Posts Tagged ‘Jarrett Jack

Raptors PPG: Playoffs, we’re talking playoffs? Raptors go from tank to bank; What’s happened since the Raptors last made the post-season

- March 29th, 2014

So, the Raptors are in. Fittingly, Amir Johnson, exemplifying everything he brings to the table, was the one to supply the last push Friday against Boston. Amir and DeMar DeRozan have been suffering through down seasons together here longer than anyone else, the last remaining players from the end of the Chris Bosh era.

It’s been a long time coming, that’s for sure. A lot of bad basketball has been played since Bosh broke his face. It’s a new day. While nobody knows what the off-season will bring (a lot of change, or stability?) the tank is long-dead and thoughts about potential playoff opponents can now be voiced.

- Johnson’s been Toronto’s best overall player in the three seasons previous to this one and works harder and plays through more injuries than anybody on the team (though DeRozan is about his equal in both of those regards). That’s why it was nice to see him get the Raptors through.

- No question Kyle Lowry’s been the top Raptor this season (again, with apologies to DeRozan) and he showed what he’s all about as well in fighting off an ankle injury to make some decisive drives to the bucket that helped seal the win.

- DeRozan wasn’t about to let the pesky Celtics, who he’d already seen five times this season, including the two exhibition games, come back again. With his jumper shaky, DeRozan looked to repeatedly attack, getting five shots in the paint in both the third and fourth quarters. Now that he’s an all-star, DeRozan  is getting calls from the officials, which helps quite a bit, but it’s his mindset that is the key.

- Nice to see John Salmons find his game. To say he’s been struggling is a massive understatement. His game had completely vanished, but Dwane Casey kept the faith, even though using Landry Fields instead would have made a lot of sense, and Salmons responded by nailing his first two shots, picking up two assists, a couple of steals and no turnovers. He was also +15, tied for the team lead.

- A bonus thought: +/- is way down on the list of useful stats, but it’s a lot more relevant in basketball than it is in hockey, where power plays mess with the numbers. While it’s not a be all, end all, the eye test shows that Chuck Hayes has been excellent for the team lately. The +/- check shows Hayes has been +15 (tied for team lead), +3 (best of the reserves), +17 (2nd on team) and +16 (best on team) in his past four games. He’s supplied strong defence and helps move the ball around thanks to his surprisingly strong passing skills.

- Since Dwight Howard and Hedo Turkoglu took out the Raptors in five games in the playoffs, Toronto witnessed (a lot more than this, but a few highlights/lowlights):

The ill-fated Jermaine O’Neal deal; The end of the Sam Mitchell era and the elevation of Jay Triano to head coach; Bryan Colangelo gifting  the Heat with the cap space to form the Big Three by dumping O’Neal for Shawn Marion and Marcus Banks; The drafting of DeMar DeRozan; The Raptors “winning” the Turkoglu sweepstakes, only to almost immediately regret it once Turkoglu showed up to camp fat and unwilling to justify his payday; DeRozan starting 65 games as a rookie; the Jarrett Jack\Jose Calderon controversy at the point; A career year from Bosh, that ended prematurely when he got hurt and shut himself down in advance of his free agent flight to Miami; Bosh leaving, Bryan Colangelo ripping him, then saving some face by somehow dumping Turkoglu on the Suns (his former agent was in charge there); A disastrous season that ended with Triano out, Dwane Casey in and Jonas Valanciunas drafted in Colangelo’s ballsiest move, since he wouldn’t come over for a year and because Bargnani had soured nearly everyone in the city on European players; A lockout, followed by a shortened season where the Raptors were horrible to watch because the talent simply wasn’t there, but where Casey turned around the defensive culture and started turning around Toronto’s reputation as a soft team; The development of the youngsters and the drafting of Terrence Ross and Quincy Acy; Last season’s brutal start; The Kyle Lowry/Calderon and Lowry/Casey situations; Ross wins the slam dunk contest; The trade for Rudy Gay which sent Calderon elsewhere; The regression and booing of Bargnani; The arrival of Tim Leiweke and Masai Ujiri; The miraculous Bargnani trade that actually brought back draft picks; The tank talk; This season’s bad start and the Lowry trade rumours and questions about Casey’s future; The trade of Gay to Sacramento; The stunning turnaround of the team into a squad that wins two thirds of the time; Lowry’s all-NBA caliber campaign; DeRozan’s all-star nod; The return to the playoffs.

