Archive for July, 2010
Thursday, July 29th, 2010
Thursday July 29 2010 – 10:43am Eastern – Toronto, ON
So Mike Greenberg and Mike Golic were on “Mike and Mike in the Morning” on ESPN radio earlier today and they had some interesting (although uninformed) comments about the city of Toronto and whether or not this is still a viable market for the NBA.
While both hosts admitted that they love the city overall – and enjoy visiting – they said they don’t believe that any star wants to come here and that Americans don’t want to live in Canada. I’m paraphrasing, but those are the basic nuts and bolts of their statements.
If, as Mike and Mike suggest, the NBA needs to ask itself if it wants to be in Toronto … perhaps the Raptors attendance figures should be researched. Take a look at where this team is in those rankings year after year. Not only are the Raps in the upper HALF almost every year, they’ve frequently been in the top 10 in attendance rankings since they came into the league 15 years ago. And while many local media outlets (in Toronto and Canada) choose to ignore this fact, the Raptors local television rankings are among the best in the entire league. I saw a report last year that had Toronto’s TV ratings behind only the Lakers and Cavaliers local numbers.
While Mike and Mike didn’t bring up this issue … let me just say as well … that the ongoing TAX argument is bogus as well. Let’s just forget about the fact that these players are making American dollars and spending Canadian dollars for 6-8 months of the year — and any accountant worth his weight has found every loophole imaginable to make sure these guys aren’t truly paying any more or less than they should (more or less than anyone else) in spite of living in 2 countries during a 12-month span. Plus, I’ve recently seen documents that suggest Toronto / Ontario / Canada’s taxation is no worse than about 75% of the other markets in the NBA; they’re neck-and-neck with every other city’s taxes outside of Orlando, Miami, San Antonio, Dallas, and San Antonio.
As for the “stars don’t want to come here” and the “no player will become a star here” comments, perhaps I could offer up a few reminders to the folks at ESPN:
- Damon Stoudamire can’t be cited as an legit example by anyone … with a franchise that was still in its infancy; working out the kinks. Oh, and by the way, have folks not heard/read/seen Damon say a NUMBER of times since his departure that leaving Toronto may have been the biggest mistake of his career?
- Tracy McGrady can’t be cited as an example either. He was a young kid who barely saw the floor until midway through his 2nd year. And under the then-existing ridiculous CBA, he had the right to walk as a free agent in his early 20′s! Plus, he not only ‘spurned’ the Raps, he left the Bulls hanging high and dry too. Oh, and by the way, how did leaving T.O. for greener pastures work out for TMAC?
- Kenny Anderson didn’t want to come….who cares.
- Vince Carter not only came, but he conquered as well. He put this team on the U.S. map and major U.S. networks. And … last time I checked … VC signed a long-term deal with Toronto as well (when so many in the States figured it was a sure shot that he was going to bolt).
- When Vince was in Toronto and the team was WINNING (and THAT is the key point — not the CITY) he and the organization had no problem getting the likes of Antonio Davis, Dell Curry, Muggsy Bogues, Charles Oakley, Kevin Willis, and many more. Granted, many of those names may not qualify as ‘stars’ but they are/were established players; savvy veterans that had each achieved success in their careers that COULD have scoffed at the idea of coming to Canada … but they didn’t …cause, again, the team was WINNING.
- Chris Bosh was here for three-quarters of a decade! Not only did he NOT bitch and complain about coming to Toronto when he was drafted by the Raps, he welcomed the opportunity AND ended up signing a long-term extension with the team too – and was a 5-times All Star during his time with the Raptors. Hmmm….another star, like Vince, signing in T.O. and achieve success and recognition around the league as well? I thought that didn’t happen with this team?
- Shawn Marion, Jermaine O’Neal, and Hedo Turkoglu had no issue with Toronto or Canada either. Their success in this city is not the issue; we’re just talking about whether they came here with open arms or not. Sure, John Salmons turned his nose up at T.O. – using God’s voice and advice as the reason – but are you losing sleep over John Salmons? I’m not.
How hard is it to do that ‘research’ or to simply ignore those points?
