Archive for May, 2008
Saturday, May 31st, 2008
Saturday May 31 2008 – 12:00pm Eastern
When the Orlando Pre-Draft Camp wraps up this weekend (Monday actually) the door will then be open for teams around the NBA to start hosting their own individual workouts with the future prospects.
With the 17th pick in the Draft, the Raptors will likely have a number of players in town over the next couple of weeks … because there’s no way of knowing or projecting which guys may rise or fall on the draft boards and wish lists of the 16 teams picking ahead of T.O.
For instance (and don’t read anything into this), could a player like Nicolas Batum or Robin Lopez fall all the way to 17, or could they go Top 10? Top 15?
Agents and advisors have to be realistic about their clients right now; they don’t want to turn down a workout with a team that could be a future employer but they also don’t want to burn out their client or risk declining his stock by making him workout with too many teams.
The Raptors are scheduled to have 18 players in town this week. Things could change, but so far, here’s the workout sked for Toronto:
TUESDAY JUNE 3:
Guard – Wayne Ellington – North Carolina
Guard – Shan Foster – Vanderbilt
Guard – Jamont Gordon – Mississippi State
Forward – Danny Green - North Carolina
Guard – Malik Hairston – Oregon
Guard – Courtney Lee – Western Kentucky
WEDNESDAY JUNE 4:
Forward – Ryan Anderson – California
Forward/Centre – Kosta Koufos – Ohio State
Forward/Centre – Robin Lopez – Stanford
Guard – Drew Neitzel – Michigan State
Guard – Jeremy Pargo – Gonzaga
Guard – Jason Thompson – Rider
THURSDAY JUNE 5:
Forward/Centre – Alexis Ajinca – Hyeres-Toulon
Guard – Chris Douglas-Roberts – Memphis
Centre – DeVon Hardin – California
Guard – Mykal Riley – Alabama
Guard/Forward – Brandon Rush – Kansas
Guard/Forward – Bill Walker – Kansas State
Friday, May 30th, 2008
Friday May 30 2008 – 10:30am Eastern
The FAN 590 has just announced that they will be carrying play by play of the NBA Finals.
So … for those of you that are stuck at work … or in your car during the Finals … your prayers have now been answered.
Game 1 goes next THURSDAY – June 5.
Always a good thing to hear more hoops on the FAN airwaves!
Friday, May 30th, 2008
Friday May 30 2008 – 10:15am Eastern
It was good to be back on the air last night – hosting “Hoops” on the FAN. We’ve been on hiatus for a while due to conflicts with Blue Jays broadcasts on the FAN.
But last night’s show was a solid return with Phoenix Suns Assistant Coach, Phil Weber and Dallas Mavericks GM and President of Basketball Operations, Donnie Nelson. You can hear the interview with Nelson on www.fan590.com
We were supposed to have Pistons Assistant Coach Terry Porter join us … but he must have been bunkered-down in a video room somewhere … trying to figure out how to get his team a win in Game 6 against the Celtics (tonight).
Keep your eye on this blog – and keep listening to the FAN – for updates on when “Hoops” will be back on the air. There are a number of open Thursdays in the coming weeks, so the show should be back on a semi-regular basis leading up to the Draft on June 26.
Speaking of the Draft, I’ve still got Derrick Rose going number one to the Bulls. I love Michael Beasley’s game and – right now – he might be the most “NBA-ready”. But I can’t see how Chicago passes on Rose. Not only is he a hometown kid, but he’s one of those rare guards that doesn’t come along very often. You’ve got to jump at a chance to get a player like that.
Of course, as I’ve written before, if Beasley does fall to #2, that could open the door a lot wider for the Raptors to initiate possible trade talks (for a PG) with the Heat.
It’s been interesting to hear the conflicting reports regarding OJ Mayo though. Some say he could slide out of the Top 5 … even as far down as #7 or #8 … while other stories are suggesting that Kevin McHale could snag him with the third pick and bring him to Minnesota. Personally, I don’t think the Timberwolves will make a run at him … given the fact that Randy Foye is already in town but stranger things have happened!
And how ’bout Kevin Love? Some are saying 3rd or 5th … others are projecting 12th … 15th … ?
