North of the 400

North of Toronto, South of a championship

Posts Tagged ‘rudy gay

Is It Too Soon To Pull the Trigger on Casey?

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A crappy Raptors season is winding down and with it comes change in the front office. This offseason, where the Raptors don’t have a pick and their cap’s loaded with giant contracts, should still be one of change: Bryan Colangelo’s contract is up this summer. He’s on the proverbial hot seat.

But he’s not the only person surrounded by rumors. Coach Dwane Casey is also being speculated on. And perhaps not unfairly: his rotations this season have been questionable and there have been some strange moves during the season. But is it anything worth firing over?

Going by the Pythagorean Win formula, a measure using points versus points against, the Raptors record should be a couple of wins higher. This makes sense when you look back and remember how poorly the team’s done in close games: they’ve dropped eight games this year by three points or less. Some of this goes on questionable moves late, but sometimes it just goes on the other side hitting a late shot or the referees missing calls, including one the NBA recognized they got wrong.

And for as bad as the season has gone, it’s not like the Raptors have played below expectations, either. Looking at preseason predictions for this year’s squad, most had the Raptors in the bottom half of the league. ESPN’s John Hollinger had them with 33 wins, which seems uncannily accurate now. The National Post’s Eric Koreen had them winning between 31 and 37, too. Despite what a few people – Basketball Reference, Zach Lowe and a few Raptors blogs –predicted, I wouldn’t call a finish that puts them with something like 33 or 35 wins and a tenth spot in the conference completely unexpected, at least from a season-starting point of view.

Of course, there’s a monkey wrench in this: the midseason trade that brought Rudy Gay aboard and changed expectations for this team. I’ve speculated before that the trade was to justify Colangelo’s time here and try to buy him an extension. It was an all in kind of move, shoving the chips to the centre of the table and, as it turned out, into someone else’s pile.

If the trade was a move designed to make Toronto better in the short-term, it worked: the Raptors won their first game with Rudy Gay. One month after the trade, Toronto had gone on a five-game winning streak and won six of 11 games. It was around then that the floor fell out: through March then went on two separate five-game losing streaks, including losses to teams like Charlotte, Detroit and Washington. Whatever potential was there was gone nearly as quickly.

Indeed, the most interesting thing to come out of this stretch was a Grantland piece by Zach Lowe about the Ghost Raptors and the SportVU system. Even this was depressing: the YouTube clips attached showed the Ghost Raptors routinely out playing the real thing, actually making plays and not making idiotic passes. What was even more interesting, and not getting nearly the same attention, came buried in a followup post by Lowe. In it, he explained the dichotomy between making smart moves like the VU system and signing players like Bargnani or DeMar DeRozan to big deals or trading for the inefficient (at best) Gay. To wit:

“The Gay trade was a calculated risk … it represented an understandable move from a team that doesn’t attract star free agents and needed to monetize both an expiring deal (Jose Calderon) and a non-core asset about to go up dramatically in price (Ed Davis). Gay’s next contract will be telling, though.”

In other words: the team wouldn’t be able to land a free agent with Calderon’s expiring deal and couldn’t keep Ed Davis in Toronto. Never mind that Davis reportedly cried when told the news and was visibly shaken when seen leaving the ACC.

But of course, these are all moves that are on Colangelo, and along with many others – everything from Jermaine O’Neal to Hedo Turkoglu to trading for Gay – have kept the Raptors in a perpetual state of mediocrity. That’s enough to not extend his contract. But what about Casey? How much of this season’s end results can we put on him?

The biggest change from last season is on both ends of the court. Last year, Toronto was one of the worst-scoring teams in the NBA: they finished ranked 29th in Offensive Rating. But they could defend, or at least play slow enough to finish with the 14th best defensive rating in the league and the ninth best points-allowed per game. This year, their pace has stayed about the same, but flipped the results: 16th in the league in scoring, 22nd in defense. They’re allowing nearly 100 points per game.

And what of Casey’s moves? He’s commonly leaning on players like DeRozan, Gay and Lowry while Terrance Ross and Jonas Valanciunas sit on the bench. It’s a lost season at this point, so what harm would come from giving extra minutes to the rookies? Why is Ross playing fewer minutes per game than Landry Fields or Mickael Pietrus? These are on Casey.

