This Week In Raptorland: Special Edition

Thought I was going be taking a little time off but the news of Tim Leiweke hiring by MLSE would class as major news. Given that decided to do a podcast on the subject. John Chick fills in for Josh Lewenberg as my co-host. We get into all the talk about Leiweke and the whole impact he will have on the Raptors. Also we discuss the whole rumour that started about Phil Jackson coming to Raptors management. In addition we talk about the NBA Playoffs a little and the breaking news of the day about Jason Collins. He became the first active player in North American sports to come out as gay. He technically is without a contract but was with the Washington Wizards this past season. So all of that in this special edition of the podcast.

Thanks to John for filling in for this special edition of the podcast. In the off-season this is how we will be rolling with the odd special edition of the podcast during the off-season when situations dictates. John has an article on the is topic of Leiweke and what it will mean for the Raptors up now over on CBC.Ca. Thanks to him for taking the time to guest host with me on the podcast. Also give the man a follow on Twitter @Roofthatpeach he is one of the great people I got to know back in my short time at TSN.

Also if you missed my thoughts on the Leiweke hire I did write something last Friday that you can check out. I may take a little time to re-charge my batteries for next week or so. This is a bit of a different off-season given the Raptors lack of a draft pick unless they somehow were to wind up with a top 3 pick in the NBA Lottery.


New Head Of MLSE Is Here To Change The Raptors Reputation

So who really missed Richard Peddie? No one right, after all anytime he spoke doom for the Raptors was sure to follow. It was the end of 2011 when he bid farewell to MLSE, than came Rogers and Bell to take over the company and the Teacher Pension Fund Era was dead. The company never really replaced Peddie but was said to be searching for a successor. Today the news broke that they found a replacement in Tim Leiweke as the new CEO of MLSE. It also came with rumours that the Toronto Raptors are in pursuit of Phil Jackson to become their new president. Bryan Colangelo still has that job for the moment.

Will get to the Jackson stuff in a minute which is honestly pretty nuts and I have no concern if him and Leiweke are soul mates. But regardless of Phil Jackson, this is a true potential changing of the guard for MLSE.  Leiweke made his mark with the AEG group that owned the Kings, L.A Galaxy and part of the L.A Lakers. All teams that have won championships something MLSE is clearly not familiar with at all.

Michael Grange gave us all the first signs that this day might come back in March. He goes in depth into this man’s impressive resume. I will just say that in his debut on the scene in Toronto after being hired he said all of the right things but even went a step further. Talking in such bold terms as the Raptors are the main reason he was interested in this job. Wait a second someone that is more interested in the Raptors than the Leafs?  I am becoming a fan of this guy. He said a number of things that will play well with fans.

Toronto deserves to host an NBA All-Star Game. That said this was well on the road to happening before he arrived. He spoke about fans deserving some good news and something to be excited about. That Toronto needed to become a destination like L.A and Miami. The Raptors should be a destination for any player. This needed to become the Raptors’ reality.

He is excited about the possibility of a potential fan base of 36 million in Canada. Something MLSE has truly struggled with in making themselves a national brand and the Raptors a national brand. He talked about pushing management to succeed. He talked about taking an active role in the future of Bryan Colangelo.

He talked about re-investing in teams by spending money on rosters. He talked about winning championships. This is a message that really seemed dead in the current Raptors set up. He basically hit on all the things that fans have expressed about what this franchise isn’t and met it with an attitude of the era of excuses is over. No longer should the Raptors settle and accept they can not get anyone.

It all sounds good doesn’t it? Sure but Phil Jackson is still not walking through that door at least not now. Also he wouldn’t be walking through to coach it would be to do Bryan Colangelo’s job. His star player Michael Jordan has surly taught us that success in one area does not mean it translates to ownership. His work with the Wizards and now Bobcats is a shining example of that. Conversely look at what Larry Bird did in his career. He was a Championship player and an above average NBA Coach and eventually executive.

The one thing we can all agree on is Phil Jackson is a smart guy. He is well aware of what he would be getting into with the Raptors. They are a mess contract wise and if God came down to earth he might not be able to dig out of the hole that Bryan Colangelo has dug into. He may not be able to trade Andrea Bargnani either. Jackson can take his time and call his shot. If he has an itch to come back to the NBA he will only do it if he can succeed. He has proven that with his choices in coaching ranks.

So Phil Jackson is likely not walking through that door tomorrow, next week or next month if he ever does. That should not diminish what this means for the Raptors. If you can sum up what Tim Leiweke has brought to all of MLSE and the Raptors in particular it can be summed up in one word.


