Together to the end it would seem for Casey and Colangelo? One of the newsworthy things from the press conferences from Monday was the full endorsement of Bryan Colangelo for his coach. He stated that if he was back there was " No Question" that Dwane Casey will be as well. While both men await their ultimate fate from the MLSE Border of Directors the common belief is that Colangelo will have the option on his contract picked up and Casey will play out the final year of his. Both motivated to succeed in order to remain They must get this team to post-season.
It actually seems to make a lot of sense on many levels. Maybe much more than what Colangelo has done with this roster. What he referred to as "Organic Improvement" he will need to see a ton from his roster. The simple fact is Colangelo offered little hope of big splashes like last year. The Raptors have no cap space to be big players in free agency. He still is convinced there is a deal out there to move Andrea Bargnani. I lost count at how many times Casey and Colangelo combined called him a "talent" in their individual sessions with the media. Talented he may well be, it would seem the days of him showing any of that talent in Toronto seem behind him. Casey talked about how he would work as hard as he could to get something out of Bargnani but he needed to be met half way. It never came up with Colangelo about the idea to Amnesty Andrea but he seems convinced there is a deal to be made.
Aside from that it was a lot of talk of adding veterans to the mix but not by spending any kind of money to do it at the end of the day. One thing that was made pretty clear is, the Raptors in some form will be looking to fill the hole left by the departure of Calderon via trade with a veteran to back up Kyle Lowry. Colangelo even describing this person as someone who could mentor and help mould Kyle into that starting point guard and leader on the floor.
Another thing in which Colangelo and Casey seemed to be completely on the same page is that of the development of Jonas Valancuinas. Casey said that while the learning curve of Jonas was a contributing factor to the Raptors 4-19 start it was also the building blocks to the player we saw at the end of the season. Colangelo confirmed that Jonas along with Terrence Ross and Quincy Acy all will be heading to Vegas for Summer League. Jonas will also be playing some international ball as well for his native Lithuania.
Colangelo mentioned about the need to almost hold Jonas back at times. That is injury was in some ways allow Jonas to rest and focus and learn. Colangelo referred to him as a sponge in terms of all the knowledge he is able to take in. It's clear in the case Bryan makes to the board about his future Jonas is a big check mark in the positive column for him. While his selection of Terrence Ross is one still very much up for debate. Casey admitted that the minutes that at times were not earned by Ross this season will need to be next season. It seems pretty clear that if Ross wants to secure minutes next season it likely will begin on the defensive end of the floor. Casey also stressed how much consistency would be important. That said with DeRozan and Rudy Gay dominating large chunks of minutes it may be hard for Ross to find much time to shine next season.
In terms of the lack of a draft pick if you have every seen a G.M more happy not to have a pick in a draft I can't think of anyone more so than Bryan Colangelo. The Raptors could still end up with a pick if they hit the draft lottery but clearly they would rather not see that happen. If it did Colangelo said the Raptors would be willing to keep the selection. It would become pretty problematic if they did adding salary to a team that is already pushing the luxury tax threshold. The Raptors at least on the surface seem to have little to no interest in the NBA Draft at all.
At the end of the day any differences between Colangelo and Casey or Casey and Lowry we are told have been greatly exaggerated. What is no exaggeration is the both Colangelo and Casey will be banking their collective long term future primarily on the group they have assembled in place. A failure of this group to reach the post season would very well likely mean the end for both Colangelo and Casey. While it might not be popular with all the reality of the Raptors situation is not one that can be changed all that much. So why not give both another season to try to prove this group is capable of being a playoff team. Anything short of that would be a massive failure and likely lead to yet another re-build of the re-build that failed.
You can't help but sense the expectations have lowered to just making the post season and the idea of winning a championship or building to one seems long gone. If the Raptors are going to continue to try to ride along the tax threshold that likely is not going to change. What was truly disappointing if you read between the lines today was the admission in a sense that the Raptors do not seem all that anxious to spend any more than they have too. That is not what championships are made of.
Still Colangelo and Casey, were in a sense, asking for you to believe in them and ultimately believe in the core of this team that they have in place. It sure seems nothing of significance is coming in the off-season.
Posted by James Borbath at 10:08 PM