Raptors Return Home for Important Stretch

It seems like every season the Raptors hobble back from their Western road trip a tired and beaten team. Last season the early Western road trip was, arguably the nail in the coffin for the Raptors playoff hopes. This season they return home after a tough western road trip tired, but not beaten.

Even the most optimistic fan would have been happy with a 3-2 record on this trip, so 2-3 isn’t bad considering the quality of their opponents. But this trip came at such a crucial time in the Raptors schedule. The next 10 to 15 games could decide the playoff fate of this team.

The Raptors will play at home for the last two games before the All-star break and play 8 out of their next 10 at the ACC. Of those next ten games, six of them are against conference rivals that they will be battling for position in the Eastern Conference playoff picture.

It is important for the Raps to be healthy and ready for those games.

For the first time this season the team is looking a little worse for wear. Amir Johnson and DeMar DeRozan are fighting nagging injuries. Kyle Lowry has been bothered by a knee issue lately and the team is coming off a long road trip.

Late nights, time zone changes and lots of flying can take its toll on a team at this stage in the season, especially a young one, but the Raptors need to fight through this rough patch. The next 10 games will go a long way toward deciding if they are a playoff contenders or pretenders.

The asset the Raptors have going for them right now is depth. They are a far deeper team than they were a year ago and have used this asset to their advantage since the ‘Rudy Gay trade’. Dwane Casey has used a tight 9 man rotation most nights and seems very confident with this group. As the season continues he may have to dig deeper than was originally thought. We may see a lot more of Landry Fields and Steve Novak. Julyan Stone and Chuck Hayes may be needed to take some minutes away from overworked starters.

The coaching staff may have to make moves in the starting lineup, trading Amir for Patterson or Hansborough on a given night to help keep the legs on this team fresh and ready for battle. Young players like Jonas Valanciunas and Terrence Ross have only gone through a complete NBA season once and certainly not playing the amount of minutes they are currently playing. Rest may be needed. Players that haven’t been logging very many minutes may be called into duty.

On this road trip we saw a lot more of Steve Novak than we have in a long while. I would expect this to be something we see more of as the season wears on. He came in ready to play and played valuable minutes during the trip. Having a strong veteran presence at the end of the bench (Novak, Fields, Hayes) may become an unexpected benefit.

The Raptors have given it everything they could over the first two chapters of this season and they are in a great position because of it, but they are going to have to use every weapon available to them to finish out the stretch.

On paper, the hardest part of the season may seem to be over, but the reality is, it only gets harder from here.

***
Kristoffer Pedlar
Zan Tabak Herald

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What Ross’s Big Night Means for the Raptors

Terrence Ross had himself a night on Saturday. He rained down 51 points on the Clippers in a losing effort mind you, but showed the fans and organization what the future might hold.

Ross was a surprise draft pick of Colangelo’s in the 2012 NBA draft. He went higher than he was expected to go at number 8 and many doubted the pick at the time. Many questioned if Ross could be much more than a bench player in Toronto, but he has emerged this season as much more.

He took large strides last year in his rookie year with increased minutes later in the season and was obviously a fan favourite after his solid effort in the Slam Dunk contest. He has also been a go-to guy for Dwane Casey on the defensive end. But since the Rudy Gay trade and his insertion into the starting lineup we have seen some true flashes of brilliance from T-Ross and hints at the player he may ultimately become.

51 points on Saturday night was another of those flashes.

Now, no one is expecting Ross to hit that point total on the regular, but it was fascinating to watch him work as the number one option on the offensive end. He hit a crazy amount of three pointers (10-17) a skill he has been relied on to deliver with this year. But, more interestingly, he was able to get to the line 10 times and drove the ball to the net with intensity and regularity. It was one of the better inside-outside performances we’ve seen from a Raptor this season. His performance was a signal that, maybe, he needs a bigger role on this team. Maybe he’s ready for one.

Ross has a solid three-point stroke and we know he can throw down with the best of them. Saturday night served notice that he is not a ‘one trick pony’. He can take charge of a game when asked to. He can score the ball in a variety of ways and can, unlike many, crete his own shot. Having a secondary option that can take the game over is a luxury the Raptors have not had for a long time.

