A new policy during Raptors workouts and practises forbids the use of cell phones and Blackberry’s by those in attendance. Apparently, the rule applies to all media and team personnel, including general manager Bryan Colangelo, whose blackberry, some believe, is surgically attached to his hand.
Colangelo admits he has been offered a little more leeway than most.
"I can check for messages and sneak a quick peek but if I have to reply to anything, I’m just like everyone else. I have to get (out of the gym)," he said.
The Toronto Raptors filed in one by one for the team’s annual meet-and-greet with reporters Monday – but before they could meet with the media, they had to meet each other. (VIDEO)
Check out Gareth Wheeler’s highlights from Toronto Raptors Media Day (VIDEO)
Ahead of the NBA’s league-wide policy, which is expected to be less draconian than the No Fun League’s, the Raptors announced their rules: no tweeting from an hour before practice until an hour after, and from 90 minutes before a game until the post-game media period is up.
Under terms of the NBA’s collective agreement, teams can only hold "contact" practices – with full-court scrimmages – once each day in training camp. Teams generally do drills in the morning sessions and play at night. The Raptors changed that up on their first day in the gym, scrimmaging to end the morning workout. "The energy level coming in here was real high and we knew that’d be the case," said coach Jay Triano. "Guys have been out for a long time, they’re anxious. We did a lot of teaching but we did a lot of playing." Having limited scrimmage time is okay with Triano, too. "I am extremely pleased with the amount of contact we can have, especially if they play with the intensity they did in the morning session," he said Tuesday. "I don’t think it would be conducive to them battling each other physically, that hard, again another time today."
On a Toronto team starved for athleticism and creativity on the wings, having a combo guard capable of coming off the bench and igniting the offence will be a huge boost.
Belinelli said he’s comfortable playing either backcourt position. Teammates were saying Tuesday after one scrimmage that they were impressed with his playmaking ability as much as his ability to shoot.
"When I was playing in Italy (before joining the Warriors), I was playing (all of the time at) the two-guard and only sometimes the point guard," he said. "Now, I like to do both equally. If they defend me, I can pass; if not, I can make a shot."
All skills learned in what’s usually thought of as a soccer-mad country, a place where 24-hour access to the NBA was unheard of.
"Every time, I would be looking for the TV and some NBA games," said Belinelli. "For sure a Michael Jordan game – this is my passion and I love to play."
For his part, Bargnani said any claims that clashing with Evans served as a jump start to his own practice intensity are overstated – “I didn’t get frustrated, I didn’t say one word, I just played” – but he allowed that going against a dogged defender and rebounder of his ilk can only help.
“I’m happy Reggie’s here. I think he’s going to make me better,” said Bargnani, who flourished when he became the team’s regular starting centre in the second half of last season. “He’s a good rebounder. He can get me used to boxing out my man every time. He always goes to rebound every time so you have to box out, you have to stay focused.”
The NBA has told teams it’s going ahead with replacement referees, days after the league thought a deal had been reached with locked-out officials.
The league sent a memo Tuesday informing teams it had “no expectation of concluding a timely labour contract.” The memo, obtained by The Associated Press, follows the latest failure in negotiations.
FIRST OFF THE BENCH
The contestants Reggie Evans, Amir Johnson, Rasho Nesterovic
The synopsis Evans is tough and an exceptional rebounder. Johnson is far more athletic than both Evans and Nesterovic and could be terrific in an uptempo offence, although he still commits far too many gaffes. Nesterovic is the old pro with an established working relationship with Chris Bosh.
The prediction It will depend on the matchup, but Evans will replace either Bosh or Andrea Bargnani first on most nights.
That increased versatility earned him his raise in the summer. Now comes the next stage of the ascent the Raptors need from Bargnani: continued improvement within the Raptors’ ever-changing framework.
"It’s going to be a harder job for him because people are going to wait for him when he goes out knowing he can score 20 a game," said Raptors vice-president and assistant GM Maurizio Gherardini. "But on the other hand it’s going to be relatively easier when you play with a high-quality supporting cast, or a player like Turkoglu who can draw so much defensive attention that all of a sudden, teams are going to have to focus on Turkoglu, focus on Jose [Calderon], focus on Chris [Bosh].
"Somehow if you’re translating your second part of the season into the new season, you should find a way to produce bigger numbers and be consistent with those numbers, which would be a pretty big success."
Mark Murphy of the Boston Herald reports: The NBA, fearful of the damage an H1N1 flu outbreak could wreak on the league, has passed down an anti-handshake directive. Players and coaches have been asked to greet each other via more sanitary means of contact, like fist pounding, or maybe chest bumps. One can only imagine what Utah’s Jerry Sloan thinks about this. “No handshaking,” Doc Rivers said. “I think it’s a good thing. A fist pound is just great.”
Bryan Colangelo is doing a poor job of controlling expectations with statements like this.
He’s setting himself up for the fall … but more importantly, he’s unnecessarily risking his team’s morale because when these guys realize their hopes and dreams are unrealistic, and that they’re not good enough to achieve their targets, it will definitely have a demoralizing + negative effect on their season.
4th? 7th? 12th? This team will remain a mystery for much of the season. They will have ups, and they most certainly will have downs. Halfway through the season, once they work out the kinks, the Raptors are going to be electric. They are the type of team that is capable of going on a 12-game win streak during which time they shoot 65%.
While I like their major moves this season, their smaller moves are why I think they will be successful. The Raptors quietly added much needed front court depth this offseason, as well as adding shooters. The Raps acquired Rasho Nesterovic, Reggie Evans, and Amir Johnson, three big bodies that each bring a different set of skills to the table. Their roster is built to cause match-up problems for the East’s elite in the playoffs. The trouble is…they have to make the playoffs first.
And he never lets up — not even in practice, which has caused some friction with some of his teammates.
"In the past, when I first got into the league when I was with Seattle, there were two or three (Europeans) we had on the team, and all they did was just complain," Evans said at the first day of camp in Ottawa.
"These guys, they just hoop."
The match up series will return to its regularly scheduled programming after this update on Media Day mayhem. The 9 new faces on the Raptors roster assured that a generally routine day would be full of optimism, quotes and a few jokes. I didn’t have the opportunity to attend (which I hope changes in the future), but wanted to bring you some news from the ACC. Since Holly (@stackmack from The Score) and Franchise (@RaptorsHQ from Raptors HQ) were both in attendance, I shot off some quick questions and they were kind enough to answer with their observations.
Inspired by John Hollinger’s article on ESPN, I am going to do the same thing, take a look at the off-season and predict how many wins the Raptors would get. If there is enough time and enough responses, I might do all 30 teams. I am just going to do the off-season stuff and not the 08-09 recap since there really is no point. So here we go: