CB4 PR War Rages On With Bosh Firing Back

Chris Bosh was back on Canadian T.V on Sportsnet. He did an interview on Sportsnet who has decided to get back into the basketball business again. Earlier in the week on the Fan 590 also party of the rogers family it was Bryan Colangelo firing shots at his former franchise player. Chris Bosh decided to fire back and do it on Canadian T.V. I give him credit for that. I know it is not exactly the cool thing to do supporting Chris these days. But having watched this interview and listened to the Colangelo interview for me Bosh comes off better than B.C.

Colangelo called into question Bosh's effort post all-star break. He said he felt he basically milked the ankle injury he suffered in the first game vs the Grizzlies after the All-Star Break. Bosh fired back with pointing out the fact that in that game after the injury occurred he remained in the game and tried to play through it. Which is 100% fact. It is also true that game went into overtime and Bosh played the entire OT on that injured ankle. Bosh said that the name on the back of his jersey represents his deceased grandfather and his family. His family are hard workers and that is something he takes pride in, and is the reason he plays hard every minute he is on the floor. In his 7 years he says he gave his 100% to the Toronto Raptors and trying to win.

Bosh also put in perspective his comments in the Miami Hearld in which he called Canada different. He pointed out the obvious differences between Canada and the U.S. Pointing out the obvious difference in road signs from kilometers to miles. That being said, he didn't see being different as being bad, that he himself was different. He said he enjoyed every single minute he spent in Toronto. He called it a fantastic metropolitan city. He pointed out the fact of it being difficult to recruit players to come play with him in Toronto. He also continued his disappointment about the Raptors lack of appearence on national broadcasts in the states.

Bosh said he does not want his 7 years with the Raptors to be erased. He does not want people to forget what we all went through together. When asked what Raptor fans should do after watching another player, being him, leave yet again. He said that they should continue to support the Raptors that your team is your team and players come and go. He full expects to get booed when he returns to Toronto. What is different from Vince Carter and Chris Bosh is that it seems Bosh cares about his legacy in Toronto. I am not sure he will be able to save it though.

This was the first time in a long time that I have seen Chris Bosh doing an interview in where he sounded like himself. Even in his radio interview on the Fan 590 earlier this month he was not the guy I got to know over 7 years. Chris, with the expcetion of his exit from Toronto after the season , has for me always been an intelligent and smart guy. It is why I felt the way he handled all of this was so bizziare and out of charcter. What will frustrate people about Bosh is his desire to not just be a great basketball player but to be a famous basketball player. The questions that I have about Chris Bosh have nothing to do with the type of player he is. They have nothing to do with his effort on the floor.

I do question sometimes his desire to build his own brand as much as his own team. Ultimately the reason Chris Bosh and the Raptors are not on national T.V in the states is 2 fold. The first part Bosh may not like and all of you might not like it as well. Vince Carter as much as he was a complete failure at times did create buzz and excitiment. He did things that made you jump out of you seat. Chris Bosh even at his best is not a sportscenter hightlight reel. Vince Carter was able to break the glass roof and get the Raptors on to mainstream T.V in the U.S. Secondly, the simple fact is for U.S networks the Raptors don't make good business sense. There is no extra ad revnue you can generate because they are not allowed to broadcast in Canada. In addition beyond Canada the Raptors to not have a large U.S fan base and generate ratings. Vince Carter was able to overcome those things because Vince Carter had many fans in the U.S. Winning the Slam Dunk Contest and having his highlights on ESPN nightly helped that. The Raptors also were for several years considered a legit contender in the East as well. Something that under Bosh the Raptors were never able to do. Ironically another Big 3 in Boston might have been the major reason for that. Had that not come along the Raptors would be a favourite to win the Atlantic on yearly basis after they had won their lone division title that Carter never did.

Chris will be successful both on and off the floor. He clearly thinks of himself beyond basketball and beyond his career. That is smart to be honest. That being said you need to get the basketball things accomplished first. Going to the Miami Heat likely will do that. However for a guy that spoke passionately about the pride he has in his name and his family it seems odd to swallow your pride and become the 3rd wheel in Miami. That would be a blow to your pride wouldn't it? This was a guy that wanted at one time to be part of the solution in Toronto. He admitted he worked very hard to make that happen. Which honestly is the case. So isn't that a failure? But Bosh seems happy to justifiy it by saying it was the fault of lack of attention and lack of ability to bring talent here. Besides he is living his dream and getting all the attention he wants. Still what does that have to do with winning or basketball? Not really sure.

At the end of the day I agreee with some of things Bosh has expressed. I personally wish, he would make more of a point out of what he did say about Raptors not being a tax team. He made a valid point and it seems clear Bosh or not, the Raptors will always struggle to sign players long term. Spending beyond the tax threshold to be championship team is required and was never done with Bosh. Something the Raptors claim to want to be. It costs money to do that. Regardless of what gets said, for me, Chris Bosh gave all he had for 7 years and it becomes a question of who you believe failed Bosh or Colangelo. Maybe it is both but the battle lines have been laid down. At the end of the day everyone failed, but the mud being thrown at Bosh serves no purpose and Bryan Colangelo never should have went there. He has had a frustrating offseason and it is clear Bosh did shut him out. Bosh, sticking to script saying he did not decide till the very end on Toronto does not pass the believeablity test. But the fact he gave all he had for the Raptors does. While Colangelo comes off like a frustrated guy that took a big gamble and lost.

TPE Numberless, ESPN Radio Clueless

The Toronto Raptors have 2 TPE's (Trade Exceptions) from the Hedo Turkoglu trade and Chris Bosh sign and trade. However as important as they have been made out to be when Bosh was leaving for Miami, it is hard to get excited about them. If Bryan Colangelo sticks to his words about Raptors not going beyond the tax threshold, in the short term they mean little. Maybe I should run out and buy a Raptors Jersey # 2 and have TPE as the name. Would that get me kicked out of the ACC? Less likely than if you wear a Miami Heat #6 with James on it to Cleveland sporting events. But you only need to look at the Raptors trade of a second round pick for David Andersen with Houston as proof the TPE's are not turning into players anytime soon.

As frustrated as I may be with how the off-season has gone, the comments on ESPN Radio about the NBA needs to think about if it wants to be in Toronto is just flat out ignorant. The Raptors, it is true may never land Kobe Bryant, Lebron James and other superstars. However, the same can be said for a number of other NBA cites. Kobe isn't going to Memphis, Milwaukee, Indiana or a number of other franchises. In addition even through hard times Raptor fans have proven they love and support their team. I would not be personally doing what I am doing if that was not the case. Just because Chris Bosh didn't get the love and attention he felt he deserved here in Toronto doesn't mean the Raptors shouldn't exist. Vince Carter got lots of attention and love playing for the Raptors. He was featured on Sportscenter in the U.S on a nightly basis. The Raptors were featured on national broadcasts as well. Even to the point they played the Knicks on Christmas Day once. Long before they extended that to like 5 games on Christmas Day as well. So Mike and Mike should do a little research before they shot off their mouths instead of stroking Chris Bosh's hurt feelings. ESPN is now the unofficial broadcaster of the Miami Heat now aren't they? No? Sure seems like it.

Oh and ESPN wants a star player that would play here? Steve Nash but he isn't American so that does not exactly defeat the argument. That may actually be the answer for the Raptors in the long term. While the Raptors may struggle to attract free agents to Toronto, U.S Colleges have no trouble attracting Canada's most talented kids to play basketball. Tristian Thompson and Corey Joseph will be welcomed to Austin,Texas to play for the Longhorns. There are many other young kids turning heads these days. We have tried to mention some in the DNB from time to time. What the Raptors need is for there to be a Canadian Superstar and do whatever it takes to get this player.

I have said the biggest faliure of the Grizzlies in Vancouver was not drafting Steve Nash.That is saying a lot, because they made many major mistakes in Vancouver. Granted no one expected him to be a star at the time .Many in media tend to under value what it would mean to have a Canadian Raptor. I do not and think it matters for many that are perhaps casual basketball fans. However it should for hardcore ones as well. All the disadvantages the Raptors face would be flipped around somewhat. Also if the Raptors land a player that can contribute he becomes a great marketing tool in the quest to make the Raptors a true national team.

If the Raptors hit the Jackpot and land a true star Canadian player, that has a chance to be a top 15 player in the league, it could be massive for this franchise. To the Raptors credit they may in fact see that. They are very involved in Canada Basketball and the development of the sport on the youth level. It is a long term investment in their future. Granted it has yet to produce the dream player but the Raptors have only been around 15 years.

If the Raptors can get their own homegrown star it may be the best way to end this exodus of star players leaving for the U.S. Someone that has no bias or ignorance of this country. That is a long term solution though. It may not be the ultimate answer but it sure is a nice dream to holdout hope for. After all Cleveland had a hometown star that was the best or 2nd best player in the game. He left as well not to become more popular clearly. He left to win a championship or championships according to him. However, if you had a player that a whole country was behind, like a Yao Ming has for China, like a Dirk has with Germany, and have that player play in his country would that not be a bit different?

