For now, Wright is saying all the right things and gives the Raptors a defensive presence on the wing, an area of concern in Toronto for the past few seasons.
"In this league, you have to separate yourself from your peers by whatever means,” Wright said as the Raptors unveiled their new roster to the media before boarding their team charter to Ottawa, the site of training camp.
"For me that means playing defence and bringing an attitude each night."
When one looks at the roster, one sees plenty of jump-shooters, but few players known for playing defence.
Wright has a chance to make a name for himself and demand minutes on a deep bench by defending the perimeter and rebounding the basketball.
"If it’s in the best interest of the Raptors organization to make a move, then that’s what they’ve got to do,” Banks said yesterday on media day.
"I’m not going to worry because it’s out of my control. All I worry about is helping this team."
But how and in what capacity?
Banks might be the ultimate tweener, a guy who doesn’t quite have the necessary handles nor the decision-making to play the point and neither does he have the consistent jumper to play shooting guard.
He’s tough as nails and can defend smaller guards, but the 6-foot-2 Banks barely has played in the past three seasons.
He ended last season on the injured list following foot surgery.
"I’m completely healthy now and I’m ready to go,” Banks said.
Sonny Weems went from the Denver Nuggets to the Milwaukee Bucks and then the Raps within the blink of an eye.
"When I was told I was a Raptor, I was in shock,” the athletic wing said. "It just killed me and it took about two weeks for me to get over it. I’m here now and I’m ready to prove to people that I belong."
Photos from the the Air Canada Centre as the Toronto Raptors host Raptors Media Day ahead of preseason
"When we looked at our team on paper last year before we came into training camp and even into the first week of the season, we had very high expectations and they stayed there. Things just didn’t work out," he said during the team’s annual media day on Monday.
"Honestly, my feelings were extremely hurt because all those things I was saying early in the season just didn’t happen.
"It’s not to say I don’t have high hopes now but I’m not trying to predict it. I’m just trying to work to get where we want to go and we’ll enjoy the fruits of our labour later."
This time around, Colangelo is managing expectations a little more. (Hey, it worked for the hockey team a year ago, when management said to expect very little and certainly no one went away disappointed by unmet expectations.)
"I can sell hope," Colangelo said at one point Monday during the team’s annual media day before training camp opens in Ottawa on Tuesday. "I’m not the kind of guy who tries to undersell and over-deliver. I always try to put a realistic view on things."
Chris Bosh is going to unveil a secret some time this season:
What kind of tattoo he’s in the process of getting. Bosh arrived at the team’s media day on Monday sporting some ink hidden beneath his jersey on his back but would only say his first foray into the area of body art is a work in progress and gave no hint what the finished product will look like. "Painful," was the only word he’d used to describe the process.
With a raft of new teammates to get used to – and playing a position where he needs to know what everyone likes and doesn’t – Jarrett Jack could probably benefit from as much time scrimmaging with his Raptors teammates as possible.
But the point guard figures less than a week of training camp practices before the first pre-season game is enough time.
"It’s all how you pay attention, adapt to the learning curve, adapt to the language because each team is different with the way they try to get things across," Jack said. "As long as we collectively pay attention and just try to get everything in the first go-round we’ll be all right."
Still, it was as if someone set off a sunshine bomb when the team’s key figures came out to meet the media before boarding their Air Happy Times charter yesterday afternoon on their way to a week of two-a-days at Carleton University.
“It’s perfect,” Jay Triano said at the prospect of starting his first training camp as an NBA head coach with his two primary offensive weapons on light duties, Bosh with hamstring woes, Turkoglu fatigued after the European championship.
Physically, Turkoglu is fine. But the Raptors’ marquee free agent acquisition was busy with the Turkish national team for the better part of the summer, and the Raptors are worried about burning him out.
"It was a long summer, I admit that," Turkoglu said. "We’ll see. From tomorrow, I want to manage myself. I want to be more healthy and more fresh because it’s a long season. If I’m healthier and fresher, I can do better things."
"That means you’re probably putting yourself in a position for the fourth or fifth seed. How many wins does that take? The number doesn’t really matter, but I always want to beat something previously, and 47 wins is the franchise record, which we’ve done twice before now. I’d like to think there’s a way to beat that number," he continues. OK, so he’s sort of putting a number on it now.
"If you look and say what’s it going to take to be a fourth or fifth seed, I think you’ve got to be at a minimum of 50 games," Colangelo says, finally wrapping up. "So are you shooting for a target of 50 games? Yeah, I think that’s what we should be realistically looking at."
"It’s all about the feeling of being happy. That’s what it is for me," Bosh said. "You have to be happy to do your job the right way, to maximize your potential. If you’re not happy, it’s just not going to work. It’s just more of a feeling. I’m really not expecting anything at all."
Seconds earlier, Bosh had mentioned the desire to play for a championship contender, sooner rather than later. The Raptors could be significantly improved this season, but even eternal optimists would have trouble predicting the Raptors to be a team capable of making the Eastern Conference Final.
Question: How quickly (if at all) will the Andrea Bargnani-Chris Bosh-Hedo Turkoglu front line gel?
Raptors GM Bryan Colangelo went all in this summer when he locked up Bargnani with a five-year, $50 million deal and Turkoglu with a five-year, $57 million contract. Now all they have to do is play well enough together to convince Bosh to remain in Toronto long term.
His prediction is that the Raptors will win 35 games, but if you read the above you would have no idea. I like Hollinger’s articles, and I think very highly on his PER and other methods. But I really don’t like what he wrote, not the content but the wishy-washy way of handling it. 25 wins – 50 wins, way to go out of a limb here.
In a telling metaphor for the basketball world, most Americans have no idea exactly how big of a city Toronto is. At a population around 6 million, the only metropolis area in the US bigger than Toronto’s is New York. Likewise, the Raptors are trying to get something done this year. While most teams are battening down the hatches for the economic Armageddon, the Raptors went out and spent a bunch of money on free agents to surround a legit superstar, a very solid PG and a maturing number 1 pick. A few veterans trickled north and a very talented upside-guy was drafted – things could be looking back up in Canada.
-I’m expecting some spirited practices this season, much moreso than last. Doug Smith this morning mentioned Reggie Evans’ work on Andrea Bargnani, something that BC reiterated today, and Colangelo also mentioned a few other pleasant nuances; repeated aerial assaults on the basket in runs last week and attempts to reject said assaults.
-Finally, no Hassan Adams issues this year. It sounds like everyone reported to camp in great shape (aside from the Bosh and Hedo tweaks) and the early returns (the shoot-arounds and scrimmages this past week) have bore this out.
During the Raptors media day on Monday afternoon, I had the chance to chat with new forward Amir Johnson about being dealt twice this summer, how the Raptors coaching staff plan to play him a bit at small forward, if he feels any pressure entering the last year of his contract and his goals for the upcoming season.
- Podcast: Wrapping up the summer
- Unknowns aren’t bad