Demar DeRozan Can See The Light At The End Of The Tunnel

Dwane Casey long before the season ended made it clear his thoughts on what he wanted from Demar DeRozan and Ed Davis this off-season. He wanted to see both hit the weights and get bigger and stronger. Casey gave some motivation to get that accomplished by creating an identity for this basketball team. I asked Demar about if he felt this team now had that identity in his exit interview. Later that night before the Raptors game vs the Nets I was able to catch up with DeRozan to follow up with him.

Demar in past interviews and in talking with him has made it known he plans on spending more time in Toronto this off-season. That is something he still plans on doing. He had plans to try to bring back a charity game like Vince Carter use to do back in the day. No word on if that will happen this summer but it still seems something Demar is interesting in making happen. Given the fact he is from L.A and the number of players that call L.A home it could lead to an impressive roster of talent for a game like that. This was a tough season for Demar, but he fought through it and by the end of it was able to restore the promise and hope for the future that people have in him. In past interviews he has mentioned how much he looks forward to a normal off-season, in which he will be able to be guided by Dwane Casey and the staff in his off-season work. The one thing you should never question is how hard this kid will work. Maybe it isn't even fair to label him with kid anymore but he was the youngest player on the roster this season. That will change with the coming of draft picks this off-season. It has been great to have someone that came into the Raptors world at the same time that I was welcomed in with access. Over the last three years there has been a ton of change with the Raptors but one of the constants has been Demar and he has always been a go to guy for us. Both he and Andrea Bargnani seem unconcerned with who's team this actually is. They are more concerned with getting this team to the post season which is something they both crave desperately. It will be interesting to see what they do and what their general manager Bryan Colangelo does in order to reach that goal.

Thanks to Demar for always being willing to take time to talk with us in the Dino Nation Blog. He has been a constant contributor in terms of our coverage of Raptors for his three years in Toronto. Next season we hope to see a bigger, badder and better version of Demar next season.


DNB Playoff Picks

I won't get into the why and how it will happen. Just want to get on the record with some playoff picks. So if you ready let's go:

Eastern Conference

Bulls vs Sixers: Give me the Bulls in 5 games

Miami vs Knicks: Old School Rivals Heat in 6

Pacers vs Magic: D-12 M I A = Pacers in 4

Boston vs Atlanta: Rondo We Trust: Celtics in 7

Western Conference

Spur vs Utah: This Year Spurs Move On: Spurs in 5

OKC vs Dallas: OKC K.O's Former Champs: OKC in 5

L.A Lakers vs Denver: Kobe Loves Denver Right? : Lakers in Denver In 6

L.A Clippers vs Memphis: Grizz the loudest Sleeper EVER: Memphis in 6

 So there it is I am on the record for round one. I still feel as I did at the start of the season were heading to a OKC vs Miami Finals. If that happens it should be very fun. 


B.C's Flexibilty Equals Uncertainty For Many Raptors

One of the goals of Bryan Colangelo was not to use any cap space and enter into this off-season with the ultimate amount of flexibility. In terms of that it has been mission accomplished. It does leave some question marks for a number of players heading into this off-season. At the top of that list is Jerryd Bayless who had a frustrating season in which injuries robbed him of opportunities especially down the stretch of this season, in which like last year Jose Calderon was not being used. Bayless turned heads with that chance at the end of last season. He had impressive numbers down the stretch as the Raptors starting point guard by default. An early season ankle turn  cost him a great deal of time right at the beginning of the season. Not exactly ideal when you have a new coach in place attempting to create a new identity for the franchise. He came back and was playing catch up with everyone else in a season that offered few chances to practice that made getting up to speed even more of a challenge. Then another injury to his oblique muscle and the end of his season opened the door for Ben Uzoh to walk through it and get a chance to play as a 10 day contract guy and earn ultimately a position with the team for the remainder of the season. Even Bayless admits he is still searching for his role and game at this point. He also could be searching for a new team to play for. The Raptors passed on the chance to extend him and he ultimately he could end up a RFA or even a free gent if the Raptors choose not to pick up their rights to him as an RFA. It made for a bit of an awkward exit interview with so much uncertainty on his future with this team. That said he still expressed his desire to remain in Toronto and that is something that has been consistent in since he has arrived.

The Raptors once had a similar type player in Chancey Billups. There was the same questions on what he was. Is he a point guard? A combo guard or a under sized shooting guard. Ultimately the answer was not found in Toronto but in Detroit were "Mr Big Shot" was born playing at the point for a championship team with the Pistons. While you would like to believe and hope that Bayless could find a path to his true identity as a NBA Player, you also have to wonder how long you are expected to wait. Watching Bayless can be a truly frustrating experience at times. He can make a true great spectacular play and the next time up the floor a totally unexplainable turnover. "His Gift" as Dwane Casey refers to it is his ability to score and get into the paint. It can also be his curse at times. He sometimes will call his own number and end up with a highly difficult attempt instead of making the simple pass and the smart play to a open player.

What makes this all the more frustrating and puzzling is I would venture to say Bayless is one of the most intelligent people in just terms of brains in that locker. Taking that to the basketball court, that intelligence is sometimes clouded by his competitive fire. He absolutely hates to lose and gets personally disgusted by the experience. On top of everything he is a nice young man that truly has embraced Toronto and legitimately loves the city. We would kill for more people who felt that way in the NBA that want to play and live in Toronto. Yet it really seems like a hard choice to make based on basketball alone.

In addition to Bayless there are other guys like Maglorie, Aaron Gray to decide about. I am not sure there is anyway you can see both Aaron Gray and Jaamal back. It would seem to make little logic to do so. There is already lots of speculation that Maglorie will return and he is even making playoff guarantees on behalf of the team. I would see this has a slap in the face to Aaron Gray if he ends up out and Jaamal in. Gray has done more in terms of on the floor and seems the perfect fit to play back-up 5 minutes behind Jonas Valanciunas. It is not like Aaron Gray is going to be worried about minutes. Although unlike Jaamal he can log major minutes if required. So, if you have Valanciunas having troubles adjusting to NBA game in terms of picking up fouls, Gray is able to plug in and fill those minutes. If Aaron Gray was from Toronto and Jaamal was from Charlotte this is not even a conversation. People will deny it, same as they did with Jay Triano but the Canadian passport that Magloire has gives him added value as the organization might view it from a PR point of view. He is well spoken and many respect what he has accomplished making it to the NBA out of the Raptors home town. Still numbers don't lie and the Raptors attendance did not trend upwards by bringing home the hometown hero. The simple fact as I have stated many times is the hometown hero stopped being an effective or at least significant NBA talent in 2003. I find his song and dance about his pride for playing for his hometown team to be somewhat hypocritical, as he likely had several chances to come here sooner than he actually did. Ultimately ask yourself this question. If Aaron Gray or Jaamal Magloire is cut loose by the Raptors who likely is still in the NBA next season. The answer is Aaron Gray who always seems to find a landing spot despite not being able to find a long term home in the NBA.

Aside from those mentioned you have Solomon Alabi, Ben Uzoh and Alan Anderson all without contracts heading into next year. In terms of Solo it was kind of nice to see him finally get a chance to play, but in reality there is little chance he has a future with the Raptors or in the NBA. The Raptors have consistently failed to find gold in the second round of the NBA Draft and he is just the latest example of that. He seems like a great person and is well liked by everyone but ultimately is like the last kid that is picked in a pick up game on a school yard in NBA Terms. Both Alan Anderson and Ben Uzoh to a lesser extent have made claims that they belong in the NBA. That said given the high expectations for this off-season if it is with the Raptors it would be viewed or should be viewed as failure on Colangelo's part to upgrade the talent on this roster.

Just because you have a contract that doesn't leave you safe either as the Raptors do have some attractive contracts they could easily move if they so desired to do so, on guys like Gary Forbes and others. Even Amir Johnson's deal is not unreasonable by the standards of what a solid power forward is going for these days in free agency. Colangelo's flexibility gives him options, but it also gives most of this roster insecurity. Aside from Calderon, Bargnani and perhaps DeRozan it is easy to see anyone being moved. Even under the right circumstances these 3 could be moved as well but it would be highly unlikely based on the comments of Colangelo today in his press conference.

Raptors Last Day Of School

It was a long day in Toronto for me yesterday. First there was the annual end of the year press conference for the players. Normally commonly refereed to as locker clean out day, but the Raptors still had a game to play. A concert by the Red Hot Chilli Peppers allowed this uncommon event to take place. The common theme of those exit interviews was a general consensus that things had changed for the Raptors. This was stated from longest serving Raptor Jose Calderon to second year man Ed Davis. What was also a common theme was a desire to grab the brass ring and make it to the NBA Playoffs next season. To say it is one thing, to believe it is another. The respect this team seems to universally have for Dwane Casey has been obvious throughout the season. Ultimately the Raptors seem to feel they now have an identity and blue print to build on towards that goal of returning to the post season.

