Raps big on the future

Toronto Raptors GM Bryan Colangelo introduced the team's two draft choices, Solomon Alabi (left)...

Toronto Raptors GM Bryan Colangelo introduced the team's two draft choices, Solomon Alabi (left) and Ed Davis, on Monday.

FRANK ZICARELLI, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:09 PM ET

TORONTO - By the end of this week, perhaps as late as early next week, some clarity will be shed on the uncertainty that is the Raptors roster.

On Monday, the team unveiled its two picks from last month’s draft, Ed Davis and Solomon Alabi, two bigs who dropped in Toronto’s lap in the wake of health issues that don’t seem to have any substance.

Davis and Alabi said all the right things, are prepared to put in the necessary off-season work and will be given an opportunity to determine their own minutes when next season rolls around.

Davis is a legitimate power forward and Alabi a true centre. Two areas that need upgrading, two candidates who have the potential to address concerns.

But it’s not going to happen overnight, a process that requires time and patience, a learning curve that may get expedited if Davis and Alabi put into action what their words resonated at their introductory news conference.

GM Bryan Colangelo is very high on each, reassuring everyone that Davis and Alabi have a chance to be consistent members of the team’s rotation.

“There’s no better way in gaining experience than being in an NBA game,’’ he said. “The quicker young players develop, the quicker an organization moves forward.

“Regardless of what happens in free agency, there’s an opportunity for both.”

Both Davis and Alabi have length and are athletic, each is defensive-oriented, capable of rebounding the ball and blocking shots.

When the NBA’s movement moratorium lifts on Thursday, it’s expected the Raptors will announce the re-signing of Amir Johnson.

As is the case with every free agent that preceded Johnson, and will be the case as long as Toronto remains part of the NBA fraternity, the Raptors had to overpay, the price of doing business in the league’s only non-American market.

But when you strip away the money, Johnson makes a perfect fit, as does Davis and Alabi.

Throw in Andrea Bargnani and a healthy Reggie Evans, if he doesn’t get traded, and you have the makings of a decent big rotation.

The mid-level exception got raised over the weekend when a report surfaced suggesting the Raptors were on the cusp of exercising a sum roughly in excess of $5 million that doesn’t go against the cap, but is applied to the luxury threshold.

Part of the money will be spent on Alabi, a second-round pick with first-round potential, a kid who deserves some guarantees that are only manifested in a longer contract.

That’s a slam dunk.

The mere mention of the Raptors using this exception should signal a warning that the Chris Bosh mystery will soon be clarified.

The Raptors have to move on and having Davis and Alabi in town to take part in a free-agent camp and having each take part in the team’s coming summer league in Las Vegas are signs that the team is getting down to business.

Free agent names such as Ryan Gomes, Matt Barnes, Ronnie Brewer, Shannon Brown and J.J. Redick have been bandied about, guards and swingmen of varying talents.

What the Raptors should not overlook is the market of bigs, especially experienced frontcourt players.

The Raptors are going young, athletic and long, but experience is required, especially when it comes to grooming Davis and Alabi, who represent the future as much as they do the present.

Joey Dorsey will be given a look this summer and he may emerge with a roster spot, but the Raptors need more.

Who knows what deal a Tony Battie would command, what money, a Joe Smith warrants or what length a Theo Ratliff or a Nazr Mohammed finds attractive, but players of this ilk must be considered.

Chris Bosh, despite his status as a franchise player, never could keep the locker room together.

In times of duress, the Raptors grew apart, in part because no player was able to do what Anthony Parker did prior to last off-season’s move to Cleveland.

Jose Calderon is no leader and neither is Hedo Turkoglu. Bargnani is clearly not a leader and Jarrett Jack can be a leader in the right circumstance.

Youth was served on Monday, but it’s experience that should be next on the team’s to-do list.


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