Arsenalist

The Toronto Raptors Blog with an Arsenal touch

Posts Tagged ‘Doug Smith’

Bargnani unleashed, media day and some pure horse-sh*t from Colangelo

Posted by Arsenalist on September 30, 2008

Yes, training camp is almost here. The first sign of the new season is media day, that’s the day when they take those pictures you’ll see for the rest of the year next to box scores, player comparisons and such. They measure their height (in shoes) and weight and re-introduce the team to the local media. There’s tons of interviews on the Raptors home page and there’s also Hoops Addict who’s got all the scrum audio including Jermaine O’Neal. See, I’m very jealous of the Hoops Addict, the man happens to have a press pass and if I ever meet the guy I’ll be sure to strike him down, rob him and leave him for the dead. Watch out buddy.

My brother from another mother Nathan Jawai has suffered an injury setback and will miss the early part of training camp. Something came up during his “cardiac screening”. Hopefully its just a heavy heart from missing Fosters beer and nothing more. I’m really curious to see what energy-level and hustle (if any) this guy brings to the table, maybe he can be the Joey Dorsey we never had. Just for the record I’m expecting zilch from him this season. Maybe a few instances of hilarity and couple Hump moments here and there but that’s about it. I’ve also decided to give him a nickname from here on out, people want to call him “Jaws” and such viscous names but given his rather raw skills, massive physique, I’ve come up with the name The Manatee. I will explain myself no further.

Michael Grange has made a post titled “Top Issues Facing Raptors”. He’s bringing up the points that we’ve been talking about for the past three months. Welcome Michael. There is a little quote in his article that is borderline shocking and offense and its attributed to Bryan Colangelo, here it is:

“Team president Bryan Colangelo thinks this is the most talented team the Raptors have had.”

The team that lost to the Knicks and then the following year beat the Knicks were vastly superior to these Raptors: True superstar. Check. Athleticism. Check. Talent. Check. Team balance. Check. Experience. Check. There’s really no comparison, just because we have O’Neal and Bosh on the same roster doesn’t mean we’re the best Raptors unit ‘ever’. This is media hype and quite frankly a hot steaming pile of bullshit.

On to the other writer that covers the Raptors, he’s saying that the Raptors are “a team with much promise but not much depth”. To me that’s an oxymoron statement, I think you need to be deep to have promise, unless by ‘promise’ he means how Colangelo’s promising that this is the most talented Raptors team ever and how one would expect the appropriate results to follow. Anyway, I”m getting caught up in semantics, his article’s about Andrea Bargnani and how he needs to play better for us to have a chance at climbing the Eastern Conference ladder. Enter Bryan Colangelo’s defensive quote:

“Different players react differently to the league and the circumstances. You’re talking about a guy who came in with the pressure of being the No. 1 pick, then the pressure of being the starting centre on a team with high expectations, a team that made the playoffs the year before. Guys evolve. He’s still just 22 – 23 soon – and it’s interesting to see people evolve. I do think that he’s feeling more comfortable in the locker room, on the floor with these guys. I think you’re going to see a different player and a different person this year.”

I hope he’s right but I don’t buy the “pressure of being the No. 1 pick” argument. What was that Caliper test all about? I thought Bargnani had the nerves to shoot a child in the face at point-blank range and not flinch as the blood trickles down his sleeve. He didn’t seem to show that pressure his rookie season so what happened? Here’s what happened: the scouts caught up with him and he/we failed to react. Him and the Raptors expected things in year two to go as swimmingly as they did in his rookie year without much further effort – a very wrong assumption. My take on Bargnani.

Apparently Bargnani didn’t back down once from Jermaine O’Neal over the summer while the latter was going “as hard as he could” at him. This is good news and might be a sign of his new found mental and physical toughness. According to the Sun, he’s gone through a “metamorphosis” and has turned into a female polar bear. Actually he’s gained 12-15 pounds, is stronger, more agile, got rid of his adenoids and fixed his deviated septum (God, I hate those). I’ll reserve judgment until I see him play but gaining physical strength is only the start of the rehab process of Bargnani. His technical issues last year were about as concerning as his physical “can’t box out” issues. We’ll see soon. Soon.

