Where is J.O
When I first heard about the trade for Jermaine O'Neal I was not into it at all. But for a variety of reasons I was convinced that I might be wrong and regardless I owed him the chance to prove me wrong. I take Jose Calderon to task on some issues with him as a point guard. Some may not like that but hey it is what I see and how I feel. However the one thing I could never say or would say is that he is not a team player. Even injured unless he is not with the team he is out on the bench cheering and offering advice for his team. Well where in J.O? Why isn't he out there doing the same? I mean he is the highest paid employee of this team last I checked. We are told he has been in the back getting treatment for his injured right knee. I saw Jorge Garbajosa make it out to the bench with his horrible injury to his leg. So what is the deal?
I have no knowledge of this at all. But I have always wondered what the relationship is between O'Neal and this team. I have wondered about his relationship with Chris Bosh most of all. When T.J Ford was here there was clear evidence that they got along with each other. But I have yet to see much evidence of that between Bosh and O'Neal. There could be a very solid relationship for all that I know. Still when you are not out on the bench supporting your team it sends a message to the fans. That message is that you just don't care or only care about yourself. There was lots of folks that did not exactly see O'Neal as a great team leader. The people I am making reference to our folks from the Pacers. They likely had a lot of the concerns that I have now. When J.O has played I think he has been fairly effective and played at a level that I thought he would. Some fans might have expected a lot more from him but I never bought into the hype of him as this 6 time All Star. That was a long time ago in a business that is all about what have you done for me lately. The thing that I am trying to wrap my head around is his impact on this team and it's chemistry. I have talked with people that have access to the locker room and watch all the interviews. Jermaine comes off as a very respectful man and is not saying anything wrong. The one thing that no one really knows beyond the people on this team is what happens when the cameras and microphones go away. Although I guess that isn't completely true. The T.V and Radio crews to fly on the plane with the Raptors and are around them in down time a bit. Bottom line of it is though I just feel in my gut that something just has not fit right with all of this. I also know for sure that him not being on the bench sends a totally wrong message. It is what makes people like me write stuff like this because we are left to wonder. I am just saying what a lot of fans are thinking.
So What Now?
It is a good question and I am not sure if there is a good answer for it. The only way to create a major change would be to deal O'Neal. Despite all of the issues above he still has that contract number that ends at the best time possible for the team left holding it in 2010. Make no mistake about it that is a big reason why Jermaine O'Neal is here. I still believe that the longer you can hold onto the J.O contract the better the deal you will be able to find. There will be teams that are desperate to have that cap space in 2010. Not just to try and go out and get one of the many free agents that will be out there in 2010. They can also maybe want the contract for another reason that is a bit more under handed. The economy is not good and in looking around at the various NBA team sites I found evidence. On almost ever team site I would find ads before I was allowed to enter the site with ticket deals and big discounts. It is easy to see why in these tough economic times. Companies that advertise are cutting back and that impacts on everyone. So, if a team took on the J.O contract and made it appear they were in the race for 2010 it would make fans happy. But let's just say they did it for appearance sake only? Pretty effective way to cut the payroll in 2010 and claim that you were just outbid by New York and the other big market teams with money.
So that is two opposite reasons why a team may be interested in the J.O contract. If you accept this season is lost you really have no reason to be in any hurry to move Jermaine O'Neal. It really does not make any sense to do that. Besides why on earth would you not want to wait and get the best deal possible. Some people are starting to say that the Pacers won the trade and given that we are already debating what to do about J.O it is hard to argue. But truthfully the legacy of the Jermaine O'Neal trade will be what is done with that 23 million dollars. There is also what will become of Nathan Jawai. But even that part has seemed to favour the Pacers with Roy Hibbert starting to show signs of being good. Jawai has still been forced to wait as he builds his way back from the heart condition that sidelined him before he got started.
