The Toronto Raptors Blog with an Arsenal touch

Posts Tagged ‘Maurizio Gherardini’

Maurizio Gherardini gets rewarded for a job done

Posted by Arsenalist on July 23, 2008

Promotions aplenty! Everybody who is anybody got a promotion at MLSE yesterday. It’s quite a no-brainer when you think about it, a 5-game playoff exit merits knighthood let alone a measly bump in the old pay scale. Chuck Swirsky should’ve stuck around, he was in line to get the mascot position but missed out. Half-ass jokes aside, this is a great day for MLSE as they’ve found a way to distribute the money the 17% ticket hike in the last two years has generated. Rest assured that money is being well spent.

Let’s jump to Doug Smith’s insightful posting about the Raptors “plan” for the rest of the off-season:

The plan still is to sign a minimum-salary combo guard who will sit on the bench and play in emergencies or if foul trouble hits both Jose and Roko in the same game.

Oh brother, my palms are sweating with excitement and I might not be able to contain the joy of potentially signing Jaycee Carroll who might potentially be as good as Juan Dixon. This off-season is bearing some very nice fruits, who this “minimum-salary combo guard” might be the deciding factor between finishing 41-41 and 42-40. Fingers crossed! It looks more and more like one of Jamario Moon or Joey Graham will be our starting small forward next year and this observer thinks that that is simply unacceptable. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate what Moon brings to the table but the guy can’t shoot. I can already see teams dropping off against him like last year leaving him open for the 18-23 footer which he’ll gladly take without being reprimanded by Mitchell.

Nothing we can do about it either, who are we going to throw the money at? The only player from that list I’d want on this team is Michael Finley. We could use some veteran leadership on this team along with a somewhat consistent jumper at the 3 and Finley could provide both. Sure he’s liable to go through offensive funks but even then he’s still better Moon, Graham or Adams. This team needs another “smart” player that can move without the ball and make the defense pay for doubling Bosh/JO and Finley fits the bill. Most recently he’s made his money by leeching off of Tim Duncan double teams and he should fit right in.

Atlantic Division Will Definitely Be More Competitive is the title for this post which stinks of summertime boredom. That statement is about as obvious as “Katie Price (NSFW) has fake tits”. The article goes on to say that Sam Mitchell is on the “hot seat”. No, he’s not. After the pains Colangelo went through to stay under the cap in his three moves this summer, you think he’s going to eat Mitchell’s salary? I think not, it would be admitting the mistake of signing him to a long term contract last summer and Colangelo’s not going to swallow that pill.

Celtics Blog is rating the All-Time Great Raptors (haha), he’s got my quote in there too. I am humbled.

Posted in Raptors, Sports | Tagged: , , | 4 Comments »

Maurizio Gherardini + Primoz + Blue Jays talk

Posted by Arsenalist on July 21, 2008

Good morning, in today’s edition of the blog we’ll jump straight to some Maurizio Gherardini quotes where he’s talking about how there is an equal distribution of talent across the globe and that you’re as likely to find the next Michael Jordan in Azherbaijan as in North Carolina. The funny little fat guy says:

“I believe situations have shown you may find talent around any corner. There is no place where there are going to be better diamonds than other places. Spain is probably the best model in Europe and I would expect to see more players coming from there. The former Yugoslav republics have been the biggest producers of players in Europe, somehow because of their love of the game and the physical structure of people in the area, and so I expect that to continue. I think South America will always be a continent to look at. I think Africa, if the quality of the teaching keeps improving, if they are capable of putting together simple structures to work on their games, has a great possibility of developing intriguing talent for the future,”

There’s some truth to what he’s saying, as the game spread to more and more parts of the world the chances of finding good players becomes higher. I’m just not sure that right now is the time to draft European question marks as the top pick in the NBA draft, that’s all.

There’s a great fact in that article about how James Naismith taught the game in the late 1890’s to Christian missionaries on their way to China and how it helped spread the game there to the tune of them having more NBAers than us in 2008. On a side note, how does getting blown out against Croatia and almost losing to Korea make you feel as a Canadian? I have to say that there’s a tinge of embarassment in our national team’s performances, obviously I don’t know enough about the program to recommend fixes but as a casual fan of the national team I think you’ll agree that I speak for everyone here when I say, “Come on….I mean, come on people…please…come on, its getting a little ridiculous…huh? Yeah..that’s right..come on now”.

