Everybody was all smiles, everybody said the right thing, everybody was optimistic, they were all looking forward to a bright future on a talented team, all that was missing was the confetti and cocktails. The lovefest which were the two press conferences formally introduced us to Jermaine O’Neal and a couple hours later, Jose Calderon was formally announced as the starting point guard for the team, officially putting and end to Forderon.
I think we’ve all said what needs to be said about this trade – basically the Raptors have put all their eggs in one basket and if O’Neal gets injured again, out goes all the enthusiasm, the hope and any chance of post-season success. It’s quite cut and dry really, either Bosh/O’Neal lead this team on and off the floor by producing strong numbers and being a tough no-nonsense presence in the locker room or they flop, rendering the entire off-season useless.
Hindsight’s 20/20 but if we hadn’t made this trade and instead managed to sign Corey Maggette, gotten Joey Dorsey or Roy Hibbert in the draft and flipped TJ Ford for say someone like Mike Miller, would you be happy? I think either way we’d be far from being a top-tier team but at least we’d have more good players on the roster. I do think that the avenue Colangelo has chosen has the potential for greater short-term success than relying on rookies to produce and trying to fit in multiple new players. Then again the C*nty Celtics rebuffed that theory last year.
Given our cap situation you have to think we’re done making any significant moves and the roster for next season is set with the exception of a player we might acquire via the MLE. Bryan Colangelo alluded to this in the press conference today when he thanked Calderon for deferring some money towards the later years of his contract so that his lazy ass wouldn’t be forced to make a trade this summer. The Raptors are now a front-heavy team which I hope and pray means that our PINP numbers will increase and that our rebounding will get better. If we can actually improve those two aspects of our game, we might not be terrible.
Jermaine O’Neal said something very simple and profound in the conference. No, I’m not talking about his rebirth in Toronto, I’m talking about the part where he was mentioning all the great talent on this team and he started off by saying “There’s Chris Bosh, there’s Jose Calderon and there’s . . . er . . . Bargnani….”. Yes folks, that’s the fact of the matter, our fourth best player is still Andrea Bargnani and O’Neal was adamant that Bargnani is “a very important part of this team” because of his three-point shooting and his potential to drive to the rim.
I’ve been saying it for quite some time now, what will determine our success next year will be the play of Andrea Bargnani, yes, even moreso than the play of Jermaine O’Neal. I was glad to hear O’Neal say that he hopes to teach Bargnani “toughness” and “physical play”. He sees it as clearly as anyone else that without Bargnani slashing to the rim and keeping defenses honest by knocking down perimeter jumpers, his acquisition is almost redundant and plays into a “black hole scenario”.
Bryan Colangelo assured as that O’Neal’s been checked out by the greatest of doctors and that all the tests came back negative and that he’s pretty much Iron Man at this point. That kind of talk is definitely reassuring but to think that he’s going to quit getting injured cold turkey is being very unrealistic. Sam Mitchell compared the Bosh/O’Neal combo to David Robinson and Tim Duncan which might be a bit premature given the rest of the lineup and coaching staff. Whatever makes him sleep at night.
Some of the quotes coming from O’Neal are pretty bizarre. He’s looking at his playing days in Indiana as if he was in the Dark Ages and monsters carjacked him every night after the game. The Detroit brawl apparently left a deep scar in his mind which he’s finally recovered from as of July 9th, 2008. Some of the quotes from the press conference:
“I played on one leg for two-and-a-half years, I have no doubt in my mind that this is going to be a healthy year for me.”
“It got to the point where I was extremely miserable, everything around me was falling apart. After (the brawl), I never saw the light of day again. It was all downhill after that.”
“When I got the call … it was like a rebirth. Sometimes you lose that love and you need a move or something else to get that fire back in you.”
“My mother started freaking out because she knows I don’t show a lot of emotion,” said O’Neal, who admitted he cried upon learning of the trade. “It was just like, the suffering was over”
Indiana Pacers: Where suffering at $20 million a year happens.
Mike Ulmer had a chance to sit down with O’Neal one-on-one and proceeded to ask the lamest and stupidest questions ever. Ever. I want to gouge this guy’s eyes out.
Jose Calderon’s press conference can basically be summed up in a couple sentences from Colangelo’s viewpoint:
“Jose is the nicest guy ever, he feeds orphans and saves baby turtles and is just such a swell guy that we had to give him the starting nod. Plus he’s a better fit for our team than that tantrum-throwing unpredictable TJ Ford (who’s also nice but not so much). Jose totally deserves all the money we’re throwing at him and we love him for wanting to stay with the Raptors. And! And! And he deferred like 60K till later in his multi-million dollar contract, I mean, who does that anymore?? Just look at him, the guy’s an angel!
The same can be done with Jose’s reaction:
“I didn’t even look outside Toronto. I’m too comfortable here and I know the money’s going to be the same everywhere so why bother moving. I like this team too, I’ve already played here for a couple years and know how the system works so why bother eating bullshit from another coach and another organization when I got these guys by the balls. Me and TJ are cool, nothing personal, I’m just glad I game out on top. I’ll talk to TJ soon about this, you know, when we play Indiana. I love the fans. Hugs and kisses.”
“I guess I should thank Bryan for solving the PG problem for me because I sure couldn’t figure out which one to play when. Having O’Neal’s nice but this means there’s pressure on me to win and actually utilize Kapono. I mean, nobody’s going to tolerate him having three threes in two months while I got two double-team threats in the low-post. Jose’s a smart player, he’s the right PG for the team Bryan’s…err…we’re trying to build in Toronto. I actually don’t have to yell at him anymore which is a shame because I like yelling.”
That’s about it fellas, thanks for reading and take it easy. Just a reminder that there is an RSS feed for this blog.Follow @raptorsrepublic