I will admit it. I’m not nearly as thrilled about the Raptors’ recent success as most Raptor fans are. That’s not to say I’m not happy to see the recent development of Jonas Valanciunas and Terrence Ross. Or the rise of DeMar DeRozan into an All Star-worthy player. Or the all around game that Kyle Lowry has been displaying. That’s all great. But at this point, I’m more interested in the big picture. You need to walk before you can run, but you need to have the right legs to run really fast.

1. Muhammad was never considered to be on the same level, as a prospect, as any of the top players in this draft, and his play at UCLA paled in comparison to Wiggins, Parker or Randle. Harrison Barnes was another much-hyped prospect that didn’t live up to expectations, but those expectations were lowered due to not living up to expectations at North Carolina. And like Muhammad, Barnes’ play doesn’t compare to the top prospects for 2014.

Even before the season started, I was gearing up for the big tank/rebuild/development year and was really looking forward to getting one of the top picks in what pretty much every scout and executive say will be a draft for the ages (Wiggins may be the biggest prize for Raptor fans, but it’s a tossup right now between four or five players for who will end up being the top pick). Those fans who point to players like Shabazz Muhammad as guys who were hyped early but didn’t pan out as a reason not to expect too much from this draft need to do a little more research before making that argument1.

With the win against Indiana, on the first of January, the Raptors reached .500 in January for the first time since 2010, when Chris Bosh was still a Raptor and Hedo Turkoglu was still shilling for Pizza, Pizza. After the win against Indiana, the team with the NBA’s best record, hopes were higher in Toronto than they’d been in years. Fans were not only talking playoffs, but actually winning a playoff series or two.

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2. The Knicks also beat Miami last night by 10. And there are few teams as dysfunctional as the New York Knicks. None one of their top three scorers play an ounce of defense and have no idea of the difference between a good shot and a bad one. Despite this, all five experts over at ESPN 5-on-5 predicted the Knicks would make the playoffs, mostly because the East is just awful.

Keep in mind, though, the same week Toronto beat Indiana, the Knicks beat San Antonio and Brooklyn beat Oklahoma. And Sacramento beat Miami the week before and then went out and beat Portland the week after2. Any team can beat any other team in the NBA at any given time. That’s why the playoffs are seven game series. So the NBA can give the best team the best chance to come out on top.

3. Everyone loves an underdog, but underdogs rarely win in the NBA. The scrappy team without “stars” have won exactly once in the NBA’s 64 year history. And it’s difficult to call the the 2004 Detroit Pistons as a team without stars. Ben Wallace won an NBA record four Defensive Player of the Year awards and Chauncey Billups was one of the best clutch performers of his generation.

When you have to win four times out of seven, it takes away the possibility the underdog will prevail. The NBA playoffs isn’t the NCAAs.3

And while basketball is a team game, in the playoffs, the team lead by the most talented players tend to win. That’s why most NBA Champions have, at least, one top ten player on the roster. Last season’s Denver Nuggets were a regular season darling that inspired countless articles talking about how their style of play will revolutionize the game. But when the playoffs hit, they failed to advance past the first round against a team that featured a coming of age performance for All-World point guard, Stephen Curry.

If you don’t win in the playoffs, your regular season success is quickly forgotten. The Nuggets won an NBA franchise best 57 games, last season, but after losing in the first round, again, they lost their best player, in Andre Iguodala, saw their Coach of the Year, George Karl, fired and their GM of the Year leave for Toronto.

While the Nuggets were a good team, they didn’t have that elite player teams generally need to be a contender in the league. Iguodala was a very good player for them, and the only Nugget to ever appear in an All Star game, but he’s never going to be the best player on a title contender, and now he’s gone anyway. Yes, Denver had other reasons for it’s lack of playoff success, but one big one was the simply lacked a player who they could depend on when the going got tough. They didn’t have that franchise player that teams so desperately need.

In fact the Denver Nuggets haven’t made it past the first round since they traded their petulant franchise player, Carmelo Anthony, to New York.

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When Masai Ujiri took control of the Denver Nuggets, back in 2010, his first order of business was trading Anthony to the Knicks for a collection of assets featuring Italian sharp-shooter, Danilo Gallinari. When trading away franchise players, teams generally have two choices of how to proceed. Some teams use it as a trigger to blow up a team that was obviously not performing up to expectations (otherwise why would they trade their best player), whereas other teams go the Denver route and try and remain competitive, hoping to either develop, sign or trade for an eventual replacement for their departed franchise player.

While Ujiri was able to keep Denver’s winning percentage above 57% during his tenure, he was never able to acquire an elite player or get his team out of the first round.

Grantland’s Zach Lowe recently wrote an article discussing the situation Denver finds itself in.

It feels like Denver has lost ground in both directions. The Nuggets are no longer an “if everything goes right” title contender, and their potential trade package for a disgruntled star isn’t as appealing as it once was. They risk meandering through the league’s muddled middle, with no clear path out.

That’s the big danger teams like Denver have. Collecting assets only works if you can actually turn them into something. Yes, Houston was able to turn it’s assets into James Harden, but there are only so many times we can point to Houston without realizing they’re the exception, not the rule. And eventually you’ve got to start paying those assets, which makes them a little more difficult to package for a better player.

Ironically, after the Raptors beat the Pistons Wednesday night, they finished the evening with the exact same record as the Denver Nuggets, 17-17. But while the Raptors are sitting with the fourth best record in the East and a fourth seed, the Nuggets are two games behind Dallas for the last playoff spot.

The Raptors’ roster has a similar makeup as the Nuggets last year. They are deep with decent talent, but lacking in elite talent. DeRozan and Lowry are in the All Star conversation, but if either is your best player, or even second best player, then your team will not likely be a contender.

4. There are currently more than 20 teams projected to have cap room this summer, and many of those will be under the cap by more than $10 million. And unless all those players who have player options (LeBron, Carmelo, etc) decide to opt out, there is going to be a lot of money available for not a whole lot of top tier players. Remember what happened the last time lots of teams had cap room? Carlos Boozer got paid $80 million over five years by the Bulls after LeBron, Wade and Bosh rebuffed their offers.

DeRozan is probably making a little more than he should be for a guy who isn’t very good on the defensive end, doesn’t score all that efficiently and doesn’t exactly knock your socks off with anything else he does. And Lowry is going to be an unrestricted free agent this summer. And the best way to get someone overpaid is to make them an unrestricted free agent the summer after a career year and during an offseason when a record number of teams have cap space4. Possibly the only thing worse than overpaying Lowry this summer is losing him for nothing.

The Raptors also have to figure out what they will be doing with Greivis Vasquez and Patrick Patterson this summer. Both will be restricted free agents and the Raptors have to decide whether they want to offer them a qualifying offer allowing them to match any offers they might get, or let them go for nothing.

On the other hand, Amir Johnson’s contract is one of the better deals out there, and both Valanciunas and Ross are on their rookie contract.

These players certainly help the Raptors compete against most teams in the league. If Lowry is re-signed, however, the Raptors will have little cap room to spend, and none if Patterson is brought back or John Salmons’ team option is picked up.

While the Raptors do have some decent talent, any trade for an elite player is probably going to gut the roster, leaving little to actually surround that player with enough talent to compete on a nightly basis. And trading for an elite player is not only difficult, it’s risky. Ujiri traded for Iguodala (who’s not an elite player, but was still the best player on the Nuggets) only to see him leave a year later to a team that beat them in the playoffs. One that already had an elite player.

Denver had made ten consecutive playoff appearances, yet not only couldn’t sign any free agents of note, they had trouble keeping the good players they had. The oft-repeated notion by fans that winning will make players want to come doesn’t seem to be true in reality.

The Raptors are scheduled to have plenty of cap room in the summer of 2015, though, as long as they don’t take any large contracts between then and now. Of course, the team hasn’t had a whole lot of success in the free agent market in the past, and after seeing Dallas and Atlanta strike out time and time again in their failed attempts to reel a big fish, it’s very evident that simply winning isn’t enough.

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The Raptors have played so well, recently however, that they might convince some fans that the current roster is good enough. Especially if the players continue to improve and develop. The “internal development” argument is often used when the prospect of outside improvement doesn’t look promising.

The problem is that most of the roster are playing at a career high level. That’s simply not sustainable. There is a mistaken belief that young players always improve. They don’t. Most ebb and flow. Some peak early, some peak late, and some just plug along at the same level throughout their career.

5. While DeRozan has improved, especially passing the ball, his scoring has increased mostly due to the fact he’s taking more shots and playing a career high minutes. His three point percentage has increased only slightly, and is still shooting under 30% for the season from there. He’s also shooting the second worst True Shooting Percentage of his career. And while his defense has improved, he’s still a negative on that end.

That’s not to say that DeRozan isn’t having a good year. He’s scoring more when it matters and hitting tough shots. But he also has shown he should not be a team’s first option, or likely their second option.

Players don’t have unlimited ceilings. Valanciunas and Ross will likely develop more and Valanciunas has the potential to be a very good centre/center. DeRozan still couldn’t improve more, but it’s unlikely those improvements will be very big improvement over last season isn’t as big as many might think5.

And at 27, Lowry is likely playing as well as he ever will. And there is a very big danger that Lowry has peaked during this contract year and could see a decline. Lowry isn’t Mike James, but he certainly wouldn’t be the first player to relax a little after signing a big contract. And that’s assuming he re-signs with the Raptors, which isn’t even close to a sure thing.

While I’m a huge fan of Amir, he is mostly the same player he’s been the last couple of seasons.  Players in their 9th year rarely improve much. He’s a good player, but he is what he is.

The team also can’t play much better than they have been. There have been fewer “dud” games since the Rudy Gay trade than most teams have had during that period. Like players, teams peak at different times during the season. Philadelphia surprised everyone with their great start, lost 15 of their next 17 games and have recently won 5 of their last 9 games.

Teams also learn to adjust to players and teams. The Raptors play has surprised a lot of teams, but the Raptors will start facing teams that are better prepared for what they do, now.

You also have to wonder about the minutes and health of DeRozan and Lowry. DeRozan is playing the third most minutes in the league, and his three point shooting has declined steadily since November. DeRozan is not only playing a career high in minutes, he is shouldering the biggest offensive burden, too. Although he has missed few games to injury, throughout his career, there’s a very good chance we’ll see a tired DeRozan struggle more with his shot and defensively as the season wears on.

Lowry plays the same number of minutes as LeBron James and Paul George (tied for 13th best in the league), has only played a full season once in his career, and plays the type of game that puts his body at risk. The likelihood of an injury for Lowry is very good. And while Lowry has his flaws (he still takes far too many bad shots at the worst times), the team cannot take an extended absence from Lowry without struggling.

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So much depends on Lowry, not just this season but for the future. They’re fourth in the Conference right now, but both the Nets and Knicks have been playing .500 ball recently and Brooklyn is currently in the 8th spot (a far cry from when they were second worst just a few weeks ago). The Atlantic Division title is not exactly a lock and the Raptors are only a game and a half better than the 6th place Bulls. If the Raptors end up with the 7th or 8th seed, then a drubbing by Indiana or Miami is what would await the Raptors in the playoffs. Hardly the playoff return most fans would have hoped for.

Even if the Raptors are able to hold onto the lead in the Atlantic Division, and get the fourth seed for the playoffs, the future is very unclear. Will Lowry re-sign? If so, will he be worth it and can he sustain his level of play? If not, how can the Raptors replace him?

With the ceiling of this team realistically being a second round team at best, how can Ujiri take the next step? Is there any reason to believe he can do in Toronto what he couldn’t in Denver?

My biggest problem with Ujiri, so far, is that he doesn’t seem to have a real plan. And he doesn’t seem to be a guy who likes to make the tough decisions. Was his plan really to wait and see how the team did before making any decisions? Wasn’t he familiar with the roster before he took the job? And what exactly did he do over the summer?

Denver Nuggets Masai Ujiri Introduced As New Exec VP of Ops

His indecision certainly hurt the team when he finally decided to trade Gay. Trading Bargnani was an easy decision because so many fans wanted him gone. But trading Gay before the season, when his value was probably much higher, would have been tougher. And smarter.

Ujiri seems to be too easily swayed by things other than what is best for the long term prospects of the team, despite his assurances to the contrary. The Raptors recent success should not have altered Ujiri’s plans, but they seem to have. Lowry will still be a free agent this summer, whether or not the team makes the playoffs.

