Recently, the Toronto Raptors hired Ed Stefanski as their Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations in a move to lend Bryan Colangelo another experienced mind to help him in the rebuild of the Toronto Raptors. Judging by past experiences, Colangelo could use the help.
Since Chris Bosh left, and some could argue even when Bosh was here, the Raptors lacked an identity. With Bosh leading the squad, the Raptors managed only first-round playoff exits with Bosh.
Possibly misguided, or blinded by Bosh's ego, Colangelo opted to build around Bosh, rather than find another star player to complement Bosh.
When Rob Babcock, the General Manager at the time, dealt legendary Raptors guard Vince Carter for essentially a rack of basketballs and cap space, it was the beginning of the end of the Raptors as we knew them.
After the departure of Carter, the club leaned on Bosh as their next big player, and decided to build around him.
In the first season with Colangelo at the helm, the Raptors made modest strides by winning the Atlantic Division and eventually losing to Carter and the New Jersey Nets in six games.Colangelo opted for a more European look to the Raptors squad, adding free agents Jorge Garbajosa and Anthony Parker and trading for Rasho Nesterovic, Carlos Delfino and T.J. Ford.
Bosh was shut down by Nets forwards Mikki Moore and Jason Collins, and made little to no impact in the series. It was his supporting cast led by Jose Calderon that kept the Raptors in the series.
Despite that, Colangelo opted to stay the course and build around Bosh.
He traded for Jermaine O'Neal's monster contract hoping he'd give the Raptors that much-needed post presence to help Bosh, however, the two personalities clashed and it was a match made in hell.
Again, seeing his mistake, Colangelo dealt O'Neal along with Jamario Moon to the Miami Heat for Shawn Marion and Marcus Banks.
The Marion experiment lasted the season with decent results.
Sensing a bit of panic in Raptors nation, Colangelo, knowing Marion wasn't returning, opted to work out a four-team sign-and-trade deal to land another big-ticket free agent. This time it was Hedo Turkoglu. He signed Turkoglu to a monster five-year deal worth upwards of $53 million.
Hedo's stay in Toronto was short-lived as well, as he struggled greatly in Toronto and with the system coach Jay Triano ran. Hedo came off a wonderful playoff run with the Magic, but looked like father time got the best of him the following season, as his age and game deteriorated massively throughout the season.
It was only when he broke his nose and played through it that he started to "ball" with the Raptors. Consequently enough, this was around the same time Bosh was out with a broken nose he received from an errant elbow by Cavs forward Antawn Jamison.
Needless to say, the Raptors have struggled pretty well the whole tenure of Bryan Colangelo in Toronto.
This offseason, thanks to some key trades, the Raptors have plenty of cap space, and right now appear to not want to spend a cent of it, likely opting to pass on many or all the free agents this offseason, according to Raptors beat reporter Eric Koreen.
The free agent crop, aside from the big names of Marc Gasol, Nene Hilario, Tyson Chandler, Caron Butler, Jamal Crawford, Shane Battier, Kris Humphries, Samuel Dalembert or Andrei Kirilenko, is pretty dull.
Instead of spending money foolishly, it appears Colangelo is willing to wait one more season before making a splash in the free agent market. By 2012, the Raptors should have a good amount of cap space to spend, and also likely a high draft pick to add to the mix.
Next year's free agent crop isn't much better than this year's, but having that space will be critical in the future success of the Toronto Raptors franchise.
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