Ross is proving this year that he is more than just a high flyer.  Image by Issac Baldizon/NBA/Getty Images

Ross is proving this year that he is more than just a high flyer.
Image by Issac Baldizon/NBA/Getty Images

For a young team like the Raptors it is important to know the potential of the players you have so you know which ones to keep building with and which to let go. When Ross was drafted it was doubtful that Ross fit long-term because of his similarities to DeMar DeRozan, but he is beginning to set himself apart from the Raptors current number one.

Ross can do things DeRozan can’t. His defense is better, he can hit the three-point shot with better efficiency, but he’s still young. As DeRozan has shown throughout his time in the NBA, it takes time to develop your game in this league. Ross has a lot of growing to do, but he seems to be moving in the right direction. 51 points in a game is a big step for Ross, but it will be how he follows it up that will be of most interest to Raptor fans.

Will he continue to make smart choices on the offensive end, take open shots and wait for his moment to strike? Or will he try to force the issue trying to re-create the performance?

Whatever happens after this, Terrence Ross has shown huge improvements in his game during his sophomore season and looks primed for a larger role in Toronto. In many ways Ross is the missing piece the Raptors have been looking for.

For years, since Vince Carter left town, the Raptors have been looking for another wing presence. A player that could be a serious threat on the offensive end and steady on the defensive end.

Ross has been the Raptors most steady defensive player. He has been called on to defend the best of the best in this league. Lebron, Paul George, James Harden, Paul Pierce it doesn’t matter. Ross has had to defend them all. His defense against George,holding the MVP candidate to 12 points, was probably one of his best defensive performances and resulted in a big win for the team. That performance really cemented Ross as our “stopper”. A role he looks to carry for the rest of the year and into the playoff push.

But then he scored 51 points on Saturday night and reminded everyone that he can ball with the best of them. Showing everyone watching that he is a player only just beginning to hit his stride.

His future is bright and it is clear he will go far. How far, we will soon find out.

*****

Kristoffer Pedlar
Zan Tabak Herald

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Time to Forgive and Forget

If you’ve been a Raptor fan for a long time, chances are you have a Purple Vince Carter jersey hiding somewhere in the recesses of your basement or hanging in a closet somewhere in your house. You likely also recall (in slow motion) the shot Vince rimmed out during the 7th game of the Eastern Conference Final against Philadelphia. You likely own a Todd McFarlane plastic statue of Air Canada himself and have fond memories of jumping up and down on your couch during the 2000 Slam Dunk Championship when Vince hit that between the legs dunk.

These are some of the fondest memories a Raptor fan can possibly have in the history of this young franchise; a history that is still very much in its infancy stage.

But Vince is still very much a part of the present in Toronto. Fans have not been able to let go of their anger toward Carter for the way he left town, nor have fans enjoyed Carter coming back to town and showing up his old team with game winning shots, ferocious dunks and all around good play. He’s beaten us at the buzzer and in the playoffs. The boos continue to rain down on the man who was once lovingly refered to as “half man, half amazing” every time he touches a ball at the ACC.

If you’re a current Raptor fan chances are you’ve gone down to the ACC and booed Vince Carter relentlessly as a member of the opposing team. You booed him for quitting on the team, for forcing a terrible trade out-of-town and for setting the franchise back for year and years.

How can one man elicit such joyous memories and such disdain at the exact same time?

Such is the legacy of Vince Carter in Toronto.

But maybe it’s time for all of us to let that hatred go. Let that anger dissipate and finally let bygones be bygones. Time has passed and surely the wounds of the past are, at least, somewhat healed.

The team currently playing for the Raptors are having a surprisingly successful season and there is an air of optimism surrounding the team, even in the midst of a three game losing streak. There is a lot to be positive about in Toronto these days; so why focus on the negative? Let’s try to remember the positivity that Carter brough the franchise.

Vince was the best basketball player to ever put on the Raptors uniform and he should be remembered for what he did. He gave the city the most exciting 6 years of basketball that have ever been seen around these parts. He brought the franchise respectability, notoriety and a sense of belonging in this league.

Should we have been mad when he asked for a trade, quit on the team and lowered his trade value before leaving town? absolutely.

But it’s time to let it go.

He is the greatest player to ever put on the Raptor jersey and he has never been properly thanked for the good he brought this franchise.

Now, fans pay money to come and see the Raptors play. They pay good money and should be able to cheer or boo any player if they so choose, but doesn’t Vince deserve that one last ‘thank you’ from the fans before he gracefully heads for the exit?

Carter is in his 16th NBA season and is likely near the tail end of a solid career. There wont be many chances remaining to see Carter visit the ACC as a member of the opposing team. Wouldn’t it be nice to see him finally get the ovation that his tenure as a Raptor truly deserves?

