This summer the Raptors are investing a lot of money for Valanciunas to spend time working out with Hakeem Olajuwon. Wouldn’t it make sense to have Valanciunas battle Gasol in practice and be able to pick his brain during team flights or while both players are on the bench together? The only sticking point would be what kind of salary Gasol would command this summer and the length of his contract. It’s possible that Toronto could re-sign Kyle Lowry for around $10 million per season and still obtain Gasol if his price tag is around $10 million per season.
Masai has shown that he is incredible at managing his assets, look at the Andrea Bargnani and Rudy Gay trades; both players had a value (which was at an all time low) and he was able to turn them into a pieces that had more value and helped the team. Think of it as selling a stock at a high point and then buying another stock at a low point and watching it soar. A few months ago I wrote an article about why tanking is the necessary path for the Raptors, however several teams have shown why this is a risky strategy. The 76ers had their sights set on Wiggins but look like they will now miss him and teams like the Lakers and Celtics do not look like they got the ‘luck’ they needed and are now forced to make tough decisions regarding their next steps. I don’t think tanking is an option anymore for the Toronto Raptors, however, I don’t know if the picture has become any clearer then it was before this season. Masai has shown a tremendous ability to manage assets and have great regular season success, but playoff success is much different. All four Conference Finalists have legitimate stars; George, Duncan/Parker, LeBron and Durant/Westbrook. (And despite age and injuries, you could throw guys like Ginobili and Wade in the mix.) The Raptors do not have a player at that level. The question is, do they need one?
I watch a lot of basketball. I have been following the local NBA team quite closely since 2006/7. I was spoiled my first year as the team overachieved in a weak conference winning their division. And though a first round exit confirmed their junior status amidst the league talent pool, there was a plucky sense of hope and optimism around the team. Sadly none of that would be sustained nor built on over the next six years. From the 2007/8 season onto the 2012/13 season the Toronto Raptors were an example of what can go wrong with teams from a business management perspective and a professional team sport perspective. For six seasons the team waded through various injuries, poor signings, regression/lack of talent, questionable coaching, varying levels of player work ethic, and an inability to jell achieving basement dweller status. Three coaches in six years and no consistent starting five would spell management and project doom for any endeavor be it of business or basketball.
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