Raptors GM Masai Ujiri watched Fenerbahce Ulker-Partizan game in İstanbul… Think that he was there for Bogdanovic.
— Halil Can Pelister (@HCanPelister) December 13, 2013
This team needs to get busy losing, or get busy dying. Yes, it is perverse that sports has incentivized failure in this way, but them’s the breaks. In the NBA the superstars, if given the choice, usually gravitate to the glamour franchises. Raptors management is said to believe that yes, tanking is the way to proceed, breaking a long string of team history in which they accidentally lost games. Failure is success. War is peace. Ignorance is strength.
“No matter who’s on the court, we’ve still got to play to win,” DeRozan said earlier in the evening. “That’s our whole mindset, to go out there and play as well as we can. Put our hearts out there and play to win the game. “I think everybody in this locker room is living game-to-game. Nobody looks too far ahead. We just take care of our job and do it every single day.” The “we” is a little different now but then, so are the results. In the three games since Gay’s departure was made official, the Raptors have moved the ball for 23, 25 and 26 assists, uncorked from the forward’s ball-stopping ways. Toronto still ranks last in the league at 18.3 assists per game – but in a mere week’s time, it has boosted that average by a full assist.
This isn’t another slag on Gay, who had been Toronto’s second-best defender and rebounder this season even as his once renowned offensive game had left him. He’s a fine player, just not here, not with this group, not in the role he had been given and that’s what Casey tried to tiptoe around following Saturday’s convincing win by the Raptors over the stumbling Chicago Bulls. Asked whether it was a rather large knock on Rudy that the team looks far more effective without him, Casey declined to play that game. “No. It has nothing to do with Rudy whatsoever. I think just the pieces fit more from that respect. It has nothing to do with Rudy personally,” Casey finessed.
Their unselfish play appears to be contagious. DeRozan – who Casey said is playing “like an old man,” on account of his improved court awareness – has taken advantage of his new role in the offence, acting as the team’s quarterback, a role Gay could never or would never accept. Casey is getting 48 minutes of competent point guard play from Vasquez and Kyle Lowry, whose trade value continues to go up as he produces at a high level. Even sophomore Terrence Ross – averaging less than an assist per game as a pro – contributed a career-best four helpers.
I should probably make clear that neither Salmons nor Hayes will be sticking around for the long haul. Please don’t act surprised. Both individuals were added to simply make the numbers work from a salary standpoint.
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