Okay, so the Toronto Raptors have signed Kyle Lowry and Serge Ibaka. It traded for CJ Miles and dumped DeMarre Carroll. Of course, these are great occurrences. Masai Ujiri did not leave the Raptors to join the New York Knicks, as many anticipated he would. Instead, he continued to waive his wand for the city of Toronto. Masai shortened our stars’ expected four or five-year contracts to just three years. Thus, he created a realistic window of opportunity for the Raptors to compete.
After those years are over, depending on team success, Masai would consider tearing down the team. These contracts give them the opportunity to bail out after three years of post-season play.
These contracts have been great. Seriously, they really are. Tanking is hard – it’s a burden on the players, the team ownership, and most importantly, the fan base. Being a fan of a sub-par NBA team can be incredibly frustrating. When a team sinks to the bottom of the trenches, there’s often a bright future that lies ahead of them. High lottery picks aplenty, these teams may falter briefly, but eventually rise from the ashes to compete once more. A wise man once said to “Trust the Process”, and he rewarded those who remained patient. On the other hand, if you’re a fan of a middling team, it can be incredibly difficult to maintain high spirits. With no immediate future in sight, you’re simply left wondering if this will be there year when something changes. Unfortunately, most years, while management may make small moves, the team remains, more or less, lackluster.
So, Masai, you were at a crossroads, and you found a way to create a possibility of success down both routes. You dug an escape tunnel three years down the road, and fans are grateful. But, what happens now?
Does Toronto Seriously Compete?
The Raptors won’t be able to compete this year, barring unforeseen injuries or trades. Will it be able to compete within this 3-year time slot? Probably not, but it remains to be seen. If DeMar DeRozan develops a 3-point shot, Lowry remains healthy in the playoffs, and Ibaka returns to his pre-Orlando form, anything is possible. However, the fact remains that it is incredibly unlikely the Raptors compete for anything in the near future. This is the correct move no matter how you cut this up. Masai traded away our 2018 first-round pick, so tanking this year would be pointless – might as well go for glory.
Yes, if things don’t go as planned, the Raptors may live in infamous middle zone for a couple years. But, Masai is a trade wizard. Who’s to say he can’t get rid of an aging Kyle Lowry for a first-round pick? I certainly believe he can.
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