Dirty Birds Still In Flight

If you have read this blog for a longtime you know that the Dino Blogger is not a fan of the Atlanta Hawks. I have referred to they as the dirty birds. Well last night they gave an example of why I do not like this basketball team. Josh Smith in what had been a rough and heated(No Pun Intended) decided to try to practice for the dunk contest in the playoffs. He tried to do the dunk that Vince Carter did putting it through his legs. He missed the dunk and it only will add more fuel to the fire of what is becoming a nasty series. Every time you looked away someone was going down. Al Horford was taken out and you will hear no sympathy from me for him. I think he is reason the Raptors have gone totally off course. He was the guy that sent T.J Ford crashing to the ground and the Raptors have never been the same since. But back to the series, Dwyane Wade took a hard fall and from that point this game changed and the Heat got taken out of their game.

You had Toronto's own Jamal Maglorie trying to be tough guy and causing a lot of pushing and shoving. To be honest for those of you that are hockey fans out there, Heat and Hawks is the series for you. Lots of that non-sense that you see in hockey with push and shoving and general nasty stuff. If the Heat want to win this series they need to focus on playing basketball and forget about the nonsense. The Hawks are a team that lacks discipline and leadership. However if all this nonsense leads to the Hawks winning a series will anyone care how they did it? One last thing on the Hawks. If you have ever watched a regular season game from the ATL you have to be like me and shocked at where all these people came from. They must have had to have someone go through the area to dust off all those seats that are now filled for the playoffs.

Meanwhile the Hornets fell hard again. There have been a lot of bad loses to reflect back on in this Raptors season. One of them was against the Denver Nuggets. It cost Sam Mitchell his job. Did a over 50 point lose in the playoffs do the same for Bryon Scott? I don't think so. But it is clear that the Hornets have some major re-tooling to do. Denver beat them again in what was not as bad a blowout. But after being tied at the half the Nuggets rolled in the second half. Add another player to the list of people not named T-Mac that have advanced to the 2nd round. Carmelo Anthony was 0-5 in round 1. But he now can say he to is one up on T-Mac. That is unless you count the fact the Rockets may advance without T-Mac. But I don't think that counts does it. Besides if the Rockets lose in game 6 in Houston they may not advance anyway. Game 7 at the Rose Garden I am all over the Blazers. That is a big reason why I picked the Blazers in 7. That being said I picked the Hornets in 7 for an upset. Well not so much on that one.

Which D-12 elbow will hurt the Magic more. There was the one that landed on Sam Dalembert that got him suspended for Game 6 in Philly. There was the other one the injured Courtney Lee who was having a good series for the Magic. I think if the Sixers can not win this series they really have no one to blame. The Magic have given them chance after to chance to win this series. The biggest of those is this game 6 to extend the series to 7 games. Gortat as much as he may have a growing fan base. Not since Ivan" Polish Power" Putski was in the WWF has there been a more famous Polish person. Wait a second, there was Pope John Paul II, ok so make that most famous Polish person in sports. But there is no one in Poland and perhaps on the planet earth like Dwight Howard. After all he is Superman. If Stan Van Gundy can some how get the Magic a win we should demand they re-open the coach of the year voting. No Howard and No Lee is odds that seem very long for the Magic indeed. Blue and White Ignite cause Game 7 is coming soon to Orlando.

As far as the Raptors go not much to talk about for now. Bryan Colangelo is over in Europe on a scouting mission. The MLSE Board will met sometime in early May he will likely recommend that Jay Triano is kept on as head coach and they will ponder and agree with Bryan. So you can expect an announcement probably prior to the NBA Lottery happens. Colangelo has a lot of work to do this off-season. You talk to the casual fan and they have concluded that the Raptors Suck. It is hard to give people a logical explanation to say that they do not. Bosh or no Bosh and all the rest of it. Perhaps the most interesting thing will be the draft as Colangelo has made it known that he will be shopping for another pick in round one. Raptors also may be bringing in an old draft pick next year in Giorgos Printezis. He was traded for by Colangelo in the second round a couple years ago. It was a trade with the Spurs as I recall. He was on the Greek Roster for last season in the Olympic Qualifier and the Olympics. He did not see much time and is still just 23 years old. So he is not going to fix the Raptors. However he could be a small part in adding to the toughness that Bryan Colangelo made clear needs to be added.


Avoiding International Incidents

Jose Calderon has surgery done on his dislocated finger and is said to be out of commission for 6 to 8 weeks. Hopefully the timing of this was not to be ready to play for Spain this summer. Jose needs to take a pass on playing for his national team this season. I am rapidly becoming someone in the camp of Mark Cuban on this whole issue of international basketball. Cuban has long been against the idea of players under contract in the NBA playing in international ball. I am beginning to totally agree. However to be realistic about it, there is no way the NBA is going to pull a 180 and back away from FIBA and not allow it's players to play. David Stern sees the idea of Olympics and to a lesser extent World Championships as a way to market the game globally.You can debate how much good that actual does or does not do for the league. However I am just going to suggest a compromise of sorts. Steve Nash would love this one as it comes from a sport he enjoys...Soccer. In Soccer for the Olympics they have an age limit on who can go to play at the games. I think the age is 25 if I am not mistaken. If you are over 25 you can not play simple as that. Nash as he got older decided to say no thanks to Canada. I was one of few that did not agree with that choice by him. However with this rule there would be nothing to debate on that issue. It would be cut and dry and at least if someone were to be injured playing internationally at least they would be younger and in most cases more likely to heal quicker and hopefully have no long term impact on them. I have said in this blog that it is unfair in a lot of ways to make players decide between country and team. I hear the argument that you are being paid by your club team and that is who you should be loyal too. I tend to agree with that.

However if you were to use hockey as an example and the Washington Capitals or Pittsburgh Penguins wanted to Ovechkin or Crosby not to play in the Olympics it would cause huge debate in this country. In the case of Crosby I could see Pittsburgh jersey's being burned in the streets. Also with the hockey example there is far less time where the players practice as a national team. In Basketball it is an event that goes on yearly basis each summer. When players play for their national teams the club teams get very little say if any in how practices and training is done. They also may want players to focus on certain aspects of the game that may not be the same as a national team would want from them. In hockey basically it is a group that gets thrown together for an event like the world championships that are going on currently. There are not long training camps leading up to that. In fact in some cases if players are eliminated from the NHL Playoffs they are quickly added to the line-up and just join the exsisting team.

If David Stern can determine how old you must be to enter the NBA draft. Why is it not reasonable to have him cap the age in which a player can play for his country while he is under contract to the NBA. It is the best compromise for all. Players would not feel the pressure to decide between country and team. For those who play in Europe and International players it is very hard to say no when the national team calls. Not unlike it is for players in Hockey in this country. If a player of any great skill or talent said he was going to take a pass on the upcoming Olympics in 2010 in Vancouver in hockey in this country he would be public enemy number 1 if he happened to be Canadian. So take the choice out of their hands and cap the age they can play till. It may not make everyone happy but it is the best was to solve the problem.

Speaking of injuries former Raptor Jamario Moon is done for the rest of the playoffs. He has a sports hernia and is set to have surgery which will bring an end to his season. Moon will be a free agent in the summer and will be looking to sign a deal somewhere. He has had a nice run with the Heat and developed some chemistry with D-Wade so Miami may want to have him back. We will see come the off-season.

As for the Heat they are locked in a battle with the Hawks tied at 2. However the series of the playoffs has been the Bull and Celtics. It has been high drama and last night was no different. The teams could not decide things in 48 minutes once again and went to overtime. Celtics ended up in the winners circle and even if they some how get out of this series it seems highly doubtful the will be able to defend their NBA Title. The Spurs joined the Pistons in sitting on the sidelines for the playoffs losing to Dallas is round one in 5 games. The Pistons were swept aside in the East in 4 games to the Cavs. You wonder if in both cases we are seeing the end of eras. The Pistons only managed 1 lone title in the run they had and Spurs have won 3 or 4. They also may not be done as they still have the same 3 core players and could perhaps re-tool and with some luck and health have one last run at it. But the bottom line and feeling you get from the playoffs is that this is Kobe and Lebron's party and everyone else are just guests that will eventually leave.

Both Bryant and James have been for this epic battle it seems all year. They were the 2 front runners in the MVP Debate which should be announced soon and I am thinking with go to Lebron. However most feel that will only serve as motivation for Kobe to win a title. Like he needed anymore after losing last year to the Celtics and looking pretty bad by the end of that series. It is going to be fun to watch and unless Denver, Orlando or someone else have a Magic trick in them it is going to happen.

So hope you are enjoying the playoffs and getting a chance to enjoy some great basketball even if it does not involve the Raptors.


