1. Was bringing Casey back a good call?
Joshua Howe: Look, you don’t just take a team that was supposed to tank it out with Philadelphia and Orlando at the beginning of the season, have a trade made by the GM that was supposed to worsen the club, and expect to win 48 games.
That just doesn’t happen.
But the Raptors surprised everyone and Casey was a big part of that, whether people like to believe it or not. He made (and still makes) some mistakes, but what coaches don’t? He’s worth giving more time.
Besides, he already has the most important part of being a coach down pat: respect from his players.
Isaac Thompson: Absolutely. His unusual lineups and mild inability to make adjustments continue to irk some people, but in an era of high coach turnover rate, continuity is more important than ever. Nearly every player on the roster has improved in their own way under DC, and though he consistently demands the respect of the players, the feelings are mutual. Lowry has a long history of starting conflict with higher powers, and it speaks wonders that he and Casey are like long-lost friends.
Damon Ward: Absolutely it was. To be a true fan about it, I could say that an argument could be made for him to be COY. Let’s be honest, he had a HUGE hand in turning this team around. It truly seems as though the team has bought into the “pound the rock” philosophy, and we’re only now getting the opportunity to see just what kind of coach Casey can truly be.
The stability that this franchise and fan base lacked and sorely needed is beginning to take fruition, and it’s beginning to show on the court as Casey continues to make strides as a coach and player developer.
Kiyan Sobhani: Yes.
I mean, how could you argue against it? Sure, a lot of us were pulling out our hairs at some puzzling rotations and out-of-timeout plays, but hey, he took a young team which seemed destined to tank, and motivated them enough to take them to a franchise record 48 wins.
That’s darn impressive.
Say what you want about him, but the players love and respect him, so I think it would be foolish not to extend him if it means the team is going to be unified heading into next season.
Plus, how much would you have to pay to get someone like George Carl? This decision totally made sense.
2. What years/$ would you be willing to give Lowry?
Joshua Howe: Build the dude a statue if he wants it.
He and DeRozan were fuel for the fire this season and in an NBA that is littered with great point guards, it’s nice to have one that isn’t a defensive liability. Add that he played at an All-Star level offensively and I think the Raps will do anything to keep him.
I say go for it.
Isaac Thompson: One thing is for certain: what Masai ultimately offers Kyle cannot be based on this season alone, and that is a bad thing for Lowry. His history is not the brightest in the world… weight and personality issues have given media a field day in the past. However, there’s a reason it’s called the “past”. Masai laid down the facts last off-season, and Lowry decided to make the honest change. Boy, has it paid off.
Contract-wise, I’d look at 4 years/$11-12 million, front-loading the contract. He’d be heading into his 30’s on the back end of the deal, and the Raps don’t want a heavy cap burden in case of regression.
Damon Ward: Anything he wants. While a lot of people will say that he is NOT worth the max on the open market (and that is true), he is worth the Max to Toronto. Now, understand I am not saying that we simply, straight out the gate offer him that deal, rather what I AM saying is that IF that is where the talks lead up to, I would not have a problem with Toronto signing him to that deal. Let’s be honest, while DeMar may be the face of the franchise and arguably the best player on this squad. You would not be wrong in stating that Lowry is the Heart and Soul, or the engine that makes this train go! So all I have to say is, ALL ABOARD?!?
Kiyan Sobhani: I think it’s best to keep this answer short:
4 years, 40-48 million. If you let him walk, the team will seriously regress next season.
3. Who’s more important to retain, Vasquez or Patterson?
Joshua Howe: Gotta be Patman.
He gave the Raptors a big time push during the regular season. So many teams look for a stretch four like him and aren’t able to find one that is consistent or worth playing more than 12 minutes a game. He does a great job of pulling opposing bigs out of the paint so drivers (DeRozan, Ross, Lowry, etc.) can attack the rim. He is a legitimate threat to score from deep while also being strong enough to make a stand down low.
But what about the postseason, you say?
Vasquez was solid. Very good, in fact. But Patterson was injured during the playoff run and I think he would’ve performed better if he’d been 100%.
Don’t hate me, General Greivis.
Isaac Thompson: I love what GV brings to the table, and his passion for this city is almost at Amir-like levels despite only being here for 5 months. Unfortunately, I’d have to take Patterson in this one. He’s very versatile on offense, shooting from everywhere on the floor while adding a decent post-game as well. He’s also very mobile defensively and has the ability to guard 4 spots. Simply put, it is easier to find a backup point guard than it is to find a backup big of Patman’s abilities.
Damon Ward: This is a tough one for me to call, simply because I truly enjoy having both of them sporting a Toronto jersey. What Vasquez allows Casey to do when having both on the floor is add that versatility and reliability of a proven ball handler on the court, which renders traps, double teams, and high pressure defense almost a moot issue. On the flip side what Patterson allows Casey to do when he is on the floor is add that versatility and spacing which opens the middle allowing Lowry/DeRozan to do their thing and have both Ross and Patterson open for the three while Val rolls to the basket. These are two very highly desirable things to have in a team. Patterson has the edge on the “on the court tangibles” where the edge goes to Vasquez for everything else, I.E – durability, sound bites, attitude, intangibles.
With a gun to my head I would have to say Patterson by the smallest of margins.
Kiyan Sobhani: Patterson.
You remember how devastated we were for losing Ed Davis in that trade to acquire Rudy Gay? Well, the acquisition of PatPat makes it easy to get over that move now. Patterson was actually taken two spots after Ed Davis in the same draft.
And he’s better.
He can shoot, stretch the floor, play defence, rebound.
Regarding Vasquez – I love him. He proved his worth in this season’s playoffs leading the team off the bench, and he’s made it clear several times that he loves the team and the city, and that he doesn’t want to leave.
However, the reality is that back-up point guards are much easier to come by in this league, while players like Patterson are rare.
4. Who do you like at the #20 spot in the draft?
Joshua Howe: The Raptors need two main things: a big who can provide rim protection and a bigger wing.
That’s why Jerami Grant, the sophomore from Syracuse, would be a good pick at the 20th spot in the draft.
He is 20 years old, 6″8′ tall, 220lbs and plays the small forward position. He averaged 12.1ppg and 6.8rpg on 49.6% shooting from the field in his last college season. He played about 31 minutes per game and went 67.4% from the free throw line.
He has tremendous physical talent and I think he’d be a great addition to possibly play behind Terrence Ross. This kid can ball and became a key cog in ‘Cuse’s system as he played alongside Canadian Tyler Ennis.
Isaac Thompson: I’d be happy with a bunch of guys. First and foremost, if Dario Saric falls to #20, I think Ujiri has to take him. A 6’10” forward who handles the ball and runs the floor like a 6-footer. He’s a capable shooter, and his defensive instincts are very respectable. K.J. McDaniels and CleAnthony Early also intrigue me. Both are big, athletic wings who can have an immediate impact off the bench. McDaniels prides himself on the defensive end, whereas Early uses his physical tools to get almost anywhere on offense.
Damon Ward: If we’re going to take Masai at face value, then I think the reasonable pick would be along the line of K.J Mc Daniels. He embodies what Casey looks for in a player. I.E – Defense first, everything else second!
Kiyan Sobhani: If someone like Dario Saric falls as low as 20, I’d take him. This kid is going to be really good – he’s so versatile offensively.
If not, I’d love a player like Jerami Grant. I think he can develop into a key part of the Raptor big-man rotation. This kid is athletic, can rebound, score inside, and can play both the SF and PF positions. He has a 7’2 wingspan.
5. What FAs am I looking at?
Joshua Howe: Besides our own? Besides Vince Carter?
Please, people. Don’t make me talk about VC again.
Luol Deng is a guy I would look at. Pau Gasol as well.