The Raptors alternate plan of trying to mesh a great number of Euro talents with American talents has not exactly worked. Canadian or Canadians playing with Americans has a much more likely success rate. As much as their may be differences between Canada and United States the differences are not nearly as much as some people in the United States claim it to be. Steve Nash has never had much issue making a lot of American players rich in this league. I remain unconvinced that a team that has such a high number of international players and American players can work.


"Basketball Beyond the Floor"

"But if there is one quality I see fading from U.S.A. Basketball, it is the concept of teamwork. The individual, 'me first' approach just does not work"- Lisa Leslie in Don't Let the Lipstick Fool You- The Making of a Champion (with Larry Burrett). She feels the U.S.A. Men's National Basketball team has problems playing overseas since their opponents have better team skills than individual talent. Interesting. This is the one contradiction she gets caught in over the course of the book: "There is nothing wrong with averaging 6 points per game in the Olympics if your team wins gold. It is not OK to average thirty points individually while you watch your team loose". True. But on February 7th, 1990 with Morningside High school, she scored 101 points in a single game. South Torranee, her opponent, forfeited the game in the second half wondering what she was doing. I say 'her' opponent because her team just fed her desire to make that milestone and feed her the ball. Lisa Leslie is a legend and forever will be a legend in the WNBA. Her stats and life story proves this as chronicled in the book. And although I could have done without the details of her engagement to husband Michael Lockwood (and his added commentary) she really got personal with this book and that takes a lot of courage. (Incidently, one of the same reasons I loved Character Driven by Derek Fisher). Let's peel back the layers.

A little indigestion - nothing to worry about

"We keep winning gold medals but it does not seem to matter. Nobody seems to pay attention and it is really hard for me to digest" (Lisa Leslie). The age old argument for why the WNBA can't survive on its own without the NBA. This is an argument hard for ME to digest. How quickly we forget the WNBA is only 14 years old with its inaugural season in 1997. Now flip to the NBA. Technically, the league began in 1946 as the Basketball Association of America (BAA). They changed it to the National Basketball Association (NBA) in 1949 after merging with the National Basketball League (NBL). This makes professional basketball for men 64 years old. I would hope that after leagues merging and sustaining itself for this long, it would be successful enough to stand on its own. The WNBA has 50 years to catch this milestone. Plus, the NBA has 30 teams in its league to the WNBA's current 12. Another mild difference? No Canadian teams in the WNBA. See? I knew we could find a solution.

More than just a Basketball Player

"...the players are responsible for the WNBA's image and I believe the best and strongest image is the one that shows the unique beauty and strength of women" (Lisa Leslie). Hence, the title of the book Don't Let the Lipstick Fool You. When Tina Thompson was with the Houston Comets (now folded), I remember watching her for the first time and remembering two things. One, her aggressive style of play and two, the bright red lipstick. One of the things Lisa Leslie argues in her book is for the need for players to properly present themselves as neat and tidy before stepping onto to the court. I believe she means to give respect to yourself, your opponents, fans and the game. She certainly endeared herself to fans and the Los Angeles Sparks as an organization (and a team she stayed with for the duration of her career) by the way she presented herself. When the WNBA celebrated its 10th season, the Sparks honoured Lisa on her birthday by dedicating a portion of the court at the Staples Centre as "Lisa Leslie Court" - a testament to all her hard work and determination in making the league what it is. I think it's funny and admirable she gives credit to Babe Didrikson Zaharias, Billy Jean King, Ann Meyers, Nancy Lieberman and Pat Summit (to name a few) as blazing the trail for her and other female athletes like her. She says she and her WNBA colleagues are riding their coat tails. Very interesting.

Spreading the Wealth

In the beginning, the WNBA had teams in Los Angeles, Phoenix, Sacramento and Utah (Western Division) and New York, Houston, Cleveland and Charlotte (Eastern Division). This is where it gets interesting. WNBA officials figured out who its top 16 players were and assigned 2 to each of its teams. Some might say that is a little elementary, maybe better off in pick-up leagues and not at the professional level. However, I think this method worked; especially for the first year of a new league. It would have been interesting if Lisa Leslie talked to some of her friends in the NBA, namely Dwayne Wade and LeBron James, to see what they thought about NBA officials spreading out the talent pool.

Flick Pick of the Week

This week I want you to check out "Love and Basketball" starring Omar Epps and Sanaa Lathan. This is a cute story about two kids who have a real thing for basketball and how each is trying to carve a future in it. Oh and they have a thing for each other, too. Next week we will be discussing the book: Blood on the Horns by Roland Lazenby. This is another gem my mom bought for me (remember Hoop Dreams?). There are probably enough books about Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls to fill the United Centre, but this one will open your eyes. Happy reading and see you on Tuesday for another serving of Jiggly Bits.


The PR War On The CB4 Legacy Is Underway

I remember when listening to Bryan Colangelo would put my mind at ease. It wasn't that long ago when this would occur. This despite the fact I have not agreed with a number of his major moves over the years. That being said, I always felt he had a plan and a direction for the franchise. This year was no different except for the fact that his plan was exposed and fell apart in front of the world. His latest appearance on the Fan 590 earlier this week, he engaged in PR spin over Chris Bosh. Honestly whether Chris Bosh would or wouldn't play on a bad ankle does nothing for the Raptors now. It seems painfully obvious that Chris had no intention of staying regardless of the Raptors playoff fate. I also don't disagree with him sitting out. Was he seriously suppose to take risk to play through any injury when he was going to be a free agent? How realistic of an expectation is that. But, I am playing along with what B.C wants.

It isn't about what Chris Bosh did or didn't do. It is about what this franchise does moving forward after he has left. The answer to that is not that much so far. Raptors have drafted two possible bigs in Davis and Alabi. They traded away Hedo Turkoglu, who was perhaps one of the worst signings since Yogi Stewart for the franchise. For what it is worth, I do like the addition of Leandro Barbosa. Hedo was terrible, B.C must have got an ill stomach from putting up the fake smoke screen about bringing him back.

Had he pulled off the 2 other deals that never happened, I would have liked one of those. Matt Barnes not signing with the Raptors was a blessing. Whatever you think of Matt Barnes he isn't worth 4.5 million dollars. You can make the same argument about the Amir Johnson contract. The differences are a few though. First, Amir was already here, and a fan favourite, despite his short time here. He has great chemistry with DeMar and Sonny in forming the Young Guns(Z). Also with losing Bosh, and having no interest in anyone else on their free agent list, that worked in Amir's favour. Still at end of the 5 years will people love this contract? For that to happen Amir needs to turn potential into production. The trade that Michael Jordan killed with the Bobcats was a major blow. Many liked it in terms of what it would do for the on the floor product for next season. Personally I didn't care about that. Boris Diaw and Tyson Chandler were not making the Raptors contenders. What I liked was it got rid of Jose Calderon, who has been earning a full paycheck for playing on one end of the floor. That alone was reason for me to cheer. But the way it set up this franchise for the new CBA was exciting and it lead to optimistic thoughts for the future.

But it didn't happen. Just like a lot of things in the Bryan Colangelo era didn't happen. In that same interview he also took shots at how they tried many times to build around Bosh. The suggestion was that is was on Bosh for why it didn't work. Do we really want to break down the numbers of the guys this franchise brought in to "help" Bosh? Kapono, O'Neal, Hedo and even T.J did not set the world on fire. While Bosh was still going to All-Star Games. It is really easy to blame Chris Bosh now that he has clearly positioned himself to be the bad guy. However, if you are truly smart you will see this for what it is. A diversion from the fact Colangelo failed to build a team around this guy. Also how about we talk about the fact this team never went beyond the tax threshold once to build a team around him. Was that going all out to win? Chris sure didn't think so, like him now or not he was right. Just like Vince Carter was at least half right in thinking Rob Babcock was wrong choice for G.M. Clearly that was right. The reason Vince can only be half right is you can only speculate on what Dr. J would have done as G.M. The fact he has not got a job in almost 8 or 9 years since probably says a lot.

There was a blind faith in Bryan Colangelo when he first came here. He had instant success but since that time it has gone down hill fast. Perhaps Bryan Colangelo has just ran out of miracles. Maybe people are just coming to the realization that not even Bryan Colangelo can change the same old issues that have plagued the Raptors for 15 years. Is it our fault that our franchise is in another country? Is it our fault that people don't understand the Canadian Tax laws? Is it our fault that people south of a certain point in the U.S think we live in Igloos year round? Is it our fault Chris Bosh can't buy his Grandmother NBA League Pass?

The point is that Colangelo, has not made the issue that faces of the Raptors franchise keep disappearing. He thought he had a plan by going after European Players and building a international style team. That hasn't exactly worked out has it. You only need to look at Andrea Bargnani as the symbol of that. Fans have embraced the Young Guns to lead this team not Bargnani. That says something. People relate to the Young Guns and like the Young Guns. Bargnani has never really been able to connect with this whole fan base. He may be the most talented player on this roster. However people don't view him as the face of the franchise. Bryan Colangelo could have selected others with that number 1 pick. You wonder, if he didn't based on the fear that those players might just walk away, the same way Bosh has. While it is true both Bosh and Carter did re-sign once, it was that 2nd time that was the problem.

