I remember 2001 like it was yesterday. I was working at TSN back then (behind-the-scenes in television rather than for their nascent website) and as the Raptors stellar Playoff run wore down there was as great a sense of panic as there was of jubilation about the summer that lay ahead.

On the plus side you had a team that had just completed their greatest-ever regular season with 47-wins and was embroiled in a tense back-and-forth Conference Semi-Finals series with the Philadelphia 76ers. The Raptors were headlined by one of the biggest stars in the NBA in Vince Carter and looked like an emerging Eastern Conference power based on their 2000-01 results.

There were rifts, however. The Raptors (and their fans) were still very much haunted by Tracy McGrady’s abandonment the summer before, when he spurned Toronto’s free agency overtures and signed a six-year, $67.5-million deal with the Orlando Magic. In 2001 Carter was eligible for a contract extension but no one was sure if he’d be willing to sign on for an elongated tour of duty in Toronto after his cousin’s recent departure. Plus, the team’s success had made Toronto’s bevy of free agents (headlined by Antonio Davis, Alvin Williams and Jerome Williams) attractive to opposing teams and many thought the roster was about to be decimated despite the team’s season-long success.

In the end, of course, Carter opted to stay, and general manager Glen Grunwald offered lucrative (some would argue recklessly so) new deals to Davis and the Williamses to avoid losing them and having to reconstruct the team’s rotation. Those new deals, however, handcuffed the Raptors financially, prevented them from having the flexibility needed to pivot when the roster proved vulnerable and ultimately led to enough fruitless years that Carter would demand a trade after playing out only two years of his six-year extension.

Hindsight proved cruel for Grunwald and his decisions that summer. In addition to the expensive new contracts to his existing players, he also signed a washed-up Hakeem Olajuwon to a three-year, $18-million contract that wound up buying the team just one year of inconsistent service before Olajuwon retired in 2002. Try as he might, Grunwald was never able to dig himself out of the financial hole that he created in the summer of 2001 and he was eventually relieved of his duties in 2004 after three seasons without a Playoff appearance.

Like I said, though, I remember that summer clearly, and how that summer is frequently remembered is not how that summer played out. Or at least the cold numbers don’t do justice to the big picture that was in play in 2001.

Remember, it was in March of 2001 that it was announced that the Vancouver Grizzlies would be relocated to Memphis, Tennessee. The Raptors success in the 2000-01 season was just three years removed from what to this day stands as the most desultory in team history, the 16-66 campaign of 1997-98 (the year that Damon Stoudamire demanded a trade out of town and the club brought in their third head coach in three seasons). Plus there was the aforementioned McGrady situation and Charles Oakley’s rumoured trade demand. The team had seen some very dark times prior to their successes that season and there was a strong belief that the Raptors could not afford to lose the momentum of the 2000-01 season. They could not afford to lose another superstar, they could not afford to backslide into irrelevance, they had to capitalize on their good fortune and keep the good times rolling lest they slide back into the dark times and all of the uncertainty that comes with such a fate.

Many thought that a return to the dark times was inevitable. Davis and Alvin Williams were strong candidates to be poached away from Toronto and the assumption was that if that happened Carter would be a lock to follow them out the door. Davis, in particular, was fervently pursued by the Orlando Magic and never seemed all that interested in staying in Toronto, while Williams was strongly courted by Chicago and Atlanta. So while the Raptors may have overpaid to re-sign them (Davis’ deal with worth $64-million over five years, Williams received seven-year, $42-million contract and Jerome Williams signed for seven years at $40.8-million), it wasn’t like there weren’t other suitors vying for their services and at the time for the Raptors to retain their own they had to overpay to make it happen.

I remember that there was legitimate shock when Davis and Alvin Williams decided to re-up in Toronto. It was a little bit of a validation moment, which was of course exaggerated when Carter and Olajuwon joined them later that summer. Toronto was becoming a real NBA team, an actual player on the NBA landscape. The New York Times called them one of the favourites to win the East. That was a big deal back in 2001, one that maybe outweighed danger inherent locking up so much long-term money in such a small core of players.

