Mitchell content with roster (or so he says to himself)

Team news for the day is the Raptors exercising the club option on Bargnani’s contract. Imagine if they had let him walk? I mean, picture Colangelo holding a press conference and walking up to the podium along with Sam Mitchell and saying, “The club has decided to part ways with Andrea Bargnani. This was not an easy decision and was made collectively by the club after lengthy discussions between the coaches, ownership and management. We wish Andrea the best of luck.” That would have turned into a 3000 pager on RealGM.

Unfortunately nothing remotely as exciting is going on unless your definition of “exciting” is Devlin checking in with a blog that could put an insomniac to bed. Actually, it’s not as boring as his other ones, he’s speculating about Donnie Walsh going after Chris Bosh in 2010. If I’m Donnie Walsh I’d be more concerned with pissed off Knicks fans burning MSG down by the end of 2009 after their team loses by 50 at home to the Bucks. The Knicks, what a bunch of quacks.

Sam Mitchell says he’s happy with the roster Colangelo has provided for him and admits that even though they lack athleticism and depth they’ll make up for it because they’re fundamentally good basketball players.

“I’m pleased with the team that we have. Bryan has done a great job of giving me a good team. We have a great group of guys that work hard. What we may lack athletically, I think we have a chance to make it up basketball-wise. We have got some pretty good basketball players.”

I’d really like to believe that but I just don’t think Anthony Parker, Jamario Moon and Jason Kapono’s collectively IQ can make up for Rashard Lewis breaking them down on the perimeter and posting them up on the next possession. Some things in life are pretty cut and dry and it’s obvious that we’re going to suffer this year when we play 3’s that can break you down off the dribble. On the other end of the court we better hope that O’Neal and Bosh make up for the offense that Jamario Moon and Joey Graham don’t provide. It’s the only way this roster’s equation makes sense. Mitchell’s been handed a star player on one side but on the other, the team’s depth has been compromised. Depending on one’s coaching style a coach might prefer one over the other but I think in this case Mitchell hardly cares or knows any better. He’s like the blind man whose being offered a hand in crossing the street – for all you know he might be being led to his death!

So with the Raptors being less than the half the price of an Elliot Sptizer hooker away from being in luxury tax range ($1,100), will Colangelo and MLSE be willing to make a move if need be? Mitchell says that’s Colangelo’s decision and we should wait and see.

“That’s the decision that (Colangelo) and the upper management makes. He looks at our basketball team and if he feels at some point we need to go to the board and talk about other options, he’ll do that. Right now, we haven’t played a game. Now’s not the time to do that. Let’s play some games first, see where we are.”

I agree. I so agree with this. Let’s see what we can do with this team. Wait 10, 20 games and if we got enough let’s stick with it but if it becomes evident that a shot in the arm is needed, let’s not hesitate to make a deal even if it means paying some luxury tax and being unprofitable for a year. I guarantee you they’ll make the money back on the EC Champs t-shirts. Hell, I’ll buy 10 and give them away to you guys in contests.

The roster for opening night is set and it looks like this with Nathan Jawai taking up a spot on the injured list. Speaking of Nathan Jawai, did we do our due diligence on this guy? I mentioned this once over on a couple weeks ago but its worth repeating. I don’t think we even did a proper physical on him before deciding to draft him. He had trouble with injuries in summer camp and couldn’t make it past media day, not to sound like an inconsiderate SOB but I don’t know many 21 year olds with heart conditions that went on to have NBA careers. And wasn’t that psychopath Bill Walker still available? I would’ve loved to have a crazy athletic mofo on this team that was liable to do anything…and I mean anything. I wouldn’t put it past Billy to strangle Al Horford right on the court if he tried to pull the TJ thing again. Billy wouldn’t care if its unintentional, he’d consider his pride being stepped on if any one of his ‘boyz’ got messed with.

Back to Jawai though. Remember, we targeted this guy, it’s not like we were ready to select just about anyone and he happened to fall in our laps on draft day. Remember too that the same medical staff that evaluated Jawai is the same medical staff that says Jermaine O’Neal’s knee is as strong as the Incredible Hulk’s….oh what? Did I just give you a nervous breakdown? I’m not saying to start panicking (or panacing if you’re from RealGM) but there’s definitely an eyebrow to be raised at the Raptors medical staff for this pick.

Finally we find out Bryan Colangelo’s expectation of Jermaine O’Neal. He’s hoping to get 70 games out of O’Neal while O’Neal’s hoping to play 35 minutes a game. Now O’Neal’s been unable to play those kinds of minutes for four straight seasons but if he can somehow achieve that goal it would be an ideal minute distribution as it would allow Sam Mitchell to play two of Bosh, Bargnani and O’Neal at all times while keeping their minutes at approximately at 2/3rds the game. It’s the art of stretching your starters to make up for the lack of depth. The Raptors didn’t look particularly efficient in the preseason with Bosh out there alone with the second unit and the same can be said for Bargnani. Although the latter managed to have good individual games, he was unable to carry the offensive load or lend any cohesiveness to the second unit as we saw in the Lakers, T’Wolves and Nuggets games. In other words, our bench needs our starters to help them because a “pure second unit” lineup of Solomon/Kapono/Graham/Humphries/Bargnani is very unlikely to do any damage.

Aah, only a couple more days of these fodder posts before the real action begins and we start talking about why our pick ‘n roll is so predictable, wonder why Bosh shoots so may jumpers and try to figure out just where the hell that perimeter defense went and why in the good Lord’s name are we double teaming a non-shooter 19 feet away from the rim (memories of Dwight Howard). Speaking of perimeter defense, have you seen anything from Hassan Adams and Will Solomon that might indicate to you that they’re the solutions to last year’s problems? Yeah, we’ve somewhat addressed our interior defensive needs with Jermaine O’Neal but if that was Need #1, perimeter defense had to be Need #1a and by all accounts remains unaddressed. Let me reserve judgment though, maybe Mitchell’s concocted some schemes to make up for the lack of talent or athleticism and found a way to get this team to get back in transition and suffocate wingers by playing good team defense. Didn’t see any of that in preseason but we have had practices since then…..

We’ll announce the winner of the free tickets at 1PM EST today. If you haven’t already entered the ballot, do so now. There’s gong to be close to 200 people for the draw so the chances of winning are approximately 0.5%. Good luck and talk to you again at 1PM!

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