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Community Shootaround: Toronto Raptors

The Raptors have a recent tradition of being really good in the regular season, but not in the playoffs. Toronto entered this season with two straight division titles and two straight first-round exits. The Raptors earned their third consecutive division crown, but today’s Game 1 loss to the Pacers has raised fears of another early knockout.

In 2013/14, Toronto won the Atlantic Division with a 48-34 record before losing to the Nets in seven games. Last season, the Raptors improved to 49-33, but were swept by the Wizards in a stunning playoff loss. They entered this year’s playoffs with a 56-26 mark and the second seed in the East. The team is clearly improving, but its postseason troubles create a difficult decision for the front office. Should the Raptors be judged by their performance in the regular season or the playoffs?

If Toronto suffers another first-round flameout, it’s not clear what changes might be made. Head coach Dwane Casey could be in trouble, but he may be saved by his regular-season success and good relationship with the players. Casey has compiled a 210-184 record in nearly five full seasons with Toronto. He has one year left on his current contract at $3.75MM.

The foundation of the team seems set. Its All-Star backcourt of DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry work well together. DeRozan is headed for free agency this summer and is expected to re-sign, while Lowry still has two seasons and $24MM left on the contract he inked in 2014. Starting center Jonas Valanciunas signed a four-year, $64MM rookie-scale extension over the offseason and is under contract through the 2019/20 season. Backup swingman Terrence Ross received a three-year, $31MM extension in November and is signed through 2018/19.

The Raptors are coming off a productive summer in free agency, signing combo forward DeMarre Carroll for $58MM over four years, point guard Cory Joseph for $30MM over four years, center Bismack Biyombo for $6MM over two years with a player option for next season and power forward Luis Scola for one season at $3MM. In addition to DeRozan, Biyombo and Scola, power forwards James Johnson and Jason Thompson will be free agents this summer. The Raptors won’t have nearly as much cap room to chase free agents this year and are locked into the 27th pick in June’s draft.

That leads us to tonight’s question. If the Raptors exit the playoffs in the first round again, what should be done to shake up the team? Would you decide that Casey is a poor postseason coach and make a change on the bench? Would you break up the starting backcourt, either by letting DeRozan leave in free agency or trying to trade Lowry? Would you attempt to move Valanciunas, Ross or Carroll to get out from under those contracts?

Take to the comments section below to share your thoughts and opinions on the topic. We look forward to what you have to say.

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11 thoughts on “Community Shootaround: Toronto Raptors

  1. Harold

    I think it is time to let Casey go and find a new coach that canntake the raptors to where they want to go. Maybe try to sign and trade Derozan and trade Lowry.

    • I agree with you on letting Casey go. So far, he’s ignored all stats as far as PF Scola problem. He leaves Patterson on the bench for so long. His rotation doesn’t make sense esp with Scola on the starting 5.

  2. Do your homework

    We also have a lottery pick from the Knicks

  3. I wouldn’t freak out yet. But if they do lose in the first round again I think thy shouldn’t do anything unless it is gonna make a major impact. They already are a lot better then last year and next year and if they develop their players a little more I think they could possibly challenge the cavs for the finals spot.

  4. Starship_Pegasus

    If Demarcus Cousins is unobtainable for the Raptors, then I think it would be smart to try get themselves a veteran leader like Chandler or Noah, someone with a backbone who would give them some added toughness

  5. Z.....

    The way they play, its difficult to win in the playoffs, unless your best players make tough shots. They dont move the ball well. They can get away with it a little more in the regular season, b/c you get certain calls that get those guys to the free throw line more. They need to be able to get easier baskets in the half court. I anticipated this, and said it even before the season. They are going to have trouble scoring. Thats why I had Indiana in 6 games for most of the year on them…

    If they lose DeRozan, its not the end of the world, as they have some assets. They have a couple of nice young players, and a couple of draft picks coming their way. They could use a more versatile option at the 4 that can shoot the 3, maybe another wing option depending on the development of their young guys…If they dont lose DeRozan, they’re going to have to find ways to get him in better spots when he catches the ball, to make it easier on him. Its a similar issue that we’ve seen from OKC at times in the playoffs. Lowry and DeRozan essentially take turns out on the perimeter. That makes it tough in the half court

    • great points !!!!!

