After Tuesday night’s college basketball games, the basketball world’s focus on tanking seems to have somehow increased. Fans have now seen, firsthand, the highly-touted prospects some teams are intentionally losing to get their hands on.

They’re really good.

Of course, we don’t have nearly enough information yet to judge them accurately, choose between them or project what they’ll become as professional players. The former two items are fluid in even the most expert of minds, while the latter is largely impossible to nail down consistently.

However, those games were played, the articles were written, and anchors on players, fits and pro- or anti-tanking stances dug in.

You’re now very likely a member of one of the following:

Riggin’ for Wiggins
Tank Safari/Hari Kari for Jabari
Scandal for Randle
Smrt for Smart
Or possibly even ‘Become a Corpse to get Exum’d’

And fine, go for it. You’re not alone. Many people have been beating the tanking drum in recent days, including prominent national writers Bruce Arthur and Cathal Kelly (and Eric Koreen has made note of the option several times, too). The virtues of tanking have no doubt been preached to you, the willing and eager Tank Nation Congregation.

Now, having said that, I’m on record as having been against tanking before the season, a stance I’ve softened on a bit in recent months. I still have some concerns, and I feel like those are concerns all pro-tanking people should be aware of.

So, here are a few reminders about the realities of tanking:

Put away the Trade Machine.
Seriously, I’ve already seen some ridiculous trade proposals involving the Raptors. This is true of all fan bases, and it makes me believe that, while fun, the Trade Machine is a net-negative for basketball.

There is a 99 percent chance any trade scenario you concoct for the Raptors is one the other team’s fan base would scoff at. You can make almost anything happen with the Trade Machine, that doesn’t mean it’s reasonable:


“Raptors could also throw in the 2016 first from the Knicks to one team and a second to the other teams.”

Seriously, none are this bad, but you should probably run any wild trade ideas by a non-Raptors fan as a sanity check first.

The Raptors aren’t acquiring another lottery pick.
In other words, no trade can push the team’s odds of getting the number one pick higher than 25 percent (the chances the league’s worst team has at the top pick).

The reasons here are simple:

*A team with a lottery pick likely sees enormous value in that lottery pick.
*The Raptors don’t have many assets worth a first round pick.
*Any team acquiring Raptors are likely to be good and thus, not lottery teams.

The Charlotte Bobcats may have made a splash by signing Al Jefferson, but it’s still pretty unlikely they would deal their first (which they technically can’t trade until after the draft, anyway,) or Detroit’s first (top-eight protected). Likewise, Cleveland probably isn’t trading theirs or Sacramento’s (top-12 protected).

In short, nobody on the Raptors is worth a lottery pick in this loaded draft class (and one that comes with a controlled salary for four years, don’t forget). Other teams are also aware that this is a pretty good draft, and other teams are also aware of what the Raptors assets are worth (give or take).

Thus, any trade of capable players only improves the “tank” by making the team worse, and possibly adding a lower-tier prospect. It’s not nothing, but you’re not getting a second pick in this lottery.


The Raptors were probably the high-bidder for Rudy Gay last year.
That means you can set your upper limit for any Gay trade at what the Raptors gave up (Ed Davis, Jose Calderon and a 2nd) or, alternatively, what Memphis received (Tayshaun Prince, Ed Davis and a 2nd). If teams had a higher willingness to pay for Gay, then Memphis would have taken their offers.

Of course, two things have happened since Gay came to Toronto:

*A year came off his contract, making him a potentially-expiring contract (and at the most, a two-year commitment).
*Gay has been hammered in the media, both at the time of the trade and with his poor start to the season.

Whether those things balance out, or in concert with a changing league landscape they’ve somehow changed his value, a reasonable return expectation for Gay is a non-elite prospect, an expiring contract and a second round pick. Any more, and it’s Masai Ujiri magic, any less and, well, it’s the cost of a failed move, I suppose.

The Raptors probably won’t take on long-term salary.
Why would you, unless it’s for a player of value? Some have mentioned Derrick Williams in some trade iterations (he’s due $6M next year), but Ujiri is likely to be careful with how he allocates future payroll, especially if Gay is dealt.

Consider that if Gay is dealt and only Amir Johnson has his non-guaranteed salary picked up, the Raptors have just $33M in salary committed for 2014-15. That provides a lot of flexibility moving forward.

In short, there has to be a really compelling case for taking on future commitments. It’s not impossible, but it seems unlikely unless it’s a home run deal or it’s just a player’s final year on his rookie contract (like Davis and, yes, Williams).


Tanking guarantees nothing.
This is the main reason I’ve been anti-tanking in the past (though again, I’ve softened a bit).

*The worst team in the league has a 25 percent chance at the top pick and a 64 percent chance at a top-three pick. Those are favorable odds but not a guarantee. This draft is deep, though, so you can be hopeful beyond the top pick.

*The Raptors probably won’t be the worst team. While tanking teams have started off stronger than expected, there’s going to be a lot of competition at the bottom of the standings. Say the Raptors finish fifth-last – that gives them an 8.8 percent chance at the top pick, a 29.2 percent chance at a top-three pick and a 55.3 percent chance of a top-five pick. The eighth worst record (Terrence Ross!), just a 2.8 percent chance at top pick and a 10 percent chance at top-three (and top-five).

*One good draft pick probably doesn’t turn the franchise around on his own. The Raptors had a really high pick in a really stacked draft class before, too, and while good, Chris Bosh didn’t lead to any consistent or appreciable success for the Raptors. In fact, the vaunted 2003 draft class had four huge stars in it, and only one (Dwyane Wade, paired with Shaquille O’Neal) won a ring for the team that picked him.

The so-called “Thunder model” requires multiple years of being bad, smart cap management, a little luck in the draft (both to have players slide and to select the right players) and still guarantees nothing.

