Barack Obama doesn’t know much about the Raptors. I’m guessing.
Many Americans probably don’t. Or at least quite a few. Rick Mercer once asked Americans, their opinion on whether Canada should change its "20 Hour Clock" to the 24 hour one used by the United States. He got approval from most of the Americans he met, as well as the support of Tom Vilsack, Governor of Iowa. For some down south, the 49th Parallel is akin to some physics theory.
In the past, when I’ve said American free Agents don’t want to come here, it’s really about not knowing who the hell we are. Or aren’t. With a prime minister named Jean Poutine for example. A land of strange laws. Only criminals can carry around handguns – police not withstanding. Strange behaviour. A socialist government with healthcare for everybody. Chris Bosh called it .... “the air smells different”. Of course he didn’t mean anything by that – as CB wasn’t that type of guy. But that’s not the point. It’s what he was thinking. For him, home is below the 49th Parallel.
Seeing no stat to dispute this belief, I’ve become more convinced that high-end Free Agency is a pipe dream for Raptors. It can be great for mid level contracts – an important facet – but the odds for a Star are slim to none. Trades & Draft will be the main options.“As much as we all know Toronto is a beautiful city - it remains in the shadows when it comes to luring free agents.” [Papa Burgundy]
Unless we get lucky – top 3 lottery win – Raptors will acquiesce their draft pick to OKC, or whoever may own it on the closing date – draft day. 2014 may yield a bumper crop, and should Toronto miss the play-offs next season, luck – not a great commodity for Toronto – could deliver the next Canadian and NBA All Star. Sure it’s better than buying a Max Millions ticket, but for the slim odds, the process would be unbearable once again. Next season will most definitely be about making the play-offs. Failure to achieve that purpose, will mean another blow-up. Hopefully that’s another timeline.
There are a lot of opinions out there. I have mine. In the Blog world, they’re a dime a dozen. Some would say my opinion is tainted by a fanboy complex. If that means I like certain players – with the longer they’re here the more likely – is really no different from many others fans of professional or amateur sports teams.
Andrea would fit into that role of a fan favourite – more than some people probably know. Amir – is pretty obvious. People had their doubts – not so much now. Demar has grown on me, as his time here expands. No doubt, seeing Jose gone has taken a little adjusting to. I never thought a 3 finger salute could impress itself upon me. I can't imagine when I'll witness another almost perfect F/T record. I do know that I never liked what he went through over the years, but recognized his resilience.
Even Lowry succumbed – for a time. Until BC tipped the scales in Kyle's favour. No more chances for another controversy. I think Jose deserved better, but hey, this is a Big business. We only care if it means not scaring off the help.“Ford, Jack, Bayless, Nash. Somewhere Jose Calderon stares into a mirror, pounds his chest and screams "KEEP COMING MOTHERF#*@#S" ... ” [Gourmet Spud]
So where do we go from here?
The 64 thousand dollar question – adjusted for inflation.
Does he stay or should he go?
I’ll admit, I have my doubts about keeping him. Unfortunately, I also have my doubts about who would replace him. Do we have to go through this again. How will that decision maker react, when he realizes top end Free Agents will not come here (for the most part). Will he give in?
I don’t know. I do know that Raptors have done this many times. Not as many as the Leafs.
Speaking of the ice men, the name RapthoseLeafs came about from all those years being a strong Leaf fan. A fan of Gilmore. Of Wendal. Of Salming. And many more. A fan of the Toronto Maple Leafs, despite how they've spun themselves endlessly each season.
As to Colangelo's continuation in Toronto, I say we decide at the trade deadline – 2014.
I think the same way about Casey.
Keeping them will give some assurance to players, instead of doubt, and the inevitable ... “Sorry, but I’m out of here”. What this team needs is stability, if we are going to gel as a team. Shaking everything up again, just strikes me as changing because finding solutions with what you have is too hard.
And to that thought, this is how I see what we have, what we could have, and what we really need. Or would like to get – as Toronto fans already know, we can’t get the same candy as those kids down south.
