"Oh man, Gray just went down. Bryan's going to make me play Solo for 35 minutes a night!"
The HQ has managed to get a wiretap on Bryan Colangelo's phone. Here's what we heard over the past few weeks...
The following is a series of conversations that may or may not have happened, between Bryan Colangelo and Dwane Casey:
"Ok Dwane so I think I can get something useful for Leandro Barbosa. It's only a second-round pick, but that's the best I can do for him, and it would give us an extra lottery chip. It does mean though that you'll be without one of your best scorers going forward."
"That's fine Bryan, means more minutes for Jerryd, who could use them."
A few weeks later...
"Hey Dwane, we're looking at the extent of Bayless' injury and think we'll shut him down for the rest of the year. We don't want to risk further injury and really, losses in the end aren't the end of the world. We really need to get you some more talent right?"
"That's fine Bryan, but Jose's logging a lot of minutes..."
"Oh don't worry about that, I'm going to grab a few D-League guys for you."
"D-League? But Bryan..."
"They're solid players and it gives us an opportunity to look at some potential future talent. Sound good Dwane?"
"Yep, sure thing. We'll make it work."
A few weeks later...
"Dwane, Bryan here. Look, we're still winning too much so I think we're going to shelve Andrea for the rest of the season and bring in a third D-Leaguer."
"Wait, Bryan, Bargnani only played for 13 games! I still don't even know if he's any good!"
"Oh he's good Dwane, believe me. He's averaged 20 points a game the last two seasons! And what's the PERRR thing you talk about all the time? If we kill his season now, he'll finish with a career-high mark of 18 so that proves he's awesome!"
"I don't know Bryan, James Johnson is our only other player that has the same versatility and..."
"Oh yeah, was going to talk to you about that too Dwane. Can you just bench James for a bit? I mean, you don't have to tell the media what's going on, but just get mad at him for cutting his hair again or something. Mmmkay?"
"Sigh." "Sure Bryan, but it's tough to build a winning culture when..." "Hello??"
Another week goes by.
"Dwane." "Bryan Colangelo here again."
"Oh hey Bryan, how about those wins over Boston and Atlanta? Ed's playing better, DeMar is really being aggressive, and boy did I ever give it to Doc and Larry after the games!"
"Yeah. I know Dwane, they called me and complained. They were TRYING to take it easy on us but they apparently took it way too easy. I wasn't very impressed." "Anyways I'm starting to feel like the boss from Office Space or something but I'm going to need you to hold Jose out again tonight as well as Kleiza."
"But Bryan, we just cut Justin, that leaves us with about 8 guys!"
"Yeah, but think of the experience they'll all get! And this way you can play Alabi for 24 minutes!"
"SOLO? The dude still doesn't know what a hook shot is!"
"That's why this is the perfect opportunity! Plus he might throw down a dunk or block a shot or two and then I can try to sell him as the next Ibaka! I've got Gary St. Jean and Michael Jordan on speed-dial!"
"Look, there's only five games left in the season, what's the harm! And while we're at it, didn't you say you were feeling a bit under the weather of late? I'm thinking with all the hard work you've done this season you could use a bit of a vacation - maybe a week in Barbados?"
"But Bryan, like you said, there are still five games left!"
"Oh don't worry about that! I can get Jay to fill in!" "Besides, losses mean more shots at that kid you like from Kentucky, Davis? He reminds me of Andrea Bargnani a bit, imagine coaching two of them next season?? Unstoppable baby!"
Now obviously that's not how the dialog between the Raptors' GM and head coach has gone since the NBA's Trade Deadline, but watching last night's 109 to 87 loss to the Hawks, I couldn't help but laugh and imagine something similar to this taking place.
I mean, has this Raptors' club not done nearly everything in its power to lose games? (Yes, short of shutting Coach Casey down for the rest of the season.)
And not as overtly "tanky" as say a Golden State, the Raptors have indeed made the moves that at face value would seem to aid them in their quest for Anthony Davis - only the inverse has happened.
The team is .500 in April even with last night's loss, and in classic Raptors' fashion, has fallen in the lottery rankings just as the stakes were getting to their high point. Call it "Raptors Luck" or whatever you will, but poor Bryan Colangelo can't do right even when he tries to do wrong. Losses to Boston and Atlanta would have had the Raps in pole position for a top 3 finish as the New Orleans Hornets have won three straight, and Sacramento, Cleveland and New Jersey have been up and down.
A bottom three finish doesn't guarantee you Anthony Davis of course, but it certainly puts you in a great spot in terms of grabbing one of your preferred draft options. Now the Raps will need some "anti-Raptors luck" in all probability, to leap-frog into one of the top spots.
Again, this is not the fault of anyone. (Other than the Raps recent opponents.) And the play of DeMar DeRozan and Ed Davis has been encouraging, and perhaps enough of a silver lining for many fans. Perhaps this is the run they needed and next season they start the year like gangbusters. Maybe in isolation, numerous individual gains in turn add up and we see this team make the proverbial "jump" in 2012-12 when additional help comes via the draft and free agency.
Maybe, just maybe all of this will end up being worth the pain of another sub 30 win season, but I still can't help but laugh at the way this thing is finishing up.
And really, for this franchise, could it happen any other way?