Yes, adding a superstar draft pick would make the team much more watchable and probably better, but the argument of “tanking is the only way to eventually win a championship” is overly simplified.

Compare Utah and Indiana, for example.

Utah has a pair of number three picks (Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter), two number nine picks (Gordon Hayward and Trey Burke, whom we can’t judge yet) and another lottery pick in Alec Burks. And they’re now tanking for a star to go with all those good players because a few high picks probably isn’t enough unless you absolutely nail them.

Indiana, meanwhile, is led by Paul George (10th) and Roy Hibbert (17th, acquired via Toronto, hooray!), while supplemented by Lance Stephenson (second round), George Hill (acquired for the 15th pick), David West (free agent) and eventually, Danny Granger (17th). George is the only lottery pick on the entire roster, and Indiana finished with the leagues’ 10th-worst record that year.

And of course, the Heat used one lottery pick (Wade) to attract two more in free agency (Bosh, LeBron James), and have failed lottery picks on the periphery (Michael Beasley, Greg Oden).

Now, that’s not to say Utah can’t be good or Indiana’s player development system is replicable or Toronto could ever attract multiple stars, but it shows that a) a lot of high draft picks don’t guarantee anything, and b) it’s not the only path to success.


It’s going to make for a really long year.
This is another of my main anti-tanking points, in that I don’t want to watch and cover terrible basketball for an entire year again. It felt that way in 2010-11 and 2011-12 and bore no fruit, and I’m not looking forward to writing weekly Tank Rank and “Odds of Certain Lottery Odds” posts.

You might be able to stomach it for a non-certain chance at being better (granted, it’s also a non-zero chance, which is what the team has in its current incarnation), and good for you. I’ll grin and bear it, if it comes to that.

But please, while you abjectly root for the team you cheer for to lose, keep these things in mind.

  • Nilanka15

    “Become a Corpse to get Exum’d”

    That’s gold, Jerry! Gold!

    • sleepz

      No doubt. Tip of the cap for that one. lol

  • DanH

    “The worst team in the league has a 25 percent chance at the top pick and
    a 64 percent chance at a top-three pick. Those are favorable odds but
    not a guarantee. This draft is deep, though, so you can be hopeful
    beyond the top pick.”

    They also have a 100% chance at a top 4 pick. That’s a guarantee.

    “This is another of my main anti-tanking points, in that I don’t want to
    watch and cover terrible basketball for an entire year again.”

    You’re out of luck then. The current team is pretty bad and ugly to watch. Better to be ugly to watch and get something out of it than what we’ve had the past decade – ugly to watch and mediocre as all get out.

    • BlakeMurphy

      Right, which is why I included “This draft is deep, though, so you can be hopeful beyond the top pick.” directly after, but cherry pick away.

      As for the second point, OK, fine I’m out of luck. Still not looking forward to The Ben Uzoh Game Pt. 2.

      • 2damkule

        disagree that it was cherry-pick, it was simply emphasizing an important point that wasn’t made clear.

      • DanH

        If you’re going to quote the likelihood of a top 3 pick, why is it irrelevant to quote the likelihood of a top 4 pick? Just putting your “no guarantees” comment in perspective, especially since, as you noted, there are assumed to be 6 or 7 top talents in this draft.

        • theswirsky

          #1 guarantees – top 4
          #2 guarantees – top 5
          #3 guarantees – top 6
          and so on.
          A team can move into the top 3 with ever decreasing odds, can never move up besides into the top 3, and can never drop more than 3 spots
          The system is still heavily weighted towards being at the bottom, and while there are no guarantees, I’d rather bet on a 75% chance to get what I want, than bet on a 5% chance simply because the 75% odds “aren’t guaranteed”

        • theswirsky

          not directed at you, just the thread

    • John

      True, but there is ‘no way’ the Raptors will be the worst team this year. The last time we tanked, we got the 8th pick(Ross). He’s not a bad player, just not worth a full year of tanking.

      • Tim W.

        Colangelo was doing the dreaded middle game. He didn’t want to gut the team, which is what he should have done if he wanted to tank, but he didn’t do anything to improve the team. Had he been smart, he would have traded guys that help the team win, like Calderon, for draft picks or prospects, As it was, he kept all his productive veterans and then seemed surprised when the team won more games than he was expecting.

        Besides, last time I checked, the upcoming draft is not the 2012 draft, so there’s no chance of Terrence Ross being available again.

        • ckh26

          No one behind Ross has been really lighting it up and causing RapNation to consider killing themselves. Harkless and Nicholson look promising but the jury is still out as it is on Ross.

          There is also a probability that tanking by trading assets early to assure you flop gets you into “skank nation” territory. Skank nation in 2012 iwould be comprised of Rivers/Leonard/Kendal Marshall and more. All in the lottery. All . .well… not so much.

          The Raps mistake was winning games late in the season when other teams trotted out the equivalent of mens beer league squads and they wound up picking 8th instead of 5th or 6th. A judicious loss here and there in the last couple of weeks was in order. Calderon could have come down with Pink Eye instead of being traded and Barney was shut down anyway. Guys playing for contracts won games we should have lost and we wound up 8th. Bad management there. Besides i still subscribe to the addage that any entry draft is part science, part due diligence and a big healthy dollop of SHL.

          • 2damkule

            agree on the fact they shot themselves in the foot by not going full-on tank; they missed out on barnes by the slightest bit.

            that being said…drummond was there for the the taking. time will tell, but consensus was then (and is now) that drummond was/is the higher upside guy. i’d say BC picked for fit (vs. best available), except he picked a SG to play behind a SG he’d JUST inked to an extension. so, yeah. Bryan ColangeLOL, everyone!

