Raptors president Bryan Colangelo couldn't quite say it Monday afternoon.
He couldn't quite come out and say "rebuilding."
But for the first time in his tenure running the franchise he allowed that the Raptors are looking further down the road than the season immediately ahead.
"It feels like we're turning over a new leaf as we build this roster and put a new product out there the floor," he said yesterday.
The men sitting to his right were doubtless happy to hear it.
Colangelo was speaking by way of introduction of the team's newest members, a pair of rookies-to-be in the form of Ed Davis, drafted No. 13 overall and Solomon Alabi, drafted No. 50.
With Chris Bosh all but gone and Andrea Bargnani and Reggie Evans the only big men under contract - the club can't confirm the signing of Amir Johnson until Thursday - there could be no better time to be close to seven feet and a Toronto Raptor, at least if the chance to earn significant playing time is the goal.
"It's going to be a good fit: great organization, great city, I'm ready to work," said Davis, a 21-year-old sophomore form the University of the North Carolina.
Said Alabi, a 22-year-old sophomore from Nigeria by way of the Florida State University: "It's a great opportunity for me. I'm excited to join the team and contribute to the program."
What the program will look like is still anyone's guess, though for Colangelo it's youth now that it appears almost certain that Bosh will signing as a free agent elsewhere.
There was no mention of veteran Hedo Turkoglu and almost no reference to Bosh, other than for Colangelo to imply that the Raptors won't be bending over backward to assist their former franchise player by way of a sign-and-trade unless it benefits Toronto.
"Things have to make sense for all sides," Colangelo said. "Things have to make sense for the player. Things have to make sense for the two teams involved. That's the part that ultimately has to be decided. He [Bosh]might decide on a franchise and we participate, we may not. That's kind of where things are."
And while Colangelo said he's been communicating regularly with Bosh's agent, Henry Thomas, the names that came up in the context of introducing Davis and Alabi were Raptors youngsters Sonny Weems, DeMar DeRozan and Johnson; the new guard, in other words.
Which is fine with the two newcomers, each of whom fell to Toronto from their projected draft position due in part to some medical issues - Davis's surgically repaired wrist is now 100 per cent and no one was happier than his father, Terry Davis, a former NBA journeyman who understands that success in pro basketball often has as much to do with opportunity as talent.
"I had to go a little big of a different route," said the elder Davis, an undrafted free agent who played for four teams in his 10-year career. "But having the opportunity to come to a team that has a need for you is a little bit different. I think it's a great opportunity for him and he's going to make the best of it and hopefully it will work out for him and Toronto."
Alabi is well known to the Raptors because he developed under the watchful eye of assistant general manager Masai Ujiri, a fellow Nigerian. It was that familiarity that encouraged the Raptors to trade a future second round pick and cash to the Dallas Mavericks for Alabi, whose draft stock was falling due to concerns about him being diagnosed with Hepatitis B during physical testing at the league' pre-draft testing as well as concerns about some earlier injuries: a stress fracture to his shin suffered a couple of years ago and since healed and a chipped knee he played with during the season and has since been surgically repaired.
Both players come advertised as shot-blockers and rebounders who patrol the lane with determination. They will get a chance to show their wares with the team this month during the NBA's summer league in Las Vegas. If they deliver on that front it will indeed be a new era for Toronto.
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