So why is all of this relevant in the summer of 2014, thirteen years after the fact and a generation removed from that summer? Because circumstances have put the Raptors back in the shoes of their 2001 counterparts, and Masai Ujiri is going to have to navigate many of the same waters that Grunwald did while hopefully improving upon his outcome.

In an attempt to create as much financial flexibility as possible in his first year on the job, Ujiri assembled a robust collection of expiring contracts that was supposed to give the Raptors a boatload of cap room to play with this summer and beyond. In an unexpected turn of events, however, that collection of players turned out to be a pretty good ball club. In these Playoffs, in fact, the three players with the highest PER are Patrick Patterson (18.9), Greivis Vasquez (18.7) and Kyle Lowry (16.0) — all free agents this summer. Plus, the next guy on the list, Amir Johnson (15.9), has only a partially-guaranteed contract for next season.

This puts Ujiri into a tight corner. Does he work to keep some the most productive elements of his roster together because they created such unexpected success this season, or does he roll the dice and only bring back a select few and risk upsetting the apple cart? Keep in mind that I am operating under the presumption that at least one player of relevance will probably also be traded at some point this off-season, if only because this team is ‘good’ and not ‘great’ and further upgrades need to occur if they want to take the next step forward and with so many free agents in play there aren’t a lot of meaningful contracts left for the team to deal.

The argument for keeping the band together is obvious: this team has just completed their most successful regular season ever and is in the midst of pushing the Brooklyn Nets harder than most expected (regardless of the series outcome). Plus, guys like Patterson, Vasquez and Johnson are just good players and great fits for this team’s core, not to mention Lowry as an absolutely indispensable asset that the club now simply cannot afford to lose.

The opposing argument is that, while good, this team still has a long way to go and they need to preserve a certain amount of flexibility because they’ll still need a massive talent infusion if they want to play at the level of the NBA’s best. Like in 2001, there are sentimental reasons for wanting to keep this train rolling along, but are those reasons the most pragmatic given the longterm goals and aspirations for this club?

Of course, this isn’t 2001 and the parallels between then and now are not endless. There isn’t the same stigma against Toronto as a free agent destination as there was back then. Sure, one could still be said to exist, but that concession has to come with caveat that that stigma is only a fraction of what it once was. Secondly, contracts are not as long or expensive as they once were, especially for role players, so there is still a chance the Raptors could afford to mostly keep this group together while still maintaining enough flexibility to improve as needed.

Still, there is a fascinating debate at the heart of this issue that will be addressed by Ujiri one way or another this summer. Does he believe that there is merit in maintaining a certain level of continuity, given the successes that the club has achieved this season, or does he buy into the notion that the team hasn’t actually achieved anything substantiative yet and nothing about this team’s current assemblage should be seen as precious. I would consider that to be an overly cynical view to take in light of how little success the Raptors have seen in their nineteen-season history, but if an NBA title is all that this club can measure success by then perhaps such cynicism is validated.

In his three years with Denver, Ujiri was not noted for his sentimentality. He would gush about a player one day and trade him the next. However, Denver did not possess the same psychic scars as Toronto. Breaking up this team, or allowing it to be broken up, will come with the expectation that much better times are on the horizon. Internally there may be the belief that the Raptors haven’t achieved anything yet, but there are thousands of fans who stand outside in the cold to watch their team play from outside their arena that would disagree that nothing has been achieved. They may not be where they want the club to be yet, but they’ve struck a chord with the city and that means something, too.

In 2001, that meant that all stops had to be pulled out to keep the team together. It will be interesting to see what it means in the summer of 2014.

  • golden

    Oh God, not again. Tim – just stop it, already. Can we not save the arm-chair GM’ing for the off-season? Nobody really cares about this sh*t right now. Puh-leeze.

    • Roarque

      I care

    • Tinmann

      It’s the elephant in the room – and I think you got the wrong Tim(who is probably waiting for our demise before his next lecture, I mean post)

    • Brian

      I care

    • Nilanka15

      I most definitely care.

