Archive for June, 2009

Action – Reaction

Thursday, June 11th, 2009

Thursday June 11 2009 – 11:08am Eastern (Toronto, ON)

ACTION:  As I broke to you yesterday, Alvin Williams has been hired by the Toronto Raptors.  The ink on the contract just hasn’t dried yet.
REACTION:  His “title” doesn’t mean anything.  So don’t get worked up about it.  He’ll be doing the same things as a “consultant” on the staff as he would as a “coach”.  It’s the same as Eric Hughes’ gig the last couple of years.

ACTION:  Reggie Evans is the newest member of the Toronto Raptors.
REACTION (A):  This move does not necessarily mean the end of Kris Humphries’ days in T.O.
REACTION (B):  Reggie and Tyreke Evans (Memphis) are NOT brothers.

ACTION:  The Raptors have already got a “short list” of players for their 9th pick in the June 25th Draft.
REACTION (A):  Nobody (other than those in the Raptors brain trust) knows who is on that list. 
REACTION (B):  Don’t believe any stories out there about the Raptors making Draft-day “promises” to anyone yet.

ACTION:  The Raps worked-out Ty Lawson yesterday.
REACTION:  Sources say T.O. was impressed with Lawson’s overall game.  While Jonny Flynn (in last week to workout) was quicker and more explosive/athletic, the Raptors love the experience and savvy Lawson possesses.

ACTION:  Team Canada back on the floor this summer for a couple of exhibition tournaments and then the FIBA Americas
REACTION:  Samuel Dalembert will not be on the team but there still may be NBA content to the Canadian crew (keep reading)

ACTION:  Matt Bonner (as reported many, many times in the past) wants to play for Canada.
REACTION:  Canada Basketball is trying to get the paperwork and legalities done in time to allow Bonner to suit-up this summer, however, Bonner and his wife are also set to welcome their first child to the world as well.  Thus, there’s a chance the Red Rocket won’t play for the Canadians this year – but he could be a fixture for years to come.

ACTION:  Joel Anthony wants to play for Canada again.
REACTION (A):  Anthony is a free agent with the Miami Heat, so his contract status (the lack of one) may keep him from playing for Leo Rautins.  If he got hurt – that would/could seriously affect his next NBA deal.  But he’s still a good bet to play.
REACTION (B):  Unlike previous years – when this kind of insurance didn’t really exist – Team Canada can now insure the value of the last yearly salary a player made … if he gets hurt.  Example, Player A made $1 million last year playing for the Timbuktu Timber.  But he’s a free agent now.  In the past, if that player got hurt while playing for the Canadians … and then couldn’t get another pro deal, he was S.O.L.  But now, with this new insurance, Canada Basketball can insure that player the same $1 million he made the previous season.  So there’s really no reason to NOT play for Canada any longer – at least as far as finances go.  Which leads me to …

ACTION:  Jamaal Magloire may want to finally play for Canada.
REACTION (A):  This is long overdue.  I hope it happens.  Apparently Canada Basketball has been in touch with Magloire and he has expressed interest in wearing the maple leaf and playing for Leo Rautins.  Rumor has it that it’s closer to happening than it’s ever been.  But one of the “issues” is Magloire’s contract status (free agent).  However, this new insurance could alleviate that problem and Magloire could actually use his time with Team Canada to maybe showcase himself a little bit, work on his game, and possibly raise his stock in the free agent market.
REACTION (B):  Word is Magloire is focusing on his game more than he ever has – working with renowned trainger Tim Grover (and folks like Dwyane Wade) this summer.

ACTION:  Paul Johnson’s contract was not renewed by Raptors TV and Adnan Virk will apparently take over PJ’s role (and other duties too (possibly with Leafs TV as well)).
REACTION:  It’s always tough to see a guy – a good guy – lose a gig.  Johnson is a stand-up dude and he’ll be missed.  I wish Virk all the best.

ACTION:  DeMar DeRozan is apparently coming to Toronto next week for a “meeting” with the Raptors but he will not be working out on the floor.
REACTION:  The agents are controlling too much of the Draft process these days!

