These are dark days for the Raptors and their fans. Things have gone from bad, to worse, to downright awful really fast. The Raptors now find themselves way out of contention and without many positives to rest their hat on. Losses are piling up and the patience of the fan base is at an all-time low. It’s getting Babcock bad.
Another loss in Portland, in what is fast becoming one of the worst road trips in recent memory, did nothing to instill any confidence in this team.
Raptor fans are openly wondering whether the team should “blow it up” and trade everyone with any ounce of value for whatever exchange they can get on the dollar and start fresh. Or do they keep a select few of the young stars and try to retool for next season?
Fire the GM, fire the coach, trade all the players. All of these bold suggestions have been made.
Many believe Bargnani is at the root of the problem and that he should be moved. It is hard to argue with that logic as he has been disappointing at the best of times. A change of scenery might be exactly what the doctor ordered for everyone involved. There is still a good player in that seven-foot frame, but he will not become that player here.
But what becomes of everyone else? This isn’t the situation a lot of them signed up for.
Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan have shown themselves to be solid, dependable NBA players. Players that would be welcome on any team, but also players that are still very young and could fit into the plans of a rebuilding club.
To make matters worse, this team doesn’t have a first round pick unless they finish with one of the top three selections. So the draft isn’t even a guaranteed option.
So what to do?
The GM, the one that makes the decisions, is not signed to a contract past this summer and is unlikely to earn a renewal if this debauchery keeps up. What do you do with him? Fire him now? give him the rest of the year?
And what becomes of Dwane Casey? He was brought in only a year ago to fix the Raptors defense and to turn this team into a defensively sound unit. Is it his fault he couldn’t turn Bargnani into Dirk Nowitzki? Is it his fault he had to build a defensive system around Jose Calderon? Shouldn’t he get the benefit of the doubt here?
The Raptors have a lot of questions and there are not easy answers.
They could look for trades where they bring back older veteran players with expiring contracts. Try to make a run at a game changer like Pau Gasol and attempt to turn this ship around. They could bust out their “tank Nation” flags and try to muster up enough luck to bring in Shabazz Muhammad.
No matter which route they choose, the fans are gonna rebel. Even without the NHL attendance will likely drop if the Raptors “blow it up”.
It says here that there is a lot of basketball to be played yet and the Raptors should consider holding on to Lowry, DeRozan and Jonas long-term. Trade any and all others for picks, young players and expiring contracts and hope the season turns around. Try to sneak into the playoffs or get close enough that the lost draft pick doesn’t hurt so much.
Trade Bargnani. Or maybe better put: Free Bargnani. let him go somewhere where there isn’t so much pressure. Where he can just blend in, come off the bench and be a small part of a bigger puzzle. The fans are done with him and he doesn’t deserve to be berated in his home arena. A change of scenery to anywhere else will do him and this team a world of good.
Keep Casey. When he was brought here, he was asked to turn water into wine. He was asked to bring his defensive system that worked wonders for the World Champion Mavericks and build it around Andrea Bargnani and Jose Calderon. It just didn’t work. He didn’t have a Tyson Chandler to back up Bargnani, he didn’t have a Shawn Marion to take on the best offensive players on opposing teams. He could not turn Jose Calderon into Jason Kidd, he couldn’t turn Bargnani in Dirk. He was asked to do too much. He needs to be given a chance to work with better players. It was only one short year ago that fans were calling for Casey to be among the COY candidates.
It takes longer than a year to implement a systematic change, especially when the players you have don’t fit the mould of that system.
Give him another year.
Let Colangelo go. He needs to fall on his sword for this team. He put them together, he hasn’t gotten results. I know he will not be out of work long and there may not be a significantly better replacement out there, but he needs to take the fall for the team. In the end, he is responsible for the shortcomings of this team.
Acquire draft picks. There is no guarantee, no matter where we end up in the standings, that our pick won’t land in OKC, so get a few more, stock up and get as many good young players as you can.
Don’t lose hope. It’s hard not to in these dark days, but at the end of the dark tunnel is light, however slight it might be. Jonas Valanciunas is going to be a good NBA talent. DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry are solid NBA talents. Enjoy watching them for however long they remain Raptors. Draft picks are on the horizon and capspace is likely in the forseeable future.
Things will get better, they have to.
The Zan Tabak Herald