Toronto Sun

On Saturday the Raptors shot down an ESPN report that Jonas Valanciunas might join the club this season and the big man put in his own two cents on Monday.

Valanciunas told lithuaniabasketball.com: “I’m currently with Lietuvos Rytas and I’m not really interested in those talks. There’s a lot to be done here. I’m in Lietuvos Rytas, not the Raptors.”

 

Raptors big man Andrea Bargnani told Italy’s La Stampa that he is getting his Canadian citizenship but will continue to play for the Italian national team.

Toronto Star

Johnson, Toronto’s incumbent starting small forward — and the only guy currently on the roster who plays that position — said he most appreciated the all-around nature of World Peace’s game and what he could learn at both ends of the court.

The two are similar in size, somewhere around 6-foot-7, kind of thick and muscular, but World Peace’s vast edge in experience allowed Johnson to learn a thing or two that Johnson hopes will help him on both offence and defence.

“He plays extremely tough defence and he’s also a force at the offensive end,” Johnson said after he, Jose Calderon, Ed Davis and Solomon Alabi got a pre-camp workout in at the Air Canada Centre on Monday.

“He’s not the fastest guy but defence-wise it’s just hard to get around him.”

Johnson would appear to figure greatly in Toronto’s plans for the coming shortened NBA season. General manager Bryan Colangelo isn’t expected to make any huge splashes in an underwhelming pool of free-agent small forwards and the job would seem to be Johnson’s alone right now.

If the third-year product of Wake Forest — obtained from Chicago midway through last season for an inconsequential draft pick — can give new coach Dwane Casey a consistently good wing defensive presence, it will be welcomed.

TSN

I’m sure Toronto Raptors coach Casey is counting the hours and minutes until he and his staff can finally get back to doing what they love. being on the practice floor with their players.

I learned this a long time ago when I was coaching. ‘You only get what you demand.’  He has President/GM Bryan Colangelo’s full support and for the organization to grow and develop into a contender he has to challenge this young squad from minute one to play the game hard, tough, right and together–nothing less is acceptable.

The wins and losses will come and go–it’s all about developing the proper mind set amongst everyone involved and with proper drafting, player development, trades, free-agency the process will reap the rewards of the tough love that will be necessary.

The Raptors have to find out things about a lot of their players to decide who stays and who goes as they methodically put the ‘right’ pieces together over time.

In order to make the right evaluations you have to put it to them and find out what they’re made of. I’m confident if the long term developmental view is used that some positive developments will take place with the current roster and more importantly in the seasons to come because they’ll know what they have and the bigger key, what they have to go get. 

Stick to your guns and get the best out of them.  That attitude and work will pay off in the end.

TSN

The second player that would seem to have lost his place in the greater scheme of things is Amir Johnson, the bouncy forward that started 54 games for the team last season. Here’s how the facts about Johnson shake out: He and Ed Davis are strikingly similar players in terms of their role on the team, but Davis is just better in the areas that are most important to the club: defense and rebounding.

Johnson got his shot last season, getting to start the bulk of the games he played in while playing a career-high 25.7 minutes per game in the process, and while he was a solid offensive contributor, he didn’t really do enough to cement his place in team hierarchy. While he cut his foul rate considerably to maintain starter’s minutes, shot a good percentage (.568) and transformed himself at the free throw line, his defense was as exposed as ever going against starting caliber fours each night and his rebound-rate dipped to its lowest point since his rookie year.

What’s worse for Johnson is that the Raptors seem intent on moving Andrea Bargnani to power forward this season, which means less minutes available at the position, and Davis will likely be the primary backup given his stellar rebounding and shot blocking abilities (plus, Davis only scored 1.9 ppg less than Johnson a season ago). There will still be minutes available to Johnson in a four-man frontcourt rotation, but the Raptors may be better served moving Johnson along and letting James Johnson and Linas Klezia log the leftover power forward minutes and using Amir in trade scenarios.

Raptors Rapture

With the increase of minutes last season Reggie had his first double digit rebounding average of his career at 11.5 boards a game during his injury plagued 30 game campaign. With the rest Reggie has been given via the lockout it is possible that a healthy Reggie Evans can average in the 11 to 15 rebound per game range in his spot in the Raptors rotation while providing defense, toughness and experience. Which happen to be the young Raptors three biggest holes.