ACTION:  The NBA Draft is exactly 2 weeks away – on June 25.
REACTION:  As I said to Jim Kelly of the Raptors yesterday, the Draft – in all leagues – needs to be pushed back until some time AFTER free agency opens.  That way teams could see who they got (or didn’t get) via trade or free agency and then addresses their needs or weaknesses via the Draft.  Right now, teams are “hoping” to get Player X in free agency, but not knowing if they will, they sometimes have to select similar players in the Draft — or pass on a player in the Draft that they like because they’re banking on getting a similar player in free agency.  Teams can either come out of the process having too many of the same player/position … or … they can go 0 for 2 if they’re not careful.  Holding the Draft a month or so after free agency opens would ease a lot of these issues.

ACTION:  I’m co-hosting “The Game Plan” with Jack Armstrong today.
REACTION:  At least I’m not stuck with Doug MacLean again.  I’m joking!  I’m joking!

Enjoy Game 4 of the Finals tonight. 

E. Smith

Workouts Continue

Wednesday, June 10th, 2009

Wednesday June 10 2009 – 8:13am Eastern (Toronto, ON)

The pre-draft workouts continue for the Raptors today – with the following players strutting their stuff at the ACC later this morning:

Ty Lawson – Guard – 6’0 – North Carolina

Grievis Vasquez – Guard – 6’6 – Maryland

Derrick Brown – Forward – 6’8 – Xavier

Austin Daye – Forward – 6’11 – Gonzaga

James Johnson – Forward – 6’9 – Wake Forest

Earl Clark – Forward – 6’9 – Louisville

Check back later today for some audio and any info I can gather.

Also, FYI, a lot of folks were asking about this yesterday … To my knowledge, Tyreke Evans and Reggie Evans are NOT brothers.  Tyreke does have a brother named James “Reggie” Evans, but that guy is 35-years-old.

Reggie Evans – now of the Toronto Raptors – is 29.

I will try to confirm all of this with the Raptors’ brass when I’m at the ACC.

E. Smith

Kapono Traded To Philly

Tuesday, June 9th, 2009

Tuesday June 9 2009 – 2:22pm Eastern (Toronto, ON)

Jonesy and I are together right now — painting at my condo.  Haha – Seriously!

We texted Jason Kapono … he’s at charity golf tournament right now.

He confirmed that he has indeed been traded to the Philadelphia 76ers.  He was told about the move yesterday.

The Raps are getting banger Reggie Evans in return.

E. Smith

Jack, Jacko, and Q & A

Monday, June 8th, 2009

Monday June 8 2009 – 5:50pm Eastern (Toronto, ON) 

Thoroughly enjoyed hosting “The Game Plan” today with Doug MacLean. 

Jack Armstrong was busy at a Niagara University golf tournament, so I happily stepped in for Jacko and hosting the show with Doug. 

It was the first time we had worked together – and it went off without a hitch.  Though I’m sure this will ultimately be Nelson Millman’s call, I expect I’ll be working with MacLean again a few times through the summer – as I get back to my usual “fill in” role — during July and August — for guys like Jack, Doug, Mike Hogan, and Mike Toth. 

I’m back on “The Game Plan” this Thursday — this time with Jack — and then Jack and I hold it down together next Monday and Tuesday as well.

SPEAKING OF JACKO …

How ’bout Jack Nicholson going bananas at the Lakers/Magic game last night? 

I LOVED how he was givin’ it to the officials in the 4TH quarter.  He caught air at one point … during a verbal tirade towards Steve Javie (I think). 

Given that “Jack” sits about 5-7 feet from Stan Van Gundy, I wonder if we could get them BOTH miked-up to see who is louder and more animated!

And kudos to the folks at ABC/ESPN for not identifying Nicholson as “Jack Nicholson” during their Star Gazing segments of the broadcast.  As Jeff Van Gundy has said for weeks, Jacko is a legend in Hollywood and at Lakers’ games.  He’s a fixture.  Shame on you if you don’t know him.  Thus, while putting a graphic on the screen for the likes of “Denzel Washington” and “Leonardo DiCaprio”, when Nicholson’s image is shown, the font simply reads “Jack”. 

