Signings that got you a little excited on day one, only to let you down later. Here we go.

Lloyd “Sweet Pea” Daniels

Other than Hakeem Olajuwon, it is not an exaggeration that the most legendary player ever suited for the Raptors was Lloyd “Sweet Pea” Daniels (SI article #1, SI article #2). The dyslexic playground legend who was shot twice in the chest and once in the neck, does have a Raptors connection: he was signed to a 10-day contract in January of 1998, and that was his last whiff of the NBA. I remember the day he played his first game for the Raptors, he lit up Danny Ferry a twice and in my mind the legend of the guy who I had read all those articles about was reborn. In a season that ended up being the worst in franchise history (16-66), here was something to talk about. He was signed to a second ten-day contract before being released.

Fred Jones

I’m not saying I had great expectations when Bryan Colangelo signed Fred Jones, unless of course you count not sucking ass as being an expectation. He had won the slam-dunk competition two years prior and had shown a pulse towards becoming a rotation player in Indiana. His shooting stats weren’t great to begin with, so Colangelo painted him as a defensive signing. That didn’t work either as Jones continued to make blunders unbecoming of even a high-school player, including dribbling off his foot in the backcourt with nobody around him, and attempting to shoot himself out of shooting slumps with the game on the line. I’m not a believer of PER being a great reflector of overall ability, but his team-worst (and that team includes Darrick Martin) PER of 9.9 says it all. He was soon shipped for Juan Dixon, which was hailed a pretty good trade considering how terrible Jones was.

Hakeem Olajuwon

The story goes that Glen Grunwald went searching for the missing piece in the Championship puzzle and knocked on Hakeem’s door in Houston to talk him out of near retirement and come play for the Raptors. Hakeem bit, such was the draw of Vince Carter back in the day. It also helped that the Raptors offered him a 3-year $17.4M contract which was exorbitant by any standard (he turned down $13M from Houston). The Raptors also didn’t care much about medicals at the time, because they skipped even the basic X-Ray which would have certainly revealed the fact that half of Olajuwon’s back bones were missing! He played one season for the Raptors, his highlight coming in a fade to win the game in Atlanta, before “retiring”. He didn’t really retire, though. He stopped coming to work while the Raptors paid his salary (yes, it counted against the cap) and ironically enough, when Houston retired his jersey, it was the visiting Raptors who were in town. Yes, he was being paid by the Raptors as his number was being raised to the rafters.

Marco Belinelli

This fairly recent entrant to this list was an enigma of sorts, he came in with a reputation of being a pure scorer, an image helped in large part by him having great performances against the Raptors. Once Colangelo’s 18-month chase for Belinelli was finally met with success, he was installed as the full-time backup shooting guard. He didn’t respond well to guaranteed minutes, and proceeded to take shots that would make Rex Champman blush. And you really need to be taking one-legged fadeaway threes to make Rex blush, but that’s exactly what Belinelli did. I’ve never seen a player pass up an easier shot for a more difficult one as consistently as Belinelli did. It was like he didn’t believe in points that were scored off of spot-up jumpers, instead he felt he owed it to himself and his family to take a dribble right into the defender, spin off his pivot foot so the defender had a better chance at contesting his shot, and then jump backwards while unleashing a fade, all the while falling down and gagging on his mouthguard. He lost his spot to Sonny Weems.

Hedo Turkoglu

This ended in more tears than a Shakespearean tragedy, but it started all smiles. The fan vision was that Turkoglu would facilitate the offense and have a similar role to the one he had in Orlando, where he was key to the Magic’s drive to the finals. It only made sense. Unfortunately, the franchise’s plans for Turkoglu were for him to be a spot-up perimeter shooter who would “help” in running the offense by partnering with Calderon. That didn’t sit well with Turkoglu who responded to the scenario with a severe bout of indifference and laziness, his frustration culminating in a loss of words after a night in New York where he only uttered ‘Ball’ in a post-game interview. This was before he got into a fight with a girl, called in sick and went clubbing, and that’s all after he made this commercial which was a little too close to reality.

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  • Bendit

    Hedo’nt takes the trophy in this post. Unlike the others, this guy was a premeditating sack….all while pulling in 10 mill. per. A prime example why certain elements in the cba have to be tweaked to protect against such behaviour. They can call it the Turk clause.

