Yesterday’s signing of Tyler Hansbrough put me in mind of that (in)famous contest thrown by the New Republic magazine. It decided “A worthwhile Canadian initiative” was the most boring headline ever, and challenged its readers to find a duller one. In the context of the Toronto Raptors, our headline “Tyler Hansbrough is a Rap” ranks as one of the least earth-shaking announcements ever. I hope our General Manager, Masai Ujiri, has some better surprises for us.
I understand why Hansbrough is on board. Masai says he wants to shed the Raps’ image as a pushover team, and there’s no doubt Hansbrough will provide toughness under the basket. Tyler will be the meanest Rap since Reggie Evans, but he’s neither a deluxe positional rebounder like Reggie nor does he have an ability to put the ball on the floor and create his own shot. I see little likelihood of professional development from Tyler, unlike Amir Johnson for example, who has consistently added skills (like outside shooting) to his formerly limited repertoire.
What I don’t want to see happen is for Masai to fall in love with his idea of toughness above all. I doubt Greg Popovich in San Antonio or Erik Spoelstra in Miami spends a lot of time fussing about whether their championship-grade teams are tough enough. We’ve got our second-unit enforcer; bully for us. Now let’s deal with more substantive issues, like finding a real backup point guard and a solid perimeter defender, while clearing the roster of extraneous players like Marcus Camby.
The game of Free Agency Musical Chairs is nearly done. Jeff Teague looks like he’s on his way to Milwaukee, Chauncey Billups is a Piston once again – the good ones are almost gone. Hopefully Masai can find us someone useful who can be introduced to local media and fans without bringing hockey enforcers to mind.