Arsenalist

The Toronto Raptors Blog with an Arsenal touch

Posts Tagged ‘tj ford’

Ukic signing official + Joey Graham speaks + TJ Ford!

Posted by Arsenalist on July 17, 2008

Official announcement of the Roko Ukic signing is the main news of the day. It’s a guaranteed three year deal that runs till the end of the 2010-11 season. Financial terms weren’t disclosed but given how close the Raptors are to the cap, it can’t be more than a million per. In 34 regular season Italian League games, Ukic averaged 11.5 points, 2.6 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 1.7 steals. The most impressive thing about the man was his blistering FG percentage which is close to 60%! Combined with Calderon, Ukic is going to give the Raptors an all-Euro PG tandem with steady hands.

The NBA-readyness of Ukic has often come into question, after being selected by Rob Babcock in the second round of the 2005 draft, Ukic, then a 21 year old, was deemed to need a year or so more of European basketball. But with Calderon and Ford gobbling up the minutes at that position Ukic was forced to prolong his European career although many scouts believed that he was NBA-ready. Now at 24, he comes into the league at the same age as Jose Calderon and we’re hoping the results are similar. Asking him to replace TJ Ford is a tall task given the former Raptor’s speed and ability to keep defenders on their toes, if Ukic can hold the fort down by playing good defense and running an organized offense while Calderon gets his 15 minute breather, he’ll fit right in.

There was some talk yesterday that the Raptors were interested in the services of James Posey. As ridiculous as that sounds the rumour carried some merit. That merit was quickly squashed as Posey cashed in on a 4 year 25 million dollar deal with the Hornets who have had enough of Mo Pete’s inconsistency. As John Hollinger points out, signing 30 year old role players to big deals rarely works out (see Bryon Russell, Dan Majerle, Jaren Jackson, Rick Fox and Raja Bell) and it hardly makes sense to pay Posey this kind of money this summer when nobody cared for him the previous year. The other big signing of the day had the Cavs giving Daniel Gibson a five year deal.

Mike Ulmer talked to Joey Graham about playing in the summer league. Basically Joey’s saying that its better than sitting at home. I’m curoius as to whether Bryan Colangelo requested Joey to participate or whether he decided on his own that he needs to sharpen up his game:

“I was at home, sitting around, and I really wasn’t working out with guys. I said ‘why not go somewhere and play?’…I want the coaches to know I still can play and that I am a guy who will work hard. Last year was the first time I didn’t play that much, my first bit of adversity. It builds character and makes me into the person I want to be. I didn’t like not playing.”

This is probably a good time to mention how bad the blogs on Raptors.com are. It took me five minutes to figure out how to just link to this story. I mean, can’t they just get a WordPress installation?

TJ Ford was introduced as an Indiana Pacer on Wednesday and he proclaims that “Pacers basketball is back!” Well, the way he said it there was no exclamation mark at the end but you know TJ, he speaks casually but his mind is racing at 100mph. Ford says he’s going to be durable and aims to play the entire season:

“I think a lot of people are wondering if I take a hard fall whether I’m going to get up or not. I think the staff we have here, the things they discussed with me, that can help my situation better than what it is. I think I’ll be durable throughout the season.”

I think he”ll be just fine with the athletes around him and the Pacers will surprise people. It’s definitely more of a rebuilding project than Toronto but Ford’s saying the right things early on and Jarret Jack does seem like he’s ready to take the back seat. Jim O’Brien’s calling the Pacers off-season so far a “stroke of genius”. I’m not going to go that far but it`s hard not to like the talent they’ve acquired.

Samuel Dalembert’s agent is responding to him being cut by wishing Basketball Canada “Good Luck ever getting another NBA player to show up again”. In hindsight, I’m not sure if cutting him was a great idea, it does send a bit of a harsh message to any other potential players. I think a benching would`ve sufficed but I stand behind Leo’s decision of not putting up with any nonsense.

The Raptors resume summer league on Thursday against the Sixers. Third time’s the charm. Dance Pak auditions are happening. Insert innuendo here.

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

Indiana deal dead, Knick interest in TJ Ford + Exodus to Europe?

