As I write this, the owners and players are negotiating a way to end the NBA lockout. Of course, by “negotiation” I mean Derek Fisher is violently nodding ‘yes’ to every word David Stern is saying, desperately trying to limit the damage to the players. What is that damage? According to Liston, it’s $82 million a week. I tend to believe Liston, mainly because he’s probably quoting a proper source, one which I can’t be bothered to research so there you go.

So the lockout will soon come to an end and Raptors fans everywhere will ask themselves the question, “Just who again plays for the Raptors?” Fear not, denizen, I am here to answer that question. Briefly:

Jose Calderon: You probably remember him, he’s that guy you used to really like and thought was one of Babcock’s best moves, then he got promoted, injured, demoted, promoted, injured, almost traded, injured, demoted, promoted and now he’s on the roster as the guy standing to make the most money this year. His offensive skills are pretty good, as for his defense it depends on who you ask. He’s basically somewhere between Braveheart and Fogel.

Andrea Bargnani: Former #1 pick who is either the guy holding the Raptors back from reaching that elusive 30-win plateau, or simply the greatest player to ever suit up a Raptors jersey since Vince Carter. He’s a center, no wait, he’s a power forward, I don’t know, what I do know is that he was our leading scorer which means he’s probably our best player, right? Again, depends on who you ask. Other than Calderon, he’s the longest serving Raptor.

Leandro Barbosa: The guy the Raptors acquired two seasons too late. Great backup shooting guard, who will probably be asked to do more than he’s capable of this coming season. You still see glimpses of his Phoenix days sometimes, but the colors aren’t as vibrant or dynamic. Still, he’s to be appreciated, if not for his unrelenting pace, then for his attempt to play at an unrelenting pace.

Amir Johnson: You might recall him as the guy we traded Carlos Delfino for. After a good year he was signed to a contract which many felt was too much, until he started producing more than others who made more money, now he’s part of the core. He’s got a great work-ethic great, his jumper is improving but still takes half the shot-clock to unleash, and his offensive skills are getting better, especially in the pick ‘n roll. He also rebounds and has a website.

Linas Kleiza: Another man deprived of a position, let’s call him a 3 1/2. He suffered a knee injury which cut short his season last year, he was scheduled to be back around this time and the lockout was seen as an aid to his recovery. Last I saw of him he was doing some TV commentary at EuroBasket, and after not having shaved for a few days, had a somewhat disheveled appearance. It should be mentioned he’s the last of the Colangelo mid-levels around. His basketball game is best described by the word hmmm.

Jerryd Bayless: Future point-guard or future Jarrett Jack? That is the question. Well, actually, the real questions are whether he can shoot the ball, or drive to the rim without his outlet pass knocking down Matt Devlin’s roast-beef sandwich. He took some big steps last year, by which I mean was called for travelling a lot. Haha…see what I did there? I’m just getting warmed up for this man, got a long season ahead. Yeah, Bayless. Good player, I think. Something tells me he’s a lifer as a backup, but I could be wrong.

DeMar DeRozan: As of today, he’s the centerpiece. No, not the cheap kind which at your friend’s wedding was the “prize” in a “game” at your table, the centerpiece of this franchise damn it. The good news is that he’s not got a bit of a jumper and gets to the rim. The bad news is that that’s all he might ever have. This year is all about taking a “wait and see” approach, so let’s wait. And see.

Ed Davis: He’s a left-handed power forward so he must be 1) better than Chris Bosh, 2) not as good as Chris Bosh but totally not a pussy like Chris Bosh, 3) potentially as good as Chris Bosh in three years, 4) a serviceable NBA player who any team would like to have. #2 is correct already, #3 isn’t saying that much, and #4 is almost a certainty.

James Johnson: Acquired from Chicago for a late first-rounder, Johnson has made the starting small forward position his own, mostly by playing very mediocre ball. Of course, that says more about Julian Wright and Sonny Weems than it does about Johnson, but there you have it. Kleiza is supposed to compete with him for the starting small forward spot, but I’m thinking James Johnson will win because he can kinda dribble without staring fixedly at the ball and back at the ground and back at the ball and back at the ground and back…

Sonny Weems: He’s playing power forward in Europe and is probably not playing for a team who will refer to him and his buddies as “Young Ones” because that would just be stupid.

Solomon Alabi: He was tearing it up at David Thorpe’s gym this summer. This tells me one of three things: 1) David Thorpe’s gym was empty, 2) David Thorpe’s gym is fully of crappy players, 3) Alabi became good. We shall wait. And see.

Others…

Reggie Evans: Free-agent who if the Raptors sign will result in half the fan-base cheering wildly and the other half yelling “But we already have four power forwards!”

Alexis Ajinca: Free-agent center who is rumoured to exist.

Joey Dorsey: See Reggie Evans.

Jonas Valanciunas: Lithuanian rookie who is seen as the light at the end of the tunnel, mostly because he kicked ass at the U-19 World Championships and was halfway decent at EuroBasket. Will not be playing for the Raptors this season.

  • L-philpott

    Ok lots I agree with, but the same or more I dont. One thing I do know is that your grammar is shit haha. I had to take three seperate breaks to read all of this; what I’m saying is, put more effort into your work but I agree mostly…

    • Bill

      “or more I dont”
      When correcting others, try not to make the mistakes you are correcting them for.

    • Sheptor

      U cuddint reed thr3 of ur own lions to see if u maid ne misteaks?

  • JHP

    I’m impressed you found 15 players.  I’ts going to be another long year and I was kind of hoping for a lockout.  The worse thing that could happen to the Raptors is the Leafs start winning. 