Oh, did I mention we lost a summer league game to Golden State where Joey Graham was our best player, I think it happened yesterday, or maybe even the day before. I don’t know, I’m just glad its over. Somebody find out how Andrea Bargnani’s off-season is coming along and what his plans are, I want to scrutinize his every move this summer, how many jump shots he takes, what he bench presses, how many times John Lucas gets a rebound over him, what he eats for breakfast, what TV he watches, what drills he’s doing, how he’s moving laterally, if he’s learned to pump-fake, if he’s learned to box out, whether he’s learned to make a mid-range jumper four times in a row…everything, I want to know everything!

Primoz Brezec walked out on us and signed with Roma. Its hardly worth a mention let alone a quote but its the summertime so why not:

“I am very happy and proud to play next year in Rome. It’s beautiful to return to Europe after seven years in the NBA with one of the best teams on the continent, with the great, successful coach Repesa and the most beautiful city in the world. The determining factor for my choice was the link with Dejan Bodiroga.”

Garbage time will never be the same.

Oklahoma City Thunder? That sounds like a WNBA team. Speaking of which, if you’ve been catching the summer league games on Raptors TV you’ve probably seen the WNBA commercials which end with the guy screaming all excited, “Now this is what the WNBA is all about!!!”. That right there is how bad summertime sports are.

Side step to some Blue Jays talk, I think its far worse to be a Jays fan in this city than a Raptors fan. The Jays have zero chance of making the post-season in the next 10 years. Seriously, they now have to be better than two of New York, Boston and Tampa Bay to even have a shot at the post-season. Before you shrug and go “Tampa Bay??”, I say yes, Tampa Bay! That team has sucked for the last few years but along the way has managed to develop some solid pitching and great hitting to top the AL East. This year is not a fluke but a sign of things to come.

I remember watching Shawn Green and Carlos Delgado not too long ago and thinking that if this team could just make a couple more signings here and there, they’re right there on the cusp of contention for a playoff spot and maybe even go deep in the post-season. That summer they let Green walk, didn’t replace him and assumed Delgado would hit at the same clip next without realizing that teams were going to pitch around him…blah! Frustrating man, the Jays have been looking forward to “next year” in July for 13 straight seasons, if I’m them I trade Roy Halladay and get something for him while he’s at his peak. That team’s not going anywhere, dropping 2/3 to Tampa sealed their fate, we needed a solid sweep to get things going and it just didn’t happen. Bryan Colangelo is a genius compared to J.P Ricciardi.

Thanks to the ArseBlog for the link on Sunday, 12,000 hits and counting for the Arsenal vs. Barnet post. Wow, there are a lot more Arsenal fans than Raptors ones, that’s for sure.

Posted in Raptors, Sports | Tagged: , , , , , | 7 Comments »

What’s really going to happen in the draft….

Posted by Arsenalist on June 7, 2008

Raptors War Room

Colangelo: Who do we take in this draft?

Mitchell: I need a rebounder, a scorer, a playbook, some athleticism and defense.

Gherardini: I know a few guys overseas who can supply that in one package.

Colangelo: What? Who?

Mitchell: Oh no, here we go again….

Gherardini: Ronalds Zakis.

Mitchell: Who?

Colangelo: Who?!?

Gherardini: Ronalds Zakis, he’s 6′ 9″ and from Latvia, need I say more? He gets you 6.5 rebounds a game and is NBA-ready. He can shoot, he can pass, he can rebound and most of all he fits like a glove on this team. I’ve been following this guy since age 4, a talent unseen I swear by the Gods.

Mitchell: How about we take Brandon Rush? We could use some of that scoring and defense, he’s athletic too and we desperately need that. He even plays perimeter defense you know……

Colangelo: (ignoring Mitchell, turning towards Maurizio) Tell me more about Zakis.

Gherardini: He got 1400 in his SATs and sat through Sex and the City without even flinching…

Colangelo: By God!! This man is a beast.

