According to the early NBA Draft rumours floating around the Toronto Raptors are:
1. Looking at a swingman at the nine spot
2. Looking at buying an additional pick in the late first round
3. Looking at trading Kris Humphries to the Clippers for the rights to Blake Griffin, considering their salaries will be similar next year.
Ok…I made the last one up. (Although as discussed yesterday, it is the Clippers we’re talking about here.)
But the point of the third marker was to get some Friday morning discussion going and I ask you this:
"Is this the most important draft in Raptors’ history to date, or at least in terms of Bryan Colangelo’s career?"
I’m going with yes and here’s why.
As I sat yesterday reading through the latest round of draft buzz I got thinking about how most of this year’s lottery crop are viewing this draft as just another piece to their overall puzzle.
-Donald Sterling and the Clippers are thrilled at another rent-a-star they can take to the bank for three to four seasons before letting him go for nothing,
-Memphis has been on the verge of relocating or going bankrupt now for the last few years and nothing short of another Lebron is going to change that via the draft,
-Oklahoma is sitting pretty waiting to see how the other two "franchises" drafting ahead of them let things play out,
-Sacramento and Washington may not even keep their picks after falling out of the top three spots,
-Minnesota is continuing with its ever-present rebuilding project,
-Who knows what’s going on in Golden State,
-New York is still trying to take baby steps out of the Isiah Thomas era,
-And the other remaining lottery teams like Indiana, Milwaukee, and Phoenix were close enough last year that some good health and another solid addition even late in the draft should put them back in the playoff mix next season.
But let’s think about the Raptors for a second.
If Toronto blows this pick; as in the selection doesn’t have an immediate impact, even in terms of spot minutes off the bench, it’s quite possible that things start to go awry very quickly this off-season isn’t it? Because if BC can’t get the necessary help he needs via free-agency and the ninth pick in the draft turns into another Hoffa, then suddenly this team looks very much like the sub-500 squad it was last year, which doesn’t bode very well for retaining Chris Bosh.
Now granted, perhaps that’s a bit of a doomsday scenario but the way Bryan Colangelo is lining up his ducks, isn’t the first spin of the barrel in his game of Bosh-roulette the draft? Because let’s be real here. As much as the Raptors want to say that they’re "not far off," we all know this team needs a legit back-up point guard, a shot-creating swingman of some sort, bench depth, rebounding help, and an overall upgrade in toughness. And those are just the obvious needs.
Not all of these needs of course can be addressed via free agency and that’s why it’s crucial that whoever is selected at nine lends some sort of immediate help. If not, the temperature on that oven surrounding BC is surely going to ratchet up a few notches.
And really, this pressure exists solely because of the corner Bryan appears to be painting himself into. He let it be known during his end-of-the-year talk with the media that he has no intention of dealing CB4 this summer, and will wait until next summer if necessary to see how things play out with Bosh. Of course, I don’t have to reiterate why I feel this is a bad idea on several levels but let’s look at a best and worst-case scenario here.
Best case is that Colangelo upgrades the team’s talent this off-season, the club stays healthy and wins about 50 games next year, and finally gets past the first round in the playoffs. Is that enough to convince Bosh to stay? Who knows, and as a best-case scenario, it’s not exactly ideal, because even if the team has that sort of success and Bosh still decides he wants out, then at that late stage will Colangelo even be able to get the proverbial fifty cents on the dollar in return for CB4?
On the other side, BC’s off-season moves don’t work out, the team sits around last year’s putrid record, and then the low-ball offers for Bosh start coming fast and furious even before the NBA trade deadline.
So what’s BC to do?
Well, I’m not the only one who feels he should be looking at trade scenarios this summer but if he’s bound and determined to make one more go of it next year with a new roster, then it has to start with the upcoming draft.
Another questionable lottery pick and as previously stated, things are only going to get tougher for Raptors’ management, something I’m not sure the club can’t afford in their quest to keep Bosh. And if Bosh can’t be retained, or if another substantial player or two can’t be obtained in return for his services, where does that leave this franchise? I’d argue that not since the final days of Vince Carter is more hinging on management decisions in regards to this club’s future. The last thing we fans want is to be another Clippers or even Bucks, and unfortunately, that scenario is quite possible if Bosh departs for little in return as this team will be in full rebuild mode all over again.
And what about Colangelo himself?
He was viewed as a basketball savant when he arrived, a Renaissance Man compared to previous Raptors’ GM’s if you will. However Bargnani aside, his drafts have been littered with strange second-round selections and another failed selection can’t bode well for his future, dare-I-say not only with the Raptors, but also within the NBA itself?
Again, perhaps a bit on the melodramatic side and maybe the draft isn’t the be all end all here, but there’s no question that hitting even a double come June 25th will go a long way in assisting the Raptors’ brain-trust with the pressure-cooker that is this off-season.
Or as they’d say in the drum n’ bass I’ve been listening to almost exclusively as of late, the presssshah.
For the sake of the Raptors I’m hoping BC gets things right with this pick.
I strongly feel that the club can ill-afford another strikeout (sticking with the baseball analogy) as the draft is the domino that needs to fall correctly in order to set up the free-agent time period. If some of the Raps’ needs can be properly attended to via the lottery then this could indeed go a long way towards righting this franchise’s ship.
On the other hand, a poor selection might be the first fatal crack in Colangelo’s off-season plans and a year from now we fans might indeed be yelling, Selectah, reeeeeeeeeeeeewind!