Now there are two sides to this Carter debate.

The first (which I have been a part of since he left town) refuses to forgive and forget. They want Carter to pay for holding the team back and for the way he unceremoniously left town all those years ago. It doesn’t matter how much time has passed, there is no forgiveness to be had.

To that group Carter is an outlet to vent the many frustrations that being a fan of this team has brought them.

The second group is more willing to let bygones, be bygones. They would be willing to welcome the star back to Toronto with open arms should he want to return for a victory lap or a “Roy Halladay contract” at the very end of his career. A popular suggestion online would see Carter return to Toronto this summer as a free agent to finish his career where it began.

Vince was a star in Toronto. Though his departure hurt, he should be remembered for greatness he brought to the city.

Vince was a star in Toronto. Though his departure hurt, he should be remembered for greatness he brought to the city.

Whether that fits into the plan Masai Ujiri and Tim Leiweke have long-term for the franchise remains to be seen, but it’s a cute idea.

In truth, Carter’s exit did start the Raptors on a downward spiral that didn’t end until their Atlantic Division championship in 06-07. The team was seen as a disaster around the league and that perception took years to rectify. Had he stayed (and played to his ability), maybe he could have helped the franchise return to the playoffs. Maybe he could have given us another few years of that old VC magic. So disgruntled fans are certainly entitled to their frustration.

Another popular Raptor fantasy involves an alternate universe where both Vince Carter and Tracy McGrady stayed with the franchise long-term. Such a pairing could have resulted in a dynasty for the Raptors.

Of course, that’s all just theory. One which admittedly McGrady, himself, even agrees with.

“In hindsight, looking back, obviously I wish I had stayed in Toronto…There’s no doubt we could have contended for a championship. I think about that often.”

So, true, there is a lot to be bitter about when reflecting on the legacy of Vince Carter. A lot of ‘what ifs’ and ‘could have been’. So many unanswered questions and unrealized potential.

But one fact remains true; For six and a half years this city had one of the greatest players in the world to call their own. He excited us, wowed us, took us to heights we never thought possible and then, yes, even broke our hearts.

This city has never seen his equal (and may never again). It is time we celebrate the best player this city has ever had. He’s paid his debt.

On Wednesday night Carter returns to the ACC as a member of the Dallas Mavericks; let’s finally give him the welcome he deserves.

Kristoffer Pedlar
Zan Tabak Herald

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Raptors in Good Hands

MLSE made some noise by making some bold moves to bolster the on-field talent of Toronto FC. The acquisitions of Jermain Defoe, Michael Bradley and Dwayne De Rosario show that MLSE is willing to spend money to make Toronto a winning team in MLS. These moves instantly make TFC a legit contender and a big time draw in the city.

But what does this have to do with the Raptors?

It’s simple: the man behind these big time, game-changing acquisitions is the same man who is in charge of the Raptors. Tim Leiweke, was brought in to make a splash and help lure big name talent North of the border. He is starting to live up to this task.

With the additions to TFC, Leiweke is showing that he is more than capable of making the big time moves necessary to win. Jermain Defoe is, arguably, the second biggest acquisition in the history of MLS and one that was probably more difficult to acquire than people think. The biggest acquisition in MLS history is, of course, David Beckham (also acquired by Leiweke). If he is able to make this kind of impact with TFC, then there is no telling what he can do with the Raptors.

I can’t help but recall the first press conference Leiweke ever had as president of MLSE. He made it very clear from the onset of his time as president that the Raptors and TFC were a big priority. It was a small comment, but one I picked up on at the time: He said, “I don’t think it’s any secret the emerging question and the first action is going to be the Raptors…”

Of course, at the time, Leiweke was directly referring to the fate of then GM Bryan Colangelo, but make no mistake, since Leiweke has arrived, he has been very heavily involved and focused on the Toronto Raptors organization.

First he hired Masai Ujiri, the reigning executive of the year and a man who had to be sold on leaving a very good situation in Denver to come to Toronto. Next, he helped orchestrate the bid and landing of the 2016 All-Star game for the city. Next, is likely the acquisition of a big name talent that will help make the team a serious contender for that ever so important 2016 season.

