The word is that the Raptors are adding P.J and this will not mean another assistant is being shown the door. The speculation is that Carlesimo would help with the X and O's for the Raptors. This would allow Jay Triano to focus more on his players. This was something Triano admitted he did not do well last season. It also puts another former head coach on the Raptors bench. Joining Mark Ivaroni who coached the Grizzlies.
It is being reported that Raptors and Carlesmio have agreed to terms and this should be announced shortly. While the Raptors roster is very much in flux with recent Hedo Turkoglu comments and Bosh's impending free agency and likely departure. Jay Triano has only one year plus a team option on his contract. It is just guess work to know what Triano will have to work with next season in terms of a roster. However if he failed to meet expectations at the very least Carlesmio would be a viable replacement even if only on an interim basis. The pressure on Triano likely gets a little more as a result. But looking at it from a positive point of view this is clearly an upgrade to the staff as a whole.
Carlesmio may also prove to be helpful to the younger players on this roster with his long run in the NCAA. Carlesmio made Seton Hall a viable team in the ultra competitive Big East for many years. He could be an asset in helping develop young players like DeRozan, Weems and whatever could come the Raptors way via the draft or trades.
Carlesmio has always been well respected throughout the league and has left the Sprewell incident behind him. He is a good person and well respected and liked from anything I have every come across in reading or listening about him over the years. Let's just hope he is more successful than the Raptors last P.J was. P.J Tucker out of Texas was a Raptor 2nd round draft choice did not exactly work well. The "Baby Mule" last whereabouts was playing somewhere in Europe.
P.J Tucker was one and done. Let's hope P.J Carlesmio has a longer and brighter future with the Raptors.
Willie Warren 6ft 4 (G) from Oklahoma
Avery Bradley 6 ft 2 (G) from Texas
Gordon Hayward 6 ft 8(F) from Butler
Stanley Robinson 6ft 9 (F) from Connecticut
It will be interesting if we hear any comment from the Raptors on the Hedo Turkoglu matter. Even thought the main purpose will be the incoming players and the draft. We also could get some indication of what the Raptors plans might be based on who comes to town in terms of the draft. Hayward and Robinson are slotted slightly below where the Raptors would select according to Draft Express. While the other 2 are late first round selections according to their mock draft.
Dino Nation Blog will keep you posted with who is expect to be coming in for workouts and keep you in the loop.
Hedo's frustration seems to be based on the incident in which he skipped a game but did not skip going out that same night. He blames the organization for this issue getting played out in the public. Is he really that stupid? In the modern world that we live in does he honestly think this info never gets out? This is the same guy that prior to being hated by the majority of fans had a run in with women that snapped his photo with a camera phone. The Raptors handled the situation as they should. Long before this incident Hedo had performed far below expectations. He slags an organization that allowed him to sit on his butt for most of training camp. This because he wore himself out playing for Turkey in the summer. Which he will do once more this summer at the World Championships. Think that would have happened under Stan Van Gundy in Orlando? In Turkoglu version of reality it is the Raptors management that turned the fans against him. Really? He honestly believes that?
Come on now Hedo, let's get real. His lack of performance is why fans were upset with him long before the night of partying when he is suppose to be injured. He says he was embarrassed by being booed by the home fans. Play like you did for the Raptors for Turkey and see what happens. When you sign a contract that entitles you to more money than most people can dream of making in a lifetime, there is a price for that fans actually expect you to earn that money. Imagine that. Hedo has proved himself to be a jerk. He made an apology to the fan base at the end of the season. At the time I said in this blog it was one of the most insincere apologies that I can recall. Well just over a month later it appears it didn't just look like it.
This only adds to the list of problems for the Toronto Raptors. It was already bad enough with Chris Bosh about to bid adieu to the franchise. Now you have this moron putting a gun to the Raptors head and giving them an ultimatum. Would he turn his back on his country if they bomb out of World Championships? No he wouldn't. However in 1 year he is ready to bail on a team that gave him 53 million dollars. Ungrateful S.O.B does not begin to describe what I think of that.
While many cheered the addition of Turkoglu last off-season. I was not part of that parade. I felt the contract was both for to much money and more importantly to long a term. That long term of this deal is coming back to bite the Raptors in a way I did not expect. I did think at least for the first couple years Hedo would be productive. That has not happened and I don't think anyone could have seen this coming after just 1 year under contract. Now that term and money make the contract almost unmovable.
Vince Carter is not exactly loved in Orlando at the moment. While people in Orlando love Hedo. How would Raptor fans feel about a Carter for Hedo trade? Yes I said it. Look as much as most hate Vince Carter. Is it not better to deal with the devil you know? Clearly no one expect Hedo to turn into a jerk when he came to Canada. But sadly this deal likely never happens. Otis Smith did not exactly have many kind things to say about Hedo once he left Orlando. It would appear Otis Smith knew a heck of a lot of this dark side to Hedo. I have never seen a G.M much more happy than Otis was once Hedo was gone. That is not to say he is thrilled with his choice to replace him. We could have told Otis all about V.C just as he could have warned us about Hedo.
There are rumours about Stan Van Gundy's future with Orlando. Which started from Micheal Wilbon leaking info that if Magic lost to Celtics he could be in trouble. It lead to a war of words with the PTI host and Stan Van Gundy. However if the Magic were stupid enough to fire SVG, I would hope the Raptors were one of the first teams on the phone to hire him. Bryan Colangelo has said the Raptors will not go there. Honestly change that plan. Maybe if you hire Stan Van Gundy he could fix this Hedo mess. Turkoglu played well under him in the past. He clearly knows how to use him. The simple reality is the Raptors would be hard pressed to trade Hedo and can simply not afford to buy him out and take a cap hit for 4 years. Regardless of the Hedo mess, Van Gundy is the style of coach the Raptors need. In the playoffs you have those wired segments. When SVG is on them it is classic stuff. I can not imagine Jay Triano doing any of that. Jay just does not seem like a guy that can convince anyone to run through a wall. Stan Van Gundy not only does that he expects you to do it.
