What’s Next for the Toronto Raptors?

20th Anniversary Toronto Raptors LogoMaybe I should have waited a little bit before I started writing this post. Maybe just 2 hours after the end of game 7 and the 2013-14 Raptors season isn’t enough time to clearly look back and forward at the team.

But here I am. Thinking and typing and posting.

As I was watching today’s 4th quarter at The Dock Ellis I looked at the strangers I was drinking and cheering with and said, “If you had told me when we were 6-12 that we would have the ball with a chance to win in game 7 of the playoffs I would have gladly taken it.” And I meant it. In early December the season looked lost. We were ready to tank for a high pick in a deep draft.

2014 Toronto Raptors HuddleBut a funny thing happened on the way to the lottery. The Raptors started winning. And they kept on winning. A franchise record 48 wins, the Atlantic Division title and the 3rd seed in the playoffs all landed in Toronto after the Rudy Gay trade and an unforeseen turnaround for the Raps.

And while we’re all disappointed with a 1st round exit from the playoffs, there’s reason to be hopeful for the future.

All-Star DeMar DeRozan has 3 years left on his contract, 2nd year starters Terrence Ross and Jonas Valanciunas each have 2 years left. Amir Johnson will be back next season playing for a new contract as well.

The question marks come with Greivis Vasquez, Patrick Patterson, Coach Dwane Casey and season MVP Kyle Lowry.

Will Kyle Lowry be back in 2014-15 with a new contract?
Kyle Lowry and Coach Dwane Casey Toronto RaptorsHere’s what my basketball loving friend Sean had to say about Kyle’s 2013-14 season: Absolutely our team’s MVP for the entire season has been Kyle. His attitude, toughness, willingness to put the team on his shoulders and ability to make his mark on a game in so many ways has defined this Cinderella season. I hope the Raptors are able to re-sign him for ~$10m/yr for 3ish years because if he leaves it’ll be disastrous to the progress we’ve made this year.

I agree. A $30 million/3 yr deal would be great. But to be quite honest, that statement was made before the playoffs, and I think I would be okay looking at $40 million over those same 3 years, with some team/player options built in for years 4 and 5 would work for me.

Greivis Vasquez and Patrick Patterson 2014 Toronto RaptorsI would also love to see Patrick Patterson back as the backup big man to Amir and Jonas. And while I know Vasquez has his eye on a starting point guard job somewhere in the league, it would be awesome to have him back in a 1-2 punch role in T.O.

As for Coach Casey, his 5th place finish in the Coach of the Year voting was probably low. Taking a team that was supposed to tank and leading them to the playoffs and home court advantage was a serious accomplishment for the man who acts as a dad for a young Raptors roster. I expect that Masai Ujiri will bring back the coach on a 3 year contract with a vote of confidence and the chance to prove that this team is for real moving forward.

If I had a wish list for players to find new homes next season it would include John Salmons, Landry Fields, Dwight Byucks and Julyan Stone. That would leave room for 4 new players on the roster.

The Raptors have the 20th, 37th and 59th picks in the upcoming draft. If they can grab 2 players to add to the roster, and 1 to add to the everyday rotation, I’ll be happy. If Masai can trade up in the draft to secure a better player, I’ll be ecstatic.

Vince Carter 2014 Toronto RaptorsBut the player I’d love to add. The man that can take the place of Salmons or Fields on the roster is someone familiar. Someone who we all used to love. Someone who we all need to forgive. Vincent Lamar Carter.

Vince is a pending free agent, an ageing superstar and a solid bench player who has shown that he can contribute and be a positive veteran presence for a team.

I would love to welcome Vince back with a 2 year contract and a chance to end his career in Toronto.

My hope for this franchise is that we can start putting together 50 win seasons and perennial home court advantage teams. I would love to have the playoffs be an every year experience for a city who loves to come together with sport as the reason.

And with the NBA All-Star Game coming to the ACC in February 2016 – it would be great to showcase a winning city in prime time.

I’m not saying that it’s going to be easy. The Nets, Knicks, Celtics and 76ers would all love to steal the division from the Raptors. And this 48 win season needs to become a starting point for future greatness, not an apparition. 

But I’m saying there’s a legitimate chance with the roster, leadership and attitude that the Raptors have started to build in Toronto.

And as we look forward to the 20th season in this franchise’s history, a chance to be back here again next year is really all I’m hoping for.

#RTZ #WeTheNorth Toronto Raptors National Anthem DeMar DeRozan Amir Johnson

2014 Toronto Raptors Playoff Crowd

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What’s Next for the Toronto Raptors?

