Archive for July, 2009

It’s Been A While …

Monday, July 13th, 2009

Monday July 13 2009 – 6:50pm Eastern (Toronto, ON) 

It’s been a while folks … sorry.  Life gets in the way sometimes – as does a lack of basketball news and topics.  After a flurry of activity last week, things slowed down a bit over the course of the weekend.  This is the “off-season” anyway … so do I have to be posting every day?

I’ll try to be more diligent going forward.  I mean, during the season I post EVERY day and if I looked back at the past 365 days, I would probably guess that I blogged on at least 350 of them!

Anyway, after a 3-day “rest” I’m back with 5 RANDOM RAPTOR THOUGHTS

1 – For those that don’t think the Raptors are a better team right now, give your head a shake.  They added grit, attitude and decent D with Reggie Evans.  They trimmed payroll / cap space for next year.  They added a couple of players with “championship experience”.  They landed one of the biggest free agents on the market.  They drafted a young, athletic kid that can jump out of the gym.  They’ve got a core locked-in for at least 3-4 years in Calderon, DeRozan, Bargnani, and Turkoglu.  And they may be getting “better” with the possible additions of Carlos Delfino and/or Rasho Nesterovic and/or Jarrett Jack.  If that’s not better, than I don’t know what is. 

2 – For those dumping on Delfino … While he may not be Michael Jordan (not even the Turkish Michael Jordan (joke)), he’s a solid player that should help Toronto quite a bit this year.  If he signs, he’ll help improve the D, he’s decent on the glass, he can handle the point in a pinch if need-be, he has good range from distance, and he doesn’t mind putting his head down and getting to the hoop as well.  What’s wrong with that?

3 – Yes, I agree, it’s all “talk” right now.  It’s all on paper.  We have to wait and see what this team actually does ON THE FLOOR and if they live up to the hype or not.

4 – If J. Jack signs (let alone Rasho and or Delfino), I don’t know what more you can do to convince Bosh to stay in Toronto.  Bryan Colangelo has tried to fill almost every void he had on this team in some way/shape/form (rebounding, toughness, attitude, athleticism).  Plus, Jack is a close friend and former college teammate.  Add that all up (combined with a healthy amount of wins) and CB4 should be a very happy camper.  Getting Turkoglu alone was good enough in some folks’ eyes but adding all of the other pieces and trying to shore-up the depth is even better.  Hopefully Bosh sees that.

5 – Even if Bosh doesn’t see that (and I’m sure he does) it may simply be more beneficial – financially – for him to stay in Toronto anyway.  With the cap going down in the NBA, Bosh and others like Dwyane Wade and LeBron James may be better served re-signing with the Raps to maximize his earning potential NOW … before the new CBA and contract numbers come in at the end of next year … let alone the economic impact of a potential labour war in 2010/2011 as well.  Sign now for more reasons than one!

I’ll take a look at more RANDOM THOUGHTS tomorrow or Wednesday … or I’ll weigh-in on some of the other moves around the NBA.

Maybe I can dust off another VLOG at some point too.

And remember you can always follow me on Twitter too at www.twitter.com/Eric__Smith

Take care folks

E. Smith

Parker Still A Possibility?

Thursday, July 9th, 2009

Thursday July 9 2009 – 6:40pm Eastern (Toronto, ON)

The following comments were made around 5:00pm Eastern.

Since then, maybe something has changed.

But at the time Bryan Colangelo answered this question, he was under the impression that Anthony Parker had NOT “officially” signed on the dotted line with the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Thus, Toronto still remains interested in retaining AP’s services for next season. 

Colangelo said “timing is everything” when discussing the Parker situation.  Basically, when it looked like the Raps were going to simply sign Turkoglu, it was going to be very difficult to bring back AP given the financial restrictions the team would have been operating under.  But after Colangelo was able to pull off the 4-team deal / sign-and-trade, suddenly more money was freed-up and the opportunity to offer Parker a more substantial offer arose. 

But is it too late?  Has AP truly committed to the Cavs?  Can he back out?  Will he be brought back to Toronto? 