I was wrong about this guy. Maybe it was bias towards Jose, or simply his quarterbacking direction, I just didn’t think he could adapt - in time. But KL has shown he can adapt. Maybe 2 and ½ teams of experiencing both sides of the fence (the ½ being with Jose), has caused Lowry to evolve. With a fresh summer, and his pal hanging around, Kyle can elevate his play to Star or almost Star-like status. In some respects, I think Rudy Gay is bringing that out of him – as Kyle doesn’t have to act like the alpha male. He is certainly worth a 12th pick - if that's where we end up.
That being said, with one more year left on his contract, if Kyle signals to BC that he’s not gonna resign, then we go through this all again.
DD has been growing on me these days. In the earlier days of his career, I felt Demar’s attitude was somewhat punk. He needed to stop expecting treatment like Kobe would, until he showed more of his capabilities.
To me, I’m seeing a more mature Derozan. His assists are up. His rebounding is up. His F/T averages are up. I’m not sure what people want out of him, but if his Offensive role is as 2nd or 3rd option, that role will take pressure off him. It will allow him to bring more focus on his defensive game, which does need work. As well as his 3 point shooting. Given his desire to hit long jumpers, if Demar can stretch that out to the 3 point line, his value could continue to grow. If he can get his average up around .380 from the outside, that improved ability will help his inside game. And maybe it’ll give Rudy more room to attack, instead of taking long shots.
One could debate Rudy for hours. Short is, I’d like to see Rudy with a fresh slate next season. This current season still has meaning, as it gives Rudy time to work on “redefining” his game to get the most out of his talent. It will also mean that Casey has to delicately balance between putting out a line-up for gelling purposes, and giving the young talent a chance to improve their game.
I’ll leave him for last.
I like this kid. I think he’s moving along the curve just nicely. Some more strengthening, a Big coach in the off season (as well as during the season), and we could have our own Chandler. The only thing I wish Jonas would change, is his last name. It must be hard for people to identify who JV's best friends are, as everyone calls him Jonas.
AJ is a favourite for sure. Not just because of his hustling – Reggie gave us that – but because he’s a genuine player with talent. In time – as he gets a little older (lol) – Amir will be the hustling older veteran, whose play and passion will earn him more of a Leadership role. Despite how long AJ has been here, I think the guy is a late bloomer.
There is something about this guy – rookie wall aside – that I can see him becoming a favourite along the lines of Vince ... albeit, not even close yet. Maybe it’s intuition running amok, but Ross strikes me as a dark horse. No way I trade him, unless the package coming back is good. The summer will be key for him.
This summer is key for him as well. Reading different views on his injury, I think it’s important to understand that his injury is a time issue. As the days pass by, things get better. Not only will the summer give him a chance to work on his shooting stroke, it will also give his arm time to heal without significant banging. I think he will surprise folks next season – pending a good bill of health.
I’m not quite sure why Casey has confined Q&A to the bench so much. He’s no Reggie – he’s got hops, and a better shot. Maybe undersized, but are we not playing more small ball. I hope we just don’t discard him, like we’ve done with other picks – that never really seemed to get some court time.
I really think it’s time to part ways. Maybe do a sign & trade, if that helps. Otherwise, I don’t think we should put out the kind of cash, that his new contract will command.
I would say use the amnesty clause, but we only get one. Buy him out, or do whatever “good” trade we can do. While that doesn’t mean I want to use the Amnesty on Andrea, I do believe we should keep that option available to us. It is what makes Bargnani valuable, as I’ll explain later.
If another Big was to come along, that we could sign at a Veteran’s minimum, who was better than Aaron, then yes ... do it. Otherwise, I’d try to get Gray in the gym more. He’ll need to move a little faster next season, if he wants time.
Who? What happened to this guy?
Hopefully we gave him an opportunity to play somewhere in the NBA. Or Europe if so be.
He needs to play. I have no clue what he could bring to next season, but this remainder should be to determine if he stays.
He’s a great guy. And a good spirit on the team. Fact is, he’s a very good 3rd String PG/SG. That doesn’t say much I know. Truth is, he’s part of why our Bench struggles – the exception when he goes off and shoots the lights out. Mostly though, he shoots the lights out – on our chances. 4 assists (per 36) – last 10 games - doesn’t help.
The Enigma – a term that causes extreme stress in some fans – certainly has less support these days. Most have just gone into hiding.
Why do I spend so much time on him? That's easy. I think he's the wild card. And considering we have many impediments that other teams don't have, we need every wild card we can get. I also think Rudy is a wild card as well - albeit, a greater reward if we can extract it.
