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Toronto Sun

Toronto’s ownership group has never exceeded the luxury tax threshold.

It’ll have no choice this coming season because league revenues are expected to decline.

Even if Colangelo does something, it remains to be seen how the team addresses an obvious need to get more mentally tough.

Bosh has often spoken about a certain mindset required to win.

He saw it with Chicago when the Bulls came to town last Sunday and basically earned their right to the playoffs by whipping the Raptors on their home floor.

“It’s all about mentality,’’ Bosh said.

“Sunday was the most important game of the season and quite frankly we weren’t even in the game.

“You look at Chicago, one through 12 (roster-wise) and they are not that much better than us on paper. They came in here like they knew they were coming to win the game.”

Toronto Sun

There was this thought that somehow someone had gotten into Bosh’s ear, telling him to be less assertive for fear of jeopardizing his free agency.

GM Bryan Colangelo went on the record as referring to outside influences that affected the team without getting into much detail.

Whispers began to surface that Bosh’s desire was waning.

“Nothing went on,’’ Bosh said. “I turned my ankle when I came back. I had been healthy for the full season. Not to put everything on me, but we were used to playing with the full group.

“We were used to playing with a certain group and we were playing well. I twist my ankle and that’s when things changed. I don’t think it was desire or outside influences.”

The Raptors went 2-4 during Bosh’s ankle injury. He would miss a win over the Knicks when he developed a stomach virus.

Up until last Tuesday’s season-ending face fracture, Bosh went the balance of the schedule by posting one double-digit rebounding game.

During that 16-game span, he had six games when he attempted at least 10 free throws.

When he got hurt in Cleveland, Bosh had just finished a three-game stretch where he averaged nearly 35 points a night and was named Eastern Conference player of the week.

“If you allow outside influences to get to you, then this isn’t your profession,’’ Bosh said. “There will always be outside influences. Since I declared for the NBA, there have been outside influences. They come in different forms and they’ll always be there. We lost our step because we weren’t used to playing without our full strength.

“People have to understand: I had a decent season (24.0 points/10.8 rebounds). I struggled after an injury, plain and simple. I don’t like to struggle. Is it fun? No. I like playing to win. I like doing well. People have to look at everything, how I was double-teamed.

“There will always be speculation, there will be people trying to start something.”

Toronto Sun

Jarrett Jack addressed the talk that someone or something may have distracted Bosh after the all-star break and led to a decline in his numbers. Jack had no problem speaking to that suggestion.

“No, he is one of the most focussed people I have ever been around,” Jack said. “For anybody to suggest his head may have been somewhere else or anything other than being the best possible player is ridiculous.”

When it was suggested Bosh’s post-all-star stats backed up the premise that he wasn’t quite himself after the break, Jack again jumped to his friend’s defence.

“He’s human,” Jack said. “He’s going to have time where he will miss shots and struggle. As unbelievable as he is, everyone goes through rough patches. I don’t think you should point to it. Anybody who would put that out there is doing Chris an injustice.”

Toronto Sun

Jay Triano wants his 7-foot centre to work on his team defence. His man-to-man or on-the-ball defence was actually quite good this year, according to Triano. It’s the team defence, or off-the-ball defence that Bargnani struggles with.

“This year we sent him home telling him to become a better defensive player,” Triano said. “He’s good on the ball. We switched a lot of things late in the year because we thought our bigs could sometimes keep perimeter guys in front of them better than our perimeter guys did … He doesn’t understand the concept of team defence and getting over on the weak side and helping. That’s the one thing we want him to do. We also want him to become a better rebounder.”

Bargnani has gone home and come back having made an improvement each year, but he’s a little stumped with working on team defence.

“That’s tough because it’s not something you can work on individually,” he said. “I think I can watch video, gain experience. Maybe try to use the national team games, if I’m going to play them to try to learn something. I think that’s the most difficult part to learn because it’s something you can’t work on, like: ‘I’m going to work on this for the next week.’ You can’t because you don’t have the other nine guys.”

Toronto Sun

If Colangelo can’t acquire a true centre who will play with his back to basket, rebound and defend, he should just tell Bosh to walk.

