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  Thu, April 15, 2004


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Raptors' summer of discontent
Bill Harris takes a look at some of the pressing issues the Raptors must address over the next few months

By BILL HARRIS -- Toronto Sun

As ludicrous as this sounds, considering the Raptors' colourful history, the franchise could be headed for its most tumultuous summer yet.

With the Raptors' ninth -- and arguably most puzzling -- season having ended last night, here are some of the major questions about the future of the club:

- Is Richard Peddie on his way out?

Peddie must really be missing fired Raptors general manager Glen Grunwald right about now. Since Grunwald was axed earlier this month, Peddie has become the franchise's No. 1 public whipping-boy, with seemingly everyone calling for his head.

But as Peddie has pointed out repeatedly, as president and CEO of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment Ltd., his boardroom bosses judge him on far more than the win-loss record of the basketball team. As long as the company does well financially and the ownership breakdown does not change, Peddie is safe.

There continue to be rumours that some ownership shifting eventually will give chairman of the board and minority owner Larry Tanenbaum more power. Either way, it's a good bet Peddie will be ushered toward an orderly retirement in the next couple of years.

While Paul Beeston long has been regarded as a possible replacement, here's another name: Many believe that Tom Anselmi, who is MLSEL's senior vice-president of business and chief marketing officer, is being groomed to take over from Peddie.

- Will Vince Carter ask for a trade?

There's a good chance he will. At the very least, the Raptors' marquee player is going to say he wants out unless things get fixed. Carter had best be careful, though. If he asks for a trade, the Raptors are under no obligation to trade him anywhere even remotely attractive. And if Carter broaches the subject, it at least gives the Raptors a guilt-free pass to gauge his market value around the NBA.

- Will season-ticket sales plummet?

The term "plummet" probably is overstating it, but after three subpar seasons in a row, the Raptors are going to take a body-blow in terms of bodies in the seats. Toronto fans are forgiving, but their patience has worn thin.

- Will Steve Nash ride in on a red-and-white horse and save everything?

It's very unlikely. Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban has said over and over that he has no intention of letting Nash get away, even though the two-time all-star and native of Victoria, B.C., is going to opt out of his contract and declare free agency. Regardless, the Raptors' deficiency at point guard must be addressed somehow.

- Will the Raptors ever get a quality big man?

Personnel-wise, this is the biggest challenge of all. Maybe the club can get lucky in the draft lottery and will be in a position to pick someone like Pavel Podkolzine (7-foot-5), Oakville high-schooler Ivan Chiriaev (7-foot-1) or maybe even consensus No. 1 pick Emeka Okafor of Connecticut, although he's only 6-foot-9. Failing that, the new general manager will have to be more creative than the old one.

- Are there quality GMs and coaches out there who can step in and make an immediate impact?

Of course there are.

- Do any of those quality GMs and coaches want to come to Toronto?

Of course they do. Yes, the Raptors' reputation took a hit during this past season of on-court wheel-spinning and front-office feuding. But despite the scare tactics of many cynics, there are only 30 teams in the NBA and the opportunity to run one, or coach one, is rare.

- Overall, is there any hope things are going to get better for the Raptors any time soon?

There's always hope. It's springtime, isn't it?









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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