Raptors' to-do list
By BILL HARRIS -- Toronto Sun
Whoever the Raptors hire as their next general manager, be it the legendary Julius (Dr. J) Erving or someone else, the club has a number of important decisions to make in the next few weeks.
And those decisions will have to be made whether a full-time GM is in place or not. It has been confirmed that Erving is going to be interviewed, and the club has begun to contact some potential coaches, but who knows how long this overhaul will take?
Obviously, the Raptors have to start thinking about who to select in the NBA draft on June 24, but how easy or tough that choice will be won't be determined until the lottery on May 26. The Raptors could pick as high as No. 1 or as low as No. 11.
The Raptors also have to consider whether they're going to make qualifying contract offers to restricted free agents Morris Peterson and Robert Archibald. If the Raptors choose not to make those offers by July 1, Peterson and Archibald would become unrestricted free agents.
But the most pressing concern, chronologically, is deciding which player to expose in the expansion draft, which will stock the Charlotte Bobcats on June 22 or 23 (if the NBA final doesn't end till June 20, the expansion draft will be pushed back to the 23rd). Teams must inform the league of their decisions regarding unprotected players by June 12.
Should the Raptors expose one of their lower-end players, like Milt Palacio or Roger Mason, Jr.? Or should they roll the dice and expose someone like Jalen Rose, who probably wouldn't be taken by the Bobcats because he's scheduled to earn close to $15 million US next season?
When the Raptors and the Vancouver Grizzlies entered the NBA in 1995, the expansion draft was straight-forward in that each of the existing 27 teams knew it was going to lose the player it exposed. Thus, only the worst contracts were on the market. There was more dumping going on than at the Boston tea party as the Raptors (who took 14 players) and the Grizzlies (who took 13) divvied up the garbage.
This time there's only one new franchise, which actually complicates things.
Each of the 29 teams can protect eight players, but also has to expose at least one. Even if a team has only two players under contract, it has to make one of them available.
The Bobcats could claim all 29 players, but that won't happen, special roster dispensations notwithstanding. However, the Bobcats have to select at least 14 players.
The Raptors have nine players under contract for next season. In descending order of salary, they are: Rose, Vince Carter, Alvin Williams, Donyell Marshall, Lamond Murray, Chris Bosh, Jerome Moiso, Palacio and Mason.
The list of available individuals will not be announced, so theoretically, if a player gets exposed and the Bobcats don't take him, the player might never find out. But these things tend to leak out. Would someone like Rose go loco?
The thinking here is it's not worth potentially embarrassing Rose, even though there's almost no chance he would be claimed. An inspired Rose can help a team, but a pouting Rose can kill a team.
Exposing Carter, Williams, Marshall or Bosh is unthinkable.
Murray and Moiso didn't fit into one-time Raptors coach Kevin O'Neill's plans, but who knows what the new coach will think? At the very least, Murray and Moiso could be packaged in future trades, so they're worth keeping for now.
That leaves Palacio and Mason. Palacio is more seasoned, but Mason has more potential.
Sorry, Milt. Don't take it personally. And who's to say the Bobcats will want Palacio, anyway?
Timing will determine whether the Raptors' expansion-draft decision is made by Erving, interim GM Jack McCloskey, the family of gypsies camped out in Glen Grunwald's old office, or somebody else. Regardless, it's a decision that must be made fairly soon.