      • ItsAboutFun

        But who cares that you care? 😉

        Kidding aside, imo, the timing of this stinks. There’s a great 1st round of NBA playoffs taking place, with the Raptors in the thick of it for the first time in a long time. Yes, there are decisions to be made in the off-season. *yawn* lot’s of time for that when there isn’t any Raptors games to talk about. It’s like watching a great movie, but the guy beside you wants to chat about the academy award possibilities, box office returns, how much money the stars are making, and what should be their next career moves. Interesting topics to some people, but some feel it takes away from the fun being had in the moment.

        That aside, equating the current scenario to 2001 is like equating tomatoes to apples.

        • 2damkule

          man, there are 3 articles every damn day about the playoffs. if you don’t want to read about this stuff, then don’t.

          • ItsAboutFun

            Frustrated with too much playoff talk? Sad,,,,,,,,,,, for tankers I guess. Tough life it is when the team doesn’t meet your expectations of suckage. btw, if you don’t like to read my opinions, then don’t. There are lots of a-holes that swing your way.

            • sleepz

              What’s a “tanker” by the way?

              Most fans on this forum want the team to be good or even great and and compete at the highest level.

              Astounding that this is a problem for some fans. I know you’re relatively new to the game but there is a wide range of things to discuss about the team that doesn’t necessarily have to do with tomorrow’s game.

              Based on your observations, I guess the Clips fans shouldn’t be talking about their owner because you know, the Clips are in the playoffs and any conversation deviating from that is evil. lol

        • Nilanka15

          Like Yertu eluded to, chalk this up to one of the gazillion writers covering the Raptors right now, trying to find something else to talk about. Do we really need 17 guys writing about how banged up our troops are?

          I enjoy reading about all aspects of the team, at any time. It isn’t any less silly to be talking about the playoffs in September, than it is talking about next season now.

        • sleepz

          This is a relevant article that is exploring the sustainability of what they currently have vs. where management has said they want to go, being a real contender.

          All the observations made are relevant. This article does nothing to change what is happening in this series but is still focused on the direction of the Raptors as a franchise. There’s never a wrong time to talk about that.

          Maybe you could provide observations on what he’s actually saying then another thinly veiled criticism about someone talking about something you don’t care for.

          • ItsAboutFun

            “wrong”? Didn’t say there is anything “wrong” about whatever you wish to talk about. Nor is there anything wrong about me expressing my perspective on that chatter. Btw, what’s “thinly veiled”? I expressed an opinion, that veils what?

            As for “All the observations made are relevant.”, as I said, equating the scenario facing MU in the summer of 2014, to the scenario of 2001, is irrelevant. The entire organization, from team make-up to management and ownership, and the current state of same, are so different from 2001, that imo, the only connection is one wished upon by tankers who are desperately trying to hold on to their old stories of “this team is in trouble”, as in “look what happened then, so don’t be happy about the success this team is currently having”. Tankers just won’t go away, even for a little while, even as the team is in the midst of a hard fought playoff battle, ugh.

            • sleepz

              Tankers?lol. Funny.

              Why would I go away anywhere when I’ve been a fan of this team far longer than you have?

              Of course the players and management are different than 2001, as it’s 13 years later. Quite the astute observation coming from you.

              The issue you have is you mistake those fans who know that the talent level on this team needs to be upgraded significantly if they want to eventually compete for championships with these fans you’ve created in your head that want to see the team in trouble or not be happy about the current ‘success’ of this team? LOL Where do you come up with this foolishness?

              Any comparisons made to actual comparable situations is always met with “everything is different” but how do you know whats different when you weren’t even following the team in 2001?

              Be happy about this season. No one is telling you not to. Some fans are not just looking at today and the now and there is nothing wrong with that. I’m looking forward to the draft. That doesn’t make me anything other than a fan interested in the draft. You can’t determine what fans of the team should be interested in, although it seems to trouble you immensely. You don’t have to be upset about this, just sit back and enjoy the playoffs and keep quiet about other Raptor discussions that don’t focus on the it.

              • ItsAboutFun

                How do you keep coming out with this I’m new to the game, and you’ve been a fan much longer thing? I guess it fits your lame narrative, but it is very far from the truth. Even if it was true, why do you keep babbling about it? Some sort of childish concept that puts you in a perceived higher status?

