At this point, I think it is fair to say the Raptors have hit rock bottom. 9 losses in a row, topped off by letting the failing Rockets end their 20 game losing streak. Time to abandon ship.
When this season was slated to play and we found out the Raps were basically going on the road the whole way, we all smelled troubled. Florida was miles away from the North and kilometers away from the franchise's diehard fan base. Many said disaster was ahead, our time at the top was up, Raps were nothing without Kawhi...
I stood firm. Believing in the young core and their ability to battle through diversity. I thought Kyle and Nurse could lead the kids on another tough-fought, playoff-bound year with a second-round exit as our floor. Siakam would rebound from his playoff woes, Fred would play well under his new contract and it would be OGs year to breakout. Baynes and Len scared me sure, but nothing prepared me for how much we would miss our veteran inside presence...
With just over a day left until the trade deadline, and the boys sitting at an abysmal 17-26, it’s time to officially let the past die. 72 games on the road were never going to be easy and with the recent covid troubles, the season is getting away from the team. Masai and the front office have some serious decisions to make.
The first piece of the puzzle is Kyle Lowry. The current Raptors Goat and the leader of the 2019 championship run, Kyle will forever be the face of this age of Raps basketball. If this team wants to set itself up for the future, it needs to truly consider moving its franchise's greatest player. The problem is, most teams that want Lowry either can’t afford him or won’t give up enough assets to make Masai and the team happy. Phili is the perfect match but unless they think they can win without Ben Simmons the Raps won’t bite on any offer they throw. The Clippers would love a true point guard and floor general, but they already sold the house acquiring Playoff P. Would the Heat really give up a potential all-star sharpshooter in Herro for a chance to return to the finals?
Regardless of what the front office wants, a lot of it may come down to what Lowry thinks is best for his career. With young kids and life as a living legend in Toronto, staying and bringing up the next generation may be the best thing for him. Though tasting glory in 2019 may have him wanting to ring chase in his Twilight years. If you have been paying attention, aging veterans on cheap deals have been essential parts of championships in recent years. No matter what happens Lowry will always be loved North of the border.
The second path to a rebuild is allowing the bucks slayer himself to find a starting role to shine somewhere in the league. Norman Powell has had an absolute year this season, putting up 19.5 points on 49/43/87 splits. He has thrived as a healthy cog in a system constantly having to change out its rotation. At almost 28 years old, with an 11 million dollar player option next season, Norm is looking for a big payday to go with his big season. Personally, I would rather see him walk than potentially pay another piece more than they are worth. Though his season has been great, he has disappeared in the clutch when the Raps have needed anyone to step up. He certainly warrants a pick or two, and if convinced to stay, could be a great 3rd option on a contending team for the next 5 years.
The last piece of the puzzle may yet be the most complicated as it does not center around one single player. OG, Fred, and Pascal are the obvious pieces for a rebuild, but neither has the ability alone to carry this franchise. With Fred, you have a shooting stud with no fear of any opponent and incredible basketball IQ on both ends of the floor. Though when frustrated, we can easily see a 10/26 shooting night that directly leads to a loss. In OG you have a defensive juggernaut who can play 1-5 and has the potential for a Kawhi like offensive game. He just has never reached the level of offensive consistency needed to be an All-Star in this league. Pascal is supposed to be the two-way All-Star that can do it all and be the future of the franchise. Being exposed in the playoffs and every winning shot this season rimming out has really taken a toll on his mental. His 3-point shot is a nightmare under .300, while every other shot is forced to the rim with no real plan. Whatever Spicy P has been cooking this season, has gone up in flames.
If Nick Nurse can fit the jigsaw together and find a way to grow each player, they could be a scary big 3 in years to come. Move on to the next generation, bring in Flynn who flourished with his play down in the g league (21p 6a on 41% from 3). Let Boucher start for the rest of the season, let Matt Thomas shoot 8 threes a game and see if what he did in Europe can be replicated. Championship play can wait till the boys return to the great white north. The possibilities are endless, especially if you consider the young pieces that could be added.
Playing a full season south of the border was never going to be easy. This movement was called We The North for a reason. Take the stress off the shoulders of the coaching staff and players. Re-align the chess pieces, get some assets, and look to the future. Embrace a single season tank and most of all #FadeForCade