Bryan Colangelo addressed the media via telephone conference today for his first public comments on Free Agency, The Nash attempted signing, The trade for Kyle Lowry that was made official today and the offer sheet for Landry Fields. He also managed to get in talk of Jonas and the draft choices this season of Terrance Ross and Quincy Acy. Remember how the Raptors were going to make the playoffs this year? That has been tweaked to contend for a playoff spot. While Colangelo is never one to lack confidence today was no different but that is a tweak to the expectations level that was set entering into this process. As for the future of Jose Calderon that remains very much in the air but even Colangelo admitted that Jose was "not thrilled about the trade" and likely not about the Raptors pursuit of Steve Nash although that was not stated.
Colangelo stated "There have been multiple inquires about Jose's availability since speculation began about Lowry being acquired." Colangelo said teams were inquiring both about trades and the possibility that Calderon could be amnestied or bought out by the Raptors. Colangelo suggested that a few trade ideas had been put forth by other teams. In terms of the new point guard coming in Colangelo classed him as a "starting caliber point guard" he left it for Casey to determine if he would start in a situation that saw both him and Calderon remain on the roster to start the season. Where things get murky for me is what the Raptors will do if Calderon in fact moves. As we told you a few days ago the Raptors had to rescind their qualifying offer for Bayless. So if Calderon is moved or amnestied that would leave Lowry as the only point guard on the roster. That is a problem. It might be something you could fill with someone from the summer league on a minimum deal. Bobby Brown is said to be getting a second look from the Raptors as an example. Safe to say no matter what happens the Raptors have some issues to address at the point guard position. Everyone in Toronto loves a good point guard controversy right? If you had been successful in landing Steve Nash this is not an issue at all. One of the many differences in Lowry compared to Nash. Still it would appear Jose Calderon is less than thrilled by the actions of his team in NBA as he prepares to represent Spain in the upcoming Olympics in London.
So what of that whole Steve Nash thing? What does Bryan have to say about that? Colangelo had this to say on the failed attempt to land Steve Nash. "Obviously our number one target in free agency was Steve Nash for a multitude of reasons." That obviously didn't happen for Colangelo and the Raptors moved on to make a deal with Houston that Colangelo claims had died off at the draft and was revisited on July 3rd as the Raptors were waiting to hear from Steve on his decision. Colangelo still feels the team's goals have not changed despite his thoughts on Nash. "Steve Nash is a not only a special player but a special person and obviously means a lot to this country and would have for our organization. You can only control what you can control. I respect Steve a great deal for making his decision with family first and probably basketball second." Colangelo said he can't fault a guy for that. Colangelo claims, the expectations for the off-season was not just about Nash, but about adding two lottery level talents as additions to the roster. He points out if you have not heard this 100 times at least already that Jonas Valancuinas would be arguably the second pick had he been in this draft class. But still this has to be a blow for the franchise overall in terms of attracting free agents in the future? "Not at all." Colangelo would state some what strongly. He would elaborate when asked to do so. "You have to look at the circumstances that Steve put forth and take them at face value. I truly believe there were family issues and well as competitive issues, the timing of such may have not been ideal. But it was something that was considered for all the right reasons." If you believe Bryan or not the perception in the fan base has been pretty clear on this topic. Most feel Toronto has had and continues to have a problem in bringing in top name talent via free agency. This was another reason why had the Nash deal happened it would have had a impact on the Raptors in a positive way. But without it happening it only strengthens the idea that the Raptors can not land top end free agents. Colangelo contents agents were calling looking for deals for various clients. However, one has to wonder if a Raptors team with cap room is just seen as pawn in the game of free agency chess to get guys deals elsewhere at this point.
Still many feel including those that were not on board with Nash deal that Lowry who the Raptors have picked up is an excellent basketball move and Colangelo seems very happy when talking about the move he was able to make. "We're getting a terrific player, a great value and a chance to have a player grow into the future of the position for the Toronto Raptors." Colangelo would continue later in talking about Lowry, "Kyle is a bulldog, labelled a bulldog by players, coaches everybody that plays against him." Bryan feels that he will add some toughness and grit to the Raptors along with other players coming into the mix. He raves about all the statistical data and analytical statistical info.
There was also lots of talk of Landry Fields who many felt the Raptors signed to an offer sheet as part of their push to sign Steve Nash. Colangelo does admit that was part of thinking behind the move but also was a player they value on his own merits. "It was a combination of both, I will acknowledge that he was a significant or valuable piece in a potential sign and trade with Phoenix, but what we feel we have gotten in Landry Fields (Assuming Knicks don't match) a very valuable piece. For a team that is looking to add depth at really two spots as we see him a swing player between the 2 and 3 spots." Colangelo continues on to rave about Mr Fields " He rebounds the ball well at small forward or as a big two. We think that he is a high basketball IQ , Trustworthy performer, that knows how to raise the stakes everyday in practice and knows how to raise his level every time the team steps on the floor for a game." Wow no wonder Spike Lee loves this guy. I have heard more talk of how hot his girlfriend is and the fact he had Jeremy Lin sleeping on his couch in recent times. That said Colangelo maintained a lot of Raptors evaluations were based on his rookie season in which most would agree he was pretty outstanding for the Knicks. As for the Contract? Colangelo in the course of the presser said that you ultimately are going to over pay in free agency and even more so in restricted free agency. He also noted that people seem to have an issue with any contract he signs. That said they are confident based on their evaluations he can live up to the deal in place. Someone has to be.... right? Most feel the Raptors are in a sense giving the dollars Kyle Lowry deserves to Fields and that Fields should make the money Lowry is pegged to earn. Whatever the case may be it adds up to the same.
There was still lots more and will rap this up with some of the other things mentioned. Let's start with Summer League. Early indications are coach Casey is thrilled with what he has seen from Terrance Ross the Raptors first round pick. In general you can expect an uptempo style from the Raptors in Summer League. Bryan said that they see Jonas projected as an elite level center in the NBA ultimately. They feel he will develop faster than people might think. Those people would not be in the fan base though right as some folks already have this kid being the second coming. No doubt without Nash and the shield that he would provide all it will be very interesting to see how Jonas does. There was quiet talk the Raptors were not thrilled that he will miss Summer League as he was able to help his country along with soon to be teammate Linas Kleiza qualify for the Olympics in London. You will never hear B.C say that though as the NBA does not like that sort of thing. If you are hoping for an Andre Iguodala type trade allow Bryan Colangelo to pour some cold water on that indirectly as he feels that Raptors have addressed the small forward position and if no moves were made is content with what he has on the roster assuming Fields offer is not matched. Colangelo did make a point they were still active in looking to improve. Raptors obvious still have Calderon hanging in the wind as trade bait. What he also confirmed though is the team with out using the Amnesty provision would be capped out with the current roster and salaries that are yet to be added. Fields and Acy to name a couple.
In the end Colangelo put on a brave face and tried to convince all that Raptors were still building towards a bigger and brighter future. Some how that seems hard to see for the casual fan of this team. Can they be better? It is possible but what is also true is the Division around them has improved at a much more dramatic rate and having a super team in Brooklyn if a Dwight Howard deal were to happen would only increase that. Lots of time before the season starts but almost everyone feels there is more work to do even Colangelo I would suspect.