The nature of risk management is to be prepared for the unexpected and much like in the corporate world, the Raptors
also need a “fallback plan” in case things don’t go the way they expect to. In other words, if the shit hits the fan we need to be ready. So although we’re all counting on Jermaine O’Neal to return to All-Star form and combine with Chris Bosh
to become the most formidable frontcourt in the NBA, we need to have a plan in case they don’t. We’re counting on Jose Calderon
to play 82 games at the same level as he did in January and February when TJ Ford was out. We’re counting on Jason Kapono to shoot more than 10 threes all spring and we’re counting on Anthony Parker to show up in the fourth quarter. We’re counting on Jamario Moon to make the 18-footer and we’re counting on Roko Ukic - a rookie - to spell Jose Calderon. We’re counting on Hassan Adams and Will Solomon to play meaningful minutes at the SF and we’re counting on Bargnani
to have his best year ever. In short, a lot of things need to go right for this season to be successful.
There’s one thing that really concerns me in the case where things don’t work out: we don’t have any young talent on this team. Its one thing to say that we can ‘reset’ if the O’Neal experiment doesn’t work because of his salary coming off the cap in 2010 along with Bosh’s but its another to say what we’d do if we have to start over. If Bosh
and O’Neal bolt we’d be left with the ‘nucleus’ of Andrea Bargnani
and Jose Calderon
to lead the Raptors
past 2010. Calderon
is obviously a damn good player but I don’t think anyone but the staunchest of Bargnani
believers would be comfortable in seeing them as the two best Raptor players.
Our failure to take advantage of the draft over the last three years has left us devoid of any young talent (19-23) resulting in all our eggs being in the Bosh/O’Neal basket. It’s a tricky situation because drafting young talent and giving them significant playing time is a sign of rebuilding which isn’t all that attractive to someone like Chris Bosh. But at the same time you must draft and develop talent which will either take over or supplement whats already there. To this day the only two legitimate Raptors
players we developed from rookies to having a significant role are Morris Peterson and Chris Bosh. Both of them have been great servants of the Raptors
organization and have followed a good course in their development with the organization. When Damon left, we had T-Mac. When T-Mac left, we still had Vince. When Vince left, we still had Bosh. When Bosh
leaves, we still have…….Bargnani? See what I’m talking about?
I’m not sure when Bryan Colangelo’s contract is up but if this experiment doesn’t work, I would not be surprised if he bolts during the summer leaving someone else to clean up his mess and spend the plethora of cash we’ll have at free agents who’d be skeptical to come here. At the end of the day he’s going to have to answer to his bosses and if their priority is to win NBA playoff series, his job will not be considered secure but if its to run a profitable organization, he’ll even get extended.
This summer was considered a “make or break” for Bryan Colangelo and he’s made a move which demands results this coming season. Its not far-fetched to say that if things blow up in his face he’ll be the one who’ll be looking for a job in a summer or two. Of course he’ll fire Sam Mitchell well before that since he’s setup to be collateral damage. The moves of this summer aren’t ones which are designed to produce results two or three years down the road but next and next year only. While we’re challenging for home-court next year we’ll also be keeping a close eye on Bargnani
who by all accounts is setup to be Bosh’s successor in Toronto. If things go wrong and Bosh
opts for the exit, all our hopes will be on Bargnani.
Given the talk coming out of the Raptors
camp we can see that they’re very confident in the team that they have. A preview that was done a while back on Raptors
Talk slotted the Raptors
finishing at #5. This of course assumed a lot of things going our way including Orlando and Philadelphia stepping back despite adding Elton Brand. If you’re an optimist you can subscribe to this seeding rather easily but the question really isn’t where the Raptors
finish, its what the Raptors
do once they make the playoffs. You can question the Raptors
depth all you want but this year’s Raptors
talent is more concentrated and more likely to meet with success in the playoffs than the last two versions. Assuming everyone’s healthy, I can honestly say that we actually might have a legitimate chance against the likes of Washington, Orlando, Philadelphia and maybe even Detroit if we face them in the post-season. When was the last team a Raptors
team could say that?
There’s definitely hope in the air but if that hope is crushed, there’s darkness to follow.