Colangelo does hate to lose and that is no secret. But he is a smart guy and understands that his next move may just be one that will define him with a lot of people. Most important of all his superstar Chris Bosh. Some think he may have reacted to early in his firing of Sam Mitchell. Most in the fan base thought it was about time. When Colangelo did that thought it focused the attention squarely on him. He said that this was the most talented roster he had since he had been here. Those are his words not mine. I tend not to agree with that statement to be honest. Had he said the most talented starting 5 he has had in his time here I could buy that. In the end of all this I think I feel the most sorry for Jay Triano. He has fought hard and worked hard. However in the end he may be the fall guy for mistakes that are Colangelo's and not his. There can also be a case made that the writing has been on the wall for awhile and Bryan needed to act sooner if the idea is to save this season. We hear on a daily basis that he is active and searching. But sports is all about results not just on the floor but off it as well. If Bryan Colangelo has made a thousand phone calls about trades the only one that matters is the one that makes the trade happen. Up to this point that call has not been made.
What I Have Learned From This Season?
Now last I checked someone in the media never has won or lost any game. They have never made a trade. They are not able to control what happens in any way. Same applies for bloggers like me. I like to think that we are part of the media as well some may debate that point but that is a topic for another day. The point is as people that put what we think out there on a daily basis there is a responsibility to that. So if I say something It is a reflection on me and what I believe and think. I have no clue as to how much impact that has on other people that read it. But I think that with any media person there is a relationship with the people who read, watch or listen.
Deep in my gut I had a bad feeling about this season. If you read in the summer time you know that at first I was not at all a believer in the Jermaine O'Neal trade. I should have stuck to my gut reaction and went with it. I mean I have when it comes to Jose Calderon. I have always said that he was good not great and that there would be issues if he became the starting point guard and the fact the Raptors did not get a legit back up would prove costly. It seems on this front I have been proven right. But when it came to the O'Neal trade I allowed myself to get caught up in the excitement of expectations and the desire of people to see this team get to a new level. That was not what has happened and I feel bad that I had not stuck to my gut reaction. In my defense I talked with a lot of people that are more experienced and trusted their judgement. I still do for the record.
However I have learned to trust in myself first. If I had done that I would have been more on the money about a lot of things. However sometimes things happen. Andrea Bargnani has busted through and may now finally become that player we all were promised he could be. I give a lot of credit to Jack Armstrong and a number of the other folks in the media that trusted what they were seeing in Andrea. It is a lesson that I am learning as I go along in establishing myself. I have a strong work ethic and put in a lot of time and effort into what I am doing. Maybe I had something that is in common with Andrea. Having some doubt in being the new kid on the block. But I have learned a lot from this season. The chances that I have had to have my blog be part of The Score in their blog federation. Trying to become a team player and learn and grow in what I am doing. It is a never ending process for us all. If you can wake up each day and make an effort to say how can I make myself better? It may be something small or big. But each day grow and learn.
So at the end of all of this I think that people who talk about this team have a responsibility to tell you what we truly think. Sometimes it is not always going to be right but to do the best we can to be right. Doing it in a way that is honest and respectful to people. I try to do that. The one thing that holds true for me and always will is that at the end of the day I want the best for the Toronto Raptors. I am someone that is no matter what the future brings that will never give up being a fan. I will find a way to do that and still be honest and objective it is truly my mission everyday. I do not take lightly the privilege it is to have you read this blog and listen to interviews and be a part of it. It may not get said enough by people but THANK YOU for reading and supporting me by doing so. Not enough people do that. When times are tough we should not lose sight of that. I have been listening and reading a lot of people going after Chris Bosh and that is not right. He has busted his butt for his entire career here including this year. He hasn't left, it isn't 2010 and till he has given you reason to think he is Vince Carter give it a rest. I would be willing to bet that nobody is more disappointed with how things have gone than him. But he once said he wants to be part of the making things work here in Toronto. I have yet to here him retract that statement.
It maybe a long rest of the season and truthfully the odds of it turning around make the chances of a turn around are less and less likely. But don't lose sight of who people are. Chris Bosh is still a guy of high character and a competitor that wants to win. The DNA of CB4 does not change based on the Raptor record.