  • FAQ

    Hair, hair, hair, hair, hair
    Hair, hair, hair
    Flow it, show it, long as God can grow it, my hair

  • CalgaryRapsFan

    Belinelli wasn’t signed, he was acquired via a trade.  Technically, so was Turkoglu.

    For me, the Olajuwon signing marked the end of the Raps “good old days” and the start of VC’s journey out of town.  I wasn’t happy with the signing, given Olajuwon’s age, health and contract.  The immediate repurcussion was that Keon Clark was traded, to free up time at C and unload salaray.  Olajuwon was useless and the team missed Clark’s shot-blocking ability down low.  His salary hurt the team for three years and the lack of a C (since Clark was traded and Olajuwon barely played) killed the team’s defense and ended their rise in the east.  I wouldn’t include this as a “signing that initially excited” because most fans/experts saw it what it was: a relatively new franchise grasping at straws to get some big-time name recognition, which was really a huge waste of money for an overpaid 39-year-old injury-prone fading star.

    • tonious35

      Can’t agree more, but the diarrhea icing on the cake was the Raptors wasting a 1st round draft pick on a useless meat named Michael Bradley at the same year while Brendan Haywood and Zach Randolph were better choices.

    • Why

      I believe Keon and Hakeem were both on the roster for the entire 2001-2002 season though they didn’t resign Keon at season’s end.

      Don’t know if it is a old wives tale or not – wasn’t VCs resigning contingent on signing Hakeem?

  • SR

    Hedo wasn’t miscast – he just overachieved for a bit playing in perfect circumstances in Orlando. The whole league now knows how bad he is, so this blaming of Raptors’ coaching is getting kind of old.

    I saw a stat that showed he “initiated the offence” just as frequently in TO as he had in Orlando. He most definitely was not reduced to a spot up shooter role. We all remember watching him bring the ball up the floor often enough.

  • Raps Loyalist

    Hedo was such a bad signing and it was so obviously bad at the time. Hedo had a track record of checking out and disappearing for years at a time.  That is not the type of player that you give a 5 year contact to especially on the wrong side of 30.  The worst part was that the Raps needed an athletic defensive stopper and quality rebounder at the 3 not a volume scorer when we already had Bosh and Bargs to jack up tons of shots.  This signing is the exact reason why BC can’t be trusted with turning an up and coming team into a winner. No matter how well he drafts in the next 2 years the Raps need new leadership in the personnel department after that.

    The Hakeem signing was an absolute disaster and everybody knew it would be.  It was like going all in with a 2-7 offsuit. Grunwald is a brutal GM!

    ps The Dream was my favorite player of all-time, I was 12 years old at the time, andI knew at the time that this was a terrible signing and would screw over the team…I think that story about sums up the Raps front office for the vast majority of the franchise’s history.

    CHANGE THE NAME TO TORONTO TIGERS and lets just get a fresh start!

    • Kevin Oppella

      You actually think that changing the name of the team is going to somehow “magically” make the on-court product better????……………….Incredible.

      • Bendit

        And he plans to change his id too! 

      • Raps Loyalist

        I said “change the name to the Toronto Tigers and lets get a fresh start”  Where the fuck does it say this will make the on-court product magically better?……..the Raptors is a joke of a name and the team colors suck so I want new ones.  It is “incredible” that you think I was saying this would make the team play better basketball.  You’re an idiot!

        • Nilanka15

          Perhaps he was questioning the point of cosmetic change if it doesn’t have any impact on the court…

          The “Raptors” although lame, could be a lot worse (e.g. Nets, Magic, Wizards, Nuggets, Jazz, Clippers, Lakers, Suns).  Just because we’ve grown accustomed to these names, doesn’t make them any less retarded.

          • Kevin Oppella


            • CalgaryRapsFan

              My bigger curiosity was why “tigers”?  I lived in Toronto for 10 years and, aside from going to the zoo, I never saw or heard of any tigers that were native to Toronto, Ontario or even Canada.

              I agree that “Raptors” was a stupid, trendy name from thet get go, but how is “Tigers” any more of an improvement?  They are both ferocious animals that have absolutely nothing to do with the city, province or country…

              • Raps Loyalist

                alliteration usually sounds nice with the city and team name. Additionally, it is nice to have a fearsome animal in the team name and one that isn’t a mouth full like tarantulas. Plus tiger colors look great on jerseys.  Hamilton Ti-cat jersey’s look awesome on the field.