No one seemed to have any answers or be willing to share thoughts of what they needed in terms of additions to the roster that will help in that goal of being a playoff team in 2012-13. They all deferred to Bryan Colangelo who has a massive off-season in front of him. The days of everyone just accepting the genius of Bryan Colangelo is no longer just accepted anymore. The first thing that he will be judged on is his draft choice from last season in Jonas Valanciunas who if you hadn't heard will be coming next year. While the Raptors odds of landing Anthony Davis seem bleak at this point, if Valancinus lives up to the considerable hype it might not be the disaster it appears to be for some. In my opinion the Raptors would actually be better served in some respects to wind up the runner-up and select Michael Kidd-Gilchrist also of Kentucky. The Raptors need a better option at the small forward position. James Johnson can be a good player for this team but ultimately does not have the overall skill set to be in the starting line-up. Johnson spoke of his late season blow up with coach Casey and said it is in the past and that he respects him. If the Raptors add someone that ultimately will play in front of him, it will be vital that he is able to stay motivated and contributing. While he still strongly believes in his game on the offensive end, it will be his defensive game that will be what is required for him to be part of the solution.

Andrea Bargnani looked like another person when this season began. When asked what was his best memory from this season, he said it was two minutes prior to ultimately re-injuring his calf muscle in Utah. When that happened you saw some rare raw emotion from Andrea Bargnani. After that we saw little of Bargnani and the Andrea we saw after that point looked a lot more like the Bargnani we had seen in the past. Dwane Casey in his post season remarks today praised Andrea for allowing him to push him. Ultimately heading into next season there will be two main questions. One is if Andrea Bargnani can be healthy and when injures happen can he grind and play through them. The fact this same injury was a factor no less than three times this season has to be a major concern. In addition Andrea Bargnani needs to prove the guy that many were saying was playing at an all-star level is the guy that shows up next season. Italy will not be going to Olympics so Andrea unlike some other players will not be part of things in London. He will have a entire off-season to figure all this out.

Jose Calderon will be in London and likely playing major minutes for Spain given the fact Ricky Rubio is no longer an option for the Spanish Team. Raptor fans outside of Spain may not be so thrilled with that. The Raptors have not exactly had the best of luck in terms of players participating for Spain. Calderon had one of the more solid seasons he has had in the past few years. Colangelo dismissed any thought that Calderon will be going anywhere in his remarks to the media today. He praised Calderon's defense which has improved to some degree under Casey. I would debate how much it has in comparison to Colangelo's assessment.

There seems to be a common consensus that both Ed Davis and Amir Johnson can not both remain as part of this team moving forward. I would tend to disagree with that given the uncertainty to Bargnani's health moving forward. You can throw Linas Kleiza is in that mix as well but given the coming of Jonas, if for no other reason than to help with his transition to life in the NBA and North America it would make sense that he remains on the roster.

In terms of Ed Davis this off-season will be vital for him and his long term future with the Raptors. He has yet to have a full off-season and training camp based on injuries and the NBA Lockout. I personally have concerns about Ed and his ability to develop. He seems to need to be constantly pushed. Casey consistently as mentioned his desire to see Ed and Demar both hit the weights in the off-season and get stronger. Davis when asked about it responded in a rather concerning way. He felt that people will always be questioning his size throughout his NBA Career. This sounded a lot like what use to be said by a young Chris Bosh. That said, the comparison between Bosh and Davis ends there. It is one thing to put up 24 points in a game that the other team had no desire to win and doing it in a game that matters. The organization has stated that he will be the primary focus of the Raptors Summer League team in Las Vegas. Colangelo in his remarks today basically stated that Ed Davis will be held more accountable moving forward and there will be less tolerance in terms of allowing him to develop.

There will be not much said about Demar DeRozan in this post because I had a chance to talk with him later in the day prior to the game last night. Colangelo in his remarks today said that the sky was the limit for DeRozan and he mentioned the same things that Coach Casey has stated about Demar getting bigger and stronger. He also made the point that Demar was the youngest player on this roster on a team full of young players. Colangelo also broke some news in his remarks as he stated that Dwane Casey has got his contract extended. He also made reference to Casey earning bonuses based on this teams dramatic improvement on defense.

That sums up the interviews of the players and we touched on what Casey and Colangelo had to say. Will have more on that later today or tomorrow. However let's shift to the game from last night briefly and touch on a few points.

First the crowd was addressed by Jaamal Magloire and as I had mentioned I was not looking forward to this. It was all I expected and even more. Keeping in mind that Magloire is not even under contract for next season at this point. It is thought that the Raptors might be willing to keep him around and it is clear he is desperate to be around. All of that said he when out and thanked the fans and encouraged them to stick with the team. That is your standard stuff no shock in that. The next part was, in which he more or less gave a promise of the playoffs next season. I am fine if that is Andrea Bargnani talking or Demar DeRozan stating that. We are confident they are going to be here and be a huge part in making that happen. Jaamal Magloire for all of the praise he gets has little impact directly on the floor. Everyone will tell you about his impact off of the floor and that is hard to evaluate in it's actual impact. If he is back I would not be happy about it, but that will not shock anyone.

This game was a utter shame on so many levels. The Raptors and Nets played in effect a glorified Vegas Summer League game. The only thing that made this somewhat bearable was the performance of Ben Uzoh. He got a triple double and became the first Raptor to do so since Alvin Williams in 2001. Sure this game was utterly without meaning in almost every way. That said to get a triple double under any circumstances is not easy to achieve. If it was than surly someone on the Raptors would have done it in 12 years. If you want to earn some respect or dough in the future remember the name Ben Uzoh and triple double and you will have the ultimate trivia question in about 5 years. Who is to say what the future holds for Alan Anderson and Ben Uzoh and if they will ever wear a Raptor jersey again. What you can say is good for them in doing a solid job in building a case for themselves to be in the NBA even if that isn't here in Toronto. They had an opportunity and they ceased it and took advantage of it.

Ultimately this season was about Dwane Casey establish a positive identity for the Toronto Raptors. Everyone from the players, to the fans, to other NBA Teams now have an understanding of what it means to be or face the Toronto Raptors. It seems almost comical now how some people at this time last season were still convinced that Jay Triano would still be the coach of this team heading into this season. The best decision the Raptors made this past off-season was hiring Dwane Casey and nothing else comes even close to that. The fact he earned an extension based on his performance this season will surprise no one. The Raptors will pick up the option year on his contract. He has brought back an accountability to the Toronto Raptors that had been lacking for years. When you go in the Raptor locker room it is very clear who the boss is on this team and it is him. To earn the respect of NBA players and be able to get them to buy into what you are selling is a tough job and a constant struggle. In a season that was challenging for any coach in the NBA, it allowed Casey to thrive and survive his first season exceeding almost all expectations that may have been made on what he could realistically achieve.

Up next on our off-season madness of work will be taking a look at Demar DeRozan and hearing his thoughts on what lies ahead for his future and off-season. So be on the look out for that. Also as I was making people aware on Twitter I have lined up a number of guests to talk with us about the season that was and get their thoughts on the future. That begins with my favourite guest Jack Armstrong sometime next week. Many of you missed him on the broadcasts during the final stretch so you will get you fix of Jack here in the DNB. He always has some interesting thoughts on what is going on with the Raptors and I just love having him in the blog. He even helps me learn some things when he is. So that said the season is over but the Dino Nation Blog marches on the entire off-season for the most part. So make sure to stick with us through the off-season which promises to be an eventful one for the Raptors.

Thoughts On Another Season For DNB

I just wanted to do some reflecting on the season for Dino Nation Blog. This was a challenging season in so many ways. I honestly have never felt so truly tired after a season in my life. The obvious reason for that was this crazy lockout schedule that had a dramatic impact on everything and everyone and that included myself and Dino Nation Blog. I did my best to solider through another season despite all of the challenges it provided. In the end it left me feeling that I could have done a better job but still gave the same 100% effort that I always do. You will never here me say 110% as my father always hated that expression. All you have to give is your 100% nothing more.

I hope despite all the challenges, I was still able to provide you a site that was able to provide you info, opinion and content that helped you have a better experience as fan this season. That is my job to do that and you all ultimately are the final judges on if I have succeeded at that. I have always looked at the DNB as a site that works for the fans. I pay attention to what you all are saying and try to respond to that. Obviously I have my own opinions that I am never afraid to project. It has never mattered to me if it was the popular opinion or not, but that it was an honest assessment from my point of view. I always do my best to interact with readers and get to know as many of you as humanly possible. That will never change. I will always try to respond to anyone that invests their time to speak to me. Even if you have a totally different point of view. I try and always treat you in a respectful way and will never fight to the death about anything. I have said it many times, we all love basketball and care about it deeply. Still at the end of the day it is never a life or death matter. It is suppose to be fun being a sports fan. I always try to keep that in mind.

Part of what has made the Dino Nation Blog successful is all the wonderful guests we have. This includes the players from when I am covering games, to the media folks that have become regular guests in this blog to all of you that support it and take the time to share things with others through social media and other methods. As much as I want to do so much more, I also am aware of two things. One, that this blog has come a long way from where it started. I was cleaning up the other day and found something I had wrote with goals for the blog. It was nice to see that all of the things on that list are now reality. The second thing, that I am well aware of, is that the Dino Nation Blog has been able to do these things thanks to the support and time of so many people. I will not list everyone that would include but please know how much I truly am thankful for all of these people.

You may have read the post about building TEAM DNB. This is going to be a big change for the blog. We have had the odd staff member over the years but never for a long period of time. I thank those folks for their time and work. This time I am committed to building a staff that will allow me to do more and expand on my vision of what I want this blog to be. I am taking great care and time in the selection of the people we bring in. I want these people to understand what the DNB has been and to bring what they have to offer to the table doing it in the way you have become accustom to here.