Have a listen to how Colangelo explained the whole scenario:

[audio:http://qml.quiettouch.com/files/radio/fan590/hotaudio/Colangelo-on-AP-Eric-Smith-20090709.mp3]

E. Smith

Colangelo’s Coup

Thursday, July 9th, 2009

Thursday July 9 2009 - 2:23pm Eastern (Toronto, ON) 

I can’t REALLY say “I told ya so” — ’cause even I didn’t see THIS coming. 

However, I did tell most of you to chill out … when some of you were ready to jump off a cliff because of the Raptors apparent lack of depth after the Hedo Turkoglu signing.  I told you to relax … wait out the process … and trust that Bryan Colangelo would do something to shore up the depth of the Raptors’ roster. 

Well, he did.  And he did it in a big-time way!

While folks may not be running out and getting their Devean George and Antoine Wright jerseys printed right away, this rumored transaction (still not confirmed by any of the teams – or the league for that matter) is a major coup for Colangelo and his management team.

In one fell swoop, BC was able to shore up his depth issues at the 2-3, acquire two expiring contracts, unload a contract that went beyond next year (Humphries), get the free agent he wanted at the price he wanted, and retain the Mid-Level Exception … which would have been lost had this sign-and-trade not gone down.  Plus, Colangelo may have garnered some “good will” with the players in the league for “doing right” by Shawn Marion and getting him more money via the sign-and-trade … as opposed to just letting him walk; free to sign elsewhere for a cheaper rate.

Hard to imagine things working out better for Toronto.

It would appear that the Raps will not use at least part of the MLE to re-sign Carlos Delfino.  But could other free agents now be in the mix?  Absolutely.

And keep in mind that Toronto still has its Bi-Annual Exception as well.

But no matter who the Raps may sign, as it stands RIGHT NOW (assuming this 4-team deal is approved) this is how the 2009-10 Raptors look:

PF – Bosh, Evans
C – Bargnani, O’Bryant, Jawai
SF – Turkoglu, George
SG – DeRozan, Wright
PG – Calderon, Ukic, Banks

Things are starting to shape up for T.O.

E. Smith

—–

* UPDATE *

2:50pm Eastern

The trade is OFFICIAL now.  The Raptors have just sent out this release:

The Toronto Raptors announced Thursday they have acquired forward Hedo Turkoglu (HEE-doh TURK-oh-lue) from the Orlando Magic in a sign and trade, and forward Devean George and guard-forward Antoine Wright from the Dallas Mavericks.

As part of the four-team trade, the Raptors sent cash considerations to Orlando, a 2016 second-round draft pick to the Memphis Grizzlies, forward Kris Humphries, forward-centre Nathan Jawai and cash considerations to Dallas and facilitated a sign and trade transaction of forward Shawn Marion to the Mavericks. The Mavericks sent cash considerations to the Magic and also traded guard-forward Jerry Stackhouse and cash considerations to the Grizzlies in exchange for guard Greg Buckner. 

“We are very pleased to have landed one of the top free agents available this summer,” said Bryan Colangelo, Raptors President and General Manager. “Hedo Turkoglu is an ideal fit basketball wise, and his diverse skill set and size will make him a tremendous addition to our already offensively potent team.

“The fact that Hedo and his wife chose Toronto is a great reflection on both our basketball team and this exceptional city we live in.”

Turkoglu helped lead the Orlando Magic to the NBA Finals this past season, averaging 15.8 points, 4.5 rebounds, 4.8 assists and 38.9 minutes in postseason play. In the Finals against the Los Angeles Lakers, Turkoglu contributed a team-best 18.0 points, with 4.6 rebounds and 3.8 assists in 41.2 minutes. He had a high of 25 points in Game 4. In the Eastern Conference Finals versus Cleveland, he averaged 17.2 points, 6.3 rebounds, 6.7 assists and 41.0 minutes in six outings. He totaled a double-double in a Game 1 victory with 15 points and a career playoff-high 14 assists. In the second-round matchup with the defending NBA Champion Boston Celtics, he recorded a team-high 25-point, 12-assist outing in a series-clinching Game 7 victory in Boston. In the opening-round series against the 76ers, he hit the game-winning three-pointer with 1.1 seconds left in Game 4 in Philadelphia.