      • sleepz

        They were tanking that year? Wasn’t that another year where they ran off a significant string of wins that ended up hurting their draft position?

        • FLUXLAND

          Retooling, I believe.

      • DanH

        We didn’t tank that year. We won a bunch of meaningless games at the end of the year by playing our vets instead of our young players. 4 less wins, we would have been guaranteed a top 5 pick, and the 2nd best chance at the top pick. Tanking right would have paid off huge – it’s these half-measures that scuttle the team’s chances at success.

        • Why

          The worst was the last game of that season against The Nets – by winning that game and losing the coin flip to Golden State we lost 3 or 4 positions in the draft order.

    • OakTree

      The best case scenario when tanking gets mentioned often enough (first overall pick).

      The worst case scenario, however, almost never gets mentioned. It’s also possible for a team to be out of the playoffs for 5-10 years.

      And that’s just the start.

      Even if a stud is picked in the draft, if a team can’t surround their young franchise player with talented team mates, then that team will no longer have a franchise player after his rookie contract expires.

      OKC has done well with Westbrook and Durant so far, and Miami with Wade – but who originally drafted LeBron James, Chris Paul, Carmelo Anthony, and Dwight Howard? How many championships did those players win with the teams that drafted them?

      The real danger is in becoming a feeder team that develops talent only to watch them leave in free agency for more attractive destinations. Then you can forget about a cycle of mediocrity, it’s a cycle of tanking, developing, then watching the talented players leave and going right back into tank mode.

      Does that sound like a familiar team’s history?

      I think Tim Leiweke has the right idea about creating a winning culture and becoming a free agent destination. I’ll take a string of frustrating first round exits if the Raptors become known as a team that’s playing to win instead of a team that’s developing young talent.

      • GoingBig

        I think Toronto management is haunted by 5 YEARS without a play-off. A lot of the fan-base thought that when the new Toronto management talked play-offs, it was just empty talk. No, it’s something that they’ll risk. There’ll be no November tanking sell-off.

      • Jusitn

        This is the wisest opinion I have heard on the issue in a long time! Thank you. People seem to think a tanked season will lead to a championship.

      • DanH

        Yes, GM’s can screw up having a star player. This is not a surprise. The Raptors just went out and grabbed the EOTY, one of the best GM’s in the game, so they will have a chance to build correctly around their talent. Doesn’t preclude the need to get that superstar to start.

        This team has been bad for a while – trying to change the reputation of the team by losing in the playoffs will take a long time (and playing consistently in the playoffs, without winning, does NOTHING to help the team’s image, when it comes to attracting star talent). The tank route is a) the quickest and b) the surest way to get a superstar on this team. Also frees up salary and development time for our current young players.

    • tonious35

      Just seeing how bad Utah is playing, the NBA cannot fathom if Wiggins lands in UTAH, it’s just too awkward for me to see (Wiggins cross-overs and dunks with might, dum, dum, dum, dum, dum). I think the NBA will rig the lottery against UTAH, even if UTAH gets the most ping-pong balls.

  • Nilanka15

    Blake, you make some good points, and then you make quite an irrelevant point. You don’t want to cover a crappy team. While I 100% understand where you’re coming from, Masai and Lieweke likely don’t care, lol. They’re looking to win championships some day. The pro-tankers have that same, do-whatever-it-takes attitude.

    • BlakeMurphy

      Might be irrelevant, but it’s not like I presented it as a “reason the Raps shouldn’t tank”…I just said I, personally, am not looking forward to it.

      • sleepz

        You’re already covering a crappy team. What’s a few more losses and watching some of the younger players (JV, Ross) get some meaningful playing time?

        I can’t speak for anyone else but this team does not play an interesting or entertaining type of ball. And when I say ‘entertaining’ I don’t mean the fun and gun type of non-winning ball BC always wants his teams to play. I mean sound team basketball, sharing the ball and defending with some type of passion with a desire to want to make stops. This ‘curl off screen-1 on 1-iso- 3 dribbles- jump shot’ offence Casey employs is painful to watch.

        There are teams around the league right now that are supposedly tanking but still playing ‘entertaining’ basketball. I’m fine with losses if you’re playing the right way.

        Lieweke has stated that they see this roster as a mediocre squad. If that’s the case and they want to build a good team, I would imagine at some point (hopefully REAL soon) they would want to break up Colangelo’s creation as it’s capped out and going no where.

  • c_bcm

    drops the mic and walks away.

  • StabbyRaccoon

    What kind of effect would tanking have on the development of Jonas, T Ross and Quincy Acy? They’re all second year players on contract for a while and they could all become valuable players; does being on a losing team with low morale prevent them from learning how to be NBA winners or does it give them a chance to shine and develop their games?

    • BlakeMurphy

      A little of both, I’d guess…Ujiri himself has said something along the lines of “I don’t know how you teach winning by losing.” That said, players have survived bad teams before, a lot depends on the player and infrastructure.

    • mountio

      You think those guys are developing well now watching rudy and DD chuck up shots for a (hopefully) .500 team? TR would develop a hell of a lot better IMO if he got consistent 30-35 mins / game + (and so would JV). this whole learning to be NBA winners stuff is a total misnomer. Yes, it matters when you are talking about the leap from playoff team to champion .. but not now when you are this bad

    • OldSkoolCool

      I don’t know…though I can tell you that watching DD and Gay play hero ball isn’t helping their development at all. Actually the faster we can get them away from the young guys the better off they will be

      • StabbyRaccoon

        Good point, thanks for that perspective.

  • OldSkoolCool

    So you covered 3 ways to improve

    1) get extremely lucky by draft mid-late round draft sleepers (indiana model)
    2) trades where we turn our players into a contender (boston model)
    3) tank and get lucky (OKC)

    1 and 2 aren’t as likely to happen as number 3. So lets tank properly and be down right awful, 64% to be in the top three to land one of Wiggins, Parker or Randle is a hell of a lot better chance than doing the Boston or Indiana model. Ill stick with tanking.

