It could have been worse for the Raptors who at least didn't see the Hornets other pick acquired via trade win the lottery, as a similar situation did for the Cavs last year. The Raptors came in number eight and they walk out of New York City still number eight. The question now turns to if they will stay number eight. In his conference call after the draft lottery Bryan Colangelo gave no indication or obvious preference as to what will become of the 8th pick.
Colangelo: "We feel that a player at eight will add to our building process, or the value of the eight pick, will perhaps be something that packaged with something else, that will create, a trade asset if you will."
Colangelo would also talk about the amount of flexibility the team has thanks in part to the deal that sent Barbosa to the Pacers and stressed how the Raptors are one of only few teams with the ability to take on salary between now and July 1st. This would also of course mean before the NBA Draft to held on June 28th. Some of this idea of moving the pick is likely based on the fact they already have Jonas Valanciunas on the way. He officially as of a day or two ago has been bought out of the remainder of his contract in Europe. The 5th overall pick from last years draft is coming, if all the hype from that last month of the regular season didn't reminded you of that fact. Let's just say the Raptors are about as committed to picking at eight as Kim Kardashian was to former Raptor Kris Humphries. Don't think so? Well after this next quote from Bryan Colangelo see if you still doubt it?
Colangelo: "We have put ourselves in the position, as we have talked about, with the cap flexibility we have Pre-July one to acquire a player, if that right player is available in a trade scenario. Whether or not the eight pick is part of that process in packaging enough assets to acquire that right player, we'll have to consider all options."
Still not convinced? There is more hear what he has to say about a potential pick at eight.
Colangelo: " Anyone you take at eight is going to be somewhat disadvantaged in that they will lack NBA experience. We are obviously looking for a team next year to compete at a higher level. We are looking to increase the level of competition. We are looking to increase the level of experience. Thinking that you are going to get all of that at eight is probably not going to happen."
If the Raptors were to remain at eight, Colangelo would not rule out the possibility of taking anyone even if it was a position of strength like the four spot as an example. He referenced it as "stacking" at that position, which he indicated they would be willing to do or at least consider it. When asked if he felt the Raptors would use all three of the Raptors picks including the two second rounders he showed a lot of interest in the Raptors 2nd round pick at 37. While the pick acquired from the Pacers, he seem less committed to and suggested if it was used it could be used to draft a European player that would not be coming over right away. Here is what he had to say on number 37.
Colangelo: " Thirty-seven however, is a pick that we feel might net us a player that could add something to this roster. We're looking at various players, a pool of players that might be available at thirty-seven."
That said, Bryan did not rule out a situation in which he would be willing to package the picks to move up in the draft or as part of a package to acquire a player on another teams roster. In short it was your typical Bryan Colangelo exchange with the media. He gave long and thoughtful answers that never really suggested specifically what he was planning to do. However, when you add it all up and read the tea leaves so to speak it sure seems like Colangelo is going to be exploring the trade market just as much, if not more than the draft prospects he could acquire. There was a under lying theme of wanting to take this team to the next level and the idea of having NBA experienced players to get to that goal. It is not to say that the 8th pick is as good as gone. Only that it is seen just as easily to be an asset in a trade as it would be to select a player.
To sum it up, Colangelo did not seem upset at all by the fact the Raptors did not move up in the lottery. He seemed like he expected as much and is ready to move forward now that it official where his team will be pegged to select on draft night. If anything you can be certain that Raptors will be very active working the phones between now and July 1st. It would be a surprise and maybe for some a disappointment if Colangelo does not come up with some move or moves prior to that date. Even if he does not, the Raptors still would have a significant amount of cap space to be a player in free agency. At the end of it all, the clock is ticking not just on the way to the Raptors draft pick at 8 but on Colangelo's overall master plans. One thing is certain you could almost sense the eagerness in his voice that he has his self imposed handcuffs off and is ready to make some deals. The only question that still remains is if they will be the right ones to take this team to that next level that he wants them to be at.