Arsenalist

The Toronto Raptors Blog with an Arsenal touch

Posts Tagged ‘Jermaine O’Neal’

Early “statement game” against Philly + PER madness

Posted by Arsenalist on October 10, 2008

Did you watch the Knicks game? If you did, how many time did you see Jamario Moon “drive the basket aggressively”? You didn’t because it didn’t happen so I’m going to go ahead and say that Mike Ulmer didn’t watch the game or if he did he was baked out of his skull at the time. A worthwhile quote from that article is Andrea Bargnani admitting that his mid-range jumper is much better and how its something that he’s been working on. I was surprised at how much softer it had become since last year when the only destination for it was the back-rim.

Sherm the Germ mentioned it during the Knicks game and the Toronto Sun is insinuating it too: Will Solomon is Jose Calderon’s primary backup. Two pre-season games is not an indicator of how good or bad a player is so I wouldn’t read much into his decent games except that he’s a feisty little guard who’s looking to stick in the league. He’s not TJ Ford but I could see him coming off the bench and providing a defensive lift while sparking the offense; ironically that’s the role Jose Calderon was asked to play the last two seasons. I think Roko Ukic is on line to have a season like Mo Pete’s rookie one where he moved without the ball, played hard and converted his open shot opportunities. I wouldn’t hand the job to Will Solomon just yet, he might get the early dibs on it because of his experience but Ukic is the guy you want in that role.

From the same piece we learn that Jermaine O’Neal will play about 30 minutes in Sunday’s game so we should see a bit more of him this time around. Our twin towers are going head-to-head against Philly’s and it should make for an interesting dynamic. I would count this one as something more than just a warm-up game, you want to send a division rival an early message just like Boston sent us one last year. Hopefully Mitchell realizes this because for a team that’s looking to find an identity its games like these that help towards building one. The matchup features the two teams who made the biggest acquisitions in the East in the hopes of usurping Boston but before we can attempt to do that we should try settling the score between us. This will be a good test for our interior defense, Bargnani’s post-up ability and our perimeter defense which Iggy licks his chops at.

Lang Whitaker finally finished reading the Pedowitz Report and finds a sentence in it which summarizes it succinctly:

We have discovered no information suggesting that any NBA referee other than Tim Donaghy has bet on NBA games or leaked confidential NBA information to gamblers.

I suppose this means Scott Foster is off the hook and we can go right back to respecting and loving NBA referees and pretending their personal biases don’t come into play (ahem Hue Hollins, Steve Javie, Joey Crawford, Jess Kersey). I think a lot of the referees in the league are arrogant little power-tripping ****s, sure there’s always the honest hard-working “the game is above me” type ref but they’re in the vast minority. The only thing that I can say in their defense is that the NBA is the hardest league to referee.

There’s much being made about Bill Walker’s dunk on Theo Ratliff (YouTube) but the only thing that it convinces me is that you can find some talent in the second round if you’re prepared to look hard enough. Adding a young athletic winger can never hurt, especially as a second round pick since there aren’t any contractual commitments. It’s not like it’ll become a “Joey Graham situation”. Of course I’m referring to CDR being picked a spot ahead of us because we didn’t bother targeting him and picked a Sashimi raw big man that’s got heart issues even though we needed to get more athletic.

Bleacher Report time. Relax, nothing bad this time. It’s a piece by Messiah2315 where he argues how Jose Calderon is far from an ideal point guard. It’s a great read if you doubt Jose’s PG abilities, not so much if you don’t. This might be a good time to mention that according to Hollinger TJ Ford is better than Jose Calderon. That’s from his PER rankings where we also learn that Chris Bosh is deemed the second best PF in the league along with other meaningless rankings. I really hate this system.

Frank Zicarelli reminds us how David Stern cost us Greg Oden. I’d like to remind you that Voshon Lenard cost us a shot at Lebron James (think about it). Vince Carter left a game injured and Ball Don’t Lie is picking the Sixers to win 50 games.

Finally a little quiz. Who do you think Draft Express is projecting as the #1 pick in the 2009 draft? Think about it and when you’re done click for the answer.

That’s it for this morning, feed anyone?

Posted in Raptors, Sports | Tagged: , , , | 9 Comments »

“We’re going to play physical and we’re going to play tough”

Posted by Arsenalist on October 7, 2008

Pre-season will never tell you how good your team is but it might tell you how bad it is. That’s probably why Bryan Colangelo’s making the trip to Cleveland to see his team and prized acquisition in action. He’s also sure to keep a close eye on Sam Mitchell, Colangelo’s not a GM that meddles in coaching affairs but he might make an exception this year if he sees players like Bargnani, Kapono or O’Neal being misued or not used to their full capabilities. He made some comments towards the end of last season about player misuse and this time around I highly doubt he’s going to wait that long before letting Mitchell know what he really thinks. The leash is short.