Ultimately the most thanks goes to all of you. I really am grateful for the constant support of so many people. I have overtime got to know some of you and that has been a positive and unexpected twist to all of this. That was never a thought in the original idea when I started doing this. It is a welcome one though. In a season such as this it can be hard at times to stay motivated. Yet someone will tweet something that makes me laugh or inspires an idea and keeps me rolling. I truly love Raptor Fans and think they are truly a great fan base to work for. It is a great community that we all share. I am proud to be a part of it. So thanks for another year of support and don't forget the DNB runs year round. Last season with the lockout it kind of shut us down. This off-season will be back to business as usual.

That begins with a ton of post season wrap up stuff with stuff I gathered today in Toronto and hooking up with some guesting in the Starting 5. First of those will be a guy that a lot of you have been missing calling games. Jack Armstrong is going to be joining me sometime next week. Will have a date for you soon. He is my favourite guest and based on your support of the interviews one of yours as well. Lots of work to do but I felt the need to stop and take the time to thank everyone for another season of support and love. It is my pleasure and privilege to try and inform and hopefully entertain you each day.


All Day In The T-Dot-O For Exits And Goodbyes

I am off to Toronto tomorrow to cover Raptor exit interviews in the morning and later that night the battle to be 6th worst and claim the ping pong balls that go with it. The Nets have to win the lottery to keep their pick as it is only lottery protected for the top 3. The Raptors own their pick no matter where it happens to land. This game could be and likely will be one of the most ugly basketball games you ever watch. If you are a fan of car accidents this could be the basketball game for you.

The Raptors in the last two games have treated them basically as glorified exhibition games in which they try a number of odd line-ups and just accept whatever comes from that. I would expect Jose Calderon will not play once again and we see all of the normal starts play sparingly at best. Expect to see a lot of Solomon Alabi and probably even a Jaamal Magloire appearance. He is expect to address the crowd as he did to start the season. I will attempt not to puke while he is. He was on the Fan 590 today stating his desire to return to the Raptors. I would like to say if the Raptors have him back this will be a sign that Bryan Colangelo has made a mess out of this off-season. The reality is to have a guy on veteran minimum deal that has offered very little in terms of the on the court product is a waste of cap space.

Speaking of wasting money a rumour was rumbling on twitter that Raptors have offered former Laker and Net Sasha Vulajacic a contract for 4.5 million dollars for 4 years and grand total of 18 million dollars. This looks like a lesser version of the terrible mistake Bryan Colangelo made in signing Jason Kapono to an even larger deal few years back. He eventually was forced to trade away his mistake and was able to acquire Reggie Evans from the Sixers. If this is true than this is an epic failure on the part of Colangelo. It is not like "The Machine" is even still dating Paris Hilton. He spent the season over in Europe and actually had numbers that were not as good as Sonny Weems. You could get Weems for cheaper and he already has chemistry with your team. That said both Weems and the Raptors at last check were not even close to being on the same page. The Raptors do still hold his rights as a restricted free agent as they did off a qualifying offer to him prior to the lockout and him deciding to take his talents to Europe.

This off-season Colangelo has no room for his mistakes of the past. He needs to hit home runs and if he doesn't his future as the G.M would be in serious doubt you would have to figure. It all gets started after the epic disaster that the Nets and Raptors is likely to be. Colangelo will be able to go to work and would be able to talk with all none playoff teams about trades. Not that it will happen but one of those teams would be the Suns and perhaps Steve Nash would work with the Suns on a sign and trade that sends him to Toronto. It is highly unlikely but Colangelo as we have seen above tends to repeat himself good or bad. In fact if you added Nash he might even be able to make "The Machine" look good. Just doing some think out loud in the form of the written word.

So tomorrow check in on @Dinonationblog for details on Raptors Exit interviews ( Locker Clean Out Day minus the Locker Clean Out). I will be at least tweeting from the various pressers that are scheduled to begin at around 11am after the Raptors shoot around. Also if you have interest in being part of the Dino Nation Blog please check out the post below as we are starting to look for #TeamDNB and build the DNB to exciting new heights. I am also looking for someone to hang out with in between the pressers and the game tomorrow night so if you want to have lunch with me tomorrow could be your lucky day.

I can't lie and say that I am not happy to see this season almost over. I am happy because this was a very hard year for doing this. There have been some good moments for sure but when all is said and done it has been a difficult season. Still this off-season I am going to work hard to improve the DNB and make it even better than it ever has been. That is the goal and let's hope I am successful. After all of this end of season stuff is done. I likely will be taken a week or so off to refresh myself for the upcoming lottery, draft and off-season. But never fear even if I am on a vacation and something significant happens I will end my time off to get the news to you. Thanks to all of you for your support and love for another season. Hope to have some great material for you all from spending the day working in Toronto tomorrow.

The Search For #TEAMDNB Begins

You may have noticed in this blog that this season I have been more testy than usual. Maybe you haven't noticed. In any case this season has made it VERY clear to me that for the Dino Nation Blog to become ultimately what I would like it to be, it can not be done by just myself ideally. My main goal this off-season is to build a team to take the DNB to the next level. A lot of things that I have wanted to do, I just have not been able to do based on just being one person. Thus begins this search to build a team that will be able to help me make the Dino Nation Blog more what I want it to be. I want the DNB to evolve and grow and provide a product that you the loyal readers of it can be proud of.

Before I get to what I am looking for and what people who would be interested need to do I want to first explain what exactly the goal is and how this will impact on the Dino Nation Blog. First of all I still will be in charge of everything and will demand that people follow the guidelines that I have established here for almost 5 years. The Dino Nation Blog has been successful based on these things. I want our content to remain similar in which it is something that appeals to all fans. I don't care if you became a basketball fan last week or have been all of your life. The idea in the DNB has always been to speak to fans of all levels of interest and respect all of you. That will always be the case. What adding a staff hopefully will do is allow me to shift my focus on creating more audio and video content. I still will write as well but perhaps not as much as I have in the past once this team is assembled. I still will be guiding the ship and allowing new voices to do their thing but doing it in the way you have become accustom to in the DNB. Which is providing you information and entertainment with a focus on the Toronto Raptors and still keeping an eye on the NBA as a whole and Canadians in both the NBA and NCAA when it makes sense to do so. Along with having a sense of humour and doing content that is made to give you a laugh and a smile as well.

Now on to what and who I am looking for. There is a big list and I don't know if I find all of these things or not but will see how we do.

Staff Writers- This would include doing game re-caps, regular features and creating your own written content and ideas for new written segments. You need to be a decent to good writer obviously. It is vital that you are able to write in a conversational style that has been a big part of how the DNB is written. Our goal is to make our readers feel like you are talking to them as if they were standing next to you.

Camera Person/Editor- I do have a television background and can work with you. I do require someone with their own equipment and someone that I can work with and is willing to follow the direction I lay out with your input being taken into account. This will involve shooting segments and could lead to covering some Raptor Games working with me, at when I deem it to be, and if we can acquire access for you for games.

Web Designer/Webmaster- I admit in terms of the site design I have always keep it pretty basic because I have little knowledge of webdesign to create a quality website. It would be nice to find someone that can give the DNB Webiste a facelift. In addition, be able to teach myself and staff how to keep it functional and running. 

DNB Community Manager- For this position in all honesty you just need to be a fan of what we do here. You will be responsible for helping promote and spread the Dino Nation Blog to grow our audience. This might be done in a number of ways. Some that I will come up with and some that hopefully you come up with. You would also be welcome to write and take part in all aspects on the DNB.

Co-Host(s) for Audio and Video Projects- This could come from the writing staff or be someone else entirely. You would be working with me on some of the audio and video projects we will be developing. So obviously the first and foremost requirement for this job is being able to get along with me and work with me. I am not concerned if you have experience or not in terms of broadcasting. I am concerned with if you are passionate about the Raptors and basketball and have the ability to let that shine through in audio and or video formats. 

Obviously these will not be paid positions but you will be expected to treat this like a job. I did this blog for an entire year before I ever earned a single dime from it. I still treated it as it was my job and it has led to being able to earn a little bit and gain a wealth of experience. That is what we are offering you here a chance to work for an established site that has an established audience and giving you that platform. Sure you could start your own blog, but it would take a long time to match the level of success this blog has already achieved. That is not to be arrogant about it, that is to say it has been 5 years of my blood sweat and tears that has made it that way. Here is what I require from people interested in joining Team DNB.

  • Days and times you are available to work both in the off-season and in-season. It is not like we will have shifts for working or anything like that, but if you put down a day and time that you are able to work please make sure that you are. 
  • If you have experience please make me aware of what it is if I am not already aware of it. This along with the position or positions you feel you are interested in or qualify for. 
  • Pitch me any ideas you have to add to the Dino Nation Blog be it in written, audio or video or any combination of the three. Present the idea in writing. 
  • If you have a sample of work you have written and I am unaware of your work please supply something. This would obvious only be required for job descriptions that require writing. 
FOR ALL POSITIONS a short paragraph for all positions on why you should be selected, what makes you fit what we do here in the Dino Nation Blog and above all what type of a person you are and what you would add to our team.

I am in no rush to fill any of these positions. If it takes a week or till the start of next season it really doesn't matter to me. What does matter is finding the right people to make this whole thing work. I am willing to take the time to ensure that. Anyone that is interested I will conduct an interview with be it online or on the phone. For now we will stick with E-Mail.

