Title: Raptors’ promised culture reset will bring subtle, undramatic change on-court
Date: July 24, 2017
Original Source: The Athletic
Synopsis: In my latest for The Athletic Toronto, I looked at the ways in which the Raptors may try to impart their “culture reset” on the actual on-court product.
The Toronto Raptors had just been bludgeoned by the Cleveland Cavaliers in a four-game sweep that matched an all-time record for three-point disparity in a series of that length. For the fourth postseason in a row, the team’s elite offence had dwindled under the brighter lights and stiffer competition. There was never more than a puncher’s chance of upending the Cavaliers, but the way in which the team limped through the inevitable finish line left myriad questions about where they should go from here and how best to get there.
As the team cleaned out their lockers in the days that followed their elimination, it sounded as if sweeping changes could be on the way.
“After that performance, we need a culture reset here,” a disappointed Masai Ujiri said. “We need to figure it out.”
It was a statement that, as a pull-quote, created even more questions than answers. On its plainest surface, it seemed to suggest a complete tear-down was on the table (and it was). It also pointed to a potential change at the helm, with a team’s head coach generally considered the avatar for its culture (and a much easier piece to change than an entire roster). Something had to give, lest the Raptors lock in to an expensive core to extend a great four-year run with the same endpoint into a seven-year one.
In retrospect, the “culture reset” quote probably should not have been taken on its face. There are limitations to the amount of overhaul a team can undergo, the lack of coaching turnover left Casey as the best option (he may have been, anyway), and there is only so much a team can shift its identity when its fundamental building blocks remain the same.