Ya know what all of this means? DON’T PUT ANY STOCK INTO “MOCK DRAFTS” YET! Including mine! Nobody really knows how the Draft is going to shake-out. We’re just in the middle of the Orlando pre-draft camp. Teams haven’t even had private workouts yet … and the Draft itself is still about a month away!
There’s still a ton of time for guys to climb (or slide) the charts … so let’s all just chill with the speculation and trade rumors.
THE LAKE SHOW
How good did Los Angeles look last night?
Down 17 … they come all the way back to knock-off the reigning Champs.
Another solid win for the Lakers, with Kobe Bryant topping off his magnificent series with a 39-point performance.
LA is playing their best ball … at the right time. And the best thing for them is watching the Celtics and Pistons beat up on each other. You’ve got to think the Lakers would love to see Detroit beat Boston tonight and force a Game 7. More rest for the Lake Show.
I just hope somebody speaks to Sasha Vujacic about his bogus 3-pointer at the end of last night’s series-clinching win. Up 5 with time ticking away, San Antonio had no interest in fouling LA. They knew the game was over. But Vujacic hurled up a 3-ball as time expired. There was NO need for that shot. It wasn’t very sportsmanlike … and it sure rubbed salt in the wounds of the Spurs.
Perhaps Vujacic was trying to release the shot after the buzzer and he simply mis-timed things … but … either way … you’ve gotta be held accountable for your actions … and that shot was a sour note on an otherwise solid win for LA.
Thursday, May 29th, 2008
Thursday May 29 2008 – 4:00pm Eastern
Just a quick note folks … “Hoops” is back on the FAN 590 tonight … from 7:00-9:00pm.
“Hoops” has been on hiatus for a number of weeks … due to conflicts with Toronto Blue Jays broadcasts on the FAN. But with the Jays playing this afternoon against Oakland, we finally have an open Thursday to bring some basketball back to the airwaves.
Paul Jones and I will host the show – as we take your phone calls during the first hour of the show … and then concentrate on some of the top stories around the league for hour number two. We’ll likely be focusing on the Pre-Draft Camp in Orlando, as well as the Eastern and Western Conference Finals. We hope to check-in on the Raptors as well.
Donnie Nelson – President of Basketball Operations and General Manager of the Dallas Mavericks – will join us on the show.
Detroit Pistons Assistant Coach, Terry Porter, is scheduled to be on the program as well.
Jack Armstrong will not be joining us as a co-host tonight, but he should be guesting on the program.
Be sure to tune in at 7:00pm tonight and check back for the next few Thursdays as well … ’cause the Jays have a few more off-days coming up … which should free the airwaves for more “Hoops”.
Wednesday, May 28th, 2008
Wednesday May 28 2008 – 4:15pm Eastern
Sorry I wasn’t able to check-in on Tuesday. I was a little pre-occupied … golfing ALL day … from 8:30am – 5:30pm. I was taking part in a charity event for the Spina Bifida and Hyrdocephalus Association of Ontario. “100 Holes of Golf – in 1 Day”. Trust me, I’m feeling it today!
But I was able to come home from the golf – and the fabulous dinner – in time to catch Game 4 of the Lakers and Spurs.
Although Los Angeles squandered an early 14-point advantage, Kobe and Kompany still managed to never relinquish the lead. That’s a HUGE feat for any team … especially when they’re on the road and facing the reigning Champs.
With the 93-91 win, LA has a strangle-hold on the series and Bryant has his eyes set on his first Championship without Shaquille O’Neal.
However, the story of last night’s game wasn’t the road win or 3-1 series lead. It was the final play of the game involving Brent Barry and Derek Fisher.
Fisher bit on a pump-fake by Barry and appeared to foul the Spurs’ guard as he came back down to the floor. Fisher clearly bumped into Barry. It should have been a foul. The whistle should have blown. Barry – San Antonio’s best free throw shooter – should have been at the line for two shots and a chance to tie the game and send it to overtime.
But no whistle came.
Fisher – after biting on the fake – leaped from the floor and then tried to contort his body as he was coming back down; hoping to not crash into Barry. Yet when the officials didn’t make the call … Barry had to quickly rush up a shot at the buzzer. It went way right … and that was that.