                I am down with just about any new name for the Raptors. Tigers was just a suggestion. I can’t stand the name Raptors and it is becoming synonymous with losing games and losing star players.  Look at what has happened with the Clippers.  They should have landed a top free agent in 2010 because of their location, stable of young high-quality prospects, and room for a max contract but the big names wouldn’t even return their phone calls because NBA players have an engrained image of the organization in their heads.

                Raptors = Craptors for most NBA players

                Time for a change!

          • Raps Loyalist

            If your kid has a shitty/ugly name is a good defense for naming your kid something like Olga or Gertrude that there are other kids out there with shitty/ugly that people got used to them, kinda?

            My point is that when your team has a terrible name (one that players and most fans hate and think is a joke/ridiculous) then your team is thought of as a joke.  The Raptors have the worst name in the league and have the worst color scheme in the league outside Memphis.  If you don’t think that the team’s image/jersey/name is a factor at recruiting players then we just won’t agree ever that the Raptors need to change their name.

            Do you know why Phillip Morris changed its name to Altria Group? Cause they needed to rebrand because the name Phillip Morris had become toxic…the “Raptors” is well on its way to achieving that status. 

            Most of the Raptors biggest fans don’t even like the teams name!

            This team could use a fresh start and a rebranding is a great way to do it. I think Toronto Tigers would be a good name and black and yellow would be much better than purple and red. If you got another suggestion I’m all ears. Huskies and blue and white would also be fine with me.  If you like Raptors and think players around the league like it then say so.

            • Nilanka15

              I personally don’t think anyone (i.e players) care about the team name.  Players are mainly concerned with money, location, and team success when determining where they’d like to play.  But just to play devil’s advocate, everything you said above applies to the Maple Leafs as well, but I guarantee they won’t be changing their name anytime soon.

              As for worst colour scheme, that title can easily go to the Lakers or Suns.  If you don’t add black to purple, then it screams femininity.  The Blazers are pretty hideous too.  But do you see how subjective this discussion is?

              As for the Raptors colours, I would agree with you if they still had the purple mixed in, but I don’t mind the combination of red, white and black.  Having said that, I wouldn’t be opposed to switching to a blue scheme to align with the rest of Toronto’s teams (aside from TFC).

              • Raps Loyalist

                My point is simply this…the franchise could use a fresh start and rebranding is a simple way to do that. It excites the fans, sells a lot of jerseys, and gives the team the ability to distance itself from all the losing and terrible decisions made by the Raptors over the last 10+ years.  When NBA players hear the name Raptors they think losing and stars leaving the team in their prime to pay somewhere else.  The name CRAPTORS is a millstone around the neck of this franchise.

                Of course players are more concerned with money, endorsement ops, location, and a chance to win titles. But if a team like the Raptors or Clippers changed their name and image they could get out from under the negative history that scares away free agents.

                I don’t know of any fans that like the name Raptors..for that reason alone it should be changed

            • Nilanka15

              PS – Even the “Mighty Ducks” name didn’t prevent Anaheim from winning a title.  Team names, as ridiculous as some may seem, really don’t make a difference.

              • Raps Loyalist

                FYI they were the Ducks by then.

            • CalgaryRapsFan

              I think team names only really matter to fans and media (who like to stir the fans’ pot).  I think players could care less about the name on or color of their jerseys, as long as they are getting big fat paycheques!

              If you want a team name that gives a blue-collor, aggressive perception, than there is nothing wrong with “Raptors”.  That name would be much better suited to a place like Calgary though, given our relative closeness to actual dinosaurs that are found in nearby Drumheller (one of the richest sources of dinosaur bones/fossils in the world).  As for the color scheme, I like the red & white, which was meant to draw in a national Canadian audience after the Vancouver franchise was relocated.

              As a product/brand manager, the only negative I see about the team name “Raptors” is the fact that there is not local relatability for the fans.

              • Raps Loyalist

                As a product/brand manager what would you say about your products name being associated with always losing and never keeping their star players in town?  

                • Nilanka15

                  A new team name isn’t going to change the “losing stink” if we keep losing.  And inversely, if the team starts winning now, the negative label you associate with the Raptors will dissipate.  It’s the on-court product that makes the difference.

