James Johnson Eulogy

Let us rise.

Thoughts from those who cared:

His Landlord
“Due to an ongoing court case regarding unpaid rent, I cannot comment on my business or personal relationships with Mr. Johnson. As has been stated in the Church St. Rentals vs. James Johnson case, the plaintiff claims twelve (12) months of rent owed on the lease, plus the cost of carpet damage caused by the defendant’s pitbull”

His Neighbor
“Yeah, he used to come over a lot. Drank my beer, pissed on my couch once or twice, and kept complaining about how the offense wasn’t run through him. Good guy overall, but probably the last guy I’d invite to my birthday party.”

His Dentist
“Excellent teeth. Once asked me to remove a perfectly fine molar and replace it with a 32-carat diamond.”

Bryan Colangelo
“When I acquired James I had high hopes for him. Then I saw him play.”

As Sam alluded to yesterday, there were a SHITLOAD of media members who were raving about how Bryan Colangelo managed to turn a late first-rounder into a player like James Johnson. Here we are a year later and the guy is thinned out into a second-rounder which is likely to be traded away for future considerations at some point.

I feel no great pain about Johnson leaving, I’ve said it time and time again, the guy was a petulant player who thought he was owed something, when in reality he should’ve been thanking his fairy godmother for landing on the Raptors where he actually got to start every game he played for half a season. Fuckin’ unreal man. This guy had the chance – just like Jamario Moon – to make a position his own in the NBA, and he blew it through some very lackadaisical play. Granted, the real question wasn’t really his attitude but his talent, and I don’t mean flashing a nice pass once in a while. I’m referring to consistent basketball performance, of which in him there was very little. At 25 (which is the new 28 when judging growth), his “potential” couldn’t be counted on and time ran out for him.

Maybe he was a stopgap measure at best, or just something to keep the masses preoccupied with and give them a character to talk about, or maybe he was a serious attempt by Colangelo to fill the elusive three position, whatever the case, the experiment is over and we can move on to portraying Landry Fields as the next saviour at the three. Good luck to Johnson, but unless he changes his attitude and accepts that he’s an absolute nobody with everything left to prove, he’ll get bounced around again. I have it on good word that the guy felt like more of the offense should’ve run around him, that is beyond bold.

As the roster stands from training camp to training camp, we’ve replaced Barbosa with Ross, Johnson with Fields, Bayless with Lowry, and Alabi with Jonas. Ross is a short-term downgrade with potential for long-term upgrade, Johnson vs. Fields is an edge to Fields, and Lowry wins over Bayless. Overall wins +/- is…. +5?

The production at the three has been so poor in recent years that anything, literally, is good enough to start. And so we saw that with Antoine Wright, Jamario Moon, Rasual Butler, Joey Graham, Sonny Weems, Linas Kleiza and the list goes on. It’s the one position that hasn’t been successfully addressed since Tracy McGrady, GMs have come and gone but the three spot continues to be a sore spot for the Raptors. I don’t know if Landry Fields is the answer, my gut tells me he’s not, and that he’s in line with Jack, Kapono, and Kleiza, as another mediocre player who found big money in Toronto. The law of averages says that one of these acquisitions should pan out and if Fields, in a dedicated starter role, finally manages to take the chance that others have frittered away, perhaps he’ll be worth it. If not, you know how great Colangelo is at cleaning up his mistakes…with more mistakes.

Not being negative, just pointing out the acquisition/cleanup cycle that has been the norm under Colangelo.

The Raptors have played three summer league games, and Ross has had good and bad games. Blake Murphy is supposed to be keeping an eye on the summer-league proceedings, but forgive him if he stops to give a shit about it since the Raptors have never, ever gotten anything meaningful out of Vegas. Instead, here’s Casey talking about Ross being on the court at the same time with DeRozan:

And even though the Raptors drafted a player who seemingly will threaten his future with the team, DeRozan has not revealed a hint of jealousy or animosity toward Ross. DeRozan watched the Raptors’ first three NBA Summer League games from the stands, placing a keen eye on Ross, and the two already have formed a mentor-apprentice relationship.

DeRozan has offered tips and advice to Ross before and after each of his summer league outings and has invited him visit Los Angeles in August to work out and train together for the regular season. The way Casey sees it, it’s a perfect scenario — DeRozan will make Ross a better player more quickly and, with Ross nipping at DeRozan’s heels, DeRozan should expand his improving game.

“Plus, there’s nothing to say those two can’t be on the court at the same time,” Casey said. “But DeMar has been great. He’s taking (Ross) under his wing and that’s going to help us. We’re a young team, so we’re going to need all the firepower we can get.”

In just three games, Ross already has experienced the highs and lows of NBA life. In his debut — against best friend Jones and the Rockets — he was productive, finishing with 21 points on 8-of-19 shooting. But in two games since, Ross has scored a combined 25 points and made 9 of 26 field goals, including 1 of 8 from three-point range. As defenses have keyed on him, his shot has faltered.

That’s summer league for you. You can’t read anything into it.

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