The Toronto Raptors are a fun basketball team to watch. They’re also pretty good.

The first point, obviously, is great news for all basketball fans north of the border. Regardless of whether you’re hoping for a division title or a number one draft pick, everyone likes to be entertained, and a pick-and-roll heavy offence that emphasizes ball movement and our 21-year-old center pounding the ball inside is SO much more enjoyable than watching a $19 million a year “star” hoist up a ton of contested jumpers.

The second one, though, is where you’ll find contention among fans. It’s also where you’ll catch me flip-flopping every few days. No, these Raptors aren’t title contenders. But, as currently constructed, they’re probably the co-favourites in the Atlantic along with the Celtics (seriously, who predicted that?) and a surefire playoff team in a historically weak East. Yeah, this will probably change during their upcoming Western swing, but it’s not like they have to play more Western games than the rest of the conference, and when they play the majority of their games against the East, someone has to win.

This was evident last night as the Raptors ran the injury-depleted Chicago Bulls out of their own building – a 22 point blowout in which the Raptors clearly looked like the better team against a lineup that boasted two 2012/2013 All-Stars. Talk about the fact that the Bulls are having a tough year/don’t have a point guard all you want, but this was still a statement game: on the road, the second half of a back-to-back, and against a team that probably boasted an advantage in four of the five starting spots, depending on how you feel about Boozer/Amir.

Click here for Quick Reaction/Player Grades from last night

The Raptors won last night by playing the kind of ball that fans of the team have been hoping to see for years. Gone were the hero-ball antics of Rudy Gay, Andrea Bargnani, and DeMar DeRozan (pre 2013 edition). In their stead: a pick-and-roll centered offence that featured a ton of ball movement (26 assists on 40 made field goals), a solid game plan against a Bulls defence determined to clog the paint, and different, effective looks from the bench unit (when’s the last time we got to say that?).

Some people will say that it’s far too early for me to post a gushing review of this version of the Raptors with just four games gone post-Gay trade, and they’d be very right. Some, though, would say that this is just running back the clock pre-Gay, with Greivis Vasquez playing the Jose Calderon role, and they’d be quite wrong. As MacGruber would say: the game’s changed, even if most of the players are the same.

DeMar DeRozan is the most obvious example here, though this analogy could extend to Kyle Lowry, Terrence Ross, and even Jonas Valanciunas. Last year, DeMar was the high-volume, low efficiency leading scorer that seemingly paced the Raps because nobody else was willing to. This year, he’s not only embraced the role, but is playing it far more effectively. His stat line last night – 15 points on 7/14 shooting, 7 rebounds, 4 assists, and a block – isn’t the most showy, but when you watch the game, it’s clear that he’s embracing his role as the team’s offensive leader in ways that go beyond “I need to score the most points.” We’re seeing a newfound maturity from DeMar – a new commitment to passing, a willingness to defer when the game calls for it (as it did late in the fourth quarter last night with Vasquez and Amir Johnson running the pick and roll to perfection), and a sense to step up when the Raptors need buckets to stay in the game, or ice it. He’s been excellent early in the fourth quarter as of late, which is great to see. He’s flawed, sure, but to say he’s not improving – significantly – this season is simply ignorance at this point.

I Tweeted after the Gay trade was made that I thought it would improve the team right away, and that’s come true particularly because of two things: the new touches available to the Raptor starters, and the fact that we now have a group of bench players that are:

a) fine with their role as bench players,

b) competent bench players, and

c) all have a skill they can do above-average in the NBA, and play within themselves (a combination of columns a and b).

Whether it’s outside shooting (Patrick Patterson), perimeter defence (John Salmons) or not being Julyan Stone or Dwight Buycks (Greivis Vasquez), all of the Kings imports bring a dimension to the Raptors that they sorely needed, and its sped their ability to fit into the team’s system. All three players contributed to the victory last night in real, meaningful ways, and with Casey sticking to a 9-man lineup, that meant that every Raptor who got in the game did so – something that we haven’t seen in Raptorland on a consistent basis in a long while.

Can this be sustained over the rest of the season? Is it just a blip – a team of excited guys looking to strut their stuff while trade rumours swirl? The jury’s still out on that one, though I’d venture a guess that we’re closer to the first option than the second: game plans aren’t flukes, and the way these guys fit together makes the team’s performance far less likely to slip than if a few players had simply had massive nights. The ironic thing about Masai’s first move in what most people are assuming is an attempted “tank” is that he may have built a far more sustainable model for success than the Raptors have seen in years.

In a lot of ways, actually, it reminds me of the 2007 team – a group that wasn’t long on individual talent, but managed to ride a weak Eastern conference and selfless team play to an Atlantic division title. Long-term, it’s probably not what’s best for the franchise. I’m certainly not delusional enough to suggest that this team has the ability to contend for titles – or even develop into that team – as currently constructed. Expect plenty of articles on here and across the blogosphere in the coming weeks and months debating the merits of fleeting success vs a chance for sustainable long-term contending. I’m not even going to attempt to say what I think the right answer is – I’m riding high on a wave of emotion right now, clearly, and I feel like I change my mind every game.

For now, though, the Raptors are fun to watch, and pretty good, too. And that’s new and refreshing enough that it’s more than enough for me.

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  • Ds

    As of this morning, the Raps are the only team, along with Indiana and Miami, to have a positive scoring margin in the entire Eastern Conference, and are the 13th team in the NBA as per Hollinger’s team rankings.

    To me, 3 main differences:

    – ALL the players are now willing passers (with a blip here and there during an individual game)
    – Vasquez has replaced the dreadful trio
    – Gay is not here anymore

    I’d venture to say that this is an Atlanta-level team, i.e. a 45-49 win team (minus the early losses).

    • #TankNation

      You realize that nobody gives a shit about Atlanta right? Year after year they finish 4th-6th in the east only to bow out in the second round. That’s not a winning culture. That’s not relevancy in the NBA. What that is is still mediocrity. Unless your team is taken seriously by all fans around the league every year, then by my line of thinking, you are still mediocre. And the only way for people to respect your team every year is to be a top 5 team, ie a legit title contender. If you willing to settle for anything less, then you are in effect willing to settle for mediocrity. Clearly though, that’s exactly the attitude that anti-tankers like you bring to this forum. I guess what separates us is what we expect and what we value. If you dare to be great, then you’ll eventually rise to the top.

      And no, there is no guarantee that tanking will bring superstar level talent that will take us to the heights of this league. But if there’s one thing that I am sure of is that not doing so, especially in a draft year like the upcoming 2014 draft, will all but guarantee mediocrity. There’s no other way to build a title contender in this league. Anybody who thinks you can really win in this league without a bona-fide superstar is either uninformed or misguided.

      • CJT

        That’s exactly what Chris Bosh, LeBron James and Ray Allen said. There is absolutely no point to join Dwayne Wade in Miami, because the only way to be a title contender is to tank and draft a superstar.

  • ac1011990

    Ughhh and it starts again. I hate games like this because fans flip and start thinking were a good team. Like you stated in the article the same thing happened in 2006/2007, and look where it brought us. I know Masai isn’t Colangelo, but i would really like us to start off with a decent foundation. Winning the Atlantic division means nothing, not a thing. Il be happy when this team is in the conversation of competing and winning the Eastern conference, I could care less if they win a worthless division. Knicks most likely will get back on track and start winning, and Nets have a billionaire who cant spend his money fast enough. Please Masai just end this and start over. I don’t want to completely gut the team, id like Derozan, Ross and Valanciunus to stay, but just try to get a few decent pieces in the draft so we have a good solid foundation of player.

    • desktom

      Your tanker mangina is showing. These guys like each other, the repitiion is setting in. There must have been ten solid called plays that looks like to me everybody understands where they are supposed to be. This is huge!. No more pointing and frowning , its just run the offense. The Chicago announcers commented late in the game when the bulls run was on , that Rapters just come down unfazed and run their sets. When was the last time you heard somebody say that about this team. Like I said I think we have turned a corner, yes this Texas triangle is going to be tough , but it will also show us more of what we got. Don’t break your ankle jumping on the band wagon. Tank this.