It has been sorely lacking these last 5 years especially. There was always someone or something to blame. That it appears ends now and the goal at least for the moment has been turned to being a franchise that is not just playing to make the playoffs but to win a championship. To demand more and not just settle in free agency but to compete in free agency. To not be trading players that want out of Toronto but trading for players that want to come here.

It all sounds pie in the sky type talk and it sounds like things we have heard before. To which we all likely have in the past. We just have never heard it from a guy that has actually done it. He has won championships and brought David Beckham to the MLS. This guy makes things happen and he has a proven track record.

Will see if the words turn to actions and what this all means for the future of the Raptors both short and long term. If you think the whole Phil Jackson stuff was the story today it really wasn’t it was the fact you had a guy that has the track record to make people take the insane idea serious for 5 minutes. He did that in his first day imagine what he can do in a year to rehabilitate the Raptors brand with the NBA Community. It is badly needed with or without Colangelo and Casey.  

Season Wrap Up With Jack Armstrong

It is are great pleasure to have Jack Armstrong as a regular guest with us here as a part of Dino Nation Blog for many years now. Jack and I get into what lies ahead for the Toronto Raptors. The future for Bryan Colangelo, Dwane Casey, Andrea Bargnani and others. Talk of what it might take to make Andrea Bargnani trade happen. Thoughts on Raptors major pieces and if the playoffs are in the cards for the Raptors next season. Along with that Jack gives his pick for the NBA Finals. In addition many might not be aware but Jack Armstrong actually ran in the Boston Marathon years ago and he shares his thoughts on the recent tragic events that took place in Boston. It is an in depth 45 minute plus conversation that I think you will enjoy.

Thanks to Jack for another great season of interviews with us. He is a pleasure and a joy to work with. If you missed are season finale episode of This Week in Raptorland please go give that a listen as well. I want to thank Josh Lewenberg once again for being a co-host along side me all season long.

DNB will be taking a bit of a semi-vaction for the next few weeks. If some news of note breaks for the Raptors will still be on top of it. If nothing comes up we might take some time off here and there.

Soon we will be looking for staff for next season and even starting this off-season doing some work for us. I have a lot of dynamic plans for next season but in order to accomplish them it is vital I find some dedicated staff in order to make these things happen. This season was just scratching the surface of what we plan to do in terms of audio and video content. In order to expand on that will be looking for people to do some of the writing for the site as well as a number of other areas. So if your interested you can always reach out to me. There will be a more detailed post of what we are looking for in a few weeks.

Thanks to all of you for your support for another season and thanks to St Louis Wings for being a great advertising partner with us this season. Look for info on our playoff party coming soon to the 595 Bay St Location. We may not be doing a draft part this year if the Raptors situation doesn't change so this might be your last chance for awhile to come out and have fun with us.


Colangelo and Casey Together To The End or The Playoffs: Whichever Comes First?

Together to the end it would seem for Casey and Colangelo? One of the newsworthy things from the press conferences from Monday was the full endorsement of Bryan Colangelo for his coach. He stated that if he was back there was " No Question" that Dwane Casey will be as well. While both men await their ultimate fate from the MLSE Border of Directors the common belief is that Colangelo will have the option on his contract picked up and Casey will play out the final year of his. Both motivated to succeed in order to remain They must get this team to post-season.

It actually seems to make a lot of sense on many levels. Maybe much more than what Colangelo has done with this roster. What he referred to as "Organic Improvement" he will need to see a ton from his roster. The simple fact is Colangelo offered little hope of big splashes like last year. The Raptors have no cap space to be big players in free agency. He still is convinced there is a deal out there to move Andrea Bargnani. I lost count at how many times Casey and Colangelo combined called him a "talent" in their individual sessions with the media. Talented he may well be, it would seem the days of him showing any of that talent in Toronto seem behind him. Casey talked about how he would work as hard as he could to get something out of Bargnani but he needed to be met half way. It never came up with Colangelo about the idea to Amnesty Andrea but he seems convinced there is a deal to be made.

Aside from that it was a lot of talk of adding veterans to the mix but not by spending any kind of money to do it at the end of the day. One thing that was made pretty clear is, the Raptors in some form will be looking to fill the hole left by the departure of Calderon via trade with a veteran to back up Kyle Lowry. Colangelo even describing this person as someone who could mentor and help mould Kyle into that starting point guard and leader on the floor.