15 Years Ago Was A Lot Different

Well I had planned to bring back the Round Ball Review today. It had been awhile but I thought it be fun to bring back J.B Superstar and Joey G. Unfortunately the site is down so the return of the Round Ball Review will have to wait for another day. I enjoy doing those cause they add (Hopefully) some humour to the mix. We all love basketball and are passionate about it. That being said at the end of the day it is just sports. No one lives or dies and if we can not have a laugh about things every now and than you might be taking things to seriously. The point is that was my plan for today and it unfortunately is not able to happen.

So what should I do instead? Here is one thing that comes to mind. This next season no matter how the off-season works out will mark the 15th season for the Raptors in the NBA. It really does not seem that long and it is just another reminder that I am getting old. However it really has been great to have NBA basketball in Canada. Prior to the Raptors coming I had never been to an NBA Game. It was something I always wanted to do but it makes for a long trip to go see a game as the closest team to me would have been the Pistons which is a 6 hour drive. I did make that trip to Detroit to see my Cowboys play back in 1992 which turned out to be a pretty good year for the Cowboys. So just the fact that I can go just less than an hour down the highway to catch an NBA game is something to be thankful for. I think we forget what it was like prior to the Raptors arrival to Toronto. I would imagine some of the younger readers are not even old enough to remember what that was like. I do complain about the lack of coverage the sport of basketball gets in this blog. However as much as I might complain in comparison to things prior to the Raptors it is not even a comparison. That reminds me does anyone else remember that Doc Rivers did T.V up here in Canada prior to the Raptors first season on CTV. I think that is why even though he coaches the hated Celtics that I still had a smile for Doc Rivers last year when the Celtics won. He did a great job on the T.V side of things up here back in those days.

If not for the Raptors coming who knows where the sport would be on the scale of things in this country. I actually may watch hockey if they had not. I mean could you imagine watching hockey in Canada. That would just be so awful. I seriously may be one of the few people in this country that have not watched one sec of the NHL Playoffs. I use to watch Hockey but I find that the coverage or over coverage of the sport has driven me away from it. There is more to life than Hockey. I know this will be a shock to some in this country. But look around and you will see that it is true. People are expressing love of lots of things. I mean would anyone have predicted the success of Toronto F.C? Not me and to be honest I still don't get the whole soccer craze and never will. But thanks to the world we live in people are not just tied to what the Sports Networks deem we want to hear. The rise of the UFC is another example of the public showing interest in a sport long before the main stream media did. I am not a UFC junkie at all as well. I will watch GSP and that is about it. However just the fact I know who that is proves that UFC is on the map in the main stream of sports. The days of some group of folks in a meeting room deciding what is important to you as a sports fan is slowly changing. Thanks to blogs like this one and the Internet in general you can find a ton of info and opinion on whatever you are passionate about. The world is changing and the media is having to change with it. That can be proven in the fact that everyone and their brother and cousin have got on to Twitter. I am there as well with the Dino Nation Blog. The days of people reading newspapers is slowly changing as well. That is why you see the evolution of what I like to call the professional blogs. These are done by folks in the already established media. I enjoy reading those as much as I do others in my shoes.

I guess the point to all of this is the world is changing at a fast rate. The fact that almost 15 years ago the NBA returned to Canada was a great moment for people that love basketball in this country. Would we still get the same amount of NBA coverage if not for that? It is hard to say in the world we live. I guess that was what is most frustrating about the entire TSN 2 issue. The NBA is not the UFC or some fringe sport. Yet scrambling around this year trying to be able to find games on some Internet feed just made me feel like the NBA had taken a giant step backwards. That being said it has taken some major steps forward since 1994/95. I may not agree with a lot of what I read and listen to on sports talk radio. However no matter if I do or do not, it makes me smile to hear people that are passionate about the Raptors and basketball. That is something to celebrate for sure. In this off-season we will see if the Raptors add to those reasons to celebrate this season. That gives me an idea of something to do over the summer and maybe take a few days to reflect back on the journey that has taken us to this point. Point is as upset as you may get with the Raptors ask people in Vancouver if they would not like to be complaining about the Grizzlies. Those who are basketball fans would say YES. So as bad or as good as it may be or get. The fact there is a team to get angry about is something in and of itself. People in Seattle would tell you that as well. So when your head is about to explode out of frustration from the Raptors for whatever reason, you might just want to remember that to calm you down.

It was not as funny as J.B and Joey G but hopefully it was something worth reading.


Playoff Excitement and Spend Raptors Spend.

Well what an exciting Sunday in the NBA. You had Lebron James go off and lead the Cavs to a sweep of the Pistons. You have to think Michael Curry may have coached his last game for the Pistons. It also may be the start of a major changes in Detroit. Rasheed Wallace is a free agent and Allen Iverson will come off the books. The Cavs meanwhile march along to the next round and wait for the winner of the Heat and Hawks. You had a double overtime thrilling win for the Chicago Bulls over the Boston Celtics. This series has been the best of the first round by a wide margin. The Celtics are beyond banged up at this point and even if they some how get past the Bulls they may have nothing left for round 2. That being said the Orlando Magic have struggled along battling the Sixers. They blew an 18 point lead in game 1 of that series. Yesterday they had a 9 point lead heading into the 4th. It would take a clutch 3 point shot from Hedo Turkoglu to save the Magic and tie the series heading back to Orlando. It is all very exciting stuff. None of which involves the Raptors. But as a fan of basketball in general you got to love it.

In Raptorland things are pretty quiet as we wait for the first shoe of the off-season to drop. That should be the announcement the Jay Triano will remain as the head coach of the team. That will be followed most likely by announcing that Mike Evans and Alex English have been let go. Followed by the hiring of Marc Ivaroni and another person to the staff. Least that is what is said to be the plan. Bryan Colangelo met with Triano last week and he did say he wanted the coaching issue settled sooner than later. The longer the wait till Triano gets announced as the head coach may cause people to speculate but it would be a shock if he is not the guy given what Colangelo has said.

Some Options out there for the Raptors in guys like Rasheed Wallace, Hedo Turkoglu, Ron Artest are all guys that could replace a Marion on the roster. It is unclear if any would be of interest to the Raptors. However I have been thinking about things and think this is a time for the Raptors to take advantage of who owns them. That would be the folks of MLSE.

It has been reported that up to 17 teams in the NBA are in serious trouble in terms of economics. So I think that is a chance to use the resources that MLSE have and take advantage of the fact they are secure money wise. Colangelo also pointed out that only about 4 or 5 teams will have money to spend this off-season. Charlotte and Detroit are two that come to mind. But here is my idea. Granted I see this as doubtful in happening but none the less it makes sense.

We all heard how close to the tax threshold the Raptors were last year. It was seen as this great concern and there was not anyway the Raptors would go over the tax number. Well the Cap and that Tax number are going to be coming down. Teams are going to be in a crunch trying to scramble to fit under that number whatever it becomes. Here is my idea. The Raptors should say screw the number and just spend what is needed to build a roster that can win. It seems crazy to suggest given the way MLSE tends to work. But if they honestly looked at this as a chance to spend money to make money it could make sense. I mean they spent money to build all those condos right? So why not invest in you team making the playoffs and in turn keeping your best player happy and with the franchise. If you erase the thought that the Raptors will refuse to go into the tax threshold it opens up possibilities.

You have an off-season in which few teams have money and even fewer are likely wanting to spend it. I am not suggesting that the Raptors go nuts and over pay for players. Just saying that they should get in the mix and offer the most competitive and attractive deals to the players they desire. If this team makes a long playoff run next year through this spending it will pay for itself. Is there risk in what I am saying? Sure there is but it is risk worth taking. There may never be a time in NBA where you have a situation where the Raptors would or could have a major advantage in the free agent market.

So my message on a Monday is SPEND SPEND SPEND. I may sound like that guy that wants to buy your gold at this point. Russell Oliver I am not. But if you think about it can you imagine another set of circumstances like this that will come along. You have teams sitting waiting for 2010. You have 17 of those teams looking to cut costs not increase them if they are losing money that only makes sense. If Colangelo can operate without the handcuffs of hitting a number that is set by the league in the tax threshold, what could he do?

Sadly knowing the way the folks at MLSE tend to operate I don't think we will get to find out. But they really are missing out on a chance that may never come along again.


Friday Freelancer

I don't really have a lot to say today. It happens every now and again. Lots of little things to consider. So here is a list of what is rambling around in my brain. So with that off we go.

