2013-2014 NBA Season Preview: Toronto Raptors Rebuilding Their Raptor Rap

The Raptors have been in NBA hell for two straight decades. Can Masai Ujiri and his pack of wolves rescue the lowly Raptors?

Key Additions:

DJ Augustin, Tyler Hansbrough, Masai Ujiri (GM) Steve Novak and Quentin Richardson (Let’s hear it for the renaissance of Quentin Richardson! I’m not the only one who expects Q to have a bounce back 15 and 7 season am I…?)

Key Subtractions:

Andrea Bargnani, Marcus Camby, Alan Anderson, Linas Klezia.

Key Draft Picks:

None

3 Stars:

The Raptors 3 biggest offseason headlines:

3rd Star: The Raptors consider a name change?

2nd Star: Raptors move on from the toxic Andrea Bargnani era.

1st Star: Bryan Colangelo resigns and Executive of the Year Masai Ujiri sets up a new regime. Hope in Toronto is somewhat restored.

Andrea Bargnani

Andrea Bargnani (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Notes: The Raptors have been god-awful for the past two decades. The proof of my previous notion is their all-time starting 5, which coloquially includes Damon Stoudamire at point guard, Vince Carter at shooting guard, Morris freaking Peterson at small forward, Chris “the actual Velociraptor” Bosh at power forward, and Antonio Davis at center. I sometimes question whether the Raptors instead pay their season-ticket holders to go to games.

Back to the Toronto shit show…

Of course the last first pick the Raptors had was wasted on Andrea Bargnani, who was shipped to the Knicks this offseason. Ujiri has now set a new tone as the GM and it clearly spells REBUILD for the Raptors. Sure they have some pieces – Jonas Valanciunas is a nice young center, DeMar DeRozen can be a nice second or third scorer (he is no franchise player let’s be clear), and even Terrence Ross looks solid. But if the Raptors want to build up they are going to need to tear it down (again) first.

Trading Bargnani was a potent start, but now Rudy Gay and Kyle Lowry need to go as well. Former GM Bryan Colangelo thought Gay was the answer and the franchise player. However, Gay proved once again that he is just an overpaid second option. And the Kyle Lowry trade was also disastrous, as they gave up a vital draft pick for a dime-a-dozen point guard. For Ujiri, the task of bringing relevance back to Toronto is going to take quite a bit of time seeing that no prominent free-agents go to Toronto (the Raptors are the place where old mediocre players in their twilights quietly go to die). Ujiri will have to build through the draft. Trading Gay for an asset and maybe some picks can really jumpstart the rebuilding process.

3 Rudy Gay Trade Scenarios…

Rudy Gay watches the Drew League vs Goodman Le...

Rudy Gay watches the Drew League vs Goodman League game. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

1. Gay to the Mavericks for Shawn Marion’s expiring deal, Bernard James, Vince Carter (take a moment and reflect on the possibility of a Vince Carter reunion) and a second round pick.

Why this trade works…

The Mavericks have been looking to make a splashy move for three years now. Gay is obviously an

upgrade over Marion and a trio of Gay, Nowitzki and Monta Ellis could make the Mavs very relevant.

On the flipside, the Raptors get some serious cap relief and an asset in James. The problem with this move, like many proposed Rudy Gay trades, is that the Raptors would have sold Gay for 10 cents on the dollar compared to what they got him for.

2.) Gay to the Milwaukee Bucks for Giannis Antetokounmpo, John Henson, and Ekpe Udoh.

Why this trade works…

The Bucks have a sheer desire to make the playoffs every season, regardless of their status, which means that year after year the Bucks finish either in eighth or ninth or what I like to call NBA purgatory. They aren’t bad enough to score a killer lottery pick but they aren’t good enough to win. Gay paired with Larry Sanders and Brandon Knight paired with OJ Mayo can at least make things a bit more interesting. This trade works for the Raptors because they get two intriguing projects in Henson and the “Greek Freak,” and the Raptors are clearly in no rush.

3.) Gay to the Timberwolves for Shabazz Muhammad and Derrick Williams.

Why this trade works…

The Timberwolves have been trying to give Kevin Love reasons to stick around (he can be a free agent next season) and the lineup of Love, Gay, Ricky Rubio and Pekovic could be that reason. Add the newly signed Kevin Martin, Chase Budinger, Corey Brewer, and Alexey Shved, and this T’Wolves team is suddenly a threat. The problem is that the ‘Wolves are petrified of the luxury tax, which with this trade, Love’s extension, and the ensuing Peckovic deal would be unavoidable. The trade works for the Raptors because they get two legitimate assets in Williams, who is still a big ball of potential waiting to burst, and Shabazz Muhammad, who will at worst be a great bench scorer.

Outlook…

Unless Steve Novak goes bananas this season and averages 40 a game (don’t count my boy Novakaine out!), the Raptors are again going to be borderline atrocious. They can only hope that DeRozen and Valanciunas continue to develop nicely. With a franchise player definitely not coming to Toronto via free agency, the Raptors should be as bad as possible this season so that they can draft a franchise player (note to Raptors front office: Andrew Wiggins goes to High School in Canada). A successful season for the Raptors could be defined by trading Gay, being really bad, and having their young players develop further.

Predicted Record: 28-54, miss playoffs.

 

 

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