With six days until the NBA’s trade deadline, and heading into the annual All-Star break where GM’s will be throwing around more basketball player names then a Game track, it’s a curious time to be a fan of the Toronto Raptors.
The club has been perhaps the most disappointing in the league, has been engulfed with rumours regarding the likes of Chris Bosh and Jermaine O’Neal, can’t seem to stay healthy, and yet somehow even with a measly 21 wins is still not out of playoff contention.
As a result of the chaos, Bryan Colangelo is left with the unenviable task of trying to right the ship, and it’s hard to say just what should be done to do that.
Some fans are advocating moving Jermaine O’Neal’s hefty contract to get Chris Bosh, the franchise’s center-piece, some help.
Others see the writing on the wall and want to move Bosh himself.
At previous trade deadlines things were a lot simpler weren’t they?
"Fred Jones has been a bust, let’s move him for something."
"Well, Juan Dixon really isn’t helping matters that much either, so let’s gamble on another big; even if that turns out to be a 7-foot white version of Memphis Bleek."
But this year?
I mean, can you just move the entire team?
Apart from Joey Graham, who I’m not sure fans ever expected anything of after his first few seasons, the rest of the team has ranged from disappointing to um…"why is this guy in the league again?"
Let’s look at some individual pieces.
Jamario Moon – sure, there’s probably some interest there but his salary is so small that he’d have to be packaged in order for a deal to probably work.
Jason Kapono? Opposite issue, not enough talent to warrant the size of his contract.
In fact outside of the aforementioned Graham and perhaps Kris Humphries, there’s not a lot to work with on an individual level.
So really, Bryan Colangelo is left without a quick fix and then has to debate moving other pieces that perhaps he wants to hold onto. A swingman is a definite need and having watched the Mavericks and Celtics last night, you saw the impact of guys like Josh Howard and Paul Pierce. These are the types of players you want with the ball in their hands in crunch time, not your power forward.
For all of those who still think that Bosh isn’t doing enough to carry his team, did you notice what happened on the final play for the Spurs on Wednesday night? The first option wasn’t going into the world’s best power forward, Tim Duncan. It was getting the ball to Manu Ginobili, and then when that didn’t work, and Duncan didn’t have an easy look, it was up to Tony Parker to create off the dribble.
Now let’s say Bosh and co. are all healthy, what transpires in a similar situation? You got it, it’s up to Bosh or maybe Jose if that doesn’t work, to create something.
Perhaps though that’s more of an indictment of the lack of talent and options this team has though than an argument about Bosh’s ability in the clutch. After all, the team is on pace for 31 wins with 27 games left, so there’s something not working. And it’s hard to say that a team with Jermaine O’Neal, Chris Bosh, Andrea Bargnani, Jose Calderon, Anthony Parker, Joey Graham and yes, even Jamario Moon isn’t more talented than the 2004-2005 version of the club that won 33 games!
That team featured a top seven of Bosh (albeit only a sophomore at this point in time), Jalen Rose, Mo Pete, Donyell Marshall, Rafer Alston, Lamond Murray and…I guess Matt Bonner. (Unless you think one of Hoffa, Eric Williams or Loren Woods deserves that last spot.) Yep, not exactly Hall of Fame material.
I think the main difference is that as shallow as the 2004-05 team was, it played with a lot more grit as players like Peterson, Rose and Alston were all almost as competitive as they come. This current team just can’t seem to play with the necessary intensity and focus consistently and I think the loss to Memphis and then the short-handed win over San Antonio are testaments to this.
On Monday following the All-Star festivities we’ll be doling out some long-awaited grades and thoughts on the season through the first two-thirds. By this point, Bryan Colangelo may have made a deal to try and bring in some depth, toughness and/or athleticism but I’m not holding my breath.
Instead, I’m preparing myself for what could be a rather bland All-Star weekend (Mo Williams and Rashard Lewis are All-Stars this year – a game of GEICO? What is going on?), without a Chris Bosh appearance to cheer for, and the sinking feeling that Jason Kapono is going to struggle defending his 3-point title.
Will Dwight Howard put on a show in the Slam Dunk contest?
But you’ll excuse me if I’m busy reading The Sports Guy’s annual trade value piece and frantically playing with the updated version of ESPN.com’s trade machine.