6. On a recent podcast, Raptors Republic’s own Zarar recently made the statement that finding an elite player high in the draft is easy, and what separates the bad GMs and the good GMs is being able to find the talent later in the draft. Actually, what separates the good GM from the great GM is doing whatever it takes to build a legitimate contender. If that means tanking, then so be it.

The ceiling of the team hasn’t changed despite going 11-5 since trading Gay. They still lack that elite player he knows the teams needs. And he still knows, despite many claims to the contrary, the best way to acquire elite talent is high in the draft6

No GM who has won a title hasn’t made the tough decision, whether it’s trading away a top ten centre/center for a high school player picked 13th in the draft. Or whether it’s refusing to take on or sign any long term contracts for a year or two just to make sure you’ll have enough cap room to sign three max free agents.

Danny Ainge knew there would be backlash when he traded the second longest tenured player in Celtic history, but he broke up a playoff team that included Kevin Garnett because he knew it was best for the team, long term.

Yes, the Raptors team is much younger, but there are no Paul Pierces or Kevin Garnetts on it. And the likelihood of acquiring one gets more difficult, not less difficult, the more they win.

Bryan Colangelo made the mistake of believing he would be able to lure talent to Toronto and was eventually fired for that failure. Saying you will make Toronto a destination and making it happen are two very different things.

The hardest thing for a GM to do is to turn a good team into a great team. The Raptors have the ability to be a good team, but not a great team. They don’t have the potential to become a contender. There are certainly Raptor fans that would be happy with a that, but I’m not one of them. Fans that don’t demand excellence from their team will never get it.

I don’t feel there’s any reason the Raptors can’t become a contender and have a legitimate shot at the NBA Championship. Just not with this roster. Not with this foundation.

The consequence of doing nothing right now might very well be to limit the ceiling of the Raptors for the near future. And I don’t feel it’s worth it considering what the team is right now. A decent team in a very weak conference.

I’m still very hopeful that Ujiri will make the right choices to turn the Raptors into something they’ve never been, but all he’s shown so far is that he can trade away players that the fans don’t like and get a decent return for them. What he needs to do is start making the tough decisions the fans might not agree with in order to give the team the best future they can have.

There are those who won’t like what I’ve written, and that’s your right (just as it’s mine to write it). For those that just want to look on the bright side, let me leave you with this….

  • Stu Jackson

    You need more love in your life Tim W

    • 2damkule

      haha…yup, i can hear the braying from far off in the distance.

    • Roarque

      Another personal attack? Backed up with facts to refute the premise?
      I know, let’s see if we can set a record for the number of comments made to TimW’s post. He’s the Peggy Wente of Raptors Republic. Wish you got paid as well as her, eh Tim?

  • DDayLewis

    Get ready for the Tim W fallout.

    • ItsAboutFun

      What else? Keep feeding the same old, over and over and over, going to get the same result. Keep up with repeating the condescending “Some fans………(translations: aren’t as wise/smart as me)……”, the same old flaming, and same old fires get built. Agree with the opinions or not, it’s tiring, and boring.

  • arsenalist

    “Denver had other reasons for it’s lack of playoff success, but one big one was the simply lacked a player who they could depend on when the going got tough. They didn’t have that franchise player that teams so desperately need. In fact the Denver Nuggets haven’t made it past the first round since they traded their petulant franchise player, Carmelo Anthony, to New York.”

    With their franchise player (Carmelo Anthony) the Nuggets went to the playoffs 8 times, of which 7 times they were kicked out of the first round. With Carmelo Anthony. Their franchise player.

    • jjdynomite

      I love Web 2.0. Where the founder of this blog spanks one of his recruits with logic and clarity, and we can all witness it happening in public, in real time. Of course, shameless trollwriter Tim W. is probably the best thing that has happened for Arse’s readership.

      • arsenalist

        I feel bad dignifying this comment with a response, but sure. Tim is entitled to his opinion, and it’s one that is shared by many supporters of this club. It goes against the grain these days with the Raptors winning. Even I disagree and feel that the trajectory of the current squad is upwards given the cap situation and current talent levels relative to other teams. That doesn’t make Tim’s point invalid that the Raptors run a risk of muddling around in mediocrity, I happen to accept that risk and Tim doesn’t. It’s simple as that.

        Yes, his last article (the post-game for Indiana) was not the time and place to air those opinions out loud, but this is a feature piece where he’s sticking to his guns. Of course, it begs the questions whether Tim has anything new to say on the subject or whether it’s a repetition of already expounded beliefs. I think it’s the latter and we all know where we stand.

        BTW – our traffic is unaffected by articles such as these. Ask any blog, their traffic is highest when the team is winning and there is interest.

        • Tinman

          Hey – tell your employee he’s becoming stale. After less than a third of a season. Was he the only one to apply?
          Arse – don’t sell your soul for comments – most saying how repetitive he is

          • DDayLewis

            Yeah, after 5 years of growth in RR’s readership, Zarar is going to sell out for the comments. How hard do you think we hunt for comments? Zarar isn’t Tim Wood of B/R, mandating us to generate conversation.

            • Jeopardy

              Don’t feed the troll Yo.

        • conman_15

          I thought this was a well written and well thought out article. I know it is a bit repetitive but so are a lot of the articles like how we are sharing the ball more and how we have been better since the Rudy Gay trade.
          I love this site and it is the best team site I have seen so I do feel lucky in that regard. There isn’t a whole lot more to write about now and the main topic is the direction Ujiri is going with the team in the coming weeks.

      • someguysomewhere

        I think it makes Tim W’s point, it certainly doesn’t refute it. Denver had a guy in Carmelo that nobody really considers to be the kind of star that can lead a team deep into the playoffs because he only plays one end and he’s selfish on offence. He’s still a fantastic player, but it speaks to the level of talent that you need to have in the NBA to play at a championship level. We should have all learned this lesson with Bosh, because he’s a less talented version of the same type of “franchise” player. There are a lot of players selected to the all-star team, but not even half of them will end up playing in the conference finals each year. That’s why banking on fringe all-stars like Lowry and DeRozan is a poor long-term strategy.

        • JayTeam

          If we do tank, what are the odds of drafting a player better than Carmelo?

      • Ian Reynolds

        Can we ban the word troll as if it were a swear word?

    • conman_15

      I don’t think Carmelo is seen as a superstar player along the likes of Lebron, Durant, Rose, Curry, etc. The Knicks may have thought so but it is proving to be wrong.

      • Simon

        Durant without Westbrook cannot lead a team to a championship. Look at how OKC is doing without Westbrook this season. 6-5.

        As much as I love Curry, he can’t lead a team to a championship either. Defense wins championships.

        • 2damkule

          well, i guess it’s a pretty lucky thing that they ended up with a high lottery pick to use to select russ then, innit?

        • conman_15

          I am not saying a superstar is the only component, but it is needed. Those teams would be lost without their superstar as well so I am not sure the point you are making. I would say defense with superstar talent wins championships.

          The key is how this relates to the Raptors. We can coach defense all we want but we will not win or contend for a championship without a player like Durant or Curry. Saying that they need other good players around them (easier to attain) doesn’t devalue the need for them.

    • FLUXLAND

      I don’t get what you are getting to?

      Having a franchise player is equal to not having one?

      Say, you do know who the coach was during most of those exits? G. Karl, G. Karl, G.Karl, G.Karl,….and you guessed it… G.Karl. That’s… interesting.

      • arsenalist

        What I’m saying is that getting a guy like ‘Melo in the draft does not bear much significance on results, so to suggest something like #Tank4Melo, which essentially what the article is doing, is not viable. Again, this is rooted in my belief that this draft, in the best case, has ‘Melo-type players in it, when in fact the tank-crowd feels there are LeBrons (or close to him) to be had.

        • FLUXLAND

          Got ya. While I share the same belief with regards to Melo/Bron types in the draft, I would still argue, at the end of the day, that’s the pool you should be dipping into. The alternative – dipping from a pool of players where a percentage (presumably the more talented percentage) will refuse to player here- seems futile; MU said himself he will only target players that are willing to play here. And seeing how he’s made this DDR’s team, I don’t see who’s coming here to play with him, especially after the way the RG situation was handled.

          (I say this while ignoring my belief that even lottery guys dictate where they will play.. or not play, as it were.)

        • Simon

          How is tanking even a realistic option at this point? The Raptors have won 17 games with 48 to play. If they were to win 12/48 (25%) that’s 29 wins and probably 8-10 in the lottery. And that’s even before we consider just how terrible the East actually is. The Raptors could trade Lowry for a folding chair and still might make the playoffs in this conference. Tanking this season is simply no longer possible.

          Raptors real options/decisions start with Lowry. Is he the Raptors PG of the next 4-5 years? Or do they prefer the assets he might bring in a trade? Do we let him expire and take the cap space? Or will a sign and trade option arise?

          With respect to trading any of the other core players, at this point it doesn’t seem to make much sense. Amir is a veteran leader who is still relatively young, and with a reasonable contract. JV and Ross are both starting to realize their potential, and are on rookie contracts. And despite what this article claims, DeRozan is a vastly improved player (rebounding, passing, defence all improved), and a steal at $10-12 Million per year for another three years. DeRozan could be an all-star this season and is only 24 years old. And the chemistry of this team on and off the court is noticeable and fantastic.

          The only reason to trade any of these players would be to get another teams first round pick, or better players! And which of the bottom teams is trading their pick? Not going to happen.

          My preference would be to re-sign Lowry, Patterson and maybe Vasquez. Draft a young point guard. And try to find a young quality PF/C who might eventually move Amir to the bench (e.g. Ed Davis).

          The ceiling for this Raptors team is actually quite high. It’s not Shaq and Kobe high, but it’s Ben Wallace era Detroit Pistons high, or current Indiana Pacers high.

          • Steve Lam

            everyone who keeps saying ‘how the terrible the east actually is’ needs to wake up. We are now only ONE win ahead of the NETS. Chicago are on a win streak despite losing Deng. NY are on a streak. Atlanta hasn’t dropped significantly like everyone said they would after losing Horford. Basically if we lose the Atlantic, theres actually a pretty good chance we might not even make the playoffs with Washington, Chicago and even Charlotte nearing the .500 mark as well.

            To say we have the ceiling of Indiana Pacers = fucking delusional.

            • Suns

              I’m not sure if you know how the seeding works in the NBA, but it doesn’t mean shit if we are 1 win ahead of the Nets. We are 3 full games ahead of them in the standings, which is 6 wins. Atlanta is 5-5 in their last 10, and the Bulls have beaten the likes of the Celtics and Bucks in their win streak.

            • Simon

              Sorry which player on the Pacers was a top 5 pick? Players improve. Teams improve. Ceilings are the realization of potential. If Jonas/Ross/DeRozan/Lowry REACH THEIR POTENTIAL, and the Raptors add a David West type and a couple other good role players, how are they not as good as the Pacers?

              Also, besides your misunderstanding of the NBA standings, the point of my “the East sucks” wasn’t that the Raptors are guaranteed of making the playoffs. It’s that the Raptors are virtually guaranteed (with 17 wins already) of not being a top-5 in the draft lottery. So um “there is actually a pretty good chance we might not even make the playoffs” is basically agreeing with me that it would be very hard for the Raptors to get a top 5 pick. Thanks!

              • alucart999

                I would say that they currently do not have a Paul George on the roster. That makes all the difference in the world in terms of the ceiling for the team.

                Indiana now finally has a player that they can throw it to to make something happen. They didn’t have that even just last year, despite George’s greatness. He has become that guy now, and none of the Raptors project to be where he is now.

                • Simon

                  Valanciunas has the potential to be that guy. The ceiling of the Raptors wings combined is pretty high. With Lowry’s current excellent play, if JV, TRoss, and DD reached their potential that’s a pretty great team.

  • JayDee23

    There is so much wrong with this writeup it’s hard to know where to even begin. I think the most ignorant comment you make is that you somehow seem to think that an NBA GM has no plan and no direction. Basing something like this off of nothing more than your personal perception of the team being unable to tank is absolutely stupid.

    • 2damkule

      enlighten us as to his plan.

    • Roarque

      So you’re the lamb tied to the stake? Now TimW is supposed to come out of his cave as a big monster and growl angrily before devouring the little guy?
      JayDee23 – the whole point to RR is expressions of personal perceptions, get it?
      Calling TimW stupid and ignorant is making you look catalytic.

      • JayDee23

        I’m not calling him stupid and ignorant personally, just his arguments and the way he presented them here. If he gave some solid rationale behind saying Ujiri has no plan it’d be a different story. None of us know his plan and whether or not he’s executing it the way he had imagined when he got this job.

