Raptors GM Bryan Colangelo met with the Toronto media on Monday afternoon to discuss Raptor-related issues. While most of the talk centered on the obvious (Chris Bosh’s impending free agency), there were some key points that were touched on worth taking a second, deeper look at.
BC drafted Andrea Bargnani first overall in 2006, and saw a seven-footer with massive potential when he drafted him. Unfortunately, little has changed since. Despite four years of mediocre rebounding and defending, Colangelo still sees a bright future for Bargnani as a Raptor. Colangelo spoke about his expectations with regards to Bargnani, about his ability to be a dominant offensive force, about his ability, and need, to improve as a rebounder and defender and about his potential as a focal point for the club should Chris Bosh choose to ply his trade elsewhere – all but putting to rest any speculation that Il Mago would be moved. Colangelo acknowledged Bargnani’s limitations, but feels as though many of them are temporary and that Andrea will continue on an upward climb towards stardom.
While the GM has his back, would it be unfathomable to move Bargnani if CB4 were to be brought back? Team defence is of utmost importance in the NBA, and having a guy in the backcourt that can create his own shot is a tremendous asset to teams whose primary scoring comes from forwards and centres. While no one should assume that Bargnani and Bosh couldn’t one day become a successful Playoff-tested tandem, it would be a first if they did so with as little backcourt help as the Raptors have at their disposal, at least as it stands today.
Who will stay and who will go?
The Raptors are entering a third summer where one of their point guards is going to be moved for the greater good of the team. Colangelo discussed both of his guards in ‘inconsistent’ terms – odd, since Jarrett Jack had a great statistical season, shooting career-high’s from two and three, averaging a career-best 6.6 assists-per-36 minutes, and the team played their best when he started. This offseason, though, he and Calderon both appear to be skating on thin ice, and it is almost guaranteed that one will be moved this off-season. Colangelo spoke often of having a knowledge of his player’s values on the trade market (I should hope so) and he felt confident that he could make a move using one of them to improve the team. My money has Jack staying and Calderon moving. Both are capable of starting for NBA teams.
As bad a season as Turkoglu had in 2009-10, the Raptors will likely bring him back in 2010-11. Turk had a poor year, but is a very talented player and probably wasn’t used properly in games, something the coaching staff will address this offseason. Turk will likely see some time playing the point next season, which could also be a reason why the team is motivated to thin out their guard situation, as Hedo was a very successful setup man back with the Magic. Hedo is day-and-night different with the ball and without the ball, which could be a reason for his poorer performance. Turkoglu could even make for an option off of the bench as point-forward who can control the offence from both a playmaking and scoring position like Manu Ginobili with the Spurs off the bench. All of this will be examined this summer. But between his pre-season injury and his post-game partying, Turk has had a season to forget.
Colangelo also confirmed that Jay Triano is locked into the head coaching job. Triano is a better option than what the Raptors would have to choose from if they fired him, and the team wants to give him a chance to grow on the job and entrench himself in the head coach’s chair for this team long-term. While he’ll be watched closely if the team stutters at the start, or if he can’t get the Raptors winning consistently, the organization is happy with his year-over-year improvement and they are going to stick with him in spite of any outside cries for his ouster.
In a short but sweet dissemination, Colangelo let it be known that Amir Johnson’s tremendous progress this season was well thought of within the organization and that the team is motivated to re-sign him this summer and that Johnson is likewise amenable to returning. While the two sides should agree to something quickly, Johnson likely won’t sign anything until a decision is made regarding Bosh’s future.
On the contrary, it looks as though the team is not bringing back defensive forward Antoine Wright. While he played well this season, it was never likely that he would play more than one season in Toronto. The team is overloaded on the wings, he was a constant injury risk and he was vocally dissatisfied too often with the team’s coaching staff. The organization is also trying to give minutes on the wings to youngsters Sonny Weems and DeMar DeRozan going forward. Toronto will miss Wright’s defensive presence though, and whether or not Weems and DeRozan can make up for it remains to be seen.
Success next season
Colangelo feels that this team is not as far off as people want to believe from being consistently competitive. While some fans were screaming for a reset, that was never going to be a likely scenario given how much time and money has been thrown into creating the current makeup of the roster. Tweaks will be made this summer, and the team has a lottery pick at their expense in June, but a massive reworking simply will not happen. Good teams build slowly, and BC finally appears to be behind this, rather than resetting over again.