Arsenalist

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Five memorable Raptors

Posted by Arsenalist on July 28, 2008

Thinking about some Raptors I really enjoyed watching over the years. The obvious come to mind like Vince Carter and Tracy McGrady, Damon too but there was a second-tier of Raptors that I always looked forward to seeing do their thing. These guys weren’t superstars by any means and some of them weren’t even good players, they were just mediocre talents that shone through here and there and left you with a good feeling. There’ll be disagreements here obviously because of how subjective this list is but that’s part of what makes these players ‘special’.

John Wallace: In the one season where he played all 82 games ‘Buckets’ averaged 14 points on 48% shooting and was instant offense against even the toughest of defenders. His short drive-fake followed by a 7-footer was near unstoppable, you looked at his offense and were left to wonder whether he’s the greatest offensive forward of all time. Wallace possessed a soft jumper, good finishing skills and above-average athleticism at the SF/PF spot. Unfortunately for him, he couldn’t guard anybody. And when I say anybody, I literally mean you and I could score on the guy. His contests were late, his lateral quickness deplorable, his defensive hustle non-existent and his attitude was blase.

That didn’t stop me from enjoying John Wallace in the flesh. He practically used to drive Leo Rautins to tears because of his defense but these were the old crappy Raptors, you took what you got and I got to see John Wallace the scoring machine. The former Syracuse star right here in Toronto doing his thang.

Dell Curry: He used to drink a latte before each game. Just thought I’d throw that in there. His quick-release you all know about but it was his unassuming demeanor, his gray tuft of hair and that convenince store owner look that he had that made Dell Curry one of my favorites. His transition three against Philadelphia in Game 7 with less than a minute left was an example of just how unafraid and clutch he was. He was one of the reason Vince Carter wasn’t doubled on the wings and Antonio Davis was allowed to operate down low, he was the sharp-shooter that required less than half a second to get his shot off – yes, even less than Jason Kapono.

Keon Clark: Before he started doing cocaine (which is bad for you), he used to play stoned (also bad for you but not so much) which obviously helped his play. The surprising weak-side block was Keon’s staple; people compare Jamario Moon to Keon Clark but Keyon was much more of a defensive presence than Moon and he could finish around the rim. This guy used to contort his upper body in ways that seemed humanly impossible when attempting a finish. After Vince, he was the best bad-alley-oop pass corrector, it didn’t matter where you threw it, he’d finish it somehow. The “fadeaway dunk” on Shawn Bradley was his finest moment as a Raptor but to me anytime he lined up against the boards to come into the game, I got excited because Keon was sure to pull off some crazy shit.

Charles Oakley: The Raptors probably got fleeced in the Marcus Camby trade but Oakley brought something to the franchise that it had never seen – a toughness and meanness that to date hasn’t been matched. Oakley along with Kevin Willis provided a front-court that although lacked pure talent, made up for it with sheer hustle, aggressiveness and attitude. His flinchy jumper and his ill-advised behind the back passes were all tolerable because you just knew there was more to Oak than just basketball. His ultimate gaffe had to be the high-dribble late in Game 4 against Philly where Iverson stole the ball and drained a momentum-shifting three. Oakley’s bitch-slapping of Jeff McInnis was priceless but him calling out Vince Carter was even more appreciated.

Tracy Murray: He had some very surprising hops and was liable to dunk on just about anybody. Murray’s three-point shooting was his primary weapon but once in a while he used to fake the defender at the arc and drive in for a jam that proved to be the sole good memory as the Raptors piled up loss after loss. His second coming in Toronto saw him be part of some good teams where the Raptors were loaded at the swing position which resulted in reduced minutes for Murray. He wasn’t going to win you a game on his own nor was he close to being the best player on the court at any given point in time but we’ll always have a soft spot for T-Murray, much more so than Dee Brown.

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

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 »

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 »

Roko Ukic sale and some potpourri including Dalembert being kicked out

Posted by Arsenalist on July 16, 2008

Danilo Gallinari’s play in the second half against the Cavs’ summer league team was very impressive. He played aggressively and with confidence, he mixed it up by shooting the three, going inside and displayed a tight mid-range game. Along with that he showed he had the handles to actually take slower defenders off the dribble by going either way. In short, it was a performance that might make skeptical Knick fans believers. He looked far more fluid than Andrea Bargnani and was a threat to do multiple things, not settle on one. Then again it was only one game. This kid might be a player.

