On The Eve Of Doomsday

Well here we are sitting on the edge of lockout abyss for the NBA. If you consider yourself an optimistic person you will be encouraged by the fact the NFL appears to be on the verge of solving their labour issues. But to compare the two disputes is a little misleading. The NBA is in much worse shape overall than the NFL. The NBA is much more in a position similar to the NHL prior to their lockout that took away an entire season. Which ultimately never solved the issues. At the time it appeared the NHL Owners had landed a major victory. They got a salary cap put in place. A 15% rollback on salaries and all seemed good. But at the start of that new agreement the NHL Cap was 39 million and the cap floor was in the low 20 million range. Fast forward to today and that floor is now 48 million dollars. The major issue for the NHL has been the rise of the Canadian Dollar and that has made the NHL an even more profitable league as a result based on it's 6 Canadian franchises(Soon To Be 7). Now obviously the NBA is different and only has the Raptors here in Canada. The impact of the Canadian dollar is helpful for the Raptors but really has little impact on the league as a whole.

Why I bring up the NHL example is that if the NBA is going to go down this road they have chosen they better get it right. I think you can list a number of reasons why this lockout needs to happen in terms of the NBA Owners. While interest in the NBA has grown thanks to those 3 guys down in Miami. So has a growing issue of players control of the league. Sure it is great if you live in certain cities the way the NBA is currently constructed. But for small market teams and a team like the Raptors it is not exactly a great setup. While the Raptors can survive the fact that they basically are playing at a disadvantage there are other teams in this league that can not survive that over the long haul. Not to mention the whole idea of competitive balance which is fading fast under the current CBA.

While the impact of this lockout on myself and others like me could have a major impact. I mean for the last few years I have tried to eek out a living in covering Raptors and the NBA. So this lockout is no doubt devastating for me and others that try to do the same. But as a fan of the game I can understand why this is happening. If after all is said and done the NBA is better off I will be happy. However if this ends up similar to the NHL result in which nothing is actually solved I will be less than thrilled. I make it no secret that I have not been a fan of the NHL or Hockey for quite some time. The fact they blew an entire season away and basically stuck up their middle finger to the fans of their sport is part of why. Most of Canada has long forgotten that lockout and support the sport and league with very little consequence. But in the U.S the story is different for the NHL. The league dropped off the map and is not really on level with other major sports. Now the NBA will not have this happen but it will be a blow to the league should they let a season go away.

The outlook is far from optimistic for this lockout but I have a lot more faith in David Stern than I would in Gary Bettman who once upon a time worked under Stern in the NBA. It is vital for the league that he does. But it is going to be a long road to get there and you only need to look at how long it has taken the NFL to finally gain some momentum towards a deal. The issues in the NFL are far less and then is far more money to be made. The NBA issues are much more complex and not easily solved. How do you create a CBA that ensures teams some kind of security that players will not just stay with a team and then bolt at the first opportunity to do so. Players on the high end of the NBA pay scale make far to much money that is the major issue. Chris Bosh and Lebron James already were going to be loaded for life before they made the choice to head south. In the past greed was always the secret weapon for owners in CBA's. If a player could make more money playing somewhere it was always more likely that team had a great chance to retain that player.

Here at the Dino Nation Blog we will try to fight and stay alive during this lockout. It is not going to be easy but I have not given almost 4 years of my life to this to let it just be taken away. More than ever we will count on you folks that read and support the blog to help in that. What will happen during this lockout and how it will impact on us is unclear. But I urge you all to stick with us and support the DNB. I will do my best to keep things rolling along some how. It will likely mean less blogs and having to be very creative but I will do my best to keep this thing rolling along.

How long will this last is uncertain but it would seem highly unlikely we are talking about an NBA season getting started at the end of October. Things are always a little slower in the summer but with no off-season at all that will make it very different. It is hard not to be some what emotional about all of this. I have worked extremely hard to get everything I have with the DNB. Although this is something that is out of my control and really out of all fans of the NBA's hands. Still I refuse to give up and pray that we will all be better for this on the other side.

It is always a pleasure doing this blog and I will miss doing it as often and speaking with you on a more frequent basis. For now we will wait and see how things play out and once things have settled in likely take a break and come up with a plan for how we move forward from here. I thank you all that have supported the Dino Nation Blog and together with your help we will keep it alive through these difficult times for all of us.


DNB Top 10: NBA Lockout Edition

As Friday quickly approaches the one thing that's stuck in the minds of NBA fans around the world is whether there will be a lockout of not. The last time a lockout occurred was way back in the 1998-99 season, in which the season was shortened to only 50 games. This year many are saying that it will most likely be a year long lockout so we many not be seeing the likes of the Raptors, Miami's Big 3 and Kyrie Irving take the court until October of 2012, but lets just hope it doesn't actually come to that. A few weeks ago, James, gave us the top 10 things he'll do if there was to be a lockout and today I'll be giving y'all some suggestions of things to consider doing until the owners and players can eventually come to an agreement on a new CBA. So here we go.

Top 10 Things To Do During the Lockout:

#10: Discover Sarah Palin's Alaska

#9: Build a time machine to fast forward until there are NBA games again

#8: Enter into a deep hibernation until a deal is reached between the players and owners

#7: Have a telethon or record a CD to benefit NBA players

#6: Go golfing with Charles Barkley

#5: Petition to have the WNBA season extended to 82 games

#4: Re-watch Smallville, Lost and Friends from season 1

#3: Run up and down your street yelling "JIMMER" at 12:01am on July 1st

#2: Familiarize yourself with that other sport that's on in the fall called hockey

#1: Solve the mystery behind Lebron's hairline

So while we wait for the official word on the lockout situation at midnight on July 1st, consider these few suggesting if the foreshadowed lockout does indeed happen, and for the Canadian folks don't let if affect your Canada Day celebrations too much and remember you can always just Blame It On The Rain.


Money Weems Still A Raptor For Now.

When the Raptors acquired James Johnson it sent Sonny Weems to the bench from the starting line-up and it lead to a unhappy Weems. It seemed all the signs were there that Weems would be gone this off-season. Now that still could be the case but the Raptors did extend a qualifying offer which allows them to retain his rights as an RFA (Restricted Free Agent). Which means should Weems seek offers elsewhere the Raptors will have the opportunity to match any offer he receives.

It did raise a few eyebrows that the Raptors did this. But I can see the logic in doing so. If Weems gets another offer you can rationalize to DeRozan that you at least made an attempt to keep his best friend on the team but let him walk. While if you keep Weems on just that qualifying offer it is not the end of the world. Under Casey should he stay perhaps his defence will improve as well which was the major knock against him in comparison to James Johnson. The Raptors earlier picked up the option on Johnson's rookie contract along with Ed Davis and Demar DeRozan.

Lots of house keeping moves being done before the CBA expires and the expected lockout kicks in which will bring all NBA business to a screeching halt. In reality when we come back under a new CBA who is to say that RFA's even exist anymore. It is guess work to know what will remain and what will go in the new CBA. Clearly everything is up in the air. The clock is running out on the old CBA and while the NFL seems to be nearing a deal, the NBA is just starting it's labour war and many feel it will be a nasty battle. Comparisons to the NHL Lockout that wiped out an entire season have been used by some.

But heading into the lockout Sonny Weems will still be a Raptor if he chooses to be. The Young Onez may just not be dead yet. When we get to see them play again together or apart is a whole different question. One that we could be many months from knowing the answer to that.


Catching up from the Weekend

There were a number of minor news items for the Raptors this weekend. The first is the Raptors exercised options on Demar DeRozan, Ed Davis and James Johnson. Not exactly earth shaking or surprising. Those rumours about Barbosa leaving 7.2 million on the table and playing in Brazil? Forget about it, he is taking his money and exercising his player option for next season. Meaning if and when we play basketball he will have a very attractive expiring contract should the Raptors want to move him or keep him as the case maybe. While Jonas will not be coming next year by the looks of it. One more season in Europe and then a buyout looks to be the path we are heading down. Which if there is no NBA Season would still be the case. Speaking of which that NBA Lockout that we have all been warned about could be here as early as this week. The current CBA is set to expire and then the Owners would need to vote and make the lockout official.

If said lockout kicks in we here at the Dino Nation Blog might take a bit of vacation for a few weeks and then come back on a limited basis. Will see how things shake out. But with no off-season to cover it might be very hard to provide you with decent content 5 days a week. There is only so much labour talk people can stand and that includes me writing about it.

This is a unique time and really something we have never experienced in the history of this blog so will see what we do going forward. I would just ask that you continue to the support the Dino Nation Blog during this time of uncertainty for the NBA. The simple fact is we are dependant on the Raptors and the NBA to keep doing what we do. While there are other areas we go into such as Canada Basketball and NCAA that is not the main focus of what we do. The Dino Nation Blog is just one of many examples of the people not directly involved in the NBA Lockout that will be severally impacted by it. We like all of you just want to see basketball being played and the business of basketball continue. We depend on that to survive.

So please stick with us during this time of uncertainty. It has been almost 4 years of doing this blog and it has been a great ride and not one I would want to see come to an end.


