Yes, the Raptors desperately could use a vocal leader, something Bosh clearly is not. But, remember, Vince Carter (given away to New Jersey for peanuts five years ago yesterday) was not the rah-rah type either.
Bosh, like Carter, can't do everything himself. He too can play at a spectacular level on the court, but he also could use the supporting players Carter had around him. A Charles Oakley. An Antonio Davis or an Alvin Williams. Teammates who weren't afraid to speak their mind while backing it up by always giving their all on the court.
No such player resides on this squad and it is a key reason why their season has gone in the tank.
Still, the East is only four deep. Three excellent squads with legit title aspirations and the rock-solid Atlanta Hawks. After that, things are wide open.
The Raptors, despite everything, sat just a game behind the eighth-place Charlotte Bobcats and 21/2 behind the fifth-place Miami Heat entering play last night.
Losing to the Nets tonight would represent one giant leap backward, and the pressure on Toronto to play like it cares will be large.
“We have guys who have been around,” backup swingman Antoine Wright said. “We have to have the attitude of taking a challenge, and if we don’t, we’re not going to beat anybody. It does not matter we are playing New Jersey next.
“They play hard, they just don’t have enough talent. If we played as hard as they do on a nightly basis, we would probably have more wins.”
Trade the constants of this near-constant misery, especially Bosh, who was taken out of a crucial stretch of Wednesday's embarrassment in Orlando because he was, to use Triano's word, “tired.'' (The all-star, as much as he is putting up great numbers on a bad team, is 25 years old, couldn't lead a Cub pack, plays defence like it's optional, drags around a massive knee brace and, come summertime, will be asking for a six-year maximum-dollar contract worth more than $130 million. I say trade him to the team that thinks that's a good bet.)
String up the GM by the virgin-emu-leather soles of his $1,000 loafers … figuratively, of course. Bryan Colangelo has been here nearly four years and won three playoff games. He is, like Bosh, in a contract year (although fans will be comforted to know that the deal gives CEO Richard Peddie and his esteemed board of directors an option to employ Colangelo for another season).
Through 28 games the Raptors have been blown out nine times already. Their average margin of defeat is 16 points.
The question then is this: if you’re already at a point in the season when there’s no need to watch games, hasn’t the time to cash in everyone and sets heads rolling already arrived?
I say no, and here’s why.
The schedule is definitely a factor. Five of those blowouts have been on the second night of a back-to-back against rested teams, while two more have been on the road. The two at home are nothing to be proud of, but we’ll overlook that for now.
The Raptors have played a league-high 28 games. No other team has played more than 26. They’ve played a league-high 16 road games, tied with only New Jersey.
The good news is that soon we’ll find out if these are excuses or reasons.
If effort is what the Raptors are looking for, rookie DeMar DeRozan is not to blame.
However, you can call him: struggling, lost, ineffective. Peaks and valleys are expected from rookies, but his team's overall lethargy has served only to highlight the lowest point to DeRozan's season so far.
"Stuff like that happens," DeRozan said after Wednesday's loss to the Magic. "I knew it was going to come. Every player has his ups and downs. I've just got to figure out a way through it. And that's where we're at as a team. We've just got to figure it out."
Who's hot? In an otherwise bleak season, Brook Lopez has continued to grow. The centre has recorded six consecutive double-doubles.
Who's not? Point guard Devin Harris followed up getting ejected for a flagrant foul on Tuesday by shooting 1-for-9 from the floor on Wednesday.
And what is with the Toronto Raptors time and time again signing players to lucrative contracts, only to have them pack it in and coast throughout the terms of the contract? I’m referring more to the Vince Carter’s and less the rarer Chris Bosh’s.
Hedo Turkoglu showed up this season out of shape, a step slower than last year, and a disappointment to all of the Raptors fans that have so patiently waited for management to put a team around Bosh worth talking about. I’m probably a bit more patient than your average guy when it comes to building a winner, but early indicators are pointing to Turkoglu being another overpaid, underperforming player for the Raps. Did the Raps just sign another player in the twilight of his career, instead of the optimal veteran peak?
