The Toronto Raptors are better than what we saw from them in the NBA playoffs, but is knowing that enough to keep Dwane Casey as the head coach, or still hold the backcourt of DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry together?
These playoffs and more importantly getting swept in the first round against a team (the Washington Wizards) that didn’t have home court advantage and lost in all of the regular season meetings feels like an event that will shake things up in Toronto. Not just the coaching staff, but possibly in the roster and the whole approach to their future.
Think about it. Masai Ujiri first came along as someone who was going to blow up the roster and rebuild. What actually happened was Rudy Gay getting traded, and the team suddenly flourished without him. Besides that, there has only been the contract extension to Lowry. Ujiri hasn’t made his mark, or has built this team the way he’d like it.
Casey is the first name in question. His record with the Raptors over the last two years is 97-67 but only 3-8 in the postseason. Is he good enough to take a team that’s probably not going to undergo major changes and drastically improve it? Going to 50-something wins? Make it to the conference semifinals for the first time in over a decade? Sam Mitchell, the previous coach to take them to the playoffs, had a similar CV with the Raptors: Two years of missing the playoffs, two years of losing in the first round, starting the next season and getting fired after only 17 games.
What about the players? The Raptors do need to think about re-signing Amir Johnson, Lou Williams and Tyler Hansbrough. With $48 million already committed in salaries, re-signing all three of them doesn’t leave much in terms of new, impactful arrivals, with the cap space being $66 million. These three made $15.8 million combined last season.
We’ve been hearing a lot about rebuilding and blowing this team up? But does it really make sense? Enter that cycle of hoarding draft picks, sending away any talent that’s over the age of 26-27 and more or less relying on dumb luck to get things done? Lowry isn’t perfect; Terrence Ross and DeMar DeRozan aren’t either. But the core of this team isn’t old enough to give up on it, including Jonas Valanciunas. But a different direction and approach, especially offensively, needs to be taken. A leader, a veteran, needs to be brought. The Raptors are ambitious, but need to make certain changes in order to give themselves a chance to break the first round ceiling.