TORONTO -- For almost all of Tuesday, social media sites were buzzing with nothing but optimism surrounding the Toronto Raptors' fate in the 2011 NBA Draft Lottery. After all, Toronto had the third- highest chance to win the first overall pick.
Then, later in the day, word came out that Raptors president and General Manager Bryan Colangelo had been extended to a multi-year deal, putting an end to any speculation of Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment letting him go - and making his presence at the lottery a whole lot less awkward in the process.
These two factors combined to make a pretty exciting day for Raptors fans ... until the lottery itself started.
It ended as a lottery that will be most likely be remembered by the Toronto faithful as the one that fleeced their team.
In a shocking turn of events, the Dinos dropped all the way down to the fifth overall pick, getting leapfrogged by the Cleveland Cavaliers' pick they received from the Los Angeles Clippers and the Utah Jazz's selection that was given to them from the New Jersey Nets, effectively deflating the high hopes that many fans had going into the raffle.
Now the Raptors have a real dilemma on their hands. Being left out of the top two means the only "can't-miss" prospects, Kyrie Irving of Duke and Arizona's Derrick Williams, won't be available. Picking fifth is very dangerous because the draft is wide open after the top two.
When Colangelo signed the contract extension, he probably didn't envision himself being put into such a tough situation.
Looking at the three teams that have the top four picks, each one will probably be targeting prospects that Toronto would've liked. At the top, the players that Cleveland and Minnesota will be narrowing in on is obvious, but when it comes to Utah and the Cavs' second selection, the targeted players are likely to be Brandon Knight of Kentucky and Turkish import Enes Kanter - two guys who could fit into the Raptors' current re-building plan pretty well.
If the Raptors want to select one of those two players, they'll need to hear some sort of guarantee from the Jazz and Cavaliers that one of them will be on the board for them to pick. It's a risky option and shouldn't be explored until after Colangelo and Co. have inquired about moving down the draft board.
There's far too much to lose if Toronto elects to stay at No. 5. The safer play would be to deal with an older contender that might be interested in getting into the lottery.
The option of trading up also is there, but there's little chance Cleveland and Minnesota will give up their spots.
If the reports are accurate that Colangelo was extended for two more years, with an option for a third, it shows that MLSE may be growing frustrated with the team's lackluster performance of late.
With a short leash now wrapped around the Raptors' general manager, it looks like he's going to have to get the team into the playoffs very soon or at least be knocking on the door of a postseason berth.
The projected position of the draft lottery was supposed to help out Colangelo. Unfortunately for him, the ping pong balls didn't land the way he wanted them to and his second stint as boss is beginning behind the eight ball.