So since people are always debating potential moves, and direction for the team, I thought I'd put in the time to write a comprehensive plan (as opposed to one-off comments in various threads). I will put the caveat that a lot of what I am proposing will need financial approval. I am trying to make a plan of direction, funding would dictate how much actually gets achieved.
Franchise Direction1. Expand the scouting staff. The NBA regulates how much money you spend on players, but not how much you spend on scouting. The Raps should have as many talented scouts as they can get. They need to be deployed all over the world to watch and evaluate as many players as possible. Draft picks, and free agents from over-seas are the cheapest method's of acquiring talented players. You need to make the most of every opportunity. How good would the Spurs have been if they didn't draft Parker late in the first or Manu in the 2nd round? Gems can be found, but you need to look hard.
2. Build on the team culture by only acquiring players that fit at least one of the following three traits:
hard workers who play well defensively- regardless of position;
vets on short deals.
We want players that fit the new team culture of D-Fence. If we can become an elite defensive team, we can compete every night and would appear to be "one piece away", a positive light that we haven't been able to say since T-Mac & Vince.
Gusy who are super athletic can be taught specific roles/skills that will help the team. Also, the better the athlete, the better chance they have to become a very good defender. Surround those guys with Defensive guys, and the hardwork and defensively mentality should rub off. There is no surprise that San Antonio gets better defensively play out of bad defenders that other teams, because of the culture created with Pop, Duncan, Parker and Manu. A strong culture with leaders will reign in players (with the caveat that some players are just dumb - Blatche, McGee, etc).
Veterans are often the easiest way to get talent on the cheap. Young gems are hard to find (boom/bust), but a solid veteran prescence is much easier to predict. But the deals have to be short (3 yr max) and not expensive (no JO, Turk type deals). European league players are a great way to get experienced/professional players but with the hunger and drive of someone who hasn't had as much success. Alan Anderson has proven to be a great move, we need to scour the globe for other players. Rudy Fernandez from Madrid? Would he come back to the NBA? Maybe, maybe not, but this is the type of thign that needs to be explored.
Guys that fit these traits would be Lou Amundson (#1) - signed by Minnesota mid-season on min., Ryan Gomes (#2) - free agent still, Brian Cardinal (#1 & #3) - free agent still. The move I loved by another team this past year was Portland and JJ Hickson. Hardworker and a great athlete on a cheap one year deal. That is the type of player we need to target.
3. Continue to look at various technology advancements. Using the technology to track metric stats, and trends is something that can't be ignored. As a franchise, we need to be cutting-edge in this field. Better to have overlap than holes. Invest in tools that can give you the best information to make the best decisions going forward.
Here is how I would like to see the roster managed:
1. Trade Jose is priority #1. I have said it in several threads and will continue to say it, the Raps need to trade Jose. Any development plan involving Jose not being traded is foolish because he is the only asset we have with a short shelf-life. He has value as an expiring contract, but that is only true for a few more months. You need to pull that trigger or lose that asset. Players combined with picks that fit a need and style should be focused on.
2. Trade Bargnani should be priority #2, but this could take longer than some of the other tasks as his value is very low right now. Let him play out the season if need be, but at some point in the next 1.5 years, Bargnani should no longer be on the Raps. If you looking to make a move immediately, then a bad contract + future pick is your best bet. I highly doubt the Charlotte rumours are true (Gordon + 1st rounder? I'd take that), but a move that may benefit both teams is Washington - Okafor. Okafor is vastly overpaid. Washington knows this, plus they have a similar style of player in Nene who is better and cheaper. Washington needs to add a different dimension to their team, Bargnani is as different from Okafor as possible and would add spacing and scoring to compliment their young scoring back-court. Getting a future first rounder (certainly there would be some limitations on the deal - likely top 5 protected, so it's realistically a couple of years down the road) gives the Raps a future asset to build with. Okafor would fit the defensive style and bring some leadership. Yes, he's never won anything in the NBA, but he was a 4 year star in college who won the NCAA championship (which is better than most players who don't even get to or finish their junior years). He would provide rugged interior defence (the role currently held by Aaron Gray) and his deal expires a full season ahead of Bargnani. If a similar deal can't be done, then Bargnani comes off the bench until the off-season when we try again. Hopefully he could demonstrate better basketball in the interim and raise his value slightly.
3. Monitor the un-stables There are a few teams that seem the most likely to blow things up right now and those situations need to be monitored very closely.