The Bleacher Report (I know, I know) ranked the 10 worst trades of the decade and surprisingly the Vince Carter fleecing isn’t on there. They do know that Aaron Williams sucked balls and Eric Williams never scored a meaningful hoop for us? On a parting note I’d like to remind you that Josh Howard loves America.

I go now. You there. You there on computer. Take this feed and eat it.

Posted in Raptors, Sports | Tagged: , , , | 24 Comments »

More workouts, Houston likes Rush and Arsenalist’s Friday Mailbag

Posted by Arsenalist on June 20, 2008

More workouts yesterday as Roy Hibbert and Donte Greene showed of their game. Nicolas Batum called in sick even though he had taken a physical on Wednesday, the Raptors hope to reschedule something with him before next Thursday but its going to be tough. Eric Smith did a blog about the workouts although he’s not saying much. The man with the mic happens to be Jim Kelly and he talks about everyone there including how teams make promises. You can also choose to read Doug Smith’s article which is basically a transcript of Kelly. Interviews with Roy Hibbert and Donte Green here.

Last week I linked to an article which said that Brandon Rush was Phoenix’s top target, today there’s news out of Houston that the Rockets holding pick #25 are trying to move up to snatch Rush. Where there’s so much smoke, there’s fire. Rush has had tremendous workouts and has garnered praise from across the board, even more so than CDR. The only reason to pass him over is because of his previous injuries but he seems to be completely over them. Get ‘er done, BC.

Back to the workouts, Roy Hibbert felt he had a good workout and thinks that the management couldn’t have asked for a better workout in terms of getting good perspectives of players. He says no NBA office or even players check draft boards like Draft Express or NBA Draft because they’re “comical”. He’s also very proud to have graduated college.

Derrick Rose wants to play in Chicago which would mean the Heat have to look for a PG elsewhere. Blah blah….can the draft happen already so we can stop with these stupid articles. Juan Carlos Navarro is returning to Spain instead of becoming a free agent, the Grizz will still make a qualifying offer just so they have first shot at him if he does ever return. He got more money in Spain than he did here, can the same be true for Calderon?

Did you know that I get mail too? Tons and tons of it, most of it are tempting Viagra deals but if you set your filters just right, a Raptors email might sneak through. I’ve collected some of them over the past few weeks and have finally decided to answer your call:

Q: Arse, your blog sucks, you don’t know dick-all about basketball, you have no access to any NBA or Raptors insiders and have absolutely no authority to speak about basketball. And what kind of a stupid name is Arsenalist you dumb turd. Get a life and shut this nonsense down before you make even more of a fool of yourself. – Butcher Manson, Toronto, ON

A: Thanks for the email Butch, I appreciate it. I can’t really argue with you about any of the points you make. All I can do is present a weak rebuttal: I’ve watched every Raptors game over the last decade and have the ulcers to prove it. I highly doubt I understand the game anymore than you, all I hope to provide is a fan’s perspective and a forum for other fan’s to talk some ball. Sure, you’re not going to find breaking news stories here but at least you’ll get an honest perspective of the Raptors without it being defiled by employer obligations, loyalties to players, coaches or management or all the other cursory censorship that goes on when talking about athletes in the spotlight. Also, I hope you get AIDS.

Q: It’s June 17 and the draft is coming up and many teams are holding tryouts. What about the Lakers and Celtics? Are they holding tryouts or must they wait at the end of the final. If they must wait, isn’t it unfair to them since they don’t get as much time to prepare? – Chad J, Mississauga

A: How the f*ck should I know? Have you tried using Google to navigate your way all the way to Lakers.com or Celtics.com to figure this out? Don’t ever email me again and stop coming to my site you dumb c*nt.

Q: I rite from Italy (Forza Bargnani!). I not you like how hate Bargnani hes grait playr in Italy and vill be grait in NBa, beter than KoBe and more good than Lebran. Raptorz shud traid Bosh (he ovary-rated) and give minutes to Bargnani to be good. Antonio Cassalini, Milano, ITALY!