In the end Hedo can blame whoever he wants to for his issues in Toronto. The answer to his problems is in his mirror every morning. Forgive us all if we are not going to shed a tear for a guy making far more money than he is worth. If he ends up screwing over the Raptors. I have great news for Vince Carter. You may just have moved to public enemy number 2 in Toronto. Who knows depending on how the Bosh thing goes maybe number 3. The bad news is the entire league sees you for what you are as a guy that never has lived up to your potential. Also you may be public enemy #1 in Orlando. If you want to see what Vince Carter should be. Just go back and watch Kobe Bryant close out the Suns last night. Vince could have been that good.
What was already going to be a long and difficult summer for Bryan Colangelo has become even tougher for him. It is going to be interesting how he finds a way out of this mess of his own creation. Safe bet a Hedo picture on his dart board would not surprise anyone.
All this being said what can this meeting accomplish? I am not really sure to be honest with you. Do any of these guys want to play with each other so badly that they would cost themselves money? The argument against that thinking would be, if you could build a dynasty out of this everyone would make the money they leave on the table back. There are no guarantees of that even if 2 or 3 of these guys would agree to hook up that a dynasty automatically follows. The only guy in this group with a ring is Dwyane Wade. While James, Bosh and Joe Johnson all have failed to find a supporting cast that has been able to get the job done. Wade, Bosh and James came together under the banner of USA Basketball and were able to win a gold medal. They had a ton of talent along for the ride. Including Kobe Bryant who has no time for meetings about the future as he is still playing in the post season.
The pressure on this group of 2 or 3 guys regardless of the landing spot would be intense. If that landing spot is N.Y.C increase that by 10 fold. While the idea of a dynasty sounds good, if it doesn't happen that could do a lot of damage to all involved. There are lots of agendas at play in this high stakes game. Not just the players but the league and television on the national level would all benefit out of this in a way. David Stern went on the record saying he would prefer that James remained in Cleveland thought. This is seeing the bigger picture in this. While one super franchise could be created based on where these guys call home. It could also destroy others and greatly impact on the competitive balance of the league as a whole.
What is great about the legends of the NBA is they for the most part remain a part of the game and care about it's legacy. Is all of this 2010 madness good for the game as a whole? When the playoffs have had to fight for headlines with 2010 Free Agency, something is wrong with that. I admit that I have never been a fan of the rumour mill. However at the end of it all, should we not all agree that the team and players that win a championship should have center stage over 4 guys that have failed to win one. That only makes sense doesn't it?
While there are some similarities as both would represent the Raptors in the dunk contest. Vince won it and Demar made it to the finals and had the best dunk of the night in his contest. Vince had the best 3 or 4 in his when he won the contest. But the reality is that Vince and Demar are not a like in many ways. First and foremost in their personality. Vince Carter has an ego that is as big as the Air Canada Centre, that he called his house even after he left. Carter has always been a story of unfulfilled potential. You only need to read the press clippings from the Magic vs Celtics series to see that not a lot has changed about V.C. While Demar has a work ethic that is so impressive it even got praise from Kobe Bryant. In fact if you are a dedicated follower of Demar on Twitter, you already know he is hard at work getting ready for next season. He is what people lovingly refer to as a gym rat. Something that is said of Canada's favourite baller Steve Nash.
My expectations for DeRozan next season are likely higher than a lot of people. I expect a huge jump in production from him and a much sounder defender. I thought it would be interesting to see where Demar stacks up historically to some comparable players. The high end examples of that would be Kobe Bryant and Tracy McGrady. Both who skipped college and went straight to the pros. Demar because of the new rules for the draft spent a year at USC, but is roughly in the same age bracket. So here is how they stacked up.
DeRozan played more minutes than both Bryant and McGrady with DeRozan logging 1,664 minutes and Kobe and McGrady played 1,103 and 1,179 respectfully.DeRozan also started more games than McGrady and Bryant combined. He also had a better FG% shooting 49.8% while Kobe was just 41.7% and T-Mac was an even 45% .Kobe leads this trio at the free throw line shooting 81.9% while DeRozan was 76.3% and McGrady 71.2%. But DeRozan averaged more points with 8.6 points. While Bryant averaged 7.6 points and McGrady was 7.0 even.
Pretty surprising isn't it? This is not to suggest that Demar is going to be as good as these 2 in his career. However it puts into perspective what Demar accomplished in his first season. Judging by the numbers on Bryant and McGrady my hopes may be ahead of schedule for Demar. Bryant and McGrady made the big jumps in their careers in years 3 and 4.
Some folks closer to Demar in experience would be O.J Mayo also out of USC and Courtney Lee of Nets. They just finished there 2nd seasons in the NBA. Mayo saw his scoring totals dip. While Lee added to his ppg playing for a much less talented Nets team.
An X-Factor in Demar DeRozan and his development could come to the Raptors in a Bosh sign and trade. If Chicago is the winner of the Chris Bosh sign and trade derby, it would make a ton of sense to see Taj Gibson coming back as part of a sign and trade. Is their room for a 4th young gun? That or would Gibson replace Amir Johnson as the 3rd young gun. The addition of Gibson would be interesting as he himself had a successful rookie campaign in Chicago.
I guess the point to doing this is to remind people that Rome was not built in a day. Andrea Bargnani still isn't and we are at year 5 coming up. DeRozan may not have made the splash that Vince Carter did. He may not have even made the splash the top of his rookie class has with Evans, Curry and Jennings. A NBA career is not a 100 meter dash it is a marathon. At least you hope it is. If you continue to improve and grow. Given the character and make-up of Demar DeRozan that is a safe bet. How good he can be is just speculation. But I always remember Demar saying to me in an interview that he wants to be not just good but great. Sure those are just words, but when you combine it with the work ethic this young man has shown. It might be wise not to bet against him. Should Chris Bosh be done with the Raptors an opportunity will be there to be the "next one" for this franchise. That is a challenge that DeRozan may just embrace.