                “trouble you immensely”, “upset about this”??? Got anymore hyperbole for us? lol. but the hypocrisy of telling me to be quiet is hilarious. Thanks for the chuckle.

                • sleepz

                  You’re not new to the game?

                  It does trouble you, or you wouldn’t feel the need to stop and comment on topics outside of what you think should be relevant. You never commented on what the writer wrote. You commented on why they shouldn’t be writing about this. That’s classic you. It’s all you ever do. lol

            • FLUXLAND

              What seems “wrong” is that you read the title (presumably article?) and that you didn’t agree on the premise, yet instead of contributing to the discussion by offering any kind of coherent rebuttal, you are complaining about your “fun of the moment” being taken away is some self imagined way.

              It’s like you saw a CAUTION: FIRE sign and decided to stick you head in, but now you’re complaining about your burn and calling everyone a moron. Good look.

              • ItsAboutFun

                As usual, you just invent shit that people say. Get a grip on reality

                • FLUXLAND

                  “but some feel it takes away from the fun being had in the moment.” – p00ka

                • ItsAboutFun

                  Yup,,, is something wrong with expressing a shared perspective of the nature and timing of the topic of the article, with no aggression or insults, sheriff?

                  Apparently you have a constitution that disallows others to make comments about the nature and timing of comments/articles, but demand only comments “contributing to the discussion by offering any kind of coherent rebuttal”. Are you also inventing this rule, that you can’t follow yourself, or is this part of the RR fan constitution? You’ve got no control over what perspective is discussed, kid, and certainly have no rights to dictate what perspective I comment on. You can also pass that on to your fellow hurt pal sleepz

                  That’s not the invention I was talking about though. You sometimes resemble a non effed dude when you’re successful in sticking to reality, but you can’t stop yourself. You get all wound up like a junior high girl in sticky panties days, and invent shit like “calling everyone a moron”. Pathetic in a way, but in small doses, and only occasionally, you’re kinda fun.

                • LetsGoRaps

                  You’re alive! lol guessing since you’re not actually a Raptors fan we haven’t seen you down at the square for any of the games. Keep cheering for Brooklyn pal, best of luck with the trolling that gives your sports life meaning.

      • golden

        I totally care, too. But not right now.

  • Marz

    I think we’re in a much better position than 2001. We have two sophomores still on their rookie contracts. DeRozan is locked up at a reasonable (in my opinion, anyway) rate. And we have two players in Fields/Chuck Hayes who will provide a ton of cap relief the season after next.

    Both Patterson and Vasquez are coming off of rookie contracts, so we can most certainly expect will provide a Qualifying Offer. So if they decline, I believe that makes them an RFA, which means we can choose to match or not depending on market value. This is unlike 2001, where the players we were looking up were older and could command much more money. In addition, the new CBA doesn’t allow us to sign players for 7 years (thankfully).

    Really, I think we’re in a great position. The only player whose salary will be difficult to gauge is Lowry, and that’s its own column altogether.

    • afrocarter

      Not to mention that Ujiri appears to be a (much, much, much) better GM than Grunwald.If anybody had the ability to navigate an uncertain offseason, it’d be Executive of the Year Masai. Fingers crossed.

      • sleepz

        What makes it seem like Masai is a better GM than Grunwald? The core of this team was put together by another GM and quite frankly Tim is right when he says if they want to be a contender a massive talent infusion is needed.

        No disrespect to Masai, but I will start to judge him favorably based on if he can bring in more talented players to this team then his predecessor has. The Patterson’s and Vazquez’s were solid acquisitions for the team, but titles are won with elite players. If 2-3 years down the road, Lowry, Derozan, or JV are still the Raps best players he will have not have succeeded in his role as GM, imho.

        • Ghotte

          JV with 2-3 more years under his belt should be one of our best players so I’m not certain what you’re talking about…

    • Paul

      Nailed it. I really don’t see much similarity between 01 and this year. Sure we might have to overpay Lowry a little, but we’re talking 2-3 million in leeway, which won’t have much of an effect on the cap moving forward. Other than that our situation is ideal. I think Patterson is a must keep, but Vasquez is replaceable if he still wants to play (and be paid) as a starter. Not a bad contract on this team after next year (except Novak who only makes 3M). I know its sacrilege to some, but I think the big step we need to make moving forward is to trade Demar for a bigger 3 (this series is really exposing our lack of size at that position) and move Ross to the 2.

