Arsenalist

The Toronto Raptors Blog with an Arsenal touch

Posts Tagged ‘The Saturday Morning Post’

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 »

The Saturday Morning Post: What’s next for the Raptors?

Posted by Arsenalist on June 28, 2008

Let’s look at the changes to our roster so far:

Additions: Roko Ukic, Jermaine O’Neal, Nathan Jawai
Subtractions: TJ Ford, Rasho Nesterovic, Maceo Baston, Carlos Delfino

Bryan Colangelo is working towards having a “nice, lean roster” for next year which sounds like a good enough idea. What he doesn’t mention is having an athletic roster that is capable of providing consistent defensive stops and can play man-defense out on the perimeter without needing help from the paint. As you recall against the Magic, we got undone because of guard and small forward penetration. And as you might also recall, we were poor at close-outs and interior and perimeter rotations all season long. None of that has been addressed yet and granted the summer is long, however, we don’t have the resources to fix this team.

Good defensive news first: There is a defensive silver-lining to the Jermaine O’Neal trade and its his ability to play help defense. Consider this scenario: The opposing guard just beat Calderon to the paint. Pause. Last year Bosh came and helped out leaving the weak side wide open for any opposing player to step in for a layup or foul. Next year Bosh can actually come out and help his guards whilst feeling confident that Jermaine O’Neal is there to back him up and not leaving him out to dry (shake head at Bargnani). So see, the trade actually helped us on both ends of the floor.

Back to the issue at hand though, what do we need to do to become lean, athletic and a better defensive team in a strong East. The bad news is that we’ll only have about $5-$6 million to spend after paying all our existing players, this of course assuming that we want to stay under the salary cap which is going to be known in July. Speaking realistically and glancing at the 2008 NBA Free Agent list, you’ll notice that there aren’t any quick fixes to this problem. Sure there’s Mickael Pietrus, Josh Childress and J.R. Smith but throwing the MLE at them is hardly going to prevent their teams from matching the offer (assuming they sign the offer-sheet). There’s also Bonzi Wells who happens to be an unrestricted free agent but I’d rather have Jamario Moon.

There’s also Ron Artest who might opt out of his contract with the Kings. But unless him and Jermaine O’Neal shared the same bed on road-trips, I hardly see him picking the Raptors over other suitors like the Lakers. This one’s a no-brainer. This leaves us with fulfilling our needs via trade and now that TJ Ford and Rasho’s expiring contract are no more, we’re left with the likes of Jason Kapono, Joey Graham, Anthony Parker and Kris Humphries as trade bait. Aside from Jason Kapono there isn’t anything here to get excited about and frankly, I’d rather keep Kapono here and see what he can do with two double-team threats on the team. A contending team or two might be interested in Parker for his veteran presence and mid-range game but that’s about it. That’s all the ammunition we have. All that’s left is to figure out who is desperate enough to take our 5M MLE and run with it. Don’t you get the feeling we didn’t get enough out of this draft?

The more and more you think about it the more you’ll realize that next season, much like last season, will be dependent on what Andrea Bargnani can do for us and how well he can guard his position. If he’s able to play the SF effectively for 15-20 minutes a game, it’ll change the entire dynamics of the Raptors. If he can become more of a slashing type player, our problems will decrease because he has the ability to create off the dribble and get opponents into foul trouble. If he can have a Toni Kukoc type impact on this team, we can aim for home court in the first round.

There’s also the issue of guard defense. I haven’t seen nearly enough of Roko Ukic to say whether he can effectively spell Calderon through the course of a season. At 6′ 5″, I am hoping his defense is better than Calderon’s and that he can remedy some of our penetration issues. I thought Keyon Dooling would’ve been a nice signing for us because of his hounding defensive play and ability to knock down shots. Then again you have to give Ukic a shot and see just exactly what he can do, he’s 24 and not getting any younger.

