Arsenalist

The Toronto Raptors Blog with an Arsenal touch

Posts Tagged ‘jose calderon’

Jose Calderon’s game must change

Posted by Arsenalist on September 9, 2008

It’s tough man, it’s tough to not like Jose Calderon’s assist to turnover ratio and insane FG percentage and that’s probably why he comes in at #33 in Fan House’s Top 50 NBA players list. Calderon earned the credit and the contract last year by usurping TJ Ford as the man at the point in Toronto by showing Bryan Colangelo why he’s the floor general the Raptors needed. But you know what’s similar about Jamario Moon and Jose Calderon? If they have the exact same year again we’re in big trouble.

We’ve already discussed the areas where Moon needs to improve so that the wing hole can look smaller but Calderon is an entirely different matter. Last year he got a lot of his assists by kicking out to open 3-pt shooters and finding jump-shot ready Parker, Kapono or even Moon for open shots. His assists weren’t spectacular like TJ Ford’s but came more naturally and in the run-of-play. The drive-n-kick worked well for him last year and he often dominated the ball in the pick ‘n roll situation which fed him a lot of his assists.

Coming into next year the dynamics of his game will have to change. The pick ‘n roll will still be featured but you have to think O’Neal and Bosh’s post-up games will be front and center in the Raptors’ offense which means Calderon will be handling less of the ball and relying on the Bosh/O’Neal outlet to supply the trigger in the offense. The other adjustment teams will make this year is to not double off of Calderon’s man since he proved last season that he can hit the deep two or the three. Just like Bargnani failed to adjust in his second year to the personal space being taken away, Calderon will be given the option to put the ball on the floor rather than to launch uncontested jumpers. Life will get tougher for Jose, no doubt about that.

One of the criticisms against him has been that he’s a little too careful with the ball and doesn’t push it enough for the Raptors to get easy baskets. I tend to agree with this opinion. There has to be a happy medium between Jose Calderon pulling back in 4 on 2’s and TJ Ford forcing it in 1 on 4’s. Calderon has to make the defense fear him when he gets the ball early in the shot-clock after a defensive rebound. And this year we will be getting more defensive rebounds, with O’Neal and Bosh manning the boards you have to think we’re going to clear more rebounds and have more opportunities for early running via the 25-45 foot outlet pass. If Jose starts pulling back in these situations its going to cost us easy buckets and build inherent frustration in Bosh and O’Neal since a big man loves to see easy baskets off his rebounds. Again, nobody’s asking him to do the drugs TJ was doing but maybe a pill here and there wouldn’t hurt.

The Raptors were guilty of getting to poor starts last year and with a rookie backing him up you have to wonder just how much Sam Mitchell can afford to rest Jose Calderon in the first quarter. He’ll likely be playing 11 of the first 12 minutes and probably 9 in the second quarter for 20 in the half. Last year he averaged 30.3 minutes a game and seemed stretched late in the season. This year he’ll have to undoubtedly play more minutes and produce more, how will these new expectations affect him? Truth is that we don’t know, he appears to be in excellent shape and looks like he could play heavy minutes and still produce consistently. The challenge here isn’t Calderon’s though, it’s Sam Mitchell’s and how well he hides his weak backup PG situation. Simply increasing Calderon’s minutes and hoping he produces more is not exactly coaching and I hope Sam has figured that out.

Let’s talk some X’s and O’s and get back to the double-teaming of Bosh or O’Neal. Assuming we have the lineup of Calderon, Parker, O’Neal, Moon and Bosh on the floor and one of our big men gets doubled, who does the defense leave? I’d rank the defense’s options as:

1) Jamario Moon
2) Jose Calderon
3) Anthony Parker

There’s no doubt that the double will come from Jamario’s man in this case and he’ll either be forced to shoot or the defense will rotate to leave Calderon and then Parker open. It goes without saying that the spacing in these cases needs to be perfect. For example, imagine if next to Moon for whatever reason stood Bosh in the 15-19 foot area? The whole thing would be a damn disaster since the swing sequence would be altered and we’d have to reset. Anyway, now if we replace Jamario Moon with Jason Kapono in that lineup, the defense simply cannot afford to double! That is the offensive lineup that the Raptors hope to kill teams with. If for whatever reason that lineup fails to fire, impending doom looms.

That’s it for today. I might have some big site news in a few days.

