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.