Great Night for Canada But Maybe Not The Raptors

Well the Raptors and maybe you will all be pleased that I can't say I told you so about Tristan Thompson in a few years. Why I can't, is because the Raptors did not pass on Tristan Thompson because he was not there. He was gone to Cleveland with the 4th pick. The Texas freshman will be joining Irving the number 1 pick trying to fix the broken down kingdom that Lebron James left for South Beach. Tristan is a great talent and as much as some people were skeptical about how he would fit here in Toronto, I still fail to understand that. He blocks shots, he rebounds and he is a great force on the defensive end. He also happens to be Canadian and now the highest ever picked Canadian.

Ironically the Raptors would pick next and the mood would change. Jonas Valancinunas was the Raptors pick with both Brandon Knight and Kemba Walker still on the board. Needless to say the Raptor fan base for the most part was not exactly thrilled. Oh and not only is Jonas from Europe he likely is not putting on a Raptor jersey for a year or maybe even two. No the NBA lockout is not the reason, his contract with his European club team is. So we drafted the Ricky Rubio at Center position? Oh and then there is that whole Andrea Bargnani thing. He was the first ever European drafted first overall. How is that working out for the Raptors? Now all indications are Jonas is nothing like Bargnani. He rebounds, he blocks shots and he seems on paper to be a good fit. That being said as much as this may be a global game the Euro League is not the NBA. While some players have been able to translate very easily. Others do not make that transition as well. The NBA is the best league in the world for a reason and it is a different style of basketball.

Sorry to break it to Bryan Colangelo but because of Bargnani there is not a lot of patience for Jonas Valancinunas. Remember when Andrea was drafted and what people said at this time about him. He tested off the charts and had a extremely high basketball IQ. He was mentally tough. So how did that happen to pan out? I think Andrea Bargnani is mentally fragile at best. He may have a high basketball IQ but it is all on one end of the floor. While Colangelo is 100% correct in the need for Raptors to acquire a center. This may not be a guy that will be able to fit in this city. From day one he will face the ghosts of Bargnani and other non North American players that have been complete failures.

While Colangelo seems convinced he is right and the fans and his doubters are wrong, I am sure he felt and may still feel that way about Bargnani. While you can not obviously run a team based on the fans desires. At the same time to have complete disregard for the growing disconnect with this organization and it's fan base is not wise. Colangelo promises the money that they do not have to use likely to sign Jonas will be put to work in free agency. But here is the trick there is that lockout that Bryan is not allowed to talk about. So who knows when that free agency would be? Colangelo in his so called first term in office worked on a plan to build the Raptors through Europe and I think we can all agree that he failed in that goal. So the first move of his second term is to once again look to Europe? It doesn't make a lot of sense to me. The Raptors in the last two seasons steered away from that euro direction in the draft and have been rewarded with two solid players in DeRozan and Davis.

Another thing that bothers me is the lack of respect for the overall knowledge of this fanbase. I heard the example used of how fans booed the pick of Damon Stoudamire and the crowd at Skydome chanting for Ed O'Bannon. The fan base is far more educated from those days and the amount of access they have to information and the ability to watch guys play in the NCAA. Back in the days of mighty mouse there were not many that got to see him play out at Arizona. But times have changed and this fan base is far more educated and have much stronger opinions with that knowledge behind them.

While some praise Colangelo for his guts in making this pick. I am not one of them. Ultimately the Raptors can try and avoid the elephant in the room all they like but it is still there. For the Raptors ultimately to be successful they need to be able to make this an attractive destination for Americans to come here and after tonight maybe finally a Canadian or two. That is the problem this franchise has faced for 16 years. Colangelo I give credit for trying his Euro experiment the first time around. It was a good attempt to try and avoid the issue. But it ultimately failed and to head down that same path again is just not wise in my view. It would be nice to think that the Raptors could have a united nations type approach and be successful but the reality is as it has been proven over the past few years it doesn't work.

I stress again that the Raptors are walking a very thin line with their fans and to totally ignore what they feel is wrong. The only way it is right is if you win. Colangelo kept mentioning patience but if he hasn't noticed patience has run out here. He has a shorter term contract to remind him of that fact. If you expect this fan base to have patience, while you ignore their displeasure that is a recipe for disaster. I think everyone can agree that attendance and overall interest in the Raptors has declined. This is not a pick that will do anything to change that in the short term. If you lose fans in a town where you are always fighting against the monster down the hall that is the Maple Leafs that is never a wise idea.

Try marketing your draft pick that is not playing for your team coming off a certain labour stoppage and tell me how that works out for you. Now if you had a player that people wanted to see in a Kemba Walker or a Brandon Knight you are in a better spot. Ultimately I feel sorry for Jonas because it is not his fault. But he is walking into a hornet's nest and he has done nothing to deserve that. But Bryan Colangelo and Andrea Bargnani have. Along with a checkered past that Bryan Colangelo chooses to ignore dating back before he came here. But this fan base has endured it all and you need to understand that as well.

As for myself ultimately I got what I wanted out of this draft in a way. I really had no real passion or love for anyone in this draft other than wanting what is best for our Canadian kids. This draft will go down as one of the worst ever. I have no doubt about that. But at the end of the day the Raptors still have a glaring need at point guard. That leaves a door wide open for Myck Kabongo to walk through next year. I think he could ultimately be the guy out of the three players from Texas that will be the best fit. I am very confident he will follow the same path as Cory and Tristan have and also confident that he can be a potential lottery pick. Which realistically the Raptors should likely be in once again assuming we play a season. So I will try to remain optimistic and look forward to that brighter day. I know this much if Myck Kabongo is a Raptor he will be ready to roll from the moment his name was called.

Myck will be taking over the reigns at point guard for the now departed Cory Joesph. While I totally understood why Tristan Thompson was in this draft in terms of Cory I was a bit concerned. It turns out my concerns on if he would even be picked at all were far from the reality. The San Antonio Spurs who do this whole draft thing better than most surprised everyone by taking Cory Joesph. While it seems Tony Parker will be sticking around this could be a great situation for Joesph to play behind him. Hill looks to be the odd man out for the Spurs.

I am pretty sure this is the first time two Canadians have been drafted in the first round. But the exciting thing is this may only be the start of a group of kids that I like to call the Raptor Generation. One of the things in having the NBA come to Canada and the Raptors being part of the NBA since 1995 it has given kids in this country reason to dream and believe they can be in the NBA. The great success of Steve Nash has been part of that as well. But the presence of the NBA and the growing acknowledgement of NCAA programs that have started to notice Canada as a viable place to recruit talent. The future for Canada in the NBA had a very big night. The Toronto Raptors did not even if they think that they did.

Colangelo is off to a rocky start in his second tour of duty. This time around there is less desire to think that Colangelo is all knowing and will save the franchise as there was when he road in on his white worse from Phoenix. There is an old expression that Bryan Colangelo might want to take note of. If we forget our past then were are doomed to repeat it. The fans clearly have not forgotten the Raptors past even if Bryan Colangelo chooses to ignore it.

There is one thing that you have to admit in terms of Colangelo that he is always a guy that will make bold moves. But the problem is in terms of the Raptors a lot of his bold major moves have been failures. While I admire the sentiment in Colangelo feeling he did what was best for the franchise in the long term. I just don't agree with the decision he has made.

I want to thank Manu and the staff at St Louis Wings for a great night with working together on this draft party. I had a lot of fun and think everyone that was there did. I have enjoyed working with the folks at St Louis Wings and it is great to have a business that is so supportive of basketball. We have all had those experiences of going out to places and having to beg to get a basketball game on T.V. That is never the case there and they give basketball the love it deserves.


Draft Day Is Here Come Join Us.

Come join us at St Louis Wings for our Draft Party tonight at St Louis Wings 595 Bay St at the Atrium for all the fun of the NBA Draft. No matter if you like the Raptors pick or not it will be a good time. There will be specials, prizes and fun. I will be on hand acting as you host for the event there. It promises to be a fun night. We had a great time the last time at St Louis Wings welcoming Chris Bosh back to Toronto. Tonight we hope to welcome the newest Raptors to Toronto. So come out and have some fun. It might be the last chance we have to do something like this for awhile with an NBA Lockout looming so make sure you come out and party with us at St.Louis Wings. It promises to be a memorable night and will hope to see lots of you come out and join me for a DNB Draft Party bash. Toast the newest Raptor or have a tear in you beer. Regardless we plan on having fun so don't stay at home and watch the draft on T.V come out and experience it with the rest on the Dino Nation and enjoy the experience with other fans like you.


DNB Top 10- Things Dwane Casey Will Not Say

Hello all. It is yours truly James Borbath the Dino Blogger filling in with your DNB Top 10 this week. Ryan is busy blowing up balloons for our draft party at St Louis Wings on Bay St at the Atrium. Come out tomorrow night just after 7pm and join us for the NBA Draft. Pitchers of Canadian will be on sale to toast the newest Raptor or cry in if you don't like the pick. Other fun and excitement as well along with great food. But before our party let's give you 10 things that we can almost guarantee Dwane Casey will not say.