So all interested applicants should provide the info above as well as your contact information and will go from there. I know in the past people have approached me about working for the DNB and I have not followed up or followed through in looking to add them. Please, if you have shown interest in the past do not let that stop you from showing interest now. I have just reached a point where I feel it is necessary to add a staff for the Dino Nation Blog to grow to where I want it to be. I would welcome anyone that I deem qualified to help in that process. Even the few staff we have had for brief periods are welcome to come back if they are interested.

I am committed to build a fantastic environment for everyone and have big expectations for this to help grow the Dino Nation Blog to another level. So please contact me at DinoBlogger@Gmail.com. I will start getting back to people sometime next week once we have wrapped up the Raptors season. I hope to have a great team in place to make the 2012-13 Raptors Season the best one yet for the DNB regardless of if the Raptors are good, bad or indifferent. While there is no set deadline to apply or to add someone to our team, the sooner you show an interest the better it is to start the process and in addition shows me your true interest in wanting to be part of the team.

Sorry for the length of this but I felt it was required to give you a full insight into what I am looking to do. As part of the staff while we can not offer you a pay check we can offer you chances to be part of our great promotions and any other perks that come our way. You will be part of the DNB Team for all of it. I look forward to starting this process and finding people that will add to what I have worked so hard to build.


DNB Top 10- Things I Will "TRY" To Forget About 2011-12 Raptors Season

We have not done one of these in a long time. We even started doing a few top ten's in video but this is not one of those. This is what many would class as a forgettable season for the Toronto Raptors. There have been many of those lately. So what will I want to forget about this season most? So many options to choose from. Let's get this rolling.

#10 The NBA Lockout- I think I may be one of the last people still kind of ticked off about it. I mean the CBA never turned out to be what it should have been. The league lost 2 months of the season. This schedule has been a painful experience to do my job well. I probably won't forget this but most of you have and some even likely believe those NBA Cares Ads. Dwight Howard cares about Orlando as much as Shaq did.

#9 Anthony Carter- I honestly never really spoke to him in his time here. He kinda looked like a scary dude and with no Reggie Evans this year to have my back I felt keeping my distance was wise. I never saw the point in him being signed and actually was the first and maybe only to suggest the Raptors should have signed some kid named Jeremy Lin instead. He was cut and no one cared so what really was their to remember.

#8 Pound The Rock- This likely has no hope of happening. I mean it is written on stuff all over the ACC and their is that big rock as you enter and exit the Raptor Locker Room. That said, I am all for a good story and some inspiration. But people using this expression made me more feeling like pounding my head than any sense of inspiration from it. If the players like it and buy into it great. I am out of the Rock pounding game if I was ever really in it.

#7 Jamaal Maglorie's Raptor Career- Wait he is still on the team? This is true but he will be long gone this off-season if there is a God and he likes me even a little bit. This whole thing was a complete shame and an insult to the history of this franchise. Now when kids 25 years from now look up who was the first Canadian to play for the Raptors it will be him. If a kid asks me in 25 years about it here is what I will say. He was a guy that stopped being good 9 years before he ever was a Raptor. If you want to know about actual good Canadian Player read about Steve Nash who is in the NBA Hall of Fame (He will be).

#6 Leo Rautins and Rod Black- On their own they both can be annoying and provide no sort of entertainment what so ever. Together they are a toxic waste of time that makes 90% of viewers glad the mute button was invented. We as basketball fans have evolved since 1995 the way both of these individuals present the game to fans has not. They have not grown or cared to understand that this fan base is a lot more intelligent and smarter to basketball than it was back in 1995.

#5 Andrea Bargnani's Calf- This will be a good thing if I forget about this. It will mean that Andrea comes back next season and is healthy.Why do I know this is not going to be the case. Why do I think that Andrea Bargnani has the healing power of a Vince Carter in his prime. I don't know let's just call it experience.


#3 Camo Uniforms- Again I would like to believe I can say good bye to these things. Sadly I don't think I will be. MLSE has found a way to hide behind doing something good and pocket some money for themselves. That is fantastic isn't it. No it isn't, and this, above all things is what got me the most angry about this season.

#2 Ed Davis- It will be for one of two reasons. He is on one of those 29 other NBA Teams he was auditioning for down the stretch or he actually had a full off-season of improvement and is sticking around as part of the core of this team. One way or the other it was a forgettable season from Ed Davis and some inspired play in games that don't matter won't change that.

and now the number one thing I would like to forget about this season. I was going to say the entire thing but that seemed like a cop out. So here we go get your hashtag ready.

#1 Rasaul "Friggin" Butler- From almost day one I was like what the hell is this guy doing here? It got me so upset I started a hashtag that became somewhat popular with Raptor fans. It was simple and to the point #CutButler, which the Raptors eventually did and stated they were allowing him to go to pursue options with a contender. Shockingly enough not even a contender for the D-League Championship let alone the NBA Championship came calling. What do you know. This was one of a trio of signings in the off-season that were just a joke and insulting to Raptor fans. No surprise that all three got mentioned in this. But if there was one guy that everyone could agree offered absolutely nothing it was THE BUTLER!!!

I will try to forget all of this, kind of like we forget things like Yogi Stewart....The Banger Brothers....oh wait that is right I was the guy that wrote an article Raptor Fans are like elephants and never forget. Sadly I guess I will remember all of this!!!

The Winner Losses And The Loser Wins

Herm Edwards the NFL Head Coach of the Jets at the time told us all that "You Play To Win The Game", which was totally turned upside down last night in Milwaukee. The team that won, the Bucks, had already been eliminated by virtue of the Sixers win over the Nets that concluded before this game ended. Something that both teams in the end were not happy about. As stated that win clinched a playoff spot for Philly and it also didn't help the Raptors who were tied with the Nets in the Lottery Standings. The Raptors did start off this game like a team that wanted to win and they were the ones battling for their playoff lives. This would fade away as the night went on. Demar DeRozan upped his fan base by getting tossed from this game for tossing a ball into the stands after he felt he deserved a call he didn't get. This was to the delight of the folks in Tank Nation who may in fact have plans to build a DeRozan Statue should the Raptors land the first overall pick. Maybe not. In any case at times we have seen a DeRozan this year that has become frustrated and angry over the lack of respect he seems to get from refs on a nightly basis. Demar is a pretty low key individual but when these things happen you see the inner fire that burns inside him. If he ever can embrace that and use it on the basketball court he will be well on his way to being a superstar.

Brandon Jennings a good buddy of DeRozan would lead the scoring charge for the Bucks in this one. He had 25 points but just shot 9 for 23 with 5 assists and 3 steals. In this blog we have speculated at the idea of Jennings and DeRozan being paired up in Toronto. There is no doubt Jennings is by far a better defensive option than Calderon, but there is also no question he is a very different player on the offensive end. Jose Calderon needs to almost be motivated into taking his shot. Brandon Jennings is happy to chuck up shots from the moment the ball is tipped. Still I see it as a realistic option for the Raptors, if they truly believe in DeRozan and want him here for the long haul. These two guys already have a built in chemistry and are close friends of the court. It might just be what both need to get each other to the next level. Jennings has stated after next season that he plans to look to go to a larger market. Toronto is a larger market depending on what is meant by the term.

Colangelo no doubt is going to be exploring every option at his disposal and this one might be a solid one. The problem becomes what exactly do the Raptors have to land a Jennings and what the price would be. It has become common practice in the NBA to unload a guy that says he wants out before it is to late and you get nothing. That said the Bucks are still in the driver's seat and don't have to do anything. They clearly are looking to change direction with the move they made with Golden State trading away former first overall pick Andrew Bogut to the Warriors for Monta Ellis along with some other parts to that trade. There is also talk the Bucks could make a move at both the head coaching position and G.M position, so who is to say if they will be as high on Jennings as the current management was and maybe still is.

That is a story for another day as for the story of this game the Bucks win 92-86 and like the Raptors can plan for the off-season starting Thursday. Jennings and DeRozan could be working out together by next week in L.A. Oh right I said that was a story for another day.  It should be noted that James Johnson seems back in the good graces of coach Casey and started and delivered with 22 points, 13 rebounds and 4 assists.


Bucks Meet Solomon Alabi And The Raptors

This game is basically for the Bucks season for them. They can not lose the rest of the way and the Sixers can not win for them to make the post-season. The Sixers will tip up thirty minutes prior to the start of the Raptors and Bucks. So by the time this game ends regardless of the result Milwaukee could already be out of the playoffs. The Raptors clearly have turned the page and are already playing like a team waiting for next year. Solomon Alabi's minutes over the last 3 games is proof of that. The fact Demar DeRozan never played in the fourth quarter of a close game is also proof of that.

Given all of that you would expect a strong start from the Bucks unless news filters that the Sixers have a massive lead before they ever get started. The fact the Sixers are playing the Nets makes that a possibility. The Raptors have an interest in that game as well. Both the Bucks and Raptors want to see the Nets win but likely should not hold their breath that it will happen. There is a better chance Ian Eagle and The Zar throw down and have a cage fight at halftime. That likely won't happen either sadly.

There is not much reason to tune into this game other than extreme loyalty and force of habit. In a season in which the Raptors have showed much more grit and defensive effort the chances of seeing a ton of that in the last two games is about as likely as snow in April. Oh wait I need another line. The heck with it you know what I am saying.

But the one thing as someone reminded me on Twitter worth checking out will be the Bucks Game Notes for this one. They always do a fantastic job of making the Game Notes vs the Raptors a great tribute to Canada. They are well worth checking out and will always give you a laugh. This game may not provide as much entertainment as that. In fact take out the word may altogether.