1. Rajon Rondo is the second best player in Boston. Bulls and Celtics series is showing you why.

2. I am a closet Blue Jay Fan again how did that happen? Oh yeah the Jays are winning.

3. Thanks to EA Sports for giving me something to do with my free time for the last 20 years or so.

4. I will miss John Madden. Great announcer and is part of many of my NFL memories.

5. Go Curry Go. Not sure if he fits with Raps but he is in the draft and I was huge fan of his dad Dell

6. What is wrong with the Hornets you are making me look bad come on CP3!!!

7. I have a new nickname...Mr Blowout. In my live blogging with The Score I am getting blow outs. Hawks and Heat on Saturday someone is winning BIG!!!

8. NFL Draft is Saturday...I watch it not sure why but I do.

9. Wonder If I am only person in Canada that has not watched a single NHL Playoff game.

10. CBS had a story about Joe Dumars having a restraining order on head coach Michael Curry. I guess safe to say he is getting fired?

11. K.G is not a guy I like but the Celtics without him show you who was the biggest factor in winning them a title.

12. Lots of guys getting in the NBA Draft it is going to be interesting. Rubio is in but it is going to cost him a ton of cash if he wants to play next season. Some people mention him if Raptors get a lotto pick. I am not thinking Mr.Calderon would be thrilled with that. I just don't think they like each other that much.

13. Western kid in NFL draft. over 300 bounds and runs a 4.89 in the 40 that is insane.

14. I just don't get the appeal of soccer. I mean Toronto FC won 1-0 how can that be exciting and how can you take a sport serious with a team name like that team they beat? Civas? I am not sure if I spelled that right and do not care if I did.

15. Belated happy birthday wishes to Scott Carefoot of Raptor Blog fame. Not sure how old he is and don't want to know cause he is likely younger than me.

16. Shout out to Basketball Jones guys. Tas is one of the live bloggers on The Score with me and I enjoy checking out his stuff.

17. Ron Artest on the Raptors? It might be interesting. I would like to see it.

18. Return of Rasho....Like to see that as well

19. Lebron James and Kobe Bryant are fun to watch and forget who is better it is a joy to watch both.

20. The time for MLSE to take advantage of being rich is now. Will they take advantage of it? History suggests no but hopefully I am wrong.

That is it. If you have things on your mind let's hear them or if you have a comment on any of my things here feel free to chime in as well. I love to hear from you folks. Leave a name if you leave a comment. It does not even have to be your own. But I would prefer it. Have a great weekend and I think so will yours truly so I will likely just do one weekend edition of the blog for the off season. Unless there is reason to do more like breaking news. But not much of that right now. Enjoy the nice weather if you are in Southern Ontario. If you are elsewhere hope you have nice weather to enjoy the weekend as well.


Pops Likes Us He Really Likes Us.

In my recent interview with Jack Armstrong, he and I got talking about how the mentality of Toronto needs to change. Well I failed in that I admit it. I can't help it think it is programed in my brain at this point. My mom is a fan of the Blue Jays and watches them quite a bit. The combination of their great start and the Raptors season being done has lead me to watching them a little bit. It is also a way to spend time with her which is always a good thing. Anyway as you may know already Pops Mensah-Bonsu was at the game last night. He said about 3 or 4 times that he hopes to be back with the Raptors next season. Anytime a player says he wants to be a Raptor you get warm and fuzzy feelings. I think we all get that way as most of us feel that players would not come to Toronto or want to be here. I am sure we all have a mental list of players we NEVER would think would come to Toronto. Here is mine off the top of my head.

Lebron James
Kobe Bryant
Andre Iguodala
Brandon Roy
Lamarcus Aldridge
Dwyane Wade
Chris Paul
Kevin Garnett
Carmelo Anthony

I am sure you have your own list as well. Anytime that anyone says they like Toronto and want to play here is like a shock. However why should it be? We have a great fan base. The city itself is better than a lot of others in the NBA. Sure it is a different country but it is not like we are like guys going to play in Europe.

So Pops likes us and wants to stay. He has never even had a long run in the NBA why would he not want to stay? We need to have some confidence and walk taller. However if you buy into the fact that Toronto is limited in who will come here. That means you also need to cut Colangelo some slack. If he is limited on who he can get to come here than he is playing with a disadvantage.

I find that the negative far seems to out weight the positive in Raptorland. I am not just talking now but all the time. Even when things go well people wonder if we can keep players if things are going to stay together. I refuse to believe the only way you avoid this problem is turn the Raptors into a Euro Team to do it. That seems to be the path Colangelo took to get team going in right direction when he got here. He brought in Garbo, Parker and Bargnani. Delfino was another although he is not from Europe. I think all fans in Canada still remember a pouting Steve Francis when he drafted by the Grizzlies. It was a slap in the face to people in Vancouver and to a lesser degree all across Canada.

I say enough of all of this. This sport is invented by a Canadian and Canada is a great country and Toronto is a great city. Pops Mensah-Bonsu, Chris Bosh or whoever comes along is lucky to be here in Toronto and in Canada. That is how we need to start thinking. People in New York just assume that everyone wants to play there. You know if you can make it there you'll make it anywhere. However not everyone wants to play in New York. It is a myth that is created out of confidence. We here in Toronto need that confidence.


Getting NASHTY On A Wednesday

I this year for the first time in a long time am actually interested in the NBA Playoffs despite the Raptors not being in them. Normally I find it to painful to watch a lot of the playoffs without the Raptors in it. Steve Nash is much like me it would seem. Normally as a player when he is not involved he doesn't like watching. However this year he has been watching. He is on Twitter and Facebook. I became a fan of Steve Nash on Facebook and he has been giving his thoughts on the playoffs it is an interesting read to say the least. To get the take of one of the better players in the game. That is what is good about this new world we live in. You can get info that even 10 years ago would have been not possible. Steve also has a diet that he follows on his facebook fan page as well. You may have read that I am pretty convinced that having Steve Nash come to the Raptors might be an answer. You may not agree but that is cool. I think Steve Nash as a Raptor could be the answer in the short term for the Raps to turn it around quickly. Nash even at his age is better than Jose Calderon. If Nash is the plans of Colangeo that is good news for Jay Triano.

Triano and Nash are know to have a great relationship and if Nash is coming it only makes the idea of a Triano era as head coach. Colangelo is said to have meet with Triano yesterday and I would love to know if the name of Nash came up. It would make sense it would as both Triano and Colangelo know him well. That would be only 1 of a number of topics that would be on the table. It was telling when Colangelo said that he had not talked to anyone about the coaching job in Toronto. It would seem as I said the other day, unless Triano showed up with a lamp shade on his head in his underwear the job was likely his. Just a matter of the details. Those details will include a new coaching staff. Mark Ivaroni will be the lead assistant in that staff. If Triano was not down with that he basically would shoot himself in the foot. It is key for a G.M and coach to have a good working relationship however can Triano really be anything but a yes man to Colangelo? I don't mean it as it sounds. However what bothers me is that Triano really is faced with a tough situation. Despite what everyone says I am not convinced you could not bring in someone with a better resume. Washington has hired Flip Saunders to take their coaching job. He would not be a choice of mine for the job here. However if you compare resumes is it even close in comparison to Triano. There are lots of other guys that you could say the same about. So is a combination of Ivaroni, Triano and Colangelo going to work? Can Jay feel secure at all in his job if Ivaroni is sitting on the bench with him? Ivaroni was long said to be Colangelo's guy and if not for Sam Mitchell winning coach of the year many feel Ivaroni would have been named the head coach and Sam would be fired. If you brought in Nash that may balance things out a bit and give Jay a little more security. However you cut it the idea of Triano as head coach makes me feel uneasy. Based on the fact he is Canadian I have always wanted to see him have success. I may not think he is the right guy but he is our guy. It makes me think if Jay Triano was from Fort Worth Texas and not Niagara Falls Ontario does anyone think people would be so calm about all this? That being said people like Jack Armstrong, Paul Jones and others have confidence in Triano and I respect them and hope they are right and I am wrong.

Taking a look at NBA Awards no surprises to this point. Mike Brown is the coach of the year. He did a great job and has that Lebron guy to make him look good. Dwight Howard was the defensive player of the year and it is well deserved. Lebron James could have got this award but I suspect another award is coming his way. Today Derrick Rose is going to be announced as the Rookie of the Year. He ran away with the award and is taking his Bulls to places few thought they would go at the start of the year.

Lastly a fond farewell to Stephen A Smith. It seems that he was on the edge of keeping his job. Makes all that Bosh stuff ring kind of hollow doesn't it? Well least Stephen A Smith can have sometime to have some cheese doodles. If you have not seen this on You Tube before here it is from 2006 Draft.

So there you have it. Cheese doodles were also a favourite snack of Madonna back in the days when she made the movie Desperately Seeking Susan. So Stephen A and Madonna have that in common. The Stephen A Smith era on ESPN lasted far to long.This blog hopeful did not.