20th Anniversary Toronto Raptors LogoMaybe I should have waited a little bit before I started writing this post. Maybe just 2 hours after the end of game 7 and the 2013-14 Raptors season isn’t enough time to clearly look back and forward at the team.

But here I am. Thinking and typing and posting.

As I was watching today’s 4th quarter at The Dock Ellis I looked at the strangers I was drinking and cheering with and said, “If you had told me when we were 6-12 that we would have the ball with a chance to win in game 7 of the playoffs I would have gladly taken it.” And I meant it. In early December the season looked lost. We were ready to tank for a high pick in a deep draft.

2014 Toronto Raptors HuddleBut a funny thing happened on the way to the lottery. The Raptors started winning. And they kept on winning. A franchise record 48 wins, the Atlantic Division title and the 3rd seed in the playoffs all landed in Toronto after the Rudy Gay trade and an unforeseen turnaround for the Raps.

And while we’re all disappointed with a 1st round exit from the playoffs, there’s reason to be hopeful for the future.

All-Star DeMar DeRozan has 3 years left on his contract, 2nd year starters Terrence Ross and Jonas Valanciunas each have 2 years left. Amir Johnson will be back next season playing for a new contract as well.

The question marks come with Greivis Vasquez, Patrick Patterson, Coach Dwane Casey and season MVP Kyle Lowry.

Will Kyle Lowry be back in 2014-15 with a new contract?
Kyle Lowry and Coach Dwane Casey Toronto RaptorsHere’s what my basketball loving friend Sean had to say about Kyle’s 2013-14 season: Absolutely our team’s MVP for the entire season has been Kyle. His attitude, toughness, willingness to put the team on his shoulders and ability to make his mark on a game in so many ways has defined this Cinderella season. I hope the Raptors are able to re-sign him for ~$10m/yr for 3ish years because if he leaves it’ll be disastrous to the progress we’ve made this year.

I agree. A $30 million/3 yr deal would be great. But to be quite honest, that statement was made before the playoffs, and I think I would be okay looking at $40 million over those same 3 years, with some team/player options built in for years 4 and 5 would work for me.

Greivis Vasquez and Patrick Patterson 2014 Toronto RaptorsI would also love to see Patrick Patterson back as the backup big man to Amir and Jonas. And while I know Vasquez has his eye on a starting point guard job somewhere in the league, it would be awesome to have him back in a 1-2 punch role in T.O.

As for Coach Casey, his 5th place finish in the Coach of the Year voting was probably low. Taking a team that was supposed to tank and leading them to the playoffs and home court advantage was a serious accomplishment for the man who acts as a dad for a young Raptors roster. I expect that Masai Ujiri will bring back the coach on a 3 year contract with a vote of confidence and the chance to prove that this team is for real moving forward.

If I had a wish list for players to find new homes next season it would include John Salmons, Landry Fields, Dwight Byucks and Julyan Stone. That would leave room for 4 new players on the roster.

The Raptors have the 20th, 37th and 59th picks in the upcoming draft. If they can grab 2 players to add to the roster, and 1 to add to the everyday rotation, I’ll be happy. If Masai can trade up in the draft to secure a better player, I’ll be ecstatic.

Vince Carter 2014 Toronto RaptorsBut the player I’d love to add. The man that can take the place of Salmons or Fields on the roster is someone familiar. Someone who we all used to love. Someone who we all need to forgive. Vincent Lamar Carter.

Vince is a pending free agent, an ageing superstar and a solid bench player who has shown that he can contribute and be a positive veteran presence for a team.

I would love to welcome Vince back with a 2 year contract and a chance to end his career in Toronto.

My hope for this franchise is that we can start putting together 50 win seasons and perennial home court advantage teams. I would love to have the playoffs be an every year experience for a city who loves to come together with sport as the reason.

And with the NBA All-Star Game coming to the ACC in February 2016 – it would be great to showcase a winning city in prime time.

I’m not saying that it’s going to be easy. The Nets, Knicks, Celtics and 76ers would all love to steal the division from the Raptors. And this 48 win season needs to become a starting point for future greatness, not an apparition. 

But I’m saying there’s a legitimate chance with the roster, leadership and attitude that the Raptors have started to build in Toronto.

And as we look forward to the 20th season in this franchise’s history, a chance to be back here again next year is really all I’m hoping for.

#RTZ #WeTheNorth Toronto Raptors National Anthem DeMar DeRozan Amir Johnson

2014 Toronto Raptors Playoff Crowd

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