Another thing in which Colangelo and Casey seemed to be completely on the same page is that of the development of Jonas Valancuinas. Casey said that while the learning curve of Jonas was a contributing factor to the Raptors 4-19 start it was also the building blocks to the player we saw at the end of the season. Colangelo confirmed that Jonas along with Terrence Ross and Quincy Acy all will be heading to Vegas for Summer League. Jonas will also be playing some international ball as well for his native Lithuania.

Colangelo mentioned about the need to almost hold Jonas back at times. That is injury was in some ways allow Jonas to rest and focus and learn. Colangelo referred to him as a sponge in terms of all the knowledge he is able to take in. It's clear in the case Bryan makes to the board about his future Jonas is a big check mark in the positive column for him. While his selection of Terrence Ross is one still very much up for debate. Casey admitted that the minutes that at times were not earned by Ross this season will need to be next season. It seems pretty clear that if Ross wants to secure minutes next season it likely will begin on the defensive end of the floor. Casey also stressed how much consistency would be important. That said with DeRozan and Rudy Gay dominating large chunks of minutes it may be hard for Ross to find much time to shine next season.

In terms of the lack of a draft pick if you have every seen a G.M more happy not to have a pick in a draft I can't think of anyone more so than Bryan Colangelo. The Raptors could still end up with a pick if they hit the draft lottery but clearly they would rather not see that happen. If it did Colangelo said the Raptors would be willing to keep the selection. It would become pretty problematic if they did adding salary to a team that is already pushing the luxury tax threshold. The Raptors at least on the surface seem to have little to no interest in the NBA Draft at all.

At the end of the day any differences between Colangelo and Casey or Casey and Lowry we are told have been greatly exaggerated. What is no exaggeration is the both Colangelo and Casey will be banking their collective long term future primarily on the group they have assembled in place. A failure of this group to reach the post season would very well likely mean the end for both Colangelo and Casey. While it might not be popular with all the reality of the Raptors situation is not one that can be changed all that much. So why not give both another season to try to prove this group is capable of being a playoff team. Anything short of that would be a massive failure and likely lead to yet another re-build of the re-build that failed.

You can't help but sense the expectations have lowered to just making the post season and the idea of winning a championship or building to one seems long gone. If the Raptors are going to continue to try to ride along the tax threshold that likely is not going to change. What was truly disappointing if you read between the lines today was the admission in a sense that the Raptors do not seem all that anxious to spend any more than they have too. That is not what championships are made of.

Still Colangelo and Casey, were in a sense, asking for you to believe in them and ultimately believe in the core of this team that they have in place. It sure seems nothing of significance is coming in the off-season.


This Week In Raptorland: Season Finale

One of the things I will truly remember this season for has been starting this podcast. I can't tell you how fortunate I was to have such a great partner in Josh Lewenberg to do this with every week. I do thank him at the end of this episode but just wanted to put it in writing as well. I hope Josh is able to continue on with us going forward. If not it has been a great pleasure working with him this season and would love the chance to do it again in the future. He really deserves a lot of credit. I also have done my share and have greatly enjoyed this aspect of the Dino Nation Blog this season.

Also a great thanks to Manu and the folks from St Louis Wings for their sponsorship of this podcast and website as a whole. I look forward to us celebrating with a playoff/end of the season party coming soon. Hopeful you'll be able to come out and join us and have a fun time.

All that said we have a great final episode with appearances from Amir Johnson and DeMar DeRozan. This along with the usual talk from myself and Josh on the Raptors season that was and the off-season to come.

So that does it the first season of the podcast in the books. Once the season ending stuff wraps up I am going to start looking for staff for next season. We gave this a try last year and had some mixed results. It is vital though that I find a dedicated reliable staff in order to make the changes I want to for next season. This podcast was just scratching the surface to what I want the Dino Nation Blog to become.

Thanks to all of you that have supported this podcast this season. I hope you have enjoyed listening as much  as Josh and I have had in bringing it to you. If you have trouble downloading or listening head over to our podcast home page.

Remember Jack Armstrong joins us in the Starting 5 next Friday. 

DNB Playoff Predicitions

Another Raptors season has ended shorter than fans would like, we’ll have a lot of conversation about that in the coming days. Included in that will be are year end chat with Jack Armstrong which has been scheduled for late next week. Also This Week in Raptorland with our season finale and some thoughts from Amir Johnson and DeMar DeRozan featured in that.  Josh Lewenberg and I should have that for you in by the end of the week.

But for now wanted to get my playoff predictions on the record for all of you. I expect to see a Miami Heat vs. Oklahoma City Thunder Finals re-match. But before we get there we need to have a first round.