Playoff Thoughts From The Dino Blogger.

Well we are well underway with the NBA Playoffs and things are off to an interesting start. That being said nothing I have seen makes me think we are not still heading to the final destination that we all think we are heading. The Kobe vs Lebron Final is going to be a reality. That does not mean we can not enjoy the ride along the way.

The best series by far has been the Bulls and Celtics. The Celtics are running out of players and Rajon Rondo has been slowed. If Rondo goes down it is all over for the Celtics. He may not be the second best player on the Celtics but he is the second most important. Derrick Rose and the young Bulls have pushed the Celtics to limit. Ray Allen had to make a clutch shot or the Bulls would be heading home up 2-0. Chuck Swirsky, Brack Obama and Benny The Bull would have all been thrilled. Unlike last season the Celtics can not afford to get dragged into a long 7 game series. But that is the direction they seem to be heading. I am not sure of this but what happens to Celtics if they run out of players? It is starting to look that way. Powe is now likely out. Rondo is not 100% and of course K.G is likely done for the season. It has been high drama and I want to say the Celtics will take this series. It is the logical safe thing to say. However this series is not following a logical script.

Beyond that the Orlando Magic need to step up and be counted. In fact the entire state of Florida in the NBA will you please stand up? Miami and Orlando both laid an egg in game 1. The Magic looked to be on the way to the expected game 1 win. Someone forgot to tell the Sixers. While the Heat looked awful as the Hawks are determined to prove that they are no joke. There is lots of talk about how the Magic don't get enough talk and praise. Well if that is true Atlanta is in the witness protection program when it comes to talk. They broke out of it with a performance that was first rate. They took D-Wade and put the M.V.P candidate on ice and dared the rest of the Heat to beat them and they could not. So Florida wake the heck up you are making me look bad. Not that they care about that but for your own self pride get it together for game 2.

Meanwhile The Cavs are putting the final nail in a season for the Pistons that went wrong right from the point Joe Dumars hung up the phone after trading Chancey Billups. Which by the way the Nuggets were impressive in a win over the Hornets. But Lebron and the Cavs are just getting started. They are on a higher mission than the Pistons and it looks very obvious.

So that is the east and a touch of the west. Lakers played with the Jazz like a cat does with a ball or toy mouse. It was fun to watch unless you are a Jazz fan. Kobe took his spots when needed and the Lakers were great and looked to be in control from the start.

Spurs and Mavs was a tail of 2 games. I have live blogged both of these. In game one the Spurs looked like they were going to be fine but the Mavs made a comeback. They would take game 1 and looked like a team that could make an upset happen. Until they played game 2. The Mavs were destroyed by the Spurs and Mason Jr and Bonner who were non factors in game 1 were in game 2. But the story of game 2 was Tony Parker. Jason Kidd can not stop him and no one else on the Mavs could. He was brilliant and had 38.

Blazers and Rocket I admit that I have seen little of it. However it may be a case of the Blazers having to learn from losing in this first round. They may have to much of a task to get by Houston who is under a lot of pressure to escape the first round. If the Blazers bowed out it would be expected and no one would hold it against them.

So that is my little run through the playoffs with my thoughts. Jay Triano is meeting with Bryan Colangelo and you can bet that sooner rather than later he will be announced as the head coach of the Toronto Raptors. I am not on board with this. However I wish Jay the best and hope I am wrong. Seems clear that Colangelo is heading in the direction of hiring Jay and he has been laying the foundation for that for awhile in his media interviews and at his end of the year address yesterday confirmed everything he had said prior to that.


Colangelo State Of Raptors Address

Bryan Colangelo had his year end session with the media. It was interesting but not sure if it provided any answers but it did give lots of lines to read between. A couple things that seem a little more clear than most were these:

Jay Triano is going to have every chance in the world to remain as the head coach of the Raptors. Colangelo would say that he has talked to no one about the coaching position and he did confirm that people have inquired. However he stated that he will sit down with Jay and talk about everything. He also suggested that he would like the coaching issue to be dealt with quickly. He said that he feels it is important to have a coach in place to be part of the process in moving forward and looking at the draft and trade options. It all seemed to point that unless Jay Triano were to show up with a lamp shade on his head in his underwear the job is likely his. The one thing Bryan would say is that the coaching staff is going to change regardless of if Jay is hired as head coach or not. That would make what everyone has been saying about Mark Ivaroni as the lead assistant to Triano seem likely as well. It could also mean the end of the line for Alex English and Mike Evans. We will have to see.

The other thing that you can almost guarantee is that Carlos Delfino will be bringing sexy back to Toronto next season. Colangelo almost talked about Carlos as a part of the existing member of the Raptor roster. Which technically he is as the Raptors still hold his restricted free agent rights. It seemed very clear that he will be returning. He even made reference to a conversation he had with Jose Calderon about what was missing without Delfino this season. He suggested that Delfino was part of the grit that he admitted was lacking in this roster.

In fact he said flat out that he felt this team as a whole was to nice. He said that he will address that in some way. Perhaps if Shawn Marion does not return Ron Artest would add that tough attitude that Colangelo is said to be searching for. I am saying that of course Bryan could not say anything close to that cause that would be tampering. He said of Marion that he would like for him to return but it will be a case of the market determining if that will be possible. However he suggested there is always the option of a sign and trade that can be explored with Shawn Marion and his agent.

As for the draft. Colangelo suggested that not only the Raptors will more than likely keep their pick he is in the market shopping for perhaps another first round pick. That is something that should make people happy who are looking for the Raptors to get some help. It seems Colangelo would not be opposed to looking at a point guard and a swing man on his draft wish list. He clearly stated that there is really only one sure thing in this draft which would mean Blake Griffin. However he pointed out that even if the Raptors remain at where they sit you can find some good players. He mentioned his own picks of Shawn Marion and Amare Stoudamire as well as the selection of Paul Pierce at 10 for the Celtics.

He kept saying a few things. That he feels the core of this team is solid with Bargnani Bosh and Calderon. However he would not go as far as to say the core will remain. But he said it was likely it would. He said that he could not publicly say that he opposed to Jose Calderon playing for Spain. However he did about everything but saying that it would not be is Jose's best interest to do so for him and his career. He also talked about Roko Ukic and how they were hopeful about his development but suggested that team may look to address the issue in the off-season. He compare the Raptors situation to that of Boston at the point guard position. Rajon Rondo if he went down they did not have many options. He failed to even mention Stephon Marbury in talking about it. That may speak to his feelings on Marbury or the lack of performance by him. But it seemed clear he would not be opposed to adding to the depth at the point guard position. He also failed to mention Marcus Banks at all. So that may suggest that a buy out of that contract could be in the mix for the Raps? It may be the case. It seems unlikely the Raptors would carry 4 point guards.

Steve Nash was also mentioned with out being mentioned. Colangelo would not rule out the option of a Nash. He of course did not refer to him by name but did say that a veteran to mentor Ukic was one way the Raptors could go. They were talking in 2010 in this conversation however I am convinced that the conversation about Nash may happen sooner than that. I have said it for along time. When you consider all the things in play it points to Nash. Triano set to return as the head coach, Shawn Marion an option the Raptors want to explore. It all points to Steve Nash. You also have the whole Bosh drama to deal with. Yes there was talk of that as well.

Chris Bosh is still the cornerstone of this franchise. That is what Colangelo said. He said that he is not looking to move Bosh. He said that Bosh and him had a good conversation but did not talk about the future. He seemed that he was not concerned in having to move Bosh. He flat out said that he was not going to be pressured into moving Bosh for the sake of moving him. He said the only way Bosh would move is if it was a deal that would make the team better. In referencing him as a top 10 player in the league it would seem that would have to be a heck of a deal. He pointed out the fact that Raptors have the advantages of being able to sign him to a max deal and even could do that as part of a sign and trade should Bosh decide to play out his current contract. There is a window in which Bosh could sign a 3 year extension but that seems very unlikely. The bottom line of it all is Colangelo did not seem in any hurry to be moving Chris Bosh. So while Stephen A Smith is looking to get back on T.V can someone please let him know that.

It was a Colangelo that was clearly frustrated by the team and it's performance. However he feels that the team is not as far away as everyone in the media and the fan base may think. He was as confident as ever. He was asked if it upset him that people were being very hard on his job performance. He said that it did and it fuels him to prove people wrong. I like to hear that. I have some issues with some of the things that he has done. However I still have faith in him and know that he is a guy that hates to lose and there is no way he will sit still. The Raptors will look different next year and Bryan Colangelo seems to think that the road back to the playoffs is going to be a challenge but it is not as far off as some may feel. I think if you like Bryan or you do not you hope that he is right. There is no doubt this will be the most important off-season of his time in Toronto.

