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  Wed, April 14, 2004


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Raptors need to be rebuilt
With the season mercifully coming to an end, Mike Ulmer says it's time for big changes.

By MIKE ULMER -- Toronto Sun

The Toronto Raptors home season ended last night with an 87-78 win over the Detroit Pistons.

And, for the first time in six years, there was no Glen Grunwald to take the microphone and promise better things.

No one stepped into the breach.

No word from president Richard Peddie nor from owner Larry Tanenbaum.

"Presidents don't make those speeches," Peddie said.

"General managers make those speeches. I think that's a tradition that's going to end with Glen."

Sure enough, it did.

The game itself was a non-event.

The 545-28 Pistons are on cruise control while the Raptors have been that way since the all-star break.

Everyone simply went home after the buzzer sounded which, you had to admit, kind of fit.

Raptors coach Kevin O'Neill, wore black last night, fitting for a lame duck with just tonight's game in Milwaukee against the Bucks left to worry about.

It is no more certain than gravity that O'Neill won't be back.

The hiring of a fiery, impolitic, basketball-consumed workaholic doesn't fit in the club's current or future plans.

"I really didn't have any thoughts (about leaving)," O'Neill said.

"As far as I'm concerned, I'm a coach until they tell me I'm not."

Expect that word anytime now.

O'Neill has a year left on his contract and is looking forward to taking a year off on the Raptors dime.The Raptors will have bought out their past four coaches -- O'Neill, Lenny Wilkens, Butch Carter and the redoubtable Darrell Walker.

POSITIVES

To Kevin O'Neill we say good luck and take a number.

Asked for a word to describe his 10-month stay, O'Neill chose great.

"I take a lot of positives out of this," he said. "I enjoyed the city and the players and the team. We had some ups and downs but I think it's a privilege to coach in the NBA."

Feel more sorry for the few left behind.

The Raptors have no general manager and none on the immediate horizon. There is no sense of organizational urgency to land one before the NBA draft.

Good thinking.

Best to stick with the hawkeyes that brought you Michael Bradley, DeAndre Hulett and Aleksander Radejovic.

There is no true point guard, not with Alvin Williams cooked.

There is no hulking centre, no true power forward. There is a resident superstar in Vince Carter, a shining prospect in Chris Bosh, an intriguing rookie in Roger Mason Jr. and two upper echelon veterans in Donyell Marshall and Jalen Rose.

All that gets you 32 wins.

The draft beckons, but the Raptors sit seventh in the lottery, and with a graduating class replete with high schoolers, immediate help will take ton of luck in the lottery.

Now, it would be tempting to say that with fewer injuries and better luck, the Raptors could have snuck into the playoffs.

But to what end?

Fleeting success would have only led to a greater commitment to the status quo.

The Raptors have long since imploded. It's time to blow up the remaining chunks -- and that includes Vince Carter -- to start the rebuilding job.

Tear it all down.

Let the next guy piece it together.

Let's see if his final word, like Kevin O'Neill's, is great.









Do you like the new-look Raptors heading into the 2013-14 NBA season?
  Yes, new GM made great moves
  No, they will still be a terrible team
  Unsure what to make of it


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