NBA / Apr 21, 2009 / 11:56 am

The NBA’s Softest Team Vows to Get Tough

charmin
At the risk of enraging some of the many Toronto fans who are regularly on our site, I’m pretty sure there wasn’t a softer team in the NBA this season than the Raptors – I’m talking physically and mentally. And I’m pretty sure that most sane Raps fans would agree.

Raps’ GM Bryan Colangelo says that’s all about to change. From the Toronto Star:

No more Mr. Nice Guys.

As Bryan Colangelo enters an off-season of change, even though he’s unable to predict today how substantial that change will be, he made it glaringly apparent the one thing he needs to address is the Raptors’ level of toughness.

“We are too nice, we are too nice as a group. Collectively, the group is too nice,” the team’s president said in a wide-ranging, hour-long state of the franchise session yesterday.

“That’s not to say you’ve got to go out and get bad guys (but) when you step on the court, you better have some fight. I think some of the guys were saying you better have some dog in you.”

And that’s more pitbull than poodle.

“It becomes a matter of pride at some point,” Colangelo said “It can’t be me up here defending the roster all the time, it has to be them defending themselves. But in terms of what we’re looking to do when we’re addressing personnel this summer, we’re going to be bringing in perhaps players with a different mentality.

If he’s really serious about changing the culture, he has to be willing to pretty much blow it all up and start over again. He should be ready to let Shawn Marion (a free agent) walk. Marion will almost definitely want more money than Toronto is willing to pay, and he won’t exactly help any team shed a rep for being soft.

He should be open to fielding trade offers for Jose Calderon and even Chris Bosh. I know, I know, Raptors fans love Bosh, and I agree, Bosh is nice. But is he much better suited as a second option on a very good team as opposed to having to be the man somewhere? Definitely. If a team stepped up to the plate with a legit offer of good young players and picks for him, Colangelo would be crazy to turn it down.

Now, this s going to sound contradictory to everything I’ve written to this point, but the last guy I’d be willing to move would be Andrea Bargnani. Everyone else on this roster is a known quantity, including Bosh. Guys with Andrea’s size and skills aren’t easy to come by, and as we saw in the second half of the season, Bargnani could be an unreal player down the road.

Source: TheStar.com

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  • jzsmoove

    We are soft. We need a brute in the mold of a Charles Oakley. And another wing player that lives to drive to the cup. Softies!!! AAAaargh!!!

  • ProphetGK

    We need Brandon Jennings…

  • capnkimo

    Im a Raps fan and I totally agree. We need a Charles Oakley type player like back in the day. And I definitely agree about Bosh being a great second option for a very good/elite team. Trade him for a creative wing scorer. Don’t trade Calderon; he proved he’s a very valuable point gaurd when healthy (and when healthy he can defend a smidgen better). And keep Bargs; just when I was about to write him off as a definite bust in the first half, he goes on to average nearly 20pts a game for the second half.

  • http://ESPN Marc Stein

    Couldn’t agree with you more. Patrick Cassidy for Pres! Jose & Bosh are nice, but…

    You can’t have your two best offensive players playing horrendous D.

    You can’t pay 2nd tier stars ‘Franchise Money’

    Bosh has hit his ceiling, it’s not like all of a sudden he’s going to gain extra wingspan & 6 inches on his vertical and start blocking people; become a world class passer or scoring machine… he’s just that. a good 20 and 10 guy getting franchise money.

    Jose – I love you man, but if Bosh isn’t going, you need to go b/c your D is atrocious.

    Andrea – it seems, and this is based only after 3 seasons, that you’re only beginning to realize some of that potential that made you a #1 pick overall.

    LASTLY and this is a big one…

    We are ‘witnessing’ the LEBRON JAMES ERA, as long as Lebron is around, the championship in the East goes through him.

    Much like Jordan in the 90s, Lebron is the remix… and Bosh et al are just that the remix of all those fallen stars that should’ve, could’ve, but didn’t win b/c of MJ.

    So really, does it matter how much the Raptors improve?