10 Things B.C Will Not Say At His Press Conference Today

I will have some thoughts on the Playoffs after game 1 of every series was played this weekend. But today Bryan Colangelo is going to address the media. I am not sure what he will have to say. However here are 10 things you can be certain you will not hear. So can we have a drum roll please?

(Drum Roll)

#10- I have decide to start a Twitter account The_Real_BC and tweet all summer about all my off-season work so fans can be in the loop.

#9- All 82 Raptors Games next season will be on TSN 2.

#8- I admit that I was wrong and am proud to announce that I have re-hired Sam Mitchell to coach the Raptors in 09/10 season

#7- Brian Burke thinks he is cool saying he will get the number 1 pick? I can top that. I am announcing today that it is my intention to bring Lebron James to Toronto in 2010.

#6- Chris Bosh has asked me to be in his latest YouTube Video.

#5- That Dino Blogger guy is right. Steve Nash is coming to Toronto. How the hell did he know that?

#4- Jose Calderon was a big mistake. If I had it to do over again I would have traded him and kept T.J Ford.

#3- Joey Graham will be signed to a long term contract this off-season

#2- I am not going to the NBA Draft Lottery out of shame. In my place I am sending The Raptor Mascot.

#1- Chris Bosh I promise that I won't screw up again just please comeback. I will even trade Andrea if you don't like him whatever it takes.

So that is just 10 things you will not here today. It is a fun game and you are free to play along in the comments. Just remember please no swearing because the Dino Nation Blog believes the children are the future and we do not want to be blamed for teaching them foul language. That is what shows like South Park are for. Some thoughts on the Playoffs and What B.C actually says later today or tomorrow.


Hello Again To Jack Armstrong

On his radio show the Game Plan the topic of who is your favourite analyst in sports. Many Raptors fans would answer that question with the name Jack Armstrong. I would be one of them. Jack has been a guest many times on the Dino Nation Blog. Even with the addition of his radio show, his own blog and all the stuff he already did with Raptors and now TSN he has continued to come talk with us. It is a special treat to have him pay us a visit. I had planned to talk a bit about Jeff and Stan Van Gundy. A bit on the Orlando Magic as the spoiler to the final that everyone seems to have selected of Cavs vs Lakers. Along with some Raptor related topics. We did get through all of that. We never got around to the draft but Jack said he will return to talk about the draft at some point between the lottery and the draft. Jack still covers college basketball as he is a former college coach which most are well aware. So he is a good person to talk with about that. But this conversation is a good one as well as Jack talks about his take on the future of CB4, Why he never lost faith in Andrea and Jay Triano and his future with Raps.

So Jack will be back in early June to talk about the draft and more on the Raps off-season. Perhaps some thoughts on the playoffs as well. If you have not checked out his radio show in the afternoon with Doug Maclean. They talk sports every afternoon from 2-4pm on Game Plan on Fan 590. You even hear me call in once in awhile. I am happy for all the success their show has had and wish Jack and Doug both nothing but the best going forward with it. So just because the Raptors are done does not mean Jack is and that is a great thing for all sports fans. After all this is going to be a very interesting off-season for the Raptors. I would venture to say the most important in the history of this franchise. Jack will be on the air giving his take on the Raps and all the other things happening in sports and that is good news. I use to miss Jack in the off-season but no longer have too.


The Raptorless Playoff Preview

So no Raptors in the Playoffs. But that being said it still should be interesting. Doc Rivers dropped a bombshell today saying the K.G may not be in the playoffs at all. That makes the Boston repeat a much tougher deal. So the road to a Kobe vs Lebron NBA Finals seems a lot more likely. But before we get there you need to get through round 1. So away we go with Round 1 predictions.

The West

Lakers (1) vs Jazz (8)

The Jazz are in the playoffs and if they had a healthy season they likely are higher on the food chain. However they did not and they draw the Lakers in round 1. Andrew Bynum is back this year. Unlike last year he will be in the playoff mix for the Lakers. They also have Kobe and a solid crew around him with Pau Gasol and all the rest. I think the Jazz might get a game in Salt Lake but to win this series? No way, no how and no chance.

Dino Blogger Says Lakers in 5

Denver (2) vs New Orleans (7)

A point guard battle that should be off the hook. Billups turned the Nuggets from a fringe playoff team into the 2nd seed in the west? Wow. Sure head had help but he is the difference. Any doubt ask a Pistons fan and look where they sit. Chris Paul does not have to take a second seat to anyone. He along with Chris Bosh and Dwight Howard were the only 3 guys in the league to average a 20 and 10 double double. The team around Paul has under performed that is how they sit 7th after last season being the top seed. Denver much like the Hornets last year have a lot to prove to folks. This will be a huge step for the Nuggets. I think it might be to big of one. Maybe I am nuts but I like Hornets in this one. Billups has been unreal but Paul is better. The Hornets will hopefully rise to the level of Paul and provide an upset. Melo looked awful last night in a game that heading into could have meant a lot for the Nuggets. It turned out it did not. But still Carmelo looked really bad. He is said to have been playing with the flu. But I just think the Nuggets will be upset. Hornets will not have the pressure they did last year but will have the experience from it.

Dino Blogger says the Hornets in 7

Spurs (3) vs Dallas (6)

If you can figure out the Dallas Mavericks please let me know. I mean this team never seems to do what you expect of them to do. So that might suggest the Mavericks get an upset. The whole George Costanza theory to go against your natural reaction. Manu has been injured a lot. Tim Ducan and Tony Parker have been flying as a tandum most of the year. I think the Spurs should be able to take this series and not break a sweat doing it. I apologize to Mark Cuban, Dirk Nowitski and Jason Kidd. It is not like I am alone though. How many folks a month or 2 ago thought the Suns would run down the Mavs and leave the Mavs on the outside of the playoffs? I am thinking there was a lot of you. But the Mavs not only got in but sit in the 6th seed. Spurs have been there and done that. I just can't see the upset. Spurs have to much expierence and have delivered in the clutch. The Mavs may never be as good as the team that sat with a lead over the Heat in the NBA finals. Tim Ducan quietly goes about what he does year in and year out. I use to call him boring and slag him. However as I have grown older I have learned to respect Tim Ducan. I can not say I have that kind of respect for Dirk or ever will. Spurs also get the nod in the coaching department. Pop is one of the best in the game. Not to mention Matt Bonner needs another ring. I joke but I do hope the best for the Red Rocket.

Dino Bloggers says Spurs in 5

(4) Portland vs (5) Houston

I watched the Blazers go off against the Nuggets to earn the right to host this series and have home court advantage. This was a huge thing for the young Blazers who are the new kids on the block in the playoffs. Houston has no curse of T-Mac to hold them back. Yao is solid and you have crazy Ron Artest looking to get paid next season. This should be the best series of the first round. I think it is going to be a great battle as you have 2 teams with very different reasons you could pull for them or against them. Brandon Roy will have a chance to shine on the big stage. I think he is more than ready and has a ton of back up. As much as it would delight me to see the Rockets advance without T-Mac. I just think the Blazers are young and talented and far to deep to be stopped by the Rockets. They may not be able to win a road game in the series. If they do watch out whoever they play in next round. I think you know where this is going. Rose Garden and game 7.

Dino Blogger says Blazers in 7

The East

Cavs (1) vs Pistons (8)

This in the past would be a Conference Finals match up. But not this year as the Pistons made a huge mistake in the short term trading for A.I. Proud to say I saw this one coming. A.I with a rookie head coach is was doomed. The Pistons did just enough to remain in the playoffs and that is about all. There is no MSU run in the Pistons. This will get the Cavs attention right out of the gate. In the past Cavs have had some fortunate first round pairings. Some would say this one as well. However the Cavs will not take the Pistons lightly. The Cavs and more importantly Lebron James is on a mission. The news that K.G may be gone only adds feul to the fire for the Cavs. The team around Lebron has stepped up and followed his lead. I just see no reason to think the Cavs do not run through the Pistons like a hot knife through butter. I heard Rasheed Wallace talking tough but I am not buying it. Wallace can think about his future as a free agent as he walks around with his title belt from years gone by. What will Lebron get if he wins a title? PAID!!! James is going to be the M.V.P and I am not just talking of the season. He is going to be the MVP of the playoffs too. Pistons Joe Dumars can start spending that cash from A.I's contract. I hope it was worth it Joe.