Phoenix fired their coach and had a near player revolt when the interim replacement was named. Their top 2 assistants left the team. Their don't seem to have a solid direction or talent base. They look like a team that will likely be exploded and rebuilt in the very near future. Guys to watch on Phoenix - Jared Dudley (perfect fit), Shannon Brown, Luis Scola. I'd even take on one of their basket-cases (Beasley) if it gave me a good pick.
Dallas looks poised to start over and Cuban is aggressive. While their roster isn't full of young talent, they do have some vets that could help. Guys to watch - Kaman, Marion, Beabois, Wright, and even Vince Carter (note - I was previously against this very much and said as much during the thread that ensued from his interview earlier this season).
Orlando is in rebuild mode, but hasn't completely purged their roster yet. Guys to watch - Affalo, Redick, Vucevic. They also have a nice trade exception which would be useful in facilitating a trade.
Milwaukee is running out of time to decide what to do with their roster. Do they re-sign Jennings or deal Ellis or keep both? They don’t seem to know any better than anyone else, so they could be poised to mvoe in a radical direction. Guys to watch - Ilyasova, Dalembert, Mbah a Moute, Dunleavy, Marquis Daniels. I doubt that whatever they do they would include Larry Sanders or Jon Henson. They also have a $2.5 million trade exception from the Stephen Jackson deal.
Washington has a lot of overlap and may be looking to move some pieces. Vesely seems to have fallen out of favour but was a lottery pick and is perhaps salvagable on the cheap. Guys to watch - Ariza, Vesely, Seraphin, Booker.
Atlanta made a lot of good moves last year and look to continue to be aggressive. They might be a difficult trade partner since they seem to have specific goals in mind but they have already suspended their most expensive and tantalizing player. They may decide to make a big move. Guys to watch - Josh Smith, Zaza, Morrow, Deshaun Stevenson, Ivan Johnson.
Charlotte has already been rumoured to be willing to make moves. Guys to watch - Gerald Henderson, Jeff Taylor. Gordon and Tyrus Thomas + a pick is worthy of consideration as well.
Sacramento…I mean Seattle…I mean….you know who. If they are being sold, regardless of whether it's to Seattle or not, teams being sold are always looking to shed salary. Guys to watch - Chuck Hayes, Jason Thompson, Aaron Brooks, Jimmer (possibly), D Cousins if they go all in "for sale mode".
I'd be calling Utah about either Millsap or Favors - offering Lowry (perfect fit for Utah). I'd be calling LA to see what they are doing. I'd keep an eye on Boston in case they finally do decide to move Rondo. I'd want to know what Chicago is doing with Kirk Hinrich once Rose comes back.
I'd want to know what players we have are most valued and to which teams.
It's harder to be specific the further out you get since you can't say for sure what deals have (if any) been made to this point.
If we retain our draft pick, I'm looking for players that still fit the mold of defense or athleticism ideally, but depending on roster moves we may need more shooting (likely) or another point guard (probably).
If we lose our draft pick, then great. Target the specific free agents/trades that fit the profile.
RFA's to monitor
Ivan Johnson - Atlanta
Gerald Henderson - Char
Omri Casspi - Cle
Rodrigue Beaubois - Dal
Darren Collison - Dal
Rudy Fernandez - Madrid - rights held by Denver
Toney Douglas - Hou
Tyler Hansborough - Ind
Chase Budinger - Min
Nikola Pekovic - Min
Eric Maynor - OKC
UFA's to monitor
Zaza Pachulia - Atl
Anthony Morrow - Atl
Josh Childress - Bkn
Kelenna Azubuike - Cle
Chris Kaman - Dal
Corey Brewer - Den
Andre Iguodala - Den - in the unlikely event he used his ETO
Carl Landry - GS - Player option
David West - Ind
Tony Allen - Mem
Lou Amundson - Min
Ronnie Brewer - NYK
Mo Williams - Utah
5. Stay activeThe teams that stay ahead of the curve are the teams that are the most active. OKC could have held on to Harden, then got into an ugly negotiation and then done a sign and trade. Instead they were pro-active, got a very good player (Kevin Martin), a lottery pick from us, and some prospects (Lamb could be very good). If they had waited, they likely wouldn't have netted so much and certainly it would have been much less amicable. We need to keep identifying players that fit our ideal, even if they are years away from open market. You never know who will become available next year, but you need to have a solid stable of targets at all times and their worth to our team, and their current team. We also need to know what our players are worth. Bargnani was worth a lot more in the off-season than he is now. You need to be on top of those situations to give you the most information whether to roll the dice or not.
Anyways, I think I've written enough for now. So Raptors Nation, do I qualify for the job?