Nevermind that Joey Crawford was the referee closest to the play — the ref that has a long history with the Spurs (see: Tim Duncan ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lu1Wz5JQEz8 )). That doesn’t matter. There was no grand conspiracy going on. In fact, both Duncan and Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said after the game that they understood or agreed with the no-call. Barry admitted the same as well. San Antonio knew they lost the game well before the final seconds of Game 4.
Getting hammered on the offensive glass – and thus giving up nearly 30 second-chance points – certainly didn’t help.
Not capitalizing on Bryant not getting to the free throw line ONCE … didn’t help either.
Shooting 40% from the field and having Manu Ginobili pull another no-show (2 for 8 FG – 7 points) clearly was a major issue as well (though I will let Manu off the hook a little bit … in that he’s dealing with a wonky ankle).
Simply put, the Spurs didn’t deserve to win that game. LA may have coughed it up down the stretch, but for the majority of the 48 minutes, they were in charge and they made the bigger plays.
Plus, you could argue that the Lakers were the team that got “hosed” … even more than San Antonio. With just under 7 seconds to play, LA had the ball … and with the shotclock winding down … Fisher threw up a shot that grazed the iron, hit Robert Horry, and then rolled out of bounds. But the officials ruled that the ball DIDN’T touch the rim. Thus, instead of getting a fresh 24-second clock, LA was forced to inbound the ball and get off a hurried shot by Bryant … that missed.
Had the correct call been made, San Antonio would have been forced to foul LA on the inbounded pass. There’s no way of knowing if the Lakers would have hit both (or neither) free throws but that call definitely played into the Spurs favour and gave them a chance to win.
You can’t wipe out the first 47:55 minutes and just blame the refs for the final 5 seconds. Controversy or not, San Antonio lost the game long before the Barry-Fisher sequence. To think otherwise, is bogus.
NOTE: If you’re interested in learning more about the Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus Association of Ontario, or if you’d like to make a donation, please check out this website: www.sbhao.on.ca/
Monday, May 26th, 2008
Monday May 26 2008 – 6:50pm Eastern
RAVE REVIEWS FOR RONDO
I said it just a few days ago; I said it many times through the season: I was wrong about Rajon Rondo. He continued to impress time and time again throughout the year and he’s now brought his game to another level during the playoffs.
Whether it be skill, confidence, or simple good luck … Rondo has found a way to increase his numbers in the pressure-packed post-season. Take a look at his regular season … versus what he’s done in the opening three rounds thus far:
Regular Season: 10.6 PPG, 4.2 REB, 5.1 ASST, 1.68 STL, 29.9 MIN.
Playoffs: 11.1 PPG, 4.2 REB, 6.6 ASST, 1.76 STL, 32.7 MIN.
I’m sure having a veteran like Sam Cassell has helped Rondo’s game, but you’ve gotta give a ton of credit to the young man himself … for working hard, persevering, and proving his critics (like me) wrong!
RARE AIR FOR THE BIG FUNDAMENTAL
Most of us that watched the Raptors and Magic in Round 1 probably became too familiar with seeing 20/20 performances … courtesy of Dwight Howard. He only did it THREE times in five games against Toronto! So I guess we’d have to be excused if we aren’t overly-impressed when somebody else accomplishes that feat.
However, notching 20+ points and 20+ rebounds in one game is indeed a rare occurrence … especially in the playoffs.
In Sunday’s Game 3 win over the Lakers, Tim Duncan had 22 points and 21 rebounds, joining Howard and Carlos Boozer as the only players who have gone 20/20 during this post-season.
Plus, Duncan’s 22 points gave him 72 playoff games since 2003 where he has scored at least 20 or more points. Nobody has recorded more 20+ point games during that 5-year span.
Detroit’s Richard Hamilton is right on Duncan’s heels though … with 70 games of 20 or more.
THE THREE AMIGOS
Speaking of Duncan, he and teammates Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker have joined some special company as well.
In Sunday’s Game 3 win over the Lakers, Duncan (22), Ginobili (30), and Parker (20) all scored 20 or more points. That was the 14th time that trio has each scored 20 or more points in the same playoff game.