Another factor that makes re-locking up Evans so important is the departure of Joey Dorsey, who is stuck overseas without an opt-out in his contract. Losing both Evans and Dorsey would leave the Raptors with a potential frontcourt that would be over-reliant on Amir Johnson, Ed Davis and Andrea Bargnani assuming Jonas Valanciunas spends the year in Europe.

The Raptors have a special player that can be a huge key in their rebuilding process. Who cares that he is a 31 year old with injury problems and can only rebound? If the Raptors want to continue to improve and rebuild Reggie Evans needs to be wearing a Raptors uniform on Opening Night.

  • http://twitter.com/Liston Tom Liston

    “Who cares that he is a 31 year old with injury problems and can only rebound?”I do.  A lot.  As much as I appreciate Evans, this is not the type of signing your make to properly rebuilt the club.

    • Maleko

      Agree. I love his work ethic and demeanour, but it is time to assess and develop.

  • cesco

    Austerity measures in Europe (taxes increasing for the rich). Canada is one of the safest countries to leave your money in . Wise move by Andrea to become a Canadian citizen . No fear for him to be bankrupt 5 years after finishing playing as the majority (60%) of professional athletes will be . And he loves it here .

    • sleepz

      No problems with Andrea investing his money here. I just wish we didn’t have such an investment in him.

      No need to start the Bargnani blog wars either…..it’s just a comment. 

      I was just thinking about this team going forward and I think when we officially divorce ourselves of the few remaining players that have re-signed long term deals the past few years (JC, AB, LK) we will truly have a chance to start fresh again.

      Hopefully BC see’s a bigger picture this year, but I’m quite skeptical of his decision making at this point.

      • cesco

        Wait until you see the money behind thrown around in the next couple of weeks on free agents . Funny that a last place team has to think of tanking hoping for a savior in the next draft while the better teams keep reinforcing themselves in order to not finish in last place .

        • sleepz

          I agree with you. The owners are going to keep on overpaying for marginal talent. That doesn’t eliminate what I am saying however as the good and great teams have their money tied up into elite talent as well.

          A last place team is in last place for a reason. The Raps are looking to the draft because they don’t have elite talent on their roster, can’t obtain it via FA or trade (they have no pieces to exchange), and the money they do have invested in payroll on their long term deals with certain players, is not resulting in wins.

          They might not find that saviour in the draft, but the possibility is there. There are no saviours on this current roster and the money they are currently spending is not providing a significant ROI, especially when you go by wins-losses as you’ve indicated.

          • Borg

            Borg is also just making a comment…

            Plz name me one other player in the league now that as good as Andrea for 9.5 Mill a year?

            Basketball, like other pro sports, is an investment business and to have one or tow guys in that mid-max range is perfectly normal. Look at Dallas now, their “overpaid” investments in just about everyone in the time paid off.

            The raptors have done way worse in investments than Andrea, who also now committed to the Tdot/Canada – unlike some ‘franchise investments’ that we all know about in the past.

            BC does see the picture quite clearly as all our assets are easily movable for future considerations if we chose to go that path.

            Get ready for a surprise year – and remember this AB discussion that everyone’s been having!

            • Matt

              ^^^ Amir Johnson, Makes less money than AB and is a much better player.

              • Borg

                That makes two good investments :)

                Hope Amir plays same amount of minutes off the bench if Ed gets the starting role.

              • cesco

                Amir cannot anchor a defense like a Chandler for 35 minutes/game (fouls , Chandler light) . He cannot be a primary scoring option like Andrea for 35 minutes/game , so no matter what you think his value is , he will never get their money .

                • AmirFan

                  Amir is a much more efficient offensive player than AB. He has a deadly Jump Shot and is great in pick n roll. So If the coach give him as many shots as AB, then he can score the same amount. Then you have to look at his defence. He brought down the fouling last year and has a Heart of a lion. His hustle is unmatched around the league and is much younger than TC and these 3 factors, makes him better or at least same level with TC. 

                • sleepz

                  I don’t know if Andrea is an efficient primary scoring option like we would view other primary scoring options around the league.

                  Don’t get me wrong, Andrea can put the ball in the hoop, but when you are far below average in the other critical areas of your game, that scoring average becomes tainted and is not entirely indicative of how good of a player you are, imo.