Mitchell: That don’t mean shit.

Gherardini: Told you the guy was tough, question is will he be available at #17, personally, I think Phoenix will grab this guy at #16, we should trade up.

Colangelo: Done! Let’s just ask Jim Kelly what he thinks about Zakis. Hey Jim, what thou thinkst of our fellow Zakis?

Kelly: (pretending he knows who Zakis is) Well, I think he’s a goooood player with goood potential and has gotten stronger since the last time I saw him and is on his way to becoming a gooood player…..?

Mitchell: Oh Jim, please help me out here. I don’t need this man, I need Rush or Lopez or Dorsey or even Hibbert…please no more 5 year projects..I beg you man.

Colangelo: (ignoring Mitchell’s negativity) Sam, you’ll love this guy. Should we ask Chris Bosh what he thinks about the pick?

Mitchell: (sensing some hope) Yes, yes!! Let’s ask Chris, he’ll tell you what we should do!

Gherardini: Judging by the great chemistry and synergy and love Bargnani and Bosh display, its clear that Chris loves to play with underdeveloped players with a shot at greatness but a probability of mediocrity. Its just a waste of time asking him, its almost insulting his intelligence.

Colangelo: Agreed! Zakis it is…on we go…trade TJ Ford + #17 to Golden State for #14.

Mitchell: (defeated, stares blankly into space)


Yeah, its a slow day and its the weekend. Take the mind of the Raptors and go roll a blog joint with Cuzoogle or check out Euro 2008.

Posted in Raptors, Sports | Tagged: , , , , | 15 Comments »

Draft for potential or for now? Or just trade the damn pick.

Posted by Arsenalist on May 28, 2008

When I was 17 I used to play pick-up with this guy at an outdoor court in Mississauga. He was OK, nothing great but he was OK. Being a lefty was his real advantage but his jumper was seriously lacking. He had it firmly set in his mind that once me managed to get into a US college, he would just average 8 points a half for a total of 16 points a game and be a lock to get drafted. I always told him to have a backup plan just in case things didn’t pan out, you know, him being only 6′ 0″ and all and me having a superior jumper than him. I lost touch with him, wonder what became of the guy. Reason I’m telling you this is because he looked a lot like Donte Greene who Chad Ford has us drafting at #17. In his mock draft earlier in the day he had us selecting Robin Lopez with the following comment:

Lopez is drawing a lot of comparisons to Anderson Varejao. On a team that needs toughness and rebounding in the middle, he should be a great fit. He’s kind of the anti-Andrea Bargnani.

Everyone loves taking a shot at Bargnani, who can blame them, he’s probably the easiest guy to pick on in the NBA right now and there’s always truth in the criticism received. Anyway, between the two I’d pick Lopez because as much as we need a 6′ 10″ swingman, we need toughness even more. And its not like like Lopez could even come close to picking up the scoring load on this team. The advantage of drafting a hustling big man over of a finesse guy in the draft is that the former can be counted on to do things like rebounding and defense and can help the team immediately. The Raptors would be unlikely to select a player and then wait him out while he develops and brings his game to a meaningful level, especially after Colangelo made it clear yesterday that he’s looking for immediate help.

There’s a bunch of players in the draft that could be good fits for the Raptors. The question will be how much of a “project” is Bryan Colangelo willing to take on and whether hand-holding Bargnani through his 3rd NBA season plus nursing along another rookie is too much to ask for Sam Mitchell. The easier thing would be to just trade the pick as part of the PG package and increase the value of the return product. Sometimes in all the fantasy trade talk that goes on we lose sight of the fact that it’s very hard to make trades in the NBA, let alone ones where you clearly come out on top. So although Maggette/Ford or Ford,#17/#2 might sound logically right, the apprehensiveness of the GM behind those players/picks will probably kill the deal.

The Hawks are close to hiring a new GM – fingers crossed that its Maurizio Gherardini. They might be the most talented team in the East and if the new GM can handle the decisions coming up for them, there’s every indication that the Hawks will be one of those teams that’s neck-and-neck with us next year in the standings.

You know the chances of the Knicks picking Gallinari are high when daddy chimes in and the sun shines on old friendships. He’s going to stick out on that roster more than David Lee.

