Before we get to today's blog we have started our own store here at the Dino Nation Blog. It is away for you to support the DNB and show your loyalty. After being around for now 4 years and having to survive a NBA Lockout it was time to do this. So check out the store and see if anything tickles your fancy. More items will be made as we roll along.
Now on to what we do. The one thing that this new CBA provides that will be very interesting for all teams is an amnesty on one contract. It allows a team to buyout one of their existing contracts without penalty to the salary cap. So the Raptors could use this on anyone under contract currently which is a pool of 10 players. Obviously you can rule out a number of folks. The two names at the top of the list for this to be cashed in on would be Jose Calderon with 2 years left on his deal and Linas Kleiza who still is not ready to come back and play ball after a torn ACL from last season. He still has 3 years remaining. Most will feel this is a no brainer it should be Calderon. But there is no guarantee the Raptors have to use it on anyone. In a season where Colangelo has already downgraded expectations of what he might do with the Raptors cap space which will be significant. I could easily see the Raptors not using this clause and saving it for next season and adding to what again will be a year in which the Raptors could have even more room to play with as Barbosa and his 7.5 million will come off the cap after this year. It also would at least open the option of using it on Andrea Bargnani if he were to struggle for another season and the Raptors could not trade him. But it will not be used on Andrea now. I would think this season will be make or break in terms of Bargnani's future with the Raptors.
In terms of Free Agents the Raptors may only have really one decision to make on their own free agents. Sonny Weems is under contract for the season in Europe along with the Andrea Bargnani of France Alexis Ajinca who is likely to stay in France by choice. Julian Wright after his refusal to play under Jay Triano really should not be considered coming back although with no Weems and Kleiza not ready to go it is not the 100% slam dunk he is gone that it might have been. But the really choice the Raptors will face is what to do about Reggie Evans. He has shown great leadership in his couple years in Toronto but also has been injured for significant chunks of time. It will be interesting to see if the Raptors want him back and then if they can keep him should they. Evans is a nice role player for any team and when healthy he has still proven to be one of the top rebounders in this league.
Dwane Casey is going to have a tough task turning this team into even a decent defending team. That challenge will be even greater with a shortened training camp and the fact as training camp is going on so will NBA free agency and new players brought in will be thrown into the mix on the fly. Many said in the NFL that teams with new coaches would struggle but that has not been the case for all. Ask any fans of the 49ers about that. But teams that added a significant number of new faces did not fair as well. Ask any Eagles fan about that. So you may not like the Colangelo proclamation that the Raptors are likely not to shake up the world this year in free agency it might be a wise idea. Also if the Raptors were to shock the world and actually be better than expected the rules in terms of trades have become less restrictive and that cap room could be used in terms of trades just as easily without having to convince anyone on the greatness of Canada. Just because you sign someone and make a big splash is not guarantee of success. Joe Dumars would like to have his choices on Charlie V and Ben Gordon back I am sure. The Raptors clearly were not impressed with Hedo and had to move him along.
But if you listen to most it seems the Raptors are doomed to another season of development. Which likely means the Raptors are more in line to be competing for lottery position rather than playoff position. Whoever the Raptors end up getting will be a bargain as rookie contracts have been reduced by 18% in the new deal. They will also be coming in with the Raptors pick this season playing in Europe in Jonas Valanciunas. That also may be a reason to hold on to Bargnani as once Jonas does arrive it would give Bargnani the move to his natural position according to him of power forward. In a draft class that is expected to be packed with talent as many players took the option of another year of school rather than gambling on if the NBA would play or not this year. That combined with one of the more dynamic freshman classes in years in college basketball should lead to quite the pool of talent for this year's draft.
That is at least a quick overview of what lies ahead. For us in the Dino Nation Blog will start getting things back rolling again with interviews and all of that stuff eventually. It is hard to go from a dead stop to rolling back at 100% for everyone and that includes blogs. But will get everything up and running as your use too. It is just nice to be back and have something to talk about that does not involve Labour Negotiations.