    And instead of covering the Raps, try covering the other 29 teams as they play the Raps, it would create interesting perspective pieces

    • Guest

      Because being the worst team in the league is so easy. Sorry, pal, but have you seen Utah? If you think we have a 64% chance of landing one of Wiggins, Parker or Randle as long as we choose to tank, then you need to re-read Blake’s post again.

      • Tim W.

        There’s also Exum, Gordon, Harrison and even Smart or Embiid.

  • kaiokev

    I just don’t understand why you would “tank” just so that you can get a college/european player who is 19-21 years old and has 0 NBA experience and you have no idea whether that player will become an all-star or a franchise player. Seems like a bigger gamble to me rather than drafting and developing quality players with potential or upside.

    • Tim W.

      If you can figure out a better way for the Raptors to acquire an elite player, then I’m sure we’d all love to do that. But since elite players are EXTREMELY difficult to sign or trade for, and will likely only choose teams that already HAVE an elite player on it, or a prime NBA destination, it means Toronto is out of luck on that front.

  • The Mega Sage

    1) I can’t imagine any team giving up any type of favourable asset for Gay, DeRozen, or, to a less extreme extent, Lowry. People take about the magic of Ujiri when he traded Anthony, but Gay is no Anthony. There is no amazing trade to be made.

    2) I hate the “hero ball” style of Gay. Hate hate hate it. I firmly believe trading Gay (in particular) would make the team better. Addition by subtraction and all that. Look at Philly. They are a decent TEAM right now despite not having a single great player. Get rid of Gay and become a team.

    In my opinion.

    • Bendit

      Ujiri is not going to make the mistake made with Bosh when BC did not trade him after he refused an extension. Gay has the option to opt out end of this season. If MU does not trade him by this trade deadline he could walk for nothing as a UFA. Lowry is also a UFA so he is another candidate for movement this year. The return of course matters and the thinking is that some of the teams committed to making the playoffs and sitting on assets (picks/expiring) could be massaged by Masai. We shall see.

      • Tim W.

        And, while he had left by that time, Iguodala also left Denver when he became a free agent for nothing. That should also be on his mind.

        • Bendit

          I understand though that Iggy & MU had a good relationship and probably an understanding re his free agency when he traded for him. MU leaving changed the scenario I suppose….since Denver could offer most years on the f/a deal….so it wasnt the money that made him leave. I am unsure if Georg Karl’s troubles with the franchise may not have been an issue as well. Point taken however.

    • Milesboyer

      Couldn’t agree more with the dislike for Gay’s “hero ball-hogging, I’m the best player on the court so I should keep shooting no matter how bad my percentage is”. That being said, seeing him pass the ball a few times against Memphis along with song serious defensive intensity reminded me of how fun it can be to watch a competitive team. I would rather watch fun, mediocre basketball than boring, tanking for an unknown future basketball. The idea of doing everything with an eye towards a championship is for dreamers. Those stars only align once in a blue moon. Not saying tanking should be out of the question but it shouldn’t be, as the well written article suggests, a default stance.

      • Tim W.

        So the team shouldn’t try and build a Championship contender because the chances of winning a Championship are so small? I’m guessing you’re not a motivational speaker. “Don’t try because it’s too hard. Just strive for mediocrity because that’s good enough.”

        We have very different opinions on these matters.

        • HogyG

          Why are you bringing up championships, I thought you told me tanking isn’t about a championship? LOL!! ( )

          And what’s your idea of motivating the team? To tell them to “go out there and get last if you can boys!” now there’s some motivation! haha. Pro-Tank Nation want out team to go out there and tank, Anti-Tank Nation wants our team to be the round out the tank! You tell me which side is lacking the motivating intentions?

          • Tim W.

            Milesboyer stated, “The idea of doing everything with an eye towards a championship is for dreamers”, to which I replied that we have very different opinions on the matter.

            In our long discussion about tanking, I said that tanking wasn’t about building a Championship team because building a Championship contender comes AFTER you acquire the elite player.

            You’re taking this discussion far too personally for me to really continue with it. You can definitely disagree with the idea of tanking if you’d like. But if you don’t understand why so many Raptor fans would rather tank for a shot at a brighter future than watch another shot at mediocrity, then nothing anyone says is going to do anything.

            As for the “motivation” thing, I couldn’t really care less about motivating the team because the team is horrendously flawed and needs to be gutted. Besides, if the players really need to be motivated, then they’re obviously the wrong guys to try and build around.

        • Milesboyer

          No, I’m not saying you shouldn’t try to build a championship contender. You should always try to build the best team possible but some people’s method of choice would be to constantly discard until only the perfect team materializes. That could take decades. Would I be happy watching a 50 win team that loses in the 2nd round. Hell ya! Remember, this whole fan thing has to have some enjoyment along the way. Always waiting for a tomorrow that may never come gets a little tiring.

          Look at the history of NBA championships and tell me there’s a chance of the Raptors getting there in the next ten years. Again, not saying you don’t try but the idea of championship or bust seems unrealistic and just way too boring for me and probably many fans, to remain interested.

  • Lets Play

    Why Tank? Why not just wait a few years,build yourself a really good team, let another team develop the player and get him when he is good. Honestly, why does Toronto waste its time in developing players, when we know they end up leaving us anyways when they are good enough. Come on everyone, lets change our mentality, become a contender and draw the players into Toronto when they are already developed and mature NBA players.