TRACY MCGRADY, TRADED
TEAMS: From 1999-2000 Toronto Raptors to 2000 Orlando Magic
WOE CANADA: Back in 2000, T-Mac and Vince Carter helped lead the Toronto Raptors to their first playoff series in franchise history. The following summer he was traded to Orlando where he went on to become a seven-time All-Star, seven-time All-NBA team player, and two-time NBA scoring leader. McGrady may have shed some tears over not being able to make it out of the first round but it’s the Raptors who’ve only had three winning seasons since T-Mac left nine years ago.
With no disrespect to Josh Smith, Pops Mensah-Bonsu could be the NBA’s best shot blocker. While it’s tough to crack the leader board averaging 7.3 minutes per game, Pops has been killing it the past four games – including two blocks in two minutes against the Hawks, and another two against the Rockets (the team that dropped him after four games earlier this season). Now I’m not saying that Mensah-Bonsu is an All-Star, but in his biggest appearance of the year (24 minutes in a preseason game against his current squad), he did log five blocks to go along with 17 points and seven boards. Check out the following two videos – blocks of Joel Anthony & David Andersen – and tell me that he shouldn’t play.
Heading into tonight's match-up vs. the Nets there isn't much to say as the Raptors face their first absolute must win of the season.
A victory had better be in the works.
Here’s the question I have Raptors fans. They have changed the coach, they have changed most of the parts. The result appears to be the same. Am I wrong? Does Bryan Colangelo get another shot at another coach? Does he get another shot at changing the deck chairs? The guy totally rebuilt the team this past offseason, to the delight of most who cover and root for the team. What are the 2 constants in this every changing franchise? Colangelo and Bosch. Really, what else am I missing? BC said that the best way to keep Bosh was to build a winner around him. So much for that plan, at least so far right? What’s the next option? Should Triano go? Those who cover the team have been very very polite. Those who go to the games have been very very loyal.
So, the season isn’t over yet. There is time to salvage things. What should BC do? What can be done? What does a fan think?
Turkoglu hasn't been entrusted with the point-forward role and the Raptors offense has once again become as disheveled as their notoriously bad defense (okay, maybe it's not that bad but both are contributing factors to the losses, not just the ‘D').
The word out of the Raptors camp is that the team simply hasn't found its groove with so many new pieces trying to get acclimated to what coach Jay Triano is trying to do. While it doesn't look as though the team is really making any progress to that end after back-to-back blowouts in Miami and Orlando, all the team can do is keep plugging away and trying to find that ever-elusive consistency they keep talking about.
The same picture gets filled-in with Calderon and Jack. No need to decide on which guy works best, with whom and when. Trot them out there together to even out the minutes and allow them to both finish games. How easy was that? But again, how has that plan done anything to give this team an idea of how it can win games?
Then you have guys like Amir Johnson working like a dog and getting results for this team, only to remain consigned to his predetermined bit role. Jack gets to start now, only due to Calderon’s injury, but even now with a role that is more suitable to him, he is getting hemmed in by Triano’s conceptual ideas.
Akil and Sherm break down the Raptors match-up with the N.J. Nets.
The All-Star joins PTS in studio to discuss his new DVD, his life in Toronto and his future.
The Raptors, already 11 games back of division-leading Boston, rank 29th in scoring defense, allowing an average of 108.6 points. They're defense has been especially bad lately.
In Wednesday's 118-99 loss to Orlando, Toronto allowed the Magic to shoot 57.3 percent and make 14 3-pointers. The Raptors fell for the fourth time in five games, allowing an average of 115.3 points on 53.2 percent shooting in those defeats.
LeBron James, Chris Bosh and Tracy McGrady on the New York Knicks.
First off, don’t take this to mean that I’m a Knicks fan. I’m not. (And just to clear up a common misconception, most of us at Dime aren’t Knicks fans, either. We might be based in NYC, but we’re a diverse crew.) But looking at the handful of teams that have a lot of money to spend on multiple superstars, New York makes the most sense for these three superstars.
Perhaps the single most frustrating thing about this Raptors team is that they seem to have the blueprint for success and will put it in motion to get a hard-earned victory by playing on both ends of the floor, then inexplicably file the index card with the winning recipe into the back of the pile immediately after the final buzzer sounds.
I don't have the answer to why they do that, but I can tell you, it needs to stop now. With their saving grace being the watered down Eastern Conference that they're playing in, the Raptors need to look within and save their season themselves.