During the broadcast of the Knicks/Sixers game Quentin Richardson was asked what he thought of the moves around the league including Elton Brand’s, he generally gave praise until they brought up the Jermaine O’Neal trade. Awkward silence ensued. That trade was “weird to me” said Quentin because it entirely changes the Raptors’ makeup and style of play. He’s got a point, we’ve gone from being a somewhat quick breaking team to an entirely half-court one with the addition of the big-man O’Neal and the loss of speed-merchant TJ Ford. The Raptors used to win games by having 5 guys in double digits and racking up the assist totals but next year the formula for success will be different – vastly different. You’d expect the points to be less spread out across the box score, a shorter rotation and more emphasis on post-ups and interior ball movement than ever before. The way Colangelo envisions the Raptors next year might be a complete 180 from his first two years! Call it a change of philosophy or a return to common sense but I like the direction. The execution is an altogether entirely different matter.

Barcelona have sold Roko Ukic to the Raptors for $650,000. This figure does not count against the salary cap, it’s just the transfer fee.

A bit surprised to see Marcus Camby traded to the Clippers for just a second round pick. Obviously the primary reason to make the deal for Denver is to shed nearly 16 million dollars in salary over two years. From the Raptors perspective you have to step back and say, hmmm..we could’ve gotten him here to solve the rebounding and defense issues and traded TJ Ford to satisfy the SF need. Hmmm…wouldn’t that have been something, eh? Either way, it looks more and more like Josh Smith isn’t going anywhere.

Nathan Jawai’s reminds us that he’s only been playing basketball for five years and still getting adjusted to the NBA style of play. He’s realizing the difference in talent and athleticisim between the leagues which is obvious but he also points out a key difference between the Australian league and NBA – no defensive three-in-the-key. Combine this defensive issue with the fact that he can’t simply tower over smaller players and get his on offense and it speaks of an uphill struggle to get in the NBA. He does have the right attitude so he might have a chance. A chance. If you didn’t catch the Denver game, there are highlights.

There’s no indication that the Raptors are remotely interested in Carlos Delfino unless he signs an offersheet for a ridiculously low amount which the Raptors could match because of them extending a qualifying offer to Delfino. It’s likely that Delfino’s next destination is somewhere in Europe, probably Russia. You have to think that Hassan Adams is essentially the replacement for Delfino which means that one of our most glaring weaknesses coming into the offseason remains unaddressed. The sad part about this situation is that aside from swings like Josh Childress and Ron Artest who aren’t coming here, there’s not much Colangelo can do. Realistically and salary-cap wise speaking, we can’t acquire someone like Gerald Wallace or Josh Howard or anyone who’s in the upper-echelon of NBA swings so we have to look at tier-two options like Andres Nocioni or Gordon Giricek. But hearing Colangelo speak, his main target for the rest of the summer is a combo-guard on the cheap and a player that I’ve always liked is Quentin Ross of the Clippers.

Some absolutely shocking news – Canada released Samuel Dalembert after their stunning victory over Korea, Leo says:

“Without going into too much detail, it’s a situation that we decided to move forward with the players who have the passion and desire to play for Canada. It’s disappointing for sure, but I think you have to have players who are a 100% committed to it. If not, it’s not going to happen for us.”

Leo Rautins showing some big time balls by kicking out a legit NBAer out of a roster that’s lacking any.

Michael Grange had some brief but key points about Canada’s loss to Slovenia. NBA Live ’09 is around the corner, check out the screen caps – very sweet.

Next Raptors summer league action is against the Sixers on Thursday. Approximately 110 days till the season starts. Later.

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

Nathan Jawai gets a contract; Help settle a debate

Posted by Arsenalist on July 11, 2008

Let’s start off today with Ryan from Hoops Addict interviewing Matt Devlin. Great job as always from Ryan who’s managed to get himself an occasional press pass:

Nathan Jawai’s getting a guaranteed 2-year deal which will allow the Raptors to retain his early Bird rights, in other words they can exceed the salary cap when offering him a future contract. Multi-year contracts are rare for second round picks so the Raptors must be high on him, next step is to get him over to training camp and see if he can ball. It’ll be a tough road for him but he’s in good company with a chance to learn from Chris Bosh and Jermaine O’Neal. Worst comes to worst he’ll play in our NBDL squad and see some fierce toughness, hone his skills and ultimately get better and hopefully develop into Shaq! It does look like the Raptors have a real plan him but then again it looked like they had a plan for PJ Tucker and Uros Slokar.

Jay Triano talks about the trinity that is O’Neal, Bosh and Bargnani. Basically the Raptors hope to have at least two of the three on the floor at all times and all three will play two-thirds of the game. Triano alluded to Bargnani’s SF defense against the Magic in the playoff and assessed only too kindly that he had “trouble guarding” the position. It would be a pleasant surprise if Bargnani came back and held his own as a SF but given his background, lateral movement and natural weaknesses it’s asking a lot of him. The athletes at that position are too good to be held in check by anything remotely resembling a stiff. Check out that pic they used in the article, its 50’s technology.