Thanks for your email Tony. Just to let you know you have a better chance of conveying your thoughts if you just write them in Italian and use Google Translate to do the trick. It has to be better than whatever you’re spewing here. I’ll humor you though, Bargnani has more to prove in the NBA than any other player. Yes, let that last sentence sink in your skull. He has to earn his minutes on the team through hard work, dedication and commitment, nothing will be handed to him and if he doesn’t step up this year, he’s a gonner come summertime.

Q: There is a distinct way that I watch the NBA playoffs once the Raptors are eliminated. Essentially, I try to see what each team does differently than the Raptors that has allowed them to advance deep into the playoffs. So my question is this, what is the most distinctive characteristic shared by the Lakers and Celtics that the Raptors currently (and glaringly) lack? My answer? Above-average perimeter defence. – Chris B, Toronto

A: Chris, I’m shocked that after watching four full rounds of the playoffs you came to the conclusion that the difference between the Raptors and Lakers/Celtics is above-average perimeter defence. I’ll point you to their roster and you’ll notice the Lakers have Kobe and the Celtics happen to have Pierce, Garnett and Allen. Don’t waste your time analyzing basketball, I believe there’s a lawn that needs mowing.

See ya!

Posted in Raptors, Sports | Tagged: , , , , | 12 Comments »

Robin Lopez makes his mark

Posted by Arsenalist on June 5, 2008

I’m looking through my RSS reader and finding zilch from Doug Smith, Michael Grange and Eric Smith concerning yesterday’s workouts at the ACC. Maybe I’m not looking hard enough but on this note I’d like to point to Oregon Live as having the best basketball coverage for a home team.

Jim Kelly had this to say about yesterday’s workouts:

“For us to get the quality of big men in … we’re not down in the lottery, that was a great workout for us in terms of level of play and quality of players and players that we might draft as well”

And this to say about Lopez:

“He might not be the most graceful, his brother is probably a little more polished, but yet, he is a true five (centre) who likes to bang.”

Lopez was the most conditioned athlete in yesterday’s workouts and although its still early he looks to be the prototypical banger that us fans salivate at, especially when watching Anderson Varejao dunk over Bosh for game winners. The rest of the crew from yesterday showed up for nothing but the Airmiles.

There’s videos of every player from yesterday here.

Hear ye, hear ye…TJ Ford is rumoured to be a good fit for the Spurs by Hoopshype who think he’ll be OK playing backup to Tony Parker. Haha..that made me laugh out loud indeed, if you got trouble focusing when playing behind JC who’s the most amicable guy you could possibly ask for, how do you think he’ll fit in with the Spurs? Can he put his “I’m a starter” ego away and accept Tony Parker as his permanent superior? You’d think in the interest of a championship he’d do that but this is TJ Ford and at this young age he’s trying to establish himself as a full-time NBA starting point guard, other stuff doesn’t matter right now. Maybe later it will, but not right now.

Some bad news out of Sacramento, Ron Artest is likely to stay. Of all the players available in the draft and free agency, he’s the one guy that I would bring over to the Raptors. He’s apprehensive that if he opts out he’ll end up taking a pay cut. He’s making 8.4M right now which I think is quite reasonable for a man of his talent given the inflated NBA market (thanks Rashard). I’d go to 9M for Artest and hand him a 3 year deal, if it doesn’t work out you could always trade him. He’s a guy that’ll always have trade value, much like TJ Ford.

As a Letterman guy, it pisses me off that Bosh is reporting for Jay Leno. What pisses me off even more is that he’s actually reporting for anyone. I appreciate his sense of humour and all but you don’t see Kobe Bryant and Kevin Garnett doing this kind of stuff. When your team gets humiliated in a tournament you’re supposed to carry that feeling for a while. Am I being a bitch? Probably.

Roy Hibbert likes the Jazz and the Jazz appear to like him. Brandon Rush worked out for the Magic who already have 9 shooting guards so I doubt there’ll be interest there. Let’s keep an eye on Rush’s workouts and see what other teams think of him, he might be a steal at #17.

You know how much I love to shit on the Bleacher Report, here’s another example, in their analysis of the Raptors they say this: “The only area with a real weakness may be center”. Did you guys watch a single Raptors game?

