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Tag:Toronto Raptors
Posted on: August 30, 2010 9:15 am
Edited on: August 30, 2010 11:30 am
 

Shootaround 8.30.10: Can't read BJ's poker face

Dragic slowed up, Jordan giving out, and Brandon Jennings does Lady Gaga. For real.
Posted by Matt Moore


So Brandon Jennings lost some sort of bet, and as a result, was forced to do a video online of him dancing to Lady Gaga . Yes, it is as bizarre-looking as it sounds.

Goran Dragic has been great so far in the FIBA World Championships, but found himself in foul trouble on Sunday in Slovenia's loss to Team USA. Twice, Dragic got caught trying to sneak up on a player's weakside off the inbounds. It's like Dragic got too comfortable playing non-NBA players and forgot just how well-trained even this inexperienced Team USA team is. And Chauncey Billups is anything but inexperienced.

Sam Amico of NBA.com reports that the Nuggets are looking at the Nets, Wolves, and Kings as possible options for trading Carmelo Anthony. But this assumes the Nuggets have all the leverage, which they don't .

Michael Jordan and the Charlotte Bobcats donated a quarter of a million dollars to middle-school athletics in Charlotte. It's another instance in a continuing theme of Jordan looking to invest in the Charlotte area. If he's planning on being the absentee owner many thought he would be, he's at least making a good show in the other direction.

FIBA play isn't necessarily the place for post play. But as NBA Playbook points out, establishing position is just as important there. Also, they provide a look at Ante Tomic, the Jazz draft pick who looked good for Croatia.

A resources company in Cleveland is cashing in on a former LeBron James ad campaign with a 'Witness' campaign of their own. Yet another indication that the bridges he burned in Cleveland won't be rebuilt in a day.

As a reminder, Brandon Rush got tagged with a five game suspension for violating the NBA's drug policy. The interesting note? He's yet another Kansas or Kansas State player found in trouble with drugs. You'll remember Mario Chalmers' problems at the rookie transition program, along with Michael Beasley.

Bryan Colangelo is on the hot seat in Toronto. The question is, why isn't Jay Triano also feeling warm in the butt? It's been Triano's defense that has been systemically bad, despite good man-defenders in Amir Johnson and Antoine Wright. It's been Triano's team unable to close out games, despite having Chris Bosh. Everyone looks at Colangelo as the problem, but as Raptors Republic points out, Colangelo has yet to to hand pick a coach in Toronto.

Wanna know just how far back your team's good (or bad) decisions go? Take a look at these flowcharts . The Knicks one is especially hilarious/tragic.

Rich Cho says there's no way to know how Greg Oden's knee will respond until it's "under stress." Pretty much, Greg Oden's not going to be considered healthy until he's considered healthy. It's a binary question.




Posted on: August 26, 2010 10:31 am
Edited on: August 26, 2010 11:13 am
 

Pop Quiz: Who's the worst?

Posted by Matt Moore

Fall is here, hear the yell, back to school, ring the bell ... The NBA season is right around the corner, and NBA training camp starts in just a few short weeks. To get you ready for the NBA season, we've put together 25 pop quizzes. Pencils ready? We continue our Pop Quizzes with this question...

Who will be the worst team in the NBA this season?


It's a depressing question, isn't it? Who's going to fail more than any other? Someone has to win the fewest number of games this year. So who's on the list?

The Returning Champ: The New Jersey Nets

You can't just let the reigning "champs" off the list without giving them a chance to repeat! The Nets were the worst team in the league last year, only able to avoid the worst mark of all time due to a late surge. It was a startling development, one that baffled a lot of NBA heads, because the team really did have talent. But for whatever reason (injury, chemistry, coaching, pure terrible luck), it never came together and the team plummeted into the depths. So are they doomed to repeat history?

The Nets struck out in free agency for the top names but still brought in good players. Anthony Morrow, Jordan Farmar, Travis Outlaw, and Troy Murphy will all be suiting up for the Nets alongside Devin Harris, Terrence Williams, and Brook Lopez. With the development of the younger players, the addition of a few talented veterans, and a more demanding coach in Avery Johnson, the Nets may not be in position to push for the playoffs, but they are unlikely to repeat as the worst team in the NBA.

