I'm impressed. I really am. And I feel comfortable saying that no team has improved more this offseason than the Raptors. With the Pacers' decision to not match Toronto's 4-year, $20 million offer sheet to restricted free agent Jarrett Jack, the Raptors have added another valuable player in what has been a very busy summer for the team.
Jack earned his payday by having a successful season in Indiana, but became expendable when the Pacers signed free agent guards Dahntay Jones and Earl Watson. The former Yellow Jacket had a 2-month stretch from February to April in which he scored double digit points in every game. He developed into a legitimate combo guard who started 34 games at the point, but also ran successfully as a two-guard alongside T.J. Ford in the Pacer backcourt.
It will be interesting to see how the Raptors plan to utilize Jack. With Jose Calderon already established as the team's point guard, Jack should start at the off-guard spot. First-round pick Demar DeRozan might have something to say about that, but barring an impressive training camp, the rookie will likely come off the bench. Jack should also see some time running the point when Calderon needs a breather.
Combine Jack's signing with the acquisition of Hedo Turkoglu, Antonie Wright and Devean George, andthe selection of DeRozan, and the Raptors have gone from a team that finished 16 games under .500 to a serious playoff contender in the Eastern Conference.
Toronto also made a long-term commitment to Andrea Bargnani by signing him to a 5-year, $50 million deal. The Italian had a career year for the Raptors and finally showed signs of living up to his selection as the top-overall pick in the 2006 NBA Draft.
But perhaps the biggest offseason move was the one Toronto didn't make. A lot has been made of Chris Bosh, who is entering the final year of his contract with the Raptors. It appears likely that Bosh will test his value in the much anticipated 2010 offseason and should be a hot commodity for many major market teams like New York or Miami. With those type of teams to pursue Bosh, it is very unlikely that he will return to Toronto. So I give credit to the Raptors front office for rolling the dice by not trading Bosh this offseason.
Instead, they surrounded him with more talent, hoping a return to the postseason might be enough to convince Bosh to stay north of the border. If the season doesn't go as planned for the Raptors, they can still try to deal Bosh before the trade deadline and add some other valuable pieces or an additional draft pick to offset his departure rather than lose him in free agency and get nothing in return.
Whether or not Bosh wears a Raptor jersey for the entire 2009-2010 season, the Raptors should be one of the most improved teams in the league.
I would bet 10 units on both the Packers and Patriots, and then 5 units on the Packers in the Super Bowl. The Packers will obviously blow out the Falcons and Tom Brady is the best QB of all time. They've both won 7 consecutive games (Rodgers and Brady) and they are both unstoppable. Rodgers will obviously throw a touchdown in the final seconds to win the Super Bowl. I would bet a million dollars that this will happen.