Perfect.

QUICK QUESTIONS?

1. Who has been the best big man in this series thus far?
2. Has either teams’ bench shown up yet?
3. When was Dwight Howard’s 1ST dunk of this series?
4. Will Sasha Vujacic ever hit a shot again?
5. Why was JJ on the floor so much – in crunch time – last night?
6. Is Jeff Van Gundy a better broadcaster or coach?
7. Who are the Raptors working out (for the draft) next?
8. Will Alvin Williams be hired by the Raptors?
9. Who does the 2-3-2 format in the Finals favour?
10. Will I wear my old school Magic Johnson jersey if/when LA wins this series?

QUICK ANSWERS

1. Pau Gasol.  Easily.
2. Aside from Lamar Odom, no.
3. In the *3RD QUARTER* of Game 2
4. Odds are he will, but I’m not certain!
5. Your guess is as good as mine.  Despite the ONE big shot he hit, he looked lost out there.
6. He’s a very good coach, but he’s a GREAT (and funny) broadcaster.
7. That’s still undetermined, but the next workout WILL go down on Wednesday at the ACC.
8. I’d put the odds at 70-30 in favour of it happening.
9. The road team if they split games 1 and 2.  Otherwise, it doesn’t matter.
10. ABSOLUTELY.

I will try to check in again tomorrow – before Game 3.  Busy day of painting tomorrow though!

E. Smith

Audio From The Workouts

Friday, June 5th, 2009

Friday June 5 2009 – 2:45pm Eastern (Toronto, ON)

I said I’d be back with some info from Friday’s pre-draft workouts at the ACC (with Jrue Holiday, Jonny Flynn, Chase Budinger, Damion James, Alade Aminu, and Goran Suton) … so here ya go …

Jrue Holiday (UCLA – Freshman – SG/PG)

1. Likes the challenge of facing a quality “opponent” – in workouts – like Jonny Flynn
[audio:http://qml.quiettouch.com/files/radio/fan590/hotaudio/Holiday1-es-20090605.mp3]
2. Some see him more as a combo guard … not a pure PG
[audio:http://qml.quiettouch.com/files/radio/fan590/hotaudio/Holiday2-es-20090605.mp3]
3. Coming out after one year of school – pros and cons?
[audio:http://qml.quiettouch.com/files/radio/fan590/hotaudio/Holiday3-es-20090605.mp3]

Jonny Flynn (Syracuse – Sophomore – PG)
* Flynn was born and raised in Niagara Falls, NY

1. Why he made the decision to come out early
[audio:http://qml.quiettouch.com/files/radio/fan590/hotaudio/Flynn3-es-20090605.mp3]
2. Size isn’t an issue (he’s about 5’10) – ‘cause smaller guards are hot in the NBA right now
[audio:http://qml.quiettouch.com/files/radio/fan590/hotaudio/Flynn-es-20090605.mp3]
3. A lot of PG competition this year (in the Draft)
[audio:http://qml.quiettouch.com/files/radio/fan590/hotaudio/Flynn4-es-20090605.mp3]
4. Would love to play in Toronto
[audio:http://qml.quiettouch.com/files/radio/fan590/hotaudio/Flynn2-es-20090605.mp3]

I only spoke with those two players.

Why?

To be honest … I don’t see the Raps going with Budinger, Suton, James, or Aminu with their #9 pick … so I focused my time on the two guys I consider legit options for T.O.

But you’ll get a little more info here from Jim Kelly (Toronto’s Senior Director of Player Personnel) … as he gives a brief synopsis of how the day went for everyone involved:

[audio:http://qml.quiettouch.com/files/radio/fan590/hotaudio/jimkelly-es-20090605.mp3]

Thanks folks.  Have a great weekend

E. Smith

Two Assistants Announced

Friday, June 5th, 2009

Friday June 5 2009 – 10:52am Eastern (Toronto, ON)

More to come … but the Raptors have just announced the hirings of assistant coaches Marc Iavaroni and Alex English.

