One thing I really like about the regular season — and the playoffs when applicable — is that the Toronto Raptors are in the newspaper headlines everyday. Win or lose, there are always story lines to help move the narrative along and keep things interesting.
Of course this is an exciting time of year, with the NBA Finals nearing and the draft and free agency right around the corner, but it’s also fun to observe the teams who have long ago been sent home as they plot their course for the future.
For instance, in Cleveland — one of the teams with a coaching vacancy to fill — attention has turned to how the Cavaliers will proceed after winning the NBA Draft Lottery. In Minnesota, there seems to be a very real possibility that “franchise player” Kevin Love will be wearing a different uniform next season.
It isn’t overly surprising that the Cavaliers and Timberwolves are in the news because these are two teams that fell short of expectations in 2013-14. Understandably, the underachievers often have the most issues to sort through in May and June before the bulk of the offseason work takes place.
On the other hand, this can be a very quiet time for teams for a variety of reasons. The Raptors, caught in a standstill, are one of those teams.
There was really only one order of business that they could address and it was handled quickly. Within 48 hours of being eliminated from the playoffs, Dwane Casey was rewarded with a new contract that should have him patrolling the sidelines for another three seasons.
Aside from that, all has been quiet in Raptorland. There has been discussion and speculation, from myself included, about what the future holds for Kyle Lowry, Patrick Patterson, and Greivis Vasquez, but ultimately nothing can be done until July, when free agency begins.
On this note, I find it encouraging that there has been little word from Lowry about his intentions ever since he left the impression several weeks ago that he wants to return.
As reported by Josh Lewenberg of TSN.ca, Lowry indicated that he likes the situation in Toronto.
“At the end of the day, it’s still a business and you have to be a businessman for the situation that you’re in, but I am very happy. This has been one of the best seasons I’ve had, through and through. Best coaches, teammates, [front office]. It’s been great. I am happy. Without a doubt, I can say I’m happy.”
This is a refreshing statement to hear from a pending free agent faced with the decision of whether to return to the Raptors. Furthermore, it is probably a good sign that Lowry has not been the subject of many rumors that seriously link him to another destination.
The remaining core pieces on the roster, DeMar DeRozan, Terrence Ross, Jonas Valanciunas and, to a lesser extent, Amir Johnson are all locks to return, unless Masai Ujiri is planning something that I can’t foresee at this point.
Even though I’m saying that this makes for some slow news days, it isn’t all bad.
This time last year, the Raptors were on the verge of beginning a new era with the hiring of Ujiri to replace Bryan Colangelo as general manager and the trade that finally sent Andrea Bargnani packing.
So the fact that there isn’t much to dissect right at this moment is, in many ways, a good thing. It goes to show just how far the Raptors have progressed in such a short while. For once, there isn’t as much of a need to talk about who should stay or who should go or what needs to be fixed again.
Still, a lot of things will have to fall into place for them to have a repeat performance of their 48-win season, however nothing significant can be done now to address those needs.
The conversation and debate will certainly reignite in a few weeks from now. Until then, I’d say that no news is good news.