Posted by Arsenalist on June 24, 2008

We all know TJ Ford is going to get traded but that doesn’t mean you have to print a picture like this of him in the Toronto Star. It’s like they went through every image of Ford they could find and picked the worse one possible. BTW, I love newspapers – always a day late in their reporting.

The Indiana deal is dead and the reason isn’t the 17th pick, its concerns over TJ Ford and Jermaine O’Neal’s health. Fair enough, both sides would’ve done this deal with an element of reluctance and fear of coming out on the wrong side of a gamble. On the surface TJ Ford’s injuries seem to be less chronic than Jermaine O’Neal’s although both are probably one play away from having their career’s killed, but then again who isn’t.

TJ Ford and Leandro Barbosa are also on the Knicks radar according to Donnie Walsh who wants to get himself a new PG on or before draft night. In the same story we’re told that Jorge Garbajosa might sign for CSKA Moscow – good luck to the lad. Also according to this article, Anthony Parker is said to be considering Olympiakos and has their offer “in his mind”. Now I’m not one to cite another blog as a “source” but here goes anyway: Delfino is also said to have interest from Europe. Don’t put it past his agent to cook stories up just to increase his worth on the market. Also, the Raptors are apparently anxious to “revamp the roster”. This paragraph should suffice for the BS portion of this post.

According to Michael Grange there was no “next Jamario Moon” to be found at this year’s free agent camp. Tamar Slay and Rod Benson picked up some cred but as far as being invited to training or summer camp, no luck there. Yet.

Dave Feschuk tells us that Matt Bonner’s getting married in Toronto but the story is inappropriately titled “Return of the Red Rocket” when it really should be “Return of the Red Rocket because he’s getting married here and then returning to wherever he’s playing now”.

Our man Brandon Rush leads off USA Today’s look at the best young guards in this year’s draft. The more I read about him, the more I want like him on this team. He seems to be a guy who appreciates the prestige of playing in the NBA and won’t get caught up in the “playing in Canada” bullshit. His knee injury has given him a very fresh perspective on basketball and has made him into a truly hardworking player, not just someone who relies on talent exclusively.

Chris Bosh is pumped up for the Beijing Games, great, just don’t get injured. That would seriously suck and put a damper on the season. Even if he tweaks his knee just a little, that means 10 games without him which means at best a 2-8 record.

Thanks for swinging by.

Posted in Raptors, Sports | Tagged: , , | 8 Comments »

TJ Ford + #17 + Rasho for Jermaine O’Neal

Posted by Arsenalist on June 23, 2008

Update: Deal goes down!

The Indianapolis Star is reporting. This is also confirmed (copied?) by Doug Smith.

Obviously we’re taking a big gamble if this goes down but I’m all for the proactive nature of this deal, once again giving up the #17 pick hurts but I wouldn’t be terribly upset at this move. O’Neal’s game tally over the last four seasons is 44, 51, 69 and 42. Not exactly iron man numbers but sometimes you have to be willing to take a risk to make the team better. O’Neal (when healthy) does provide front-court scoring and rebounding which is welcome on the Raptors any day.

Trading away the #17 pick doesn’t necessarily mean we don’t get a shot at Roy Hibbert or Rush, another trade could always be engineered to grab a pick. However, given the limited number of resources at BC’s disposal, its going to be hard to get back in the first round after we lose Rasho and TJ Ford. Again, giving up Rasho is understandable since the salaries must match (O’Neal makes 20m + for two more years) but that #17 pick doesn’t sit right. As I’ve said before, there is some talent in the teens this year.

This trade will also make O’Neal the highest paid Raptor. Anyway, while the trade rumours are swirling there’s also talk of the Raptors going big in Thursday’s draft. Nicolas Batum is out of the picture and if the article is to be believed, so are CDR and Brandon Rush. To be honest, there’s absolutely nothing worth believing in any media outlet including newspapers, radio, blogs or TV. Nobody will tell you what they’ll be doing in the draft (makes total sense) and there’s no point in mulling and losing your hair over smokescreens.

