Bryan Colangelo had predicted 6-9 coaching vacancies this off-season. He also said Toronto would not be one of them. Given some of the names out there maybe it should be? If Triano does not turn out the way Bryan hopes will the Raptors miss a chance on landing a coach they desire? Jeff Van Gundy should he decide to leave the T.V gig he has with ESPN/ABC, might be the one name that fans would point too. Many times his name has come up in the fan base as a potential coach here in Toronto. You also have Avery Johnson working for ESPN in studio as well as a guy that is a former Coach Of The Year with Mavericks.
I suppose coaches will always be hired and fired but there seems to be more interesting candidates out there than I can ever recall. That being said isn't this like a married guy checking out all the available women at a singles bar? I mean it is not like Raptors are going to get any of these guys. Still you can't help but look and think and wonder. Also it wasn't me that made this marriage. Bryan Colangelo is the one that made the commitment not me or you.
That being said what exactly do the Raptors have as a selling point to a coach? Bosh would have been one but he is halfway out the door. The prospect of having to yell at Hedo Turkoglu for 4 years? Well maybe not.
Why? It would appear that at least Colangelo is going to try to tie Hedo with Bosh to unload his contract. That is at least what they seem to think in Houston. However this rumour is flawed in a lot of ways. Bosh is apparently the number 1 free agent target for the Rockets. I can buy that, and playing in Texas makes sense it might appeal to Chris. Here is where problems start in terms of what else is in the deal aside from the Hedo dump. Trevor Ariza coming back to the Raptors. Isn't this that same Ariza that was rumoured to have turned down more money from Raptors and went to Houston. Which caused the Raptors to go after Hedo. Ariza at least based on the rumour mill of the past would not exactly embrace a move to Toronto.
It is so easy to make a rumour. It is even easier to pick them apart. This appears to be my job at least part of it for the next few months. It leads you think....THANK GOD IT IS FRIDAY.....and see you Monday people.
For my money, if Chris Bosh truly wants to win the best place for him to land is OKC for both him and the Raptors. Bosh said in his comments in his exit interviews, he is realistic in understanding where ever he ends up it may not result in a title right away. OKC is a team on the rise and despite their success is not beating the Lakers this year. The main reason they will not, is not having any real post options. Bosh would clearly give them that and Kevin Durant would have a running mate in the post to play with him and Westbrook. Obviously from a lifestyle point of view, this would be a major change for Bosh. However it would allow him the chance to focus on winning and basketball. It also is a lot closer to Dallas on a map as opposed to Toronto (If that matters). If Bosh is serious about winning this is or should be a team on his list.
For the Raptors let's take a look at 3 of the most talked about Bosh landing spots and why they don't work for them. The Knicks are not a good fit as David Lee is a worse version of Bosh and he is not even under contract to New York. The other piece the Knicks have is Gallanari. Italy can't even make the World Championships and we want 3 of them on the Raptors? No thanks.
You hear Miami a lot as well. After watching them get demolished by the Celtics who excites you on that Miami Roster? Joel Anthony would be nice not only because he is Canadian but a legit center option. However, Michael Beasley who would be the major piece coming back in a deal is not as appealing. Some People consider Bargnani a bust pick for the Raptors. Well is that not what Beasley has been for Miami?
There is also the Lakers who have Andrew Bynum and have always liked Bosh. Phil Jackson was once fined by the league for his comments in regard to liking Bosh the last time his contract came up. Bynum is a major risk and has had injury issues for a long time. He is about a major injury away from being considered a more talented Greg Oden.
OKC can clearly put together a package that has upside and less risk tied to it. A package of Green and Harden would be a slam dunk for the Raptors, in terms of getting legit value back for Bosh. They would also have to take some other things, to make the money line up, but it would be worth it. If the goal out of a Bosh sign and trade is long term stability and upside, OKC is the clear winner of the available options.
Bryan Colangelo needs to hit a home run on this deal. He also needs to make a deal that is able to inspire hope for the future for the Raptors. Not hope in draft picks that who knows what you may get as Babcock did in the Vince Carter deal. Legit players that have established they belong in NBA and have upside. If you can get draft picks on top of that... go for it.
However, it goes down there is going to be a public relations hit for the Raptors with it's casual fan base. They as we all do still remember the Vince Carter trade and what a terrible failure that was. Who and whatever comes back for Bosh has to be a success in both the short and long term. If Harden and Green were part of the package coming back you would have that. Green was the Big East Player of the year and his NBA career started as part of a big trade in the NBA. He was part of the deal that brought Ray Allen to the Celtics. Harden has made an impact off the bench at times for OKC and was highly thought of in his draft class.
Would OKC make this move? It would make a lot of sense for them to add a legit established star and unload some of their young talent to do it. The problem down the road for OKC will be that they can't keep everyone and eventually a move like this will need to be made. They also have to start to look to build up their front court that is lacking, in a conference that has a lot of quality players to deal with in the front court.
When you examine the options out there this is the closest fit that makes the most sense for all parties involved. Is it the perfect one? Not exactly, however in every conversation you ever have with Chris Bosh winning is always involved. This is a chance for him to clearly do that. He would not be "the man" in OKC and it is not exactly that big media market. However it is the best chance for him to win not just in the short term but the long term as well.
I just think this option makes the most sense and have mentioned it for quite some time. Other articles have come out since my belief in this. So, if I am totally nuts in thinking this, at least I am not alone. This is far from nuts thought and OKC may seriously consider it. They fall short of being able to sign a player to a max deal on their own. So, this is the only way that OKC can be a major player in the Free Agent Frenzy. They need to make a trade if they hope to land any major free agent.
Lebron James "You could tell Toronto really didn't want to make the playoffs". Well if this is how Lebron truly felt, can someone explain to me why he decided to play against the Raptors and not the Bulls down the stretch in the regular season? If the Raptors were a team that as James claims didn't want to make the post season isn't that more of a reason to make sure they do. This would only make sense right? if you honestly believe that, take on the Raptors and get the easy sweep and sit back and chill.
But really why even say this at all. I mean this whole King thing and all, I guess he feels it is his duty to comment on all his subjects in the NBA? However maybe there is a slightly more intelligent reason to make this claim. We have all heard for months how could James, Bosh or Wade some how end up playing together. Which by the way Wade was sent packing last night in 5 games but most believe he remains in Miami. If the Raptors had lost to Cavs in 5 games how many in media would suggest the same about Chris Bosh? The answer is likely none in U.S. Getting back to this James comment and what it actually might have been designed to do. Was this James by degrading the Raptors franchise in a very public and unprofessional way, his way of sending a message to Chris Bosh to come join him in Cleveland. It would seem that comment was aimed at CB4 as it really makes little sense beyond that.
Now at the time where James sat vs Bulls and played vs the Raptors, I said it was on the Raptors not to be in a position for that to matter. Which is still how I feel. However for James to suggest the Raptors were not trying to make the playoffs insulting and attacks the integrity of the organization as whole. The Raptors were dealing with a ton of injuries including one to Bosh. The suggestion that they flat out didn't want to make the playoffs is wrong. You only needed to watch Jarrett Jack after each game down the stretch to know that.
I guess it is safe to say King James is not coming to Toronto this off-season. I think we already knew that thought. I have felt all through this 2010 mess that the NBA has handled it badly. This is just another example of it in a very subtle way. I also find it a joke how everyone just assumes Wade comes back to Miami while waving the American Flag in saying Bosh will leave Canada and the Raptors. How exactly did the Heat perform beyond Wade? Was their team 2-12 any better than the Raptors? Sure didn't look like it. Oh and let me get this out here right now. If the Raptors have Michael Beasley coming back to Raptors in a sign and trade, I will lose it. So, consider yourself warned. He was BRUTAL in this series and as I was joking on Twitter appears to spend more time on his hair then his game.
So forgive me if I am not bowing saying thanks to the King for the mention. Some may say this is an over reaction on my part. I will even agree it is a bit of one. However that does not make it anymore acceptable what he said. That kind of breaks an unwritten code of respecting other franchises and teams. How many times did you hear teams praise the Raptors up and down when they really sucked back in the day. Players just don't talk down the opposition unless it is part of some heated rivalry. Even then, they try to avoid it to not give the other team bulletin board material .
