“Honestly, we wanted to play Chicago more than Toronto in this first round, because we knew we were going to get pushed a little bit more. That's not taking away anything from Toronto. But with Bosh being out for the rest of the season, and all those injuries, it just didn't seem like they wanted to make the playoffs at the end of the season. Especially when you see the game between Chicago and Toronto in Toronto, you can tell they didn't really want to make the playoffs. When Chicago made the eighth seed, we was excited about that, because we knew we had to be in tune every possession, every game, because that team plays hard no matter the score and no matter the time, and no matter what the series is.”
Lebron made this statement after beating the Bulls in the first round. First of all, come one Lebron, it's "we were excited," not, "we was excited." Second, I was at that game between the Raps and the Bulls, and I could not agree more. My buddy and I left in the middle of the fourth quarter - something I rarely do - in principle and disgust. The raptors checked out. For weeks prior I had been saying that missing the playoffs was the practical move. We would have undoubtedly been swept in the first round by the Lebrons. By missing the playoffs we secure our first round pick, giving away our second to Miami (if we had made it, Miami owned that first rounder), giving us a shot - 0.6% of a shot to be exact, lol - at John Wall. But when it came down to the wire, as a fan, I wanted to see them in the postseason, even if it meant complete embarrassment at the hands of Lebron James and co.
Raptors fans are now in a weird limbo. Our star player can bolt this off-season, something we are very familiar with. But this time around, the star has agreed to be a professional and work with the organization to return value. That is, of course, if he decides to leave. For a number of years now this has been a hotly debated issue, and it seemed that most in the American media believed that it was a no brainer that Bosh would bolt. Following this situation closely, I do not believe that to be the case. Bosh has maintained that he is undecided. On friday night Bosh offered a glimpse into his heart via twitter. And for a moment it appeared as if he had spilled the beans, "Been waiting to ask. Where should I go next season and why?" For a star of Bosh's magnitude, wording on twitter counts big time. So for twenty minutes, it appeared that Bosh was gone. Then he tweeted this, "Ok... Let me rephrase the question. Should I stay or should I go?" ...And the saga continues.
Naturally, for a dude of Bosh's talent, he wants to win, and that is his primary motivator. For what it's worth I believe that Bryan Colangelo has done a decent job in trying to bring in talent to compete, but for whatever reason: coaching, partying, perhaps even a lack of leadership on Bosh's part, the raps just can't get it done.
If Bosh does decide to stay, the status quo will not do. Improvement from Demar, Sonny, Amir, and even better coaching will not make this team a championship contender. So what does BC do this off-season to right the ship. There are really only a few scenarios that come to mind.
Firstly, Calderon has to go. Look, I love Calderon's offensive game, he's a true facilitator, not the greatest shooter, but knows his role. However, he is a huge liability on defense: the raptors worst one-on-one defender, always looking for help, which brings other players out of position. Jack on the other hand was noted as a defensive leader throughout the season, and this is exactly what the raptors need. Moreover, Calderon has value around the league.
Look at the Pistons for example. Dumars has made his intentions about this off-season fairly clear. This team is a collection of talent that does not mesh, they need a remake. It appears that Rip and maybe even Prince are out. And weirdly, they will be looking for a point guard too. They see Stuckey as more of a scorer, so bringing in a facilitator like Calderon is probably there best option. A trade scenario with the Pistons seems like a perfect fit. We could package Calderon with the expiring deals of Reggie Evans or Marcus Banks for Rip and Will Bynum, for example. Who knows, maybe we even convince them to take on Turkoglu in exchange for Prince. While I would jump at the any of these scenarios, I believe that if we get rid of Calderon, Turkoglu's value on the team increases. Sure Turk underperformed this past season, but maybe that was a motivation/team role situation. With Jack at the helm, the 'ball' will be back in his hands more often, like in Orlando, and maybe he goes back to form. Imagine a front nine players of Bargnani, Bosh, Turkoglu/Prince, Rip, Jack, Amir, Demar, Wright, Sonny and the story begins to look pretty good.
Other scenarios, while less likely, might play out as well. Perhaps we shake O.J. Mayo away from the Grizzlies. They will be hard pressed to pay him once his contract expires, as Rudy Gay and Zach Randolph will be re-upping this summer for big deals. They need a point, Conley just wont cut it. And already tried to deal him at the deadline for Monta Ellis. Who might be another - even less likely, and not somebody I even want on the raps - player we go after this summer.
All of this assumes that Bosh stays, a 50-50 proposition right now. If he goes there are tones of scenarios that have the Raps becoming contenders in the near future. Stay tuned for those scenarios in an upcoming post.