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Raptors Offseason Report Card

With the offseason basically over, training camp approaching, and the Banks-for-Caroll trade no longer in consideration, we can finally recap what Colangelo has done these past few months. Many fans seems to be excited of the acquisitions this past summer, while a few remain skeptical. I'll break down each off-season move as objectively as I can, and then look at the end result as a whole.

 

May 11 - Jay Triano signed as head coach

Before Glen Grunwald got the axe, he hired rookie head coach Kevin O'Neil. The firey, hot-headed, defensive minded K.O. somehow managed to squeeze 33 wins out of lackluster players, a wire thin Chris Bosh, and an inconsistent Vince Carter. In the Rob Babcock Era, we saw yet another rookie head coach take the helm, Sam Mitchell. This time instead of relying on X's and O's, Sam Mitchell relied on... well, I have no idea. And now finally, in the 09-10 season we'll see yet another rookie head coach take the helm, our very own Jay Triano.

For a team looking to "win now" and advance to the second round of the playoffs, another rookie coach just doesn't make sense. Sure, Jay is experienced at the international level, but in the NBA he's just another rookie head coach without playoff experience. On the bright side, Jay Triano brings in a happy medium of X's and O's, push-the-ball offense, and motivation. And he's Canadian! What could possibly go wrong?

Individual Grade: C+

 

June 9 - Kapono traded for Reggie Evans

Many fans seem to believe Kapono is a bad player, and with his play these past few seasons for the Raptors, who can blame them? What they fail to understand is that Kapono is a niche player, and when a team can't provide him with that niche to be in, his flaws will be exposed. The guy can't dribble without travelling, yet he was asked to create off the bench. The blame can be placed on Kapono just as much as Mitchell, Triano, and even Colangelo for acquiring a 6th man that just didn't fit.

Reggie Evans to the Raptors just made sense. For a team that was out-hustled on rebounding, even when the big men were blocking out, a player that averages one of the highest rates of rebounds per minute is a godsend. His limited offensive abilities may be cause for concern, except no one is expecting him to have any offensive production to begin with. This is a perfect swap between two teams at the beginning of the offseason.

Individual Grade: A-

 

June 25 - DeMar DeRozan is drafted

How do you think Rob Babcock would have handled this draft class? Thank god we drafted DeRozan, a player who has drawn comparisons to Vince Carter (unlikely), Andre Igoudala (more likely), and Jason Richardson (most likely). The other two options here were Gerald Henderson and Terrence Williams, but with DeRozan showing the most potential I think we made the right pick.

Individual Grade: A

 

July 7 - Andrea Bargnani signs 5-year 50 million dollar extension

After an abysmal second season in the NBA, Bargnani didn't do much to doubt his naysayers early on last season. Being asked to play outside of his comfort zone in a variety of different roles, several fans were calling for his head. "Bustnani" was his new nickname. At least, up until the second half of the season. With a defined role and a coach that doesn't suck, Bargnani exploded onto the scene, averaging 19 points and 6 rebounds while shooting 46.9 percent from the field and a scorching 43.5 percent from 3 point range. So given these numbers, why was this extension over-priced?

If we take a look at the current economic climate, we'll notice that many teams are being stingy with their dollars. David Lee, a player who's production surpasses Bargnani, was not able to land the dollars he was looking for. And in this market, the rumour mill had it that 4 years 36 million would be something Lee would gladly take. A more concrete case is Charlie Villanueva, a stretch big-man that averaged 16.2 points and 6.7 rebounds last season. Well he got about 7 million a season. Considering Bargnanni is also a "stretch big-man" (a big man that can space the floor because of his shooting ability), is he worth an additional 3 million a season over Villanueva? He certainly has the height advantage and the shooting efficiency, but I feel we could have had Bargs for 8-9 million a season.

Individual Grade: B-

 

July 9 - Toronto Acquires Hedo Turkoglu, Antoine Wright, and Devean George in a 4-way trade

A little before this trade transpired, it seemed as if Hedo Turkoglu was heading to Portland. My thinking at the time? A sigh of relief. The guy was going to be paid 50 million dollars for 5 years. A point-forward who had peaked in Orlando was being paid 10 million dollars as season! Thank god we wouldn't throw away all our rights and cap space at one player... AGAIN (recall: Jermaine O'Neil). Alas, my relief was short lived after I found out Colangelo stole him away from the Blazers. Luckily, the front office found a way to not lose our mid-level exception and land Antoine Wright/Devean George as well. This means we wouldn't end up in the Will Solomon/Hassan Adams fiasco like last season.

