NBA AM: Raptors Patiently Sticking To Blueprint
The Toronto Raptors are in the ending stages of a long-term rebuilding project, which just might give the franchise an opportunity to break its current four-year playoff drought during the 2012-13 campaign. Armed with an assortment of former lottery picks on its roster, the Raptors have been watching the chemistry of its young core grow and develop while also looking at ways to bolster their talent by acquiring All-Star talent via free agency and trade.
While the team landed talented guard Kyle Lowry in a trade with Houston to become their floor general, most Raptors fans had been anticipating a bigger move which would catapult the franchise higher into the Eastern Conference hierarchy.
Raptors team president and general manager Bryan Colangelo feels the club will be more competitive than any time in recent memory and also says it has been tough to stay patient within the team’s blueprint and not make splashier moves being so close to getting over the hump.
“There’s going to be a lot of competition across the board. It’s a young team, a developing team,” Colangelo told Michael Richards on his TSN radio showabout the team‘s prospects this season. “Maybe we failed this summer to make the sexy move but I tell you we have gone about this building it the right way, taking a patience approach which is not easy for me to do. I want to turn things around quickly sometimes … all of the time, but sometimes you really do have to wait. You have to do it the right way.”
Although the Raptors remained relatively quiet this summer other than adding forward Landry Fields in free agency, Colangelo said Toronto had the opportunity to get insert itself into the league’s blockbuster deals this summer before opting against that strategy.
“We had a chance to jump into some of these trade scenarios and we’re still looking at various trade scenarios that might come about,” Colangelo said. “We do have some movable pieces.”
The most rumored deal was for All-Star forward Andre Iguodala, who was eventually shipped by the Philadelphia 76ers to the Denver Nuggets. Colangelo admits that the team could have potentially landed Iguodala but said the move would be too risky and would potentially jeopardize the foundation they’ve been building over the past several seasons.
“We’ve got the means to make a big deal if the right deal presents itself,” Colangelo said. “We passed on a few deals this summer because the assets that were going were too much the risk for short term contract.”
You might read into that, a guy named Iguodala.
“We had a chance to jump in there but he wasn’t the right fit for our team given the circumstances and the pieces that needed to go in and out,” Colangelo said. “His contract with one year of permanency and one year where he could opt out was too much risk given that we were unloading several current and future assets.”
In the rumored Iguodala scenario the Raptors would have had to part ways with promising guard DeMar DeRozan, third-year forward Ed Davis, guard Jose Calderon and a first-round pick.
But Colangelo didn’t rule out the team actively seeking trade offers for Calderon with Lowry now in the fold. Calderon, a low turnover guard, is in the last year of a contract which will pay him $10.6 million in 2013 – a deal which could bring tremendous value near the trade deadline.
“I mentioned whether Jose [Calderon] was with this team or serving this team as a trade asset,” Colangelo said. “He really is a trade asset with that expiring contract.”
The Raptors finished 23-43 last season but significantly increased their win percentage over their 2011 edition. The team enters the 202-13 season as a sleeper pick to make the postseason boosted by the addition of veterans Lowry and Fields and rookies Jonas Valanciunas and Terrence Ross.
Sacramento Kings Hesitant To Commit Long Term To Tyreke Evans
Let’s be clear, Tyreke Evans, the former Rookie of the Year, has game. But, the problem plaguing Evans isn’t about overall talent or ability. Evans hasn’t been able to find his niche at the pro level as the Sacramento Kings have tried to utilize him at point guard, shooting guard and small forward without finding the right fit.
Not surprisingly, Evans’ future with the organization has come into the question and he’s been the subject of an assortment of trade rumors over the past season. Evans could potentially be a free agent next summer, but the Kings could choose to lock him up to a multiyear deal before letting the guard hit the open market.
Kings general manager Geoff Petrie says the team isn’t looking to lock Evans up immediately, but didn’t close the door of something being worked on down the line.
“I don’t think it’s something on the front burner at this point,“ Petrie told Marc Spears of Yahoo! Sports. “Going forward salary cap-wise, we have a lot of flexibility. There are no real concerns about our ability to pay going forward because of our future numbers. The most important thing in the big picture is that Tyreke takes his game to another level. The reward for that is ultimately what’s greater in a lot of respects.”
Evans is taking the trade talk and uncertain contract situation in stride, choosing to focus on his game as the first priority.
“Eventually something would happen,” Evans said. “I’m just trying to do whatever I can to get us rolling this year. I’ve been working on my game. I got a lot to prove. The most important thing is I’m a lot better than I was last year. I’ve been receiving a lot of criticism about not being healthy and not playing like I did my rookie year. I just want to come back this year and show people I’m still here and that I haven’t lost a step.
Evans worked out with the Kings extensively this summer and says he’s recent struggles were due to injuries and conditioning.
“I’ve had injuries; not been in the best shape,” Evans said.
Petrie sent out the reminder Evans has yet to turn 23, so there’s still potential for growth.
“He’s been a lot more focused this summer,” Petrie said. “Part of it is maturing as a player. You kind of forget that he is only 22 years old. He’s definitely put in more work and concentration in trying to improve parts of his game. He wants to be thought of as one of the best players in the league.”
Trail Blazers’ Williams Out For Season After Tearing Achilles
Portland Trail Blazers guard Elliot Williams will require surgery to repair his torn left Achilles tendon after injuring it during a voluntary workout at the team’s practice facility.
Williams, the No. 22 overall pick of the 2010 draft, has been oft-injured since entering the league. The guard missed his entire rookie season recuperating from knee surgery on both knees. Last season Williams appeared in only 24 games before being forced to shut it down due to a shoulder injury which also required surgery.
Williams was expected to battle for more consistent minutes in the nightly rotation this season after the departure of veteran shooting guard Jamal Crawford in free agency. Rookie guard Will Barton now becomes a candidate to earn some minutes at the backup shooting guard position behind Wesley Matthews.
No word on a date to repair the Achilles , but it is expected Williams will miss the entire 2013 campaign.
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