The New Kids: The Toronto Raptors


Our first victim of the free-agency summer of doom. After losing Chris Bosh to the triad, GM Brian Colangelo went on a firesale. He ditched Hedo Turkoglu for Leandro Barbosa and sent Marco Belinelli for Julian Wright. He did spend some money, though, giving Amir Johnson a hefty new deal and bringing Linas Kleiza back from overseas. The Raptors lost a huge chunk of salary, and weren't that great to begin with. They are teetering on the abyss. Will they fall off?

Bear in mind that we're talking the worst here. Not bad, but the worst. And the Raptors could assuredly reach that mark if everything were to go wrong. But there are bright spots. Andrea Bargnani, for all his rebound-void, yogurty, forceless  weaknesses, can still hit from anywhere on the floor, and might actually get to play where he's best (high-post and mid-range) with Bosh gone instead of trying to impersonate a traditional center. DeMar DeRozan has the athleticism and range to be able to become a leader. Sonny Weems continues to impress, Amir Johnson will forever be lauded as the next great (whistle) defensive player (whistle) if only he could (whistle) stop fouling (whistle). If the Raptors drop off a cliff, it'll be because the chemistry wasn't fit to hold, or because the real problem in Toronto hasn't been Colangelo's roster, but Triano's coaching.

The Dark Horse: The Washington Wizards


How could any team with John Wall be the worst team in the league? When you have as fragile a chemistry set as this team does. That's how. The Wizards are a long shot to burrow into the trash heap the furthest, but with Gilbert Arenas anything but a sure thing, there's just no telling how this is going to work out. We thought the biggest concern with Arenas last year was if he could stay healthy a full season. We didn't even get to answer that. Andray Blatche is the third best player on the team, and that could go any number of ways. He could be a consistent scorer, working in tandem with Wall, and showcasing the scoring ability he showed last season. Or he could become a space cadet again. JaVale McGee showed great things in Summer League, but he's yet to prove he can be someone to be relied on as the primary big.

Wall is likely to be good enough to drag this team out of the very basement, and if everything were to go right (and I mean everything), the Wizards could find themselves in contention for the playoffs. But if another chemistry blow-up happens and Flip Saunders is unable to contain the damage and get through, the Wizards could be a two-year disaster.

The Favorite: The Minnesota Timberwolves


Okay, let's try the opposite. Let's try and figure out how the Wolves could avoid being the worst team in the league. Option No. 1, another team has a rash of injuries that makes Houston seem like Phoenix. Okay, barring that, Option No.2, we need the following to occur:

A. Luke Ridnour picks up where he left off in Milwaukee, being a solid game manager and reliable shooter.
B. Martell Webster slides in and immediately begins to contribute as he did in Portland, providing the perimeter scoring missing in Minny last year.
C. Wesley Johnson was in fact, the best player available at 3, better or at least within range of DeMarcus Cousins only without the chemistry problems, and is able to pick up the pro game's speed and awareness necessary to contribute.
D. Jonny Flynn recovers on schedule from hip surgery.
E. Kurt Rambis and David Kahn get over whatever problems they had with Kevin Love last season, and Love is allowed to be on the floor and become the player everyone else believes he is.
F. Darko Milicic actually was worth five years and $20 million, and alongside Love makes for a stout front court.
G. The triangle, one of the more complex and difficult systems to run, which has only been successful for two teams under one coach with the best or second best player in the league at all times, magically works for a lottery team lacking in both veteran smarts and talent.
H. Mike Beasley really was just misunderstood.

That's a lot that needs to go right. Wolves fans tend to think the media picks on them because of their market. As a proponent of small markets, I'm here to say that's not the case. It's because this team is bad. It was built badly, with bad contracts for bad players, with a bad system for its personnel, and it needs significant upgrades at nearly every position and at multiple depth levels in order to make itself right. The Wolves could come together and shove it in the faces of all the doubters. But until we see the actual manifestation of all the supposed potential the roster holds, your Minnesota Timberwolves are expected to be the worst team in the NBA this season.


Posted on: August 25, 2010 12:01 pm
Edited on: August 26, 2010 9:14 am
 

NBA Pop Quiz: What teams might take a tumble?

