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Old 12-02-2011, 10:55 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Grange: Don't expect much

With the accelerated NBA free agent period already in high gear, don't expect the Toronto Raptors to be making plays for the handful of big name prizes out there.

And according to those familiar with the team's mindset at the moment, the Raptors newly hired coach is good with that.

"He supports this," was how one insider put it.

Now, that may sound redundant. Despite the potential cap space the Raptors could have at hand - as much as $17-million if they took advantage of the new collective bargaining agreement's amnesty provision to make unwelcome contracts go 'poof' - it's hard to imagine the franchise attracting top talent now.

Casey may have forged a strong bond with free agent centre Tyson Chandler in Dallas over the past season, but strong enough for the 29-year-old defensive whiz to leave a championship team in Dallas for an uncertain present in Toronto?

Unlikely. There was a report Thursday that the Raptors would be active in pursuit of the likes of Chandler as well as Nene, the free agent from the Denver Nuggets, and Marc Gasol, a restricted free agent centre who played with the Memphis Grizzlies. All will command contracts beginning at $50-million and heading straight up from there.

But the sense around the Raptors now is a splashy move is far off the radar at this stage. Even if there were an option to "get in the game" on the sexy free agents, the team's brain trust is focusing on building, rather than re-building.

Translated: Look for free agent moves or trades that will have minimal impact on the long-term. Instead look for moves to fill out the roster or provide a look at a potential development piece. In general, expect an effort from the team to encourage the fan base to be patient as president Bryan Colangelo uses this year and next to position the club for long-term success.
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