There is one player that I haven’t give up on yet: Joey Graham. Before you close the window, consider this: When has Graham gotten any consistent playing time under Sam Mitchell? Never. Has he been afforded the same leeway has Jamario Moon, Anthony Parker, Andrea Bargnani or even Carlos Delfino? No. His trade value is practically zero so you’re not going to get anything for him on the market but he can still give us something. We tend to forget that he’s a strong, athletic player that when playing with confidence, can slash to the rim, grab rebounds, play hard and when the lighting is right, knock mid-range jumpers down. I’m not even looking at him for offense, I think he can help us defensively and needs to be given a fair shot in training cap and at the start of the season. Call me crazy.

Note to those of you who would’ve loved to see Gerald Wallace on the Raptors, here’s the game tally for his career: 54, 47, 37, 70, 55, 72 and 62. Sure he puts up good numbers but its while playing for a terrible team. You can’t expect him to replicate those numbers here and for what its worth, defensively, I’ll take Moon over him any day.

The Raptors get a 8/10 for their draft according to Yahoo Sports. Figure that one out.

Have a nice weekend.

Posted in Raptors, Sports | Tagged: , , , | 17 Comments »

The Saturday Morning Post: Qualifying offers, trade rumours and some Bill Walton

Posted by Arsenalist on June 21, 2008

Good Saturday Morning!

The Raptors extended qualifying offers to Jose Calderon (no agent, fired him) and Carlos Delfino which means they have an intent to resign them and want to have a shot at matching any offers made to either player. This makes perfect sense for Jose Calderon but it’s a little surprising to see Carlos Delfino get the same treatment. The Raptors probably have a salary in mind for Delfino and unless he signs an offer-sheet at or below that number, they’ll let him walk. He is a serviceable backup at the 3-spot and with Joey Graham more and more out of the picture, Delfino and Moon look to be the second line at the SF position. This of course assuming we get a starting 3 somewhere through draft/FA/trade.

The Boris Diaw for TJ Ford + #17 better be horseshit because if we are actually considering making that trade it tells me that either Colangelo has a soft spot for the Suns or that TJ’s value is so low that any package not involving our pick will get us nothing. With Garbajosa gone, we do need a versatile forward that can rebound and score but giving up the 17th pick in a deep draft might be paying too much. A straight up swap for Diaw is far more acceptable and probably something even Colangelo feels is fair, hence the smoke in the first place. Porter’s fondness of TJ Ford stems from his stint in Milwaukee and he’s seen what we’ve seen – potential. He feels he can get it out of him whereas we’ve given up.

Now if you throw in Leandro Barbosa as part of trade talks, that changes everything. The Portland Trailblazers are looking at him and might be willing to give up Martell Webster and the 13th pick. The Suns (much like the Raptors) are also trying to upgrade their SF spot and are looking to be in the hunt for Richard Jefferson, Josh Howard or Gerald Wallace. The pick of that group remains the slasher Jefferson that could use a change of scenery and some distance from the plague that is Vince Carter to fully recognize his potential. I believe he’s a perfect fit for the Raptors. There’s also Ron Artest but if he’s going anywhere it’s going to be the Lakers.

Speaking of Boris Diaw, every time his name comes up I think back to Bill Walton’s insane commentary in the Suns/Lakers game – check it out. It has something to do with Beethoven and the Age of Romanticism.

The guys from NBA TV break down the Raptors draft and say that the time is now for the Raptors and that the rebuilding process better start showing some results. They also take Jose Calderon over TJ Ford and like Jamario Moon as a bench player. Finally they point to Bargnani as being the key to the Raptors and how he needs to pay back some dividends – Rick Kamla is still a believer in him and if he’s a believer, so am I. The general consensus seems to be to take the best player available at #17 and not draft by position, something I totally agree with.

There’s a piece in the G & M about how the Raptors are helping out Basketball Canada in many different ways. One of the reasons cited for this cooperation is Bryan Colangelo’s “deep respect and passion for the international game”.

Nicolas Batum failed a stress test which is the reason why he didn’t participate in our workout.

Later!

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