The HQ takes a look at the upcoming season from GM's perspective, and wonders what he will consider a successful campaign...
As mentioned on Tuesday, next week officially kicks off the 2010-11 NBA season for us as the Toronto Raptors will hold their annual media gala on the 27th.
It's a bit of a zoo as reporters from the Globe and Mail to Global News are on the scene, looking for a chance to talk with the players and coaches, many of them for the first time.
For me, the highlight is always talking to Bryan Colangelo though.
If you've ever had a chance to talk to BC, you know why. He's extremely charismatic, slightly intimidating, and above all else, has this hypnotic way of convincing you that whatever he believes in, is the best way to do things.
Take for instance Media Day the year of the Kapono free-agent signing.
Colangelo told a gaggle of us that the reason they got Kap-One was to spread the floor, and he felt that would be more powerful than simply adding a player who could defend or rebound (both big needs at the time.) In fact, he continued with this logic saying something to the effect of:
"...Jason gives us another dead-eye shooter so with guys like him, Parker and Calderon knocking down open looks, there are less misses, and therefore less rebounds needing to be hauled in..."
...to which all of us in the press nodded in unison while exclaiming "oooh," "aaaah" like the Smurfs.
Of course we panned this logic shortly afterwards but at the time, Bryan really had you believing he was on to something.
As the years have gone on however, I've managed to break free more and more from his hypnotic grasp, last year even going so far as noting that perhaps Sonny Weems was a player who shouldn't simply be considered a "throw-in" with the Amir Johnson deal.
This year though it's going to be very interesting.
In previous years, whether you could escape the Colangelo lure or not, there was a chance his prognostications would come true. On paper, a healthy and slimmed down Jermaine O'Neal seemed like a great fit next to Chris Bosh, and even last year, despite my pessimism, it was quite possible that the additions of guys like DeRozan, Belinelli, Evans and even Hedo would get this team out of the first round of the playoffs.
Now...well...I'm not sure what he's going to say.
Remember, this is the man who when talking to the media at the end of the season, railed against a "doom and gloom" view of the team that seemed to exist looking at the team's future. He was still quite confident he would get a solid asset for Chris Bosh if Bosh left, and viewed Hedo as an important part next year, one that would be happier and a bigger feature in the offense.
Since then, essentially the opposite of everything he's spoken of has come to fruition; Hedo lambasted the team publicly and was dealt, Bosh not only left, but painted the Raps into a corner and left them with very little to help replace him next season, and there was a myriad of other unfortunate happenings, from the injuries to Jose Calderon and Ed Davis to the departure of coaches and front office execs.
Will we get the PR speal on Monday then?
I'm guessing we will, but I'm wondering if this is the first time we'll hear a somewhat toned down version and some truth regarding Colangelo's expectations.
I mean, he can't possibly believe this squad is guaranteed playoff material can he?
Sure, it's the East, and anything can happen, but will this be the year we hear a more Babcockian version of BC, one that notes what a "challenge" the season will be?
I'm hoping so.
That being said, it will be a bit frustrating for me to hear it considering his decisions over the past few seasons are the reason this upcoming year in Raptorland will such a challenge, and I know I'll have a tough time not bringing this up.
But I certainly will be asking just what his expectations are of this club, and this is not just limited to numbers of wins (always a media favourite) or playoff talk. I also want to know his expectations of individual players, especially Andrea Bargnani, and the coaching staff. I mean, if this team is sitting at only 10 wins by Christmas time, is Jay Triano's job in jeopardy? From my perspective, a lack of talent, cohesion and several possible injury issues (Jose and Ed namely) would make it hard to simply say "Jay, you're done," especially since it appeared Triano did a sub-par job last season but was retained.
But if BC expects this team to be a playoff contender, then who knows?
More than anything though, I'm curious to see what sort of demeanor Colangelo will have when dealing with questions of this ilk. He got a bit snappy with myself and a few others at the end of last season when we inquired about his "plan" for the team, so will he be ready now to face what looks like the reality that this team will struggle?
I guess we'll find out on Monday afternoon...