    • raptor pete

      I agree with this. We are entering an era where we actually might be the desired destination of some free agents, namely the ones from Canada (Thompson, Nicholson, Bennett, Wiggins, Ennis, more to come). It might take a few years, but let’s give them a reason to sign other than the fact that it’s Toronto. One-and-done players often take the full length of the rookie contract to develop, after which they might leave.

      • Tim W.

        Of the Canadian players, the only one that looks as thought he could have elite potential is Wiggins, and he’s most likely 8 years away from leaving any team he is drafted by, IF he even does that , one year of college, (4 years of rookie contract, then a 3 year extension, all of which are standard for players as good as Wiggins is expected to be). And what if he doesn’t leave? What do the Raptors do, then, after waiting for 8 years and getting nothing?

        The home town angle has rarely been enough to make a player sign with a team. Howard never considered Atlanta. Paul George signed an extension with Indiana instead of trying to go to Los Angeles. Dwyane Wade re-signed with Miami instead of signing with Chicago. Charlotte wasn’t on Chris Paul’s list. Etc, Etc.

    • johng_3

      The problem is what do we have to build with? Right now, Jonas is the only piece that I see on the court that can get better. Rudy and DeMar have looked the same if not worse than last year somehow. Terrance’s play is up and down all the time. How you going to draw players when your current team sucks already? You have to tank to potentially be able to get to a star so that you can draw players to Toronto.

    • Tim W.

      How do you build a really good team without the talent? And how do you actually GET the talent that you’ll need to lure developed and mature elite players to the Raptors?

      Besides, it’s way more satisfying as a fan to watch a player your team drafted develop into a star and lead the team to contention, than just sign a hired gun who won’t have much of a connection to the franchise.

      • HogyG

        You come off as the eternal pessimist with your view that Toronto can’t draw in elite talent by signing them. This is always your same argument as to why we can’t do it, because supposedly it isn’t an attractive destination for them. Yet we have a NEW ownership that’s willing to go over the cap, who will benefit greatly from television deals/sales if they go into the playoffs and have a NEW, smarter management that is supposedly trade savvy. Why print old stereotypes against new management?

        The All-Star game in 2016 will be a great focus for a star talent to host the weekend. We have a big man with a lot of promise in JV as well as many other team building assets (many young quality role players, a team with the beginnings of a real defensive edge on the floor) several excellent scoring options, all capable to compliment a newly acquired elite talent, not to forget a fan base that has in the past been known as one of the very loudest in the league.

        We may not have ESPN and our sportscasters on TSN may eat, breath and sleep hockey, But that’s what NBA TV and satellite dishes are for. Tell Ujiri to get his hands on some Direct TV packages and find us an elite talent during the off season, where there will be as many if not more PROVEN elite talent free agents available, as there are going to be potential free agents in the draft. I believe we are one of the few teams who have publicly said we are willing to break into the cap for the right scenario. With one of the top 10 pay rolls (if not top 5) in the league, and an actual city with a nightlife to live in this is a fantastic destination for any NBA player looking for money and a chance to contend, so quit being so damn down on Toronto as a destination already dude!

        • ihatehaters

          Blah blah blah … what “elite talent” have the Raptors ever signed?

          • HogyG

            Was that in the past or under this ownership? Was that with this management or with the previous? How many doubters thought anyone could get anything more than a basketball that couldn’t bounce for Bargnani? Yet the trade for Bargnani was considered a success by all, right? What star talent had the bobcats ever signed before they got Al Jefferson this season? Just because something hasn’t happened yet does not make it unable to ever happen. The Sun has never blown up while we have rotated around it, it does not mean that it will never blow up (let’s hope we don’t have to wait that long to acquire an elite talent though, okay?)

            Sadly, perhaps the best player we’ve signed in Raptors Dell Curry or Rafer Alston that is if you don’t count Jose Calderon (part of the elusive 50-40-90 club!). Hedo was by far the most expensive and was sought after during that off season as one of the big pieces available. We all know how that turned out but it was a big signing. What was Tim W.’s defense the other day, even if the elite talent doesn’t pan out the tanking was successful because we acquired the piece anyways. If so, the same would apply for signing Turkaglu, he definitely didn’t pan out, but he was considered at the time to be the piece that would put us over the top.

            • 2damkule

              great example, pointing out al jefferson. he’s exactly the kind of player that would put the raps over the top. yessiree. OVER. THE. TOP.

        • Tim W.

          So what you’d like me to do is ignore history, as well as conventional thinking around the NBA, and believe that the Raptors, against all odds, will be able to sign an elite free agent? And people think tanking is a pipe dream?

          • HogyG

            It seems from reading your logic in previous threads that you know a thing or two about the pipe.

            • Tim W.

              My logic is sound. Sorry you can’t follow it. That’s not my fault. As I said before, I don’t see the point of discussing this any further with you, because you seem far too emotional about the subject. While I see this as a difference of opinion, you seem to think it’s more than that, for some reason. And that’s too bad.

              • HogyG

                This is your logic:

                1) Fans of your ilk are fed up with the mediocrity of this franchise
                (at best, being able to compete for a playoff position, not a

                2) Implementing the tanking strategy is NOT for winning a championship, it is ONLY to acquire an elite player in the draft.

                3) Only after you successfully acquire an elite player should you try and build a team to compete for a championship.

                4) If step 3 is not successful, the tanking is still to be considered a success because acquiring an elite player was achieved.

                My thoughts #1) If step 3 is not achieved then does that not put us
                back into the position of mediocrity? (competing for a playoff spot at
                best, not a championship) and isn’t that what “tank nation” is trying to
                tank to get away from?

                My thoughts #2) If step 2 is not achieved (acquiring an elite talent)
                wouldn’t that put us in a spot far worse then we are now? (As your
                current strategy for tanking this season is to trade all our current
                assets away for draft picks and hope to land an elite talent.)

