No the Raptors are not being named after the Toronto newspaper. But ever since Bryan Colangelo came to Toronto there have always been comparisons and rumours tied to his time in Phoenix. Add this to the latest rumours as it seems B.C will be back according to a story by Mitch Lawrence from the New York Daily News. That is not big news as it has been widely thought he would be. What is news is his former coach is in trouble in New York. The story suggests that if D'Antoni is let go he will not have to look hard for a job. He would come to Toronto and Jay Triano would be out.
While Jay Triano should be out, the reasons he should be are not because this team lacks offence. This team can't defend and it is not like Mike D'Antoni is going to bring a system that will change that. Steve Nash is not walking through the door. Well at least we don't think so. But even at it's peak of excellence, the Suns Colangelo ran were not a team that could win a championship. In the playoffs you need to be able to play defence at some point.
This is all speculation at this point. D'Antoni is still the coach of the Knicks and has not been fired yet. If Colangelo is going to rebuild this team in the pattern of his old Suns teams that will make them entertaining to watch. Especially if you plug say Kemba Walker into that system. But people want a team that will defend. They want a team that can you know actually stop someone from scoring. Not to mention if D'Antoni comes here he will put Pizza Pizza out of business. Seriously all that free pizza is going to ruin them. 100 points for a free slice...better make that 120 points.
This also would suggest that Andrea Bargnani will be part of the mix. Why would I say that. Simple, D'Antoni played ball and coached ball in Italy and you would think can relate to Andrea Bargnani on a much different level in comparison to Sam Mitchell or Jay Triano. He also is not likely to be concerned if he plays plays defence.
While I have always felt there should be a change of the coach for the Raptors this is not what I had in mind. D'Antoni had his best success with the Suns. In fact maybe his only success. People forget that D'Antoni had a short run with the Nuggets going 14-36 in 1998-99. His record in New York has been 97-141. In 4 full season starting in 04-05 with the Suns and Colangelo (For most of it) and Nash he averaged 58 wins.
Also if you are going into full Suns mode who exactly is going to make all these 3 point shots in the system? Well Colangelo does have money to spend under a new CBA and if D'Antoni was brought in you would think the roster will be fine tuned to his style of play. If this all comes to pass the Raptors will be trying to use slight of hand to avoid their real problem. That they can't defend. First step to fixing a problem is admitting you have one. The Raptors if they did go in this direction would not be doing that.
Also can this system even work in the Eastern Conference? That remains to be seen. While the natural instinct is to say it can. After all the Western Conference is the better conference. Look at the playoff race in the East if you care to argue. But when you look at the teams at the top of this conference they are teams that can defend. Boston and Chicago are teams that both have a defence first approach.
For those who dream of a Jeff Van Gundy or someone like him coming to save the Raptors. It would appear he is not walking through that door. Even the Suns in the post Colangelo and D'Antoni era came to realize that you have to at least play some defence to win. There has never been a team that has been able to outscore a team to death in this league to ultimate success. Raptors Assistant Alex English was a part of a Denver Nuggets team that tried to do that. From 79-80 to 89-90 the Nuggets were in the playoffs more than they were not. They won a lot of basketball games and scored a ton of points. But only one time did they make the Conference Finals in 84-85 losing to the Lakers. In a sense the Nuggets were the Suns before the Suns were the Suns.
This team may improve and may become very entertaining if they go this route. They could grow into a consistent playoff team. But if you crave more than that this might not be the direction to go. History tells us that teams like the Nuggets and Suns can win in regular season and can even have some success in the post season. But to win a Championship is not in the cards. Defence wins Championships, not flashy offence and entertaining basketball. If you get that as well it is a bonus. But there is no way to win without being able to defend. Eventually it catches up with you no matter how many points you put on the scoreboard.