Whatever they're doing, it's not working, so get back to the drawing board, figure it out and in the meantime, remember: Just because you're moving, doesn't mean you're moving forward.
Pops Mensah-Bonsu is the kind of player every team needs somewhere on their roster. An energizer that can run the floor, fight for every rebound, and tangle with the opposing big man, he knows his role and does whatever he can to help the team win. After riding the pine for much of November, Pops has seen his minutes increase as of late for the Toronto Raptors. The third-year forward caught up with HOOPSWORLD recently.
They're two reasons why the Raptors should trade Andrea Bargnani, First he has no concept of defence (well it seems like no one on the Raptors does), but he is is a 7 footer, he should average at least 8 rebounds per game, and block at least 2 shots, he is very athletic he just doesn't have the hustle or desire to do these things. The other reason why the raptors should trade Bargnani is because he has the most trade value and potential out of everyone on the raptors beside Chris Bosh. What they should try and get for him is a power forward or centre that plays like a power forward or centre i.e. Marcus camby, Chris Kaman, or Nene.
CTG: Has Jay Triano lost this team?
Arsenalist: Not sure what “lost” really means. The players don’t seem to believe that his defense can work and there’s plenty of evidence to support that. Our GM had to fly over to Washington to facilitate a meeting, that should be the coach’s job. His game management has been terrible and nobody should for a second think that the players don’t notice it. He has to communicate with the players in an honest manner and lay it on the table every time, playing buddy-buddy with players and pretending all is OK when it’s not is only going to lose him respect, and eventually their attention. I’m sure the team listens to him, I just don’t think they had as much confidence in his basketball strategies as they had when the season started.
CTG: A quarter of the way into his fourth NBA season, would you classify Andrea Bargnani as a disappointment?
There comes a point where you have to just blame someone or something. Fans have not missed a shot, blown a defensive assignment or lost a single game this season. I think most fans believe right or wrong that they care more than the team they cheer for at the moment. I really do not think that is the case and if I was wrong in that I really don't want to know. If only fans had the athletic ability to play the sport. Fans think if they did, they would bust their butt and not get beat or die trying. If you have every watched the movie Rudy, I think that is the passion we want to see in athletes. That is coming from a Michigan fan saying that.
I got to see my old friend Hedo Turkoglu last night when Toronto came to Orlando to play. I didn’t get to play in the first two games against Toronto this season, so this was the first time I’ve seen Turk since he left.
When he played for the Magic, our lockers were always side by side. Turk and I became pretty tight and we always worked well together on the floor. I switched to the power forward slot so that he could stay at small forward because we knew how good we could be together. It was a good mix that we had, and I like to think the way we meshed together helped us get to the NBA Finals.
I miss Turk and wish he was still here, but I don’t begrudge him because he had to make a business decision for what was best for his family. I had to do something similar three years ago when I left Seattle for Orlando, but as it turns out it was the best thing I’ve ever done.
At that steep price tag ($52 million and change over five years), big free-agent ticket Turkoglu hasn't exactly been a savior on offense, either, giving the Raptors just 14 points per game on 43-percent shooting.
Backup point guard Jarrett Jack was hired to help make the Raptors a bit less terrible defensively, but his chilly shot-making does little to inspire more playing time from Coach Jay Triano. Rookie DeMar DeRozan was drafted, in large part, because he possesses the bounce and speed that general manager Bryan Colangelo was able to watch while working for the Phoenix Suns. But DeRozan's athletic chops haven't been enough to produce more than 7 points, 41-percent shooting or 20 minutes per game.
We almost forgot … the Raptors may lose Chris Bosh to free agency next summer. If that happens, they no longer have to worry about being listed in a review of teams that fail to meet expectations.
Tennessee Basketball is ranked 8th in the nation, has won championships and enjoys national relevance because of the work of Bruce Pearl and his staff, and they deserve all the credit. But a decade before Pearl came to Knoxville to resurrect the program, the Vols hired Kevin O'Neill from Marquette and asked him to achieve the same feat. And while O'Neill never got to personally enjoy the fruit of his labor, and the process appeared to die again a few years after O'Neill left, there is still a faint connection between O'Neill and Pearl on the continuum of growth of Tennessee Basketball. And despite his departure under less than ideal circumstances, O'Neill should be appreciated for his contribution to the program.