With 12 games left in the 2012-13 season and only 26 wins to show for their efforts, a natural question that's being uttered around these parts is:
"What's next for these Toronto Raptors?"
Which is to say, "what the hell does this team do now?"
And also, "how screwed up is this situation? Is there any chance of turning things around?"
It's a depressing situation considering the team was pegged by most as at least having a decent shot at making the NBA's post-season, and now not only sits well back of a playoff spot, but also is likely to be without a lottery pick, the NBA's typical reward for being a bad team.
And make no mistake, this is a bad team.
Lost in all the Rudy Gay talk is the fact that the Dinos don't look any more dangerous as a team than they did prior to his acquisition, and are barely ahead of last year's club in terms of winning percentage, and various other metrics. The Raptors are 16th in offensive rating compared to 29th last season, but 24th in defensive rating compared to 14th last season.
Two steps forward, two steps back.
And of course the big picture here is that this team hasn't sniffed a .500 record in four seasons, and considering the club's draft and cap situations (nearly $66M in salary commitments in 2013-14 season as of now), it's hard to envision a monumental shift in outlook. Take a read through Ryan Wolstat's player breakdown from yesterday, and outside of Jonas Valanciunas and Amir Johnson, there aren't many players that you can't label as at least "disappointing" in some fashion.
But we know all that.
The bulk of this season unfortunately has been spent discussing the level of disappointment this group has achieved, from Bargnani's disastrous campaign, to Kyle Lowry's disappearance after a torrid start to the campaign. The real question is still the one we kicked this article off with, "what's next?"
In my opinion, things need to be blowed up, and blowed up good.
Like Looney Tunes styles.
Bryan Colangelo hasn't produced anything resembling a solid playoff team in six seasons, bungled the Chris Bosh and Andrea Bargnani situations, and has little future upside to show for his efforts other than Jonas Valanciunas and Terrence Ross.
I like both players, but I don't see Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili there.
Please show Mr. Colangelo the door.
DeRozan, Gay, Ross, Mikael Pietrus, Landry Fields, Linas Kleiza, Alan Anderson.
DeRozan should never have been extended when he was, and now the club is stuck with him and Gay in that high-volume/low efficiency role, all the while guys like Fields and Kleiza eat into a ton of salary at the wing spot, and barely play. Gay isn't going anywhere so ideally Terrence Ross is groomed to play the 2-spot next to him and everybody else is moved. Of course contractual obligations likely impede any ease of movement so perhaps Fields is kept to back-up both spots, Kleiza is amnestied, and DeRozan is dealt for something of value in return.
Up front the Amir Johnson and Valanciunas combo is at least slightly enticing, and certainly worth hanging onto, but everyone else?
Again, blow it up.
And this unfortunately includes Coach Casey too.
I was a big backer last season, but this one has brought forth some major questions from his use of personnel to offensive game-planning. I'd consider keeping him around if I was sure he'd mesh with whoever the new President/GM was, but at present, the best thing to do may be to start fresh.
Of course there are plenty of risks associated with blowing something up, not the least of which is potentially further damaging the waning attention-span of Raptors fans. The club is averaging 18,220 fans per night, 12th best in the league, but there are multiple signs that indifference is on the rise, especially with the Toronto Blue Jays poised to steal the local sports spotlight.
The Dinos have put this fanbase through a lot and fans have been overly supportive despite said trials and tribulations.
But at some point they'll have had enough and who knows, another bottom-up rebuild could be the tipping point.
I'm just not sure though what other options there are? The present course as noted, doesn't even project to be mediocre and even if the team does somehow pull it together and win 40 games next season, it's hard not to see that as the ceiling.
All in favour of grabbing the dynamite, say "I."