Toronto Raptors Must Look To The Future

By Shahab Khan
Dwane Casey Toronto Raptors
Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

In every NBA season, there comes a time when a coach or franchise decide that hope is over. That hope for a playoff spot has realistically diminished. That time has come for the Toronto Raptors.

Losers of four in a row, the team has fallen to last in their division and tenth in the Eastern conference. They now sit seven and a half games back of the eighth place Milwaukee Bucks. Their season is over, and coach Dwane Casey should change his rotation to reflect it.

The building blocks for the team are the trio of Rudy Gay, DeMar Derozan and Amir Johnson. Those three should play the bulk of the minutes so they get accustomed to playing with each other.

You are stuck with Landry Fields and his contract for another two years, and needs court time to get his game back. Rookies Terrence Ross and Jonas Valanciunas need to play, and play lots after up-and-down first seasons.

That is the six-man rotation the Casey needs to go with the rest of the way.

A decision on whether the franchise believes that their point guard of the future is Kyle Lowry needs to be ascertained. Lowry only has one year left on his contract at a little more than $6 million. If he is going to run the show next year, then he has to get comfortable with the six Raptors mentioned earlier and sign an extension.

If he isn’t the point guard for years to come, then the team should rotate him with the other second-rate point guards on the team:  John Lucas III and Sebastian Telfair.

Speaking of Lucas III and Telfair, only one should come back next year as a back-up point guard and that is a stretch.  After trading Jose Calderon, the Raptors were dominated by quicker more athletic lead guards.

As for the other that won’t be around next season, the list is long. Andrea Bargnani will get traded in the offseason. Linas Kleiza and his contract will be amnestied in the summer. Aaron Gray should get cut. Mickael Pietrus and Alan Anderson won’t be resigned, and Quincy Acy and his short NBA career will continue, sort of, in the Developmental league.

The rest of the games have to spent thinking of the future.  The Raptors have won too many games to slide down into a high draft pick, so the best that can be done is getting familiar with each other and learning to play hard every night.  Casey himself must realize that he is a dead man walking and should continue to be a professional by coaching out the season.  That way, it might be easy for him to latch on next season as an assistant coach, which is a role that he is perfect for.

Sometimes it’s best to sacrifice the present for the future. Maybe that should have been done much earlier, but when you are general manager Brian Colangelo and trying to save your job, you do everything you can to win.

That included trading for Gay and his approximate $18 million dollar, which the franchise will have to pay out well after he is gone.

Shahab Khan is a Basketball and NBA Columnist with Rant Sports focusing on the Toronto Raptors

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