If you are an avid Toronto sports fan, and read The Star/Sportsnet/TSN/whatever you’ll have read plenty about the Toronto Raptors releasing Alvin Williams along with several others who were tied to the “Colangelo-Era”; and with contracts to the rest of the coaching staff up this week, expect some more. Almost every media outlet says it was a poor move because he was “loyal”, “loved the city”, “hard working”, and “part of the team’s history”. As much as I love Doug Smith and his blog, and I trust his experience and opinion, I can’t say I agree with how they’re portraying this decision. Plenty of players and staff have ‘loved’ this city, and were ‘loyal’ and that didn’t stop the management from removing them. Trust me, I LOVE Alvin and think the world of him as a player and ambassador for the team, just as much as the next guy. But keeping him around, just for being loyal isn’t a good enough reason. Here’s why I support this decision:
A) The scouting for the Raptors in the past hasn’t been the best, and to top it off he wasn’t even stationed out of Toronto, he worked from home in Philly. Since 2009 when Alvin joined the team the Raptors have drafted: DeMar, Ed Davis, Jonas, Quincy Acy, and Tomislav Zubcic. DeMar is panning out to be a good pick, we still have yet to discover his true potential though after four seasons; Ed Davis was questionable; JV is going to be an all-star one day; Acy also questionable; and Tomislav who?! All ‘decent’ picks, with the exception of JV. Depending on the day and performance, DeMar is either loved or hated. I will agree that he’s making some strides and adding more facets to his game as time goes on. But by no means are any of these picks (JV excluded), absolute standouts. Especially with the Raptos being in the lottery for these picks. I say hire whoever is scouting for the Spurs… like now.
B) People seem to forget that Masai’s background is scouting, that’s what he’s always done, that’s what his specialty, that’s what he’s known for. He scouted for Orlando for free, that’s how much he enjoys what he does. As a new GM, he has every right to bring in and have whatever scouts he deems is best for the team. I don’t see the Raptors finding late gems like Kenneth Faried… Reports say Tim solely made this decision, but according to sources Masai was on board with it.
C) People are afraid of change. All change doesn’t have to be bad, change can be good. The owners of MLSE brought in Tim because he’s hellbent on winning, and he knows how to do it. He realizes that changes need to be made. Look at his opinion on a brand change. He realizes that the name “Raptors” isn’t tied to anything. It’s not like they have a winning past and history that is rich and filled with great memories. Alvin is a casualty of change. He represents a history and team that needs to evolve and get out of the rut it’s in. It’s unfortunate, it really is, I’m truly sad. But the team isn’t winning with its current formula of players and staff, so why keep someone on payroll and taking up a spot that someone else with a fresh perspective can offer?
D)If you want to talk about how they kept Colangelo and Casey, and how it’s no different from having have kept Alvin, argue that. I will say this though, and I don’t care if you agree, Casey is a good coach. He’s personable, he’s smart, the players respect him. Sure, his substitutions are questionable at times, but can you blame him for the roster he was working with? They brought him in as a defensive minded coach, as someone who can preach defense and aggression. But here’s the problem: Colangelo brings in offensive-oriented players and hopes that Casey can turn them into defenders; that’s not how it works. If you want a defensive coach to teach and run a defense well, you give him good solid defensive players. You don’t bring in scorers and hope they can turn into elite defenders while keeping their same offensive mind-set. So don’t blame Casey. Plus he has a year left and he knows the current roster better than anyone else, why get rid of him? As for Colangelo, yes they kept him. But don’t forget he was a mentor for Masai, he has no decision on basketball matters, and he is a two-time Executive of the Year. He’s a value asset as much as you think he isn’t. But don’t for a second think, that I don’t think, the whole situation is still awkward and weird. Because it is.
Alvin’s gone. Yes you loved him, yes I loved him, yes the city loved him. But all is far in love and war. And if the Raptors ever plan on becoming something, they can’t rest on their morals and past. Tim isn’t an idiot, look at what he did for AEG.
If you think I’m wrong, Tim’s wrong, and Masai’s wrong, start submitting your resume and cover letters to NBA teams, plenty are looking for coaches and GM’s right now.