Tim Leiweke was brough to MLSE to create championship calibre teams and that is what he is starting to do.  Photo by: JUAN OCAMPO / ANDREW D. BERNSTEIN & ASSOCIATES

Tim Leiweke was brought to MLSE to create championship calibre teams and, so far, that is exactly what he is doing.
Photo by: JUAN OCAMPO / ANDREW D. BERNSTEIN & ASSOCIATES

Now, Leiweke isn’t directly in charge of the day-to-day transactions the Raptors make. He is more of an overseer. It was Leiweke who chose to bring in Ujiri to turn the fortunes of this franchise around and make those day to day decisions. So far Ujiri has done just that. But Leiweke’s influence around the league cannot be understated and his ability to land the big fish will likely play a key factor in the teams immediate future and the decisions that Ujiri makes.

Leiweke’s resume includes, most notably, a long stint in Los Angeles where he was president and CEO of AEG who own and operate the Kings, Galaxy and Lakers. There he learned how to land the ‘Big Fish” with the Lakers. “I come from the NBA, I know a lot of people in the NBA, I’ve learned under the curve of Jerry Buss and Jerry West…You do not find two better teachers than those two guys on how to build an organization that not only wins one championship, but becomes the dominant organization.”

With words like these, he has gien hope to the Raptors fan-base that the long awaited return of playoff basketball is not far away; that this franchise is finally going to build a contender the right way and that the agony of watching top flight talent leave the city will finally be a thing of the past.

Since the Rudy Gay trade and the change in on-court strategy the Raptors are already looking like a playoff bound team and one that is playing very exciting basketball. The turnaround has been fast and may be happening earlier than originally anticipated. Much of the credit falls on Ujiri, the man Leiweke brought in.

Ujiri is one of the best minds in the game today. His ability to quickly turn around the fortunes of the Denver Nuggets despite losing Carmelo Anthony was a thing of beauty and he hasn’t looked anything but brilliant since taking over the Raptors. Trading Bargnani for future picks and financial flexibility was a solid move with an eye to the future and the Rudy Gay trade has resulted in the team you see on the court right now, but also added a wealth of additional assets.

Still, in a season where most teams are not putting their best team on the court, the Raptors need to be wary of getting too over-confident about the current on-court product. Yes, they have some good young pieces to build with, and yes they are winning a lot of games, but this is not currently a team that is going to do much more than challenge for a mid to low playoff spot in the long-term.

Leiweke knows this. He knows this is not a team bound for multiple championships at the moment. This is a team with some solid pieces, but lacking a true, legit star. Leiweke didn’t come here to just make the playoffs, he came here to compete for championships and I believe that is exactly what he is going to try to do. In order to get to that place he needs to land a ‘big fish’ for the Raptors.

The Raptors roster is currently a solid mix of young players and a number that could be very useful off the bench, but they lack that top-tier star. Don’t get me wrong, I believe that DeMar DeRozan has the potential to be a solid number 2 on a good team, but the Raptors need a number one. A star. A player that can take the game into their own hands. That’s where Leiweke and his influence around the league will come into play. If he can convince Jermain Defoe (still a very talented and useful player), to leave Europe to come to Toronto, then he can likely do the same with todays NBA stars.

In the next two years players like Durant, LeBron, Carmelo, Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving will all be available. Second tier guys like Eric Bledsoe, Greg Monroe and Lance Stephensen will also be available and could help deepen this team even further. Now I’m not suggesting the Raptors will have the ability to lure one of those big names north of the border, but with Leiweke in charge and the capspace now available, these next few years will be the best opportunity that the Raptors will ever get to add a franchise cornerstone.

Add to this the pressure Leiweke has put on himself and the organization to compete by the 2016 All Star Game and you have a recipie for success. 2016 is very much the end goal for the Raptors. Leiweke and MLSE want to be a significant player in the NBA by that time and the hope is, obviously, that at least one or two Raptors will be taking part in that game.

With the success of the current roster, it is clear the Raptors organization has the pieces and the resources to make a move in the very near future. Tim Leiweke clearly believes in the future of this organization, “The Raptors have that chance. They got the fan base, they got the ownership, they got the support economically.” That fan-base he refers to is now firmly behind the team again and desperately wants (and deserves) more.

Talk of tanking is now firmly in the rearview (probably for the best) and the focus is now on how to use this successful year to build on.