Those are two bigger names who I could actually see leaving their respective teams, although Gasol’s decisions will partly be based on who Los Angeles signs as new head coach.
I think Gasol could work well with Valanciunas in a starting role, or even coming off of the bench. He can hit mid-range shots, is still a decent defender and on a good day has one of the best post games in the league. The major problem with him is his health, but that can be overlooked since he also adds veteran experience to a team who clearly missed that against Brooklyn.
Deng is something else the Raptors need: a larger-sized small wing who can score and doesn’t mind being second, or even third fiddle. He averaged 19.0ppg and 6.9rpg this past season and is a versatile guard that can be put in a number of roles. The issue with him is do you start him and possibly hinder Ross’ growth?
Things to think about as free agency looms.
Isaac Thompson: The Raps’ two biggest needs going into next season are a backup wing and a backup center. I appreciate what Chuck Hayes’ veteran savvy has done for us this year, but we need at least an average offensive threat behind Jonas. Jordan Hill was buried on the depleted Lakers bench this year and didn’t get much league-wide recognition, but his 5 offensive rebounds per36 ranked 6th in the league. Brings it on both ends of the floor. At the 3, Trevor Ariza and Al-Farouq Aminu would be additions I’m content with.
Damon Ward: Here’s the thing. I truly enjoy our team with the makeup that we have. Can we improve – absolutely we can, however I don’t think we do that at the sacrifice of cohesion. (exhibit A – Indiana and the Granger Trade.) With that said, and I think people are going to kill me on this one. Why not take a flier on Andrew Bynum?? Low risk, possible High reward!!
Kiyan Sobhani: There’s a lot of good / great free agents this Summer, but realistically? I don’t have my eye on too many.
There are two positions the Raptors need to strengthen: SF and back-up C.
Three names that probably stand out the most to me: Luol Deng, Vince Carter, Pau Gasol.
Deng would be nice, but he would be expensive and would send Terrence Ross to the bench.
Vince wouldn’t be a bad idea, he could come off the bench for 15-20 minutes while T-Ross still gets to develop as the starting SF.
Gasol would be great if he were to come cheap – but we know that won’t happen. I actually don’t believe Masai will shake things up too much this off-season anyway.
6. What am I looking for in young guns?
Joshua Howe: Jonas Valanciunas and DeMar DeRozan are easy. I just expect them to keep doing what they’re already doing, at the very least. It would be nice if they could work on their consistency (and just try to get better in general) of course, but without getting nit-picky and dissecting their games that’s all I’ve got for those two.
Ross, however, should be on full alert that he needs to continue to work hard and grow. He was a flub in the playoffs (though his Game 7 wasn’t horrible) for the most part, and that was when the Raptors needed him most. People are going to, and have questioned his mental toughness along with the rest of his game.
I think T-Ross is going to have to come out and have another solid season for Toronto next go round for the franchise to keep giving him the nod. He’s young and it shows, but he’s a project worth working on.
Isaac Thompson: Strength was an issue for Terrence this year, and it showed in the playoffs. He’s already way ahead of DeMar defensively, and adding 10 pounds this summer could do him wonders. Jonas also needs some work defensively, and I’d like to see some more versatility in his post moves. News broke a few days ago that he’s planning to learn from Hakeem the Dream, and I couldn’t be more excited to see the fruits of their workouts.
Damon Ward: I hesitate to throw numbers into the mix, so I will say this; I expect to see a continued steady increase in playing time and production. Eye on effectiveness!!!
Kiyan Sobhani: Jonas is going to be working with Hakeem this Summer, which will be good for his growth as a player. I’d like him to completely get rid of that awful hesitation pump fake he does.
Terrence Ross doesn’t need to really improve on anything in particular. I mean, I don’t think his game is particularly weak in any area. With him, I think it’s all mental. He needs to grow his confidence and just keep putting time in the gym. I think he’ll continue to grow with experience.