WEDNESDAY APRIL 10th, 2019
Peter Kaye, LIR
I was at the game when Jeremy Lamb hit that improbable buzzer beater that will be on every Play of the Year countdown. After the shock of the moment was over, my first reaction was “At least that wasn’t Game 7 of the Finals”. You are right, Adam— losing in the playoffs will never be easy. But let’s make sure it’s not as dramatic as the Lamb buzzer beater. I just jinxed it, didn’t I?
Also, thank you for bringing up my prediction from the beginning of the season. Please permit me a moment to bask in the glory of my 58-win prediction…..alright, I’m good to continue now.
You have articulated perfectly all the reasons why this postseason just feels different. Leonard’s impending free agency has forced the organization into all-in mode; and kudos to Bobby Webster and Masai Ujiri for pushing their chips to the middle of the table.
This team is deep, Adam. Like really deep. Besides all the players you mentioned, we still have VanVleet, Lin, McCaw, Meeks, Powell, OG, Ibaka, and Green. We also both know that Danny Green is going to swing a few playoff games. He’s the ultimate glue guy: you won’t win a title because of him but you can’t win a title without him (Green is going to find himself on an NBA All-Defense team come award season).
Our roster is so talented and so deep that we can play any style. You also know how eagerly I am awaiting Kawhi at Center minutes come postseason time. Nurse has given us that teaser trailer sprinkled throughout the season and I fully expect him to use Leonard at the 5 when the appropriate time comes (and it will be glorious).
I’m glad you brought up Siakam because a lot of attention will be paid to how he performs in the postseason. Will he carry over his strong play into the playoffs? I absolutely think so. Gone is the kryptonite that he is a poor three-point shooter. I dare other teams to let Siakam beat them because you know why? He will beat them! Also, I am thoroughly enjoying the awards buzz Siakam is getting from respected members of the media who vote. He is getting MIP buzz, All-NBA buzz, and All-Defense buzz. I love it! Well earned, Spicy P! The Most Improved Player hardware is a lock; the All-NBA might be wishful thinking this soon; but, I’m starting to think he may garner an All-Defense nod.
Speaking of Siakam, the dude is due for an extension this summer. Whether he gets an extension this summer, or the following summer in restricted free agency, gone will be the days when he is making less than the veteran’s minimum. Have you thought about Siakam’s next contract? Is it better to extend him this summer or wait until the following summer? Essentially, what I’m really getting at is: what do you think his next contract will look like? I’m very curious to see your response (as a trusted smart mark Raptors contributor) because I have spent far too much time thinking about this.
Adam Corsair, SOT6
That’s an interesting question regarding an extension for Siakam that, I must admit, I haven’t considered yet. There’s no time like the present, I suppose!
I think the priority this off-season is to re-sign Kawhi and offer him that mega contract. I don’t think that, by doing so, they’re disregarding the notion that Siakam deserves a more lucrative deal, but rather they’re prioritizing keeping this train running. That being said, there’s also more of a priority to try to get Danny Green to stick around, as well. I think that, once the 2020 off-season rolls around, they’ll be in a better position — both mentally and financially — to extending Siakam to a — dare I say — max deal? I don’t think that’s out of the realm of possibility and, in fact, I think he will deserve it at that point, if he doesn’t already. By then, Kyle, Gasol (assuming he picks up his player option next season — which, c’mon, he will) and Serge will be off the books and the Raptors will be in a much more financially stable position to put that money out there. This just seems to make the most sense, for me.
I’m glad you mentioned the depth of this lineup because it showed up last night against Minnesota. Yes, it was the last game of the regular season and, yes, it was against a depleted and embarrassing Timberwolves squad, but it was nice to see the bench and 905 members flexing a bit. Boucher had a more than decent showing — a +16 with 15 points, 2 blocks, 13 boards, in about 24.5 minutes! Not to mention OG showing some signs of life as well. Again, I don’t want to do too much examination based on one game against a pretty bad team, but these are confidence-building moments that will carry over into the playoffs in the (unlikely) event that the Raptors need to deploy these players. It’s just a nice sense of security that we have with these players on the bench. More than likely, players like Boucher, Meeks, Miller, Moreland, and even Lin won’t be getting any significant minutes, if any at all. But it’s good to know that we’re dealing with a very deep and serviceable set of players if something were to happen (or if there’s garbage minutes).
