For a second straight season, the Toronto Raptors have been eliminated by the Cleveland Cavaliers. Last year, it was in game six of the Eastern Conference Finals. This year, it was a clean sweep in the second round. After another promising regular season, Toronto failed to get past LeBron James. With many question marks coming up this offseason, now what?
Is this the end of the Lowry/DeRozan Era?
First off, if you’re a Raptors fan worried about Kyle Lowry leaving this summer, relax. Although has an opt-out clause, the 31 year old has stated his desire to re-sign with the Raptors. Unless Raptors management decides to go in a different direction, expect Lowry to get sign a new contract with Toronto. It is easy to see why many would not want Kyle Lowry to re-sign but, he has been an instrumental part of Toronto’s success and, turnaround over the past few years. Without Kyle Lowry, there is no telling where the Raptors would be. It might be hard to stomach signing Lowry to a super-max, but what is the alternative for this organization?
Hard to say goodbye
Another Toronto Raptors Free-Agent to be, is Patrick Patterson. Over the past Four years, Patterson has also been someone the Raptors can count on for high-energy play either off the bench or, in a starting role. After battling with the injury bug and, struggling offensively in the Playoffs, Patterson’s time as a member of the Toronto Raptors may be coming to a close. Especially in the second round, Patterson appeared to possess any sort of confidence in his shot. With Serge Ibaka also due for a new contract, it is looking less likely that cap will be spent on Patterson, who has seemingly lost all confidence he had a couple of years back.
Re-singing Ibaka is a must
Speaking of Serge Ibaka, getting him a new contract will be important from an asset management perspective. The Toronto Raptors finally found their secondary big when they acquired Serge Ibaka just before the trade deadline for Terrence Ross and a draft pick. Playing In just 23 regular season games with Toronto, Ibaka averaged 14.2 points as well as, 6.8 rebounds. In the postseason, Ibaka averaged 13.3 points and 7 rebounds including, a 19 point 14 rebound performance in Game One against the Milwaukee Bucks. In the Raptors Game Four loss to Cleveland, Ibaka scored 23 points. Numbers aside, Ibaka brings a wealth of knowledge and, experience to the table which, could help in the development of Lucas Nogueira, Pascal Siakam, and, Jakob Poeltl. Serge Ibaka is also very efficient from beyond the arc which, is huge in today’s NBA. For the Toronto Raptors, singing their All-Star caliber veteran should be a top priority. The Raptors own Ibaka’s bird rights, making it possible to go over the cap to bring back the power forward.
Time to shake up the rotation
When the Toronto Raptors signed DeMarre Carroll to a four year, $58 Million Contract, they were expecting him to be their starting three-and-d specialist. Flash forward a few years and well, things haven’t exactly gone according to plan. Norman Powell proved in the Playoffs that he is ready to take the next step and, Delon Wright exceeded everyone’s expectations. PJ Tucker, throughout the end of the regular season and Playoffs, proved to be a more reliable three-and-d option. Next season, Toronto’s starting five should and will have a different look. Whether that means brining Valanciunas off the bench, playing Powell and Wright consistently or, benching DeMarre Carroll, there are a lot of possibilities. Not to mention the fact that Pascal Siakam took major strides in his development. If the Raptors can dump Carroll and free up cap, that would be ideal – if you find any takers, let us know.
Time to become a more cohesive unit
One of the biggest issues the Raptors had during the Playoffs was chemistry. At times, it seemed as though not everyone was on the same page. Adding Tucker and Ibaka on paper, gave the Raptors a huge boost but, the chemistry does not come as fast. Also, Kyle Lowry was out for the majority of time down the stretch, which even affected his chemistry with DeRozan. Next season, the Raptors will have more time to become a more cohesive unit. It is hard for a team that went through as much change as the Raptors did, especially in such a short period of time, to make everything work in time for the playoffs.
Will we see a coaching change?
Possibly the biggest question on everyone’s mind is, “will we see a coaching change?” Although Dwane Casey and his staff did a great job in the regular season, they seem to never be ready/motivated for the Playoffs. Casey signed a new three-year contract last summer however, his failure to succeed in the Playoffs could be his downfall. It is no secret the success Jerry Stackhouse is having in the NBA D-League but, calling for him to replace Dwane Casey, may be a bit premature. The Toronto Raptors may not be the same team they were in the regular season however, they are still a top team in the Eastern Conference. All things considered, having to go up against LeBron James, in the Second round, is no easy task. With that said, Casey still fall short in so many areas. Masai Ujiri has many difficult decisions to make, but this should be the first one.
With the Toronto Raptors now on summer holidays, an exciting offseason is upon us. The NBA Draft and Award show are just around the corner. NBA Summer League is also on the horizon which, will gives us an introduction to the NBA’s future stars. New faces will come and old ones will be moving on. The Toronto Raptors are back in action next fall and, will be looking to avenge their Playoff sweep. Stick around for the offseason because things are going to start to heat up.