Archive for November, 2010

Numbers Game

Tuesday, November 23rd, 2010

Tuesday November 23 2010 – 4:29pm Eastern – Toronto, ON

As you may have already seen in my Tweet earlier today (www.twitter.com/Eric__Smith) the jersey numbers are now official for Peja Stojakovic and Jerryd Bayless. 

Stojakovic will wear the number he has become synonymous with — 16 — while Bayless has opted to go with #5.

There were a lot of rumblings out there that Bayless might (try to) go with #4 but in the end … he opted for #5.  He wore #32 in New Orleans … #4 in Portland … and #0 in college, at Arizona.

I wouldn’t have had a problem with him selecting #4 though.  Some of you (on Twitter) were suggesting that the Raptors wouldn’t “allow” Bayless to take Chris Bosh’s former number or that it would have been wrong of Bayless to even consider grabbing that jersey number so soon after CB’s departure.  However, I disagree on both fronts.

Bosh was/is an important piece of the franchise history of the Raptors.  He holds most of the ‘important’ records in the club’s 16-year existence as well.  But I don’t believe Toronto is in any kind of position to ‘have’ to retire Bosh’s jersey.  With due respect to Bosh, the Raps missed the post-season 5 times during his 7 years in T.O.  While the lack of post-season success doesn’t fall solely on Bosh, I’d be more inclined to honour the player(s) that eventually bring the Raptors their first championship … not someone that had individual success as a multi-time All Star like Bosh or Vince Carter.

Keep in mind … both Jorge Garbajosa and Amir Johnson have worn #15 since VC’s departure.

As for Bayless’ #5 …

Who else has worn that number in Raptors’ history?

Michael Bradley (2001-2004) - Bradley also wore #33
Jalen Rose (2003-2006)
Will Solomon (2008-2009)
Quincy Douby (2009)

For more in-depth info on Bayless and Stojakovic … check out the link below and listen to their scrums with the media; their first time talking in T.O.

http://www.fan590.com/media.jsp?content=20101123_145934_2852

Both players will be in uniform tomorrow night when the Raptors host the Philadelphia 76ers at 7pm at the ACC.

WELCOME BACK BARRETT

Rowan Barrett has joined Canada Basketball as the organization’s Director of Youth Development.

According to Canada Basketball, Barrett will provide support to key national team prospects, fostering relationships with athletes and their surrounding communities to provide the best possible environment for these young talents to flourish.  Barrett will provide leadership at the grassroots level, at the ‘Train-to-Train’ and ‘Train-to-Compete’ stages of Canada Basketball’s athlete development model (ages 11-18).  Focusing on Long Term Athlete Development (LTAD) principles such as physical, mental, cognitive and emotional development, and calendar planning for competition, he will provide tangible resources for mentoring in academics, nutrition, and sports science to help young men maximize their growth as players and people both on and off the court.

Maurizio Gherardini, Managing Director of the Canadian Senior Men’s National Team, said in a statement:  “There is no one better than Rowan Barrett who understands the values that Canada Basketball is trying to pursue and share all the time.  As we are committed to the growth of the game throughout the country and we needed to establish some sort of a ‘link’ with the young athletes, their families, their coaches and their communities and develop better ways to support them and let Canada Basketball become a ‘point of reference’ in their lives.  Rowan will be there for them and we believe it’s a step forward in the right direction.”

E. Smith

Dramatic Win For Toronto

Sunday, November 21st, 2010

Sunday November 21 2010 – 4:46pm Eastern – Toronto, ON

Toronto improves to 5 and 9 on the season, beating the Boston Celtics 102-101.  That’s 3 straight W’s for T.O.