Eastern Conference:

(1) Miami vs. (8) Milwaukee

Miami in 4 games

Notes: As Raptor fans watch this series and realize that finishing in the final playoff spot is really not all that is cracked up to be

(2) New York vs. (7) Boston

New York In 6 games

Note: I expect a very inspired Celtics squad in this series for obvious reasons. But in the end the Knicks should have the talent to take this series.

(3) Indiana vs. (6) Atlanta

Indiana in 5 games

Note: I don’t see the Hawks putting up much of a fight in stopping the Pacers from moving on.

(4) Brooklyn vs. (5) Chicago

Brooklyn in 7 games

Note: I see this as the most interesting playoff series in the East. In the end Brooklyn should be rocking and I expect that will give them the strength to pull this out. Derrick Rose is not likely to suddenly appear.

Western Conference

(1) Oklahoma City vs. (8) Houston

Oklahoma City in 5 games

Note: This is a perfect match-up for OKC playing a team that plays a similar style but not nearly as effectively or as talented.

(2) San Antonio vs. (7) L.A Lakers

Spurs in 5 games

Note: Lakers slipped in the back door of the playoffs but with no Kobe Bryant it is unlikely they can will some miracle rise from the ashes.

(3) Denver vs. (6) Golden State

Denver in 6 games

Note: This seems like it could be a fun series and highly entertaining and competitive. Up-tempo fun basketball.

(4)L.A Clippers vs. (5) Memphis

Memphis in 7

Note: This likely should be the most competitive and close series of the first round.

So those are my picks for the record. I always wanted to make you aware we are going be holding a playoff party at St Louis Wings. No date has been set yet for that but likely be in early May. Thanks to everyone for another great season. We keep things going through the off-season so don’t forget about us over the Raptors off-season. That said I am sure there will be a few breaks along the way for me.


Cheer For Boston

It’s seems pretty silly to write about a basketball game today. The Raptors based on the cancellation of the Celtics and Pacers game will be appearing on TNT. It is due to a horrific and senseless tragedy in Boston yesterday. Under normal circumstances if the Raptors ended up on TNT I would likely have lots of jokes about this. It seems to be far from appropriate for that though.

The Raptors are scheduled to finish the season against Celtics who over the years have been probably on of the more disliked opponents for the Raptors. Sports based grudges seem pretty damn small in the face of the events that took place yesterday in Boston. You never want to see events like this happen in any city in any place.

Assuming this game does go off as planned on Wednesday night it would be nice if something happened. Cheer the Celtics (In the Intros) not because of them, as much as a sign of support and love we have for the city they represent. This is the type of tragedy you never want to see in any city.

I always have said in times like this that sports at the end of the day are just a distraction from life that we all enjoy. It is a competitive form of entertainment. Basketball is important to all of us but it never is bigger than life itself.

All of this makes the moaning of a season that didn’t go the Raptors way seem pretty damn silly and insignificant. As the days go by it won’t be, but for today it is. Pray for the people impacted by this horrible act of violence and pray for a more peaceful world.

That is about all I have for you.


A Season Of Inconsistency For The Raptors

I often use the expression that the Raptors fan experience is like a roller coaster ride. It is mainly in reference to the wild inconsistency that we see on a regular basis. This has been a season full of those. The game on Sunday has been just another.  The Raptors stormed into a big lead against the Nets and than hung on walking to the edge of the cliff of blowing a large lead.

It has been that type of season from a 4-19 start to winning streaks from out of nowhere. The Raptors with nothing to play for in reality have all of the sudden won 5 of 6 games when most have turned their attention to the Leafs playoff run or the early struggles of the Blue Jays. DeMar DeRozan with the spotlight far away from himself and the team poured in 36 points one short of his career high.

Despite the constant banging of the drum by some that the Raptors can’t go forward with both DeRozan and Gay as they are far too similar they have shown they can produce. More than combinations the Raptors have relied on before. This is much more than we ever saw from Bargnani and DeRozan as the Raptors one-two punch.

Where this issues lie is in the contracts both will be paid starting next season. DeRozan thanks to his extension signed at the beginning of the season. One of the ways DeRozan plans on earning those dollars is extending his range this off-season. Part of that 36 point performance was going 3 for 4 from three point land. Something people question if Gay or DeRozan are capable of being acceptable percentage shooters from long range.

