Today, news broke that Chicago Bulls‘ star point guard Derrick Rose would be out for the remainder of the 2013-14 season following a torn right meniscus. Rose’s injury is devastating for the Windy City, but more importantly, it’s crushing for Rose as a player. The Bulls were meant to be one of the perennial powerhouses in the Eastern Conference for years to come. Now, that future most likely just shifted.
Up north, GM, Masai Ujiri‘s job just got a little bit more complicated.
With the Toronto Raptors‘ current roster, they look like a team poised to challenge for a top 3-4 spot in the Eastern Conference, especially with the aforementioned loss of Rose to the Bulls. This is both good and bad news for Ujiri.
On the one hand, the Eastern Conference door just swung open that much more for the Raptors. Don’t get it wrong, the Miami Heat and Indiana Pacers are definitely ahead of the Raptors but beyond that, it’s theirs for the taking. For the basketball fans of Toronto, they have craved to cheer for a meaningful and relevant team for too many years now. Raptor fans have grown weary of hearing the dreaded “rebuilding process” phrase tossed around time after time.
In the diluted Eastern Conference, the Raptors also currently have the roster to make a playoff run in the foreseeable future, especially considering the ticking time bombs that are the Brooklyn Nets and New York Knicks, which are both set to explode pretty soon if things don’t pick up quickly.
With players such as Rudy Gay, Demar Derozan, Kyle Lowry, a healthy Jonas Valanciunas, Terrence Ross, Steve Novak and Tyler Hansbrough, the Raptors have molded athleticism and scoring (Gay and Derozan) with toughness (Hansbrough and Lowry) along with shooters (Novak and Ross), which is more then can be said for many Eastern Conference rosters. They still need to fix up the offense, but that’s on Dwane Casey and the front office to figure out.
With a bevy of quality players reportedly on the trading block such as Danny Granger, Iman Shumpert, Omer Asik, Kenneth Faried and Amare Stoudemire, along with a host of teams either wanting to tank for the upcoming draft class or clear up cap space for the upcoming free agency frenzy, the Raptors would have no shortage of trading partners if they were to decide to go all in for the foreseeable future.
Coupled with the fact that the Raptors’ suspect rotations and offensive schemes could be cured by bringing in an experienced offensive guru such as George Karl or Stan Van Gundy, and a serious playoff run could be brewing in Raptorland.
Although it seems like a next-to-nil chance that the Raptors would beat either the Pacers or the Heat in a seven-game series even with a roster upgrade, this jolt of excitement and success is exactly what many passionate Raptors fans are desperately seeking. Dismantling the roster at this stage could cause some serious backlash to Ujiri and the Raptors’ management. Either way, things just got more a little bit more interesting for Ujiri and Raptors fans today.