As a whole, I’m still not sold on him, but I don’t think blaming him for this season is entirely his fault, either. The right course is probably the easiest one: let Colangelo’s contract expire and let Casey have another season. His contract is up at the end of year anyway and if the Raptors continue to tread water, or even move backwards, let his lapse too. I’m not really sure anyone could a better job with the pieces Colangelo’s given him.

Written by M.

April 9, 2013 at 8:00 am

The Rudy Gay Trade, Continued

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It’s been a while since I weighed in on the Rudy Gay trade and I’ve had time to give it sober second thought. And after a surprising win over Indiana and an impressive win over New Orleans, the time seems right to touch on the trade once again.

The trade can be broken down into a few different aspects: individual, team and future. Or, more specifically:

  • What has Gay brought to the Raptors?
  • What does that mean for their short-term success?
  • What about the team’s future?

Let’s look at these in order.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by M.

February 14, 2013 at 4:00 pm

On hating the Ed Davis and Jose Calderon for Rudy Gay trade

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I hate this trade. Hate it, hate it, hate it. It’s hard for me to see this as anything but straight-up cynicism, scrambling by Raptors GM Bryan Colangelo to save his job, gambling the team’s future and what they’ve been rebuilding towards to make them just a little better at the present and throwing everything this season’s been – good, bad and otherwise – to the winds so maybe he gets a one-year deal.

I hate this trade. Let’s run through some of them.

I hate it from what Toronto’s giving up: Jose Calderon, the starting point of the recent past, someone who’s been traded and un-traded many times, who’s had everyone from Kyle Lowry to TJ Ford brought in to supplant him as starter and outlasted them all. Someone who’s never once publicly complained about the way he’s been treated or about the way the Raptors have stunk for most of his time here. He’s a fan favourite, even going back to the old days when Chuck Swirsky was at the mic. I’ll miss seeing him chuck up a three, hitting it and holding up three fingers on each hand.

I don’t like this trade in the way it’s throwing the rebuild to the winds. Whatever happened to the concept of The Young Gunz? Remember those? That was the youth core of Davis, DeMar DeRozan, Terrence Ross and Jonas Valanciunas (and maybe Amir Johnson, too). It’s supposed to be the core of this rebuilding Raptors team: the group that’s supposed to make them a playoff team in a few seasons. It’s supposed to be the end result of all those post-Bosh years in the gutter. And what happens now? Toronto’s blown it up and gone for a win-now approach. Let’s hope they can actually make the playoffs this year.

I don’t like this trade in what it does on the Bargnani front, either. If Toronto was going to move him, they’d have to package something else in with him; it’s hard to imagine a team just willing to take him on. Calderon was the best hopes of that: a big deal, but an expiring one, attractive for a team looking to rebuild right away (and not be bogged down by Bargnani’s contract). What happens now? If Toronto wants to move Bargnani, they’ll have to package him with another part of their youth movement. The best-case scenario here now is the guy with a 0.003 Win Shares per 48 is playing 25, 30 minutes per night.

I don’t like this trade in what Toronto is getting now. Rudy Gay is 26 and trending down. His points-per-game has dropped steadily over the past three seasons. So have his shooting numbers and WS/48. His PER this season is 14.3, the lowest since his rookie season. No wonder he’s available. And he only cost Toronto two of their four most valuable players, too!

I don’t like this trade in how blatantly it’s a move by Bryan Colangelo to make himself relevant again as Toronto’s GM.  Since he came to Toronto, they’ve made the postseason twice and finished above .500 twice. His time has seen Toronto’s lone superstar – Chris Bosh – depart for almost nothing and his choice for a franchise player is the bust of his draft class. Going by SRS alone, two of Toronto’s five worst seasons have come in Colangelo’s tenure. And they’re the two previous years, too. Obviously he’s not trending upward. His deal is up at the end of this season. It’s not hard to imagine that if Toronto can squeak into the postseason – a tall feat since they can barely get past bottom dwelling teams like Orlando, Cleveland or Philadelphia – maybe he’ll get a small extension. Maybe. Hope it’s worth it!

There are other things to hate here: Toronto gets worse, but they don’t have a draft pick this season (they let it go in a trade this summer, remember?). It messes up their starting rotation and means John Lucas III playing behind Kyle Lowry (although Lucas has a better WS/48 than Bargnani).

What do I like about this trade? Well, I guess it’s nice to see people talking about Toronto.

Written by M.

January 30, 2013 at 8:16 pm