                  I’m not suggesting change is a bad thing.  Sometimes it’s good to mix it up.  But if the Raptors do change their name and uniform, don’t expect it to be a turning point in the franchise’s fortunes.  After all, the players, coaches and management remain the same…

            • Guest

              i vote for Toronto Haters, Hate Hate Hate Hate Hate

              • Raps Loyalist

                I like it! way better than Raptors and would give the team some much needed edge. Plus there would be some great chant potential.

            • B-rocula

              Is there even purple in the jersey anymore? Black red white no?
              The raptor claw made of a basketball is a pretty dope logo defentally better then 90% of the leauge . Tigers is A. A non original. B. Would have a dumb looking logo – look at Hamilton / Detroit C. Would probally involve orange ( tigers are Orange not yellow) which is a ugly color for a NBA jersey …….Epic fail
              Epic fail

  • onemanweave

      I hoped Hakeem had something left in the tank. He didn’t. I hoped Hedo would bring winning ways with him. He tanked.
        The biggest disappointment to me, though, was Jermaine O’Neal. I know he was a trade, not a signing, but that’s splitting hairs.
        I thought a big man rotation of Bosh, Bargs and O’Neal would lift our Raps to the giddy heights of respectability.  O’Neal had some very good games. He brought some needed grit, but unlike hockey, beating them in the alley doesn’t count for a lot.  He did the best he could with his body breaking down. It was just less than I had hoped for.

    • Raps Loyalist

      You were not alone in thinking big things were coming from the Brags, JO, Bosh frontline.  BC was hoping a change of scenery would elevate JO back to all-star level and get the Raps the rim protector they soooo badly needed.  Too bad his knees were shot!  ESPN predicted the Raps would finish 5th in the East that year.  JO flopped and we missed the playoffs. A swing and a miss for BC.

  • onemanweave

    Just a thought — play Hedo as sf. Bargs, with the flu, at center. Bosh at pf; Vince at shooting guard and TJ (last season here) at the point.  We’d have the greatest fleet of tankers this side of Saudi Arabia.

  • Link_up7


    • arsenalist

      Seriously, you were excited when the Raptors signed Kapono?

      That was a bad signing from day one.  Getting a three-point shooter when we needed interior defense and rebounding.  Worse decision ever.

      • Raps Loyalist

        Amen! Kapono is the typical overpaid white guy in the NBA.  I nearly cried when I saw that signing…pound for pound BC worst cause at least Turk had a slim chance of being worth the dough.  Kapono was destined to not live up to that contract from day one.

        • Link_up7

          turk had a “slim” chance of being worth the dough?
          did u see the pizza pizza ads?

          no but in seriousness he was never worth that, and we still had to pay more than portland for some reason, that did not “excite” me, paying 50 something million for an ovveratted lazy unloyal player

      • CalgaryRapsFan

        The worst part is that signing Kapono maxed out the MLE on like day 1 of free agency that year!  3M a season wouldn’t have been too bad… at least if the greatest 3pt shooter in NBA history hadn’t come to Toronto and decided to re-brand himself as more than just a spot-up 3pt shooter!  lol

        • Link_up7


      • Link_up7

        deserves a mention if turk is there, same exact point applies to both players, plus didnt he just win a ship with the heat and the reigning 3 point champ. i remember being on this site when turk was signed and all the praises ppl were throwing around, and ur gunna call me out for kapono? stop it

        • Link_up7

          he was signed because bosh was constantly double teamed and we needed to space the floor, we got the 3 point champ, not at a good price but his shooting skill was enough to excite me givin the raps were going up at that time but had no knockdown shooters, not his lack of D, he came to shoot. and right about now im missin that quick release cuz we have no shooters

      • Link_up7


  • Quirk

    It’s a shame Swee’Pea Daniels never got to play with Popeye Jones.

    • what about barni

      but we had the girls playing together last year  Andrea and Alexis (Jose and the pussy cats)

      • Quirk

        Making fun of foreign names is not funny.

  • Nilanka15

    I could’ve sworn Percy Miller would’ve made this list 😛

  • JoWest

    Goodness gracious me, I havent laughed this hard in some time. Your piece on Belinelli is priceless.

    Keep it up.

  • Quirk

    What about Skip to 2 my Lou? I was excited both times. I remember seeing Grunwald after Rafer’s first run with the team at a Film Fest party and joking to my friends about shouting “Bring back Alston!”

    • what about barni

      he was Darling