Last night while watching ESPN’s pre-game show before the Miami Heat and Brooklyn Nets game Doug Collins shared some great wisdom on gutting and rebuilding an NBA team.
“I’ve been in this for 40 years or whatever, and general managers always fall in love with the NBA Draft,” Collins vented after Bill Simmons got him worked up over the 2014 NBA Draft looking like fool’s gold. “Coaches try to win games and for general managers it’s a nice five year deal that allows them to fall in love with the draft and build. It’s easy to tear something down, but then you’ve got to try and rebuild it.”
Collins is right that it’s easy to tear something down but it’s a lot harder to build something the right way.
Fans of the Toronto Raptors just need to look at Bryan Colangelo as proof of this. When he arrived in Toronto he was quickly hailed as the god of basketball in Canada because he was able to take a floundering team and get them to the playoffs his first full season with Colangelo running the franchise.
During his first year at the helm of the Raptors, Colangelo was named Executive of the Year, Sam Mitchell was named Coach of the Year and Toronto was the Atlantic Division.
Turns out it was all fool’s gold and not a sustainable way to build a team.
Ujiri has quickly won over fans in Toronto because he traded away Andrea Bargnani and Rudy Gay while getting sold returns for bad parts.
On top of that, Toronto now sits atop of the Atlantic Division and is looking at home court in the first round of the playoffs.
Is this a case of history repeating itself? According to Collins, it is. Ujiri now finds himself in a tough spot as he has to decide if he’s going to stay the course this season with the current group of players or continue to rip things apart by trading DeMar DeRozan, Kyle Lowry and whoever else has interest from other NBA teams.
While Ujiri has been able to work his magic so far in gutting Toronto of bad contracts, where he will earn his pay is based on if he is successfully able to build a roster that has sustainable growth.
If the remains of his work in Denver is any example, his abilities to turn over a roster and have sustainable success is now up for debate.
Granted, George Karl is no longer in the picture and Ujiri is now running a team in another country, but the team he earned praise for just last season now looks in complete disarray.
It just goes to show Collins is right about how easy it easy to rip apart a franchise but how equally hard it is to properly build a franchise.