        • 2damkule

          actually, all we really ‘know’ about MU’s plan is that the raps won’t be a ‘middle’ team. since they are, presently, EXACTLY a middle team, then isn’t that enough to question the plan, since they are the one thing he said they wouldn’t be. at least right now.

          • JayDee23

            That’s completely subjective though. Their .500 record is technically a ‘middle team’, but according to the standings they’re a 4 seed one game behind the 3 seed. And the team as it’s constructed right now actually isn’t a middle team at all, since the roster you see now (without Rudy) hasn’t been a .500 squad.

            • conman_15

              Being a team that will in no way get past the second round of the playoffs is being in the middle. Being a top 5 team or bottom 5 team in the NBA would be considered not in the middle. My only hope is that Ujiri sees a way to add that superstar talent (trade for a top pick) without tanking now.

              • Jeff

                No team jumps from bottom 5 to top 5 in one offseason. Therefore contending teams were always middle teams at some point in the evolution…

                • conman_15

                  I agree with that but those teams in the “middle” of their evolution would have young superstar talent developing or acquired which we do not.

                • Louvens Remy

                  What’s with obsession with superstars? There’s only like 5 of them in the whole league. Lets not hold our breath. Baby steps. This team was at the bottom, now they are progressing towards learning to win.

                • Tinman

                  Well the Celtics and the Heat had dramatic turnarounds in one off season, two name two within recent memory

            • ac1011990

              Either your an elite team or a middle team, that’s pretty much it. I don’t think we are an elite team so that leaves us in the middle.

              • JayTeam

                Where did you learn this elite team/middle team rule? Or did you just make it up to further your argument?

                • ac1011990

                  Either your a contending team or your not. Are we a contending team? Its pretty easy if your a contender your an elite team if your not a contender where does that leave you

                • raptorstand

                  Seriously when as a basketball fan have you watched a team this young become a team this good in such a short period of time, you pontificaters have no idea what we have , not a fing clue. The word team means something , Every starter on this team has had his best game with us. I don’t think any other team in the league can say that. This is truly our team, lets see where it goes. Tim W. doesn’t have any concept of growing a team. He has no idea in what we have with 2, 21 year olds in our starting line up. I wouldn’t trade Jonas for any other center in this league , right now. We are a very good team and its only gonna get better. 5 years down the road Jonas will be 26 and will be the premier center in this league , write it down.

                • raptorstand

                  or should I say the puke word mtfking elite center in this league

                • What the

                  U of Tim W

          • Ion66

            A middle team is one that just misses the playoffs, and has a lower value draft pick that’s out of the lottery.

            • conman_15

              I don’t think that is how Ujiri or Leiweke would define it when they stress winning championships. I see it as contending for a championship (4 or 5 teams) or finishing in the higher lottery (5 teams).

              • Ion66

                I was just going by the “won’t get stuck in the middle” comment, which I interpreted to mean the no man’s land of just outside the playoffs.

            • ac1011990

              A middle team is one that doesnt have a shot at the title. You can play really well during the season and have no chance at the title, id call that a middle team. The thing you described was the raptors for many years, and that is called a horrible mess.

          • FLUXLAND

            So, now it’s OK to ask what the plan may be? Hmm, how come this was taboo a month ago, when you ridiculed me for asking the same thing?

            • 2damkule

              i’m sorry, mr. stickler for detail, but can you point out where i specifically stated that i’m asking for details of what the plan is?

              • FLUXLAND

                Can you point out where I did the same? Oooh how did you twist my words? Was it something like I said “shed some light” and you twisted it to “spell out word by word/detail by detail his exact plan”?

                Interesting, either way, how now implying there is no plan/asking what it is, is OK, yet just recently you were all up in arms when someone did the same.

          • cdub

            a common misperception by most. MU said we would not be caught in “no mans land” All the tankers immediately took this as a sign that the tank was on. What he really meant was he didn’t want to be a middle team with no cap space, no flexibility, and no draft picks which is what we were last year. He’s said a number of times that this season is not being measured in wins and losses but growth and development so please let’s stop referring to our record in this regard because that is not what he was talking about.

          • What the

            2damfool i think the plan is to wait and see what he has, no? you know like after 82 games but but but what about Wiggins and the deep draft… MEMO to MU from Tim W and Tim W jr get rid of 4 starters but keep #17 and the calderon type point guard we got then we draft a super duper star and we good cause me and tim jr been evaluating this team for years we know, the two VEEES (VAL and VAZ)

      • What the

        a fool is a fool , how can a new GM/CEO come in to a new job and then just start trading aways players left and right without seeing the product on the floor for a season…TIMS PLAN is foolish (fool is in the bible) MU needs to see what he has, he hadnt been watching the Demar,kyle,casey and #17 every game like TIM and tim w jr. sure he heard stuff from BC,watch tapes and saw how Demar wasnt/isnt a good defender,is that caseys fault can it be fix,should i get rid of the coach because Demar is not ” focus/ bad defender” nah every should wait until the end of the season as far as the starting 5 and casey goes, but but but Wiggin a deep draft nah you have to evaluate TIM and tim jr has been evaluating the raps for over 3 years MU 7 months.

    • BORG

      Agreed.
      Tim W = ‘Contender or nothing’ kinda guy eh, which to me makes absolutely no sense. Like the last time I explained, NBA is a big market based sports entertainment focused institution and if it wasn’t, then the rules regarding player transactions, salary cap, etc. would be more fairly structured that would allow most market teams to be comparative and have a shot at the championship. The Raptors are finally entertaining the locals and arguably some foreigners as well with their play of late.
      Also, there are 15 other playoff teams every year that will be in the ‘middle’ for the foreseeable future due the big three and there’s no shame in that. One of those teams may get lucky and win it all (Dallas), could be the Toronto some day but you have to win first and give yourself that chance.
      To attract big (top 5) name talent you FIRST have to WIN and keep winning, get in the ‘middle’ and build every year after. It’s easier said than to sign that star player especially in Toronto CANADA and I believe MU sees that and has done a good job, better than years past of assembling a team without substar players.
      Let get to the playoffs first and then argue what we don’t have why we can’t and Tim, please the next article I expect from you is your plan for the team if you were the GM of Toronto Raptors. Remember, you do tank this get a top draft kid who doesn’t live up to the hype, lose some more and next year you have all the salary cap in the world and no star player wants to sign with you. What do you do? How many years? You cant sell tickets? Fans not impressed! You get fired?
      Sorry but I’ll take the ‘middle’ this team any day and enjoy every game. Go Raps!!!

    • ItsAboutFun

      +100.. This “he doesn’t have a plan” shtick is silliness meeting arrogance, and having a baby called asinine.

  • kevinforthree
  • puffer

    Jeez. Why you want to go and do that…just as things were settling down…Hell to pay in the forums now!

    • 2damkule

      you mean, stick to his beliefs? i know, crazy right?

      • ItsAboutFun

        Or perhaps getting up on the same soapbox, at the same corner, saying the same things, to the same “some people…….(just aren’t as smart as me)”, and expecting a different result. Continuing to do it over and over when the team is playing great basketball, something most fans enjoy, seems nothing but flaming attention grabbing.

  • Scott

    It’s a good arguement…. only flawed in that the draft class while deep, seems to have more Rudy Gay’s than Kevin Durants. Your 2nd/3rd tier star or really good rotation players. And with teams holding this years draft close to the chest, while having not as much interest in an expiring Lowry, one wonders if he would extend Lowry, then do what he did with Nene by sending him very early in the season if not preseason somewhere for a better package of players/picks that by that point will be less tightly held as 2014 draft will have passed.

    My best guess, is that they want to re-instate a winning structure this year. Next year maybe they take a step back by moving a couple better pieces for a Phoenix like rebuild. But being so far behind the other picks hoarders right now, and in record alone, they would be better off for giving their youngsters like JV, Ross and even DD a taste of the post season…. make them want the 2nd taste even more.

    It’s still a very young team outside of Lowry and Amir…. Raps fans claim to have patience for a full-on rebuild, but yet have no patience with the younger guys on the squad like JV/Ross/DD… which is a little mind-boggling, IMHO.

    • 2damkule

      disagree with the assessment of the draft & the potential of the top-tier, though obviously, anything could happen. while there may not be an all-time great among them, there is certainly reason to believe that there are all-nba calibre players, a handful of whom could certainly become ‘franchise’ type players.

      • alucart999

        Wiggins with his athleticism and body proportions projects to be that kind of guy. I think at the least Wiggins becomes Paul George, and that’s pretty good right there. Wiggins is definitely a tier below where LeBron was in year 1 of LeBron’s NBA career.

        I think Randle, Exum, Embiid, Smart, and Parker all have their flaws and are below Wiggins’ tier, but they seem to all have all-star potential.

    • Holly Golightly

      Championships are won by great organizations rather than great individual players. The Raptors need to improve the brand, first and foremost. They aren’t Denver or Atlanta and haven’t been to the playoffs for seven years with no success.

      Tanking is the most mindlessly simplistic–and ruinous–strategy an organization can employ. You overlook the fact that Paul Pierce demanded to be traded after a year of tanking. The Celtics tanked, didn’t get a very good pick, and only then, as a last resort, made the deals that brought in Allen and Garnett.

      • 2damkule

        so, your argument against tanking is that boston tanked, and because of that, made moves that netted them a championship THE NEXT YEAR?

        • Holly Golightly

          Of course not. The Celtics tank didn’t work. They did what Houston did–which was to trade their way into contention. And the way to improve your trading position is not to devalue your existing assets.

          • 2damkule

            by tanking, they put themselves in a position to have the assets required to make the moves that they did. while they were aiming for durant, when that possibility was unavailable to them, they proactively used their assets & astute management to adjust on the fly. which is kinda / sorta the whole argument that’s been made by team tank, in that tanking alone isn’t some sure-fire way to immediately become a contender, it merely puts you in a position to acquire the assets to do a proper rebuild.

            • alucart999

              But by them being good now, don’t you think their assets look better post-Gay trade?

              DeRozan, Lowry, Amir, Ross, and Patterson have all drastically upped their trade value. I could make an argument that each of them could be swapped for a first rounder (of various values) in a non 2014 draft year. I wouldn’t have said the same before the trade, especially not Lowry and DeRozan.

              Summary: Winning makes your assets look good. Losing makes your assets look bad.

      • truuth

        you dumb girl, the celtics got the 5th pick in the draft, how is that not a good pick?

    • webfeat

      “being so far behind the other picks hoarders right now”

      Raptors are only 7 1/2 games out of second last place, 6 1/2 games out of third last place. There is still tank potential if Ujiri trades Lowry, Amir and DD.

      • Scott

        I actually meant being behind in having a bunch of picks like Philly or Phoenix does…. with the way this draft is, it would be ignorant to think that Ujiri could get a 2014 lottery pick from any move he could make. Giving away talent for expiring’s or worse off talent, simply for the sake of getting worse does more damage to the franchise than it does good. Unless you consider Charlotte a success story…. as that’s practically what they did.

        • webfeat

          Well, a lottery pick is any pick between 1st and 14th, and the raps could get one simply by not making the playoffs. Trading away DD, Lowry and Amir might result in that. And Ujiri likely wouldn’t make the move if it was just for expirings and worse talent. I suspect that the only the that would motivate him to make a move are highly regarded prospects or 1st round draft picks.

          • Scott

            I agree with all of this, the only problem is no one is giving up a prospect or a pick in this years draft for Lowry, DD or Amir…. from reports it sounds like that was the issue as to why Lowry isn’t on a different team right now.

            • webfeat

              That was a month ago, though? Teams get more desperate closer to the trade deadline. I’m guessing Ujiri is gonna base his decision whether to tank or swim on what is offered to him up to that date.

              As an aside, I hope he goes for swim and trades away picks *for* significant help for this year’s playoff run. Toronto matches up well against Indiana, so winning the East is not 100% out of the question. And LeBron might get hurt? Heck, even Wade or Bosh getting injured seriously affects Miami’s strength.

    • thatpeterguy

      This is what I’ve been saying and we’re not alone. Bill Simmons and Jalen Rose were saying the same thing. This is not a draft where you are going to be getting Kevin Durant’s. It’s very deep and the talent is strong but it’s not “throw away your season and trade away young talent like DD to tank” strong. And at this point even the staunchest tank supporter should be able to admit that that option is off the table.

  • Statement

    Trolling troll will troll.