As I’ve said 1,000,000 times, post-season success (or lack there of) is the reason that the organization is not top-of-mind for many free agents or ‘stars’ around the NBA. Five playoff appearances in 15 years and only 1 second-round berth … THAT’S the issue. And that’s a fact.
Everything else is drivel.
Tuesday, July 27th, 2010
Tuesday July 27 2010 – 1:44pm Eastern – Toronto, ON
I’m kicking myself right now.
I’m about to break one of my biggest / most important rules; one that I’ve had in place for more than 10 years …
I’m going to mention a ‘fantasy trade’ that I’d support the Raptors inquiring about.
I will, however, say that the reason I bring up this ‘fantasy trade’ is because I’ve had a lot of people ask me about the player(s) I’m about to mention. This isn’t an original idea on my part — so maybe I can’t be blamed for creating this ‘fantasy’ — I’m simply responding to what others are talking about.
Listen, Okafor is overpaid. I’m not sure that there are many in NBA circles that could argue that he’s making too much money (not that it’s HIS fault though; the man simply signed a contract that he was offered). Here’s what’s left on his deal:
2010/11 -$11.5 million
2011/12 – $12.5 million
2012/13 – $13.5 million
2013/14 – $14.5 million
The Raptors are in dire need of a starting center right now (or a legit back-up at the very least). They thought they had that big man in the middle when they were close to pulling off a trade for Charlotte Bobcats big man, Tyson Chandler. But when that deal fell through, Andrea Bargnani was penciled back in as the starting center for T.O. and Amir Johnson suddenly went back into the starting line up as well (at PF). And now the Raps are left with Ed Davis and Reggie Evans coming off the bench with Solomon Alabi as the only other CENTER. It’s not pretty at this point.
That’s where Okafor comes into the mix.
By acquiring the 6’10 product from Connecticut, Toronto would have that starting center they’re looking for and Bargnani could slide over to his more natural position at the 4. The Raptors would be obtaining a durable player that has played all 82 games for 3 straight seasons; a big man that has averaged 13.3 PPG, 10.3 REB, and 1.8 BLK for his career.
Last season was the only year in Okafor’s career where he didn’t average a double-double and his scoring totals (10.1 PPG) were the lowest in his career as well. That said, at 27 years old, I don’t think his skills are diminishing or his ‘game’ is on a down-turn. On top of that, the New Orleans Hornets are hurting financially. They’d probably WELCOME any opportunity they’d have to rid themselves of Okafor’s tab. Heck, every rumour you’ve heard about Chris Paul being traded from New Orleans includes Paul’s new team picking up Okafor in the deal as well (with the thought being that the Hornets would say to “Team A” … ‘you want CP3? Well, you’re taking Emeka then too’). So if you’re the Raptors … when not swoop in and take Okafor anyway? By doing so, Toronto could be scratching New Orleans’ back as well … in that the Hornets could now trade Paul and NOT have to unload Okafor in the same transaction; you would assume that that scenario would improve the offers for Paul from teams around the league.
(*And, no, Toronto is not getting Chris Paul; he’s not coming here).
The Raptors could make this deal as well without having to give up a player from their roster. Toronto could use most/all of their trade exception from the Bosh-to-Miami deal and acquire Okafor for, essentially, nothing more than money. In fact, if the Raps are still interested in dealing Jose Calderon, perhaps a potential deal with New Orleans could involve the Spanish guard … giving the Hornets an insurance plan for a potential Paul trade (with Calderon and Darren Collison now pairing the point in Louisiana).
Yes, it’s a lot of money. But when I look around the league and check out centers that are available in free agency or MAY be available in trade … it’s slim pickings! Thus, Okafor is worth the ‘risk’ for Toronto.
Roll the dice.
Friday, July 23rd, 2010
Friday July 23 2010 – 10:48am Eastern – Toronto, ON
So, Matt Barnes has signed with the LA Lakers?
Is anybody surprised by this?
As I said on the Fan 590 the other day – and I’m sure many of you theorized this as well – the choice for Barnes seemed clear once the sign-and-trade option fell through with the Magic and Raptors.