The Raptors road to success if they are to have it next season will be paved with internal improvement. It will be hard to make significant chance to this group, with no draft picks to speak of, just the exception that ever other team has for Free Agency and being pressed up against the luxury tax threshold. About the only way the Raptors can improve significant or change is through the trade market and they really don’t have the assets to make moves that will not be piled with risk. When you consider, your largest trade piece is Andrea Bargnani who is a huge risk for any team that would entertain taking him.

When you consider the other teams that will miss the post season in the Eastern Conference their options to improvement are far more than that of the Raptors. Despite this being what everyone is classing as a fairly weak draft class. The Raptors winning streak to close the season has at least lessened their odds of winning in the draft lottery. In a sense winning in the draft lottery would be losing for the Raptors. After all with a much stronger draft class expected to be led by Andrew Wiggins next season the Raptors would much rather have a ticket for that lottery or they should. It is far better if they can have the pick they traded to acquire Kyle Lowry be cashed in this season.

What could be interesting in terms of the draft if the Raptors would consider getting into the draft should Myck Kabongo who has declared for the draft is available in the second round. The Raptors also are without a second round pick but could easily acquire one without much difficulty especially if it were later in the round. Kabongo is a talented kid that was forced out for most of his second season at Texas. He has not lived up to the hype for some but he is a talented and intriguing prospect. Not to mention being a home grown product. He clearly will not be ready to take Kyle Lowry’s job but he could develop and grow into an eventual starter in the NBA or a quality back up.

It has been a frustrating season no doubt but the off-season could be just as frustrating for the Raptors or maybe more so Raptors fans that will be expecting to see changes and could very realistically see few.


Almost Over For A Season That Failed to Deliver

There is less than a week left in this Raptors season and I can’t think of anyone that is upset about that fact. Jonas now out of the mix there really is little to get excited about in these last few games for the Raptors. All of the Toronto’s games against teams that will be heading to the playoffs with the Bulls, Nets, Hawks and Celtics.

One of the major concerns/disappointments of this season for the Raptors has been the record within the Atlantic Division. The record with two games left to go in the division is 3-11 and that is a big blow to any kind of chances of being a playoff contender. Sure divisions don’t hold the same weight as they did in the past but it is still 16 games of your 82 on the season and that is a significant enough portion to be concerned.  It also is a concern that 3 of those four teams are heading to the playoffs. Not surprisingly it is the three teams that have the least concerns about the luxury tax system. All of them committing significant dollars to major start talents.

The Raptors have a lot of dollars committed to top players as well. The difference is they are far less established stars in this league. Paying for potential has not exactly served the Raptors well to this point. You only need to look at the contract of Andrea Bargnani as proof of that. Same can be said at this point for Rudy Gay and DeMar DeRozan to this point. Will the Raptors make the same mistake with Kyle Lowry at the end of next season as well? Ironically enough about the only contract that has lived up to the hype is the one they gave to Amir Johnson. It was a deal at the time it was signed that was widely scrutinized but it has been well worth money to this point. 

Normally as we head towards an off-season there is tons of talk about the changes that can be made and the guys you could potentially add to the mix. The Raptors with out some luck in the lottery likely have no draft pick to bring in. They have basically nothing to offer in free agency other that the exception that everyone else will have. At the end of the day the only thing they have to make actual change to the roster is the trade market.

In terms off the choices away from the roster most feel that Bryan Colangelo will at least be around for his option year on his contract. If this is the case and he does not get an extension it seems fairly unlikely that Dwane Casey would be fired and Bryan is allowed to hire another coach. If the unexpected happens and Colangelo is gone that would make Dwane Casey’s future very much up in the air.

About the only way that Colangelo and Casey’s fate are not tied together would be if Colangelo some how was given an extension which seems highly unlikely. So the Raptors are a bad team that really looks like they will have few changes that they will make or could make.

They are banking on internal improvement or Bryan Colangelo’s ability to make trades happen when most feel it is next to impossible. He really doesn’t have a lot off attractive pieces to move. There is of course Andrea Bargnani and he almost has a gun to his head to move him at this point. DeMar DeRozan has been talked about as a trade piece but realistically have we seen enough from Terrence Ross to make that move with confidence?

We have plenty of time to talk about this stuff. For now we watch a season where many expected much more come to a slow and painful death that quite frankly everyone is more than ready to accept.


Even In Victory The Raptors' Can't Avoid The Dark Cloud That Hangs Over Them

It was staring out like a ray of sunshine in an otherwise gloomy finish to the Raptors’ 2012-13 season. The Bulls were not at full strength and the Raptors jumped all over them with an 18-3 edge early. The Bulls would be battling from behind for the entire night. It wouldn’t be the Raptors if they didn’t go on the brink of blowing it. But they did manage to hang on for the win 101-98.

