Morning Coffee

Morning Coffee – Jan 6

Raptors release Mensah-Bonsu | Toronto Sun

In Mensah-Bonsu’s case, it’s believed the Raptors would have been on the hook for roughly $400,000 US had they not initiated today’s release.

If he clears waivers, which is how the Raptors got their hands on the energetic power forward earlier this season when the Houston Rockets jettisoned the native of London, England, Toronto could conceivably sign Mensah-Bonsu to a 10-day deal.

There’s talk Russian powerhouse CSKA Moscow has Mensah-Bonsu on its radar.

“Pops is a great guy and a great teammate who worked hard all the time,’’ Raptors head coach Jay Triano said. “It was a tough call.”

Like a lot of teams, the Raptors have to be very conscious on how every dollar gets allocated.

With Reggie Evans making strides in his recovery from a foot injury, having Mensah-Bonsu around would have been redundant.

By releasing him, the Raptors assure themselves of some cap flexibility, which in turn allows the team to better address their roster.

Calderon set for return | Toronto Sun

"I'm sticking with Jarrett," Triano said on a day the Raptors released little-used power forward Pops Mensah-Bonsu. "We'll monitor Jose and see where he's at."

Triano liked what he saw of Calderon, who practised at full strength, but he likes the rhythm Jack has developed with the starting unit and sees no reason to make a change.

At least for now.

It's just a matter of time, though, before Calderon is back in the starting saddle.

While he won't attack the rim like Jack, Calderon distributes the ball better and is more lethal as a spot-up shooter.

Jack's ability to push the ball also lends itself better to the team's second unit, which features energetic pieces in Sonny Weems and Amir Johnson, who are effective in transition.

Feschuk: Calderon not rocking boat –

But Calderon, if he made the moment about himself, could make the argument, as Ford did, that he shouldn't lose his starting gig on account of an injury, and he'd have a point. He didn't make the point. Jay Triano, the Raptors coach, said he won't start Calderon in Wednesday's game against the Magic – "I'm not going to disrupt the unit that we have right now," the coach said – and Calderon wasn't exactly fuming.

"It's Jay's call. I'm ready to help the team, and keep winning games," said Calderon on Tuesday, after he participated in his first full practice with his teammates since his injury. "If I've got to be coming from the bench the first two, three, four, five games, or whatever, it's Jay's call. He's the coach."

Raptors Game Day

Who's hot? Matt Barnes has started the last three games for the Magic. He is averaging 16.7 points and seven rebounds per game on 57% shooting in that stretch.

Who's not? Dwight Howard has scored just nine points in each of his last two games, shooting a relatively poor 42% from the floor.

Will the real Raptors step forward – National Post

While Calderon makes the Raptors a more complex offensive team, Jack should be given the chance to steer the starting unit for the foreseeable future.

The facts are these: Calderon started the first 22 games of the year, and the Raptors went 9-13, playing historically bad defensive basketball. Jack has started the last 13 games and the Raptors have gone 8-5 in those contests, approaching acceptable defence, if not excellence, in the process. During Jack's tenure as starter, six of Toronto's opponents have shot 41% from the field or worse — unheard of for the early-season Raptors — while seven opponents have scored 95 points or less.

Yes, that period overlaps with the Raptors moving to a more aggressive defensive scheme, but Jack, a more capable one-on-one defender than Calderon, is no small reason for the progress.

Raptors-Magic Preview – Jan. 5, 2010 – NBA –

This will be the second game back in Orlando for Hedo Turkoglu, who signed with Toronto in the offseason after five seasons with the Magic. Turkoglu, averaging 15.0 points and shooting 41.9 percent in three total games against his former club, made his return to Orlando in December, getting a big ovation during introductions before boos drowned out the cheers for most of the game.

"Anybody who's booing him really can't be a Magic fan," said Van Gundy, whose team advanced to the NBA finals with Turkoglu last season. "We wouldn't have gotten to where we got to last year without him."

The lowly Indiana Pacers upset the listless Orlando Magic 97-90 –

Stan Van Gundy's search for answers has begun.

The Orlando Magic coach says he'll consider playing different guys. He'll look at putting different combinations on the court. He'll try to figure out how to ignite his team's offense.

He reached that conclusion as a horrid road trip ended Tuesday night with his Orlando Magic losing 97-90 to the lowly, injury-ravaged Indiana Pacers.

"Look, we're just playing terrible," Van Gundy said. "Offensively, it's just really bad right now. We can't score. We cannot score. I don't know. I need to look at everything."

Chris Bosh, Is the Toronto Raptors All-Star Under Appreciated? « Brothersteve’s Green & Red Raptor Blog

In his four seasons as an All-Star, Bosh has averaged a remarkable 22.5 points and 9.7 rebounds per game. Firmly establishing his position as a dominant power forward in the minds of opposing coaches.

The Toronto Raptors did win the Atlantic Division title in 2006-07 with 47 wins. But in two playoff appearances they were dismissed in the first round by New Jersey in 2007 and then Orlando in 2008.