As for AB, call it a risk. Call it stupidity. I call it a reality we have. We're different, and the sooner we recognize that, the sooner we think outside the box.
I was asked once if I was Italian, the inference being this would be the only valid reason why I believe there is still hope for Andrea. Truth is, I am a Canadian. I was born in Canada. My parents as well. That being said, I do have Italian lineage in me. For which I am very proud. Some people suggested the question “Are you Italian” had some racist overtones to it. Personally, I couldn’t give a sh!t.
Now .... am I this fanboy [should be fanman, but that doesn’t sound good], because I have Italian heritage. Does that mean I was pissed when Belinelli was traded. Yeah ... that one really hurt. Took me months to recover. I’m still spitting meatballs, I’m so pissed.
Would I like Gallinari. Sure. Would I like to have him because he’s Italian. If he can cook a good plate of spaghetti – Sure. Otherwise ... not particularly.
The reason why I believe we should keep Bargnani until at least the next trade deadline, are many. They include:
AB’s contract (or lack of his contract), will not have a real effect on our cap position (with respect to free agents), as I understand it.
The Rudy Factor
One of the problems with Andrea, is that Toronto has placed him in the role of saviour / top dog, when the reality is, his pay cheque demonstrates differently. The last time Andrea was #2 dog, his stat read 17.2 ppg, 6.2 Rbs, .523 efg% and a 16.5 efficiency rating. Toronto had one of most potent Front Courts – ranking 6th in efficiency.
The Crown Jewel when it comes to his value. Raptors – should they keep this 1 time “gift” – could exercise the Amnesty rule in 2014 – the last year of his contract. Of course this option would have to demonstrate better value than using Andrea’s final year as an Expiring contract – an Asset in which to acquire more talent – albeit, something that might be at a premium. That word (premium) may scare a lot of people, especially in the hands of BC, but truth is, Raptor destiny has to adjust for being the only city not in the United States.
Or potential to reach that level he reached during the 2011-12 season. First reaction people have is ... we’ve waited 7 years. My answer is another question. Waited for what? Pau Gasol? He gets paid 19 million dollars this season – almost twice what Andrea makes. How about Milsap. He only made 7 million this season, in his final year. Good luck getting him for anywhere near that, in free agency.
Bottom line with Andrea is, there is no risk. Amnesty – assuming we don’t waste it on Kleiza – is the trump card that erases everything that may go wrong. The upside is, Casey + Rudy revamps AB’s role, such that he becomes what he was, and should never have left, a secondary role – whether it be as the 2nd option, or the 3rd. And if Kyle has a hot game, Bargnani’s role could give way, and be the 4th option. I’d call that potential for a serious Starting line-up. And yes ... I said Starting line-up.
I think we all know his rebounding is not the best. But I also think it could be improved, with better positioning. Casey appears to like having AB press – with a double coverage – out at the perimeter line (while defending). And then when he’s on Offense, has Andrea again out at the perimeter. At the best, AB should focus on blocking out his man – something I think he does fairly well, despite the reputation for poor rebounding.
Andrea’s help defense certainly needs remedial treatment. Why not get him a Big who can modify this thinking. Considering the state of affairs, I’d imagine Bargs would welcome this kind of help enthusiastically.
As to his post-up defense, or one-on-one. Some fans think it’s pretty good. Some will admit it’s not bad. Others dismiss it, because that’s just the way it goes with Andrea. It’s funny how often anything negative with his defense gets an enthusiastic audience, yet a Harvard report that places him #2 (best) in restricting Opponent averages – based on that Opponent being within 5 feet. In other words, he contests his shots pretty damn good. Yes, this Stat has its’ limitations. So do a lot of stats.
Going into next season, barring some great deal out there, I would like to see this kind of line-up. The top 9 - 10 guys (or rotation):
Raptors most immediate need is a Back-up PG. That position is essential to success from the Secondary. Lucas doesn’t cut it – I really do hate his play-making skills, if you want to call it that. Sure, he can fire it up. But even when he does, Raptors are simply masking what he doesn’t do. Run the Secondary.
The main objective should be to gel this team. 21 starting line-ups – Raptors apparently have that record – is NOT the way to go. Next year needs stability. Enough with change.
Thanks for listening.