THE START

Raptors – fell down by 13 points but closed it to 8 (31-23) by the end of the QRT, shooting 50% FG
Celtics – were led by the 16 points of Nate Robinson … who started in place of injured PG Rajon Rondo

AT THE HALF

Raptors – shot 12/21 FG; Andrea Bargnani scored 13 of his 18 in the 2nd QRT alone; Raps score 38 PTS in the QRT
Celtics – got into early foul trouble and sent TOR to the line 16 times in the QRT; shot 10/19 FG (23/44 for the game)

AFTER 3

Raptors – opened up their largest lead of the game, late, at 9 points;  led 82-75 after 3;  7 turnovers in the QRT
Celtics – shot just 3/11 FG but 11/15 at the FT line;  Shaquille O’Neal struggling through 3:  1/6 FG, 4 PTS, 5 REB

THE FINAL FRAME

Raptors – went 6:30+ minutes without a FG at one point;  suffered through a 19-4 run;  blew an 11-point lead (early 4th) Celtics – coughed up a turnover in the dying seconds, giving TOR a chance to tie on FT’s, then miss the potentially-game-winning jumper (Paul Pierce)

———-

ALSO OF NOTE

Rondo missed the game with a hamstring injury

Amir Johnson had a career high 9 FT attempts.  He went 9/9 at the line

Johnson had his second – and the RAPTORS (as a team) second – double/double of the season w/ 17 PTS, 11 REB

Bargnani led all scorers with 29 points

Robinson finished with a team-high 22 points after scoring 16 in the 1st QRT alone

———-

Post game edition of The Rap, including a post-game interview with Raptors big man Amir Johnson:

[audio:http://pmd.fan590.com/audio_on_demand/TheRap-es-20101121.mp3]

———-

The Raptors will stay in Toronto … getting set to host the Philadelphia 76ers on Wednesday night at 7pm Eastern at the ACC.  Paul Jones and I will be on the Fan 590 at 700pm with the tip off.

Have a good one

E. Smith

Raptors-Hornets Trade

Saturday, November 20th, 2010

Saturday November 20 2010 – 4:56pm Eastern – Toronto, ON

A deal that was first reported by Greek website, Sport 24, was confirmed by sources close the FAN 590 this afternoon and then officially announced by the Raptors this evening ( http://www.nba.com/raptors/news/hornets_trade_112010 )

Toronto receives Jerryd Bayless and Peja Stojakovic from the New Orleans Hornets in exchange for Jarrett Jack, Marcus Banks, and David Andersen.

Let’s break this down from a Raptors’ perspective (and before anyone jumps to any conclusions or accusations – I’ll give ya my preface that (a) I’ve got NO problem, personally, with Banks, Jack, or Andersen (who I hardly knew), and (b) what I’m about to write here I’ve said on the air as well – some of it as recently as last night’s post-game show) …

Jack – will be missed.  On “media day” this year he said that the one thing he worked on in the off-season more than anything else was becoming a leader.  He said he worked on that “24-7″.  His chemistry – especially with the Young Onez – was evident from Day 1 of Training Camp and his leadership qualities were noticeably improved as well.  He out-played Jose Calderon during the pre-season and, thus, earned the starting PG job when the regular season began.

However, there has been a slippage in Jack’s play over the first 13 games of the season and there were minor rumblings – legit or not – that Calderon could get a shot at starting again if the team continued to get off to slow starts.  Plus, struggling or not, while he may be a better on-the-ball defender, Jack is not as good of a playmaker as Calderon and the feeling is (for me included) that Calderon may be a better fit — a more ‘stable’ fit — for setting up and ‘controlling’ the young high-fliers on the wings, Sonny Weems and DeMar DeRozan.

Jack and Calderon were never really an “A” and “B” … there were a “1a” and “1b” … no matter who was starting.

I don’t doubt that the Raptors might have preferred to move Calderon – for financial reasons.  Heck, they nearly did in the summer (as mentioned above).  But trading Jack releases the Raptors from about $5.2 million next year and $5.8 the year after that.  Bayless, by comparison, is in line to make just over $3 million next year and has a qualifying offer/option of about $4.1 for the year after that.

So Bayless makes less money than Jack, is 5 years younger, and is about the same size/frame as JJ.  6’3″ … 200lbs.

The ‘knock’ on Bayless is that he’s more of a two-guard — a proven scorer in high school and college — and that he may not have what it takes to be a point guard, long-term, at the NBA level.  But just over 10 games into only his THIRD season in the league, can anyone say for certain that they know that he does or doesn’t have what it takes to run the point?  Especially after spending his first two seasons – in Portland – behind Brandon Roy, Andre Miller, Steve Blake, and more?

At the very least, he’s another young ‘athlete’ to play alongside Weems and DeRozan, and like Leandro Barbosa, he’s a quick, versatile guard that can play both back-court positions.  He’s a solid defender who plays with a chip on his shoulder sometimes and he’s adept at getting to the line.

