On this Friday, the HQ touches on a myriad of news and rumblings centered around the Toronto Raptors...
The NBA Draft is now less than three weeks away, and there's a certain buzz in the air.
Workouts are in full swing (in fact the Raptors' kick their sessions off next Tuesday), trade rumours are circulating, and unfortunately for many Raptor fans, Chris Bosh may be days removed from an NBA title.
(What a comeback from Dallas last night though eh?)
Yep, it's the NBA in June, and again this season the Toronto Raptors appear to be one of the off-season's "noisier" teams in terms of movement and transactions.
For starters, the club of course extended Bryan Colangelo right before the NBA Draft Lottery, and then late Wednesday afternoon, decided to decline an extension option to coach Jay Triano, opening up the head coaching position for potential candidates.
There wasn't a ton of rationale given by BC regarding the decision to go in another direction coaching-wise, and that's why Colangelo's appearance on Primetime Sports with Bob McCown last night was extremely interesting. I've never been a huge McCown fan but he and Stephen Brunt did an excellent job getting Colangelo to speak quite candidly about the Triano situation, and you can listen to the full interview by clicking here.
From the interview, a few things become clear.
First off, Colangelo truly believed that Triano was the man to lead the franchise in the post Sam Mitchell era.
This wasn't simply a "he can fill in for a season or two" situation as I once thought. Colangelo in the interview notes that he had success in the past hiring internally, and thought it would be a similar situation.
I believe too that BC thought Triano would be a good fit for the team he inherited in his first full season on the job.
That club with Chris Bosh and Hedo Turkoglu had decent playoff potential and Jay's "player-friendly" approach seemed to suit it quite well. Sure, it made me laugh that in the audio clip above, BC continues to harp on the fact that he believed the club was a potential 50 game winner (like the Garbo injury, come on Bryan, can we move on yet?), but the point is that Triano did have a talented roster at his disposal, and I truly think that BC thought Triano was going to run with that group similar to what Mike D'Antoni did in his first seasons in Phoenix.
Of course that didn't happen, and last year was an even tougher pill to swallow I imagine for Colangelo.
Yep, lots of injuries, but seeing a "22" beside the number of wins on a season smarts for a GM, no matter how you cut it.
That number nearly cost BC his job too one could argue, which brings me to my second point.
In the past two days Colangelo has noted quite a few times that he wanted to "accelerate the rebuilding process," another reason for letting Triano go.
To me that simply reads, "I need to put a winning club on the court and show major improvement before my latest contract is up."
Because let's face it.
Most rebuilds short of landing a Kevin Durant, take four or five years.
Look at teams like Indiana and Atlanta.
It took them years of struggling before collecting enough assets to break through to the playoffs.
Colangelo doesn't have the luxury of four or five years, and he's now hoping a coach with a proven background expedites the process of re-establishing the franchise as a winning team.
(As well, you can't rule out the fact that there was some pressure on BC from MLSE to make a coaching change, perhaps even as a "hint hint, nudge nudge" suggestion when his contract was being extended. That would go a long ways towards explaining the change from fully supporting Triano, even mid-way through this past season, to a fairly noncommittal stance right after the GM/President extension was granted.)
Outside of this last reason though, and if you believe that Colangelo decided to make a change on his own volition, you get the feeling from the McCown/Brunt interview that maybe Triano was simply meant to be an assistant coach and while Colangelo hoped like a Tom Thibodeau, Jay could make the leap from assistant to head, it just didn't work.
Colangelo's comments around Triano's "delivery and presence," and that there was a difference between players "listening to and being taught by Jay, versus executing" all reinforce this idea, one, frustratingly, that I think a big portion of the fan base always felt was the case anyways.
Jay was a nice guy, and perhaps a very sharp basketball mind, but better served as an assistant, not a full on bench boss.
Sure he swore frequently in pressers, and Colangelo noted that he was stern when he needed to be, but quotes like Jay having a "player-friendly style," "not a screamer," etc, plus a rather ominous point about concerns perhaps coming out of the end-of-season exit interviews make you believe that Colangelo started thinking about a change in coaching soon after the season ended.
It sounds like BC already has a good idea of who he'd like to coach the team going forward though, so we'll see how fast he can get someone in place. My guess is that it will be after the draft but it does sound like Colangelo would prefer to have hired someone before then.
I'd prefer the latter as the new coach would have some say in the draft process, more in terms of a player's "fit" with a system that said new coach would want to implement.
Although if Toronto drafts more of a project, and trades for "system" players, then perhaps the point is somewhat moot.
One player that may end up in a Raptors' uniform is Jonny Flynn.
With reports that Ricky Rubio is finally coming across the ocean next season, and Flynn having a tremendously underwhelming start to his NBA career, it should be no surprise that the Wolves would be open to moving the former Syracuse star.
Flynn, a Niagara native, has been linked to Toronto in the past, and reports again have surfaced that the Raps may be looking to acquire the Minny point guard.
I'm not sure such a move makes a ton of sense with a very similar player on the roster in Jerryd Bayless, but I'd hardly be surprised if the teams pulled the trigger for a couple of reasons.
First of all, we've seen in the past that Bryan Colangelo has a long memory when it comes to going after players he's fell in love with in the past. Hedo Turkoglu, James Johnson, Carlos Delfino - all are examples of players that BC had his sights on at one time or another, and eventually made plays to bring them to TO. Flynn was one of the club's favourites in the 2009 draft, and I'm quite confident would have been their pick at 9 over DeMar DeRozan, had he still been available. I was at all of Flynn's workouts/interview sessions with the Raps in the weeks leading up to that draft and you just got the feeling from the braintrust that they hoped he'd fall to them at 9.
Second, BC loves to try and find undervalued gems. We've seen him in the past go after youngsters like Patrick O'Bryant, Alexis Ajinca and the aforementioned Johnson, all high draft picks who he's felt needed another shot. So I wouldn't be surprised to see him try to give Flynn a fresh start here in TO.
And finally, workouts, workouts and more workouts.
As we noted on the site yesterday, four in total have been announced, all of which we'll hopefully attend.
No word on participants yet, but it sounds like a number of the mystery Europeans like Bismack Biyombo, Jan Vesely and Jonas Valanciuanas, won't be available for looks, leaving guys that are probably a bit below Toronto's draft range as likely invitees.
I'm no savant, but I'd be shocked if these invitees didn't include all of the players we've profiled so far in our prospect previews, not to mention guys like Brandon Knight and Kemba Walker...
...who I'm praying show up together for some one-on-one action next Tuesday...