Here’s a fact though: the Warriors have to make a trade by June 30th if they want to use the 10M exception they received in the Richardson deal. Monta Ellis and Andris Biedrins are off-limits which leaves the Warriors with hardly any trade pieces. With Baron Davis firmly instilled as the franchise player and Pietrus and Barnes free agents, there’s nothing the Raptors would like from that roster and TJ Ford would be a hard sell there.

More workouts scheduled on Monday D.J. White, Vlad Kuljanin, J.J. Hickson, Josh Duncan, Ryan Bell and Jaycee Carroll.

Chris Bosh makes Team USA, this means Tyson Chandler got squeezed out. I’d much rather see him rest and be fresh for the season because as a football fan I’m all too aware of injuries suffered to players on international duty which prevented them from fulfilling club obligations. On the other hand when your country calls, you better answer.

Kosta Koufus is compared to Andrea Bargnani.

Later.

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

TJ Ford, Raptorulosis Fasciitis and Cuban’s load of crap

Posted by Arsenalist on June 19, 2008

Its hard being rational in the summertime when there’s absolutely nothing going on and the only thing one can do is speculate on free agent acquisitions, hypothetical trades, possible draft choices and when the barrel will hit $250. Its like a disease that starts around May and ends around October, call it Raptorulosis Fasciitis. Its like walking through a vast desert with thousands of mirages but only a few wells. Its like getting through Lord of the Rings, except that its five months long. Its like scratching your nails on miles and miles of blackboard. It’s like….what I’m trying to say is that its a tough time which calls for perseverance, sanity and most of all a cool, calculated mind that can reject rumours for what they are and accept realities as they stare you in the face.

The man from Raptors Den looks at the possibilities of trading TJ Ford for players like Corey Maggette, Ron Artest, the #2 pick amongst others. Its a nice enough article but I can’t help but think this is one of those situations where the cool, calculated mind should kick in. It’s the opinion of this observer that the chance of us landing a player of Ron Artest’s caliber while only giving up TJ Ford is downright impossible, unless of course the other GM’s mind is mush. TJ may be a nice little talent but his stock is low because of injury and recent play. I would even consider giving him the starting role, hoping he plays well and then shipping him off at the trading deadline when teams get a little desperate for help and might be willing to give up more. Just a summertime thought, that’s all.

There’s word out of Miami that if Beasley is available at #2, the Heat will snag him and look to trade Udonis Haslem who “could be swapped for a point guard, with Kirk Hinrich, T.J. Ford and Mo Williams in play”. Such a trade does sound more reasonable than acquiring Artest or Maggette since the players involved are in similar tiers and there is a real supply/demand issue at hand. Haslem’s a very good rebounder that can knock down the mid-range jumper and plays hard, we can’t ask for anything more.

On a side note, DJ Augustin is dazzling teams with his workouts. If I’m the Clippers or Portland, I’d look at him first before even thinking about making a trade for Ford, Hinrich or Williams. There’s too much quickness, youth and skill here to pass up.

How do we fix the Lakers? That is the burning question in LA and two of the answers include acquiring a perimeter touch and getting some depth in the backcourt (getting killed by Rajan Rondo does that to you). Look no further Mitch Kupchak, we’d be glad to provide you with Jason Kapono and TJ Ford except that we have no idea who we’d want from your roster. We know you’re not willing to part with Andrew Bynum, Pau Gasol or Kobe Bryant and we certainly don’t want anything to do with Vujacic, Radmanovic, Ariza or Walton so why not give us Ronny Turiaf? Naah, you’re probably not going to do that either, are you? Huh? Please?

Interesting quote from Joe Luis Saez, the president of the Spanish federation:

“Jorge is perfectly recovered from his injury and this for us is the best news. To be able to have Jorge with us is gratifying because he is a player that has given everything to the national team and he wants to continue to give it.”

My first reaction is that he’s a lying bastard. The second one is that he might be telling the truth which leads me to contemplate that if Garbajosa is in fact healthy, why we didn’t ship him off and use his expiring salary as an asset? It’s almost like he was given the choice to play for the Raptors or to play for Spain in Beijing and he chose the latter. Remember that the Raptors did not want him to play in the summer games and the only way he could’ve done so was if he was no longer under contract with us. Colangelo was fairly desperate to get his mess resolved and even flew to Spain to put this shit to bed, unfortunately for us we couldn’t get anything in return for him.