Posted by Royce Young

Fall is here, hear the yell, back to school, ring the bell ... The NBA season is right around the corner, and NBA training camp starts in just a few short weeks. To get you ready for the NBA season, we've put together 25 pop quizzes. Pencils ready? We continue our Pop Quizzes with this question...

  What teams are set for a drop in success?

Maintaining excellence for an extended period of time in professional sports isn't easy. Even the big spending, big market clubs have to make the right moves, retain players and keep putting a product on the field or floor that can win.

There are ebbs and flows with teams every season and in the NBA this year, we might begin to see a little shuffling with some of the familiar successful faces moving down the line in the standings while others move up.

So who could be moving down? Who might be dropping off a bit in 2010-11? Here are four candidates:

Phoenix Suns
It seems like every year, we're all waiting for this to happen. But every year Steve Nash defies the laws of aging, has a terrific season and keeps the Suns moving. But there was a constant variable in all of those seasons the Suns saw success - Amar'e Stoudemire. For the first time in eight years the Suns will be without Stoudemire, a player that worked perfectly in Phoenix's up-tempo style and Nash's pick-and-roll ability. Now in 2005 the Suns were without Stoudemire who underwent microfracture surgery, but that was with Nash still in his prime and with a ton more depth.

This time, the Suns replace Stoudemire with Channing Frye and Hakim Warrick, two capable players but obviously not to the caliber of Amar'e. If Phoenix intends to stay in the top tier of the West, a player with have to elevate his game. Maybe that's youngster Earl Clark. Maybe Robin Lopez continues his improvement. Maybe Warrick becomes the new Amar'e playing alongside Nash. Hedo Turkoglu is a new addition, but judging by his play in Toronto last year, he might not be a big help.

Phoenix will still be a good team and a likely playoff team, but with Nash's age and the downgrade in talent on the roster, the Suns might be looking at the beginning of the end.

Cleveland Cavaliers
Didn't they lose someone? Oh right, Delonte West and Shaquille O'Neal. Talk about starting over, you guys. Oh yeah, and that other guy too.

The Cavs are at an impasse they didn't see coming. Others might have seen the writing on the wall with LeBron, but The King's departure was a brick in the face to Cleveland fans everywhere. Any time you lose the face of your team, the face of the league and the best player on the planet, you're rebuilding by default.

The Cavs do have some quality players still, because instead of laying dynamite around the roster, the Cavs have decided to try and strive for mediocrity. And in the East, most of the time average is enough to get to the postseason. But this is a team that had won 60 games the last two seasons. The Cavs lost their star, their coach and their general manager. It's a time to start over for the Cavs and Anthony Parker and Joey Graham probably aren't going be the pieces that maintain the regular season excellence in Cleveland.

Toronto Raptors
Bryan Colangelo tried. He tried to shuffle things around and put together a respectable roster after the loss of Chris Bosh that could possibly stay where they were. But let's face it: Even with Bosh, the Raptors weren't exactly in the upper echelon of the East. With a failed trade for Tyson Chandler that would've moved Jose Calderon and a mishap in trying to sign Matt Barnes left the Raptors with a young roster that will struggle to win games.

Colangelo did do himself a favor by moving Turkoglu's contract, but he also gave Amir Johnson too much money and trading Marco Belinelli for Julian Wright doesn't do much for anyone. Toronto may be in the basement in the East and while it's not like they're falling from the top of the East, the Raptors are likely headed for a drop.

Denver Nuggets
The Nuggets aren't actually on this list... yet. But they will be, if (or when) they lose Carmelo Anthony. Reality is, any time you trade a superstar, you never get an equal return. I mean, how could you? Who's going to give back a top 5-8 player in the league or three players that equal Anthony's ability?

If Denver hangs on to Anthony for the season, it'll be business as usual for the Nuggets. They'll be good, they'll make the playoffs and will have a chance to advance a few rounds. But if they lose 'Melo, then it'll likely be a trip into mediocrity for Denver. The team hasn't enough talent in Nene, Chauncey Billups and Kenyon Martin to stay afloat, but in the West where it's win 50 or stay home the last two weeks of April, it would be tough for the Nuggets to do that. And of course reports are that J.R. Smith might be moving out as well. The Nuggets are facing a potential restructure, and while the roster is in tip-top shape now, it likely won't be come November.