  • #10- I wonder how Jay Triano would have defended this?
  • #9- I bet if I use this neutral zone trap they have in hockey we could win the title this year.
  • #8- I should have took the job in Detroit.
  • #7- Here is my coaching staff. Sam Mitchell, Jay Triano, Butch Carter, Kevin O'Neil and Lenny Wilkins
  • #6- Seriously these guys are not as bad on defence as I thought.
  • #5- What we really need is to draft more tough Europeans.
  • #4- Andrea Bargnani is the Dirk of Italy.
  • #3- Ok guys what you need to do is clap more on defence like Jose.
  • #2- Maybe if the lockout was longer I could have fixed this mess.
  • #1- Andrea Bargnani and Jose Calderon were our best two defenders on the floor tonight.

Things that didn't make the cut? I have to pay for breaking that clipboard? Seriously? Also Bryan Colangelo is way cooler than Mark Cuban. But all that said Dwane Casey said a lot of the right things yesterday and here at the Dino Nation Blog we wish him luck. After all we are just happy to not have to endure another year of defence under Jay Triano. Something tells me Dwane Casey won't be trying to tell us his team's effort was good when it wasn't. Draft day is tomorrow so with the party and all may only get a quick post up. But B.C says his list is down to 4 players and let's hope that for everyone's sake it is not another Euro. It would not cause me to riot like a Vancouver Hockey fan but it sure would not make me a very happy man.


Case Closed It Is Casey

Rumours and speculation became reality today as the Toronto Raptors announced Dwane Casey as the 8th head coach in the franchises 16 years in the NBA. Not exactly job security averaging just over two years a coach. But Casey was the hot name in assistants this year and winning a title with the Mavericks did not hurt that. The Raptors will hope Casey is their Thibodeau who left the Celtics as an assistant and won coach of the year with Chicago. Will see if he can be as successful. The Raptors are no where close to where the Bulls were. So it would be a lot tougher job for him to be successful. He is here to clean up the Raptors awful defence that was the worst in the league under Jay Trinao for the last two seasons.

Casey said that Colangelo and the Raptors young core were the attractions that brought him here. He said his goal is to establish a NBA defensive identity and a free flowing offence. He mentioned he already had talked with Demar DeRozan and see his as a rising star in the league. He talked about playing a playoff style of basketball. Getting the Raptors to the playoffs will be no easy task though. But Casey promised to be a hands on control freak in terms of defence. These words will be welcome news to fans who have watched the Raptors get torched for the past several seasons.

Another word that was used was accountability which is something that was clearly lacking under Triano. It seems the Raptors are in for a good dose of tough love under Casey. He did stress several times how young this team was. But Casey felt that this was a good fit for him in Toronto. Casey has 16 years of NBA Experience in total including being the head coach in Minnesota. He also was an assistant and Kentucky and coached in Japan for 5 years. Dwane said he would pick Jay Triano's brain but did not seem like Triano would be a part of the coaching staff. That staff will be formed now and Colangelo made it clear that Casey would ultimately decide on who that staff will be.

Casey described himself as a passionate man that wears his feelings on his sleeve on the court. He said he will not be outworked by anyone in this league in terms of his workload or his staffs. He says he will not embarrass players but he will be demanding clearly. He feels that the Raptors can improve their defence and it will be the challenge from day one to improve this defence and change the culture. This team will have to work hard from 1-15. Casey had a lot of good things to say about DeRozan and his work ethic and has a past working with him. He mentioned several times about getting this team to be excited about playing defence and he doesn't want it to feel like a job.

Colangelo said that Rick Carlisle called him right after winning the NBA Championship and basically said what is it going to take to convince you to take Dwane Casey to get the job in Toronto. Bryan said that was the first of many endorsements he would here on his behalf. It all sounds great in a press conference. Casey said a lot of the things Raptor fans wanted to hear. The trick now will be taking those words and turning them into action. He seems to have DeRozan on board who was at the press conference and seemed excited about the change and the future. It seems clear that DeRozan is taking the steps to be the franchise player under Casey. DeRozan has a new hairstyle and a new coach that he has worked with in the past. While many have questioned DeRozan on the defensive end he seems to have a coach that will not only help him improve but the team around him as well.

The two best words out of this news conference were defence and accountability. Both things that have been lacking in Toronto for a long time. If Casey can turn those words into action he may just have a successful run as head coach in Toronto. But that will be no easy task. We all wish him luck in that task.


Casey Watch On High Alert

The NBA Draft is this Thursday and things are heating up on the Raptors vacant coaching position. Many are saying it is just a matter of time before Dwane Casey is named the next head coach of the Toronto Raptors. It is said the finalists for the Raptors job are him and Lawrence Frank. The same two names apparently are at the top of the Pistons wish list. Casey is the hot name this year after he was the assistant coach running the defence for the championship winning Mavericks.

When you look closer at it Casey does make a lot of sense. Dirk while he is lights out on offence, he still leaves a lot to be desired on defence. Andrea Bargnani has always been compared to Dirk and we all know about his defence or lack of it. Casey uses a variety of zones more than perhaps any other team in the NBA. It also helped hide an aging Jason Kidd. The lack of speed Kidd has can be compared to the lack of speed that Jose Calderon has compared to his point guard counterparts in this league.

If Casey can make his zones work with Bargnani and Calderon on the floor he will be considered a miracle worker. Kidd and Nowitzki are far better overall to me than Calderon and Bargnani. Still both players(Bargnani and Calderon) coming from Europe and growing up in that system they are more comfortable in zone defences. So you can see at least on paper why Casey might be attractive to the Raptors. But the Mavericks have more talent overall so you have to wonder if his schemes work with a less talented group of Raptors. That being said it is a big step up on the defensive end from Jay Triano. If the Raptors don't buy into his system he can just flash his championship ring assuming Mark Cuban caves and gets them.

The hiring of Casey might suggest you don't see Calderon or Bargnani get moved in the off-season. It might also suggest the Raptors would be more inclined to draft another Euro in the upcoming draft. Just as I was saying about Calderon and Bargnani growing up in a system that is much more zone oriented that would apply for any other euro player the Raptors might want. But let's hope this is wrong. The Raptors success rate in drafting and bringing in players from Europe is not exactly the greatest.

The Raptors are not exactly a rebounding machine and zones will not help that much. Also the Mavs were a great three point shooting team and that puts pressure on teams to try and match them from distance. The Raptors do not have the three point shooting they once had. But still you have to figure the Raptors would finally improve in defending the three point line. Something that was sorely lacking in the Triano era.

Still no announcement though and you wonder if the Pistons are making a push to land Casey. If he ends up here and not there you can say that Pistons have officially fallen off the map. There was a time not that long ago where the Pistons job would have been far more attractive. But Joe Dumars is not the super genius he once was. Detroit is not the same franchise on or off the floor anymore. The sellout streak is long gone with the city being hard hit by the economy. While the Pistons have made a number of questionable choices in free agency and the draft. Add in the fact Casey has been a candidate with the Raptors before and just never made it to the finish line. So will see which comes first the Raptors new coach or the Raptors latest draft pick or picks.


VIP Guest Contest

Ok so here is the contest. It is pretty simple. There will be 5 pictures of current or former Raptors and you tweet to @Dinonationblog where they went to school. The 5th person to respond with correct answers will win. If the 5th person does not have the correct answers than the next person to have correct answers will win. So that it is that simple.






It's Friday Time For 3 Up and 3 Down

It is Friday so it is time for another addition of 3 up and 3 down. A reminder to check the site later today for info on how you can come to our Draught Party for free at St.Louis Wings at the Bay St Location at the Atrium. Look for a post around 7pm Toronto time. Now on with the show that is 3 up and 3 Down.


Championship Rings- Sorry Mark Cuban but Ring is the thing. Mark Cuban suggested he may not get rings and get something else. I am ok with him getting something else with a ring but championship rings are one tradition in sports I am not tired of and think belong.

Championship Parades On The Owner- I do applaud Cuban for putting on a heck of a parade and picking up the tab. Cities do not deserve the extra expense in these tough economic times but players and fans do deserve a party.

Toronto- I had not been down since the season and I had a great time being back in the city for the Raptors workout this week and to catch a Blue Jays game. It was a great time and I enjoyed being back in town.


Stupid Rioting Hockey Fans- What happened in Vancouver was just a total disgrace. In the past I have supported the idea of that city getting an NBA Franchise back. You know what the heck with that. You people don't deserve it. The way people acted after the Canucks lost was beyond words. I hope every last joker involved in that is arrested and put in jail for a long time. I mean what would happen if they drafted Big Country now? Any excuse to have a riot right.

Demar DeRozan- Yes I still love Demar. But dude is on Twitter last night tweeting he is old. Young fella you are far from old trust me. You just made me and 3/4 of the Raptor fan base feel like senior citizens. Just keep working on your game and getting better and all is forgiven.

