Brace Yourself Toronto, It’s Decision Time

LEBRON James and the Cavs dismantled another playoff contender on Sunday night, sweeping their series against the Toronto Raptors. Many experts going into this series expected the Raps to put up a huge fight, with some even stating Toronto had the potential to cause a dramatic upset. Instead they face the crossroads in the most important offseason to date in the franchises history.

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TORONTO face a similar level of uncertainty as the LA Clippers do heading into the off-season. They went all in this year, bringing guys like P.J. Tucker and Serge Ibaka in at the trade deadline. It meant little in the end as they ran into the buzzsaw that is LeBron and now they are at a crossroads. Their two recent acquisitions along with All-Star point guard Kyle Lowry and veteran forward Patrick Patterson are all free agents this off-season and their decisions should shape the franchises future after the most successful era Raptors fans have witnessed.

KYLE Lowry will definitely opt out of his player deal to become a free agent and the Raps can’t let him walk. The other pieces that are hitting the open market are all important, but no one is more important to this team than Lowry. Plagued by injury and inconsistencies he had a post season to forget. That doesn’t mean letting him go and signing elsewhere is the right decision. Serge Ibaka is a different matter though. With the eight year pro likely to demand a big pay day Toronto probably doesn’t have the cap (or need) to re-sign Ibaka. He isn’t the same dominant rim protecter he once was in OKC and that type of player is something that the  Raptors desperately covet. They would be better suited trying to sign an inside presence and paying the role players in Tucker and Patterson what they deserve.

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THERE is plenty of buzz surrounding the future of this core. Can they really regroup and top the Cavs with DeRozan and Lowry leading the way? Or is this simply the current teams ceiling. There are plenty of media personnel out their suggesting that the Raptors should blow it up and move on from the DeRozan/Lowry era. Toronto has the assets and star power necessary to swing a big deal and change the landscape of their entire team. A player like Blake Griffin or Carmelo Anthony could be a potential option for the squad to try and attain, although I’m skeptical on the idea. While it’s all well and good to aim on doing a mini rebuild, there is no certainty that they will be able to reach the top of the East food chain once again. Potentially jumpstarting their future so they can challenge for the East throne in a few years once LeBron’s game is on the downhill slope (although this may be in 20 years time because LeBron is a robot sent from space) is potentially smart, but I think they would be giving up too soon on this group, regardless of their shortcomings in the past few playoffs.

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TWELVE of the players from last years team are contracted for next year and should all be back. If they can bring Lowry, Patterson and Tucker back then they virtually have the same team. For them to be more successful in 2017-18 I think they need to find a big man to clog the center spot (Bismack Biyombo would be nice) and make Jonas Valancunis the leader of their bench unit. Lucas Nogueira isn’t quite ready to be THAT guy so they may have to look at signing someone for cheap. Nerlens Noel would be a great fit, but he is a restricted free agent and isn’t likely to be moving. The same can be said for Alex Len of the Phoenix Suns. Ageing vets like Roy Hibbert, David West and Zaza Pachulia could plug in and play patches of that role however they aren’t permanent solutions. In a perfect world someone with length like John Henson, Gorgui Dieng or Jusuf Nurkic would be a great solution.

BLOWING it up won’t be a shock if they opt to go in that direction and not re-sign their core pieces. I think it would be the wrong decision to make considering the position the franchise is in. Whatever decision they do make though will be a tough, lengthy and potentially painful one. I’m glad I’m not Masai Ujiri.

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