NBA On Verge of Return and Raptors Will Still Be Rebuilding

Everyone is all giddy with optimism that the NBA is on the verge of a return. Most feel a deal could get done as soon as this weekend. Good right? Well yes it is but maybe not as good if you are a Raptor fan. This is for a couple of reasons. First reason is the deal itself. The deal that is being constructed, at least based on the talk that is out there, is not going to be a deal that helps out the Raptors as much. It likely could have if the Owners got the big win they were looking for out of this labour deal. If a system, that stopped the big spending be damned teams from being able to do that was in place, that would have helped the Raptors. MLSE has never been one of those teams. Faced with the challenges of being the lone franchise in Canada and the perceptions that exist about playing here they should be. You can say all you like about Toronto being a wonderful city which it is. But those perceptions even if they are incorrect are the reality. The long list of people that have left the franchise make that so. There is also this franchises less than impressive history which is factual. We all know this franchise has just one playoff series win and it was so long ago it was back when they played 5 games in the first round. The bottom line of the new CBA is it would have an even more punitive luxury tax which if MLSE was not willing to go over it under the old system it is hard to imagine they will under this new more costly one. But it is not going to stop the Dallas Mavericks, Miami Heat, L.A Lakers, Chicago Bulls and Boston Celtics of the world from doing so. It will not stop the possibility of more Big 3's like the ones we see in Boston and now Miami from forming. This is all bad news for the Raptors.

What happens if Demar DeRozan becomes every bit the star we hope he can become? When his time comes and the L.A Lakers want to bring the Compton kid home is there anyway for the Raptors to stop that from happening? It would appear not based on the CBA Talks. Which for the Raptors and small market teams is a complete failure from this process. While the focus of these talks have largely been focused on money directly there is an indirect money issue that has failed to be addressed. How will the paying customers in the small markets of the NBA feel about being somewhere between the NBA Elite and the NBDL? My guess is not to favourable. Everyone will point to OKC as the shining example of how a small market team can make it work. But in reality that took some luck and having a guy that is like Kevin Durant both as a player and as a person. Those guys are not growing on trees and easy to find. OKC has done a fantastic job but in reality without Durant none of it happens.

Also there is what Bryan Colangelo has been saying. Already making a preemptive strike to say that this year will not be the Raptors year once again. That there is likely another year of growing to do for this franchise. Even openly talking about what a great draft class there is expected to be for next year's NBA Draft. That sounds like the talk of a team heading back to the NBA Lottery regardless of if the NBA plays 82 games this year or 72. But when the Raptors drafted a rookie that was never going to play this season that likely sent that message already. Colangelo also has suggested the flexibility that he has created in preparation for the new CBA is likely not to be used this season.

So the NBA might be back and your reward Raptor fans is you are told to wait till next year, before the season is even started or a new CBA is even signed. It kind makes this whole lockout thing ending not as happy as it perhaps could be or should be. But MLSE will be happy to take your money once again for as many games as the NBA will allow once a new CBA is in place. I had a lot of hope that things would be better for the Raptors coming out of this lockout, but in the short term that seems unlikely. In the long term who knows but waiting for next year gets old ask fans of the Chicago Cubs about that.


A New Suit Added To The Waiting Party

How is everyone out there? Working on your 2k12 skills? The Raptors really suck in 2K this year it almost makes missing a season seem like a blessing. Just like NBA2k12 the Raptors will have no rookies. But there is some news. In the worst kept secret of the Raptors non off-season it is true Ed Stefanski has joined the Raptors front office. Here is the press release from your Toronto Raptors management.

The Toronto Raptors announced Wednesday they have hired Ed Stefanski as the team’s executive vice president of basketball operations. Stefanski joins the Raptors from upper management positions with the Philadelphia 76ers and New Jersey Nets, where his teams qualified for the NBA playoffs in eight of the past nine seasons. In his position, Stefanski will report to Raptors President and General Manager Bryan Colangelo.

“Ed Stefanski embodies everything I was hoping to attain when the search began for a top level basketball executive to join our staff,” said Colangelo. “Ed brings to the table experience, smarts and a great feel for the game and of people.