      • Lyall

        You make goods points man, but I dunno bro, I’d still rather have Vasquez over D.J. Augustine.

      • jakdripr

        While trading Demar for a bigger player could be a good move, I think it would be a horrible move in the long run. This is a franchise that has had issues with players not wanting to play in Toronto, then we finally find one that does(or at the very least claims he does) and we trade him away? Not a good look at all, I understand this is a business, but a little loyalty goes a long way. Just look at the pacers.

        I do agree we need some size, if we could get a player like Shawn Marion(not him exactly, but a versatile player like him), start him at PF but rotate him over depending on the match-up and then move Amir to the bench that might fix the problem. But players like that are hard to come by.

        There’s also the possibility of moving Ross to the bench and just signing a bigger guard to start at small forward but Ross’s mediocre bench production at the start of the season makes me wonder how that’ll affect the boy.

        All in all, I’m glad I’m not Masai right now.

    • IROR

      Yep restricted free agency is totally different now. I don’t think the two option years of first rounders even existed. Also, a qualifying offer must be tendered or else player becomes UFA. Hope to see Grievis and pat back on good contracts. I see Both on 2 or 3 yr deals around 4-6 mil. Interested to see how the new CBA affects values of contracts like these two. I even think Lowry could be had at 9-11 mil over 3 or 4 yrs

  • Tinman

    Big question is how much to offer Lowry.
    We can’t overpay.
    I’m hoping he’ll accept DeRozan type money (10 mill)

    • John Ricccccccccccccccccoooooo

      you’re delusional! you’re lucky if you get him for 12m 6yrs

      • Nilanka15

        There are no 6 year contracts.

        • why

          That is the big difference with 2001. Also Lowry is 4 or 5 younger than Davis was in 2001.

    • DC

      $10-12 million should get it done. The top of the range matches Ty Lawson, but Lowry might give TO a discount for what it has done for him.

  • RaptorFan

    Nice write-up! Some good analysis regarding the past. I’m very confident that Masai will see the true core of this group/team moving forward and will ensure that the chemistry is still intact while improving our talent level.

    I really think that a player like Luol Deng could help bring this team to the next level. He’s a past all-star and his defence should be a good match. It will be very interesting to watch the developments this summer.

    Tim Chisholm >>>> Tim W.

    Not even close

  • jfd889

    Is there any conceiable way we can get rid of deadweight salary – Novak + Fields – without too much damage?

    • Not sure

      Maybe a trade involving T-Ross? How else?

      • DDayLewis

        Trade T-Ross to shed one year of salary on Fields’ part? No way.

        • dunkmycat7

          No Way ? Really ? I’m doing that deal in a second if we get a bona fide big.
          And we have to throw in Amir instead of SN to get it done for the right guy – I’m still all in.

          • 2damkule

            but, amir provides you with a really, really good ‘big’ option already, and JV seems to be progressing nicely, so you’re essentially advocating that it’s worth trading ross (who’s looked horrible, but is obviously better than this) to get a back-up 4/5, simply to get out from under a bad (albeit, expiring) contract?

            • dunkmycat7

              No – to get a BONA FIDE STARTING BIG.
              Sorry but didn’t I say that ?
              And really-Amir is NOT “really really good”
              He plays hard, he defends pretty well, and we all LOVELOVELOVE his effort, but he doesn’t really score, he is hurt ALOT, he is a foul machine(maybe 2nd in the NBA this year) he is undersized and cannot handle the big $’ and 5’s and isn’t mobile enough to handle the 3’s..
              There are a lot of guys in the NBA who can do (and cannot do) what Amir can do.