The Rap Sheet: Bye Pops, Hello Jose

Jose has been the subject of more than a few emails lately and I’m as baffled to get a read on this guy as you are. Of what little we’ve seen of him this season, Jose has looked about where he was last season, often hurt and wildly inconsistent. Not good but as it was in the T.J. Ford era, when Jose was pressured to come off the bench he did so without question and when push came to shove the move helped his game and profile on the team. I know the circumstances that surround Jose now are different then when Ford was on the team but it may be in Calderon’s best interest that if he can’t play as he did before making nine million a season, he better act like he used to or numero ocho could find himself the ire T.J. Ford once was.

T.Jose Caldesports: Why Jose Calderon is not (totally) to blame for Toronto’s bad defence

The Raptors are taking 1.7 charges per game, a total that ranks 23rd in the NBA. The only reason they don't rank near the bottom of the league is because of their reserve players. Jarrett Jack (9 charges), Marco Belinelli (8), and Antoine Wright (7) are the biggest reasons why Toronto's reserves have taken 42 of the team's 59 charges this season.

SAD STAT OF THE DAY: Jack's team-leading 9 charges ranks 63rd in the NBA

SADDER STAT OF THE DAY: Toronto's starting five have taken 24 charges in a little under 5000 minutes of court time this season. Andrew Bogut has also taken 24 charges this season (in a little over 800 minutes)

Jones: Calderon getting closer –

"We'll see how he responds overnight," Triano said. "I don't think there will be any hesitation there as long as he's completely healthy (Wednesday) and not sore. But if he's healthy, he'll play."

Triano said he had not yet talked to the trainers about how much time they thought Calderon could play. When discussing whether Calderon might start the game, the head coach was definitive in his answer.

"He won't start. I don't think he's played enough with these guys the last little bit," Triano said. "He'll probably just come in off the bench. I'm not going to disrupt the unit that we have right now."

Reggie Evans was the other story at practice as he was working on the side, similar to what he has been doing over the last little while. But at one point Triano did say that he got off the floor and dunked the ball.

Game preview: Dwight Howard and the Orlando Magic will host Chris Bosh and the Toronto Raptors at 7 tonight at Amway Arena. –

Orlando is coming off of a game Tuesday night in Indianapolis against the Indiana Pacers. The Magic are 3-4 in the second game of a back-to-back. . . . Coach Stan Van Gundy wants to see his starters play with a consistently high energy level. . . . The team also needs to do a better job of passing the ball to C Dwight Howard deeper in the paint.

WHAT TO WATCH FOR: Will the Magic play with consistent energy despite playing last night? . . . Orlando is 3-0 against Toronto this season and has won each of those games by at least eight points. . . . The teams last faced each other on Dec. 16 at Amway Arena, and the Magic won 118-99 as PF Rashard Lewis scored a game-high 21 points. Five other Magic players scored in double figures.

Three-Point Shooters Are All the Rage in the NBA –

As NBA teams shake off the effects of the sluggish economy, the average team payroll has dropped about $1.3 million this season. The league's salary cap, which is directly tied to overall NBA revenue, fell this season for just the second time in nearly three decades. In July, NBA commissioner David Stern said that more than half the teams lost money last season.

"Teams know these three-point guys can contribute, and they're the perfect fit because they don't cost much," says Wayne Embry, a former general manager for the Milwaukee Bucks and Cleveland Cavaliers and currently a senior basketball adviser for the Toronto Raptors.

Steve Kerr, general manager of the Phoenix Suns, likens the situation to the strategy of baseball's Oakland A's, who have pioneered the trend of trying to build winning teams by identifying players whose skills were undervalued by the market. "There's a real financial aspect to it," Mr. Kerr says.

FAN590 – Blogs – The Rap » VLOG 19.1 – ORLANDO, FL

Busy day in Orlando …

Jose Calderon is set to return to the Raptors line up …
Pops Mensah-Bonsu has been released …
And the weather experts down here are warning locals to “cover all exposed skin” (due to the cold temps) …!

We cover it all in the latest VLOG

Raptors release Mensah-Bonsu | Toronto Sun

In all likelihood, the journeyman NBAer is likely headed overseas.

In fact, there’s talk Russian powerhouse CSKA Moscow has Mensah-Bonsu on its radar.

“Pops is a great guy and a great teammate who worked hard all the time,’’ Raptors head coach Jay Triano said. “It was a tough call.”

Like a lot of teams, the Raptors have to be very conscious on how every dollar gets allocated.

With Reggie Evans making strides in his recovery from a foot injury, having Mensah-Bonsu around would have been redundant.

By releasing him, the Raptors assure themselves of some cap flexibility, which in turn allows the team to better address their roster.

Court Surfing – Back to the Future, Raptors Style: The Week that Was and Week that Will Be: Week 10

The five-game winning streak did come against losing teams, but the fact of the matter is that the Raptors took care of business during that span. How many times last season would opportunities be wasted against lesser teams? So far this season, the Raptors have usually beaten the teams they are supposed to beat. The weekend was a tale of two games. In one, the Raptors looked like the Raptors of November, conceding the game not with a lack of talent, but rather with a lack of effort. On Sunday, the Raptors took care of a perennial winning team with effort on the defensive end. If the defence continues to improve, the Raptors will continue to build winning streaks against weak teams and maybe even steal some games against the NBA's elite. Of course, that is a big "if" when talking about this defence.