  • vino

    Yes, tanking in the beginning of the season made sense. Now it’s not. Get over it.

  • Andrew

    “My biggest problem with Ujiri, so far, is that he doesn’t seem to have a real plan. And he doesn’t seem to be a guy who likes to make the tough decisions.” – Yikes…

    • TheR3dMenace

      A. The man voted by his peers as the best in the world at what he does.

      B. Some internet dipshit

      Who should we place our trust in?

      • FLUXLAND

        Bryan Colangelo 2.0?

      • Nilanka15

        The previous guy was voted “best in the world at what he does” twice. Hell, even Joe Dumars, one of the worst GMs of the last 6 years, has won the award.

        • TheR3dMenace

          You can try to continue to make BC a punchline, but its currently his starters (top talent), and Masai’s bench (team building) that is taking the league by storm. If anything, this run has validated BC long term approach when we were tanking and euro-stashing.

          • cdub

            I liked BC I thought he did a lot of good things. Problem was he made some fatal errors such as Bargnani and the JO deal. He recovered from the turk mess at least. and Gay was just the last gasp of a man drowning. We had good guys on the team throughout the years we just didn’t win because he hung his job on Andreas shoulders its amazing he wasn’t let go earlier. Look at the flack bosh took no wonder the guy left being forced to play with bargnani. if he got rid of his mistake or better never made it to begin with might be a different story. MU simply wasn’t attached to these mistakes and had no problem dumping them and here we are.

          • alucart999

            Meh. If a Masai-type (team-builder) had been given more power earlier, I wonder where we would be given the number of fix-it trades Colangelo has done over the years giving away assets to try to put a cohesive unit on the Raptors.

          • Nilanka15

            If BC was in charge, Bargnani and Gay would still be in the starting lineup, and we both know how negatively that would affect our record.

            This is not BC’s team.

  • Roarque

    TinW – thanks for the article. I enjoy your perspective every time out.
    I have a theory that DDR needs to be groomed as the Raps’ sixth man – he’s not a starter on a contender because he can’t defend well enough to make up for the near universal problem of today’s PGs who IMO can’t possibly play hard defense AND quarterback the offense. So the SG needs to be a defensive genius first and then contribute some offense ( 3 and D ). This job might fall to Ross if he continues to show discipline.
    I agree that Kyle has to go and I’m hoping that Masai can get a younger PG or a younger SF in exchange. The small forward position needs to become a hybrid position in the future. This player has to be a LBJ look alike and I’d like to see Greg Monroe in the Raptors colours next year.
    While he’s doing those miracles I’d like to see Masai hire a shrink to dig inside Landry Fields’ head and have him return to his first year form – another sixth man candidate or even a starting SF if Monroe proves to be too expensive.
    The theme here is that several Raptors starters today should be our bench tomorrow. Amir, DDR, and perhaps Fields.
    BTW – the pistons were starless because they demanded to be. It was their motivating force that no one player was better than the others..

    • Ion66

      The Pacers starters, with the Raptors starters as the Pacers bench! That would be an awesome team. I’d watch that.

      • Tinman

        Hey Tim once wrote an article saying how we should not follow Indy’s example. An article he has since deleted from his website – revisionist history – shame, shame

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

          Comments liike your is why I stopped reading the comments (someone pointed me to yours).

          This is a complete and utter lie. You mentioned it before and I curiously searched my site to find out what you were talking about, but didn’t find anything. I’ve never once deleted a post on my website. Ever. Although there are numerous ones I probably would like to.

          I’ve definitely said the Raptors shouldn’t follow Indiana’s example but as far as I recall, I’ve never written an article about it. There are very good reasons I don’t think so, but you don’t want those. Do you? You just want some schoolyard-level insult-fest.

          Talk about shame. Next time you claim I did something, make sure you’re actually right. But that’s never stopped you before, has it?

          • Tinman

            I do not like being called a liar – tell you what – you’re next article ask if anyone recalls a complete article by you by the title why the raptors should not follow Pacers example(or something similar) from TPF – FIVE TO ONE SOMEONE ELSE RECALLS.
            I’ve been commenting both good and bad over the years on your articles, one thing I am not is a liar.
            Think your opinion is wrong, but always thought your articles were articulate. Now I question your integrity.
            “curiously searched your site” “as far as you recall” – even your denial gives you an escape clause

          • Tinman

            I actually think you waited this late to respond – hoping no-one comes across your denial

          • Tinman

            Schoolyard insults? Show me one. Why don’t you curiously dig through your files to find one
            out of all the comments in all this comment section, he had to walk into mine – flattered

            • Tinman

              except that time I said I hear you occupy parks

      • Roarque

        Imagine being able to throw both a Pacer “look” and an Raptor “look” at Miami in a seven game series. Now that would win it all!

  • Yo

    Ok. Can you please stop complaining and do a concrete proposal?

  • GoingBig

    Not really tough enough.
    Afraid to ask the Lowry question – “Then why doesn’t Ujiri trade Lowry for nothing?”

    He needs to break down for us what Lowry can get for us. So far – nothing worthy is being offered.
    And as long nothing is being offered, the Raptors will be winning.

    Throw Lowry away now and I find it difficult to believe that the Raptors will get the top 6 pick – the east and west is just that bad. How low can the Raptors go with Timw W’s dumping of Lowry?

  • Andrew

    “Iguodala was a very good player for them, and the only Nugget to ever appear in an All Star game” – Man. This is a mess.

    • Andrew

      Oh, you mean on that roster… Nevermind.

  • SR

    Bahahaha – I’m not even reading this column.

    Tim’s pieces generate a lot of comments, but honestly – it’s the wrong kind of reaction. Not all traffic is good traffic.

    • 2damkule

      it’s hard, i agree, to read something you don’t agree with. here, this should satiate you: http://www.thestar.com/sports/doug_smiths_sports_blog.html

      • SR

        Hard to read? Never experienced that in my life, but feel free to speak for yourself.

        Here, this should satiate you: http://ct.fra.bz/i53/5/8/27/f_8cf8977a4d.jpg

      • SR

        In all seriousness, agree/disagree has nothing to do with it. It’s much more a matter of inane repetitiveness being a waste of everyone’s time. Mine at least. If you enjoy challenging yourself with these “hard to read” columns, then feel free to satiate yourself – there’s likely to be another regurgitation of the theme in about a week.

        • 2damkule

          how many of the glowing columns of the past couple weeks did you suffer yourself to endure?

          • SR

            Are you talking about Tim? I’ve read all of them up to this point. WTF is this about, anyway? Every comment you’ve written so far have been based on assumptions that aren’t true.

            #1 – My criticism of Tim’s recent work is based on the fact that I disagree with him and only want to read stuff I agree with.
            #2 – I haven’t been reading his columns.

            Assumptions assumptions assumptions make for a wonderful conversation. #sarcasm

            My point, I believe, is valid. My OC was sarcastic/a joke. Tim is only writing rehashed pieces on tanking, and it’s of no benefit to the front page of this blog at this point in time. It’s all been said (and then some if you’re active in the forums).

            Feel free to comment on what I’ve written rather than guessing at my motives, mentality, and how I spend my time online.

          • Tinman

            None – they were recaps.
            The recap provided by Tim made no mention of the game.
            You’re cute buddy, you always come to the defense of the underdog, devil’s advocate, if you will. But this time, we are not wrong. Can’t Tim just cover the team and the games and quit looking at the grass on the other side.
            Or at least find another topic.

  • Sprechen

    Drivel. The NBA should have made you the Executive of the year. You say Ujiri doesn’t see the long game picture but your advice is to repeatedly make moves right now. How many factors do you think are at play that the GM knows about that you don’t know about? Classic example of saying so much but saying so little.

    • jjdynomite

      But, But Sprechen, Tim’s suggestions are ALL long-term, because if he was GM he’d make the Raps as bad as long as possible, e.g.’s Tim’s upset that Gay wasn’t traded for Charlie V and Stuckey as opposed to actually valuable, youthful assets.

      And if the Raps were the worst of the worst, and drafted, say, Embiid, and Embiid turned out to be, say, Thabeet, at least the Raps would continue to suck so bad they’ll get another shot at a high pick. Rinse lather repeat.

  • Ion66

    I have a problem with the Celtics “Tough decision”. The Celtics have a winning history/tradition, and a recent run of playoff success, including a title. The Raptors have none of that. Gutting a team of it’s franchise players, at the end of their careers, after a stretch of title winning ball, and gutting a team that has yet to have, what even the above mentioned Nuggets had, is a totally different thing, from a fan-base perspective. The thing I dread most as a fan, is not being the Nuggets, it’s being Minnesota. What I do not want to ever be, is a team with one super-star player, who is upset that they are surrounded by a team (Like you’d have if you gutted a good team to tank) that cannot compete, outside of that one player, who now has an eye on walking out on the franchise.

    • ac1011990

      Lolz so the answer to that is to not have any star players at all, so you dont have anybody to upset.

      • Ion66

        Lolz (are we doing Lolz now?) would you rather be the Nuggets of a few years ago, or Minnesota right now? One was a perennial playoff team, and the other is like us in the last few Bosh years, but with a better player in K Love obviously. I would take some playoff time over trying to find complimentary pieces to surround a star player with, while looking to miss the playoffs.

        • ac1011990

          I like my lolz, you don’t need to do do it if you dont want, doesn’t hurt my feelings. And that’s exactly what billionaires like MLSE live for, this city is awesome in terms of support for their teams. They show up even when we sucked for countless years. Raps get out of being losers and a disgrace, and into a new unknown category called good and the fans are drooling over it. MLSE just bought themselves another 5 years of it and people will sit there and lap it up. Tim came in here and talked a big game, said were going to get championships, we will do what we need to to get there. Nobody in this league thinks Raptors are contenders nobody, Masai is a smart dude but come on their buying time with this run even though its not even close to enough. These guys work for people who only care about one thing and that’s money. They know this recent success will put butts in the seats, and it has.

          The thing is people like us, who are starved for even a bit of success think something like this worthless Atlantic division title is something to be proud of. I’m glad most people around here fall into the plan year in and year out, MLSE need people who let them sell tickets in the form of hope. Masai knows this team is good but not good enough, yet he keeps saying we are still evaluating. Its not evaluating its called buying time and making money for the big guys. Good be happy with us in the playoffs, enjoy the next 5 years of playoffs like the Atlanta Hawks, when the fans finally get tired of that then i guess something else will be done. In till then this was the best thing that could have happened to this organization. Raptors are no longer shit, people are optimistic and the ACC is selling out. What more could you hope for if your MLSE? I hope your happy with this success, enjoy it, 5 years down the line i have a feeling wel be in the same boat as we are now.

  • conman_15

    I agree with the article mostly with the only thing I disagree with being that he has abandoned his plan to get a superstar talent. There just isn’t enough to suggest that yet. He could very well trade a player along with current and future picks (and take a bad contract for a year) to move up in the draft to get Wiggins or someone else. He will likely now wait until the offseason to see if Lowry can be re-signed for a reasonable amount and if not, take the cap savings rather than take potential salary back in a trade. This lets the fans have some fun seeing the raps in the playoffs and continues to drive flexibility.

  • JayTeam

    Re:TANKING
    Other than the Spurs with Tim Duncan, who was the last #1 overall pick to win a championship with the team that drafted him?

    • DDayLewis

      Just answering trivia because it’s fun: It’s actually Duncan’s teammate, David Robinson who was drafted #1 overall in 1987

      • JayTeam

        Trick question. Robinson was the last to win a championship,however it was on the Spurs with Tim Duncan.

        • DDayLewis

          Shit. Reading comprehension is not my forte.

          • JYFelony

            Wouldn’t it be both of them, then?

    • Jeopardy

      Who is Hakeem the Dream?

      • JayTeam

        Excellent. 30 years ago Rockets drafted Olajuwon who went on to win 2 championships with the Rockets. As DDay mentioned, Robinson did win with SA, but not until the team bottomed out again and he teamed with Duncan.

        That’s 3 #1 overall picks in 30 years. Tanking, even successful tanking, isn’t as great as most think. Even super elite talents: Ewing/Knicks, Shaq/Magic, AI/76’ers, Howard/Magic, Lebron/Cavs brought the teams that drafted them a total of ZERO championships. There’s sad cases like Danny Manning and Greg Oden too as well as numerous busts.

        JUST SAYIN….

        • 2damkule

          interesting. to plays devil’s advocate, which teams in the L who are currently thought of as championship contenders are built around guys who were not high picks (whether they were picked by their current team is somewhat irrelevant in the grand scheme)?

