Prior to the Raptors morning shootaround on Tuesday in New York, the team got together for an impromptu team pic. This was not a marketing tool.
This was merely a team posing as one at the request of one of their own. It was yet another sign of how tight this group is.
Look hard enough and you can probably find the pic on the internet and you’ll notice the absence of Andrea Bargnani. Someone surely will make the jump and read into this how unpopular the big Italian must be not to be included in such a photo.
In truth, he was at the far end of the court having his sore right ankle worked on by team trainers at the time. Nothing more than that.
But the pic itself speaks volumes to a team that actually likes one another. You can’t fake the smiles and the obvious commerarderie plainly evident here.
Reggie Evans, who wears his heart on his sleeve, and is one of the few Raptors with free reign to leave for greener pastures next season if he so chooses. He has already publicly stated his desire to return because he likes the group so much.
Off court chemistry is not a problem with this group. The problem, as anyone who saw the game that played out on that same court a few hours later, is the on-court chemistry.
In short, it is lacking more often than it isn’t.
For the most part this team that gets together so well off the court do not work well together on it.
For whatever reason their talents and their deficiencies tend to be duplicated as you go through the roster. Too many are able to do the same things right and more importantly, too many have the same holes in their games – holes that teams like the Knicks expose in a heartbeat.
You will have no doubt heard the old adage that a team that is together off the court or the field or the ice has a better chance of being together on it.
These Raptors would appear to be the exception to that adage.
Chemistry is a very important element in team building. It may be one of the most important, but in the case of the Raptors their lack of chemistry on the court trumps anything that happens when they’re off it.
And that’s a waste and the reason this solid off-court chemistry won’t prevent wholesale changes to the lineup for next season.
Posts Tagged ‘Toronto Raptors’
Prior to the Raptors morning shootaround on Tuesday in New York, the team got together for an impromptu team pic. This was not a marketing tool.
In a season that can’t end soon enough, the Toronto Raptors sent possibly the most important message they could send Friday night.
In short, they still care.
This is not to suggest they didn’t care before. Say what you want about the Raptors and the 18 wins they have to date, they have not quit.
So while it might sound trite to point out that they actually care, keep in mind, this is something not even an on-the-edge playoff team like Friday’s opponents, the Pacers, have even their closest scrutinizers believing.
Which brings us to the message.
It was almost six weeks ago that the Raptors walked off the court steaming after Darren Collison threw up a three-ball at the buzzer in a game they already led by eight points with seconds left on the clock.
Fast forward to Friday night with 13 seconds left and Pacers coach Frank Vogel calling a timeout to miraculously draw up an 11-point play to win the game.
In the Raptors huddle, with the game won, the talk was all about payback as Ed Davis said in a post-game interview with Paul Jones and Eric Smith of the FAN590.
If you watch the replays of the Raptor huddle you can see Jose Calderon gesturing wildly (Jose is often most animated) at Leandro Barbosa. Neither player will say what was being said at that point but it doesn’t take a genius to figure it out.
As far as the Raptors players were concerned they had been punked by Collison in that game in Indy and it was time to send a message that they would not be disrespected.
Barbosa followed through driving hard to the basket with 7 seconds left. Although he missed the two-foot lay-in, the Pacers got the message loud and clear.
Disrespect the Raptors and expect the same in return.
And yes, the Raptors still care.
— MIKE GANTER
Had some technical problems for a while, but everything is back to normal and Mike Ganter and myself will be contributing to the blog again on a regular basis.
Quick thoughts for today, apologies for the rambling:
Been saying for years there is no point squeezing into the playoffs only to get killed in the first round – if that’s the peak for a team, ie. Raptors crushed in first round two years in a row, then went crashing back down to earth.
If you’re going to be bad, be terrible, don’t do it half-way. The Raptors were poised to go their usual route of ending somewere between 8-10 in the East before Reggie Evans went down. He was keeping them in games and on the treadmill. Without Evans and with an obscene amount of injuries following, the Raptors have fallen to where they need to be for the good of the franchise long-term.