  6. Forget about the regular season record. The raps play in the Atlantic division which is the weakest division in the NBA. You play each of those teams 4 times. The raps took care of business against the Atlantic division which explains the improvement on the season wins. That aside, we rely too much on the “all star” backcourt. I say all star in quotations because I personally don’t think they are all star caliber players. Don’t get me wrong they are really good players at times, but not consistent enough especially in the playoffs to be considered legit all stars. 3rd time they’ve made the playoffs with home court advantage and yet they fold and choke under pressure every time. I’m not a fan of derozan because he lives at the free throw line..if he’s getting the whistle from the refs them he’s a really good scorer. But when he’s not getting the whistle well this is how he performs. He’s not a strong shooter. He takes a lot of bad shots. He lives in the midrange area which is statiscally the worst spots on the court to shoot and hrs not even a strong or good shooter still after so many years in the league. Derozan is not a 3 point shooter nor is he a solid midrange shooter and he cannot play defense which is being exposed again in the playoffs for a 3rd straight year. Lowry is a streaky shooter which is another problem. The raps rely on 2 inconsistent/ streaky shooters to carry the offensive load. When their shots aren’t falling the raps are a horrible team. I’ve said time and time again that valanciunas is an all star caliber player if dc ran the offense more through jv than our quote on quote all star backcourt. He shoots an extremely high percent in the paint, he finishes, he averaged close to a double double for the season even with the limited touched he gets. He’s the most efficient scorer on the team and when he’s engaged offensively he’s a load to handle. He can easily average anywhere from 18-22 ppg and 10-12 rpg if dc used jv as the focal point on offense. He’s mad talented and still young and only getting better. Jv has not reached his ceiling, not even close. He can easily be the best dominant player on the team if he just gets more touches. When dd and k-low aren’t getting the whistle the offense stinks cuz they are streaky inconsistent shooters. Jv can always score because he’s the most efficient scorer when he gets to his sweet spots. Derozan has always sucked on d and he should not be guarding the best player on the other team. Paul George is a real all star and showed how, and this is him playing after that freakish leg injury. Pg torched derozan and dd the “all star”had nothing for him on d our on the offensive end. Even though Powell is shorter than dd he has way more heart and toughness on the defensive end than dd any day and he should be playing d on pg if he remains in the starting rotation. And give Patrick Patterson more playing time. The raps give me a headache. derozan and Lowry are not who they think they are. They think they’re legit all stars just because they got voted in but in my honest opinion I beg to differ. I think they’re really good players at times but they are not legit all stars. Jv can become a legit all if he gets more touches throughout the season. If jv played on another team and they ran the offense through him because they know he’s an efficient very talented big man, I bet he’d get a lot more attention than he does and would be recognized and considered for all star voting. Facts

    • MGcode

      Facts.

  7. Chris Crouse

    Head coach might be the place to make a change, but Casey is a good one, and the Raptors will have a few assets to make an upgrade. Adding another piece who can play the four may be the way to go.

  8. Macker88

    JV has shown his value thus far through the 4 playoff games and can be a dominate presence. The Raptors simply don’t use him enough and Casey doesn’t play him enough in the second half of games.

    If the Raptors lose in Round 1, I’d be in favor of firing Casey. I believe he does a lot of positive things, but he manages his bench poorly and is poor with situational match up’s which come playoff time are exploited by better coaches. He’s been outcoached in the playoffs the past two seasons and thus far through this round.

    I wouldn’t jump the gun and make any huge moves in the off-season. Although it would be wise to gague the interest on a top end 2/3. If it makes sense and is an upgrade on DeMar (who seemingly is not a playoff performer) maybe it make sense to part with DeRozan and bring in a guy who can make the big shots in the clutch. Upgrading on the 4 spot is the main area of concern. I know the Raptors have been linked to Al Horford, if they’re able to retain DeMar and Bismack adding Horford would put this team right up against the Cavs as the top team in the East.

    The progression of Delon Wright, Norman Powell and Lucas Nogueira have been appealing to watch, Powell has already surpassed James Johnson in the rotation and Nogueira could and should replace Jason Thompson off the bench. Delon Wright looks to have a bright future, plus the Raptors have a top 10 pick in the coming draft, along with their own pick. The present and future looks bright.

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