Banks, unfortunately, never got a chance to do much in Toronto and, thus, his loss is minimal.  He was a complete professional on and off the floor – and a pleasure to deal with, personally.  I’ll miss my conversations with Banks – and his regular contributions to “Hoops” and the Raptors pre-game shows – but it’s hard to say that you’ll see a difference with the Raps ON the floor given that he appeared in only 31 games over parts of 3 seasons with Toronto.

Andersen was a nice piece for the Raptors — who showed in his brief time in Toronto that he was capable on the glass and and consistent from the floor as well.  A big man with range who could knock down the open shot.  However, IF rookie Ed Davis had been healthy during training camp and/or the pre-season, it would have been interesting to see if Andersen saw many minutes in Jay Triano’s rotation.  With Andrea Bargnani, Reggie Evans, Amir Johnson (who Toronto gave BIG money to in the off-season), and Davis … Andersen was likely going to scratch and claw for time on the floor.  Thus, now that Davis is set to return (likely in the next 7-10 days), Bryan Colangelo had some flexibility to move a big body.  Factor-in other ‘bigs’ like Joey Dorsey and Solomon Alabi (now in the D-League) and it’s fair to say that Toronto’s front court shouldn’t take a major hit by losing Andersen.  Perhaps Linas Kleiza will see some time at the PF spot now too – if Johnson slides over to center more often than not – especially when you consider that Stojakovic will now see minutes at SF (with Weems) as well.

Stojakovic, according to reports, is more than just a ‘throw-in’ to this deal.  With the Raptors sitting 28th (out of 30) in 3-point shooting, they need more perimeter play.  And while Peja’s best days are behind him, he’ll be looked at as a veteran shooter that can HOPEFULLY spread the floor a little bit – and knock down an open shot.

A former All Star with a TON of playoff experience, Stojakovic should be a good veteran presence for this young Raptors’ team.

Last year, Stojakovic was still playing heavy minutes in New Orleans – averaging over 31 per game – though his scoring numbers were well down (12.7 PPG, 3.7 REB, 40.4% FG in 62 games).  He has averaged over 20 PPG four times in his career, but hasn’t been over that mark since 2004-05.

His career numbers:  17.3 PPG, 4.8 REB, 45% FG, 40.0% 3PT, 89.4% FT

But the 13-year vet’s biggest contribution to Toronto may come via his contract.  With nearly $15 million coming off the books at the end of THIS year, Colangelo will have a lot of wiggle room to work with.  Depending on how the new Collective Bargaining Agreement works out, the Raptors should have a chunk of change to spend in the free agent market in the summer of 2011.  Plus, Colangelo could, in theory, opt to deal Stojakovic again before the end of THIS season … and acquire another player from a playoff-contending team that is interested in Peja’s services.  With the NBA trade deadline coming up in mid-February, this deal (with Toronto and New Orleans) should be finalized in time to allow for the “90 days” needed before a player can be dealt again.

With Banks not playing and Andersen likely losing minutes soon, this deal seems to come down to Bayless for Jack – with Stojakovic as a ‘throw-in’ for T.O. in some senses.  That’s one heck of a throw-in … even if it’s only for his contract, and not his play on the floor.  That contract, plus the $14+ million trade exception acquired in Chris Bosh deal (some reports are suggesting that SOME of that exception MAY have been used in this deal (unconfirmed)), gives Toronto a lot of options.

And for those that are concerned about Toronto’s point guard position now … I’m comfortable with Calderon starting and Bayless coming off the bench (with Barbosa as an emergency depth guy / 3rd PG if need-be).  However, given that this was a 3-for-2 trade, the Raptors will now have a vacant roster spot.  So don’t be surprised if the team is active in signing a free agent PG or dipping into the D-League or beyond.

E. Smith

Raptors Blast Rockets

Friday, November 19th, 2010

Friday November 19 2010 – 10:29pm Eastern – Toronto, ON

Toronto improves to 4 and 9 on the season, beating the Houston Rockets  106-96.  That’s 2 straight W’s for T.O.

