Charlie V Is Same Old Charlie
Now I admit that I have not went out and confirmed this as fact. Still I am willing to bet on a few Raptor fan sites and posting boards someone is saying see Raptors never should have traded Villianueva. I would also bet they never watched the game couple nights before where he stunk against the Bobcats. You might have taken notice that he was not starting for the Bucks as well. There is reason for that I am sure. It might just be that Charlie V remains the same talented but inconsistent player that the Raptors traded to Milwaukee. Remember when ESPN ripped Charlie on draft night and he went on to have a successful first year here in Toronto. Well one of the knocks from the guys on ESPN was his desire to work hard and be consistent on a nightly basis. Look back on his career and can you debate that they were wrong? I can't make the case despite the fact Charlie as a person may be one of the best people you will find in going around the league. There was a reason that the Bucks drafted Yi Jianlian and Luc Mbah A Moute. It had nothing to do with giving their announcers headaches in trying to learn to say those names. What it had to do with is they are not sold on Charlie Villianueva as the answer for them at that position. It is not like the Bucks are drafting a shooting guard in the first round or a Center. They have faith in both Michael Redd and Andrew Bogut to play starters minutes at those positions.
The problem is that most Raptor fans only watch Charlie Villianueva in the few times he plays the Raptors in a season. There is no question that he has a chip on his shoulder for these games against the Raptors. I think he truly took in personally that he was traded by the Raptors and it shows every time he suits up against them. It is much like how Andre Iguodala feels about the Raptors passing over him in the draft for Haffa or Hoffa or complete bust take your pick. But they do not watch the rest of the games the Bucks play and see highlights or read boxscores the rest of the time. The truth is Charlie V is that same guy he was when he was dealt in a lot of ways. He has the talent to have nights like last night or the time he poured in 48 points against the Bucks as a Raptor. But he also can just as easily play with disinterest and be a complete non factor. Raptor fans complain at the lack of consistent play from Andrea Bargnani well Charlie V can be just as inconsistent with his game as Bargnani. The one thing he would provide when he is on his game more than Andrea is rebounding. However Andrea when he is on can provide more shoot blocking and offers a much more consistent shot from long range when he is on his game. Charlie is a great guy and I am not here to say that if he had remained with the Raptors I would not still like him and cheer for him. What I am saying is he is not as good a player as he gets made out to be by some Raptor Fans. In the end he is a lot closer to the player that ESPN thought he was than the one Raptors fans think he is.
Opportunity Is Still Knocking If Raptors Can Answer
Sure last night was a disappointment and the Raptors basically cancelled out one of those surprising wins they earned over Houston and Orlando. Still they have a chance to keep it rolling in the right direction with games against the Wizards and Grizzlies. It is even more important when you consider the next two after that. Back to back, home and home, with the Boston Celtics who have suddenly dropped a few and have people questioning if they are truly the best in the league. That could make the Raptors the perfect platform to make a loud statement against. It all means that you need to take care of your business in these next two games.
The Wizards can laugh at how disappointed and frustrated Raptors fans are at their season. I mean they are going through a cruel version of deja vu. Last year they had a star player that was writing more blogs then he was playing games. This year the re-signed that player for over 100 million dollars and he still is blogging and not playing. Lot of folks like Gilbert Arenas and think he is a truly colourful character. That is true and he was at one time a very talented player. After two years of being on the IR and blogging more then he has been playing does not seem good. I think he may just end up being a huge elephant in the room with his large contract. The Gilbert Arenas prior to injury was worth that contract. The one that sat out the majority of last season was not. That mistake of re-signing Arenas may cost the Wizards for a long time to come. If only it was just Arenas who was getting injured but Jamison and Butler have had their share as well. It would all lead to Eddie Jordan being shown the door. I feel bad for him because I think given what he has had to deal with in Washington he had done a remarkable job. If he was a name that came up for the Raptors job I would not be disappointed to have him. Washington is 3-7 in their last 10 games which for them is improvement. They are a sad and pathetic 7-25 on the season and dead last in the Eastern Conference.
