- The Raptors crumbled again after facing lofty expectations in a season where they won 59 games. So is it time to blow it up and start over? The Open Floor crew debates.
The Raptors fell again to LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference semifinals. In the latest episode of the Open Floor podcast, Ben Golliver and Andrew Sharp discuss the team's next steps and debate if they should blow it up and rebuild. They also give their take on DeMar DeRozan, if the team should move on from Kyle Lowry and if it is time to make a coaching change.
(Listen to the latest Open Floor Podcast here. The following transcript has been edited and condensed for clarity.)
Ben Golliver: Open Floor globe member Kevin writes in to say, "Here in Canada the entire series was broadcasted on TSN and it was presented by... and then drum roll please... Jurassic Park: Fallen Kingdom". So if you were talking about the premature confetti in Philly being symbolic... oooff. I remember not too long ago, Andrew, you were trying to get me in a fight with my guys at the Starters—and I love the Starters—and you were trying to set me up where I would go on a rant and say DeMar DeRozan wouldn't even start for the Warriors so they could pop shots and laugh at me, but I just want you to know, Andrew, DeMar DeRozan couldn't even close games for the Raptors—the team that falls apart more than anybody in the playoffs.
Instead of rubbing that in, I just want to mention and congratulate you because you not only had the same statistical production as DeMar DeRozan in the fourth quarter of Game 3, but you also had the same statistical production as DeMar DeRozan in the fourth quarter of Game 4 because he got ejected and in Game 3 he got benched. It was the best move Dwane Casey made in the entire series and it almost prompted a major comeback in a double-digit deficit...
Andrew Sharp: The DeRozan stuff was kind of bizarre to watch because he is clearly in his own head in this matchup. Even you would concede, a King DeRozan hater, that he is not as bad as he looked in the final couple games of the series. I think part of that is LeBron and part of that is the crushing weight of all these expectations crumbling and it was a bummer to watch.
I understand the people who say every option should be on the table this summer and I agree with that. If you are Masai Ujiri, you are willing to listen to offers on anyone on the roster. But I wouldn't necessarily pull the trigger on blowing this up just for the sake of change and that's kind of where I am right now. I think the Raptors have a lot of good pieces around those guys. Siakam is going to get better. OG is going to get better.
I would maybe consider a coaching change because it seems like Casey is consistently a step or two behind in these playoff series and that was true even in some of these Wizards games. I am glad that the Raptors lost in four because I did not want to watch this prolonged.
Ben Golliver: Here is what I would do if I was Toronto: I think it is very difficult to trade DeRozan, not impossible but very difficult. I think I would still hang on to Casey. I know what you are saying about being a step late but he was searching in Game 4 like putting Bebê Nogueira out there at the end of the first half was a rough move and the game got away from them very quickly.
Sharp: It was not a blowout until Bebê hit the floor, and I don't know if he was mandated to put him on the floor but I don't know what happened there.
Golliver: I think he was just searching. I am seeing a quote right now and Casey said, "I thought our guys would come out and compete harder," so I don't know if he was throwing Bebê out there as a sort of sympathy move of like, "Look at your teammates struggling and you guys need to rally around him and play with greater effort." It was a poorly conceived idea and it backfired pretty bad.
I would still ride with Casey. He has built something pretty impressive there, and to me the move is to trade Lowry because he is older and you have all these young guys. You can re-resign Fred Van Vleet if you do trade him.
Here are a couple ideas: What if we trade Lowry for some of these disgruntled point guards? Could you see a scenario where he gets shipped to Minnesota for like Jeff Teague? Teague has a big contract too, and if you are Toronto you could probably save a little money in that deal and you swap out Teague, who didn't really fit that well in Minnesota, and Lowry and Butler could potentially be your new All-Star tandem in Minnesota. Another scenario is Reggie Jackson, if you are the Pistons and you just fired Stan Van Gundy and you are trying to win because you already have Blake Griffin's contract on the books.
Sharp: Are you trying to make the Raptors even more depressing than they are already are? I don't want Reggie Jackson if I am a Raptors fan. I don't want Jeff Teague if I am a Raptors fan. I'd do that deal in a second if I was Minnesota or Detroit if you can find a way to make it work under the cap.
Golliver: Because you are loving your life so much in this scenario. My point is if you make these moves, first of all you clear out Lowry and his personality and all the hangups from the previous years. You get your team more aligned toward the younger players and you also decrease expectations. I am going to call this Madison Avenue Tanking. This is high-class tanking. You don't want to be that 59 win team where everyone is targeting you and you just crumble under the weight of the expectations.
Sharp: You want them to win 43 games and land the 18th pick and you will be set for the future that way. That is your plan?
Golliver: You win like 45 games and you retool around these young guys. You would save costs because you shouldn't be paying for a winner and these large contracts on the books and to be honest, would you really want to go under the luxury tax with this group? No, not under any circumstance. You need be realistic here and you are going to have to take this thing apart, piece by piece, it is time to do it. This was embarrassing and I think blaming the coach and keeping the same group together would be setting up that next coach for failure. It would be a really dumb move.
Sharp: I think that is fair. There needs to be more changes than just the coach.
Golliver: My last point on this: I think Raptors' fans are being done a major disservice by the local media up there in Toronto. For whatever reason there is this knee-jerk reaction among the Raptors media members who say don't change anything. We have to get ahead of it and all the blow-up talk is stupid. The blow-up talk is not stupid, Andrew. They just got run off the court, embarrassed and humiliated. They need to change something.
I don't understand why everyone wants to say everything is fine, bring back the same group who could go win 50 games again and it's going to be fantastic. It makes no sense to me. The team is too overpriced to do that, it's not working. You have DeRozan afterwards telling reporters that he needs to reevaluate himself mentality and whatever top to bottom. That doesn't sound great. That is not what you want to hear after your second-round exit. Something fundamental has to change with this group and it starts with the roster.