The Toronto Raptors 2012 offseason began with a bit of a curveball thrown their way. Because the Raptors finished the season strong by winning 98-67 over the New Jersey Nets, the Raptors lost the chance to pick seventh overall and lost out on potential star small forward Harrison Barnes.
The Raptors finished tied with the Golden State Warriors, thus essentially a coin-flip was done in order to see who picked first. The Raptors drew the short end and had to pick eighth instead of seventh.
Because they lost out on Barnes, GM Bryan Colangelo opted to take Terrence Ross. The swingman out of Washington won the NBA Slam Dunk Contest and owns a silky smooth shooting stroke. However, he is plagued with inconsistency and will never likely amount to more than a sixth man on 90 percent of the teams in the Association.
However, it was not the loss of the coin flip that cost the Raptors; it was the missed pick of Andre Drummond that might come back to bite them where the sun doesn't shine.
Drummond, despite his poor free-throw percentage, is just a beast, period. At nearly seven feet tall and weighing in at over 275 pounds, his physical presence down low would not only help out Jonas Valanciunas, but it would make Amir Johnson and Andrea Bargnani better too.
I mean, it's far better than having Aaron Gray coming off the bench, right?
After that came July 6th, the day when the Raptors withdrew their qualifying offer to point guard Jerryd Bayless, thus making him an unrestricted free agent. Bayless would eventually sign in Memphis and help lead them to a Western Conference Finals appearance.
Bayless' ability to defend allowed him to fit into Memphis' plans more easily. His ability to create and score made him a potent scorer off the bench as well as a good ball distributor. With John Lucas III getting most of the floor time as a backup point guard, the loss of Jerryd Bayless is still being felt in Toronto.
On July 11th, Colangelo made a few questionable moves, one of which may be a big reason he gets canned by the Raptors.
He decided to trade Gary Forbes and a future conditional first-round pick for then-Rockets point guard Kyle Lowry. Lowry's time with the Raptors this season was full of ups and downs and some injuries.
Overall, the Lowry trade will likely not hurt the Raptors long-term because their pick is now out of the top 10.
Then, in an attempt to sign Steve Nash and block the Knicks' pursuit of him, Colangelo decided to sign restricted free agent Landry Fields to a three-year, $21 million contract.
Obviously the Knicks did not match the deal—and they also did not sign Steve Nash, which further dug a hole for Colangelo. What the Raptors are left with is a monster contract for a player who will likely be the fourth swingman off the bench. His contract is holding the Raptors down right now and is nearly untradeable unless packaged with a star player.
Not even a week later, because of rumors of bad behaviour, small forward James Johnson was sent to Sacramento for a second-round pick.
Johnson was not an offensive presence at all, but he felt like he was, which probably was the reason for all the rumors regarding him and the coaching staff not getting along.
However, one fact remains with Johnson. He's tough as nails and is one of the top defending small forwards in the game. His size alone at 6'9" and 240 pounds made him versatile, allowing him to not only defend small forwards like LeBron James, but also to defend players like Chris Bosh in the post.
The removal of Johnson still remains a major question mark.
His replacement eventually became Alan Anderson, who never met a shot he didn't like. His confidence was abundant for a career D-Leaguer, but he seemed to be a positive locker room presence, so Colangelo and coach Dwane Casey thought he was a great signing.
However, what the Raptors were missing from last season's top-10 level points against was Johnson's defence at the small forward position.
Without Johnson, the Raptors started the 2012-13 season 4-19 and never recovered fully from that awful start.
Andrea Bargnani was not dealt either in the offseason, which doesn't surprise many. Bargnani had an injury-plagued year last season, and this season pretty much was a carbon copy of last season for Bargnani.
The Rudy Gay trade is still up for debate, but I feel his presence is still necessary for Jonas Valanciunas to fully develop and for DeMar DeRozan to develop into a potential second option for the Raptors.
It wasn't the Gay trade that will get Colangelo fired, it's what happened previously. Whether it was drafting Ross over Drummond, signing Landry Fields to a ridiculous contract, not trading Andrea Bargnani when he had the chance or the questionable releases of both Bayless and James Johnson, Colangelo's fate with the Raptors probably will be decided because of his failures from this past offseason.
Hopefully this offseason, the Raptors can finally make their mark on the NBA and vault themselves into the playoffs next season.
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