Yes, this draft has been talked down as a weak one, but the odds say a top 4 talent is still going to help a ton, especially if his name is Kyrie Irving. Talent trumps all in the NBA and the Raptors desperately need talent.
- Those calling for Jay Triano’s head are hilariously misguided. No coach was going to get much out of this roster even if it was at full strength. Simply put, there aren’t enough defenders on the roster to reach .500, even at full strength. It has become crystal clear to these eyes that Jose Calderon and Andrea Bargnani – while both great offensive players – are a horrible combo defensively and cannot both be on the court at the same time against offensively competent opponents (or even the Cleveland Cavaliers!). Triano can’t do the impossible. How about seeing what he can do with a deep, talented roster that actually is capable of defending before running him out of town?
He isn’t getting gigs with USA Basketball because he’s a bad coach people (not to mention his success with Canada).
- What to do going forward if you’re Bryan Colangelo? He didn’t ask but I trade Calderon since you can live with Bargnani’s faults if you surround him with the right pieces because he is so special offensively but you can’t have both of them. Calderon is too brittle and defensively challenged to be counted on as the starter long-term. He has played great this season so is tradeable again.
Find the point guard of the future in the off-season either through the draft or the way Indiana did it (in getting Darren Collison through trade). Someone with the skill-set of Jrue Holiday, who gets after it offensively and also has a ton of upside athletically would be ideal.
Acquire assets like picks for Reggie Evans and/or Leandro Barbosa or for taking on a bad contract a team is desperate to get rid of (as long as it expires after the 2011-12 season 9ie. the Oklahoma City model).
Bayless can take over Barbosa’s role as scoring sixth man going forward. If you have Bayless, you can use the substantial money Barbosa makes more usefully elsewhere.
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.
How do you sum up the Raptors’ 0-4 trip out West?
They try hard but aren’t good enough. Sounds a bit like the Canadian men’s national team who worked their butts off, but couldn’t quite pull off results due to a talent discrepancy.
It’s refreshing to see a group of Raptors that plays hard most of the time, that out-rebounds opponents (first time in years that has been the case for both of those things) and actually tries to defend.
That keeps them in games, but they just aren’t good enough and aren’t experienced enough to pull out wins.
This year is about learning and developing. The young kids need to learn how to play and how to compete at an NBA level. Eventually the roster needs to be upgraded via a top 5 pick and via the $14.5 million trade exception.
There is only one elite point guard in the draft class this year (Kyrie Irving of Duke) so it will be very difficult for the Raptors to upgrade at the point. There should be more options at the three and four spots for them to choose from if they aren’t lucky enough to find themselves in a position to land Irving. But all that is months away, let’s focus on the season at hand.
The Warriors will be difficult to handle tonight. Too fast, too explosive, too great at scoring. If the Raptors outrebound Lee and Biedrins I will be extremely impressed.
As for the Canadian links … thanks to Ray at the Canbball Report for the heads up on these:
Cory Joseph and Tristan Thompson finally start their NCAA careers tonight.
A little more on them and Texas’ recruiting class.
The great Canadian hope Andrew Wiggins.
Albertan lands at DePaul.
And Andy Rautins learning from Ray Felton and others.
Here’s the best of what I got at Raptors media day Monday that did not make the stories I wrote for the paper:
Kind of weird (Bosh) has been here last four years (Bargnani has been here), I wish him all the
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Jose Calderon injured his hamstring during Sunday’s one-point loss to the United States and will be out for at least a month.
That is bad news for the Raptors and general manager Bryan Colangelo. Calderon’s contract already made him difficult to move and though he will presumably be back in time for training camp (which starts Sep. 28th) his now building injury history continues to be troublesome.
Calderon has been hampered for two years now by lower body injuries, particularly hamstring issues.
Is a team really going to pony up for a player with a sizable deal, a trade kicker and an inability to come close to playing a full season?