To recap, Toronto had already spent most of its mid-level exception on forward Linas Kleiza, so they couldn’t afford to sign Barnes outright. Thus, they needed help from Orlando to orchestrate the sign-and-trade scenario. But because of the fact that the Magic had employed Barnes for only one season (last year), they didn’t own his “Bird rights” and as a result – based on the rules of the CBA – they could only sign (and then trade) the swingman to Toronto for $1.9 million or less. Barnes was looking for a contract that would pay him in the neighborhood of $4+ million – and the Raps were willing to give him that; the CBA simply prevented them from being able to do so.
So Barnes was back on the open market again – free to sign wherever he wanted.
Word was that the scrappy rebounder and defender was not only looking for playing time, he wanted security and a chunk of change too. Who could blame him! He would have had all of that in Toronto. But when the higher dollar figures simply weren’t going to come through in T.O. a decision had to be made: Sign for about $2 million in Toronto – where you’ll likely be scratching and clawing to make the post-season – or sign in LA, Boston, Miami (for example) for a similar amount of cash and have a realistic shot at not only a playoff berth, but a CHAMPIONSHIP?
Despite overtures from the Cleveland Cavaliers, Barnes took his act to the Lakers (for less $$ than what the Cavs were offering) to play alongside Kobe Bryant and join the quest for a third-straight title.
Unfortunately for the Raptors, Barnes’ name will be added to a list of players (including Boris Diaw and Tyson Chandler) that could’ve / should’ve / would’ve come to Toronto in the post-Bosh era. A starting five of Jarrett Jack, DeMar DeRozan, Barnes, Andrea Bargnani, and Chandler would have looked good in the East – with Leandro Barbosa, Diaw, Sonny Weems, Amir Johnson, and Ed Davis coming off the bench. But it’s all for naught.
Bryan Colangelo now has more work to do. But he is armed with two separate trade exceptions and a small amount of financial/cap wiggle room and a point guard (Jose Calderon) that is highly-regarded around the league (in spite of what some of you may think).
Training camp (in Vancouver) is still 10 weeks away, so there’s plenty of time to work some magic and try to lessen the blow of the two trades that feel apart in the last 10 days.
Tuesday, July 20th, 2010
Tuesday July 20 2010 – 9:00am Easteron – Toronto, ON
The Matt Barnes deal may be dead.
Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports sent out this tweet on his Twitter account a few hours ago:
‘For Matt Barnes-to-Toronto, a league source says, “The sign and trade (scenario) is dead.” Blamed on a “miscalculation” somewhere in talks.’
The transaction for the Raptors was originally reported as a free agent SIGNING (apparently for 2 years, about $10 million), but as more info and sources became available it sounded like this move would be a TRADE involiving Toronto and Orlando … not an outright signing. The reason for such a move, apparently, is that the Raps used most of their mid-level exception on the signing of Linas Kleiza; they wouldn’t have the room – financially, under the CBA – to sign Barnes as well.
So if the sign and trade is dead, is the deal dead entirely?
At this point it looks like that could be the case but the Raptors (and Magic) haven’t said anything in regards to confirming or denying any deal or any talks for that matter.
That’s a key point to keep in mind in this whole scenario: At no point have we heard from the TEAMS themselves. So if this alleged transaction does fall through, we can’t be pointing fingers at the organizations. We have to look at how the info got out, who it came from, and how it was handled. Someone had to tell Barnes. Perhaps his agent? And Barnes had to feel pretty confident that a deal was done if he went ahead and jumped on Twitter and not only announced that he was going to Toronto, but took time to thank the fans of Orlando for a great season last year as well.
Something doesn’t feel right. And, unfortunately, if this alleged deal truly falls through it will be the second time this has happened to the Raptors in about a week … with their deal with Charlotte (for Tyson Chandler and Boris Diaw) having fell threw as well.
Time will tell if the deal is dead or not; or if there even was a deal in the first place!
Monday, July 19th, 2010
Monday July 19 2010 – 11:39pm Eastern – Toronto, ON
Details are still sketchy at this point but it looks like the Raptors have inked forward Matt Barnes to a 2-year deal worth about $10 million.
Barnes spoke of the signing on his personal Twitter account but the Raptors are being tight-lipped at the moment. Nobody is confirming (or denying) the move.