Many people love the tradition that is the Celtics and Lakers. As a kid I grew up in the 80's and was not a Lakers or Celtics fan. I actually liked the Sixers and Doctor J. Maybe it was because I played for the Sixers in my local house league here in Hamilton. It could just be that Julius Erving was a fantastic player. But most in the era were fans of Bird or Magic. All 3 were legends and the Sixers were able to break through and win a title over the Lakers in that decade. It was always big news in the 80's when the Finals did not include both the Lakers and Celtics. I guess with all due respect to Kobe Bryant and the Big 3 in Boston, there is no way to match the rivalries of the past. Not just Bird and Magic in the 80's but Chamberlin and Russell in the 60's. Also in those era's you did not have Salary Cap which made it much easier to keep teams together over a long period of time. Even in just 2 years since the Lakers and Celtics last met in the Finals the rosters have changed a bit. The main guys may be still there but the supporting casts have changed quite a bit.
If you are not a Lakers fan and not rooting for Steve Nash what is wrong with you? The guy got a black eye, busted nose and he just keeps going. Nash regardless of if he ever makes it to a finals will go in the history books as the greatest basketball player that Canada has ever produced. No mask on Steve Nash, he has a grit that I would gladly put against player in any sport. Age or injury it just doesn't matter to Steve Nash. If they handed out NBA titles for desire alone Steve Nash would have more than 1 ring. It is a brand new series with the Lakers tied at 2. The Suns use of a zone defense has slowed the Lakers enough to allow the Suns to outscore them. Phil Jackson is correct in saying it isn't as much about the Suns zone, as it his about his own team and their lack of defense.
But in a playoffs that have not had a ton of drama to them, it would be nice to see both Orlando and Phoenix make them more interesting. They have at least set the stage for a slim chance that Lakers vs Celtics may not happen. Which for many would be disappointing. However the odds are still very long for both teams. Not as much for Suns as it is for Orlando, who are left with zero room for error. Should be fun to watch. I will being doing the game 5 that majority of folks myself included never thought would happen. Magic return home where they have yet to win in this series to take on the Celtics. Should be interesting coming off that OT win in game 4.
A Rumble in the Jungle - Suns are on board (2-1 series for Lakers)
You've heard it before in boxing, "a rumble in the jungle" but never before in basketball, right? How many times does Nash have to get smashed in the face before we start confusing the basketball court with a boxing match? In Sunday night's game, a fourth quarter foul on Nash broke his nose and you could see him on camera trying to reset it. He also has no plans for protective equipment or a tape job - just oh natural for Nash. And who said basketball players weren't tough?
Amar'e Stoudemire is certainly proving to be. He was playing aggressive and positioning himself to really connect on key plays. He had 42 points on the night to Kobe's 36 and outplayed the Lakers on THEIR two man game, 118-109. Nash and Stoudemire are really in sync and proved on Sunday they are not going to take this series lying down. I think the Lakers missed the little things and got out of their rhythm. They left Robin Lopez alone twice and twice using the same play, Lopez scored. And unless he comes right out and says it, I don't think he elbowed Derek Fisher in the head on purpose. I know some thought he should have got a technical foul but I don't think so. Good call. Really, this series has been all about who's on fire at any given moment. On Sunday, it was the Suns. Tonight, I hope it's the Lakers.
Keeping the Dream alive in Orlando (Boston leads series 3-1)
Rip the band aid off. Pull the plug. Put them out of their misery. Monday night's game was painful to watch. It dragged into overtime for the first time in these playoffs. This would have been cool if the series were tied or close to it. No team has ever come back from a 3-0 series and I seriously doubt the Orlando Magic will be the team to break that record. If we take a look at the scoring stats from Monday's game, they are pretty even: Pierce with 32 points, 11 rebounds; Allen with 22 points, 5 rebounds and Garnett with 14 and 12. Pretty comparable to Orlando's top scorers: Howard at 32 and 16, Nelson at 23 and 5, Lewis at 13 and 5. So with no star or one player really dominating consistently, what was the difference in this game? Again, we need to look at rhythm, here. I think Garnett broke their focus with the technical foul he received in the 3rd quarter and Boston didn't gain any real momentum. It's not like they were outplayed - this game could have easily ended in their favour. Take a look at the final scores so far in this series. None have broke 100 and have only been won a handful of points - except for game three when Boston won by 23. Compare this to the Western Conference Final and you'll see each score is over a hundred and each game was won by more than ten points. Which means we have top scorers in both conference finals, but maybe in the Eastern final, they are concentrating on defensive strategies more and their top scorers are a little more consistent and even. If Boston doesn't want another repeat of Monday night's game, they need to start the game firing on all cylinders on Wednesday.
"As the World Turns" in Cleveland
You've done it. I've done it. You flip on your television and catch yourself watching a soap or some other emotionally salacious drama where someone knows their partner is on the way out and thinks a high stakes gesture is the band aid to fix it. Puleeze. This is exactly what is happening in Cleveland. General Manager Danny Ferry and the rest of the Cavs' big brass know Lebron James may be leaving Cleveland and also knowing Lebron's relationship with Mike Brown isn't exactly a match made in heaven, they turf Brown. I know part of the reason they did it Monday was to avoid paying him next year's salary had they waited any longer to fire him. Not sure if I agree with how they did it - no real announcement to explain why they made their decision, so it begs me to wonder what they are hiding. How are they going to attract a high profile coach at this point when they are not sure if Lebron will be there? Or Danny Ferry for that matter since his contract expires in June and there are no guarantees he will be around either. And what about Cleveland's assistant coaches? What a complete mess going into the draft and free agency season. No coach, possibly no GM and the likelihood of Lebron on his way out. To Cleveland Cavs fans everywhere: my heart goes out to you during this difficult time.
No one on this list if it was or is real is a surprise. What is also not a surprise is none of these teams have a great package to offer the Raptors. Most favour the Lakers as the best option with a package that would include Andrew Bynum. But when you consider Bynum is looking at off-season knee surgery and has a long injury history, do you really want to go there? It is so hard to figure out what is real in all this mess. However it sure seems to me that the Raptors are not going to do a sign and trade just for the sake of doing one. While the Bosh camp claims they would consider not taking the 30 million dollars and just walking away, I don't believe them. It is a lot harder for Bosh to get back that 30 million dollars than it is for James or Wade.