If Colangelo can’t broker a scenario where the Raptors use Bosh as part of a major deal to rid themselves of Hedo Turkoglu and/or Jose Calderon, then it’s incumbent on Colangelo to let Bosh walk.

There comes a time when a GM can’t bow to the demands of a star player and that time has arrived.

Bosh is a good guy and a very good player, but he’s not a franchise player.

He’ll get his money because some team will pay him, but the Raptors have to start to focus on making themselves better and not fixated on making Bosh happy.

Bosh made it perfectly clear when he said he’ll wait to see what, if any, moves Colangelo is able to make prior to July 1, when free agency kicks in.

Everything Colangelo has done has been with an eye of keeping Bosh in Toronto as his centrepiece.

He’s basically boxed himself in and now Colangelo must realize his next move is to try to capitalize on Bosh’s market value.

That is why Bosh must go.

With him, the Raptors haven’t gone past the first round, no player has taken another step in their evolution.

It’s not entirely Bosh’s fault, but he’s not one of those creators who play the wing position.

He’s a piece on a championship puzzle, which hardly describes the Raptors.

Toronto Sun

The Raptors may want to send him somewhere — but that’s their call and if general manager Bryan Colangelo can find someone who wants to inherit that contract, that would make him smarter than the average bear.

“Those things I can’t control,” said Turkoglu on Raptors’ wrap-up day.

Oh, to be a fly on the wall for his exit interview with coach Jay Triano.

It may have started with something like — “I don’t like you and you don’t like me” and gone from there.

“If I get traded, I do,” said Hedo. “If I stay here, I have to work things out. Get together and talk with the guys and talk, try to communicate, try to do things the right way, try to be more effective.”

Try not to head out to a nightclub on a night you tell the team you can’t play because of illness.

The illness this season came from both the fans and the Raptors: Early on, everybody was sick of this guy.

He didn’t fit in to the offence.

He didn’t play much defence.

He did, we are told, enjoy Yorkville.

Toronto Star

But give the all-star credit. He was correct in pointing out that nearly every serious contender has exceeded the luxury-tax threshold, set at about $70 million this season, when the Raptors spent about $68 million on salaries. It’s more expensive than it sounds because every dollar spent above the limit triggers a $1 tax and forfeiture of the proceeds of a luxury-tax kitty distributed to non-tax teams.

So give Colangelo credit, too. The GM said Thursday that if Bosh chooses to stay in Toronto the Raptors’ payroll will rise above the projected tax threshold, and that the team’s ownership is braced to spend the dough.

“The question is, to what degree do you become a tax team?” said Colangelo. “But the (MLSE) board of directors has authorized a certain level of spending that is clearly into the (projected) tax.”

So, would Colangelo be authorized to sign Bosh, re-sign fellow free agent Amir Johnson and — keeping in mind Bosh’s steep ante — spend yet more taxable dollars on another player or two via the mid-level exception, which this year was worth $5.8 million?

“How deep into the tax we go is going to be based on the scenario I present to the board,” Colangelo said. In other words, if he can make a compelling case to the money men, he can get the money.

Even if he can, will it be enough? Colangelo has some chips to trade. He’s got a lottery pick and two point guards, Jarrett Jack and Jose Calderon, one of whom he has intimated he will move. He’s also got the expiring contracts of Reggie Evans and Marcus Banks. So a draft-day deal built to impress Bosh wouldn’t surprise. Bosh even offered a short shopping list.

“You’re going to have to have somebody else who can really create their own (shot), or … be an all-star,” Bosh said. “You look at every good team, that’s what they have. And I think if you emulate the teams of the past five years who have won … I think you can’t go wrong.”

That could easily be read as a slap at Colangelo’s methodology, since the Toronto GM has been attempting to build an unconventional squad based on shooting. Or maybe it was just some friendly ribbing among old pals at the poker table. Either way, the game is on. And the storyline, be it headed for a happy ending or a horror show, will be worth tracing.

Toronto Star

But let’s say, just for argument, they talk him into staying. They give him maximum money and lock him up and there’s widespread rejoicing. What happpens next?

How do they add the necessary pieces? How do they avoid sending out the same crop — far too many nights — of no-try mopers and princesses?