A Random Bird In Toronto- I was having a pleasant conversation with Tom Liston who writes occasionally on Raptors Republic and is involved in the #RTZ stuff the Raptors do a bit. Better known to the world as @liston and often a sparring mate with me over some issues like the future of Jay Triano. But I consider him a good friend. Anyway this bird comes along and decides to take a poo on me. Not cool. Was the bird a Triano supporter? Not sure but if I find that bird he may go the way of that seagull that met up with Dave Winfield back in the day.

That is all for 3 up and 3 down but come back on the site later for our contest to pick our VIP Guest for our Draught Party at St Louis Wings on Bay St at the Atrium. There will be specials on draft, X-box 360 in the house with 2K11 and of course the NBA Draft on the T.V's.


Thompson and Joesph Draw A Crowd.

Maybe there is hope for basketball in this country. On a day when the Stanley Cup would be decided with a Canadian team in it, still there was a massive turnout for a Raptor Draft workout. The reason why was the presence of Tristan Thompson and Cory Joesph. The two kids that turned head at Texas had made their way home to workout for the hometown Raptors. But this was not one of those token gestures we have seen in the past. Cory and Tristan had already worked out in other cities together in Houston and elsewhere.

The two are longtime friends and played together at Finley Prep then on to the Texas Longhorns. If they had decided to stay at Texas there was more Canadian content on the way. Myck Kabongo is on his way to Texas also from Finley Prep and has been a guest here in the DNB on several occasions. But Myck was supportive of Tristan's decision and encouraged it.

"It was tough. But he knew he wanted what was best for me. He told me himself don't stay because of me. If your ready and he thought I was ready, he felt that I should have left so that's what I did. He supports everything I do."

Tristan, Cory and Myck are all part of the first generation of kids to grow up with the Raptors in their home town. and in Canada. The fact of having the NBA here, at least in part, Thompson gives credit too in helping him make his goals of where he is today a reality.

"You think it is reachable having a pro team in your city. It definitely motivated me to have those three letters on my jersey."

That was something Steve Nash didn't have. But Thompson and Joseph and generation of kids have had both Nash and Raptors to inspire them. Thompson could surpass Nash as the highest drafted Canadian a week from today. However Thompson seemed unconcerned with that and more concerned with the fit of where he would be drafted. He said if he was drafted at 18th pick and in a better situation he would be happy. Nash for the record was selected at the number 15 pick. Thompson currently in most mock drafts is a projected lottery pick.

While Thompson is in a secure position in terms of being drafted, Cory Joesph is not in that same spot as Thompson. But Joesph and Thompson are working with John Lucas in Houston. Who Raptor fans know well based on his relationship with another former Texas product and former Raptor in T.J Ford. While Joesph like anyone else wants to be drafted as high as possible he is prepared for the situation if he is not drafted.

"I would go to Europe or the D-League one of the two if I don't get drafted. Everybody thinks about that I always have to have a plan B."

Joesph says he made the decision himself ultimately and will deal with the situation whatever happens. But it does seem he was impressive in the workout with Raptors. He and Tristan have had a great relationship and taken this journey together. But on Thursday that will likely come to end at least for now. In the short term it might be unlikely for Joesph to end up with Raptors but the goal and the idea of it excites him.

"It would be great. Growing up watching the T-Mac and Vince when they were here. It would be an honour."

An honour to play for the Raptors is something you don't hear from guys and feel they mean it after watching many come and go. But this generation of kids that have grown up with the Raptors lead by Thompson, Joesph and Kabongo offer a different perspective. It is an important time for Toronto as these kids start coming along as legitimate prospects for the NBA. When you look at Thompson as a Raptor it is a bit less clear. Thompson as player provides things the Raptors clearly lack in terms of defence and rebounding. However the position he would play in the NBA at power forward is one where the Raptors already have a lot of options. Here is what Tristan had to say on the prospect of being a Raptor.

" It means a lot being from Canada and playing for the Raptors. It be a great opportunity. But at the same time they got do what is best for their organization. I want to be put in a position where I am going start. So if I am drafted by the Raptors I am happy. If I am not there is no hate, no bad blood. They did what they had to do. Whatever team picks me I will be excited. "

Which sums up the problem the Raptors face. Amir Johnson and Ed Davis also would be guys that are already in place to be the starter at that position. Thompson stepping in year one and starting in Toronto seems unlikely. But it is a unique opportunity for both him and the Raptors if he were to come home to Toronto and Canada. What might have happened today was more of building a relationship between the two that would extend beyond the draft. Things change rapidly in this NBA and Thompson if he is successful is always going be a player that you have to feel will have interest for the Raptors. Vancouver was in a similar position and passed on Steve Nash. But thanks to Thompson and this new generation of kids coming up the options of Canadians that could be NBA Talents is growing.

The one thing that has impressed me with Thompson, Joesph and Kabongo is the type of kids they are. They all are very humble but also very confident at the same time. It was quite a huge media turnout for both yesterday. But they seemed comfortable with it and at easy going about it all. That is something that the Raptors will or should take note of as well. Whoever the first Canadian to play for the Raptors will be someday, will be under a tremendous amount of pressure both on and off the floor. It seems that these kids are all capable of handling that aspect of being that guy in the spotlight. Thompson noted the massive turnout, and Joesph said that this was much different from his other workouts.

In the two years of covering the Raptors short of Steve Nash and Vince Carter these were some of the largest scrums I have seen. It makes you smile and hopeful as a Canadian and a fan of basketball. Both credit Ro Russell for helping them in their journey to this point. He has played a large role for them and been someone that has helped guide them along the way.

Bryan Colangelo having a desire to get a second first round pick makes the temptation to draft Tristan Thompson a lot more realistic. Milwaukee where both Cory and Tristan have worked out if you believe the mock drafts seems to be the most likely landing spot for Thompson.

It is kind of ironic that kids that grew up on the Raptors are both considered players that have a tremendous defensive skill set. That is not something they learned from watching the Raptors. Thompson said that he has always had coaches that stressed the mantra of defence wins championships. Something that has not been prominent in the Raptors history. The Raptors despite the fact it might take some work on both sides of things could do far worse than acquiring a player like Thompson. Be it a week from today or somewhere down the line Tristan Thompson is a guy that could be intriguing for the Raptors in the future. Taking the Raptors personal interests out of the mix, it is just nice to see a generation of kids that the Raptors presence has inspired starting to develop and take their talents to the NBA. However the more that come. the more will grow the desire of fans for one of these kids to take their talent to Toronto and Canada. Short of winning an NBA Championship it could be the biggest thing to impact on the Raptors nationally with casual basketball and sports fans. The dream of a Canadian Raptor is coming closer everyday, even if that day may not be next Thursday.

It has been something that here in this blog we have talked about a lot. Raptors or not these are great kids and to have more Canadians in the NBA is good for interest in the game here in Canada on all levels. Which is a good thing for anyone that considers themselves a fan of the sport.


Top 10: Things We've Learnt During the Finals

So the NBA Finals are over and we've had a few days to sit back and reflect on what transpired during those 6 amazing games and what we have learned from them. So here are the Top 10 things we've learnt during the NBA Finals.

#10: Juwan Howard still plays in the NBA.

#9: Jason Terry won't be removing that tattoo after-all.

#8: Bosh can actually play better than Lebron in games that matter.

#7: Lebron ain't as clutch as he seemed in the Boston and Chicago series.

#6: Jason Terry can walk the walk as well as talk the talk.

#5: Mark Cuban could care less about the Heat.

#4: A silent Mark Cuban can actually be a good thing.

#3: Though Lebron said he was taking his talents to South Beach he actually left 25% of those talents in Cleveland.

#2: 1 German trumps 3 All-Stars.

#1: Lebron is still "RINGLESS"


Raptor Ramblings

So now that another season is in the books we will shift our attention back to the home team. Toronto Raptors are a team without a coach as you know. Just curious if the Miami Heat are going to part ways with Eric Spoestra if he would jump to the top of the list for Raptors coaching search. I wouldn't mind having him personally. Despite being young he does have a ton of experience. He does have a defensive mindset even if he couldn't stop Dirk for most of the finals. While he might not be able to coach the three super egos in Miami he is a solid coach overall in my view. You look at the job he did the season prior with very little beyond D-Wade as evidence of that. But all that being said the Heat at least for the moment have given no indication that they are not going to bring him back next year. The Raptors appear to be looking at Dwane Casey an assistant coach for the Champion Mavericks but are not alone as so are the Detroit Pistons according to Slam. Also on both the Pistons and Raptors lists include Lawrence Frank the one time Nets head coach that beat the Raptors in the post season under Sam Mitchell. Given the narrow perspective Colangelo has given in terms of what he is looking for there can't be to many coaches that fit that bill.

Draft workouts are set to resume in Toronto on Wednesday. I will be in town to check them out. No list as come out as of yet but I have a hunch we might see some local talent in the mix. Raptors already worked out Brandon Knight and Kemba Walker who if they were to go point guard would be at the top of the list of player that could be available for them. Colangelo has been in Europe checking out his options over there. He also and stated publicly he is the market for a 2nd first round pick in the top 10. If that was to land a Tristan Thompson with it I would be all for it. If not I really can't see much point to it. If the Raptors bailed out of this draft altogether it would not make me sad in the least. Other than the fact we are having a draft party and would have no draft pick to celebrate. But basketball wise this is a weak draft class. I would venture to say even weaker than the class that landed us Andrea Bargnani at number one.