  • Brown

    In a perfect world, the Raps land the #1 pick in the lottery, draft Blake Griffin, and get a trade offer of young talent along with a lottery pick for Bosh, and with that pick, select someone like Brandon Jennings. Nobody on the Raps plays with a chip on their shoulder. They also need some athleticism. They’re lack of it really hurts them on both ends of the court.

    As a GM, you have to know when the right time is to make a big move, and I think that time is now for the Raps. They’ve tried with Bosh as their leader. It’s time to rid the team of players who don’t fit the type of style Colangelo wants, which is pretty much the entire roster. Put some young talent around Bargnani and build from there.

  • Spliff 2 My Lou

    True Bosh may be better suited as a second option but how many true first options are there in the NBA? Seriously. I would only put about 10 guys in the League as true first options. The Raptors would be wise to keep Bosh (if he is willing to happily stay) and try and get some more talent around him. Let Marion walk or resign him for cheaper which may be an option since I don’t know what kind of market there is for him anyway. At the very least a core of Bosh, Bargnani and Calderon is only missing a few minor pieces to be a playoff team in the East.

  • Big Shot BOB

    I say send Marion and Bosh our way for Stephen Jackson and Anthony Randolph. You get an allstar with toughness and championship experience and a young talent to replace Marion, maybe throw in Ronny Turiaf or Maggette to match salaries and you got just what your looking for.

  • Kevin

    Pat,

    Marion was a perfect fit for this team. He rebounds extremely well, which negates Bargnani’s lack of rebounding at the centre position. Relieving the pressure to be a rebounder allows Bargnani to pull centres away from the hoop and do what he does best, score the basketball. Once Marion grew accustomed to the team and vise versa, he played exceptionally well.

    The issues are at the shooting guard position and their lack of depth. They had no legit perimeter defender with any toughness. Parker is great for a TEAM game on offense, but two things he lacks are the two things that Toronto desperately needs, toughness on D at the SG spot, and a offensive minded SG that relentlessly attacks the hoop and can knock down corner 3s at will. Anthony Parker is too old to defend the new breed of athletic 2′s, and he’s allergic to contact on offense (case and point: 1.8 FTA in 33mpg, and the innumerable fadeaways from 20 feet because his release is so slow). He’s also become an unreliable shooter when he used to be automatic.

    In terms of depth, there was none. Really, I could explain, but I’d just get frustrated. PG right through C, they need depth.

    Another issue was defense at the PG spot. Jose was not healthy for most of the season with a bummed hamstring, and you could tell. He was constantly getting beat, and when your D is breaking down at PG every play, you’re screwed. Once healthy, he was playing like he used to, attacking the bucket and playing fiery smart defense.

    In terms of salary cap, I think this is the optimal time for Colangelo. MLSE, the ownership group of the Raptors, Leafs, TFC, etc., likely gave BC a mandate of doing what he can as long as he stays under the salary cap. Toronto is the 4th largest market in North America and the corporate and financial headquarters of Canada. This city will support this team through tough economic times as long as they’re good enough to compete. MLSE knows this and BC will be allowed to spend up to the cap, giving him 25+ million in cap space. You can’t convince me that teams like Memphis and Atlanta will be spending right now. Bottom line, these are business people and the economy isn’t improving anytime soon, but I digress. The reason I mention this is that there will be bargains available this summer for those who can spend.

    Next Steps:
    (Assuming 25+ million in salary cap space)
    - Re-sign Marion
    - Sign Artest or Ben Gordon to starting SG slot
    - Draft a legit back-up PG/SG (or trade draft pick)
    - Add toughness off the bench in the frontcourt (ie Brandon Bass)
    - Trade Joey Graham for a Walter Hermann type player (sign and trade?)

    Lastly,
    - Keep Bosh because you will not get equal value in return. If he is thinking about fleeing to a city with more media attention, then he’ll be more likely to do so after only a year in a city, and GMs know this. At least in toronto, he has a big market (if hockey focused) and sentimental attachment.

    I think that would have the Raptors competing for a top 3 spot in the east next year.

    -Kev

  • http://www.geocities.com/dagomardeg Dagomar

    I live in Toronto, so a few things:

    The team went on a nice run at the end of the year, so that needs to be taken into consideration. I don’t know what or how much it means, but it’s worth noting that Calderon was only healthy at the very start of the year, when the team was around .500, and at the very end, when the team went on a really nice run.