“I am very excited to join Bryan Colangelo and the Raptors organization,” Stefanski said. “Toronto is a world class city and the Raptors fans are strong supporters.

“The team has a young nucleus of players that have a big upside. And with the addition of Head Coach Dwane Casey I am looking forward to witnessing their growth and improvement.”

Stefanski, who has earned a reputation throughout the NBA as an excellent evaluator of talent, spent the past four seasons in a president and general manager role with Philadelphia. With the 76ers, Stefanski returned the franchise to playoff status via trades, the re-signing of key performers and the acquisition of athletic, younger players in the NBA Draft. Despite having only mid-first round picks in three of his four drafts, Stefanski was able to add lottery-level talent to the team.

Prior to joining Philadelphia, Stefanski spent nine seasons with the Nets. He was promoted to general manager of the club in the summer of 2004 following a one-year stint as the team’s senior vice president of basketball operations and four seasons as the team's director of scouting.

While with the Nets, Stefanski oversaw the team's basketball operations and was heavily involved in the club’s roster development and player personnel matters. He helped to build New Jersey’s back-to-back Eastern Conference Championship teams in 2002 and 2003.

A 1976 graduate of the University of Pennsylvania (Wharton School of Business), Stefanski played three seasons for Penn, where he was coached by Hall-of-Famer Chuck Daley. Stefanski was a member of two Ivy League Champions (1974 and 1975), helping the Quakers reach the NCAA Tournament in both of those seasons. In 1979, Stefanski also began a 20-year run as a colour analyst for Big Five basketball and ESPN’s Atlantic 10 basketball coverage.

Now for those thinking that he will be replacing Colangelo in the decision making that will not be the case. He is a very experienced voice in the room that becomes part of that consensus building that Colangelo loves so much. He will be introduced to the media tomorrow and I would guess we might get to see it on Raptors NBA-TV? I know you will all miss watching the constant flow of old basketball games that I lived through.

As for the Lockout they say progress in being made. I have heard that one before. My advice is if you are expecting this all to be solved in the short term don't hold your breath. When this is solved the Raptors will have to hit the ground running as the team they produced last year as the 2k12 ratings suggest and the fact they picked 5th in the draft but should have been 3rd is that they were not good. The rules might be very different under this new CBA. The whole concept of trading and the money matching to 125% might be a thing of the past when the dust clears. I am trying to figure out if that makes it easier to dump Calderon and Bargnani? I think it does.

Speaking of Bargnani there are rumours that he may sign with a club in Italy. I am hoping there is some way they get to keep him when the lockout ends. Demar DeRozan was tweeting that he is going to be in town and hit every gym in Toronto. Yes Basketball never dies or whatever that union B.S is they are spiting out says. But glorified exhibition tours and charity games is nothing close to the NBA unless you are talking All-Star Weekend.

As for me? Well I have been turning Myck Kabongo into the leading scorer in the NBA (in the aforementioned 2K12. Maybe by the time he enters the draft this whole lockout business might be done by then. I miss having news to bring you folks on a regular basis. But at the same time I have taken this time to relax after almost 4 years of pushing myself to work hard in this blog everyday. I am doing my best not to become bitter and jaded from all of this. But that might be impossible. All I can say is when they do get this deal done it better be the right deal or this will all have been a complete waste of time. I want basketball back just as much as anyone but with a CBA that makes this league competitive for all 30 teams not just the ones in Miami, Boston, L.A, Chicago and the odd OKC Exception to the rule. When Carmelo Anthony is shooting his mouth off about wanting to play with Chris Paul it makes me think some guys in this league don't get it and don't care to get it. Just pay me my millions and give me a team of superstars so I can win a championship in a city that is cool enough for me. It is that type of attitude that makes this lockout acceptable to me and necessary.

If you think the Owners are the evil ones in this thing you really don't get it. Have they taken advantage of it and gone for blood. Yeah but did you expect anything less? I remain committed to the belief that David Stern is smarter than Gary Bettman and will get the NBA a better deal than the current NHL Deal at the end of the day.