News broke on Tuesday evening that Raptors guard Jerryd Bayless is probably done for the season with a partially torn left oblique muscle. Bayless injured himself in the Raptors’ loss to the Knicks last week, suffering what the team called a “hip pointer” at the time.
While he attempted to play through the injury a couple of times, the pain continued to force him to the bench, despite putting up decent numbers as he tried to soldier on.
Two obvious thoughts or questions come to mind with news that Bayless is done for the season. One, has Jerryd Bayless played his last game as a member of the Toronto Raptors? And two, what does this latest development mean for the remainder of the Raptors’ season?
Bayless battled injuries all season, from a sprained ankle suffered in the third game of the season to his recent hip and oblique troubles. When he was healthy this season, I thought he was very good. In the short stretch of games where he started at the point, he was excellent (21.8 points on 54 per cent shooting, 57 per cent from deep, 7.6 assists, 3.6 rebounds, 1.8 steals), leading some of us to wonder whether he should be given more of an opportunity down the stretch of what is supposed to be a season of development.
Now we’ll never know how Bayless could have built on that impressive string of games. What we do know, though, is that the 23-year-old has about a $4.1 million qualifying offer option for next season. If the Raptors pick it up, and no extension is reached, then next season will be Jerryd’s final chance to prove himself as an important piece of Toronto’s future. If the Raptors don’t use the qualifying offer, or if Bayless is highly coveted by another team, then there is a real chance that he’ll be in another uniform next year.
Jerryd has repeatedly stated that he loves the city and that he wants to be here, and based on his play when he was healthy, you would have to think that Bryan Colangelo and the Raptors would have him back for the right price, so we’ll have to see how this all plays out.
As for the other question, the Raptors will now go forward with Jose Calderon at the point, and very little else. Gary Forbes has played well recently, but he’s far from a true point guard, so if Calderon goes down with an injury (which isn’t exactly out of the question) or if his play goes South as a result of an increase in minutes played, then today’s news may mean that the Raptors tank is about to hit full throttle.
I assume that lack of point guard depth and lack of overall bench depth is why the team signed Ben Uzoh to a 10-day contract on Tuesday.
Most of us wanted this team to lose enough games to grab a top-five draft pick, but we wanted them to improve defensively, be competitive and even throw some upset wins in there to keep both us and the young players interested. For the most part, Dwane Casey and the players have delivered on exactly what we asked for.
What we didn’t want is the Raptors to tank at the expense of the younger players or to tank embarrassingly. Unfortunately, Bayless’ injury (and even DeRozan’s) could be the start of such a tank, regardless of how hard Casey usually has his team playing.
The Raps were well on their way to a 40-plus loss season weeks ago. Subtract Leandro Barbosa and Jerryd Bayless, throw in a banged up DeMar DeRozan and a struggling Andrea Bargnani, and this could get U-G-L-Y.