The Raptors practiced on Monday and Mitchell’s saying that it’s all about getting better and acclimatizing O’Neal into the team. A veteran like O’Neal’s in cruise control and his pre-season performances hardly matters because its all about familiarizing yourself with team concepts. He also says the Raptors don’t do anything different than any other NBA team, they just call things differently. So pre-season is all about getting the nomenclature right. Andrea Bargnani gives a little more interesting interview where he stresses that he “needs to get better in the low-post” and thinks that his off-season regiment has given him new weapons which he can use this season. He’s also saying he gave up international ball in favor of following the regiment the Raptors had set for him. I think that had a lot to do with Maurizio Gherardini whispering something to Andrea as much as it had to do with him wanting to get better. In short, Bargnani’s talking the right talk heading into pre-season and so far his on-court results aren’t bad.

Basically the same thing is being rehashed here and here.

Now I don’t know if this is all talk but it makes me feel nice when I see a quote like this:

“It doesn’t matter who we play against, we’re going to play physical and we’re going to play tough.”

When was the last time a quote like that came out of training camp? I’d say not since the Oakley/Davis years have we had anyone close to an ‘enforcer’ in camp. I’m not saying O’Neal’s an enforcer, I’m saying he’s a big solid talented body that welcomes a physical challenge and won’t shy away from it. We’re counting heavily on O’Neal to provide a scoring punch, rebounding boost, interior defense and raw toughness in the paint. If he can deliver 3 out of 4, it ain’t bad. It’s sort of putting all our eggs in one basket but at least we have a basket.

Funny quote from Roko Ukic as pointed out by Lang Whitaker whose take on the Pedowitz Report is something I’m looking forward to:

“I got some air balls in the practices so far. I just need to reduce this.”

Joey Graham didn’t practice on Monday and neither did Nathan Jawai who was sent to a medical facility down south to get a second look at his aching heart. I’m telling you, he’s just homesick. Given the 13 players we have on the roster I’d put Graham, Jawai and Sampson at the bottom of the pecking order. If Humphries early success spills over to the regular season we’ll be seeing practically nothing of Sampson and barely anything of Jawai; they might end up being strictly practice players which Joey knows all about.

So we’re in Cleveland tonight and get the Knicks tomorrow at home. Lebron is expected to get some time along with Mo Williams and the Cavaliers will be looking to play some fast-break basketball and pressure the ball 90 feet which should provide a good challenge for Ukic who’s likely to get a good chunk of playing time. Just like us they’ll be testing things out so most of what will happen tonight shouldn’t carry much weight. There is the matter of the first quarter and a half which is played fairly hard by both teams and since Cleveland actually has excess players in camp they’ll be going hard at it for most of the game. We on the other hand have our roster set in platinum encrusted diamond.

Michael Curry’s been comparing Rodney Stuckey to Chris Bosh in a good way:

“As a player, I was in Toronto when Chris Bosh was a rookie, and their demeanors to me are the same. Both of them are very quiet but aggressive. Both of them had to work at it, but both of them want to be great.”

We (I) like to criticize Bosh for not being a “true franchise player” but I have never doubted his desire of wanting to be great and respect the work ethic, seriousness and commitment he brings to the team. I’m just waiting for him to elevate his game to the next level and maybe O’Neal can provide the backdrop for Bosh to rise to the NBA’s elite level – a constant MVP candidate.

That’s it for this morning. Have a nice Tuesday.

Posted in Raptors, Sports | Tagged: , , , , | 23 Comments »

Training camp continues…

Posted by Arsenalist on October 4, 2008

Devlin’s talking to O’Neal and he’s saying that him and Bosh are passing shots up in scrimmage when they should be shooting. Call it two new friends being super-nice to each other and making sure the other has a good share of the pie. Will one of these two men will rise and make the team his own? Do any of these two have the “Kobe mentality” of being second to none and will impose their will and leadership on the team? Both are very good players but I don’t think either one of them is the “gimme the f*cking ball” player. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, it just means we don’t have a “gimme the f*cking ball” type player. But wait..wait..wait..what’s this…Chris Bosh is not quiet anymore, he’s going to be “gregarious” this year. We’ll see, we’ll see.

Eric Smith is at camp and naming Kris Humphries as the best player on the court from their latest scrimmage. He’s got more details about FT shooting, wind-springs and other such camp-happenings. Given his insider access Eric Smith’s posts have always been lacking any substance but not this one. He’s reporting the shit out of training camp. Dave Feschuk’s giving his opinions on the FT drill which makes you want to hate your teammates. The idea behind that drill is that it should simulate pressure on the FT shooter but I wouldn’t put it past some jokers for missing them just for kicks.

Michael Grange is pointing out some interesting numbers regarding Scott Foster’s refereeing, is he another rogue referee? You decide, I’m leaning towards a ‘yes’.

The Manatee is going to get another doctor to look at his heart and Joey Graham is still injured. The Heat picked up Shaun Livingston which is going to be a good, good acquisition for them. Before he went down with a knee injury he was considered an “up and coming” point guard and assuming he’s healthy now he’s going to give them a good scoring/assist punch.

Not much going on in Raptors news. We got a inter-squad game today, we’ll see how it goes. Check RaptorsTV from 2PM – 4PM today. No, its not the game but Boston Celtics training camp. Should be fun to watch.

I know its a short post but I’m working on some changes to the site which will make life better for everyone. Later.