Friday we turn the page and begin the search for Team DNB. I will be looking to build a team to help share the load here at the Dino Nation Blog and allow myself to focus on make some improvements to things that I think people will enjoy. Let's hope my off-season and the Raptors off-season both go well..


Pistons and Raptors in a Basketball Game Rated "ONE STAR"

Justin loves Kelly is by far the worst movie I can ever recall watching. It was a Saturday afternoon and nothing was on so I figured why not. It was so bad it was almost entertaining on some level. Unfortunately the Raptors and Pistons was not the same way. In the end if basketball games were rated like movies this had one star written all over it. If there was a game that I have watched, where I cared so little and honestly believed the teams that were involved felt the same way this was it. After all the Pistons and Raptors had little motivation to win this basketball game and both of their front offices would quietly be rooting for them not to win if were being completely honest about it. If this was a preview of what is to come on Thursday with the Nets and Raptors it will be ugly. Here is hoping you win a prize for Fanapolooza that might be the only motivation I can give you to attend. All I know is I can't win with my media pass but I will be there.

When you are praying a game does not go to overtime based on how truly pathetic it was that sums up this game. The scary thing is it almost did as Linas Kleiza who was suppose to sit this game out with a bad knee ended up playing and missed a wide open three that would have sent this game to overtime tied at 76. You think that is a typo if you didn't watch this game but it is not as the Pistons win 76-73 and the Raptors knock off one team on their quest to gather as many ping pong balls as they can in spite of themselves. The tank....I mean team rolls into Milwaukee who still clings to playoff life but could be eliminated with a Sixers win as they tip a half an hour before the Raptors and Bucks. So safe to say the Bucks will be motivated to win unless news leaks that the Sixers win that game.

Today's loss vaulted the Raptors ahead of Golden State who beat Minnesota today and are just percentage points behind the Cavs who are one better in the loss column but one fewer in the win column. The Kings hammered the Bobcats giving them their 20th straight loss and as we mentioned this morning the Bobcats have long ago locked up the most ping pong balls for May and the draft lottery. That Kings win makes it still realistic that the Raptors could in theory catch them. Even New Orleans is still possible at the third worst record but one Hornets loss or Raptor win and that is done. Currently the Raptors are 6th worst (Tied with New Jersey who they play on Thursday) and at best could end up at 3rd worst. If thinks went totally wrong the Raptors could do no worse than 9th worst heading into the lottery. This would take the Raptors winning their final two games and everyone else losing out. Which may not even be possible I am not going to check the schedule to confirm this. If you are that obsessed with this tanking stuff I am sure you already know or will find out.

In the end this was an unwatchable game that thanks to the lack of attendance in Detroit few people were actually subjected too. To take anything from this game of any true value would be a mistake. I mean Solomon Alabi is throwing down dunks and seldom seeing the floor Charlie V the former Raptors his making a three. It is hard to believe he holds the Raptor rookie scoring mark with 47 points. In the end the mood to end this season is a predictable on of can we just get this over already. The Raptors will have a very interesting off-season ahead in which Bryan Colangelo has put a lot of pressure on himself. Almost as much as he has allowed the organization to put on his draft pick from this season Jonas Valanciunas who has replaced any form of a halftime show for games.

In the end if the lottery does not fall the Raptors way I am really not all that concerned if they pick 4th or 9th. This is a draft that while it lacks any true game changers it makes up for in depth of talent. If the Raptors don't walk away with Anthony Davis or Michael Kidd-Gilchrist it is not the end of the world as we know it. Especially if Jonas lives up to the hype that he is being given. Ultimately you will be getting two top 10 talents being added to this roster no matter what happens and that is pretty good news. Colangelo will also be very active on the trade front as I suspect he feels this is the best way for him to take advantage of the cap room he has been able to a mass. In free agency there will be a number of other teams with big money to spend at the top of that list being the Dallas Mavericks. They have their eyes set on Deron Williams but they are not the only team with money to burn.

Still nothing about today's game made me feel like I am going to miss the Raptors after this Thursday. This has been a season to forget in almost every respect except for the fact the Raptors seem to have found their coach for the future in Dwane Casey. If he can do what he has done with this group imagine what he might be able to do with more talent provided by Colangelo this off-season. He might not need a number one pick or any huge moves to get this team going in right direction. Casey has shown he can coach up almost anyone to play acceptable defense in his system this year. If you can hide Calderon and Bargnani you are indeed a defensive guru. So do yourself a favour and get ahead start on things and start trying to forget this season already. Start with this game if you had the misfortune of watching it.

Ping Pong Ball Playoffs Start Today

This is the time of year when lots of questions are asked. Like can I honestly endure seeing that Andrea Bargnani Primo Pasta ad anymore? I mean honestly can I? What also is up in the air is how many ping pong balls the Raptors will have. After that the all important question on who will go to the lottery and represent the Raptors? But before we answer all of those "important" questions, there is the matter of having 3 games left to play. All 3 games could have an impact on the playoffs or lottery standings. Detroit currently is a game behind the Raptors in the reverse lottery standings. If you are the type to root for ping pong balls nothing but a Raptor loss will do today. If the Raptors were to lose it would virtually clinch finishing in front of Detroit in terms of lottery balls.

The scariest thing for Tank Nation is the Raptors win today, Monday and Thursday. There are still a number of teams bunched together and the ping pong ball race might be more exciting than the Playoff Race at this point. After all who cares if the Jazz, Suns or Rockets get in only to lose to the Spurs or OKC. Does it really matter if it is the Bucks, Kincks or the Sixers facing the Bulls at the end of the day? Charlotte long ago wrapped up the most ping pong balls and will have the best shot at Anthony Davis with 25% chance of landing the expected number one pick. Bobcat fans will not be thrilled to learn that position has only grabbed the number one spot four times since 1985. Which is one of the many reasons why I question all of this tank nation business to begin with. Washington has almost locked up the number 2 position in the ping pong ball standings.

After that it gets interesting. My favourite to win the NBA Lottery, the no longer league owned, and soon to no longer be Hornets. My favourite mascot next to the Raptor is going to be no more. Hugo the Hornet will be missed. Still he was had lots to cheer about lately as Hornets have won 7 of their last 10 games and put the 3rd worst record up for grabs. They are tied with the soon to be Vancouver Kings? They know how to tank, going 1-9 in the last 10 down the stretch. What they don't know how to do in Sacramento is how to build a stadium or win basketball games. Cleveland is next on the list of losers with the 5th worst record. The Cavs are back to the mess they were before they won the lottery and drafted Lebron James who showed Cleveland what winning was like, but never could end the curse that lives in the city of Cleveland and he moved on the South Beach. They won last year ironically with the pick they acquired from the Clippers and not based on their worst record in the league. They look to do the unthinkable double like the Orlando Magic were able to pull off. The Nets sit in the 6th position as they look to say good bye to New Jersey and likely Deron Williams this off-season and hello to Brooklyn with no real stars to speak of. The Raptors check in next tied with the Golden State Warriors just a half game behind the Nets, with the big TANKAPOLOOZA game on Thursday on the horizon. The Pistons round out the list of teams in this mess all with in 3 games of each other. Any win for them is a death blow at this point.

So that makes today's game with the Raptors and Pistons significant, but also likely painful to watch. All of that said it might look highly entertaining in comparison to what lies ahead with the Nets and Raptors on Thursday. If you took a nap till Friday and just woke up to see where the Raptors did end up finishing that might not be a bad plan. Seeing as that is likely not a realistic option for me, I will watch and be confused on what exactly I should be rooting for in these last three games. I honestly don't know at this point. So, I will watch and see what happens. Next year at this time if the Raptors are in this same awkward position it will have been a disaster of a season. Expectations for the coming off-season and next season in my view have already become too high. The Raptors have done a horrible job in managing expectations. The reason they have, is because if they didn't, who would want to watch this team next season and people might actually be talking about how bad this season has been even though it is an improvement over last season. The Raptors are heading in the right direction, but the speed they will be expected to go in that direction may not match the reality. Bryan Colangelo has an entire off-season to change my mind. He likely is not going to waste anytime either. When the Raptors and Nets game is done, I expect Bryan Colangelo will be on his cellphone or blackberry with in 5 minutes looking to make some moves. The trick will be finding some partners that are in as big a hurry as he is to get to work on building his roster for next season. One thing that likely will not be on the table is the Raptors draft pick even if they do the unthinkable and actually win the last 3 games of the season.


Some Early Reflections On The Season That Was

First off I apologize for no blog yesterday. Just was a lot of stuff going on life wise to take care of. We never did recap the Raptors loss to Miami but basically it could be summed up in one line. Lebron James is awesome. You may not like the guy as a person but he is a hell of a basketball player however you care to cut it. His detractors will point out his lack of rings and the fact he has had sometimes in the 4th quarter where he can go missing. All that said he is a pure athletic freak that it is fun to watch perform if you can get over all your hate.

The season is winding down for the Raptors with just 3 games left to go. It honestly has seemed to fly by, as it seemed like the Raptors had a game every other night. Oh wait, with the NBA Lockout schedule they pretty much did. They say time flies when you are having fun. I am not sure much about this season was all that fun. It would appear though that the Raptors have at least hired the right coach. Dwane Casey has been nothing short of fantastic this season. I am not sure if many believed he could actually turn around the Raptors miserable defense into something respectable but he has. That fact alone it pretty amazing but when you consider how he was able to with all the disadvantages the lockout offered it is flat out beyond logic. On top of all of that you have a season in which your squad was injury plagued. Miracle worker might be going to far, but whatever comes just before that would some up what Dwane Casey has done this year.

