The season is over. With what was undoubtedly the most talented roster the Raptors have ever had, they still couldn’t muster any competition for the defending champion Cleveland Cavaliers. Today they lost game 4 109-102, and suffered their 2nd sweep in the last 4 years. Now that the season is officially over, we must take a look ahead to what may be the biggest summer in the franchise’s history.
1. What to do with Kyle Lowry?
With exception to Vince Carter, Lowry is probably the 2nd best Raptor of all-time. But once again, he’s going to be a free agent and we’re all sitting in anticipation. Lowry is no doubt the engine of this team, and it’s highly likely he ends up accepting the max from general manager Masai Ujiri, but it still is a question. He’s 31 years old, and has been lost in the playoffs for now 3 years in a row. Does Masai believe that Kyle is the right guy to lead this team with DeMar to the promised land.
2. Is Dwane Casey still the right coach?
Casey has been the coach for 6 years now, he’s the 4th longest tenured coach in the NBA (behind Popovich, Carlisle, and Spoelstra), but this team has never really seemed to reach it’s full potential. We all know a coach’s vision and talk can get stale, so maybe it is time for a new voice. If that is indeed the case, we can look at the usual suspects for the gig. Jeff Van Gundy, (former Raptor) Mark Jackson, and Kevin McHale. But the real name to watch out for would be Raptors 905 coach Jerry Stackhouse. He’s been in the organization for 2 years now and is a rising star in the coaching ranks. He just won D-League coach of the year and led the 905 to a championship in just their second year of existence. In my opinion, I think Casey is still the coach going into next year, but if he’s not, Stackhouse is the guy to watch.
3. Max contract for Ibaka?
The Raptors made the big splash at the trade deadline by acquiring Serge Ibaka. While he’s been inconsistent during his time with the Raps, he’s still a big time player, and you don’t trade a guy like Ross and a pick to let him walk in the off-season. A full season with Kyle, DeMar, Serge, and Jonas as your “big four” is still a very formidable lineup.
4. What to do with your other pieces?
Not only are Lowry and Ibaka free agents, but so are key bench pieces like PJ Tucker and Patrick Patterson. In this new market, both are likely to command big contracts, and are the Raptors willing to go into the luxury tax to keep everyone together? I think of those two, Patterson is the one that’s most likely to walk, but if they do decide to bring in both, they’ll need to off-load other roster pieces to do so. Which leads into the next question.
5. What does the roster look like next year?
What this playoffs has made evident, is that no matter what they decide to do with Lowry and Ibaka, other changes need to be made. DeMarre Carroll has been useless this season and it’s likely that Ujiri tries to move his contract. They also really like how Delon Wright is developing so it’s possible that they also try to move incumbent backup Cory Joseph. The Raptors would be wise to try and move one or both of those players in order to surround their stars with more outside shooting.
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