Memphis is a much different case as they have a lot of hope for the future. O.J Mayo is the real deal and when you also have Pau Gasol's baby brother Marc you have the start of some pretty nice building blocks. Memphis is 11-23 and far out classed in the Western Conference. But they can look at a team like Portland as reason to be hopeful for the future. The Raptors can not afford to over look anyone at this point. If Jay Triano wants to make that point clear, watching the last 5 minutes of the OKC game is a great way to drive home your point. The Raptors again sit in a spot where they can make a few steps back towards respectability or they can stumble and fall and dig a whole deeper that is already pretty massive. It is a lot to ask of a team that is down it's starting center and point guard but they have shown that they are able to do it. The question now becomes if they can do it consistently. It is a lot easier to bring you max effort against someone that you know is better. It is a different challenge to do that against a team that is struggling like you are.
Bryan Colangelo Is Playing The Game
I don't think anything that Bryan Colangelo does in not done without a thought process behind it. He was been doing interviews of late and sending out some messages. The question becomes who is the audience for these comments. Is it an angry fan base that is starting to question his choices. Could it be that he has not been happy with what he has been hearing on the phone and is sending out a message that this is not a fire sale in Toronto. There is no real way to tell why Bryan has chosen now to start a bit of a media appearance spree. But clearly even with out him taking part in the process he has been the talk around the league as eveyone is waiting to see what move he is going to make. About the only thing that you will not find to read is that Bryan Colangelo is NOT going to make a move before the February trade deadeline. Everyone around the league expects him to make a move. Given his past reputation some even expect it to be a big move. That is a lot of hype and pressure to live up too. I some how feel that Bryan understands that this next move no matter what it is will be key to how people view his career in Toronto. He is as aware as anyone that this is a what have you done for me lately business.
Colangelo has stuck to his guns to this point and has defending his number one selection Andrea Bargnani. He has said that they have not made an offer to another team that includes Bargnani. He says he takes many calls about his availability. Colangelo in his defensive of the pick of Andrea said that he even said that Brandon Roy was going to win the Rookie of the Year. He said that Bargnani was picked for a variety of reasons and he was the best fit for the Raptors. The comment about Roy is true as Colangelo was on the record as saying that Brandon Roy was the most NBA ready of the players in the draft. So that would not be far from saying he would be the rookie of the year. He even went as far as to praise Roy and how he is getting to the level of a superstar player in the league. He said if people are going to compare Andrea to Brandon Roy than Andrea could be considered a failure for some. He suggested that it was more about judging Andrea on his own merits. He pointed to his youth and the fact that they had been asking him to learn several positions. He didn't go as far as saying that was a mistake but you were left with the impression that is what he was saying without saying it.
This season before it started I said would end up deciding the Sam Mitchell debate. Well it has done that in a negative way. Although Sam is starting to do his thing on T.V as he made a guest appearence on NBA T.V on the weekend. Thanks to Holly Mackenzie for giving that a mention. I have no doubt if Sam wants a career in T.V he can have a long and successful one. But I don't think he is ready to settle into a media career just yet. However turning back to Colangelo in firing Mitchell he has now made this season a lot about his legacy as the G.M and President. He will have one last card to play even if he does not find the trade to save the season. In fact he could have a couple depending on what he does. The most obvious is he will be in a spot to hire a coach that is his guy and their will be no debate about it even if that guy was Jay Triano. The other chip he has is that massive contract of Jermaine O'Neal. The 2010 frenzy is only going to grow as the year gets closer. A contract worth 23 million dollars of cap space is almost as valuable as any player in the league at this point given the free agents that are out there to be had in 2010. The longer and closer to that time the more attractive Jermaine O'Neal and his contract will become. There is no question this big chip to play of keep was at the core of why Colangelo made the trade in the summer to acquire O'Neal. If O'Neal was able to perform well on top of that it was going to be a win win situation. It has turned into a lose win situation. That contract is still a valuable asset to have no matter the win total the Raptors end up with this season. Colangelo is not going to give it up unless he gets exactly what he wants in return.
So for a lot of reasons you can expect the roller coaster ride to continue on for the rest of this season and will get really wild as we get closer to trade deadline day. It may not be as fun as you like but it sure does make for a lot of information and speculation to keep up to date on. I'd love for someday a G.M to write a book long after he retired and recount all of the things that happened behind the scenes. If Bryan Colangelo were to write that book I would be in the front of the line to buy it.