Some are saying this is going to be an exciting young team. They are going to play exciting basketball. Oh and they likely are going to lose 50 games. So if that is the case, how exciting is it going to be to watch this team when they are out of in in January or sooner? Have you looked down at the Rogers Centre (Sky Dome) lately? How is that Blue Jays attendance doing? Not so good right? As sexy and exciting as people try to make rebuilding, it just isn't. Oh and it is being done by the same people that failed to build a team around a 5 time All-Star. How confident are you they get it right? Till the Raptors find a way to address the core issues with this franchise really is it going to get anywhere?

Keep your eye on the ball and do not allow yourself to be distracted by slight of hand. People want you to blame Bosh because that means you are not blaming them. Chris has made it easy for them to do it. But the core of the problem was not all about Bosh. That is the simple answer but the wrong answer. There are deeper problems that plague this franchise that need to be addressed.


"Jiggly Bits"

Chris Paul has met with the management of the New Orleans Hornets and did not request a trade according to Hornets' General Manager, Dell Demps. In a statement read by Harold Kaufman of the Hornets' management team, this is a direct quotation from Chris Paul commenting on yesterday's meeting: ``I have been a Hornet my entire career and hope to represent the City of New Orleans and the State of Louisiana for many years to come``. The operative word here is ``hope``. While the meeting came off as positive, we didn`t hear directly from Chris Paul himself (at the time I am writing this) except from a prepared statement. But since this statement is all we have to go on right now, let`s roll with it. This statement sounds more like he`s running for office and not trying to keep or look for a new job in the NBA. Sure, I know sporting events are a welcome distraction from the every day woes of the average fan, but some of these players are being heralded as the second coming of the Holy One himself. The City of New Orleans and the State of Louisiana have been through hell and back with Hurricane Katrina and I hope for their sake Chris Paul stays for that reason. But realistically, he is responsible for winning basketball games and the future of the City of New Orleans and the State of Louisiana is the responsibility of their local governments and the United States Government. Since Chris Paul has two years left on his contract with the Hornets, he has to wait before he has full control of where and when he goes. But the moves he has control over now are the firing and hiring of agents, which he has done. He is now represented by Leon Rose who also represents LeBron James. Paul has also agreed to work with LeBron James` LRMR marketing agency. Hmmm. Maybe he does want to play with LeBron in Miami. But please, for the love of all things sacred and the game of basketball, read the fine print before you declare you hate a player for making a decision based on what`s best for him, instead of the city in which he lives. Now we can move on to some discussion on my stand-out trades and another fine being doled out by the NBA for disparaging comments.

Matt Barnes and Kobe Bryant: the new Batman and Robin

I love this move. Keep your friends close and your enemies closer. But I really don`t think this is a case of anything going beyond trash talk. There is a difference between genuine hate and trash talking rivalry - any athlete knows this. Remember, Matt Barnes went to UCLA and Kobe Bryant personally rallied for Barnes to play in Los Angeles. These are key points. Barnes could have gone to the Cavs for more money and Miami was also on the table of options believe it or not. Think back to last summer and Ron Artest signing with the Lakers. Kobe pushed for him even after physical battles during the regular season and a confrontation in the playoffs. Maybe Barnes is a second choice since Kobe pushed for Raja Bell who ended up with the Utah Jazz - who knows. All I know is, the Lakers are showing they are ready to take on the league and the `three kings` in Miami this season.

T-MAC is `take me back` in Chicago

We have heard this story before. Think back to 10 years ago. Chicago was also in his list of options in 2000 but ended up going from the Raptors to Orlando instead. It was a different time then. The Chicago Bulls were in the post-Jordan era and Tracey McGrady was not willing to take on the baggage. Now he has players like Derrick Rose in favour of him coming to Chicago but I would be a little weary of that. Remember, 10 years ago Derrick Rose was 11 years old right when Tracey McGrady was really becoming `T-MAC`. So this may just be a case of Rose wanting to play with the guy he grew up watching in all those highlight reels. For it to work in Chicago for McGrady this time around, I really don`t see him starting. Maybe as the Bulls` 6th man. There are a few players I wouldn`t want to see minutes taken away from: Ronnie Brewer, Kurt Thomas (more of a proven veteran leader than McGrady), Luol Deng and of course, Carlos Boozer and Rose. Plus, don`t forget about McGrady`s back and knee. I wouldn`t want to see him working the hot-cold baths in the training room while his team is out on the road trying to win basketball games.

David Stern forgot how to add and subtract

This one just kills me. Minnesota Timberwolves President of Basketball Operations David Khan was recently fined $50,000 for comments he made about Michael Beasley`s past marijuana use. According to my source, the Timberwolves as a team were also fined for the comments its President made. This means the NBA is collecting $100,000 dollars for comments they feel are equal to the severity of Dan Gilbert`s rant on LeBron James leaving Cleveland. I think Dan Gilbert`s comments on LeBron James are far worse than what David Khan said about Beasley. By the NBA essentially fining both situations $100,000, they are saying both hold the same weight. In a radio interview on an ESPN affiliate, David Khan called Michael Beasley (who was recently acquired by the Timberwolves) ``a very young and imature kid who smoked too much marijuana``. Not a good thing to say about a player who is supposed to be a part of the Timberwolves family and should be fined. Good move on that part. But not status worthy of Dan Gilbert`s hissy fit.

Basketball Beyond the Floor

Remember to join me here on the DNB this Thursday when we will be discussing WNBA retiree Lisa Leslie`s life and career chronicled in Don`t Let the Lipstick Fool You. You will agree with the title after you read this book. Happy reading and see you on Thursday.


NBA Heroes, Villains and Jobbers

The NBA is getting a WWE feel to it beyond the NWO comparisons. If there is a mega baby face in this NBA it is Kevin Durant. In a summer where many peoples reputations have taken hits. Kevin Durant's list of people singing his praises grows. He will be the leader of a Team USA that is far from at full strength. Durant will be the leader of what overall is a very young team U.S.A. They will be challenged up front, with no Bosh or Howard. So it was no surprise that Kevin Durant was the star among stars, in the U.S inter-squad game with 28. For the details on others check this out from the Associated Press.

Most thought Lebron James and Chris Bosh were jerks in how they handled their exits to Miami. In fact, the Bosh rewriting of history continues in Miami. He sure never looked as unhappy as he comes off in media coverage now. Here is a big spread on Bosh in Miami Hearld titled From Raptor to Rapture. Seriously can Miami be anymore cheesy about this? I am sure they can. After all this is the same city that held Shaq a parade when he came.The Miami party continues on till tip off of the NBA Season and beyond. While others outside of Miami may paint Bosh and James as scumbags, it is hard to top Chris Paul.

A meeting is suppose to be taking place today. In that meeting Chris Paul is expected to confirm he wants out in New Orleans. He and his agent seem to have a plan to cut and run on New Orleans. Paul has been rumoured to have his own dreams of building a big 3 in New York with Amare and Carmelo. The only problem is your not a free agent. In fact Mr. Paul is not a free agent for 2 years. But Raptor fans know all about a star player pushing his way out of town....See Vince Carter. Still this leaves an even worse taste in my mouth. Paul was one of the faces of this city, that helped give the city hope after Katrina and the devastation. The Hornets have not had the success of the Saints, winning the Super Bowl this past season. Perhaps that may be part of Paul wanting out, who knows. Safe to the the Saints will always be number 1 team in New Orleans. If Paul follows through on this, he will become an even bigger heel than James. It is one thing for Lebron to leave Cleveland, it is quite another for Paul to leave New Orleans. The city still faces challenges now with the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. But Paul is no longer the smiling face that helped rebuild this community.

The Front runners in the Paul Derby seem to be The Knicks and Magic. The Lakers are also said to be on Paul's short list. Other teams in the mix include the Mavericks and Trailblazers. It will be interesting to see if New Orleans will get strong armed into trading Paul away. Many feel that Darren Collison is ready to step in and be a starter in the league. But that being said do you really want to trade you star player with a gun placed at your head? It really is a no win situation for the Hornets.

The Raptors have been quiet of late. Antonie Wright is no longer a Raptor. He signed with the Kings over the weekend. It seemed pretty clear from the start the Raptors had little to no interest in keeping him. I was never a fan of him in his short time here. He was a guy never short on words. But very short on action for me. He talked like he was some kind of leader on this team. I would suggest he was a leader in his own mind. Billed to be a defensive stopper coming in last season. He fell short of that and short at a lot of things. He is rapidly becoming a NBA journeyman, as the Kings will be his 4th team, after stops in New Jersey, Dallas and here. The only free agent the Raptors had beyond Bosh that they appeared to have interest in was Amir Johnson. Raptors went above and beyond to sign him. Patrick O'Bryant was at summer league on another team's roster this year. Can you say hello D-League? While Rasho Nesterovic is not likely to be back as well.

Welcome to the last week of July. Hard to believe isn't it? Raptors will need to make some moves before the season you have to figure. Everyone just try to stay cool while you wait. It is hot out there.


Barnes Out The Door, Hope Not Far Behind?

Well now another would be Raptor is officially on another team. The Raptors after having a deal worked out to acquire Tyson Chandler from Charlotte, would watch him later get traded to Dallas. Now Matt Barnes who had agreed to a deal with Toronto only to have it fall apart is elsewhere officially. News now is that Barnes has signed a deal for far less money with the 2 time champion Lakers. Here are the details from Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo. It is another situation where the Raptors miss out on someone in a very public way. It is hard to now stand up there and say, when you make other moves, these were the best ones. Clearly the Raptors had targeted players like Diaw, Chandler and Barnes and they will now become the measuring stick for other deals.