    I would definitely keep Calderon and Bargnani no matter what. Bargnani has become a good two-way player in the middle and could evolve into a really great player – his upside is that high. Calderon knows how to run an offense beautifully when he isn’t injured and has become a great shooter. True, his defense is just brutal, but defense at the point isn’t as important as elsewhere, and either way that can improve.

    I’m iffy about Bosh. Obviously he’s going to get a max-contract, but is he a max-contract player? If he’s not his contract would/will sink the team. Behind the great stats and praise from other NBA stars is he really a first-option kind of guy? He’s tried to build his game after KG, but while he’s offensively one of the elite players in the game (other than settling for jumpers) he’s not nearly as good a rebounder as he could be, he doesn’t play with acceptable fire or energy, he’s not a great passer, and he’s not a good shot blocker. Oh, and he’s a defensive sieve inside and out. That’s a hell of a list. The more I think about it the more I think he should be packaged for some young talent and draft picks.

    Colangelo is a good GM, in spite of the team’s record this year. With some work this outfit could be a beast in two years – lots of cap space, lots of draft picks, and a solid core. Just sucks as a Raptors fan to see such a promising young team – this one built around Bosh rather than VC – fail because, yet again, it wasn’t formed around the right guy.

  • kenna

    Bosh is a nice offensive player, but if he were in the type of market he’s looking for and playing on national TV all the time, nobody would be talking $133 mil for the guy. You’re judged by wins and losses, and superstars take over games which are up for grabs. They will their teams to victory… on both ends. Half our losses this season have been up for grabs. Bosh does not do that. He’ll make a big block or grab a big board, but not THE big block or THE big board. He doesn’t hit the big shot, because it’s usually a bad shot in stead of driving. We lose games superstars win.

    If these games were on TNT, everybody would know this: You can’t ride Bosh to victory, so he’s not a superstar. If he’s not a superstar, he doesn’t deserve $133mil from us or anybody else.
    Problem is, folks have Bosh believing he IS a superstar. Our former little nerd (everybody loves nerds!) has grown up into a man who thinks he’s cool, funny, and a leader. He used to know that he needed to get better, now he’s resting on the same game which peaked three years ago. Losing doesn’t seem to shake that new self-image, so nothing will. WE take HIM for granted? M-V-P, bud. He’ll never hear that anywhere else, other than his own foolish mouth (THAT’s the day this season ended). Even Lebron and DWade are defending well these days, or at least when it counts. And Kobe always has.

    Bosh is good enough to be 2nd best player on a team, but he doesn’t have the all-around skills to be a good 2nd banana for a winner. Bosh as a 2nd banana would be exactly like JO as 2nd banana, useless without the ball and stopping it dead when he gets it- forcing shots because he’s got to “get going”. Bosh is not Pau Gasol, he can’t make plays for anybody. Bosh is a face-up big who looks at the rim, not the rest of the team like a post-up guy, and who doesn’t pass or catch particularly well but NEEDS the ball to be effective. He’ll get you 20 points with the most touches, but what is he going to do to help DWade and LeBron? And defensively? He’s a brutal man defender, and he doesn’t have the base or balance to ever get better. His help D is spotty at best. His overall impact as 2nd banana might actually be less than JO’s, and teams will be asking the same question: 20 million per, for this? For a #2 guy who can’t play with my #1 guy?

    Think our boy is headed for a career of being the best player on a bad team, or mashed together with other stars in a series of failed experiments. It’ll be fair, because that’s his game and he’ll still be rich.

  • Kobeef

    The Raptors actually closed out the season with a stretch of solid wins. This team would have been in the playoffs if not for the Jermaine trade so keep that in mind before you start throwing guys off the bus. That said, this team needs to change to be much more than a fringle playoff team. Here’s my recommendation:

    1. Get Bosh to sign the extension so that you can trade him. Teams will be less interested in trading for Bosh if they are only assured of having him for a year before he is a free agent.