Posted in Raptors, Sports | Tagged: | 14 Comments »

Jamario Moon needs to make a jumper

Posted by Arsenalist on August 30, 2008

This is from a couple days ago but the Pacers did an interview with TJ Ford where he talks about a bunch of things. It was hard to focus because of the interviewer. The segment is quite boring but he does mention how in Toronto he got into techno music. Good luck to him, hopefully he has a career year where he only has 4 extremely crappy games all year long. If his head is sewed on straight he could’ve been an All-Star next year but I actually think Jim O’Brien is a worse coach than Sam Mitchell so the odds aren’t good. If I’m O’Brien I let TJ run loose, excite some fans and have some fun. There’s no pressure on that team and they should be fun to watch.

Jermaine O’Neal made Hoops World’s list of NBA Nice Guys. It made my heart melt until I got to the end of the list and saw Alonzo Mourning’s name on it. Kinda ruined it for me.

Yesterday Eric Smith had this inside info on Bargnani:

By all indications, things are going well for Andrea. I spoke to a few folks within the Raptors and they seem happy with the progress Bargnani has made. Personally, I haven’t had a chance to see Andrea since the end of the season but it sounds like he may have put on a couple of pounds as well. Jermaine O’Neal had a lot of great things to say about Bargnani following their workouts together in Las Vegas. The two hooked up in Nevada when Andrea was down there for the Pete Newell big man camp. He also showed his commitment to the Raptors and to this upcoming season by deciding to NOT play with the Italian national team this summer. Instead, he’s been following a strict workout program that is/was coordinated by and supervised by the Raptors basketball department.

I know its not much and there are no eye-witness reports here but it looks like Bargnani’s been following his off-season regiment in a committed fashion. Him not suiting up for Italy does say a lot given the nationalism of the European players and how much they enjoy playing for their country. In a pic I posted a while back he did look like he had gained a few pounds. Getting stronger and gaining weight is one of the first steps in developing a low-post presence and I’m hoping Bargnani can use this new weight to throw some people around in the block. I’ll gladly accept a decrease in his jump shots and an increase in his post-ups.

Our roster doesn’t have much depth on it this year and its imperative we got the most bang for the buck out of every player – especially the starting five – if we want to compete for home-court advantage. The guy that’s not getting mentioned much this summer is Jamario Moon who last I heard was representing the Raptors out west in Edmonton and playing hoops in someone’s driveway. We obviously expect improvement from Bargnani next year but if Moon even repeats the feats of last season, it’ll be considered a disappointing year. He must get better and make up for the lack of a true SF signing. It’s asking a lot.

I’ve accepted that he’s not going to be a player that consistently takes it to the rim even when the opportunity is there so I’ve switched expectation gears. If he just drains the 15-18 footer with dead-eye consistency, it’ll open up things for us. Last year we got angry when he started taking those jumpers, this year I’m hoping he takes them and makes them. If Bargnani’s off-season regiment involved working on footwork, getting stronger and developing post-moves, Moon’s should simply involve launching 1000 jumpers a day.

If you want to catch a glimpse of Bryan Colangelo and Steve Nash you should go to this event. I know I’m reaching in these posts but there’s nothing going on at all.

Grab the feed for Raptors talk all year long.

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

Proof that Andrea Bargnani is working hard this summer

Posted by Arsenalist on August 1, 2008

Andrea Bargnani working on his game

Andrea Bargnani working on his game

I’ve been known to read peoples facial expressions and judging from the picture above the Paul Bunyan look-alike muscled an offensive rebound away from Bargnani and then put it in for a 3-point play. Seriously though, aside from working with John Lucas and attending Tim Grgurich’s big man camp I have no clue what Bargnani’s been upto. Pete Newell’s big man camp starts off next week and there was some talk earlier in the year of Bargnani attending it.

In a HoopsWorld article from a couple days ago it was suggested that he could move out of the four spot and onto the perimeter which somehow is supposed to be a good thing. In a perfect world he would be able to defend the small forward position and score using his size on offense but realistically speaking he’s still a lot closer to a PF than a SF. Jay Triano alluded to two of Bosh, O’Neal and Bargnani being on the floor at all times which would mean there will be minutes for Bargnani at the PF as one of Bosh or O’Neal moves over to play center. Lest we forget Bargnani’s “natural position” is the power forward and so far in his Raptors career he’s been asked to play center.

I don’t think the difference between defending the C and the PF is much different in the NBA, both require him to box-out, rebound and use his quickness as an advantage. Last year a lot of fans felt that he was playing out of position and if we moved him over to PF it would fix a lot of his problems, I don’t buy that argument. At the end of the day he’s got to play big-man basketball and both positions offer the same defensive challenges and offensive opportunities, in fact you could make a case that he should be able to take advantage of centers more easily considering how they’re usually slower. Regardless of which position he plays Sam Mitchell has to try to use him as a plus point rather than a liability.

Anthony Parker and Jamario Moon were playing pick-up at some guy’s house and gave their thoughts on the Jermaine O’Neal trade. Both are counting on a “renewed” O’Neal to lead the Raptors this year. Parker gave his thoughts on ex-teammate Will Solomon joining the squad and says its another shot at the NBA for him after being very successful in Europe. Sure, whatever to not give the impression that we’re scraping the bottom of the barrel here. Jamario Moon will be heading down to Vegas again to work out with Joey G and O’Neal later in the month.