I picked Cleveland to win the title in the pre-season and still think that it will happen. However, Lebron James has made it a little easier to accept if I am wrong and he fails to get a ring again. So thanks LBJ. Also thanks to Sean Francois of the Hoops Head North who made me aware of the comment as I was working another game when LBJ was speaking.
Here is the Video of Lebron's post game presser (courtesy of NBA.Com) the comment on Raptors is at the 15:00 mark if you just want to skip to that.
After watching it in full context James claims that Cavs wanted to play the Bulls to be pushed and be forced to play hard. However does anyone honestly buy that? All teams will gladly take the rest in the playoffs if they can find it. They would also rather have something left in the tank for the series that matter. That is a cool sweater though with his initials and all in case you didn't know that was Lebron James.
(Quote from Bargnani Blog on his Website-translated)-
"Unfortunately the season 'over ... in advance. Several things did not go well after the All Star Game, as you noted. Now it's gone anyway. There you can cry on .... We give to do this summer to return even stronger next season. Now that the season is over ... the days are pretty boring since I went from having a hard day by day program with a thousand things to do at the utter emptiness .... but at least I'm improving a lot the playstation! Now the last things settle down at home here in Toronto, perhaps with a stop at Ikea ... before returning to Italy next week, allowing volcanoes. I wanted to personally thank all those who have followed me ... especially those who stayed awake all night to see me ... I am very pleased and pushes me to improve further, although it already got here. Very nice comments as well when you're awake, we play like shit and rightly pissed there ... super :-) "
The one thing I have always liked about Andrea is even when he is speaking in English, there is a very direct and straight forward honesty in what he says. Never a lot of great detail which may be part of the language difference. However it is always clear how he feels. He also was quoted recently saying that if Bosh leaves he is ready to take on the role of being the guy in Toronto. I don't agree, but if he is or isn't, you can expect some rather straight forward talk.
There is no spinning what he said at all. He said what a lot of Raptors fans felt about this team and it's play down the stretch. The real question I have now is what does he intend to do about it, aside from improve his Playstation 3 skills, which I am pretty sure will not help his defense or rebounding. Here is a link to the website of Bargs if you are a fan of his and want to keep tabs on him.
Los Angeles Lakers vs. Oklahoma City Thunder (Series tied at 2-2)
The first thing I noticed in this game and I am not sure if this was a conscious coaching decision or not, but Kobe wasn't always taking on the offensive leadership position during this game. Alvin - a friend of mine and the Dinonation - posted on my facebook page that Kobe needed to sport a cape and come out flying like the superhero of this series or else the Thunder might roll on through to the next round. He's got a point. The Lakers were trying to play from the inside out and it obviously didn't work. They weren't paying attention to detail and lost a game that was pretty much decided in the first quarter. The final score (110-89 for Oklahoma) did not reflect that a multi-NBA Championship powerhouse was present. The Thunder are becoming a serious threat for the Lakers. Even Lakers Coach Phil Jackson said they had a meltdown. Take a look at the stats for this game and it becomes clear. In the transition, the Thunder just out ran the Lakers 24-2. They were good on the fast break and held the Lakers to a 29-17 lead after the first quarter. Most of the starting Lakers were on the bench in the fourth quarter and Kobe left the game (not to return) to begin treatment on his knee. Are they giving up? Are they getting old? Not sure. But whatever it is, they need to step out of it before there is thunder and lighting in Los Angeles.
Phoenix Suns vs. Portland Trail Blazers (Phoenix leads the series 3-2)
This game made be happy. It's funny. The playoffs are generally a time when coaches tell their reserves, "No offence but you may not see a lot of playing time". The stars of the club take over and conduct the business of winning games. With their starters on the floor, Phoenix allowed Portland to take an 18-4 lead to begin with Monday night but dug deep into their proverbial bench pockets to pull out a remarkable 107-88 win. Two notables? Channing Frye and Jared Dudley. Channing had a career playoff high 20 points and 8 rebounds on the night with Jared at 19 points. Nice to see players step up and get to contribute coming off the bench. But let's not forget Brandon Roy. He had no real impact on this particular game but to come back so early from knee surgery - EIGHT days after. You might have heard this sort of thing happening in the NFL but in the NBA? Basketball players take a special kind of pounding on those knees and need them to be in tip top shape. A testament to Roy's character and work ethic.
Speaking of character, the Suns' Grant Hill picked up his third Joe Dumars Trophy as announced Monday. This award is given to players in each division who deserve to be recognized for their sportsmanship qualities and is voted on by the players. Hill joins Atlanta's Al Horford, Boston's Ray Allen, Cleveland's Antawn Jamison, Denver's Chauncey Billups and Houston's Luis Scola. This has to be the best piece of NBA hardware to have in your collection. It means people think you are cool to play with and against and admire for your character and not just your basketball skills. The MVP or any of the other accolades you can receive as an NBA player means you are good at what you do but it also means you are hard to defend or shut down and that might mean you are not as fun to play against. It means a lot more to receive recognition for something when it comes from your peers and especially when the talent being recognized is sportsmanship.
Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Chicago Bulls (Cavs lead the series 3-1)
They are done. Chicago - that is. I hate to say it, too because Chicago has so much going for them. But it was certainly a Lebron show, giving Chicago fans a new image for the number 23. On Sunday, Lebron James finished with 37 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists - a nice triple double. And that third quarter buzzer-beater bomb from just inside the half? Unbelievable. It seemed as effortless as if it was made from 2 feet away instead of 34 feet. Even Joakim Noah described James as the best player in the world. It's no wonder that Cavs fans at the game started chanting "M-V-P! M-V-P!" I think that one game that Chicago took gave their head a shake and made the Cavs realize this wouldn't be a series sweep. Derrick Rose rolled his ankle on Shaq Sunday - a nagging, on going injury that may or may not prevent him from playing in game five. Chicago needs all the help they can get. I hope they do everything to challenge the Cavs and not just participate in the Bron Bron show. Would love to be a fly in the wall in the Bulls pre-game chat.
Orlando Magic vs. Charlotte Bobcats (4-0 Series Win for Orland0)
Our first series sweep of the playoffs. The Orlando Magic is the first team making it to the next round and are anxiously awaiting who their opponents will be: the Hawks or the Bucks. I will give credit to Charlotte. This was their first trip to the playoffs and kept themselves in the game. The 99-90 win for the Magic could have gone the other way. Charlotte cut the lead to a single point at 77-76, one point in the game, but two drained 3's by Mickael Pietrus kind of killed any momentum the Bobcats had. The Bobcats are still learning how to play playoff basketball. And it is certainly a different game. It's no sprint to the finish. It's a full-out marathon and only the mentally and physically fit will survive.
On that note, let's touch on the rumours I have been hearing about Bobcats Coach Brown. You may have heard too, that he's toying with the idea of a front office job with Philly or the Clippers. He says he's not coaching anywhere else but in Charlotte but that doesn't quash possibilities of taking another position somewhere else. He's almost 70 and he could just be weighing options. I think based on his close relationship with Michael Jordan, an offer to leave Charlotte would have to be pretty darn good.
Kevin Restani and Franklin Mieuli - R.I.P.
Whether they were an architect of the game or just contributed whatever they had, it is always sad to see someone from leave the game permanently. Kevin Restani died in San Francisco after returning from Milwaukee where he was at game three between his former Bucks and their opponents, the Atlanta Hawks. Restani was a power forward with the bucks in the mid to late 1970s. He was nicknamed "Big Bird" by then Bucks play-by-play announcer Eddie Doucette. The Bucks aren't saying how he died Saturday night, but nonetheless will be sadly missed.
Franklin Mieuli was on of the most colourful figures in the NBA. He owned the Golden State Warriors for 24 years until he sold them in 1986. He won an NBA title with the team the year I was born (look it up..ahem 1975) and was the club's only championship in almost fifty years in California. This is one guy I would have loved to have a chat with about the game. He had such a passion for the game of basketball and just threw his heart into it. Fans loved him mostly I think because it stuck with a struggling team for so long. He died of natural causes on Sunday in San Francisco. He was 89.
- 1. Is anyone really surprised the Bobcats got swept?
- 2. Did anyone not really see Lebron going off on the Bulls after stories came out about his partying?
- 3. Lakers bad or Thunder good. Answer a combination of both?
- 4. I don't fear the deer without Bogut. That being said what does this say about Atlanta.
