When the Raptors’ 2011-2012 season took an unexpected turn for the better (or worse, if you were hoping for a high lottery pick like myself), Raptors GM Bryan Colangelo promised Raptors fans that it would be an “exciting and active off season” for us, and that we would see some major changes to the roster.
Bryan Colangelo was not lying when he said the team would be active, but the offseason has hardly been exciting. It has actually been more frustrating than it has been exciting, at least for me personally.
So, let’s take a look at the moves Bryan Colangelo has made so far this offseason, and of course the one that he didn’t make (sigh of relief).
I’ll start with the most important move that Bryan Colangelo didn’t make this year, but tried so desperately to do.
Obviously by now we all know that Nash is going to be in Los Angeles next year as the new starting point guard for the Lakers. But Steve Nash was said to be the number one priority for the team this offseason.
Like it or not, Nash played a crucial role in the offseason activities for the Raptors. Everything was dependant on the 38 year old’s decision of where he would be playing. All of the offseason moves of the Raptors were solely done for the purpose of bringing in Steve Nash (Fields), as well as building around him (Ross). It even included a backup plan if Nash to Toronto ultimately failed (Lowry).
While I will admit, I selfishly would have liked to see Nash play as a Raptor, but I certainly knew that it was a terrible decision for the Raptors’ future by bringing in a 38 year old point guard for 12 Million per year, for three years. The three years of Nash (if he held up that long) would have been fun to watch, but it simply would have made NBA in Toronto even more depressing once Steve Nash called it quits in the NBA.
Grade: A+ for not signing him, but easily an F if they had signed him, purely for basketball related reasons.
The offseason all started with the 2012 NBA draft, and the Raptors taking an unexpected, but a pretty nice overall pick in Terrence Ross. I’ve mentioned before, Ross is going to be a good NBA player, and is a much better pick for the Raptors in my opinion than Austin Rivers or Jeremy Lamb would have been.
However, it was the circumstances of the pick that I didn’t really like.
One of those circumstances being that they passed on a potential franchise-changing talent in Andre Drummond. If Drummond turns out to be anything remotely close to Dwight Howard, Raptor fans will have another reason to hate Colangelo for. At the very worst, Drummond will be a defensive specialist in the NBA, an almost picture perfect pairing with another young big man Jonas Valanciunas.
Two being that the pick was really made around Steve Nash and giving him more offensive weapons on the wing to pass to. If anyone knows how to build around Nash, it’s probably Colangelo. But the fact that they were doing so in an attempt to give Nash more weapons offensively is just a bad basketball move.
Grade: B. I’ll take the average between the A (for passing on Lamb + Rivers), and C (for building around Nash and passing up Drummond).
Quincy Acy is the perfect role player for the Raptors off the bench. Anyone who watched Baylor the past few seasons knows what I’m talking about. Quincy is a high energy player, very athletic, and relentlessly attacks the basket for dunks and offensive rebounds.
Think of this pick as a younger version of Reggie Evans, but much more athletic. Or possibly even another Jerome Williams, aka the “Junkyard Dog”. If Acy is anything like what I’ve seen, Toronto will have a new fan favourite known for his hard work on the court.
This is the exact type of player that the Raptors need to have in the lineup. The fact that Toronto was able to use one of their second round picks on him is even better. Very low risk, high reward type move.
The problem though, is with an already jammed rotation at PF, how much time will Acy even see on the floor? Well, we know that Casey prefers the proven veterans. But, if Casey rewards players for defense and effort (rookie or not), Acy should see some regular minutes.
Grade: N/A, to be honest I’ve never heard of the guy. But I do know that Robert Sacre was available. Why not take the Canadian guy, the Raptors could have used a backup center anyways.
Landry Fields, said to be just a tactic for luring Nash away from the Knicks, was another off season addition set to improve the defense and wings on the team. However, if you ask me, I’d say the Raptors had targeted him the entire time, not just to get Nash.
It was the contract that they offered Fields which was the tactic to deter the Knicks from signing both him and Nash. You could argue that Fields is a little overpaid, but I think it’s a reasonable signing nonetheless. He’s an athletic combo-wing player, capable of playing both the 2 and 3 (maybe even the 4 at times) and definitely should be an upgrade for the team.
Fields lost a lot of hype in New York after the addition of Carmelo Anthony, but who can blame him. It’s not easy playing with a guy who slows the game down and likes to take a lot of shots. He’s still one of the better rebounding 2-guards in the NBA, and should be able to fit in well as a starter on a team that doesn’t rebound particularly well.
The problem with this signing is that the Raptors probably could have been able to sign him around 4-5 million per year instead of 7, but I still like the addition.
Kyle Lowry is finally the upgrade I’ve long been waiting for in Toronto. Lowry is an all-star calibre point guard, who is a huge upgrade defensively over Calderon. While he may not be as efficient offensively as the Spaniard, I don’t feel as though it will be a problem due to the huge upgrade on the defensive side. Lowry will look to push the ball in transition, and may even score more for the team than the slower paced Calderon did.
I think it’s pretty safe to say now that the Raptors should almost be a lock to sneak into the playoffs as a 7th or 8th seed next year. Which means that the likelihood of the pick being top-3 is very, very small. But at the very worst, the Raptors barely miss the playoffs and are forced to give up a 12th-14th pick for him.
Anyone who is saying that’s too much to give up for Lowry, remember that prior to the draft the Raptors had considered giving up the 8th overall pick for Lowry. So, if you ask me, this is a better deal for the Raptors. For that reason, it’s not a bad move at all by Colangelo to give up a late lottery pick instead of having giving up a sure-thing at 8th.
Now, that is not to say that Lowry automatically pushes the Raptors into championship contention either. The Raptors are still are a ways away before they look to do any damage past the first round. Especially when you consider, that, as a 7th or 8th seed as I am predicting, would likely have them facing up against the Heat or the Bulls.
John Lucas III
Lucas is a veteran point guard brought in to help the second unit. However, as long as the team has Calderon, it’s likely that Lucas will see very little action on the floor. But as far as im concerned, it almost looks like the type of move that you would make when you expect to trade Calderon at some point during the upcoming season. So, while I don’t expect much from Lucas right away as the 3rd-string point guard, he could eventually become the go-to guy on the second unit once Calderon is gone for good.
In that case, I think it’s a good addition considering the price they got him. They obviously could have gotten Uzoh for much less, but Lucas will bring a veteran presence as well as scoring off the bench, which are both areas that the Raptors desperately need to improve on.
Though many fans may not know who this is, McGuire is a combo-forward who is another defensive-minded player. While McGuire will make a very minimal, if any sort of impact on the offensive end, his presence defensively is what I like about this signing.
He is also expected to play a role similar to the role that James Johnson played last season.
*Will update this regularly as more offseason moves are made.*