Speaking of the Olympics, Mark Cuban has something to say about them, its all coming because of his ungodly fear of losing Dirk Nowitizki and Jason Kidd to injury while they’re not in a Dallas Maverick uniform, the gazillionaire says:

“It’s not that I don’t like the idea of them representing their countries. If the Olympics were truly a nationalistic endeavor built on sport and part of the public domain, I would be willing to take risk and support their playing. What I don’t like is that we lie to ourselves and pretend that the Olympians represent our country. They don’t. They have taken relatively low paying jobs working for the Olympics, who in turn sell the broadcast and marketing rights for billions of dollars in profits, all the while creating enormous risk for those of us who pay them for their day jobs that support their families. It’s amazing how players who are free agents won’t participate, but those with guaranteed contracts will. “

So its not about the money to him, its about the hypocrisy. What a load of crap!

Let’s go Blue Jays…..

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

Robin Lopez makes his mark

Posted by Arsenalist on June 5, 2008

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

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

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

And this to say about Lopez:

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

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

There’s videos of every player from yesterday here.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Day 1 of workouts + TJ Ford trade talk heats up

Posted by Arsenalist on June 4, 2008

After the workouts yesterday Raptors Director, Player Personnel Jim Kelly didn’t have much to say but did drop the hint that the Raptors are a “fairly active team in the trade market” and one of the reason for that is because our “wing scoring wasn’t good” last year. That’s good because the first step of fixing a problem is recognizing it exists. An NBA club can’t be relying on Jamario Moon’s offensive contributions and Carlos Delfino’s hot-and-cold shooting to take them anywhere special, maybe a 41-41 finish but that’s about it.

Lot of talk about whether it`s Joey Dorsey or Robin Lopez that can help us but a guy that`s not been talked about is Roy Hibbert who`s currently projected to go 24th to Seattle according to Draft Express. At 7′ 2″ the 6.4 rebounds seem modest but he produces more offensively than any of the others vying for the Raptors banger role. Fox Sports takes a good look at the pre-draft campers and rates Joey Dorsey as the 7th NBA-ready player there. Another big man getting a mention: DeVon Hardin.

On the TJ Ford trade front there are upto 6 teams who are very interested in him despite his recent play and injuries. See, I’m not the only one to think that this guy has it in him to be a great, yes, great point guard. Potential TJ Ford trading partner New York is working out PG Russel Westbrook, if the Knicks fail to find a PG in the draft they’ll have to address it via trade or wait for next year and enter the Chris Paul and Deron Williams sweepstakes.

Michael Grange is giving you the jist of what the workouts included and it looks like we’re focusing on defensive drills, pick-and-roll simulations and high intensity shooting drills. As Jim Kelly said earlier, these workouts are supposed to be confirmations or contradictions of what these guys are supposed to be good at, not the make-or-break performance. There’s an excellent report by Blazers reporter Sean Meagher where he gets in to the specifics of what the players actually do in these workouts.

Forget Maggette, here’s two guys that fit the Raptors bill on both offense and defense: Atlanta’s Josh Childress who has as diverse a game as any SF and Shane Battier who’s a great one-on-one defender and can hit the three. He’s also a true professional and brings that lunch-pail mentality to every game – Sam Mitchell would love this guy. The chances of us signing a really good scoring three are slim, first of all they’re not that easy to come by or trade for and even when they are, you either end up paying too much or giving up too much. These are two players that can help improve this team and provide scoring, rebounding and defense all better than Carlos Delfino or Joey Graham, two of the three players we need to shed this summer. The other guy? Maceo Baston. I never understood why Colangelo gave him a two year deal out of the blue – he must’ve seen in him something Mitchell entirely missed.

If you have a plan for the Raptors, do share it with Raptors Talk and be the GM for a day. Robin Lopez works out today and then it’s CDR tomorrow, player measurements were released yesterday, check them out to break any myths.

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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.

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