THE START

Raptors – shot 52% from the floor, led by the 11 points of Andrea Bargnani; gave up 8 points on 5 turnovers though
Rockets – allowed Toronto to close the QRT on a 6-0 run to take a 1-point lead into the 2nd QRT (28-27 TOR)

AT THE HALF

Raptors – held Houston to 7 points in the opening 9:02 minutes; Led by as many as 13 and looked to have control
Rockets – shot just 6/17 FG but managed to get that 13-point deficit down to single digits by the half (51-43)

AFTER 3

Raptors – coughed up their 8-point halftime lead … fell down by 6 … then took a 1-point lead into the 4th (75-74)
Rockets – wiped out Toronto’s 8-point lead behind 10 points from both Luis Scola and Kevin Martin

THE FINAL FRAME

Raptors – had 21 free throw attempts in the final QRT (only 9 through the opening 3 quarters)
Rockets – held to only 7 field goals in the final 12 minutes

———-

ALSO OF NOTE

Scola – one of only 3 “20 and 10″ guys in the NBA this season, was held to only 5 rebounds

Weems (13 points) scored in double-figures for the 7th straight game

Bargnani led the way for Toronto with 26 points

Martin was perfect from the FT line for Houston, going 11/11 and he led all scorers with 31 points

Toronto has now out-rebounded their opponent (tonight, 44-37) in 8 of their last 11 games

———-

Post game interview with Raptors swingman DeMar DeRozan:

[audio:http://pmd.fan590.com/audio_on_demand/derozan-es-20101119.mp3]

———-

The Raptors will stay in Toronto … getting set to host the Boston Celtics on Sunday afternoon at 1pm Eastern at the ACC.  Paul Jones and I will be on the Fan 590 at 1230pm with the pre game show.

Have a good one

E. Smith

Home, Hoops, Bargs & Barbosa

Friday, November 19th, 2010

Friday November 19 2010 – 12:00pm Eastern – Toronto, ON

Game day in Toronto.  The Raptors and Rockets go at it tonight at the ACC.  Paul Jones and I will have the call on the FAN 590 beginning at 7pm.

HOME COOKIN’

After starting the season with 8 of their first 12 games on the road, Toronto will now get a chance to get quite familiar with their home floor.

The Raptors play 12 of their next 17 games at the ACC – including 6 of their next 7 – but what they do with that home court ‘advantage’ is another thing.

Remember, last season, the Raps went 25-16 at home.  So far this season … Toronto is just 1-3 at home (2-6 on the road).

There are a number of ‘winnable’ ball games in those 11 home dates as well … however … the Raptors have played so inconsistently so far this season that NO game can be looked upon as a ‘gimme’ at this point.

THE SKED AHEAD

Tonight – Houston (3-8)
Nov 21 – Boston (9-2)
Nov 24 – Philly (2-10)
Nov 26 – @ Boston (9-2)
Nov 28 – Atlanta (8-4)
Dec 1 – Washington (3-7)
Dec 3 – Oklahoma City (7-4)
Dec 5 – New York (4-8)
Dec 6 – @ Indiana (5-5)
Dec 8 – @ New York (4-8)
Dec 10 – Denver (6-6)
Dec 11 – @Detroit (4-8)
Dec 14 – @Charlotte (4-7)
Dec 15 – Chicago (6-4)
Dec 17 – New Jersey (4-7)
Dec 19 – LA Lakers (10-2)
Dec 22 – Detroit (4-8)

IL MAGO

We can argue this one ’til the cows come home.  And I’m sure we will.  This is one of those ‘issues’ that’ll never be solved; you either love the guy or hate the guy.

Andrea Bargnani.

Does he need to show more aggressiveness?  Rebound the ball better?  Have a killer instinct?

Yes.  Yes.  And yes.

Is he a average-to-good defender?

YES.  And he’s a solid shot-blocker as well.  But to be the franchise guy, he has to be better.  And not only better overall, but more consistent.

Now, all of that said … let me just throw a few numbers at you to chew on … and you can decide if this changes your opinion of the guy, pro or con:

- Bargnani has scored 20+ points in 8 of the Raptors 12 games.
- He has scored 25+ in 5 of the Raptors 12 games … including 3 of the last 5.
- In spite of seeing double (and some triple) teams for the first time in his career, he’s shooting a higher percentage thus far than he has in his career:  44.4% FG versus his career average of 43.9% (for what it’s worth, he’s shooting a career-best 43.2% from 3PT land as well.  His career average is 37.7%).