Resident fruitcake Mike Ulmer got to interview Nathan Jawai and once again failed miserably. My favorite gem from this interview has to be the question, Are Australians just like Canadians? No Mike, Australians marry kangaroos, eat their offspring and run around naked in shopping malls trying to set off fire alarms. WTF?!? You get a chance to interview a player, ask him basketball related stuff like his impressions of Mitchell, what he thinks of his teammates and other interesting stuff. Who cares if he thinks Torontonians are nice?

Jack Armstrong will replace Chuck Swirsky on the Fan 590. He’s paired up with some hockey coach just to even the balance for the puckheads. I might actually listen to a Fan 590 show after years of boycotting it because of their idiocy when it comes to covering basketball. Eric Smith is a fair enough analyst but after that the drop down is so significant that its not worth it.

The folks over at Rush the Court have compiled a list of schools which have produced the most NBA draft picks (Google Spreadsheet) and not surprisingly UCLA and North Carolina are #1 and #2. You might be surprised at #3, its not Duke. My Kansas Jayhawks are #8.

Could they have found an uglier picture of Bosh? On a non-basketball related note, this has to be one of the craziest stories I’ve read this year.

That’s about it for now. Thanks for swinging by in the summer time. A special thanks to the ArseBlog for linking it up.

Posted in Raptors, Sports | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 19 Comments »

What does signing Will Solomon say about the Raptors?

Posted by Arsenalist on July 29, 2008

The multi-faceted player that Bryan Colangelo hinted at acquiring didn’t turn out to be Bonzi Wells or Michael Finley but Will Solomon. The Raptors have signed the 6′ 1″ guard to a contract for the upcoming season and it’s logical to think he’ll be playing the role of Darrick Martin. The combo-guard played the last two season in Turkey and was the 33rd pick in the 2001 draft by the Vancouver Grizzlies. He also happens to look a little like Milt Palacio and if his play is anything like the former grandmaster, we are in good hands.

Once again the Raptors tap into the international market to address a need. Nathan Jawai, Hassan Adams, Roko Ukic and Will Solomon were all snatched from foreign teams and combined the quartet has very little NBA experience. With the exception of Adams who played a year with the Nets and Solomon who played the better part of a season with the Grizz, the Raptors incoming crew lacks meaningful NBA experience which could come back to haunt them. If Joey Graham and Kris Humphries remain on the 15-man roster come November, we’ll practically have 6 “scrubs” on the team. This evaluation might seem harsh when applying it to Roko Ukic but until he’s gotten himself in a groove and played through his initial NBA season, expecting anything significant out of him is probably unfair, just like it would’ve been for Calderon’s first year.

When Colangelo was talking about “concentrating talent” on the team earlier in the year I didn’t expect this degree of said concentration. After Jermaine O’Neal, Chris Bosh, Jose Calderon, Andrea Bargnani and Jason Kapono, we are severely reaching for talent and ability. The “Big 3” will need to produce at a very high level and with great consistency if the Raptors plan on hiding their weak bench, something which used to be their strong-suit only a year ago. Say what you will about Carlos Delfino but the man could come off the bench and spark the team with his offense and defense, albeit not with great consistency. Right now we’re asking Hassan Adams to fill that role which you would think would be a drop-off. We’re asking Ukic to make-up for TJ Ford which you would also think is a drop-off (at least next year). We’ve basically replaced Rasho Nesterovic with Jermaine O’Neal which by itself is a great improvement but when you look at all the overall addition/subtractions, its hard to definitely say whether we’ve actually improved or not – especially considering the relative improvements other teams in the East have made.

If Colangelo is to be believed this signals our last signing of the summer which has to be disappointing. Colagenlo’s most important off-season has consisted of one big risky move and a few signings that are unlikely to have an impact given the talent of the players and the coaching philosophy on this team. Asking Mitchell to integrate half a dozen new players with below-average talent is asking too much and will result in us putting too much pressure on our Big 3. Taking Boston’s example last year this might not all be bad but keep in mind that Boston’s supporting cast was superior and their three stars are future Hall of Famers. I mean, let’s not kid ourselves, we’re nowhere close to the Celtics in terms of core talent or supporting cast.

Maybe Colangelo’s thinking is to test out the Bosh/JO combo and see if it actually flies and if the team is doing exceedingly well by the trade deadline or is one player away from legitimately contending, then make a move to acquire another true talent. This “wait and see” approach makes some sense but it sure puts a damper on a summer where much was expected of the Raptors. There were obvious weaknesses at the end of the season (rebounding, perimeter defense, athleticism) and we’ve addressed them to some degree but this pessimistic observer feels its hardly going to be enough.

The last thing I want to see on the Raptors is players being stretched out of their ability and ask of them things that they’re not capable of doing. We saw this last year with Jamario Moon and are poised to see the same complaints being directed at the likes of Hassan Adams, Will Solomon and Nathan Jawai. It’s a slippery slope when you start expecting things from scrubs and get annoyed when they don’t deliver. The supporting cast Bryan Colangelo has assembled does not fill me with confidence, mainly because of their lack of proven talent and experience. Sure, they might have potential to be good players but how long can we afford to wait? I though the plan was to fix the Raptors this summer, not sign players that in the best case will turn out to be average NBA players.