 

 

 

Jarrett Jack to New Orleans all but done according to multiple reports

- November 20th, 2010

ESPN and Yahoo! Sports have backed a Greek report that New Orleans Hornets forward Peja Stojakovic is on his way to Toronto, along with Jerryd Bayless, for Jarrett Jack, Marcus Banks and David Andersen.
The Raptors have not confirmed the deal, but reports say they have agreed to it in principle.
Bayless cannot be traded in a package deal because he was recently acquired by New Orleans, but can be moved for the trade exception the Raptors received in the Leandro Barbosa-Hedo Turkoglu deal.
Stojakovic’s best days are behind him, but he carries a valuable $14 million US (plus trade kicker) expiring contract.
Bayless was a big-time scorer while at Arizona and was the 2008 Las Vegas Summer League MVP, averaging 29.3 points per game. He has not found a niche in the NBA because he is not a true point guard but lacks the size to play big minutes at shooting guard. Selected by Indiana 11th overall, Bayless was shipped to Portland on draft day in a deal involving Jack before being moved along to New Orleans this off-season.
Jack was splitting minutes with Jose Calderon. He signed with the Raptors largely to play with his good friend and former Georgia Tech. teammate Chris Bosh, who left a year later.
If the deal is finalized, Jack will be reunited with close friends Monty Williams, the Hornets’ head coach and Hornets superstar Chris Paul, the starting point guard.
Banks rarely played and also is in the last year of his deal, while Andersen, coming off his best game as a Raptor, has one unguaranteed year left.
Calderon had been seeing increased minutes for the team as Jack, hampered by nagging injuries, struggled with his decision-making. The team preferred to move Calderon – and almost succeeded this summer before Charlotte owner Michael Jordan nixed a deal – but Jack’s smaller contract was far more tradeable.
Jack was a team leader who served as a mentor to players such as DeMar DeRozan, Sonny Weems, Ed Davis and Amir Johnson, so it will be interesting to see how the club fills that void.
Andersen’s departure opens up more minutes for young big men Ed Davis – expected to make his debut within the next two weeks – and Joey Dorsey.
Competitively, this sets Toronto back this season, but long term, it gives them a B-level scoring prospect in Bayless and increased cap flexibility (about $2 million saved next season).
The Raptors still have a $14.5 million trade exception from the Bosh sign-and-trade to use to acquire a much-needed talent upgrade and minus Jack, on paper, the club moves closer to the top of the lottery.