What is that notable?
Well, according to a note passed to me by the NBA, the Elias Sports Bureau says that … all-time … Boston’s Larry Bird, Kevin McHale, and Dennis Johnson went 20+ in the same game 15 times … while Philadelphia’s Wilt Chamberlain, Hal Greer, and Chet Walker also did it 14 times.
RIPPING THE RECORD
With 26 points in Detroit’s Game 3 loss to Boston, Pistons’ guard Richard Hamilton passed Isiah Thomas for the franchise record in post-season scoring.
Hamilton also tied a franchise record by making all 16 of his free throws in that game.
Heading into tonight’s Game 4, “Rip” now has 2,348 career points in the playoffs.
Sunday, May 25th, 2008
Sunday May 25 2008 – 12:25pm Eastern
As you get set for Game 2 of the Lakers and Spurs tonight, check out this latest YouTube video from Kobe Bryant.
I’m 99.99% sure it’s not real (okay, 100%), but it’s damn funny nonetheless.
When he’s not winning MVP awards, or kickin’ the butts of the Spurs, Jazz, and Nuggets … Bryant – the “Black Mamba” – is apparently busy jumping snakes with some of the fellas from “Wildboyz” …
Eat your heart out Indiana Jones!
And if you’ve been living under a rock … and you missed Kobe’s 1ST YouTube sensation, check this out:
This guy was made for Hollywood, and the script he’s been writing this year has been pretty darn impressive. But it’s not done yet. The defending Champs still stand in the way; Spurs and Lakers – Game 2 – tips off at 8:30pm tonight.
Saturday, May 24th, 2008
Saturday May 24 2008 – 5:05pm Eastern
I just got back from the Blue Jays game (6-0 win over the Royals) and I’ve got a busy Saturday night ahead, so I figured I’d take this time to check-in … while chillin’ on the couch for a while.
A lot of people have been posting messages or emailing me … asking about how I see the Top 5 or Top 10 going down in the NBA Draft this year. Thus, I thought I’d post my picks.
However, I’ve got to stress the fact that we’ve still got more than a month until the Draft and we haven’t even had any pre-draft workouts yet. So these picks are sure to change; the order won’t stay the same by the time June 26 rolls around.
Anyway, here’s how I see the lottery shaking down …
1. Chicago – Derrick Rose
2. Miami – Michael Beasley
3. Minnesota – Brook Lopez
4. Seattle – Jerryd Bayless
5. Memphis – OJ Mayo
6. New York – Danilo Gallinari
7. LA Clippers – Eric Gordon
8. Milwaukee – DJ Augustin
9. Charlotte – Kevin Love
10. New Jersey – Anthony Randolph
11. Indiana – Russell Westbrook
12. Sacramento – Darrell Arthur
13. Portland – Joe Alexander
14. Golden State – DeAndre Jordan
That would leave on the Raptors’ radar at #17: Nicolas Batum, Robin Lopez, Roy Hibbert, and Chris Douglas-Roberts.
Should be interesting. We’ll see how it plays out!
Friday, May 23rd, 2008
Friday May 23 3008 – 8:45pm Eastern
Just a quickie here … ’cause I’ve got to run out and find some dinner for my wife and I before I bunker-in for the night and watch the Lakers and Spurs.
Let me – for once – get away from basketball as my primary focus …
It hit me today … is there a team in Toronto without at least one major question mark?
The Raptors have to sort out what to do with #17 but obviously the most pressing issue is the status and future of Jose Calderon and TJ Ford. Trade one? Keep both? How will it play out. We’ve gone over that dilemma in this blog time and time again … and I’m sure we’ll address it at least a couple more times in the next 4-6 weeks.
Even the Argos aren’t free from the skeptics. Just ask Michael Bishop – who thought he finally had the starting QB job … before Kerry Joseph was suddenly brought to town. And the team overall is in question (by some) for the way they aligned themselves with the Buffalo Bills … and the NFL ‘experience’ that is coming to town with 8 games over the next 5 years.
