So, let’s say it for Ujiri: The Toronto Raptors are tanking. They have no intention of winning this year. If you are a Raptors fan, you might as well start cheering for losses. The Raptors’ draft lottery odds cannot get high enough. Some fans, of course, have been doing this already. As Ujiri prepares to further dismantle his team, though, there is no doubt that he will eventually be doing the same, even if he cannot say it. “The one thing I can say is we won’t be trapped in the middle,” Ujiri said. “I can honestly say that. We will not be stuck in no man’s land, that’s for sure.”
After the haul you got in the Carmelo Anthony deal during your Denver days, we should never have doubted you, but in all honesty, we did. It’s not that either man you dealt didn’t have value. It’s almost comical the way the fanbase dismisses a 20-point a game scorer like Gay as if he’s run-of-the -mill, but that’s a completely different story for another day. It’s just that the warts on Bargnani were so obvious and off-putting and Gay’s contract was such a tough sell we didn’t think you would find a taker for either. But we also have the strong feeling you are only getting started.
“That option was tough on our part. It’s a tough place to be where you can’t go to Rudy and say: ‘Hey, we need to talk about the future.’ That option really put us in a tough position to plan. I would say flexibility long-term,” Ujiri said. He added that he’d continue to keep a close eye on the new cast of characters and decide what further moves need to be made. He wouldn’t admit to being in teardown mode, but that’s what’s happening here. “I don’t think it’s fair to say that. I think in some way, we can build. We can build for the future. I think we didn’t come here (to) just tear everything down. I think we’re giving everything a fair shot, and we will continue to,” said the reigning NBA executive of the year.
The initial shock of the Rudy Gay acquisition already hit the Sacramento Kings. Like any other instance of shock, the disease has started but remains local. Gay is now a King, and Hickory-High has taken the proper steps by frantically diagnosing and treating the underlying condition. His presence has started becoming symptomatic and the pulse – not of his heart, but rather of the Kings – will begin to rise.
Once seen as a starting-caliber floor general, the No. 9 overall pick in the 2008 draft has had a swift decline in production since leaving the Charlotte Bobcats two seasons ago. He shot just 35 percent from the field last year and 29.2 percent for the Raptors, never able to find his rhythm in limited playing time under head coach Dwane Casey.
Guys like Johnson, Jones Valnciunas, Terrence Ross, and Tyler Hansbrough are all decent defenders and tough players, but they’re not the type of players a coach can run an offense through. That leaves Toronto playing one-on-one, isolation style basketball for large stretches, and against a team like the Spurs, there is no chance for that to work for 48 minutes, especially while trying to break in a new lineup.
With Gay shipped out, DeMar DeRozan – scoring a team-high 21.6 per game – becomes the only Raptor averaging more than 15 points. DeRozan has scored 25.0 per game over his last 10 overall, and put up 29 in each of his last two at home against the Spurs (15-4).
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