- 5. Dallas again fails to deliver again. I warned you this could happen
- 6. Ron Artest has killed the expression Blondes have more fun.
- 7. Miami Heat should worry about keeping D-Wade he is really all they have and money.
- 8. Boston Celtics have been biggest surprise of round 1 in East, Should they have been?
- 9. Blair is a beast. Spurs got a steal on that kid.
- 10 Steve Nash can he win the west and finally go to the finals?
- 1. Amir Johnson has stayed around T-Dot after season is that a good sign he may stay?
- 2. Want to bet Hedo plays a ton better for Turkey then he did for the Raptors?
- 3. Jack or Calderon who is getting voted off the island. You know my vote.
- 4. OKC perhaps the best option for a Bosh sign and trade?
- 5. Given all that has happened I would __________ if Chris Bosh stayed with Raps
- 6. Colangelo has zero room for error this off-season.
- 7. My Draft Dream for Raptors......Demarcus Cousins. He is a beast.
- 8. DeRozan will be significantly better next year....agree?
- 9. Will Jay Triano still have his job this time next year?
- 10. Will Bryan Colangelo?
Useless Dino Blogger Facts ( I have done these on Twitter for awhile )
- 1. Can not be around eggs at all the smell makes me sick
- 2. Was the starting nose tackle for the Hill Park Rams and wore #77
- 3. Coached a perfect season with 9-10 year olds then retired from coaching.
- 4. Loved Dukes of Hazzard as a kid. Wanted to have my own General Lee car.
- 5. Was the youngest season ticket holder for the Hamilton Ti-Cats
- 6. Is a decent poker player
- 7. Had a crush on Jennie Garth from 90210.
- 8. Huge fan of Randy "Macho Man" Savage. Even did my impression on air once.
- 9. Eats very little believe it or not.
- 10. Favourite beer is MGD and it was before they were a Raptors sponsor.
They say, if you don't learn from history you are doomed to repeat it. The Raptors history with Franchise/Star players is some history we would all like to forget. If you look close at each situation it is different but honestly does it matter? Do people in their own lives sit back and examine why every relationship in their lives didn't work. When it is over, it is over and you move on. At least that is what you are suppose to do. However for some people that is not as easy, as it is hard to cut ties of such an emotional level for certain people. Sometimes only one person wants to end a relationship and not the other. That can be an emotionally devastating experience. However after it happens, you learn something from it and you promise yourself you will never feel that way again. Never allow yourself to get burned like that again. Part of the human existence is the ability to cope and adapt. However in sports, for most people, it strikes an emotional cord in you. I have heard so many people including myself say they love the sport of basketball. It is a different kind of love thought, not like how you love your Girlfriend/Boyfriend or wife or husband. It isn't how you love your kids if you have them. Love and Logic seldom go together. Logic would suggest that all sports are big business and to grow emotionally attached to a team or worse yet a player makes no sense at all. However would that make it fun? If you honestly don't care can you actually love something? Obviously not.
If you truly love someone or something you are taking a huge risk. That risk is you open yourself up to pain if things don't work out. Maybe that is why some people get so wrapped up in stats in sports. If you base sports based just on stats, it is totally based in logic and is unemotional and cold. I guess that works for some people and it allows them to deal with things and cope. However it also takes away some of the pure joy out of it. The Playoffs are a combination of both emotion and talent. That is what makes the playoffs different. Emotions are high because by the end of it all 29 teams and everyone connected to them are emotionally devastated. Only one team at the end of every season gets to experience that true joy that is winning a championship and being the best.
If anyone was truly smart they would never become a sports fan and they would never fall in love with anything. Logic would suggest that is the smartest thing you can do. Athletes are often respected for having the ability to be able to control their emotions and perform. Still even the best of the best have to let that emotion out once in awhile. It is only human. Sure we may go on and on at how amazing the humans are that play this game. However at the end of it all they are still people, that are created the same as you and me. They just happen to be extremely talented and have larger bank accounts.
When you look at the NFL that recently had it's draft, they have players go through the combine as does the NBA. They measure all of these stats of how players perform in drills. They break down tape and break it down over and over again. They really try and turn it into a science. But is it as simple as all that? If it was would a team every miss on a draft pick. Did anyone see the very different paths that Greg Oden and Kevin Durant careers would take. You just can never factor in things like heart and desire or the unknown that is injury. I think we all as human beings just are in search of answers, and if people can provide us evidence, it makes us feel comfortable in believing in them. Like it or not though, life is always going to have questions without answers and so will sports. Why do you think gambling is so big. It is that unknown combined with the rush of risk. Even the best handicapper or sports better can never be right every single time. The goal is to be right more than you are wrong. That is kind of the same thing here in terms of the stuff that I say and predict.
Raptor fans may feel that they have endured far to much pain, and not nearly enough joy from this relationship. Some may have had enough, and just like a failed relationship in life, end it and move on. But I submit to you, that this is the price you pay for being a sports fan. It is for all those moments where you are totally invested emotionally and get to experience that pain or joy in 2 and half to 3 hour spans. There is also these long term emotional experiences where you get to watch a player grow and invest in them. But ultimately for them it is business at the end of the day. Sadly it is a rare event to watch a player have that long term commitment to a team for his entire career. However is life much different? How many relationships does it take for someone to find that perfect person? Even when they think they do, does that always last? If you check the divorce rates in North America the answer is no. It is very rare that anyone meets the first person they ever love and live happily ever after. This is not a fairy tale it is reality. However still as sports fans are we not all in search of that fairy tale that is winning a championship, and every year that quest is renewed again. We also are just in search of someone to believe in, that will love us the way we love them. I wouldn't blame Raptors fans for being jaded by this point. There has been more than enough reason to be. However if you truly love this team and care you will be back. In fact that is what all sports teams are selling you. Something to love, believe in and be a part of. They are selling you the hope of something to love. It is one of the best scams going. But that being said, I couldn't imagine my life without sports, and basketball most of all in it. If people don't follow sports at all, they seem odd to me. Maybe they are smarter than me by not bothering with it. However, maybe I am the smart one, who wants to take that ultimate risk to love something and face the fact I am going to be hurt more likely than provide me joy. But when that joy happens it is fun isn't it?
If you truly love something, you will love it regardless and unconditionally. If you truly love something, you love it for all that is good about it, and bad about it. Does Chris Bosh love Toronto? I think he does. However, is he using his heart to make this decision or his head. It would seem pretty clear it is his head and ultimately that is what he should do. However, for fans and the people that love him in Toronto it is not about logic. They are not the ones that have to live with the choice for the next 40 or 50 years though. Bosh is the one. The other thing about sports is their is always someone new coming around the corner to love. Be you Sonny Weems or whoever comes along. If this ends up being the end of a 7 year relationship between Bosh and the Raptors, many will have a variety of emotions about it. In my own personal view, I will look back on it and smile. I think Chris is a good person, gave all he had and it was not meant to be. Can you really hate someone for that? Sometimes relationships just don't work, but that doesn't mean you have to hate a person for it. You can still love them after it is over. Not every relationship has to end in flames does it? Not every relationship needs to end like it did with Vince Carter? I guess will find out.
This was pretty deep for a Monday. I am sorry about that. However sometimes the best examples to explain sports, are just when you compare it to real life. There is something about sports that drives people insane and still love it with all their heart. It defies logic for even the most intelligent person. It is great to have a passion and love for sports. Just like any love you have in life, hang on to it tight and never lose it.
Now on to the Dino Nation Blog's report cards. If the Raptors were taking these home to get signed by Mom and Dad they may get grounded. Given how they finished the last semester of basketball it is hard to think of many that will improve on their mid-season grades. When your team goes form 6 wins above .500 to out of the playoffs and 2 games below .500 that can only be expected...Right? A reminder that these grades are based on the expectations compared to reality. So if a bench player gets a higher grade than a starter it is based on the expectation level being lower. They also are based off the previous grades and if they improved from there or regressed.
