(There was an issue with the interview audio that has been fixed- 11am)
And The Latest
Paul's broadcast partner Eric Smith had his take on the Jalen Rose comments. Paul gives his take on what Jalen has been saying. Also thoughts on Jamario Moon and if it is as much as it pains me to say this...time for Joey to start? Along with how the team is dealing with the whole J.O trade rumours. Also why his broadcast partner could have a new look if the Cavs keep winning at home. Van Gundy beyond his thinking Bosh and Granger are not all-stars had some other off the wall ideas for All Star Weekend.
So that gives you some context for the first two things I talk about with Paul in our interview
I mentioned to Paul that I really enjoyed his comments about the election of Barack Obama. He was a guest on the Eric Smith Show talking about Obama. I am a huge fan of the Vlogs and The Eric Smith Show. You can find the world famous vlogs which are on Fan 590 version of Eric's Blog and The Eric Smith Show can be found on Raptors.com. Maybe someday I will be a guest on the Eric Smith show. But given it is taped on the road I don't like my chances. But the point to all of this aside from giving Eric some love. Which reminds me, our guest also writes for Sportsnet. But what I have been wondering lately is what impact people thought Obama may have on the NBA now that he is the White House. I am putting together an all star break feature with some of my recent guests from The Score. But here is what Paul thought about for lack of a better term the Obama Effect on the NBA.
Paul Jones " I think it does have an impact. Look at how many NBA players have come front and center now with a visible minority becoming President. They are all paying attention to politics. It is not "the same old system anymore" that it was before. They are hoping for change. If he can use some of these guys as being vehicles to the change that he wants then I see these guys being part of it. Hopefully they are thinking for themselves and not going into things blindly. I definitely see about him being a basketball fan and a sports fan in general, he has talked about fixing the BCS in college football, he is a big White Sox fan. I mean why not, people went ga-ga over other Presidents and their love of sports. JFK had the famous photos of him play touch football. I think it helps basketball. Not that the NBA needs his help but they sure won't turn away from it."
Just as a follow up to what Paul is saying. Jimmy Carter who was from Georgia was a big fan of Nascar and it added to that sport. Bill Clinton was a huge supporter of the Arkansas basketball program in the NCAA. It has also in an age of athletes not taking stands has awakened a spirit of getting involved in the process. Lebron James and many others were active in trying to get Obama elected. Many NBA players travelled to Washington to be at the inauguration. Many teams change travel schedules to watch the event. Now I don't think the NBA will be heading to Washington for a federal bailout. However they have been impacted by these tough times. I had asked Paul in a previous interview, when the economic issues of today were just coming to light for his thoughts on it. Now that we are half way through the NBA season I thought it might be a good time to revisit the topic again.
Paul Jones- " It's going pretty well I think. It would not surprise me down the line more and more cuts. The NBA did lay off some of their staff earlier in the year. The crunch is here and it is hitting everybody. That being said they are making adjustments. There are a lot of places that have cut ticket prices to draw people back to the arenas. To have them keep coming out and supporting their local team. It is what it is. The world is down economically. So you would expect that is going to trickle down to all things. Sports and other entertainment industries are going to take a hit as well. "
In the economy of wins and losses, Jose Calderon has been a huge market surge for the Raptors in that regard. I made mention that he seems a more willing shooter and scorer since his return. I suggest this to Paul and added that I felt part of why we were seeing it was the fact Jose was able to sit and watch. Here is what Paul had to say in response to those comments.
Paul Jones- " Absolutely, because the team needs that. Sometimes your team needs you to score. As much as you want to get people involved as the point guard sometimes you just have to be a scorer. All you have to do is watch Steve Nash. People are talking and saying well he is not an all star this year. He is doing different things in a different system. He is still averaging almost a double double with 14 points and close to 10 assists. It is not that he is not playing well it is just that he is in a different system and doing different thing. He doesn't have the numbers he use to have because he doesn't have to do some of the things he did before. So that doesn't mean he is not an all star. If he was voted in as an all star that would not be a problem. He to me is the perfect example of that. What do you want? He came into to Toronto and racked up a high assist total and took less than 5 shots and they won. He is the perfect guy for reading what his team needs and he can adjust within a game. I think for Jose that is the next phase in his learning.Realizing at time my team needs me to score and that is what I am going to do. "
I give Jose credit he has been very solid. The defense is still not to where I would want it to be. However in Paul's example of Nash, he is not going to win defensive player of the year anytime soon. In the audio portion of our conversation I asked about the J.O trade rumours and how the team was dealing with that. If not for the play of Andrea Bargnani recently the trade talk for J.O may not exist at all. In fact the talk may have been about Bargnani. However it would seem that finally he is breaking through. So I asked Paul if he felt Andrea had finally made it to the point that we now know what to expect from him moving forward?
Paul Jones-" He is certainly becoming more consistent isn't he. This is what everyone was going crazy about last season. I remember writing an article "Still Time For Bargnani" last December. When people want to throw him out the window and they wanted him traded. Colangelo had failed and his first pick was a bust. But I was saying give the kid time. He starting to develop his game. He has a great level of confidence in himself right now. It is showing through in his play. It is now about developing consistency. What are people after Chris Bosh about Consistency in his play at the end of games. He is still learning at that aspect of his game and he is accessing all of that and he will get better at that. People don't cry about his numbers anymore because he is consistent. Andrea has got to do the same thing. To be able to have your team depend on you to put up the kind of numbers he is now. 20 points and 7 or 8 rebounds. If he does that the complaining will stop. I just find it funny how people are so quick to judge right away. I won't mention people by name but i know people in our business the media that saying that he is Haffa Bargnani. Well give the kid a chance. Having coached at the university level and a played at a high level, you got to give people time. There may have been things in play last year that we do not know about that were going on away from the floor. We don't know."
Perhaps the most noticeable change I saw recently with Andrea was he showed a bit of toughness when he got shoved by Garcia. In fact the entire team has shown a bit of grit that we have not seen in a long time. I asked Paul Jones for his thoughts about that.
Paul Jones-" Maybe they are getting to the point that they have had enough. Maybe they are fed up and ticked off and they are going to play like that and that is something they should be doing regularly and constantly. Establishing themselves as a team that is not going to back down. It is nice to see and they have to do more off it "
I also talked with Paul about the move of Anthony Parker to the back-up point guard and was it an admission that they maybe should have brought in a NBA experienced back-up point guard. Although we both agree that Roko is showing signs of progression. The fact that A.P is now the back-up points to the failure of Will Solomon in my opinion. I even would go as far as saying that Jose Calderon and his injury problems can be linked to the lack of a true back-up. Paul was not in agreement about that. But did concede that Anthony Parker being the back-up was a bit of an admission that the Raptors might have benefited from getting an NBA experienced point guard.
Paul Jones-" Yeah maybe it is an admission by Bryan, Jay or the team. We thought that we were better off at the point then we are. It has not worked out having Will and Roko because of the adjustments that they have had to make and they haven't made them. But at the same time when you think back to last year when you had T.J and Jose they still used Delfino at the point at times. Maybe it is a case of finding the right line-ups. I think it is partially an admission. But at the same time they are trying to find a way to get your best players out on the floor."
It is great to have Paul pay us a visit and talk about a number of issues to do with Raptors. I always enjoy talking with Paul he is a extremely bright person that I always enjoy exchanging ideas with.