E. Smith

UPDATE – 10:56am Eastern

Here’s the official press release from the Raptors:

The Toronto Raptors announced Friday they have hired Marc Iavaroni and Alex English as assistant coaches. The pair has a combined 42 years of experience coaching and playing in the NBA. They will support Jay Triano, who signed a three-year contract as head coach May 11. Per team policy, financial terms were not announced.

“I am very excited to continue working with Alex and to add Marc to the staff,” said Triano. “They share our philosophy on the direction of the team, yet possess different skill sets that will be valuable to me.”

Iavaroni brings 11 seasons of NBA coaching knowledge to Toronto . He served the past two seasons as the head coach of the Memphis Grizzlies and prior to that was an assistant in Phoenix , Miami and Cleveland . He spent five seasons (2002-07) with the Suns, during which time they made four trips to the NBA Playoffs, including two appearances in the Western Conference Finals. In Miami (1999-2002), Iavaroni worked under Hall of Fame coach Pat Riley. He was also the director of player development for the Heat. With the Cavaliers, he served under longtime NBA coach Mike Fratello.

Iavaroni played seven seasons in the NBA with Philadelphia , San Antonio and Utah . He was a starter as a rookie on the 76ers’ 1983 World Championship team, voted one of the 10 best teams of all-time by the media as part of the league’s 50th anniversary celebration in 1996. Iavaroni’s teams qualified for the playoffs every season of his playing career.

Triano has worked in the past with Iavaroni at the annual Eurocamp in Italy .

English returns for his sixth campaign with the Raptors and his eighth on an NBA coaching staff. He joined the Raptors after spending the 2003-04 season as an assistant coach with Philadelphia . He served as director of player personnel and assistant coach with the Atlanta Hawks during the 2002-03 campaign. English began his post-playing coaching career in 2001-02 as the head coach of the National Basketball Development League’s North Charleston (S.C.) Lowgaters. In his lone season at the helm, he guided his team to a 36-20 record and a berth in the finals of the first NBDL Championship.

English was elected into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1997 and finished his 16-year playing career with 25,613 points, which ranks 12th all-time in league history. He was an eight-time NBA All-Star and was selected to the all-league second team three times (1982, 1983 and 1986). A second-round selection by the Milwaukee Bucks in 1976 (23rd overall), English played two seasons in Milwaukee, two with the Indiana Pacers, and 11 with the Denver Nuggets before finishing his career in 1990-91 with the Dallas Mavericks.

Friday’s Workouts

Friday, June 5th, 2009

Friday June 5 2009 – 8:56am Eastern (Toronto, ON)

Here ya go folks … a list of the players who will be in Toronto today for pre-draft workouts at the ACC:

Jonny Flynn – Guard – 6’0 – Syracuse
Jrue Holiday – Guard – 6’3 – UCLA
Chase Budinger – Forward – 6’7 – Arizona
Damion James – Forward – 6’7 – Texas
Alade Aminu – Forward – 6’10 – Georgia Tech
Goran Suton – Forward – 6’10 – Michigan State

I’ll be down there and report back here if there’s anything of note to say!

E. Smith

The Bosh Interview

Thursday, June 4th, 2009

Thursday June 4 2009 – 8:19pm Eastern (Toronto, ON)

In case you missed it about 45 minutes ago, Jonesy and I had a chance to chat with Chris Bosh on the HOOPS show.  Here’s the interview:

[audio:http://qml.quiettouch.com/files/radio/fan590/hotaudio/bosh-es-20090604.mp3] 

E. Smith

Lakers and Magic

Thursday, June 4th, 2009

Thursday June 4 2009 – 2:49pm Eastern (Toronto, ON)

We’re less than 7 hours away from Game 1 between the Lakers and Magic.

You’ve already weighed-in with your picks – as have I (Lakers in 6) – so now let’s break down the series a little bit more … to get us primed for tonight’s tip-off.

POINT GUARD

Experience (Derek Fisher) versus speed and a hot hand (Rafer Alston).

Alston is coming off a fabulous series against Cleveland while Fisher has struggling throughout most of the post-season thus far.