Jose Calderon (Mid Term Grade- C+) He did get his starting job back. But was that based on his great play or a drop off in Jarrett Jack's performance that allowed it to happen? Clearly getting his starting job back did not help matters with Jose. His numbers on offense were down across the board this season and his defense is the same. Which is not a good thing obviously. In fact when we look back to when Jose signed his sizable contract it is safe to say there has been a steady regression in his performance. Some Raptor fans were outraged by the fact Kenny Smith suggested a few years ago that Calderon was not a starter in this league. This was at the peak of Calderon's performance where some were even talking him up as a potential All-Star. Well as we look back Kenny Smith was closer to being right than those folks thinking Jose was an all-star. Bryan Colangelo may be hard pressed to move Calderon in the off-season. However he must make this move, because if he moves Jack instead and Jose continues to perform at this level fans will never let him forget it- (Final Grade D+)
Jarrett Jack ( Mid Term Grade B ) Jack really had taken this team by the horns in the first half of the season. He lost his grip to the point it allowed Calderon to replace him as the starter. It took Jack some time to accept being back to the number 2 guy again. Ultimately he needs to pick up his defense as well. He is hands down better than Calderon in that respect but we must see that every time he is on the floor. Jack down the stretch when few players seemed to care if this team made it or not, he did and it was written all over his face. He needs to make his 3 point shot more consistently. He can take some pride in the overall success of the Young Guns. He has been the wise old man that advises this youngsters on the ways of the west and life in the NBA. (Final Grade- B-)
Marcus Banks ( Mid Term Grade C+) Can a guy that rarely plays and people were praying Colangelo could trade for a bag of balls actually be the Raptors best defender at the position? It is hard to tell to be honest with you, because we don't see enough of him. Despite being vastly overpaid you can not question Banks effort when he is given chances. Offensive side of thing he still drive me nuts when he gets in there. However I really have lost the fire to say get rid of this guy. Perhaps hearing him on "The Hoops" show was a turning point for me. It helped make you understand that Marcus Banks is a pretty solid guy and he has given all he has when called upon. (Final Grade C+)
Demar DeRozan (Mid Term Grade B-) He lost his starting spot but at the very end of the season closed with a career high. DeRozan unfortunately has to be compared to folks in his draft glass like Evans, Curry and Jennings. DeRozan is not going to ever measure up this season in comparison to those guys. However he never had as a big a role on his team as those players as well. On defense Demar got taken to school a lot this year. However part of his problems are based on the Raptors overall sucking on defense. It is hard to learn how to play defense correctly when the people around you are not performing up to snuff as well. In the interview I did with Kris, I said that I would feel massive disappointment if Demar is not one of the most improved players on this roster next season. It was a year of learning and the test of what he learned will come next season. As for this year he was up and down and very inconsistent on both ends. ( Final Grade C+)
Antonie Wright (Mid-Term Grade F) I took a lot of heat for the mid-term grade. The ironic thing is Wright would rise up after that grade and show some signs. I am still not in love with him as a player and I honestly do not feel he is back next year. However he is without question one of the few people that improved in this second half. He to his credit was one of the few guys showing fight down the stretch for this team. He unfortunately turned his ankle and his season was brought to a pre-mature end. He never measured up to being the defender that he was hyped to be. That being said he was one of the best defenders on team that lacked defense. I felt he talked far to much for a guy that was at best a role player on this roster? I will be surprised if he is back but he can take heart in at least he got out of my dog house. Which I am sure he cares about deeply. Yeah Right....or should that have been Yeah Wright. (Final Grade C)
Hedo Turkoglu (Mid Term Grade F) Took heat for this one as well. Who doesn't agree now? F as in Flop, Failure, and some other word that begins with F that he made Raptor fans say more than once. From his night club escapades with no pictures to partying when you called in sick for work. Then of course we had BALL. Which many say Hedo did not see enough off. Epic Failure sums up Hedo Turkoglu's first season in Toronto. Even his apology on the way out the door lacked energy and effort, not to mention sincerity too. His defense was brutal, his effort was worse. This has a chance to be one of the worst signings in Raptor History. That is saying a lot because there have been some bad ones. Yogi Stewart I am looking at you!!! Colangelo promises you will see a better Hedo next year. My question is was that a promise to fans or a wish for himself. Perhaps both. ( Final Grade Still F)
Sonny "Money" Weems (Mid Term Grade B) He earned a nickname and a ton more this second half. Sonny Weems became one of the few reasons to watch this team down the stretch. His rise from out of no where reminds folks of that of Jamario Moon. However let's hope he does not fall as fast. I am convinced he will not. Weems is pretty fundamentally sound. That jump shot is looking more "Money" by the game. He adds energy and spark and he will if nothing else challenge his buddy Demar to match his effort and energy. The best story of the second half of the year by a mile. He deserved to be a starter as much as HeDON'T deserved to take a seat. Sonny is flat out the BEST STORY of this season. (Final Grade A)
Marco Belinelli (Mid Term Grade C-) Bryan Colangelo set the bar very high for Marco when he said that he felt he had the potential to be 6th man of the year. He was no where near that. He in fact seemed to be stuck in Jay Triano's doghouse for most of the season. He just never delivered and you now understand why Golden State was not exactly worried about tossing him overboard. Worse yet early on Colangelo picked up an option on his contract. Can Marco turn it around? Hopefully. Team Italy for the Raptors did not have a good second half of the season. (Final Grade- F)
Reggie Evans (Mid Term Grade- He was Injured so Incomplete)- Reggie Evans injury in the pre-season really set his Raptor career off on the wrong foot quite literally. Evans did eventually play and unfortunately never was able to match the bull in a china shop we saw in pre-season briefly. He often looked out of sorts trying to be a scorer at times. It was not pretty. He was not the dominate force on the glass he has been in the past. It was revealed in exit interviews that Reggie may not have been at full strength even when he did return. Clearly his injury screwed up his entire season. I unlike most have not given up hope in terms of Reggie. But clearly he feel far short of the expectations he had that were sky high in terms of what his impact would be. (Final Grade D)
Rasho Nesterovic (Mid Term Grade D-) It was a feel good signing that really never amounted to much. Rasho is a good guy and will never cause you a problem. That being said he was used sparingly at best. He can once in awhile pop off the bench and shock you with some solid play. But clearly bringing back Rasho really didn't amount to much. I don't expect him to be back but I think most Raptor fans will always appreciate him. Unfortunately he just is not a guy that is going to contribute much on the floor anymore. Off of it he can be an asset but not so much that it is worth paying him the money it would cost. (Final Grade D)
Amir Johnson (Mid Term Grade A-) Fear Amir!!! Also fear if he can stay on the floor. But if he can look out. Johnson has done a solid job and in a contract year for him has delivered that goods. He is the only of the Raptors Free Agents that I suspect the Raptors will push hard to re-sign. Chris Bosh obviously they will as well but that story may be written. If Bosh goes signing Amir becomes even more of a priority he closed the season playing strong without Bosh. Showing he can be a scorer as well as a rebounder and defensive presence on that end of the floor. The last ever guy to make the jump from high school to the pros made a big leap in what people think about him around the league. Raptors will not be the only ones looking to sign him up this off-season. Foul magnet deactivate and he can be great. ( Final Grade A )
Andrea Bargnani ( Mid Term Grade A-) Things were looking o.k for Andrea at times this season. But when Chris Bosh went down to injuries where was he? Most times he was no where to be found. He recently was quoted in an article that he is ready to be the franchise guy if Bosh leaves. I strongly disagree with Andrea. He has never shown the ability to be a good Batman. He quite honestly struggles to be Robin on some days. Rebounding still a major issue and his defense is soft. Someone please teach this kid how to foul someone hard and not allow them to score. People question Bosh as a leader and if he is truly a top flight player. Well for those people is Andrea even in Bosh's neighborhood? He shouldn't be cause he isn't. When we are still talking bout a guy making 50 million dollars in terms of potential something is wrong. If Colangelo had waited to extend Bargnani till now how much less could he have got away with. Overall it was a season that was inconsistent for Bargnani. It was a good year but not a great year. If Bosh goes the Raptors need great from Bargnani and I am not sure he is capable. (Final Grade B-)