In a salary-cap league in which revenues are stale and the cap could be tightened, the Raptors already are saddled with bloated and untradeable contracts. Would anybody give you anything for jogging king Hedo Turkoglu, the bust of all busts? For the deteriorated Jose Calderon? For Andrea Bargnani? Well, maybe for Bargnani. He is only 24 and stands 7 feet with an outside shot. In a league with about eight good centres, there could be a market for him.

The point is, there isn’t a lot for GM Bryan Colangelo to do or a lot of room for him to do it in – and Colangelo is a guy who likes to do things.

Would the easy route be to rinse the only Canadian in the mix, coach Jay Triano? Colangelo thought for certain that he had assembled a top-five team in the NBA East, yet the bottom line went up only seven wins and four spots, from 33-49 and 13th in 2008-09 to 40-42 and ninth this time.

If he sticks it to Triano, does he bring in an ass-kicker to coach? Careful. Sam Mitchell had his hands on the core of this team and they didn’t exactly play with the fear of God in them – or play defence – for him, either.

Toronto Star

“I am a firm believer that you treat people as professionals until they show you otherwise,” Triano said as the Raptors cleaned out lockers and prepared for the summer. “Does that mean sometimes do I give guys a second chance? Absolutely. But I think in the end those are the guys that will come back and help you because you stuck with them in the past. Do I need to be harder on some guys? Yes.

“Do I have to demand more discipline from those guys who maybe aren’t going to be professionals and act in a professional manner every single game? Absolutely.

“I have to make adjustments just like players have to get better in the off-season. I have to make adjustments as well.”

One of the adjustments, and proof that he’s getting tougher, will be in Triano’s dealings with Turkoglu, who was equal parts enigma and albatross after signing a five-year, $53 million contract last July.

He came with a reputation as a big-game player and then came up small, an offensive facilitator who couldn’t fit into the offence.

“I know I disappointed a lot of people, especially the fans after they watched me many years … and they expect a lot of things from me and I couldn’t do that. I know I upset a lot of people but it wasn’t really on purpose … I didn’t come here not to perform or not to play.”

Globe and Mail

“No matter what happens, me and [Raptors president] Bryan Colangelo agreed to work together. I think that’s important,” said Bosh who looked none the worse for wear after suffering facial fractures and a broken nose that kept him out of the Raptors last five games of the season during which Toronto – once comfortably the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference – slid out of the playoff picture. “I respect him as a GM, and he respects me as a player. We’re always going to talk.”

Bosh dismissed any suggestion – some of which came from within the organization – that the concern for his future or external influences contributed to his lacklustre play for a long stretch after the All-Star break after he missed seven games with a sprained ankle. Toronto was 11-19 after the mid-season break

“There are always going to be outside influences,” Bosh said. “They are always going to be there in any situation, and they come in more influences than one. … I struggled after an injury. That’s plain and simple.”

Bosh said he’s open to coming back to Toronto, saying he saw potential among his teammates and that lifting the only franchise he’s ever played for to the championship-contending level he aspires to play at would be a rewarding result. “To be able to say that yeah, things were tough, but we did it the right way … that’s always the perfect storybook ending. It would be a great movie.”

National Post

With the Raptors missing the playoffs by one game, Turkoglu’s first year is officially a disaster.

"I didn’t come here not to perform or not to play," Turkoglu said. "I’m sorry if I break somebody’s heart.

"I know I disappointed a lot of people, especially the fans, after they watched me many years [in Orlando] and they expect a lot of things from me and I couldn’t do that. I know I upset a lot of people, but it wasn’t really on purpose."

Regardless of intent, Turkoglu’s first year with his new team went horribly, and four more years loom on a contract that is quickly becoming an albatross.

If Turkoglu stays in a Raptors uniform for the duration of the contract, it is hard to imagine another season as long and bizarre as this one.

Both parties, player and club, were taking their share of the blame as the Raptors cleaned out their lockers yesterday.

"Sometimes things were getting out of control and in those situations … I had bad comments or bad attitude," Turkoglu said. "I have to look at those two and how I act and be a better person if I get those situations again."