Posted in Raptors, Sports | Tagged: | 10 Comments »

Waiting patiently for training camp

Posted by Arsenalist on August 25, 2008

I hardly feel like starting this thing again after the break I just had but duty calls. The Raptors-related action during the past two weeks can be summed up in one sentence: Calderon injures himself but its not too bad at all. That and the Redeem Team winning the Gold over against a depleted Spanish contingent. The Michael Phelps was something else too, watching him win every race by three yards was almost funny. He had taken off his goggles and was giving interviews by the time the Silver medalist showed up – haha indeed.

A little about my trip: I went to Kashmir, a land of unmatched sheer natural beauty. There was a lot of turmoil over there. Basically a big chunk of land was given away to the Hindu pilgrims who visit a picturesque mountanious region each year so that they could setup things like tents, toilets etc. The Kashmiris objected to this and felt that the status-quo was just fine (use the land all you want but you don’t get to own it). Protests happened, police open fired on civilians killing around 40 and soon the issue wasn’t about land but instead freedom from India. The early 90’s revolution was re-ignited making for quite a scene and some very intense nationalism. I visited a bunch of nice places, valleys, gardens, boats, houseboats and of course, family. All was good.

Let’s get to some Raptors talk. As expected there hasn’t even been a whisper from the Raptors organization since they signed Willie Solomon on July 28th. Bryan Colangelo at the time admitted that the signing was the last one of the summer and that the roster for all intents and purposes had been set. After that we debated how the East had improved and analyzed the Raptors only major offseason move – the O’Neal trade – to death until there was nothing left to talk about except wait for training camp to start and set a firing date for Sam Mitchell. That’s where we stand now.

The schedule came out a little while ago and it doesn’t look terrible: We start the season with 5 out of 7 on the road but later in the month we get four straight at home which brings the road/home tally to 8/8. A good chance to get off to a decent start. The first West coast swing is a 6-gamer and comes in December, matchups include San Antonio, Portland and Golden State. If the club is reeling after this one this might be the time Mitchell gets the axe. The great part about our schedule is that there is no lengthy second West coast swing. We always seem to get killed in the second one (remember 0-5 last year) and the schedule-maker has spared us this potential misery. Sure, we have one 3-game trip out west where we play Minny, Memphis and NO but that’s much more manageable than the 5-game crusher that killed our chances of finishing with home-court advantage last year.

We get to see the c***y Celtics twice in November and a sweep here could do wonders for team morale and confidence. Last year we went 0-2 here which hurt the team psychologically as well as in the standings. We play Indiana four times and the TJ Ford return is set for December 10th, almost exactly one year after his injury. We got Philly, Milwaukee and GS (home) to start the season and if this team has any real bite, we should at least go 2-1 if not 3-0.

Jose’s been blogging about the olympics in typical Jose-style. I swear, someone could burn his house, cut off his left arm and he still wouldn’t be too upset. The fact that he mentioned the referees in his latest post does indicate what he actually thinks of them. I’m sure the Olympic loss is hurting him and here’s hoping he channels the motivation that comes from failure into the next NBA season and proves he’s worth the money we’re paying him.

Not much else. There’s the Dance Pak auditions. There’s some good but annoying poontang.

Posted in Raptors, Sports | Tagged: , , | 10 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 »

The Saturday Morning Post: Shhhhh

Posted by Arsenalist on July 5, 2008

Shhhh….(whispering) if you listen closely you can hear it. Shhhh….there it is..it’s the sound of nothing happening in Raptorland. It’s what the off-season is made of and results in a void around these areas for long stretches at a time. But nay! I wow to keep the train chugging along despite the lack of activity or rumour in the Raptors camp. It makes for quite a pathetic read but we’re like meth addicts, we need something…anything.

Since there’s no Raptors news this morning, I found it quite apropos to start off with the Chris Paul contract extension which stands at $68M/4yrs for 17 million a year. Even in the inflated NBA market that is superstar money indeed. If we sign Calderon to an 8M/yr deal it doesn’t sound like overpayment at all. In fact, if I was Calderon I’d hold the Raptors feet to the fire and ask for even more money since we don’t have a backup plan at PG anymore. Hell, I’d start the bidding at 13M and settle at 10M if I were him, you think Colangelo has the balls to let Calderon walk at this point?

I don’t want to scare anybody but the Celtics are talking about getting Maggette (Spurs hunt). If that’s not enough, Josh Smith might end up in Philadelphia. New Jersey’s retooling and will have a young athletic product on the court which leaves the Knicks as the only team that I can confidently say that we’ll finish ahead of next year.