Dino Blogger says Cavs in 4

Boston (2) vs Chicago (7)

The Bulls could have avoided this fate. Did they know something or was it dumb luck? Not to take away from the Raptors big win to close the year but the Bulls looked disinterested in winning that game last night. That being said is a Big 2 with a Rondo on the side enough to take care of the Bulls? I think so. Rondo is going to be a huge factor in this series most of all. Derrick Rose against Rondo is a great match-up. D. Rose may get the ROY but Rondo will get the better of him in this series. Glen Davis will need to play as big as his BIG BABY nickname for the Celtics. I think the Celtics chances has gone down the tubes in the long term. However in the short term vs the Bulls they can get it done. Pierce and Allen should be good enough with the help of a big effort from Rondo to get the C's out of round 1. Doc Rivers is a great coach as well. He has great players but Doc has always been able to get the most out of any team he coached. Vinny Del Negro is out of his league much like his Bulls. Sorry to Chuck Swirsky but your new team will go the same way as your old team.

Dino Bloggers says the Celtics in 5

(3) Orlando vs (6) Philadelphia

O.K this is becoming a trend in the NBA. Raptor fans you all wanted the Magic last year. How did that work out for us? Now a year later the Sixers are the team thinking that they lucked out avoiding the Celtics. But did they really? I am telling you the Magic are very good. In fact I would go as far as to say the Magic are the one team that might spoil the dream Kobe and Lebron NBA Final. In fact that is what I said at the start of the year. Magic and Lakers in the finals. The fact the Magic lost Jameer Nelson was blow to them. However Ex-Raptor Rafer Alston has been a good emergency fill in. The Sixers have limped along to the playoffs. They started the season poorly and lost Elton Brand and got better. However they lost Thaddeus Young and fell apart. He could be back for this series. But I am not thinking that is enough for the Sixers. Howard against Sam Dalembert is a blowout for the Magic. Even if they figure out how to stop Howard. Which I am not convinced they can do. They still need to figure out how to stop the 3 balls from raining all over them. The fact the Sixers are a less than impressive 3 point shooting squad is not good. Magic are tired of no one respecting them and the Sixers will pay for it.

Dino Blogger says Magic in 4

(4) Atlanta vs (5) Miami

Ok this is a fun one. Wade is having a season for the Heat. Atlanta has built on what many(Including me) thought was a fluke taking the Celtics last season to 7. The Heat were busy getting some lotto help that would turn into Michael Beasley. He has had a good season along with Mario Chalmers. J.O and J Moon came in to replace the Matrix and that other guy. Carlton Banks? Oh no Marcus. Anyway...Hawks have weapons as well. Joe Johnson, Bibby, Josh Smith and others. However if there is a series where one guy can will a team to win this is it. That man is D-Wade. He will not be getting an MVP Trophy but that will only fuel the fire and he takes the Heat past a Hawks team that has been stuck in the middle between the elite and the lesser lights. It was not that long ago the Hawks were those lesser lights. In fact I am not convinced they are that much better other than the fact they have a new confidence. They did step it up last year but I think Wade and his young Heat will step it up. Going to be a fun and interesting ride though. The sad thing is will Atlanta have a big crowd for it? They deserve it. But...

Dino Blogger says Heat in 6

So that is round 1 we will see how I do. If you have your own playoff picks or thoughts feel free to drop a comment and get it on the record.

It Ends as it Started

So The Raptors season ended as it began with 3 victories. So that means of the rest of the games the Raptors won a grand total of 27 out of 76. That is not good. There is no math that can make this season look good. But speaking of numbers Chris Bosh thanks to a monster night finished the season as one of only 3 players to average a double double this season of 20 and 10. Dwight Howard and Chris Paul are the other 2 players. So remind me again why everyone is trying to run this guy out of town? He may want to leave on his own and if that is the case there is nothing you can do about that. However if Chris wants to stay, I want to have him. There maybe be cap issues to deal with and figure out but so be it. Bosh is a very good player and I can not imagine nor want to imagine where this team would have been without him this season. It would have been far worse. I know that is hard to imagine but trust me it is true.

I have come to the conclusion that if the Raptors want to keep the core of this team together in Bosh, Bargnani and Calderon they will have to go into the Tax Threshold. In the NBA the Cap numbers are likely to go down. If you did not hear already there are reports out there that suggest 17 of the NBA clubs lost money this year. If the people at MLSE are smart and truly want to win they need to take advantage of the fact that they are not one of those 17. Despite a horrible season and a terrible T.V mess that keep the Raps off the air in the local market for a lot of folks. Still the Raptors worth 10th in paid attendance. When you look around during the Playoffs I am guessing you will not see every building sold out. If the Raptors were in the ACC is full to capacity without question.

So it would cost MLSE a lot of money to go into the tax. I know this. But have you ever heard the expression spend money to make money? This is the case for MLSE. Spend the Tax and take the hit and you will be rewarded with playoff revenue. But not just that. You will sell more t-shirts, hats and all that other good stuff they sell. It has always been said for this team to truly become Canada's team it will take an extended playoff run. Well I have another way that I have suggested long time ago and it is being talked about more and more. Go get Steve Nash. Yes he is older and people may doubt him. However so did Mark Cuban and Bryan Colangelo believed in Steve. Colangelo was rewarded with 2 M.V.P seasons and extended playoff runs for the Suns. Can Nash be that good again? Perhaps not. However he is the face of basketball in this country and is the perfect tutor for a young Roko Ukic or another point guard of the future the Raptors could draft. There are some good ones out there. Ty Lawson, Jonny Flynn and Pat Mills are 3 names that come to mind. Jose Calderon may be loved in Toronto but in the rest of the country to the casual fan do a poll and ask them who they would watch more Nash or Calderon. If Nash did not win with a huge majority I would be stunned. Is it anymore risky to bring in Nash than it was to bring in Jermaine O'Neal? Not to mention the economic surge it would create in sales of merchandise across this country. That alone would cover the cost of any tax the Raptors would suffer. Not to mention you improve your chances of Bosh and others wanting to be in Toronto. Nash makes players better it is that simple. There are a lot of guys that make a nice salary in this league thanks to Steve Nash. One of them is Shawn Marion. Maybe even he hangs around to be reunited with Steve. However no matter how you cut it the Raptors need to go into the Tax if they truly are looking to win. If they do not it is a sign to me that they are not serious about winning.

Bryan Colangelo is so it will not be his fault. It will be the MLSE board. They have the money and down economy or not they are doing just fine. So go spend the cash and fix the Raptors. If they do not this is going to get much worse before it gets better. A Boshless Raptors will not be a better Raptors. Have we not learned that in the post Vince era. Some may hate him but the fact remains the Raptors have never been able to replace him and are not the same team without him. Bosh is not Vince though in terms of effort and wanting to win. So I am comfortable paying Bosh money and knowing I will get full value from it. Bosh is a special player and is he a guy who can lead you on his own to greatness all on his own? No he can't. However with a solid team around him he can be effective. The Raptors need to build that team. When it comes to that the Raptors have not exactly done a great job at that.

I am totally convinced of two facts. The Raptors need to keep Bosh to have any hope of short term success and they need to go into the Tax to bring in the help Bosh will need to remain and be a winner. Here is another thing that worries me in a post Bosh era- Andrea Bargnani. He finally has broken through and is showing signs that he can be a good to great player. However if Bosh leaves and all the cameras turn towards Andrea what will happen? I am not sure but I think it would not be a good thing for his development. Andrea is not ready to be a face of a franchise or the best player on a team. In a post Bosh era he likely would become both. I see that as a concern and could lead to his new found confidence going in the toilet. That is something that no one wants to see. Bosh has grown nicely into the role as the face of the franchise and handles himself with the media like a true pro. Even with the off court issues Bosh was the same polished young man he has become in front of a camera. In the case of Bargnani he is adjusting to a new way of life and is far less comfortable in front of the cameras. People say he has got a lot better this year. However with no Bosh the media coverage of Andrea goes to a brand new level. It all screams to me that it will not be a good situation. If there is anything this season has taught me it is to stick to my gut. I had a horrible feeling about the Jermaine O'Neal trade when it was first made. I allowed myself to be convinced it was a good thing. Turns out it was the horrible thing I thought to start with. So Never Again!!! If I am totally 100% wrong on something so be it. That being said I think that I am establishing a pretty good track record on things. I have gained some confidence in myself and what I believe. You may not always agree and that is cool. But I will stick to my guns. Basically my statement on this off season is this. No Bosh....No Way. I am not going to be fooled a second time. If Chris wants to leave that is fine. But if this is a Raptor choice for him to go it will be a huge mistake.

Later in the day I will post my Playoff Picks. If you have not heard K.G may be a no go for the entire playoffs. That is big news for Cavs and Magic. The road in the East just became a little bit more clear. But more on that later today.


