Sam Mitchell as coach of the Raptors, is it time to make a move and change the coach?
The answer to this question is rapidly becoming yes. I have for those who read on a regular basis know not been against Mitchell. In fact quite the opposite. I really like Sam a lot and watching his post game press scrum last night was as painful for me to watch as it was for Sam. I mean he just looked like he had no really idea as to why his team had just come out flat and played one of the most uninspired games of his career with the Raptors. It was always a strength of Mitchell team's that regardless of talent they would fight hard win or lose. I saw no evidence of that fight and it was disturbing to me. You can debate the skill of Sam as an x and o strategist but I always said it was his skill as a motivator that outweighed that for me. But if Sam does not have that going for him he is not the guy that won the Coach of the Year just a few seasons ago. If he does not turn things around I have no confidence he can keep his job for very long. Bryan Colangelo has stood behind Mitchell since he came to the Raptors but I have a feeling that relationship is not going to last. There was a meeting between the two and what was said in the meeting has not been made public in any form that I have seen. But I think everyone can assume that if the boss is calling you in for a meeting given the state of things it can not be viewed as a good sign.
If Sam is doomed to be removed as head coach the question will be who steps in. There are a lot of names out their but those names are not likely to race to Toronto and get in line to talk to Bryan Colangelo. All the names we have heard for the most part are getting income from a T.V job or another team or both. Also Bryan Colangelo may want to find a coach in the off-season in which he would have more options to choose from. If that is the way he is going it would likely be Alex English or Jay Triano that could get the job on an interim basis. They would be given the chance to make the case they should be considered in the summer for the job. If Colangelo is truly confident he knows who he wants he could bring in a big name right away but they would want a long term deal. That will be a factor to consider as Bryan will have to decide if he wants to commit to that with not knowing who could be available if he waited till the off-season. So if he makes this move one can make the conclusion that he had been thinking about this for awhile and is very comfortable with his choice to make that move.
Is Jose Calderon part of the problem?
I understand many love Jose Calderon and I am a fan of him as well. But unlike most I was not sure about him stepping in and being able to take on the role as starter. The two concerns I had have been realized. The first was Jose Calderon as a defender. He is not a good on the ball defender and as a result the breakdowns that have been glaring at times usually start with him. Yes it is true Jose has been injured but that only makes this lack of defense a more glaring problem. But it always has been even at 100% healthy. He often gets beat by quicker point guards and that is the first break down in a chain reaction that cause people to help and it eventually leads in most cases to open looks as the help leads to other help and in the end a breakdown. Jack Armstrong has an expression and it is that help is the weakest word in the defensive vocabulary. Jose Calderon needs to make himself a better individual defender. As much as he values the ball on offense he must bring that same pride to the defensive end of the floor.
The second issue is pushing the ball and creating fast break chances. I have watched many times and seen Jose Calderon pass on a slightly more risky option to push the ball. Risk can equal reward in the sense the Raptors can get easier points based on those risks. I will gladly take the odd extra turnover if it leads to more easy points for the Raptor offense. The Raptors are dead last in fast break points and that falls on two things. The effort of your team to run the floor. But also your point guard rewarding the players when the do make that effort. If the effort is not made the people stop running. The Raptors can not get trapped into running it's pick and roll game in the half court all of the time. They are not the Utah Jazz in the sense that even though they run that offense on an above average level. It is not something that can work over the long haul of the 48 minutes of a game. That is why we see the slumps on the offensive end that we do. Even the Jazz are a team that also will look to score in transition if that is available. The easier the Raptors can get points the better it will be for them in the long run. On nights like last night when they are not shooting well it can become quite ugly. This is not to say that Jose Calderon is not able to be a starter in this league. I think he can indeed. But he does need a back-up that offers the skills that he lacks and I am not sure that he should be playing the number of minutes he has been. It is not to say that Raptors could not have made this work without T.J Ford. But they needed to offer more in a back-up than what they have provided in Ukic and Solomon with all due respect to them. Also the thing that should be said that both Jose Calderon and T.J Ford both had flaws. That is what made the Ford vs. Calderon that was so debated to length that it was by Raptor Fans.
The Lack Of A True Wing Option
The Raptors have decided to go with a Big 3 line-up of Bargnani, Bosh and O'Neal. But this move was made based out of lack of performance by the true wing players on this team. Andrea Bargnani has really stepped up his game this season. He deserved to get into the starting line-up with no real legit person who deserved it more. But it was pretty clear why this line-up can not be used for long periods of time last night. Carmelo Anthony is a true small forward and Bargnani is not. The defensive match-up is just unfair to Bargnani. He can play as good as he is capable of playing and still would not be able to be effective. The Raptors could try to hide him in a zone but that can only work for so long as well. The lack of defense from Moon, Graham, Kapono and even Parker has been glaring at times. The real answer is the Raptors need a wing. That seems clear to most who have watched this team with any amount of frequency. That would take going over the salary cap and luxury tax would need to be paid. But honestly it needs to be done.
Dino Bloggers Plan A
Here is just one example of something that might solve a few issues for the Raptors. Stephon Marbury is not a wing but is expected to be bought out by the Knicks. He is someone that both Bryan Colangelo and Sam Mitchell know well. That is assuming Mitchell is here. Which to this point he is. The Raptors should sign him and they should make a trade for a wing. The Dallas Mavericks have a player that fits the bill. Josh Howard has fallen out of favour for his actions in Dallas. So if I had my hand on the controls I would trade Jason Kapono and Joey Graham to Dallas for Howard. The Marbury signing would keep the Raptor roster legal at 13 players. This is just one example of what could be done if the Raptors truly mean that they will go over the tax threshold. It is one option that I think answers 3 major problems. A true back up point guard, A solid defender and scorer on the wing, more depth for the bench as Bargnani and Marbury would be added to what the Raptors would have coming off the bench.
What was made very clear is that this team as it stands is not good enough and it needs to be fixed sooner rather than later. The Raptor do not want to sink to a point that they can not recover from. The vision for this Raptor season was not to be a .500 team and just slip in the playoffs. In fact the way things have started in the East this year I am not convinced that .500 even gets you a playoff spot. Bryan Colangelo holds all the cards in his hand. He needs to throw some away and get a new hand to work with moving forward. Even if he has an Ace in Chris Bosh that is not going to win many hands without some other nice cards to go along with that. The one thing that I do know and have faith in, is that Bryan Colangelo is a good poker player in the sense of his job as G.M. He may not always draw the right cards for his hand but he is never afraid to shuffle the deck. This deck of cards that is the Raptors is in bad need of that. After a performance like last night the most shocking thing that could happen for most would be nothing.
Contest and Nation Speaks
Because I have been late today I am going to delay entry deadline till Noon tomorrow. I am also going to put of the Mail Bag featue the Nation Speaks till next Thursday. I have had a number of personal issues that have made this a bit of a challenging week to be taking on extra work. So this is you FINAL CHANCE to enter the Contest to come see T.J Ford with Me at the ACC. Just send your email or video to me and tell me why you are the best Raptor Fan and Fan of Dino Nation Blog. Simple as that. Send your entry to me @:
Good Luck to all that enter the contest.