Raptors Would Likely Need To Include Asset To Trade Andrea Bargnani
By Ryan Wolstat , Toronto Sun
TORONTO - Raptors ownership is poised to bring back Bryan Colangelo and Dwane Casey for another season.
They will be making a mistake, particularly where Colangelo is concerned.
Colangelo’s refusal to recognize the obvious with Andrea Bargnani — that the “enigma of enigmas” could never be relied on as a key building block — and his total misread of the Chris Bosh situation have resulted in three playoff wins in seven years, including five years without a playoff appearance, when things could have been much different.
Sure, drafting Jonas Valanciunas was a coup and acquiring Rudy Gay was a strong play, but the roster that has been built is one that is capped out and limited in where it can go, unless Valanciunas becomes a superstar.
By convincing himself that Bargnani would one day repay his faith in him, Colangelo failed the franchise he has been paid handsomely to direct. Instead of dealing him when he had solid value, Colangelo hung on to the Roman and now, according to league sources, an asset would likely have to be included just to dump the $22.5 million US remaining on his contract.
Doubly so in that one reason Bosh left was because Colangelo could not properly build around him, partly because he believed Bargnani would be a key piece beside Bosh.
Not to mention, Toronto’s long-time president/general manager saw the team’s second-best all-time player bolt for next to nothing in return. Yes, Bosh and his agent gave indications that Toronto had a shot of retaining the big man, but history shows Colangelo was misguided to believe them. Not with Miami in position to make an historic haul, partly thanks to Colangelo (Jermaine O’Neal for Shawn Marion gifted the Heat the cap space required to add both Bosh and LeBron James).
Colangelo has done some good and some bad while in Toronto, but a unifying theme has been a lack of foresight. A failure to see what is coming next.
From rushing rebuilds, overvaluing his players, to overcompensating to try to alleviate problem areas, Colangelo has been unable to repeat his past success.
Now, with a new collective bargaining agreement making cap management more important than ever, a team has been built where most of the roster (Amir Johnson and Kyle Lowry aside) is being paid at a considerable premium. There are few options to improve the team either, other than through the “organic growth” Colangelo talks so hopefully about.
A new general manager would bring a fresh take on what the Raptors have and what changes have to be made. He would be able to move Bargnani without worrying what the club gets back in return and he would consider paths that Colangelo, sources say, isn’t currently inclined to consider — particularly moving DeMar DeRozan while his value is at a high point.
DeRozan’s defence is a large concern going forward — even if Colangelo disagreed strongly with that notion at his season-ending media availability Monday — and the team needs a dead-eye long-range shooter to complement Gay and Valanciunas far more than it needs DeRozan’s mid-range game.
Colangelo has had plenty of time to lift the Raptors and has not been able to get it done.
It’s time for a change.
The Casey situation is less clear-cut. After an excellent initial season in Toronto, Casey and his staff had a tough follow-up. Casey clashed with the mercurial Lowry, made some curious rotational decisions and watched his charges continually struggle to execute in tight situations (Toronto was one of the poorest teams at closing out tight contests in the league).
Still, that’s not enough to pay Casey to go away, some alterations to his staff could suffice.
Except for the fact that the roster he has been given to work with doesn’t suit his style or philosophy at all. That’s not Casey’s fault, unlike some of the on-court failings of his team, but it’s reality.
Just not in Colangelo’s eyes.
“I’m not sure I agree with you,” he said Monday when I suggested the roster he had built left Casey with one hand tied behind his back.
“There were some things that we needed to sort through and we’re getting to the point where we’re finding the common ground.
“My job in management is to get talent, to bring in athletes. Athletes that have upside and upside is not just offensive upside, it’s defensive upside as well ... There’s a number of players that you can point to and say: ‘Hey, they’ve got the athletic ability and the talent to play defence, it’s just a function of getting them to play defence.’”
The NBA is filled with great athletes. Most of them don’t play strong defence. Offence brings the glory and Toronto’s roster is stocked with players who pride themselves on their attacking skills, not their abilities to get stops.
There’s also the issue that this group is built to run, to take advantage of its athletic advantages, rather than being cerebral and precise.
That’s not what Casey favours (despite his pronouncement that he wants to run off of turnovers next season) and since this roster cannot be broken apart easily without setting the franchise back years, it’s doubtful things work out in Toronto for Casey, a solid coach.
So why try to force something that seems destined to fail?
Plus, a new GM should always be given the chance to pick his own bench boss.
However, sources say there has been no appetite at the MLSE board level to replace either Colangelo or Casey.
Instead, it appears the franchise will continue to attempt to force round pegs into square holes and hope for the best.