DD or Gay is part of the rebuild that we are already on then I’m all for it but to willfully just trade them in on the hope that the next round of lottery picks will be better is illogical. I think a lot of Raptor fans are so frustrated that doing anything different than before seems attractive.

  • Guy

    Nice to see you mentioned my Houston reference Timmie. But why am I not surprised you worded it in such a way to make it sound foolish & your opinion sound as superior. Pure arrogance. Your calling card.

    What Houston did was acquire 2 legit all-stars in exactly the manner you scream at the top of your lungs to avoid. They rebuilt without bottoming out, fans appreciate a team that remains above .500, & putting their franchise’s hope on some ping-pong balls. The way they did it was a textbook example of what you refer to as the mediocrity treadmill. In other words, they poked a large, gaping hole in your theory as to what the Raptor’s only hope is. But I’m sure you’ll continue to rage against it with the same irrelevant, hollow & meaningless arguments you were using.

    • 2damkule

      kinda/sorta nailed it, on two fronts – tim is a little…sensitive, and does come across as arrogant &/or condescending. my favourite move of his is when he responds to a comment, basically reiterates the exact same points with slightly different wording, altering it just enough to make it appear as though it’s some fresh new thought.

  • Loobs

    Is there anything to read into Coby Karl getting on the summer league team?

  • Louvens Remy

    You know what is gonna happen to Philly? They are gonna suck for the next 5 years. In the 5th year they will barely make the playoffs, lose in the 1st Round and will struggle to even reach the top 4 for the next 5 years after that. They will be stuck in the 5-8th seed conundrum and will become the Atlanta Hawks and never come close to a championship. Then they will start all over again.

    If you want to rebuild you gotta see what you got. The Raptors need to have these guys play and grow together. If a brilliant trades comes along where they can get a youngish upside talent, a vet and a few picks that keep them in the mix for the playoffs but help them continue to grow as a team then they should do that. Tanking? Please. If you like tanking so much then pick an DLeague team and root for that because that is essentially what you want to watch.

  • Louvens Remy

    Also FYI, Raps have been “tanking” since 2004.

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