The Toronto Raptors
have a lot of needs right now to get this thing turned around.
Based upon the fact that mathematically the Raptors
had a 1.7 percent chance of winning the lottery it was very unlikely that Toronto would move up in the NBA draft lottery. Things played out according to the script for the Raptors
and they will pick ninth.
The Clippers on the other hand lucked out and got the first pick and now they have a great opportunity to mess up another player.
You keep hearing certain names bandied about at the nine spot for the Raptors. Tyreke Evans out of Memphis and former Raptor Dell Curry's kid Stephon, a sharp-shooter out of Davidson. Other names I've heard are Arizona State's James Harden and Gerald Henderson from Duke. There are a lot of names in play right now.
The big thing when you look at the Raptors
is that they do have a number of needs. The biggest need when you look beyond the toughness, grit and defensive personality, is the team needs an upgrade at the wing spots at the two and three positions. They have to get people that can first defend at those positions and guys that can break down people off the bounce at the back end of the shot clock and get their own offence. In short they need guys that can make plays. If you look at the NBA playoffs right now you'll notice who are the difference makers on a consistent basis. It's wing players that predominantly have the ball in their hands. That's how the game is being played and that's how the game is being called right now.
Fortunately, Raptors' general manager Bryan Colangelo has a few things at his disposal. He's got cap space, he's got the ninth pick and he has a scenario where he has Shawn Marion who is about to become a free-agent. The Raps might be able to do a sign and trade with him to another team. There is some space for movement there. Other options are buying another late first round or early second round draft pick to get another selection in the draft.
The million dollar question is what is going on with Chris Bosh? Does the team stand still this off-season and kind of see how things develop, or do you throw his name in play on draft night? I think that there is a lot of moving parts right now for Bryan Colangelo. I don't think he's going to be able to address every situation and have this team suddenly become an NBA Championship contender next year, but the key thing right now is to get this team back in the hunt for a playoff spot.
Plenty of rumours have surfaced lately about Steve Nash possibly coming to Toronto. He is close to both head Colangelo and head coach Jay Triano. The thing you have to remember is that Nash has a year left on his contract in Phoenix. Nash's agent Bill Duffy right now is kind of playing coy with regards to an extension that would see Nash finish his career in the desert. Nash has stated that he wants to make sure things are in place to really have a winning situation in Phoenix. If that's not the case, then Nash is definitely going to want a Championship-caliber situation somewhere else. Do those type of teams have the money available or the trade assets available to work with the Suns in a scenario like that? Does Toronto have a chance to win a championship with Steve Nash? I would say right now that it would be a bit of a stretch to think so, but would it be a great fit to bring a guy like that to town in terms of merchandising and ticket sales? Yes, definitely, but it's got to work for both sides.
You also have to look at a situation where you are bringing a guy in that can deliver a high level of productivity. Nash has a well documented situation with a shaky back. Do I think he can bring a high-end level performance? Yes I do, but what type of window do you have to win with Nash? Is it a one year window? It's a big decision if the Raptors
ever get into serious trade talks about Nash. I would guess things will work out in Phoenix for him.
Speaking of big decisions, I'm comfortable with the move by the Raptors
to retain Jay Triano as head coach. In this day and age you have to have a partnership between the general manager and the coach. I think Colangelo and Triano have a great working relationship. There's agreement as well as disagreement, which is healthy, but at the same time they are both on the same page.
Triano is the type of guy who has paid his dues. He's a known quantity within the organization. I think right now when you talk about the Raptors, people are focusing on the coaching situation, but I think that it really comes down to the fact that they have to go out right now and get better players. I learned this lesson as a coach, and I'm sure every coach did as well: ‘It ain't the X's and O's, it's the Jimmy's and Joes.' You've got to have the players to make a difference. If they do that, then Jay Triano's win-loss record will definitely go up.