We got a free agent camp happening June 20th – 22nd at the Air Canada Centre. This is where Jamario Moon impressed us enough to punch his ticket to the NBA, this year we got a few players vying for a summer camp invite and without further ado I present John Lucas, Sean Banks, Brian Haper, Dijon Thompson and the list goes on and on. Forgive me if the names don’t ring a bell but these are fringe basketball talents that in 99% of the cases provide bodies for summer camp and nothing more. This lot is not where we will find the answers to our defensive issues but due diligence must be done. Truth is that we don’t want to find the next Jamario Moon, we want some proven skill and not something you find trolling through the neighbor’s garbage.
Wayne Ellington and Danny Green who both worked out for the Raptors dropped out of the draft along with many others. Donte Green who DraftExpress has us selecting worked out for the Portland Trailblazers; GM Kevin Pritchard says that he’s a “spread” guy that can open up the floor and could go in the teens because of his athleticism and shooting ability. He ranks Joe Alexander better than Green or Nicolas Batum who also worked out for them.
Green, Batum along with Roy Hibbert and others will be working out for us on Thursday. Jim Kelly’s got a busy weekend as the workouts continue on Saturday with players that have zero chance of being picked at #17 showing up in Toronto, presumably to impress not just the Raptors but other teams since word does get out fairly quick.
Jorge Garbajosa and the Raptors are no longer related. Let’s take a quick look at just exactly what Jorge Garbjosa meant to this team, how much he contributed on the floor, how much did his locker-room presence mean and finally whether we should really care that he’ll be gone.
People who point to Garbajosa as being one of the key reasons why we went from being division winners to having .500 record are significantly discounting other factors. And by other factors I’m not referring to Andrea Bargnani’s regression or TJ Ford imploding or anything Raptors related, I’m referring to the unarguable and cemented fact that the year we won the division, the East and especially the Atlantic was miserable. It was easily the worst division in the league. What does this have to do with Garbajosa? Nothing specific to him, except that it reminds us to acknowledge that there was nothing great about that Raptor team, it just so happened that the competition was brutal.
Grit is something that was missing from the Raptors all year and many pointed to Garbajosa’s absence as leaving a void in that department. There’s no doubt about that, he did leave a void in the grit/rebounding/toughness departments but the question is how big of a void did he leave? Did he leave a void so big that we became third worst rebounding team in the league? Is he the reason our perimeter defense was amongst the worst in the NBA or that we had trouble stopping teams in the clutch? No, not at all, if anything you can argue that we upgraded ourselves on the defensive side through Jamario Moon who happens to be a much better one-on-one defender and as good a rebounder. Granted, Moon might not have the lunch-pail demeanor of Garbajosa but I’m of the belief that said attitude is only effective when it is backed up by numbers, and for me Garbajosa’s 4.7 RPG were simply never good enough.
His outside shooting was too streaky to be called a threat and teams would gladly leave his 41% shooting (34% from 3) open on the perimeter to help contend with Bosh. It’s fair to say that he brought little on offense and couldn’t be counted on to provide anything worthwhile besides hitting a three now and then. His value to us was entirely on the glass and in his grit, granted that they’re both areas where we’re lacking, but is his departure anything to lament? Not at all, he’s entirely replaceable and upgradeable. Let’s just move along and hopefully he can resurrect the career that he himself so deliberately ruined somewhere else.
You can argue that the way the Raptors treat him will affect Calderon’s free agency decision, what with them two being friends and all. It’s hard for me to buy that argument because Calderon’s going to be making some mega-millions and I have a strong feeling that once that first paycheck rolls in he’s going to be more than content about his situation.
Those &%^$# Celtics finally finished off the Lakers who looked a lot like the Raptors, especially with their off-the-ball movement. The Lakers lost that series only because they lost critical Game 4. The fourth game of a playoff series is always the most crucial one since it usually means 2-2 or 3-1; the blown Lakers lead will come back to haunt them all summer long.