That being said, I’m interested in what you think our playoff rotation will look like. I’m thinking the usual Starting 5 of Lowry, Green, Kawhi, Siakam, and Gasol with Serge, FVV, OG and mmmaaaayyyybbbbeee Norm coming off the bench. I have to admit that I’m still a little uneasy when it comes to using Norman Powell in the playoffs, despite the success he’s had when it mattered in the past. However, as I mentioned in a previous email, the margin for error is super slim, and we just don’t know which Norm we’re going to get. If anything, maybe keep him on a tight leash with a quick trigger if he’s exhibiting his spastic nature that he sometimes does. But even then, I may find myself white-knuckling my couch.
A lot of people don’t trust OG for some reason, but I think that’s largely — if not entirely — due to his many absences this season. This is a guy that, as a rookie, guarded LeBron James in the playoffs last year and did it well. That type of defensive ability and intensity is crucial for success and I think that it will be heavily valued and needed, despite his struggles on offense. That type of defensive presence has the ability to sort of mitigate the lack of offensive consistency, so I’m much more confident deploying OG than say maybe a Norm in certain situations.
Peter Kaye, LIR
You are absolutely right that the offseason priorities are re-signing Leonard and Green since they are unrestricted free agents. But I do think Masai will find a way to get business done early with Siakam as well. Nothing like a freshly signed Siakam to persuade free agents (and Leonard & Green) to make Toronto their home.
When thinking of Siakam’s next contact, is it completely ludicrous to think that some team will offer him the max in restricted free agency? Think about that for a moment. It’s not that crazy is it?
All of which leads me to thinking that Ujiri will try to extend him this summer to a deal that would be a lot of money but still below the maximum money he could command next summer. How does $100 million over four years sound? I think that’s the deal. Also, I wouldn’t be surprised if Masai found a way to sign him for a slightly less annual average salary. Either way, Siakam will no longer be the overlooked first rounder playing on a bargain basement deal. Instead he will be paid like a superstar with superstar expectations.
In regards to playoff rotations, the starters are pretty much written in ink (Lowry, Green, Leonard, Siakam & Gasol). Our bench rotation should run no more than nine deep (unless, of course, we have a blowout on our hands or Nurse needs to inject life into a game that is going sideways). Ibaka, Steady Freddy, and OG are locks. I do suspect we will see some regular minutes from Norm in the postseason — and frankly he’s earned it. He went from from DeMar DeRozan-lite to completely useless then all the way back to a solid rotation player. Yes, the leash should be short on Powell but I can totally see him winning us a quarter and, conversely, losing us a quarter. Where and when Nurse deploys Powell will definitely be something to keep an eye on.
In terms of those who don’t trust OG, I say treason! Give me their names so I can report them to the Twitter Police! He is already a great defender both on the perimeter and as a small-ball 4 who can bang with the likes of a Blake Griffin and hold his own. There are going to be many All-Defensive accolades on his mantle when all is said and done. I am fully expecting him to leave his mark on the postseason.
Back at the beginning of this exercise you wrote:
It’s in writing, Peter; we’re going to the NBA Finals.
And you know what? Just having this dialogue with someone as informed as you has made me see the light. I am raising my 5/10 confidence level all the way to 8/10 or dare I say 9/10.
Our team is deep. We have elite defenders across this roster. We just need to go out now and win the games. Also, if the regular season was just practice for Kawhi, then I am ready for some Playoff Kawhi.
You know what else, Adam? I too am ready for the playoffs! I am ready for the nervous energy, the heightened anticipation, the highs and lows of every single possession, and just the energy and community amongst Raptors fans. Sign me up! I am ready! There is nothing I love more than High Five-ing strangers as we collectively countdown the 16 wins it will take to taste immortality.
I also hear rumours that you will make your way up to Toronto for a championship celebration. If that isn’t a good enough reason to hope for a Raptors title, then I don’t know what is. Also, I jokingly told my wife that I would buy myself a replica championship ring if the Raptors won the title. I also realized that I’m not joking either.