    2. Trade Bosh for one or a combination of the following: starting Center, a Small Forward or a Shooting Guard. The best options I have seen so far are:
    Trade A. Bosh to Golden State for Biendrins, Anthony Randolph and Kelenna Azibuike. This provides the Raps with a solid rebounder and shot blocker in the post and allows them to move Bargnani to the PF where he is better suited. It also provides the Raps with a very good young talent in Randolph who could do most of what Bosh does if he reaches his potential. Kelenna is at worst a solid SF.

    Trade B.
    Bosh to Memphis for Rudy Gay, Marc Gasol and the Grizz’s first round pick (probably a lottery pick). Again, this provides the Raps with an elite SF a center and a young stud to match with Bargnani in the frontcourt.

    The other important piece to both of these trades is that they move Bosh to the Western Conference where he will not haunt the Raps in the future.

    3. Let Marion walk. The guy put in a good effort to finish the season but let’s face it: Marion is not the difference this team needs.

    4. Keep Calderon. There are few PG’s in the NBA who pass or shoot as well as calderon. Sure he isn’t a lockdown defender but upgrading the SG position can help that issue.

    5. Bring back Carlos Delfino. This guy was a nice 6th man for the raps last year.

  • Steve A

    The 2004 Pistons were an oddity. You can’t win unless you have a a best at their position type of talent. Chris Bosh isn’t that type of player. There is a good reason why the same players all have rings (Tim, Shaq, Kobe. Until Toronto figures that out, either through a free agency signing or the draft, they need to keep fishing for that main guy. Otherwise, they’ll be praying for the 2nd round every year….Hello Houston and Yao!

  • Kevin

    @ Dagomar:

    I agree with you.

    “He’s tried to build his game after KG, but while he’s offensively one of the elite players in the game (other than settling for jumpers) he’s not nearly as good a rebounder as he could be, he doesn’t play with acceptable fire or energy, he’s not a great passer, and he’s not a good shot blocker. Oh, and he’s a defensive sieve inside and out. That’s a hell of a list. The more I think about it the more I think he should be packaged for some young talent and draft picks.”

    However, I’d rather trade him for Stoudamire if possible. Marion and Stoudamire back together again!

    Just to fortify your position on Bosh, here’s an example: In the last game of the season he need 18 rebounds to average 20 and 10 for the season. He had 17 half way through the 3rd quarter, then realised where he stood, and mailed in the rest of the night getting only 2 more rebounds and standing around A LOT. The fact that he could get so many rebounds so quickly with that extra effort, and then call in a night with 3/8 of the game to play, UUUGGGHHH! That showed his true colours right there.

  • bdk23

    Pat,

    Very well put statement about Bosh, certainly a 2nd option but as long as he has another superstar (particularily one who doesn’t play the same position as him Barg’s) but see theres the beauty of it, what to do what to do??? Colangelo can either go for it now with bosh and trade bargs and basically the rest of the team or keep bargs and trade bosh!
    I wouldnt wan’t to be in Colangelo’s shoe’s this offsean.
    p.s. CAN RAPS GET BACK LENNY TO COACH JEEZ!?!?!

  • http://dimemag.com Melo2TDot

    Bosh for Gay (rudy)

  • doc

    your Toronto Baby Asses.

  • Scott

    You know I gotta chime in on this one.

    The point about Bosh being a 2nd option is a very good one. He’s at his best when he’s focused on rebounding, boards and 3rdly scoring. He’s a great 2nd option because more times than not he can get the basket, or get to the basket. But he just doesn’t have that extra killer instinct to takeover games offensively when shit gets intense. Does he have his nights where he’s money, and killing people on O, damn straight, most 2nd options have that ability. Ben Gordon is a prime example.

    Here’s the beautiful thing, Bargs is that 1st option player, maybe is is jumping the gun, he’s got the potential to be, and its real potential, not Darius Miles, Telfair potential. He has the ability to get to the basket, hit the jumpshot, and get to the line. His range opens everything up for him.

    The duo as a 1,2 punch is awesome. Bargs is a good passer, and a high low game should be worked out for next season if they stick around.

    Calderon showed why he should be kept in the Tdot the last few weeks of the season when he was truly healthy.