In other off-season news in terms of the Raptors it would seem Leandro Barbosa is leaning toward declining his option for 7.2 million for next season. I am not sure if this makes much sense for him. But in terms of the Raptors it would make them a team with a lot more cash to play with under a what is expected to be more restrictive CBA. Colangelo's old Suns ties were able to have him work out a sign and trade that landed as it turned out a championship ring for Shawn Marion. It also helped Colangelo pull off the move to land Hedo. While that was a complete failure the fact that Colangelo was able to work with Marion was not. Now Barbosa is looking to turn down an option but Colangelo has stated he would be interested in signing him long term. It seems Colangelo might just have been able to work with a former Sun once again to get himself some much needed cap space.

I briefly mentioned our draft party which will be going down at St Louis Wings at the Bay St location just up from the ACC. On Friday I will be giving away one VIP guest pass for our party. That just like with our Bosh Bash will give you a night out on the good folks at St Louis Wings. Food and drinks for free and a chance to party with everyone else that shows up. Also for everyone will be having X-Box 360 with some NBA 2k11 to keep you entertained in between picks. That and I am sure some other fun and surprises will be on the agenda for a fun night for all. I hope to see many of you decide to come out and spend draft night with me and folks at St Louis Wings. So Friday in the blog will have some way for you to have a chance to win. Also check on Twitter as I will post something there to make you aware of the contest.

That is a wrap for today. I will be in Toronto tomorrow so may not hear from me. Ryan should have his weekly DNB Top 10 for your enjoyment though. I will have some stuff from the workouts on Thursday. Raptors will be having workouts on that day as well but I am only heading down for the Wednesday workouts as of right now.


It Is All Over For Another Year

Well another season is done and it offered many surprises along the way. What started with a decision and a pre-season championship celebration ended with Mark Cuban's Mavs winning it all. No one could have seen that coming. Dirk Nowitzki had been known for failure more than success. He won the MVP and then his team was knocked out in the first round. He lost to Miami with Wade and Shaq after seemingly having the series under control. If anyone was going to stop the MWO and South Beach Heat few would have said it would be the under achieving German superstar. I admit I have always been one of the people that have never given the Mavs a ton of credit. They were always a team that choked in the clutch. But they are no longer that, they will forever be NBA Champions. Perhaps the most unlikely Champions in the NBA since the Pistons stunned Kobe and Shaq in the NBA Finals and won a title with Larry Brown.

Celebrate the Mavs for what they did. For the fact a number of veteran guys were able to finally win a title. Earlier in the week I heard Charles Barkley on the radio talking about why people don't like the Miami Heat. He said it was the arrogance of how easy they felt it would be to win a championship. Something that Barkley was never able to accomplish. He like other greats like Pat Ewing, Karl Malone and a list of many others spent a career chasing that elusive championship. Lebron James has been chasing a title too. After years of trying and failing with little support in Cleveland he became part of this group that decided to join forces and look for the fast track to the NBA Title. But the short cut only got them to the door step of that title. Only to see a group that they likely never expected to see celebrate on their home floor. It was suppose to be Kobe and Lakers to challenge this group not the Mavs. But the Mavs swept them away and ended Phil Jackson's career in utterly stunning fashion. They in equally stunning fashion stunned the Miami Heat.

Mark Cuban deserves great credit for taking a team that was always in second place to the Dallas Cowboys and making them relevant in Dallas. Something we can relate to in Toronto with the Raptors always being in the shadow of hockey and Maple Leafs. Cuban took this franchise from no where and ultimately has been rewarded with a championship. There is no owner in the NBA that I would be more happy for. He has been fined by the league and shot off his mouth for years with the goal of challenging this league and his team to be better. In a true act of class Cuban allowed the first ever owner of the Mavs to be given the NBA Championship. Something he has worked hard for and spent a ton of money for and yet he allows someone else to touch the trophy he has wanted for so long before him. Mark Cuban makes more money than Lebron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh combined. Yet people for the most part love Cuban and hate them. The act of Cuban doing something classy like that is part of why. But the deeper reason is we see Mark Cuban as a fan like us. While Lebron James tells all of you that cheer in his demise that eventually you will have to go back to your actual lives. That he will be happy with his life and choices he has made. Mark Cuban is a guy that you believe if you met him in a bar he would likely have a beer with you and talk to you for 5 minute. The MWO are guys that hang out in the VIP area and would not be caught dead hanging with you common folks.

It was a great season in a lot of ways. It might have been the start of a changing of the guard in the NBA. Kevin Durant, Derrick Rose and Blake Griffin lead a new generation of superstars that are looking to take the torch from the Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan and other superstars coming to the end of the line. In fact with the uncertain future of an NBA Lockout who is to say we have not seen the last of more than just Shaq when we are playing basketball again.

Ironically after one of the best seasons in the NBA in a long time and followed by one of the most interesting playoffs in years the NBA stands on the abyss of joining the NFL is labour hell. We will be lucky if we see another basketball game in the NBA in 2011. That is not exactly something anyone wants to hear but it could in fact be the reality.

Mavericks won a title the right way and although I really have no love for them, I do respect what they have done. At least I am honest about it. I never picked them to win any of the 4 series they did win. I am not going to be a hypocrite like so many made themselves by cheering for anyone that could stop the Miami Heat. Pumping up the Mavericks more as a way to insult the Heat. For those that are true Mavericks fans I offer sincere congratulations. For those of you just cheering for Miami to lose, I just shake my head. People mocking Chris Bosh for crying but applauding Dirk for doing the same. At the end of the day people that root against the Heat have become just as bad as the guys they hate. In fact perhaps more so.

Miami will be back and depending on how the CBA turns out they could be much stronger when they do. But the real story now is when will you get to see basketball again? Not even the MWO can stop a lockout. Only David Stern and Billy Hunter can get that done. It could be a long a cruel summer turning into a long and cold fall without basketball. It is a shame coming off such a great season of basketball.


It's Friday Time For 3 Up and 3 Down

I said last week will make this a weekly thing for the off-season. So here it is another star filled edition of 3 up and 3 down.

3 Up

#1 Anyone Not Talking About Lebron James- Seriously give yourself a pat on the back. I obviously can't because by mentioning him in this I am in effect talking about Lebron James. Oh well who said royalty is dead everyone is talking about The King.

#2 St Louis Wings- We love them and are happy to be working with them for our DNB Draft Party. It is going to be fun will have all the details for you on Monday. But it will be at the Atrium location on Bay St in Toronto on June 23rd the night of the NBA Draft.

#3 Miami Heat- Hey all you Heat haters be thankful this series is going 7 games because after that it is going to be nothing but labour talk for the foreseeable future. You will miss bashing Lebron James and Chris Bosh then.

3 Down

#1 Construction- I love the summer but here in Canada it is also construction season and where I live I am trapped by it. It is annoying and drives me nuts. No this has nothing to do with basketball but I needed to vent.

#2 Jason Terry Stupid Airplane Celebration- Seriously dude take that stuff and go play football for the Jets. Oh wait there is no football either. But I would love to see someone just crush him for doing that. Can we get a hard foul Miami? Or here is an idea how about you guard this guy?

#3 Joey Crawford or NBA Refs- Think it was Joey that blew this call. Lost in all the Lebron Bashing was the lousy call that he got jobbed on that lead to the Dallas run to close game 5. The rule is simple if you are in that little circle it is not a charge. Tyson Chandler was in that circle and it was a charge. Mark Cuban has not made on peep about the officials in this series. Back in 2006 you couldn't shut him up about it. So what has changed? Mark Cuban has matured and is sick of being fined? No more like a lot of calls are going his way and there is no need to complain.

I would like to give a special shout out to Charles Barkley as well for 2 things. Other day while driving around heard a story that back in 1999 Barkley who was in Vancouver for a game vs the Grizzlies was out the night before partying with the Hamilton Ti-Cats who had just won the Grey Cup. In addition Barkley summed up my thoughts on the Heat very nice. They are hard to root for. Why that is according to Chuck was the fact they figured winning 5 or 6 or even 7 titles was easy as pie. Barkley mentioned a number of great legends that never one a title in various sports and how that was disrespectful to all of them. There is only one Charles Barkley and he is just great.


Could NFL Lockout Result Help or Hurt The NBA Lockout?

I have tried to pay attention to what is going on in terms of the NFL Lockout. I am a football fan but more so paying attention in terms of what it could mean for the NBA Lockout. Now to say any two labour disputes are the same would be like saying two divorces are the same. Each and every one is unique. The NFL Season if it actually starts on time would begin in 91 days. It has largely been fought through various court actions. Recently the two sides have actually been talking with meetings in Chicago and Long Island. People seem to feel finally their is some movement toward a new CBA. How much is a mystery. While the NBA has not officially entered into a lockout if you ask anyone it is all but a certainty they are heading that way. While people boo the Miami Heat and try to convince us Dirk is the second coming it really is small in the big picture. Once the Finals are done and then the NBA Draft the focus of the NBA will be squarely on the CBA.

