The first homecoming was one to forget.
Last Nov. 13, the Compton native led his new team into the Staples Centre where he had starred as both a collegian and high school player and laid one big egg.
Hyped up, as expected, to be playing at home in front of family and friends and having scratched and clawed for every ticket he could get his hands on to accommodate them, DeRozan was all but fried out once the actual game tipped off.
He managed just two points on 1-of-4 shooting and played just 11:04. On only two other occasions in his entire rookie season did DeRozan see less playing time than he did that night against the Clippers.
He vows it won’t happen again. For starters, he won’t be handling any ticket requests.
"My Dad is handling all of that," DeRozan said. "I don’t even know how many. I told everyone: ‘Just leave me alone. Don’t ask me nothing about tickets.’"
DeRozan doesn’t want to spoil his own homecoming.
"First time going it was stressful," he said. "I didn’t realize how crazy it was going to be. But now, now that I know what to expect, it’s not very stressful."
To say the West has been unkind to the Raptors is like saying hurricane season kind of has it in for Florida.
For the sake of this article, we will consider a West Coast trip only those that include a stop in Los Angeles and we’ll only go back years.
Under that criteria, the Raps have made two trips to the West Coast each year over those six seasons. Over that span, they have played 52 games and have won a total of eight.
It gets worse if you just consider that first trip to the Left Coast, which is what the Raps begin on Monday. On the first trip west in those six years, the Raps have won three of 26 games.
The only time in the past six years they have come back from the West Coast with even a .500 record from any of those 12 trips was in the 2006-07 season when they lost the opener of their second trip west in Phoenix, defeated the Clippers and Portland and then finished up with a loss in Seattle.
The last time they had a winning road trip that included L.A., you have to go all the way back to the 2003-04 season when the Raps defeated the Clippers and Utah after losing the opening game of the trip to Utah. The last time the Raptors won a season series in their West Coast swing came back in 2001-02 when they went a combined 6-3 in those two trips.
Jay Triano has been making these trips with the Raptors since 2002-03 and has seen more than his share of the bad outcomes.
In addition to getting his own team better acclimated with the extra day, Triano also notes that they’re going to get the Kings coming home after playing in Cleveland on Sunday night. The Raptors will actually be waiting for them in Sacramento when they get home.
That too could be an advantage.
But more than anything, Triano just wants to see more of what he saw on Friday night against Cleveland. He wants to see the effort on defence, he wants to see his team forcing the pace.
That said there are a few things he knows his team must get better at if it hopes to finally slay that West Coast dragon.
The trip begins Monday with a game against the Sacramento Kings and continues with dates in Utah on Wednesday, against the Lakers in Los Angeles on Friday and in Portland on Saturday — four imposing arenas and opponents, especially for a relatively new team that isn’t blessed with the greatest amount of talent.
Triano sounded as if he wasn’t sure what he’s going to get — and he really can’t be.
“Are you going to respond the same way when teams make a couple of tough shots against us or you going to hang your head?” he wondered. “It goes back to what we’ve talked about since the beginning. It goes back to the process and if you keep doing the right thing, you’ll find yourself climbing back into games if you do it that way, play hard every single possession.”
The one common thread from the team’s first two games that provides at least a modicum of optimism is that the Raptors have played hard in both a loss to the New York Knicks to open the season and Friday’s 101-81 thumping of the Cleveland Cavaliers.
They shot the ball horribly against the Knicks and got a defence-driven win against the Cavs, both games marked by some aggressive play.
But the Cavs and Knicks are not the Kings — who will be playing their home opener before an expected sellout crowd — nor are they the Jazz, Lakers and Blazers.
“It’s tough,” said DeMar DeRozan. “Really tough, man. You can go on a West Coast road trip and come out 0-5, especially playing against the top-notch West Coast teams. We just have to go in there and be ready.”
But if the client in question, former Sacramento Kings and Toronto Raptors guard Quincy Douby, hadn’t faxed Glass’ termination letter just blocks away from where Miller’s office was located back on April 26, 2007, the decision that might spark change in the way the player-agent relationship is handled in the NBA might never have happened.
Douby, who Glass would later assert was coerced to change agents by Miller and his high school coach, Jack Ringel, had spoken with Glass not long before firing him. And even if he didn’t know it yet, Glass’ three-year process of firing back had officially begun.
"I was on the phone with Quincy, and he had not said anything, (but) I knew we had a problem (in their relationship)," Glass, who has been an agent for nearly 30 years, told FanHouse in what were his first extensive public comments about the case. "And I could tell that he was talking to somebody or somebody was talking to him as he was talking to me. I’ve known Quincy for years, and we’d gone through a lot. I could tell this conversation was not right. You didn’t have to be a genius. He said to me, ‘Mr. Glass, or Keith,’ I’ll call you back in five minutes, because he was being coached (by the person in the room). I never spoke to Quincy again in my life.
"Then an hour later, the fax machine goes off, and me and Tyler (his son, a colleague in his firm and a former teammate of Douby’s at Rutgers) looked at each other and went, ‘Uh oh. Here comes my termination letter.’ Then Tyler looks at me and says, ‘It’s Andy Miller.’"
And so began the years of connect-the-dots detective work that led to the decision, one that has caught the attention of the NBA Players Association and could result in a change to the regulations that have been in place since 1991.
Without Reggie, we’d have less possessions, less passion for the game, the fans won’t be as excited and interactive and it just won’t be the same without him.
He’s not an offensive liability though which actually a good thing because it leads others to do more and create more plays for themselves/prove something to the world.
Dwight is a presence on both ends, and without him there is a BIG hole in the middle for Orlando. Less rebounds means a loss for them against Miami and more shooting around the perimeter means more running opportunities for Miami. This is why they lost by twenty six to them.
So for reality to speak, I just believe Reggie is a perfect piece for Toronto. Everybody goes after the boards anyways. It’s just that passionate rebounder in Reggie that makes him different.
DeRozan was one of the most physically impressive guards in last year’s draft, at 6’6, 210 pounds with a 6’9 wingspan and a 39’ vertical. That’s Kobe Bryant/Vince Carter-type athleticism.
But like so many physically gifted young basketball players, he got by more on athletic ability than skill in high school and AAU ball.
As a result, he was still very much an unfinished product as a rookie in Toronto. The majority of his baskets came in the paint (46% of his attempts), while he shot an abysmal 39.9% from the perimeter, including only four three-point attempts all season.
His place here is more a function of how abysmal the situation in Toronto is. Without Chris Bosh, there are plenty of shots to go around, and the rebuilding Raptors will undoubtedly give their second-year player every opportunity to take some of them.
Bryan Colangelo is still calling last year’s Raptors “a 50-win team that underachieved” and you can see where he’s coming from when you watch Reggie Evans rebound. With a healthy Evans, a not disinterested Hedo Turkoglu and Bosh playing right to the finish line, Colangelo may have been right with his assessment. Evans has been a giant presence on the boards in two Raptors games, something the team has lacked in recent years