Tag:Raptors
Posted on: September 27, 2010 9:36 am
Edited on: September 27, 2010 9:36 am
 

Shootaround 9.27.10: Taking and Giving

Jazz will take back Fesenko, Conley has to take charge, Dampier will take his time, and Shaq giving quotes as usual, all in today's Shootaround.
Posted by Matt Moore


It's Fesenko time! ESPN.com's Marc Stein reported via Twitter last night that Kyrylo Fesenko had elected to turn down an offer from the Rockets and return to the Jazz for a one-year, $1-million deal. NBA FanHouse's Sam Sam Amick confirmed that same report . Funny thing is, the Salt Lake City Tribune reports that while Fesenko's made up his mind, discussions haven't begun with Utah to finalize. So we're in the 90% range but not a done deal. If you're wondering why you care, take a look around the Western Conference to see how big the West is. Every center matters.

The Commercial Appeal 's Ron Tillery has a look at five things to watch during Grizzlies training camp, and Mike Conley is the big one. The Grizzlies have eliminated all competition for the point guard job in an effort to give him the confidence to be the player they need him to be. Which isn't really the player he's been for the duration of his career.

Guyism has an awesome run-down of the new technical foul violations , as demonstrated by Rasheed Wallace. Here's a question: How's the league going to make up for the loss of revenue with 'Sheed retiring? That's a lot of fine money going out the door. Could it be that's the reason for the expanded tech rules? Conspiracy! (Note: Not a real conspiracy.)

Sam Amick at FanHouse has another interesting story, as he spoke with Erick Dampier and found out Damp has expanded his list of prospective teams , with Portland, Toronto, and Milwaukee joining the list of teams he's considering. Portland's an interesting option, considering they have Greg Oden, Marcus Camby, and Joel Przybilla on roster, even with the injuries to the first two. Would be quite a statement if Portland brought in Dampier.

NIUBall.com, which covers the Chinese leagues, reports via HoopChina.com that either Von Wafer, Rafer Alston, or both could be headed to China . You realize Rafer Alston was starting for a Finals team a year and a half ago? Geez, talk about a plummet.

Among the many, many quotes that Shaq gave ESPN Boston , he says that this is the first time in his career he doesn't have to hold anyone's hand, nor have anyone hold his. Which is kind of ridiculous considering the level to which Dwyane Wade shouldered the load in Miami, having already made the playoffs. And I think it's hard to argue he had to hold James' hand. And he actually damaged Amar'e Stoudemire's confidence to a large degree. But hey, whatever makes the big guy feel good about himself. Also, apparently Glen "Big Baby" Davis is considered a "great player" by O'Neal. ... 'Kay.

Kwame Brown was injured in a pickup game and will be out 4-6 weeks. The Bobcats are going to be insanely short on centers. Bloggers will be insanely long on jokes about this situation.

Primoz Brezec is playing in Russia this season, according to ... himself . Again, see shot #1 here for why that's relevant.

Don't get Brook Lopez started on comic books .... you'll be there for a while.

Disney is now sponsoring Amway Arena , where the Magic now play. ESPN is owned by Disney. Maybe now you'll see Orlando getting the kind of attention respect that Boston and Cleveland have enjoyed from ESPN for... "BREAKING NEWS! The Miami Heat have gone to dinner together! We take you there live!"

Posted on: September 24, 2010 2:51 am
 

Preseason Primer: Toronto Raptors

Posted by Matt Moore

There's little but ruins left in Toronto with Chris Bosh gone. Bryan Colangelo managed to keep his job, as did Jay Triano, and the cast of characters remains largely the same. The goals have shifted, with the future now being the primary consideration as Colangelo has started shedding salary (including Hedo Turkoglu) and locking up younger talent. Training camp could be nice and relaxed. It could be a mess. There's no way to tell. But we'll try and get a feel for where things stand in our next edition of our Preseason Primers .

Training camp site: Toronto, Canada />
Training camp starts: September 28th

Key additions: Leandro Barbosa (trade), Linas Kleiza (free agency), Julian Wright (trade)

Key subtractions: Chris Bosh (Pat Riley), Hedo Turkoglu (trade), Antoine Wright (free agency)

Likely starting lineup: Jarret Jack (PG), DeMar DeRozan (SG), Linas Kleiza (SF), Amir Johnson (PF), Andrea Bargnani (C)

Player to watch: DeMar DeRozan. Andrea Bargnani will be under the most pressure, but DeRozan has the highest ceiling to improve. DeRozan flashed great athleticism last season and showed off an improved finesse game at summer league. He'll need to capitalize on his entire game in camp if he wants to set the tone of himself as the future for the franchise and give them something to build on.


