Kelly called the draft a very deep one, but conceded that after the top two picks there is “maybe not a lot of star potential, but a lot of good players who will be (in the) NBA for a lot of years.”
The Raptors brought in an interesting group to get the workout process started. There was forward Gordon Hayward, who nearly led the Butler Bulldogs to a miracle NCAA tournament win, jumping jack swingman Stanley Robinson of UCONN, Oklahoma combo guard Willie Warren — considered a potential top five pick just a season ago before slumping through an injury-marred ’09/10 campaign — and Texas guard Avery Bradley.
Of the four, Bradley’s name has been the one most connected to the Raptors, who coveted a similar player, UCLA’s Jrue Holiday, before last year’s draft.
The lanky, 6-foot-2 Bradley was a consensus top three talent coming out of high school, but struggled offensively in his only season at Texas. Considered the best perimeter defender in the draft and compared often to Oklahoma City lead guard Russell Westbrook, Bradley lacks the playmaking abilities of a true point guard.
Bradley said chatter like that doesn’t bother him because he played the point growing up and because he believes he is more suited to the wide open NBA style as opposed to more stifling college systems.
“It’s a whole different game, there’s more open space (and) I’m so much faster than a lot of guys,” Bradley said.
“It’s been a wild ride, hectic, surreal, unimaginable… Every word that’s a synonym for that,” said Hayward, who worked out for the Raptors Monday in advance of the June NBA draft.
“It’s been just a lot of fun, exciting … really these past three years for me, it’s all happened so fast.” Hayward, a 6-foot-9, 207-pound small forward from Brownsburg, Ind.
He was voted Horizon League player of the year and is as cinch to go in the first round of the draft.
“Gordon Hayward’s coming off a dream season, last year winning the (under-19) world championship, then almost being that Cinderella team (at March Madness),” said Jim Kelly, director of player personnel for the Raptors.
“He’s a great shooter, a great story, and he had a good workout today. He shot the ball very well.”
Hayward, who played guard in high school until an unexpected growth spurt turned him into a forward, is in that in-between spot as to where he’ll play in the pros.
“Hayward’s a little bit of a puzzle,” Kelly said. “He’s a four, he’s a three, it depends on the system, it depends on his coach as to where you plug him in. But he is a basketball player.”
“It seems to be a very deep draft in terms of there are a lot of players who might be in a conversation at 15 and 16 and then if you’re having a conversation around 40, you’re hearing a lot of the same names,” said Kelly.
“I think a lot of the players have had interesting seasons where they’ve had a lot of good games, but then they had some inconsistency.
“I think the number of college players who you can put that (tag) on is a pretty great number this year so there’s a lot of interest in a lot of players in the draft.”
With the Raptors having just begun the process of holding individual workouts, it’s impossible to suggest they’ve set their sights on any workable number of legitimate prospects.
And now with a disgruntled Hedo Turkoglu perhaps about to follow free-agent power forward Chris Bosh out of town, even figuring out what the Raptors needs are in the draft is difficult.
“It’s challenging,” said Kelly. “Clearly we have some things ahead of us we have to clear up and straighten out and that will have an influence on where we go in the draft.
“We’ve had a list all along, but I think probably it’s a little premature for us to start X’ing off people as this is our first workout day. Some teams started earlier with workouts, but I think a lot of those teams have later picks.
“I think as you tend to go to the top of the draft, particularly with players in the lottery, they tend not to work out as early.”
P.J. Carlesimo, who worked with Jay Triano with the team that worked out against the American Olympic team for two summers, is joining Triano’s Toronto staff as an assistant, according to team and league sources.
The announcement is to be made official later this week and there are no other changes anticipated to the Raptors staff, the sources said.
That would leave Triano with a staff four assistants — Carlesimo, Marc Iavaroni, Alex English and Micah Nori — and marks the first time there have been that many coaches on the staff in franchise history.
The sources didn’t indicate any division of responsibility but it is expected Carlesimo will work with all facets of the game.
At the end of last season, Triano said one of his goals this year was to put more emphasis on working on personal relationships with the players rather than simply as a tactician; the addition of Carlesimo to his staff gives him another coach with a wealth of experience to draw from.
Carlesimo and Triano were assistant and head coach for the summers of 2007 and 2008 with the U.S. Select team, a group of up-and-coming young stars who practised and scrimmaged against the U.S. team that eventually won gold at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
It’s safe to say Turkoglu, who was given the first three weeks of the season off and at various times earned the franchise’s ire for some off-the-court issues, including one in which he confiscated a fan’s cellphone camera in a night club and another when he was seen in Toronto’s Yorkville district after missing a game with the flu, isn’t the franchise president’s favourite under-achieving $10-million-a-year player these days.