                • DanH

                  My thoughts #1) If any step in any path you choose to try to develop a winning team fails, does that not put us back into the position of mediocrity?

                  My thoughts #2) If you think there’s a position worse than we are now (capped out, all success tied to two players who could walk for nothing after this year, said success limited to a first round thrashing), then you have a dark mind.

    • 2damkule

      wait, so this team, that can’t retain the players it develops (not true, but i’ll play along), is also a team that is able to just go out & get superstars/budding superstars that other teams develop? oh, i get it, we’ll somehow be so good (the key here is ‘somehow’) that players will flock to TO as a primo destination. if that’s the case…wouldn’t our guys, the ones who have made the team into a contender, want to stay anyway? i’m so confused…

    • Nilanka15

      Totally agree. We should simply stop sucking and start being awesome! Who’s with us?

  • theswirsky

    Realities of not tanking:
    – put the trade machine away, we can’t trade for better players with this roster. Not unless the team is willing to sacrifice the long term
    – the Raptors can’t add another lottery pick, the one they currently own is their best bet
    – can’t sign top free agents in the market and don’t have the cap space to do it even they could
    – not tanking is not guaranteed.
    – its going to make for a really long year if they don’t
    Strangely similar.

    • Paul

      Nailed it.
      There are no sure things in pro sports.Tanking involves risk, but also great reward.
      Not tanking is safer, if you crave the certainty of being mediocre at best…

    • onemanweave

      What about a system that doesn’t make them strangely similar. Something like this — bottom three teams go to the ping pong balls to determine order; bottom three playoff teams do same; winner of bottom-feeders-lottery drafts first; winner of playoff-grist-for-top-teams drafts second; alternate after that.
      You would be building up teams in that traditional no-mans-land — the middle. Let’s face it, VERY few draft picks are going to make the worst teams in the league championship contenders by themselves. Also there are perennial bottom feeders who manage to stay there in spite of high picks every year. Why keep rewarding them at the expense of teams who do things well but don’t have the resources to compete with the LA’s and Miamis.
      What about rewarding good, solid, mid-market teams with a chance to draft someone who MIGHT push them into contention for a title within a few years. It could really do something to alter the competitive balance of the league and stop this stupid tanking crap.
      When you have teams doing things to covertly and overtly lose games, you aren’t any better than that crooked ref of a few years back.

      • theswirsky

        If people really want tanking eliminated or reduced the CBA needs to be changed. Get rid of max contracts, losen up the tax restrictions or salary cap, drastically improve revenue sharing – basically do the exact opposite of what the owners have been wanting over the last 20 years. Give non super markets the chance at signing superstars by being able to offer more money, and having the money to do so.
        The reason tanking is so important is because its the only realistic way for 2/3s of the league to get a star. Give that 2/3s a realistic way to get a star outside the draft, and now there is alot less incentive to tank.
        The draft setup isn’t the problem, its the CBA.

        • DanH

          No max salary. Hard cap. 2 year rookie contracts, restricted thereafter, not 4. 14 (non-playoff) team equal chance lotto, full draw. Problem solved.

  • jclaw

    Thanks for trying an objective approach. It’s like tanking is a panacea. Just say “I want to tank” and assume that produces the answer. There’s such a gap between the two. Basing your plan on another team doesn’t work either. The only plans that may be reproducible are A) play in a key market, B) Spend a ton, or more likely C) both of the above. Every other model (Indiana, OKC, San Antonio) is predicated on unlikely events happening. You can’t see a guy win the lottery (money one, not draft one) and say, Hey…that’s how I should base my retirement. Sure, you can increase your odds at any of those (be reallllly bad for a long time to have a few goes at a top pick, or amass many picks to maybe uncover late pick magic). But even those just increase your odds. They’re not necessarily plans. It’s great to say I want to go in another direction but that’s not enough.

  • cdub

    how come you never hear the word tank in the nfl or nhl even though those teams are assured the first pick but in the NBA all everyone wants to talk about is tanking when the odds are crap on top of it. I don’t get it. its really a sad reality for the NBA.

    • DDayLewis

      Because the impact of one single player in the sport of basketball is greater than that in hockey or football.

    • Tim W.

      One great player can change the fortunes of an NBA team. I’m guessing that’s not the case in hockey or football (or baseball). LeBron James’ Usage percentage is around 30%, meaning he is directly involved in approximately 30% of the plays his team makes, and that’s not including plays where he was the initial passer, but didn’t get credit for an assist or it didn’t go in. That is a HUGE impact.

      Cleveland went from 61 wins to 19 team simply because they lost LeBron James.

      Then, you add the fact that of all the teams that won a Championship in the history of the league, every single one featured at least one player who had made at least the All NBA second team, and most had a first team All NBA member.

      THEN, you add the fact that there are so few real elite players in the league who could actually lead their team to a title, that they are in huge demand and difficult to get (usually fewer than 10).

      That’s why.

      • HogyG

        Yeah, and don’t forget David Robinson when he hurt himself. The team went from 59 down to 21…but that was due to tanking, right?

        • ihatehaters


          • Tim W.

            He can’t let go of a discussion we had earlier.

            • HogyG

              You don’t find it odd that you are regurgitating a stats I used against you just the other day, I guess I think they sounded better beside my avatar pic, haha. Perhaps I can’t let it go, fine. But this thread is talking about the same thing, tanking. Now I don’t follow any of the other sports but there are plenty of individual game changers in hockey (Hull, Gretzky, Ovechkin, Crosby) The Same goes for baseball (Jeter, or whatever awesome pitcher out there), and quarterbacks are game changers in Football as Will Lou pointed out. So, to simply guess that they don’t impact their sport the same as players in basketball seems totally uninformed. I believe the reason you don’t hear about it is because their fan bases haven’t sunk to cheering for a “Non-compete” clause with their favorite teams. The fan base in those sports still believe in competition because their journalists don’t pose it as a legitimate alternative to competition. See, that’s an opinion. there’s no qualitative properties in it, like the impact of elite talent on their respective team whether it be in hockey, baseball or football.

