Raptor Nation, we hear you. The Great White North’s sole basketball franchise (since the Vancouver Grizzlies moved to Memphis in 2001) is in trouble. Chris Bosh is shopping for a place in Miami while Hedo Turkoglu is looking for a new apartment in Phoenix. We have compared the organization to a revolving door before but it’s looking even more and more like that today.
Aside from Bosh and Turkoglu, names such as Vince Carter, Tracy McGrady, Shawn Marion and Jermaine O’Neal have nauseated fans for some time now as the team has done nothing but fallen short time after time. This season, they made a late push for the playoffs that ultimately failed as the Bulls grasped the eighth seed with a mere 41-41 record. They never went higher than six games over .500 last season as Bryan Colangelo made moves (moves?) to try and secure Bosh beyond 2010. Amir Johnson has never averaged seven ppg in any of his five years in the league. Sonny Weems is a versatile player that can move from both guard positions to small forward. However, he never got minutes in Denver and along with Johnson, wasn’t going to convince Bosh to stay.
Well, he’s gone now and Toronto’s inability to retain talent is about to set them back… again. Granted, Jose Calderon is a great point guard and DeMar DeRozan should turn out nicely but other than that, it’s looking bleak for Canadian basketball. It’s obvious that Colangelo wants to go with a more upbeat, Euro-style ball team but it’s never really materialized. It’s hard to form a system with players coming and going and on top of all that, most are trash anyways. Paying Hedo that much was an embarrassment for a player than ended up faking sick to go out partying and they made no attempt to retain Anthony Parker.
This offseason, the pressure was on to resign Bosh and it seems as though no fallout plan was ever developed should that fail. Earlier this month, the Bobcats agreed to a trade that would have sent Boris Diaw and Tyson Chandler to Toronto. The next day, the deal fell apart when Charlotte traded Chandler to the Mavericks. Diaw would work well with what Colangelo is trying to develop but I wouldn’t call it a dramatic signing. Now, it’s looking like a sign-and-trade with Orlando for Matt Barnes is on the rocks as well. Toronto’s recent signing of Linas Kleiza used up most of the team’s $5.8 million mid-level exception. Barnes would be expected to sign a deal in the range of $4 million and Toronto can’t afford to sign him in an outright contract. Long story short, it doesn’t look like Otis Smith and Orlando are going to put much more money into a guy that was only with the Magic for one season and this trade will ultimately fail.
So what now? Well, Toronto needs to get in line with the rest of the teams that are walking away from this free agency with close to nothing. It was an aggressive market there for about a week but everyone went fairly quickly. The salary cap didn’t drop as expected and the great “Shake-Up” that was predicted really didn’t play out like a lot of teams such as Toronto expected. The list of NBA free agents is getting smaller and smaller but with a lack of funds, the Raptors really don’t have a lot of room to make moves anyways. It has been rumored that the team should be willing to trade Calderon but that would just be a step backward for a team that is already in the midst of a complete identity crisis. Building a team like they have and then trading the point guard who works well in it would be completely destructive to what they have already built even though it may not look like much.
It’s a dog-eat-dog league and the Raptors never had the teeth to make the moves needed to improve. Rebuilding is in the works but Toronto needs to figure out what they really want to be first.