Alright kids, we're trying something new here at Three in the Key: a mailbag! Well, it's not so much mail as tweets, so... a Tweet Bag! Wave of the future.
Anyway, every Sunday I'll pluck a few questions from my Twitter @replies to give a little more than 140 characters to, because shockingly not all answers can be reduced to a microblogging thought bubble. So keep sending me questions all week and I'll feature my faves here each weekend.
And now, without further ado, here is our first batch.
@OnceUponATwimewhere's the logic behind DeRozan's new contract extension?
That's a tricky question to kick off with because there is a difference between what the logic was for the team and whether that logic will resonate with people outside the organization.
Put simply, the Raptors believe tremendously in DeRozan's potential and wanted to do everything in their power to keep him with the franchise. Next summer there are a small handful of teams that will posses "max" cap room , among them the Cavs, Mavs, Kings and Bucks, and the Raptors were afraid that someone would grossly overpay him to pry him away from Toronto. DeRozan is still young at 23 and has a work ethic that has made a huge impact on the coaches and management and they felt that all of that warranted a four-year extension worth a reported $40-million.
Now, that logic doesn't really hold a lot of water outside of the ACC. Just because you are afraid that someone COULD overpay your guy doesn't mean you HAVE to beat them to the punch. Restricted free agency is a game that is weighted in the team's favour, and the Raptors could have matched any offer that DeRozan got on the open market. In addition to that, shooting guards that can't shoot, pass, rebound or defend all that well don't tend to set team's tongues wagging. O.J. Mayo, Lou Williams and Nick Young were all guards that had a better PER than DeRozan last year and all ended up with deals around of half of DeRozan's. The Raptors were trying to mitigate risk, I get that, but issue at hand here is that they didn't need to. DeRozan still has A LOT to prove as a player and you don't pay guys assuming they'll produce one day when the system is designed to let you take the 'wait and see' approach.
This may have been a case of the Raptors looking at DeRozan and seeing Eric Gordon or James Harden, max-contract guys, and everyone else taking a more sober view of DeRozan's potential.
@andrew2doucetteIf this season is "building" and the team at best sneaks into 8th who do they target next year? Or do Ross-JV just get better?
I'd be less focused on who the team is focusing on next year and look instead at who they might be focusing on this year. The Raptors are not a well-balanced outfit. Most of their talent plays the same position (power forward) and the season's first two games have demonstrated just how weak the team is offensively on the wings, especially with the second unit.
Jose Calderon's expiring $10.6-million contract is an asset that Colangelo has said repeatedly will be thrown into potential trade scenarios, and you have to figure that Linas Kleiza is hardly a permanent member of the team's core.
However, the guy I'd keep my eye on is Andrea Bargnani. With the Raptors handing out huge money to DeRozan this week, the Raptors have saddled themselves with two players - Bargnani and DeRozan - that play inefficient offense and less-than-stellar defence (they also don't rebound, pass or shoot threes as a high percentage). That is not an arrangement that is going to work for very long. Don't be surprised if the Raptors make a big splash on the trade market long before next summer arrives.
@CaptMaverick85why can't the #raptors keep a lead under coach Casey? Bad coaching during crunch time?
I don't know if this is a situation where Casey is totally at fault. While his insistence on using five-man bunch units must be curtailed (Toronto's reserve crew is not talented enough to support that course of action), at the end of the day the Raptors don't really have a sense of identity yet and that usually manifests most pointedly at the end of games.
Consider that the team desperately wants to be seen as an elite defensive outfit, yet down the stretch of Toronto's first two games they had Bargnani, DeRozan AND Calderon on the court at the same time. That's the team's three worst defensive players making up three-fifths of Toronto's closing unit. David West shredded them in the fourth quarter on Wednesday and down the stretch Sunday MarShon Brooks and C.J. Watson scored six huge points, both while being guarded by Calderon. Casey wants his best players out there in crunch time, but most of those guys are only 'best' at one end of the court.
So, all that being said, maybe it is bad coaching in crunch time, but Casey is also deprived of options with this roster as currently constructed.