I used earlier in the week the Fred Jones example as having to go with a plan B in terms of signing someone. The Raptors are in bad need of both a legit center and a small forward. It seems hard to imagine the Raptors entering the season with Bargnani at the 5 spot backed up by a second round draft choice that is raw and unproven. The Raptors could use guys more suited to play the 2 and 4 spots to play at small forward, but that would cause issues on defense, for a team that claims to want to improve on that aspect.

It is not like Colangelo will stop trying though. It just is not in his nature to do so. However, if the Raptors remain true to the plan to remain below the tax threshold, the amount of wiggle room is very small. Colangelo has stated in interviews that although the Raptors had plans to venture into the Tax Threshold, those plans were based on having a re-signed Chris Bosh. No Bosh, and no tax seems to be the result. So that eliminates a lot of options. Including the use of that massive trade exception from the Bosh deal. It seems pretty clear the Raptors plan on holding that till next season, or at the earliest the trade deadline. It would take out of play the idea of trading for an Andrea Iguodala unless Philadelphia were to consider Calderon and some expiring contracts.

I am sure Bryan Colangelo has a plan. But what letter plan are we down to now? Plan C? D? It just does not look promising. This team as constructed now is no where close to being a playoff team in the East. This is without taking into account that Chris Paul is trying to force his way out of New Orleans we are told. He has given 3 options for his destination and one would hurt the Raptors very badly being the New York Knicks. According to the New York Post the Knicks are willing to trade anyone and anything other than Amare to land Paul. Adding Paul to the Knicks makes them a playoff team for sure in my opinion. The Raptors would tumble to at best 3rd in the division and with many teams in the east upgrading, hard to see Raptors being able to hold ground. Also, you may be aware of comments Paul is said to have made about establishing a New York big 3, with himself, Carmelo Anthony and Amare. I like the Young Guns as much as anyone but they are not on the level of these threesomes that are popping up in the East.

But Colangelo seems focused on what he can do under the new CBA. In the moves he tried to pull off their was a clear focus on clearing cap for the first free agency in 2012 after a new CBA would be in place. The hope being that it will be a much more tighter cap system and thus increase the value of cap room. While it would also decrease the amount of teams able to compete in the free agent market. Things like the out and out end to the Mid Level Exception have been thrown out there as possibilities under the new CBA. Even some hardliners talking about a hard cap at the end of it all. No one knows for sure the exact outcome. But everyone is predicting at the end of it the players side is going to lose. The sale of a team for 450 million dollars is not going to stop the NBA from pushing for a much tighter deal in the next CBA.

You must commend Colangelo for thinking ahead to this. When you consider he has still yet to sign an extension with the Raptors as he enters the final year of his deal. Most G.M's would try to save their own butt and say the heck with the future. But B.C clearly has one eye on this season and one eye on the NBA's new reality in a new CBA.

Unless something major breaks I am off for the weekend. Raptors are holding Dance Pak auditions, and sadly I have been passed over as a guest judge. If you are over the age of 18, and have 2 years of dance experience, and are female, you can take your shot to join the dance pak. Auditions start at 11am Saturday and you need to be at Gate 1 by 10 am according to the press release the Raptors issued. There you can get all signed up and registered. Good Luck to all the ladies that try out.


Matt Devlin In The Starting 5

Had a chance to chat with Matt Devlin today. We get in to the whole Big 3 in Miami. Matt's thoughts on all of that including how the Heat will do on the floor. Take a look back on the Raptors perfect run at summer league. Thoughts on Demar, Sonny and their performance. In addition to talking about the rookies Davis and Alabi. Also if anyone else might fit like say Bobby Brown? We talk about where the Raptors go in the post Bosh era. Is it a good thing that the fans have adopted the Young Guns as the new faces of the franchise? For both them and for Andrea Bargnani. What will be the role of Leandro Barbosa? What becomes of almost traded Jose and Reggie? Lots of question and lots of answers mixed in with a little bit of fun that we always have with Matt.

Just after this conversation with Matt, the Raptors made an announcement that they have hired David Amber to work on Raptors T.V. Amber was actually at TSN when I was there, and he would move on to ESPN. He now replaces Adnan Virk who after 1 season with MLSE took a job offer to go to ESPN. So in a sense the Raptors and ESPN have made a trade. Will see how it works out for Raptors T.V moving forward. Amber is also going to be contributing web content as well on Raptors.com as Adnan Virk had done. Amber is a grad of both McGill and Syracuse and seems excited to be back working at home in Toronto.

Matt Devlin also remains with the Raps as he declared in our interview and it is always great talking with him. I appreciate the relationship we have built since his coming here to the franchise. He has always been willing to come on and talk with us at the Dino Nation Blog and I thank him for that as always.

"Basketball Beyond The Floor"

If you are in pre-school or primary grades, have young nieces or nephews, sons or daughters, are a fan of hip hop or just want a break from heavy reading, today's edition of 'Basketball Beyond the Floor' is for you. As promised, we will be discussing And the Winner Is...by LL. Cool J, Queen of the Scene by Queen Latifah and Long Shot - Never too small to dream BIG by NBA All-Star Chris Paul. Most children's books like these for this age level are designed to build the confidence of young athletes, to keep trying and never give up. A pretty standard theme and sometimes over used, so I was a little skeptical doing research on and reading these books. To ensure I covered all angles, I enlisted the help of some 5 or 6 year-olds on my street (age level appropriate to these books). Each came with mixed reviews but my young helpers were able to tell me a quick summary of the plot and main characters so it was clear each book did it's job to communicate their respective themes. Let's dive in.

And the Winner is....By LL. Cool J.

One of the reasons I choose this particular book and the two others we will be discussing today, is they were actually written by the people they claim to be written by. Sometimes, books for this age level with celebrities attached, focus on the star quality before the content. If I was grading LL. Cool J's first attempt at children's literature on my own, I would say he is borderline in this area. However, my young book reviewers had this to say about the hip hop author:

- "Music was good"
- "Liked the pictures"
- "I liked how it said 'I never give up', you shouldn't give up and always keep trying"
- "I didn't like when he (LL. Cool J plays himself to act out both sides) was acting mean"
- "Too fast".

The book came with a CD of LL. Cool J telling the story through rapping. Other than the direction at the beginning to turn to page one, it was hard to follow for someone who can't read because he moves at a brisk pace. But the concept was an interesting attempt by Scholastic Inc. to try something new. This book comes from a "Hip Kid Hop" line of picture books with CD singles. Entertaining for young ones and with an important theme of winning and loosing gracefully - enjoyed fully with some adult assistance.

Queen of the Scene By Queen Latifah

This is another children's book which comes with a CD to supposedly enhance the reading experience. There was no direction and unless you can read and are quick to follow the words, the story is not really absorbed properly by the young reader on their own. After LL. Cool J's fast paced pep talk, I let a 6 year-old who is proficient at reading attempt the book on her own and she found it hard to follow. This is not too say the book isn't worth your time. It totally is - especially for young girls. The illustrations are fantastic and come from the same illustrator as Long Shot, Frank Morrision. On the first page, the main character is flying high off the ground to slam the ball a la Lisa Leslie or LeBron-esqe. I like the way it is written because it shows girls can be confident and talented and stand up for themselves: "So girl, take pride - Even if at first you fall - Keep giving it another try. The Queen in you walks tall". Confident, but not cocky - there's a difference: "If you are standing on the sidelines, 'cause you don't have heart, then get yourself right back in there.." or "In any sandbox I go to - Nobody can be mean". Queen Latifah is involved in many charities that help empower children and be the best they can be. I recommend every young girl own a copy of this book or at least read it.

Long Shot - Never too small to dream BIG by Chris Paul

This is the best book out of the three as far as basketball content goes. Like most kids in the Jordan era, Chris Paul begins the book with his dreams of playing like MJ but laments on his size and wonders how he's going to get past it. I love how he refers to his grandfather as 'Papa Chilly' (the kids in my group did, too) who gives Paul this advice: "...you can't make yourself taller, but you can get faster and stronger...work harder than everyone else out on the court and your size won't matter". I think this is a little better and more realistic advice to give to a young athlete than telling them they can be like MJ. Sure, with hard work and perseverance you can be MJ but what if your height (like with Chris Paul) leaves you with more to work at to get there. There is nothing wrong with telling a child to strive for an A+ or win a basketball game because let's face it, we don't step on a court or go to school with the intention to loose or fail. But as we all know sometimes we have to loose because the other team is better or we tackled a subject we are not familiar with. This book accomplishes this. The message is good for parents and children alike since it shows how family support is important and how cheering rather than applying pressure on our kids is our role at our niece/nephew/grandchild's/child's game. I got the book from the library to read and research for this piece but I ended up buying it for my nephew who is turning one years old soon. Shhhh.

