With no Bosh or cap space, GM has one path to take

RYAN WOLSTAT, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:44 AM ET

The departure of Chris Bosh has forced the Raptors to evolve. But not, it appears, in a direction that will leave the franchise in good stead down the line.

President/general manager Bryan Colangelo made it clear Thursday that, under his leadership, there is no chance the team blows it all up and heads into the tank.

Instead, the club will “retool” minus the franchise leader in most categories.

It is not the right call, but unless ownership commits now to an extension, it is Colangelo’s only call.

He can’t slice up the roster and throw a dog’s breakfast 25-win team on the court next season. Drastically reduced season ticket, concession and apparel sales will not please his corporate masters.

But if this chronically underwhelming franchise wants to turn things around, it must acquire some serious talent. No offence to the likes of Linas Kleiza, Amir Johnson and Jarrett Jack, but a team of role players won’t cut it in the NBA.

Not in a league where individual players matter far more than they do in any other major sport. If you don’t have a superstar and a couple of other very good pieces, you are not going to be competitive.

Andrea Bargnani and DeMar DeRozan might become very good players one day, but that day remains far off. Even if they do get there, it will matter little if a superstar is not also toiling for the team.

Without cap space for the foreseeable future, signing such a talent is basically impossible for the Raptors.

Besides, Toronto has never been a prime landing spot for the league’s elite, even on the rare occasions the organization has had ample cap space.

Which leads straight back to Secaucus, N.J., home of the NBA draft lottery.

There is no guarantee a few lottery appearances will take a team to the top — the L.A. Clippers and Minnesota Timberwolves demonstrate that clearly — but the draft brought Bosh, Vince Carter and Tracy McGrady to T.O., with no pick higher than fourth overall.

It remains the best means to acquire potential all-stars and if you are really lucky, potential game-changers.

Getting into the top four, in the right year, can get you Dwight Howard, Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, Deron Williams or Chris Paul. Sure, it can also land you Darko Milicic, Mike Dunleavy, Adam Morrison or Kwame Brown, but hey, at least it gives you a shot to improve significantly in a short period of time.

By adding pieces such as Kleiza, the Raptors remain in contention for the East’s final playoff spots, but little else. What is the point of being good enough to get blown out in the first round by the supercharged Miami Heat, Howard’s powerful Magic or the still formidable Boston Celtics?

Why not do it the Oklahoma City way? Bottom out for a bit, putting yourself in contention for a player like Durant, picking up future assets along the way by taking on undesirable contracts for picks? Once you have a collection of first- and second-rounders, it becomes easy to do what the Thunder and Portland Trail Blazers have done recently, peddle them in order to move up in the draft.

Colangelo said many times Thursday that the teams he has built here have been close to making some noise. Minus Bosh, even the biggest optimist cannot believe that is the case anymore.

There is but one path to take. But for Colangelo and MLSE, it is not an option.

Too bad for a city starving for a contender


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