The quicker Toronto fans come to grips with the fact that Cleveland was simply the better team, the sooner fans can move on from a disappointing loss. You can breakdown this series in many different ways but it still comes down to the same conclusion. LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers are better. The Raptors didn’t make open shots, the Cavs did. The Raps couldn’t sink 3pt shots (30%), the Cavs did (46.6%) with alarming regularity. The Raps didn’t rebound the ball well (35.5) and you got it, the Cavs did (43).
It was a dominating performance. Now the Raptors did not have Kyle Lowry the last couple of games, and yes they could all play better than how they did, but does anyone really believe that they can beat the Cavaliers in a best of seven? Honestly, not many people do and you can count myself among them. This should lead to a very interesting offseason for the Raptors. There is room to make a move or two to get a bonafide shooter (their biggest need) but the big question still remains. Do you resign Lowry who has just filed for free agency as expected? The answer to that may tie in too believing whether or not that is enough to catch Lebron James and the Cavaliers?
If you believe the answer is yes, just remember what kind of team Golden State has and how the Cavs came back from a 3-1 deficit last year to beat them. The unfortunate truth is that the best Raptors team ever assembled (I think it is better than the one back in 2001) is playing in an NBA era that is dominated… DOMINATED by Lebron James. You can woo over your James Harden’s scoring, you can ahhhh over Russell Westbrook’s triple doubles and you can shout MVP for whichever player you like. Noone of them however have been to the Championship Finals for six straight years, winning 3 of them and who knows how many more are coming.
As Lebron himself said recently, right now the only thing he is chasing is a ghost, the ghost of Michael Jordan’s greatness to be exact. With all due respect to the haters out there, when you talk about the greatest of all time like Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird and yes, even MJ, LeBron James has to be included in that group and depending on how long he continues to play, he may very well even top that list.
— ⚠️Guy On The Couch⚠️ (@6SportsGod1) May 9, 2017
Which brings us back to the main question for Masai Ujiri and the Toronto Raptors. What do you do now? If it is virtually impossible to beat a James led team, and history has proven it has, do you do what it takes to resign Lowry?
Even if the Raptors improve this team by getting a shooter and then resign Lowry it, very well may not be enough. This is not a critique on the Raptors because, quite simply, there are maybe 26 other teams (I’m not including Golden State or San Antonio) that have little to no chance of beating Cleveland either.
If you don’t resign Lowry, the other option is to break up the Raptors and then build towards a better team for the post “LeBron” era. Toronto fans saw how well that move went for the Maple Leafs, but unfortunately the same mentality does not apply here. The Leafs were not waiting around for a team or player to retire, they needed a complete rebuild from top to bottom. Plus… it didn’t hurt that the number one pick was a stud by the name of Austin Matthews. The Raptors are at a bit of a crossroads here and have to decide how they wish to proceed. Breaking it up and rebuilding over the next few years just doesn’t make sense at this time. In fact, considering the track record that this franchise has had, they need many more positives seasons than negatives.
If you had a choice therefore to see the Raptors, would you prefer they rebuild and look like the Philadelphia 76ers or are you ok with them continuing on this path and turning into a team that resembles the Memphis Grizzlies? A top 4 team in their conference that wins a round or two in the playoffs for the next few years. It is not a championship team but would that be so bad? There may even be a year there where James is injured and then you might even have a chance to go a step or two further.
The only concern I have of re signing Kyle Lowry (or any other player for that matter) is if they overpay and sacrifice the future. That still may happen but if you look at Ujiri’s track record, you notice one very particular pattern. He has never overpaid for a player and that is the sign of an excellent GM. Remember, the Raptors could have had Serge Ibaka a year ago but it would have cost them an extra couple of pieces than what they eventually paid for him.
So whether Lowry signs with Toronto or not may still be the big question and a concern to man fans, but over paying him to stay with the Raptors, shouldn’t be.
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