That was a success, what was not a success to any large degree was the moves Colangelo made in the off-season. When Aaron Gray looks like the best signing that you made there is a problem. This talk of the Raptors adding all of this leadership they so desperately needed was about as believable as the "It's not you, it's me" line someone gives you when breaking up with you. Carter and Butler didn't even last the season and Jaamal Maglorie might be the most over hyped Raptor for doing next to nothing that I have ever seen. Aside from that band of veteran leadership brought in there is Gary Forbes who even after 63 games remains a bit of a riddle as to what he is or can be? The Raptors did find a decent player in Alan Anderson with their 10 day contracts. There is no guarantee he will be around next season.

Demar DeRozan after starting off having all kinds of trouble has rallied in the second half of the season. He still looks like he has the potential to grow into the star many hoped he could be. Ed Davis meanwhile has perhaps shown why he slipped into the draft down to the Raptors at 13. He until very recently had shown zero signs of improvement or even life. Still, the giant question left by this season will be which was the real Andrea Bargnani? Was it the guy that started the season like gangbusters and after 13 games was being hyped and an All-Star Candidate? Or is it that guy that came back after his calf injury that hobbled him for most of the season. That guy looked a lot like the Andrea from the past 6 seasons before Casey arrived.

Then we have hype in two forms. Let's get the obvious one out of the way first. That would be the Raptors insistence on hyping up their draft choice that never got to play this season. I think his name is Jonas something. You might have heard of him a time or two or 2 thousand times from the Raptors this season. I think they have made a huge mistake in building all of this hype. It will bite them in the butt if Jonas Valanciunas does not come through right away. They will then whine to their fans to be patient. Well maybe they would be if you hadn't run a year long hype campaign about the kid. I am convinced by the time he gets here he will walk across Lake Ontario to his first practice with the Raptors. At the end of the day I don't blame him at all for all of this. A dose of reality on all of this hype is that big man in the NBA seldom just show up and take over. It takes a long time to develop them generally. So why you would tie a rocket to this kids back and send expectations to the moon? It is short sighted and ultimately stupid.

Now to the less advertised hype. Bryan Colangelo has consistently laid out a plan that is centered on this upcoming off-season. He basically in his actions and words wrote this season off before it ever started. I think he might be as shocked as anyone that Dwane Casey has been able to get 22 wins and counting out of this group. It almost feels like a wrestling hype job when I say what comes next. This is likely the most important off-season of Byran Colangelo's career with the Raptors. I feel like we say that almost every summer. Just like ever wrestling or UFC show is going to be better than the last one. However, this is the truth if for no other reason than Bryan Colangelo has made it the truth in how he has approached talking about this season and next. If all he has is another top draft pick and his boy wonder Jonas than he is in trouble. Don't expect the changes to come through free agency though. Colangelo is likely to use his cap space in trades to look to improve the Raptors. Given his track record at free agency that might be a wise idea. Although a lot of his trades have not exactly worked out that well either especially lately.

It promises to be an interesting off-season and given how Colangelo has set things up the off-season moves could come very early on. The trade of Barbosa made that possible. It is safe to say the Raptor fan base will expect and demand much more next season. The pressure is on MLSE and Colangelo to provide a winner and not an apology and excuses.


Round Ball Review Talking B-Ball?

I thought given the fact we are playing the Heat it seemed a good time to have some fun with the guys from the Round Ball Review. It is not a joke by the way about Lebron going it alone as both Bosh and Wade are expected to be out for this one. So with that said enjoy another fun filled episode of the Round Ball Review. It may also be the most popular cartoon NBA Podcast in Cuba but were not sure on that.


Raptor Fans Are Like Elephants

People have a hard time figuring out Raptor fans. Like why on earth were they still booing Tracy McGrady after all these years. I saw a tweet from someone with the Hawks that stated that Raptor Fans are like elephants they never forget. I think that is kind of true and it is kind of what I dig about writing about this team and for Raptor Fans. To often in this modern world, so much gets forgotten and swept aside. A guy can honestly go to jail and comeback and be a hero in this world. Scandal is only temporary and it steals all the headlines. For whatever you personally think about how Raptor fans act towards guys like Vince Carter, T-Mac and Chris Bosh, it to me will always be cool. It is a collective way of people calling someone out for in their opinion doing them wrong. If it was just a one sided thing I might not be as supportive. Thing is that it isn't. If a guy like Jerome Williams, Morris Peterson or Alvin Williams show up at the ACC they are met with cheers. This is because fans believe that these players and a few others showed them respect. They did it through how they played on the court and how they treated folks off the court. Basically people in Toronto are pretty good at figuring out who is genuine and who isn't.

That leads to what Amir Johnson did last night for Raptor fans and his own fans with his Roll with Amir Event. I can't imagine the likes of Carter, Bosh or McGrady reaching into their pocket and with little fanfare taking out 50 fans for the night on their dime. But not just to give them tickets to a game, but to go out with them after the game and interact with all of them and give them stuff. All just to say thanks for their support and love throughout the season. That is what Amir Johnson has done his last two seasons here in Toronto. While on the floor he models the effort and energy and attitude of Raptor fan favourites of the past. He has taken it to a whole new level off the floor with this event. I have the good fortune to talk with anyone on the Raptors I care to with covering games. That is not the case for fans. It is something I always keep in my heart when I cover games. The average fan getting a chance to talk with an Amir Johnson or a Demar DeRozan is a rare and in some cases once in a lifetime experience.

When Chris Bosh decided to check out for South Beach it created the birth of something new. It was the Young Gunz, better known as the more politically correct Young Onez these days. Amir along with Demar and Sonny Weems took Bosh's exit as an opportunity to embrace Toronto fans. It was what they needed badly after watching yet another star player get what he could out of Toronto and then leave them behind saying thanks for the memories. Toronto needed some players to step up and say they were loved and appreciated and that is what Amir along with Sonny and Demar did. While it has been tough times for the Raptors on the floor in the past few years since Bosh has left, it never stopped these guys from being out front and still there doing their part to embrace fans. It is easy to show love for people when everything is going great and your riding high. It takes some true character and genuine love to do it even when things are not so good.

While the Young Onez may still be miles away from bringing a championship to Toronto they have had an impact on Toronto. Sonny Weems still keeps in touch with all the people that supported him here on Twitter even when he was half a world away playing ball in Europe this past season. Amir Johnson had some personal issues that never were made public other than that. Still, he keeps a smile on his face and goes out of his way to embrace the support he gets from his fans. It is something that even in a season like this Raptor fans appreciate.

The Raptors future on the floor finally seems to be turning in a positive direction. Which is great news for everyone. However, don't forget all that was done by guys like Amir Johnson in the days that were darkest after Chris Bosh left. It should be remembered and cheered as loudly as the boos that rain down on the likes of Bosh, Carter and McGrady. But like that Atlanta person tweeted " Raptor Fans are like Elephants they never forget." Make sure you remember that in terms of Amir Johnson because he more than deserves it.


Hawks Soar Eventually At The ACC

So the internet is back and fully functional here at DNB HQ and I am almost back to 100% after my 24 hour battle with a cold. Raptors have signed Anderson and Uzoh for the rest of the year. No Jose, Kleiza for tonight. Calderon will dress but would only play in case of an emergency. Linas is taking the night off again because of trouble with his knee. Hawks have to be some really angry birds coming into Toronto after getting embarrassed by the Raptors at home last night. Will see if the Hawks come out looking a lot different tonight. The chances are they will. For the Raptors they will just keep fighting and see what happens. Dwane Casey will demand nothing less. Amir Johnson will have his own rooting section as he hosts 50 fans to his 2nd annual Roll With Amir Event. It is the coolest promotion I have ever seen done by any athlete that I can ever remember. Let's hope he can put on a show for them and the rest of the crowd at the ACC.

Demar DeRozan had a big night last night and opened up the scoring on this night. Alan Anderson celebrating the fact he has a job till next Thursday bangs in a couple jumpers and the Raptors had an early 6-2 advantage. Young Onez get back to back buckets to make it 10-6, first Amir and than Demar. Joe Johnson and Captain Kirk counter for the Hawks tying the game for the first time tonight at 10. A Jeff Teague three would give the Hawks their first lead at 13-10 with just under 7 to play in the first. Tank conspiracy theorists will be all over this but at the 5:40 mark Solomon Alabi checks into the game. Hawks were able to keep hold of the lead in mean time leading 22-18 with 4 to play in the 1st and Alabi still on the floor. Raptors would get this puppy back to even and Alabi is still scoreless with the game tied at 25. James Johnson would break the tie with a three ball as he works his way out of the doghouse that Dwane Casey says he is not in. Case you were wondering, Toronto still likes to boo T-Mac and I as always support them to do so. In other news the Raptors had the lead back 32-30 after one.

Solomon Alabi was playing heavy minutes and finally got on the board rebounding his own miss to give the Raptors their lead back 35-34. This was followed by a James Johnson Jam for the highlight reels and one that he makes to give the Raptors a 38-34 lead. Ed Davis with a huge block on the other end and the Hawks look more like the team playing out the string than the Raptors. Solomon Alabi was doing stuff and the Hawks were down 6 and I am not still on cold medication. Note to myself for the DNB Playoff Preview, do not pick the Atlanta Hawks to win in first round. This was a pathetic effort by the Hawks to this point. They would finally tie the game on a Marvin Williams slam in transition off a Raptor turnover at 46. After the Hawks took the lead an ill advised three from Josh Smith but the Hawks do get the rebound and Teague got to the line. This was a tight game with Solomon Alabi playing major minutes. Like seriously do people in Atlanta realize how rare this is that Alabi is on the floor? Hawks finally decided to try and pull away late in the half building a 54-49 lead. Solomon Alabi has 6 points though and cut the lead to three. That is how the half would end with Hawks on top 54-51.