Chris Bosh (Mid Term Grade A) Injuries, frustration and a sad ending to a great career with the Raptors. That might be how we look back on the end of the CB4 Era if that is where we are heading. Bosh was injured right out of the gate after the all-star break. He sat and watched this team fail without him. He would never really recover from that point. I am not talking in terms of health. In terms of mentally. Then he ends up taking an elbow and it was all over for him for the season and for the Raptors. Chris is getting beat up a lot by folks. Saying he fades down the stretch of seasons. He becomes easily frustrated. But ask yourself how you would feel? The last 3 major moves made by Bryan Colangelo have failed. Jason Kapono, Jermaine O'Neal and Hedo Turkoglu have all not worked out. Chris is part of the problems this team has endured but his share of blame is far less than most would have you believe. But on this season along he clearly fell off and he did not have a team around him that was able to pick him up. If this is the end then a grade of B seems appropriate for bye. 20 and 10 is not easy to replace each night and Raptor fans may learn that lesson the hard way next season. (Final Grade B-)
Jay Triano ( Mid Term Grade C+) Jay Triano has his job still. Amazing when you consider how this team performed when it mattered most. The defense is horrible and was for the majority of the season. I question his ability to motivate players on this level as an NBA head coach. I guess the point is for my money Jay Triano is book smart but I am not convinced he his street smart. Colangelo believes in him and I clearly question that. Jay may at the end of the day, just might be a great assistant coach on this level and not have the stuff to be the guy. That is not a crime and he would not be the first to have this happen to him. You only need to look to Mark Ivaroni on his staff for an example of that. Colangelo is willing to let Triano learn on the job. Raptor fans clearly are not embracing that idea with open arms. Eventually you are what your record says you are. Jay Triano eventually has to be held accountable for that record does he not? The Organization stuck with Sam Mitchell through some bad years. However Sam never had the talent on paper that Jay has had. Sam also when he did have talent got this team to the post season. (Final Grade D-)
Bryan Colangelo ( Mid Term Grade B-) No move at the deadline and for the 3rd year time in his run with the Raptors his major off-season move is a bust. He also sticks with a coach that most at least in the fan base feel is not the guy to take this team anywhere. On top of it all he will be the G.M that will be likely will be part of Chris Bosh leaving. This is not exactly the legacy that people hoped for when he arrived. Colangelo has hit a lot of singles and doubles. But his home run swing has been lacking in his time here. He needs to hit a major homer run this off-season especially if he is unable to re-sign Bosh. Is Colangelo a victim of bad luck of bad decision making. Perhaps a combination of both. He also has the legacy of those 150 Million worth of contracts that belong to Hedo, Jose and Andrea. Colangelo is clearly down the question will be is he out. I know this much Colangelo will go down swinging if he is. (Final Grade D+)
Dino Blogger ( Mid Term Grade C+)- This has been a really learning year for myself. I added some folks to the mix here in Anas and Danielle. I hope that they will develop and grow as I did when this thing started. It was also the first season I had access to Raptors and it was a learning experience. I always feel that I can do more and do things better. That being said I am trying my best to build on to things and have added more things to the list of things I am doing. I am proud of some of the stuff I have been able to accomplish this season. It is never easy to stay motivated when things go south. However they did and I feel that I was still able to keep things rolling. As we finish our 3rd season of covering the Raptors and close in on 3rd year doing the Dino Nation Blog. Someone pointed out I forgot to give myself a grade in the original posting of this so I was going to give myself a B...but based on not giving myself a grade B-.
That is about it...oh by the way if you thought Patrick O'Bryant was forgotten he wasn't he just wasn't a factor on the floor and won't be back.
The West has offered a much different story with a bunch of series tied at 1. While OKC has put in a good effort despite being down 2-0 to the Lakers. The one thing that does seem clear for me thought is Cleveland seems like the team that looks the best and could be on the way to a title. Orlando should be the one road block to that path to the finals.
In terms of the Raptors there is not much going on now that we have heard from all the major players, the Coach and Colangelo. You can bet the phones are being worked though as Colangelo pointing out the Raptors can make moves with any team that like the Raptors has their season concluded. There is also a draft to prepare for. The Raptors unless they get some serious luck will have a very late lottery pick. Eventually will get to looking at their options for that pick.
I guess it has just reached the point of acceptance that this season is over and done. I have talked with a few folks about the season both interviewing others and getting interviewed myself. Really it has all come to an end and nothing can be done about it. I had said that this season was not going to be defined by anything other than if the Raptors were in a position to re-sign Chris Bosh. Based on all that has gone on it would appear that is not the case. As everyday passes it becomes more clear that Bosh's future is likely elsewhere. Which for me, I personally find sad. I have no evidence for you to support this. However, it has always been my belief that Bosh was wanting the Raptors to give him some reason to believe and to stay. Clearly that hasn't happened.
That is what makes this season a failure and if things to do not go well in this process of Bosh making his exit it could be much more than a season. Bryan Colangelo has the job of his life, if he hopes to keep the Raptors competitive, on the other side of watching it's franchise player leave again.
It is going to be a long and what could be painful summer. However in terms of today, I just feel that I have to take a breath, accept things and move on. Sounds easy enough to do. But the truth is when you do care about the team that you cover it can be painful process. No matter how things go for me moving forward I will always remain a fan. People in the media have always told me this is not possible. However, I refuse to trade in my joy, pain and passion of being a fan. I can still be objective and do my job without having to give that away. Just some days the fan part of me is made very sad by the professional in me.
Tomorrow will be a new day but not necessarily a better one. However you keep doing this or being a fan for the hope that a better day will come. That hope in that day coming may take some major damage this summer.
I will be live blogging for The Score tonight as I am doing the Blazers and Suns. Least I can cheer for Canada's greatest baller that will put a smile on my face hopefully.
As the guys mentioned you can now follow them on Twitter @DNBsRoundball for fun and updates on the show. Also we all know Joey G is a fan of Kat from the Raptors Dance Pak and the host of Raptorspace. So I am sure he won't mind if I mention my interview in The Industry Magazine with Kat. It is on Page 23-24. Hope you enjoy that and this episode of the Round Ball Review.
Chicago Bulls vs Cleveland Cavaliers (Cavs lead the series, 2-0)
Lebron James. So he gets 40 points, 8 assists and 8 rebounds Tuesday night, including a spectacular line drive and jam. This is just Lebron being Lebron. But if any of you were watching with a close eye, you may have seen his elbow being slightly higher than the rim on that jam. Absolutely fantastic. Conversely, this is also what frustrates me about the Cavs. I wanted to see more from them in this series instead of the Bron Bron show. You rarely see Jamario Moon in the highlights as the guy who made the difference or provided a turning point for the Cavs in any win, but he did Tuesday night. Every time the Bulls tried to challenge the Cavs, Jamario was "Moon"ing them with receiving passes and knocking them down four out of five tries. And I think this is where the Bulls got caught. Chicago has being playing like they were going to steal a game with playing good defense and getting good playoff mileage from Joakim Noah who had a career play-off high 25 points, 13 rebounds. The Bulls weren't expecting Jamario to be the play maker and that is what will be the key for Cleveland. The Bulls are challenging and stepping up their game but it may not be enough if they don't keep their eyes open.
Portland Trail Blazers vs. Phoenix Suns (Portland leads 1-0)
This series has been interesting so far. I would have liked to see a lower seeded team beat a higher seeded team in game one of the series between the Cavs and Bulls but I'll take it here. Just no more, ok? Surprisingly, Portland won the first game of this series and this is huge considering the Suns had gone 23-6 since the All-Star break. If you look at the Suns scoring stats for the regular season, they have had some trouble when playing Portland. The Suns have averaged a league-leading 110 points per game overall compared to the 98 points they have averaged against the Trail Blazers. So what is it about Portland that makes Phoenix nervous? For this series, maybe it's because Portland has found a way to guard Amar'e Stoudemire. Or just doing a better job defensively and controlling the game through Andre Miller. He had 31 points, including being 10 for 10 on free throws. Or with Marcus Camby - he was solid on defense but also pulled down 17 rebounds and three blocks for Portland. I know history seems to be on their side, too - game one winners have gone on to win best-of-seven series 79% of the time since 1947. When the ball is with Steve Nash, the Suns and the stars are aligned since that's when they perform best and win games - when they are in control. The Phoenix Suns are on notice.