            • sleepz

              When you say “that is as good” are you simply basing it on scoring average? Even if you are how efficient is that scoring average? You take enough shots, you’re going to be able to drop points (not every player, mind you but Mike James has shown us that’s possible).

              I usually don’t play these type of ‘name em’ games’ but Luis Scola makes slightly less than Andrea and I would take him in a heartbeat over Andrea. Noah makes a shade more (10mil) and very few would take Andrea over what Noah brings. Just a few examples but it gets away from what I’m trying to say. Sure he might be a good contract for someone that averages 21 a night but when you factor in the defensive end, rebounding and the aversion to contact and your argument goes out the window.

              I’m not sure BC sees anything clearly mind you. The attempt to trade for Chandler last year shows me he’s not as focused on the long term as we might think he is. He changed his philosophy during the year when he realized his team is lacking talent. Nothing wrong with trying to improve the team now, but that attempted trade indicated to me he thinks he has ‘core’ pieces in place that can compete on a high level. I totally disagree with that assesment.

              • Borg

                I understand your frame of mind as the results have not been to the level of BC ‘talk’, but:

                Mike James is not a fair comparison as he was a point/guard with the ball in his hands more often than forwards/centers. The reason he was “good” was cause the raptors let him be selfish, and wasn’t that the last we heard of him after a new fat contract?

                Luis Scola is better comparison but you’d have to question he’s age – older/mature/lot more basketball years, and just few years to go in the league. How good do we think Andrea will be at the same age, maturity and experience? That my friends is a good question.

                Chandler was the one and only reason why the Dallas team came togeather and won it all last season. In a way, well maybe a couple ways – I think BC was responsible for Dallas’s fortunes last year, and Mark will not say it out in public though. Wait and see  what happens in Dallas without Chandler this year.

                In the end, you’d have to build a team with pieces given/available to you at that particular time frame, and I wish we got him last year as his new multiyear would’ve been way cheaper than without a ring.

                After all the good and bad player movements (mainly cause of freak injuries and ungrateful players), I think BC has done a good job thus far and with some luck who know?

                • Nilanka15

                  “Wait and see what happens in Dallas without Chandler this year”

                  There was a good chance Dallas wouldn’t repeat as champs even with Chandler.

                  For example, if Miami wins the chip this season, I don’t think we can conclude that Chandler was the difference, when so many other variables need to be considered.

  • Malefax

    Yeah, that article on Reggie was pretty funny.

    As for Chisholms thing, I am confused. Not by trading Barbosa, it makes perfect sense and I expect it to happen (I think the Bulls could really use him, especially). But by him saying Johnson is a bad defender. Is it just that Amir looks good by comparison with the other Raptors, and he’s actuall bad objectively? Or are Chisholm (and Hollinger) getting hung up on the high foul rate and the trouble against big bodies, and overlooking the activity level and the help defense.

    I think it’s funny that Chisholm says Ed is a better defender. Maybe he has the potential to be better in the future, but last year, Ed was very bad on defense: that whole ‘being a rookie’ thing. Does Chisholm just not know that?

  • The Fox

    I missed this :)

  • The Fox

    BTW, agree on Reggie…he’s a great rebounder (could have been #1 last year if he was injury free), so he needs to be re-signed….

    • AmirFan

      5 year , 30 million. Lets make it happen BC. We want Reggie, we want Reggie. You can not get that hustle, heart and work ethics anywhere else.

      BC gave us Amir with similar qualities last year and now we want Reggie.

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_XHJKFMCGSMBEQGBRKJVLKUGSEQ john g

        wooo, settle down thats waayyy too much for reggie id give him like a 2 yr deal at like 5 mil. 

  • Ion66

    My bottom line on Reggie is that he puts my butt in the arena seat. Especially if Im going to see a non-winning team, I want to be entertained by skill and effort. He is very entertaining. If he brings a work ethic and veteran presence to a young team, that’s a great bonus too.

    • Nilanka15

      I find a winning team more entertaining than Reggie’s antics.  And if we sign Reggie to a multi-year deal, it will

      1. Take minutes away from Davis and Amir
      2. Eat into our cap flexibility for next season

      Both of the above reasons would make it harder to put a winning team on the floor (in the long run).

  • Theswirsky

    whats with all the talk lately about JJ playing some PF? 