But apart from the attention Turkoglu generated, it’s hard to see how it has significantly changed the situation the Raptors face this summer. Turkoglu’s trade overture just means he’s in agreement with the Raptors, who would certainly have been looking to deal the 31-year-old and the $43-million he has remaining on his contract as he comes off one of the least productive statistical seasons of his 10-year career.
The options for Colangelo are a cattle call of the NBA’s worst contracts – the four years and $80-million the Washington Wizards owe Gilbert Arenas come to mind, as do the four years and $51-million the Philadelphia 76ers owe Elton Brand.
None of which concerns the four National Collegiate Athletic Association stars the Raptors were looking over on Monday: guards Avery Bradley of Texas and Willie Warren of Oklahoma, and forwards Stanley Robinson of Connecticut and Gordon Hayward of Bradley, who put himself on the draft map by leading the small Indiana school to within a rimmed out, half-court three-pointer of the NCAA title.
The Toronto Raptors are adding P.J. Carlesimo to their coaching staff.
Carlesimo, who was most recently the head coach of the Oklahoma City Thunder, will be an assistant to Jay Triano, a team source confirmed Monday.
Carlesimo, 61, was fired by Oklahoma City on Nov. 22, 2008 after the Thunder’s 1-12 start to the season. He led the Portland Trailblazers to the first round of the playoffs in 1995 to ‘97, and then coached Golden State from ‘97 to 2000 — the Warriors failed to make the playoffs all three seasons.
Turkoglu’s departure has seemed inevitable after a trying first season in Toronto. There were too many hiccups to merely chalk it up to bad luck. You can argue about whether Turkoglu was ever the right fit on the court – his lack of athleticism and sub-standard defensive acumen gave him something in common with two other Toronto starters – but it is undeniable that Turkoglu was not the right piece off the court.
With a laissez-faire approach to fitness and a laid-back personality, Turkoglu was never going to be the player that electrified a roster full of post-season neophytes. With a star not necessarily of the highest order (Chris Bosh), a second scorer known for his aloofness (Andrea Bargnani) and a first-time head coach (Jay Triano), the roster was screaming for an elite player with both a playoff resume and a fiery persona.
Turkoglu had the former to an extent, but not the latter.
And when the Raptors gave Turkoglu the first half of training camp and the exhibition schedule off to rest from an off-season spent with the Turkish national team, they also gave him a sense of entitlement. When you treat a man with kid gloves, you cannot be surprised when he starts to act like a child.
So he did. He sulked when he did not like his role with the team. He huffed when a broken orbital bone mandated he would have to wear a facial mask.
Then came the final week of March, when Turkoglu ended up being barred for a game in Miami after he was spotted out in Toronto late at night following two games he spent sidelined with a stomach ailment.
Would Turkoglu-for-Boris Diaw be a good swap for the Raptors and Bobcats?
The salaries are fairly close so you could do a deal without too much trouble. The upside and downside for each team:
The Bobcats would likely improve offensively, and the playoffs demonstrated they need that. Like Diaw, Turk gives you an extra ballhandler at the forward position. Unlike Diaw, Turk can be a consistent scoring threat.
That’s the upside. The downside is the Bobcats would be worse defensively for this swap .Diaw can guard all five positions and generally without fouling out. Often the Bobcats’ best lineup was going small with Diaw at center. He’s always going to be frustrating for his seeming lack of passion, but Diaw’s versatility at both ends would be missed. Replacing Diaw with Turk would force Gerald Wallace back into the role of guarding a lot of power forwards.
The most obvious upside for the Raptors would be moving a player who doesn’t want to be there and who is owed a lot of money. Beyond that, the Raptors would improve defensively, and they’re just about the worst defensive team in the NBA. Also, Diaw would provide some insurance at the power forward position should Chris Bosh leave in free-agency.
The downside? Raptors GM Bryan Colangelo knows all of Diaw’s flaws from Colangelo’s days running the Phoenix Suns. So he’d know Diaw looks better the first six months after you trade for him than he does two years later. And he’d know Diaw can be moody when he doesn’t touch the ball as much as he’d like.