In the 2008-09 regular season, Turkoglu posted double digits in scoring in 72 of his 77 appearances, including 29 contests with 20-plus pints. He also contributed five or more assists in 40 games. He had a season-high 35 points versus Portland on November 10. He added season bests of 11 rebounds on two occasions (January 29 versus Cleveland and January 2 versus Miami) and 11 assists February 26 at Indiana.

In the 2007-08 season, Turkoglu recorded career bests of 19.5 points, 5.7 rebounds and 5.0 assists in 82 games en route to being named the 2008 NBA’s Most Improved Player. 

Turkoglu has averaged 18.2 points, 5.5 rebounds, 4.9 assists and 36.7 minutes in 159 regular season games over the past two seasons. He has shot .818 (638-780) from the free throw line and .379 (300-791) from three-point range. In 34 postseason outings over that same span he has averaged 16.3 points, 5.1 rebounds, 5.0 assists and 39.2 minutes, while shooting .826 (133-161) from the foul line and .356 (42-118) from beyond the arc.

Turkoglu, 6-foot-10, 220 pounds, averaged double figures in scoring in each of his past five seasons in Orlando. He has also appeared in an average of 77.5 games over the last four campaigns.

The nine-year NBA veteran has averaged 12.3 points, 4.2 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 27.9 minutes in 678 career regular season games. In 82 postseason contests, he had contributed 11.4 points, 4.5 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 30.7 minutes. He has appeared in 10 or more playoff games in five of his nine seasons.

Turkoglu was a first-round selection (16th overall) by the Sacramento Kings in the 2000 NBA Draft. He spent three seasons with the Kings and one in San Antonio (2003-04) before signing as a free agent with the Magic in the 2004 offseason.

Prior to coming to the NBA, Turkoglu averaged 8.3 points, shooting .569 from the field, 3.9 rebounds and 1.6 assists in 87 games in four Turkish Professional League seasons (1996-2000) with Efes Pilsen, which is located in Istanbul where he was born and raised. He also averaged 8.4 points, 3.5 rebounds and 1.7 assists in 50 EuroLeague Tournament games with Efes Pilsen during those four seasons. He helped lead Efes Pilsen to the 2000 EuroLeague Final Four, averaging 13.6 points, 4.6 rebounds and 2.7 assists in 22 tournament games.

His full name is Hidayet Turkoglu, and is nicknamed Hedo. His NBA signing in 2000 with the Kings was a national sports event in Turkey, with a nationally televised press conference.

George is a 10-year veteran who has played seven seasons with the Los Angeles Lakers and the past three with the Mavericks. He signed with Dallas as a free agent in 2006.

He played in four NBA Finals (2000, 2001, 2002 and 2004) as a member of the Lakers, winning three consecutive championships from 2000-02.

George, 6-foot-8, 235 pounds attended Augsburg College in Minneapolis, and was the 23rd overall selection by the Lakers in the first round of the 1999 Draft. His produced his best statistical season in 2003-04 with career-best averages of 7.4 points, 4.0 rebounds and 23.8 minutes in a career-high 82 games.

George has averaged 5.6 points, 3.2 rebounds and 18.7 minutes in 585 career contests. He has appeared in 86 postseason outings, averaging 5.0 points, 2.7 rebounds and 17.2 minutes.

George was named Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Most Valuable Player two consecutive years (1997-98 and 1998-99).

Wright completed his fourth NBA campaign in 2008-09. He has split his time between the New Jersey Nets and the Mavericks. He was taken 15th overall by the Nets in the 2005 NBA Draft. He was dealt by the Nets to Dallas on February 19, 2008.

Wright, 6-foot-7, 215 pounds, equaled his career-high scoring average of 7.3 points this past season. He also contributed averages of 2.1 rebounds and 23.9 minutes in a career-best 65 games, including a personal-high 53 starts. He averaged 5.9 points in 10 games in the 2009 postseason, with five of those in a starting role.

Wright has averaged 5.3 points, 2.2 rebounds and 19.2 minutes in 223 career games. He has appeared in 28 playoff games, averaging of 3.9 points, 1.3 rebounds and 12.4 minutes.

