Toronto Maple Leafs: Lessons Learned from the Raptors Playoff Run

OAKLAND, CA - JUNE 13: The Toronto Raptors pose with the Larry O'Brien trophy after winning the NBA Finals against the Golden State Warriors during Game Six of the NBA Finals on June 13, 2019 at ORACLE Arena in Oakland, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2019 NBAE (Photo by Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images)
OAKLAND, CA - JUNE 13: The Toronto Raptors pose with the Larry O'Brien trophy after winning the NBA Finals against the Golden State Warriors during Game Six of the NBA Finals on June 13, 2019 at ORACLE Arena in Oakland, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2019 NBAE (Photo by Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images) /
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BOSTON, MA – APRIL 11: Jake Muzzin #8 of the Toronto Maple Leafs skates against the Boston Bruins in Game One of the Eastern Conference First Round during the 2019 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at the TD Garden on April 11, 2019 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Steve Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA – APRIL 11: Jake Muzzin #8 of the Toronto Maple Leafs skates against the Boston Bruins in Game One of the Eastern Conference First Round during the 2019 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at the TD Garden on April 11, 2019 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Steve Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images) /

Go bold when necessary

Nearly a year ago, the Raptors made the most important trade in franchise history by acquiring Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green in exchange for beloved star DeMar DeRozan, Jakob Poeltl, and a draft pick. It goes without saying that had this move not taken place, there would likely be a different team winning the 2019 NBA Finals.

This transaction is significant because it was a result of Masai Ujiri going bold to make a major shakeup to the roster that appeared to be stagnant in their push for a title. He could have kept the status quo and hope for a different result, but he made a big gamble by making this trade and also firing Dwayne Casey a month prior. It was a massive risk and it ultimately paid off in the end.

Along with the trade for Marc Gasol, these were all bold moves by a man ready to push all the chips to the table and risk everything after playing it safe for years. This year felt like a do-or-die one for the core so it makes sense why these moves transpired.

The 2018-19 Raptors is something that Kyle Dubas is going to take to heart because he’s learned there’s a time and a place to go bold. Ujiri didn’t make these moves because he was bored, he did what he felt was best for the franchise and help it get over the hump.

It’s why not firing Mike Babcock after this season was the right choice for Dubas to make. Because there’s a difference between bold and reckless, and doing that could have easily fallen into the latter category. It would also be short-sided to trade a key player on the roster (say, William Nylander) prematurely without giving the core a chance to try and make an impact.

It could be argued that signing John Tavares nearly one-year ago was bold, but it was a move that made sense and helped bolster the already loaded forward core. A bold move, instead, would be making a big trade for top-pairing defender fans have been longing for (ex: P.K. Subban).

Dubas is control of the team’s daily operation and is going to do what’s best for this franchise because that’s what a good G.M. does. And that extends to when it comes to making a bold transaction to help the team out in a massive way. Because there is a time and a place to do it, and making said move prematurely would be reckless.