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18th of November 2018

Sport



After a quiet camp, one task left for Raptors | The Star

And there you have it, the Toronto Raptors, 2018-19 opening day roster.

Through a pre-season that was as uneventful as any I can recall in the recent past, there were no big surprises over the weekend, Chris Boucher got the final two-way slot, they’ll leave one spot free for some flexibility and a wee bit of financial savings, both of which were basically expected.

It’s funny, though.

Through all the upheaval of the summer – and the firing of the team’s most successful coach off a 59-win season and the trade of a four-time all-star as more summer upheaval than this team’s gone through in years and years – a somewhat boring pre-season was a bit unexpected.

But as you’ll read in the next couple of days as we all trot out our preview stuff, truly very little happened. Kawhi Leonard came and little changed, Kyle Lowry was fine, no one got seriously injured and Nick Nurse has taken to his new job seamlessly.Boring.

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There is one thing to think about today, though, and it’s the only news left to worry about.

Delon Wright, who is being bothered by a bit of a thigh issue and did not practice Sunday, is up for a contract extension that has to be done by late tonight and it’s the one thorny issue still facing GM Bobby Webster and president Masai Ujiri.

And it is a bit of tough one, no?

There’s no doubt in my mind that Wright is going to be a very good NBA player. He can slide over and guard all three backcourt positions most nights, he’s a point with shooting guard skills and we’ve seen, on this roster, that he can be equally effective playing with Kyle Lowry or Fred VanVleet or both of them.

He’s the kind of versatile backcourt player good teams need, a starter or someone who comes off the bench; a bit of glue guy you can plug into a lot of spots.So what’s the worry? Why not see if you can lock him up for, say, three years and $38 million or so, certainly not crazy money in this NBA era and probably a fair number for his commensurate skills and spot on the team.

But, and this is the big but, the Raptors are going to be big into the tax area at the end of this season, if they do the unthinkable and re-up Leonard next summer at some super high number that tax burden will be much more serious and having Wright adding to it might not be financially reasonable.

And if, perchance, things go south and Leonard leaves and the rebuild continues with a trade of guys like Lowry and Serge Ibaka and maybe even Jonas Valanciunas next summer as expiring contracts, does a $13 million year deal for Wright make sense given where the team is?

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Me? I’d try to get him signed because I like the certainty, I love is game and you can figure out next summer’s repercussions when next summer rolls around.

I’m not sure that Bobby and Masai share my thoughts – I think I missed their calls on the weekend seeking my advice – but getting a good player in the fold without having to worry about the vagaries of restricted free agency next summer would be the wisest course of action.

And if they could do it early this afternoon rather than close to a late-night deadline, I’d appreciate it. I’ve got a lot of typing to do and would like to get it all knocked off at reasonable hour.

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Wake up and check the phone to see what time it is and what’s been going on and there’s a “breaking news” alert and who knows that kind of bad thing might have happened overnight somewhere.

Another hurricane hit somewhere?

Terrorist attack?

The president of the U.S. said something inflammatory?

No,, wait.

Meghan is pregnant and she and Harry are gonna have an offspring!

Really? Breaking news? You’ve got to be kidding me.

I’ve never really figured out this fascination with the royals and today might have been a new high in “who cares.”

Carry on.

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There was much commenting and remembering going on yesterday to celebrate, if that’s the right word, the third anniversary of The Bat Flip Game.

Now, I’ve been hanging around these parts for more than a few years and I’ve been a fan of teams in this neck of the woods for longer than my 60 year old mind would care to remember and I can say this:

Even more than Joe Carter’s home run, even more than any hockey goal scored, even more than any Argo touchdown or Flutie pass, that Bautista home run is the most iconic moment any of us has seen. When it’s all said and done and we’re sitting around the home 20 years hence, we’re still going to be talking about where we were and feeling a rush when we think about it.

You want to know why?

It’s because it was the culmination of the craziest, most eventful, dramatic, emotionally-draining baseball inning any of us have ever experienced.

The umpires totally blowing the call wen Russell Martin threw the ball off the guy’s bat, the benches emptying, the beer cans raining down from the 500 Level of the Dome, the sheer exhausting nature of the half hour was something I can’t imagine ever experiencing again.

We were lucky to have seen it and lived and ridden the emotions throughout it, it truly was a sporting moment of a lifetime.

Remember?

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