Toronto Raptors Building Excitement in Air Canada
For years, the Toronto Raptors were only known as Vince Carter’s team. The problem is that Carter has been gone for half of a decade. The Raptors were already sliding down in the standings in Carters last seasons in Toronto, and they eventually bottomed out once he left, which enabled them to build around then-star F Chris Bosh, before Bosh left for Miami in the summer of 2010. Nowadays, the team is not built around one star player, but rather developing a core of talent, and continuing to add pieces around that core in order to become competitive in a top-heavy Eastern Conference.
Upon the blockbuster trade that netted the Raptors Rudy Gay (but cost them starting PG Jose Calderon), the Raptors seemed to turn the corner immediately in February 2013. Gay continued his annual trips to the injured list thereafter, but for a time, the Raptors showed glimpses of what they were capable of doing, even beating the New York Knicks and giving the Miami Heat everything they could handle. Along with Gay, the Raptors are looking to unload F Andrea Bargnani. The problem is, no one wants Bargnani, and he barely wants to play basketball; particularly for Toronto, with the parties having a strained relationship over the past two years. Then-general manager Bryan Colangelo tried to build around Bargnani for a time, but once Bargnani became disenchanted, Colangelo’s fate with the Raptors became sealed. Former Denver Nuggets’ architect and general manager Masai Ujiri is now heading the front office for the Raptors. Given his track record of innovative deals and creative roster structuring, the Raptors are certainly going to be active players in free agency this summer.
The first order of business for Ujiri is to find a taker for Bargnani without taking on undesirable contracts. Often times when teams seek to trade a malcontented player, they want to dump him elsewhere and expect to get much in return. The Raptors tried this philosophy mostly because of Bargnani’s hefty salary ($23 million owed over the final two seasons of his deal), and failed. They will have to deal prudently and move on. The emergence of Amir Johnson and Jonas Valanciunas has given the Raptors hope for their front line. Players such as Alan Anderson, Kyle Lowry and particularly, DeMar DeRozan, have really expanded their games, and should see more playing time and responsibilities next season. The Toronto Raptors forfeited their would-be 12th pick in the 2013 NBA Draft in a previous deal, which landed the pick with the Oklahoma City Thunder. Therefore, if the Raptors are to make any serious adjustments to their roster, it will be via free agency. Given the reported rifts between Lowry and his teammates, and the affinity for the previously-traded Calderon, there could be a move in that department on the horizon for Toronto.
” It Is Only A Game, Until You Bet It “