Posted in Raptors, Sports | Tagged: , , , , | 22 Comments »

Shit from here and there

Posted by Arsenalist on May 19, 2008

I almost made a post on Sunday but the Celtics Game 7 win didn’t sit right with the stomach. There’s a team in the conference finals that has yet to win a road game, isn’t this a little sad? The Lebravs had this game but he took a very bad shot down 3 late in the fourth and failed to keep Paul Pierce away on a Big-Z vs. Posey jumpball. Ballgame right there. As Lang Whitaker explains the result was hardly his fault, Cleveland’s a good defensive team but they run plays for Delonte West in the clutch. There’s something highly fucked about that. Turns out the only guy who doesn’t choke on oxygen for the Celtics is PJ Brown. The sad shit that is Kevin Garnett couldn’t buy a field goal when it counted and if Bosh had taken similar shots down the stretch he would’ve been a candidate for castration on every blog and RealGM for weeks. Anywho, Celtics = cunts. Very big ones.

Rasho exercising the 8-mil option on his deal was quite predictable, he’s a nice enough guy with a dry sense of humor, a good jumper and great fundamentals on defense but I’ll be a monkey’s uncle if he’s worth 8 million dollars. If the plan is to rebuild, Rasho should be at best spelling Bargnani for 10-15 minutes a game while Andrea feast or famines it for 35+. The best Colangelo could’ve done here is buy him out and spend the money on that elusive scorer, but he doesn’t strike me as a man that’s into giving free money.

I have a sick feeling the Knicks are going to get the top pick. The NBA can’t afford to have a shit-stain of a franchise in New York for too long. The Knicks have the 5th highest chance of winning but they’re the front runners to do so. Mike D’Antoni’s NY signing also came after he secretly met with David Stern who assured him that he’ll get the #1 pick as long as it means NY becomes more than a treadmill team that would get swept in a 7-game series by the Charlotte Sting. How’s that for conspiracy theories? I’m probably not that far off. In other lottery news, Jay-Z will be repping the Nets in Secaucus.

There was a Raptor article in the Toronto Star today, it’s about Raptors scout Masai Ujiri giving back to Nigeria. Cry me a river. Seriously though, nice guy. You think this post is weak? Doug Smith’s “reporting” that the Raptors would give permission to any team who would want to interview our assistant coaches. No fucking shit Doug! These guys are dying for that chance and to hold it from them would be like denying them water in the middle of the desert. He’s also really bewildered why Phoenix and Chicago haven’t approached them for their coaching vacancy. I can get that one for you Doug: It’s because our offensive and defensive system is a fucking joke and reflects badly on our entire staff, not just Mitchell.

Miami’s plan is to land a free agent power forward and if they do I hope they can give us Udonis Haslem in exchange for TJ Ford. Chris Quinn and J-Will aren’t cutting it in Miami and Ford might be a good fit with the high-flying Shawn Marion on the wing and a double-team-inducing guard in Wade. I’m probably pipe-dreaming again.

Jay Bilas wants to tweak the draft. Who cares? Then there’s this guy who’s comparing Lebron James to Allen Iverson because of their NBA Finals run. This guy must be born of parents who were siblings.

Till tomorrow. Enjoy Game 7.

Posted in Raptors, Sports | Tagged: , , , , , | 29 Comments »

Beating Miami is the first step to recovery

Posted by Arsenalist on March 19, 2008

Chris Bosh is officially back tonight against the Heat and in all seriousness, he could’ve taken another game off. If there’s one team we can beat without Bosh, it has to be Miami, especially with Wade, Haslem and Marion (questionable, back) out. Tonight’s a win but what counts is the three games after that: @Cleveland, vs. Denver and vs. Detroit. Win two of those three and confidence is high rolling into the final 11.