Some might say that if the NFL is able to come up with a deal it might help the NBA see the light. After all despite being a basketball fan first and foremost it is no secret what sports league has the largest pie of dollars to split up. The NFL far and away is the answer and you only need to look at their massive T.V deal for proof of that. I would like to believe that an NFL solution will help the NBA come to a deal that may not be realistic. The issues for the NBA are much different in their labour dispute. NBA has some franchises in real trouble in comparison to the NFL. While the Jacksonville Jaguars are likely the worst team in terms of viability they are no where close to in the trouble of a number of NBA franchises. The fact the NBA is controlling the franchise in New Orleans is an obvious example of that. The franchise in Sacramento was almost moved to Anaheim not unlike the Raiders once picked up the franchise and moved to L.A. But they appear to at least have bought some time to save the franchise in that city. But you can look to a number of other places and only need to look in the stands to see there could be other franchises that are in trouble.

The main issues of these disputes are very different as well. While at the end of the day all labour disputes at some point come down to dollars and cents in pro sports, each sport is unique. In the NBA there is a lot of concern about the movement of players so you can avoid another Miami situation. While on the surface the Heat have love them, or hate them, grown attention for the brand as whole. It also has made it very scary for small market franchises in terms of competitive balance. Chris Paul is on a team that is in trouble and the fact he wants to walk away from New Orleans is not going to do anything but make that franchise worse. Here with the Raptors we have watched many stars come only to leave. Part of that is on poor management but to have more security in terms of keeping a player could only help.

The NBA owners also want to basically tighten up the system in general and move towards a system that is more of a hard cap. Which when you say that term of hard cap it is one that will never play with a players union. Once you have a hard cap the size of the pie is set in stone. While if the business as a whole can grow so will the pie. It becomes a lot harder to do it. Also there is the whole issue of trust. The Union would likely feel that the Owners would do some creative book keeping to keep the pie from growing to big for the players side.

To get down to the basic difference in these disputes is pretty simple. The dollars in the NFL are far to big for Owners to truly let a season go by and get nothing from it. While the NBA is in a situation that is not that different from the one the NHL was in. They also have to look at the state of the NHL and pause. A league that lost an entire season still ended up with a deal that is far from ideal for the owners. The goal of helping small market teams in the NHL was not exactly realized. Also the impact it had on interest levels in U.S Markets was not positive. Out of sight can quickly turn to out of mind. The NBA will be determined to not make the same mistakes the NHL has. They have similar goals to the NHL in how they enter this lockout. I will venture to say that David Stern is going to get a better deal than his former understudy Gary Bettman.

Baseball remains the only league with out any real cap in place. But in terms of competitive balance the sport has become a joke in some ways. While a team can win with a small payroll their margin for error is slight and their are some teams that you just know have zero chance before the season starts. Part of that is their much more restrictive playoffs but it also is a huge economic imbalance.

But as NFL Fans chanted "We Want Football" at their commissioner at their draft, I would venture to say NBA fans are no different. You can come up with 100 reasons as to why this labour dispute is important for the future of the league and the game but at the end of the day fans just want to see games. Fans are always the victims in any labour dispute. They have no seat at the table as two sides in effect fight over their money.

Bottom line if the NFL is able to get a season off as scheduled it will not hurt in putting some pressure on the NBA to do the same. But ultimately the NBA is a different place and has a lot more at stake in this than the NFL does in terms of the future of their sport. It has been the dark cloud that has hung over this entire NBA season for me. The fact the Raptors were a terrible failure did not exactly help. But regardless of that this was always coming and not even a Boshtrich sticking it head in the sand can avoid it.


DNB Top 10- Guest Host Dino Blogger

Hello all it is yours truly filling in doing the DNB Top 10. I had not planned on filling in but called into action. So I thought why not make it about me. So here we go.

Top 10 Things Dino Blogger Can Do During NBA Lockout

  • #10- Focus on bringing home a few fantasy baseball titles.
  • #9- Watch more of the NFL Network covering a different Lockout
  • #8- Like Andrea Bargnani work on improving his video game skills
  • #7- Find new and exciting ways to ignore Hockey.
  • #6- Find a wife, get married, have a child all before lockout is over.
  • #5- Go on hunger strike until there is basketball
  • #4- If number 5 is successful lose about 20 or 30 pounds.
  • #3- Focus on my dope Rap Career and go on tour.
  • #2- Lingerie Football League!!!
  • #1- Pray for sanity and not having to do these other 9 things.

I think we all will need one of these lists sadly. So what plans to you have to fill the void of no basketball in your life. Funny or serious feel free to leave them in the comments or in DNB Chat or send them to me via Twitter.

Before the gloom and doom of the NBA Lockout we do have one last bash to promote under the old CBA. I will be hosting a draft party at St Louis Wings two weeks from tomorrow so come out and have fun and see what Raptors will do in the NBA Draft. June 23rd probably about 7pm still firming up the details. I won't be working like the last one so I promise to be a better host.


Draft Workouts Begin In Raptorland

Nothing like starting off Day 1 of Raptor draft workouts with a bang. Both Brandon Knight and Kemba Walker will be here. Not at the same workout though. Agents would never let that happen. But if the Raptors decide to go point guard it is a safe bet it will be Knight or Walker that they select. It is a lock that one of them at least should be there at number 5. When you consider Cleveland has 2 of the first four picks and Minnesota will not be taking a point guard for sure. Well it is Minnesota so anything is possible but seriously no chance they will. Cleveland will not draft two point guards either so that means at least one of Walker or Knight will be there. If it is both the Raptors will have a choice to make.

This is all assuming the Raptors stay at number five. The idea of trading back could be an appealing one for that Raptors assuming they are not that in love with either point guard. But if the Raptors stay at number five I said even back before we knew where they would pick that if Raptors were not in the top three and kept that pick they would select Kemba Walker. A lot gets made of these workouts, but to me they are really just the final stage to confirming that you are comfortable with taking a player. Workouts as we have seen in the NFL can be misleading.

Even going back to around the time of the NCAA Tournament I had a feeling Walker would be high on the Raptors list. Demar DeRozan seems a fan of him and he mentioned that both he and Ed Davis no Kemba pretty well as they came out in the same H.S Class together going to all the various All-Star Games and getting to know each other. That can't be erased like an NCAA Football championship from DeRozan's former school USC. Kemba Walker and his NCAA title are in the books and on the record.

Walker not only lead UConn on a run in the NCAA Tournament to win the title, he took them on a 6 game run to win the Big East title as well. He won the award as the top point guard in all of college basketball. Irving likely would have won the award but an injury sidelined him most of the year. Walker like DeRozan came on late in the year and has been on the steady climb up mock draft boards. If we are talking in February 2011 there is no way Walker is being picked this high. But combine his play with the draft class shrinking due to the lockout looming and he is in the mix to be a top 5 pick.

Size and the fact he is a shoot first ask questions later point guard are the main knocks against him. Some make the comparison to Allen Iverson but not nearly as talented or as good a shooter. That all being said there is something to be said for a guy that wins games that matter in the toughest conference tournament and then the NCAA Tournament. I see him a lot like a guy like T.J Ford coming out of Texas. Smaller but a fast guy that can get in the paint and can at times be a good shooter but lacks consistency.

Brandon Knight has the fact that he plays for a coach that just happened to coach the reigning MVP of the NBA at the point guard position. That was back at Memphis but now John Calipari has taken his show to Kentucky and there he had another star in John Wall. Knight is no where near Wall or Rose. But he has worked under the same coach in the same system. While people may question his tactics in terms of recruiting and if it is on the level. No on can deny that Calipari has had a ton of success getting players into the next level and having them succeed for the teams that draft them.

If it comes down to one or the other. It seems that if you want the safe pick you take Knight. If you want to take a risk and get the player with the higher upside than you take Walker. Regardless of who the Raptors take unless Bryan Colangelo can work a miracle and trade Jose Calderon it would appear that Walker or Knight will have to share time with him. Calderon for as much as he gets hammered for his defence is still a very talented and experienced guy on the other end of the floor. He will be able to help Walker or Knight tremendously and make their learning curve for the NBA a lot easier. Just don't ask him about how to defend the position. But for a guy like Walker that has a knock of being a shoot first guy having a guy like Calderon that is his opposite should be helpful.

If the Raptors stay at the number five spot I find it hard to imagine they will not select one of these two guys. Bryan Colangelo had stated the Raptors have their draft list down to 8 guys that they are focused in on at the 5th pick. It is a no brainer that Knight and Walker are at the top of that list of 8. Today the Raptors will get to see both one in the morning and one in the afternoon. So to evaluate them in the same day should make it crystal clear for the Raptors on who they like better. But if one or the other is selected before the 5th pick we may never know who that guy was.

