Think back 14 years ago to the re-introduction of basketball in Canada. Despite its northern roots, most Canadians had only a rudimentary understanding of the game. Then along came Leo Rautins.

That’s how this article starts off. I remember watching Leo do his Basketball U segments where he “educated” us on things like traveling, double-dribbling and shot-clock violations and thought to myself, Does this guy think we’re idiots?

I had just moved to Canada from the states back then and wondered if Canadians really were that clueless about basketball. Everyone I talked to seemed to have a generally good understanding of the game, nothing great but certainly not at a level so low that they’d try to kick the ball. I figured people in the central provinces needed to be educated on these things and went along with the little segments and when somebody told me that The New VR reached about a dozen homes in southern Ontario, I concluded that Leo was overkill. Whether he helped the basketball newbies learn the sport or just simply insult our intelligence remains a mystery to this day.

So let’s get this straight. We need a SG. Ben Gordon’s a SG. Ben Gordon’s a free agent. Everybody laughed at him when he turned down the six-year, $59 million contract last summer and I maintain that it was still a bad decision on his part. Yes, he looked unstoppable at times late in the game against the Celtics but when it was all said and done he shot 39%, that’s 5% off his career average. He increased his scoring by 4 points to 24 in the series and made some simply ridiculous shots late in games. Does this mean he’s proven to a team that he deserves the Deng-money that he’s after? That’s $80 million over 6 years averaging out to $13.3M/yr. I don’t think so. With the economy what it is I don’t see a team giving him what he wants, but then again there’s always somebody who will extrapolate his success in 5 games to 82.

Before we sign-and-trade for him by giving up Chris Bosh, as this article suggests, we need to recalibrate our view of Gordon. Playing with a drive-obsessed Derrick Rose is a large part of what makes him effective and that’s a piece we don’t have in Toronto. I can see him pairing up with Calderon – and based on Jose’s play last year – giving us an undersized backcourt that plays strictly 18 feet out. We definitely saw some brilliance from Gordon but we also saw how he was constantly exploited by bigger guards, that too in clutch situations. Ideally, we need a SG who can defend his position to a stalemate and create shots for his teammates; for the price we’ll have to pay for Ben Gordon, the ROI isn’t going to be great. We’re better off exploring cheaper options than committing that kind of money over six years.

Tim Chisholm had pointed out how the Raptors could offer Marion a long-term deal (3-4 years) with the big money being paid out in the later years thus making him a good salary fit now and potentially attractive trade bait in his final year. This strategy worked for Jermaine O’Neal and Allen Iverson but it’s very hard to say what the economic climate will bring in three years time. With teams looking to cut costs and become financially responsible, there’s a good chance that there won’t be demand for a big expiring contract later on since many teams will already be where they want to be. Still, it’s an interesting card held by Colangelo who has already structured Chris Bosh and Jose Calderon’s contract that way.

I just hope Colangelo has one thing clear and present in his mind: There’s nothing wrong with sucking ass for two or three years as long as the ass-sucking is planned. If Marion, Bosh or anyone else for that matter are holding out for unreasonable contracts, don’t give in and use the opportunity to get fresh new talent that’ll be ready to produce in primetime two or three years from now, which is the time when Bargnani will be at the peak of his powers (assuming he’s turned the corner).

Juan Carlos Navarro was named Euro League MVP yesterday. Think he’s earned himself an NBA recall at high money? In other Euro news, Panathinaikos Athens beat CSKA Moscow to win their fifth championship. Pepole big-up Ettore Messina around here but what about Zeljko Obradovic who’s won a record seven titles, how about some love for him? I can already see him sitting next to Iavaroni on the bench.

NBA Playoffs

The Heat-Hawks series had to be the most boring 7-game series of all-time. No game was decided by less than 10 points and no game kept my interest for more than 10 minutes. The Nuggets beat the Mavs and looked impressive yet again, if they had only managed a split in their season series against the Lakers I would’ve put money on them for the Western Conference title. I’m really hoping the Mavericks progress here so that Cuban feels he’s one piece away from bringing a title with that piece being Chris Bosh. I got a feeling he’d overpay in bringing the home-town boy back home.

Tonight it’s the Magic at Celtics who are laying three and the Rockets in LA taking 8. After correctly picking the spread in the Hawks game, I’m going to take the Lakers at home. I’m staying away from the Celtics-Magic game, mainly because Ray Allen’s shooting touch is about as predictable as a woman during that time of the month.

Here’s a random NBA link: everything you wanted to know about NBA refereeing.

Here’s a picture of Chris Bosh with a pink donkey. Checking his recent tweets he’s doing some cooking, chillin’ in LA and working on his golf game.

More tomorrow.