With the combination of Ujiri’s ability to evaluate talent and Leiweke’s ability to recruit top-tier talent the Raptors have a dangerous duo running the show. Also, do not underestimate the influence rap star Drake will have as well. Another Leiweke move that could have serious gains in the NBA where most players are big fans of the star. If coming to Toronto means getting to hang out with Drake on a regular basis, there are players that would very interested in that opportunity. It was a simple phone call by Drake to Defoe that helped tip the scales and bring Defoe across the Atlantic. His influnence cannot be understated.

Leiweke has made it very clear that the organization is ready to do what is needed to make this franchise a dominant one. “We will do whatever it takes, including spending to the cap on any of our teams or spending luxury tax for Masai…And Masai and I again, another very strong, good relationship. We see the world the same way. If there’s a move he can make now that ultimately makes this team better and doesn’t give up on any of our assets, then he not only has 100% of our support, we’re not afraid of the luxury tax at the right time. He just needs to make a decision on when the right time is.”

Whatever path the Raptors are going to take to get themselves into the championship conversation it is clear Tim Leiweke and Ujiri will be the ones steering the ship. With the leadership at the top of the franchise firmly in place, fans should enjoy the journey from here to 2016. Good things are in store for this franchise.

Kristoffer Pedlar
Zan Tabak Herald

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Time to Get Excited Raptor Fans

If you watched the Raptors defeat the Pacers last night, and if you’ve been paying at least some attention to the team of late, you could be forgiven for thinking this team has a chance to make some noise in the Eastern Conference this year.

The Raptors have been playing exciting basketball. They’re sharing the ball, playing with intensity on the defensive end and as a result have surprised some pretty strong teams. Games that look like losses on paper have turned into wins and slowly the Raptors have creeped up the standings of the Eastern Conference and now sit in 4th but poised to go higher.

This wasn’t how the season was supposed to go. The plan before the season (in the eyes of the fans anyway) was to lose as many games as possible and increase the odds of drafting a high pick. This is the year home town hero Andrew Wiggins is pegged as a top three pick and adding him would almost surely lead to a brighter future and increased ad revenue. Tank Nation has been a constant and loud presence for most of the season, but are now growing quiet.

The ACC is alive again thanks to the Raptors recent play. Fans should embrace this raptor resurgence.

The ACC is alive again thanks to the Raptors recent play. Fans should embrace this raptor resurgence.

The Rudy Gay trade was supposed to be the first domino. The dumping of a big name with a big salary and the acquisition of expiring contracts and younger players. Losing Rudy was supposed to start the downward spiral that would hopefully end with a top three pick in the 2014 draft.

But something has happened since then. The Raptors have found themselves, individually and collectively, and are playing their best basketball in years.

Without Rudy dominating the offensive sets others have stepped up to contribute. We are finally seeing Jonas Valancunas getting consistent touches in the paint. Terrence Ross has been given the opportunity to play regular minutes and DeMar DeRozan is being asked to carry this team on his back in the late stages of close games.

All have answered the challenge.

The team is responding. The depth acquired in the Rudy Gay deal means everyone in the rotation has a very defined role on either side of the ball.

Most importantly Kyle Lowry has risen to the occasion. A player, often criticized for his quick trigger and inability to get others involved in the offense, has transformed into a team leader. He is sharing the ball, getting his teammates involved and is setting the tone on the defensive end.

You could be forgiven for writing this year off. Many of us did. But now it is time to embrace this team. They are playing exciting basketball and have a chance to do something no Raptor team has been able to do since 2001; win a playoff series.

Get down to the ACC, wear your jersey and cheer this team on. For the first time in way too long fans in Toronto have a team that seems more than capable of making the postseason and maybe going farther than that.

Whether or not you believe the current direction of the Raptors is the right one for the franchise in the long-term, you should let yourself enjoy the ride the team is currently on.

The city is buzzing about the Raptors for the first time in I don’t know how long. The team is fun to watch again and the ACC (if Wednesday’s game against Indiana is any indication) is back to being one of the best places to watch a game live.

Get on the bandwagon! There’s plenty of room.

***
Kristoffer Pedlar
Zan Tabak Herald

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Black and Yellow?

According to Doug Smith of the Toronto Star the Toronto Raptors are considering a re-brand of the franchise and a change of the teams colours to black and gold is “something being considered”.

Whether this rumour ends up being true or not remains to be seen, but the idea is one that will certainly give Raptor fans something to talk about.

There have been no leaked designs for the logo or uniforms online, but might they consider one of the following designs? :

dusty

or

killer_bees_01

or maybe…

conquistadors-ref-27

Time will tell what MLSE and the Raptors ultimately choose as their new logo and uniform, but the information leaked today has certainly got imaginations running wild. I’m not saying it will be bad, but it certainly could be.