Colangelo also made mention of wanting to try to find a 2nd pick in the top 10. This opens up the door to the idea of the Raptors making a play for Tristan Thompson. If it is not for that purpose may God have mercy on the soul of the kid they do select and Colangelo if in fact Thompson ends up the better player. Everyone to a man seems to think that Tristan Thompson if the draft order does not change will be going to the Bucks at #11.

To find out where all these guys go, I am pleased to announce that the DNB will be teaming up with our friends at St. Louis Wings to have a draft party. The draft takes place on June 23rd which is a Thursday. So clear your calender and make plans to join us. I hope to have all the details worked out by this Thursday. If you came to our Unwelcome Back Bosh party you know what a fun atmosphere it is at St Louis Wings and hopefully you will want to come out again. If you missed our Bosh Party well this is your chance to come out and have some fun with us again. Stay tuned to the blog and on Twitter @Dinonationblog and @StLouisWings for details on the event.


The Most Successful Ex Raptor Will Be Chris Bosh

I have to admit I find it strange watching Chris Bosh be on the verge of winning an NBA Title. It is in some ways his ultimate validation for doing what he did. If everyone was truly honest his choice to leave the Raptors was the right one. Part of me will be happy for Chris Bosh if he in fact wins an NBA title. I would not say the same for guys like Vince Carter and Tracy McGrady. The reason why is simple really. I think in the seven years that Bosh was a Raptor he gave all that he had to try to win in Toronto. At the end of the day this organization did not put enough talent around him to win here.

It just seems like Bosh has changed in some ways though. This was a guy that once claimed he wanted to be part of the solution in Toronto. That he wanted to be the man and win a title as that man. Bosh hit a clutch shot in last nights win for Miami. Dallas was far to worried about James and Wade and it left Bosh with a wide open jumper thanks to a pick set by Haslem. Earlier in that game Chris Bosh was down in a heap looking like Vince Carter down on the ground looking like he had been shot. But in the end this major injury that left his team playing 5 on 4 at the other end of the floor was an apparent poke in the eye. I mean honestly it is the NBA Finals get your butt up and go play defence.

Bosh has just become a figure of contradiction to me. This once quiet kid that came here from Georgia Tech now seems to crave spotlight and attention as much as he does a championship ring. He takes a lot of the Heat in terms of Miami's failures while not getting much in terms of praise. He is the clear third in this trio. In fact some have down graded him right out of the mix and leave him out of conversation with Wade and James. There is no question they are on a different level from Bosh. I just am not sure what I make of it all.

I just feel that Chris Bosh somewhere along the line has changed. Based on that change my feelings about him have as well. I still will never hate the guy. But at the same time he makes it awful difficult to root for him and support him. I never have hated Vince Carter either. Vince is more a case to me of utter disappointment. A guy that should be in conversations with Kobe and Lebron is not based on the simple fact that he just gets by on his amazing talent. Unlike Bosh who I feel has had to work hard to get everything that he has. Chris Bosh after his rookie year was not a lock to be an All Star someday. I think we all expected him to be good. But did we really expect him to be that good? Not like his super friends in Miami from his draft class who everyone expected greatness from almost right away. Wade was selected behind Bosh but quickly surpassed him. Bosh in that great draft class was still able to prove worthy of being selected in that top 5. It might be the greatest draft class in most of our lifetimes.

The fact that three of the top five in that draft class all are on the same team is mind boggling. It makes it easy to see why people hate them. After all this is a roster that some kid makes on his Playstation or X-Box. Yet this is happening in real life in the NBA. When all is said and done the Miami Heat may go down as one of the most hated teams in the history of sports. They have a swagger to them that people find annoying. It is like they have spit in the face of tradition and unwritten rules all to get personal glory.

One thing that was always said when Chris Bosh was a Raptor was that he wanted to win. He wanted to win so bad that he perhaps sold his soul to do it. Maybe Chris Bosh is still the same guy he always was. Maybe we never really got to know the actual guy in his time in Toronto. I really am not sure what the answer is. He has put himself in the best position to win though no one can deny that.

Assuming the likely happens and Miami Heat win two more games and win an NBA Title I am not sure how I feel. Part of me wants to feel happy for Chris. But it just has a real sick taste to it. The Miami Heat make themselves hard to love, admire or appreciate. Still you can not deny the talent of Chris Bosh or this team. Bosh is still a great player and of the three guys has likely given up the most to get this chance at being a champion. Wade will always be the hero for bringing these two to Miami. He is the guy that stayed with his team. Lebron will always be love him, or hate him, one of the best to play the game. Maybe not in the class of a Micheal Jordan, Wilt Chamberlain or Bill Russell but he should be some day. While Bosh is the guy that had his role dramatically reduced. He is not longer the star player that can avoid a lot of criticism about his game. He has taken a lot of shots not just from people in Toronto but from the media in general.

All that being said he asked for all of it both the good and the bad by agreeing to leave and be part of this trio. At the end of the day for Chris Bosh I hope it will all be worth it for him. I really liked the Chris Bosh that was in Toronto for seven years. I hope for that guy he is happy and can win. But I am not sure I can be happy with him. But I will at least not be rooting against him.

One thing is true that Chris Bosh has been the most successful in terms of winning in his post Raptors career than any of the others before him. Vince Carter and Tracy McGrady never came close to an NBA Title let along the NBA finals. But they never had two all-stars better than them to carry the load. No matter if you are rooting against him or not. The fact is you are watching him and the Heat and that makes it good for business if you are the NBA.

Bosh by winning a title will have a ring that is the ultimate validation to him he made the right choice and to everyone else he has the ultimate in your face.


DNB's- 3 up and 3 Down

It has busy day in the game of life. So I only have time to play a little 3 up and 3 down with you all today. In fact I am thinking of just making it a regular Friday Feature. I don't want to work hard on a Friday in the off-season and let's face it you likely don't have a lot of time to read with the weekend ahead. So let's do this.

3 Up

Shaq- The big fella has called it a career. He was entertaining and for the majority of his NBA Career one of the most dominant big men in the game. He called Chris Bosh the Ru-Paul of big men as well. He loves Toronto and is just one of the greatest personalities in the NBA. For these and about 1,000 more reasons (Shaq-Fu not being one of them) it makes sense to wish him well. It also makes sense to pray he ends up on T.V when we are playing basketball again.

Bryan Colangelo- He did it. He really did it. I never thought he would but he did the right thing and made a change by giving Jay Triano his walking papers as head coach. Next mission after he finds a replacement and drafts someone is to get rid or Bargnani. But for now I will take what I can get and be thankful Jay Triano is done. The worst defence in the league two years running is more than enough to make this move in my view. Here is hoping Bryan Colangelo has a few more rabbits in his hat this off-season.

The Mavs- I still don't think they have a snowballs chance in Miami of winning the NBA Finals. But the comeback they pulled off last night regardless of if the Heat helped out with it (Which they did) was still amazing. Dirk has taken his game to a new level in these playoffs and win or loser the label of being chokers is gone for the Dallas Mavericks with me.

3 Down

Miami Heat Fans- I mean seriously these are the worst fans in the NBA. They all wear white like it is some cult or something. I could use other examples that would get me in trouble but will stick with that. These bunch of bandwagon jumper front runners do not deserve a team as good as the Heat. They really don't. I am not one to hate on the Big 3 as I am over it. But hating on Miami fans is not something that I will stop. They are a bunch of pathetic bandwagon jumpers for the most part. If they were there the season Wade was hurt for most of it and the Heat were pathetic then I have respect for those few thousand folks. But for the 10,000 plus bandwagon jumpers they are pathetic and deserve nothing.

Strikes and Lockouts- It is bad enough that the NBA and NFL are in lockout mode. But now even the mail is on strike here in Canada. I had to waste like 4 hours of my day so people can get a dollar more in pay? Really I paid more for parking where I had to go as a result. I am so sick of hearing about labour issues you have no idea. Unions were formed to keep workers safe and save them from unsafe working conditions. Not so my postman could get a dollar more an hour, for NFL Players to have more millions and not have to play 2 extra games and not for NBA Players to earn more millions while some franchises sit on verge of collapse. It was not so 3 guys could use the system and get a title in Miami either. I doubt any of those people are going lend me a dime when I have no team or league to cover when Lockout takes hold of the NBA.

The 2-3-2 Format- The NBA is the only league that I can think of that changes the rules for the Final of it's sport. If the 2-3-2 format is so great use it the whole playoffs or not at all. But the reality is that it is not great and makes series very disjointed. It puts far to much pressure on the home team to hold serve in the first 2 games and if they do makes the task for the underdog next to impossible. Give me 2-2-1-1-1 that is fine with me. So it makes life difficult for the media. Is it anymore difficult than 3 games in 4 days as part of road trips in the regular season? I don't think so. But this is done for all the extra media that don't cover this league on a regular basis. Screw that and just play the games already. If you are determined to use this format can we at least get a back to back when we are in the same city? Bottom line is no other league does this not even the nutty NHL so why must the NBA do this? How about fixing that in the NEW CBA while your at it.

I always invite you to play along with your own 3 up and 3 down or feel free to comment on mine. Happy Weekend folks and enjoy some decent weather for once.