Chris Duhon gets a 12M/2yrs contract with the Knicks, that’s 6M per year. You can’t possibly tell me Calderon is only 2M/yr better than Duhon. There is a Raptors connection to this (very lame one), Duhon was signed to an offersheet by Rob Babcock but the Bulls matched it paving the way for the TJ Ford trade a year later. The most interesting story is the one suggesting that the Warriors have been contacted by nine different teams about sign-and-trade offers for Monta Ellis who thinks his future is away from the bay area. Insert sentence which drools over Monta Ellis in a Raptors uniform. On another guard note, Keyon Dooling is likely done in Orlando as they signed Courtney Lee to a contract.

Ontario’s debating whether they should allow Vegas-style gambling and MLSE doesn’t care either way. The opinion of this insignificant observer is that how could it possibly hurt? There’s lots to gain in this proposition including more tourism and increased business; I can’t see the OLGC being opposed to this as long as they’re the major shareholder of the “house”.

Toronto stole some NFL games from the Bills so the least the city of Buffalo could do was try to snatch some NBA games away from us – good luck! Unless MLSE’s getting 90% of the ticket sales that’s highly unlikely to happen. On a similar note the Raptors are holding their training camp at Carleton University.

Leo Rautins and Canada are off to a rocky start with a shocking loss to New Zealand. The shocking part wasn’t the loss but the fact that New Zealand actually had a basketball team. As long as Leo keeps on stressing how vital it is to keep the ball inbounds when blocking a shot I think we’ll be fine.

I have a confession to make, I am a D.I.S.C.O Dancer.

Posted in Raptors, Sports | Tagged: , , , , | 6 Comments »

Stakes raised for Sam Mitchell

Posted by Arsenalist on July 2, 2008

Let’s start off with Ron Artest. Quote from Monday:

“Not opting out, the Kings have been there for me, so the best I could do is stay in my contract.”

Quote from Tuesday:

“I don’t see myself with [the] Kings beyond 2008-09. I think I made the biggest mistake by staying in my contract and I have to live with it.”

‘Nuf said about how volatile this guy is.

As mentioned yesterday and further confirmed today, Jose Calderon has signed a new deal and we’re also going to be bringing in Roko Ukic over. No surprises there. We know what we’re getting in Calderon and what he’s capable of, the only question is whether he can continue to do what he’s been doing but as a full-time starter having full responsibility of the team. I have a fear of NBA scouts ever since the Bargnani thing, let’s hope Calderon can overcome the attention and detail with which coaches and scouts will look at him. With the inexperienced Ukic backing him up you expect Calderon to play high minutes and that automatically means that at some point he’ll get burned out and get into a 10-20 game shooting slump so be prepared for it.

Over the last two years the Raptors have been successful when their bench play has been strong, in our division winning year the Forderon duo was our key advantage, last year whenever we got key contributions from Carlos Delfino or Andrea Bargnani, we gave ourselves a great chance to win. With TJ Ford gone, our already shallow bench has taken a hit and we’re compensating for it by shortening our roster. Colangelo’s trying to concentrate the talent on the roster and force Mitchell to create a consistent rotation with well-defined roles. I think this is a great move by Colangelo who sees that last year’s unpredictable substitution patterns, sporadic playing time and illogical coaching decisions cost the Raptors plenty of games. He’s setting the table for Sam Mitchell to prove himself as a coach who is not just a motivator, but someone who when given talent can make it show on the court.

I suspect the freestyling nature of the Raptors offense isn’t going to be tolerated next year, Mitchell will have to use his brains to figure out ways to manage Calderon’s minutes, ensure Bosh/O’Neal cohesion, reduce Bosh/O’Neal redundancy, hide Bargnani’s defense at SF, showcase Bargnani offensively, utilize Kapono’s shooting ability, take advantage of Humphries’ hustle, put Calderon in situations where he has options and most of all manage expectations of players so there are no surprises game in and game out. Once we have the political situation of the team taken care of and every player is on the same page, only then can we hope the talent and potential of this team to shine through to whatever degree it can.