"I think we’ll all sit down, and before one of us makes a decision, all of us will have spoken to each other and [listened to the] thinking …
A lot of decisions [will be based on] what other players are willing to do and what other guys want to do. So it’s not just a ‘me’ situation here. We all have to look and see what each other is thinking." — Dwyane Wade, to the Chicago Tribune, May 27, 2010
"A source told ESPN The Magazine’s Chris Broussard that the Toronto Raptors’ Chris Bosh also will join Wade, James and Johnson when they discuss free agency." — ESPN.com, May 28, 2010 "I call it the Batman and Robin syndrome, where some players are Batman, and some players are Robin." — Agent Bill Duffy, to the Detroit Free Press, May 29, 2010
Turkoglu was treated well by the organization. When he needed time off in the preseason, knowing that the end of the season was more important the organization gave him time off to recharge his battery. Yep, he’d had a long season going to the finals with Orlando and then playing for his home country but he had about 53 million reasons to be ready for training camp and come to play. Quick question, do you think he’s going to be any better at the start of this training camp with the World Championships in Turkey?
He was and still is, until a deal is made, being paid handsomely by the Raptors. If he wants out that badly maybe he should give the money back and move on. Ok that’s not going to happen, but this is not the way to go about getting moved out of a situation that he sees as untenable. How is that done? Keep your mouth quiet, play your backside off after letting the organization know your desire to be moved and then see what happens. In short, be part of the solution and not someone who becomes another problem with a bail out weak-minded "its-not-going-well-so-I-want-to-leave" attitude.
Right now, Colangelo is like the guy who has new shoes for everyone and just gave a pair to Hedo. Hope he told him to watch out when the kicking starts, because right now Turk looks like a world cup soccer star.
The whole thing probably caught the organization by surprise and it’s now just one more thing to deal with, in what will be a very difficult summer.
The writing was on the wall that this was going to be a disastrous year for Turkoglu and the Raptors when he showed up at training camp and team officials told everyone not to expect much from the club’s new star small forward, at least early on, because he was fatigued and sore from playing international basketball in the summer. Boo-friggin-hoo.
Turkoglou was treated with kid gloves from the start and settled into an existence of entitlement and apathy — partying when he was supposed to be hurt, his petulant and immature act when he was being interviewed by popular Raptors broadcaster Jack Armstrong, his snatching a phone away from a fan who just wanted a picture.
This is the guy who gladly accepted $53 million US from the Raptors and now he says he’s lost his enthusiasm for the city and wants out.
Basically, it’s everyone else’s fault that he had a bad season.
From this side of the border, the better outcome would be getting Joakim Noah for Bosh followed by Odom and Bynum. But now Hedo also wants to go, our best overall bet is to attach Hedo to a Bosh deal; unless we would be fine with getting stuck with Hedo for another four years.
One of the team that desperately needs that combo is Miami. They might want this to happen so much that we might even have the upper hand at this table.
Wade staying in Miami is much more likely than Bosh and James staying at their current teams. In order to be a finals contender again, Miami would be looking into signing either of those players.
Because if they can’t, they might need to settle for Amare Stoudemire or Carlos Boozer, and even getting those could be hard and costly.
Between Bosh and James, Miami will be more likely to try their chances on Bosh. And Bosh comes bearing gifts like Hedo Turkoglu.
Miami still doesn’t have a capable play-maker and Turkoglu can fill that role easily. It is not like they can land on a star point guard with the little cap space they would have.
Hedo would be very happy with this deal. His family still lives in Orlando and he would be very close to them. He will be able to stay in Eastern Conference and be a part of a contender team who would actually use him the right way.
It is no secret that Bosh was a big factor for Hedo to sign with Toronto. Hedo would be happy to follow Bosh to meet up with Wade in Miami, more so than being traded to Washington.
In day one of three scheduled predraft workout sessions this week at the Air Canada Centre, the Toronto Raptors brought in four players to get a closer look at their games.
Willie Warren, a 6′4″ guard from Oklahoma, Gordon Hayward, a 6′9″ forward from Butler, Stanley Robinson, a 6′9″ forward from Connecticut, and Avery Bradley a 6′2″ guard from Texas, were the participants in Monday’s workout.
While Robinson received plenty of praise from Jim Kelly, the Raptors director of player personnel, the player that had intrigued me the most coming in was Bradley, the combo guard from Texas. Unfortunately, we were only allowed to watch the final few minutes of the workout, so I wasn’t able to see as much of his game as I would have liked, but I did have an opportunity to speak with him (as well as Hayward) after their sessions.
Of note: Thought it was interesting to hear Kelly say the Raptors might look to acquire another pick in the draft. It also sounds like they will not be looking to trade down. Clearly enamored with Robinson’s athleticism, they feel Bradley is an “interesting” player for them and I agree. While Bradley says he doesn’t have any concerns about playing the one, he’s clearly more of an off the ball two guard, who will have to adjust to learning how to be a playmaker. Because he’s such a good defender, this may be glossed over. Couple in the fact that he’s been receiving Russell Westbrook comparisons, and he is a player the Raptors will be keeping their eyes on as the draft rolls closer.