"You’ve got to take away some of the freedom around here, what guys have," said Wright, offering the coaching staff some unsolicited advice. "(The players’) leash is not going to be as loose as it’s been. If you’re not doing what (the team) needs you to do, you’re going to have to come out of the game. That’s the only way to address (the situation) right now at this point in the season."
Wright’s agenda has been no secret from the beginning of training camp, when he began lobbying for the spot in the starting lineup still occupied by rookie DeMar DeRozan. DeRozan has long been underperforming on defence, where he is known for a wandering attention to detail. (Go figure that he was the only Raptor to play all 12 minutes of Wednesday’s disastrous third quarter, wherein the Kings shot an astounding 75 per cent from the field and outscored Toronto by a season-high spread 43-23.) So as shameless as his campaigning has been, inserting Wright into the first five is perhaps the simplest way to jostle the Raptors out of their current slumber.
But long-time NBA observers might also humbly suggest that Triano might think about making some additional hard choices, and soon, specifically by paring down the rotation as the regular season’s 19-game home stretch continues Saturday and Sunday at Golden State and Portland. Amir Johnson and Reggie Evans, for instance, have been largely splitting minutes as the off-the-bench energy guy. Neither has been particularly effective and Evans has been downright sullen occupying half a role.
But hey, it’s the time for fever dreams, which helps to explain the imaginary trades. Like, say, offering Jose Calderon and the expiring contracts of Marcus Banks and Reggie Evans to Washington for — wait for it — Gilbert Arenas.
Yes, the message here is let me do the panicking for you.
To be clear: All this exists only in this writer’s imagination. General manager Bryan Colangelo couldn’t even talk about if I asked him, but that road has yet to be seriously considered, since it’s fraught with what-ifs. Also, insanity.
Among the what-ifs — after whether Arenas will be imprisoned, whether his contract will be voided, whether he is able to cross the border after his sentencing on a little gun felony that you may have heard about — is whether or not Chris Bosh stays. Which, given the events of the past three weeks, doesn’t look quite as appetizing a concept for the young all-star as it did back when people were wondering whether the Raptors could catch Boston in the standings.
And so clearly, something needs to happen.
When the Raps got off to their slow start to the season, Antoine Wright was the only player to publicly question how they defended. Following Sunday’s alarming home loss to Philadelphia, Wright again raised questions about the team’s focus and mindset.
It made for good copy on a team not known for colourful commentary. But Wright was right in his assessments, though the words would have carried more weight had one of the team’s core players spoken up.
Bosh has been asked to do a lot in Toronto and he has handled every responsibility with grace, maturity and humility.
He is not able to play at a dominant level because of his inactivity, but it will come. Chances are pretty good it will arrive on Saturday against the up-tempo Golden State Warriors, who have no one capable of stopping Bosh.
It’s not in his character to rip his team, but Bosh must now go out of character. His voice is the only one that matters inside the Raptors locker room.
Toronto need to take a long hard look at themselves, and try to get a grip on the situation that’s unfolding. It’s not like the team doesn’t have quality talent, it does.
It’s the fact that most of that quality talent such as Weems, Johnson, and DeRozan are still unproven despite their steady play as of late.
If the Raptors were to fail in their attempt to qualify for the post-season, should the blame be squarely aimed at Jay Triano?
Or should Colangelo come the realize that his ‘magic’ may in fact not be so magical, or instead bring in personal fave coach Mike D’Antoni into the mix?
Would trading Chris Bosh in fact signal the end of all possibilities for Toronto, or would it be the final ‘turning point’ of the franchise as so many would put it as?
These questions are of yet to be answered, and Colangelo and company have nothing to hide nor should even try to hide anything now that the floodgate could open should the Raptors not make the cut at all.
So let’s consider the possiblity of trading Chris Bosh. Depending on how you might see it, trading Bosh could in fact work in the Toronto Raptors favor.
For whatever reason, it just hasn’t worked out for Hedo with the Raptors. He is only averaging 12 points per game and he has had nights where he has made only one basket or gone scoreless. That is a big turnaround from last year when he was terrific and could easily have been an All-Star.
Vince basically replaced Hedo in the lineup. While he is getting 16 points a game, he is averaging a little less than three assists. He is much-maligned for settling for too many jumpers and not getting to the free-throw line often enough. He is in a different role than he is accustomed to because he isn’t the No. 1 option in Orlando. Vince can play, but he is a different player than Hedo.
A gut feeling of mine tells me, the offseason goal for the Rockets is none other than becoming a player in the drama-filled 2010 NBA free agent class. Specifically meaning: Operation Chris Bosh.
Yes, the Rockets wouldn’t have near the amount of cap space to offer Bosh the max, but with Bosh being a Texas native, and the Raptors being no better than mediocre in the Eastern Conference, it seems he’s the top free agent that’s most likely to leave.
It could very well work out that Bosh resigns with the Raptors, but pretend he were to bolt. The Rockets could potentially offer a combination of wings in Battier or Ariza. They also have Jefferies whom would be an expiring contract, but most importantly future assets such as Jordan Hill, who’s shown signs in the last two games, what will be a lottery pick this season, the Knicks 2012 pick, and potentially open to the idea of trading a resigned Scola, or even Brooks perhaps for the services of Bosh.
If that were the case, the team would be hard pressed to find a package better than that if Bosh were to leave Toronto.
“You play a game like this and you have to give them a little leeway because we need them to be rolling if we’re going to be in the playoffs,” Triano said of his Big Two.
But in doing that, Triano loses the rest of the room and you get those selfish games where it’s every man for himself.
It was Triano who first pointed out the selfish nature of his players in the wake of the Sacramento meltdown. And not one of the players in the locker room after the game denied it.
The spin from the room, and the way Triano saw it, differed. While Triano saw guys out only to get theirs and foregoing the share-the-ball approach that has been the core of the team’s success, the players from Antoine Wright to Jose Calderon and Bosh, saw it as players trying to do too much, trying too hard and eventually exacerbating the problem.
Worse still, no one seems real sure what the remedy is.
Bosh was asked what he thought and the reply was disappointing.
“You know me,” Bosh said “I don’t say much. Just learn from the day and worry about tomorrow later, man. That’s all I can come up with.”
Wright, who was concerned the Raptors might throw up a stinker after a spirited effort in Los Angeles against the Lakers, didn’t have answers, either.
“That’s what they pay the man in the other room for,” Wright said, referring to Triano. “He’s got to figure it out. But you shouldn’t have to motivate guys to play hard, not at this point in the season.”
President and General Manager of the Toronto Raptors joins Prime Time Sports to discuss his team’s performance.
Bryan Colangelo was interviewed a day after the Raptors lost in Sacramento to the Kings. It was a game where they surrendered 43 points in the third quarter and came out of halftime allowing the Kings to open on a 14-0 run.
Colangelo commented on a number of issues relating to the Raptors’ woes, including the need to be better coming out after halftime. I’m not sure the GM realizes just how awful his team is in the third quarter of most games.
I spent time examining Raptors’ third quarters and the picture is not pretty. There is no excuse for consistently coming out flat in 2 out of 3 third quarters – which is exactly what the Raptors do.