Reggie speaks, Raps listen

- November 18th, 2010

Beneath the ever-present smile and the odd twist in the English language lurks a real leader.
Who knew?
Reggie Evans, based on recent events appears to have assumed the role of team leader in the Raptors locker room.
In the 24 hours between a game in Washington devoid of any effort or passion – Reggie’s summation but one shared by many inside and outside the team – the Raptors Energizer Bunny on the boards called his team together and let it be known that kind of effort would not be tolerated.
Effort was not an issue for the Raps that same night in a win over Philadelphia.
Now we are all well aware that you can only go to the well so many times with these team meetings.
This one was not only necessary, it was everything these things are at their very best: timely, well received, and effective.
Evans stepping up and putting it to his teammates in his no-nonsense way was the perfect candidate?
Why?
Because no one is going to point at Reggie Evans and say there is any other agenda at work there. There is no more unselfish player on the floor in a Raptors uniform than Evans. He does all the dirty work, all the grunt work and then hands it off to his teammates to finish it off.
Next time you are at a game, count how many times Evans pulls down an offensive rebound and kicks it out to someone else. More often than not he’s under the basket when he does this. A more selfish player would go back up and finish the play by himself, but not Reggie. He understands that possession has a better chance of a successful completion with someone else directing it into the basket. Yes, that is exactly what is being asked of him, but actually doing it and doing it without reservation immediately establishes his team-first attitude.
Evans sounded somewhat insulted Wednesday night after revealing he had called a team meeting when he was asked if he felt more comfortable doing this now that there’s no Chris Bosh or franchise player on the roster whose territory he might be trampling by calling the meeting.
“I don’t really care if Chris were here. It really don’t bother me because no one puts any fear in my heart just because he’s a superstar,” Evans said. “It’s just that it’s harder to address things when you are not playing. When you are on the court, you can let those actions by playing hard (back up what you’re saying). It’s kinda hard to do it when you’re not playing. They would all be ‘What are you talking about? You don’t even play.’”
In other words, Evans, had he been playing last year, would have been this voice then, but didn’t feel it appropriate because he was injured and not contributing.
A quick check with the likes of Sonny Weems and Jarrett Jack suggest Evans words were taken to heart..
That, more than even the win over Philadelphia that followed, make Wednesday a big day in the development of this year’s Raptors’ team.
— Mike Ganter

Calderon vs. Jack; NBA pitching contraction

- October 21st, 2010

A few quick things today. Had a good discussion on Twitter Thursday about Jose Calderon vs. Jarrett Jack in the starting lineup. I don’t get it and it seems very few people do. Jose looks like a shell of his former self, he isn’t helping the team much and he is helping his trade value even less.

I’m not huge into the +- stat in basketball, but it isn’t completely useless. Calderon is -15 for the pre-season playing almost exclusively with the starters, Jack is +29 playing mostly with the reserves. Calderon is shooting 28% and 9% fromt three, meanwhile Jack is posting absurd numbers that won’t last (north of 70% from three). I know Jack is playing extremely well with the second unit, but the Raptors aren’t going to win games if the first unit puts them in a hole – which it will if Calderon tries to guard the likes of Rajon Rondo, Derrick Rose, Jrue Holiday, John Wall, etc., etc., etc. Teams don’t do well when they are always battling back from a deficit. At least if Calderon is coming off the bench he will only have to guard backup point guards.

Word came down today that they’ll start Jack Friday against the Knicks. I’d be shocked if it isn’t a permanent switch.

In other Raptor news, Ed Davis says he will be back in two weeks.

According to cbssports.com, while the NBA wants to reduce salaries by 33% in the next collective bargaining agreement, it knows the players union will not accept anything close to that so other options are being explored. One possibility is contraction.  I don’t like seeing teams being taken away – I feel awful for basketball fans in Seattle and Vancouver – but few would shed any tears if Memphis was contracted. It should have been done long ago in the NHL with Florida, Atlanta, possibly Carolina, Phoenix and Nashville. Another idea is making contracts less guaranteed, more like the NFL system. I like the idea of basing later years of contracts on performance – you play like crap you lose half your salary – but I think this could get ugly.

Monday musings

- October 18th, 2010

Let’s start with Canada Basketball, before moving on to the Raptors and the NBA in general.

- Leo Rautins is going to get a two-year extension today. A lot of fans might not be happy with the move, but the organization has shown a commitment to Leo and the Dalembert incident aside – he has done a passable job with the team. He got them into the World Championship when nobody thought they’d get there. Yes, they were pretty terrible once there, but they weren’t exactly running out an imposing roster. Let’s see what he can do with some talent, before we write him off.

The one problem with that line of thinking is I have heard chatter from a handful of people who happen to have the ears of some of Canada’s up-and-coming star-calibre prospects, and the word is some of them would prefer to play for a younger coach that they have more of a connection with. That would make developmental coach Greg Francis the guy in my eyes, but I’ve heard he might not be who they want to play for either. Who is? No idea.

I’m going to side with Canada basketball on this one. You can’t have the players running the show, no matter how talented and promising they are. Once they start calling the shots on any team, you’re done. Ask the Raptors how letting Carter or Bosh run things went.