But is the acquisition of Hedo good enough to propel us into the second round of the playoffs? People keep heralding his clutch abilities, but forget about his suspect shot selection. They talk about his playmaking abilities, but forget that he no longer has the brick wall that is Dwight Howard setting the pick. I certainly hope all the intangibles Hedo brings help the Raptors - his leadership and experience will be vital, especially for Bargnani. But at 53 million a season, it just seems too much.

The other big acquisition here is Antoine Wright. You know that when Rick Carlisle is singing you praises, you did something right. Remember that it was Rick Carlisle and Kevin O'Neil that originally made the Pistons into the defensive power house that they were. Wright will be a key player in stopping opposing teams' runs, and help in closing close games.

Individual Grade: B

 

July 13 - Jarret Jack Signed for 4 years, 20 million

When the Pacers didn't match the deal 7 days later, Raptors fans could finally free their minds of the horrible point guard play they endured last season. The steep price tag for a back-up point guard such as Jack was necessary to ensure Indiana didn't match, but at the same time was Jack the only option? There were several other back up point guards available this off-season: Earl Watson, CJ Watson, Marcus Williams, Jayson Williams, etc. What made Jack stand out was his ability to play physical defense at BOTH guard positions, allowing him to play alongside Calderon to close out games. Oh, and he's Chris Bosh's best friend. Yeah, that helped too.

Individual Grade: B+

 

July 30 - Devean George traded for Marco Belinelli

Quite possibly the steal of the offseason, especially since all we gave up an ailing forward who wasn't going to play much anyway. If Belinelli doesn't work out, well, we wasted close to 3 million dollars for the season. But if he shows some potential, like the potential Bryan Colangelo sees in him when he calls him a potential 6th man of the year candidate, then this is one hell of a deal. What are the chances Belinelli isn't a dud? Given Nellie's track record of hating rookie players more than Rosie O'Donnel hates low fat yogurt, I'd say the chances are pretty good.

Individual Grade: A+

 

July 30 - Rasho Nesterovic signed to a 1 year deal

After playing with the Raptors for over 8 million a season just a short while ago, bringing back the locker room presence that is Rasho Nesterovic at a reasonable 2 million is a solid pickup. He's not getting any younger, and he's slower than he once was, but as a position based defender Rasho is one of the best in the business - making life easier for PFs like Kevin Garnett and Tim Duncan. And he's the only Raptor with a championship ring.

Individual Grade: B

 

August 18 - Carlos Delfino and Roko Ukic traded for Amir Johnson and Sonny Weems

The key thing to note here is we were not going to get Carlos Delfino. We weren't going to sign him for 3.5 million dollars after loading up the wings of the roster, and he wouldn't sign here even if we did offer that. This trade is essentially Roko Ukic for Amir Johnson. One is a tall point guard who has shown flashes of greatness, and the other is an athletic forward who has shown beatly efficiency in the post. But Amir is younger, and given the influx of point guards we have on the roster (still sitting at 4 with Jose, Jack, Douby, and Banks) this trade makes a lot of sense for the Raptors. It also means Patrick O'Bryant gets pushed one spot further down the bench, a huge plus in my books.

Individual Grade: B+

 

Conclusion

Overall Bryan Colangelo has managed to overhaul the roster and solidify a core starting line of Jose, Bargs, and Turkoglu with 6th man Jack. Is that a scary core? Not at all, but it's one hell of a complementary core, especially if Turkoglu manages to bring his intangibles to the Raptors. Add a max-money player (we all hope it will be Chris Bosh proving that he deserves it) and we should be able to compete for quite a while. Especially when you consider that the aging Celtics have a maximum of 2 seasons to go, LeBron's Cavs are about to hit a wall at the centre position (Big Z and Shaq are old), and Orlando can't keep paying that much luxury tax for much longer without dumping some of it on Mark Cuban.

Overall Grade: B-

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