Finding a good defensive stopper within is tough as well. DeMar DeRozan is terrible at defense. I’m okay with DeRozan not being a good defender though. He has so much offensive load to carry for the Raptors to score. As long as his defense isn’t as bad as James Harden’s defense, it’s fine. Terrence Ross has improved a lot defensively as Casey gave him more consistent minutes. With his lateral quickness, length and ability to pressure the ball handler made him a very good defender that can suffocate point guards effectively. But his lack of strength makes him an unreliable defender against big guards or small forwards. If the Raptors want to compete in the East, they need a player that can guard big wings like Carmelo Anthony, Paul George, LeBron James and Joe Johnson. Here’s a solution: Sign Thabo Sefolosha. Sefolosha is one of the most under appreciated players in the league. The Oklahoma City Thunder really values him and he’s a fantastic fit for them. But there’s no guarantee he’ll be back next season for the Thunder. Sefolosha is in a contract year and many teams will want him.
It took the Rudy Gay trade to get Ross into the starting lineup. Honestly, I think they would have traded Gay even if it meant starting Steve Novak. By no means was Ross expected to take over Gay’s furiously inefficient scoring role, but he did hit threes at a rate (39.5%) that had to have exceeded expectations. More importantly, he played within the offense and went big when he was feeling it. No one can argue that philosophy is better than Gay’s “im-the-man-get-out-of-my-way-while-I-put-up-25-shots-a-game” bull in a china shop way of playing. Like the grade for Valanciunas, I think Clark saw enough this year to give a lofty grade based on projections. On pure merit, I’m not sure that Ross deserved a “B” given that he could disappear for multi-game stretches. His explosions were spectacular and Clark is right in saying that there were flashes big time defensive skill, but it simply was not consistent enough. Ross gets a slight downgrade from me, but that isn’t blinding me to what I think Ross could show next year. A significant grade bump is well within his reach.
Vasquez is more than just a reserve point guard, he is an elite level sixth man. He is one of the better distributors in the NBA, a very solid scorer and has proven that he can also be a starting point guard in the NBA, while with the Kings and Pelicans. With Lowry able to play on and off the ball, they can go into an excellent offensive 3 guard unit along with All Star DeMar DeRozan, which is their best offensive group. Vasquez had difficulty adjusting to Toronto once he was traded to the Raptors in the Rudy Gay deal, however, he worked his way into being a big part of the rotation and in the playoffs averaged about 10 points, 4 rebounds and 5 assists on 42.2 percent shooting from the field, 37.0 percent 3 point shooting and 77.8 percent shooting from the stripe in 27.1 minutes per game.
Toronto also has to worry about other free agents like Greivis Vasquez, Patrick Patterson, Nando De Colo and if they want to pick up the option for John Salmons next season. All of those players had valuable roles in Toronto winning the Atlantic Division last season, and it’s likely Ujiri will try to bring most of those players back. If the Raptors were to offer Lowry more than $12 million per season, it would probably result in Vasquez, Patterson and Salmons playing elsewhere. Losing so many key contributors from last season may be too big of a pill for Ujiri and the Raptors to swallow.
During his time in the league, it’s been Ujiri’s ability to accurately judge talent that first led to his success as an NBA executive, and the Raptors are now depending on the former Director of Global Scouting to improve upon their past performances in the draft. Without a single pick last year however, this will be Ujiri’s first crack at bringing a serviceable youngster to Toronto, and the ’2013 NBA Executive Of The Year’ capitalized on the opportunities presented at the combine this past week by scheduling interviews with many of the top-10 prospects despite the fact that the Raptors currently own the 20th overall selection.
So, besides building good sentiment among disgruntled fans, why is Carter a good fit for Toronto? Because he showed this year in the NBA playoffs that he still has some gas left in the tank, and he has proven over the past two seasons that he is a fantastic mentor to some of the younger players on the Dallas Mavericks. Right now, Toronto needs another wing scorer and a veteran leader. Those two reasons alone make adding Carter a win-win for the franchise. When you throw into the mix that his number needs to be hanging from the rafters of the Air Canada Centre after he retires, it just give extra motivation for Masai Ujiri to figure out a way to sign Carter this summer.
And what about Colangelo? Well, the veracity of all these rumors notwithstanding, the currently unemployed former Raptors and Suns GM is an obvious name to at least be linked with the Bucks. For starters, Colangelo was reportedly leading a group that unsuccessfully bid for the Bucks this spring, so he’s obviously put some thought into what he would want to do with the organization. He’s also the sort of experienced brand name that might appeal to new owners looking for “trained experts” to run the team. And perhaps just as importantly: he’s available. As previously discussed, Lasry and Edens were limited in their ability to have official contact with even Bucks employees during the sale approval process, and officially they couldn’t interview any other team’s employees either. But none of those same limitations would apply to guys currently out of the league, making Colangelo an obvious choice to at least be on Lasry and Edens’ “radar.” In short, if the Bucks’ new owners felt they had to hire someone in their first week, there are a number of reasons to think Colangelo would be on their short list.
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