The Raptors still have the MLE to throw at a player so we should expect a signing at some point in the summer, hopefully a SF. It’s starting to look like Colangelo’s done acquiring pedestrian talent only to see Sam Mitchell retrofit a roster into a style of play. If we can establish an 8-man rotation and use the DL for what it’s actually designed for, we’ll start to see consistency on this team, regardless of talent level. This should in turn help our defense because it’s on defense that teamwork shows and trust amongst teammates mandated. When the same players play together more often, they automatically develop a better understanding of what each others’ tendencies and capabilities are and are likely to adjust better.

The Clippers couldn’t acquire TJ Ford or DJ Augustin but they managed to get their hands on Baron Davis. This is a bit of a shock as Golden State was giving all indications that Davis was their franchise player. With Davis is headed out, it puts even more impetus on the Warriors to resign their free agents including Mickael Pietrus who’d look good in a Raptors uniform. On another free agent note, did you know Damon Stoudamire is an unrestricted free agent? Emotional homecoming, I can already picture it.

The Raptors have also signed Hassan Adams from to a 1yr/400K contract. The defensive-minded guard played in Europe last season and registered 61 games for the Nets in 07-08, you might remember him from the playoffs of that year too. Not the signings I was hoping given the 2008 NBA Free Agent List. There are a few players that the Raptors could consider: Ricky Davis, Gordan Giricek and most importantly Jarvis Hayes. I’ve always liked Hayes’ game, he’s a solid defensive minded SF that doesn’t mind getting to the rim and can hit the 3. Tayshaun Prince has got the stranglehold on the SF minutes in Detroit so Hayes is likely on the move with interest from Phoenix already there.

There’s also the need to address Anthony Parker who I’ve always suspected is capable of being an NBA 2-guard as long as there’s enough distractions for the defense to worry about. It’s when you start consistently running double-screen fadeaways for Parker and look to him to carry you through quarters that things go awry. His clutch record doesn’t help matters either but with O’Neal and Bosh around you’d think 3-point shooters are a premium and Parker is definitely that. With only the MLE at our disposal and both a SF and a SG need to fill, I suspect we’re going to aim for the SF since Parker is the lesser of the two problems.

It’s a long summer, too long.

Posted in Raptors, Sports | Tagged: , , , , , | 31 Comments »

Calderukic time + Defending Colangelo + Second round draft history

Posted by Arsenalist on July 1, 2008

Tuesday marks the first day of free agency and the Raptors have but one call to make. It’s to Jose Calderon offering him at least $40 million over 5 years. I suspect this deal to get done fairly quickly, after all Bryan Colangelo doesn’t trade Ford without having some assurance that Calderon’s demands aren’t too extravagant to not be met. We’ll end up paying Jose a lot of money and then proceed to bitch about it if/when he gets burned out by Mitchell who’ll be forced to play him 37 minutes a game because we won’t acquire a backup PG and/or if Ukic isn’t able to fill in adequately . Here’s hoping Calderon’s performances stay at least on par and his defense improves enough so that Bosh/O’Neal don’t spend their time clogging lanes left open by Jose.

There are also unconfirmed reports that Roko Ukic has signed a two year contract with the Raptors. It only makes sense. I figure we’ll see something more official in the next couple days.

Update: Calderon staying according to his website, no numbers yet:

“Early this morning, through my agents, I reached a preliminary agreement with the Toronto Raptors. I want to thank Bryan Colangelo, Maurizio Gherardini, Sam Mitchell and all of the Raptors family for the confidence that they have placed in me. I am sure that together we are going to achieve big things in the future.”

Add Kelly Dwyer to the Bryan Colangelo fanboy list. He’s very irked that two Toronto newspapers had the audacity to second-guess Colangelo’s wheelings and dealing of the past couple years and suggest that Colangelo could very well be an average NBA GM (this of course set off khandor). I wonder how long Colangelo will milk that division title which we happened to win the year the Atlantic was part of the NBDL. The article also calls for a Leave Britney BC Alone video.

Dwyer does bring a good point up, it’s up to Sam Mitchell to use Jermaine O’Neal effective and if he can’t, the Raptors should eat the rest of Mitchell’s contract and get themselves a coach that knows how to use what he’s given. The Raptors have to make sure that Jermaine O’Neal’s offensive game complements Bosh and doesn’t take anything away from it. Bosh should never be starved of shots and O’Neal’s role should be well-defined enough so that combined with Bosh they can create a threat which will open up the rest of our offense, not create two black holes. Last season’s player utilization was hard to watch with the sub patters of Kapono, Bargnani, Humphries and Rasho all open for criticism. Not to mention how Sam got away with Kapono hitting only three threes in two months. Ugh, disgusting. Colangelo will not stand for anything similar with Jermaine O’Neal since he’s on a short two year contract in which results are expected.