National Post

ANDREA BARGNANI

On his rebounding "I average six rebounds a game. That’s not a lot for a guy with my body… That’s something I definitely have got to get better."

On helping out on defence "That’s tough because it’s not something you can work on individually … [I need to] be focused, maybe try to use the national team games, if I’m going to play them, to try and learn something. I think that’s the most difficult part to learn [alone]. You can’t because you don’t have the other nine guys."

National Post

And of course, the big question. When Bosh signed this contract, general manager Bryan Colangelo essentially told him that Colangelo had built a good reputation in this league, and didn’t intend to screw that up. This time, Colangelo would need to re-convince Bosh all over again. After two years out of the playoffs, does Bosh trust Colangelo to build a contender around him?

"I mean, that’s the question that has to be answered this summer," Bosh said. "I think that’s a big part of it … if I still believe in him, yeah."

So big spending, roster alterations, an all-star running mate – it’s hard to imagine what Colangelo could plausibly promise, or accomplish, to make Bosh believe this remains the place to be. As Bosh himself put it, "It’s not going to happen in a year most of the time. Sometimes it does in unique situations. But most of the times it’s not going to happen in one year or one month."

And that’s the time frame we’re dealing with, now. Which opens the door to a partnership in Miami with Dwyane Wade, or in Chicago with Derrick Rose, or in New York with some other member of the constellation-like free agent class of 2010.

Buckets Over Broadway

More depressing to the people of Toronto is that perhaps this helped further the death knell of Raptors’ all-time-scoring-and-rebounding-leader Chris Bosh’s stay north of the border.  The man is on record as having said he wants to be surrounded by enough talent to make his team a contender.  It’s pretty clear that Toronto ain’t nowhere near that.

Look, earlier in the season they were as high as fifth in the east, but then Bosh got injured.  Even after he returned, the team never regained it’s mojo.  And what little mojo it had left, that all drained away when Bosh had his face accidentally destroyed by Cleveland’s Antawn Jamison, causing him to miss the season’s final games (& the Raps’ ultimate free-fall out of contention).

However, that fifth place spot was also fool’s gold.  They only were that high ‘cuz several Eastern Conference teams started slow.  After Charlotte acquired Stephen Jackson and Milwaukee traded for John Salmons, both those teams started playing serious ball.  Even Miami’s middling record wasn’t fully accurate ‘cuz the Heat had a tough early schedule (in the past months Miami was able to take advantage of its easy end-of-the-season competition to climb up to 5th).

And let’s be honest, there’s still a big jump from those bottom four teams to the East’s top tier.  If Bosh wants to play for a contender, he’s got a long way to go.  Plus, with Toronto having signed Hedo Turkoglu to that big contract this summer, it ain’t like they can go out and get some more help.  So while the Knicks lost last night, we may get the last laugh if Bosh decides to come here this summer.  Of course, if winning’s what matters, he should only agree to come to New York if he’s sure another big player will come too.  After all, this game proved that even when you take Bosh out of the equation, Toronto still has a better team than New York.

Peninsula Is Mightier

While we’re on the subject of non-Playoff teams, lets pay a little attention to the 9th place team.  A combination of a hot run by the Bulls and cold spell by Toronto led to the Raptors falling completely out of the playoff picture, and now Canada’s finest (and only) basketball club is heading to the NBA Lottery.  

This is good news for the Heat because now, due to the Jermaine O’Neal-Shaun Marion trade from last February, Miami gets Toronto’s 2nd round pick in this summer’s draft.  The Heat also will get a future 1st round pick from the Raptors, that will come sometime between now and 2015.

Should Toronto miss the playoffs for the next 5 years, then the Heat will be awarded their 1st rounder in 2015 regardless of whether it’s a lottery pick or not.  Otherwise, whenever the next season is that Toronto makes the playoffs, that will be the year Miami gets their 1st round pick.

Toronto Sun

For Triano, it began with the team’s decision, a decision he fully endorsed, to allow Hedo Turkoglu to sit out training camp after a lengthy playoff run and a busy summer with Turkey at the European championship.