Flick Pick of the Week

James the dinoblogger is going to laugh but the movie I want you to watch this weekend is Space Jam starring Michael Jordan, Bugs Bunny (with Billy West as the voice of Bugs) and the rest the Looney Tunes characters. I love this movie not only because of the basketball theme but for the amount of cameos from NBA players and Hollywood personalities. It really grabs the attention of the young viewer with the crazy storyline: MJ leaves basketball to pursue baseball (ironic given he tried that in real life) but he returns to help the Looney Tunes challenge the Nerdlucks. Funny for the adults to watch even if it's at NBA players like Charles Barkley thinking they can act. Very entertaining.

Next Thursday, we will be discussing Don't let the Lipstick Fool You by Lisa Leslie, recently retired from the L.A. Sparks of the WNBA. I am in the middle of it now and already I know I wouldn't want to meet her in a dark alley much less defend her on the court. I have followed her career from start to finish and even now as I am reading her book, I am learning new things from behind the scenes of her life getting to the WNBA, the Olympics and more. The title will really make you laugh when you read it. Happy reading and see you on Tuesday for another serving of Jiggly Bits.


All Quiet On Eastern Front

I am happy to report, www.dinonationblog.com has been renewed to 2012. I guess that means, that I will be here for at least that long. Raptors are back to square one again. At this point, are you not just waiting for some story that the Hedo trade will be rescinded. He did have gallbladder surgery after all. But that one is done and he is the Suns problem now. Almost Raptor, Tyson Chandler, is one of many trying to make team U.S.A to head to Turkey, to take on Hedo and the world. While Demar DeRozan is not there, he was named to the 1st team All Vegas Summer League. Maybe someday he will wear the red, white and blue like Bosh and Carter have in the past. You know who won't play for team USA either? Well yeah those 3 guys in Miami, but Amare Stoudemire has been told no by his new team the New York Knicks. When you spent 100 million bucks, guess you have earned the right for your player to play his first game with you. This is a blow to the U.S that was light up front to begin with. If Robin Lopez has a camp invite to be a center, I think you got problems.

Other big names taking a pass on the World's include: Tony Parker, Pau Gasol and Dirk Nowitski. Also there will be no Yao Ming and not just at the World's. You might have noticed the Rockets signing of Brad Miller. Well here might be why. Seems Yao is still not right and could miss the first few months of the NBA season. I remember reading this injury could be career threatening. The longer that Yao is away the more real that seems. As for Canada Matt Bonner has a contract but still no citizenship yet. While Maglorie has signed on with the MWO and no doubt will turn his back on his country yet again. I have an idea let's deport Maglorie, and give his citizenship to Matt Bonner. He wants to play for this country.The fact Canada basketball continue to kiss the butt of Jamal Maglorie angers me. The guy has never played for this country and never will. I don't care what he does for the program off the floor. The best help you can give is throwing on the red and white and playing.

Raptors are still holding out hope for Matt Barnes, but unless they uncover some CBA loop hole that we are unaware of... this is done. Other teams actually have money available to offer Barnes a deal that far exceeds the 1.9 million that the Raptors could offer in an Orlando sign and trade. Barnes only has limited "Bird Rights" with Orlando and that is the most Orlando could sign him for to trade him. That is far from the said to be 4.5 million per season for 2 years that was offered. Confused yet? Just think in a year we will have a brand new CBA that we will all have to learn all over again. I look forward to that with about as much anticipation as the looming lockout it may take to create that document.

It is a slow day today, as basketball is heading towards the dog days of summer. By the way are you a fan of Entourage? Seems that Bosh got the idea for his free agency documentary from Turtle. He also apparently got a guest spot on the show. Some thought he was in L.A to watch Lakers to join Kobe. He wasn't, it was to join Vinnie Chase and Ari Gold. Who knew. I hate the way Chris Bosh is being marketed like he was buried away up here in Canada. That no one knew he existed. That is stretching the truth. But Chris is enjoying the spotlight and this is part of what he wanted. I also have to admit that I personally am interested in the Bosh Documentary if it is done right. I am a lot more then I was in "First Ink". Also Bosh likes the NWO/MWO thing. He says he watched wrestling as a kid and liked those guys. I have taken a lot of blows from Chris Bosh. Being un-followed on Twitter, having had him leave the Raptors but this is the last straw. He made me feel old. You Sir, are off the DNB Christmas Card list.


Raptor De Ja Vu All Over Again

Matt Barnes a Raptor....Forget About it!!! Yes, once again it would appear the Raptors end up on the short end of the stick. It seems that Orlando does not have the money to pull off the sign and trade required to make this deal happen. Did it also involve Gortat and Calderon as well. We may never know. For the second time in the span of a couple weeks, the Raptors get left holding the bag. If this had happened in the Rob Babcock era, he would be getting buried so deep he would never be found. While it is true that in both cases it appears the Raptors did nothing wrong on their end of things. Still the perception or optics of it all look bad on the Raptors.

So once again the Raptors go back to square one with nothing to show for it. At this rate you almost feel thankful nothing happened to screw up the Hedo trade for Barbosa. The only successful trade of the summer. Well there was technically the Bosh sign and trade as well. It is getting to the point that I am afraid to write a story about a trade anymore. I actually waited on the Barnes one. I felt that Barnes could have been using the Raptors to get leverage to sign with Cleveland.

I don't know about you, but I am to the point of wanting to raise a white flag and say we give up. This is shaping up to be one of the worst off-seasons in franchise history. The only good thing aside from unloading Hedo was the great performance in Summer League.

If I am frustrated to the point of banging my head against a wall. How must Bryan Colangelo be feeling? He just seems to have a dark cloud following him around. The last time I can remember anything like these last 2 incidents, is when John Salmons stiffed us because God told him to go to Sacramento. B.C would have to scramble and sign Fred Jones. That as we all may recall did not work out so well. He would end up dealt to Portland for Juan Dixon by the trade deadline.

You can blame social media or the rumour mill, but the perception out there will be that Bryan Colangelo is working off of plan C and D at this point. To put it more directly, the people that come now will be second choices not first choices. When a team already has lost it's 5 time all-star and got back nothing more than a couple draft picks and a TPE this is not good. Especially when the casual basketball fan has no clue what a TPE is. Clearly the perception of the Raptors is not good at the moment, even though they appear to have been the innocent victim in both cases.

It all makes me envy all the kids that have the summer off. They can play X-Box and PS3 while I sit here typing starting to feel like the little boy that cried wolf. This has been a summer to remember and forget at the same time.

"Jiggly Bits"

There are many teams in the NBA who are swimming in the pool of free-agency-free-for-all- summer-of-uncertainty. And whether you choose to dive in and make sense of everything with a clear head, you will notice there are a few teams who may be seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. Though some of you may not be a fan of the way some of these decisions have been made, it appears the dust has settled and most are prepared to move on. There are three teams which stand out for me right now: the Utah Jazz; the Phoenix Suns and the Cleveland Cavaliers. James the Dinoblogger touched on the Matt Barnes 2 year deal with the Raptors worth about 9 million, so let's tap into the teams I just mentioned.

The Bell is ringing in Utah

The Utah Jazz need to get jazzed about something after the departure of free agent Kyle Korver and Carlos Boozer to the Chicago Bulls. So when Raja Bell signed with the Utah Jazz, two things went through my mind. One, what does Kobe think of this? Two, what about Bell's wrist? Bell's deal with the Jazz is worth 10 million over three years and according to Bell, he got a good deal and he's happy. Someone who may not be happy is Kobe Bryant. He's been reportedly pushing for Raja Bell to join the Lakers believe it or not and I don't blame him. Bell is a solid defender and by him joining the 'Lake Show', that would help Kobe keep the preverbial saying true: keep your friends close and your enemies even closer. These two aren't the best of friends but at least if they were on the same team, Kobe wouldn't have to worry about Bell defending him.

This is where I become a little concerned. Raja Bell has played for 6 different teams and during this time averaged more than 10 points a game. Last season he was with Golden State and Charlotte but only played six games due to his having wrist surgery. While he says he's fully recovered, a strong wrist is imperative to making baskets and being effective. Let's hope two times a charm for the Jazz with Raja Bell because like the Cavs, they don't need anymore drama.

The Sun is rising in Phoenix

The Phoenix Suns are expected to make a huge announcement Tuesday naming the team's new President of Basketball Operations. As I write this, it hasn't been made official but there is wide speculation agent Lon Babby will take on the role. As you may or may not know, he represents Hedo Turkoglu who just signed with Phoenix and formerly represented Josh Childress who also recently signed with Phoenix. Further, he represents the Suns' Grant Hill, San Antonio's Tim Duncan and Boston's Ray Allen. He has a wealth of experience to bring to the job since he's also represented baseball players and was a lawyer for the Baltimore Orioles and the Washington Redskins of the NFL. This obviously means Duncan and Allen are without representation if Lon Babby takes on the new role in Phoenix since how could he build and represent a team while being looking out for the opposition's interests, too. Steve Kerr stepped down after this season ended for Phoenix to return to being an NBA analyst for TNT. While he says he enjoyed his role as President of Basketball Operations for the Phoenix Suns, he expressed a need to be near family. The Suns is another team who needs to be excited about something after Amare Stoudemire turned down the Suns to sign with the Knicks. I wonder what Steve Nash is thinking about right now......