We’re not even close to contention.

Jason Kapono talks about the O’Neal trade and how it’ll help him get his shot off. He reckons O’Neal will do for him in Toronto what Shaq did for him in Miami. An optimistic view of things but I see what he’s saying. If you combine Bosh’s quickness in the post with O’Neal’s back-to-the-basket game you’ll get a diverse set of double teams which can open up the offense given the right pass out of the double.

“If O’Neal’s playing well on the block, that’s going to help us out. The more shooters and post players you have, you have the balance to create problems for the guys on the defensive end. Defenders must choose between helping out on the post or guarding guys who can make shots on the perimeter. It makes you want to get training camp started just so you can get him in here and used to our system and our sets and used to the guys. You can’t expect J.O to learn our system in two weeks. Obviously we are going to have a tough time in the pre-season and have a few bumps in the road.

I give Jermaine two practices to learn our entire “system”.

Matt Devlin finally replied to my email and it was a long one too. The Swirsk’s replies were never more than 10 words and I suspect Devlin’s will get shorter too once the season begins. He sounds like a very humble and honest guy but that’s what they said of Charles Manson. There’s an article about him in the Globe where he talks about how he’s going to focus the attention on the players and how he’s not a “hometown announcer” aka homer.

Ricky Davis signed with the Clippers and Renaldo Balkman got traded to the Nuggets in a move that fails to make sense for the Knicks. Andris Biedrins got re-signed for 62 million over 6 years, sounds like overpayment but given today’s NBA market its almost fair value.

Till tomorrow.

Posted in Raptors, Sports | Tagged: , , , , , | 47 Comments »

Raptors end poor O’Neal’s “suffering” as Jose becomes rich and Matt Devlin gets THE job.

Posted by Arsenalist on July 10, 2008

Everybody was all smiles, everybody said the right thing, everybody was optimistic, they were all looking forward to a bright future on a talented team, all that was missing was the confetti and cocktails. The lovefest which were the two press conferences formally introduced us to Jermaine O’Neal and a couple hours later, Jose Calderon was formally announced as the starting point guard for the team, officially putting and end to Forderon.

Jermaine O’Neal Press Conference :: Jose Calderon Press Conference :: Cuzoogle interview vids and more

I think we’ve all said what needs to be said about this trade – basically the Raptors have put all their eggs in one basket and if O’Neal gets injured again, out goes all the enthusiasm, the hope and any chance of post-season success. It’s quite cut and dry really, either Bosh/O’Neal lead this team on and off the floor by producing strong numbers and being a tough no-nonsense presence in the locker room or they flop, rendering the entire off-season useless.

Hindsight’s 20/20 but if we hadn’t made this trade and instead managed to sign Corey Maggette, gotten Joey Dorsey or Roy Hibbert in the draft and flipped TJ Ford for say someone like Mike Miller, would you be happy? I think either way we’d be far from being a top-tier team but at least we’d have more good players on the roster. I do think that the avenue Colangelo has chosen has the potential for greater short-term success than relying on rookies to produce and trying to fit in multiple new players. Then again the C*nty Celtics rebuffed that theory last year.

Given our cap situation you have to think we’re done making any significant moves and the roster for next season is set with the exception of a player we might acquire via the MLE. Bryan Colangelo alluded to this in the press conference today when he thanked Calderon for deferring some money towards the later years of his contract so that his lazy ass wouldn’t be forced to make a trade this summer. The Raptors are now a front-heavy team which I hope and pray means that our PINP numbers will increase and that our rebounding will get better. If we can actually improve those two aspects of our game, we might not be terrible.

Jermaine O’Neal said something very simple and profound in the conference. No, I’m not talking about his rebirth in Toronto, I’m talking about the part where he was mentioning all the great talent on this team and he started off by saying “There’s Chris Bosh, there’s Jose Calderon and there’s . . . er . . . Bargnani….”. Yes folks, that’s the fact of the matter, our fourth best player is still Andrea Bargnani and O’Neal was adamant that Bargnani is “a very important part of this team” because of his three-point shooting and his potential to drive to the rim.

I’ve been saying it for quite some time now, what will determine our success next year will be the play of Andrea Bargnani, yes, even moreso than the play of Jermaine O’Neal. I was glad to hear O’Neal say that he hopes to teach Bargnani “toughness” and “physical play”. He sees it as clearly as anyone else that without Bargnani slashing to the rim and keeping defenses honest by knocking down perimeter jumpers, his acquisition is almost redundant and plays into a “black hole scenario”.

Bryan Colangelo assured as that O’Neal’s been checked out by the greatest of doctors and that all the tests came back negative and that he’s pretty much Iron Man at this point. That kind of talk is definitely reassuring but to think that he’s going to quit getting injured cold turkey is being very unrealistic. Sam Mitchell compared the Bosh/O’Neal combo to David Robinson and Tim Duncan which might be a bit premature given the rest of the lineup and coaching staff. Whatever makes him sleep at night.

Some of the quotes coming from O’Neal are pretty bizarre. He’s looking at his playing days in Indiana as if he was in the Dark Ages and monsters carjacked him every night after the game. The Detroit brawl apparently left a deep scar in his mind which he’s finally recovered from as of July 9th, 2008. Some of the quotes from the press conference:

“I played on one leg for two-and-a-half years, I have no doubt in my mind that this is going to be a healthy year for me.”