Further complicating matters is the fact that some reports/rumors are swirling around that this transaction could actually be a sign-and-trade with the Orlando Magic (where Barnes played last season).
On top of that, more chatter (even from yours truly) has theorized that the Linas Kleiza offer could play a role in this Barnes deal? Is it possible that the Kleiza contract offer was withdrawn by Toronto in spite of the fact that Denver opted to not match the 4-year deal? Or, is it possible that Kleiza could already be involved in a transaction; on his way out of T.O.?
Either way, you’d think something has to give with the Raptors if both Kleiza AND Barnes remain with the team. They’d join Sonny Weems, DeMar. DeRozan, and Leandro Barbosa in a very crowded rotation at thw 2-3 (unless, of course, one of those players were involved in a TOR-ORL sign and trade).
Interesting times … and the summer of shrewd moves continues for Bryan Colangelo
Friday, July 16th, 2010
Friday July 16 2010 – 11:58am Eastern – Toronto, ON
Matt Bonner was in-studio at the FAN 590 yesterday and he told me (and Jack Armstrong) on “The Game Plan” that he’s still waiting to find out if his Canadian citizenship papers will be approved or not; and if they are stamped and given the thumbs up, will it all get done in time for the World Basketball Championships in Turkey in late August?
Bonner said he filled out all of the paperwork and providing all of the info necessary for background checks and references and so on. He said everything is in order from his side of things. It’s now up to the government to get things done and their end and for the Canada Basketball folks (lawyers I’d assume) to work their magic.
It’s not as though Bonner isn’t worthy of Canadian citizenship; heck, more people with less legitimacy have been approved before. Bonner is married to a Canadian (a woman from Toronto), thus, his daughter has duel citizenship … he owns a home in Toronto and makes his residence here during the NBA’s off-season … and his grandfather is Canadian as well.
So I’m not sure what the issue is and why the process it taking so long, but I’m sure Leo Rautins – head coach of the men’s national team – is hoping everything is resolved by early-to-mid August when Team Canada opens its mini-camp. The Canadians, in fact, will hit the floor as early as August 12 and 13 for two exhibition games against France at the ACC (tickets available) before they head out to Turkey in late-August to compete in the Worlds.
Just a reminder … Bonner is hosting his “Sneakers and Speakers” event at The Phoenix Concert Theatre in Toronto tonight. This charity concerts will help raise money for the Boys and Girls Clubs of Toronto.
The Hold Steady will headline the show tonight, with The Whigs opening up.
Tickets are $21.50 and the show starts at 8pm
A lot of people have been asking about this so I went straight to the source and got the lowdown from the Toronto Raptors and their well-paid number crunchers:
1. Trade exceptions CANNOT be combined. So the Raps now have $14-$15 million from the Chris Bosh-Miami Heat deal and $2.7 million from the Leandro Barbosa/Hedo Turkoglu deal with the Phoenix Suns. Those are two independent exceptions that cannot be added together. Individual exception can, however, be split up and used in multiple deals (i.e. – using only $7 million of the $14-$15 million Bosh exception to acquire a player).
2. Exceptions have a 1-year shelf life. There are some minor semantics – as they related to statutory holidays, weekends, etc – but, basically, the exception expires on the 1-year anniversary of the original transaction.
IT’S NOT A GOODBYE
Just to be clear, although “The Game Plan” will be ending its run today on the FAN 590, Jack Armstrong and I aren’t really going anywhere.
I still have 19 jobs, so I’m doing just fine, haha! From the pre/half/post game shows … to reporting duties … hosting Hoops … to blogging and vlogging … and most importantly, working with Paul Jones as the colour analyst on the Raptors’ broadcasts, I’ll have more than enough work to keep my occupied! Plus, I’ll be filling-in on various shows on the FAN 590 as well. In fact, when I sign off at 4pm today, you won’t have time to miss me ’cause I’ll be back on the air next week – Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday – hosting from 12pm-3pm.
Jack will still be on the FAN 590 as an NBA/Raptors analyst and guest; you’ll hear him a ton on various shows throughout the day and he’ll be on “Hoops” in the Fall as well.