"Play to your strengths" - George Shrinks

You love watching cartoons, admit it. In a recent interview on NBA TV, Cleveland Cavaliers Head Coach, Byron Scott breaks down the elements of his team and how they will come together once the 2010-2011 NBA season starts. I couldn't help but think of the episode of George Shrinks when George takes over his friend's seemingly hopeless hockey team, breaks down their weaknesses and gets them to play to their strengths. Coach Shrinks only got his team to one goal and they ended up loosing but the point remains: when things seem hopeless, break everything down into manageable parts, start rebuilding team confidence and the success will come later. Coach Scott believes JJ Hickson will be the Cavs' staring power forward and may be looking to spread out the team's current experience and talent. He is in the speculation stages right now but also sees Antawn Jamison as being more effective coming off the bench. (Interesting considering he was selected in the first round, fourth overall, of the 1998 NBA Draft by the Raptors. Then remember how Toronto traded him to Golden State for -wait for it- draft rights to Vince Carter and cash before the regular season even started. Some Raptors fans may now say the cash in that deal would have been fine. But I digress).

Cleveland Cavaliers majority owner Dan Gilbert seems to keeping his "inside words" inside now. In another statement to fans, he says thanks to all the loyal Cavs fans who offered to pay down the debt he owes to the NBA for his comments made concerning LeBron's departure to the Miami Heat. He is going to pay down the fine himself, his says. Really? As if he would take money from fans in the first place. We all know someone like this, "Oh look at me. Feel sorry for me that the big bad NBA gave me a fine for going too far with my comments". Puleeze. I really hope this isn't a case of the "squeaky wheel gets the grease" because I know other owners in the NBA are watching. Look at what the Cavs agreed to for Lebron:

- a sign and trade deal with Miami to acquire the rights to 5 future draft picks and received a traded player exception for LeBron
- Cleveland now owns 2 of Miami's 1st round picks starting in 2013 to 2017 with the Heat's 2012 second round pick from New Orleans AND the future second round pick Miami acquired from Oaklahoma
- Cleveland will also have the right to swap 2012 first round picks with the Heat.

Amazing right? I hope Gilbert is happy now and this episode of 'jumping up and down and stomping our feet to get our way' is behind us. I also hope owners of other NBA teams don't think they are are allowed to play like that either.

Basketball Beyond the Floor

Remember to join me on the DNB this Thursday when we will be dedicating a special edition of "Basketball Beyond on the Floor" to Kid Raptor and all young fans of the NBA and the game of basketball. We will be discussing works from Chris Paul of the NBA, Queen Latifah and LL. Cool J. Happy reading and see you on Thursday.


Matt Barnes Heads North.

Not sure if Toronto was option 1, but they end up being the landing spot for Matt Barnes. It was said that he was close to signing with Cavs, only to 24 hours later he set to sign with Raptors. Depending on who you believe Barnes is getting 4.5 to 5 million dollars for just 2 years. Barnes is a guy liked by many for his tough no non-sense approach and hard nosed style of play. But is that worth this much? It is also, when you include the Raptors signing of Linas Klezia, pretty much places the Raptors at the tax threshold. Still excited?

It also makes a Jose Calderon trade a little more complicated to pull off with little wiggle room. While the Raptors do have trade exceptions to use that does not make them exempt from the tax man. Also Matt Barnes is not a center last I checked and the Raptors are really without a true center. If Bargnani is to move to the 4 spot as many expect the Raptors need to find a center or two.

It is not that I am against over spending for players. I am just not a fan of doing it on role players. Which as excited as you may be about Matt Barnes, that is what he is. He like Tyson Chandler did bid farewell to his fans on Twitter. The good news is Micheal Jordan can't screw this one up.

What I find more interesting, seeing as I don't see Barnes as the difference between this team and it's ultimate fate, is when his deal ends. That would be 2012. The same year that Barbosa has his deal expire and it was also the same year that Diaw and his deal would have expired. So what is so special about 2012? Well for one a new CBA will be firmly in place. It will also be a pretty excellent free agent class with all due respect to the 2010 class. Don't believe me? Have a look.

When you consider the CBA may have much tougher rules and bite to it. The Raptor is would appear are positioning to be a big player in this class. The list of name includes a lot of interesting names for sure. Including Steve Nash. Who knows if he will still be defying age at that time. But seems B.C has a plan to make the Raptors a huge player in 2012. Matt Barnes may end up being a fan favourite and help the Raptors be a better team in the short term. However the real story is not about today it is about tomorrow. Raptors still have a lot to do in the short term to convince me they are a playoff team.

Now we do know Barnes is coming but is he coming alone? There are rumours floating around that this may be more complex. I know you are having Charlotte De Ja Vu. So am I, but at least Otis Smith is not M.J. But here is what is being said. The Raptors would trade Calderon, the Miami 1st from the Bosh deal and in return take back Barnes and Gortat. There is that missing center I mentioned. The Raptors would use the TPE to make this all work out. May only have to be the smaller one they got in the Hedo Trade. Not a math wiz but think that is right. Welcome aboard the Merry-Go-Round again. The dust is suppose to settle tomorrow. Better deal but is it real? No way to tell at moment and there is also the issue Raps have yet to officially announce this signing and also the Klezia signing for that matter. What does that play in all of this? No idea.

Raps Perfect Summer Season

So the Raptors finished off their Summer League schedule with 2 wins. On Friday they took care of the Kings 88-82 then on Saturday beat the 0-4 Hornets with no DeRozan or Weems 101-93. So the Raptors end up finishing summer with a perfect 5-0 record. They opened a lot of eyes and were on of the best teams in Las Vegas playing a very exciting brand of basketball. Demar DeRozan in 4 games had the 3rd best scoring average in the Vegas league with 21 points per game. Only John Wall and Reggie Williams were better. Wall lead the Summer league averaging 23.5 per game.

The Raptors as a team in Summer league averaged 98.8 PPG while giving up only giving up 84.8 PPG. Keeping in mind at Summer League they only play 4 Quarters at 10 minutes a piece. Basically the same totally game time as in the NCAA. Along with DeRozan his fellow Young Gun had a nice summer league. Sonny Weems averaged 17.5 PPG and had some amazing hi-lite dunks along with DeRozan. Weems has talked about wanting to work on his 3 point shot and based on Summer League still work to do going 3-13 ( 23.1%). DeRozan was great from the field shooting the lights out at 58% and was all about getting to the hoop and getting to the line (38 times in 4 games). Weems also was good in that regard getting to the line 24 times. Both need to do a better job in finishing it off with DeRozan making 24-38(63.1%) and Weems just 13 of 24(54.1%). But overall 2 thumbs up for the Young Guns performance.

Ed Davis the Raptors first round selection averaged 12.6 and 6 rebounds in 5 games of action. Davis had a brutal second game getting just 4 points and 4 boards. He also had a big defensive outburst with 5 blocks vs Sacramento which inflated his blocks average to 1.8 per game. I don't remember what Chris Bosh did in summer league. In fact, Summer League was not the huge deal it has been built into by some today. In terms of Davis he had good moments and bad moments. Which even though it is hard to remember I am sure was the same with Chris. But for anyone to expect Ed Davis to grow into another Chris Bosh you are hoping for far to much. He is a different type of player. He likely is ahead of Bosh at same point on defensive end. But his offense is far behind and likely never catches up. Still to make conclusions on this kid, good or bad, based on Summer League is just wrong. The fact he is playing for pretty much his first competitive basketball he has played since his wrist injury at UNC. So the bar should have been set low. I think he did more than what you might have realistically expected.

Solomon Alabi after his first game looked on track to be a star for the Erie Bayhawks the Raptors D-League Affiliate. That still could end up happening. But he did showed improvement along the way in his summer league. He ended up with 8.2 points with 5 rebounds per game. He unlike DeRozan and Weems was very good at the line making 15-16 at the line. He also averaged a block a game. He still looks pretty raw and that is why playing in the D-League seems to be in his future. If he doesn't get time with the Raptors he is better served being there at points during the season. Will see how it works out, but being 7ft 1 he could develop into a shot blocking presence,
something the Raptors have always lacked.You can't teach height as they say. He like many from Africa looks at Hakeem as an idol and someone to be like. While Raptor fans memories of Hakeem are no dream, there is no denying that if Alabi could be half as good in his career as Olajuwon everyone would be thrilled. That being said Demar DeRozan's Idol is Kobe, admiring someone and being them is 2 very different things.

Others that made an impact for Raps in Summer League were Joey Dorsey who lead the Summer League Raps with 9.8 Rebounds. Dorsey was brought in late last season and should be on the roster for camp in the fall. The other guy that stood out was Bobby Brown. The basketball player not the guy that married Whitney. There was nothing cruel about Brown's performance as he looked good working with both DeRozan and Weems at the point. He averaged 12.4 points and 4 assists(tied for team lead) and 1.2 steals. If it was my prerogative, I would love to seem him get a shot and be brought in, if Jose Calderon does get moved. Here is all the stats on all that were a part of the undefeated Raptors in Vegas.

Some other things of note:

Mark Ivaroni has decided to take a job with Vinny Del Negro with the Clippers as reported by Doug Smith in The Star. The former Bulls coach has brought him in to work on his staff. With the addition of P.J Carlesmio it is really not a huge loss for the Raptors. Ivaroni was suppose to have been in charge of the defense for the Raptors in his one season on the job. Clearly he did not have much, if any success, good luck to him with the Clippers. Job security in Clipperland is never that good. If not for the hiring of Carlesmio the optics of this would look bad. To move to the Clippers from Raptors for basically the same job. But it is safe to assume, his role with the Raptors would be less with Toronto.