“It got to the point where I was extremely miserable, everything around me was falling apart. After (the brawl), I never saw the light of day again. It was all downhill after that.”

“When I got the call … it was like a rebirth. Sometimes you lose that love and you need a move or something else to get that fire back in you.”

“My mother started freaking out because she knows I don’t show a lot of emotion,” said O’Neal, who admitted he cried upon learning of the trade. “It was just like, the suffering was over”

Indiana Pacers: Where suffering at $20 million a year happens.

Mike Ulmer had a chance to sit down with O’Neal one-on-one and proceeded to ask the lamest and stupidest questions ever. Ever. I want to gouge this guy’s eyes out.

The most interesting news of the day had to be the Raptors announcing that they’ve hired former Charlotte Bobcats play-by-play man Matt Devlin to replace Chuck Swirsky. Here’s a glimpse of his work.

Jose Calderon’s press conference can basically be summed up in a couple sentences from Colangelo’s viewpoint:

“Jose is the nicest guy ever, he feeds orphans and saves baby turtles and is just such a swell guy that we had to give him the starting nod. Plus he’s a better fit for our team than that tantrum-throwing unpredictable TJ Ford (who’s also nice but not so much). Jose totally deserves all the money we’re throwing at him and we love him for wanting to stay with the Raptors. And! And! And he deferred like 60K till later in his multi-million dollar contract, I mean, who does that anymore?? Just look at him, the guy’s an angel!

The same can be done with Jose’s reaction:

“I didn’t even look outside Toronto. I’m too comfortable here and I know the money’s going to be the same everywhere so why bother moving. I like this team too, I’ve already played here for a couple years and know how the system works so why bother eating bullshit from another coach and another organization when I got these guys by the balls. Me and TJ are cool, nothing personal, I’m just glad I game out on top. I’ll talk to TJ soon about this, you know, when we play Indiana. I love the fans. Hugs and kisses.”

Sam Mitchell:

“I guess I should thank Bryan for solving the PG problem for me because I sure couldn’t figure out which one to play when. Having O’Neal’s nice but this means there’s pressure on me to win and actually utilize Kapono. I mean, nobody’s going to tolerate him having three threes in two months while I got two double-team threats in the low-post. Jose’s a smart player, he’s the right PG for the team Bryan’s…err…we’re trying to build in Toronto. I actually don’t have to yell at him anymore which is a shame because I like yelling.”

Here’s what the new scoreboard at the ACC looks like. Raptors.com already has a Jermaine O’Neal wallpaper, I hear it’s already on Colangelo’s laptop.

That’s about it fellas, thanks for reading and take it easy. Just a reminder that there is an RSS feed for this blog.

Posted in Raptors, Sports, video | Tagged: , , , , | 14 Comments »

Hassan Adams deal + Salary cap + Signings from elsewhere + Las Vegas

Posted by Arsenalist on July 9, 2008

Good morning.

Hassan Adams signed a 2-year deal with the Raptors on Tuesday. Terms aren’t disclosed but I’m thinking its Jamario Moon Year 1 money which was around half a million per year. A nice chunk of change just to warm a bench, or at least I’m hoping he’s going to warm a bench while we acquire a legit scorer at the swing position at some point this off-season. The last thing we want is him to have as big a role as Moon had last season, that would be fatal.

According to Eric Smith, the Raptors will also be announcing their new play-by-play voice soon. This doesn’t count as the “two major announcements” set for Wednesday (1:30 PM, 3:30 PM) when the Jermaine O’Neal trade will become official. Yes, the other “major” thing is Hassan Adams.

The NBA announced the new salary cap which is now at $58.68 million, up about 3 million from last year. The Raptors after signing Calderon will be just at that number counting Garbajosa’s salary at 100%. In reality only the buyout amount counts against the cap so we’re clear of the luxury tax. This also means that the best we can offer anyone without going over the cap is the mid-level exception.

Philly couldn’t ink Josh Smith but it looks like they’re going to get Elton Brand. Here’s the Atlantic power forward situation: Kevin Garnett, Elton Brand, Chris Bosh and Zack Randolph (I know, I know). I would think this acquisition more than offsets our trade for Jermaine O’Neal and makes Philly even more of a threat next season. Philly’s also made a salary-shedding trade with the Timberwolves who are now known as the “worst cap managers in the league”. How Kevin McHale is allowed to run a franchise after all he’s put that team through is the biggest unknown in the NBA.

Corey Maggette is staying in the West which has to be considered good news; the Warriors winning the sweepstakes since they were one of the few teams that could offer him more than the mid-level exception. This means Mickael Pietrus is out and off to Orlando who have bolstered their already strong SF position. As of today, both Orlando and Philly have to be considered superior to us. Add this to the list of teams that are outright ahead of us (Boston, Cleveland, Washington, Detroit) and you’ll notice we’re a 7th seed – yikes!