So we’re not going anywhere folks and you’ll still hear PLENTY of us; love us or hate us.
We do thank you for your loyalty and passion and contributions to “The Game Plan” over the past year though.
Talk to you at 12pm on Monday!
Thursday, July 15th, 2010
Wednesday July 15 2010 – 10:28am Eastern – Toronto, ON
So the Leandro Barbosa – Hedo Turkoglu swap has finally been made official and we can now dissect the trade and see what it means for the Raptors.
It’s honestly difficult to find any fault with this deal. Toronto acquired a younger player (27 vs 31) – a cheaper player ($14+ million vs $43+ million) – that should fit in well with the young, athletic bodies Bryan Colangelo has assembled for Jay Triano and his staff.
Whether Barbosa starts or not remains to be seen. But if he doesn’t, I don’t think it would be fair to look back on this trade and say: ‘We swapped a starter for a 6th man’. It’s more about the fit for this team, and Barbosa’s speed and versatility are better-suited for the Raps.
Turkoglu’s one-year saga in Toronto has been well-documented. He came to the Big Smoke with a ton of fanfare and optimism (and expectations) and didn’t really live up to any of it. Whether he was hurt, out of shape, uninterested or simply dealing with chemistry issues, there’s no other way to describe the last 12 months than: failure.
However, I don’t believe Turkoglu is a bad person and I do believe that he’s far from washed up (like some have suggested). In fact, he’ll probably flourish in Phoenix playing alongside a guy like Steve Nash. He’ll be asked to rebound more but he’ll also have the chance to handle the ball and make decisions in the Suns’ free-flowing offence. I wish Turk the best.
Barbosa had a disappointing 2009-10 season as well. He played in just over 40 games and was ineffective for good chunks of the year. But overcoming a wrist injury should not be a major concern for the Brazilian – or the Raptors. I’m confident he’ll be able to regain the form he once had in Phoenix and provide some serious punch to Toronto’s line-up. Let’s not kid ourselves, Barbosa is not an elite superstar in the NBA, but he’s a very good player that should be a wealth of experience and knowledge to the young core in T.O.
Dwayne Jones – who comes with Barbosa in the deal – is a mystery at this point. Reports originally suggested that Jones was going to be flipped to Charlotte (with Jose Calderon and Reggie Evans) in the now-dead trade for Tyson Chandler and Boris Diaw. It remains to be seen if Jones truly has a future with the Raptors or not. If he is on the roster by the time Training Camp rolls around in October, I’d assume he’d fill the Patrick O’Bryant role of ‘depth guy on the bench that sees little-to-no-action’.
The financial ramifications of this deal – that I mentioned earlier – cannot be overlooked or underplayed. Turkoglu’s contract was considered by many to be immovable. Well, Colangelo got rid of that $43+ million, didn’t have to give up a draft pick or even cash considerations, and got a solid player (Barbosa) in return as well. But the savings Toronto will now reap should give them a ton of cash to play with in 2 seasons when Barbosa expires and the following year as well, when they would have still be paying Turk more than $12 million.
Holes still remain on the roster, so Colangelo can’t be done. There will be more trades (and signings?) coming. But this trade is certainly a step in the right direction for the Raptors.
Tuesday, July 13th, 2010
Tuesday July 13 2010 – 3:10pm Eastern – Toronto, ON
Chris Bosh is set to join us on the FAN 590 any moment; his first interview in Toronto since leaving the Raptors for the Miami Heat.
Tuesday, July 13th, 2010
Tuesday July 13 2010 – 1:51pm Eastern – Toronto, ON
This looks bad.
This looks really bad.And, unfortunately, it’s not the first time it has happened (see: TJ Ford last season).
The Charlotte Bobcats are reportedly pulling out of their deal with the Toronto Raptors; a trade that would have seen Jose Calderon, Dwayne Jones (soon-to-be-acquired from Phoenix) and Reggie Evans head south to North Carolina for Boris Diaw and Tyson Chandler.
Word is that Bobcats president, Michael Jordan, got cold feet at some point late last night and would not sign-off on the trade with the Raps. There is also some talk that Larry Brown wasn’t thrilled about losing Chandler.