The Clippers chose not to extend a qualifying offer to Shaun Livingston which is a little surprising given the talent the young man has shown over the years. This makes him an unrestricted free agent. He hasn’t played in more than a year due to his knee injury but is recuperating and should be good to play at the start of next season. As Colangelo pointed out on Wednesday, the Raptors are in the market for a combo-guard and Livingston, if healthy, can be a heck of a player.

The Nets just signed a guy I wanted the Raptors to get – Jarvis Hayes. Hayes is a player, put him at 2 or 3 and he’ll produce for you by playing hard defense, hitting threes and occasional slashing. He’s been part of a winning environment in Detroit and will bring leadership to the table along with a solid veteran presence. He had interest from Phoenix and I’m surprised he chose the Nets. Either way, great signing by Kiki Vandeweghe.

Andres Nocioni is a guy that gets a few Raptors fans wet for some reason and Vandeweghe might be able to snag him by only giving up Marcus Williams. From the Bulls perspective, this trade makes no sense since they’ve already got Rose, Hinrich and Gordon but if the Nets pull this one off, it’ll be a steal and make the tough Atlantic even tougher.

The Lakers are said to have offered Lamar Odom for Ron Artest and Golden State has signed Ronny Turiaf to an offersheet.

The Dave Feshcuk article from a couple days ago spawned a huge thread on RealGM talking about the Raptors potential for a championship, all horseshit really. I had my two cents.

Not much going on this morning, help settle this one for me: Anne Hathaway or Megan Fox. Take it easy.

Posted in Raptors, Sports | Tagged: , , , , | 21 Comments »

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

Posted by Arsenalist on July 10, 2008

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The same can be done with Jose’s reaction:

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

Sam Mitchell:

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

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

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

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

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

Posted by Arsenalist on July 9, 2008

Good morning.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That’s your Wednesday blog. Later.

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

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 »

Raps start pre-draft camp + MLSE looking at England

Posted by Arsenalist on May 27, 2008

Blogs and new age media are a great thing and provide a candid, sometimes humorous perspective, but you often come across pieces written without any knowledge of the player/team/GM in question. Consider this little brief analysis of our friend Joey Graham from Hoopsworld:

“He improved a lot this past year, became a more reliable player”

Now I don’t know whether the author is confusing him with his brother Stephen who might’ve improved “a lot” this past year or might’ve become a “more reliable player”, I don’t know. What I know is that I can testify with certainty that Joey Graham failed to make a single valuable mark on this team in 2007-08. Joey was the 10th guy coming off the bench for most of the season and unless Sam Mitchell has a massive change of heart or Joey develops a mid-range game rivaling Rip Hamilton, he’s about as much a factor in Colangelo’s plans as Joe Wolf. Its not out of this world to believe that Graham can be an impact player in this league with his strength and slashing ability. He needs to get consistent playing time on a team where he can play through his mistakes and develop into a slasher somewhat like Corey Maggette. It might happen, I wouldn’t bet on it but the potential is there.

The Raptors start their pre-draft camp in Florida today and we find that Colangelo is also considering trading the #17 pick because of good practical reason:

“Selecting someone at 17 and think they’ll be actually contributing next year might be a bit far-fetched”

But at the same time we’re holding workouts for 40 different players so Colangelo isn’t close to deciding what he’s going to do with the pick. Either way a draft and/or trade should address the swing position and kick one of our two PGs out of here. The draft will have ripple effect and depending on what position we draft, it will end up deciding the role of Parker/Moon/Nesterovic amongst others for next season.

Moving along we find out that Richard Peddie and MLSE are very interested in taking over a European football club. The report states that Leeds United, Southampton and Reading peaked their interest:

MLSE president Richard Peddie and chief financial officer Ian Clarke reportedly visited England and spoke to officials from Southampton, Reading, as well as a possible meeting with representatives of Leeds United and Ken Bates.

Reading play in the top flight of English football and would bring in considerable revenue to MLSE which would become yet another foreign owner of a British club. Manchester United and Liverpool are also currently owned by American billionaires.

Back to some on-court stuff. We all remember our rebounding problems from last season and how we salivated at the likes of Anderson Varejao, Marcus Camby and even Reggie Evans. Well, according to I Hate Raptors, Varejao might be on the outs in Cleveland and it would be logical for us to at least look at what it would take to get him here. I couldn’t find a credible link to a story except this article which alludes to the fact that he’s only signed for one more year and this one accusing him of costing the team a higher seed because of the hold-out. Take it for what its worth. I’d like to see him here.