The most likely reason for the rumour would be that Drake is now a large part of the Raptor brand and his clothing line (OVOXO) uses Black and Gold in the majority of its designs. If the Raptors are looking to go more current and “hip” the black and gold colour scheme might work.

Then again, one also needs to wonder, assuming this is true, how the Raptors can be marketed as Canada’s team without a trace of red or white in their design.

One thing is certain: The Raptors are going to look very different next year, how different remains to be seen.

***
Kristoffer Pedlar
Zan Tabak Herald

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The Kyle Lowry Conundrum

The Raptors, a team expected to compete hard this season for the number one draft pick, has had their plans altered by some truly inspired play and now look primed for a potential Atlantic Division title run.

The catalyst for much of the recent optimism in Raptorland is the man leading the team: Kyle Lowry. He has been everything the team has needed him to be and the Raptors recent resurgence has had his stamp all over it.

He has become the player he was envisioned to be when, then GM Bryan Colangelo, traded a 1st round pick to Houston for him. He is scoring at an impressive rate and is getting all of his teammates involved. One of the perceived issues with his game over his Raptor tenure has been his inability to involve the players around him.

With Rudy Gay’s departure, Lowry has taken over as team leader and the team is sharing the ball very well. Lowry has developed a good chemistry with Jonas Valanciunas and has helped Terrence Ross take the next step in his development.

Lowry's future with the Toronto Raptors has yet to be decided and it looks like the decision will not be an easy one.

Lowry’s future with the Toronto Raptors has yet to be decided and it looks like the decision will not be an easy one.

Lowry is looking like the player he was supposed to be last year.

The thing is he was almost dealt a few weeks ago and still might be on the block.

Surely, a deal that involves Lowry would cause immediate issues with team chemistry and be a clear signal that the 2014 NBA draft is more important to the franchise than the Atlantic Division title.

That’s not necessarily a mindset that most raptor fans disagree with, but is it the right choice?

Lowry is a young player (only 27 years old), and seems to have great chemistry with what would presumably be the Raptors future core in Amir Johnson, DeMar DeRozan and Terrence Ross. He has shown significant improvement in the last year and would seems to be a player worth building around. Since the Rudy Gay trade, Lowry has averaged 8.1 assists per game and looks like a totally different player of late.

Then again he is a free agent this year and is not necessarily worth the money he may end up getting. He is a talented, but flawed player. He traditionally shoots the ball too often, doesn’t shoot a high percentage and hasn’t been as effective on the defensive end in a Raptor uniform.

So what do you do?

Sell high and hope the lottery ping-pong balls fall your way? Take a shot at signing a young player with higher upside than Lowry? or do you keep him, extend his contract and see where this young team takes you?

DeMar DeRozan is having his best year as a pro and seems to have turned a corner into a player that can lead a team and close out games. Terrence Ross is just scratching the surface of his potential and we haven’t seen the best out of Jonas Valanciunas yet. Does the franchise want to mess with the current success? Would trading Lowry even mess with that current success?

Keeping Lowry long-term allows the Raptors to continue growing together. It also eliminates the problem of not having a point guard moving forward. The Raptors would either have to acquire one through the draft or through free agency in the off-season unless they are banking on Greivis Vasquez being the point guard of the future.

Lowry may be their best option going forward.

Then again maybe the plan is to get a high pick and take a PG like Marcus Smart out of Oklahoma State or Zach LaVine out of UCLA. Perhaps free agency has an option the Raptors might look at like Eric Bledsoe, Ramon Sessions or Avery Bradley. None of which are sure-fire options or much better than what Lowry may be able to provide. Add to that a trade involving Lowry would likely bring in a young player or some assortment of future draft picks and you have a lot of factors to consider before you move Lowry.

Masai Ujiri is faced with one of his most difficult decisions as general manager of this team. The fate of Kyle Lowry will have an immediate and far-reaching effect on this franchise. There is no clear choice to be made and fans may have to wait another month or so before the final decision is ultimately made.

One thing is certain, if we are to believe the words of Ujiri, This team will not finish in ‘no-mans land’. There will be a clear choice made as to where the Raptors are going to go this year. What that choice is exactly, will have everything to do with the future of the Raptors starting point guard.

***
Kristoffer Pedlar
Zan Tabak Herald

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