Leo has improved as a coach over the years and he will have to get a lot better yet in order to last the next two years. He will be the guy that will try to get Canada into the 2012 London Olympics. It is possible, but more realistic is 2014 (worlds in Spain) and beyond. By that point, Canada, talent-wise, should be top 5 or 6 in the world. Right now we’re more like 15-25.

- As for the Raptors, still not feeling the Jose Calderon, Reggie Evans version of the starting lineup. I see the logic – Evans’ rebounding helps make up for Bargnani’s failings in that regard and Amir Johnson is rolling with the second unit, but I’d still rather see Johnson – who also plays great with Bargnani – starting.

The argument for Calderon is he isn’t doing terrible, he doesn’t turn the ball over and Jarrett Jack is running the bench brigade brilliantly. I understand that, but at this point, to me, Jack is a much better player than Calderon, particularly defensively and I think it is going to get ugly if Calderon is starting against guys like Paul, Williams, Rondo, Collison, Holiday, and on and on. He’s far more suited to guarding backup point guards.

- Time to admit I was wrong about Linas Kleiza. He is a much better player now than he was before heading over to Europe. I was judging him on his years in Denver. He’s not the same guy. Is it crazy to think Kleiza might be the team’s best player? I don’t think so. He can score in a variety of ways, hits the boards and competes hard, is a good passer and isn’t completely useless defensively.

- Still can’t believe Phoenix agreed to (A) Take Turkoglu and (B) send back Barbosa. Highway robbery. I feel bad for Steve Nash. By next year at the latest I expect him to be sent elsewhere. He will get extremely frustrated trying to carry Turkoglu on his back.

Thursday thoughts

- October 14th, 2010

Until the regular season starts I think the format here will be a daily (or as close to daily as I can manage) quick-hit wrapup of hoops-related stuff.

- Raptors NBA TV is becoming NBA TV Canada. Is that a good thing? Most likely since budgets might be increased and so on, but it could be a bad thing if Raptor-specific content is reduced significantly. We’ll find out more Friday.

- Had a pretty good debate with a close friend today about whether the Raptors or Wednesday’s opponents the Sixers will have the better season. He went Raptors I’m going Sixers. The Raptors have a big edge in terms of big men and they have a natural point guard in Jose Calderon and a close enough to a true point in Jarrett Jack while the Sixers are filled with combo guards. But those combo guards are pretty damn good. I was high on Jrue Holiday at draft time a year ago and nothing has changed. The kid is going to be a stud. Evan Turner is going to be very good as well and Lou Williams is a well above average player. They also have Andre Iguodala at the 2/3 and Thad Young who I also have always liked. I think they are a few games better than the Raptors, but both teams will miss the playoffs. Long-term I like the Raptors right now, but if the Sixers find a way to spend the money being wasted on Elton Brand on an excellent four of rive and add a true point guard, they quickly can become a playoff team in the East.

- Speaking of which, Philadelphia could have drafted just such a player if they took DeMarcus Cousins over Turner. I had Cousins behind only John Wall in this draft, ahead of Turner and many people thought I was nuts, but on talent alone, Cousins wins out. Turner has way better intangibles, but Cousins could be a dominant NBA centre. He has size, skill and a mean streak. Cousins is playing very well in the pre-season after showing flashes of brilliance at Summer League. Perhaps the Sixers saw what happened to Portland (Greg Oden over Kevin Durant) and did not want history to repeat itself, but it says here, Philadelphia, New Jersey (Derrick Favors) and Minnesota (Wesley Johnson) picked the wrong guy. Character is a key in building a good team, but talent and size tend to trump all in the NBA and Cousins has both in spades.

- What do I take from Wednesday’s double OT Raptor win over the Sixers? Well, good effort in a back-to-back, 6-22 shooting by Andrea Bargnani much more palatable if he grabs 8 boards and has 4 blocks, it would be a crime if Jarrett Jack isn’t the starting point guard, Barbosa for Turkoglu was highway robbery and Amir Johnson will justify his contract if he can average 27 minutes a night. Finally, much better effort on the boards than a night earlier against Chicago – but granted, as I said earlier, Philly isn’t scaring anybody up front (in fairness, again, Chicago is one of the top rebounding teams in the NBA).