          • JayTeam

            Indiana is not built around a Top 5 pick. Neither is Golden State.

            • 2damkule

              when did ‘top 5 pick’ become part of the discussion? we’re merely discussing the value of draft picks, no?

              • JayTeam

                You did not define “high picks” – what is your definition?

          • Tinman

            Actually its not irrelevant. He wants to tank for a high pick. And he states a team needs that high pick to win.
            Do not change his point! BECAUSE HISTORY TELLS US HE IS WRONG.
            In the 20 or so years the two I can think of are Duncan and Wade. San Antonio was a very unique situation, they went from conference finals to lottery to the championship. The stars wee aligned.
            Wade couldn.t win anything until he got a little help from this guy called Shaq, you might of heard of him(where did they finish when Shaq left Miami?) oh yeah this guy named Lebron might of helped a bit for his second and third go round.
            Durant hasn’t won anything yet, soOKC does not back your argument. A talent like Lebron(one of a kind) couldn’t win it in Cleveland

          • Tinman

            But it’s not irrelevant – it’s the basis of his point. High draft picks win titles for their team.
            The only two in recent history that have won with the teams that drafted them are Duncan and Wade, and both have, let’s just say circumstances.
            Only once in NBA history has a team gone from conference finals to the lotto and then to the championship. San Antonio. You know the circumstances.
            Wade will go down as the one of the luckiest players ever. Didn’t come place to success until he got a little help from this guy called Shaq and this other guy called Lebron.
            Don’t play devils advocate – name me a top pick who has led his team to championship?

  • Paul

    Enough with the Tim hate. Poor guy is just expressing an opinion that was held by the majority of the fan base less than a month ago. I think it’s misguided at this point, but let the man say his piece.

    • webfeat

      I would have no problems with an opinion article if it was backed up with some solid facts and arguments. Maybe list who the star players were on the last 20 teams to make it to the finals, and write about what they contributed that could not have been provided with second tier players.

      • Tinman

        And which ones were drafted by the team they won it with?
        It would be a short discussion – yet Tim turns it into a 10,000 word essay where the facts clearly state otherwise.
        It’s not hate – the guy is wrong

  • hateslosing

    Good write up that touches on some issues that are worth discussing. I think Tim missed on some of his conclusions though:
    1. Tanking this year is basically off the table. There are teams in this league that are going to struggle to get to 17 wins and the Raptors couldn’t lose the rest of their games if they tried. This isn’t to say we shouldn’t tank period, just that this is not the year to do it. If you let Lowry walk and trade Derozan and Amir this summer you could win this year and get a very clear picture of where this team actually is today and then tank hard next year. Tanking right now is very shortsighted.
    2. The Lowry question is not a difficult one: if he resigns for cheap (read <7-8 mill a season) keep him. Otherwise he's gone. He's a good point guard but he's not irreplaceable.
    3. The development of Jonas Valanciunas as a defensive piece is the biggest factor in deciding this teams future. If he can become an elite defensive presence then the sky is the limit for this team, and as currently constructed they could compete for a title. Now hoping for JV to turn into a great defender is not actually a strategy to use if your trying to win a title but I think that Tim downplayed the importance of JV's development.
    4. Ujiri has a plan and it's called patience. Rome wasn't built in a day and trading all your assets for draft picks and more losses is far more of a gamble than taking your time and making good basketball deals consistently. If you make enough deals that increase the overall value of the talent on this team eventually you'll find yourself competing.
    5. There is no reason the Raptors can't be a contender but you don't need a top pick to get the talent that we are missing. Trades are a good option for this team and as I mentionned above, Jonas developping defensively is a big key.

    • webfeat

      “Tanking this year is basically off the table.”

      I’m not sure I agree. While this draft is somewhat top heavy, it is not super top heavy. It has been said that this draft is super deep and there might be guys who will go 10th to 14th who will turn out to be better players than guys who go 1st through 5th.

  • Statement

    The last article Tim W. wrote was ultra-trolly. At the time, optimism was the highest it had been in a while and he had to come out with his debbie-downer article. It just reeked of trying to get heel heat. It reminded me of when Michael Cole interrupted the Rock in WWE when the Rock made his comeback, equally douchey-feeling, except Cole’s was part of the show and funny, Tim W.’s isn’t.

    • DDayLewis

      Tim is the Vince McMahon of the Republic.

      • Statement

        Raptors have “no chance…no chance in hell” – Vince M / Tim W.

      • SR

        Hahaha – Rick Flair.

        • DDayLewis

          WOOOOOOOO!!!!!

  • Bryan Colangelo

    Same old shit, different day.

    I can guarantee you there are a lot of fans that have no delusions regarding the limited ceiling of this team. They’re simply not as arrogant or as impatient a fan as Tim.

    Tim seems to be preaching tough decisions and patience as a development strategy, but somehow expected a superstar prospect and cap space by the end of Masai’s first year.

    Well surprise! I, Bryan Colangelo, left a fucking mess. It’s going to take longer than a year to strip down the team to the studs and rebuild.

    Tim actually thinks he’s smarter than Masai, without actually knowing what Masai has or hasn’t attempted to do, or what he’s been offered on the market right now. Danny Ainge’s decision to trade away Garnett and Pierce wasn’t a tough decision. It was a fucking easy decision, given what Brooklyn was willing to offer in return. If Masai could get a half-decent return for Lowry, he would have taken it. People forget the offer from the Knicks for Lowry was less than nothing, it was a poo-poo platter with Felton’s shit contract attached.

    • 2damkule

      it’s odd that you claim tim to be impatient, when the strategy he’s advocating is actually a much longer-term vision for building a successful, contending FRANCHISE (vs. just a TEAM that can make a playoff run), and requires substantially more patience than what many fans clamouring for them to win now are portraying.

      • Bryan Colangelo

        What I’m arguing that even tanking a team ‘The Right Way’ takes time and patience, sometimes more than a year. So far, Masai has done a good job extracting maximum value for some pretty shitty assets (Gay and Bargnani).

        Yes, the Raptors could go into fire sale mode right now and start giving away players for less than nothing, but that is not a efficient way to maximize your potential return on what you have. There’s even a risk that you would have to take on toxic assets for ‘the privilege’ of tanking. Things like Steve Novak’s contract.

        It might be smarter and more efficient to rebuild this summer, when there will be less competition for high draft picks, then last summer or this season. Right now Derozan might get you some smaller filler players and an expiring contract, but in the summer you could probably get a future 1st and an expiring contract.

  • ac1011990

    I think it was a good write up Tim, must be pretty hard writing something when no one agrees. I’m on your side, I love how this team has been playing lately but personally don’t see it getting far. Ya Jonas and Ross have a lot of upside but that’s pretty much all we can do now is hope they turn into elite players, which I doubt happens.

    I don’t know if it’s true but people on here are saying that Masai plans to resign Lowry, I really hope that doesn’t happen. I don’t really trust this new found all star Lowry, for the past 6 years he’s been an average player and all of a sudden becomes an all star, seems a bit shady.

    • What the

      BUDDY ! are telling me that #17 butter fingers isnt gonna be an elite player and take the raptors to the championship, but butbut he gets an A grade every nite after every game, he never does any thing wrong just like Barnie

      • ac1011990

        Lolz ya personally I think him and Ross are going to be really good but not enough to take us anywhere themselves. Fans tend to think to highly of there own players and team, this has been good basketball these past few weeks but not enough to take us to the next level. Hope Masai has something in mind I don’t want the next 5 years to be spent in this better then the before but still not good enough state.

  • Minks77

    The argument of DeMar as a bad defender is overblown IMO. I watch every game as many here do and he’s not the turnstile some would imply and while he’s no Tony Allen he’s hardly a poor defender. Just look at the 2 guard spot defensively in the NBA: it’s pretty garbage overall. That being said DeMar isn’t “lock down” but works well in rotation, gets back pretty well for a guy who gets knocked down so much driving to the rim and does a good job chasing guys around screens. He doesn’t play passing lanes or block many shots (neither of which are indicators of “good” defence anyway) and he often over helps (seems to be a team wide habit that could perhaps be blamed on the system Casey is trying to run).

    I think he’s doing a fine job on D, especially for a number one offensive option.

    • DDayLewis

      Nah man, Demar is a bad defender. He loses focus quite a bit and he gets dummied by screens. It’s not pretty.

      • DDayLewis

        Just to illustrate my point, look at what Demar is doing in this play: http://giant.gfycat.com/WaterloggedUltimateKrill.gif

        Demar is tasked with guarding KCP. For no good reason, he voluntarily gets in front of Monroe (thus screening himself, oddly enough), shades Monroe as he cuts towards the baseline even though Amir has cut off the passing lane to him, and then he’s forced to make a late recovery on KCP, who easily blows by him and has a wide-open look.

        I’m not slagging Demar, but this shit happens all the time. He is not a good defender. He’s not even an average defender.

        • what the

          “i’m not slagging Demar” sure you are TIM W jr. i’m sure i’ll never hear you slagging on #17 butter fingers cause he never does any thing wrong he’s so perfect like Barnie

          • DDayLewis

            In what way am I “Tim W Jr”? Also, if you disagree with my assessment of Demar’s defense, can you actually address the issues I pointed out? Ad hominems don’t really count as very good rebuttals.

      • Minks77

        Yeah he still has problems but my point is he is at least average at his position. Just look around the league at 2 guards, it’s a pretty awful landscape. I disagree that he loses focus. JR Smith loses focus. Eric Gordon can’t spell focus. Ray Allen hasn’t defended anyone in years. Kobe barely tries in the past 5 years and don’t get started on the Beal/Waiters/Lou Will/Crawfords/Haywards types. Then you have a bunch of defence only guys that get a pass on their complete lack of offence because of their good D which is BS IMO cuz a one way player is still a one way player. Thabo, Tony, Brewer etc.

        • DDayLewis

          Hayward is a much better defender than Demar and Allen is usually where he needs to be. Look at my comment below for an example of Demar’s poor defensive instincts.

          • what the

            kevin love is a better rebounder than #17 butter fingers because he grabs rebounds with two hands blah blah blah show me some shit on #17 instead of dd this dd that

            • DDayLewis

              Sure. Jonas has exactly one post-move and he can’t hit a jumper to save his life.

          • Louvens Remy

            Please. Lets stop being nitpicky. Demar is tasked w tough assignments every . Ray Allen is good but he is a specialist and a veteran of 17 years. U don’t watch enough of Gordon Hayward to assess that he’s better than Demar at D. Watch 10 straight Utah games and then give me an assessment of Hayward. DD is part of an elite defense. Sure he makes mistakes but he never loses focus or lacks effort.

            • DDayLewis

              Come on Lou, there’s two clips in my comment below. He loses focus.

              • Louvens Remy

                Fair enough. I didn’t watch the clips. LOL. i didn’t notice that you had clips. I was scrolling through.

              • ItsAboutFun

                One can cherry pick a couple of clips to say anybody in the NBA is a bad defender. When looking at big picture, he plays the most minutes on one of the better defenses in the league. Gotta be doing something right. When played the right way, it’s a team game, not a series of 1-on-1 games.

      • what the

        “it’s not pretty” this guy, folk if you ever get the chance to watch any U.S feed please do. To hear other teams commentators already calling him a superstar,maybe Demar is not a “superstar” but to hear the U.S commentators tell their fans day in day out (after rudy) how good he is/can be OH strike that, in your words Tim W.jr ” It’s not pretty” he’s a bad defender,he loses focus,he gets dummied by screens blah blah blah now go write me an article on mr A+ grade every nite,cant do no wrong #17 butter fingers cause it’s pretty.

      • Tinman

        Our team D is one of the best in the leagues, he plays the 3rd most minutes of anyone in the league.
        Does he deserve credit for that?

  • Tinman

    Tim – gonna be honest – didn’t read the whole thing because you have nothing new to say. That and my dog had to take a crap, and that’s more important then the shit you recycle.
    You have become obtuse.
    And I think you do it on purpose, maybe hoping someone at ESPN will notice. More comments the better, eh.
    While this team is far from a finished product we are headed in the right direction. It’s a real shame that you can’t enjoy this ride.
    We have never had such a group of young talented players than we have now.
    Whether MU extends Lowry, trades him, or let’s him walk, this team is moving forward.

    • what the

      OBTUSE I like that word it should be used around here more often

      • DC

        Got Andy Dufresne a month in the hole in Shawshank Redemption.