Posted on: August 23, 2010 2:04 pm
 

Jose Calderon to miss World's

Raptors' guard injured in Spain-USA exhibition, will miss FIBA World Championships.
Posted by Matt Moore


Scratch another NBA player from the FIBA World Championships. Raptors guard Jose Calderon, playing for Spain, tore an unspecified muscle in his leg and is out. The good news for Toronto is that he's not expected to miss more than four weeks, meaning he should be good to go for training camp. For Spain, the news is unfortunate, but not terrible.

Spain's already strong on guards with both Juan Carlos Navarro and Ricky Rubio on roster, among others. With a limited number of games, depth isn't a terribly important issue, but you still don't like losing a reliable shooter in international play, which is so reliant on perimeter shooting.

The real pressure may move to Rubio, whose perimeter shooting is subject to quie a bit of doubt. Navarro can be relied on, but the kiddo's jumper is going to have to be better as the team prepares to take on the world.


Posted on: August 16, 2010 8:49 am
 

Shootaround 8.16.10: Chicken and the egg edition

News and links to set the NBA table, brought to you daily...
Posted by Matt Moore

Lance Stephenson's impressive performance in Summer League was enough to make you think maybe all the talk of him being a knucklhead was overblown. Whoops. Stephenson allegedly threw his girlfriend down a flight of stairs Sunday. The question of whether the acqusition of Darren Collison by the Pacers now looks like a savvy move or if Stephenson's realization that he's been bumped down the depth charthelped contribute to the incident is a lot like the chicken and the egg. Only with guys that throw their girlfriends down stairs. Not cool, if true.

Dwyane Wade feasts on the tears of children. No, seriously, there's video evidence and everything .

Mike Miller is no longer on the list of "guys you should mess around with." He's been training with MMA fighters .

Owners-media relationships are one of the more interesting developments in new media, as owners have been at both ends of the spectrum. Michael Hiesley has done interviews with blogs before. James Dolan, on the other hand, doesn't even speak up when he needs to make sure everyone knows the house is in order.

J.J. Redick was one of the most efficient players in the NBA last season, which is particularly difficult from the perimeter. With his new nifty $20 million contract, you have to wonder if he'll be given more opportunities to showcase that efficiency.

The Warriors sold for $450 million, which isn't a bad price tag in this economy. The Detroit Pistons, with multiple championships and a much greater basketball legacy, but in a decisively lower bargaining position, are on the table and close to a deal, but the leading bidder's not willing to go over $400 million . Whether this is the kind of driving force behind the failing economy of a symptom thereof, is, naturally, another chicken-and-the-egg deal. As long as the Pistons don't move, everything should be cool.

O.J. Mayo is arguably the second best player on the Grizzlies, depending on who you talk to. And there are six spot-on reasons why he doesn't have a place on the Grizzlies roster. This has "how the Grizzlies screw up a good situation, again" written all over it.

Josh Childress, on if he can be a lockdown perimeter defender on the Suns, a team not known for its defense, even marginally acceptable defense: "That's the plan."

Andrea Bargnani isn't the worst rebounding seven-footer in the history of the league. But it's really close .

Finally, I'd like to nominate the following as our official slogan for the 2010 FIBA World Championships: "Please do not get hurt, Tyson Chandler." Really? Eric Gordon goes with the team on the next leg, and JaVale McGee, for all his issues one of the true legit bigs on the roster, and Jeff Green go home? In Coach K we trust, but....


Posted on: August 11, 2010 2:37 pm
Edited on: August 11, 2010 2:38 pm
 

Raptors and Hornets to swap Belinelli, Wright

Posted by Royce Young

In an entirely separate deal from the four-team mega-swap going on between the Nets, Rockets, Pacers and Hornets, Marc Stein reports the Hornets are sending Julian Wright to Toronto for Marco Belinelli.

The Hornets are doing some major shuffling as they try and move old pieces out and bring new ones in. Dell Demps is a smart general manager so with Ariza he's boosting defense with a little offense and with Belinelli, he's bringing in an offensive-minded player to run with Chris Paul. Last season Belinelli averaged 7.1 points per game in 17 minutes a night for Toronto.