Charlotte Bobcats vs. Orlando Magic (Magic leads 1-0)
It was the nerves. If you don't keep them at bay in any playoff series in any sport, the opposition will eat you for dinner. That's what happened to Charlotte in the first half of their opener against Orlando. The Bobcats were trailing by 22 points early in the second half before the tag team of Gerald Wallace and Raymond Felton took over. Felton hit 2 free throws and got the Bobcats as close as four with less than four minutes left. Scoring pretty good on the excitement meter for the first time the Bobcats have ever played in the post season. Think back to what your coach told you in grade school: when you see your opponent is playing nervous apply pressure and watch the fireworks. Especially in the playoffs. And it didn't help when Stephen Jackson was pushing through the first three quarters with the pain of a knee injury. He finished with 18 points and 9 rebounds and played less than three minutes of the fourth quarter with a hyper extended left knee. Yikes. Another key to this game? Jameer Nelson. He had 14 points in the first half and dropped a buzzer-beating 35-foot bomb giving a 59-43 lead to the Magic. I think this made Orlando fans forget Vince Carter's shooting woes - 4 for 19 - even if just for a minute. Charlotte needs to just worry about their defense first and re-group if they are going to steal a game or two in this series.
Los Angeles Lakers vs. Oklahoma Thunder (Lakers lead 1-0)
I saved the best for last. You know from being with me for the season, the Lakers have been my team since the beginning of my time on this earth. This is not the reason I picked them to win this year but the fact they have more depth and experience than the Cavs. Sure, I have been told by many they would love to see Lebron win one. I love Lebron, don't get me wrong but I have said it before and I will say it again. I don't believe championships should be won for one player or by one player - it's no fun that way. The best TEAM deserves to win. And the Lakers have all the ingredients. We were talking history when discussing the Blazers and Suns, so I will throw out another little bit out there for you. When Phil Jackson's team wins Game 1 of any length of series, he is 44-0 (Chicago 24-0 and Lakers 20-0). Nice right? But also look at their defensive intensity and how Bynum comes off a 13 game absence with a strained Achilles' tendon and finished with 13 points, 12 rebounds and 4 blocks while on the floor for a collective 30 minutes. They have to watch their rhythm, though. The Lakers should have put up more points on the board to take the first game by more than a score of 87-79. Kobe can't be happy with his performance - he was 7 for 12 from the free throw line and 6 for 19 on shooting. Not good. The Lakers will need to watch their turnovers in transition and keep up their intensity through 4 quarters or else the Thunder may squeak out a game or two.
Colangelo said of his own performance, "I’m not proud of averaging 40 wins and only making the playoffs twice. I’m just not". He is not alone in that, if you listen to talk radio or scan the internet you will find many people the same, and some even wanting Bryan to be gone. However Bryan thinks that picture that media and blogs paint, is one that is far more doom and gloom than the reality. Forgive me if I am not that optimistic, when it would appear the team's best player is on his way out. Colangelo did little other than put out a token effort that the Raptors would like to re-sign Chris. Here is what he said on Bosh's Future," It’s the biggest unknown right now, but I would tell you that I fully embrace the notion and fully intend to talk about him staying a Raptor and talk about the things that might happen, should he stay and talk about the success we might have should he stay and why Toronto is the right place for Chris Bosh ". Colangelo would later go on to confirm what Chris Bosh had said, that regardless of stay or go, he and Bosh have a deal to work together. Which makes it seem more likely the Bosh Era will end via "Sign and Trade" in the summer.
This of course leads to Andrea Bargnani as the face of the franchise and most likely the most talented player on the roster. What would B.C say the impact would be on Bargnani should Bosh go. Colangelo said the following on this topic " I don’t know if he’ll ever be ready to replace Chris fully, but he’ll have the opportunity to assume a much bigger scoring load, he’ll have the opportunity to emerge as a more a dominant scorer within this team. There’s times when he gets a little lost in the offense and he gets a little anxious when he does touch the ball. But you’re talking about a seven-footer who is 24-25, he’s got better – with the exception of staying flat the second year – he’s gotten better every step of the way. Despite the constant, constant criticism of the contract, it’s a very good contract. There are a lot of people out there in the league seem to agree with us. That it’s a very good contract for a kid with that kind of production and that kind of potential. For another $15m more you can get 1.2 rebounds from LaMarcus Aldridge..it’s a very good contract. There’s a lot of value there and there’s a lot of interest in him. He’s going to have a chance to emerge if Chris leaves and if Chris stays then we’ll find way for him to get better at things he needs to get better at. Rebounding he’s got a little bit better, but it’s not good enough." Seems a bit defensive doesn't he? Unlike the team he constructed.
So time out, I have some rebuttal if you do not mind. The contract is bad if Bargnani never lives up to it in terms of his potential. The fact we still have to talk about Bargnani still in those terms is reason enough for me to call that a bad contract.Then the comparison between Andrea and Aldridge is smoke and mirrors. Come on now seriously, who would not trade for Aldridge straight up for Bargnani and not blink. Colangelo refuses to admit that he made a mistake on Bargnani and he never will. Also when his biggest supporter tells you he will never fully replace Chris that is cause for concern.
From Bargnani to Raptors version of the movie "Groundhog Day". Once again we have 2 point guards and only one starting spot. Playing the role of T.J Ford is Jarrett Jack and Jose Calderon returns as Jose Calderon. Tell me if this B.C quote sounds familiar at all. Bryan on his point guard situation-" They both want to be here. They both have professed to not care about starting. Clearly there was some sort of disconnect there. We need more consistency at that position. It’s just that simple. That’s probably an indictment of both of them. At the same time, it’s an acknowledgment that we’ve got two very talented players that are capable of playing and starting and leading the team. Jose did it during stretches and Jarrett did it during stretches. We need to truly ascertain whether they can play together and co-exist. If we come to that determination that something needs to be done, we’ll make a move. That’ll be something that we heavily scrutinize this summer, this off-season." Let me just say this. Somewhere out there in Houston Texas, T.J Ford is laughing and saying I told you so. Hey here is an idea, trade Jose for T.J and we can do this all again next season with Jack and Ford. If Jack is the one that ends up voted off the island, Bosh leaves and Triano stays that is a "trinity of terror" for most Raptor fans. Colangelo wants to say that it is a small but vocal minority that is painting all of this doom and gloom. However I interact with Raptor fans every single day and trust me it is not a minority. From the casual fan to the die hard Raptor fans everyone is concerned. The root of that concern is how this team defends, and to bring back the coach responsible, and the point guard with no defense in his game, while the star player walks is truly a "trinity of terror". That is not doom and gloom talk, that is just reality for most Raptor fans.
Bryan was asked about if he felt the fans frustration? B.C said " I feel their frustration. I think they would be less frustrated if there wasn’t such a frenzied movement." Cool I am part of a frenzied movement. Tell us more on this new group I am part of. Colangelo would explain this movement, in this quote " But we cannot be swayed by the angst of a vocal minority that wants us to be someone we’re not. What we are is we’re a solid organization, one of the best-run organizations in the NBA and in professional sports. Top to bottom. I’m talking about hockey, basketball, soccer, real estate, everything. Television. it’s a company that will do everything in its power to answer the fans’ concerns, and that’s what we’re doing. The one thing we control is our effort and our attempt to make it happen." Allow me to respond to this.
When is MLSE going to understand a couple things? Just because you own a hockey team, soccer team, Condos, and many other things does not interest me as a Raptor fan. I am ONLY a Raptor fan and none of these other things concern me, unless they impact on the Raptors. They as an organization have said the Raptors Organization is committed to winning a championship. That is what I am concerned with. That is all I am concerned with. If your hockey team sucks or wins the Stanley Cup (insert 1967 joke here) I could careless. Colangelo in talking about Bosh and re-signing mentioned the idea of being a national franchise with opportunities for Chris to be marketed in Canada. Well do you think people in Calgary, Vancouver, St. Johns, Saskatoon, Thunder Bay or any other city care about these other things. Do they care if the Leafs or Toronto FC win? Do they care if you sell condos in Toronto or not? No, they care if the Raptors are successful. No one is disputing the fact MLSE is a successful and well run organization in terms of profitability. They also do not care about those things. They care about winning and the Raptors ultimate success on the floor.
That leads to this whole topic of the Raptors being a tax team or not. MLSE has always left it out there, that they are willing to be a team that goes over the tax threshold, but have never ventured beyond it. Once again Bryan threw out the MLSE line on this topic. He said " The commitment is there from ownership to exceed the tax if necessary. And we’ll do what we can to bring the right pieces in." Chris Bosh in his exit interview made a point, that he believes it is a requirement to being a championship team. Which I agree, as did Jack Armstrong and Alex Seixerio in recent interviews. So why has this not happened in Chris Bosh's time here? This Organization has said they want to win a championship. Ironically it would appear they may become a tax team after their best player leaves. They may have no choice given the contracts of Turkoglu, Calderon and Bragnani. In fact B.C detailed that he has several plans that would include being a tax team. Here is what he said, "the amount of flexibility we have that will determine to what extent we exceed the tax. I’ve got scenarios where I can paint a picture that we’ll be a 3-million-dollar tax team. I’ve got scenarios where we’ll be a 7-million-dollar tax team. And I’ve got scenarios where we’ll be higher than that. But they’re all scenarios because of the unknowns of free agency and the off-season that have yet to be determined. Today, those answers aren’t available.". It is an off-season full of unknowns not just for the Raptors but many NBA teams.