In short, list or not, this really is just the first of many rumours and alleged stories. Both sides will use the media to float their agenda. So just because a team is not on this magic list doesn't rule them out of the mix. It was also believed that if James were to choose either New York or Chicago that may influence Bosh to come join him in those places. What Bosh story would not be complete with out a twitter angle. He of course had to tweet that the story about this list was not true. My advice to Chris is... you are paying Henry Thomas a lot of cash to do that leave it to him to deal with.
Thomas is also of course the agent for Wade as well and he says the he has not put together any type of meeting with both his clients for them to consider playing together. Although he said that does not mean it would not happen in the future and that the two could obviously talk on their own if they wanted to do so. Thomas at the end of the day will be a popular guy leading up to July 1st.
Brown Out Again
In other news a rumour has now become reality in Cleveland. If Lebron James returns to the Cavs he will have a new head coach. Mike Brown who the day after the Cavs were knocked out by the Celtics had been reportedly fired now is. Brown joins a long list of former Coach of The Year winners on the unemployment line. I would think Brown is not likely to get a job even though a lot of openings are out there. He clearly got out coached by Doc Rivers and he suffers from the fact he had the best player in the game to coach. Which greatly devalues anything he accomplished in Cleveland. What he failed to accomplish was a championship and that is why he has been shown the door. Lebron also failed to get that done and he will still be the top free agent in the world. Life isn't fair I suppose for coaches. Even Phil Jackson is rumored to have to take a pay cut next year should he return to the Lakers? Phil Jackson deserves every dime he makes. In terms of Brown his next head coaching job is likely not is his near future.
Toronto Needs James
The Toronto Raptors need to get James. You thought I meant Lebron? Come on now... that is not happening. No the James the Raptors should consider, played for the Texas Longhorns and would be available for the Raptors at the 13th pick. This is assuming that the Raptors will keep this pick. Damion James could be an answer for the Raptors on the wing to add to the young core of Weems and DeRozan. He was the leader on his Texas squad that stormed out of the gate in the NCAA this year to be ranked #1. The Longhorns would struggle and eventually free fall out of the rankings. However James was always a guy that gave good effort on both sides of the ball. He is an athlete and can score the basketball. In looking at the various mock drafts James would be a bit of a reach for the Raptors. However I like him a lot more than some of the other options they have for the Raptors at that spot. The reality is that anyone you are taking at 13 is a bit of a gamble. I think with James it is far less of one and you know what you get in him. Here is his bio and judge for yourself.
Hope you are having a great holiday weekend and be safe out there. I will be liveblogging Game 4 of Magic and Celtics tonight for The Score. Magic need to watch how the Suns played last night. That is how you play when you need a win. Magic failed to answer the bell in game 3 of their series and now face the NBA's version of mission impossible. No team has every come back from 3-0 down in NBA playoff history. I do not expect the Magic to be the first.
Clearly Joey G is going to get a award for that performance.
But he also is serious about trying to be a player for Lebron James. There have been comparisons to Mark Cuban but at least to start they don't seem valid. Prokhorov has been very tight lipped about his plans to attract the Cavs superstar. Careful not to violate NBA rules in terms of tampering. Cuban has had more NBA fines than the Celtics have titles. Prokohorov's plans seem to be clear in terms of the Nets. He wants to build them as not just a North American sports franchise, but a global sports franchise. You don't get to be a billionaire by being the same as everyone else. He has already let his G.M go and has a open spot at both coach and G.M to fill. James has been rumoured to be tied to Kentucky Coach John Calipari. Now Calipari recently claims in an ESPN article he will be back at Kentucky. You tend to take that with a grain of salt given his history. Calipari is actually a former Nets coach and did not exactly have success in his first go around in the NBA.
Regardless of if James were to seriously consider the Nets who still have Jay-Z as a minority owner is not the point. The point is from this point moving forward the Nets are going to be a major player in Free Agency and have money to burn. For teams with corporate ownership like the Knicks and Raptors this could be their worst nightmare. It will force them to spend to compete and it is clear that the bottom line for the Nets is that old business model of you have to spend money to make money. Also if successful, a move to Brooklyn may be much like if a second NHL team set up shop in Toronto area. The Knicks like the Leafs have a long history and a passionate fan base that includes celebrities like Spike Lee. What happens if the Nets come to Brooklyn and become a success? What would be the impact on the Knicks? Like the Leafs (1967) the last title for New York was a long time ago back in the 70's. Could it impact on the foothold they have on the city? Well when you look at the Rangers who took 54 years between winning Stanley Cups (1940 to 1994) it didn't hurt them. The Islanders and the Devils moved into the New York area and both had success but it did not impact on the Rangers. The Knicks who have been a franchise in the NBA from day 1 when the played the Toronto Huskies may not need to worry. Especially if they are the one that lands Lebron James. But many feel the Knicks are a long shot in the race, not as much as the Nets would be.
While in Philadelphia the Sixers had lottery luck and moved up to the second spot. That means Evan Turner will be a Sixer that is good news. But not so fast. There seems to be some suggestion that Sixers are strongly considering drafting DeMarcus Cousins behind his teammate John Wall. I love Cousins and honestly think he might deserve to be the second pick. However the majority, if not all of the draft experts disagree. Many of those being in Chicago as the combine kicked off there yesterday. Still if the Sixers were to do this, that would shake up the draft and leave Turner for the division rival Nets to select. Or perhaps move the pick and create a market for the 3rd pick. I find it hard to believe the Sixers go through with drafting Cousins, at least at number 2. This all could be just the Sixers blowing smoke to see what happens.
What is fact and not fiction in terms of the Sixers is that Doug Collins will be the coach of the Sixers. I find this move odd as well. Now Collins was a player for the Sixers and may have some love for the franchise based on that. However if it was true, that he had been offered the Chicago job not this time, but the last time the Bulls were coach shopping and turned it down. Why would you take the Sixers job now? Clearly the Bulls of a few years ago were in a better spot than the Sixers are now despite their lottery fortune. It seems pretty odd and the most painful thing of all is, does this mean more Reggie Miller on TNT? NOOOO!!!!!!