    • DanH

      Except you do. If you follow hockey closely, and are part of the blogging sector of the fanbase (like here), then you hear it plenty.

    • Nilanka15

      You hear tanking mentioned in the NHL and NFL all the time. Bills fans have been screaming for a proper tank job for the better part of 10 years.

    • 2damkule

      there is plenty of tanking talk in hockey & football, even though the immediate impact of draft picks tends to be less in those sports than in basketball. you obviously don’t recall ‘suck for luck.’

      fyi, hockey also has a draft. it’s also a much different playoff landscape…it’s not uncommon for lower seeded teams in hockey to advance quite far in the playoffs, if not win it all (see kings from just a couple seasons ago). the adage in hockey is just make the playoffs, because anything can happen. while that’s technically true in basketball, historically, lower seeded teams simply haven’t won. the lowest seeded nba team to win a chip was houston as a 6th seed, but that title has some serious caveats (namely, jordan was still in his retirement/forced exhile).

  • Blake

    As a huge Raptors fan for the past 15-20 years hearing people discuss tanking is so pathetic. You can’t teach winning by losing. For all you guys wanting to tank go watch the Jazz and comment on their threads.

    • Tim W.

      What’s pathetic is how little success the Raptors have had over the last 18 years. And many of us would like to see a change.

      In their entire history, the Raptors have had 6 top 5 picks. Two of them ended up being All NBA players and lead the Raptors to the playoffs (Vince and Bosh). Two of them were turned into important veterans who helped the Raptors reach the second round for the only time in their history and one of whom became an All Star (Oakley and Davis). One of them is in his second year and is probably the only untradeable player on the roster (Valanciunas).

      So there’s probably good reason many of us want the Raptors to tank.

    • BlakeMurphy

      ^^Not the same Blake, for the record.

    • Nilanka15

      You can teach winning without talent either.

  • redyraptor

    Would anyone do a Derozan and Tyler to Detroit for G.Munroe. I like Derozan a lot but if he could be used as bait to lure a proper scoring 4 that would be a great core. Yes we would need to find a proper SG . I rather keep Rudy than Derozan because if it fails then Rudy would be off our books and we could build around a core team of JV. Munroe. Amir. Lowry. Yes Lowry unless MU could pull off a PG trade. Maybe Byucks turns into something. Its just thought from a raptor fan…Go Raps…

    • Tim W.

      Why do the Raptors need a “proper scoring 4”? Valanciunas has shown a lot of scoring potential, so it would make sense to surround him with defensive and rebounding PFs, like Amir and Hansbrough, instead of getting another player who will take shots away from Valanciunas. Plus, Valanciunas is still weak on defense, so Monroe, who’s not a good defensive player, wouldn’t be a good fit beside him.

      Plus, Detroit should get way more than DeRozan and Hansbrough for Monroe.

  • Christopher Bird

    “It’s not nothing, but you’re not getting a second pick in this lottery.”

    Man, somebody should tell Phoenix that before they waste time trying to trade the likes of Marcin Gortat and Luis Scola for first-round picks this year!

    Which is to say: never, never say never. The reason people keep talking about snagging picks from Cleveland and Charlotte is because Cleveland and Charlotte are both teams that can give up a first-round pick this year and potentially still have picks left over, possibly even lottery picks left over, and because those are two teams which look very much like they want to start winning because they’ve spent enough time rebuilding already that it’s time to jump forward. We’re just starting a proper rebuild; we’re natural sellers, they’re natural buyers.

    Again: The 2014 draft is EXTREMELY DEEP. It’s not just a few superstars – it’s a few superstars, a few second-tier players, and a dozen or more potential All-Stars behind them, and there’s potential starting talent into the second round. Later-round picks for our assets are fine: the opportunity to trade upwards in this draft will likely be there if we need it. It is worth it to get later picks in this draft.

    As to Rudy Gay’s value, I don’t think anybody disputes that Calderon/Davis/second-rounder was a high price. But again: that was a high-quality point guard on a large expiring deal, a highly efficient young big who was admired by the analytics crowd, and a second-round draft pick. Given that any trade of Rudy will involve us most likely taking on garbage (e.g. Ben Gordon’s contract) and that he himself is most likely an expiring contract as well, trying to get a first-round pick is not impossible by any stretch.

    • Tim W.

      The pick Phoenix got from Washington is top 12 protected. Yes, they could still get a lottery pick, but I don’t see any impact players outside of the top 10 (actually 8).

  • Rap fan 2

    Some instances of top draft picks that made a difference are Houston drafting 1st for Hakeem Olajuwon leading to two titles, the Bulls selecting third that same year for Michael Jordan leading to 6 titles, and the Spurs selecting Tim Duncan leading to four titles so far. The Magic with Dwight Howard and the Cavaliers with Lebron James had their chances but couldn’t close the deal by surrounding their star player with the right combination of players, coaches and or system. The same could be said for Shaquille O’Neil. So even if you get a shot at drafting one of these special players they can’t do it alone. The question to ask here is how many teams have won an NBA title without one or two of these special players on the roster? And why when the NBA were running the New Orleans Hornets did they nix a few deals in favor of getting extra draft picks and young prospects? They even ended up winning the draft that year to get Anthony Davis. Unbelievable!! Anyways, another point I would like to bring up is Lebron James is around 28 eight years old now. The new batch of promising young college prospects like Andrew Wiggins are like 18 this year, maybe 19 or 20 by the time they start playing in the NBA. Not to mention all the rising young stars already playing. For the teams that don’t really have a shot at winning a title anytime soon, the draft represents a chance at acquiring the next generation of potential superstars and possibly the best chance at a title.