At the beginning of the season, I believe I had said that I would be ‘happy’ if Bargnani could average 18-20 points and 6-8 rebounds per game.  Those would be SOLID numbers in my opinion.  I believe many of you would agree, correct?

That said, the rebounding needs to pick up.  Andrea has snagged 7 or more rebounds in 3 of the last 5 games but he had a CLUNKER in Washington – where he didn’t pull down a board until some meaningless minutes in the 4th QRT – and he has not yet had a double-digit rebounding effort this season.  In fact, his 4.9 REB average is down from last year’s career-high of 6.2 and it’s even a fraction below his career average of 4.8 REB.

HOOPS

If you missed the “Hoops” show on the FAN 590 last night, you can listen to it below …

We had Raptors PG, Marcus Banks, in studio for the entire hour … and also hooked up with Jack Armstrong, Boston Celtics head coach Doc Rivers, and San Antonio Spurs forward Matt Bonner.

Bonner – the Spurs Players’ Union rep – commented on the potential lockout in the NBA next summer and Banks shared an interesting story about a little-talked-about PLAYERS-ONLY meeting that the Raptors held in Philly on Wednesday morning (prior to Toronto’s game against the 76ers).  Tune in to hear all of that … and more:

http://goo.gl/fb/bihwf

BARBOSA IS BACK *

After missing Toronto’s 4-game road trip to Orlando, Miami, Washington, and Philly … word is that Leandro Barbosa will return to the line up for the Raptors tonight.

—–

Have a good one folks

E. Smith

** UPDATE **

5:59pm Eastern … Now you know why I put the ” * ” beside “BARBOSA IS BACK” (above).  Jay Triano just informed the media at the ACC that Leandro Barbosa will in fact NOT play tonight vs the Houston Rockets.

Raps Deep-Six Philly

Wednesday, November 17th, 2010

Wednesday November 17 2010 – 10:00pm Eastern – Philadelphia, PA

Toronto improves to 3 and 9 on the season, beating the Philadelphia 76ers 94-86.

THE START

Raptors – Andrea Bargnani bounced back from a tough outing in Washington with 12 PTS in the QRT
Sixers – scored 9 points of 5 TOR turnovers and led by 1 (26-25) in spite of shooting only 37.5% FG

AT THE HALF

Raptors – Bargnani still leading the way with 18 PTS;  Sonny Weems had 15 PTS;  Reggie Evans 10 rebounds
Sixers – still shooting below 40% but still taking advantage of TOR turnovers (13-1 points off T/O’s)

AFTER 3

Raptors – Bargnani and Weems combining for 42 of Toronto’s 69 points (Raps down 71-69)
Sixers – play the broken record … 17-1 points off turnovers for PHI;  Elton Brand with 24 points and 7 REB

THE FINAL FRAME

Raptors – out-scored the Sixers 25-15, committing only 1 turnover in the 4th
Sixers – shot 5/18 FG in the final frame coughing up 5 turnovers

ALSO OF NOTE

Weems had a career-high 25 points

Bargnani finished with 30 points and 7 rebounds

Evans finished with 14 rebounds and 5 points — hitting 1/1 FG (didn’t take a shot until the 4th QRT)

Philly now sits dead-last in the East with a 2-10 record.

———-

Post game interview with Raptors swingman Sonny Weems:

[audio:http://pmd.fan590.com/audio_on_demand/weems-es-20101117.mp3]

———-

Toronto will now hop on a late-night flight back to Toronto.  The Raptors host the Houston Rockets on Friday night at 7pm Eastern at the ACC.  Paul Jones and I will be on the Fan 590 at 7pm with the tip.

Have a good one

E. Smith

VLOG 8.0 – Philadelphia, PA

Wednesday, November 17th, 2010

Wednesday November 17 2010 – 2:30pm Eastern – Philadelphia, PA

The sky is not falling … but after last night’s performance in Washington … there’s very little to be impressed by right now.  Toronto has to get back on track — back to the way they played in Orlando and Miami — if they’re going to avoid taking over sole possession of last place in the Eastern Conference tonight.