Wright never quite lived up to expectation and couldn't ever find a role that fit him in New Orleans. A fresh start in Toronto and potentially more playing time might give finally let him showcase some ability.

The Hornets are clearly active right now and doing what it takes to secure their future in CP3. I don't know if Belinelli is exactly a piece that will fire Paul up or make a massive difference, but if anything, Peja Stojakovic is even that much more expendable and the Hornets have a little depth behind Marcus Thornton and Trevor Ariza.
Posted on: August 2, 2010 10:34 am
Edited on: August 2, 2010 10:42 am
 

Shootaround: 8.2.10

Posted by Royce Young
  • Hedo Turkoglu on Bryan Colangelo and the Raptors: “People have to realize something is wrong with that organization and nobody wants to go there any more,” he said in a phone interview from Turkey, where he is captaining the Turkish national team at the World Championships. “It’s not just the players who see this.”
  • Ailine Voison of the Sac Bee has some tough words for Tyreke Evans: "You have to watch the entire video to appreciate the speed, the danger, the prolonged recklessness of the Tyreke Evans speeding incident on May 31. If this were a video game, someone would be dead by now. But enough about the visceral reaction to Evans' mischief behind the wheel. The courts and the CHP have handled the matter – the video was released Friday – professionally and judiciously. The Kings' young star didn't receive special treatment because of his status as the region's most prominent sports celebrity. He cooperated and apologized. He was appropriately shaken. Nonetheless, if you're the Kings? Break out the street signs. Slow down. Stop and think. You can't hand Evans the keys to the franchise if he can't control himself on the freeway. He isn't ready to be your floor leader when he's so oblivious to his surroundings."
  • Jason Quick of The Oregonian on Rich Cho : "One thing is safe to assume about Cho: He won't be asleep on the job. Cho says on average he sleeps three, maybe four, hours a day, for reasons he can't explain. Sund said it isn't unusual for him to get an e-mail from Cho at 6 a.m. Atlanta time, prompting Sund to once reply "Don't you ever sleep?" Cho insists his lack of sleep is not because of stress."
  • Evan Turner says his poor summer league peformance is good for him : "I've been playing pretty much every day against good competition," Turner said. "It was really an eye-opener for me to get my butt kicked, but it was also a good thing, I think. That hasn't happened to me in a really long time, so it made me realize how much harder I had to work to get myself ready for training camp. I can't wait to get started and play with my new teammates and learn from them, and get ready for the season."
  • Brian Windhorst says Shaq might be considering Europe : "Sources have indicated he's even tested the market in Europe trying to land one last $10 million payday. But all of that is unlikely. Indeed, the Cavs may consider re-signing Shaq to a short deal that would pay him $5 million-$7 million and wait for a contender to get desperate to match up with the Lakers or Magic."
  • Assessing where LeBron fits in Cleveland's all-time villainry : "From firing legendary coach Paul Brown, who the team is named after, to completely uprooting Cleveland’s beloved Browns, Art Modell is the city’s original villain. In a way that only furthers the anger towards him, Modell has internalized a lot of this hate and made it part of his persona. When asked if James would surpass him as Cleveland’s most hated villain, he responded “nonsense… I don’t think there’s any basis for it.” Ultimately, James may never pass Modell as Cleveland’s number one sports villain, but he has to come back to the city at least twice every year."
  • Losing Chris Paul in two years isn't the worst case scenario, so says Michael McNamara of Hornets24/7: "As an all or nothing guy I can think of scenarios that are far worse than CP3 leaving in two years. I can imagine other players following Paul’s lead if we trade him out of fear. How do you say no to the next guy who feels entitled when you just appeased Chris Paul’s trade demands? I can imagine becoming a perennial playoff team terrified to blow up the roster; a team that overpays their own players just to remain slightly above average. (I am looking at you Atlanta)."
Posted on: July 31, 2010 1:29 am
Edited on: July 31, 2010 1:31 am
 

Five teams that could've utilized a franchise tag

Posted by Royce Young

The new Collective Bargaining Agreement due to be negotiated next summer will likely have some significant changes. And as Ken Berger writes , the NBA might find some advantage in adopting a signing bonus or franchise tag type system that the NFL employs. What is a franchise tag you ask?

