Someone has got to pay, right?
Or do they?
Think back. What were the expectations coming in? Were they as low as a 22-win season? No, probably not. But were they in the 37 or 38-win range, the number the Indiana Pacers eked out to earn the eighth and final playoff spot in the woeful Eastern Conference?
If they were, then you have a right to be playing the blame game if you so choose.
But if you were like this correspondent and many others who had the team around the 32-win bracket, is there really a difference?
Numerically there is, but what would a 32-win season have got you? Would there be more hope? Would you feel that much better going into next year with those extra 10 wins?
This is a certainty: You wouldn’t have the kind of shot you want at a roster-changing addition through the draft, certainly not as good a shot as the Raps will have finishing where they did.
So what would 32 wins have brought your Raptors?
Thirty-two wins would have got the Raptors an 11th-place finish in the East and the same pack-your-bags-and-head-home moment they will live out Thursday morning after they finish off their schedule against the Miami Heat on Wednesday night.
In the heat of the moment, fans, most them anyway, will want their pound of flesh.
And because it’s much tougher to overhaul an entire roster than it is to change one or two bodies at the top, the first instinct is to demand that one or both of Bryan Colangelo and Jay Triano pay for this 22-win season with their jobs.
Admittedly, the list of GMs and coaches who have gone that route with better records is long.
So, yes, fans are completely justified in hoping for these sorts of changes.
But the reality of the situation is, the decision is going to rest with the board of directors of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment Ltd.
That group will decide whether Colangelo and Triano return.
The question, therefore, becomes: What does the board think of the job both Triano and Colangelo did?
So far we have heard publicly from one board member, chairman Larry Tanenbaum, who gave Colangelo a soft vote of confidence when he said during the team’s London trip that “Bryan has a plan and we back his plan.”
With the very makeup of the board in question with the largest stake in the ownership group having put out a for sale sign on its shares, there remains a chance we do not know the actual seven people who will make this decision.
For the sake of argument, let’s assume the sale of the Teacher’s Pension Plan Fund currently in the works is not finalized by July 1 when both Colangelo and Triano’s contracts run out. That’s not a stretch.
The existing board would then have to decide, with the very real possibility — some would say probability — of a lockout looming, whether to re-up the pair or let them go.
Did the Colangelo-Triano tandem fulfill their obligations with respect to the board’s mandate?
Did the board go into the 2010-11 season with the expectation of winning or was it, as has been said all along, a year of building and developing the young assets they have?
If it was, in fact, a year of development, then again the question becomes, did that happen?
DeMar DeRozan is without question a better player on April 13th than he was on October 27th when the season began with a home loss to the New York Knicks.
DeRozan has developed a consistent jumper and has shown an increased willingness to use his athleticism to attack the basket. He is by no means a finished product. His ability to put the ball on the floor and manoeuvre in traffic remains a work in progress. His jumper, which has come a long way over the course of the season, now needs to extend to the three-point line in order to make defences respect him out there.
But to say DeRozan didn’t take a huge step forward in his development this year is to ignore the obvious.
Similarly Ed Davis, the second of Colangelo’s back-to-back draft successes, made strides this year. There are those who will tell you Davis’ natural basketball instincts make him a potentially more valuable piece than even the still improving DeRozan.
Davis overcame a missed training camp and a slow start to the point where on Monday night in Milwaukee in the penultimate game of the Raptors’ season, scouts on press row were raving about his abilities at the exclusion of everyone else on the roster.
Again, progress was made. No question.
Jerryd Bayless, Amir Johnson are two more examples of young players who took their games to new levels during the 2010-11 season.
Is that quartet enough to satisfy ownership that Colangelo and Triano achieved their mandate?
A 22- or 23-win season is a tough pill for any franchise to swallow. The question is, should it swallow up the likes of Colangelo and Triano with it?