It was a pretty good night for most stats wise starting with Amir Johnson who had a double-double with 13 points and 11 rebounds. Kyle Lowry also had a double-double with 13 points and 10 assists. This in addition to 20 points from DeMar DeRozan to lead the squad and Rudy gay chipped in with 19 points on the night.

Jonas Valanciunas who had been really on a tear of late didn’t have a fantastic night and it would get far worse at the very end of this game. Just 8 points with 5 fouls and only 3 rebounds on the evening but that was secondary as it would turn out.

Raptors centre Jonas Valanciunas sustained a flexion extension injury of his neck in the final seconds of Tuesday’s victory in Chicago. He was taken to Rush Presbyterian Hospital for precautionary testing. Test results were negative.
So, the one thing that had been the bright spot for the Raptors goes away in a rare road victory. It has been a struggle to maintain interest in this team and Jonas was a big reason to cling to for something to watch and be excited about as this season grinds to a conclusion. I don't think it takes being a doctor to think the Raptors will not likely risk Jonas' health in four games that mean very little. Thus one of the view reason left to pay attention to the Raptors is likely gone.

The Raptors will face the Bulls once again back at the ACC on Friday. They will host the Nets on Sunday, head to Atlanta on Tuesday and than wrap it up with Celtics at the ACC on Wednesday. It has been a season that started with so much hope only to have it met with the cold reality of a 4-19 to start. Now it is set to end with the one of the most optimistic pieces of the future most likely as a spectator. It seems almost fitting for this season.


This Week In Raptorland Is Back

After a week off due to some scheduling conflicts we return with the best podcast in the world on your Toronto Raptors. Least we make the effort to be that which you can question about the Raptors of late. We take a look at the Raptors future and wonder if it really does get any better for this basketball team going forward. Along for the ride as always is Josh from TSN 1050 and TSN.ca.

Hope you enjoyed the podcast and our apologies for missing last week. Sadly the way the Raptors have been playing of late we really didn't miss all that much. Just two more episodes left for this season and it despite the Raptors struggle has been a fun experience for us and hopeful for you the listeners as well.


Raptors' Season Winding Down.

I am sure that at some point on a hot July day I will miss watching the Toronto Raptors. That is hard to bring into focus as this team limps their way home for another season. The lone ray of sunshine has been the play of Jonas Valanciunas who is on three game streak of double-doubles that he takes with him on the Raptors last multi-game road trip of the season.

Raptors have stops in Minnesota tonight and than on to Milwaukee tomorrow night and wrapping up in Chicago with the first half of a home and home with the Bulls. If the Raptors are to be taken seriously as playoff contender they need to get better on the road as they bring a 10-27 into this road trip.

Tonight’s opponent Minnesota has a similar record to the Raptors at 28-46 which is only good enough for 12 th place in the Western Conference. Minnesota is playing .500 basketball in their last 10 games and winner of two in a row.

Credit must be given to Rudy Gay for continuing to battle with bad back. It is admirable that he is still trying to play through this with nothing really of consequence to play for. It becomes a big concern moving forward that a player who is suppose to be in the prime of his career and is being paid a ton of money having back issues is a huge concern or should be for the Raptors.

Having had my on issues with back trouble from time to time it is something that is pretty unpredictable and it never truly is right. I have gone month’s pain free and than suddenly for no reason will have it flare up. We saw the great legendary Larry Bird have back trouble plague the end of his hall of fame career. The good news if there is any is that Gay seems determined to play through the pain and still has been somewhat productive at times.


17 Reasons

Even when Jose Calderon isn’t a Raptor he helps them miss the playoffs. The Raptors thanks to a loss to Detroit are officially done and will watch the playoffs for a fifth season. Watching the Raptors of late is about as fun as going to the dentist with maybe one exception.

Jonas Valanciunas is really starting to emerge and be the player that fans were hopeful he would become. He has scored in double figures for 8 straight games.  He is coming into tonight’s game vs. Washington with back to back double-doubles. He also has 7 blocks in the last 3 games. There really is not much to dislike in what you’re seeing. This is all happening on a team that at times you wonder if they have a pulse at this point. Losers of 5 of their last 6 games including an embarrassing loss to tonight’s opponent the Wizards. You might take note of those Wizards as they could be a team feeling they can make the playoffs next year as well. They had a better excuse than Raptors for starting the season badly with no John Wall or Nene.

