Title: How Lowry, Ibaka Deals and Maintaining Status Quo Impacts Raptors
Date: July 3, 2017
Original Source: Vice
Synopsis: For my latest at Vice, I looked at the Raptors re-signing Kyle Lowry and Serge Ibaka, effectively starting the clock on a three-year window.
Facing down one of the most important and difficult decisions in franchise history, the Toronto Raptors opted for the certainty of being good over the uncertainty of being bad and then maybe being good again later. The choice between remaining competitive with a core that tops out somewhere below championship contender and blowing things up for a better theoretical shot somewhere down the line was not one the Raptors took lightly. In the end, they decided a few more years tacked on to the best run in franchise history was worthwhile.
It’s easy to see the logic. Tanking is painful, and with a half-dozen teams in the Eastern Conference already setting up to beat the Raptors to the bottom, there may have been a sense that they wouldn’t have been able to get bad enough fast enough. It’s a five- or six-year trek through the wilderness if things go well, and it can run longer and more depressing if they don’t. While LeBron James still exists in the East, that may not be true for more than another year, and the conference’s other threats are either timed for a run a bit later down the line or still question marks themselves.
The Cavaliers and Warriors and Rockets exist—Golden State has very clearly shifted the NBA landscape, both in terms of competitive balance and market aggression—but there will always be impediments, and the Raptors at least know right now they can win 50-55 games and probably a playoff series for the next few seasons.