Wright was the consensus Big 12 Conference Freshman of the Year in 2003. The former Texas A & M product was a first-team All Big 12 selection in his final collegiate season.

The Raptors acquired Marion from the Miami Heat on February 13, 2009. He became an unrestricted free agent July 1. He appeared in 27 games, all starts, with the Raptors where he averaged 14.3 points, 8.3 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 35.3 minutes.

The Raptors acquired Humphries from the Utah Jazz on July 8, 2006. He saw action in 159 games in his three seasons with Toronto, averaging 4.6 points, 3.2 rebounds and 15.9 minutes.

Jawai came to the Raptors in a July 9, 2009 trade from Indiana. He split the 2008-09 season between Toronto and the Idaho Stampede of the NBA D-League. He totaled two points and two rebounds in 19 minutes in six outings with the Raptors. 

Marion Deal Done

Wednesday, July 8th, 2009

Wednesday July 8 2009 – 11:56pm Eastern (Toronto, ON)

Yahoo Sports just reported – via Twitter – that the Raptors and Mavs have worked out a sign and trade with Orlando.

Shawn Marion to Dallas.

Who/what to Toronto?

Who/what to Orlando?

Time will tell.

Details are sketchy right now – and it’s tough to find any sources to confirm all of this at this time of the night!

E. Smith

Summer Vloggin’

Wednesday, July 8th, 2009

Wednesday July 8 2009 - 6:36pm Eastern (Toronto, ON)

Jonesy and I are back!

We had a chance to fire-up a quick VLOG for you folks after we finished dealing with the Andrea Bargnani contract extension press conference earlier today.

Check it out below.

We’ll try to VLOG again a few times throughout the summer.

Enjoy.

E. Smith

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Here’s the official release from the Raps:

     The Toronto Raptors announced Wednesday they have signed forward-centre Andrea Bargnani to a multi-year contract extension. The Raptors tipped-off a busy off-season for the club when Bargnani signed the contract at 12:01 a.m. Per team policy, financial details were not disclosed.

“Andrea has worked very hard to establish himself as a top-flight, multi-dimensional big man in the NBA,” said Bryan Colangelo, Raptors President and General Manager. “He overcame a rough start last season to emerge as a primary scorer for us, and we anticipate quite a bit more from him in the future.”

Bargnani averaged career highs of 15.4 points, 5.3 rebounds, 1.24 blocked shots and 31.4 minutes in 78 games in the 2008-09 season. He made 59 starts, averaging 17.7 points and 5.9 rebounds. He topped 20 or more points a career-best 23 times. He also scored in double figures in 41 of his final 45 starts, with 20 or more points in 24 of those contests.

Bargnani recorded a career-high 31 points January 14, 2009 versus Chicago. He also set an NBA record last season for the longest streak of consecutive games with two or more three-pointers by a starting centre with 10 consecutive games (December 31 – January 16).

The 7-foot native of Rome, Italy has posted career averages of 12.4 points and 4.7 rebounds in 221 NBA regular season games. He has shot .831 (221-266) from the charity stripe in his three NBA seasons.

Bargnani became the first European-born player selected with the first overall pick in the NBA Draft when he was taken by the Raptors on June 28, 2006. During his first season in the NBA, Bargnani averaged 11.6 points and 3.9 rebounds in 65 games. He was named to the NBA’s All-Rookie First Team and captured T-Mobile Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month honours in January and February.

Salary Cap and Luxury Tax Announced

Tuesday, July 7th, 2009

Tuesday July 7 2009 – 10:55pm Eastern (Toronto, ON) 

The NBA just sent out a release in the last 30 minutes informing teams that the Salary Cap for this season will come in at $57.7 million.

The tax level for the 2009-10 season has been established as well:  $69.92 million.

By comparison, the 2008-2009 Salary Cap was $58.68 million and the tax level was $71.15 million.

The NBA said that “although the league-wide revenue increased by 2.5% this past season, the decrease in the Salary Cap and tax level for the 2009-10 season is the result of the formula used to set the Cap and tax under the terms of the collective bargaining agreement.”