      • ac1011990

        Im a girl so i guess the mangina comment works somehow… i guess. If your happy with winning the Atlantic then great, be happy winning something in this decade. It has happened over and over and over again, its beyond annoying now. I don’t want to keep trying to get into the playoffs its useless if your used as practice for the other team. Lolz it shows how bad of a team the raptors are when fans are sitting there being excited about running sets without being unfazed or running a proper offense. The last playoff appearance did nothing, can you tell me one benefit that came from our playoff off appearance in 2007, name one. The goal of every NBA team is to actually try and win the championship one day, why do we keep settling for a playoff series each year?

        • TRoss1000

          A lot of teams are terrible right now, and are gearing for the lottery. Mathematics states our chances of getting a top pick now are slim..It’s over. Might as well play some good ball for a change. Personally I’m tired of losing. I never said I’m content with the division, of course not. But being a winning team now, is more likely to make us a better franchise in the long run. Maybe who knows someone will actually WANT TO COME TO TORONTO.

        • desktom

          Sorry about the mangina comment, but now I understand why the dishes arnt clean in your house. Play off series each year?? We havnt been to the play offs in 5 years , If we had been in the play offs and had no success I would say tank . But we need success for this team far more then soul killing losses, just for the development of our talent and the fans. We actually have people cheering for losses , makes me puke , we have a general manager that gets things done. Losing is not the way to go , listen to your boyfriend and go make him a sandwich .Tank this.

          • ac1011990

            Ya my point exactly we keep hoping to make the playoffs except were never good enough to make them, thats why were in this position in the first place. Being a good team in an awful conference does NOT make you good, despite what you think. If your happy with the raptors in the playoffs good for you.

            • desktom

              I have never stated we are a good team, what I stated was at this point in the development of the team we need to win far more then we need to tank. Soul killing losing with no talent on the floor would be a real slap in the face for this fan base. Development , learning how to win getting better by the gm making shrewd moves. The best part of a team turning the corner is watching it. I know in Toronto things don’t usually turn corners, but in this case we might enjoy this ride.

    • cesco

      NY will probably be the division winner if Tyson can play most of the remaining games after returning from injury sometimes this coming week , obviously Carmelo (and Prigioni ) have to stay healthy also . Andrea could well be the steal of the season if he remains healthy . Like with the Raps , the pick and roll could be the new weapon which will carry them to the top of the division assuming the coach see he has the men ( Tyson , Stat and Andrea) to use that weapon .

    • TRoss1000

      They could have a top 5 seed in the playoffs, at least. Considering this is a team that has lost 70% of their games over the last how many years, we need some credibility. Your saying we need to blow up our team for one guy and you magically expect contention. LeBron 2.0 isn’t in the this draft, they’re all good but not quite that good. and even if he was, we have too much young talent collectively now to only win 20-25 games and get a top pick. The players aren’t going to stop competing now that they have some rhythm in the offense. A couple of years ago, we didn’t have to tank, we just got unlucky and had to pick #5. Because it’s a lottery, which goes back to the point of tanking being a flawed strategy in the first place. Team ball and not relying on hope of the next greatest of all time coming, what a concept

      • ac1011990

        So we should continue with this team and expect contention? We got a top five pick because we never made the playoffs, if we do our lottery chances this year are over. I rather have a chance in the lottery instead of going into the playoffs trying to win with this group of players. Their nice decent pieces but none of them are franchise talents capable of doing any damage. This draft doesn’t only contain 1 or 2 decent players, there are 7 or 8 guys who can turn out to be really good. I would rather try for one of them instead of going to the playoffs and achieving absolutely nothing.

  • Barnyard

    I don’t understand all the suggestions for tanking. The Raptors are a young developing team with four very young good young players in Derozen, Valanciunas, Ross and Amir Johnson none who have reached their rime yet. If they can stay together and develop and somehow get an all star caliber point guard(Rondo type) they will be a very good team. From what I have seen from Andrew Wiggins(who’s not even helping his college team win every game) I don’t think the Raptors would be better off losing any of our young talent to gamble that a new draft pick turns out. Look at all the other teams that have had lots of high picks and how many of them have won championships lately from their drafting? e.g. Look what happened to the Cavaliers who drafted Le Bron James, the wizards with John Wall, Charlotte with their picks…a high draft pick really is like playing the lottery and is no guarantee of improving at all. a lot of luck is involved.

    • DrFunk

      the masai way man! look at what he did in denver…. young core, lots of cap room, flexibility for FA/trades, develop same group over time. amir, DD, JV, Tross plus whatever we can draft. we just have to wait. i dont consider that tanking (purposely losing games for a draft is cowardly, a disgrace to sports, not exactly a proven recipe for success and insulting to fans who pay to see games), developing this core nucleus and adding FAs/Trades might not win games this year but it ll pay off hopefully.

      • cd hall

        Whichever way MU picks, I’m willing to follow! Let Masai be our Messiah and lead us to the promised land!!!!!

    • Wilson

      From what I’ve seen (I could be wrong), the majority are only really clamouring to trade Lowry because that would’ve had the biggest negative impact on the wins column (pre-Gay trade), because he’s an expiring contract and because he’ll be 28 by the end of the season. The only reason I’ve seen trading Amir (grudgingly) entertained is because he’s probably second in positive impact (after Lowry) and he probably has the second most value as a trade asset.(after Valanciunas). Everybody would like to dump non-value for value or lesser value for more value, but realistically, you have to give (present) value to get (future) value. Fortunately for the Raptors, Masai has shown twice this is not always true, but still. The one thing it comes back to over and over when anybody points at squandered lottery picks elsewhere is it’s all about management first and everything else second. Without great management, nothing a team does is going to work.

      Ideally, at least for me (and I suspect many others), the Raptors would keep their young core with room to improve together, still be bad enough to get a high draft pick this year and trade strictly short-term assets for long-term assets.

    • Roarque

      Don’t leave out 2 Pat who is 23 or Vasquez who told anyone who was listening that Toronto is where he wants to be.

      • desktom

        Vasquez said he wanted to be in Toronto? What a mind bending experience to read something like that. Patters on has got a nice solid big body look about him. Call me crazy but did Salmon play some really solid d last night ? Salmon does nice things not flashy , I havnt seen anything yet that makes me panic. I don’t want anyone screwing with T Rosses time , but Salmon coming in hasn’t looked horrible.

        • Roarque

          For the rest of the season, Salmon will do but I wouldn’t be surprised to see him traded on the deadline – he’s 31 and is on record, he doesn’t want to be in Toronto

          • Mike

            He said when he got traded to TO that he hopes the fans can forgive him for what he said nearly 8 years ago. Things change man.

        • TheSpiceTyrant

          Nice d but he smells like a chucker. He’s an asset. Pat though… Very intriguing. If he plays a tough D my dreamy goggles see Battier-lite.

          • CJT

            Agree with this. Salmon had a few tough contested shots last night that happened to go in, but not the type of team ball that will hopefully be the calling card of this version of the Raptors going forward.

  • DDD

    i just wanna make the playoffs this year for DeRozan. he deserves it.

    • Rick

      Totally agree. For him and Amir! People don’t get it. But playoff atmosphere makes teams a lot better mature and experienced. (Indiana) jv and Ross and demar would all benefit for getting that experience and helping team move forward. Screw tanking!

      • Mihkel Bafter

        Please ask the Milwaukee Bucks how beneficial getting obliterated by the Heat were for them..

        • Duke

          So by your logic, any team that loses in the playoffs are doomed for mediocrity. Just like the Pacers, right? And everyone who tanks turns into a contender right? Just like Cleveland, Charlotte, Boston (pre-big 3). I could go on, but you pro-tankers have such a ridiculous 1-dimensional mindset that it’s a waste of time to argue with you ppl.