The Boston Celtics have yet to worry about all of these things and why should they as they are 6 wins away from getting another NBA Title. But after they have succeed or failed at that. The division they have owned pretty much since the big 3 came to Boston has become a much more competitive place. Clearly the Nets and Knicks are set up to improve moving forward. Much like in baseball and football the basketball version of the battle might become interesting between NYC and Boston. Even if the Knicks don't get the King they have a ton of dough to land some major players. While the Nets are starting a plan of global domination forget about the Atlantic Division.
When you turn this back to the Raptors this is cause to be afraid, when you are looking squarely in the face at saying so long to the best player you have. Not afraid? In the immortal words of Yoda..."You Will Be....You Will Be". The first impact of Mikhail Prokhorov will be felt in the Atlantic Division. He scares me more than Ivan Drago and I am not even kidding. He will break you or break his bank trying. Which is a pretty big bank to break. Lebron James wants to be a billionaire athlete. Mikhail Prokhorov doesn't have to want to be a billionaire he already is.
I did some research on the 13th pick yesterday. I had forgot about one famous number 13 pick. Who is it? Well it isn't Marcus Banks who was a 13th pick out of UNLV. No this was a pick made by the Charlotte Hornets and they would move the player for Vlade Divac from L.A Lakers. He just scored 40 points and has 4 rings, and yes it is Kobe Bryant. That is some serious value at number 13. That being said Kobe came straight out of high school and this was long before a Kwame Brown or a Lebron James would be picked number 1. But in general the only other name that stood out in researching the 13th pick was Richard Jefferson in terms of good players.
I mentioned Banks but there were a number of other former Raps selected in the 13 spot including Corrliss Williamson and Keon Clark. But the Raptors have never personally selected someone from the 13th spot in the draft. In the history of the Raptors they have averaged selecting 10th spot over their history. They have also been in the lottery 12 out of 15 years. The lottery has been around since 1985. The team that has been there the most is the L.A Clippers with 22 trips to the Lottery. The team with the least appearances is in the same city with the L.A Lakers who have been there just twice. The latest appearance they drafted Andrew Bynum.
While the draft experts all seem to agree that John Wall will be selected number 1 and Evan Turner will be selected number 2 after that not a lot of agreement exists. Some names the Raptors can likely forget about though would include DeMarcus Cousins and Greg Monroe who both would have been nice options especially if CB4 indeed goes bye bye. The draft gurus suggest this is a deep talent pool in this draft class. Deep does not mean great thought. I am not sold on anyone in this draft personally to be a superstar. Even John Wall. Many might disagree with that but that is cool. Evan Turner also does not blow me away like many. Not every draft year is guaranteed to have superstars. But only time will tell in the end. That being said we now know where the Raptors will pick and will start to examine what might be available for them at 13.
If you are superstitious and worried about selecting 13, aside from the Kobe pick, here are a couple good things about 13. Steve Nash wears 13 and he is Canada's greatest baller. Also for people who are Italian like Andrea Bargnani and Marco Bellinelli the number 13 is lucky. The Raptors could sure use some luck these days. Demar DeRozan was representing the Raptors at the lottery and he looked good but saw little camera time given the results.
The Los Angeles Lakers and the setting Suns
I have been living accross the street from my neighbour Clayton for a few years now and I don't know why it took me this long but in one of our classic and heated 'driveway debates' over the weekend, he professed his undying loyalty to the Phoenix Suns. He even made the Canadian argument. Ok. Before we go any further, we all know my allegiance to the purple and gold. I appreciate Steve Nash's skills and I know he has a spot in the Hall one day. My will to cheer for the Lakers over the Suns does not stem from me anti-Canadian. Far from it. The Lakers have a rich history with Jamal "the silk" Wilkes, Kareem Abdul Jabar, Magic Johnson and now Pau Gasol and Kobe, to name a few of my favourites. Looking at the stats and looking at the history, the Los Angeles Lakers do it for me. Sure, everyone told me going into the playoffs Kobe and the gang were going to get sidelined since this was Lebron James' year to win the final dance. Instead, Lebron is at home wishing he had better prom dates around him and Kobe is laughing. Especially after last night.
So the Lakers take game one of the Western conference final, by 21 points (128-107). Finally, no more games won by a mere bucket. They needed to win like they did last night since there were so many questions about the Lakers bench compared to the Suns' bench. And then there's always Kobe's knee. Watching last night's game was like watching game tape in coaching school about how to run systems. The Lakers seem to have an answer for everything. They ran the triangle both offensively and defensively but it was on the defensive end that was key for them. This shut down Steve Nash and held him to only 13 points and 13 assists on the night.
Also, Lakers Coach Phil Jackson always preaches the third quarter push and Kobe listened with 21 of the 40 points he got last night coming in the third quarter alone. No question marks left about his knee after a performance like that. There were questions swirling around his abilities going into game one since Kobe didn't practice much with the team during the 7 day break they had since sweeping the San Antonio Spurs. But he did concentrate on shooting according to Phil Jackson and it certainly paid off huge against the Suns in game one. I am wondering though, what Suns Coach Alvin Gentry is going to change about their game plan for game two. Their strong point has been their bench, aside from Nash and Stoudemire. But with Lamar Odum putting up 19 points and 19 rebounds for the Lakers as he did in game one, game two will be a challenge for the Suns if they don't show their bench is just as deep.
More than a Feeling - Boston over Orlando
"It's more than a feeling - When I see how Rondo and Allen play - I begin dreaming - Of an NBA final: Boston and L.A.....". Songwriter Tom Shultz took five years to write the original hit for the rock legend, Boston - however, wouldn't it be nice if my little diddy came true? If game one of either series is any indication, the dream I had last night is not too far off. They only won by four (92-88) but Boston showed Orlando they are not the only ones looking for a winning streak. This was Orlando's first loss at home since mid-March and was also Vince Carter's first taste of playing in a conference final. He was a sneaky little one on Sunday in game one, wasn't he? Missing a free throw on purpose so Jameer Nelson could get the rebound and lay-in. The gamble paid off but not in the momentum department since the Magic never lead once during the game and that's only happened once this season. In the first 16 minutes, Orlando scored 14 points, so Boston was making them play uncomfortable from the start. That's what you need to do with a team like the Orlando Magic who have been on a kind of "under the radar" streak with all this talk of Lebron or Kobe going to the final. Ray Allen was finding a way to drive the lane and not always sticking to the jump shots. This helped him put up 25 points and 7 rebounds on the night for Boston. Plus, Orlando's last opponent -the Atlanta Hawks- just seemed to lay down and take whatever they got dished, hence a swept series for the blue and white. Now, Boston is trying to prove to Orlando they are not the doormats to wipe their collective high tops on, but a real contender.