Pops Mensah-Bonsu – The FAN 590 Toronto

The former Raptor catches up with Eric & Paul in a FAN 590 exclusive shortly after being released by Toronto to talk about his future and his time with the franchise.

T.Jose Caldesports: One more note re: Calderon

Quick points in defence of Calderon:

The list of teams Toronto has played during this 6-1 stretch (with their offensive efficiency rank in parantheses)

NJ (30th)
NO (20th)
DET (24th)
DET (24th)
CHA (27th)
BOS (8th)
SA (5th)

khandor’s sports blog » Despite winning 6 of 7, Raptors’ D still porous

Prior to their game against New Jersey [Fri Dec 18 2009], Toronto’s W-L Record was 11-17/.393, and their team was generally considered to be one of the worst defensive squad’s in the NBA.

Since this game, however, the Raptors have proceeded to win 6 of their last 7 contests and certain outposts in the blogosphere have begun to espouse the notion that “improved Defense, on the whole, has been responsible for the team’s recent upsurge, with legitimate prospects for the playoffs looming on the horizon, as a result.”

Dino Nation Blog: Double D Is Back In DNB.

One of the guys Demar was playing with in summer League was Brent Petway, who is a college and D-league dunk champion. Brent was a guest on the Dino Nation Blog back in his time with the Idaho Stampede. He talked about being a student of the whole dunk contest. I asked Demar if he was the same way?

Chisholm: Calderon’s return presents tough questions for Raps

However, there is an unwritten rule in the NBA that guys aren't supposed to lose their jobs when they are out with injury. The thinking being that a demotion is tantamount to punishment and no one should be punished for getting injured. That said, though, one has to wonder how much longer Calderon and his abysmal defence would have even lasted in the starting five had he not been injured – but that's a debate for another day.

The point is that as unfair as it would be to Calderon to bench him for getting injured, would it not be just as unfair to Jack and the team to stick Calderon back into the starting five after they've worked so hard to create some chemistry, stability and momentum as a unit without him, especially with the strides that they've made defensively that Calderon would no doubt upset?

Doug Smith’s Toronto Raptors blog

The first unit runs better when he’s in there running the screen-roll or spotting up in the corner as a more dangerous shooter than Jarrett Jack.

The second unit runs better with Jack at his tempo playing alongside Weems and Johnson and DeRozan every now and then.

Defensively, it’s a wash, really. The slight changes to the system – more ball pressure higher in halfcourt sets – puts the onus on the wings and bigs and they’ve been doing a pretty good job helping when necessary.

It really doesn’t matter who’s out there at the top if the help’s there, and it has been.

There will be blow-bys, folks, lots of them. There have been in the last dozen games but, shockingly, they haven’t been pointed out to me every single time.

I think you want your best ball-handler and best shooting point guard on the floor against other starters, at least at the beginning of the game. And I defy anyone to suggest – after watching the last dozen games – to suggest that isn’t Calderon.

RAPTORS: Raptors Release Forward Mensah-Bonsu

The Toronto Raptors announced Tuesday they have released forward Pops Mensah-Bonsu. Toronto claimed Mensah-Bonsu off waivers November 13 after he was released by the Houston Rockets. He averaged 2.1 points, 1.9 rebounds and 6.7 minutes in 16 games with Toronto.

Mensah-Bonsu appeared in four games with Houston this season averaging 1.3 points and 3.3 minutes.

He appeared in 19 games with the Raptors during the 2008-09 campaign after signing as a free agent on March 6, 2009. He averaged 5.1 points, 5.4 rebounds and 13.8 minutes during his first stint with the Raptors.

The four-year NBA veteran has averaged 3.3 points, 3.1 rebounds and 8.8 minutes in 54 games with four teams.

Happy New Year Pops! – The Globe and Mail

There are only five active NBA to have cracked the 20,000-point plateau and they’re all pretty good: Shaq, Kobe, Iverson, Garnett and Allen. Right now only 32 players in NBA history have done it, though several more are on the verge, including Dirk, Tim Duncan, Paul Pierce and Vince. Bosh will only be 32 when his next contract ends and probably good for maybe another 5,000 points which is where the air gets really rare: Shaq’s the only active player to have got there and only 14 in history have.

I realize this is all candy and nuts and the wheels might fall off two years from now, but it’s worth pointing out that for all the heat Bosh takes for not being LeBron – (on pace to break the all-time scoring mark by about age 36 by the way) – he deserves credit for fashioning himself a pretty special career to this point and one which no Raptor will surpass any time soon, if ever.

Mensah-Bonsu released by the Toronto Raptors | More than the games

Under the terms of Mensah-Bonsu's deal, the Raptors would have been obliged to guarantee Mensah-Bonsu's contract for the rest of the season had he remained on the roster beyond a deadline later tonight.

By releasing him, they are free to sign him to no more than two ten-day contracts before deciding whether to sign him for the remainder of the campaign.

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