              • 2damkule

                – no, you didn’t say a starter/starter quality;
                – i disagree, i think amir is really, really good, and there are a multitude of NBA observers who are capable of looking beyond a box score who feel the same.
                – what does ‘doesn’t really score’ mean? he’s super efficient, doesn’t demand the ball, is opportunistic, has perhaps the best hands of any big in the L, is crazy efficient finishing around the rim, and is undeniably an excellent screen-setter in the PnR. i’m not going to argue that he’s some offensive juggernaut in terms of offensive polish, but what he does is invaluable, not only on this team, but on any team. you can only have so many guys who ‘need’ the ball, and having a guy like him, who doesn’t need to be fed the ball or get touches/looks in order to bring it on the glass or defensively is huge. HUGE.
                – his usage rate is really low for someone who’s involved as much as he is in the offense and who scores at such an efficient clip.
                – his PFs have dropped (per36) every year he’s been with the raps, and it’s really not an issue. big guys foul. that’s kind of how it is. he’s playing with a wing who isn’t a great defender (derozan) & a frontcourt partner still learning to defend at this level (JV), so perhaps just a slice of slack should be granted.

                IMO, they need a traditional back-up 5, so that amir isn’t forced to play out of position…but trading a solid prospect like ross for one seems delusional. i kind of doubt such a suggestion would have been made after he dropped 50 on denver.

                • dunkmycat7

                  I understand my views on Amir are quite unpopular, and I DO agree with some of what you say
                  BUT – we need a West, Drummond, Monroe, even Asik type and THAT imo will be the biggest factor in the development of JV – who I think we all can agree IS the future
                  I just don’t think there is anything really special about Amir or TRoss. One’s got heart, one’s got potential ,but I want a PROVEN KILLER 4/5 so that this team can take the next step.

                • ItsAboutFun

                  Agreed on all points. Now, about the existing team, and the current playoff,……….. 😉

            • sleepz

              Regarding JV progressing nicely, I would really hope they bring in a real big man coach next season.

              JV was starting to develop left hand hooks last season that seem to have vanished from his game this year. It’s a bit troublesome for me when I see Garnett loading up on his left shoulder daring him to spin or drop step and go to the left and JV just tries to continue to bull going right. He needs to be able to take and make that shot to keep his man and defence’s honest. I’m afraid to think Magloire is the person providing tutelage to the teams top prospect.

          • DDayLewis

            Trading Ross for an upgrade is fine, provided the quality in return. Trading Ross just to get rid of dead salary is bad management.

            • dunkmycat7

              Agreed -and that SERIOUS upgraade is what I am advocating.

              • ItsAboutFun

                yeah? Who are you advocating getting? Zero D Monroe?

                • dunkmycat7

                  Among others…not my first choice but i’ll take him..can I get DH, The Unibrow or my personal fave Demarcus C ?
                  Crap – didn’t think so.
                  Maybe we can poach the clippers for Blake :)
                  Anyone watching the press conference WOW !!!
                  Nice one Adam.

                • DDayLewis

                  Lol Ross isn’t netting any of those dudes.

                • dunkmycat7

                  But as part of a package ?See my real list below,those guys are all pretty much possible.
                  And if BC ends up in Det…lord wouldn’t it be nice to be on the OTHER side of a BC trade for once :)

                • DDayLewis

                  What? The Unibrow is like the third most un-touchable player in the league behind Lebron and Durant. The entire Raptor team wouldn’t be enough to fetch AD

                • dunkmycat7

                  DDL
                  I had another post below where I had guys like DWest, Asik, Drummond Monroe etc. When I said
                  “Crap -didn’t think so” I thought that might be a dead give away that all those guys are pretty much untouchable and I was being a bit sardonic. :)
                  Let me put it this way :
                  Please don’t think that I don’t appreciate fully Amir’s heart and soul and guts value to this Raptors team especially since that factor is such a huge part of their current success. Or that I cannot see the potential of the potential in T.Ross.
                  It’s very difficult to properly asses any individual deal and specific names so I’m not going to delve into that , each deal will of course assessed on it’s own merits and the package of players involved.
                  BUT…. if the Raps were able to upgrade to a KILLER 4/5(imo -THE single biggest factor to take the Raps to the next serious contender level-another discussion) I would have no problem trading either /or Amir and T.Ross in any package to do that. And if I’m dumping LF’s horrible contract in the package then i’m even more interested.
                  And IMO – the ruthless part of Masai wouldn’t have any problem with that either.
                  As far as untouchable is concerned -it seems that every time i think someone is quite untouchable they get traded or leave in F/A.Just think about the Pacers – 3 months ago we would have all said RH was untouchable – but if (when ?) they lose in the first round I think pretty much that whole team goes on sale. It’s very fluid , always has been. Wouldn’t you trade Amir if you could have DWest on this team ? I sure would.
                  Sorry for the length- love your movies by the way. :)

