Since I last posted after the Raptors’ season ending win over the Nets last Thursday, some big Raptors-related notes have been worth writing about. Unfortunately, most of those tidbits came down while I was recuperating from having all four of my wisdom teeth removed, and so I never got the chance to chime in with my two cents.
Anyway, here we are a week later, and I’m ready to pick back up again, beginning with the few things I missed out on.
Dwane Casey’s Third Year Option Picked Up
This was the right move, and frankly, one that I though absolutely had to be made. While Casey and the Raptors finished with a 23-43 record (.348 winning percentage), the fact remains that the team won one more game than last season in 16 less tries. And they did it with arguably a worse team once you factor in the injury woes Toronto dealt with this season. Factor in how Casey got this once allergic to defence crop of players to buy in on the defensive end and turned literally the worst defensive team of all time into a middle of the pack defensive team with virtually the same roster, and you can see how the man earned some extra job security beyond next year. The last thing you want is unnecessary chatter about Casey’s contract in the middle of next season.
You can make the argument that hiring Dwane Casey has been Bryan Colangelo’s best decision as Raptors General Manager.
The Year End News Conferences
I thought both Colangelo and Casey said some interesting things in between the usual end of season rhetoric, with a few of those points really sticking out to me.
-It’s obvious from listening to both men that the Raptors will be, or at least should be, vastly improved on the offensive end next season, and if Casey can help it, they’ll achieve that offensive improvement without giving up anything on the defensive end.
-It sounds like Colangelo really respects the job Casey did this year, and that Dwane (as I assume most coaches would) will have quite a say in what the Raptors do this off-season.
-I’ve liked Casey’s comments regarding Andrea Bargnani over the last week or so, specifically in his interview with Matt Devlin, when he says he told Bargnani “I don’t want to see the Andrea that came back after the injury. Whatever the reason was, I don’t want to see it.” The Bargnani argument is as stale as the post-op taste in my mouth. We know what he is and what he isn’t, and I think it’s safe to assume he’ll be back next season. But I’ve never been more convinced that he’s at the end of his rope here. If the Andrea that Casey doesn’t want to see is the Andrea that comes into camp in October, I think the Bargnani Era will be all but over in Toronto.
-Colangelo sounds all but done with this rebuilding/building stuff. He talked about the short-term pain being over and stated that he’s “raring to go.” More on what should be a big off-season for B.C. later today.
The Raptors’ Lottery Odds Take A Hit
As most fans know, the Raptors’ win over the Nets last Thursday night coupled with the Warriors losing to end their blatant and embarrassing tank-job landed Toronto in a tie for seventh-worst and eighth-worst in the NBA standings. The next day, Golden State won a coin flip to jump ahead of the Raptors in the Anthony Davis sweepstakes. Normally, the seventh-worst team would get 43 combinations (4.3 % chance) in the Draft Lottery and the eighth-worst team 28 combinations (2.8 %). Since they finished the season tied for those spots, the Raps and Warriors share the 71 combinations, with Golden State having a 36-35 advantage thanks to the coin flip win. In addition, if neither team wins the lottery or moves into the top-three, the Warriors will finish one spot ahead of the Raptors.
For what it’s worth, the Raptors will have seven more combinations (and a 0.7% better chance) than the team that won the Draft Lottery last year.
Dwane Casey’s Comments Regarding Jonas Valanciunas
If you haven’t seen or heard about the Joakim Noah comment, check out Scott’s post about it here.
Rogers, Bell Move Closer To MLSE Purchase
Canada’s Competition Bureau informed the companies this week that it will not challenge their bid to purchase a majority stake in Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment. With another hurdle cleared on the way to an ownership change, I’m still not sure how a Rogers/Bell partnership will affect the Raptors, if at all. From an on the court/ice/pitch perspective though, it’s hard to imagine they can do any worse than the Teachers’ Pension Plan. In a perfect world, I still envision a day when an incredibly wealthy Torontonian takes over and runs this conglomerate as a singular owner.
Alright, that gets us to today (Friday). I’ll be back shortly with a post on some under the radar Colangelo comments regarding the off-season.
It’s good to be back.