What was made pretty clear is that the Raptors you see now, will not be anything like the Raptors you see in October. Colangelo seems committed to changes regardless of if CB4 is on board or not. In the past, a press conference like this would have calmed Raptors fans. However not this time around. Bryan Colangelo is still the same guy. Confident and secure that he can save the day. The difference is the Raptor fans have lost the total faith in him that they once had. Colangelo is still the same guy he was when he rolled into Toronto, it is just people instead of bowing and saying thank you for coming to save us. They now see him as the reason for their pain. I will close with a Jack Armstrong line. Bryan has gone from "Peacock today" to "Feather duster tomorrow". When the dust all clears will he still be the super genius we all use to think he was? Time will tell. However let me make it clear. Nothing would please me more to write that Colangelo was right. As I mentioned in the interview with Alex Seixerio, it is no fun to cover a team that fails. It is not good for business ether. So nothing would please me more than for Bryan to be right and successful this off-season. That being said it is hard to see a path to that success given what we know. Good luck to him as I have a feeling as smart as he is, some luck is going to be required.
Thanks to Alex for his time today. Love all of our Fan 590 regulars that include Jack, Paul, Eric and Zack. They all are fun to talk with and bring solid knowledge and opinion to the table. Which is why we are always happy when any of them pay us a visit.
Playoffs Re-Cap- Day 1
Cavs 97 Chicago 83
Cavs had an offensive drought and that is the only reason the Cavs didn't win this game by 20 +. A ho hum 24 from Lebron James. It is only going to get better for the Cavs and worst for the Bulls. Cleveland I called to win this series in 5. I have no idea how Chicago can win a game in this series. If I had it to redo I would call the sweep which Anas did in out playoff preview.
Atlanta 102 Bucks 92
Brandon Jennings was fantastic and yet it still wasn't enough. The Hawks have experience and poise now in the playoffs and they can display it against the in-experienced Bucks. I still think some how some way the Bucks will eek out a win. But this series will be Atlanta's and it won't take long.
Boston 85 Miami 76
This was by far the game of day 1. The Heat lead most of the way. Until the Celtics would awakened and took over. The Celtics played perhaps the best defense they had in months. The made D-Wade into the invisible man. Then near the end we had a fight with K.G in the middle and he would be kicked out of this one. Will he be in for game 2? Might need to hear from the league on that. Now I took Heat in 5. But that went out the window. Heat are not beating Boston 4 straight. They also have allowed themselves to get into the Celtics kind of game. Fights, smack talk and defense that all is how Celtics like to play. Heat now have a fight on their hands.
Denver 126 Utah 113
Didn't these teams get the memo about the playoffs are about defense? Maybe it is the thin air in Denver. Someone mentioned in our preview the Jazz had no one to check Mello. Well give that person a gold star as Carmelo Anthony went off for 42 points. Yes that is a career playoff high. More important think we got our answer if Denver is under pressure or inspired by George Karl. The answer is clearly inspired.
K.D vs Kobe today that should be fun. I am also going to be doing the Mavs and Spurs for The Score on the live blogs so join me at 8pm for some playoff fun. In addition don't feel to bad the Raptors are not there by watching the Cavs yesterday it is clear it would have been a short trip.
Eastern Conference- (1)Cleveland vs (8)Chicago
Picks: (Anas) Cavs in 4 (Danielle) Cavs in 5 (James) Cavs in 5
We all agree that Cavs are moving on and it won't take long. Anas even getting out the broom for the Bulls. For each series will give you some Keys to the series, X-Factors and a reason to believe for the team we don't pick. Well at least we try.
X-Factor- The Cavs have been resting and the Bulls have been fighting till the final day to hold off the Raptors. Will Cleveland be rusty and cough up a game to the Bulls? Possible. Will the Bulls win this series? Not possible.
If The Bulls Shock the World How Do They Do It- Play like you don't care what happen- the under dog likes to play this way to win- No Pressure-(Danielle) Also the Bulls have experience of taking the Celtics to the limit last year. At least they have been in this spot before, to add on to Danielle's point of nothing to lose. That may not be the case for Bulls Coach Vinny Del Negro thought.
(2)Orlando vs (7)Charlotte
Picks : (Anas) Magic in 6 (Danielle) Magic in 5 (James) Magic in 6
The Magic have a roster that might just be able to upset the Cavs in the Eastern Conference Finals, but the Bobcats are a hungry team that are coached by the war-tested Larry Brown. This could be over in five but I think the Cats claw their way to a couple of wins-(Anas) For whatever reason the Magic have had trouble over the years with less talented Bobcat teams then this one. Charlotte has not been buzzing this much since the Hornets 1st trip to playoffs. Look for a retro experience like the old days of the hive.
X-Factors- Vince Carter (Magic), Stopping D12 (Bobcats) -(Anas)
How do Bobcats do the unthinkable?- Capitalize on the juice between Stephen Jackson and Gerald Wallace. - (Danielle) In addition to that play superior perimeter defense and take away the Magic's best weapon beyond Dwight Howard the 3-Ball.
(3) Atlanta vs (6) Milwaukee
Picks- (Anas) Hawks in 5 (Danielle) Hawks in 6 (James) Hawks in 5
Brandon Jennings, he could throw the game in the Bucks favour if he shows he’s ready to play the big game.- (Danielle) But that being said the Hawks are a group that have been to players for several seasons in a row as a group. They have the experience the Bucks don't have. Not to mention without Bogut, Hawks have a huge advantage inside. Sorry Milwaukee none of us here, Fear The Deer!!!
X-Factors: Guard play must be superior for the Bucks to have a shot.-(Anas) Also for the Bucks they can not allow the Hawks to to score in transition so keeping turnovers to a minimum a must.
What will make us Fear The Deer?
What will make us Fear The Deer?- Play hard and consistent without Bogut. Count on Jerry Stackhouse to provide the experience and insight into both the playoffs and Hawks. -(Danielle) Like I said as well take care of the basketball. But in the end this was a great match-up with Bogut. Without him it presents all kinds of issues for the Bucks including rebounding.
(4) Boston vs (5) Miami
Picks- (Anas) Heat in 7 (Danielle) Celtics in 7 (James) Heat in 5
First series we have some disagreement on. So here is Anas likes the Heat and Danielle the Celtics.
Miami heads into the playoffs winners of nine of their last ten. The Celtics’ run is done and D. Wade will pull this one out for his team- (Anas) Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Rajon Rondo - they will want to play from the inside out since they have been inconsistent offensively -(Danielle) For my 2 cents Boston has been terrible down the stretch and I have 0 confidence in them. Maybe I am bitter they didn't help the Raptors. Not really why I am picking them to not only lose but get embarrassed in doing so.
X Factor- Simple- Celtic Pride and is there any?
For Miami to Win
For Miami to Win- Wade needs to have a spectacular series. Anas had mentioned Micheal Beasley as an X-Factor option. He along with a few others need to step up and help carry the offensive load.
For Boston- Rondo needs to play out of his mind and it will be interesting to see how Miami looks to defend him. Rondo has not looked good of late and in this aging version of the Celtics they go as Rondo goes. Short of K.G, Ray Allen and Pierce finding the fountain of youth this will not change.
Western Conference- (1) Lakers vs (8) Thunder
Picks (Anas) Lakers in 6 (Danielle) Lakers in 6 (James) Lakers in 6
Picks (Anas) Lakers in 6 (Danielle) Lakers in 6 (James) Lakers in 6
Well there you have it Lakers in 6. Good night everyone tip your waitress. Just kidding but we all see this one the same. Anas does a good job of summing this one up.The Thunder may be young and thin upfront, but Kevin Durant is the best scorer in the NBA. With that said, I don’t doubt for a second that the Lakers will win this series.-(Anas)
X-Factors- Thunder- Experience = 0, Lakers- Kobe's Health
How could Thunder Roll and SHOCK the CHAMPS and the NBA?
