May 25, 2017 by The Waterboy Report
Entering the playoffs as a third seed, the Raptors knew a second-round date against the Cavaliers was inevitable. The Raptors got off to a slow start in the first-round against the Bucks, but were able to take care of business in six games to advance and face the Cavaliers. Many fans, including myself, felt that the Raptors had a much better shot against the Cavs this time around, but as we all know this series ended in a four-game sweep in favour of Cleveland. The Raptors never stood much of a chance in any of the games. Their poor outside shooting and inability to stop the 3-point shot left them in a pool of trouble against the defending champions. Unlike last year, the Raptors season ended on a sour note.
Now the Raptors are faced with a very important off-season. Key trade acquisitions P.J. Tucker and Serge Ibaka, veteran utility piece Patrick Patterson and of course top player Kyle Lowry all enter the unrestricted free agency this summer. Ibaka is expected to resign with the team, however Lowry has expressed interest to play in the Western Conference and even for his hometown 76ers. If Lowry stays in Toronto, he would be eligible for a five-year contract extension at nearly $200 million – a big risk to take on a 31-year-old point guard.
Then there’s the situation with Dwane Casey. Do the Raptors elect to go in a different coaching direction or do they keep Casey and have him lead the “culture reset” for the Raptors.
Also, are the Raptors willing to trade a DeMar DeRozan or a Jonas Valanciunas and shake-up the core of the franchise?
There’s no question this team needs to make some moves, specifically with getting some three-point help, but the Raptors shouldn’t rebuild as some people have suggested. I don’t think it’s necessary because the team has remained competitive through the years. Four straight trips to the playoffs and back-to-back 50-win seasons is a huge upgrade for a fan base that was accustomed to losing for so long. The Raptors have been tasked with getting passed arguably the greatest player of all time in LeBron James each season. James is heading to his 7th straight NBA Finals, which tells you how much he’s owned the East. Not to mention, the Cavaliers and the Warriors have destroyed every ounce of parity in the league making it difficult for teams like the Raptors to win a championship any time soon. It may seem like the Raptors don’t have what it takes, but they’re unfortunately stuck in between this two-team race.
I’m not making excuses, but I think fans should appreciate and be proud of what this team has been able to accomplish. The Raptors have come a long way from the Rob Babcock and Andrea Bargnani days. That’s a win in itself.
By Luca Rosano – Waterboy