                • ItsAboutFun

                  Exactly why I asked the question. Maybe fun to speak in fantasy terms, but there’s not much available that would be an upgrade over Amir, and is available, and is a good fit. nada.

    • webfeat

      Yep, get a new coach that knows how to set plays for Novak and doesn’t hate Fields for no reason. Suddenly Novak and Fields won’t be deadweights.

  • vanlivin

    This is a good article. This is also pretty well all their is too talk Raptors from the time they get knocked out/win the championship til July 1.

  • webfeat

    “In these Playoffs, in fact, the three players with the highest PER are
    Patrick Patterson (18.9), Greivis Vasquez (18.7) and Kyle Lowry (16.0) —
    all free agents this summer”

    GV and 2Pat are RFAs, though. Not exactly free agents. All the team has to match any offers given to them. And Kyle’s likely to re-sign with the raps since it’s the best situation for him here.

    Next summer will be interesting with so many contracts expiring, including Amir, Hayes, Fields, and Hansbrough.

    • DDayLewis

      His point is that retaining the current squad will put the team into a bind financially, with little wiggle room to speak of. Retaining the free-agents isn’t the tricky part, maintaining flexibility is.

      Of course, as you mentioned, there is a significant chuck of salary expiring in 2015, which should open up room to add pieces.

      • webfeat

        I thought he was referring to the uncertainty surrounding free agents to be? Ujiri seems to have mastered the flexibility part, so I’m not worried about that.

        • DDayLewis

          Flexibility is a concern. Let’s say Ujiri locks up Patterson, Vasquez and Lowry for ~20 million per year (4/4/12), and they buyout Salmons’ partially guaranteed contract. That would put the Raptors right at the cap until 2015.

          http://www.basketball-reference.com/contracts/TOR.html

          • ItsAboutFun

            2015, hmmmmm, which is the year MU stated was his target for having the team where he wants it. Doesn’t seem like such a big issue.

        • sleepz

          Mastered flexibility? The article correctly points out that if you resign everyone, there will most likely be no flexibility.

          • ItsAboutFun

            That’s what people said when MU had Bargnani and Gay on the roster. What a difference a few months makes.

      • golden

        The myth of ‘no flexibility’ is common misconception. Having no flexibility assumes that: (a) players that you signed are overpaid and un-tradeable & (b) nobody on the roster improves (especially young players like: DD, JV, Ross, 2Pat). And yet, even in the case of (a) MU has shown the ability to create flexibility from seemingly impossible to move contracts (Bargs & Gay). Conversely, if guys out-perform their contracts (like DD is doing now), then you have incredible pieces to trade for upgrades.

  • Philoveritas

    These are the sorts of things that have crept into my mind as the season was going along, and are still far more uncertain then even the outcome of this series. I decided months ago that I wanted to see Brooklyn in the first round and knew that they could beat them but it would likely be a close series. This site stands as testament to the general expectation that this team was going to win the Atlantic, take the third-seed, and probably be no better than a second round exit. Things are unfolding far to predictably as far as the on-court stuff goes. I would resign Patman for sure. The choice really becomes Lowry vs. Vasquez. Is Vasquez going to want to be a starter? Is someone else going to make that offer to him? Is Lowry going to bolt?

    • CJT

      I disagree, after both being journey men pg’s in the league I think they will see the value in staying together to make one of the best pg tandems in the league. Also GV’s minutes are much higher than a traditional back up pg because of all the two pg line ups. I think he is very happy to be part of a great core of players and will put that ahead of the starter issue.

  • timwisasourpus

    Can’t you enjoy what we have right now?

