Bad Times for the Toronto Raptors
But the ‘Franchise’ of Raptors HQ says Better Days Lie Ahead
Patrick Connors-Toronto: Since part 1 of my interview with Adam Francis of Raptors HQ , the Raptors have paid Peja Stojakovic roughly $10 million to go away, picked up Alexis Ajinca from the Dallas Mavericks after Stojakovic signed there – a move which was very nearly protested by rival teams – signed Sundiata Gaines and Trey Johnson to temporary contracts, and lost last Summer’s big Free Agent acquisition, Linas Kleiza, for 9-to-12 months due to microfracture knee surgery. They did win on Friday night, 111-100 over the Minnesota Timberwolves, but it is their only win in 14 games.
With that in mind, I asked Francis what kind of a future he felt Jay Triano and Bryan Colangelo have in the NBA. He pulled no punches with his reply.
“Frankly, I don’t know what to make of Jay. I do think tactically he’s a good coach, but his decisions with personnel are completely perplexing and I worry he’s a puppet on Bryan Colangelo’s strings to a certain extent. As a result, I get the feeling he’s simply biding time until the team’s talent improves, and Colangelo brings in someone else. That’s a shame to a certain extent, but I think like Sam Mitchell he’ll rebound as an assistant elsewhere at some point.
“As for Colangelo, I think the heat is on here. He’s made some pretty bold statements about the club not being “that far off” over the past few seasons, and all have fallen flat. Now this season looks to be another black mark on his resume. I imagine his rep around the league has taken a serious hit, and I doubt he ever pictured he’d be in a full rebuild mode only a few years after joining the club and starting a rebuilding process at that time.
“For me his future as a GM therefore hangs on the next two seasons.
“If he can rebuild the club quickly and position it for a seemingly bright future, then he’ll be ok. But if he can’t, and if the franchise continues to flounder, he may need to fall back on his Dad to bail him out, or help to extend his career as a GM.
“That being said, I think Colangelo’s true future is as a team president or something in that capacity. I’ve never found him to be a great evaluator of talent, but have found him to be a great leader off the court, and one that would probably be well served to step away from basketball decisions a bit more, and focus on business ones.”
Last Summer, Chris Bosh, the Raptors franchise player, was traded to the Miami Heat, where he helps form a dream combination with Dwayne Wade and LeBron James. I asked Francis where Bosh ranks in the list of best-ever Raps, as well as where he compares to the top PF’s in the league.
“I think Bosh comes in just behind Vince Carter on the all-time Raptors’ list. It’s like of like comparing a Wendy’s Spicy Chicken Sandwich to a chicken pita from Pita Pit, with Bosh being the latter. Vince had a more profound impact on the franchise and while might not have been the consistently “healthy,” reliable option, really put the team on the map.
“Last year I would have put him behind only Dirk and Pau Gasol, but I think this year we’ve seen that he’s closer to the Carlos Boozer-type. Great second banana, but not enough of an individual difference maker on his own.”
Since Bosh and Carter were essentially traded because they didn’t want to be here anymore, I wondered if the future of NBA basketball in Toronto is threatened.
“I don’t think so” Francis said. “The Raptors have always drawn solid crowds, even in seasons where the club was pretty far removed from playoff contention, and I don’t think that will change to a huge extent. They’re no Leafs certainly, but I think economically, being tied in with MLSE means they’ve got some more financial leeway than many other NBA teams. In addition, I think Toronto has a pretty good grassroots basketball culture, one that’s getting stronger by the day thanks to the success of kids like Myck Kabongo, the Joseph Bros and Tristan Thompson, all possible first-round NBA picks down the road.”
Look in this space in two weeks for the final part of the Adam Francis interview, where we discuss technological changes in the way the game is reported, followed and enjoyed.