Triano admitted that not only put him behind the rest of the team, but set the wrong tone for the season, a season of more downs than ups for the Raptors $52.8-million US off-season acquisition.

“Did we think it would unfold the way it did?” Triano asked. “Absolutely not. And in hindsight, yeah, we wouldn’t do that again. Will it happen next year after the world championship? No and we discussed that with him already.

“We need him in training camp. He needs to understand the new players we might have and what the role in a new offence is going to be or a role in the way we play and the way Jose (Calderon) plays and the way Chris (Bosh) plays. He didn’t grasp that.”

But Triano didn’t feel the handling of the Turkoglu situation was his biggest miss this year. That, according to the man himself, was spending too much time diagramming plays with his coaching staff when he should have been getting to know his team.

Or as former head coach Sam Mitchell used to say: “It ain’t about the X’s and the O’s. It’s all about the Jimmy’s and the Joe’s.”

Triano learned that the hard way this season when he felt a better relationship with his players could have avoided a void in leadership in the room.

“I think that this year, if I had a fault, it was that I spent too much time with my coaches and too much time on the X’s and O’s, he said.

“With nine new guys, it’s tough to get to know everybody. In hindsight, I have great assistant coaches who do a great job. I have to provide more trust in them to do the basketball part of it and I have to deal with the psychological part of it, the motivational part of it, the leadership part of it with our players. I think with that I could help foster leadership in the locker room.”

Bang In The Post

Don’t fret too much Bulls fans. Things could be worse – you could be a Toronto Raptor fan. Oh, Canada. We hate to be the bearer of bad news, but your franchise player Chris Bosh will never wear your uniform again. Never ever!

Bosh just had surgery to repair his busted face. If the Raptors grab the eighth spot in the east, no way Bosh returns for the playoffs. Even if he was cleared to play, what’s the point? You just know a Varejao elbow finds his nose at least once while his team is getting trounced by the Cavaliers. Here’s the deal…LeBron is staying in Cleveland, Riley will lure Boozer to Miami which then convinces Wade to stay. Suddenly Bosh is the most coveted free agent left this summer. Look for Bosh to end up in Chicago playing under their new head coach…the once again recycled Doug Collins!

Bye Bye Bosh.

Khandor’s Sports Blog

If Bryan Colangelo does his job properly this summer, then, Chris Bosh will eventually re-sign with the Toronto Raptors, as an unrestricted free agent … for a maximum contract, worth some $30.0 M more dollars [in total] than he can obtain from any other suitor in the NBA … in an effort to finish what he started 7 seasons ago.

Conversely …

If Bryan Colangelo fails to do his job properly this summer, then, Chris Bosh will not re-sign with the Toronto Raptors, as an unrestricted free agent.

It’s really as simple as that.

Raptors Rapture

The Raptors definitely did not have any problems putting points on the board this year, the problem was in there inability to stop their opponents from putting up more than them. Of the 16 ball clubs tasting post-season play, only the Phoenix Suns ended the season within striking distance of how poorly the Raptors played defense -and unlike the Raptors, that is the style of ball Steve Nash and the Suns aim to play. Of the Raptors current roster, only Antoine Wright, Reggie Evans, and by some Chris Bosh are considered to be above-average defenders. Unfortunately for Raptors fans, both Bosh and Wright are free-agents, while Evans failed to show at any point during the regular season the tenacity he became famous for in Philadelphia.

This fact suggests once again that a roster overhaul may be imminent for this Raptors squad. Unfortunately however, they do not feature the same financial flexibility they held just one year ago -as they are particularly crippled by the lengthy contracts of Jose Calderon, Andrea Bargnani, and most prominently Hedo Turkoglu. I find it funny that the greatest financial and time commitment rests in quite possibly 3 of the biggest defensive liabilities the Raptors currently boast. Calderon at times showed he was incapable of preventing even a pylon from blowing by him, Bargnani preferred to stay on the perimeter rather than fight for an offensive board, and Turkoglu was well…let’s put it as lightly as we can, Turkoglu sucked in his first year as a Raptor -on both ends of the floor. The Turkish sensation missed looks he became famous for making, and picked up fouls so easily that he made Reggie Evans look like a humanitarian.

the end