Ladies and gentleman, I present to you the Toronto Raptors second round draft history:

1995, #35 – Jimmy King, Michigan
1998, #47 – Tyson Wheeler, Rhode Island
1999, #46 – DeeAndre Hulett, USBL
2003, #52 – Remon Van de Hare, FC Barcelona
2004, #40 – Albert Miralles, Spain
2005, #41 – Roko Ukic, Croatia
2005, #58 – Uros Slokar, Slovenia
2006, #35 – PJ Tucker, Texas
2008, #41 – Nathan Jawai, Australia

Two things to point out, the only good piece that ever came out of this lot is Roko Ukic and we have Rob Babcock to thank for that one. As you can see, expectations should be very low for anything we pick up in the second round so there’s no disappointment in what we got. The annoyance of this pick isn’t in the pick itself but in the fact that CDR – an athletic defensive minded SF – was taken right before us. The Raptors weren’t proactive enough in trying to get something out of this draft and failed to even partially address a very obvious need – athleticism.

Ron Artest is not opting out of his contract with the Kings. Ron Ron says the Kings have “been there for me”. How very romantic. The real reason of course is that he knows no team will pay him more than the $8M he’s making now and he doesn’t want to play for a contender for less money. I mean, if the Kings were “there” for you, why not just outright say you won’t be opting out at the end of the season. These athletes really piss me off sometime. Emotions aside, when the season ended I wanted the Raptors to acquire Ron Artest in a trade and draft Brandon Rush. 0-2 there.

The Wizards resigned Antawn Jamison for 4yrs/50m which is fair market value for him. Applause for Ernie Grunfeld. Wait a minute though, he’s talking about giving Gilbert Arenas a 100 million dollar contract which will ensure that the Wizards never get past the second round for the next decade. If ever there was an opportunity to sign-and-trade somebody, this is it. If Grunfeld actually gives him the deal after he blackmailed the Wizards by threatening to leave unless Jamison got his contract, it’ll show how owners and GMs are absolute slaves to players. Arenas single-handedly lost the Cleveland series and he gets rewarded with a deal. Blah!

Now if you read this space fairly regularly you must know what I think of those imbeciles over at The Bleacher Report. This time their “analysis” of our draft has this to say:

The addition of Jermaine O’Neal is either going to be a hit or miss for the Toronto Raptors. In my opinion the Raptors got the worse end of this trade. Although they got better in size including the addition of Roy Hibbert they got nothing at the guard position.

Piss off. Seriously. Stop writing and sell that domain to a company selling bleachers.

Stuck in Vancouver till Thursday night. Watching American History X again, sick movie. Might give TauEpsilonNu’s idea a second thought.

Posted in Raptors, Sports | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 27 Comments »

Free Agent camp, more workouts + Final word on Jorge Garbajosa

Posted by Arsenalist on June 18, 2008

We got a free agent camp happening June 20th – 22nd at the Air Canada Centre. This is where Jamario Moon impressed us enough to punch his ticket to the NBA, this year we got a few players vying for a summer camp invite and without further ado I present John Lucas, Sean Banks, Brian Haper, Dijon Thompson and the list goes on and on. Forgive me if the names don’t ring a bell but these are fringe basketball talents that in 99% of the cases provide bodies for summer camp and nothing more. This lot is not where we will find the answers to our defensive issues but due diligence must be done. Truth is that we don’t want to find the next Jamario Moon, we want some proven skill and not something you find trolling through the neighbor’s garbage.

Wayne Ellington and Danny Green who both worked out for the Raptors dropped out of the draft along with many others. Donte Green who DraftExpress has us selecting worked out for the Portland Trailblazers; GM Kevin Pritchard says that he’s a “spread” guy that can open up the floor and could go in the teens because of his athleticism and shooting ability. He ranks Joe Alexander better than Green or Nicolas Batum who also worked out for them.

Green, Batum along with Roy Hibbert and others will be working out for us on Thursday. Jim Kelly’s got a busy weekend as the workouts continue on Saturday with players that have zero chance of being picked at #17 showing up in Toronto, presumably to impress not just the Raptors but other teams since word does get out fairly quick.

