What's Next for the Toronto Raptors?

TOsports.caCorrespondent IMarch 1, 2009

There has been much hype and optimism surrounding the Raptors and newly acquired Shawn Marion, but any excitement about his impact on the team seems a little more than premature.

Despite Marion’s seemingly limitless potential to play within the relatively young Raptors system, it is more than apparent that there are more pieces missing from the puzzle.

After the acquisition of Marion, it is pretty clear that general manager Bryan Colangelo is trying to recreate some of the desert magic he once had when he orchestrated one of the most explosive NBA offenses with the Phoenix Suns.

Colangelo, who originally drafted Marion ninth overall in 1999, is aware of what “The Matrix” is capable of doing on the court, attempting to right the failed experiment when the team traded for Jermaine O’Neal.

In addition to Marion, the Raptors also picked up Marcus Banks, a former NCAA co-defensive player of the year when he was at UNLV. Although Banks, a first-round pick, seems to show potential within the Raptors organization, he has played for as many teams as has played years in the league. This has led to speculation that he might not be the player he appears to be on paper.

Calangelo was recently quoted as saying, “This is a win-win for both Toronto and Miami and we wish J.O. and Jamario the best,” after the making the trade over All-Star weekend.

The only problem is that along with unloading O’Neal and Moon to the Heat, the Raptors also agreed to part with yet another first round pick between 2010 and 2015.

To make matters worse, under the conditions of the Marion trade, the draft pick is lottery protected, so the first time the Raptors make the playoffs after this season, their pick goes to Miami. And if the Raptors don’t make the playoffs next season, they will have to part with another draft pick to Miami.

So for a team that is trying desperately to build a strong supporting cast around Chris Bosh so the big man will not opt-out of his contract in the summer of 2010, the team is not left with many options in terms of picking up any fresh talent from the pool of potential rookies in the offseason.

Prospects in the draft may include Georgetown’s Greg Monroe, UConn center Hasheem Thabeet, Ricky Rubio (Spain), Arizona State shooting guard James Harden, Oklahoma power forward Blake Griffin, Davidson’s Stephen Curry, Wake Forest’s Jeff Teague, Pitt’s Dejaun Blair, and even North Carolina’s Tyler Hansbrough and Ty Lawson—all players that could make an immediate impact on the team for the 2009-10 season.

As a result, the team is left with impending decisions to make over the summer, because it is almost certain that the Raptors need to add at least one more big time contributor to the team in order to make a push in the upcoming season.

Rumored to be up for grabs in the offseason are big-time players such as Amare Stoudemire, Tyson Chandler, Richard Jefferson, Kirk Hinrich, and former Raptors Marcus Camby and Vince Carter.

These are all players who can play an up-tempo style of game and could all potentially fit well into the Raptors' system, putting them into contention within the Eastern Conference.

But more than likely, the team will not have enough ingredients for a full-course meal and nothing to buy them with, thus making it a more than likely scenario that Bosh will be cut loose, and the team will have to start the rebuilding process all over again.