If this isn't a rebuild, what is it?
This tweet from @RaptorsMR last night got me thinking about a lot of things:
@tradeBargnani Not sure many fans would want another rebuild. Irving is the key but Cavs do only have 13 wins.
1) Moving out of a rebuild is not done by simply saying, "OK, we are finishing our rebuild now" or "We are going to accelerate the process." Unfortunately, that is exactly what Colangelo and Co. have done leading in to this season. If that is in fact the case though, well, the Raptors are now just a shitty team.
2) Like it or not the Raptors are still very much in a rebuild. The problem is the Raptors don't have very many assets to help the process outside of development and maturation of current players - they have no first round draft pick this season and they have limited to no financial flexibility without a major trade between now and trade deadline or amnestying Bargnani.
3) What would acknowledgement of a rebuild actually look like? Calderon starting - been going on for years. DeRozan carrying the scoring load - been going on for years. Patch work at small forward - been going on for years. Frustration with Bargnani - been going on for years. Amir, a stiff, or a rookie starting at C - been going on for years. A point guard controversy/debate - been going on for years. All those things have been going on for years and are continuing so how can one assume the rebuild is complete?
4) Despite the Raptors insistence they are not doing a rebuild, lets consider the veteran situation on this team:
- Bargnani has missed half the last 2 seasons and is hardly a contributor to winning or success,
- Kleiza has missed the better part of 3 years due to a terrible injury and has no future with this team,
- Amir is what he is: a solid reserve big man who can start when needed but lack of focus leads to inconsistencies,
- Aaron Gray barely plays and is deep depth off the bench,
- John Lucas is the Aaron Gray of PGs,
- Pietrus is a shell of his former self and no longer plays,
- Anderson is a 30 year old journeyman who is a solid 5th wing off the bench but the Raptors use as a clutch time performer which is great if you want to live and die by the D-Leaguer,
- Calderon is an UFA with no guarantee to stay and continues to start leading the team nowhere,
- Lowry is a shell of his former self and despite his immense talent he looks to be an utter failure in Toronto,
- DeRozan is the youngest veteran and an NBA starter - nothing more, nothing less - getting paid star money starting next season. Like many NBA players he has incredible games followed by bad games. The difference between a star and starter is consistency.
Now ask yourself, which of those veterans are going to blaze a trail to the playoffs? Which of those veterans are capable of making an all-star game? Which of those veterans are anything more than role players - admittedly some very good role players but role players nonetheless? Which of those players are absolute keepers moving forward?
I don't know about you but the answer I keep getting is "none" outside of Lowry who could be an all-star in my opinion but has shown even he isn't an absolute keeper.
This of course leaves ED, TR, JV, QA, DD, and LF as players under 25 with 4 years or less NBA experience plus add in Amir and you have a nice nucleus that is not going to win you many games but are all solid pieces should REAL talent find its way in to the locker room.
5) Of the 10 veterans listed in 4), only 5 actually play at this time.... yet the team is not rebuilding.... hmmm.
6) The roster continues to have about 40% turnover each season..... yet no rebuild..... hmmmmm.
6) So wrapping up, the best thing Toronto can do is accept the reality they are still very much in a rebuild. The Raptors aren't good and a lack of talent continues to be the problem in getting the team out of a state of rebuilding and into a state of competing.
I agree with @RaptorsMR that fans don't want another rebuild but it is not about having another rebuild now - the Raptors have never left rebuilding in the the first place and it is already a given. Fans don't want another forced rebuild in 2-3 seasons - that is the issue.
Now is the time to fully embrace rebuilding because the team is certainly not competing with the teams over .500. This team was built around Bargnani and the idea Andrea was a star - and that plan was a failure. The Raptors already have a head start in continuing to rebuild because Ross and JV have shown they are legit NBA talent which is more than most draft picks. The only thing Steffi and Bryan seem to do well is draft - so why not build to your strength?
Do anything and everything possible to accumulate 2013 and 2014 draft picks and discarded young players (Derrick Williams, Alec Burks, etc.) who still have potential. In exchange, take on the worst of the worst contracts or if need be part with a talented player such as Lowry or trade DeRozan. Plan for big cap space in the summer of 2015 when Ross and JV are in final year of rookie deals and Fields and Amir have just come off the books.
Now is the time to create an environment where you can get your own star(s) by:
1) drafting him/them,
2) acquiring assets to trade for him/them,
3) making a team attractive enough to entice a free agent in a couple of seasons.
Play hard, play to win, play to develop and grow. But for the love all that is sacred and pure, enough of this half-assed bullsh!t Raptors fans have been forced to claim is the path to success - it is not. This path leads to mediocrity and forced rebuilding shortly down the road. **End rant**