The Toronto Raptors endured a weekend that summed up their entire year. Two months ago, their back to back against the New York Knicks was looked as a pivotal moment in the team’s drive to the playoffs. Instead the weekend was one filled with two losses and the coming to a realization that the season needs to end very soon.
Coach Dwane Casey was forced to come out and proclaim that he expects his players to play hard for the rest of the season. It seems odd that a coach of a professional team has to come out to the media to get his message across about putting in effort. Simply put, that means his team and some of its players have given up.
Compounding that lack of effort is the knowledge that the team can’t lose enough games to get one of the three worst records in the league. That would mean the Raptors first round pick would go to the Oklahoma City Thunder due to the Kyle Lowry trade and subsequent Houston Rockets trade to acquire James Harden. The Thunder might end up getting a top ten pick. The rich might get richer.
There isn’t even a draft pick to play for so what does the team have left to accomplish? Most of the roster that will return next season are under contract. The players not under contract aren’t likely to be re-signed. The roster will be turned over again in the offseason with Andrea Bargnani most likely to be traded of just amnestied out.
The fringe players can make a case with their play to sign with other teams, but really only Alan Anderson has a shot at making an impact elsewhere. The others will be after thoughts only signed to fill out roster space.
The players could play hard for their coaching staff, but I have a feeling some of them want a change. Casey is slowly finding out that his way may not be best for the Raptors.
When a team has been knocked out of playoff contention long before the end of the season, it gives a chance for the franchise to take a good look at itself. So far what the Raptors see isn’t pretty.
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