          • Mihkel Bafter

            Actually, I’m not a pro tanker. I’m actually really rooting for the team to make it to the playoffs because I’m seriously curious to see how badly they get creamed.

            Its what MLSE deserves to be honest.

            • Roarque

              Is that your mother I hear calling you for breakfast? Up you go!

            • Duke

              Why the fuck do you follow this team then? Why do you waste your time watching them and come on Raptor msg boards if you want them to fail? Do you have any idea how pathetic that sounds? Toronto has way too many fake fans just like you. We don’t need you jumping on the bandwagon when they start winning either, go cheer for the Lakers or Heat…those teams are more suited for you.

              • Mihkel Bafter

                I never said I was a Raptors fan. I just live and work in Toronto and they happen to be the team that happens to be on TV the most. I mean I never grew up cheering for the Leafs, Jays or Raptors.

                Honestly, the Raptors can keep going on the treadmill to mediocrity for all I care. It’s actually beneficial since my hometown is in the same conference and has won championships already.

          • The whole point is that if the team doesn’t have a foundation that can EVENTUALLY make then a playoff contender, then making the playoffs is fairly pointless. Milwaukee try to make the playoffs every year, but they’ve never had a foundation for anything but a mediocre team, so they can never build on that playoff experience.

            The Raptors don’t have a foundation that will allow them to build on any playoff appearance, so it would most be a distraction for the fans and have little to no impact on the long term prospects of the team.

            • CJT

              this is the major point of contention between us. I think that there is a foundation that is developing with our young assets. To break them up only to hope that the players in this year’s draft, none of whom are strong enough to be in the top 5 of most any statistical category in the NCAA, can mature in to something better down the road doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me. No one has shown themselves to be the next LeBron there is talent there, but there is also talent on our roster currently that is still developing, improving each year.

              • There is certainly talent on the current roster, yes. There’s just not a whole lot of it. If your best player is DeMar DeRozan, you’re not going to be very successful.

            • Mexiballer

              Can a team not build a foundation in other ways other than getting a top 5 pick in the draft? Can a team not have “parts” of the foundation in place while working towards adding to that partially finished foundation?

              • The foundation main component should be at least one elite (or potentially elite) player if you want any hope of truly competing for a title. You can definitely find an elite player without getting a top 5 pick in the draft, though.

                If you’re a city like L.A., Miami or New York, you might be able to lure one as a free agent, or hope one demands a trade there. There’s certainly a history of that for prime destinations cities.

                There is also the possibility of luring an elite free agent or have one demand a trade to your team if you’ve already got an elite player. If you’re a prime destination city, or even a second tier NBA city, that’s definitely a possibility.

                The other option is to trade for one, and preferably one that doesn’t have an expiring contract (which would make the trade FAR more risky, and generally means they have a say in where they are traded to).

                Of course, Toronto isn’t Los Angeles, Miami or New York, or even Houston, Dallas, Boston or Phoenix, cities with either a Championship history, a nice, warm climate or both.

                The idea that a few years of making the playoffs, even making it to the second round in a year in a historically weak year, will suddenly change the prospects and reputation of a team enough to make it appealing to elite players has no precedent.

                Denver has the second longest playoff streak, next to the Spurs (10 years) and during that time they have lost Carmelo Anthony, who demanded out, and Andre Iguodala, who left via free agency.

                And speaking of the Spurs, how many elite, or even second tier players have they attracted?

                There is, of course, the prospect of trading for a player like James Harden. The problem is that the James Harden trade was an aberration. People keep pointing to it as an example because there aren’t any others. Elite players are so valuable that teams tend not to let them go unless they absolutely have to (either because they are going to lose him via free agency or due to financial problems), and after seeing the Harden example, few teams are going to want to risk that happening to them.

                Lastly, there is the chance of drafting one outside the top five. I mean, Indiana was able to find Paul George at 10, right? But the chance of finding an elite player nowadays outside of the top 5 makes the chance of successfully tanking and getting an elite player look great.

                So yes, there are ways for Toronto to build a foundation without a top five pick. It’s just highly unlikely.

                • Mexiballer

                  Thanks for the excellent response and perspective Tim. My thinking is that Masai does believe he can attract or trade for an elite when the time is right. But first he needs to create a winning playoff program where an elite free agent would even start to consider that there were championship possibilities in Toronto. After listening to Masai, I take him at his word that he is in fact not interested in a Tank or a Tear down. Instead he has been using the the “B” and “G” words a lot. Building and Growth. I understand your thinking of getting the best value for the current assets that they have on the current, and then getting the highest possible draft picks in 2014 and beyond. But I do not think that Masai completely shares your view. I still think and hear from what he is saying that he believes that some of the pieces for part of the foundation are already in place, so why take it apart. Build more of it instead. Thats not to say that he wont continue to make trades with the intention of upgrading, or that he isnt open to trading even the better players like Demar and Amir if he gets a knockout offer. But I dont see a “T” word in his vison at all.

                • Ujiri has never, ever been able to acquire an elite player. He’s never been able to trade for one and he’s never been able to sign one. He’s also never been able to build a team that has gotten beyond the first round of the playoffs.

                  I’m not criticizing Ujiri, I’m simply stating certain facts.

                  And the fact is that not one of us knows what Ujiri is thinking. It’s all speculation. We do know that no GM uses the word tank, except to deny they are doing it even when it’s obvious that’s what they’re doing.

                  Ujiri has made two trades, both of which were getting rid of onerous contracts for several more easily moved contracts (and picks). He also signed no one to big or long term contracts.

                  It’s impossible to tell from what he’s done what Ujiri’s plans are because while he’s made the team better, he hasn’t made it more talented, and the improvement has been pretty marginal. If Ujiri’s goal is to try and make the playoffs, then it’s hard to say he’s done well with that. If his goal is to tank, he hasn’t done well there, either, since the team is slightly better.

                • Mexiballer

                  I agree… this conversation that is going on this forum is mostly speculation. Im speculating what I believe is going on. I could be completely wrong…or not.

        • TheSpiceTyrant

          It’s not fair to compare the bucks to the current raps roster. We’ve got a decent bench now (or so I think we have)

          • Take a look at that Bucks team last year. They had just as good a bench as the Raptors and had a very similar talent level. And the point is that the Bucks didn’t exactly build of that playoff appearance. Or the one before that. Or the one before that….

            • TheSpiceTyrant

              Bucks were loaded for guards, yes but banging big men needed for playoffs? I think the Bucks tried to peak last year and did so miserably. I don’t see Raps peaking this year.. Nor the next. So playoffs would be valuable experience, particularly given JV and TRs rookie contracts.

              • They had John Henson (a very good defender), Luc Mbah a Moute (good small ball four), Samuel Dalembert and Ekpe Udoh, as well as Drew Gooden, if they needed it. They had Mike Dunleavy to swing between the two wing positions, and J.J. Redick.

                I don’t see how the Raptors current bench is much, if any, better.

              • And I wouldn’t say they were trying to peak, since 6 of the top players in minutes played were 26 or under and the average age of the starting five was 25 years old.

  • Mihkel Bafter

    As Danny Ainge said, you don’t want to make the playoffs if your just the best of the worst. If you show progress, development and actually earn a playoff spot, that’s a different story. I’d say the Raptors are more in the former category based on their results so far.

    That’s the difference between what Phoenix is doing and what a team like the Raptors or Celtics are doing.

    • Roarque

      Did you just misquote Danny Ainge?

      • Mihkel Bafter

        No, he actually said something pretty much on those lines. I’m just paraphrasing. You can just google it if you want.

