Off-Season Game Plan looks at what Bryan Colangelo and the Raptors may do this summer, even though they don't currently have a pick in the upcoming draft.
Colangelo has earned a whole lot of leeway with the Raptors fanbase after the Raptors won 47 games, matching a franchise best, in his first season at the helm. A two-time NBA Executive of the Year, Colangelo isn't afraid to make bold moves and he has more wins than losses when evaluating his deals.
He acted quickly to add Carlos Delfino to the Raptors roster already, but the Raptors figure to still be in the market for an athletic small forward to take the team to the next level.
Some free agent forwards that might interest the Raptors would include: Grant Hill, Luke Walton and Mickael Pietrus, while Desmond Mason and James Posey would be secondary options.
More encouraging for the Raptors, though, is that their major contributors are young players that should only get better as they mature and Colangelo wants to make sure his team knows it.
"One way we're going to get better is from within," Colangelo told the Canadian Press. "We have to all take this taste of success and not get comfortable with it, but let's savour it and let's find a way to make it even sweeter next year."
Not being satisfied with success -- that's the new culture around the Raptors -- and it means greater pressure and higher expectations.
It's better than the alternative.
hough Rasho Nesterovic is the only pure centre on the Raptors roster, he's not the only one logging time in the middle. Good thing, because he doesn't offer much offensively.
Rasho does, however, have legit centre size (7-feet, 270 pounds) and he's strong defending the post, making him useful in a limited role.
Chris Bosh has become one of the league's premier young talents, turning into one of the rare 20-10 forwards (joining Carlos Boozer, Kevin Garnett, Tim Duncan and Zach Randolph). Bosh also gives every indication that he has a positive attitude, which is refreshing for a Raptors franchise player.
It's not all perfect for Bosh, though, as he still needs to develop as a crunch-time go-to-guy, but his game is maturing in that direction.
There may have been some doubt about Andrea Bargnani's qualifications to be the top pick in the draft, but it didn't take long to see that Il Mago has big-time skills and he and Bosh should form a potent frontcourt tag-team.
One of last season's pleasant surprises for the Raptors was the play of Spanish rookie Jorge Garbajosa. The 29 year-old can play both forward positions and his hustle and willingness to do the little things made him a valuable "glue guy" before he suffered a broken ankle in late March.
Joey Graham hasn't made enough improvement in two seasons to think that he's going to be more than a backup, and that's part of the reason that the Raptors are going to be seeking another athletic small forward.
The other reason that the Raptors will be looking for a new small forward is that longtime Raptor Morris Peterson is an unrestricted free agent and it appears that his stay in Toronto could be ending after seven seasons. If a sign-and-trade deal with MoPete could be arranged, that would at least help the Raptors net another asset in return.
Kris Humphries didn't have to do much to make Toronto fans forget about Rafael Araujo, but the muscular forward showed some skills in his limited playing time last year; enough that he can at least compete for a regular spot in the rotation.
Toronto's point guard situation is one of the best in the league, with the duo of T.J. Ford and Jose Calderon providing a one-two punch that pressures opposing defences for a full 48 minutes.
Ford continued to improve in his third NBA season, improving his field goal percentage and free throw percentage on his way to averaging a career-high 14.0 points and 7.9 assists per game.
While Ford's diminutive stature can make him vulnerable defensively, he also needs to be kept in check offensively, when he can get too anxious to take his own shot instead of creating for teammates.
Jose Calderon was markedly better in his second season, with a better jump shot making him much more efficient offensively.
Given their druthers, the Raptors would probably prefer to move ahead with the dynamic duo, but Calderon could also be one of Toronto's most marketable commodities.
If the Raptors were to deal Calderon, that might provide the impetus for the Raptors to bring Croatian guard Roko Leni Ukic, a second-round pick in 2005, over from Spain as a potential backup at the point.
Anthony Parker's return to the NBA was an understated success. The 31 year-old is so efficient offensively and plays such sound positional defence that he's a very valuable part of the Raptors starting five, even if he's scoring a dozen points per game.
Acquired in a deal for Fred Jones, Juan Dixon is a gunner, but it's not necessarily a bad thing to have a shooter available off the bench.
The Raptors got a jumpstart on the off-season dealing by picking up Carlos Delfino from the Pistons. The Argentinian has improved slowly in three NBA seasons, but his production has gotten better and his versatility could give him a role in the Raptors rotation.
No first-round pick
The Raptors have approximately $52-million committed to salaries for next season
Needs: Small Forward
Joey Graham, Rasho Nesterovic, Jose Calderon
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