Thoughts From The John #TFTJ – Toronto sports fans were treated to a trade deadline for the ages in July 2015. Yup, that was when Alex Anthopoulos put on a pair of Ray-Bans, put a joint in his mouth and said “Fuck The System” and went full Thug Life on the MLB while throwing up gang signs to Rogers Communications. He went for it! That was the first time in my life I have ever experienced such excitement for a Toronto team. It was a beautiful time to be alive. I couldn’t even pull off those kinds of trades on PS4. Some called it reckless, I called it ballsy. You need balls to win and AA had his reasons why he did what he did – it was now or never for that roster and I’ll applaud AA every day of the week.
“What’s the point of playoffs if you know you’re not going to win?”
Fast Forward to February 2017 and Masai Ujiri and the Toronto Raptors are in a similar situation – it’s now or never for this roster. With Lowry and Patterson on expiring deals, a supposedly “franchise centre” who doesn’t seem to be improving and a coach who can’t seem to light a fire under his teams ass on the defensive end; the time is now to go for it or you may never have the opportunity again. The Raptors don’t have elite prospects who will be making them better in the near future. The only way they’re going to compete is through acquiring quality players at the deadline.
The Raps have fallen flat on their face to start the new year and fans are starting to question “what’s the point of playoffs if you know you’re not going to win?”. As a fan, I wouldn’t pay top dollar to see my team bow out in the 2nd round or bend over for Lebron in the conference finals (should we even get there). Masai has to go big or go home on this deadline or else he risks losing the fans trust in his ability and willingness to do what it takes to build a winner. Masai has made mediocre moves and free agent signings, far from the franchise altering moves we all thought he was brought here to do (the Rudy Gay deal was a fluke, that was a move to rebuild. Lowry was supposed to go next if the Knicks weren’t dumb). Arguably his biggest move to date was made last week when he acquired Serge Ibaka (also expiring deal) for a minimal loss, but I don’t think he’s done there. I think Masai has grown the pair of balls we all hoped he would have last year and is entering AA territory.
With a 1st and 2nd round pick still in hand and a bunch of meddling prospects at the end of the bench that crappy teams could value, I think Masai will be going for it this deadline. Given the depth at PG and PF/C, he’ll be looking to drop the hammer on a trade for a back up SF, probably PJ Tucker (my guy), Danilo Gallinari, Tony Allen or Wilson Chandler.
It’s no secret that Masai got lucky with this team. As he was attempting to tear them down and rebuild, they unexpectedly got good and got better over the last 4 years. This stretch run is integral for the fanbase. We got to the Eastern Conference Finals last year and put up a fight against the eventual champs despite being severely outmatched. Now will management bend over and just count their playoff revenue for a round or two…or will they put an honest effort to build a contender and take down Lebron? Masai has taken the right step forward with Ibaka, but the team isn’t complete yet. They still need to add some veteran depth. If you’re not in it to win it, then don’t waste the fan’s time, but I think Masai has his Ray-Bans on, a joint in his mouth and he’s saying “Let’s make a deal, mothafuckas”. THE TIME IS NOW!