  • onemanweave

    Good article. A lot of us are double-minded these days. The key question is what course has Masai decided to take — tank or climb the ranks? There are a lot of unqualified experts giving the proper course of action. I’ll add one more.
    What course has he decided on? At this point, probably neither. The main feature of all this RR back-and-forth tank-antit-tank furor is that everyone had pretty much made up their minds what the proper course of action would be.
    Since the Gay trade things have got fuzzy. Things have got blurry. MU is probably going to let two factors decide his ultimate direction — l. how his team responds moving forward 2. What offers he receives for current assets.
    Most pro-tankers find life unsustainable without an NBA title. Playoffs are for suckers. Blow it up. All or nothing.
    Fact is, only a small percentage of NBA teams win a title. If you NEED that, I suggest you root for the South Beach Selects where a group of Super Duper Stars got together and decided to rule the roost.
    Personally, I can live with good basketball. When I used to watch the NBA, i liked the Royals and the Big O, but I also liked watching Russell kick Wilt’s butt in the finals or Pistol Pete do some amazing things.
    With the advent of the Raptors, I became a fan of the Toronto team. Would I like to see a title in TO? Yes. Do I NEED to see one? Nah. Play good, hard competitive basketball and I’m happy.
    This teams looks to be on the verge of doing just that. Of course, they are the Raps and can fade in a heartbeat.I’d like to see it given a chance to happen.
    MU seems to be a smart basketball guy. MUCH smarter than I am. I’m interested to see how this plays out. I do believe that the full-tank-ahead strategy is a mistake if you give up good, young assets like DD and Amir without getting something really good back. I don’t think he’ll move them without an outstanding offer.
    I would LOVE to be positioned to draft in the top-five of this years draft. However the time to position for that was last year or maybe the year before unless you want to rely on a puncher’s chance with the bouncing balls.
    MU may decide to shoot for the stars ( a playoff berth) or tank til he stanks (good-bye DD; so long,Amir). Whichever he decides to do will depend on the above-mentioned factors.
    As long as I have good, competitive basketball to watch, I’m happy to sit back and see how a very smart basketball mind weaves around the pylons and over the land mines. Or not.

    • Mihkel Bafter

      Uh, no. The people who are pro tankers are the people who don’t want to want to see a completely short sighted accomplishment such as making the playoffs and getting steamrolled being made at the expense of accelerating a proper rebuilding process. (ie a Bryan Colangelo)

      • onemanweave

        Uh, maybe. There’s an old African proverb that says ‘before you throw something away, make sure you have something of value to replace it.”
        Lowry will likely have to go because he’s decided to become a free agent and get richer. DD and Amir would bring back something worthwhile.
        What they’re NOT going to bring back is a top 2014 draft pick, unless you get lottery-lucky. Teams that hold a top ticket aren’t going to trade them. Period. Teams that will trade them are out of the lottery.
        Your shoot-for-the-stars strategy could backfire badly. Draft choices are a gamble. Some pay off hugely. A lot don’t. Yes there is uncommon depth to this years draft. However one or two will likely flame out. One or two may stay in college ( see Marcus Smart, 2012) and one of two will be stars but not franchise players.
        Randle is one of the blue-chippers. Last night he was side-tracked by a player who was a blue chipper at this stage last year and faded badly. The NC guy COULD turn out to be the best option in the long-run. Would I take a chance on Randle or Parker or Wiggins or the three or four other ‘blue chippers’. You bet. Your odds of getting that chance are very, very slim.
        The thing I haven’t heard mention about this year’s draft is that with the incredible depth, you might get a great player in the later lottery or mid-draft picks. If you can do that, without selling the farm it might be a better strategy that wreck-it-all-and hope. Interested to see how MU plays it.

        • Mihkel Bafter

          How many times has this organization in the past 5 years had the line of thinking “Let’s build a team that can hopefully get the #5 seed.” at the expense of a proper rebuild? I mean Colangelo’s 1.5 year rebuilding project was a bit of a laugh.

          • onemanweave

            MU isn’t BC. He has reversed two of Colangelo’s major mistakes in less than half a season. He may turn out to be a dupe, a shill, a knucklehead a mole for the Miami Heat, but for now, I see him as a pretty smart basketball mind who is going to play his cards the way they’re dealt to him, not the way he’d like them to be dealt.

          • Richard Garcia

            Colangelo was a laugh period,

      • steve fisher

        Many fans and even some press still don`t get it! There is far too much young improving talent,skill and depth compared to too many weak teams to even vaguely consider the totally unrealistic option of tanking thank goodness. Tanking usually takes a good FIVE YEARS to potentially recover from. often resulting in only getting back to where they started. Enjoy a good and improving situation and have trust MU in making even more constructive moves leading to even more improvement.It took us a few YEARS to get into a mess.We should all be amazed as to how quickly Mu has turned things around in 1/4 of a season considering he had to take time to evaluate and then find the right trade.This might be the deepest pool of young skilled talent we have EVER had and it is only going to get better! ENJOY and have some patience. Who knows, we might even end up keeping KL which backs up the old adage sometimes the best trade is the one you NEVER MADE!!!

        • “Tanking usually takes a good FIVE YEARS to potentially recover from.”

          No, Poor management usually take a good five years to recover from. A team with smart management making good decisions and stockpiling assets can recover in a year or two.

          And what exactly would the Raptors be recovering from, here. They’re 9-13, have the 11th worst record in the league and are just 5 games ahead of the last place team.

          I really don’t understand why so many fans are in such a rush for mediocrity.

          • desktom

            Tim you been here for a long time, I get it . We have witnessed a lot of losing for a long time. We have witnessed gms that were amazing in their incompetence. Coaches that hurt this team badly. But I have been screaming ever since Jonas has got here to go to the low post , to play pick and roll , run different looks , look for the pass. take the open shot. Finally after 2 years they are running the exact offense I have been screaming about , 5 solid shooters is hard to stop. Caseys repetition on defense to me is finally bearing fruit. Could it be that Casey and Mas were showcasing Gay? The four kids need to win , losing is the most harmful thing we can do. I agree with everything Mas will do , but can we enjoy some good basketball for a little while , befoe it all goes away.

          • Louvens Remy

            I have to ask. What do you characterize Orlando, Phoenix, Cleveland, Washington, Sacramento? When did their tanking clock start? What makes a good tank and not just shitty management? Is Orlando in year 3 of tanking or bad management? Is Cleveland in year 4 of tanking or is it just bad management? If Cleveland is just bad management then is it still tanking? How much longer do they have before we say, hey its not tanking, they just don’t know what the eff they are doing? How about Phoenix? Are they done tanking since they are decent? Is Utah tanking or are they just a super duper young team? Or did Utah management put together a really good young team that is going to take a couple years to gel? Is what Utah doing good management or tanking? When does tanking end? How do you successfully tank? and what is the length of a tank? I need these answered Tim.

            • Well, Cleveland, Washington and Sacramento have been HORRIBLY managed, so how long they’ve been tanking is moot. They’ve made horrible personnel decisions and hired bad coaches.

              You could say that both Phoenix and Orlando are in the second year of their tank, but that’s mostly because they ended up losing their franchise players. Phoenix should try and tank because, although they’re playing fairly well, they don’t have the foundation to contend.

              As for your others questions, I’m not sure whether you’re asking seriously, or just trying to make points, of which are not clear. Every teams’ plans are different. Every teams’ prospects are different. When LeBron left Cleveland, he left then with little talent and no prospects, after Danny Ferry had so royally screwed the team, so obviously that was going to take a long time to recover from because they were almost starting from scratch.

              On the other hand, a team like Phoenix would rebuild much faster because they had far more assets to be able to use.

              Toronto is closer to Phoenix, right now, because they do have a number of assets they can use to make their rebuild go quicker. They hopefully already have one of the most difficult positions (center) filled. They have a few fairly valuable assets they could use to acquire talent that is better suited to winning.

          • Jamshid

            “I really don’t understand why so many fans are in such a rush for mediocrity.”
            Nicely said and it amazes me as well. I am starting to think the problems with this franchise is not the GMs or the coaches that we change every year. The problem is fans who love the mediocrity and have such a low level of expectations.

