Andrea Bargnani, who averages nearly 20 points per game, did not accompany the team on a three-game road trip that begins here Monday night, continues Tuesday in Dallas and concludes Friday in Houston.
Bargnani, who has been bothered by sore knees and missed a game last week with a bad ankle, is out now with a strained left calf, an injury sustained in a game last Wednesday against Detroit.
Team officials couldn’t say exactly how long he’ll be out but the earliest he could be back is for a Jan. 2 home game against Boston.
There was no immediate indication who would replace Bargnani in Toronto’s starting lineup. Coach Jay Triano could call on rookie Ed Davis or Joey Dorsey to go against a strong Memphis frontcourt of Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol.
And with the Raptors battling a few nagging injuries, the team has added an emergency fill in.
Ronald Dupree, who was with the team in training camp, has signed a non-guaranteed contract and the swingman is expected to be in uniform Monday night against the Grizzlies.
Amir Johnson was wandering around like the 2,000 Year Old Man (and he was …) with ice on his back after practice, I asked Sonny how his back was feeling and got an expletive as a one-word answer and things didn’t seem a whole lot better than they were after the Detroit game.
But, on the bright side, seems everyone had a happy holiday.
Chef Solomon Alabi was relatively pleased with his first attempt at a nice chicken and rice stew (“It was okay, only good for me, I’ll be better next time), Amir got his gumbo (“ate great and slept, a nice break”) and the rest of ‘em seemed quite relaxed.
I do think the mental break was almost as important as the physical respite they got; they were stumbling along, playing poorly, with game piling up one on top of the other before Christmas and getting away from the game – and each other – probably wasn’t a bad idea.
And since they’re about to start a stretch of seven games in 12 days, being mentally fresh is significant. They don’t have good physical health but at least they seem mentally rested.
Wonder what that’s worth?
Now that the players have had some time off to recover from nagging injuries, and to prepare for this game against Memphis and I expect to see a much better effort tonight. The toughest match up for the Raptors will be guarding Rudy Gay. Gay is coming off a 30 point game Sunday against the Pacers – which the Grizzlies won by 14 points – and he is leading the Grizzlies in scoring at 20.9 ppg. Kleiza is not quick enough to stay in front of Gay and the Raptors help defence is, well terrible.
Toronto will also have to contend with Zach Randolph who is averaging a double-double this season. Randolph has never relied on athleticism but he still manages to get to the glass. He can score in the post and facing up to the basket. Toronto post players will have to focus on keeping him off the glass and use quickness to attack him. Amir Johnson will have to stay out of foul trouble to make Randolph work in this game. To Amir, don’t jump at pump fakes! Randolph won’t go over you if you stay on your feet, please don’t jump.
Toronto Raptors – This is a very, very young team, and the real conundrum about where to go with this team moving forward is whether to ship off what little veteran influence there is left on this team in favor of a complete youth movement, or to bring in a couple more vets and see if those young players can transform into solid role guys for a more experienced team.
Assets: Peja Stojakovic, SF (1 years, $15.3 million), Jose Calderon (3 years, $29.3 million). Jerryd Bayless is the point guard the franchise wants to move forward with, which means that even after moving Jarrett Jack, Calderon is still on the block. Leandro Barbosa is tradable too, as are a number of the younger guys on the roster, but if something is going to be done, it’s more likely to involve a veteran than a youngster.
What They’re Looking For: Star power. It’s easy to point out the team’s need for a veteran big man ever since a certain someone left a Chris Bosh-sized hole in the Toronto starting lineup, but the truth is that they just need someone who’s going to come with not only years under his belt, but also an air of confidence that can rub off on a young group that doesn’t necessarily believe in itself.