It is pretty common knowledge that P.J and Jay Triano worked together for Team U.S.A with the younger players that will be the future of U.S.A Basketball on the select team. But Carlesmio has known Jay going all the way back to his days as a player in the late 70's. That relationship with Triano is one of many reasons that Carlesmio took this job with Toronto.
P.J Carlesmio "There is really a lot to it to be honest with you. But number 1 would be the relationship with Jay and wanting to work for him. Two would be my respect for Bryan, Wayne and Maurizio. There is some good friendships in the front office too. They are very well thought of by me and by virtually everyone in the league. So I think a confidence in the franchise, where the franchise is at and where they can get. Selfishly I love Toronto, it has always been one of my favourite cities. Since I have been in the league, I have been on the west coast, and my family are all still down in New York and New Jersey. There were a lot of things that went into it. I think with anything it always starts with the people."
He also added that he is familiar with and likes a lot of the players. How many of them will actually back is something to be determined. That aside it seems clear that P.J is very happy to be here. He has had a fair amount of time away from the league and likely has had other opportunities to come back. Chris Bosh may not select Toronto, but it seems clear that P.J clearly has.
Carlesmio has 3 championship rings thanks to his time with the Spurs as an assistant under Greg Popovich. P.J had a number of things to say about his time with the Spurs and working under Popovich.
P.J Carlesmio"I learned a ton from Pop.I think the first thing, he understands that is about the players. His relationship with the players, how he handled them. How they allowed him to coach, I really think that is an important thing. It started in San Antonio with Timmy and David. They accepted and wanted coaching. they wanted him to be demanding. They understood that he could help them get to where they wanted to be."
He went on to expand on what Popovich did to reach the level of success he has had in San Antonio
P.J Carlesmio "He was extremely knowledgeable he worked very hard all of those other things. What I liked about him is that he understood the game is about the players and never took himself to seriously. He encouraged and demanded that people work hard and that they work together."
Clearly he has a ton of respect for Popovich and all he has accomplished with the Spurs. So does Steve Nash who called Greg Popovich the best coach in the league, when he was firing back at Phil Jackson prior to the Lakers/Suns series. Carlesmio actually saw a similarity in his conversation with Greg Popovich and Jay Triano when he talked with to each of them, prior to coming to work for them.
P.J Carlesmio "Really what Pop told me was really similar to what Jay told me. I just want you to sit there and tell me what you think. I want you to be comfortable challenging and saying why are we doing this or that. They can just say o.k, good idea but we are not doing that....shut up, or yeah that does make sense."
In his many coaching stops it has had Carlesmio come to Toronto as a visitor many times. P.J does not have fond memories of the city working as a coach on the other sideline.
P.J Carlesmio " Bad ones to be honest with you. We lost so much, I swear we lost here a bunch, even with the Spurs "
That being said he has always loved the city of Toronto as he said earlier and is familiar with it.
P.J Carlesmio "I have loved the city. I tried to recruit here. That is when I met Jonesy (Paul Jones) back in 1989. I have always spent time here. Obviously it was a lot easier when I was in the New York area. I am looking forward to getting to know the city a little more than I have been able to."
What Carlesmio will not have any control of is the Raptor roster that he ends up coaching. Which he admits could be very different by the time the season rolls around.
P.J Carlesmio- "A lot will depend on who we can keep here or who we bring in to augment what is already here. I really like the people I am going to be working with on the staff and in the front office. But I also like the talent that is here right now. I am certainly going like it a lot more if were able to keep some people here. I think we have a chance. "
He has seen all kinds of rosters over his time in the NBA from a young team in Oklahoma City/Seattle to a veteran filled Portland team. Whatever comes of the off-season he will be able to deal with it. He said that it is more of an issue for Bryan and management in terms of the roster.
The one thing that was refreshing is P.J has a sense of humour and is an engaging person to talk with. Sam Mitchell was always someone that you could count on to tell you like it is and give you a laugh as well. I think the same can be said about Carlesmio. As it worked out when I was leaving the ACC we shared an elevator ride. He took the time to shakes hands and introduce himself to me and the other media folks along for the ride. That is something that is classy and just a little thing, but it speaks to the character of someone in a small way. His wealth of experience can only help Triano and the rest of his staff. Which P.J is familiar with as well. P.J feels two of the more important things will be this team improving on the defensive end and the development of the young players on the roster.
This is one move that I have personally not heard anyone have anything bad to say about it. Which on it's own speaks volumes. I think he can have a positive impact on the staff and the team. It still won't solve the many questions that face Colangelo this off-season. However whatever this roster looks like when it is said and done, P.J Carlesmio should have a positive impact on it. The fact he was been part of an organization that has won multiply championships is a big plus for an organization that could use some of that experience. The Raptors have always been an organization that talks about wanting to win championships. Part of doing that is having people part of it that know what that is like. Triano and Colangelo both have never won an NBA Title or even been to a Finals. Adding someone that has even if it was only as an assistant can not hurt.
Tomorrow will get into the recruits that paid a visit the the ACC. That was in fact the actually reason everyone was there. Daniel Orton of Kentucky was in the house, and he seems like a nice young man. He also seems like a pretty decent basketball player. He passes the ball really well and that would fit nicely in the Raptor system. He is projected to go to the Raptors in the latest mock draft on draft express. It was his first time in Canada, so I hope that i represented our country well. Speaking of which Canada Basketball announced they are going to play a couple exhibition games in Toronto vs France. There was a joke that what would happen if they played Turkey? Sellout for sure if Turkoglu was playing. Something tells me Hedo would not make that trip. But it will be France, not Turkey that will provide the opposition. I hope people go out and support the national team. They deserve it, having qualified for the World Championships on all 4 levels. Men's senior and junior and Women's senior and junior.