But why does this look so bad?
Hey, deals fall through all of the time. Sure, rumors are reported and speculation swirls on moves that never come to fruition almost every day – especially at this time of the year!
But this is different. Players were told. The negotiation went beyond merely ‘talking’ and moved the point where players were called and informed of the upcoming transaction. Chandler told Yahoo Sports that he was heading to Toronto. Evans tweeted a message on his Twitter account … thanking the fans of Toronto for their support over the past 12+ months.
And now the deal is off.
No rules were broken but the smell around this mess stinks. You can’t string along the players – and their personal lives like this. I’m sure Chandler, Diaw, Jones, and Evans have their own issues … but let’s look at Calderon as an example:
He finds out that he’s being traded from the only pro team/city he has ever known while dealing with his 3-month old son at home in Spain. Yet as he wraps his head around the fact that he’s on the move to Charlotte, he finds out early in the morning (in Spain) that the deal is likely off and he’s actually staying in Toronto. Further to that mess … he now knows that the Raps are/were trying to get rid of him and the answer to the “are they going to trade Jose or are they going to trade Jarrett Jack” question seems pretty clear.
Sure, some may say ‘that’s part of the business’ … but that’s not how you tread people or how you do business properly.
There’s no way that I can imagine Rod Higgins (Bobcats GM) and Bryan Colangelo came to an agreement without Jordan knowing what was going on until the final second. Why did MJ not squash this move earlier in the day — seeing as it was being worked on for nearly 24 hours (or more) — instead of balking at the bitter end when players had already accepted their new reality?
The Bobcats were close to grabbing Pacers’ guard TJ Ford at last year’s trade deadline before backing out at the last minute as well; all sides (and all indications) seemed to think the deal was done.And, ironically, this isn’t the first time Chandler has been ‘traded’ … only to ‘head back’ to his current team. When he was a member of the New Orleans Hornets in 2009, Chandler was dealt to Oklahoma City before the Thunder rescinded the deal. But that scenario was different as it had to do with Chandler’s physical with OKC.
Jordan’s cold feet – or Brown’s anger – has put Toronto in a tough spot with Calderon and Evans and it has potentially affected the Raptors in future deals for either of those players as well … ’cause teams may assume Toronto is trying to move Jose or Reggie and, thus, they’ll offer less in return; trying to force (or fleece) Colangelo’s hand.
Perhaps the deal with the Bobcats and Raptors could be resurrected at some point — with other players or money exchanging hands — but for now it seems to be dead.
And it stinks.
Monday, July 12th, 2010
Monday July 12 2010 – 2:03pm Eastern – Toronto, ON
The dust hasn’t even settled on the Chris Bosh move to Miami from last week and already Bryan Colangelo appears to be striking in a big way.
Reports are indicating that Toronto is involved in a 3-team deal with the Charlotte Bobcats and the Phoenix Suns.
Sources have confirmed to the FAN that a deal is going down, but exactly ‘who’ is involved remains the biggest questions.
The Arizona Republic was the first to report – and the Toronto Star has since followed up with more details – that Toronto will send Hedo Turkoglu to the Suns and Jose Calderon to the Bobcats. The Raptors will then receive Leandro Barbosa, a trade exception, and Dwayne Jones from Phoenix and Tyson Chandler and Boris Diaw from Charlotte.
Toronto would be sending Jones and another player (possibly Reggie Evans or Marcus Banks) to the Bobcats along with Calderon.
The Toronto Star reports that the Raps will not have to use any of the $14-$15 million trade exception acquired in the Bosh deal in either of these transactions with Phoenix or Charlotte.
The FAN has attempted to reach Calderon but has not been successful as of yet.
Chandler confirmed to Marc Spear of Yahoo Sports that he has indeed been dealt to Toronto … and Steve Nash tweeted his best wishes to Barbosa (essentially confirming the move from the Suns’ end of things) on his personal Twitter account, @the_real_nash
More to come throughout the day.
I’ll be on “The Game Plan” with Jack Armstrong in mere moments. We’ll be talking quite a bit about this deal and hopefully getting some guests on to discuss matters as well!