North of the 400

North of Toronto, South of a championship

What did Turkoglu really mean when he bashed Toronto?

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When Hedo Turkoglu goes out and bashes Toronto, yeah it’s sour grapes.

He’s somebody who came here, walked all over the staff and got his own way. He’s somebody who played awful and got mad when people took his picture. He’s somebody who got booed and was upset he got booed and never seemed to realize that when you miss a game with sickness, going out to a club, even for a little bit, is bad politics.

It seems safe to say Hedo’s a guy who maybe doesn’t realize things right away.

But, still, when he bashes Toronto, he’s got a point.

When he says “people have to realize something is wrong with that organization and nobody wants to go there any more,” he’s kind of correct. Something is wrong with the Raptors and it does appear people don’t want to come here too often.

It’s too bad that Turkoglu didn’t elaborate on his comments and what he thinks is specifically wrong with the Raptors. But, he needed worry, since I think I got it covered.

When Hedo said that something is wrong, he meant literally that. Something is wrong with the Raptors. Namely, that thing is “they’re not very good.”

As of now, they’re in the lower third of the NBA’s talent pool. They’re very unlikely to make the playoffs and will probably get a very good lottery pick. It’s to be expected, though, since the Raptors are rebuilding.

But when Hedo was playing for them, and even before, the Raptors just haven’t been that good.

Since the Vince Carter era ended in 2004, Toronto has been above .500 only twice. They’ve only made the playoffs twice. While they’ve had Chris Bosh for the entirety of that era, but there’s never been anybody that approached his talent; a true second option for the team.

In that time, the have Raptors traded for Jermaine O’Neal, TJ Ford and Carlos Delfino, among others. Their draft hauls have included Charlie Villaneuva, Andrea Bargnani and DeMar DeRozan. Free agency has brought in Jose Calderon, Anthony Parker and Jamario Moon. None of those players are the kind a contending team can be built around.

So what is wrong with Raptors management? It’s not something silly like “they’re not committed to winning.” It’s closer to something like “profit vs spending.” The more I think about it, the more I feel like Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment – who own the Raptors – just aren’t willing to spend what it seems to take.

According to one source, the Raptors have not spent more then 67.4 million in salary since 2007-08. Even they did go over the cap, they were still just inside the NBA’s top half in terms of spending – Sacramento, Milwaukee and Indiana all spent more then the Raptors did that season.

And it’s not like the Raptors are hard up for cash, either. According to Forbes, the Raptors are the 11th most valuable team and are worth close to $400 million. Last December, Forbes listed the Raptors income at $133 million, a figure greater then Orlando, Denver or Utah – three teams that have had more playoff success the Toronto has in recent memory. But those teams are willing to spend to bring in players. Toronto doesn’t seem to be.

Could that actually be why players don’t want to come to Toronto, as Turkoglu suggested?

Indeed, it would make a lot more sense then the cultural idioms that are commonly said: there’s too much curling on TV, the schools teach differently then in the US, for forth and so on. Really, when somebody signs with the Raptors, they’re brought in to play basketball. That they don’t care for the TV fare should be irrelevant (and besides, it’s not that hard to get a grey market dish; I’m kind of surprised that nobody within the Raptors organization is in charge of that, unofficially of course).

But who wants to come to a team that’s not spending as much as the completion? That has a very poor history in the draft and in trades? Well, one only needs to look at the LA Clippers for one extreme case. In the case of Bosh, it’s that the team never was willing to go out and spend the money to get somebody else close to his talents for the long-term (it would have been great if they had kept Marion for more then a couple months).

Still, these are things that are easily correctable. And as crazy as it sounds, the Turkoglu deal was a good way to start; the Raptors wined and dined and spent to bring a player in. That he was a bust is beside my point, which is that the team has to show players they’re willing to commit.

That’s what I think Turkoglu meant. Players don’t want to go to a city where the team is just spending enough to finish with an equal number of wins and losses. They want to go to a place where the team is willing to commit more then just that.

At least I know I would.


Written by M.

August 3, 2010 at 1:09 pm

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