Jorge Garbajosa and the Raptors are no longer related. Let’s take a quick look at just exactly what Jorge Garbjosa meant to this team, how much he contributed on the floor, how much did his locker-room presence mean and finally whether we should really care that he’ll be gone.

People who point to Garbajosa as being one of the key reasons why we went from being division winners to having .500 record are significantly discounting other factors. And by other factors I’m not referring to Andrea Bargnani’s regression or TJ Ford imploding or anything Raptors related, I’m referring to the unarguable and cemented fact that the year we won the division, the East and especially the Atlantic was miserable. It was easily the worst division in the league. What does this have to do with Garbajosa? Nothing specific to him, except that it reminds us to acknowledge that there was nothing great about that Raptor team, it just so happened that the competition was brutal.

Grit is something that was missing from the Raptors all year and many pointed to Garbajosa’s absence as leaving a void in that department. There’s no doubt about that, he did leave a void in the grit/rebounding/toughness departments but the question is how big of a void did he leave? Did he leave a void so big that we became third worst rebounding team in the league? Is he the reason our perimeter defense was amongst the worst in the NBA or that we had trouble stopping teams in the clutch? No, not at all, if anything you can argue that we upgraded ourselves on the defensive side through Jamario Moon who happens to be a much better one-on-one defender and as good a rebounder. Granted, Moon might not have the lunch-pail demeanor of Garbajosa but I’m of the belief that said attitude is only effective when it is backed up by numbers, and for me Garbajosa’s 4.7 RPG were simply never good enough.

His outside shooting was too streaky to be called a threat and teams would gladly leave his 41% shooting (34% from 3) open on the perimeter to help contend with Bosh. It’s fair to say that he brought little on offense and couldn’t be counted on to provide anything worthwhile besides hitting a three now and then. His value to us was entirely on the glass and in his grit, granted that they’re both areas where we’re lacking, but is his departure anything to lament? Not at all, he’s entirely replaceable and upgradeable. Let’s just move along and hopefully he can resurrect the career that he himself so deliberately ruined somewhere else.

You can argue that the way the Raptors treat him will affect Calderon’s free agency decision, what with them two being friends and all. It’s hard for me to buy that argument because Calderon’s going to be making some mega-millions and I have a strong feeling that once that first paycheck rolls in he’s going to be more than content about his situation.

Those &%^$# Celtics finally finished off the Lakers who looked a lot like the Raptors, especially with their off-the-ball movement. The Lakers lost that series only because they lost critical Game 4. The fourth game of a playoff series is always the most crucial one since it usually means 2-2 or 3-1; the blown Lakers lead will come back to haunt them all summer long.

Sorry if the posts have dried up but there’s simply not much happening these days. Grab the feed if you have a RSS reader. If you just want to waste some time there’s always cuzzy.

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

Five misconceptions about the Raptors

Posted by Arsenalist on June 1, 2008

Misconception #1: Bargnani is a candidate to be traded

There is a better chance of the Raptors shipping out Chris Bosh than Andrea Bargnani. It sounds ridiculous but as of today its a true statement. The fact is that we don’t know what kind of player we have in Bargnani, I mean we know that he has issues rebounding and playing defense and scoring but we don’t know whether those things are permanent problems or whether they can be corrected. Colangelo doesn’t know that either and isn’t stupid enough to trade him when his value is at an all-time low. Next season will give Colangelo a clearer idea of what exactly he has in the the second best player to come out of Italy over the last three years and he’ll decide next summer whether Bargnani can be part of the Raptors nucleus for years to come. So until then, no Bargnani trade talk since its all pie in the sky type shit.

Misconception #2: Jose Calderon is far superior to TJ Ford

He’s not, he’s a better shooter and a better floor general when it comes to running a team built like the Raptors – aka full of players with European background that can’t create their own shot and lack athleticism. If TJ Ford plays the entire year the way he did before he went down against Atlanta, we’re all talking about sign-and-trading Calderon to the Clippers right now. Unfortunately for him he got hurt and in his return he didn’t display enough professionalism and common sense to be considered a leader. His demeanor on the court requires some thick skin from his teammates and I’m not sure if the Raptors are the bunch that can tolerate stare-downs and shrugs after a missed layup or a turnover. Jose Calderon is the better point guard for the Raptors but TJ Ford is at least on par if not better than him when it comes to skills and ceiling. He’s also 2 years younger.