Cleveland - a "should he stay or should he go" situation
So what. Lebron James may or may have spoken to Derrick Rose of the Chicago Bulls about possibly carrying his number 23 over to the windy city. Just a rumour at this point. What the Cavs should really be concerned about is their coaching situation. Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert has denied reports he fired Coach Mike Brown and is saying the Cavs are merely in the evaluation process. Let's pretend after this evaluation process Mike Brown does leave Cleveland. I don't think he'll have trouble finding a job with so many NBA clubs shopping for a man of his skill. When a team shops for a new coach, don't they usually consult the Lebrons of the club to get their input? Think about it. The Cleveland Cavaliers may have to search for a new coach not really knowing for sure if Lebron James will be in the Cavs' line-up next season or not. Plus, remember we are embarking on draft and free agency season now and this is no time to go shopping for essentials.
Thanks as always to Matt for his time and as we mentioned at the end the Raptors draft future will be decided along with the other non-playoff teams tomorrow night with the New Jersey Nets with the best odds of winning. John Wall, Evan Turner and DeMarcus Cousins are the top 3 prospects for a lot of folks.
The Celtics have shown the pride and experience of a former champion that they are. Rajon Rondo has taken it to a whole other level. Rondo is without question the best point guard left in the playoffs. Yes even better than Canada's own Steve Nash. Rondo has just been off the charts and it has been amazing to watch. It is funny to think that there were people that thought the Celtics overpaid for Rondo. No one is saying that now.
Speaking of Steve Nash thought, he faces the challenge of beating the L.A Lakers. Not the easiest task in the world. Nash is likely the only match-up advantage that the Suns have advantage in this series. Everywhere else it favours the Lakers especially in the low post. Amare Stoudemire is in for a battle with Gasol and Bynum in the post. Not to mention the rest that Kobe Bryant has got, it could prove to be to much for the Suns.
If the Suns can not pull off a miracle, we are in for a finals re-match with Lakers vs Magic or Celtics. Much like the Magic, the Suns will be depending on the 3 point shot to fall. The Suns have been given praise for finally finding some defense in these playoffs. However, the Lakers and their Triangle Offense is a much different animal. My heart says Suns and my head says Lakers. Normally the head is right and the heart is wrong.
Heart is not something you put in a sentence with Vince Carter. I find it kind of funny how Vince is being hyped up. Here is the Vince Carter reality for folks. Vinsanity is much like Hulkamania. What is meant by that is for brief minutes of time you get excited and see flashes of the guy that amazed you. But then the reality comes back and you realize that Vinsanity as Hulkamania lives in your mind more than it does in actual reality.
I am actually very conflicted should the Magic be successful. On the one hand, Stan Van Gundy was robbed out of a championship by Pat Riley. I like Stan Van Gundy and think he is likely my favourite coach in the league at the moment. However to see Vince Carter rewarded for a career in which he never truly made the most of his talent turns my stomach. It makes me think of guys like Barkley, Ewing and others that never won a ring. They busted their butts for their entire careers and seem far more deserving of a ring than V.C.
For the Raptors get out those lucky charms cause you will need them. The odds of the Raptors getting a top pick in the Draft Lottery on Tuesday are very long indeed. That being said it does not exactly disappoint me. I am not as sold on John Wall and Evan Turner as the rest of the world seem to be. The New Jersey Nets are the team with the best odds to take home the top pick and end up with likely the consensus number 1 pick in John Wall.
I could be wrong on Wall, but I just am not convinced he has a winning attitude and despite his talent think this will be an issue on the next level. Not that he got to experience losing that much with Wildcats. If the Nets bomb out in free agency he will learn about losing in a hurry. Turner will be a good to great NBA player but not a difference maker for a franchise. The guy I like at the top of the draft board is DeMarcus Cousins. He has some of the same question marks in terms of character as Wall. But there is just something I like about this kid. If he can figure out how to stay out of foul trouble he can be a very good one in this draft. The reality is thought, Blake Griffin is next year's rookie of the year unless someone in this draft class surprises me. I am not a Blake Griffin fan either, but he is better than anyone in this class, and that includes Wall.
Just because Evans, Curry and Jennings were a success does not guarantee that Wall will be. I don't expect anyone to agree with me on Wall. But not many agreed with me when I said that Kevin Durant should have been the first pick over Oden. In the end the draft is about being right more than you are wrong and so far so good for me.
I will likely set up something to get together for the Draft Lottery depending on my schedule. So look for details tomorrow. Have a better Monday than Garfield and see you tomorrow.
So why is Sam a right fit for the Hawks?
Simple... this team cries out for discipline and a leader. Sam Mitchell clearly excels at both. Sam had a no nonsense approach to coaching and it is something the Hawks are crying out for. Josh Smith clearly dogged it when he was out there against the Magic. So much so that Hubie Brown on the TNT broadcast went out of his way to point it out. If Sam Mitchell is coaching that team it just would not have been tolerated. Sam had many times in his career with the Raptors where he called out his team for such acts. He held people accountable which is something that was clearly lacking with the Hawks.
Do I know that Sam is on a list of candidates for the Hawks? No. However would they be crazy not to have him on it? Absolutely. Mitchell could also work with a player like an Al Horford and pass along the same lessons and guidance he did with a K.G and Chris Bosh. Horford as much as he will never be on my Christmas card list, was far and away the best player the Hawks had in that series. Joe Johnson leaving will just allow Crawford to enter into to the starting line-up coming off a 6th man of the year award.