        • Tinman

          Get busy living or get bust dying

          • Tinman

            uuuuuuuuuggggggggggggggggghhhh
            typo

  • AnthonyF

    I’m sure MU’s plan is to get LBJ or Durant, which is what we need to win a Championship. Any other players that will GUARANTEE this championship that TimW says we can get by tanking? How about just accepting the fact that winning is next to impossible the way the NBA is currently set-up.

    Tried to read the article with a level head, but TimW just doesn’t have anything good to say ever and can’t appreciate anything.

    • ac1011990

      See thats the thing, Tim and Masai come out and said they want to turn the Raptors into title contenders, so why do we keep settling on just good. They said it, now i want it and all raptor fans should to. Why cant we inspire to a title, why do we have to be just good. Toronto is a great place, raps should go all out and try for a title. Clippers sucked for countless years, they were a laughing stock and look where they are now. You need to bring in elite talent and then players will come to join in. The NBA has already given you a MAJOR tool to help win a title, the draft is the best thing to help small market teams.

      • ItsAboutFun

        TL and MU live in the real world of the NBA, where you’d be an idiot to proclaim ANYTHING about your plans, except what they have, and where simplistic plans are not carved in stone in a world where the landscape changes constantly (see Bulls, see Lakers, etc, etc)

  • Bryan Colangelo

    If you wanted the Raptor’s to tank, wouldn’t the TOUGHER decision be to keep Rudy Gay and his horrible, horrible cancerous style on the roster?

    Just trying to play along in Tim W’s universe where up is down and criticism based on hypotheticals and hindsight should be celebrated.

    • DutchyBrown

      I also remember Tim W, arguing that the return on Gay was too little and that we should have waited to net a better return. Wouldn’t you want the worse return to ensure a weaker team on the court?

      • 2damkule

        ‘too little’ was only in reference to not getting back a 1st rd pick, which, if you haven’t noticed, teams aren’t exactly tossing away.

        • Tinman

          Who in their right mind would give up a first rounder for Rudy Gay while taking back his 19 million option. The Knicks already traded theirs!

      • Bryan Colangelo

        Tim is critiquing Masai based on a fantasy world where teams are clamouring to offer picks and expiring contracts for our players, and Masai is sitting on his hands not doing anything.

        That simply isn’t the case. People are actually offering less than nothing — in Rudy’s case, we were fortunate enough not to be forced to take on terrible contracts just for them take him off our hands.

  • aaron franklin

    Tim, is a very one dimensional thinker. He promotes all the negatives values of every player and person in the organization that doesn’t match with his blowing up of the raptors. He thinks himself as smarter basketball iq then the gm’s. His overall evaluation is blow it up is better then looking at basketball value of each player and only improve on deals. He does make for a good opposite view arguement to balance out every positive raptor article thats ever been written.

    • Tinman

      You see his angle? Until we win a championship, in his mind, he will always be right. It’s a great way to hedge his bets. We can we 50+ games, bring Miami to game 7 in round two, and he will see it as a failure.
      His way is try and outtank 10 teams in a better position to tank, take a chance on a miniscule chance at a lucky bounce with the pingpong balls and when that all fails, try to lose again next year.

  • Zach

    Wow, isn’t the internet fun? Boy oh boy, people get so worked up about an opinion that they disagree with–an opinion that was supported by a large segment of this fanbase just a few weeks ago.

    Whether you agree or disagree with the fundamental points that Tim is making–I happen to disagree with a few of them–the fact is, he makes them logically and coherently; and cares just as much about this team as you or I. You can live in an echo chamber, cover you ears, and drown out every opinion that you don’t agree with, or you can engage in a civil dialogue and realize that there is more than one opinion worth considering.

    Calling someone stupid or ignorant because they have a different opinion than you on a basketball team is a little ridiculous. Some civility, people!

    • jjdynomite

      Really? Tim the Troll should be lauded for condemning Masai for waiting too long to trade Gay and not getting enough for him?!? You see, that trade was TOO good as now the Raps are 11-5 since and if Timmy had his way Gay would be traded last off-season for the Pistons shit sandwich and likely be much worse in the hope for an “elite” player. He has written something in this vein every week and it is tiresome. Hence the backlash.

    • ItsAboutFun

      “he makes them logically and coherently”

      Aside from all the stuff that tells me he really doesn’t understand the game very well, a fundamental weakness in every article by Timmy, is that he presents his opinions and prognostications as reality/truth and bases that “logic” upon them. When believing so strongly that your crystal ball gazing is “the shtick of being RIGHT”, and being so vehement about it, it’s much closer to delusion than logic.

  • DutchyBrown

    I just can’t look at the Nuggets and and point to them as the direction the Raps are going. The certainty of this front office’s plan to make this team a winning culture starts from the top. Seeing how the Leafs season played out with a playoff appearance and the entire support of the city, I can’t help but imagine Tim Leiweke drooling over this current Raptors production and growth as of late. He’s spreading his positive, winning, love, chemistry dust all over MLSE, including TFC, don’t you see? (http://www.mlssoccer.com/news/article/2014/01/10/dwayne-de-rosario-credits-tim-leiweke-convincing-him-return-toronto-fc)

    I may have sniffed some of that love dust myself but, I am a strong believer that this growth we’ve seen amongst the players and staff is nothing short of fantastic. Two years of this internal growth and playoff experience with a front office that wants nothing but success for their Toronto teams, makes me strongly believe 2016 is when the big moves start to happen. http://www.hoopsworld.com/2016-nba-free-agents

    In the meantime, follow The Real Tim at http://www.threeinthekey.ca for some enjoyable Raptors reads.

    growth, growth, growth…

  • M_Silverback

    Some interesting points Tim W. However, at the risk of sounding like I’m Doug Smith lurking on this site, can we please stop with the tanking argument? Professional sports teams, and professional athletes cannot ever intentionally tank. These are billion dollar businesses, with millionaires as employees. Follow the money. If you were a GM and you told your billionaire owners that you’re going to intentionally throw a season in the crapper for the possibility of landing a superstar player who may help you 4 seasons down the road, you’d be fired. You’re essentially telling them that you’re authorizing losing revenue – decreased attendance; decreased television revenue; no playoff money – for what?

    And professional athletes have a short shelf life. Telling any of them essentially to coast through the season, decrease their overall value financially is ludicrous. Plus, if you’re ever played any sport at any level, there is a competitive fire that pro athletes have 100 times more than mortals like us. They go out their to win, and make the most money they can in a career that will end for most of them in a few years.

    Tanking is a fallacy that only bloggers and fans far removed from any connection to the actual teams, or sports in general, obsess about and promote. It’s a ridiculous discussion. Please stop.

  • Simon

    Realistically, how many teams can contend for the title every year? Certainly not all 30. If every non-contender decides to tank, what would be the point of watching the NBA? What would be the point of playing the regular season?

    Sports are played and organized by professionals who want to succeed. As an athlete, the money and accolades are great but nothing is greater than winning. To tell an athlete to tank is to snuff the passion out of them and to change their hard-wiring all the way to the core. If you continuously pound tanking into the minds of JV, Ross, and Amir; guys you want to see as core pieces to a championship, pretty soon you’ll send them packing and what “great” team will you have then?

    Tanking is stupid.

  • eli

    I actually agreed with some of your points. However, your completely wrong in saying he has no direction. You claim Ujiri could have got more for Gay in the offseason- last I remember, Detroit offered us charlie villanova and stuckey for him then. Yes, we could tank. But you yourself said the east sucks. Even a 7th overall pick woolen’t be guaranteed. Besis, it would hurt us a lot more if we trade our players for cheap tank

  • Will

    For anyone who didn’t read the entire post, it can be summarized with this line towards the end.

    “I don’t feel there’s any reason the Raptors can’t become a contender and have a legitimate shot at the NBA Championship. Just not with this roster. Not with this foundation.”

    So you’re saying all they need to do is change all the players and make all the right moves. Wow, very insightful.

    That would be like me saying I don’t feel there’s any reason you couldn’t be a Pulitzer Prize writer, just not with the way you write and the way you think.

    Every year, only one team wins, only two make the finals, and only a handful are real contenders. If it’s win everything or bust for you, good luck finding happiness.

  • Andre

    Tim W. I couldnt say it better then this!! You are so right, fans are not seeing the big picture. They are just riding this wave. (i dont blame them) but we need to focus. This team is just not talented enough. Its time to figure this out now. Do we want to be the atanta hawks for 7 years (Average Reg. season team, bow out first round playoff, 5th seed) or do we want to be the pacers (started from the bottom now look at them) WE HAVE TO BE PURPOSELY BAD in order to BE GOOD!! Tim W., lets eat!

    • Shadow Of Christ

      @disqus_WUqhVzeyXS:disqus, the only reason why Hawks are where they are is because of poor management. When your star player (Josh Smith) proves that he cannot play the way he’s suppose to time and time again, then you move him and move on… They held on to him far too long. Also, no team has ever LOST ON PURPOSE and WON CHAMPIONSHIPS! (you’ll probably say the Spurs did, but they didn’t tank, they were just that bad)

      • Andre

        @shadow_of_christ:disqus Bro, Atlanta had Joe johnson, al hortford, Josh smith, kyle korver. They had talent, they made MOVES. The just werent good enough. Why? because they didnt have a top 10 player. So when it came to winning, they couldnt. Thats the facts. Where are they now? SAME POSITION AS BEFORE, not worst, and not better. Thats called LIMBO. Spurs did tank. the team won 50 games with david robinson then 20 games when david robinson was out then won 53 games again and the championship duncan came back! Even the bulls made playoffs when jordan left. Get the facts. A good gm sees the writing on the wall. Do what is best for the franchise moving forward. WINNING NOW does NOTHING.

        Listen we dont NEED the first pick. We need to be top 5. Wiggins, Parker, Randle, Exum and Smart. FRANCHISE changing players that we can build on with Jonas and Ross. WE are NOT winning anything with Derozen and Lowry being your best players. And this team doesnt have the defensive ability and talent the 2004 Pistons had.

        How you been bro? I have seen you in a min.

        • Shadow Of Christ

          @disqus_WUqhVzeyXS:disqus, I didn’t realize who I was talking with at the moment boss! I’m blessed still.

          The thing with ATL is that at the time, Josh Smith was considered a top player, and they couldn’t win with him. Orlando had Howard, Denver had Melo… Having a top player does nothing if you don’t have the right players around you when it matters most. (ask LBJ when he was in Cleveland). Spurs didn’t tank. They had two of their best players out and were legit that bad, and that was the era where if you didn’t have a top guy, your team wasn’t going anywhere. And the fact that the next year they posted 53 wins goes to show you just how good David Robinson and Tim Duncan were as a tag team. Case in point: With LBJ, Cleveland enjoyed win totals of 50+ after his 3rd season. Without LBJ, Cleveland can’t even win 30 games. The Bulls had a team where they could be good with/without Jordan… they also had Pippen, and he was no slouch either. So get YOUR facts LOL.

          We don’t need the first pick, top 5 pick (read my initial comment above), we need smart basketball decisions period. Losing on purpose shows absolutely no commitment to take things seriously. And don’t sell DeRozan and Lowry short. And while we don’t have the ability and talent of the 04 Pistons, the Raptors are top 5 in defense this season… just saying

  • Andrew

    Do other fans of this team not believe Jonas will be the cornerstone of this franchise? I truly think he will be a star in this league and a perennial all-star. He is the reason I don’t feel the Raptors need a top 5 pick to take the next step. The draft is SUCH a crapshoot. Remember when EVERYBODY said Derrick Williams, Thomas Robinson and on and on were going to be sure fire excellent NBA players? Ask Minnesota and Sacramento if tanking is the right direction… I don’t understand how we could be so pessimistic about a team that has a very strong chance at a top 4 seed in the playoffs while starting TWO SOPHOMORES. These are kids… and they’re winning. Roll with it and have some fun.

    • 2damkule

      sacto & minny have also been abysmally managed over the last decade, so there’s that…

    • ac1011990

      Jonas was the 5th pick if you dont recall. How can you just contradict yourself and call the draft a crap shoot and then say a guy who got picked really high is going to be a cornerstone of a team. Higher drafted players usually turn out better, thats why people want to draft high this year because many scouts and GMs are touting this years draft as one of the best in years.

      The whole point of the draft is to add talent to your team, trading players to get other players needs you to break down your team. Drafting while developing your young talent does nothing but improve the team.

      • Tinman

        I think his point is – we might already have that star in Jonas

  • nyStef

    The problem with hanging one’s hat on ‘being patient’ or thinking that things are fine because the team is going in ‘the right direction’ is that with everything being so fluid-and-always-changing in the league, as it constantly is (as players are forever coming and going, maturing in abilities and then regressing), a budding team without a budding superstar (developing in synchronicity, hopefully, at least for the most part), may eventually get to knock on the door but … without that superstar, chances are very strong that knocking is as far as they’ll ever get. Ever. And if they do get to knock, without that superstar, chances are very good that nobody’ll be home.

    It’s the same thing with being ‘patient’. A plan to win it all must (absolutely *m u s t*) be in place for that patience to actually pay off one day.

    I’m one who REALLY wants to see a Raptors team win the championship one day. One or two playoff series isn’t gonna do it. Not for me.

    This was a terrific column. (And well titled.) I don’t know what all the answers are to the questions that are left there but what was written here today all very much needed to be said. Imo.

  • boxer1234

    Not sure what exactly Tim suggests should be done, other than “Get a superstar.” The issues with trying to get Wiggins:

    1) The opportunity to tank is gone. Dead and buried. There are too many crappy teams chasing lottery balls who have won considerably fewer games already.

    2) Raptors strength of schedule year to date – avg. opponents’ record: .540 (highest in the East)
    Raptors strength of schedule year to date – avg. opponents’ record: .450 (lowest in the East)

    (They’ve also played four more away than home games, the biggest disparity of anyone in the East)

    The Raptors are going to be running downhill the rest of the year, compared with the rest of the ‘contenders’. It would take a monumental effort to get into a decent lottery spot.

    So, Tim, other than to say that the current Raptors aren’t a championship calibre team (which no one I can see if arguing) and that acquiring a superstar is difficult, what exactly are you suggesting be done?

    • Andre

      The raptors can still tank. The 76ers have lost a ton of games since their amazing run. Brooklyn and New york seem to be waking up. There are many ways to do it. Trade Lowry and Amir johnson. Get younger talent and draft picks. Let Vesquez run the point (we will lose 40 games Right theRE).

      • boxer1234

        We are roughly half way through the season. The worst team in the league has won 7 games. Assume that the Raptors run a high school team out for the duration and they get 7 more wins – end of season total = 24.

        If you double the current win totals of all other teams, there are 5 teams that would end up with 24 or fewer wins. Bear in mind that a lot of teams are racing to the bottom right now – bad teams will try to get even worse.

        Bottom line, Raptors can throw away the rest of the season and still end up with a 10th – 16th pick in the draft, which wouldn’t be worth giving up on the playoff experience, etc. Don’t get me wrong – if someone offered Wiggins in exchange for throwing away the season, I’d strongly consider it. But that’s not what’s on offer.

  • Shadow Of Christ

    Just so I’m not misquoting:

    “6. On a recent podcast, Raptors Republic’s own Zarar recently made the statement that finding an elite player high in the draft is easy, and what separates the bad GMs and the good GMs is being able to find the talent later in the draft. Actually, what separates the good GM from the great GM is doing whatever it takes to build a legitimate contender. If that means tanking, then so be it.”

    Tim W, while I respect your opinion, I must point out how grossly flawed your thinking is now. You almost had me…

    We are seeing the results of tanking, and it’s NOT pretty! It’s not even fun to watch those games. Even tho we started out 6-12, the Raptors were competing in almost every game. I would even suggest that out record would have have been 12-6 to start had Rudy Gay been more of a team player, but that’s shoulda coulda woulda territory. The one thing I love more than anything since that trade is that there are no more egos. There is no “I’m the guy”. There’s just simple team play as it should be. While you, and people like you Tim W, think that tanking is only way for this team to go, the last 5 games to me prove that theory wrong. Dead wrong.

    VS Indiana – strong win to open some eyes and prove a lot of people wrong.

    @ Washington – proved that the team could keep up the same level of intensity against lesser opponents (something the Raptors have had trouble with over the years)

    @ Miami – went toe to toe with the defending champs, and gave them everything they could handle; D. Wade played his first back 2 back game since November… not a coincidence. Good teams are taking us seriously now.

    @ Indiana – It was a loss from when they saw “flights delayed” at the airport, but the only lost by 7… the Raptors fought hard.

    VS Detroit – in the past, what happened in the second quarter would have resulted in a loss. But the Raptors did what we see good team do all the time (think back to the San Antonio game): they refocused and won the game in the 3rd quarter!

    Tim W, you want accuse fans for not seeing the big picture; for accepting mediocre talent and play and for “settling” with just making the playoffs; for being, in your own words from a post a few weeks back, “what’s wrong with Raptors basketball”. Let me ask you Tim, seeing as fans like myself apparently don’t see the big picture, what’s your big plan? Trade DeRozan and Lowry (whom you’ve accused of making boneheaded decisions, but really and truly has been playing the best basketball of his life, and will have the chance to be an All Star as an reward), LOSE ON PURPOSE to be epically bad enough to have chance (a gamble if you will) at a top 5 draft pick, draft one of the top 5 prospects (preferably Andrew Wiggins), and pray to God that he will be injury free, be a certifiable All Star that we can build around and that he will never leave Toronto… I think that sums up your view, in a nutshell…

    Here’s the truth and reality of that line of thinking:

    Why would you move good players that LOVE Toronto, want to STAY in Toronto and wants to everything it take to WIN in Toronto for talent that we’re not gonna keep later anyways for a tank job in a city that has historically has a hard time finding good, hard working players that actually want to be/stay here?
    Why in the blue hell would you LOSE ON PURPOSE just to have a remote chance at getting a top five pick on UNPROVEN TALENT! I couldn’t give a rat’s backside how much potential Wiggins or any other draft prospect has to be a “franchise altering” player, they are UNPROVEN!

    And whether or not these prospect do prove to be the real deal, life happens, career altering injuries happen (ask D. Rose).

    Most importantly, if we did end up tanking and got one of these prospects, if we fail to win a championship, they would leave! Period! And that includes Wiggins! Just ask LeBron James how it worked out in Cleveland.

    #TankNation claims that fans like myself live in a fantasy world of unicorns, fairies and hopes of relevancy if the Raptors continue to win now… Who lives in a fantasy world now?

    As I’ve been saying all season, will this Raptors team win a championship this year or next? Absolutely not! The fact is that teams like Miami, Indy, San An and OKC are much too better than them at the moment.
    Does this mean that the Raptors can’t win in the playoffs? Absolutely not! If the playoff started right now, we face Washington in a 7 game series. They can’t keep up with the Raptors. And we’ve proven that we can go toe to toe with teams like Miami and Indiana, so while we will most likely lose in a second round match up with those teams, it won’t be a sweep or a cakewalk like most people suggest.

    Can/will the Raptors get better next season? Absolutely! Masai is too smart a GM to leave the team the way it is. He’ll find players that have the right chemistry and talent to improve on this year. Something Colangelo could never do.

    So Tim W, keep spewing your hot garbage opinions about the Raptors. From a guy who believes that we should sack the name “Raptors”, I don’t expect anything less from you.

  • GoingBig

    So you have super-star drafted palyer called Carmelo Anthony and … they are worse than the Raptors

    • Andre

      Of all the lottery players of that draft, who won a ring or 2 or 3?

  • GetLicks

    For all those who don’t feel like reading the entire article, allow me to summarize: herp a derp we don’t have a superstar herp a derp only way to get one is through the draft herp a derp.

    • jjdynomite

      You can’t leave out the bitterness that Masai didn’t do what Tim the Troll would do: trade Gay before the season for thr pu pu platter of Charlie V and Stuckey.

      • GetLicks

        For someone who just came out from under the bridge to say to say hello, that was quite long-winded.

  • Tinman

    Once again, they put another post quickly up after yours.
    Hmmm……I’d be pissed

  • aaron franklin

    This is how short sighted and stubborn tim is. “Demar is still over paid and cant play defense”. 20 points 4 rebounds 4 assists 1.5 steals .5 blocks all for 9.5 million annually is good value to me. How many other number 1 options make as little money as derozan and produce at this level? And his defense has improved quite a bit look at the numbers.

    • Andre

      Soooo Derozen can be a number one option for a championship team? Please be truthful when answering.

      • Shadow Of Christ

        No one said that DeRozan is a number one option for a championship team… but who’s to say he can’t develop to that point?

        • Tanks-a-lot

          That’s why he is using games to practice ‘game winning’ shots. Being able to hit the mid range shot with a defender draped all over you is a very handy skill in the playoffs.

          That’s how it looks to me

  • Adriannnnn

    There are many problems with Tim’s argument. The first one being the idea that having a championship team is determined from the beginning. It is just not practical to wait to start building a team until we are assured of having a superstar player. This is mainly because players are not superstars when they are drafted. For example, it took few years for people to evaluate whether Paul George, Kevin Love, Steph Curry or Lamarcus Aldridge was a star. Is the idea then to suck until your’e sure that the high draft pick is a superstar?
    Secondly, although the draft seems to be deep in talent, history indicates that there will probably be only 2 championship level superstars or so in any given draft and they are not always picked first. If we look at the 2 strongest drafts in recent history, 1996 and 2003, only 3 players in those drafts have been the main stars on a championship team (Wade, Lebron, Kobe). So the problem is, that even in deep talented drafts, you will likely only get the types of franchise players that will lead you to the first or second round as main stars (Melo, Bosh, Ray Allen etc). This probably means that it is not the best idea to dismantle a playoff team, and maybe a team that can compete for the second round for the opportunity to draft a player that likely won’t be better than chris bosh at the end of the day. This is especially true since the team has freed up some financial flexibility after the Gay trade and still has draft picks that in a deep draft like this might turn out to be above average players. And to remember, the only contender right now that was built mostly with lottery picks is the Thunder. And we can see the limitations of that model ( having to trade harden and jeff green, and the possibility that durant and westbrook leave in upcoming free agency if they don’t have a championship).
    Finally the idea of championship or bust is a horrible way to think. There have been only a handful of teams that have won multiple championships. This is regardless of the presence of superstars or not. chances are that if the perfect tank is executed there are still hundreds of factors that could prevent them from winning a championship. However, establishing Toronto as a consistently good team (with a consistent organizational structure and system) might do better for the team’s appeal in free agency and as a trade destination. Down the road, this would lead to championships.

  • Tinman

    Finally had time to read
    Contradictions galore – he’s just a few

    “No GM who has won a title hasn’t made the tough decision”- what decision did Pat Riley make. Signing Shaq? Signing Lebron and Bosh? I wonder how long Riley dwelled on this tough decision.

    Must of been a tough one for Jerry Buss to sign Shaq away from the Magic. Sheeesh

    “rise of DeMar DeRozan into an All Star-worthy player” you have stated he would never approach all star level

    “pretty much every scout and executive say will be a draft for the ages” – you read as much as I do and more experts are now saying there is no superstar in this draft- good talent yes, but no-one is dominating in college

    “in the playoffs, the team lead by the most talented players tend to win” – Miami really doesn’t count. It’s an unholy alliance. Sometimes the better team wins, beating out talent – a la San Antonio Spurs and their system

    “DeRozan is probably making a little more than he should be for a guy who isn’t very good on the defensive end” where does our team rank defensively? You stated he plays the 3rd most minutes, he gets no credit?

  • Tanks-a-lot

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dallas_Mavericks

    I’ll just leave this right here.

    • Shadow Of Christ

      I could unpack that in so many ways… I’ll choose to leave it be

    • Louvens Remy

      Genius. Are there any cherries I can pick from it?

  • Chris Read

    Great post

  • DC

    “And while basketball is a team game, in the playoffs, the team lead by the most talented players tend (sic) to win.”

    Tim, if you insist on playing this record over and over and over . . . .would you please at least learn the past tense of the verb lead. It’s led. The homophone of led – lead – is a chemical element, a heavy metal. That you constantly misspell led is almost as annoying as your endless repetition of your belief that blowing up the present team and season is the ONLY way to build a contending team.

    • jjdynomite

      Tim the Troll’s repetitive, dour rants make me want to put lead in my head. So there’s that.

  • Tinman

    Are you guys censoring me?

  • Louvens Remy

    How can something so wrong be so right? Thanks Tim for making me howl with laughter this afternoon. You are the Tim Bynum of blogs..

  • Saskatoon Raps Fan

    I couldn’t get past the 2nd or 3rd point. It’s just the same cherry picked crap over and over again with this guy

    • Louvens Remy

      He cherry picks like he invented cherries.