Misconception #3: We can get a player at #17 that can help us next year

CDR will not be available at #17, the NCAA tournament rocketed his stock just out of the reach of the Raptors. It doesn’t even matter though, the Raptors don’t need another young guy that will get buried under Sam Mitchell’s insane substitution pattern and thereby struggle because of unpredictable and inconsistent playing time. We need a true rebounder and a true scorer, neither one of them can be found in the draft, at least not ones that are good enough to help the team now. Our best option is to package the pick along with TJ Ford for something that can help us and lift the pressure off of Bosh.

Misconception #4: Our priority is finding a second scorer

Its not, its rebounding and defense. Having a Rashard Lewis type player on the Raptors would help things out but not having a second scorer isn’t the reason we finished 41-41 – it was rebounding and perimeter defense that did us in. You don’t believe me? Go look at the box score for 35 out of our 41 losses and tell me if not having enough scoring is what killed us. All year long teams killed us on the boards and second chance points, if we just sure up our rebounding and go from 28th in the league to say 10th in the league, you’ll see our win total rise significantly. So as much as we’d like a sexy scorer in here it would be more prudent for Colangelo to address our rebounding needs. The last thing we want is to go into next season with Jamario Moon being our second-best rebounder.

Misconception #5: We have a chance at the #2 pick.

Pat Riley is not going to flinch at anything the Raptors offer save Jose Calderon, the #17 pick and then some. The “then some” part is the one the Raptors a) don’t have or b) are not willing to give up. I don’t blame either GM for not doing this deal, what the hell would we do with the #2 pick anyway? Our people don’t even scout the NCAA thoroughly and couldn’t tell you who’s the better fit for our team – Rose or Beasley. I wouldn’t mind picking Rose and trading both of Jose/TJ out of town and acquiring Maggette in the process. The problem with this is that it depends on what Chicago does, if they end up picking Rose with us having the #2 pick, its all for donkey nuts. Oh my God, I just proposed 4 different trades/signings in this paragraph.

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

Expiring contracts, TJ Ford and more

Posted by Arsenalist on May 29, 2008

Sam Smiths’ reporting that the Raptors are actively looking to package TJ Ford along with some expiring contracts in a trade that would also involve the Heat’s #2 pick. The report also states that Calderon will be the starting PG come next year and the Raptors are hoping a team can look past TJ Ford’s spinal injuries and take him on. This is also confirmed by the Oregonian which says Bryan Colangelo has put the “untouchable” label on Calderon. Its nothing that we couldn’t have already guessed but seeing this rumour so often and in so many different places, you would have to believe that something’s brewing.

Given the controversy and instability of last season the Raptors would be insane to start next season with both point guards and other teams know that. We have to trade TJ Ford and teams will bargain hard with Colangelo who will be forced to give up those valuable expiring contracts if he hopes to dump Ford. TJ Ford’s early-season injury has turned him from a commodity to a liability when it comes to trade value and nobody’s exactly banging on our door for him. It’s a little unfortunate that we’ll probably end up shipping out Rasho who’s massive salary comes off the books next summer. The whole TJ Ford to Miami speculation can be completely shattered if Chicago selects Michael Beasley leaving Derrick Rose open to join the PG-desperate Heat. More smoke here.

Then there are the Knicks who are looking for a point guard and if its not going to happen through the draft for them, they’re likely to be looking at the Raptors and Ford or towards Memphis for one of Mike Conley Jr. or Kyle Lowry. The Grizzlies are in a similar situation as the Raptors except one can argue that neither of their point guards are at the level of Ford and Calderon. Even the Grizzlies executives aren’t sure which one is better.

How much value do you put on expiring contracts? Are they overrated for us? If you look at the free agent list of next summer there aren’t exactly any great names you can go after. There’s Elton Brand but we already have a PF. The restricted rookie contracts that are up for bidding include Chris Paul and Deron Williams but they’re not coming to Toronto anytime soon. Then its the likes of Andrew Bynum and Andrew Bogut but after that it gets very thin. Its probably a better idea to acquire a proven solid player through a trade than to play Russian Roulette next summer and enter a bidding war that if you lose will break the eggs that are in your one basket. And if you believe some, playing in Toronto doesn’t help.

Reducing your salary is never a bad thing but in our case we’re doing it because we want to be able to pay Jose Calderon, Chris Bosh and hopefully Andrea Bargnani big money, not to target any juicy free agents. That’s not to say we can’t target second-tier players such as Corey Maggette or Josh Childress this summer, both of which can be had in the 7-9M range. It might even make more sense to trade our expiring contracts this summer to sign some key pieces and worry about the cap anew next summer. Just some thoughts.