Paul Jones and I VLOG all about it … check it out:

Neither the Sixers nor Raptors held a game-day shoot-around today (both playing on the 2nd half of a back to back) so we don’t have any updates for you RE: the status of Andre Igoudala or whether or not Jay Triano intends to change up his starting unit tonight or not.  We won’t have any of that info until we get to the arena / ’til closer to game-time (probably around 530pm or so).

We’re on the air with the call at 7pm.

Don’t forget to check out the HOOPS show tomorrow night as well … from 7pm-8pm on the FAN 590 and fan590.com

Have a good one

E. Smith

* if you haven’t seen it already, he’s the link to the Kyle Singler trick shots I referenced in the VLOG:

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/sports/video/duke-players-amazing-string-of-trick-shots/article1802235/

Raps Decked In DC

Tuesday, November 16th, 2010

Saturday November 13 2010 – 9:41pm Eastern – Washington, DC

Toronto falls to 2 and 9 on the season, losing to the Washington Wizards 109-94.

THE START

Raptors – scored 8 of their 23 points on the fast break (trailed 27-23 after 1);  led by Sonny Weems’ 11 points
Wizards – beat up Toronto on the glass, 15-5;  shot 52% FG

AT THE HALF

Raptors – shoot only 43.9% FG in the first half;  trailed by as many as 12 but were down 7 @ the half (54-47)
Wizards – 30th in the league in rebounding, out-doing the Raptors on the glass at the half … 28-15

AFTER 3

Raptors – shot 7/25 FG and coughed up 36 points to the Wizards (36-21);  looked completely flat ALL quarter
Wizards – got 10 PTS in the QRT from Gilbert Arenas (17 total);  shot 14/21 FG;  led by as many as 24 points

THE FINAL FRAME

Raptors – out-scored the Wiz 26-19 but it was a classic case of too little, too late
Wizards – were in their home-run trot early … up 24 … coasting to a 15-point win

ALSO OF NOTE

Weems led the Raptors with 16 points (11 came in the 1st QRT though)

Reggie Evans returned to action, grabbing 9 rebounds … 4 assists … 5 points in 18:19 minutes

The Wizards came into the game dead-last in rebounding (30th overall in the NBA) and out-rebounded the Raptors 47-36

Washington had 3 players go for 20+ points … Nick Young (20), Arenas (20), and Andray Blatche (22)

Arenas started for the first time this season (with John Wall hurt) and tallied 20 PTS, 7 REB, 6 ASST

———-

Post game interview with Wizards swingman Nick Young:

[audio:http://pmd.fan590.com/audio_on_demand/young-es-20101116.mp3]

———-

Toronto will now hop on a late-night flight to Philadelphia.  The Raptors face the 76ers on Wednesday night at 7pm Eastern.  Paul Jones and I will be on the Fan 590 at 7pm with the tip off from Philly.

Have a good one

E. Smith

Evans, Kleiza Return

Tuesday, November 16th, 2010

Tuesday November 16 2010 – 6:16pm Eastern – Washington, DC

Just got word …

Linas Kleiza (achilles) and Reggie Evans (flu) will both return to the line up for the Raptors tonight.

Kleiza will come off the bench for Toronto, thus, Sonny Weems will continue to start.

Evans is back in the starting line up alongside Andrea Bargnani in the Raptors front court.

Tip off on the FAN 590 is coming up in just over 45 minutes.

E. Smith

VLOG 7.0 – Washington, DC

Tuesday, November 16th, 2010

Tuesday November 16 2010 – 1:40pm Eastern – Washington, DC

The Raptors practiced in Miami yesterday morning before hopping on a flight to Washington, DC.

And maybe that extra day in the sun helped Linas Kleiza as he was back on the floor for Toronto this morning.  That said, Jay Triano did not officially say that Kleiza would play tonight – so he’s still listed as a game-time decision.

Reggie Evans will be a last-minute decision as well … as he is still dealing with flu symptoms.

For more on the Raptors – and the status of Wizards rookie John Wall (and more) – check out the latest world-famous Fan 590 VLOG:

Jonesy and I will be on the air tonight at 7pm.

Have a good one!

E. Smith

P.S. ….. With John Wall out … I guess we won’t be seeing the “Dougie”

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