The new Cap and tax figures will go into effect in just over an hour – at 12:01am Eastern on July 8.

In addition to this news, the league has announced the figure(s) for the mid-level exception this season.  The 2009-10 total for the mid-level will be $5.854 million.

Also, the MINIMUM team salary – which is 75% of the Salary Cap – will be $43.275 million.

E. Smith

Speculating …

Monday, July 6th, 2009

Monday July 6 2009 – 7:07am Eastern (Toronto, ON) 

I’m going to slightly break one of my cardinal rules here … and “speculate” a little bit.

However, I won’t create fantasy trades or play the role of Phantom GM here.  I hate when folks do that.  I’m not a fan of writers, broadcasters, or fans creating wild scenarios that end up being “rumor mill” B.S. half of the time.

Let’s just deal with what’s out there already …  

PARKVERVILLE, OHIO?

There are rumblings that the Cleveland Cavaliers are interested in Raptors’ free agent guard Anthony Parker.

There are also rumblings that Bryan Colangelo may attempt to work out a sign-and-trade for Parker – if he’s able to do so before officially renouncing AP’s rights and moving forward with the Hedo Turkoglu signing.

There were also murmurs of the Boston Celtics having interest in Parker but now that Rasheed Wallace has signed in Beantown, that’s an unlikely fit.

How ’bout San Antonio?  Though Richard Jefferson is now in town, the Spurs could use a veteran wing like AP to replace the now-departed Bruce Bowen.

No matter what happens, if Parker isn’t back in T.O. … he will be missed (especially off the floor; there are few nicer athletes).

OTHER OPTIONS

Perhaps – if Parker (or Shawn Marion) IS moved in a sign-and-trade – there’ll be enough money left for Carlos Delfino.  Is it a given that Toronto MUST renounce him in order to make room for Turkoglu?  Time will tell. 

Rumor has it (there’s that word again) that Colangelo and his cap crunchers are trying to find every financial way possible to tweak the roster beyond just the Hedo signing … knowing that there are few tradable “commodities” on this team other than maybe Kris Humphries (and that may be a strech given that Hump is coming off of a broken leg).

But whether Delfino is here or not – or whether Toronto has any exceptions to use on slightly-higher priced free agents or not – Colangelo should have a little wiggle room for players that’ll sign for the league minimum … or slightly more.

And who might fit that bill?

Again – I’m not suggesting that these are players the Raptors SHOULD get – I’m merely pointing out the type of player(s) that could be on Toronto’s radar (especially at the 2-3 … where there is little behind Turkoglu and rookie DeMar DeRozan):

Matt Barnes (29) – made just under $800,000 last year and I can’t see him making much more than that this season.

Keith Bogans (29) – made about $2.5 million last year.  Could that salary be chopped in half this year?  It is a buyer’s market.  There are more players than money out there.

Gerald Green (24) – made just under $800k last year.  He has never lived up to his potential (or hype).  But could he be one of those guys that just takes longer to blossom.  Is he worth a shot as a cheap(er) option on your bench?

Dahntay Jones (28) – made just under $800k last year but he’s expected to re-sign in Denver and actually get a bit of a raise as well.  We’ll see.

Bobby Jackson (36) – at this stage (and age) of his career, can he be had for the veteran minimum?  Can you get him for about a million bucks?  He may be the kind of defender you’re looking for in the 2nd unit – giving you time at the 1 and 2.  And there’s NO way he’ll make anywhere near the $6+ million he was bringing home last season.

Quinton Ross (28) – made just under $800,000 in Memphis last year; could provide some length and athleticism.

Ime Udoka (31) – made just over $1 million with the Spurs last year.  Could he recapture his 2006-2007 glory when he average nearly 8.5 PPG and 4.0 REB for the Blazers?

Carl English (28) – a Summer League invite by the Raps could be English’s last chance to crack through into the NBA after previous attempts (notably – with Indiana) fell short.

There will be other choices for Toronto if they end up having more money to spend and/or if the trade route proves to be more viable than any potential signings.

It should be fun to see how it all unfolds and how the Raptors’ management team puts all of the pieces together. 