A really weird story this one, China has stopped broadcasting NBA playoff games as they aren’t in the spirit and atmosphere of the country after the earthquake.

If Michael Jordan thinks you’re doing a good job as GM, is that a good thing?

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

Riley likes Calderon but he’s not thaaat crazy + other shit

Posted by Arsenalist on May 26, 2008

Somebody feed me a trade rumor so I can keep these daily posts going. Its only May and already the off-season is becoming unbearable with no Raptors activity or news. The club should hire a press secretary just like the White House whose job it is to come out to a podium at the ACC everyday and give a statement, even if dick all is going on. Something like, “Today we have no news but hopefully we’ll have news tomorrow”. And on the days something does happen like Colangelo glancing at a player in a random practice somewhere, we should be notified of every last detail about the player including the birthmark on his inner-right thigh along with the percentage chance of the Raptors offering him a contract. That would keep things moving along nicely.

Now if you were paying close attention to the Raptors during the season you would’ve noticed that Pat Riley is totally in love with Jose Calderon. Riley being a Calderon fan is hardly something unique in the NBA but would he trade the second pick just to get his hands on the Spaniard? Would he pass up a chance at Michael Beasley or Derrick Rose for a 26 year old point guard that has trouble guarding his own shadow and was basically the second best player on a bad NBA team? I doubt it but maybe Riley’s getting soft in the skull as he grows older.

The Knicks could have the top 3 picks in the draft and they’d still fuck things up, so I don’t know why they’re treating that 6th pick like its a chance to draft Michael Jordan. Believe it or not the best thing they could do is trade that pick to a team for expiring contracts as long as they’d take Eddy ‘This vehicle makes wide right turns’ Curry and Zack ‘I swear I have a neck’ Randolph with them.

Pop Quiz: The Raptors have picked at #17 once before, who did they pick? Tick tock tick tock tick tock…Ha! It was Michael Bradley! Another interesting totally unrelated tidbit: Jason Maxiell was picked 26th the same year we picked Joey Graham. Last year’s #17 pick? Sean Williams. The year before that? Shawne Williams. That’s scary!

Here’s a thought: if the Detroit Pistons lose this series they’ll be inclined to blow things up because it’ll be the third straight year they’d lose in the conference finals. Serious GMs don’t stand for that shit and given the emergence of Rodney Stuckey and Arron Afflalo, there might be a SG sale in Detroit and picks would do the trick. The first two to go might be Chauncey Billups and Richard Hamilton and the Raptors would be wise to inquire about Hamilton who at 30 still has 3-4 excellent years left in him. Hamilton would finally give us a legitimate scorer at the guard position since Vince Carter and if one of Ron Artest or Corey Maggette could be added to the roster via trade, it would make us an instant force. I know, I’m dreaming and should probably end this paragraph but not before giving a link to some Richard Hamilton/Ray Allen history.

Here’s something that’s been on my mind a lot – flopping. The reason there’s so much of it in the league isn’t because of Euros or players diving or any of that cuntiness, its because of the NBA rules and the officiating that backs it up. The officials are so quick to call a charge that they ignore when the defender got their ‘position’ and are inclined to forgive any lateral movement that the defensive player was making while the offensive player was in the air or after he had ‘gathered’ the ball. About 50% of the charges called in the NBA right now are either no-calls or defensive fouls. Its become quite aggravating seeing players credited as being good defenders just because they weaseled out of making a play and chose to twist themselves hoping to get some contact.

Joakim Noah got caught carrying a spliff after he was picked up for drinking in public. How dumb can you get? This also forever bans him from the list of “character guys” GMs such as Bryan Colangelo would ever bring on their team regardless of talent. On an entirely different note, did you know Joakim Noah’s mom was some sort of supermodel?

I don’t know if you necessarily need to be deranged to write for The Bleacher Report but you certainly have to be a daft cunt. In today’s excrement of an article, the writer proposes that it would be beneficial for the Raptors to trade T.J. Ford, Rasho Nesterovic, Maceo Baston, and Joey Graham for Allen Iverson. How pointless for all parties involved. Consider subscribing to their RSS feed for gems such as these and other unintended humor.

Posted in Raptors, Sports | Tagged: , , , | 16 Comments »