So here we are in the friggin 17th inning and still deadlocked at one all. I have the Indians at +1.5 RL and all I can think is Murphy going to get me again in this situation, I lost by two runs with the Rangers two days ago UP 7 to 3 going to the bottom of the ninth and losing with TX +1.5 RL!! We will see.
PF: Amir Johnson/Reggie Evans/Ed Davis/Joey Dorsey
SF: Linas Kleiza/Julian Wright/Ronald Dupree
SG: DeMar DeRozan/Leandro Barbosa/Sonny Weems
PG: Jarrett Jack/Jose Calderon/Marcus Banks
Head Coach: Jay Triano (3rd season)
2010-11 Team Salary: Approximately $60.1 million
Off-Season Grade: D+
Maybe Raptors management was a bit naive, and of course hindsight is always 20/20, but by holding onto Chris Bosh last season the franchise set itself back at least a couple of years by not dealing him prior to the trade deadline. Not sure if you heard, but Bosh joined forces with these two other pretty good basketball players in Miami, leaving a gaping hole on the Raps' roster.
Toronto's immediate response to losing Bosh was signing Amir Johnson to a 5-year, $34 million deal. That is right... the Raptors are paying nearly $7 million a year for a guy who has career averages of 4.7 points and 4.2 rebounds per game. Talk about ignoring the market value of a player... ISH!
Hedo Turkoglu who was supposed to be the marquee signing last season who would convince Bosh that the franchise was dedicated to winning... Yeah, that did not turn out well. The Raptors ended up dealing an unhappy Turkoglu to Phoenix for Leandro Barbosa, and replaced Turkoglu by signing Linas Kleiza who spent one season playing overseas and looked impressive this summer at the FIBA World Championships.
Toronto does get credit for having a solid draft, getting Ed Davis at No. 13 and acquiring Solomon Alabi for cash considerations. Both players are relatively raw and will need time to add strength and further develop their game, but are nice re-building pieces for the Raptors.
A year ago, the Raptors suffered the heartbreak of missing out on the postseason by one game. There will not be any drama like that this season as Toronto will be battling for the worst record in the NBA and hopes of landing the top pick in the 2011 NBA Draft.
To put it bluntly, Toronto's starting lineup looks like a second-string unit for a title contending team. Andrea Bargnani now goes from being Bosh's wingman to the No. 1 option. Kleiza and Barbosa will provide some scoring punch while the Raptors will hope Demar DeRozan will take a major step during his second season. Toronto might have the worst collection of power forwards in the league, so replacing Bosh will be even more difficult than anticipated.
The point guard situation was a bit of a mess last season. Jarrett Jack and Jose Calderon split time in the starting lineup, but neither real cemented himself as "the guy." Calderon saw a dip in his production and was almost traded this summer to Charlotte. Expect the Raptors to try and dump his remaining 2-year, $20.3 million deal on someone this season in hopes of clearing up cap space for next offseason.
Looking Ahead to the Summer of 2011:
Toronto will have a pair of first-round picks next season (their own which figures to be in the top five and the Heat's which will likely be in the late 20s) so that will help the re-building process. If Leandro Barbosa opts out of the final year of his deal, the Raptors could have somewhere around $20 million in cap space. The problem is Toronto is not exactly on the wish lists of any major free agents, meaning the team will either have to overpay to land a big name or possibly swing a trade to take on a star player's expensive contract.