Hedo Turkoglu's wonky back no longer keeps the Raptors' small forward out of practice.
The Raptors now can hope that he is back to being the impact player the team thought it had acquired in last summer's free-agent market.
After missing Wednesday's workout when tightness flared up, Turkoglu was able to go full speed yesterday as the Raps wrapped up preparations for tonight's game in New York.
From the moment he arrived in T.O., Turkoglu has been out of sync with his new teammates. There aren't many possessions when the ball isn't swing to him to him, but he has to come up big more than he has.
"I just have to be aggressive from the beginning,'' Turkoglu said. "I just have to get myself involved from the get-go."
"Is anybody ready for the New York media?'' Bosh responded at the conclusion of yesterday's practice when asked if he was ready for the onslaught.
Much like opponents send two or three extra defenders when Bosh catches the ball in the post, he's expecting to be double-teamed when the Raptors make their first of two trips to New York before the NBA's Feb. 18 trade deadline.
Bosh looms as one of the jewels of this summer's free-agent class.
The Knicks have made no secret in assembling a roster that consists mainly of players on expiring contracts.
Bosh's name has been linked with New York, which figures to have plenty of cap space to pursue, potentially, as many as two of the highly coveted free agents.
This isn't the first time Bosh has been grilled by reporters in New York, nor is it his first appearance at MSG.
The way Bosh has handled himself, he's not expected to drop any bombshells.
Bargnani has been emerging this season as a very good player, his offensive game is expanding, his defence is improving and, yes, he’s even getting on the boards every now and then.
Gallinari’s good, at least he’s been in the few Knicks games I’ve seen, but he’s different than his compatriot. He does more things now than Bargnani did at the same stage of his career and to compare games is actually unfair to both.
Let’s call it a tie at the moment, with the slight edge to the Toronto guy and I don’t think tonight solves anything.
Here’s one for you, though.
Given the Knicks play at a rather frenetic pace and a somewhat helter-skelter, drive-and-kick style quite unlike any other NBA team, I can see the other guy from Italy – the rather frenetic and somewhat helter-skelter Marco Belinelli – stealing the show.
"We're professional athletes. A lot of people want to see what we do on a daily basis. So they follow you," said Weems. "Me and DeMar walk into the mall, and people are watching us with video cameras. We're used to it. If your parents raised you a certain way, you should have no problem conducting yourself in public."
That, of course, is the key to a hassle-free digital existence. Treat people the way you'd like to be treated, acquiesce when the cameras come out, and where's the possibility for bad publicity? Surely, though, depending on the size of one's star, that way of life requires patience. And certainly there are those willing to test it.
DeRozan has been openly lobbying for a spot in the dunk contest since before the season began. The 6-foot-7 20-year-old has even suggested on his website he could win a dunk contest that included dunk icon Michael Jordan.
"I've got a few things up my sleeve, I'll try to be a little creative," he said. "Basically, it's just taking things they've been doing all along and try to add to a lot of the dunks."
He did critique the team's offensive system — if not outright complain about it — on Sunday, but Turkoglu was cracking jokes again yesterday. With one reporter back from a month-long vacation, Turkoglu mimicked his high-pitched voice. Turkoglu also poked fun at himself, and the Pizza Pizza commercial that has Raptors fans laughing at its high levels of unintentional comedy.
Still, there has to be some strife here. Through 39 games — almost half of the regular season — Turkoglu has scored at least 20 points just four times. With Orlando last year, he had done so 17 times by this point. Scoring is just one part of the equation, obviously, but the Raptors brought him to Toronto in part to ease the scoring load on Chris Bosh, especially late in games.
The inclusion of Gordon comes as a bit of a surprise. Gordon certainly is a heck of an athlete, but he’s not your classic dunk contest participant. Gordon is more of an authoritative dunker than a flashy one, so we’ll see how that translates. The last dunk contest Gordon participated in was at Indiana where he lost to Jordan Crawford, who would eventually become an internet sensation this summer for dunking on LeBron James.
Gordon’s competition this time around is DeMar DeRozan, who is an absolutely otherworldly dunker. Here’s a sample of what DeRozan can do:
Bynum's not getting traded for Chris Bosh! Besides being a motivational ploy, let's look at it further. Bynum *IS* Jim Buss's guy. Do not underestimate the power of that situation! Many teams came through with interesting offers for Bynum and the Lakers turned down all of them. Jim is slated to take over Jerry Buss's spot on the team and Bynum is his long-term cornerstone. Plus roster-wise Bosh doesn't fit. Gasol is a 4 who can play the 5 and Bosh is a 4 only. The Lakers, who's advantage is being long and big, find themselves getting a little smaller with Bosh. It was never happening.