Top 10: Shaq Career Options in Retirement

There was quite a bit of NBA news yesterday with Ricky Rubio finally agreeing to come play for the Timberwolves, Jay Triano getting relieved of his head coaching duties and Shaq announcing his retirement.

After 19 years in the league, the Big Aristotle or the Big Cactus or the Big Shaqtus or anyone of the hundred nicknames he has is calling it quits. As on of the greatest centers to play the game, he heads into retirement having won 4 rings, 3 Finals MVP trophys, a 15 time All-Star, and graced us all with his personality both on and off the court. Now that he is retired though there are quite a bit of things he can do, so here are the Top 10 things Shaq can do in his retirement days.

#10: Go crowd diving. This says it all.

#9: Become a pro-wrestler...well maybe not.

#8: Go on a stand-up comedy tour. Charlie Sheen better watch out.

#7: Release another rap album.

#6: Coach the Raptors. The spot is now vacant as we all know.

#5: Star in the new Superman movie, after-all he was the original superman.

#4: Host a dance show, called "So You Think You Can Shaq?"

#3: Finally take Kenny Smith's spot on the TNT panel. He has been after it for quite some time.

#2: Take up golf. He can't be worst than Barkley right.

#1: Teach free throw shooting.

The big guy's presence will certainly be missed next season, but we shall always remember the freat moments he provided on and off the court, but we haven't seen the last of him just yet. So I leave you with some more of the Diesel's greatest moments. Enjoy.


Colangelo Does A 180 On Triano To Fans Delight

The fact that Jay Triano is out as Raptors Head Coach is welcome news to many fans. It should not be surprising news either except for the fact it sure seemed like he had the support of G.M Bryan Colangelo. Prior to Colangelo being brought back as G.M he even went as far as to say if he did not return as G.M he would endorse Triano to return as Head Coach to a new G.M. Well that new G.M was in fact him and we do not see Jay Triano as head coach. It is a bit of a head scratching moment. What exactly changed in that month or so? Jay Triano never won or lost a game in that time. Colangelo in a telephone conference with the media last night talked about Triano not reaching standards that were set. These performance standards were not based on wins and loses although Colangelo would not get into specifics of what these standards were. Here is what he said specifically on the subject.

Bryan Colangelo:

" Some of those performances standards were certain things that we put in place to measure our progress as a team and an organization. Again not necessarily being measured by wins and losses. That was something that we both acknowledged was not going to be an easy task last year. But it was more about environment and direction. As I said at the time (His End Of Season Press Conference) Jay fared well in a lot of areas. But at the end of the day in terms of a gut feeling about where this needs to go and how we need to get there and how quickly we want to get there. "

Colangelo went on to talk about his conversation with Jay and the conclusion of that conversation being the feeling that there was need for a new voice and a new leader to take this team to the next level. Colangelo went on to praise Triano and speak of his basketball knowledge and how he looks forward to working with him in his new role as his special assistant. What exactly that role could be is up for debate. According to Colangelo you might even see Jay back in his old job as an assistant coach if the man he hires would want Triano.

But reading between the lines of what Bryan Colangelo had to say it would appear that Triano's lack of ability to get his team to play defence ranks high in the reasons why he is no longer the head coach of the Raptors. That also may speak as to why P.J Carlesimo will not be considered for the job.

Bryan Colangelo

" I was not hiring P.J to be Jay's ultimate replacement. That was not the case. What we were looking to do was to amp up Jay's staff, amp up defensive focus and effort. That was the sole purpose of bringing in P.J last year."

Which clearly didn't happen. While P.J is still under contract it would be a surprise if he remained given that he is not even being considered for the head coaching position. In terms of the rest of the assistants they all are not under contract and would likely have to be selected by the new head coach to remain. Who that will be is up for debate. Bryan Colangelo made it clear he wants someone with experience and pedigree and a better defensive mindset combined with a free flowing offence. Ideally more balance in a approach leaning to defence. Here is how Colangelo defined it.

Bryan Colangelo

" Candidates that have a great deal of experience. I think that is something that is important in this regard, I think this young team that was obviously developing well under Jay need to see some that has a pedigree or resume that would indicate that this is some that has achieved success. Clearly someone that has somewhat of a defensive minded prospective. Someone that has had success putting solid defensive units out there. That have had success limiting points while still having some flow to the offence. Finding a perfect blend in someone that does have a good feel of the offensive side of the ball. But at the same time can really drill down on the defensive side of the ball which is something that we need to dramatically improve on. "

So it would seem that the lack of defence is ultimately what cost Jay his job. Some would point to the fact with Bargnani and Calderon as starters that might not have been possible for Jay to do. If both remain under this new coach we will find out. Given what Colangelo desires to have it makes for a very short list you would figure. Raptor fans have long mentioned the name of Jeff Van Gundy as a potential coach for the Toronto Raptors. Colangelo's description sure sounds like him. However it would appear he seems very content in his current role with ESPN as commentator. Other names that have been put out there include Rick Aldeman who also would fit the description Colangelo laid out. Lawrence Frank the former Nets coach now an assistant with the Celtics could also be considered. If you want a long shot how about Jerry Sloan who was the longest serving coach in NBA History until last season when he left the Jazz. But there is no indication that Sloan has any desire to get back into coaching.

This is going to be a huge move in terms of Colangelo's long term future and one he will not take lightly. After all Bryan only was given a short extension himself and really can not afford to get this wrong. You also wonder if the fact Colangelo was not able to make this move sooner has cost him a candidate he desired? Kevin McHale was just hired by the Rockets and Mike Brown surprisingly ended up with the Lakers job. Colangelo is under the gun time wise in terms of finding a coach prior to the draft. Something he says in a perfect world he would like to do. But with the draft fast approaching on June 23rd that seems unlikely. There also is that whole lockout thing coming too. I am not clear on how that would impact on things. If you go by the NFL example it would suggest that Colangelo would need to hire a coach prior to the lockout taking place. He was asked about this but declined to comment based on the NBA rules about talking about the "L" word and the fact he would likely be fined.

But make no mistake about the search for the next Raptors head coach has begun and it will be a huge step for this franchise one way or the other. Triano for my money was never going to be the guy to lead this team all the way to the end of the road in being a contender. So the fact the Raptors have cut bait with him makes total sense to me. It also is clear at least for me that this team never was buying into what he was selling on the defensive end of the floor. While everyone to a man likes Jay Triano he was not the guy to get the job done in the long term to me. He never seems to lose a job anyway so it is hard to feel to sorry for him. Just as he survived several coaching changes as an assistant. He has survived his own demise with this new job as some sort of assistant to Colangelo. Does this mean he will be getting Colangelo coffee? Likely not but it does keep him still a part of the organization which is much more than many coaches get on being fired. Colangelo himself thinks Jay was given more than a fair shake and I agree with him. Here is what Colangelo had to say on it.

Bryan Colangelo

" There are certain things that I felt we needed to address from a different point of view, with respect to a fair chance I think that by virtue of a couple things. Jay was here for a full 2 and 2/3rds seasons. There was a team that arguably had a lot more talent and a team that had arguably a lot less talent. Again not being measure by wins and losses being measured by overall performance. There was many things that go into that performance beyond wins and losses. It was determined that it was the right time to make a move. I would say by virtue of Jay having an oppurtunity to remain with the organization to continue to be part of this rebuilding plan and still have input into the on going process. I think Jay not only got a fair shake but he has an ongoing fair opportunity to be part of this."

I would agree with that one hundred percent. But it all seems very odd to me that Colangelo even though he gives no indication of it seems to have done a 180 degree turn on Triano. Anyone that walked away from his end of the season press conference that did not feel Jay Triano would be back if Bryan was didn't see same press conference I did. Yet that is not the case. It makes you wonder what exactly happened. I can only come up with two explanations. When Colangelo was brought back there was an understanding between himself and MLSE that he would make a move at the coaching position or he would not be back. Now who was the one pushing for that is unclear. If it was Colangelo it would seem odd that he would keep Jay Triano on as his assistant. If it was the MLSE Board that wanted Jay out that would seem odd as well given they have kept him around for so long in the organization. The only other thing that makes any sense is the meeting that Colangelo had with Triano changed his thinking on Triano's ability to coach this team going forward.

Still I am not going to complain as to why this has happened or how. I am just glad it did. I have expressed it many times how I feel in terms of Jay Triano and his future as coach of this team. I feel this was a positive step in the right direction. I am also encouraged by the type of coach Colangelo wants to bring in to replace him. Ultimately regardless of what you think of Jay Triano you have to respect him for all that he as done as man for Canadians in terms of coaching at the NBA level. He has and will remain a historic figure for others to follow. Give him credit for all that he has been able to accomplish. However that is not enough in my view to keep him on board coaching without having really proven anything to justify it. It will be very interesting to see who in fact Colangelo can land to replace him. When the Lakers are only getting Mike Brown to replace a coaching icon in Phil Jackson you have every right to be a little worried. But Bryan Colangelo has to get this right not only for the franchises future but his own.