James Posey’s a free agent as of today as he’s opted out of his 3.8M deal. He’s increased his market value to the point of inflation. Sure, he’s a nice enough defensive presence and can knock down threes but its easy to forget that he’s playing with three superstars. No other team will afford him the space and freedom that he got in Boston. As much as I’d like to see the Raptors get a defensive slasher at the wing position, getting Posey might be paying too much for the returns he’ll provide, especially since we already have a Jamario Moon – a cheaper but less effective version. There’s interest from the Cavaliers, Wizards, Hornets, Spurs, and Lakers.

There’s also this little story about Jamario Moon going to Alberta for the Raptors summer camp (July 14-18). This of course is the same week as the Las Vegas summer league which starts on July 12th. Wasn’t he supposed to be working on his technical skills during this time?

Here’s the Las Vegas summer league schedule, don’t know about the TV but if its not on Raptors TV, check myp2p.eu. The Raptors TV schedule isn’t out for the week of the 14th but they are showing games on the 12th (PDF link), just not the Raptors one.

Opponent Date Time
Sacramento Sat, July 12 4:00 PM
Denver Mon, July 14 6:00 PM
Philadelphia Thu, July 17 8:00 PM
L.A. Lakers Fri, July 18 8:30 PM
Golden State Sat, July 19 6:00 PM

If you’re jonesing for some ball until then, there’s the Orlando league which features the two top picks.

Something totally random now. I was watching the Jays game and Rod Black was doing a fine job of calling the action. Given how brutal he is at basketball, I expected some of his crapiness to eek through the Jays telecasts but he’s holding his own out there. Kudos Rob. On an entirely different note, I’ve decided that Jennifer Hedger is closer to being hot than not.

That’s your Wednesday blog. Later.

Posted in Raptors, Sports | Tagged: , , , , , | 13 Comments »

Raptors assume greater risk as TJ Ford, 17th pick and Rasho traded for Jermaine O’Neal + RaptorsNation.org

Posted by Arsenalist on June 26, 2008

It actually appears to have happened. TJ Ford along with our prized 17th pick and the expiring contract of Rasho Nesterovic for Jermaine O’Neal. Rasho’s obviously thrown in for salary reasons and is easily the third best piece that the Raptors are giving up in the trade. Whether the best piece is TJ Ford or the 17th pick is up for debate.

The trade is designed to increase our post-scoring, make us stronger on the glass (3rd worst in the league) and is an attempt to build a formidable frontline which will attract more double teams thus allowing our shooters more open looks. If all parties in this trade were 100% healthy, the preliminary “winner” of the trade would easily by Toronto. However, given Ford and O’Neal’s injury histories, only time will tell who won this trade. My money’s on Indiana. Ford happens to be 4 years younger than O’Neal who is 29 and although Ford’s injuries have been serious, they’ve been of the “freaky” type having to do with stingers and aggravations. He basically had one injury and fully recovered from it. O’Neal’s injuries appear to be much more chronic in nature and have a higher chance of resurfacing once again – groin, back and knee. The Raptors are definitely taking on more risk here by putting their eggs in O’Neal’s basket.

Then there’s the matter of giving up the 17th pick in a deep draft. You could argue that the draft combined with TJ Ford provided us an opportunity to fulfill two needs: wing scoring and rebounding. However, we’ve packaged both of our best summer assets and a serviceable center for one player and passed up the opportunity to have a shot at some solid players that are slated to go in the teens in the draft. Granted, it’s early and we could trade our way back into the first round but I don’t see many teams willing to give up their first round picks this year. The pick to me is the hardest thing to give up here because there’s just so much bloody potential out there.

Then there’s the question of salary. O’Neal just became the highest paid Raptor and if God forbid he injures himself and ends up playing 40 games this year, his trade value come summertime will be zilch. That’s 20 million tied up in salary for the 2009-10 season! There’s no doubt that this deal has to a degree handcuffed the Raptors in terms of future trades and signings.

In every sports trade, trade is an element of risk involved and whether the risk needs to be mitigated eventually defines whether the trade is successful or not. If O’Neal puts up 20 and 10 like he did for almost 5 seasons in a row and we win 52 games next year, everybody will applaud this move. If he fails to deliver and doesn’t mix-in well with Bosh and the Raptors continue with their mediocrity, whats the point? When you give up on young talent as the Raptors have in this trade, be prepared to be scrutinized for years to come whenever the player in question is doing well. Before it was Charlie Villanueva, now it’s TJ Ford.

The impact on Bargnani won’t be as severe as you would think – we did give up Rasho in the trade and his minutes should be distributed according to player form. Rasho’s career average in MPG is 23 while O’Neal’s is 28. That’s a five minute difference which isn’t hard to live with for Bargnani and should motivate him to play harder now that there’s more competition. If the talk of Rasho returning after being waived is true, then Bargnani is in serious trouble.

The Raptors acquiring a legitimate starting center in a trade speaks volumes as to what the franchise thinks of Andrea Bargnani. Either they’re prepared to give up on him and traded for an insurance policy (ironic given JO’s health) or they see Bargnani playing the SF position thus giving the Raptors a very big frontline and an advantage on paper (although the Orlando series exposed him like never before). The trade should serve as an ultimatum to Bargnani that he should be prepared to battle in training camp and practice if he wants to see any minutes past garbage time. The other way to look at it is that Colangelo feels that Bargnani is still two more years away from realizing his potential and needs to play second fiddle to O’Neal during this time while learning in the process. Is this trade Colangelo acknowledging his mistake of drafting Bargnani? Not yet, this is simply a change of strategy.