    • desktom

      Great post oneman. Enjoyed your take on the situation.

      • Roarque

        Me too, desktom. And Flux probably knows that Masai isn’t going to say anything in public that could tip his strategy. He is without doubt a strategist. Asking a strategist to predict tactics is a waste of breath.

        • FLUXLAND

          Failing to plan is planning to fail. Right now the “keeping his cards close because he’s a strategist” sounds like BS to me, but hey time is on his side…I am certainly eager to see how this plays out, but I’m not felling it, at all.

          • CJT

            Anything that could be construed as optimism that happens in Raptorland seems to be B.S. to you. I think MU does have a plan but is smart enough to realize that plans need to evolve as the situation changes.

            • FLUXLAND

              You can hold that view about MU, that’s fine. I for one am going to wait until something that actually warrants optimism happens.

              Right now a lot of people are putting the cart before the horse and calling it optimism, because MU has come in and divested the team… again, that in itself warrants zero optimism on my end.

              What’s interesting is your conviction that he has a plan, and if he does, I don’t see why he can’t share the general outline, no one is asking him to divulge his day by day thinking. All he’s done so far is say that he doesn’t know where the team is going, but you are already planning the parade.

              • CJT

                I am certainly not planning the parade, but I do have confidence in MU. I don’t think you or anyone but the management team is entitled to know what his plan is. The public displays of his former boss have done nothing to help the team, but so far MU playing his cards close to the vest have helped us rid ourselves of some terrible contracts and players that didn’t fit with our future plans. I am optimistic that he will help to make this team relevant.

                • FLUXLAND

                  What makes you think there IS a plan, is the question. If there is one, please explain the quote above.

                  Your basic argument boils down to blind faith, and I am not going to apologize to you for not subscribing to that line of thinking. I am not saying he needs public displays, but plenty of successful GMs have laid out a general direction of the team to their fans. I don’t know how much you follow other teams, but they have.. read stuff on HH and you’ll see it happens everyday.

                  And again, divesting the team means nothing (to me). If you want to appreciate the financial side of it, fair enough, but how these move have improved the outlook of team long term, remains a mystery. Yet, you see them as nothing short of spectacular… like oneman said above.. ‘before you throw something away, make sure you have something of value to replace it.” Can you call what’s been returned value? Or is it again more of your blind faith?

              • ItsAboutFun

                Your “share the general outline” spiel is absurd, if not lame trolling.


      Masai after the RG trade: “I couldn’t tell you where the team is going to go from here.”

      Again, there is no plan at all. He’s just going to make moves on the fly, this is not a rebuild of any sort…err, as of this moment anyway?

      • onemanweave

        Flux, And that may very well be the only sensible position to take. Not trading some of the key Raps would be a huge mistake if the offer is good enough. Trading them for inferior assets would be equally as bad. It takes two to tango.

        • FLUXLAND

          It’s certainly an “interesting” time in RaptorLand.

          I really want to go uber skeptical mode and think this is just BC v 2.0, but it’s tough to make a call either way. At the very least, one cannot say this is not the “middle of the pack road”, as it stands right now. Le sigh?

          • onemanweave

            This could wind up ‘middle of the road’ in spite of what Masai says. What goes up can come down awfully fast in Raptor land, as we all know. MU may not be quick enough to get out from underneath it. Is it indecision or patience? From his moves so far, I’d opt for the latter. We’ll see. It’s going to be an interesting, though possibly bumpy ride. I’ll take that in place of Barg’s shrugs and Gay’s chucks.

            • FLUXLAND

              Like i said above, it seems the plan is “fluid”… what that indicates is tough to tell. I personally don’t like it – it’s kind of like the word maybe, it doesn’t mean anything either way.

              • Jack Canucki

                Maybe all the player scrubs are are busting their buns and brains to stay in the NBA… and upsetting MU’s tank attack plans. Remember that Rommel wasn’t called the Desert Fox for nothing… and Masai hasn’t fallen off a turnip truck!

          • lewro

            “think this is just BC v 2.0”

            fluxland, you’re the ford nation of RR. crack is the only way i can rationalize your thinking

            • FLUXLAND

              Leave it to lewro to cherry pick what he likes… did you miss the part about it being a tough call?

              • lewro

                “cherry pick what he likes”

                no, i’m pickin the bad cherries so they don’t contaminate the basket.

                “one cannot say this is not” um a double negative? learn english and it will not be a “tough call” – BC era is over.

      • Wilson

        On a scale of 1-10, how honest do you think Masai is when he says that? On one hand, I think he’s just keeping things as private as possible (as many people have pointed out, both trades kind of came out of nowhere, more or less). On the other, it could just be interpreted as he has an overarching plan/blueprint, but the steps in which to get there are always fluid and dependent on opportunities that arise.

        I’m not saying either is necessarily the case, because the Raptors have only had Masai at the helm for a very short time.

        • FLUXLAND

          A 5? lol..

          Yeah, I agree. I can’t really tell. But I do find that comment off-putting, to say the least. He also followed that up by saying they keep the players informed in what direction the team is going, which is clearly contradictory. I dunno, tough call.. but I do believe his plan is “fluid” – and that to me sound much as my buddy lewro wants to disagree.

          • Jack Canucki

            Maybe “The Plan” is to win the Titanic Division and sneak into the playoffs… for 3 games and out! But then it all depends who is in 5th place.

        • Mexiballer

          I belive Masai when he says “I couldn’t tell you where the team is going to go from here.”

          There are to many variables right now and its impossible to know what will present itself or happen next. Who knew the the Raps would be 6-13 and have a shot at the Atlantic title? Who knew that four Sacramento Kings would be wearing Raps uniforms and three of them would help them to a solid (all be it against a tired and beat up bulls team) road win last night. Whats going to happen next when trade season begins? All he can know for sure is that he wants to improve this team and roll with what is presented to him. I for one am glad that he is not locked into a pre-set way of thinking.

      • 2damkule

        you conveniently left out MU’s point about definitely not being a ‘middle’ team, huh? how odd. if you don’t have the wherewithal to figure out for yourself – based on comments to the media & moves made to date – what MU’s ‘plan’ is, well, that’s on you.

        • FLUXLAND

          I didn’t conveniently leave anything out. Him saying that doesn’t mean anything, does it? His comments have been nothing short of salesman talk. His moves prove even less, other than he doesn’t have the ability to handle guys with talent and use them appropriately. He runs away from the challenge, that’s all.

          But, by all means enlighten me, and tell me what I missed…because i don’t see a plan at all. Seems like you’re in tune with MU… please share with me your pearls of wisdom, I will be much obliged my good Sir.

    • FREEJV

      i think the 3 game road trip is gonna determine which direction we go if we go 2-1 then we should keep the team.

  • ckh26

    Nice read ! Agree its a little early on the 4 game sample size but you have to like what you see so far.

    –> Vazquez is a great change of pace at PG. Nothing like a completely different look to mess up the defense and it moves to the deepest part of the bench Buckys ANDaNdee.

    –> Patterson looks to be a serious upgrade over Quincy ( only a 2 game sample i know). However PP outside shooting is considerably better than Quincy’s and he can rebound. Can he do this night in and night out ? I think we’d be happy with him averaging 8-12 points and 4-6 rebounds with 18- 20 minutes of floor time.

    —> The subtraction of Rudy has somehow given the previously dour TRoss a shot of adrenalin and Casey is playing him consistently. We will see by February if we have a diamond or cubic zirconia.
    —-> Demar at 24 is now old man Raptor. Hard to believe. I agree with you on this guy. He has something. You don’t get out of Compton CA without a good dose of moral courage and being tough minded. He wants to be here and he wants to win.

    —> Kyle Lowry’s endless kicking of JV’s ass this year to do better may be working. JV over last 3 games is playing angry. Love that. Can Kyle if he stays keep doing what he has been doing over the past 4 games and keep JV amped up and playing well?