Sam Mitchell had many detractors in Toronto but he also had a lot of supporters. The one thing that all would have to agree on is that Mitchell is a no nonsense individual which is what the Hawks are crying out for. Given the athletic talent they have the need for a great x and o guy is not a major requirement. Had it been Mike Woodson would not have lasted as long as he did. In addition some of Sam's best coaching performances were when he had little talent. The Hawks will lose a major piece in Joe Johnson, he seems clearly like he is not coming back. But that being said there is more then enough talent left without him. Which is pretty much what happened in a few playoff games.
Mike Brown was out then in for the moment in Cleveland today. There are other openings out there, but if there is a place the makes the best sense for both parties it is Atlanta and Sam Mitchell. In his time away from the game Sam has said he enjoys the chance to be around his family. If he was able to stay home in Atlanta and do his job that might help mello him out a little bit. Sam has had time to reflect on what he did in Toronto both good and bad. I think the 2nd time around a team will get a bigger and better Sam Mitchell. The Hawks are clearly well down my list of teams I like in the NBA. However for Sam's sake, who I do like, I hope this will work out. If Mike Brown goes he will join a long list of former Coach of the Year winners to be shown the door. That being said I don't think Scott Brooks is worried in OKC with all his young talent. Hawks were once that young up and coming team. The time has come to grow up and man up and who better to make that happen than Sam Mitchell? No one that I can think of. Maybe Jeff Van Gundy but he seems to be having to good a time being on T.V.
Regardless I want to see Sam Mitchell back in my NBA!!!
2010 Free Agent Insanity.
- 10. Now Lebron James has a chance to consider a New York Strip Club (Scores) offer of free lap dances for life.
- 9. Chris Bosh had his 10 minutes as the belle of the ball and now he goes back to being the best Robin in the world to D-Wade or James in the role of Batman.
- 8. Kobe is not available in 2010 and is not unhappy about it.
- 7. Joe Johnson is counting all the money he lost in the Magic/Hawks series.
- 6. Is the Matt Bonner Era over in San Antonio? Apparently the Tony Parker era isn't or at least he doesn't want it to be.
- 5. Boston Fans are dumb. Newsflash if Lebron joins the Knicks he will be playing you 4 times a year and you pissed him off....Smart...No Tommy Points for you.
- 4. Mike Woodson and Mike Brown will be free agents to but not as highly sought after as the players they coached.
- 3. If you really want to win free agents I have 3 letters for you....O....K....C
- 2. Where Lebron goes others will follow.
- 1. A King with no ring is still worth a Max Contract and is a franchise changer. Just look at Cleveland next season if he leaves for evidence.
10 (funny) reasons to Cheer For Steve Nash
- 10. He doesn't have a helicopter.
- 9. He plays Basketball with Canadian Grit.
- 8. He could have been a free agent but he was too cool for that
- 7. If you are above 30 he is your hero or should be
- 6. Because you are a Santa Clara Broncos fan.
- 5. Because you can never be the King but maybe you can be Steve Nash.
- 4. Dime Drops that will blow your mind.
- 3. Because Bill Wennington is kind of like Matt Bonner winning a ring (No Offense)
- 2. So Kobe can Blame Canada
- 1. So Leafs fans can cheer for him instead of the Habs.
10 things to do while you wait for July 1st.
- 10. Study up for the NBA draft.
- 9. Take up Hot Yoga (By the way is there a cold Yoga?)
- 8. Plan your fantasy draft strategy for next season
- 7. Create your own NBA Rumours....Lebron to the Pacers...No on has that one.
- 6. The World Cup is on. Cheer some country on you don't live in.
- 5.Start a Twitter Campaign to #BRINGBACKBONNER.
- 4. Be like Andrea and improve your video game skills
- 3. Go out with your camera phone and interview an athlete at a restaurant then apply to TMZ Sports for a job
- 2. Build your own Helicopter to fly to work everyday.
- 1. Learn about Team Canada the World Championships are coming.
So that is a wrap hope you enjoyed it.
As Jerome mentioned you can find him both on Facebook and on Twitter. He recently celebrated a birthday but never seems to change. That is a great thing as well because the sports world and the NBA can always use more people like Jerome Williams. He brought passion and energy in his days on the floor and he brings that same passion with him in his work off of the floor. Jerome Williams is one of the better people in sports that I have ever met or dealt with. He cares about people and it is very genuine and real. That probably explains why he remains to this day one of the favourites of fans of the Raptors to this day. He will always be one of mine and it is a privilege to have a chance to talk with him. May the Dawg Pound live forever.
The Ghosts of Playoffs Past
So now we know the Phoenix Suns and the Los Angeles Lakers are dancing in Western Conference final. Both teams will have 6 days of rest and time to reflect and recharge for game one of the next round in Los Angeles. No chance of the Lakers hosting a tea party either. The 2006 and 2007 playoffs are forever etched in their minds, especially Kobe's. Do you remember how ticked off he got after the Suns beat them in the 2007 playoffs? Kobe demanded to be traded citing a lack of support. But now he has he has a solid team around him and he's not carrying the load anymore. I wasn't thinking it so much at the time but the Lakers made a good move stealing Pau Gasol from the Grizzlies in February 2008. Look at last night. Gasol had 33 points, 14 rebounds and combined with Kobe for more than half the Lakers points against the Jazz. So Kobe is happy now.
But so is Steve Nash. He also has bad memories of the 2007 playoffs. Not versus the Lakers, but the San Antonio Spurs. Remember how Nash ran into Tony Parker and got his nose smashed? He leaves the game momentarily to get patched up (it really looked like masking tape floating on top of his nose to me) and returns in full force to knock down a three pointer. Maybe it's that Canadian hockey-fighter thing in him somewhere but no one can accuse him of not being focused. He still proves he can take what the Spurs dish him in the 2010 series when Tim Duncan drives to the basket and clips Nash in the eye with his elbow. While Nash is out getting a few quick stitches, the Spurs let loose a little but Nash (as a good conductor always does) waves the Phoenix ensemble back into form and just dominates the fourth quarter. I would say based on how hot Phoenix is playing right now they have the advantage going into their next series with the Lakers. But I think the Lakers are too deep, still too sore from 2006, 2007 and too hungry. It's not just one guy conducting the orchestra. It's the pieces of that orchestra that keep stepping up and winning games for the Lakers. It will be close but the Lakers will take this round.