    So light in the SF are as it is, and so heavy in the PF area… and its a good idea to use this teams SFs as PFs?  I don’t get it. (situationally sure… but over the course of an ‘average’ game… not at all)

    • Tim

      JJ is the best SF that Toronto has and in a year or two will be one of the elite point forwards in the league. Just Imagine this line up in 2 years:

      Bayless DD
      Amir/Ed JV JJ

      In 3 years, these guys can compete for Eastern Conf. Final, no question asked !! Plus, you add a great Rookie this year and you might be even talking about NBA championship, with these core of players in 4-5 years.

      • sleepz

        I will never knock the optimists cuz thats what being a fan is all about, but as hard as I try to close my eyes and envision that group of players going deep in the playoffs, all I see is darkness and a whole bunch of L’s.

        • Bendit

          Is fan for fanatic…. or fantasy?

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_XHJKFMCGSMBEQGBRKJVLKUGSEQ john g

        you must be on crack. Im a raps fan but also a realist. C’mon East Final!!!!!!! I don’t think JJ is going to lick the ass crack of a LeBron or a Carmelo. We are so far away, lets think about getting to the PLAYOFFS, before championship. JJ as among the elite point forwards? you only saw him play for half a season, how can you make that judgement that he has that potential? Hes our default starter because BC couldn’t find a decent SF this offseason. Get ur head out of ur ass because your one of those fans that i hate who think the Raps have “the sky is the limit potential” because we draft or trade for one young talent. When our best player is DeMar, we are not in 3 years completing for a East title. Vince couldn’t take us there what makes you think this team can. Dumbass

        • Dconnolly

          Dude you have to get a reality check. I’ve read at ton of blogs, and took pride in the writing and the intelligence displayed on Canadian sites… until I read the dribble you write. Have some respect for other people. You probably talk shit on the ice while the refs around, commit road rage from the protection of your car, and shoot off on blogs. Grow a pair and respect other people… Shameless.

          • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_XHJKFMCGSMBEQGBRKJVLKUGSEQ john g

            oh is your pussy wet

        • Edgar

          Rap of the day!

  • CalgaryRapsFan

    I hope Reggie Evans stays gone from the Raps, permanently.  On offense, other teams played the Raps as though we were short 1 player.  I’d rather give his minutes to Alabi.

    I fully support the TSN (Chisholm) idea of using Barbosa & Amir as the top trade bait, to clear out salary-cap space for the following season and hopefully bringing back at least 1 additional 1st round pick in the 2012 draft.

    • NEWS FLASH

      last season it felt like 5 on 3 when our 2 vet.leaders were on the floor at the same time … and somehow i just feel that if BC or the GM would just fix /get rid of those 2 peices he could get us to look like we are playing 5 on 5
                                         KABANGA .

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_XHJKFMCGSMBEQGBRKJVLKUGSEQ john g

      That was funny and sad to watch

  • KaioKev

    Hey everyone. It looks like the first Raptors game is on Boxing Day. Check out the link.

    http://www.woio.com/story/16202306/cavaliers-to-open-season-at-home-against-the-raptors

  • Lawson_mike420

    what ever happens, we cant trade amir.  hes 23 and still getting better. board might have been lower last yr but look how much better he was everywhere else. hes 23 and a six yr vet. you cant teach heart. he runs the floor and leaves it all out there every night. oh did i mention hes 23…still a kid.  i’ll take heart over potential any day.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_XHJKFMCGSMBEQGBRKJVLKUGSEQ john g

      we can’t trade amir because nobody wants amir. he has no real skills that warrant any trade value. 

      • FreeAmir

        you must be kidding ??!! Amir is what championship teams are made of. He is all heart and hustle and efficiency , lock down defender and a great team player. He can easily start in any contender this year or be the first big off the bench on those teams. Plus, he just 23 years old with a ceiling to be a great star in this league. 
        We SHOULD never trade Amir unless we get a real Super star back. 
        We need to trade AB as soon as possible. This is the way to go forward.

        • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_XHJKFMCGSMBEQGBRKJVLKUGSEQ john g

          is this Amir?

        • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_XHJKFMCGSMBEQGBRKJVLKUGSEQ john g

          lol did u say he was a lock down defender hahah we wouldn’t be last in the league if he was one. starting power forwards wouldn’t be tearing us apart every night. so what if he has heart and hustle, he has no other SKILLS

      • NEWS FLASH

        I think that if you gave Amir the same amount of shots that is given to #7 he  could be a 20 and 10 guy and play defence at the same time and he’s not even 7ft tall and he has no trade value, but a 7fter that needs 30 shot to give you 22 points and 5 rbs three of witch falls into his hands yes we value a player like that and teams are just waiting to get their hands on #7 because of his skills

        • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_XHJKFMCGSMBEQGBRKJVLKUGSEQ john g

          his shots come off rebounds and pick and rolls. he gets garbage points. all his post moves are a simple hook shot. thats all i’ve seen from him. he has no real mid-range jumper so his no really a threat. you can’t give amir 20 shots because he can’t create his own shot.

          • NEWS FLASH

            no threat ! guys around the nba are starting to fear Amir ,soon he be like Jamaine O’neal and install that type of fear in other player (rasheed wallace). When with #7 guys just see POSTER TIME! ESPN HIGHLIGHTS even in your house …”his shots comes off rebounds and pick and rolls” so what ,he does the dirty work and plus Calderon doesn’t even have to pass him the ball so he can score, he can score in other ways and with a high %eg shot (closer to the basket)and his team mates will all pass him the ball because of the high %eg shot/play/closer to the basket play that they know Amir will make +1

        • Dconnolly

          He definitely has trade value. He’s only 23… a bit too thin to bang, but a great bench player right now. Plus, he made a HUGE improvement shooting at the line last year. I wonder what he worked on this year… with that said, he owes Jose for most of his baskets.

          • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_XHJKFMCGSMBEQGBRKJVLKUGSEQ john g

            there is no trade value bc nobody is going to take that contract for a bench player who plays terrible defense, rebounds pretty good, and can finish, but has no post game or consistent jump shot

          • FreeAmir

            I heard he got a up and under move for around the basket and also improved the range in that deadly Jump shot of his to almost 3 point line !!! Can’t wait to see him in the starting line up. I have a feeling Casey will move AB to bench to use him as a big spark off the bench and will start Amir and Ed.

  • Go

    Anyone see the new Raptors schedule? It seems to be an easy schedule, one that would make it hard for them to suck badly. Not many games with the elite teams.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_XHJKFMCGSMBEQGBRKJVLKUGSEQ john g

      were going to suck either way. there isn’t really any optimism coming into this season for us

      • Go

        Oh we’re going to suck, but hopefully we suck bad enough to get a high pick, and I hope the easier schedule doesn’t affect it.

  • NEWS FLASH

    why! why! would BC ever want to sign Reggie when in this upcoming FAs there is one player out there who can change the whole look of your ballclub and can be a part going foward this guy is like getting 2.5 player so your paying for that plus he would be doing way more for this team than Reggie.This guy would bring a swagger to this team and i would love to have him on may team when going up against  DWIGHT,LABRON,STATS,AMAR,MELO,KG,BOSH i would feel good  having a player like that even at this point in our rebuilding stage and a couple of those guy i mension don’t even have a RING but our highest paid player/metour/anchor on D/Caseys voice on the floor /defence tone setter/kick tv in locker room when Demar fucks up/”not in my house” ,”but i”ll put it down like this in you house”JVs teacher  for all this and more
    sometimes when your building a peice that you need comes along before you are ready for it plus it serve more than one need, you have to grab it (TYSON CHANLDER)

  • FreeAmir

    Main Question that Everyone should Ask themselves is this:

    Are we a better than this year than what we were last year ?

    I can not wait to find out.

    • Dconnolly

      They’re another year older, and another season away from a top draft pick… so, I’d say they’re better. We need to grow like OKC… get young talent that will want to play together with a future vision of winning. If they have a plan and friends, they’ll want to sign contracts with Toronto.

  • jlongs

    We need someone like Reggie on our team. Although with Casey as coach, maybe not as much. But whenever Reggie is on the floor, his hustle and effort rubs off everyone else.

    Someone has to be the veteran and mentor all these young kids, and there’s no. One else in the team who could be that. The problem is Reggie’s still got a couple of good years on his tank before he declines considerably.

    So while I would love to have Reggie back as a 4th big, and while many here don’t even want him back, if I was Reggie, I wouldn’t even want to be here. I’d want to go to a winning team in need of a back up big. Why play back up to a bunch of losers when you could be helping someone else win?