    • Nilanka15

      Don’t worry, the Leafs are just a few weeks away from one of their trademark 17 game winless streaks…

  • http://twitter.com/altraps AltRaps

    Team owners that also own their own buildings are losing more per game than some of their players in some markets. Especially those that own parking and food & beverage rights. Drill deeper and look at single-sport facilities and those franchises are dying a slow death. You can bet that the union knows that and they are working the phones to push those clubs to consider the 53 offer and the sliding scale on 2 of the other concessions.

  • Milesboyer

    Funny, and a subtly depressing reminder of the lack of talent on this team.  Was Bargnani our highest ranking player in the ESPN top 100 at somewhere like 80?  meaning our best player “might” be the 3rd best player on “some” teams (not sure who our best player is really).  This coming year – although I’m not as optimistic it will start anytime soon – will be about putting the pieces (and the losses) in place for the 2012 season, another high draft pick, JV coming over, some usable cap space, a year under Casey’s belt, could all combine for the beginning of an upward trajectory.

  • c_bcm

    So what your saying is that I shouldn’t spend the money on NBA league pass this season?

  • Jeffrey Thompson

    I just hope the locjkout is coming soon.  As for your assesment of the 2012 Raptors, I do disagree with your post on James Johnson.  He did pretty well for a guy that saw little or no minutes with the Bulls.  He showed that he could play.

    • YeDig

       Yeah, JJ did show some nice flashes that he can make big plays.  Good passer and ball handler too.   Guess we’ll just wait.  And see..   great post arse

  • Michael_savage

    I think he’s saying you should invest in NBA League Pass, or you’ll be stuck watching nothing but the Raptors

  • Truthkiller

    This is a vintage article, almost choked on my cereal reading this.

    “He took some big steps last year, by which I mean was called for travelling a lot. Haha…see what I did there?” 

    Hilarious shit man

  • Daniel

    I am completely baffled by the players’ position. They have little to no leverage in the negotiations:
    1. the average career span of an NBA career is 4.7 years compared with ownership’s much longer tenure
    2. the majority of players have only one source of income whereas the the majority of owners have multiple sources of income
    3. there is no at par substitute market for basketball players’ skillset: they either play overseas for 10-50% of what they make in NBA or take jobs at high school level: Home Depot, Foot Locker, etc.
    I am actually surprised by the weakness shown by the ownership group: they should just call the players’ bluff and wait them out. The business model in NBA is completely broken: the players are calling the shots and hold the franchises hostage. Our own Raptors tasted it through Bosh’s saga. The same for the Cavs, Nuggets, Jazz, etc. The players operate in an almost unreal environment of all rewards and no risks compared with the real world of the employer-employee relationship.As a fan of a big however unattractive market for the American players I really want a hard cap to level the playing field.  Otherwise we’ll keep attracting players only from secondary markets (nothing wrong with them) or be a farm team for the desirable locations in US.

  • Daniel

    Sorry, I wanted to add that the players have the support of a liberal and corrupt media (access to sources, former buddies, etc). I feel though that the fans understand what’s going on and don’t fall for media narrative. 

  • Bendit

    Why not write a piece on the state of negotiations (preferably without opinion) and have an associated poll of site readers’ preference for owners vs. players. I still dont have a sense of who the fans support other than apathy seems high. My own fear is that after all of the posturing there is no fundamental change regarding player (especially the stars) movement and revenue sharing amongst the owners.  

    • Daniel

      There is no neutral point in this labour negotiation. Everybody has a vantage point they are trying to spin.
      We cannot write anything truthful about the state of negotiation because we are not in the room. More important for the Raptors fans is to determine what constitutes an accepable outcome for us as fans. I have 2 points to make about this:
      1. the issue of BRI and revenue sharing is not paramount to the success of the Raptors: we are in a big market and we are making money almost regardless of the above mentioned variables for a host of reasons
      2.  on the other hand the issue of competitive parity is crucial to the Raptors: in the current system we have no chance of competing against the Lakers, the Heat, the Bulls, the Mavs of the League. That’s why I consider the so-called “system issues” more important that “money issue”. It seems that the owners are giving up or weakening the elements that would have ensured competitive parity: hard cap, no exceptions, no or partially guaranteed contracts.
      In my opinion the big and attractive market teams are winning the intra-owners battle. In exchange of giving up some revenues they are siding with players’ and agents’ interests. Actually the Raptors are losing twice: giving up revenue in a revenue-sharing plan and remaining an unattractive market for big American players that will be scooped up by the usual suspects. That’s pretty sad for the Raptors fans. Some of them are delusional enough to side with the players without understanding all the consequences.
      It is quite ironic for MLSE that Raptors and Leafs are at the opposite sides of the spectrum regarding their needs (Leafs were the Lakers or the Mavericks of the NHL) however the solutions implemented during CBA worked against their needs: Leafs is operating in a hard cap system whereas Raptors is operating in a soft cap system. MLSE is struggling to adjust to the new realities and until they do we will not be successful.

  • FAQ

    Prediction:  Raptors will be in last place in the Atlantic division and Eastern Conference this season… and perhaps the entire league.

    Given that inevitable fact, it will be entertaining watching visiting teams  at the ACC  and tv games without the Raptors.

    Interesting fact: Kobe’s salary is almost as much as the Rap’s top three earners.. hmmmm

    • RapthoseLeafs

      .
      I’d take that bet.
      .
      As for salaries – a Kobe & Gasol trade – for the entire Raptors team – would fit in the numbers game.
      .

  • Joe

    anyone know how draft order will be determined if there’s a lockout