With the Chris Bosh sign-and-trade now complete, Franchise briefly discusses some options for the Raptors going forward, and how Bryan Colangelo should approach his self-proclaimed "retooling..."
As many readers know, I'm a big Seinfeld fan.
In University, a few friends of mine and I decided at about 3 AM one evening that we would try to start capturing every episode on VHS, a monumental task but one that after enough rye and cokes, seemed like a good idea at the time.
Yes, we knew that the entire series would probably appear on DVD soon after we finished our task (if we ever did), but that didn't dissuade us and in the end, we grabbed every possible episode of its glorious nine-year run.
I was reminded of this by a reader, (MAS11) of this little exercise when he posted in the comments section to an article earlier in the week. He noted that:
If Colangeo starts asking himself that question and makes decisions based on the answer – we may have a fighting chance! It’s like that Sinefeld episode where George Costanza decides to do the oposite of what he would normally do in every situation. If only Colangelo would do that…. Just DON"T trust your instincts Brian…
I thought this was a hilarious concept and if you watch the full clip here, perhaps at some point in the last 8 weeks, you can truly imagine a non-high-collared Bryan Colangelo sauntering into Maurizio Gherardini's office and the following exchange happening:
Bryan: "It's not working Maurizio...it's just not working."
Maurizio: "What is it that isn't working?"
Bryan: "Why did it all turn out like this for me? I had so much promise. I was personable, I was bright..."
You could go on and on with it too.
Now while I don't think that like Costanza, every decision Colangelo has made in regards to the Raptors has been wrong, from the moment he tried to pair Andrea Bargnani with Chris Bosh, and followed up on that the following off-season by inking Jason Kapono with the mid-level, he went off track.
Now of course, the challenge is for him to get the ball back on the fairway and I'm happy to say that late last night's confirmation of a sign-and-trade with Miami, is a good first step.
For all the talk of "re-tooling" as opposed to "rebuilding," BC now has two first-round picks, potentially a high (Toronto's if indeed the team struggles as expected) and a low (Miami's) pick in next year's draft, a draft that should be similar to this past season's in terms of talent.
He also has the expiring contracts of Reggie Evans and Marcus Banks to work with, and now what appears to be a $14.5M trade exception.
So...where does Linas Kleiza fit into all of this?
Yes, he's a solid all-around player, but a four-year deal of this nature seems to fly in the face of what I believe this team should be trying to accomplish, and now may have the tools to start doing.
To me, the Kleiza signing is akin to George Costanza still ordering the "Tuna on Toast." It's time for Bryan Colangelo to start doing the opposite and thinking like some of his more savvy peers, say Sam Presti.
Presti time and time again has taken advantage of teams that have overpaid for underachieving talent by agreeing to take said bums off their hands in exchange for future assets. This strategy has helped him turn around a horrible Seattle/Oklahoma City team, turning it into one of the league's most promising squads.
Sure, having Kevin Durant fall into your lap certainly helps, but I truly believe in the expression "you create your own luck" and Presti did that by rolling the dice on the likes of Westbrook and Ibaka, and making key veteran additions like Nenad Krstic.
I truly believe BC needs to go this route.
Raptors Republic this morning did a good job of laying out some players who could be options regarding Toronto's new-found trade exception.
Of this group, I believe Toronto should be targeting players on teams that are looking to cut costs, thus hopefully earning cheap talent in exchange for the cap relief the Raps would be providing. Some examples of this would include Nene, Emeka Okafor and David West, Brandon Bass, Leandro Barbosa and Jason Richardson and Joel Pzybilla.
Several other players are enticing in that they'd immediately be an upgrade to the roster, but you'd have to weigh the benefit of their deals against developing current youth and keeping cap space for the future.
And unlike some of the local media who are suddenly endorsing some sort of tanking strategy, this isn't about "tanking" necessarily. This is about doing what's best for the club in the long-term, not swinging for the fences or finding band-aid solutions at every turn, something that's occurred far too often over the past four seasons.
If that means a trip to the top of the lottery, so be it. And if that means winning 33 games, missing the playoffs, but showing signs of growth and progress on-court, while continuing to collect future assets, done.
My point here is that Colangelo really has a chance now to start rebuilding, and with a sturdy foundation, not one based on trying to force-fit a square peg (Bargnani) into a round hole (pairing with Bosh.) Trying to bring in players for a playoff run next year seems fruitless to me, especially since clubs like the Heat, Bulls, Knicks, Bucks and 76ers have all upgraded their levels of talent.
Again, if playoffs are the end result of the current talent mix overachieving and finding a nice mix of chemistry, so be it, I'll be thrilled.
But let's just hope in effort to get back there, we don't hear Bryan Colangelo order the Tuna on Toast over the Chicken Salad on Rye.