Assorted thoughts after a week of Raptor camp

- October 4th, 2010

Not in Vancouver, unfortunately, so thought I’d sum up my thoughts after watching and talking to the Raptors in Toronto for a week:

DeMar DeRozan looks bigger and seems more confident in every way. He has very high expectations for himself and the team seems to be trying to make him the next “star” of the team because he is an easier sell than the more staid Andrea Bargnani.

Bargnani is also confident and much more at ease talking to the media. If he is feeling extra pressure with Chris Bosh gone, it certainly is not showing.

Will be interesting to see if Bargnani and DeRozan can take big steps forward with so much more attention coming their way from defences.

Amir Johnson isn’t feeling any pressure thanks to his new contract. He’s looking to do the same things defensively, push his rebound total up to 10 a game while staying out of foul trouble. Good to see he’s ambitious, but a double-double is out of the question unless he can stay on the court for about 28 minutes a night. In the past he’s barely been able to play half that many minutes.

This team has a better mix of personalities than recent Raptor squads. There are still a bunch of good guys, but it isn’t all good guys anymore, and that’s a good thing. Linas Kleiza, Reggie Evans, Amir Johnson, Jarrett Jack and a couple others all play with an edge.

Sonny Weems might be the most confident player on the roster. He has massive expecations for himself at both ends of the floor.

Players always are confident and thinking big at this time of year, but it seems even more the case this year. While some of the goals are unrealistic, it’s always good to see players trying to get a lot better instead of just coasting, like that Turkoglu guy.

Media day wrapup

- September 28th, 2010

Here’s the best of what I got at Raptors media day Monday that did not make the stories I wrote for the paper:

Andrea Bargnani:

Kind of weird (Bosh) has been here last four years (Bargnani has been here), I wish him all the
best.

He’s gone, so we just keep playing, we’ve got new guys, we’ve got to get better. Other guys are going to
have the chance to step up and that’s what we look for. We have a very young team.
When Chris was out? I had the chance to play agaist double-teams, defence
was more focused on me. Is this your team?

We have a great chemistry, that’s important.

On playing with Amir Johnson: ,I’m great with him on the
court. He runs the floor better than me glad to play with him.
We have lots of guys who speak in the locker room, don’t worry.

Rebounding: Not enough time (to concentrate on it with Italy this summer). I played in the low post, I was the main guy, I had to score a lot every night, get the touches at the end of the game. I was playing 30, 40 minutes a night, wasn’t something I was focusing on. Wasn’t focusing on one thing.

DeMar DeRozan:
Had a great summer, worked on a lot of things. Just trying to get better.
Ball-handling is the main thing. Face of franchise? I’m up for the challenge, trying to get
better every night. Don’t look at it as pressure. I love being the underdog.
On Bosh: We’ll miss him, but we’ve got to keep moving. I sat right next to him, he always talked to me, when I first got here, he talked to me about a lot of stuff. Our first pre-=season game he said to me, don’t mess up. That’s something that will always stick with me.
Now he’s the enemy.

Sonny Weems:
I expect big thing. I feel real good. We have a bunch of guys here who want to play.

Great opportunity. I feel like I can be one of the premier players on this team, that’s what I’m
striving for. But individual success will come.

On predictions that the Raptors will be terrible: It’s just a bunch of guys who sit behind a desk and all they do is
talk. That’s why I call it opinions, because everybody has one. It definitely gives you motivation because you want to prove people wrong.

Goal is to be a starter? That’s what I’m aiming for, I think with me playing the way I
have been, I think I can get it.
Contract. Not thinking about it. It’s going to come, will take care of itself.

On battling with Linas Kleiza, a friend from Denver: Just a friendly rivalry, that’s all. No amimosity towards each
other, just part of the job.