I want to see Jeff Hornacek coach bad. Real bad. He’s either going to be complete flop or one of the best coaches in the league. He’s played under great coaches and has been part of great teams and has had great teammates. In my mind he won’t be a rookie head coach at all but someone who’s got Jerry Sloan, Johnny Orr, Cotton Fitzsimmons and John Stockton in his huddle at all times. He’s already interviewed with the Bulls and Suns and in my humble opinion he’d be great hire as an assistant who you groom to be a head coach.

Daniel Nestor answered nicely to a question about whether Steve Nash should play for Canada in Beijing:

He has done so much for the country that you can’t knock the guy for not playing. And he hasn’t won an NBA championship and, realistically, in his mind, he probably sees himself having a better chance of winning an NBA championship than winning a gold medal. You have to respect him. He’s a top-five player in the world. Roger Federer, he doesn’t always represent Switzerland in the Davis Cup — and athletes like Federer and Nash have to have their own agenda to get where they are.

The Cavs fans really want Michael Redd. I never liked Redd’s game as much as everyone else, he’s a 2nd tier player who happens to play in a very loose offensive system where bad shots are tolerated and mediocrity rewarded. He might space out the floor better than Delonte West for you but if you want to keep Lebron in Cleveland you’ll have to get him another superstar to play with, just like the Celtics did with Pierce.

Not much happening in Raptor-land, not even rumor-wise. Just a reminder you can read this blog in your favorite RSS reader by latching on the feed.

Till tomorrow.

Posted in Raptors, Sports | Tagged: , , | 18 Comments »

Slow Saturday….Josh Howard anyone?

Posted by Arsenalist on May 24, 2008

‘Tis a slow news day when you start off with Vince Carter opening up a restaurant with his Mom. I got a sneak-peek taste of the menu and there doesn’t appear to be much heart or effort put into the steak. When you first look at it you get a sense that it might have some potential but after a bite or two you realize its just your run-of-the-mill sirloin that you’d rather trade for some French fries.

Pat Riley is starting to sound more and more like he’s open to the idea of trading the #2 pick. Over the last few days the Miami media is imploring him to not even entertain the idea but Riley is bent on improving his team by acquiring “as many good players as we can”. Hmm, we got some “good” players on our team, feed him TJ Ford and his long lost love Jason Kapono and we’re suddenly on the table. Just a thought.

We’re all in general agreement that the SG position needs to be upgraded and Anthony Parker’s role/minutes reduced. Josh Howard has fallen out of favor with the Dallas Mavericks and is there to be had. Of the 15 trade proposals listed in the article the Raptors are nowhere to be found and with good reason – we have nothing they’d want. Howard’s a very good scorer and would lift some of the pressure from Bosh but he’s the last guy Colangelo would look at character-wise. Not going to happen, lets move along.

I love the parting shot taken by Jerry Reinsdorf at Mike D’Antoni. He’s saying D’Antoni got scared out of coaching the Bulls because Reinsdorf wanted the team to play defense and D’Antoni openly acknowledged that he tries to outscore teams and defense comes secondary to him. In the interview D’Antoni once again blamed the fact that his teams don’t play defense entirely on the personnel even though Shawn Marion, Raja Bell, Amare Stoudamire and Boris Diaw are all capable players. I just don’t like that guy and it shows.

Sam Smith’s mouthing off again and recommending Chicago trade Hinrich et al for expiring contracts to make a run at Dwayne Wade at the end of the 2009-10 season. I don’t know if you can build on those hopes especially when Wade’s got a 17M option for the 2010-11 season. Factor in Wade’s injury problems and you got Sam Smith coming up with a low-percentage plan that further reduces his reputation closer to mine.

Reports out of Houston say that the Rockets are looking to trade up in the draft to the teens (13-19) and there are teams willing to give their pick up or “trade out of the draft altogether” because of salary reasons. Apparently, the $1.8 million salary scale for those picks is too much for some GMs to bear. Strikes a little odd to me considering how deep the draft is.

Spurs are down but not out. They’re too good to go down in 4 or 5, I wouldn’t be surprised if this series ends up 2-2 and goes 7. Home-court advantage has been huge this post-season and although the Pistons bucked that trend, the Spurs’ experience and talent is too much to discount. Plus, you can’t expect Ginobili and Parker to play like crap for the entire series.

Shameless plug for my Euro 2008 soccer pool – $16 through PayPal. All the money goes to payouts, I make zilch – top 4 win prizes. While supplies last!

Till tomorrow.

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