And how ’bout the Maple Leafs? Not only did they miss the post-season, but they’re now without a General Manager AND a Coach. Plus, there are the Mats Sundin questions … and whether or not he’ll be brought back into the fold.
I can’t help but wonder what the Leafs might look like if they would have signed-off on the Wayne Gretzky deal 10+ years ago. Gretzky ended up going to New York for more money … after agreeing to take less in Toronto. But the story goes … that the Board of Governors vetoed the deal, and thus Wayne went on to NYC.
Am I wrong to assume that Gretzky could/would still be a major player in T.O. had he suited-up for the Leafs? Think about it: He retires. He’s kept on within the club in some sort of ambassador type of role. Then after a couple of years, he buys into the team (ala Magic Johnson and the Lakers) – becoming a minority owner like Larry Tannenbaum. Then, he decides to keep his stakes in the team and remain an owner, or give up his shares … and move into a coaching or management role …
Just a pipe-dream maybe … but … I think it’s very plausible.
And what about the Blue Jays? Can this offense produce anything!? Toronto may have the best pitching staff in baseball (well, easily top 5), but they can’t score or manufacture runs worth a lick. Now they’re ravaged by injuries as well!
Here’s an idea; two words: Barry Bonds.
He might not bring you to first in the AL East, and he may not win you a World Series, but he’ll help you score runs! He’ll instantly become the ONLY player in your line-up that is considered a legit home run threat!
I think there’s some major black-balling going on in Major League Baseball … ’cause … nothing against Frank Thomas … but how does Big Frank get another job in the majors so quickly (with Oakland), but Barry is still sitting on the sidelines? Barry’s numbers over the last number of seasons (let alone over their CAREERS) are better than Thomas’ … and Barry actually had to play a position as well – playing in the National League. He wasn’t able to chill like Thomas … as a DH.
Bonds may be a headache. He may come with a ton of baggage. But he’ll put butts in the seats. And even if he didn’t sellout the Rogers Centre, I can’t imagine that he wouldn’t draw at least 30,000 or more each night. Heck, if you’re going to miss the playoffs for the FIFTEENTH straight year, at least do it with 30,000+ and the greatest power hitter of all time.
Finally, sorry to the soccer fans out there, but I’m not ready to put FC in the equation yet. Kudos to them for getting off to a solid start this year, but I’m not prepared (yet) to put the MLS in the same conversation as the NBA, NHL, and MLB.
Always exciting – good or bad – being in T.O.
Thursday, May 22nd, 2008
Thursday May 21 2008 – 4:40pm Eastern
How ’bout that HUGE win by the Lakers last night!? Wow. When they were down by 20 with less than six minutes to go in the 3RD … I gave them no help in hell of making the comeback against the mighty Spurs. But LA stepped up its “D” – a component of their game that has sort of flown under the radar this year – and they maintained their home-court dominance this post-season … improving to 7-0 at Staples Center.
The Lakers’ turn-around was the 2ND largest in the NBA playoffs in the last 10 years. Boston was down by 26 in the 3RD quarter of Game 3 of the Eastern Final against New Jersey back in May 2002 … but they came back to win that game 94-90 over the Nets.
This series actually marks the 6TH time since 1999 that LA and San Antonio have squared off in the post-season. And if you combine their last meeting – in 2004 – with last night’s Game 1 … the Lakers have now won 5 playoff games in a row against the Spurs … and 15 of their last 22.
If you’re not a fan of either of these two teams though … you’re probably getting bored with the Western Conference … ’cause either the Spurs or the Lakers have represented the West in the Finals in 8 of the last 9 seasons. The only time we haven’t seen LA or San Antonio … was back in 2006 when Dallas lost the Championship to Miami.
But the most impressive number is *40*. With last night’s win, the Lakers struck first and took the 1-0 lead in the series. And Phil Jackson-coached teams are 40-0 in the playoffs when winning Game 1. 40-0!
Jackson is also the winningest coach in NBA playoff history … sitting at 188-79. That’s a 70% winning percentage!
For what it’s worth … in LA’s franchise history … the Lakers are 52-7 when winning Game 1 of a best-of-seven series.
Based on the numbers, the Spurs sure seem to have the odds stacked against them.