"And in this corner, Rajon Rondo..."
Do we need to talk about the Orlando and Atlanta series? Not really. Except to say the Orlando Magic beat the inevitable losers the Atlanta Hawks. I am not saying the Hawks are a bunch of losers before you barrage me with emails, just that the Hawks didn't really stand a chance against the Magic. Done. Let's move on to see who will meet the Magic in the Eastern Conference Final.
Man, what a series this has turned to to be. Sure, on paper the Celtics looked good but I don't think anyone expected them to be this good. Not even the Cavs. Remember when the Boston Celtics traded for Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen back in 2007? (That's seems to be the year of active discussion today). Were you like me thinking who are they going to get to compliment these two? Rajon Rondo was really just working on his game then and now he's leading a team of future Hall of Famers and having nights with 29 points, 18 rebounds and 13 assists like this series with the Cavs. And what are the Cavs really doing to shut him down other than throwing Anthony Parker at him? It worked once but now the Cavs seem to be getting stuck. In their last game, the Celtics scored 23 fast break points on the Cavs' seven. This shows the Cavs are losing the transition battle and not getting back into their defensive positions quick enough when the Celtics grab rebounds and haul it up court. If the Celtics win tonight they will likely break the cycle of series wins going back and forth between them and the Cavs and possibly take this series. As long as they keep the Cavs uncomfortable offensively and the Cavs don't figure out a way to shut down the RaRa Rondo train.
Sam Mitchell coaching in Philadelphia?
Possibly. The former Raptors coach has met with the Philadelphia 76ers to talk about a coaching job. They are looking at his four seasons with the Raptors and his NBA Coach of the Year accolades as reference points. So how do you feel as a Raptors fan when you hear this? Think about it. Your team may possibly lose Bosh and begin riding on the emotional roller coaster of rebuilding and the Philadelphia 76ers are doing the same and may acquire a former Raptors coach. Hmmmm. Before you get too excited, they are also looking at Avery Johnson, Doug Collins, Bill Lambeer, Phoenix Assistant Coach Dan Majerle and Portland Assistant Coach Monty Williams. A good coach can make or break a team. Philadelphia would be an interesting place if Sam Mitchell got the nod.
So with that said let's hear from our staffers with their thought on the Raptors and NBA. We will lead off with Anas and myself chatting NBA Playoffs from last night as the Suns were putting the final touches on a sweep of the Spurs.
Now here is Danielle talking some Raps with me.
Here is more Raps talk with myself and Anas.
Now to close this off the newest person I know on Twitter Danielle De Graauw talking on the NBA.
Thanks to Danielle and Anas for taking time to talk with me and we will keep these going moving forward so you can hear from my staff in addition to just me all the time.
Let's start with Joe Johnson who is still in the playoffs and was named to the 3rd team ALL NBA. He has performed terrible for the Hawks. In game 7 vs the Bucks and Game 1 vs the Magic he was awful. It makes you wonder about his free agent status in this market. He is thought to be one of those guys on the B level behind Bosh, James and Wade. But really can you consider him that when he fails to perform in the biggest games of the year for his franchise? The Hawks as a team have been a brutal embarrassment and he is suppose to be one of the key players and leaders on this team. Safe to say if people were considering Johnson they may be rethinking that.
Speaking of Wade he had some interesting comments about the comments about Pat Riley. For some reason Riley decided to express that he would not rule out a return to the sidelines. Stan Van Gundy remembers how that works. But he is happy in Orlando thank you very much. Well as happy as Stan can ever be. Wade also remembers as he pointed out that he did win a title with Riley but also had a terrible season under him as well. That terrible season got the Heat a second overall pick that turned out to be Michael Beasley. Not exactly the Robin to Wade's Batman. While most feel that Wade's return to south beach is a lock. Many also feel that Bosh may be a guy to join him or someone will mention in a minute. I am not sold that Wade is a lock to return and think the front runner to have him leave would be Chicago. If Riley decided to force out another coach it may not be a wise move if he wants to have Wade to coach.
The other name you hear a lot in Miami and in New York is Amare Stoudemire. He is the fall back plan for the Knicks in New York. While in Miami the alternative to Bosh. All of this being said he is doing pretty well where he is with the Suns. He has been rumoured to be out the door with the Suns for what seems like forever. If dare I say the Suns made it to the Finals or won it would that change his thinking? Not sure but here is something to consider for both Amare shoppers and him. You know how you have on your car mirror that printing that says "things in this mirror appear larger and closer than they actually appear". Well the NBA should have a warning attached to free agents that play with Steve Nash. Players that play with Steve may not be as good as you think they are. Want some examples? Joe Johnson is the exception but how about Quinton Richardson, Raja Bell, Shawn Marion and Boris Diaw. No doubt Amare is talented but does he benefit from Nash and the system with the Suns? We may have the answer if he actually leaves. But don't look to his Twitter account for answers anymore than CB4's. Stoudemire last off-season posted on Twitter that he had been traded to the Lakers. It was of course totally bogus. But for about an hour he fooled the world. This summer he may fool someone into over paying for him.
Matt Bonner.....He is a free agent too. Why am I mentioning him? Simple answer is Canada. If Bonner can find a landing spot quickly he may be able to play for Canada in the summer. He also might be someone that the Raptors would look at if Bosh were to go. Not to replace him but to add some depth. It is important to remember not only Bosh is a free agent but so is Amir Johnson. If both were to go Toronto suddenly lacks depth at the 4 and 5 spot. The return of the "Red Rocket" would be nice but will not make up for the loss of Bosh. It won't win Raptors a title ether, but at least Bonner could flash his ring and show them what one looks like. However that maybe just a shot in the dark but let's hope he is signed somewhere so he can play for Canada. Not that Matt Bonner is the number 1 target for any team in the NBA.
That only scratches the surface of a huge free agent class that is going to be one of the most star studded ever. This is in part due to the fact that following summer the CBA will be over and a new one will need to be agreed too. All signs point to that not going well for the players side and even talk of a possible work stoppage. That is why everyone wants their money and they want it now. After this next CBA it may not be there for them.