While some former Raptors have rejoined the Atlantic Division in the coaching ranks. Sam Mitchell the former Raptors head coach and former player Popeye Jones have joined the staff in New Jersey. Sam joining New Jersey had been reported awhile ago. While Jones has been an assistant with a number of teams over the years. Happy for both and they both should be great additions to Avery Johnson's staff in New Jersey.

Still a long way off, but Raptors Training Camp may be heading to Vancouver after a couple years in Ottawa. A clear sign this may in fact be the case is the Raptors will play the Suns in Vancouver on October 6th. The Nash Cup? The Hedo Bowl? Not sure what you would call it, but the Raptors vs Nash is good business. Suns were in Vancouver last year and packed the place for Nash and the Suns. It was a sell out. Note to NBA how is that team in Memphis drawing? Not sure if this will be a home or road game for the Raptors in Vancouver. Raptors like to call themselves Canada's team, but Nash is B.C's own (British Columbia not Bryan Colangelo). In any case should make for a fun environment for a basketball game. Cheer Nash Vancouver but BOO HEDO!!!

Good to be back at it. Sorry, I had a bunch of things to take care of and did not get a blog to you on Friday. It is the summer time so things are a little different for both me and for you as readers. But we will keep things rolling all year long.



I drew the comparison to this event in the blog. Seems someone on YouTube took it to the next level. This gave me a laugh and I am sure it will do the same for you. The MWO is here:

"Basketball Beyond the Floor"

Don't take things personally. Or at least try not to. These are things I learned early on in my career. I remember co-hosting a radio show a while back and while discussing the shelf life of professional football players, I get blindsided with, "You just like them for the tight pants, don't you?" Seriously? Let's just say the mic fell silent and we went to commercial. That was a while ago but apparently, the belief still exists that only men can be serious fans about professional sports. Which brings us to today's discussion on The Book of Basketball: The NBA According to the Sports Guy by author Bill Simmons. This book was written with the bar stools and cigar-smoking, I just left my wife at home type of sports debate. On page 2 of the forward, it very boldly I might add, defines who this book was meant for: "The difference, of course, is that ordinary fans like you or me have limits to our obsession. We have jobs. We have girlfriends and wives" (Malcolm Gladwell). If you are female, black or both, you need to ignore the mentality of the audience this book had in mind to really see the amount of time and effort it took to craft a book with this much information in it. (Bill Simmons compares the talents of white players and black players and argues the early NBA needed more "black guys" to make it more successful). You may be offended by some of his arguments and you will also see the genius of this book. It is not for the faint of heart but for the serious fan (man or woman, black or white). Bill Simmons took the time to make some serious, passionate and honest arguments about the game he loves and whether you agree with him or not, you will be glad you read this book. Since it is 702 pages long, let's discuss the key points or the ones that most grabbed our attention (there are so many points that not all can be properly addressed so...just read the book!)

The Player Pyramid

I agree with Bill Simmons in that the way we induct players into the Basketball Hall of Fame needs an overhaul. But I am not sure I totally agree with the way he ranks players in stages and pyramids. Raptors fans will love that Vince Carter was ranked on the low end in the "so talented, should've been so much better group". He even goes on to say the reason he wanted to write this book was born from how much he hates Vince Carter: "...fifty years from now, we wouldn't want an NBA fan to flip through some NBA guide and decide that Vince Carter was a worthy basketball star". He is brutally honest and some of his comments are meant to be taken as a joke (like how he thinks Cartmen and his crew from South Park should own the Clippers) but he has a true disdain for the sort of whiny bore he feels Raptors fans had to endure with Carter in the line-up. His solution is both hilarious and fantastic: "You know what? Screw you. You signed a contract to become our franchise player and now you don't want to live up to that obligation? Fine. You're sitting on the bench. Don't worry, we'll pay you...We're making an example out of you. You will never play for us again. And you won't play anywhere else either." This is until he says Carter shaped up and stopped complaining about playing for Toronto. A little extreme but interesting to watch if it ever came to fruition.

It's safe to assume if you are a Toronto Raptors fan, you believe the Raptors still have a future even after the emotional roller coaster you've been riding. According to Bill Simmons, the Raptors damaged their future in 2005 when he says Vince Carter "tanked" and lowered Toronto's trade value, by not clearing enough cap space or getting any quality youngsters or picks back that year. An interesting argument, but like you, I tend to believe mistakes are made to be learned from not to be held back by.

Comparing Apples to Oranges

"Barring a Penny-like swoon or a Vick-like fall from grace, LeBron will become one of the twenty best players who ever lived. We can say that safely" (Bill Simmons). This part is interesting since the book was written before LeBron made the jump to Miami. He hints at writing 'The Second Book of Basketball' and I hope if he does, he comments on the drama surrounding the 'big three' playing for the Heat. Bill Simmons compares LeBron to Will Ferrell, Eddie Murphy and Chevy Chase and their respective peaks on Saturday Night Live. He argues that at some point these comedic stars outgrew the show and it became obvious that they would eventually leave. According to Simmons, for LeBron this meant leaving Cleveland to join the New York Knicks or Los Angeles Lakers. Off in his prediction, but close. In a 2004 column, he wrote "when LeBron hits his prime and finally gets surrounded by quality shooters and big guys who run the floor, he'll toss up a triple double for an entire season". So one would think this means Simmons would like the Miami heat move since in a 2007 column, he describes in LeBron's time with the Cavs, he was subject to "crummy coaching and mediocre supporting cast". Not so fast. While he is not confident LeBron would stay in Cleveland, he believed at the time of writing this book that LeBron would stay: "The more I watch him, the more I wonder if such an intensely loyal guy would ever say, "Thanks for the memories everybody", dump his teammates, dump his hometown and start a fresh life elsewhere". Hmmmmmmmmmmm.

A Flag on the Play

Bill Simmons is intelligent and takes the time to make an argument and back it up with brutal honesty and real research. This is why you can read this book knowing you are filling your brain with quality material. However, the argument he makes against sideline reporters in the NBA is a little misdirected. His real beef should be with the lack of imagination in the questions asked, not the role of sideline reporter itself. With his argument, you could say there is no need for color commentators or play-by-play announcers because they too, have been guilty of the "what does your team need to do in the second half" type of questions. It is just speculation and debate fodder for the fan at home to chew on while cheering on there favourite team. But I would argue against Bill Simmons in that being a sideline reporter is a serious gig. I do play-by-play and color commentary for the PWHL (Provincial Women's Hockey League). During the Final Four Tournament in March, we had no sideline reporter and a referee got mixed up in a play and was crushed against the boards. A sideline reporter could have updated the audience on the status of that referee, got comments from the line refs and given a more immediate update on the story. The same is true in basketball. A sideline reporter is more mobile and is able to get updates on player injuries, comments from players, coaches and get the fan closer to the game they are watching than their stationary commentator colleagues.

Flick Pick of the Week

This weekend I want you to watch Hoosiers starring Gene Hackman. But chances are you are a huge basketball fan and as such, have already watched this movie. Watch it again! What I love about this movie it not so much that it was set in the early 50s and showed that small fries can compete but because of Dennis Hopper's 'town drunk' character, Shooter. It has been voted by many in the business as the best sports movie ever made. The fact it's subject has a basketball theme, makes it even better.

Next week, in honour of Kid Raptor, we will be discussing some children's books dealing with the basketball theme: Queen of the Scene by Queen Latifah; Long Shot: Never too Small to Dream Big By NBA talent Chris Paul; And the Winner Is... By LL Cool J. There are a ton of basketball books out there for children but I thought we would start with these. Happy reading and visit me on Tuesday for another serving of "Jiggly Bits".

Hot as Vegas

Yes it is Summer League, so you have to take it with a grain of salt. This is a league that Marcus Banks scored 42 points in a game, and Marco Belinelli tore it apart. Nate Robinson has his number retired too. But that all being said it is hard not to be a little bit excited about the Raptors performance so far. Another day and another win. This time it was the New York Knicks providing the opposition. The Raptors lead by Demar DeRozan with 23 points would take care of Knicks 102-89. This was perhaps the best performance so far by DeRozan. He has clearly improved his overall game since April. Sonny Weems not to be out done by his buddy had 19 points. The Raptors fell 1 point shy of the Summer League record 103 points they scored in their last game. The offense has been great but the defense has been good as well. After allowing the Knicks to score 34 points in the first quarter, the Raptors locked it down to just 17 points in 2nd and 3rd. Keeping in mind in Summer League the quarters are only 10 minutes in length. Ed Davis after a poor second game bounced back with 13 points and 5 boards after just 4 points and 4 boards in the last game. Solomon Alabi had 9 points and 8 rebounds with a block and a steal. He continues to show steady improvement. Bobby Brown continues to impress me with his work at the point hooking up both Weems and Derozan. Allow me to provide some video evidence.

