Excuses, Spin and Ping Pong Balls...Oh My

This might be a wet blanket on what was a great win for the Raptors against the Magic. However the Cavs lost to the Wizards last night. Is anyone saying that the Wizards have finally got it? Is there talk that their interim coach will return next year? That being said the Wizards actually have Gilbert Arenas back and he had 11 points and 10 assists. You have to wonder why the heck Arenas is playing in these games down the stretch for the Wizards. But the point is the Cavs should crush Wizards with or without Gilbert. So the Raptors win over the Magic could be considered a bump in the road and the fact the Raps actually split with the Magic on the season a strange thing. Not unlike how the Bobcats always seem to have the Lakers number. The Raptors winning 5 in a row is nothing to get that excited about though. It has just allowed people to try to put a positive spin on an ugly season but I am not buying in. Raptors are already starting drop in the lottery standings. They passed the Knicks who have been in a free fall of late. A few weeks ago the Knicks still have a outside shot at the playoffs. Those days are long gone. But if the Raptors keep winning there are other teams like the Pacers, Bucks and others they could pass and decrease their odds in the lottery. I am not a big fan of cheering for a team to lose. However when you consider that this team is more than likely going to get a huge overhaul in the off-season, it is not like the Raptors can build off this heading into next season really.

It is becoming increasing likely that Jay Triano will remain and that is shocking for most fans. When you listen lately though a lot of folks are drinking the Kool Aid about Triano. I am not among them. This win streak at the end of the year should not impact on how you feel about Jay. He took over a team that was 1 game below .500 and that would be likely good enough to make the playoffs. No need to list all the excuses as to why Triano has been let off the hook by most of the media and Bryan Colangelo. Injuries, a major trade and a new system. I get all of that. However despite all of that Jay Triano is part of the organization and has been part of the culture of this team. I think that is not a good thing. Raptors need someone that will have a new prospective and push this team to perform when it matters. I just think this team needs a new prospective from someone who is an outsider. Someone who is not committed to pushing that Jose Calderon is the greatest thing since sliced bread. Someone that has not watched Chris Bosh grow to the point he is at. Someone that can come in and shake up this team. Triano through no fault of his own can not offer any of that. If he had been successful I would not feel this is required. However he has not been. I am a huge supporter of anything Canadian and that includes Jay. However I am not willing to ignore his record and because he is Canadian just look the other way. I just can't do it as much as part of me would really like to do it. I hope if Jay remains he can prove me wrong. However I am not feeling optimistic that he can.

I would thing that part of the sell job in keeping Triano will be a re-tooling of the coaching staff. That could see both Alex English and Mike Evans shown the door. That would leave a spot open to bring in Mark Ivaroni as the lead assistant and perhaps coach in waiting if Triano fails. It has long been rumoured that Colangelo is a big supporter of Ivaroni and if Ivaroni is not able to find a head coaching job this would be the next best thing. Given what he did in Memphis I am guessing the people will not be pounding on his door to offer him a head coaching job. He was in town already under the guides of being a consultant. Ironically the Raptors started winning. I am not sure if that means anything at all other than it is ironic.

On of the things I admired about Sam Mitchell was he would never allow anyone on his clubs to use injuries as an excuse. Yet since his departure it has been excuses of injuries and lots of other ones that have been made to justify a horrible season. There is no excuses that I will accept. Jose Calderon has been playing through injury through out the season and people say now he is healthy and that is the real Jose we see now. Here is also the real Jose that he played through an injury that he should not have. It was a bad choice by him and this team. It made his injury worse and it cost this team. I can hear people screaming at me for that. However I am not blaming Jose totally for this in fact he is not the major person I blame on this issue. Bryan Colangelo is the one I blame. He failed to address the back-up point guard position and that leads to all the issues at least in part. Calderon was over used and coming off an Olympics that he was injured in as well. To enter this season expecting Will Solomon and Roko Ukic to be the back-up for a guy in his first year as a starter coming off an injury was a major blunder. In fact main will point to the Jermaine O'Neal trade as the biggest mistake Colangelo made this season. No doubt it was a bust of a move. However the lack of a true legit back-up point guard was just as big a mistake for this team. Jose Calderon despite how some view him is not immortal and not able to leap buildings in a single bound. He can dunk a basketball though...who knew? Colangelo gambled far to much on Calderon and it cost him greatly. People will pump up Jose as this all-star in waiting heading into next season and I remain unconvinced of that. He is a good to great point guard that has skills. That being said he is not a stand alone play 35-40 minutes guy. So is Roko ready next season to fill that role as back up? If not Colangelo needs to find a legit point guard to play behind Jose. That is assuming that Calderon is back which is likely a safe bet as well. That being said the Suns not making the playoffs could present an option to have Steve Nash be moved. Colangelo no doubt will have some interest in that. You would think. Jose Calderon is not as good as Steve Nash and likely never will be. But Nash only has a few years left in the tank. It would be an interesting choice if it ends up on Colangelo's desk.

You also have the future of Bosh that will be determined. If he is traded this team clearly will be totally different and likely not for the better in the short term. The fact Bosh made a comment on the future of Jay Triano is a bit of a sign that Bosh expects to be back next year perhaps. However if he is not in it for the long haul it would seem highly unlikely that he will remain. Colangelo without a long term agreement with Bosh at least in principal if not in writing it would not seem likely that Colangelo would not move him. In fact it would be insane for him to do that.

You also have lots of other questions on this roster. Shawn Marion at the top of that list. Do the Raptors want to keep him? But more importantly does he even want to stay at all. The pay cut for Marion is going to be large and you would think that if he is going to take that hit he would rather do that on a contender. However the Raptors will have money to spend. At the very least a sign and trade for Marion is a likely outcome that could happen. Joey Graham and Pops Mensah-Bonsu as well as a returning Carlos Delfino(??) would all be restricted free agents as well. Pops seems a lock to be back if the Raptors can get him on a reasonable deal. Colangelo said he would be interested in bringing back Delfino as well. Joey Graham of the 3 is likely the odd man out. That will disappoint the Joey Graham fan base but it likely makes the best sense. Anthony Parker has expressed he is willing to stay in Toronto. However do the Raptors want him to remain? Should they? Great guy that A.P is the answer seems likely no. He is a free agent and could go where ever he likes. Unlike Marion he would not command the dollars that would make a sign and trade an option with him.

The worst case scenario for the Raptors is that they take to much from this late season push and think it means something. This team needs change. Colangelo is smart enough to know that and I hope will be at his best this off season. It is clear he will need to be. The returning of Jay Triano is far less of a concern the more new faces he would see at his first training camp. If he returns it could be a sign that major change to the roster is on the way. Even if the Raps roll off 6,7 and dare I say 8 wins in a row it will not change anything. It will just give fuel for supporters of a Triano return and offer excuses for the people that choose to make excuses for this team. There is not excuse that can explain this season away. There just isn't.

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