Since Chris Bosh's not so surprising departure from Toronto, a lot of fingers have been pointed. No one understands this better than Raptors GM Bryan Colangelo. People talk about the pressure being high in large markets such as New York, or LA; but, how about having a whole country crouching, ready to scrutinize your every wrong move.
It would be to foolish to say that Colangelo has been the perfect general manager. Bryan was in the drivers seat for the 2006 draft, the Jermaine O'Neal deal, a couple of thrash contracts given out to Hedo Turkoglu and Jose Calderon, and got to helplessly watch first hand as the highest scoring player in your franchises history packs his bags for Miami.
According to reports however, Colangelo just may have righted a few of those wrongs, and won back the support of Raptors fans right across Canada.
According to the TSN , the Raptors are involved in 2 seperate trades that would look like this:
Why this works?
For Toronto, this quickly alleviates most of its bad contracts. Over the next 3 seasons, Jose is owed 30 million dollars, while Hedo is owed 40 over the next 4 years. The last 14 million of Chandlers contract are owed this year, and Barbosa/Diaw will be expired in the 2012 offseason. This gives Toronto a quicker window to be a 'player' in the free agent market sooner.
The Raptors finally have a pure center that can start. In Andrea Bargani's European days, the big man actually played naturally at SF, his secondary position was PF. This may explain a large part of why Bargnani lagged in comparison to guys like Brandon Roy that continued to play their natural positions when entering the league. While Bargnani still won't experience the same flexibility as he enjoyed his European days, the 7'0 Italian will have more room to move playing along side a guy that is more comfortable playing around the rim.
Securing interior defense:
Anyone that follows the Raptors could easily tell you that interior defense and toughness has never been consistently present when the Raptors hit the court. Sure, Jermaine filled that void for awhile, but it was short lived. Then, in the most recent season, Bosh bulked up and the Raptors acquired perennial bench warmer, Reggie Evans. While this helped Bosh's post and rebounding game, the only real memorable moment on the defensive side of the court is the scuffle Bosh had with Dwight Howard. Evans, as much as I loved the guys enthusiasm, danced on the sidelines for the vast majority of the season. Tyson Chandler probably has the best chance of working. It was discussed earlier that he is a good pairing for Bargnani, but Chandler is also a talented defender. He has been compared to someone that has springs in their legs for his shot blocking abilities. This also allows new Raptor Ed Davis, another big man known for his defense more so than offense, to go at his own pace rather than be shoved into the starting line up.
ESPN analyst Ric Bucher sent a Tweet following initial reports of the trades asking if Barbosa and Diaw would take a picture next to an empty seat and caption it, something's missing. This reference to Steve Nash was an obvious joke, but, something to dream about none the less. Barbosa and Diaw both saw dramatic declines in their games after being separated. This could be attributed to Barbosa being attached to Jason Richardson, and Diaw being taken away from Steve Nash; that actually, is a large part of it. But, a reunion in a fast paced environment like Toronto may be the punch in the arm needed, to get the duo's careers back on track. Now all that's needed is a true starting point guard.
It appears after this trade goes through, the Raptor's will be left with the trade exception acquired from the Heat. After hearing about this deal, that trade exception will almost certainly be used on a star point guard. Exhibit A, Darren Collison. It is hard to speculate what New Orelans would want for the potential all-star, but already, many Raptors fans are drooling at the possibility of acquiring the 21st pick in the 2009 entry draft. If the Raptors were to acquire Collison, his potential would only be matched by a few of the other East Conference point guards (Derrick Rose, Rajon Rondo, Brandon Jennings, and possibly Devin Harris).
After this summer, the Raptors will have lost two of the most memorable and liked Raptor's of all time in Calderon and Bosh. But, in the end, besides an overpaid Turkoglu, the Raptors will have maintained the future, and dynamic parts that could keep the team interesting. The Raptors have put to rest most of the questions of the starting 5, and have put together a very solid bench (Ed Davis, Amir Johnson, Linas Klezia, DeMar DeRozan, Sonny Weems, etc.). Has it been rough? You can say that again. But is the sky falling as Charles Barkely made it seem? No.
Are fans still going to call for Colangelos head if the Raptors bomb the season? Sure. But hindsight is 20/20, and the past couple of weeks probably couldn't of been handled better by any other current GM, certainly not by the front office in Cleveland.