Brown had 8 points 6 dimes and 2 steals. If we see Calderon move maybe Bobby Brown is earning himself a job? Time will tell on that but if not with the Raptors people are taking notice. Raptors take on the Kings on Friday and Hornets on Saturday to close out Summer League. DeMarcus Cousins is a beast and had a big day for the Kings in other action. Ed Davis and whoever else has to check him is in for a long day. But Raptors continue to look impressive. It may only be Summer League but it always feels good to win and the Raptors are doing just that.


It is NOT hard to say GOOD BYE!!!

Finally you can get the BALL out of Toronto!!! Yes the long awaited Hedo Turkoglu deal has been finalized. Hedo and his Pizza eating, lazy, playing for Turkey and not the Raptors butt is gone. That is reason enough to celebrate, but it is also a pretty good piece coming back the other way. Leandro Barbosa has the nickname of the Brazilian Blur. So let's state the obvious the Raptors have got a lot faster in this deal. Hedo vs Barbosa in a race would be about as funny as Barkley vs Beveta. Maybe more!!! Dwyane Jones is also part of this deal. Colangelo had this to say in a quote from the press release on the 1 year Hedo Turkoglu Era

Bryan Colangelo "After much fanfare and high expectations, things just didn't seem to work out here for Turk,” added Colangelo. “I'm certain he will move on and contribute great things to Phoenix. We wish him well"

Bryan may wish him well but I think we can all agree see ya later Turkey!!! Take your ball to Phoenix and get lost. Barbosa is a former 6th man of the year with the Suns and obviously someone Colangelo knows quite well. Here is his thoughts on Barbosa.

Bryan Colangelo "Leandro Barbosa is a player I'm quite familiar with and I'm very pleased that he is coming to Toronto,” said Raptors President and General Manager Bryan Colangelo. “His speed, quickness and scoring ability will mesh well with our desired playing style and talented young athletes."

This moves Hedo's over priced contract that Colangelo signed him to off the books. While Barbosa comes at a cheaper price at 7.1 Million for less years. Colangelo talked about this and the change in direction in the post Bosh Era.

Bryan Colangelo "With the departure of Chris Bosh now real, this trade fits well with our plan of adding talent to the roster while establishing future salary cap flexibility"

The original deal with Bobcats was a far better total package. But this is a smaller step in the right direction. Barbosa is a 7 year vet of the NBA and here are his career numbers.

12.6 points, 2.4 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 1.0 steals and 25.1 minutes in 466 games. He has appeared in 64 playoff contests, averaging 10.2 points, 2.0 rebounds, 1.9 assists and 23.3 minutes. He averaged 15.8 points in 11 outings in the 2007 postseason.

This is far more than addition by subtraction for the Raptors. They actually got a valuable piece. In terms of Jones it is hard to know where or if he fits seeing as he was suppose to move on the Bobcats. Thanks again M.J for that. Still this is happy times for Raptor fans and relief as some may have actually bought into B.C's smoke screen of considering keeping HeDON'T. Nah one really did that....did you?

Hedo is winning one thing. The DNB POLL QUESTION on the right over there. Who would you Boo the most and his competition is Vince Carter and Chris Bosh. So never let it be said Hedo never won anything in Toronto. He did that Poll.

With all this said it is with great glee and excitement that I say on behalf of all Raptor Fans.


To the people of Phoenix we honestly can't thank you enough and Good Luck you will need it. But we have given you Steve Nash from our great country. I think this makes us square.

One Thing Solved For Raptors

Still a few days left on the clock, but Denver will not match on Linas Kleiza. Why? The news today that Al Harrington has signed a 34 million dollar deal. Which means the Nuggets in a sense tap out and Klezia is gone. So the Raptors deal of somewhere between 18.8 and 20 million dollars for 4 years is a green light. So start the parade we got Klezia!!! I was never that excited about this signing to start with. Klezia was playing in Europe last season not the NBA. I guess if you want to be hopefully than you can look at Carlos Delfino, and his performance with the Bucks after a year out of the league in Russia. That being said, as good as he was, the Raptors did not miss him with acquiring Weems and Johnson.

It is really nice to see that Weems and DeRozan are turning heads in Las Vegas. Summer League is often a snooze for most, except for the hardest of hardcore fans. But watching Weems and DeRozan has been fun as they both clearly seem energized to fill the void left by Chris Bosh leaving. It makes it worth fighting to watch the games if you can. It does not make it worth paying to watch them though. But if you can't see them live they eventually will pop up on Raptors T.V. There are also other methods that during the TSN 2 mess Raptors fans became aware of. The Summer League Raps will be back at today playing the Knicks at 6pm. If there is a team that does Summer League right, it is the New York Knicks. Every year they send their whole crew down to broadcast the games. Walt Frazier busting out words that I have to rush to the dictionary to find the meaning of. The Knicks treat summer league like it is 5 more games on the schedule. Hopefully at some point other teams will follow their lead including the Raptors. As for on the floor the Knicks are 1-1 getting set to face the Raptors a perfect 2-0.

What is the future of Jose Calderon now? It will be very strange to see him back after all of this. The lack of professionalism shown by the Bobcats in letting this trade that never was, get to the point of players being told is pretty bad. The deal the Bobcats took instead has many experts scratching their head and Mark Cuban all smiles. I will look at the bright side in that Reggie Evans is still around as well. I like Reggie personally and think he is a good guy. Will he remain now? That seems unlikely to given his expiring contract and the fact he pretty much had been traded once already. Raptors had once traded Alvin Williams to the Celtics and he failed a medical and returned to the Raptors. Williams held no ill will obviously and now is an assistant coach with the club. Will the Raptors and Jose Calderon be able to do the same? If I was Bryan Colangelo I wouldn't bank on it. Also it really seems like Jack is more in tune with the young core of this team. He deserves this chance to start a season as the number 1 guy for a team. For my money Jarrett Jack showed more leadership in his 1 year than Calderon in his Raptor career.

Here is hoping for a quiet day in Raptorland. It seems to have been one thing after another and my fingers are getting tired. However, if stuff happens never fear I am here. I may not be Mighty Mouse and save the day, but I give it my 100% each day. That is all we can do until they actually invent a 110%.


Raptors On Court Good, Off Court Not So Much

Only was able to see bits and pieces of this one. But in what I was able to see DeRozan and Weems were continuing there high wire act in Vegas. The 2 young guns are doing an excellent job of taking the ball to the hoop. DeRozan did take a shot in this one but was not going to let it stop him. He was the game's high scorer with 23 points. As for the Raptor rookies it was not as good for Ed Davis today. After an impressive debut he faded into the background today with just 4 points and 4 boards. Raps 2nd round pick Solomon Alabi was a bit better in this on with 10 points and 6 boards in just 18 minutes of action. Also Dorsey again was doing work on the glass and scoring a bit to with 13 points matching Weems total and a dozen rebounds. So the summer version of the Raptors are 2-0 with a 100-91 win over the Rockets. Which is good news.

While off the court, the Raptors deal that had people including me ready to pat Bryan Colangelo on the back. Forget about it!!! It is now but a memory as Michael Jordan on his own or with the encouragement of his coach Larry Brown called off the trade with the Raptors. They quickly went and moved one of the pieces of the deal Tyson Chandler to Dallas. Mark Cuban is the big winner of the 3 way trade between the Suns, Raptors and Bobcats. Who saw that coming? He gets a major upgrade at center with Chandler for Dampier. It also makes you wonder if Cuban is considering bringing in Shaq as the Diesel did not exactly get along with his former center. Story for another day though.

So after Reggie Evans and Jose Calderon were told that they are gone, suddenly they are not. Awkward, and not good at all. Especially in the case of Calderon. If the Raptors had other offers it is safe to say they will be looking at them. Seems Charlotte, if you care to believe them or not, were not happy about a 10% trade kicker in Jose's contract. This was one of the reasons they gave for killing the trade. But now you have a less than thrilled point guard, who has had the only organization he has played for say they didn't want him . While Jack is clearly more in tune with this Raptors young core and is at summer league watching the guys play. It is a pretty awful mess for Bryan Colangelo, and unlike the Bosh saga that played out, a very unforeseen one. Also, not his fault it should be pointed out.

So you are thinking fine but what about Hedo? No he still is gone it would appear. I find it ironic that Suns are not the ones with buyers regret. But everything still seems a go for that trade despite no official announcement yet. Leandro Barbosa will still be a Raptor. While Diaw remains a Bobcat for the moment and Chandler is off to Dallas. In theory the Raps could still move Calderon for Diaw but I think if their were other options for Calderon those will be explored long before Bryan Colangelo makes a call to Charlotte. You have to imagine that Colangelo is hot at Charlotte and with just cause to be.

He may have even have been to angry to hear his former star on the radio give his version of his departure to Miami. I don't think Colangelo would care even if he wasn't busy or angry. I really have to find out what B.C does to deal with his anger and frustration. He handles it far better than me as my Twitter followers can vouch for. However, I handle it a million times better than Dan Gilbert. Who was fined that amount by David Stern. In the first smart thing Gilbert has done since James bolted he told Cavs fans that were willing to donate to pay his fine, thanks but no thanks. He encouraged them to give the money they had planned to donate to the Cavs Charity foundation or some other worthy cause.

Some off-season this is. I think I am working harder now than I would be in the season. I need a vacation to someplace nice....maybe South Beach....I hear it is great. Perhaps not!!!!