How could Thunder Roll and SHOCK the CHAMPS and the NBA?- Push the tempo and control flow of the game. Play relaxed since they are not expected to do anything against the Lakers - getting LA’s defense into foul trouble wouldn’t hurt either.-(Danielle) Only one point to add to the great points made by Danielle. Be Physical especially with Kobe. OKC needs to come out swinging almost literally if they want to take out the Champs.
(2) Mavericks vs (7) Spurs
Picks (Anas) Dallas in 7 (Danielle) Dallas in 6 (James) Dallas in 7
Was Anas looking at my test answers? We seem to agree on a lot. But what we all agree on it this will be a long series. But why? It is 2 vs 7 and the Spurs are old and have best days behind them right? True perhaps but Dallas since being 2 wins from an NBA title have never been the same in the playoffs. Maybe that is why Mark Cuban's team was active at the deadline getting some pieces from the Wizards. Arenas and his jokes with guns have helped 2 teams in their playoffs. The Cavs with Jamison and these Mavericks. Least Mark Cuban hopes so.
X-Factors- Danielle and Anas both say Manu. I will add the devil you know. These two are in state rivals and no doubt Dallas is just a tad envious of the Spurs success. Motivation to send them packing? Will see. On the other side do the Spurs fear the Mavs at all? Probably not.
How Spurs win?
How Spurs win?- Parker out plays Kidd by a wide Margin. Yeah I agree Manu needs to be large. Along with help for Tim Duncan inside. Maybe David Robinson can come out of retirement? If not Bonner and the other so called post people need to step up. Also landing the first punch would be huge. If the Spurs can get a lead in this series doubt will creep in for Dirk and his Mavs.
(3) Suns vs (6) Portland
Picks (Anas) Suns in 5 (Danielle) Suns in 6 (James) Suns in 5
Picks (Anas) Suns in 5 (Danielle) Suns in 6 (James) Suns in 5
3 Canadians all picking the Suns and Steve Nash....Shocking I know. But in order to go against Canada's greatest baller Portland has to at least have a healthy Brandon Roy and they don't. Danielle looks to Nash and Stoudemire to be key. Nash and Stoudemire being strong. Nash is the conductor of the game and they need to take control early.-(Danielle) Amare has been one of the best players in the league coming down the stretch. Will this be his last ride with the Suns? That is a question for July. The Question here is will he advance with Nash and the answer is yes.
X-Factor- Again Danielle and Anas agree on Marcus Camby as an X-Factor. I say forget Camby Roy isn't health, even Camby of 10 years ago isn't helping the Blazers.
How Can Blazers Win?
How Can Blazers Win?- Keep up their “don’t give up” attitude. They lost Oden and Przybilla in December and kept truckin’. Also, play physical and throw off Nash and Amare, make them play uncomfortable.-(Danielle) That says it all nothing to add.
(4) Nuggets vs (5) Jazz
Picks- Nuggets in 7 (Everyone)
Picks- Nuggets in 7 (Everyone)
This is the one series I can't get a feeling on it. I think it is no secret since George Karl has left due to his health concerns the Nuggets have not been the same. Jerry Solan will be there as he has for 20 years or what every it is now for the Jazz. He has to worry about how health the one half of his 2k version of Stockton and Malone is. Boozer has vowed to play in this series but how good can he be. George Karl may be able to return to the bench for round 2 will that motivate or just add pressure on a Nuggets team that at the start of the year saw themselves as the team to knock off the Lakers and go to the Finals. This series is toss up as a 4 vs 5 match-up would suggest.
X Factors- Nuggets motivated or under pressure, Jazz- Health of Boozer and How do they match-up with Melo? You want a player? J.R Smith is always a wild card for me.
How Do The Jazz Win
How Do The Jazz Win- Jazz Coach Sloan needs to keep his boys in check. Playoffs mean emotions can run high and you don’t want focus to go with it.-(Danielle) I agree with Danielle the Nuggets have a lot of guys that can get under your skin. Lead by that Birdman with all his tattoos and funky hairstyles. The Dennis Rodman of the 2k in some ways. Obvious health is the other issue.
That does it for Playoff Picks for Round 1. Now how about the Regular Season Awards? Here are the Staff Picks with some explanation as to why we picked who we did.
Jamal Crawford- He provided instant offense for an excellent Hawks team and finally proved that he’s a winning player.(Anas)
Jamal Crawford- He’s been around and doesn’t play like the 6th man but a “starter” coming from the bench. He’s ready to contribute and should be interesting to watch in the playoffs.(Danielle)
Jamal Crawford- I will make in Unanimous. This was by far one of the most under rated moves made this season. He is an added weapon to the Hawks that has pushed them to the point of been on the verge of being considered an elite team in the NBA. (James)
Defensive Player of The Year
Dwight Howard- Apparently Anas felt this was a no brainer cause there was no comment. (Anas)
Dwight Howard- Raptor fans only need to look at Hedo Turkoglu's defense with Raptors to understand why Dwight deserves this award. He is a presence unlike anything the NBA has sense since the younger days of Shaq. Patrick Ewing has thought him well. If Ewing had the athletic abilities of D-12 he may have won a ring. (James)
Ron Artest- Hands down. So many teams (including Denver and Carmelo Anthony) don’t like him and that’s a compliment to a defensive player. It means he’s doing his job to get inside your head and throw you off your game.(Danielle)
Kevin Durant- He may be an MVP candidate but this year he’ll have to settle for being the most improved player.(Anas)
Kevin Durant- The toughest jump for any player to make is from NBA Superstar to NBA Elite Player. Durant has done it with his first scoring title and leading his Thunder to the playoffs. If not for the guy the call the King he is the league MVP. (James)
Marc Gasol- And not just because he’s Pau Gasol’s brother. He gets better with every dribble and will soon catch his brother if he keeps at it. (Danielle)
Coach Of The Year
Scott Brooks- He would like to thank Kevin Durant and me for this award. Kevin Durant is obvious but why me? I picked him for this award in the pre-season. I am pretty sure no one else was. Now many are and enough will for him to win this award. Getting the Thunder to post season in the West is quite the accomplishment. He has his young team believing in themselves and playing great basketball. (James)
Scott Brooks- You don’t pick a coach like Phil Jackson just because his team is stacked, you pick a coach that turns something out of nothing and make a team better because he’s there. He took a roster that was all over the place and was the defining thread who pulled things together.(Danielle)
Scott Skiles- The Bucks earned the fifth seed in the East with a rookie point guard. I have a feeling that had a lot to do with the coach. (Anas)
Rookie Of The Year
Brandon Jennings- I seriously considered choosing Tyreke Evans but Jennings helped bring his team into the playoffs. Plus, you gotta give love to a rookie who had the highest single-game point total in the league.(Anas)
Tyreke Evans-I have been extolling his virtues since the beginning of the season. That’s the difference between him and Stephen Curry. He’s had it all season - a class act all the way.(Danielle)
Stephen Curry- There was a time when I considered this was Jennings award to lose. I then felt Evans took that title away. But now with a late charge the son of Dell has mad me a believer. Season went another month I may have changed my mind again. The difference for me was seeing in person Curry tear apart the Raptors. I admit it may have made me bias. No doubt this is the closest 3 way race for Rookie of the Year I can recall. Jennings, Curry or Evans win I would have no issue with any of them. That is a complement to all 3 and the great seasons they each had.
Lebron James- He’s not the scorer Kobe is but he is more versatile than Kobe is. He may even play point guard if you need him to - not his favourite position but he will give his team what they need.(Danielle)
Lebron James- Back to Back MVP honours. Look I could tell you why he deserves it but just watch the guy and you see it. So instead I will say that he needs to start getting better gifts for his team when he wins these. Those cameras were whack. Although he wants to be a Billionaire and safe to say he plans on winning a lot of these so maybe I get it. King James is just that. No other player has an argument that is even worth talking about. That is saying something considering the year Kevin Durant had and others. (James)
LeBron James- Do I really need to explain?(Anas)
No you do not. This is the first time we have worked as a team on something here on Dino Nation Blog I hope you enjoyed it and enjoy the Playoffs without the Raptors once again. O.K try to enjoy the playoffs with out the Raptors once again.