The Raptors D was not the same as it was last night in Atlanta. They would look to improve on that in the 2nd half but regardless they were hanging around with both teams shooting above 50% on the night. Hawks slowly started to build a lead with the score 59-53 as we were 4 minutes into the third. Demar DeRozan nailed a three but the Raptors do a poor job getting back and Teague scores in transition and draws a foul as well and makes that to restore the six point advantage. DeRozan would score followed by another Josh Smith brick for three that would lead to an Ed Davis score and it was a two point game again. Jeff Teague appeared to be one of the few Hawks on the floor that were playing like they gave a damn. Gary Forbes was having a rough night but made a three with about 3 minutes to play to cut the Hawks lead back to three after they had crept back to up six once again. Ivan Johnson takes advantage of Alabi and gets a bucket and one to restore the six point advantage. The Hawks seem to have figured this out, a steal and the Hawks take it straight at Alabi and score. Hawks had an 8-0 run fueled by Raptors turnovers and this game was finally looking like you might have expected. Hawks lead was growing fast and they had the Raptors down 13 points the largest lead for anyone on the night. Raptors would get two back but trailed 79-68 after 3.

This game was off the rails for the most part and Hawks led 83-68 with 10 mins to go. Solomon Alabi was actually going to need a shower after this game. He was already at a career high 22 minutes and counting. Hawks would get the lead to as high as 19 and with this eventual win they would lock up a playoff spot but looked nothing like a team to worry about in the playoffs. There is really nothing more to say about this 4th quarter. Raptors would make a push to trail by just 13 points but like I said think we are done here barring some minor miracle. Tracy McGrady would restore order hooking Josh Smith up to restore the 19 point lead and thus we wait for the final score to put this to bed. The final ends up 109-87 for the Hawks.

Solomon Alabi flirts with a double double with 8 points and 9 rebounds in close to 24 minutes. That tells you all about this game that you need to know. So with that Good Night!!!

A Cold, No Net And Another Win

So it has been a bad 24 hours here at DNB HQ. I had a lousy spring cold and to make matters worse had no internet access, so the combination of those two things made it pretty impossible to offer much opinion on the Raptors second win in a row vs the Hawks in Atlanta. The first time the Raptors have won in the ATL in awhile as they had lost 7 straight there until last night. That included a thrashing on the MLK holiday for the Raptors with much more health bodies. Based on  that win the Raptors match their win total from last season in a shorter season this year. The Raptors are already 4 games better on the road this season as well with 10 wins and still 3 more road games to play. It proves the old phrase that defense travels to be true.

The Raptors are as Tank Nation will point out, really messing with there lottery odds winning a couple games they were not suppose too against Boston and Atlanta. They now are tied with the Nets and a half game behind the Pistons. Both of whom they will play down the stretch and will have a direct impact on their lottery odds. They play the Pistons on the road on the 22nd with 3 days rest prior to that game and close out the season against the Nets on the 26th. Golden State also is one of 4 teams with 22 wins but have 2 fewer losses than the Raptors. What you love about Casey is the exact thing that is costing the Raptors in terms of the lottery. He refuses to allow his team to quit and they continue to bring effort. What it might cost you in the draft might be worth it in terms of what you have in a coach.

Also the way Demar DeRozan has been playing down the stretch has to be impressing some folks. Even Ed Davis has shown signs of life in this late part of the season. I can't imagine the Raptors finding a way to win the next two games. An angry Hawks team rolls into Toronto tonight and then playing the Miami Heat on Wednesday should be losses. What you can take good from these games is the Raptors have competed well against some teams with everything to play for. If you choose to see the glass half empty you can say that the Raptors are playing with no pressure on them and the teams they are beating have simply overlooked them. I can't deny either of those things being true. Still you are building some confidence for some players and showing that this team will not roll over and die like it has in the past.

While I won't go as far as some have said that this team could be a playoff team if not for injuries, I will say that this is a team heading in the right direction. In terms of what happens with the Lottery if they win or lose is not the point. Let's say they did lose all of these games down the stretch and still find a way to not win at the Lottery than where are you at? At least players are ending the season on a high note and enter the off-season more motivated to improve for the future. The Charlotte Bobcats will have the best chance to win the Lottery and that has been clear for awhile. Even if they were to win and land Anthony Davis does anyone think that takes them to the next level? Worse if they don't where are they at? If the Raptors don't get Anthony Davis it likely allows them to not have to decide on if they have to say good bye to Amir Johnson or Ed Davis. They still may ultimately make a decision on those players but if they do they won't be forced into it. Besides at the end of the day isn't Jonas Valanciunas basically the guy you have for that spot? If the Raptors landed at the 3rd spot and got a shot at Kidd-Gilchrist that would be a much easier guy to fit into what you already have without having to be forced into altering the roster.

Not to mention the simple fact of you are not getting any joy out of the Raptors pulling off two pretty unexpected wins. But however those lottery balls end up your number still has to come up to win it. It would be nice if the Raptors got into the top 3 and land another good young player to add to the mix. That said this is a draft that is fairly deep and it doesn't have that break out star at the top and huge drop off beyond that. While Davis is the consensus number one pick it is not like people honestly can say he will be a giant superstar. He can be a very good NBA Player but the jury is out if he gets to that rare air of a huge superstar. There are lots of good to very good players that will be available no matter where the Raptors happen to end up selecting. There is also nothing that says Bryan Colangelo would not swing a deal to move up if he wanted to do that. He has all that cap room earlier from the Barbosa trade to play with for a reason. It could include moving up in the draft or acquiring a second first round pick. Time will tell.

The bottom line of everything is do you do not feel at least more optimistic than you were at this time last year? That is a good thing and a sign that this thing might be finally heading in the right direction.


Taking The Starting 5 Down To The ATL

The Raptors are in Atlanta tomorrow to start a back to back with Hawks. It was a good chance to catch up with a former guest we have had in the blog a few times before. Andre Aldridge now works as part of the Hawks broadcast team. In the past when he was a guest here he was working for NBA-TV and prior to that spent time at both ESPN and CNN. I have always enjoyed his work and his perspective on sports and the NBA. So it was great to have an excuse to talk with him. The folks in Atlanta might have been more excited than Raptors fans about the Raptors win last night over Boston. While this home and home series means very little for the Raptors, it means a great deal for the Hawks. We talk about a whole lot of things including some folks in the Raptors Organization that Andre roots for whenever it is not against  the team he is covering. I not only encourage you to give this interview a listen but follow him on Twitter @AndreHoops he is a huge sports fan beyond just basketball and has a great love for the history of sports.

Thanks to Andre as always it was great to talk with him. Nice to hear some positive things about Dwane Casey and Demar DeRozan coming from someone outside of the market. It will be tough for the Hawks to get out of being stuck in that middle of the pack in the Eastern Conference.


Raptors Shock The Celtics At ACC AGAIN.

It was Friday the 13th today. What you are about to read might only be explained by that fact. On the day that the Raptors announce Andrea Bargnani is being shut down for the season and they would be without Jose Calderon it seemed all set up for the Boston Celtics to roll the Raptors. The Celtics came into this one riding high and having NBA experts saying that no one wanted to play them in the playoffs. The Raptors will not be in the playoffs of course so why should they be worried. Ray Allen was not in the line-up for the Celtics but honestly they would not need him to beat the Raptors right?

The first half was just to ugly for words. That said it was not just the Raptors that looked ugly. They as you would expect were having all kinds of trouble scoring points. Their lack of offensive punch combined with the Celtics always tough defense. However the Celtics were not exactly setting the world on fire. Rajon Rondo was getting some assists but no points to speak of. This being guarded primarily by Ben Uzoh on a 10 day contract for the Raptors. Maybe Rondo was just expecting an easy night of blowing by Jose Calderon or he just never worried about some dude from the D-League being able to stop him. When it finally came to an end the Celtics had sleep walked their way to a 36-30 halftime lead.

What happened in the second half was out of the theater of the bizarre. The Raptors had apparently lulled the Celtics to sleep. The Raptors who shot in the 20-30% range for most of the first half suddenly starting making shots. Boston meanwhile would have had a better chance going down the street and hit home runs than making baskets. It set up a run by the Raptors that basically lasted the entire third quarter. The Raptors out scored Boston 27-11 and had a big lead heading to the the 4th quarter.

Enough of this nonsense right? Not exactly the Raptors continued to roll early on in the 4th things maxed out with a 64-47 lead which is 17 points for the mathematically challenged. Then finally the Celtics made a mad charge for the finish line and the Raptors lead was melting faster than snow in July. The Celtics on a Paul Pierce basket and one that he would make got it to being a one point game. Demar DeRozan would knock down a couple free throws to make the lead three again. Pierce would jack up a brick three attempt and after a couple more free throws by the Raptors this game was basically done. Raptors with the stunning 84-79 win.

