A franchise record of 59 wins plus ending the regular season as the number one seed in the Eastern Conference should have equaled a ticket to the NBA Finals for the Toronto Raptors. Instead, for the third year in a row, the Raptors met their demise by the hands of the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Cavaliers defeated the Raptors 128-93, completing a four game sweep in the second round. The Raptors’ season ended in disappointment, as they were arguably the favorites to win the Eastern Conference. Now, the Raptors are faced with many questions heading into the offseason. What changes need to be made? Should the organization blow up the roster? Should Head Coach Dwane Casey keep his job? This article will analyze the future of the Raptors. But first, let us look at what caused their demise.
Is It Time to Tear Down The Toronto Raptors?
The Raptors have a pretty good roster. Their offense and defense finished in the top ten this year. They have one of the best backcourts in the NBA, which consist of all-stars DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry. Also, their bench is one of the best in the NBA. But the one thing the Raptors have lacked is a true leader. This year, the Raptors were better than the Cavaliers overall. But the difference is the Cavaliers have LeBron James, who is the unquestioned leader of his team. He is the guy that get on his players while carrying them on his back. The Raptors do not have that guy. Lowry and DeRozan were expected to be the leaders. They could not pull the team together in the face of adversity. In game four, Lowry and DeRozan were held to a combined 18 points on 5 for 18 shooting. The Raptors’ main objective this offseason should be finding a player who embodies leadership.
Rebuild the Roster?
The Raptors have maxed out with their current roster. The top question is: Should they move on from Lowry and/or DeRozan? The answer is a soft no. The tandem is just too good to blow up. But if the Raptors were to move on from one of them, it should be Lowry. Lowry only scored an abysmal 5 points in game four. Also, he is 32 years old with a $100 million contract and has had injury problems. The Raptors should at least listen to any offers for Lowry. The Raptors should dangle Serge Ibaka on the trading block. Ibaka is due another $40 million over the next two years. Getting Ibaka’s contract off the books could help the Raptors bring in a veteran who will solve their leadership issues. They should not blow up the roster, but they need to make subtle changes. Should that be true for the Head Coach position?
The State of Dwane Casey
In his seven years with the Raptors, Casey coached them to five straight playoff appearances, which includes three straight 50-win seasons. This year, he is one of the candidates for Coach of the Year. This was suppose to be the year the Raptors break through the ceiling. But instead, Casey finds himself on the hot seat. The Raptors have crumbled under playoff expectations the last three years under Casey. Reports have surfaces about the Raptors contemplating moving on from Casey. Does he deserved to be fired? The answer is no. Casey played a big role in the evolution of Lowry and DeRozan. He has proved to be an effective coach in the regular season. The Raptors should give Casey one more season. After the Raptors make their moves in the off-season to solidify the roster, they should let him know its championship or bust. Next year will be Casey’s last if he fails again.
CHICAGO, USA – OCTOBER 13: Kyle Lowry (7) of Toronto Raptors in action during a preseason NBA game between Chicago Bulls and Toronto Raptors at the United Center on October 13, 2017 in Chicago, United States. (Photo by Bilgin S. Sasmaz/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)