Overall, it was a really good locker room in which to be a reporter. Beyond DeRozan, Amir Johnson and Jonas Valanciunas are two of the all-time great players with whom to chat about nothing. They were not going to give you great insight if your recorder was on, but their pleasantness and general enthusiasm made that room a fun place to be. Chuck Hayes was such a perfect candidate for the wise old man role that I wrote my next “week in the life” feature about him. If you wanted to talk to Greivis Vasquez for a minute, you wound up talking to him for 15 minutes. What he lacked in the ability to be concise, he made up for in grandiosity. Following Kevin Durant’s 51-point performance in a thrilling double-overtime win for the Thunder in Toronto, Vasquez said Durant “was like Jesus in this league.”
Most of all, I’ll remember Terrence Ross. He was a lot like DeRozan early in his career: finding his place in the league, shy and a little immature. It was painful to see him put himself in the centre of a bulletin board story — saying on a Reddit AMA he wanted to play the Nets in the playoffs, later clarifying he said the team had many players he grew up watching. I remember interviewing Ross, along with the Toronto Star’s Dave Feschuk, against the wall next to the team’s old practice facility up in the third deck of Scotiabank arena. Ross looked as if he’d rather have been anywhere else. It was hard to blame him.
He went on to have a disastrous series, shooting 29.8 percent from the field and 16.7 percent from 3. Other than Lowry, Ross was the only member of the starting lineup to provide any functional spacing beyond the arc. Every shot he took at home was imbued with some huge hope of a sudden turnaround, making the misses that generally followed especially deflating. It’s probably how some Raptors fans felt watching Pascal Siakam in the bubble in the playoffs.
Casey stuck with him in the starting lineup, mostly for the lack of a better option. Ross never got to make his tension-relieving shot, but his steal of an inbound pass late in the game will likely live on as the single most memorable play by a Raptor in a very memorable season.
“Even if we were to pretend excessive force occurred for argument’s sake, qualified immunity still would mandate dismissal due to the stark absence of clearly established law from which ‘every’ reasonable deputy in Deputy Strickland’s particularized circumstances would have concluded, beyond debate, that the force employed was unconstitutional,” the Alameda County sheriff’s deputy’s co-counsel argued in a motion to dismiss Ujiri’s claims.
Ujiri apparently had the wrong credential to enter the court at that particular moment, and in a video taken by Strickland’s body cam, shows the executive taking the pass he did have out of his blazer breast pocket as he tried to proceed. Strickland admits in the motion he yelled “back the fuck up,” while shoving Ujiri. The motion then lays out all the past instances of trespassers onto fields of play with horrible consequences.
“After all, this was a high-profile sporting event, which entailed a risk of crimes ranging from vandalism to assaults on players (e.g., the 1993 fan’s stabbing of tennis great Monica Seles), assaults on coaches (e.g., the 2002 assault of Royals Coach Tom Gamboa by two fans), player-fan brawls (the 2004 brawl involving numerous fans and players at the end of a Pistons-Pacers NBA game), and even mass murder or terrorism (e.g., the mass murder of Israeli athletes by terrorists at the Munich Olympics). The same threats persisted when Mr. Ujiri continued to attempt to barge past the second time, still without showing his (invalid) credential, even after being shoved and ordered to back up.”
Avery Mehlman, a Herrick Feinstein partner and a former prosecutor in Brooklyn, where he served as the chief of the Major Narcotics Investigations Bureau, said qualified immunity is an important protection for officers. But he noted the adjective, “qualified,” meaning it’s not absolute if the officer’s behavior is deemed unreasonable.
“And if here the plaintiff… the person that’s suing can show that the police officer violated and there’s a quote, ‘clearly established statutory or constitutional rights of which a reasonable person would have known,’” he said. “So if he acts as such, then there is no immunity. It’s qualified immunity. It’s not an absolute immunity.”
“How much can the Raptors pay VanVleet and still keep max room for Antetokounmpo?”
It’s been such a prominent question for Raptors fans that I had to write about it as early as November, and then update it again after the season. It’s not just about Antetokounmpo. To be clear – Antetokounmpo also happens to be a very helpful illustration of the ways in which paying a (very good) supporting piece beyond a certain point can hamper a team’s longer-term flexibility. There are other questions that flowed from that conversation, namely with other areas the Raptors could trim to pay VanVleet his expected market value and still stay lean for 2021.
This is probably the most significant area in which things simplify if Antetokounmpo re-ups. Yes, it’s possible the Raptors would want to maintain max space for someone other than Antetokounmpo, but realistically, their willingness to meet VanVleet’s demands should increase as the opportunity cost in doing so decreases. Even if the Raptors take a step down from pursuing Antetokounmpo to the next tier of free-agents, it becomes even more important to have a strong supporting cast in place. VanVleet would be paramount to that.
We’re talking at the margins here. The Raptors still want to retain VanVleet for the long-term, and they’ll still have some theoretical walk-away number where a predatory team simply offers him too much. I don’t think the Raptors would go to the max for VanVleet, for example, even if 2021 were a thinner market. But the VanVleet negotiation gets a little more comfortable, with a walk-away number that nudges a little higher.
Host William Lou is joined by Vivek Jacob of Complex Canada to discuss offseason targets for the Raptors.
- Victor Oladipo potentially on the market
- How would Buddy Hield or Montrezl Harrell fit?
- Is Myles Turner a trade candidate?
- How the Raptors stack up at every position
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