This give the Raptors a split of the season series winning both games vs Boston at the ACC this season for the first time since they won a Division Title and the Big 3 didn't exist. This was a tough loss for the Celtics who are facing a back to back to back that started with this game with the Raptors. The Raptors next team they face Atlanta won tonight moving ahead of Boston. Now ironically enough the Celtics are left to have to cheer for the Raptors on Sunday in Atlanta and here in Toronto on Monday. The Raptors previous trip to Atlanta was an ugly loss on the Martian Luther King Jr. Holiday in the United States. DeRozan had 22 to lead the way and Kleiza who was only ruled good to go for this one this afternoon had 17. Raptors had a team effort though and played a very good third quarter to earn the win. In other 3 quarters they leaned on their defense to keep them hanging around. The fact Dwane Casey could match and perhaps surpass the win total this team had under Jay Triano with only 66 games compared to 82 speaks to the job he has done. Add in the fact that Andrea Bargnani has been a spectator more than a player and a number of other injuries it makes the job he has done even more amazing. You may be upset the Raptors lost some ping pong balls but instead you should be happy they finally seem to have a quality coach calling the shots. I will take that and take my chances in the NBA Lottery.

Bye Bye Bargnani...Will See You Next Year.

From the we saw this coming a mile away file. You have seen you last of Andrea Bargnani for the 2011-12 season. After exiting the game vs OKC with more trouble with his left calf. This will be the third time Andrea has missed time this season with this injury. The Raptors in a release stated that based on testing Bargnani had done it has been decided that they will not risk Bargnani further injury to their star power forward.

Jose Calderon will be a game time decision vs Boston and Linas Kleiza is expected to play. It is expected Primo Pasta ads will continue despite this news. Sad for all of us in the viewing public.

All Signs Point To Celtics Blowout Win

The Boston Celtics are getting a ton of media love from all the same folks that declared them dead at the start of this NBA season. Yeah it is like that in this world. For myself the Celtics are still about the simple fact of how in Rajon Rondo playing? If the answer is good than so are the Celtics. If the answer is bad so are the Celtics. Rondo is now what drives the big three and so goes the circle of life. For anyone that thinks the Celtics are going anywhere beyond the 2nd round of the playoffs you are dreaming.

The Raptors would just like to remember what the playoffs are like? It has been a long time after all. But for now it is just another all expense paid trip to New Jersey for the NBA lottery. That is a fitting place to hold the NBA Lottery. Raptors are a banged up group with Calderon getting a second gash above his eye, Bargnani is out with his calf again, Kleiza has a sore knee and so does Amir Johnson or is it his back? Bayless gone for the season and you might have a guy on a 10 day contract trying to guard Rondo? Yeah this has every indication that it will be a complete blowout.

Against the NHL Playoffs and the Blue Jays playing down the street this could be a pretty small crowd of on lookers both in person and on T.V. The Raptors season is coming to a familiar ending and it lacks any reason to be interested. Safe to say the Raptors will be hard pressed to find a win in their next 3 games they play. After tonight with Boston it is a Sunday/Monday back to back with the Hawks.

Ed Davis will have lots of minutes to showcase himself to 29 other teams. A lot was made of his comment post game against the Sixers. I really didn't take much from it considering that Ed Davis had a father that played for several teams in the NBA and even as kid Ed was introduced to the business of basketball with his father having to change addresses. Should Ed be concerned about what the 29 other NBA teams think of him? Sure he should because if the ping pong balls come up with the name Anthony Davis that means someone is going to be voted off the island.


Double D Returns To The DNB

Demar DeRozan has been one of the guys we have talked with a lot in the Dino Nation Blog. He came in the year I started having access to the Raptors and he has been someone that I enjoy talking with. This time around we talk about how the absence of Andrea impacts on his game in a basketball sense and how his mental approach has changed since the start of the year when Andrea is out of the line up. We also chat about his plans for the off-season which includes spending some more time in Toronto. He also is excited to have some normalcy back to his off-season with the NBA CBA issues now out of the way. His thoughts on the season and what has changed from last season as well as his feelings on his first year under coach Casey.

I think this was a pretty good interview with Demar and it looks like he is motivated to get to work this off-season. Coach Casey has stressed how much he wants to see both he and Ed Davis hit the weight room hard this off-season. Something that should be helpful in DeRozan taking his game to the next level. It is also great to hear he will be spending more time here in the off-season and still wants to bring back some form of charity game to the city. While not many folks miss Vince Carter in Toronto the charity game he established in the city was a great way to get your basketball fix in the summer time. It also gave me my first opportunity to interview NBA Players which was a great learning experience for me. Learning and growing are still very much a priority for Demar DeRozan. It will be interesting to see what he can accomplish now with the input and guidance of Casey and the organization to help him in that process. Keep in mind if things were different that DeRozan would be finishing his college career at USC and about to enter the NBA Draft. In this modern world it is rare to see any player stay till that senior year. Which is something that I understand and support. If a young man is talented enough to be in the NBA he should do that as soon as possible. It is the best thing he can do in terms of his own and his families future. DeRozan, in knowing him from when he has arrived, I have seen that he has grown and matured, but the one thing that remains the same is his dedication and determination to improve. To use a line he has used in past interviews, this a young man on a quest to be "not just good, but great", as the years pass the pressure from the outside to do that increases. This season you saw Demar have his struggles but he has fought through them and is starting to look again like the young man that could end up being something pretty special.

My Day was Much Better than the Raptors Day

This has nothing to do with the Raptors but I am a big fan of Ricky Romero who was at the game last night, so I lied it did have something to do with the Raptors. Never the less the idea of getting to watch him pitch and cover the Raptors game seemed like a great plan for me. Last time I did this was last year when I covered the draft workouts of Tristan Thompson and Cory Joesph and hung around to watch Romero pitch that night. He got a complete game shutout that night and yesterday just gave up one run going 8 and a third innings and getting the win. The Baseball game was just great as the Jays won the series over Boston two games to one and are now 4-2 to start the season.

To bring this back to the Raptors, making the walk from the building I will always call Skydome toward the ACC, it got me thinking of what an opportunity has been lost for the Raptors. One of the Leafs was in attendance at the Jays game and he was introduced to the crowd to a loud boo. Take that in contrast to the loud cheer from the smaller crowd at the Raptors game for Ricky Romero. The point is that Leafs are in rough shape and Toronto sports fans are desperate for a winner. MLSE has not provided that in hockey, basketball and soccer. The Jays owned by soon to be part owner of MLSE Rogers, have provided a buzz of excitement and optimism surrounding the team they own.

This would have really been a chance for the Raptors to make up some ground on the giant that owns the city that is the Maple Leafs. Instead it would appear that the Jays have taken that ball and are starting to run with it. While the Raptors are optimistic for their future as well, the Jays have much more to be optimistic about. The Raptors have Jonas and whatever comes out of the draft to add to the mix next year. The Jays have a minor league system full of exciting prospects that people are high on. Obviously baseball is different and you get a chance to have more opportunities to develop players. If Jonas was a baseball player it is likely you wouldn't see him for not just this year but a view more years.

That really is off the topic somewhat, but the real point I am making is the Leafs franchise has never been in a more weak a fragile state since perhaps the days of Harold Ballard owning them. There was no basketball team back then, trying to compete for attention, but there is now. The Raptors may not get their act together in time if they do at all as it seems clear that Toronto is on verge of going back to the days of the early 90's when the Jays were the biggest thing in town. If you are not old enough to remember those days it was quite amazing. The Jays would fill Skydome on a nightly basis and have crowds pushing 50,000 every night. They are still a long way from that now but they are creating a buzz and the Raptors have absolutely no buzz at all right now.

In terms of the game last night if I was ever to be inclined to feel sorry for Jose Calderon it might be now. I mean to get cut open for a second time in a game that ultimately means little to your season already being eliminated from the post season. This in the face of your supposed star Andrea Bargnani out for a 3rd time with the same calf injury. I would bet we might see Jose back this year but I would also bet we have seen the last of Bargnani. I will say this for Calderon he does do his best to play through things and try and compete. He was at the Blue Jays game the night before and threw out the first pitch. Trying to get the rub of that Jays Magic to come over to the Raptors. It obviously didn't work.

The game itself aside from more injures to Calderon and Kleiza pretty much went as you might expect. A desperate Philly team that had been embarrassed at the hands of the Raptors a week earlier was not going to have it happen a second time. The Raptors did a good job trying to hang around for a half but the Sixers came out guns a blazing in the final quarter against an undermanned Raptors squad.

The focus seems to be towards the coming off-season now and Dwane Casey gets his first chance to guide his players through an off-season something he was not afforded with the NBA Lockout this past summer. Given the excellent job Casey has done you wonder how much it could have had an impact. Ed Davis as an example finally seems to be turning a corner. He himself based on the Lockout and injury has yet to have a full NBA off-season and training camp to improve. This year if he stays healthy for the last 7 games and throughout the summer, he should finally have that chance. I had a chance to talk with Demar DeRozan and he is looking forward to a more normal off-season and plans on spending more time in Toronto during it. You can hear all of that in an interview we did, that should be up later today or tomorrow.

I have one more game that I will be covering this season (In Person) the last one vs the New Jersey Nets on the 26th. For many Raptor fans that game can not get here soon enough. In a season that has been shorter it has seemed so much longer. It sure doesn't seem like the Raptors are better than they were last year. However they in fact have made a minor improvement in winning % and major improvement on D.

Still losing year after year can be rough. Just ask a Leaf fan if you happen not to be one. They know all about it.