Uncertainty surrounds Raptors going forward

MIKE GANTER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 6:51 PM ET

About the only thing more in abundance than losses as the Raptors close out the 2010/2011 season is uncertainty.

From who will eventually own the team to who will manage or even coach it, just about everything seems up in the air.

And that doesn’t even begin to address the likelihood of there even being a 2011/2012 season with a lockout looming in July.

There are a few certainties within the organization, like the fact that DeMar DeRozan will be back along with rookie Ed Davis. Even the return of Andrea Bargnani is now in question with at least one published report stating the Raptors are open to trading the former first-overall pick.

Of course how can a report like that be believed when the GM himself has a contract that expires June 30th and to date the team has not announced an extension.

In any event, here is a quick look at the questions that face the Raptors as the season crawls to an end.

OWNERSHIP

Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment Ltd’s controlling power the Ontario Teachers Pension Fund is in the process of selling its 66% share of the corporation. This means new ownership for the Raptors unless MLSEL chairman Larry Tanenbaum, who owns about 20% and has first right of refusal on the sale of any stake in the corporation can come up with a group to buy the for-sale shares. How much the basketball team would be affected by new ownership is anyone’s guess. Published reports have at least one member of the seven-person MLSEL board opposing the idea of extending GM Bryan Colangelo’s present contract. Either way, an ownership change is at the top of the uncertainty list for the Raptors.

what happens?

Wouldn’t even hazard a guess on something as complex as a potential $1.3-billion sale.

THE GM

Colangelo’s deal expires June 30th. For the better part of the year the thinking has been that the team would extend Colangelo before the year was out. That hasn’t happened. Whether it’s the MLSEL board holding this up or some other reason only the board, and perhaps Colangelo, knows for sure. Neither is saying. But the idea to replace Colangelo only makes sense if someone within MLSEL has a candidate in mind to fill the job. Absolutely no alternatives have been mentioned.

what happens?

Saner heads prevail and Colangelo gets his extension. We’re not saying he completely deserves it, but unless there is a viable option, it makes no sense to leave the team rudderless even with a lockout looming.

THE HEAD COACH

Jay Triano is in the final guaranteed year of his contract with the team holding an option on the 2011-2012 season that must be acted upon by mid June. He has been given a vote of confidence by Colangelo, but of course that’s only significant if Colangelo is back himself. A 20-win season on anyone’s resume does not look good, but the circumstances — first year after losing the franchise player and the fact that it was a rebuilding year — have to be taken into account.

So what happens

If Colangelo returns, as we are expecting, Triano comes back too. If Colangelo does not return, Triano is likely gone as well.

THE ROSTER

The uncertainty here is the annual run of the mill uncertainty. Every year, win or lose, there is turnover. This year the big questions surround the few veterans on the team not named Bargnani. Reggie Evans is an unrestricted free agent and a fan favourite here for his tireless rebounding. But does it make sense to bring him back with three front court positions already taking up the bulk of the minutes in Bargnani, Ed Davis and Amir Johnson who are all under contract? Super sixth man Leandro Barbosa has a player option for 2012, Alexis Ajinca is an unrestricted free agent while Joey Dorsey, Sonny Weems and Julian Wright are all unrestricted free agents.

So what happens

Nothing until a new collective bargaining agreement is hammered out and that could be a while.

THE DRAFT

This kind of uncertainty is the preferred kind. As it stands now the Raptors will have one of the top five best chances at a high pick in the draft. Duke’s Kyrie Irving is the consensus No. 1 pick and a potential franchise changer. After that it’s going to come down to each team’s individual needs and preferences

What happens?

The Raptors go with the best talent available regardless of position. In this draft that likely means a front court player assuming the team winds up with a pick close to where it finishes in the standings. Unless of course they land the No. 1 pick where Irving, assuming he comes out, would make all the aforementioned uncertainty that much more bearable.

mike.ganter@sunmedia.ca


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