I’m waiting for Jose Calderon to perhaps blog about the TJ situation and see what his take on it is. He last blogged on March 14th after the Laker game probably after he had dinner with his Spanish buddies. C’mon Jose, tell us your free agent thoughts. Can Calderon take a back seat to TJ on this team next year? I don’t think his talent and/or competitive spirit will allow it, he might be quiet about it for the sake of preserving a team atmosphere but he knows he’s good enough to start and is probably expecting it. The Sun article has Sam Mitchell trying to force the role of backup on TJ while admitting it’s going to be really tough for TJ and the team.

“He’s making a lot of adjustments and it’s difficult when you’ve never had to adjust to this role. It’s an adjustment for our team, too.”

One question. Why not just start him and solve the problem? With the playoffs approaching, this isn’t the time to be forcing roles on people but to get everybody in a comfortable setting while being on the same page. At least for this season, start TJ. I understand you don’t want to piss off Calderon too much but you can always reassure him in private and avoid affecting the on-court product.

The Boston win over Houston last night was impressive. It was complete domination, it wasn’t like the Rockets just had a bad game, the Celtics enforced their defensive will over the Rockets and T-Mac and Alston were helpless in trying to create and/or score. The Celtics are the best team in the league, the Lakers and Pistons are 2a and 2b. Agree? Speaking of Alston, Doug Smith tells us his issues with the Raptors had more to do with Jalen Rose and Vince Carter than Sam Mitchell. Nice to hear this from Doug, albeit a few years too late.

Rafer’s biggest problem here wasn’t Sam, it was his teammates, including one J. Rose, who used to make little subtle cracks about players being in new roles here and wondering whether they could handle them, and one V. Carter, whose on-again, off-again effort caused Alston much grief because, I’m told, Skip was as competitive as they come and he couldn’t handle half-baked effort.

Jorge Garbajosa is caught in a crossfire where he’s a not-so-innocent bystander. He’s loyal to his country first and then to his club, if you ask him who’s being the ass in the lawsuit, he’ll undoubtedly believe it’s the Raptors but will stick with the professional quote:

“I don’t like it because I’m a Raptors player and I’m a Spanish basketball player, but it is something that I cannot control and it is not happening to me.”

I can’t get over him playing in meaningless summer games last year, it was a selfish act which has put a damper on this season. That’s the difference between him and Bosh, one has a sense of rationalism while the other is all about España when España could care less since España’s already qualified for the Olympics.

If we don’t win tonight, houses will be burned.

Till after the game. Go Kansas.

Posted in Raptors, Sports | Tagged: | 12 Comments »

Note to Colangelo: F**k pride!

Posted by Arsenalist on January 22, 2008

First of all, I have to give props to Raps Fan for actually doing a video podcast and revealing his mug on the internet. See, I could never do that, I was stepped on as a child and have the disfigurements to prove it. You may hear my high-pitch voice in the podcasts but my Quasimodo looks will never be revealed.

On to matters, I was going to write a deep post about how Colangelo might have fumbled by taking Bargnani as the #1 pick and I started my post like this:

I’m in favor of having a camera entirely focused on Colangelo and Gherardini any time Bargnani is in the game. I’m positive that with every error he commits and every fundamental thing he does wrong, there’ll be a look of slight disgust on Colangelo’s face while Gherardini will force himself to keep a straight face and pretend that this was all supposed to happen. Yes, it was all supposed to happen this way. It’s easy to play Monday morning quarterback with the draft and rip players who didn’t pan out while blasting their GMs for their selection, but this isn’t one of those cases. This is a case of a GM (and his influential friend) reaching out into a pool of talent from where there has only been one truly great player to come out. Now that would’ve been an acceptable choice if 2006 wouldn’t have been one of the better draft years of recent memory and there wasn’t any surefire talent available locally. But there was, and the Raptors said, “Naaaah, not good enough”.

After writing so much I realized that there was nothing I could say that hadn’t already been said or that the people that read this blog wouldn’t already know, so I stopped right there. But I may as well conclude my thoughts by saying that we did choose a project over a sure thing and are suffering the growing pains as warned by Bryan Colangelo as soon as the pick was made. But I don’t imagine that the needed “patience” Colangelo had called for would be of such extreme levels. Let’s look at Bargnani’s box scores over the last few games, if you have a weak heart, don’t click on the link.