Basically it's a one-year contract at the maximum salary tagged on an unrestricted free agent that prevents him from negotiating with other teams. But there are two types in the NFL:

Exclusive: Player cannot negotiate with other teams and his salary is the greater of 1) 120% of previous year's salary or 2) average salary of the top 5 players playing the same position from the current year.

Non-exclusive: Salary terms are the same except it's the average of the top 5 players from the previous year. Player can negotiate with other teams but current team reserves the right to match the offer. If it doesn't match the offer, it receives two first-round draft picks.

(It would work a little differently from the NFL because salaries don't vary between position in the NBA. There's often no difference between the value of a shooting guard and a center.)

So if the NBA adopted this type of rule, how would it have affected this summer's free agency apocalyse? Ken Berger points out how it could've forced LeBron to stay in Cleveland for (at least) one more year. So here are five teams that could've utilized a franchise tag to its benefit.

Phoenix Suns
This is the best example of how the franchise tag rule would've benefitted a team. The Suns are running out of time in the Steve Nash era. And with Amar'e Stoudemire's contract up, Phoenix had to make a tough decision. Instead of extended Stoudemire out, the Suns were only willing to offer a three-year deal. So New York came in and swooped Amar'e up.

Now if Phoenix could've slapped that tag on Stoudemire, the Suns would've bought at least one more year with him. They'd get at least one more year of Nash teaming with him and maybe one last hurrah at making a deep Western Conference run. Instead, the Suns weren't willing to go long-term on Stoudemire because of injury concerns and therefore he walked.

Memphis Grizzlies
Most agree, Rudy Gay was overpaid. Heck, even Rudy Gay agrees Rudy Gay was overpaid. But the Grizzlies were in a tight spot. If they didn't offer up max money for their 23-year-old star, someone else would. So Memphis tried to nip any other offers and lock up their man for multiple years. Did they jump the gun early? Probably. Gay might be a max player, but that's probably ot be determined. But their hand was forced.

So if Gay gets tagged a franchise player, he gets one year of max money, plus a chance to prove he's worth that. Memphis buys itself another year to figure out who to open its wallet to and potentially stops itself from overreacting based on what it thought the market would do.

Atlanta Hawks
The Hawks were in a similar situation to Memphis. They wanted to keep their star, but were they really ready to dump that kind of money on Joe Johnson. He flopped in the postseason and really had the look of a second banana rather than an alpha dog. Had Atlanta tagged Johnson with the franchise label, he gets another year to figure out if that's where he wants to be.

Plus Atlanta gets an idea if he's the player it needs. The Hawks didn't want to lose him while they have a competitive talented roster. But in four years, they may be really regretting the contract.

Toronto Raptors
The Raptors are probably the first team that comes to most folks mind other than LeBron. But that would've been interesting. Bosh had soured on staying in Toronto. He wanted to go somewhere where the lights are bright. So had Toronto locked down Bosh to try and buy itself one more season to sell its plan and coax a good season out if it, it may not have ended well in the first place.

That's the drawback of the tag. In some cases, players want to leave. Bosh wanted to leave. Preventing him for that might've just made him mad and he likely would've demanded a trade.

San Antonio Spurs
Everyone was a little stunned when Richard Jefferson opted out of a deal in which he was owed $15 million for the next season. But he had a reason: He wanted a long-term contract. And while it worked out fine for the Spurs in the end, had they been able franchise Jefferson, they could've prevented giving him multiple years.

Jefferson was disappointing last season. He underpeformed in basically every category. Everyone knows he can play, but some worried if maybe he was washing up. San Antonio likely preferred not to give Jefferson four or five years, especially for a guy it can't be certain will return to form. If there were some sort of non-exclusive rule where Jefferson is paid no the max money but based on relative compensation, the Spurs could've franchised Jefferson, and let him earn a long-term deal this season. I don't think they would've picked that route of the one they got, but at least it would've been an option.

As you can tell, a franchise tag benefits the team and the owners moreso than the players. In a situation like Toronto, you'd have a lame duck season from Chris Bosh would be asking for a way out. It's a solution the NBA probably would never adopt in the exact same format as the NFL, but in some way, the league wants to keep players with their original teams. If anything else, this is an exercise in the "what if?" world of things.

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com