The Raps took another on the chin last night, this time during a nationally televised game in the States on ESPN, by a score of 114-87 against the vastly superior Utah Jazz. A rousing debut for Triano! Sam lost by 39 but Triano only lost by 27! Maybe Van Gundy could only lose by 15? I jest. Could it be that Sam was not the problem? Well, the early results certainly look that way.
I’m not the only pessimist either. The usually upbeat Raptors HQ have already gone on record and stated “Frankly I don’t think BC is going to be any happier with the results brought about by this coaching change.”
Lets not worry too much about the game yesterday or the one coming up on Sunday against Portland and their jealous inducing roster of young, top-tier talent. Instead I will take a crack at trying to figure out exactly what the hell Colangelo is going to do with this mess. I figure there are 3 potential routes he could take for the rest of this bumpy looking season.
Option 1: Tinker. Based on the fact the Raptors bench is horrible he could try to tinker with the backups. After all, the Raps had been successful the past two seasons by utilizing a deep bench. His trade chips include Joey, Hump, Kapono, Anthony Parker and Jamario Moon. In other words, he’s in a weak position to bargain with these characters.
Colangelo was quoted this week as saying he has been scouring the trade market “for a big.” A BIG?!?!?! What about a small forward, shooting guard or backup point guard???
That comment ranks pretty high on the scale of “nonsensical GM smokescreen language” I hope. In fact, a big man is the only thing they don’t really need.
The question becomes, is this enough? Maybe taking a character risk on a guy with athleticism like JR Smith to replace Parker could pay off? Could bringing in some minor reinforcements help right the ship? Ummmm. Dubious.
Option 2: Trade One of the ‘Big Four’ now. When I say this I am fully aware that it will not be Bosh or Calderon - which leaves Bargnani and O’Neal.
O’Neal likely won’t be dealt now due to his health concerns and the fact that his contract is MASSIVE. His deal will be much more valuable next season when teams are acquiring expiring contracts in the hopes of making a run for Lebron James. Read: New York Knickerbockers. There is good reason to believe that O’Neal’s contract will become a Raptors treasure chest at that point.
Which only leaves Bargnani. Is it even conceivable that Colangelo and Gherardini could give up on their pet project to go in a different direction? He has been showing signs of life this season and there is reason to believe he could be worth a fair amount on the open market.
What if the Raptors could ship out 3 or 4 players (including Bargs and Kapono) to Golden State and receive in return a package that includes two or three players from this group: Stephen Jackson, Corey Maggette, Anthony Randolph, Kelenna Azubuike, Brandon Wright, Marco Belinelli, Marcus Williams. What about the Bulls, Timberwolves, Grizzlies, Clippers or Wizards?
Option 3: Wait it out. Colangelo could potentially make Triano grind this mediocre team into a low playoff seed and subsequently be demolished in the first round. Then in the offseason drop the nuclear bomb that will include:
A) Hiring a new coach. The smart money is on Etorre Messina leaving CSKA Moscow to come over. It has been speculated on by such diverse sources as Draft Express, Michael Grange and Italian newspapers as recently as yesterday.
B) Trading the aforementioned O’Neal contract for a goldmine of talent and promoting Bargnani to starting center.
C) Sign a couple of free agents who should be in the league – ie not guys like Hassan Adams and Will Soloman, while also trying to avoid overpaying for bums like Kapono.
D) Using their draft pick to actually select someone useful.
E) Finding themselves an identity. Are they a free-wheeling offensive club or are they going to be a more traditional half-court team? Bosh, O'Neal and Calderon seem to fit better into the latter category, yet Colangelo has been talking about how he wants Triano to get them some easy transition hoops. I'm a tad bit confused.
Option 3 is a risky strategy because of the fact Colangelo has already acknowledged how important it is for him to keep Bosh happy. I see this option as the least likely of the three. I'm hoping for 2, but expecting Option 1.
What do you predict?