The fact that teams are cutting costs these days is nothing new ? the fact just about every corporation in the world is cutting costs these days is not new, in fact – and the Raptors point was hammered home a little bit yesterday. Counting heads when we got into practice ? it’s something we do every day – there was one guy missing: Assistant coach Micah Nori. Figured he hadn’t gone off to help the Evil Empire Yankees hit with men in scoring position (he was a Mighty Yankees hitting consultant this summer) but where in the world could he be? Then it him me: He had to be off scouting the Cavs before opening night.
Johnson, a reserve forward with the Toronto Raptors, spent 22 games, or the better part of three months, in South Dakota three years ago, playing for the Sioux Falls Skyforce of the National Basketball Development League. He’ll be back there Friday, when the Raptors close out their NBA pre-season schedule against the Minnesota Timberwolves. It was pretty good, Sioux Falls. It kind of grows on you, Johnson said. ‘there’s not too much to do. The fans are great. The food was great, actually. Johnson might not know everything about Sioux Falls – population: almost 155,000, as of last year; area code 605 – but the Raptors might learn a little bit about themselves there Friday.
Johnson's had a solid pre-season and, with an injury to Reggie Evans taking one Toronto big man out of the rotation, seems poised to play significant minutes once the regular season begins Wednesday.
DeMar DeRozan is going to be a premier rookie, Hedo Turkoglu was a good get and they have better backups up front and at point guard. I like this team now. They're going to be back in the playoffs. The big story is going to be whether they can keep Chris Bosh as a free agent this summer. It's important for them to have a good year because if they don't make the playoffs, it will be devastating.
The situation was this: Raptors president and general manager Bryan Colangelo had signed free agent Hedo Turkoglu, but he was in the midst of turning that signing into a four-team sign-and-trade to ensure the Raptors could keep some of their salary cap exceptions that they would otherwise have had to forfeit.
But for the Raptors, who open the NBA regular season against Cleveland next Wednesday at the Air Canada Centre, things might just be getting good. Toronto is craving a winner, and winning creates bandwagons crammed with casual fans that, once upon a time, helped the Jays set those attendance records.
The Toronto Raptors appear to be on a mission. Somehow, someway, this team needs to convince Chris Bosh to stay in Canada. The issue for the Raptors isn’t money. To convince Bosh to stay, Toronto must convince Bosh that he will someday play for a winner. So far, though, the facts presented to Bosh haven’t been too convincing.
Not Raptor related, but I always wondered what happened to Bryant Reeves: After six seasons as a Grizzly, "Big Country" retired from the NBA in 2001 at the ripe old age of 28, with chronic back pain. The big man from Gans, Oklahoma (population 208) was a big scorer at Oklahoma State University and also a great rebounder.
Bargnani's big enough to score over smaller defenders inside, which makes him a bit of a matchup nightmare. It’s no wonder many Raptor fans foresee stardom in Bargnani’s future. The problem, however, is that despite Bargnani being a great shooter, he’ll simply never become a great scorer. Why? The answer lies with his inability to get to the line.
A lot of the hopes for moderate success in Indianapolis hinge on the health of Mike Dunleavy, Jr. The offseason loss of Jarrett Jack means that TJ Ford, Danny Granger and the recently acquired Earl Watson are really the team’s only capable perimeter ball-handlers other than MDJ, who was essentially the Pacers de facto “point forward” much of the time he was on the floor the last time he was, you know, actually on the floor. So if he can’t suit up and be 100% for more than, say, 60 games, that doesn’t bode well at all for Indiana.
But this year, Jose Calderon has slipped below the radar of many NBA analysts and, sadly, many Toronto Raptors fans. Sometimes we need to be reminded that each season Toronto fans have witnessed the development of one of the better point guards in the NBA.
The contrarian view says DeRozan just isn’t ready to start. He is too young and too inexperienced to be asked to guard a NBA starting shooting guard on a nightly basis. A bad experience could hurt his confidence and retard his development. This is definitely a decision best left up to the coaches. If Jay Triano believes DeRozan’s development is best served by starting, he is in the best position to make this determination.
Devlin And The Czar: Part 1 – Oct. 22, 2009
Check out part one of Matt Devlin's audio interview with Mike Fratello!