  • Ragnarok

    I remember Colangelo’s first season and people said “In Bryan we trust” because he brought over Garbo and Parker. So it takes courage that Tim is putting his marker down and saying Masai might not be doing that good a job. I think TIm is wrong. I think Masai does have a plan, but it is a plan with flexibility. If he tells people the plan, then his bargaining position is weakened. What is his plan? If someone offers him a knock-out deal for Lowry or DD, they are gone. Even Amir. If not, he stays the course and tries to accumulate assets for a couple of years while sneaking into the playoffs. I think he has accumulated quite a few assets in six months, the biggest being some cap flexibility. But Masai is not Odin, and a strategy of asset accumulation is as risky as any other.

  • Louvens Remy

    “Any team can beat any other team in the NBA at any given time. ” –Tim W.
    Rasheed Wallace called to say that “both teams played hard”

  • drg

    Well written Tim W. but all these arguments have been beaten to a pulp and I don’t think this adds anything new to the discussion. Same goes with the anti-tank argument I suppose. Sigh…

  • d_1212

    Another Pro-tanking article it seems , tanking is anti-sport and stupid. Ask Herm Edwards what he thinks about tanking or losing:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IMk5sMHj58I

  • Anonymous

    I don’t want to pile on, because most of these articles are just meant to generate a lot of comments. Plus it’s not really for us to ‘debate’ because there’s no right answer in this. You DO need top shelf talent to win and let’s face it, the way the Raptors are now, it would take a miracle for them to win an NBA championship in the next 5-10 years. So I’ll just point out 3 things:

    1. For some reason, especially in this sport, there seems to be a championship or bust mentality that pervades throughout a fanbase. In football, you either an ELITE QB!! or not. In basketball, the only way you can be validated is by winning championships. Charles Barkley and Karl Malone had wonderful careers and top 20 NBA talents and the first thing people bring up about them (along with Dan Marino, Ernie Banks and Curtis Joseph) is “They never one the big one”. Just in these last two weeks alone, I’ve heard a radio analyst and a coach dismiss the success of franchises like Denver, Atlanta and even current Indy by saying “They never one a championship”. That’s fine. However you want to consume your entertainment shouldn’t be determined by anyone else. If that’s how you see success, then that is your right. However, to consistently put out a product that has regular season success (and even playoff success) is it’s own reward and very difficult to do. Zach Lowe had this to say recently about this situation:

    A segment of fans tends to view the NBA as a ringz-or-fail league, and following such a philosophy, suggests teams avoid 45-win above-averageness and do whatever it takes to acquire a franchise star. But the real NBA doesn’t work that way. Franchise players by definition are a scarce resource. A team that wins 45 to 50 games every season, enjoying a deep playoff run here and there, can be considered a huge success, depending on attendance figures and ownership priorities.

    The fact is, Toronto is in a market where it’s 3rd (and always will be 3rd) when it comes to the major sports, so any success is something Toronto can’t just throw away. The Indy game had 250K viewers, which was up 50% from last year. I’m sure someone at MLSE saw that and probably wasn’t too jazzed to just throw it all away for the possibility of getting a franchise player. To win in any sport, it takes so much. You need good management, a good coach and great talent. However, the biggest thing is probably….

    2. Luck. Luck plays a HUGE part in who wins and loses these things. I’m not talking about being consistently good. You do need all the things above to have that, but really, all that does is put you in a position to capitalize on taking advantage of luck. Everyone (rightfully) praises LeBron now, but they were 28 seconds and a miracle Ray Allen shot away from a summer of 4,293,474 annoying articles either titled “LeBron Isn’t Clutch!” or “They Need To Trade Chris Bosh”. The 2010 Lakers needed 2 huge shots from Ron Artest (!) to win. Tim Duncan is a wonderful player, but he needed a 2nd rounder from Argentina and a late 1st rounder from France to form a dynasty. Detroit basically got their team because of a chain of events that included Rick Pitino throwing his young PG under the bus, a throw in with a Grant Hill sign-n-trade and Rasheed Wallace throwing a ball at Ruben Patterson and coining the phrase “CTC”. Hell, even Michael Jordan got his sidekick because the Sonics decided they REALLY wanted Olden Polynice. Even this run is predicated on luck (Lowry was as good as gone until James Dolan sobered up for the first time in years). So many things have to go right to get a ring, that banking on it to be a success will drive you crazy. Even been good carry some luck, luck with the Raptors haven’t had and put them at this point where…

    3. Realistically, they CAN’T tank. Danny Ainge traded away Pierce/Garnett and that was tough, But Boston fans could at least hang their hat on 1 championship, 1 NBA finals and 6 straight years of playoffs. Phoenix set themselves up to tank but their fans could at least remember the Nash/Stoudamire years. Even Philly had a playoff win recently. The Raptors, basically, don’t have that currency with their fans. It truly is quite the feat that with four Top Ten picks, 5 lottery pick overall and a bonafide HOF on their roster, that they made the playoffs only twice in 8 years. The Raps weren’t supposed to succeed but now you’ve given a cup of water to a thirsty man, he wants to more to drink. To take that away for the promise of an ocean isn’t going to sit well. So now they are ‘stuck’ with this team (which might be good. They are 6th in Defensive Rating). All the bad things you can say about Kyle Lowry, other teams know it too. All the flaws that DeMar DeRozan has, other GMs see them too. As great as Amir Johnson is, no one is giving up 1st round picks for him. Maybe this isn’t the team that most wanted, but there’s no reason it still can’t be the team most want it to be.

  • Freddie Rivas

    Tim, I appreciate the need you feel to do douse everyone’s burning optimism with a cold bucket of truth, but your going a bit overboard.

    A few things, there is no direct path out of mediocrity. Tanking is A) very hard and B) Not a sure way of long term improvement. Two easy examples are the Cavs and the Bobcats. They have both tried to acquire picks from tanking, and both are trapped in the middle fore the foreseeable future. Houston may be the one example of flipping assets, but I’d rather give that a try then be philly, who will certainly be bad for years to come, regardless of their draft picks.

    As much as this might hurt to hear, if the Raps are playing good for any reason, at anytime and with anyone, it’s always a good thing. Never a bad thing to win in sports.

    Lastly, this whole championship or bust theory just isn’t true. By that logic, any team that doesn’t have Lebron for the next 10 years will be wasting their time. Deep down, we all know that Indiana can’t and won’t beat miami, but I’ll wager a bet that it’s pretty fun to be an indiana fan right now.

    With all of that said, I really enjoy your articles and I get where your coming from.

  • Balls of Steel

    I respect Tim’s opinions but I disagree with his largely “hopeless” point of view. The need for that elite player, which anyone can count with one hand is very difficult to find, especially in the draft. Miami certainly didn’t find their LeBron on that route. Based on his argument, the Raps and perhaps 90% of the teams in the NBA will never win anything, let alone a championship. Also, even if the Raps do get Wiggins (for arguments sake) but he doesn’t pan out, then what? Write another article of this ilk?

  • raptorspoo

    A man who knows what he’s talking about!

    For those of you who argue that we have a good youth foundation to build upon… well, so does Clev, Utah, Port, OKC (yes, OKC), Orl, Phil and half the NBA teams in the league.

    Let me ask you this, “what do you think our record would be sans Lowry who could very likely be gone for nothing this summer?”. I’d say in the same boat as Clev, Utah, Orl, Phil, etc.

    Truth of the matter is that for a team without a defining star, without Lowry, we’re no better than the scum of NBA teams.

    So why are we so high on our projected future considering we’re screwing our chances to obtain new talent?

    Mind you, I’m enjoying watching the Raptors win these days and I think it’s too late to tank now but just don’t like the direction of the franchise in general.

  • Brett

    Tim do you even like the Raptors?

  • Reggie Evans

    … what if you’re wrong?

  • Andrey

    this is life and death fellas. Oh boy

  • A G

    I read a lot of Raptors articles and basically all on RR but I couldn’t read much of this.

    How about you take a step back from your stand and just do a nice post-game writeup mentioning nothing of the past or future and just write about the ball that was played.

  • ac15

    I think it depends on what you mean by an ‘elite’ player.

    Prime example I like to use is the San Antonio Spurs, champions with 4 championships in the last 15 years. While Tim Duncan and Tony Parker may fit what you mean as an ‘elite’ player, they are by no means in the same league as how someone would consider Lebron, Durant, maybe even a Camerlo as ‘elite’.

    What got SA their success is committing to a style of winning basketball – drafting / signing players who play fundamental basketball with high IQ, build a roster where everyone knows their roles and can have great chemistry together (remember Bruce Bowen? He’s a 3 and D type we all talk about, but without him, I would be so far as to say SA wouldn’t have had their same level of success without him, because he’s such an integral part), commitment to defense as it’s defense that wins you games and the list goes on.

    So can we really use an ‘elite’ player? yes, of course, but only if they fit into the style of basketball that addresses a fundamental part of what is required to win basketball game for a club. It is a team sport afterall.

    • jjdynomite

      Duncan is widely considered the greatest PF of all time. So your analogy doesn’t really work.

  • afrocarter

    You know what? Hats off to you, Tim. Regardless of whether or not I agree with your stance, I can recognize a great article when I read one. Strong arguments that are well backed up. I’m very excited about the Raptors’ current level of play, but I respect you looking long term. Kudos.

  • thatpeterguy

    I vehemently disagree with Tim W on most of his opinions but I love having a villain in the republic. It keeps things spicy ’round here.

  • Bears

    Tim, I respect that you have provided a comprehensive argument to support your opinion in a well written piece.
    If I understood correctly, the slim version of the argument is:
    Opinion 1 – For the Raptors to win an NBA Title => Raptors need a “franchise player”
    Opinion 2 – The Raptors do not have a “franchise player”
    Opinion 3 – For the Raptors to have a “franchise player” => Raptors need a high draft pick
    Opinion 4 – For the Raptors to have a high draft pick => Raptors need to tank.
    Opinion 5 – For the Raptors to tank => MU needs to make “tough decisions” (i.e, trade assets)
    Therefore, For the Raptors to win an NBA title => MU needs to make tough decisions (i.e, trade assets)

    The logic of the argument is sound. People that disagree with the conclusion, do so because they disagree with at least one of the opinions. Personally, I agree with opinions 1 and 2. Opinions 3 is highly controversial but I partially agree with it. I’ll partially agree with Opinion 4 if “tank” means bottom 5 in the league. That said, I disagree with Opinion 5.
    The Raptors already have 5W more than the bottom 5 in the NBA (76ers / Magic / Bucks / Kings / Jazz). The Raptors will need to be worse than those teams for the rest of the season for them to “sneak into” the bottom 5. The Raptors would need to trade at least Lowry, Derozan, +/- Amir for minimal immediate return to even have a shot at bottom 5 record. The problem is that Lowry will be very difficult to trade (summarized nicely by Zack Lowe in Grantland). Even if Derozan and Amir are traded, there is no guarantee the Raptors can out-tank the bottom 5, especially with the Raptors defensive improvement. Right now, it’s simply too late for the Raptors to tank the the East. Any effort by MU will be too little and too late.

    All we can hope for is that someway, somehow, the Raptors end up with a “franchise player” for I agree that for the Raptors to win an NBA title they need a franchise player.

  • Louvens Remy

    Derozan is the next Paul Pierce. Book it.

  • Aaron Muzzerall

    The Raptors squad this year was too good to tank even if we wanted to. Even if we traded Gay, Lowry and Amir, just having DD, JV and Ross along with other mixed pieces would have been good enough to land us somewhere in the middle. 2011 should have been our tanking year but we ended up with the eighth worst record and the 8th pick. What would happen to the franchise if we traded all our good pieces away now and then still got 8th pick again this draft. What a disaster that would be. Our team has the potential to turn into an Indiana Pacers, Memphis or even San Antonio.type team. If our team can get the record that Denver has had in the past five years for our next five years that would be amazing. I would be VERY surprised if we were a top 4 team in the conference for the next five years and we didn’t see any playoff success. One last quick point. Currently the top four teams according to vegas to win the championship are Miami (2-1), Indiana (3-1), OKC (6-1), Spurs (7-1). Two of those teams have superstars and two do not. George is close but no reason why DD or JV can’t be as good. Good article and well written but i definitely disagree.

  • canuck_eh

    Lots of interesting banter here, but could someone clarify the statement: “Iguodala was a very good player for them, and the only Nugget to ever appear in an All Star game,..” Am I missing something? Iverson, Billups, Melo? I must be reading it wrong…blame it on Sunday morning/cold medication.

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