Last Stop Chicago

I have a kind of strange feeling today. To be honest since about December or January I knew this day was coming. Still the fact that the Raptors season is coming to an end tonight is a bit of a shock. It is not like it was not something that was obvious. When you don't make the playoffs the season ends when the schedule ends. So there is 48 minutes left in a Raptors Season that may have been the most forgettable and disappointing of all time. It would almost be fitting if this game was on TSN 2. However it is on The Score. As shocking as the Raptors season has been the fact that the Bulls are heading to the playoffs is perhaps just as much a shock to me. Derrick Rose has been as good as advertised and the Bulls after a season last year much like the Raptors season this year have turned it around. The Bulls were the team with all the expectations a couple seasons ago. Rumours of a Kobe Bryant trade and a bunch of players under performing players would lead to a free fall of the Bulls that no one saw coming. They were thought to be a contender in the East and had a bright future. This sounding familiar to anyone?

The Bulls season of misfortune would be rewarded with a draft lottery win. It was not like the Bulls were a favourite in that by any means. People tend to question the integrity of the NBA Draft Lottery. The ping pong balls tend to dance the way the NBA would like them to go. Patrick Ewing to the Knicks, Lebron James to the Cavs and Rose a kid from Chicago goes home last season. It may be a legit thing but the way the balls bounce make you wonder. This year with Blake Griffin as the top prize it would make sense for Oklahoma City to win the lotto if you believe the fix is in. The Thunder would not have the best odds to win but there odds would be much higher than The Bulls last year. The Raptors in case you were wondering Raptors sit 9th in the lottery standings. The wins down the stretch may have made the players feel good about themselves but it did little good for the Raptors Lottery spot. The Raptors odds would be less than 3%.

I would not expect Bryan Colangelo to pull a Bryan Burke and go out of his way to trade up and get the first pick. That being said if the Wizards win the lotto there has been some talk they may trade the first pick if they got it. Blake Griffin may be all world in college but on the NBA level he is not going to be able to do a lot of things he did in college. He in the assumed to be number 1 pick. Colangelo could perhaps move up in the draft I am just not thinking it would be to the top position. I think all options are on the table for the Raptors. They also have the right to in a sense buy a pick up to a worth a 3 million dollars, I think that was the number. It was part of one of the deals Colangelo made this year. So he could choose to draft not just one player but a couple. This is a draft that most consider weak and has lots of question marks. That for some may be bad news. However consider it as an opportunity. I say this because there are so many questions that some players may fall and you could easily find a diamond in the rough. The Raptors first key to turning this thing around will be to get the draft right. No mistakes can be made. Depending on the future of Bosh may influence the draft as well. Not just on the position the team might draft but on the type of player they draft as well. If Bosh stays the Raptors likely will be looking for the most NBA ready. Colangelo can not afford to draft a player like Bargnani that will take time to develop you would figure. But lots of time to talk about that as we move a long but that is a taste of the draft.

Speaking of which it hard to imagine this could be the last time we will see Bosh in a Raptors Jersey tonight. What is clear is that for some it will definitely be the end for some. At the top of that list for me would be Joey Graham. Graham has had an up and down time in Toronto and the downs have out numbered the ups and I see it as unlikely that he returns. Joey did have a decent year and honestly gave himself a shot at getting a contract after this season. The way he was going he may have been on the outside of the league looking in. So in that sense I am happy for Joey. It is not like I hate the guy. He is a good person it is just as a basketball player he frustrates me and I just have seen enough to say so long. That would mark the last piece of the Vince Carter trade to be gone from the Raptor roster. Graham was selected with a pick from that awful Carter trade made by Rob Babcock. You can guarantee that if Colangelo moves Bosh the deal he makes will be much better than that. Also you have Parker, Marion and Pops Mensah-Bonsu among a list of others that could stay or go.

So despite all of it. I will watch tonight and be a bit sad in the knowledge that this will be the last Raptor game I can watch till late October. Well there is summer league and pre-season. However the next one that means something will happen sometime around Halloween. Tonight's game may not mean a whole lot but if you have enjoyed any of these players in their time with the Raptors you owe it to yourself to watch. I think beyond Andrea Bargnani there is no locks to be on this roster next season. That is how bad this season went. Calderon and Bosh are not certain to be back. Bosh based on his contract is the more likely of those two players to move. However even Claderon could be in play for the right deal I think.

The long off-season begins tomorrow. But remember the Dino Nation Blog is a 12 month venture and it keeps going talking Raps, NBA and basketball in general. So if you need you B-Ball fix the Dino Nation Blog has you covered all year around.


Summer League in Springtime In Washington

I watched last night's game and needless to say President Obama was not at this game. He was hosting kids at the White House for an Easter egg hunt. Last night looked a lot like a summer league game. Despite a great finish in which Jay Triano gave his supporter some fuel to support him. He did a solid coaching job and was able to draw up to great plays that lead to the scores that gave the Raps a win in Washington. Chris Bosh would hit the game winner on a 3 pointer where he was left wide open. Before the fantastic finish to this one there was a lot of lack luster basketball as the 2 teams seemed to take turns caring about wanting to play. The Raps and Wizards even when it means nothing still find ways to make dramatic finishes happen. Butler made his run off shot at ACC just days ago. Mo P with his 3 ball that Chuck Swirsky and I still can't believe went in. They just always seem to find a way to come up with some great finishes to games. Last night was another of those it was just the ride to get there was less than entertaining or important.

Speaking of Chuck Swirsky his Bulls are heading to the playoffs if you can believe that. Derrick Rose was the prize for the Bulls hitting the lotto. Even I am willing to admit it would be a crime if Rose was not the rookie of the year. For a longtime O.J Mayo was my pick for the award but when you can get your team to the playoffs as a rookie you have done something pretty special. That is who the Raptors will close out the season against on Wednesday. It all seems so strange. I think back to when Chuck announced he was leaving and if anyone had said to me the Bulls would make the playoffs this year and the Raptors would not, I think that it would have brought me to laughter. However that is the reality of things. It also is reason to be hopefully I guess. Even though things seem very bleak right now, it can turn around fast in basketball. Part of why that is can be traced to the fact it is the team sport with the smallest roster size. It also is the sport that can have the best chance of 1 or 2 guys making a huge difference.

The Playoffs should be exciting despite the fact the Raptors will not be in the mix. The road to a Kobe vs Lebron final. Can anyone stop that from happening? It seems hard to imagine at this point. We will also find out the Raptors draft number as well. Still as I am writing this the realization that the Raptors will not play a basketball game that means anything again till late October is on the front of my mind. Who will be playing on that team will be determined over the summer months. The coach seems like it is going to be Jay Triano and I am happy for Jay and maybe he can get it done. I have a little bit more confidence based on last night. Maybe it didn't mean much but he did make 2 great play calls to give the Raps a win. I still would feel more comfortable with a outside and someone that has more head coaching experience. However it seems clear Bryan Colangelo has a confidence in Jay Triano and thinks he is the guy for the job. Chris Bosh seems to believe as well. That is a good thing if Bosh is back. The fact I am saying if Bosh is back kind of turns my stomach as well.

Last season I had to watch T.J Ford go. I really hope this summer will not be the same for Chris Bosh. It would be a clear sign to me that the short term outlook for this team is bleak. Will see how it all pans out. I just want to be excited about something or someone and other than a bit of love for Pops Mensah-Bonsu I really have not felt that way in a longtime. The one thing I do know is that this team needs a major make over and I would not be shocked if we saw Bryan Colangelo do all he can to turn over a big portion of this roster.


Raps Close The ACC For The Season

The Raptors are just to hard to figure out at this point. The lose to the Wizards a team that is worse than them. They will play them again tonight by the way. They play the Sixers on Easter Sunday and the Sixers still have something to play for as they could improve there playoff position. However the Raptors come out and blow the doors off the Sixers down the stretch. It makes little sense. Quincy Douby was on fire. I mentioned he might actually have a shot of sticking with this team. He did nothing but improve his chances of that yesterday. Be in here or somewhere else it seems the NBA with have a Douby next year. Charles Oakley will tell you that 75% of the league has had several for years. So the Raptors close out there home sked with an under .500 record on the ACC floor of 18-23. Maybe the first thing they need to do is stop changing the floor ever season. The never change the floor for the Celtics every year. The only thing they do is paint those logos for the Playoffs, Eastern Conference Finals and Finals. When the Raptors won the lone division title they had in their history they won 30 games on the ACC floor I believe. This team did not play well on their home floor. The fans let them know about it as well at times. Let's make a deal with the Raptors. We will not boo at games if you agree to win more games at home. Sound good. Oh yeah and you need to fix that T.V mess as well. Raps are actually on the main TSN network so EVERYONE can see the classic tilt with the Wizards and Raps.

