On Sunday, someone brought to my attention a Boston Globe interview with Bryan Colangelo about the circumstances surrounding Chris Bosh’s departure from Toronto and the Raptors rebuild in general.
You can find the Gary Washburn piece, in its entirety, here.
What I wanted to briefly discuss are Colangelo’s opinions that Bosh was not and is not a top-tier player and that losing Bosh and being able to start fresh may have been the best thing that could have happened to the Raptors.
First, on Bosh’s status and rank in the NBA. Colangelo had this to say: “Even if there was an open market similar to what’s gone on with [Carmelo Anthony] last year and Chris Paul this year and Dwight Howard, he’s not that caliber of player. It’s just that simple.”
Yes, Bryan, yes it is. When Colangelo slammed Bosh’s willingness to play through injury towards the end of his last season in Toronto, a lot of people considered Colangelo’s comments those of pure bitterness and a sore loser, but this time, you can’t argue with the man.
It’s no secret that Bosh, while a very good player and a perennial All Star, is not a top-tier NBA player by any stretch of the imagination. He is probably not even in most people’s NBA top-10 right now.
Depending on how you rank NBA players, most would agree that Bosh is a tier-two or even tier-three guy, so Colangelo’s just being honest here.
Now, could the Raptors have received more for Bosh than what they got (draft picks and a trade exception)? Sure they could have, but Bosh had decided he was going to Miami, so unless you really wanted the enormous waste of space and talent that is Michael Beasley or really wanted the Raptors to use the large exception just for the sake of using it, then really, it’s hard to complain about getting picks instead of nothing.
The next quote from Colangelo I wanted to get to, and perhaps the most intriguing one, was this: “As long as we weren’t strapped with a $126 million contract and the inability to really build around the player, we feel like this is probably the best thing that could have happened to us.”
How many franchises in pro sports would say that losing the franchise’s all-time leading scorer for almost nothing was the best thing that could have happened to them? On the surface, it sounds crazy, and a lot of Colangelo doubters will likely play the quote off as BC throwing his usually slanted spin on things.
But again, I ask, isn’t Bryan just being honest? I mean come on, don’t tell me you haven’t thought about this yourself. Had the Raptors retained Bosh, they would have continued to be either a fringe playoff team or a disappointing bubble team. In other words, they would have been a perennial middle of the pack team on a treadmill, heading nowhere fast.
With Bosh as the cornerstone, Toronto never would have been close to good enough to compete for a championship but yet they probably wouldn’t be bad enough to be in serious contention for franchise changing draft picks either. They’d also have limited salary cap flexibility with a maximum contract being taken up by a non max player, and in the NBA, that’s a deadly combination.
Had Bosh stayed, the Raptors would likely still be looking at a core of Bosh, Bargnani, Calderon and DeMar DeRozan for the next few years, with little help coming in the form of very high picks or big money acquisitions.
Without Bosh, the Raptors now have a future-oriented core of DeRozan, Ed Davis and Jonas Valanciunas, with a high pick in a loaded draft class expected this season and $10-20 million in cap space expected for next season. Those content with mediocrity might choose the first option, but smarter basketball people with an eye to the future would almost certainly choose the second.
Whether Colangelo haters or Bosh fanatics want to admit it or not, the fact is that ridding themselves of Bosh and being given the opportunity to truly rebuild for the first time in years was the best thing that could have happened to the Raptors.
The last intriguing Colangelo quote from the Boston Globe interview is this: “We’re working on laying the foundation for the ramp-up and the ramp-up probably begins in earnest next year.” I think a lot of fans have kind of wondered what the actual plan in place is for the current rebuild in terms of a timeline, and Colangelo sheds some light on that question with this quote.
Does expecting this team to start the real climb towards excellence next season go against the very rebuilding project we’ve all been praising, or is Colangelo right in assuming that the additions of Valanciunas, another draft pick, cap space and a full season under Dwane Casey’s wizardry will finally turn this franchise around long-term?