Games like these don’t call for patience, they call for forbearance and submission. Now if you bring up this sensitive subject up with Colangelo he’s bound to attribute these struggles to a young European player coming in to the moshpit that is the NBA and having expected trouble in adjusting. But deep down even he must know that things aren’t going according to plan. No matter what he tells Bob McCowan and the media, he must know that this was not supposed to happen. Even Maurizio Gherardini, the architect of the Raptors (somebody remind me how great he is again), couldn’t have expected Andrea Bargnani to struggle so badly that even the staunchest of supporters are now raising an eyebrow at the selection.

I’m positive that the Raptors aren’t going to trade him, not this year, not the next. The reason isn’t even basketball related, the Raptors brass might be willing to give Andrea all the time in the world to find his game wherever that might be. Even if they’ve come to realize that his ceiling was vastly overestimated and that his fundamentals aren’t where they should be, they’re willing to stick through their pick and the reason is pride. And as Ving Rhames put it in Pulp Fiction:

“That’s pride fucking with you. Fuck Pride!”

And that’s exactly what Bryan Colangelo needs to do, he needs to fuck pride and do what’s best for this team. And this unpaid blogger and hardcore fan is saying that it might be time to salvage what’s left of the remains and see how we can increase Bargnani’s value and deal him for something worthwhile. It’s an avenue that needs to be explored. Perhaps it might just be a change of scenery that does the trick for him, maybe he needs a coach like Pat Riley who’ll make him run 100 suicides after every scrimmage where he doesn’t grab 10 rebounds. Whatever it is that will get him out of his funk isn’t happening in Toronto, we’ve tried everything that we can to get him out of his slump and nothing seems to work. These thoughts of him playing the 3 so he can utilize his “quickness” is bullshit, he will get eaten alive on defense and still won’t be able to grab boards because he’ll be playing against more agile players who on top of everything else, play harder than him.

At this point in the season, I don’t even give a shit if he plays well or not as long as he rides the pine if he’s hurting the team. If he’s going to stink things up I want him playing 10 minutes, not 25. Kudos to Sam Mitchell and his quick yank and don’t give me this shit about volume minutes.

Enough about Bargnani!

I always read Michael Grange and Doug Smith‘s blog hoping to find some insight into the Raptors’ player relationships, team camaraderie, what players think of other players in the league and other such insights that only people with media credentials have access to. And although Grange’s blog is pretty good, I’ve always been disappointed with both of them when it comes to providing some interesting insights. For example the Forderon debate, what do players think of it? What really is Sam Mitchell’s day-to-day relationship with Bargnani? Seeing how they sit courtside, the least they could do is tell us what some of the strategies Sam talked about on the sidelines? What was somebody’s reaction when they were taken out of the game? What does Maceo Baston think of himself? You know, shit that we as fan can’t see for ourselves. Anybody can come up with lame ratings.

We have two huge games coming up with Washington right after we play Boston and Milwaukee and judging by the way they manhandled Dallas, I’ll be very thankful to come out 1-1. This team might be better without Arenas (I know, stupid thing to say), the ball is moving through everybody’s hands and usually ending up with either Butler, Stevenson and Jamison, all fine scorers. The Raptors will have trouble against the trio’s athleticism and the size of Brendan Haywood (who we passed over for Michael Bradley when trying to address the inside-presence need, go figure). Assuming we actually go 2-2 in the final three games of the month (an optimistic assumption) we’ll come out 7-6. I know, it’s disappointing.

It’s hard for me to get excited about the dunk contest because the best dunker of the century is still healthy and sitting on the sidelines. This will be the first dunk contest I’ll actually tune into since the VC days and the reason is of course Jamario Moon. If you look at his competition so far, I’d actually say that he’s got a pretty good shot of winning this thing, the primary competition might come from a motivated Gerald Green who’s still bitter about Rob Babcock passing him over. Twice.

I’ll be missing Friday’s game because I’m off to New York for the weekend (not my decision). If one of you would be kind enough to do a guest post for the blog, just email me by filling out this form. Although I can’t pay you, I will be thankful.

Later. Feed.

Posted in Raptors, Sports | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 20 Comments »