The Knicks brain trust is also split on what to make of him. Is he worth the money? Is he really that much of an upgrade over David Lee?
Those are legitimate questions about Bosh, who Friday night visits the Garden for the first time this season. Knicks president Donnie Walsh is hoping to have enough available cap space next summer to sign two impact free agents. Bosh is on the Knicks' radar, but his situation could change dramatically over the next month.
Bosh, a 6-10 All-Star, could be dealt by the Raptors before the Feb. 18 trading deadline if the club feels it doesn't have a realistic chance of re-signing him. Even though Toronto maintains that it is committed to building around Bosh, some NBA executives are convinced that he will head to Miami to play with Wade.
Could we pull off a S&T for Chris Bosh? Something using Noah + Deng in it? It's a possibility. If I were the Raptors I'd consider Noah + Deng for Bosh if Bosh is leaving if I liked Deng. Personally, I wouldn't do that trade if I were Toronto, especially with Hedo on that super long term deal, but it's not entirely out of the question if Deng finishes the season strong.
Having lost two games in a row the Raptors head to the big apple to face off against the Knicks for the first time this season.
Can the Raps get a win at MSG against an Atlantic Division rival?
At one point, he was the icon of the Toronto Raptors. He was our hero…he was our shining light…he was hope for greatness…he was going to lead us to a championship. All of those hopes and dreams were dashed when he decided he did not want to play anymore (at least not for the Raptors). Not only did he crush a city, but he crushed the whole country! Now, look on the flip side – why would he do that to a city that loved him so much? Throughout his tenure with the Raptors, each season showed signs of greatness, for himself and the team. He was at an all time high (especially right after the best all star break) – he was awarded rookie of the year, the Raptors made it to the first round of playoffs and then they made it to the second round the following year (and they pushed that series to a Game 7, where they had as good a shot as any to win that game).
The Toronto Raptors may make some major moves (if they trade Chris Bosh for someone like the rumored Andrew Bynum). If they dump Calderon to another team and need a new man at the top a Harris and Bynum combo with Turkoglu and Bargnani shooting around them might be good enough to be a playoff team.
With Bosh improving, though, the Raptors have a good chance of making the playoffs. And if that happens, Bosh has a good chance of experiencing a first round exit for the third time in his career.
Yes, Bosh had yet to experience much team success with the Raptors. Hence one suspects he might depart Toronto this summer. And consequently, the Raptors have an incentive to trade him now.
It took less than a minute to delete all photos that would have told the story of what actually took place when clubgoer Jazmine Singh’s photo-taking collided with the ego of Toronto Raptors forward Hedo Turkoglu at a popular night club in Yorkville early Thursday morning.
Singh, who said she was taking pictures of her friend Meghan Kesivic at the bar in Lobby Night Club around 1 a.m., was stunned when a “giant 7-foot man” turned out and grabbed the phone from her hand and deleted all her photos.
It wasn’t until they asked the club’s security to help, that they were told the big guy was a basketball player with the Raptors — and — in not so many words — that he could get away with it.
“He just ripped the phone out of my hand — I thought he was trying to steal it,” said Singh, still incredulous a day later. “I had no idea who he was. I didn’t care who he was. No one has the right to do that,” she said.
“I think he’s a matchup problem for anybody,” D’Antoni said of Bargnani, who has practiced with Gallinari on the Italian national team. “He’s 7-feet and can shoot and he has a really quick first step. That’s why they score a lot of points. It’s hard to matchup with him.”
Gallinari hasn’t been able to shoot the ball at his usual rate over the past three games, averaging 7.7 points and shooting 28.6 percent from the field over the stretch. But his teammates believe playing against a couple familiar faces gets him even more hyped up for games than usual.
“Every game Gallo is pumped, but especially playing against guys from overseas, Gallo gets a kick out of that,” Nate Robinson said. “You catch them talking before the game in a different languages so it’s kind of cool. Gallo’s going to be ready and hopefully he’ll have a great game.”
Raptors guard DeMar DeRozan and Clippers guard Eric Gordon will compete in the All-Star Slam Dunk-In competition at halftime of the T-Mobile Rookie Challenge on Friday, Feb. 12. The winner will advance to the All-Star Saturday Night Sprite Slam Dunk event.