The Raptors are a half game ahead of the New York Knicks in the draft lottery standings. If they lose out they might be able to pass the Knicks. That being said can anyone figure out what they will do? I mean these games have resembled summer league games that is in part why I have not been doing recaps. I may do the last game of the season with the Bulls if I am not working. But there really is no point to it. The Raptors story for this season has been written a long time ago. An off-season with lots of questions is about to get going. Perhaps the most important one will be what will be the NBA Cap number? There is a general expectation that the number will go down. There was a lot of debate this season on if the folks at MLSE would allow Bryan Colangelo would be allowed to go over the Tax threshold number. They said that it was an option if Bryan wanted to do it. However that was never tested. Heading into this season with a lower cap it may be put to the test. Colangelo no doubt wants to make a lot of changes. So will he be given the green light to go over the tax? I think that if Chris Bosh comes back the answer to that will be yes. After all if Bosh is back Colangelo will be sending a signal that he plans on keeping him and resigning him. To do that this Raptor team needs to improve a lot and fast. We also have the Lottery and this may seem odd for folks but I am cheering for the Raptors to be the runner-up in the Blake Griffin lotto. I think the Raps would be wise and happy to select Haseem Thabeet. No he is not a shooting guard or small forward. At 7 foot 3 there is nothing small about Haseem Thabeet. He is a great defender and is exactly what the Raptors could use. If Colangelo is going to spend cash he can bring in a shooting guard of small forward via a signing or trade. Thabeet will be the best player in this draft class. I may sound crazy now but you will see. I also said that Durant would be the better of him and Oden. So far so good on that one.

I am excited that I will be talking with Jack Armstrong late this week. Likely have that together for you next weekend. I am always interested in what Jack has to say on the Raps. I think he is the most honest and direct about this team and his opinions on it. He does not candy coat what he thinks about things. If the Raps are bad he will tell you that. It is why I love talking with Jack. He has become a pretty busy guy with doing his own Radio show on Monday through Friday as well as all his Raptor responsibilities. He even covers college games in the states as well. Thanks to my job with the Score, I am required to have an extended sports package. So I got to see Jack do a game between Louisville and Cincy earlier this year. So I am sure Jack will have some thoughts on the draft as well.

That is about it for an Easter Monday. If you celebrated Easter this past weekend I hope the Easter Bunny was good to you. Also just a reminder that the Dino Nation Blog goes the whole year around. Just because Wednesday is the end of the season for the Raptors does not mean I go on holidays. I will keep at it and still look to bring in guests to talk Raptors and NBA. So keep that in mind over the spring and summer months. In fact some of the best stuff I have done in the blog has happened in the summer as people have more time and sometime you can pull of some good stuff. Last season we did a great feature on Roy Hibbert as well as Nathan Jawai. So always know someone is here working hard. That someone is me.

So that is a Rap as far as games at the ACC see you in late October or early November. If you are looking for tickets next year remember Raptorman.ca. I got to meet Steve(Raptorman) this year and he is a great guy and a true fan of the Raptors. He will look after you I have no doubt. So remember him next season when you are searching for your Raps Tickets.


The Butler Did It, Thank You Caron

I admit I did not get a chance to see the game last night. I saw the part that mattered which was the end. I can not thank Caron Butler enough. Seriously I may take cheap shots at Gilbert Arenas whenever I get a chance. Think it is because I am bitter that he is the world's highest paid blogger at 111 million. He plays the odd NBA game as well I am told. But regardless of that Caron Butler deserved to be cheered off the court as he ran off the court with his finger in the air. It was not even the middle one. I guess he was referring to keeping hope alive for the Wiz to get that number one pick. However his undressing of Shawn Marion actually helped the Raptors from screwing their chances any further. The Raps have went into a tail spin since the 6 game win streak out of no where. But the Raptors OUR who we THOUGHT THEY WERE and there is NO LETTING THEM OFF THE HOOK. Change has to happen and this is a way to enforce that. This team is flawed and needs to fix a number of issues. I still have faith that Bryan Colangelo is the man to do that as well. He will turn this around and has a history of being able to. This man was able to restore this team from the mess Rob Babcock left it in. If he can do that, he can do this as well.

The question will be if he wants Chris Bosh a part of that mix to fix it. He should but the question of how much is the largest one for Colangelo. I think if Bosh wants out the answers are far easier. However I have yet to see a clear sign that he does. In fact from what he has said and done he gives very little indication that he wants to go. He wants this team to be better and who doesn't after this season. It will be interesting indeed.

I guess my biggest fear is if Bosh goes I see an Andrea Bargnani reverting back to the Andrea that lacked confidence and was so inconsistent. I am not so sure how mentally tough Bargnani is. Could he handle being the best player on the Raptors? To be the guy that everyone looks at? I don't think he can now and I am not sure if he ever could. That is not a knock on Andrea. After all he was not drafted to be a Batman we already had one. Jose Calderon for all his energy and team play is not exactly a leader as well. You may get all upset about that but it is how I see it. On Spain the leader of that team is Pau Gasol not Jose. Here Bosh is the guy and not Jose. Calderon may be a lot of things but leader is not one of them. Do you think Obama goes around and hands out Gatorade in the breaks in meetings in the Oval Office? I am thinking that does not happen. It is also hard to be a leader when you are one of the worst defenders on a team. Improving he may be but at his best Jose Calderon is an average defender.

You know who was a leader despite not being the main guy. Alvin Williams was that guy. He was the guy that hit the biggest shot in the history of this franchise. Vince Carter he was short on a jumper in Philly. Williams made the dagger shot that clinched the only playoff series win in franchise history. Williams was as tough as you get and that maybe why his career did not go as long as it could have. He played through pain and never used it as an excuse. Did you hear that Jose Calderon supporters? No Excuses just went out and balled with all he had. No one asked if Alvin was healthy or at a 100%. He never was and it never mattered. The fact the ACC crowd gave him cheers was great to see. I think it is clear how much Toronto misses Boogie Williams. If I could put the talent of a Jose Calderon in a guy with the heart and grit of an Alvin Williams I would have a point guard that I could get behind. Look even in the NCAA at what Ty Lawson did and how he played through injury. Calderon gets a really soft ride from people in part because he is a great guy. I understand that and as a person Jose is first rate. Sam Mitchell had said he would want his daughter to date a guy like Jose someday. You don't get any higher amount of praise as a person. However this is not about who is the most beautiful person in the world. This is not People Magazine. This is basketball and it is about wins and loses. If people are great beyond the lines of that basketball court great. However I do not care as much about that if they are not. Go out and win keep your nose clean and I got no problem with you.

I like guys with an edge. They are not bad people as much as you may want them to be. Terrell Owen is all about him, but he is also about winning with him scoring the touchdown to win the game. Is he a bad dude when you get down to it? How bout Ron Artest. He is another guy that is deep down a guy that can have some fire. If you go into a crowd of people on a visiting court and try to fight a guy that maybe nuts. O.K it is nuts. However Artest is a talented guy that takes pride in defense. You need that before all else. Any great defender wants to have the challenge to stop a guy. Last night you saw that kind of pride between Kobe Bryant and Brandon Roy doing battle. Raptors need guys willing to give all they have to stop the best. To embrace that role and that challenge. Anthony Parker was said to be the team's best defender the past few years. Do you ever recall A.P being disgusted with himself for getting burned? He always would have some comment like you do what you can to stop (Insert Star Player Name) and try to contain him. Screw that. I want a guy that is going to accept the challenge and try to shut someone down. Is it realistic he will do it. No but if you go in with the attitude of trying to shut some one down even if you lose a few times along the way it will likely be a better result.

The era of the soft nice guy Raptors needs to end. It is never going to get them anywhere. I remember J.O when he was here talking about the Raptors having in the past been a bunch of nice guys and they would help up the other team. Screw that as well. I want warriors for 48 minutes guys that are going to shake hands at a start of a game but kick your butt all the way through it or die trying. That is the Raptor team I want to see. This group of Raptors is rapidly not showing any of the qualities that I respect and enjoy. I think a lot of people share that desire and you only need to look back in the past to see it. JYD, Alvin Williams,Matt Bonner and today Pops Mensah Bonsu. None of them are going in a hall of fame. They are not going to All Star Games. They are likely not even going to get to star in their own You Tube Video. However they are guys that busted there tail and gave what they had to try to win. I said the other day about Hustle, Loyalty and Respect. If I didn't think WWE had it copyrighted I would say that should be the theme for this next season. That is what we want and need from our Toronto Raptors!!!