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Gazing Into A Crystal Ball

Howland's new hobby....fortune telling....

Howland's new hobby....predicting the future....

What a weekend. Other than the 30 minute hurricane that struck Toronto the weather was solid, there was some crazy basketball (meet Ben Gordon and Hedo!) and of course for football fans, there was the NFL Draft.

Really, could you ask for more?

The obvious answer is "Yes, the Raps could be in one of these crazy playoff match-ups!" but we all know that Raptor basketball is far off. There is a lot to be done before fans can start getting excited about the ball bouncing at the ACC once again.

The coach situation is still unsettled.

The roster needs to be rebuilt.

The future of the star player is still up in the air.

So what lies ahead?

Well, whether I think these are the right or wrong moves (to be discussed later), this is my best guess at what transpires this summer. I could be bang on, or I could be completely off. I'd love to hear what others think lies on the horizon for this franchise.

1.Jay Triano will be the head coach and will sign a three year extension

Colangelo was sure to tell the media at his end of season press conference that all the players had the up-most respect for Triano. Colangelo also made it clear that he will sit down with Triano before meeting any other coaches to discuss the season past and the season coming. If BC was seriously considering looking for a new head coach wouldn't he be out there trying to line-up candidates and looking to establish who was interested and/or available? Washington already secured Flip Saunders. The coaching carousel is a fast one and BC doesn't seem inclined to get on.

2.Marc Iavaroni is Jay's number one assistant

Unfortunately at the BC press conference we didn't get the chance to ask what Iavaroni was doing with the team and what he accomplished while there. His response could have been very telling. This is obviously a shot in the dark, but I can't help but think that Marc is somehow involved with the Raps this coming season. Adding him as an assistant coach would likely be a dream scenario for BC in that he gets to keep Triano at a reasonable cost, while brining in someone he likely considered as a head coach at one point. There will be a number of different coaching faces this upcoming season and I would guess Iavaroni is one.

3.Anthony Parker and Carlos Delfino will be wearing familiar jerseys

Based on Colengelo's comments about Delfino you would think "Count Chocula" could have saved this past season single handedly had he not been 'ballin abroad. That is definitely not the case, but the message to Delfino is clear. The Raps want him back and are ready to negotiate. It was clear last summer that league-wide interest in Delfino is not high so hopefully, BC realizes that he will likely be negotiating against no-one but himself. Delfino is a 7th or 8th guy on a Championship team and should be paid accordingly.

Parker is in a different situation in that he is completely free to sign with anyone he so chooses. There will definitely be options for Parker and I expect him to explore all of them. I don't expect him to leave a comfortable situation in Toronto to sign with a mediocre team. I think the only true competition the Raps will have in re-signing him will come from teams with legitimate title aspirations. The chance at a Championship may be an offer he just can't refuse. Teams that come to mind? How about Los Angeles, where he would also be closer to his sister? Parker has indicated he would come back and even play some back-up PG for this team if that was what was asked. He also recognized that the economy is not exactly favouring him signing a big contract this summer. If you were heading into free agency after having started for three straight seasons, would you be making these sorts of statements if you weren't already committed in your mind to coming back at a reasonable price?

4. Marion gets another team

At this point in time I think Colangelo would like to re-sign Marion at a reasonable price. The problem is, based on his track record, Marion won't be looking for a "reasonable price". This summer Marion will have his agent calling every team in the league looking to secure a substantial deal and then asking Toronto to help make it happen.

Marion will not only be looking for a place that will pay him handsomely, helping to limit the pay cut he is inevitably going to have to take, but a team where he can be featured and where they play to his strengths. The Knicks are the obvious possibility but there will be other teams like Atlanta, Cleveland, or even Golden State that may come into play. Colangelo will somehow extract value out of Shawn Marion despite him being a UFA. It may be by signing him to a reasonable deal, but I am guessing it is by helping another team secure his services.

5. The Raps are active in the draft

In these economic times rookie salary contracts are going to be very valuable. The easiest way to find players who can produce at a high level at a reasonable cost is through the draft. At the same time, some teams are so close to paying the luxury tax that they are not going to be able to take advantage. I expect Colangelo to leverage the poor financial circumstances of other teams to either buy an extra pick or extract a pick in some other way (say, with an expiring contact). This Raptors team is short on young talent and is not particularly deep. The answer is to draft NBA ready players, in particular players that exhibit that toughness that is currently missing. I expect the Raps to target a big man (likely a PF) and a swingman. Players that come to mind right away would include Terrence Williams, DeJuan Blair and even Tyler Hansborough (albeit much later on in the draft).

6. Say So Long to CB4

I fully expect CB4 to be moved this summer and nothing that BC said at his press conference changed my mind. This summer Colangelo controls the process and I expect it to play out as follows. Bosh, his representatives and BC will meet where the Raps will offer Bosh an extension. He will decline. Colangelo, knowing that the longer this plays out the less options he will have, will quietly explore the market for Bosh. When the rumours get out this summer he will simply say that no-one is untouchable and he is looking to improve the team any way he can. He will find a trading partner and he will defend the deal by saying the deal made sense for the long term stability of the franchise and in was in the best interest of the team. Fans will be unhappy and some will likely question what BC gets in return (because it won't include Wade, or James) but the smart one's will realize whatever BC gets this summer will be better than what he would have gotten later on. The deal will (hopefully) include a back-up PG and a quality 2/3.

7. Money will be spent on a new PF

If order to help ease the sting of having traded away the face of the franchise, BC will look to sign another PF who is on the market. As of now there will be some interesting possibilities out there including David Lee (RFA), Paul Millsap (RFA), Charlie Villaneuva (UFA) and possibly Carlos Boozer (opt-out). Not a bad back-up plan if you ask me.

Having written this I am not sure how I would feel if this is what went down this summer. Right now these are my best predictions. Some of them seem much more plausible than others, but all of them are distinct possibilities.

What do you see happening this summer?