Jarrett Jack:

On Chris Bosh leaving:

It’s just like college, he left me after one year. The only advice I ever gave him was to do whatever your heart thought was best for you. He thought Miami was best for him so you can’t fault him for that.

Amir Johnson:

The opportunity is definitely there. Instead of a guy relying on a guy scoring 20-30 points a night, we’ll play more as a team. Instead of Chris Bosh, it will be the Raptors.

Absolutely, I think we’ll improve. We’re going to be an up-and-down team, everybody will get a chance to score. We just make the offence come to us. I score my points on put-backs and rebounds, I definitely improved on my offensive game over the summer. One of my goals is to average a double-double.

Johnson asked about his Foul Trouble video. Said he is ready to cut down on the fouls and play more minutes.

“More time you get, the better you get at not fouling. More time I played, the better I got.”

Will he be able to avoid foul trouble against Miami, will the rest of the league?

I think I’ll be alright. (Will they be at the line the whole game?) … No they won’t.

s:
Just made the wrong move. Knew there was something funny going on.
Not being healthy: Not trying to get used to it, it’s real tough to deal
with after my wrist injury. Just try to work, try to get stronger.
Dad: Just try to take the positive from it. Work on my shot, do all the
little things. I feel good, I’m riding the bike, working on the treadmill.
Just when they clear me when I’m strong enough to play.
Far behind: I think it puts me behind a lot, will be a learning experience,
but it puts me far behind.
Like Toronto. Plan is not to come back with a brace.
Very frustrating because I never missed a game until I broke my wrist.
Not about how you start the season, all about how you finish the year.
Being in the NBA has been a lifelong dream, but I’m getting used to it.
Under wing: I feel like it’s a family, everyone just takes you in and if you
need anything you can call anytime of the night. Like brothers, showing me
what’s what, what to do, what not to do. They have their inside jokes, I
known DeMar since AAU, you can tell they have a good friendship and that’s a
good thing.

Bargnani: Kind of weird he’s been here last four years, I wish him all the
best. Expecations on everybody, I want to be the best player possible, keep
getting better. I played with the national team a couple of months, I played
back to the basket, was the main guy there (double teams) was good for me.
Make up for Chris? He’s gone, so we just keep playing, we’ve got new guys,
can’t wait to start training camp. I mean, we didn’t come from a
championship last year, we’ve got to get better. Other guys are going to
have the chance to step up and that’s what we look for. We have a very young
team.
When Chris was out? I had the chance to play agaist double-teams, defence
was more focussed on me. Is this your team? This is Raptors team. No, you
don’t say at the microphone, it is something you say on the court. Game
after game. Not something that you just say before the season ever starts.
A team. We have a great chemistry, that’s importatn, like I said, last year
we didn’t make the playoffs.
On Amir, will play much more minutes together. I’m great with him on the
court. He runs the floor better than me glad to play with him.
I’m thinking I got better last year. Try to play more inside, be more
aggressive with double teams. We have lots of guys who speak in the locker
room, don’t worry.
I have to be a good player, best player as possible, try to get better.
Rebounding: Not enough time. I played in the low post, I was the main guy, I
had to score a lot every night, get the touches at the end of the game. I
was playing 30, 40 minutes a night, wasn’t something I was focusing on.
Wasn’t focusing on one thing.

Triano: Had a great summer with the national team. Have to get better at the
defensive end. I love the challenge. I love the challenge when people tell
us.

DeRozan:
Had a great summer, worked on a lot of things. Just trying to get better.
Ball-handling. Face of franchise. I’m up for the challenge, trying to get
better every night. Don’t look at it as pressure. I love being the underdog.
We’re trying to find where Ed lives. We need guys like him.
We’ll miss him, but we’ve got to keep moving. Bosh was, I sat right next to
him, he always talked to me, when I first got here, he talked to me about a
lot of stuff. Our first pre-=season game he said to me, don’t mess up.
Now he’s the enemy.
Young Gunz: Helps a lot. It really brings us together. Being able to be
friends like that outside of basketball. It’s fun.
Amir/Bargnani. Will be even better Amir worked a lot this summer. He’s
definitely ready. We should be able to surprise a lot of people.
Do you need a franchise player? Not really, we have a lot of great players.
We’ve gotta change the name,. Everybody in Toronto knows it’s our
trademarkt. It’s cool.