    For those who think we need to take the foot off the gas and try to pick up a top 5 pick (need a little luck with the ping pong balls) with our own selection…. the trading of this guy will dictate that because it brings buyckys and stone to play minutes at a level they can’t. The return will have to be good. A 1st round pick and a young player. Watch Masai play up the market with the NYK and then trade Kyle to Chicago for one of thier 1sts and Tony Snell.

    • desktom

      We need a little more of NWA and a lost less Barry Manilow from the tankers. Straoight out of Compton baby .

      • lewro

        no, we need less desktom posts. tanks for nuttin!

        • desktom

          Awwwwww I’m wounded, I thought everybody would love an anti tanking in your face , never say die young team developing winning is the best ointment for a lot of ass kickings that we have endured kind of fan that doesn’t except negativity in any form. But hey you can’t please everybody

          • desktom

            winning begets winning, young men learning to win as a team is the best thing as a fan you can watch. Gay teaching the kids about hog ball , losing a 27 point lead teaching them to never let up. Defense gets floor time, knowing where you are supposed to be in the offensive end and looking for your teammates and a gm that has a vision , Its a great time to be a Raptor fan , come on I will give you a hand up on the bandwagon.

            • lewro

              more like the luneywagon

              • desktom

                Is your tanking mangina sore? Tank this.

                • lewro

                  by that logic you’d be a eunuch. tank on

                • desktom

                  Lets get this straight , tankers are losers with no balls and hence have a mangina that makes them pouty and not nice to be around when the Raptors win. Now if you were just a loser with no balls and didn’t have a mangina you wouldn’t care about anything ,in conclusion I am a man with two very functioning balls and want this team to win every game so that makes meal loyal supporter of my team getting better, have some midal

  • DrFunk

    3-1 since the rudy gay caper, beating the aging awfulness that is the lakers, the juggernaut 76ers (gross) minus the cellulitis-ridden MCW (grosser) and an injury rattled, exhausted bulls team who i attempted their 4th game in 5 nights (DJ Augustin? really? yikes), scorching our way to a 9-13 record in the Least and thus making us “also pretty good”. its way too early to be this cynical on a sunday but that opening line is hilarious. our next 11 include charlotte, dallas, okc, san antonia, miami, kincks x2, indiana (x2 i think?), washington and the bulls. our pretty good team will be lucky to get 4 or 5 wins in that stretch maybe less. I m enjoying the new raptors as much as everyone else, but make no mistake this is still an awful basketball team, moving Lowry and clearing even more cap room (hopefully get some young players or picks, im so excited to see what masai can pull off with an actually talented player AND a reasonable contract after witnessing his last 2 feats).we ll be have like 14-15 wins come mid january. hopefully! has anyone watch the west lately, aka nba basketball teams?? we do not belong in the same league!…. yet!
    (you should have goosebumps from the shear inspiration of that last part) make the games exciting, keep developing our studs (TRoss and JV look like completely different players, happy, engaged, successful) and build a low cap/high financial flexibility scenario with a young core + (hopefully) good drafting and we ll be set! thats my two cents on where this team is going anyways. but we ll probably fuck it up and win a championship or something.

    • lewro

      You’re right, stay the course, be realistic about how good this team is in relation to the rest of the league. It’s great to finally see the raps play watchable basketball but let’s not get carried away with unrealistic expectations. Colangelo dug this trench for many years, masai can’t fill it in 6 days and rest on the 7th (which is today – sunday). he will trade lowry and see how the team does after that. that has to happen first before we get carried away with dd and amir.

  • ahoang

    Good article Garrett.
    It’s been a renewed sense of hope for the team again. Still miles away from a true contender, but at least MU is given a chance to see the potential of this team.
    Maybe we can aspire to be like the 04 Pistons? A bigger sample is definitely needed as we can’t fall back into the infamous il mago the magnifico trap. Lowry would be great to have around, but if we can turn him into something cheaper and more assets for the future then so be it. Unless we’re getting a decent PG back, I don’t see this Raps success being sustained with Vasquez/Buycks/Stone.

    Anyway, let’s enjoy this for now. Those Leafs and Raptors win nights don’t come by that often!

  • keith

    When was the last time Denver had a top 3 pick? What range was Ty Lawson and Co. drafted at?

    point being, everyone who thinks Masai’s game plan is to get top 5 picks only because that is the ONLY way to draft good players, then you don’t know him. He finds talent anywhere in the first round. He also finds good deals to fill out a great team.

    So I am not worried if we tank to get a top 3 pick. I would much rather keep DD, Amir and JV (Lowry can go because he will demand money next year and can add assets, picks or not). Wiggins would be nice but not at the cost of what is already here. I would much rather see what he can find at 19 or 20 that could be added to the current group.

    Plus I am not totally sold that Wiggins and Randle are the “next great thing” anymore. Wiggins has some flaws and Randle disappears a lot, like yesterday.

    • AB4EYE

      We also don’t have Melo to trade either.

    • Mihkel Bafter

      How many times has Denver made it out of the first round is actually a better question.

  • Ho Tep

    Three days of Casey practice ahead, he’ll iron that blip right out.

    I mean, how is this mix so encouraging right out of the box? Aren’t teams supposed to gel?

  • Saskatoon Raps Fan

    I came into this season an anti-tanker, but watching rudy suck the fun out of watching basketball quickly had me on the pro tank side. This article sums up my feelings perfectly. I’m flip flopping right now. I do believe that tanking is probably best for the future. However, if Lowry, Derozan, and maybe Amir are not gone very soon it’s going to be too late to do it properly. In that case I would rather some playoff basketball and see what Masai can do with the new flexibility than throw everything away to end up with the 10th-12th pick anyways

  • morgan c

    Point is I trust Masai in the short to long term either way. I have faith that if we can get and stay ahead in the Atlantic, he’ll let the team stay together as a 4 seed. Important to note we could potentially win a playoff round. Why not try to win and instill a winning culture if you can? Possibly we’ll see Lowry go either way, but if we get a guard in return, I’m confident that whoever that is plus Vasquez can still play competently this year.

    If we keep treading water, and can’t win consistently, I similarly trust Masai to trade trade trade. Either way, this isn’t the worst position to be in right now and it is nice to see some good team ball.

    Go Raps!

    • Mihkel Bafter

      Actually it is the worst position to be in. Ujiri himself has said he doesn’t want to be in this position.

  • rtzyyz

    I have been teetering on the tank not tank fence for a few months now. However, after thinking about Masai’s body of work at Denver I am off the opinion that tank for draft position is not his M.O. Having said that even if it was I took the time to watch Wiggins play last night. I haven’t seen any of the other guys but this guy is not NBA ready and I truly don’t see how he can turn this franchise around.

    Lastly, I am done with the tank talk. I cannot sit and cheer for losing. I want the raps to win every game they play and I trust the MU will bring us to the promised land. He got rid of AB RG created cap room in the future, flexibility and it is clear he had a plan. I think the parts on this team may not be the Star we are all hoping for but as long as they play as a team, are fun to watch and the young guys are Developing then I’m happy.

    GO RAPS!

  • moe

    all raptors need is a top 6 and they might get a future star. Wiggins,randle,exum,parker.embied,smart… anyone of these would be great hopefully smart or exjm because we need s great PG

  • Rap fan 2

    I think the litmus test on whether you break things down and go for a high lottery pick is whether or not you are able to beat the top NBA teams on a consistent basis. To be considered a title contender we need to beat teams like Miami, Indiana, San Antonio and Oklahoma City. Are we good enough to beat these teams? It’s true that we have more depth with the Rudy Gay trade and the players have bought into playing team system ball. Playing team offensive and defensive system ball allows you a better chance to maximize your team offensive and defensive efficiency ratings. Maximizing on efficiency gives you a better shot at winning more games. Look, we need some vision here. I think we need to be have some patience and discipline. I think adding another piece high in this upcoming lottery will make us that much better. I still say we need two or three years for us to be there.