The Raptors I have to say for whatever you might say about them have tremendous balls in some respects. How else do you run an add campaign for season tickets with 17 reasons that you should get season tickets. I mean honestly it is not like the Raptors are going to become the Blue Jays this off-season. They first and foremost have restriction with a salary cap system. A system that gets a lot tougher on those who choose to spend big bucks. Not that the Raptors have ever been on of those teams. Yes they pay big contracts and overvalued ones but they always make it fit under the NBA tax threshold and avoid being a tax payer. Which next year as you likely know will cost 3 dollars for every dollar you go above the tax threshold?

I feel the need to respond with 17 reasons why there is no need to buy Raptors’ Season Tickets. Maybe I shouldn’t,  but I am to tempted not to so would be wrong....So.... if your ready let’s roll. These are not in any order of importance.

1. Andrea Bargnani could still be here: Everyone assumes he will be gone and swears you can trade him. I seem to remember this same song and dance with Jose Calderon who honestly had more value than Bargnani currently. Still the Raptors could not trade him until finally this season with his over priced contract set to expire. If Bargnani is not gone the boos will rain down like Vince Carter, Tracy McGrady and Chris Bosh were doing a rock concert at halftime with the Raptors down 25.

2. No Draft Pick: Bryan Colangelo traded away the Raptors picks and who will you watch when hope is lost with no rookies on the roster? It becomes a problem at this time of year.

3. Bryan Colangelo is back: Where is the accountability in this organization? How many years do you get to screw up as a player, coach or a G.M? Clearly the G.M falls just above this draft pick from Italy. The reality is Bryan Colangelo has made the Raptors a less desirable job than when he arrived here. He was taken this team and through many bad contracts pushed them to the limit of where Ownership is willing to spend historically at the tax threshold.

4 -19 is good enough for anyone to take pause before spending their money on the Raptors. The Raptors traditionally have a pretty lousy schedule in terms of finding wins early in the season. Combine that with a team that has trouble holding leads in the fourth quarter and you have problems.

5. Maybe people in Memphis are right about Rudy Gay? He came in like a lion and is going out like a lamb with a bad back. It has to be concerning moving forward given the huge percentage of your cap that you are committing to him.

6. Kyle Lowry hasn’t been all that….and oh yeah who exactly is going be his back-up if he has an injury filled season like this next year. Oh and how exactly are we going to pay him when his contract runs out after next season even if he is better than this year? ....Problems and lots of them.

7. If the Leafs make the playoffs and Blue Jays go retro like it is 1993 where would you have the money for a down payment on season tickets anyway?

8. Andrew Wiggins is not walking through that door. The Raptors even if they are bad will likely not be bad enough to have a serious chance at drafting Andrew Wiggins and even if they did you would just wait till next year to get tickets.

9. The Miami Heat will still be playing in the Eastern Conference even if the Raptors exceed all expectations the Heat are a major problem for all teams in the East.

10. What will be new? Not much and have you looked how things have been going lately?

11. DeMar DeRozan likely will not return has the 9 Million Dollar man. Along with many other folks that will be earning far more than what they are capable of producing. It is a problem and a major one.

12. Depth of bigs? The Raptors are pretty much lacking quality after you get past Jonas and Amir. Speaking of Amir how long can he keep playing through injures like he has? You hope he can be healthy but you realistically know that is not likely. At some point the body gives no matter how strong the will.

13. Casey’s Rock is not being pounded as hard as it was last year. The Raptors’ defense with more talent on the roster has actually gone south this season. Not back to the epic poor levels before Casey arrived but still pretty bad.

14. Raptors might be better and still not a playoff team. You could build a strong case that both the Cavs and Wizards could potentially be better than the Raptors next year. You could also see Philly improve with all that money they will get with Andrew Bynum off their books. Raptors are no lock to make the post season next year.

15. No Vince Carter Number Retirement.

16 The Raptors had a losing record at home this season.

17 + 2 is the number of years this franchise has existed with only one playoff series win and one division title.

That was some depressing fun reality wasn’t it. I do seriously want to apologize for things being a bit sloppy and messed up that last month of so with the DNB. It is a combination of circumstances combined with lack any real news at this time of year. I take pride in being hard working and have been that for 5 years. This last month or so you have deserved better from me. This being said I was sick and currently my mom has the flu so it is been a rough month all around.

Next season I am determined to build a loyal and hard working writing staff and am working on some pretty cool ideas that I want to be doing next year with the blog. It is tough at this time of year. As a fan you can always check out when you like. It doesn’t work that way when you cover the team. You often wonder if anyone is listing or reading at this time of year. People are of course but you still wonder how much they are paying attention.