I’ve told you before:  They’re not done.  The Turkoglu deal is not the one and only move.  More dominoes will fall. 

E. Smith

Turkoglu & the Trickle-Down

Saturday, July 4th, 2009

Saturday July 4 2009 – 3:45am Eastern (Toronto, ON)

Let’s assume Toronto has indeed signed Hedo Turkoglu to a 5-year deal.

Now …

Does anybody really think that Bryan Colangelo is done with the Raptors’ roster?

Come on.  Get real folks.

If you don’t like Turkoglu as a player – that’s one thing.  I’d disagree with you and think you’re a bit crazy, but you’re entitled to your opinion!

But if you don’t like Turkoglu because he restricts what the Raps may or may not be able to do with the rest of their roster (because they now have little-to-no money to spend) … I’ll just say …

Chill.

Let’s assume – just for fun – that Toronto’s starting five looks like this for 2009-10:

Chris Bosh
Turkoglu
Andrea Bargnani
DeMar DeRozan *
Jose Calderon

* I’m not sure that I’d start the rook, but let’s wait to see him in Summer League, Training Camp, and Pre-Season before we judge the kid good, bad, or otherwise.

So, again, let’s just ASSUME that’s your starting five.

That’s pretty damn good.

However, your bench is quite thin.

And that’s why I say – Do you really think Bryan Colangelo is done?

Do you really think Jay Triano will begin the 2009-10 season with a bench that consists of Reggie Evans, Roko Ukic, and Kris Humphris … along with Patrick O’Bryant, Quincy Douby, Nathan Jawai, and Marcus Banks (and, maybe, Pops Mensah-Bonsu)?

There’s no way.

It’s only July 4.  Free agency just opened-up in the NBA 3 days ago, and things aren’t “official” until next week.  Plus, we’ve got 3 months until Training Camps open.  There’s plenty of times for trades, sign-and-trades, signings, releases … whatever!

So take a step back folks.

Breath in.

Breath out.

Toronto may have just landed one of the biggest fish on the free agent market this summer.  Enjoy it.  And worry about the rest of the roster another day … ’cause I’ll all-but guarantee you — on my gut alone — that Colangelo is not done tweaking this roster.

Just chill.

E. Smith

Let The Games Begin?

Wednesday, July 1st, 2009

Wednesday July 1 2009 – 6:05pm Eastern (Toronto, ON) 

The free agent sweepstakes are underway, but how do things look from a Raptors perspective? 

Any one of these scenarios could happen.

Or, none of them could unfold.

That’s the world of free agency frenzies.

Until contracts are actually signed, there’s really no way of knowing which rumors are completely legit and which rumblings are completely bogus.  At this time of the year, even the most trusted of sources can – at times – be “wrong” … as teams are jockeying and posturing for positioning against other teams/bidders … and agents are sending out misinformation to pump up their clients and raise the asking prices.

So here are some of the potential options for the Raptors:

(1) Sign free agent Hedo Turkoglu.  It would likely cost $12+ million per year (for 5 years) to get him in Toronto.  By making this move there’d be little-to-no wiggle room left for the rest of the roster though.

(2) Re-sign forward Shawn Marion.  Probably $8 – $10 million/year. 

(3) Work out a sign-and-trade for Marion.

(4) Consider offers for free agents Trevor Ariza or Lamar Odom.  Both would fit in Toronto if the Raptors weren’t able to secure deals for Turkoglu or Marion.  But to be clear, it’d be Ariza OR Odom … not both.  Either one (especially Ariza) would be a cheaper option than Turk or Matrix.  Linas Kleiza would fit this somewhat ‘cheaper’ bill as well.

(5) Speaking of cheaper options, could Charlie Villanueva be coming back to T.O.?  Doug Smith reported that the Raps do have some interest.  And keep in mind that Charlie V’s son was born in Toronto — so he has a tie to this city that goes beyond just the one year he spent here as a rookie.

There are other names that are out there but some of the bigger players almost certainly have no shot at being in Raptor (See free agents:  Allen Iverson, Ben Gordon, Andre Miller  and see restricted free agents like David Lee).

E. Smith

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