    • CJT

      The only teams that beat those team consistently are those teams. There are only 4 teams in the NBA that are true “contenders” and those are them. I don’t think that not beating them means tear down all your assets and start again. That is not the only way to improve your roster while trying to remain competitive.

  • thatpeterguy

    I think because as Raptor fans we have all been traumatized by the constant knee-jerk, quick fix style moves made by the previous regimes over the past two decades that many of us find the idea of tanking refreshing. But what I think we are forgetting is that while tanking is one way to go, there is also the option of patience. You can keep your focus on winning if you have the patience and discipline to only make moves that aid the future ie. clearing cap space, adding draft picks/young prospects, and developing a consistent team identity.

    • Tanks-a-lot

      That projected $12 million in salary savings could go a long way.
      I don’t think Masai is the type to overpay anyone so I like that Toronto could be a force in the free agent market

      • Louvens Remy

        There’s only 3 ways a free agent signs with your team. 1. Money 2. Talent on the Roster and 3. Winning. Any combination of 2 of those 3 things and you got yourself a chance to land a high caliber talent. Toronto only has 1.5 of those things right now. A little bit more talent on the roster and I can see someone coming that makes a significant difference.

        • You think the Raptors have 1.5 of those things right now? You think they almost have enough talent to attract high calibre talent? Is there a player on this roster I’m not aware of, because there isn’t even an All Star in the roster right now, and if the East wasn’t devoid of healthy talent this year, DeRozan wouldn’t even be in the conversation.

          The NBA is such that you need elite talent to attract elite talent, and that describes no one on the current roster.

          And there’s also the little issue with Toronto not being a prime NBA destination city.

          • Louvens Remy

            1. They got money. 2. They have developing talent in JV and DD, so I gave them a half. Maybe should have said 1.25 Not elite but who knows, if DD continues to develop or if we make a trade that lands us more assets we can trade for some elite talent. Not there yet. As for Toronto not being an NBA ready destination, that has to do with all the Americans not knowing anything about Canada and taxes. Once you start winning, “destination” city is out the window in my opinion.

            • Yes, they have money but so do most team.

              Valanciunas is a decent prospect, but he’s not attracting anyone, even if he fulfills his potential.

              You already known my thoughts on DeRozan. At best, he’s a borderline All Star. Guys like that don’t attract players.

              Winning certainly never helped San Antonio, Oklahoma, Denver, Atlanta, or Dallas attract anyone of note, did it? If winning is going to attract players, there’s a difference between winning 45-50 games and being a low seed in the playoffs and actually being a contender. People will play for a contender, but in order to be a contender, you pretty much need that elite player. It’s kind of a catch-22.

              • Louvens Remy

                San Antonio: Never really pursued any big name free agents that I could think of. Not part of their MO
                OKC: They obviously don’t want to spend money…hence getting rid of Harden. Plus they had to take care of two other superstars.
                Denver: I think while Melo was there it was a money thing too. After he left MU changed his philosophy about big name free agents and built a team by committee
                ATL: You may have a point there.
                Dallas: What the hell were they doing after the championship? In my opinion, Cuban over read the tea leaves on the new bargaining agreement, but I am sure if they decided to go full out and get a free agent they could. Cuban seems to have not pursued the guys like Howard and Deron Williams hard enough.

                Anyway, my point is that if those players, JV and DD continue to develop and the club starts to win, an elite player may come here. Or they could just wait 5 years for Wiggins and sign him then.

                • San Antonio went after a few second tier free agents but never got them.

                  Oklahoma only recently have had financial “problems”.

                  Denver never had any problem with money. Carmelo just wanted out because, while they kept making the playoffs, they only made it past the first round once. Plus, I think he wanted a bigger market.

                  Denver simply could acquire the right talent to surround Carmelo, expect the once when they traded for an aging Chauncey Billups.

                  Dallais the perfect example of why it’s dangerous to depend on signing great free agents to turn your team around.

                  As for waiting five years to sign Wiggins, you do realize he’ll be a restricted free agent, then. If he’s an elite player, then the team that drafts him will match any offer. The most likely scenario is that he signs a three year extension and then becomes a free agent after 7 years (8 years from now). I don’t see how that’s more enticing than a couple of years of tanking.

                  I also don’t see how holding out hope that one day an elite player might one day end up in Toronto through a trade or free agency is any more of a pie in the sky plan than tanking. I really don’t. The “best player” the Raptors have ever been able to sign was Hedo Turkoglu, and the “best player” they were able to trade for was Rudy Gay. In 18 years.

          • lewro

            sadly, drake is that talent. maybe he can convince master p to lace em up for a second training camp in 2014? master p is too good to tank and he will push us to the coveted 7th seed. That’s a championship for this raps fan. now i must return to ogling my roseanne posters.

  • Dr. Scooby

    Hold on folks:

    this team is playing better because 1) it couldn’t get much worse, and 2) opposing teams (a.k.a average and crap teams) are temporarily discombobulated defending against our new offense. Teams will figure it out and fans will be having mortal thoughts again about the quality of this team in a few weeks…or less with this fickle bunch..

    • desktom

      This team is playing better because a massive tumorous cancer has been removed from the offensive end. I don’t care who you are in the NBA if you win on the road you have done something. Sure teams are going to start defending us better and yes we are going to lose against the better teams , and yes we are in tough the next couple of weeks but I still say winning is a lot better then losing. Tanking with Demar and Amir is not in the cards, there are other more probable ways of getting a high draft pick. The gm has a vision of what he wants lets see what he does.

      • Dr. Scooby

        It depends on your goal for this team;

        *if your goal is merely to make a run at the playoffs without any real expectation to compete for a championship, then pray they win enough games to do so and enjoy.
        *If like me, you’re tired of average or below average Raptor teams and want to win at least 55 or 60 times a season, then do it right way – slowly build around a couple of young 1st or 2nd all NBA level talents over the next 3-5 yrs and get thrilled with the knowledge that this team means business and nothing less will do!

        • desktom

          Lets do both.

          • Dr. Scooby

            Ha, Nope gotta choose one. Team needs a plan going forward or you’re just like Colangelo (you know – winging it, smiling and hoping…hoping…hoping…)

            You realize that a couple of all-NBA talents requires you to either trade for them (not happening) or you d r a f t them in the top 5 …that means being in the lottery babies!

  • steve fisher

    WOW!!! MU may very well be putting the KL trades on the back burner sit back enjoy and evaluate which reflects his basic approach anyway. This is only the second game with only 3 of the 4 new players. C Hayes is a very useful big banger who thrives on defense. This additional depth coupled with the improved chemistry gelling is only likely to get better. This will only make KL look better forcing his price to go up up and away. Its possible, who knows that the Raps have stumbled onto something very special. There is almost no reason to rush into any trade unless it is far to good to pass up. This is obviously working and will probably continue to get better as they continue to get used to playing together. If we trade kL we are again without 2 experienced PG`s unless the trade includes an up and coming young guard like Taylor of the nets. hopefully patience prevails and we can enjoy this unfolding story. Our potential trade partners are the one under the gun with mounting pressure from their fans, press and MOUNTING LOSSES.

  • Justin

    Great read. I’ve been going back and forth recently in terms of which direction the team should go and reading this and all the comments just has me questioning myself even more.

    – You get the OKC / Spurs recipe to sway you towards tanking.
    – You have the Charlotte, Washington recipe that makes you think that we should “stay course”
    – You also have the current Boston Celtics and Pheonix Suns that are ahead in their rebuild phase:

    Boston *who I believe finished 7th in the standings last year), had the 13-15th pick to grab Kelly Olynyk. A potentiel long term impact player. And one could argue that last year’s draft was relatively weak. This year… a relatively strong draft class, can you argue that there is still some very good players later in the draft ?