Chemistry quiz: This team did not seem to like each other last season. Whether that was the pressure of the Bosh scenario, we don't know, but they're going to need to click more this year. Particularly, the team doesn't communicate on defense. At all. It's like radio silence. The jury is not just out on Jay Triano, it's in a pretty fierce debate at the moment. Nothing has been introduced to show that Triano gets through to this team in any capacity.


Camp battles: Jarret Jack and Jose Calderon may get in a knife fight. Linas Kleiza and Amir Johnson probably will get into a knife fight.

Injury issues:
Ed Davis is out after a meniscus injury. Calderon had some bumps and bruises, but in general, the team is young and healthy. Barbosa is trying to come back from not just injury but personal issues last year.

Biggest strength: Bucket-getting. The team can score, that's for sure. Bargnani can hit from anywhere on the foor, with touch and range. Amir Johnson can crash the boards on the offensive glass. Calderon still has a jumper in him. Barbosa is still fast. They can run and they can score and that's pretty much the extent of what they can do.

Glaring weakness: They couldn't stop a corpse with a flamethrower. Their defense is pretty much like the Death Star. Sure there are tall structures, but in reality, you can just fly in, do your business, and get out.
Posted on: September 21, 2010 2:03 pm
Edited on: September 21, 2010 2:08 pm
 

Ed Davis has surgery, out six weeks

Raptors rookie undergoes surgery to repair torn meniscus; fates may or may not hate Toronto.
Posted by Matt Moore


The Raptors can't win for trying. After losing Chris Bosh to the Miami Triad this summer, many people thought that the Raptors could contend for the worst team in the league . But as the summer's gone on, there's been a few murmerings about the Raptors possibly not sucking beyond belief. DeMar DeRozan, Sonny Weems, a bigger role for Amir Johnson, Andrea Bargnani playing more as a scoring post-player rather than trying to compliment Chris Bosh which was like trying to add a red accent to slightly darker red room. And of course, promising rookie Ed Davis, who looked tremendous in pre-draft workouts and great in summer league.

That plan has gotten off to a very rocky start. Davis injured himself in workouts a week ago. Then Raptors play-by-play man Matt Devlin announced that Davis had undergone surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his right knee and would be out six weeks. That's simply terrible news, as a meniscus injury is the kind that not only can vary greatly in terms of recovery time, but also has a nasty habbit for causing long-term issues that hamper a player's ability to stay on the floor.

Six weeks means Davis misses training camp, the first real opportunity to work with the team and let coach Jay Triano see where he fits in the rotation. Six weeks means he may miss the start of the season and when a rookie gets left out to begin things, it's often more difficult for him to work his way in once the games start going.

It's another disappointing turn in a summer defined by disappointment for Toronto. Hopefully he can bounce back and this is the end of the Raptors' turmoil. We're headed towards the big asteroid scenario at this rate.
Posted on: September 9, 2010 9:15 am
Edited on: September 9, 2010 11:42 am
 

Shootaround 9.9.10: Dwight grants a big wish

Rodman's overheard orgy, Artest's ring on the market, and Bogut's MRI.
Posted by Matt Moore
Get your Kleenex ready. The Orlando Sentinel  reports of a visit from Dwight Howard to a woman dying of Stage 3 Multiple Myeloma. The one wish from a dying woman? A visit from the Orlando All-Star. It's a touching story, one that wound up with Howard being the one changed by the visit. Howard is in a unique position for these types of life-changing events. His relationship with his faith may come under constant scrutiny because of his fame, but it also equips him for times like these, comforting a woman on her way out with laughter and compassion.

Ron Artest is selling his championship ring , for charity, before he even has a chance to wear it. NBA.com reports that Artest will sell the ring without putting it on in a fundraiser to help put more mental health professionals in school. This comes on the heels of Artest working in schools to promote good mental health. It's indicative of a drastic reversal in public perception, with Artest going from being considered crazy in the negative, non-serious sense to really putting himself forward as a champion for the cause of mental health intervention. Standing "O" for Crazy Pills.

Dwyane Wade is in court this week for the custody case of his children. His lawyer is recommending custody for Wade, obviously, and there's a lawyer for the boys with three recommendations in play. All three recommendations feature Wade in a custody position to some degree. It would appear the talk of family being important for Wade is talk that's being walked, in this instance.

Depressing news out of Sacramento , as police are investigating vandalism of a Kings mural with a swastika that may be related to Kings' Israeli player Omri Casspi. Seriously, folks. We can move past this, right? The vandals really should watch the kid pass in transition. It's hard to hate him after that.

