The Toronto Raptors did nothing on Draft Night. You might fairly ask how that can possibly be of interest, but considering how much other action was swirling around the NBA last (Draft) night, the lack of any moves was telling. There were no fewer than 16 trades last night, including several of players who had just been drafted. Most of the deals were minor, but that word certainly can’t be applied to the Boston Celtics-Brooklyn Nets trade. The storied green team is now officially in rebuild mode, after moving icons Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett for Kris Humphries, Gerald Wallace, MarShon Brooks, Keith Bogans and three future first-round draft picks. The Nets want to win NOW, and they just might.
The buzz about how Masai Ujiri was somehow going to concoct a way for the Raps to trade into the draft proven unfounded. I’m happy about that, as I saw no good way for such a thing to occur, and couldn’t understand why our GM would feel compelled to deal for the sake of dealing. He’s resisted the temptation.
John Lucas has been let go (the Raps declined his option year, which amounts to the same thing). The weakness in the Raps backcourt is now extreme, particularly at the point, and there remains not the slightest doubt Ujiri will be laser-focussed on finding new talent. Jose Calderon is a free agent; will Ujiri prepare an offer to bring him back to his adoring fans? While I and many others would be thrilled, it’s not a likely move without other significant salary-cap encumbrances leaving first. Jose won’t come cheap, nor should he.
There’s been chatter around town about tanking next season, in hopes of drafting Andrew Wiggins, who’s expected to be one-&-done at Kansas University. Readers may recall I addressed this topic in February, concluding that it’s hugely risky to throw away the season in hopes of gaining the “right” pick in the draft. Now there’s a new sheriff named Masai in town – will he embrace such an extreme tactic, armed as he is with a five-year contract? We’ll know soon enough, and here’s how: if Masai uses amnesty on Bargnani or Kleiza, and trades away the brutally expensive Rudy Gay for a package of young players and draft picks. We can then look forward(?) to a 25-win season, and the dubious excitement of watching ping-pong balls determine our fate.
Masai’s draft-night inaction will then be viewed as the calm before the storm.
Brian Boake is Senior Editor for Raptors Rapture. “Like” Raptors Rapture on Facebook and follow us on Twitter @RaptorsRapture for all the latest news and updates about the best damn NBA team from Canada.