That was probably a foul on Derek Fisher but it was an excellent no-call. Classic example of why games need to be called differently late in the fourth quarter. Brent Barry was nowhere close to scoring and didn’t deserve a shot at two FTs, let alone three.

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

It’s Friday and time for another Raptors weekend

Posted by Arsenalist on April 4, 2008

Digesting the Atlanta loss hasn’t been easy. Al Horford’s claims that he nipped the ball on it’s way to Ford is probably the card the NBA’s going to play in denying our appeal. Regardless of whether he nipped it or not, the NBA’s got the reasonable doubt it’s been looking. Plus, we did blow a 17 point lead and gave up 20 points in OT and are solely responsible for the loss. It should never have come down to the final half second but that doesn’t mean we weren’t wronged. Chuck’s blatant homerism drew some attention at Slam Magazine:

The funniest part of that clip is the way Raps play-by-play guy Chuck Swirsky is certain that the ball went in with time left. Even as replay after replay shows Ford’s hand touching the ball with the lights on. That actually made me laugh out loud. If Swirsky ever gets fired, it won’t be because he doesn’t support the Raptors.

Moving along.

The Bucks might be interested in Maurizio Gherardini and I say take him. Bryan Colangelo needs to balance the Euroness of this team with some old fashioned NCAA talent and it’s going to be tough convincing me that Gherardini knows half as much about the NCAA talent pool as he does about the European leagues. His influence on this team has been a positive one, he was key in the signing of Parker and had a hand in landing Garbajosa which he deserves credit for. I’m not sure he has the ability to scour through the 2008 eligibility list, target a sleeper and do what it takes to pick him. Leo Rautins might refer to him as The Godfather every chance he gets but that’s a tough sell to the knowing NBA fan.

Philadelphia’s continuing it’s stellar play and right now they have the inside track to that highly desirable 6th spot and frankly, they deserve it (Jason Smith’s already celebrating). They have an Atlanta date on Friday night and it should be interesting to see how they’ll do against a team the Raptors had serious issues stopping. Washington recently went a respectable 2-3 on their West coast swing (the one we went 0-5 on) thus setting up a tight race down the stretch. Lucky for us Washington and Philadelphia play each other on April 12th so if we sweep our remaining 7 games (possible but very unlikely), we’ll avoid the 7th spot. There’s something to aim for, but as has been the case so many times this season, we’ve looked at a stretch of games, deemed them winnable and proceeded to bomb the schedule. Expect no different here, unless we catch fire we’re looking at backing our way into the playoffs which is not the way you want to go in.

This is from a couple days ago but ESPN ranked the best foreign players and Jose Calderon came in at 8th, it’s a fair placement given the likes ahead of him. Jose’s got a telling quote in one of his earlier blogs which I didn’t catch, here it is:

My personal ambition is to be a starter in any team where I play, as well as to have the maximum responsibility in my team. But above this, I want to win.

If I was Jose Calderon, I’d leave the Raptors unless I was at the minimum guaranteed a starting spot. From his perspective the Lakers are a perfect fit. He would get to play with Pau Gasol, become the unquestionable starter and have a chance to win an NBA title. Unless Ford is cast out, all he’s going to get here is split playing time, constant controversy and a .500 team. From the Raptors perspective it’s a bummer but from his angle, he’d be a fool not to explore free agency in detail.

Chris Bosh won the Atlantic division’s NBA sportsmanship award, it’s the NBA’s way of giving us a consolation prize for the Atlantic. We’ll take it, bring on Antawn Jamison! Bosh can own him when it comes to ethical behavior, fair play and integrity.

We’ve lost 7 of our last 8 Friday night games, only two more to go: tonight against Charlotte and next week at home to New Jersey – I think we can end on a bit of a Friday high.

Here’s Nikki Reyes asking Andrea Bargnani some very meaningless questions and ending with something all Raptor fans want to know: Are Italian or Canadian women hotter? WTF?

Maciej Lampe is ready for the NBA. Get ‘er done BC.

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

Note to Colangelo: F**k pride!

Posted by Arsenalist on January 22, 2008

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Enough about Bargnani!

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

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

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

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

Later. Feed.

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