Andrew Bogut is seeing a hand specialist and having an MRI done . Nothing to worry about, really. After all, there's still like, two weeks before training camp...wait, that's not much time at all. Dang.

So Dennis Rodman? Yeah, he went to a party, and was MC'ing, and then left his microphone on when he went upstairs. That's embarrassing. Wait, what's that you say? He was upstairs having sex with six women? What's the word I'm looking for here? Oh, yeah. Icky. But hey, good to know that just like his playing days, Rodman is hyper-efficient. At least those guests that overheard him on the microphone downstairs can cross "eavesdrop on Dennis Rodman in an orgy" off their bucket list.

Spain fell to Serbia yesterday, in a minor upset. Here's how Spain unraveled . It was a shocking loss for Spain, and for those that believe that Ricky Rubio can actually walk on water, part the seas, and hit a jumpshot.

A look back at Dwight Howard's career nights . It's posts like this that make you think twice before criticizing his play too much.

If you have Raptor fan friends, prepare for them to be a grumpy bunch next season . They're gaining a great scorer (as he's shown in World play) in Linas Kleiza, but they're worried about his usage. They have a dynamic scorer in Andrea Bargnani, who, quite honestly, they hate because he doesn't rebound. There's just a lot of bad blood there right now.

I can answer this question . Does Luke Harangody have a role with the Celtics? Sure. Someone's gotta be mascot.

Jared Dudley is resigned to a good-faith situation with the Suns. That rarely works out well in the A. 
Posted on: September 8, 2010 5:56 pm
Edited on: September 8, 2010 9:50 pm
 

Pop Quiz: Which coach is on the hot seat?

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...

Which coach has the hottest seat going into the season?


Scott Brooks.

No kidding, you have to put Scott Brooks on this list. Even though he's been instrumental in taking a team with nothing but young players and turning them into a playoff team that looks every bit ready to challenge for a Western Conference title, Brooks has to be on this list. Why? Because he was so good last year he won the career death sentence: the Coach of the Year award. Let's take a look at the previous winners, shall we?

Mike Brown: canned.

Byron Scott: deleted.

Sam Mitchell: terminated.

Avery Johnson: gonezo.

Yeesh. Watch your back, Scottie.

Okay, besides the superstition, who's actually in danger of losing their gig this year? Here are four candidates.

Jay Triano: It's been stunning how Triano has managed to avoid harsh criticism for his squad's performance which helped lead to Chris Bosh's departure without so much as a consideration for staying in Toronto. Brian Colangelo takes all the blame for constructing a spineless defensive team with too many inconsistencies offensively, despite acquiring Amir Johnson and Reggie Evans and being willing to spend for Hedo Turkoglu (who despite all his problems, was a legit quality free agent last summer). Yet Triano's team wound up with the worst defensive marks in the league, falling out of the playoffs down the stretch, and he walked away largely unscathed. Now the Raptors are suffering with a significant lack of talent, and often, guys who underperformed with talent end up getting removed when they actually have good reasons for underperforming... much like Triano faces this season.

John Kuester: The offensive wiz of a team now considered to be one of the greater disappointments of the last decade had a rough opening season. Injuries and subpar play from their big free agents (which most people saw coming outside of the Pistons, though not to the degree) played a part, but this is a cold hearted business that very rarely provides reasonable responses to legitimate causes for losing. If Kuester can't get the Pistons turned around with that payroll, his reputation may not spare him from the axe of Joe Dumars.

Flip Saunders: If anyone in the entire league has an excuse for struggling through two seasons, it's got to be Saunders. Saunders was at the helm for one of the most disastrous seasons in league history last year, and had to preside over the meltdown, grin, and bear it as all his talent was shipped out in a rebuilding plan. John Wall was a Godsend, but Saunders has to deal with re-integrating Gilbert Arenas, containing the combustible Andray Blatche, and trying to move the franchise forward with John Wall. Throw in new majority ownership from Ted Leonsis, and Saunders may have too much stacked against him to survive a poor start, fair or not.

Jim O'Brien: Larry Bird has committed to O'Brien, has stayed by his side, and recently gave him a vote of confidence. But he's in the last year of his deal, which makes letting him go much easier to swallow. On top of that, the questions about talent are no longer going to valid this year. The Pacers now feature a legit center in Roy Hibbert, a legit star forward in Danny Granger, and a star point guard in Darren Collison. If O'Brien can't make this team work in a thin Eastern Conference, with at least some improvement, Bird may run out of patience for him.


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 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.


 
 
 
 
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