Wednesday, March 13, 2013

The BC Autopsy 11-12: Look Out, it’s the Lockout

If you were to believe the NBA owners that the league was in dire fiscal straits, then you would also have to believe that part of the impetus to put clamps down on the kinds of contracts general managers could hand over to players was, in part, to curtail the consequences of Bryan Conagelo’s ineptitude. As well, Otis Smith’s, Rod Thorn’s, David Kahn’s, Ed Stefanski’s, Billy King’s and for chrissakes, whatever elite, ultra-exclusive embezzlement charity Isiah Thomas was running for Knicks players.

There isn’t a tonne to say on behalf of Raptor decisionmaking and the lockout besides this: the rules stemming from the new CBA are noticeably more stringent and more punishing to expensive mistakes and that I severely overestimated the impact of the amnesty provision, also known as “oops.” In theory, any new system that introduced chaos or cost-cutting or panic due to complexity would be good for a rudderless, momentumless, afterthought of a team like Toronto’s. They were losing the game so why not flip over the table and walk away?

(The answer: because your leader is playing checkers at a chess tournament).

June 21 2011
Named Dwane Casey head coach.
June 1 2011
Named Jay Triano special assistant to the president and general manager.

A few moves pre-lockout. Triano was fired (up) to manager while former Mavs assistant (and T-Wolves head) Casey was put in place. I never feel qualified to evaluate coaches. I believe, generally, they are much less important to the outcome than conventional wisdom purports. But they are less patsy-like than, say, baseball managers. I thought Triano did an admirable job, especially once Bosh left and the team was left with an absurdly talent-poor team. I’m not sure if we can blame him for how much he played Andrea Bargnani (especially over rookie Ed Davis) but he, at least, recognized he was sporting some of the worst defensive NBA talent ever assembled and took calculated risks like showing hard zones often and drumming up a pack-the-paint prevent that gave up a nauseating 37.6% from the three point line (28th in the league) but, hey, he had to try something unconventional. There was an impression of Triani being, sort of, kind of... meek. Like he was a substitute teacher over an unruly class of misfits. Whether true or not, he was perceptually different than Sam Mitchell who came across as confrontational and lacking in the cerebral elements of game and roster management.

On many nights, I feel as though Casey is a watered down version of his last two predecessors. He appears to run dogmatically rigid defensive sets, like Triano, which is probably a good thing. He also seems to (attempt to) make statements with wonky rotations that may be due to stubbornness but could also be plain lack-of-strategy. I like to look at a few situations when I am eyeballing a coach: inbounds plays, end-of-quarters/games, two-for-ones, foul management. This current season, at least, I haven’t seen anything exemplary in these situations. Maybe I’m being intractable or projecting my frustrations over the talent deficiency or the result of 50/50 decisions going the other way or maybe Casey is a below average coach. Couple that with an aimless team and a maniacally wayward GM, and you have a recipe for a big ol’ poo sandwich.

No, I don’t think coaching is the biggest or even a top five concern but with certified coaches, like Stan Van Gundy and Nate McMillan out there, it’s hard not to intimate that an outside-the-cap move like bringing in a better coach might be worth a few wins.

Draft 2011
Selected center Jonas Valanciunas (5th overall pick).

We (I) have to stop and remember the 2000, 2006, 2009 and 2011 draft every time we (I) go off about the cap value of draft picks. Even the insanely team-friendly structure of how rookies get paid in the modern NBA can’t combat a bag-of-stink draft. While it’s much too early to properly evaluate the ‘11 draft, the only sure thing to emerge, so far, is #1, Kyrie Irving. There were some steals in the late first round, including Kawhi Leonard at #15 and Kenneth Farreid at #22, but lottery picks like #2 Derrick Williams, #6 Jan Vessely, #7 Bismack Biyombo, and so on and so forth and Jimmer Fredette have yet to prove they belong on NBA rosters, let alone All Star teams. Fortuitous then, that the Raptors chose Valanciunas, the Lithuanian big man with the #5 pick. I’d bet if the draft was done over again, JV goes #2. Not only is he an intriguing prospect who’s shown flashes of deep talent (amid natural rookie mistakes and hesitancy), Colangelo (praise alert) was in the position to keep the big man in Europe during the lockout, ensuring playing time in a pro league and delaying the deployment of his rookie scale contract.

Whether he turns into something or not, Jonas is an asset. Good for you, Bryan Colangelo. I would have been very happy with an Ed Davis/Valanciunas starting line for the next decade.

June 27 2011
Tendered a qualifying offer to guard Sonny Weems.

I, literally, have no recollection of this happening. I guess this offer wasn’t for as many litas as Sonny thought he deserved.

December 9 2011
Signed center Jamaal Magloire.


December 11 2011
Signed center Aaron Gray.

Big white dude!

March 15 2012
Traded guard Leandrinho Barbosa to the Indiana Pacers for a second-round pick and cash to Toronto.

A money dump to officially end the trail of Hedo. The pick was used on this gentleman.

March 26 2012
Signed guards Ben Uzoh and Alan Anderson to a 10-day contract.

Alan Anderson is like that friend who asks if he can crash on your couch “for a day or two” and sticks around for a year-and-a-half. A 30-year-old, below replacement shooter who can’t really shoot, his continued presence and considerable playing time is a testament to both how awful the Raptors are and their inability to recognize talent.

April 27 2012
Exercised the contract option on head coach Dwane Casey through 2013-14.

It’s a little bit interesting that Colangelo extended Casey to 2014 when his own deal comes due in 2013. I don’t know what it means but it means something.

The Raptors won a surpising 22 games in the 66 game lockout season. The combination of Davis/the Johnsons, Amir and James show that it is possible to win games with defence. With only Kleiza and Bargnani tipping the “overpaid” scale (and either of them subject to amnesty) and a few interesting and promising pieces, the Raptors could have finally cleared house, turned a new chapter and other, glorious cliches on their way to actually building a sustainable, improvable basketball team. Will they? Won’t they? (They won’t).


Anonymous said...

I commend you for taking the time to sift through the industrial trash bin that houses most of Colangelo's roster moves, but I have to ask, isn't the exercise a bit masochistic?

It's pretty understandable that Bryan Colangelo is the detritus of basketball GMs, but is it worth it to quantify and qualify just how terrible he is?

Anonymous said...

Fire BC and demote Casey and trade Lowry and Gay they both suck the balls. JV is the future.

BRF said...

You are right. This is pure masochism. This is what's involved in Raptor fandom. It's cruel and punishing. It rips out your heart, stomps on it, then trades it to Miami for a second round pick.