Q and A with Raptors’ colour commentator Leo Rautins

Bunkis: Its been a bit of a bad year for Toronto, can you give a couple of reasons that Toronto Fans should remain optimistic about the future?

Rautins: “I think when you look at the situation with Toronto it is easy to get negative and focus in on a negative. When you look at this team you have a few players that I think were put in situations of leadership, that would be Bargnani and Jose Calderon and they have shown that, really, they are not the players that are going to be leading the team and yet they are still highly active. I think that if you surround them with the right players you should be able to get something positive in return.”

“So from an asset point of view I think we have some really good young players. If you look at Ed Davis and DeMar Derozan they were great picks there was nobody that was picked behind them that was able to do what they have done.”

“The team has a tremendous future between the assets that you have and the young players that you have and then the final component, money. They [the Raptors] are going to have financial flexibility and most teams don’t. The Raptors are going to be in the top five teams in the NBA in terms of financial flexibility, so you add those three things together you have cause to be reasonably optimistic.”

Bunkis: Regarding the Raptors’ first round pick, who you think is the best available player in this year’s NBA draft?

Rautins: “Well you know not everyone has got their name in yet so because of that it’s a little premature but I think that Kyrie Ivring the point guard from Duke, is one player that currently is on the top of most peoples lists. He didn’t play a lot of games this year but still enough that everybody knows that he is likely to be the best point guard in the draft.”

“Derrick Williams of Arizona has shown everybody that he is a unique player. He is an aggressive, physical, a little bit undersized four man but certainly someone whose style of game would work well in the NBA being as aggressive ass he is.”

“So there are two guys that jump out one specifically as point guard the other one, you know a front line player, but somebody who, I think, is physically ready to play certainly right away in the NBA.”

Bunkis: When we talk about assets, and what the Raptors have that’s available to move, the New York Daily news, the Toronto Star, and Michael Grange from the Globe and Mail they have been reporting that Andrea Bargnani could be somebody that is looked at to be traded this off season. What do you think the odds are of something like that and if so what would you see coming back for a player like Bargnani?

Rautins: “Its like I said at the beginning, you know he is somebody that can’t be your number one guy, he has shown that, so he has got to be your two or three in terms of priority of whose on the floor and who is the leader.”

“He is a unique player, difficult to find seven-footer that put the ball on the floor and shoot as well as he does. If you think its worth keeping him and you put the right players around him, then that’s your goal.”

“If you think he is worth moving because there are going to be some pretty good teams out there saying, you know, he could be the missing piece, he could be that guy who fits in with our other marquee players. So I think there is a value lost, but you could get some significant return on that because his numbers statistically are very good he is among the top scoring centres in the NBA. His rebounding numbers are not great but you know people talk about Brooke Lopez from New Jersey being one of the top centres and his rebounding numbers are very similar to Bargnani’s so, I think you will have a lot of people that show an interest in him. I think one of the things you find in the NBA, and in pro-sports in general, is that it may not work for one team but there are a lot of people that will say it will work for me, it will work here it will be a good situation.”

“Even players, and I am not saying this about Bargnani, but even players that you go man there is no way we can trade this guy, there is always somebody that will say it will work for me it will work here. So I think that if Bryan Colangelo is going to trade him it will bring good in return around real quick.”

Observer columnist Janis Bunkis takes a deeper look at the Raptors’ team changes this year and the focus on the youth in Raptors’ youth gains valuable experience after 22-win season

Check out Observer analysts, George Fadel, Janis Bunkis and Aaron Korolnek, as they weigh in on the Raptors’ year with a special taping of Full Court Press – All Star Edition