    • 2damkule

      Tim Chisolm wrote this.

    • asdfdsf

      Wow, you sure have delicate sensebilities.

  • Tom

    Trade DeRozan.

    • Bob the Truthteller

      We would regret that as a franchise. Big time.

      • Tom

        Neither DeRozan nor ross can effectively defend SFs. Ross has admittedly been terrible this series, but he is a better floor-spacer and defender, and as such is a better fit with the rest of our roster, which has a bunch of P&R savants on it. Ross is also a lot cheaper.

        With DeRozan being an all-star, his value is probably pretty high. Now is probably the time to see what we can get for him.

  • Nilanka15

    I swear we have readers who would rather hang out with Donald Sterling than Tim. W.

    • RaptorFan

      LOL

  • thegloveinrapsuniform

    Get Melo.

  • tonious35

    Tim, those contracts might of been bad, but the underlying issue that killed the Raptors that 2001 Summer was drafting uselessness called Michael Bradley at 17th and passing on Gilbert Arenas, Tony Parker, Sam Dalembert, Gerald Wallace, Memo Okur, Brendan Haywood, and Zach Randolph (20-20 hindsight considered).

  • fair89

    This will probably get lost in the comments, which could be a good thing.

    Surprisingly met someone from the organization and he was kind of enough to have a good chat, not sure why he told me this when it seemed kind of confidential.
    – Lowry, 2Pat, Vasquez: the intention is to resign them. They aren’t going anywhere!
    – Salmons and Hansborough won’t be on the roster next year
    – Jonas’ ego has been big as of late. His double-doubles, numbers and offensive overall is great, but he isn’t playing defence/calling+stepping on screens, disrespects the refs and isn’t being a good teammate. They are trying to reel him back to earth, but the coaches felt hooking him early and cutting his minutes (even in a playoff game!) would help him learn
    – Fields is really hurt. His elbow is affecting his hand it’s not even funny. The back spasms didn’t help when he flipped over Livingston
    – The best lockeroom to be around, getting Vasquez, Salmons, Hayes and 2Pat was a blessing
    – The refs screwed them over in game 3, but they made it ‘more fair’ in the 4th game – here’ hoping game 5 isn’t reversed on them
    – Coach Casey really-really-really has a hold of the team, he’s made them come together, but who knows if he’s coming back
    – He says he might head to New York to join Steve Kerr
    – The offence was always the same, but they keep adding wrinkles. He kind of agreed in the beginning it didn’t work because of egos, but the trade worked out for both teams

    • Sachin Arora

      I also heard one of these “don’t tell anyone” rumours from someone in the organization that said KLow will not come back next year, based on his own decision. He agreed to play hard to raise his value for a midseason move that didn’t happen. He was upset and went to management. He agreed to put on a show and be the consummate team player to alleviate those negative generalizations about his attitude that followed him here from Houston. His value is now as high as has ever, or will ever, be. He can cash in and Ujiri doesn’t want to fall for one of those contract year smoke screens. I took it with a grain of salt. If he moves, he’ll be another in the line of Stoudamire, Camby, McGrady, and Carter that saw something tasty on the other side of the fence that ends up just being sour fruit. This team would be best left as is, minus Salmons and Hansborough, and add a capable backup centre. I hope these guys appreciate the system and chemistry that they got. It’s sooooo hard to recreate. GO RAPS!

      • fair89

        Masai calls the shots at the end of the day, who what happens today will be different in the summer.

        Not sure who your source is, but I have a photo with mine. He sits on the bench.

        • Sachin Arora

          It was like 3 months ago. Happened to meet someone at a party that’s on the staff. Talked a bit of ball. He’s was a little buzzed. Regardless, it means nothing. Keep winning and winners will want to play here.

          • fair89

            If the employee knew, wouldn’t the teammates know too?
            I wonder if the players are in on it and just don’t care. If what you say is mostly true, I’m surprised Lowry would be putting on a show, when the locker room is really close. If Lowry was faking it, it would definitely be a distraction, more so than RG was.
            This person’s words don’t really correlate to what’s transpiring this season.

  • Frank Rollo

    They also said they are willing to pay luxury tax now