This corner doubts it. A Jarrett Jack/Calderon combo isn’t the worst thing in the world for the Raptors, the problem is, Marcus Banks better be ready to step up as he did last year (or Leandro Barbosa will have to pretend he has some point guard skills), because it is almost a certainty that Calderon will go down at some point this season. Calderon’s inability to thrive in an up-tempo system, like the one the Raptors intend to play, is also a problem. He is conservative and inclined to play at a methodic pace. That approach doesn’t really fit in Toronto anymore. But with a trade unlikely, the team will have to work around it.
Noticed ESPN has the Raptors finishing last in the East with 27 wins. I think they will overachieve a bit and win 33 or so, but the only team in the NBA I feel certain will be worse than the Raptors is Minnesota.
I think 27 is probably a worst-case number for the Raptors, they won’t be that bad, but they will be one of the three worst teams in the East. Of course, a trade or two will most likely happen before the season starts, so this will all have to be revisited then. Had Tyson Chandler and Boris Diaw become Raptors, this would have been a 40-win team, at least.
Of course if you believe as I do that there is no point being simply bad in a cap system (rather you should be truly awful) 27 wins is a very good thing for this franchise. Especially with stud Harrison Barnes and a bumper crop of point guards waiting to be drafted next summer.
The NBA made the two March games in London, England official today. Raptors, Nets, yikes, couldn’t they have found a better matchup? ESPN predicts the Nets and Raptors will be the worst teams in the East. Not exactly the 1927 Yankees storming the UK hoping to win new fans for the NBA.
I continue to be impressed by the crop of Canadian talent coming up. I’ve written a ton about some of the older kids, but defensive beast Khem Birch, point guard Kevin Pangos and big man Kyle Wiltjer deserve way more press than they are getting. I’ll work on it. Here‘s their latest dominating performance.
So, David Andersen’s a Raptor. Houston basically paid Toronto to take him and saved some luxury tax in the process.
Houston will likely never collect the heavily protected second round pick the Raptors sent them. It was originally acquired from the L.A. Clippers for Hassan Adams. Andersen makes $2.5 million this year with a team option for next season. Houston will cover a million of the contract and saves $4 million ($1.5 million + $2.5 million luxury tax bill).
Andersen is a finesse big who should mesh well on the second unit with either Ed Davis or Amir Johnson. He is a good shooter who can hold position defensively in the post, but not do much more than that.
Andersen had an outstanding career in Europe, winning a bunch of hardware.
R.I.P. to Lorenzen Wright who apparently was murdered in Memphis.
Interesting interview on the FAN 590 this afternoon with Bryan Colangelo.
Recap of the major points:
The Raptors have a number of balls in the area and are working on trades, but there is kind of a lull right now in terms of teams willing to make deals.
Barnes and Charlotte deal falling through are unfortunate. Barnes took less to play close to home. Stuff getting out prematurely is not a good thing.
Used the analogy re: Barnes of losing a fish on a line … guess he reads my stuff
Chris Bosh could have played through his ankle issues but chose not to. The Raptors really didn’t think they were in the mix for him. People were putting things in his ear.
” Despite limited swelling and any excessive damage on an MRI, he felt like he needed to sit for six more games. That was a very important period for us. Then coming back from not working out, his timing was off, conditioning was off, we were set back even further. 6 games stretched to 9 games. Then when he finally came back, his face got broken. We had a tough season based on the timing of that injury and that sequence.”
Team will be athletic and fun to watch.
Linas Kleiza has no midrange game, but is a force in the post and can nail the three. He brings toughness and scoring. Likely the starter at small forward right now.
My thoughts: Interesting he called out Bosh like that, but can’t say I disagree with any of that. Bosh was clearly out of Toronto mentally after the all-star break and he wasn’t going to kill himself for the franchise any longer.
Kleiza makes sense as the starter. Sonny Weems will bring energy and offence to a bench that will badly need those things.
Going young with a running, exciting team makes total sense. They will probably lose a ton of games, but they will look good doing it and will give fans some value for their money. That’s a smart way to rebuild.