Let’s start off with Ron Artest. Quote from Monday:
“Not opting out, the Kings have been there for me, so the best I could do is stay in my contract.”
Quote from Tuesday:
“I don’t see myself with [the] Kings beyond 2008-09. I think I made the biggest mistake by staying in my contract and I have to live with it.”
‘Nuf said about how volatile this guy is.
As mentioned yesterday and further confirmed today, Jose Calderon has signed a new deal and we’re also going to be bringing in Roko Ukic over. No surprises there. We know what we’re getting in Calderon and what he’s capable of, the only question is whether he can continue to do what he’s been doing but as a full-time starter having full responsibility of the team. I have a fear of NBA scouts ever since the Bargnani thing, let’s hope Calderon can overcome the attention and detail with which coaches and scouts will look at him. With the inexperienced Ukic backing him up you expect Calderon to play high minutes and that automatically means that at some point he’ll get burned out and get into a 10-20 game shooting slump so be prepared for it.
Over the last two years the Raptors have been successful when their bench play has been strong, in our division winning year the Forderon duo was our key advantage, last year whenever we got key contributions from Carlos Delfino or Andrea Bargnani, we gave ourselves a great chance to win. With TJ Ford gone, our already shallow bench has taken a hit and we’re compensating for it by shortening our roster. Colangelo’s trying to concentrate the talent on the roster and force Mitchell to create a consistent rotation with well-defined roles. I think this is a great move by Colangelo who sees that last year’s unpredictable substitution patterns, sporadic playing time and illogical coaching decisions cost the Raptors plenty of games. He’s setting the table for Sam Mitchell to prove himself as a coach who is not just a motivator, but someone who when given talent can make it show on the court.
I suspect the freestyling nature of the Raptors offense isn’t going to be tolerated next year, Mitchell will have to use his brains to figure out ways to manage Calderon’s minutes, ensure Bosh/O’Neal cohesion, reduce Bosh/O’Neal redundancy, hide Bargnani’s defense at SF, showcase Bargnani offensively, utilize Kapono’s shooting ability, take advantage of Humphries’ hustle, put Calderon in situations where he has options and most of all manage expectations of players so there are no surprises game in and game out. Once we have the political situation of the team taken care of and every player is on the same page, only then can we hope the talent and potential of this team to shine through to whatever degree it can.
The Raptors still have the MLE to throw at a player so we should expect a signing at some point in the summer, hopefully a SF. It’s starting to look like Colangelo’s done acquiring pedestrian talent only to see Sam Mitchell retrofit a roster into a style of play. If we can establish an 8-man rotation and use the DL for what it’s actually designed for, we’ll start to see consistency on this team, regardless of talent level. This should in turn help our defense because it’s on defense that teamwork shows and trust amongst teammates mandated. When the same players play together more often, they automatically develop a better understanding of what each others’ tendencies and capabilities are and are likely to adjust better.
The Clippers couldn’t acquire TJ Ford or DJ Augustin but they managed to get their hands on Baron Davis. This is a bit of a shock as Golden State was giving all indications that Davis was their franchise player. With Davis is headed out, it puts even more impetus on the Warriors to resign their free agents including Mickael Pietrus who’d look good in a Raptors uniform. On another free agent note, did you know Damon Stoudamire is an unrestricted free agent? Emotional homecoming, I can already picture it.
The Raptors have also signed Hassan Adams from to a 1yr/400K contract. The defensive-minded guard played in Europe last season and registered 61 games for the Nets in 07-08, you might remember him from the playoffs of that year too. Not the signings I was hoping given the 2008 NBA Free Agent List. There are a few players that the Raptors could consider: Ricky Davis, Gordan Giricek and most importantly Jarvis Hayes. I’ve always liked Hayes’ game, he’s a solid defensive minded SF that doesn’t mind getting to the rim and can hit the 3. Tayshaun Prince has got the stranglehold on the SF minutes in Detroit so Hayes is likely on the move with interest from Phoenix already there.
There’s also the need to address Anthony Parker who I’ve always suspected is capable of being an NBA 2-guard as long as there’s enough distractions for the defense to worry about. It’s when you start consistently running double-screen fadeaways for Parker and look to him to carry you through quarters that things go awry. His clutch record doesn’t help matters either but with O’Neal and Bosh around you’d think 3-point shooters are a premium and Parker is definitely that. With only the MLE at our disposal and both a SF and a SG need to fill, I suspect we’re going to aim for the SF since Parker is the lesser of the two problems.
It’s a long summer, too long.