Weems:
I expect big thing. Get up and down the court. Post-Bosh era. I feel real
good. We have a bunch of guys here who want to play. Can rebound, block
shots, play defence.
Been up and down since I’ve been in the league. Great opportunity. I feel
like I can be one of the premier players on this team, that’s what I’m
striving for. But individual success will come. Was close with guys in
Denver. It’s very very rare when you have a team where everybody likes each
other. Know each other’s likes, dislikes, it carries onto the court. If you
have that relationship, it carries onto the court.
Bargnani is going to step up in a big role, I mean he has to. He’s basically
our guy. It’s just a bunch of guys who sit behind a desk and all they do is
talk. That’s why I call it opinions, because everybody has one. It
definitely gives you motivation because you want to prove people wrong.
Davis bump in the road, that’s what he’s going through. When he comes back
he’ll get his minutes. On this team, he’s going to be able to play because
he does a lot of things some of the big guys in the league don’t do, block
shots and rebound.
We’ll come up with another name, something like Young Ones.
For starter? That’s what I’m aiming for, I think we me playing the way I
have been, I think I can get it.
Contract. Not thinking about it. It’s going to come, will take care of
itself. Just a friendly rivalry, that’s all. No amimosity towards each
other, just part of the job.
I think my man is going to leave. That’s my boy, I’m with him 100%.

Kleiza:

Jack: Never a bad thing when you take a liking to someone. I know a lot of guys, during the season you talke, after the season we don’t. If you are close, you will go that extra mile.

It’s just like college, he left me after one year. The only advice I ever gave him was to do whatever your heart thought was best for you. He thought Miami was best for him so you can’t fault him for that.

Andrea ready. I think you’ve seen tremendous growth in Andrea since he’s been in the league. Amir looks a lot more comfortable in the post. Get Andrea the ball inside more? We know what he can do on the perimeter, if it calls for that, we’ll definitely give him the ball.

Johnson: The opportunity is definitely there. Instead of a guy relying on a guy scoring 20-30 points a night, we’ll play more as a team. Instead of Chris Bosh, it will be the Raptors.

Absolutely, I think we’ll improve. We’re going to be an up=and-down team, everybody will get a chance to score. We just make the offence come to us. I score my points on put-backs and rebounds, I definitely improved on my offensive game over the summer. One of my goals is to average a double-double.

Close to guys? It definitely helps, when you spend time together, we talk all the time, why not talk on the court on the defensive end? Just kind of treat it like a family. Stick together, stick together on the court.

English taught him? Secret, you have to see it in a game, I’ll explain it then.

Johnson asked about his Foul Trouble video. Said he is ready to cut down on the fouls and play more minutes. More time you get, the better you get at not fouling. More time I played, the better I got. Against Miami? I think I’ll be alright. At line the whole game … no they won’t. We’ll see what happens.

Cool to look back? Absolutely. Definitely feel comfortable, kind of relief. Got a lot of weight off my back, think I’ll do better. No pressure at all.

Colangelo on Bargnani:

He’s been progressing every year, getting better every year, to some degree, in the shadow of Crhis. He’s going to have a lot more opportunities to score, to express himself on the court. He had a great year, he was the leader of the (Italian national) team and was doing the things in the post. He told me he spent so much time in the post, I really got more comfortable.

I don’t know how giant a step (he will take). There will definitely be a step and people ask me all the time, who’s the leader of the team – I don’t know who the true leader will be – I don’t know if I could tell you who the true leader of the team was last year – I know who the leading scorer of the team was – I can estimate the leading scorer of this team is going to be Andrea. It’s because he’s already poised to be that.He’s the natural scoring leader, if you will.