I am always grateful for your support and hope you understand that it has been a difficult month both physically and mentally to be doing the blog. I have done my best to muddle through. No one demands more of me than me at that end of the day.


A Disheartening March Leads To A Meaningless April For The Raptors

Hope everyone had a great Easter Weekend and the Easter Bunny was good to everyone. This Week in Raptorland will be a day late and hopefully not a dollar short. The Raptors schedule combined with the holiday made it tough to hook-up to record the pod cast in time for today. This is probably the last day the Raptors will be relevant this season as the Blue Jays will start their season and get most people’s attention as a legit contender for the World Series. The Raptors if you ask most are miles away from contending.

They did get the better of their former point guard and his new team on Friday. Jose Calderon will make his no doubt emotional return to Toronto tonight. Many fans simply love Jose Calderon. This is taken to the point of insanity in some cases. Jose Calderon for some people is bordering on sainthood and there is nothing that I will say or anyone else that will change that.

The Raptors followed up that dominate win over the Pistons with a complete collapse against the Wizards on Sunday. It was beyond disappointing for folks that are hanging in trying to get what they can out of what is left of this season. The wizards could be a team that next season are one of the non-playoff teams that will be pushing for a playoff spot next season. The win was the seventh in a row at home for them. John Wall is really starting to take his game to the next level and Bradley Beal is looking a lot better ever since Wall returned to Wizards line-up after missing time at the start of the season.

If you’re in desperate need of something to be positive about look no further than Jonas Valanciunas. He had 14 points and 13 rebounds in almost 39 minutes against the Pistons. Last night in a loss to Wizards he led the Raptors with 18 points and another 10 rebounds for back to back double-doubles.

If the Raptors are to prove the critics in wrong it only happens through great internal improvement and Jonas would be one of the players with the most upside to grow. The only other way is the Raptors ignore the tax threshold and spend well beyond that to make up for some contracts that do not exactly fit the talent level of the guys being paid those salaries.

In past years I have done some April Fool’s joke here in the blog but given the way the season has gone it has been a big enough joke. The Raptors have really been very disappointing especially since the loss to the Milwaukee Bucks that essentially ended the Raptors’ playoff hopes.  The Raptors finished up March 4-11 and that is no April Fool’s joke. This was following their only winning month of the season in February when Rudy Gay arrived on the scene.

The Raptors running a campaign of 17 reasons to get seasons tickets kind of falls flat in the midst of the despair of what this season has become. I could come up with 17 reasons you shouldn’t believe in this team next season let alone invest your hard earned money in them. Two off the top of my head is Bryan Colangelo will be back and Andrea Bargnani might not be gone and if he is it will not be for much of anything you would have to figure.

The Raptors have nothing to look forward to in terms of the draft unless they find some luck in the draft lottery. Which even if they landed a top 3 pick would cause some issues in adding that salary to a roster that is already pushed up against the tax threshold cap? This is also, despite all the excitement of the NCAA’s March Madness a very weak draft class to select from. 

My thoughts and prayers to the young man Kevin Ware who broke his leg in the Louisville vs. Duke game in an ugly play, one of the worst injuries I have seen in sports.  You can’t give enough credit to his team for going on to win the basketball game over Duke. This is a classic example on why I always support a young man that wants to enter the NBA as soon as possible. You are one ugly injury away from losing everything while playing in college. It will not happen but the NBA really should allow high-school players back in the draft process. I would say the NCAA should start paying these kids but the simple truth is far too much greed exists for that to happen.

Michigan made the Final Four for the first time since the Fab Five days in the early 90’s. ESPN did one of their excellent 30 for 30 documentaries on that group.  In that documentary the Michigan basketball program the year before they arrived earned 1.7 million dollars. After the Fab Fives first season that number grew to over 10 million. Charles Barkley infamously said that college basketball and football are the last forms of legalized slavery in North America. It might not be quite to that extreme level but it is very clear these schools are getting rich off the backs of these talented young kids.

Many of those kids in basketball are starting to be Canadian. In Michigan’s win it was not Tim Hardaway Jr., Glen Robinson III or Trey Burke that were the difference yesterday. It was a young kid from right here in Southern Ontario Nik Stauskas who went 6/6 three point line for 22 points to help Michigan beat down the Gators. This is just one of many examples of all the great Canadian kids in the NCAA Tournament this year.

This is a fact the Raptors should start taking note of before they start seeing a slew of Canadians being part of teams that are beating them at the ACC.