    If they can work o’bryant like a dog this offseason dude has potential for a solid backup gig. Meanwhile we need to hang on to Pops. Dude has that fire that the Raps need. He’s their big that will come in and get after it right away, all the time. The only Raps player I’ve seen in years that tries to dunk on people and break hands/fingers/faces on the way.

    It’s the 2 and 3 spots that are the real concern. When we had Delfino, he at least gave us an edge, dude just looked like an asshole.

    Artest would be ideal, but really, who see’s him leaving Houston after this year?

    We need an energy guy who has that nasty killer instinct.

    Here’s hoping!

  • TO

    @ KOBEEF

    Ive been dying for that trade to GS since the rumour mill began before the deadline. I would love that in a heartbeat!!! Randolph is underrated bigtime in GS.

    The Memphis scenario is one Im seeing quite a lot lately…i like that one too.

  • Marian

    We need Ron Artest.

  • dagwaller

    Wow, some really good posts here. Didn’t know that Raptors fans as a whole (on this site) were so good! I’m inclined to agree with kevin the most, though. Other than his point about wanting to get Artest. I’m becoming more and more of the opinion that his shot jacking is more of a detriment to any team than anything positive he contributes.

  • Big Sia

    BY FAR THE GREATEST HEADING IN DIME HISTORY

    seriously the Raps are an embarrasment to the game. VC has personally shittted on them a disgusting amount of times

  • the scola

    Big Sia is on VC’s bozack.

  • Jeah

    I’m almost in stitches laughing at this article and the posts it has inspired. Andreas Bargnani the first option???? Please!!! To use a football analogy, Bargnani is Wes Welker while Chris Bosh is Randy Moss. Go ahead and get rid of Bosh and watch how hard Bargnani has to work for his points and see how many playoff games you win. As for those trades you guys are proposing, keep dreamin!

  • jnuh

    Caron Butler would solve a lot of the problems at the 2 guard spot.

    Washington isn’t going anywhere (even if they get Blake Griffin)& I think the Raps could put together a package that would make sense on both ends.

    If they re-sign Marion a starting five of:

    Bargnani, Bosh, Marion, Butler & Calderon would be a pretty deadly in the East.

  • jnuh

    Caron Butler would solve a lot of the problems at the 2 guard spot.

    Washington isn’t going anywhere (even if they get Blake Griffin)& I think the Raps could put together a package that would make sense on both ends.

    If they re-sign Marion a starting five of:

    Bargnani, Bosh, Marion, Butler & Calderon would be a pretty deadly starting five in the East.

  • buffaloballa

    …every last post misses the point.
    until TO gets the right coach/GM to
    build a tough image, the Craptors will
    always be TP….

  • http://asdf.com Chris

    I don’t know how we would be able to get Butler. He’s not a free agent this year, and there’s no one I’m willing to trade for him. Colangelo indicated he wants to get Hedo Turkoglu (which is about 6-7 mil per year). With the remainder, (Marion hinted that he wants to leave) we can try and get Hamilton or Artest. Parker can be a bench player. Carlos Delfino may also come back and provide depth from the bench.

  • FAT JOEY

    its not that the raps are “nice” or arent “tough”, its just canadian culture. canada has never embraced the rugged and “hardcore” hoop aggressiveness and mentality that is widely used in the states. canadians for the most part are calm cultured people, and the raps, living in canada, have become that. you dont have to be a bad guy to be successful, you just have to get the job done and work hard. being a nice guy is only a benefit, because in the end the assholes are the real losers. all that “nice guys finish last” business doesnt apply to pro basketball. the guys who dont work hard and the guys who dont play together finish last. its the workers and characters that make it in this league.
    tdot needs to embrace its team and not necessarilly lose the nice guy image but just assert their strength on the court. this’ll only end in wins.
    1 love

  • http://henpantha.wordpress.com/ nathan

    bosh is a nice player but not worth franchise money. he hasn’t demonstrated leadership qualities or that he’s a winner. i pray the pistons don’t get the opportunity to sign him to a franchise deal. bosh will never lead a team to the mountain top. he still hasn’t proven he can even get a team to the start of the championship climb.

  • blah

    damn i miss the Vince Carter days…