The most glaring aspect of this trade is that we’ve handed our PG responsibilities to Jose Calderon without a certified backup on the roster. Calderon has as many defensive issues (if not more) than Ford and is as liable as going into a scoring drought as Ford. He does happen to be a better fit for the Raptors given his holding style of play which suits our “offense” much better. This isn’t a knock on TJ, he happens to need more athletic, alert, fast-break type players to be successful. Calderon doesn’t, he’s willing to patrol the three point line and be patient with Bosh on posts and re-posts while there’s inconsequential movement on the weak side. To put it in simpler terms, TJ Ford’s a Don Nelson/Mike D’Antoni player. Nothing wrong with it, except we’re not nearly as up-tempo, exciting, fast-breaking or athletic as players in those systems need to be.

The final word on the trade: We gave up too much and took on the greater risk. We gave up the younger player with less chronic injuries, a valuable teen pick in a deep draft and the expiring contract of a good center for a player who was great 4 years ago. I’d feel far more comfortable if we hadn’t given up the pick but at some point you have to prove to Chris Bosh that you’re trying to win.

Here’s hoping the Raptors do some maneuvering and somehow come out with Brandon Rush tonight. On the other hand, if Rush or CDR are gone by the time our Indiana’s pick rolls around, Colangelo needs to be given some credit for predicting that and using the pick’s value in a trade.

Check AltRaps.com for links relating to the story, here’s one however and its Colangelo talking about the trade and how letting Ford go was a foregone conclusion reached by both parties.

“There was discussion with T.J. at the end of the season and also with his agents or representatives since the end of the season where we amicably discussed the scenario that might play out where he might be part of a trade and he’s comfortable with that”.

Note: Live Blogging tonight for the draft starting at 6:30PM on RaptorsNation.org. I’ve never tried to do this before so we’ll see how it goes. Try to swing by so I don’t look like a fool. Thanks!

Posted in Raptors, Sports | Tagged: , , , , , , | 45 Comments »

T minus 1: No sign of what the Raptors might do

Posted by Arsenalist on June 25, 2008

Let’s start off the day with Chad Ford’s mock draft which insists on us taking Robin Lopez at #17. I don’t see it happening unless Brandon Rush, CDR or even Donte Greene are already taken. There’s no doubt that drafting a hustle-type big man is the easier thing to do, there’s far less expectations from a banger than from a scoring talent and also a greater sense of assurance about what you’re getting. Rebounding is Need #1 but wing scoring and defense is #1a. As evidenced by the rumours, we’re looking for a big man via trade so it makes sense that the draft is there for a young winger. Anyway, we’ll find out tomorrow.

Doug Smith points out 7 players we’re closely looking at of which 5 are big men. Rush and CDR and nowhere to be found. I highly doubt the Raptors will tell Smith or anyone for that matter who they’re looking at. Take the list with a bucket load of salt. He’s also saying the deal to Phoenix remains “very much alive”.

The Jermaine O’Neal trade talk when combined with speculation that we might go big in the draft leaves us with one question: What does this do with Andrea Bargnani? Has Colangelo given up on him and is already hunting for a C replacement? Is he planning on moving him to the three so rebounding is less of a responsibility? Michael Grange tries to answer questions like these and suggests that Colangelo might be closer to giving up on him than before. In my opinion, the first 20 games of the season will tell us exactly where Bargnani is and whether those intimate sessions with John Lucas worked or not. Until then, I’ll hold judgment but I’ll say this: If he doesn’t get it done in the first half of next season, I see no reason not to trade him and publicly admit the mistake.

From Indiana’s perspective only two players are untouchable: Granger and Dunleavy. The rest are available (even Tinsley) as long as you give them something they can use now. Larry Bird doesn’t appear to be too fond of rebuilding from the ground-up, he’s all about applying patches and hoping they stick. Since Indiana’s already picking at #11 its somewhat surprising that they’ll also be in the hunt for a pick 6 spots further down. They’re looking to swing trades and something tells me their interest in our pick is only because they want to package it with another trade.

The Knicks are up for trading practically anybody on their roster as long as it gets them a shot at O.J Mayo. Donnie Walsh is crazy enough to try to acquire Shawn Marion (who makes $1.3 billion) just to re-unite him with Mike D’Antoni. I see the Knicks are fully in pursuit of mediocrity. I think our new slogan should be: The Toronto Raptors: Hey, at least we’re not the Knicks.

The Pistons are reportedly trying to acquire Baron Davis which would leave a PG void in Golden State and we know how much Don Nelson loves T.J Ford. But as I said yesterday, there’s absolutely no one on the Warriors that is even worth looking at who is not labeled as untouchable or is a free agent.

In ex-Raptors news, Jorge Garbajosa has signed with his former club Unicaja for next season. This after he turned down offers from CSKA Moscow and Real Madrid. Not surprisingly, no NBA teams were in the mix.

Have a nice one.

Posted in Raptors, Sports | Tagged: , , , , , | 5 Comments »