Who’s going to lead the team? That’s a different story.

When you’ve got a guy scoring 24 pts and taking out 10-11 rebounds a game there’s obviously someone that’s not going to get those opportunities. In some cases, it was Andrea. Again, it’s not a knock on Chris. Chris did tend to hold the ball. Andrea was expected to be away from the basket and open up those lanes. And a lot of times Chris got to the lane because had that room to work. But that stops other players from making plays.

Andrea, I don’t think, showed the frustration but of course his 17 points is probably going to increase because we’ll be going to him a little more in the post and little more outside. There should even be a few boards for him to pick up.

It’s moving (his development) in the direction we thought it would. I don’t think there was  ever a time frame put on it. At 17 and 6 last year, the biggest disaapoinment is his rebounds were only six per game…I anticipate he’s going to move up from the 17 pts he scored last year and we hope that he moves up from six rebounds. He’s well on his way … You look around the league at the bigs, the 7-footers, who has his versatility and skill set. Again, every team that calls wants to ask about Andrea. Is he available? They smell blood in the water. They read articiles about how bad he is.

Jack happy in Toronto; Raptors workout Alabi, Whiteside, Jones and Stephenson

- June 15th, 2010

More on the draft workout later, but news of the day is Jarrett Jack, in town to workout with the Young Guns, says he is happy in Toronto.

Jack says he has no idea where the rumours of his asking for a trade came from.

He asked the media why he would come up to Toronto to work out if he was unhappy? A good question.

He also said Bryan Colangelo told him he didn’t leak anything about Jack wanting out.

Jack:

“It hasn’t affected my summer at home still have my same approach. Trying to improve and keep myself in shape. There are some situations going on with our team. I know we like to keep that internal, but as far as with me, I know there’s a rumour I’m requesting a trade or something of that matter. But I’m up here on my own merit coming up here to workout just to workout with Sonny and DeMar and Amir and Joey Dorsey. If I wanted a trade I doubt I’d be flying up here to workout. I don’t know where that came from or where that came up. Me and Bryan talked about it. Somebody just put something in the air trying to have something to talk about. It never came from my end, and he said it never came from his either so we don’t know where it came from.

Coexist? I think we can. Went through last year. Could have possibly eased the situation between both of us. Don’t come in there and say players want this. Up to coaching staff. Situations where we maybe could have played more together or switched up the rotation. I hope we can. I would hate for either one of us to have to leave because we couldn’t try to make it work. If we come back, hopefully we can do it, if not then we’ll just deal with it.”

I’d be surprised if Jack is dealt this summer. I think Jose Calderon and Hedo Turkoglu are the first guys to go. Jack did seem perturbed that he didn’t get as many minutes at the two as he was promised when he signed with Toronto. As someone ardently opposed to the Sam Mitchell special (two PG’s on the floor at the same time), I understand why he was frustrated, but agree with Triano that it isn’t a successful look.

Some great character bigs in for the Raptors today, plus two intriguing scoring guards.

Alabi and Whiteside were very personable and very big. The two tallest guys I’ve seen working out for the Raptors since, I would say, 7-foot-2 Roy Hibbert a couple of years ago.

Stephenson is trying to put past issues behind him and has the body and athleticism to be an NBA player.

Raptor’s assistant GM Masai Ujiri compared Jones to Rodney Stuckey. Jones is a tweener, but was one of the NCAA’s most potent scorers last season and could be in the mix if the Raptors do the expected and pick up a second first round pick via trade.

Read something interesting today that players including Gordan Haywood are refusing to work out for the Memphis Grizzlies (one of the NBA’s worst-run franchises starting from ownership) who happen to pick one slot ahead of the Raptors. Hayward has been in to work out for Toronto.

As I said, much more on the draft workouts later.

But first, one correction. I thought Damion James would be in today or Thursday to work out. Turns out I was mistaken. Dominique Jones is the player I confused him with. A team source  informed me today that James likely won’t be coming in as he has been “off the radar for a while now.”