Both are solid 3-point shooters but while Fisher has hit a number of BIG shots in his career and he has veteran, championship experience … Alston has been more consistent of late from distance and off the dribble too.

ADVANTAGE:  Orlando

SHOOTING GUARD

Let’s not even go there.

Courtney Lee versus Kobe Bryant?

Moving on …

ADVANTAGE:  Los Angeles

SMALL FORWARD

Hedo Turkoglu and his size and versatility versus the athleticism and intangibles of Trevor Ariza.

Turkoglu is the go-to guy for the Magic.  He is their “Mr. 4TH Quarter”.  But as hot as he gets at times, he can run just as cold.  And he’s no lock-down defender either.  He has the playoff experience you want if you’re the Magic, and nobody has more fun on the floor than Hedo!  But this is the Finals, so there’s no time for him to run hot-cold.

Ariza is playing with SUCH confidence right now.  He has – arguably – been LA’s second-best player in the post-season.  His offensive game has been a huge lift for the Lakers – inside and out – and his quick hands and defensive instincts wreaked havoc with Denver.

ADVANTAGE:  Tie

POWER FORWARD

Inside versus Outside.

Pau Gasol versus Rashard Lewis.

Lamar Odom will likely see a lot of time on the floor – if Pau can cover Dwight Howard – ’cause they’ll need Odom’s length and athleticism on Lewis and/or Turkoglu.

Gasol can’t roam on the perimeter and check Lewis.  He’d be lost out there and highly susceptible to getting beat off the bounce.

But conversely, Lewis does not have the size or the post skills to contain Gasol under the hoop.

The challenge for Phil Jackson and Stan Van Gundy will be the match-up game.

Will Jackson try to find a way to get Andrew Bynum, Gasol, AND Odom on the floor at the same time – and go with a big line up?  Or does he role the dice with Gasol on Howard, and have Odom and Ariza out there with Fisher and Bryant?

Can Van Gundy trust Lewis (or Turkoglu) on Gasol if Howard is busy with Bynum?

LOTS of match-up problems could be encountered.

ADVANTAGE:  Tie

CENTER

Bynum is huge, but he’s not Dwight Howard.

LA has got to find a way to make Howard work on the offensive end (not give up easy put-backs and dunks) and then attack him on the defensive end (force him to make plays and try to get him into foul trouble).

That’s the Lakers’ only hope in this match-up.

And for what it’s worth, I’d go single-coverage on Howard … rather than doubling him and leaving the perimeter exposed for any one of Orlando’s many 3-point specialists.

ADVANTAGE:  Orlando

BENCH

Odom, Jordan Farmar, Luke Walton, Shannon Brown, and Sasha Vujacic

-VS-

Mikael Pietrus, Marcin Gortat, JJ Redick, Tony Battie, and Anthony Johnson/Jameer Nelson

Orlando has more size in their 2nd unit but LA has more versatility (which you need against the Magic).  Plus, the Lakers have the experience of having “been there – done that” in last year’s Final (minus Brown).  Experience on this stage is huge.  All that said, if Nelson can play and contribute legit minutes, that could sway things back in Orlando’s favour.  Sooo …

ADVANTAGE:  Tie

COACHING

With no disrespect to Van Gundy (who I firmly believe is a great coach) …

9 rings versus 0 rings?

And as good as Van Gundy is, despite the fact that his team is in the Finals right now … run-ins with your star player (Howard calling-out Stan Van earlier in the playoffs) sends up a red flag for me still.  He’s SOOO emotional as a coach – which is good and bad.

I’ve got to give this one to Phil.

ADVANTAGE:  Lakers

It should be an outstanding series folks.  I’m looking forward to it.

I’ve got LA in 6 … Let’s see how it all unfolds!

E. Smith

Bosh On HOOPS

Thursday, June 4th, 2009

Thursday June 4 2009 – 1:26pm Eastern (Toronto, ON)

Just a quick note folks …

Toronto Raptors forward Chris Bosh will join Paul Jones and me on “HOOPS” tonight at 7:20pm

Be sure to tune in.

“HOOPS” will air from 7:00pm – 9:00pm on the Fan 590.

E. Smith

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