    • Charlotte and Washington should never be used as an example of anything but poor management decisions.

      • Justin

        Definitely, the examples are still enough to screw with your mind though haha

      • ItsAboutFun

        Haha, “example of anything but poor management decisions”? The same could be said of tanking, with plenty of NBA history to back it up, but you keep touting that every other day?

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  • TheSpiceTyrant

    The easiest way to blow it up is not protect the ball. Getting rid of KLow would partially do this but now we have GV. I don’t think MU is consciously blowing up this team.

    Now if the game starts with he announcer saying “starting at pg: Dwight Buycks”…

  • Jamshid

    “For now, though, the Raptors are fun to watch, and pretty good, too. And that’s new and refreshing enough that it’s more than enough for me.”
    LOL, Pretty good !!! You reach this conclusion just after 2 games and against very poor opponents. Come on, this is fool’s gold !!! This team is perfect for staying in no man’s land, right around 10-9-8 position in the play off races.

    • CJT

      They have played four games since Rudy departed and ball movement become the plan.
      Most of the tanking nation were picking both Philly and Chicago to beat the Raps in the forums, so to say that they were supposed to win these games was not the commonly shared belief last week. Chicago was top 4 in the East last year with a similar team.

      • Jamshid

        No, they lost players over the summer. Again, Raptor fans are getting too excited for no reason. Thank god UM knows better and does not fall for these sort of false hope.

        “Chicago was top 4 in the East last year with a similar team.”

        What does this even means ? Are you suggesting that this new team is a top 4 team in East now !!!

      • You’re referring to Chicago, who have lost ten of their last thirteen, and were missing Kirk Hinrich, along with Derrick Rose, and started Marquis Teague, who they just recalled from the D-League. And also Philadelphia, who have lost 9 of their last 11 games and were missing the team’s best player, in Michael Carter-Williams.

        What people in the forums were saying has no real baring on whether the Raptors should or should not have beaten those teams. But the way they’ve been playing and the fact that they were missing key players does mean they really should have.

  • Tyhudg

    I would rather see the Raps make the playoffs and get bombed than have a last place season to get a high draft pick. Making it to the playoffs will go a long way in renewing at least a measure of faith and confidence in fringe fans. Considering fringe fans represent the majority of the fans, this could be worth something. Plus getting last place really guarantees nothing, in the lottery or with the subsequent pick. I’d love to see Wiggins in TO…. but it might not be what is best for him as a player. Then again I don’t know that much about basketball, but this is just my opinion.

    • The team will get FAR more fans by building a contender than a team whose annual goal is making the playoffs.

  • Louvens Remy

    Brooklyn is going to win the Atlantic. Toronto 2nd, Boston, NY, Phila.

  • TORaps

    As much as I would love to get a top pick in this year’s draft, realistically our team has too much talent to be positioned near the bottom of the league unless we totally blow this team up and trade DD and Amir for nothing but scrubs and flexibility in return (cuz no one is going to be trading lottery picks for this year’s draft). And that is NOT building a winning culture, which Masai has expressed many times in his presses (i.e believes in karma, development, etc).

    Yes, the Rudy trade brought flexibility, but it also brought two young players in Vasquez and Patterson that are restricted free agents this year, which MU can determine if they’re part of our future. With his reluctance to trade Lowry for insignificant/dwindling talent (Felton and World Peace), Masai’s approach is to get low risk, future rewards, rather than BC’s high risk high reward mentality, which brought the mediocrity because he wasn’t patient and often went for the homerun moves. As it stands, I am totally fine with seeing a young developing team hungry to make the playoffs instead of a borderline unwatchable team just to get a high pick with no assurance that we’ll turn into a contender (i.e kings, cavs, charlotte, wolves, etc.). The difference between BC’s 06-07 team and this one, is that this team has a MUCH higher ceiling, and Masai has a great track record of evaluating talent and making trades when he knows players are not part of the future (signing/trading for Nene, Iguodala, etc, and trading of Melo, Primo Pasta, and Rudy).

    For once, let’s be fans, cheer on this team, and enjoy watching real growth and development from “team” guys like DD, Amir, JV, Ross, Vasquez, Patterson, and whoever Masai trades Lowry for. Sure there’s no star talent in those guys mentioned, but it’s looking a lot like how MU constructed Denver–Young, Developing, Team-first players. It’s going to be exciting following Masai’s next move, he definitely seems to know what he’s doing.

  • lewro

    yo moderator – what’s up with the censorship? i told desktom that he is mentally ill and you let it stand but then i called him a eunuch and it was erased. So the take away is that’s it ok to be crazy but not asexual? Is this ad hoc censorship or are the guidelines? Please post a link re: forum etiquette. Thanks.

    • If conversations devolve into personal insults, the entire conversation tends to be deleted to put a stop to it. We don’t always see every insult, but the goal is to prevent personal insults or offensive behaviour.

      • ItsAboutFun

        Yet you, a trigger happy (post deletion machine) moderator yourself, constantly insult those that disagree with you by saying they’re satisfied with mediocrity. Who are you to be a judge of what they’re satisfied with, and how do you not see that as an insult? Do you really think you’re the all knowing one who knows the ONLY way out of the treadmill path? Never mind, of course you think you are, but it would behoove you to look in a mirror before being so self-righteous about insults, Subtlety doesn’t make them less insulting.

        ——– cue the deletion of this post.

  • Jack Canucki

    OT…. did ya notice that Rudy Gay torched the Rockets with 26 pts. and is now shooting the light out with Sacramento… must be the change in climate!

    Wonder if Rudy was doing a “vince” while in TO…. get me outa here!!!

    • Tanks-a-lot

      “Wonder if Rudy was doing a “vince”

      Nah, he just sucks as a first option. Especially on a team trying to get touches to the younger up and coming players.

      On the Kings, Cousins is the first option on offence. Isaiah Thomas is the number 2 option, notice that he had a great game as well.

      I did notice that Gay was 50% 10-20. That’s still a lot of FGAs.

      • Jack Canucki

        I don’t know…. Rudy’s performances in TO sucked bad. The announcers were referring to his Lasik eye surgery as an excuse for his lobbing bricks. Oh well.. he’s just a distant memory now!

  • Hassan Mehmood Khan

    why dont we trade lowry to pheonix for some picks

  • doncity

    I think some people on this board want to prove how serious they are about basketball by claiming to enjoy watching even when a team is losing on purpose. I guess they’re like the “hipsters” of fans because they feel like only the weak actually watch basketball to root for a team to win. No these pro-tankers are the true basketball believers, ready to sit through blowout losses in February so they can personally compile their own advanced stats on each game.

    They can’t be reasoned with. Even if the Raptors pull off a miracle and make it to the third playoff round they will find fault with some defensive scheme or another. They murmur things like “too much iso ball – run the pick and roll” in their sleep, I imagine. I suppose these sorts of “fans” have always existed, but it took the internet to provide a forum for their predilections. God knows they’re too boring for open-line sports radio.

    All I can say is, I’m not running the team and I don’t claim to be more intelligent than those in charge. Masai’s done a good job of clearing salary while keeping the team respectable and BC for all his faults left Toronto with some talented young players. If it works, great. If not, I’ll be disappointed. But the one thing I will not do is willingly give up my Friday nights or Sunday afternoons to watch a team lose on purpose. If that makes me somehow delusional or weak, so be it.

    Tanking a half-decent team is just too cynical a ploy for me, and I really think those who enthusiastically support such tactics should look at their own lives. Have they made compromises that lead them to believe the only way to win is to lose on purpose? Do they hate their jobs and lives that much? The funny thing is, every fan understands that if the team isn’t good, a sell-off is inevitable. So what’s the rush? Gay was supposed to be the anchor to our doom – completely untradeable. Masai got rid of him, his contract and made the team better by filling some obvious holes. Maybe I’m just too casual a fan, too impressed by mere wins, but I think it’s good time to fly the Raptor flag.

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