Title: RAPTORS GET AGGRESSIVE AT DEADLINE WITHOUT MORTGAGING FUTURE
Date: February 23, 2017
Original Source: Vice
Synopsis: For my latest at Vice, I wrote about the Raptors’ deadline acquisition of P.J. Tucker, and toeing the line between near-term aggression and long-term stability.
Almost since the moment they backed in to being good thanks to the cold feet of James Dolan during the 2012-13 season, the Toronto Raptors have been faced with a difficult question: Is their core good enough to warrant mortgaging the future to push their near-term window open further?
Kyle Lowry, DeMar DeRozan, and company make for a very solid starting point, and a mix of depth, development, youth, and chemistry has helped the Raptors climb into the league’s second tier. Even as the team rose to a franchise-best 56 wins and their first trip to the Eastern Conference final, the question of how to close the gap with the Cleveland Cavaliers during LeBron James’ prime—if a solution to “how” even existed—continued. As this year’s trade season approached, the Raptors complicated things further by playing poorly, ratcheting up the “is this team even good enough with an extra piece” side of the equation.
And so again 10 days ago, president Masai Ujiri and GM Jeff Weltman found themselves facing a tough conundrum: You have to maximize the Lowry-DeRozan window, but in the event that window still isn’t good enough when maximized, there’s an argument for maintaining long-term flexibility. What do you do, then? Add pieces now in hopes of taking a more aggressive shot at Cleveland, or hang on to assets to ensure the window, however small, is open longer?
Thursday’s deadline—and the week-and-change that preceded it—answered those questions with a wink and a sarcastic question of their own: Why not do both?