Life on standstill as Damp’s Decision looms

The Raptors need a post-presence, there are many candidates to fill this role including Erick Dampier and this elephant.

So Erick Dampier met Bryan Colangelo and then sat in on the Raptors’ practice of the day, it’s like he’s seeing what the organization and team is all about before making “The Decision II”, also known as Damp’s Decision. Although not covered by ESPN, Damp’s Decision is being mulled over in every corner of the Republic as if though it means squat, and word is that it’ll be broadcast live on Rogers One. After all, the 35-year old forward averaged 6 points and 5 rebounds playing for the Mavericks, a feat only accomplished by every other NBA center. Ever.

So why the continued interest in Dampier? It’s very possible that the Raptors are envisioning playing Bargnani at the power forward because everybody including the player claims that it’s his “natural position”. Even though frontcourt position matters less and less, the Raptors seem to be hung-up on the notion that it would make a difference in his game. This would leave David Andersen and Solomon Alabi as the only “true centers” so Dampier would provide some…whatever Dampier brings. If this does happen it would mean that Bargnani would start at power forward (Triano already said that the only starting decision that was already made before training camp was Bargnani), leaving Amir Johnson to come off the bench and giving the Raptors a frontcourt of Kleiza-Dampier-Bargnani. The bench role Johnson would be slotted in is one he’s comfortable with, but one has to think he has aspirations of starting and the whole idea wouldn’t sit too well with him.

Kleiza-Dampier-Bargnani. Sure, but what ever happened to the widespread belief that the reason Bargnani didn’t drive to the rim much was because Bosh was already occupying a big chunk of the paint. Dampier’s worse, much worse, the only time he leaves the painted area is when he’s on offense, in fact, he’s second in the league in three-second violations. No reason to be harsh on Dampier, mobility isn’t the strength of many centers.

Dampier’s a very good offensive rebounder, but nothing close to what he used to be. In 2003-04, he managed to accumulate a whopping 17.3 ORB%, but has since steadily declined to 11.6 ORB%. By comparison, Amir Johnson had a 12.9 ORB% last year. His defensive rebounding rate is amongst the league leaders at 24.1% and his bulk still allows him to clear space for someone to get the defensive board, but you could say the same for Rasho Nesterovic. Truth is that these signings rarely have the impact that they’re advertised to have. At the end of the day, we’ll be signing Erick Dampier, a washed-up center whose best days are behind him. The only situation where he could be truly effective would be as a third big on a contending team where his fouls could be used on a matchup-basis. Watching him run around with the Raptors would be no different than watching Eric Montross, Rasho Nesterovic, Mengke Bateer or the elephant above, only less entertaining. Welcome Erick, enjoy your stay.

Boris Diaw’s name has also sprung up, and it’s not hard to believe that Colangelo hasn’t given up on trying to acquire him. One of the reasons the Chandler-Calderon deal fell through was because Jordan felt giving up his starting center was too high of a cost for Calderon, well, now the Bobcats don’t have a point guard and have lost Chandler. I don’t recall too many tears being shed in Charlotte when Boris Diaw’s name was mentioned in a trade, so it’s conceivable that he’s on the block. If he’s to be considered a three, he’s behind Jackson and Wallace, if he’s considered a big, they already have Tyrus Thomas, DeSagana Diop, Eduardo Najera, Kwame Brown and Nazr Mohammed on the roster. Diaw is best classified as a mobile power forward who, because of his mobility, can defend the pick ‘n roll and, because of his bulk, can score against frailer opposition.

In all fairness, when Diaw is in shape and isn’t in a fit of laziness, he’s got a good all-around game that can be an asset. Of more relevance might be that his contract allows for a one-for-one deal for Jose Calderon in which the Raptors save $11.3M over the next three years (since Calderon’s contract is a year longer). Trading one of our four point guards for a mobile big isn’t a bad option if Diaw plays at top level. However, whenever I glanced at him at the World’s he didn’t look like a cat that seemed to care that it took him twice as long to get up the court as anyone else.

Over the years, Colangelo’s trades and signings have fallen into various categories: band-aid, overpayment, obsession, clever, WTF, he-was-good-but-that-was-three-years-ago and more, not sure where Diaw would fall. I’m leaning towards this just being a way to get rid of Calderon so there’s no point guard controversy, and maybe teach Ed Davis and Amir Johnson, an offensive move or two along the way. Speaking of Johnson, he’s talking about staying on the floor longer by being less aggressive:

There are plays where I have to stay less aggressve, not get that kind of stupid foul, not reach-in, I’m working on that and once I stay on the floor a little bit more, I’ll get better and better.

Make sense, he’s a simple equation behind the idea

The number of silly fouls he picks up are proportional to the aggression with which he plays. If he has a hope in hell of staying on the floor longer, he either has to either 1) reduce his aggressiveness which could affect his effectiveness, or increase his intelligence more than he increases his aggressiveness.

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