DeRozan and Gordon will each get two dunks in the one-round dunk-in, with the player receiving the highest percentage of fan votes via NBA.com and SMS text messaging advancing to the dunk contest on All-Star Saturday.
I know I’m in the minority when I say that I think this trade would benefit the Raptors more than the Lakers. Most Raptors fans seem appalled by this rumor, Lakers fans seem thrilled by it, and on his latest podcast with Chad Ford, NBA junkie and Celtics fan Bill Simmons was terrified that this trade could make the Lakers completely unstoppable. So how can I justify claiming that I’d do this trade if I was the Raptors’ GM but not if I was the Lakers’ GM?
In Toronto, the Raptors GM has already blown up a substantial part of two teams and rebuilt them in only his fourth season at the helm.
Bryan Colangelo has made at least 15 trades since coming to Toronto and signed numerous free agents. And since his teams have been to the playoffs in two of three attempts, his rebuilding history isn’t too shabby.
Bryan Colangelo joined the Raptors on February 28, 2006 just after Wayne Embry had completed some much-needed salary dumps courtesy of the New York Nicks.
By the time next season started, Colangelo had nine new faces on his team, putting his stamp on the Raptors and giving Toronto their first NBA division title.
"I like the Garden. The Garden has always been a fantastic place for me to play," Bosh said. "It was sort of the first big stage I ever played on in the McDonald's [all-star] game when I was in high school. I've been there every year since then. It's kind of special to me. A lot of greats have played there. It's just one of those special courts."
A clarification: Bosh was not talking about making MSG his home come this summer's free agency (hey, it is finally 2010 — how about that). Instead, he was speaking of the arena his current team, the Toronto Raptors, will play in on Friday.
Colangelo insists he isn't pursuing midseason trades for Bosh in hope of re-signing him this summer. Should Bosh stay, it will be a strong signal of his faith in a long-term frontcourt relationship with 24-year-old Bargnani. "They're fluid players who are both capable of playing the '4' and the '5' positions," said Colangelo. "It's a nice mix."
Many rival team executives are predicting that Bosh will move to Miami or another contender because the Raptors are a game under .500 with a capped-out roster. But it's also fair to speculate that the ever-aggressive Colangelo may seek to balance his rotation after overhauling it last summer. One potential move would be to trade point guard Jose Calderon (making a reasonable $8.2 million with three years remaining) in order to put the ball in the hands of Hedo Turkoglu, which would make better sense of Toronto's $53-million offseason investment in him.
The Toronto Raptors expect to return to the postseason after a one-year absence. They might want to keep a close eye on teams such as the New York Knicks.
Trying to keep pace in a crowded pack of playoff contenders, the Raptors face the Knicks for the first time this season Friday night.
Toronto went 33-49 last season, one game better than New York as it missed the playoffs for the first time in three years. The Raptors (19-20) are in sixth place in the Eastern Conference, but they're among a group of six teams within 3 1/2 games of each other for the final four playoff spots.
The Knicks (16-22) have gone 13-8 since the start of December to move into ninth place, 2 1/2 games behind the Raptors as they try to make the postseason for the first time since the 2003-04 season.
These Atlantic Division rivals tied last season's series 2-2.
To figure out who's overachieving and who's underachieving, we use a formula for "expected wins," which takes a team's points scored and allowed to determine how many wins they should have in the amount of games they've played. A team that has scored 4,000 points and also given up 4,000 in 40 games should be 20-20. In that scenario, a 22-18 record is overachieving and an 18-22 record is underachieving.
For the most part, Chris Bosh hasn’t really had to address his future beyond this year.
But as the Raptors head to New York, he will no doubt be surrounded by questions filled with trade rumours and all sorts of speculation.
Bosh says New York is like everywhere else, but magnified.
“A lot of people covered the Knicks, there are lots of papers, lots of channels, lots of everything in New York” says Bosh.
Bosh also says he doesn’t know of any specific media requests yet, but he will treat this trip like any other.
If the Raptors do move Jose Calderon it will be more about the lack of a impact shooting guard than it would be winning or losing a point guard battle with Jack. I still see that as a move that is unlikely to happen. However if Bryan Colangelo is able to get the right guy in return it would be possible. Calderon is the lone big piece the Raptors have that they would be willing to move at this point you have to figure. Beyond that really there is nothing beyond some guys who could be rotation players elsewhere.
- Scouting Report: DeMar DeRozan
- Gameday: Raptors vs Knicks – Jan. 15/10