  • Mugsy

    All good points, but nothing new if you’re pro-tank.

    The percentages of getting a top 5 pick argument would make me hesitate the most, IF I thought our current team had any real future.

    But thats one main point you haven’t considered (it seems). This team, like many of the Raps teams over the last few years have a clear and not so high ceiling that makes you think when will it end? Even if we make the playoffs (which now seems not so likely), do you really want to watch and scream at the screen as Rudy chucks up 25+ shots against Miami, Casey fails to give JV any significant burn as JV gets progressively frustrated with his situation, AND worst of all we’re back in the same situation again next year since Rudy is going to take his 19 mil- EXCEPT this time without an amazing and potentially franchise altering draft. BTW thats a best case scenario for this season.

    So yes, that 55% chance of getting a top 5 pick doesn’t look like a terrible gamble now. Especially if you consider that its possible the Raptors sans Lowry and Gay would be worse than that, and that there is other quality talent that will surface as the college season goes on that will be in the 6-15 pick range.

  • tonious35

    Good team building and drafting is also supported by GOOD KARMA and great scouting. With players playing their hardest this year (though at times they will play stupid), and no Jim Kelly screwing up the scouting of prospects, things might turn out at least better this coming summer.

    • Tim W.

      If good karma mattered, then the Bulls wouldn’t have won 6 titles after tanking to draft Michael Jordan.

  • Rap fan 2

    Here’s a couple of possible scenarios:

    Option A: resign Rudy and Kyle to new contracts, keep developing our core prospects, put everything into recruiting Kevin Durant after the 2015/2016 season.

    Option B: tank this season, tank the 2014/2015 season, keep developing our prospects, put everything into recruiting Kevin Durant after the 2015/2016 season.

  • Roarque

    So the Raptors got Rudy Gay for Ed Davis and a 2nd round pick. Jose was gone anyway – he was about to become a free agent and would be looking for starter’s money which he would not get from the Raptors. Is Rudy worth Ed Davis? Yes he is. Love the kid, love the attitude, love the pedigree but Rudy is better than Ed.
    Rudy as trade bait is worth more in 2013/14 than Ed Davis and a second round pick. Someone will need Rudy during the course of this season and when that somebody becomes a team that Rudy will sign a long term contract with, like LA, or Brooklyn, or Chicago then the deal will be done. But not for a first round draft pick – because a first round draft pick is not worth anything in 2014 from these teams. Unless they own a first round draft pick from Utah, or Phoenix. Which they don’t.
    But what about a second rounder? What about two second rounders AND a young and useful and talented sophomore? Now that would be of interest.
    Let’s remember that Masai is not only smarter than most of us, he also has more inside information than can be gleaned from the sports writers on the Internet.

    • 2damkule

      i’m confused why you think gay would be worth more than what was netted for him last year? especially since memphis was as good, if not better, without him last year, and he’s been worse?

  • One relaxed fella

    I’ll try to keep it short. Randle, Parker and Wiggins are fantastic talents. I saw some videos and these guys look like solid gold. And there’s also some other very exciting players as well. If I would have to choose the path that Raptors have to take, I would do everything to get the best chance to target one of the top picks in the next draft. That’s it. I don’t even want to talk about arguments for and against tanking. Even it turns out bad, what Raptors are putting on risk? To maybe probably perhaps become a first round exit playoff team for a season or two? It’s that simple to me. This whole thing that Raptors fans and organization itself (it looks like they can’t make a decision) do for the last few months looks like a paraphrase of a rhetorical Shakespear’s question “to tank or not to tank”. It looks like the question itself is more important than the answer or the process of questioning is more important than the need to get an actual answer. Teams which made up their mind did the right moves before the season even began and Raps are just stuck in the middle. Not too bad, not too good. Too afraid to risk it all, too weak to make some changes.

  • Mugsy

    1) Top three picks- as guaranteed future superstars as there can be: Wiggins, Parker, Randle.
    – Unprecedented. Even the 2003 draft had only Lebron as a pre rookie year guarantee. Maybe Melo with leading ‘Cuse to the ship. But Bosh and Wade were talented players- far from sure things.

    2) 4-6 picks are probably all-stars- potential game changers: Exum, Smart, Gordon.
    – Unprecedented. Even if you exclude the top three the rest of the draft stacks up to most others in years past.

    3) Rest of lottery contains plenty of talent/potential heavy guys that could pan out as being good. This group is more of a question mark and the college/euroleague seasons will tell us more but there are more of these this year than most years. Past examples that come to mind: Drummond, JV, Derozan, Steven Adams, Paul George, Thabeet… Not all gems but there are so many more this year that odds are one of them will be an allstar. Ex: Embiid, Selden, Saric, both Harrisons…

    4) There are sure to be at least another 3-4 lottery players added to the mix as the college season progresses that will add to this crop of talent.

    Oh and another thing:
    – Vince: drafted
    – Bosh: drafted
    – Mcgrady: drafted
    – Damon: drafted
    – Demar: drafted
    – Andrea: drafted
    – Antonio Davis: traded for USING A DRAFT PICK

    Hedo: overpaid, signed, and failed
    J. O’neal: overpaid, signed, failed
    Olajuawan: signed, too old
    Gay: overpaid, signed….

    Two exceptions: Jose (signed to his rookie contract- didn’t need enticing). And Boogie, who was far from a catch at the time.

    There were obviously failed draft picks, but they don’t cost you double digit millions and cripple your cap space. Also every “top” player the raptors have had has been a draft pick. Every team that went anywhere was led and grown from the draft. Il use the best one as a clear example: Vince and Butch Carter era