Archive for June, 2011
Thursday, June 30th, 2011
Thursday June 30 2011 – 8:41pm Eastern – Toronto, ON
The NBA’s owners and the Players Association met in New York City earlier today, hoping to reach a last-minute resolution in their Collective Bargaining Agreement negotiations. But it should come as no surprise that when the meeting wrapped up around 3pm, no deal had been struck and the labour war is now only going to intensify.
When the clock hits midnight this evening and the calendar flips to July 1, the owners will officially lockout the players and the threat of losing games (or even a season?) becomes a reality … in spite of the fact that the 2011-2012 season is nearly 4 months away and Training Camp is still 3 months away.
The owners claim that 60 per cent of the league is losing money and they want to scale back the players’ stakes in league revenue. They want to implement a hard cap as well — at a number that would be less than the National Hockey League’s.
The players say they shouldn’t be responsible (entirely) for bailing-out the owners that are in financial trouble and they’re not thrilled about the fact that the owners are now saying that the current deal — which is the same deal the owners proposed to the players the last time the league was at a labour impass; one that the players reluctantly signed — is no good. Further to that, the PA says they’ll never agree to a hard cap.
Experts have said that the CBA woes in the NBA are far worse than the NFL’s — and the owners and players in football have been locked in an ugly battle (in the court room too) for MONTHS now and the 2011 season is in jeopardy.
It’s certainly not a pretty picture that’s potentially being painted for the NBA.
What terrible timing for the Association … on the heels of a thrilling NBA Final between Dallas and Miami and a season that saw major markets (which are always good for league / TV revenue) return to prominence in New York and Chicago.
Sportsnet Radio the Fan 590 was all over this story earlier today as Antonio Davis – former President of the NBA players union – joined me live on the air just after the owners and players wrapped up their meeting in NYC and then Matt Bonner texted me … ready to come on the air after the meeting as well. Bonner, the current Vice President of the PA, was not able to hop on the air in time for my show but he came on live with Bob McCown to kick off Primetime Sports.
To hear both of these interviews and get even more insight into this brewing battle, check out the links below.
Wednesday, June 29th, 2011
Wednesday June 29 2011 – 8:50am Eastern – Toronto, ON
It looks like Dwane Casey’s coaching staff for next season is set.
As I reported first last week, Scott Roth will be back with the club – one of three holdovers from Jay Triano’s crew. Roth turned down the Los Angeles Lakers’ offer of joining Mike Brown’s staff in lieu of staying on with Casey and the Raptors.
Roth came to T.O. last season following stints in Golden State, Memphis and Dallas.
There was speculation last week that Triano assistants Micah Nori and Eric Hughes may be kept around by Casey as well — given that the two were in attendance at Casey’s introductory press conference — but neither would confirm or deny their contract status to me. However, David Aldridge (NBA.com / TNT) is reporting that both men will stay in Toronto with Casey.
Nori is one of the longest-serving members of the Raptors organization (13 years) and he has recently held of the post of Director of NBA Scouting in addition to his coaching and advance scouting duties.
Hughes came to Toronto in 2007-08 as a basketball development consultant and was promoted to the post of assistant coach / basketball development in the summer of 2009. The former NCAA head coach is primarily responsible for working with the younger players; arriving 3-4 hours before game-time on most days for guys to get in extra work.
Aldridge is reporting that Johnny Davis will be joining Casey’s staff as his lead assistant and Tom Sterner will come aboard in Toronto as well.
Davis played 10 years in the NBA – winning a championship with Portland in 1977. Davis has been a head coach in the Association on 4 separate occasions: during Allen Iverson’s rookie season in Philly, in two difference stints in Orlando, and as an interim head coach in Memphis … when he replaced Marc Iavaroni. This fall will mark Davis’ 35th season in the NBA as a player, coach, or front office executive.
It’s not yet known if Alex English will catch-on with another club.
PJ Carlesimo – in spite of the one year he had remaining on his contract – will not be back with the Raptors.
Though many believe(d) otherwise, Alvin Williams was technically not on Triano’s staff last season. He did do some pre-game work with the guards, but he was not on the bench during the games. Williams was and is, officially, the Raptors Director of Player Development. He has told me on numerous occasions that his NBA aspirations are in the front office and not as a coach.
Tuesday, June 28th, 2011
Tuesday June 28 2011 – 1:59pm Eastern – Toronto, ON
Last Thursday, Paul Jones and I had the chance to host a special 2-hour NBA Draft edition of the “HOOPS” show. The radio show followed a 3-hour live chat that we both took part in on Sportsnet.ca as well.
It was a busy day that began on Sportsnet Radio the FAN 590 earlier in the day … with the two of us filling the 2pm-4pm slot too.
But, unfortunately, the high of that day may comes crashing down by the end of this week when the NBA is expected to lockout its players. CBA unrest in the Association!
We’ll have plenty of time to talk about the league’s labour woes, so in the meantime … check out this photo blog from Thursday’s 2-hour “HOOPS” show – on location at the Real Sports Apparel store inside Maple Leaf Squre (just outside the ACC).
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I’ll be back with another entry later today or on Wednesday.
Be sure to keep it tuned to Sportsnet Radio the FAN 590 from 2pm-4pm today. I’ll be on the air in that slot on Wednesday and Thursday as well.
Have a good one
Monday, June 27th, 2011
Monday June 27 2011 – 11:17pm Eastern – Toronto, ON
The Raptors may have extended a qualifying offer to Sonny Weems on Monday but that doesn’t mean the swingman is certain to be back in Toronto.
The Raps simply have retained Weems’ rights as a restricted free agent. Bryan Colangelo now has the chance to match any offer that may come in for Weems or opt to let him go via free agency.
It’s a calculated move for T.O. … one that enables to the team to still hold the upper hand in negotiations.
When I spoke with Weems prior to the Draft last week (he was in Toronto), he told me that he was positive he’d be in the league next season; in Toronto or elsewhere. His confidence might lead one to think that he has heard, through his agent, that other teams have casually made it known that they’d be interested in his services if he ever chose to leave the Raps. Of course, any formal conversations with other organizations would be against the CBA … given that Weems is under contract until June 30.
Raptors coach Dwane Casey believes Weems could be a fit on both ends of the floor for Toronto and Weems said last week that he’d love to play for a coach like Casey and believes he could still be a great fit for Canada’s lone franchise.
The biggest obstacle for Weems next season, other than the contract itself, may be his wonky back that sidelined him for major chunks of the 2nd half of the 2010-11 season. But he says he has spent most of the off-season doing strengthening exercises and playing very little basketball … in order to get healthy and get his body back to where it needs to be in time for October’s training camp.
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If Weems is back, there’s a good chance that he’ll be coming off the bench in a back-up role to James Johnson.
Though no job will be guaranteed, Colangelo has shown a lot of confidence in Johnson since bringing him over from the Bulls late last year and he even stayed away from other small forwards in the Draft because of that faith in JJ’s game.
Either way, barring other bodies coming in via trade and/or free agency, both Weems and Johnson are sure to play a ton in 2011-12 with Linas Kleiza on the mend.
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Weems and DeMar DeRozan are heading out to Spain this week to help work on Jose Calderon’s annual camp for kids in Caceres.
Friday, June 24th, 2011
Friday June 24 2011 – 11:42am Eastern – Toronto, ON
I already wrote about this – briefly – on Twitter this morning. But for those that didn’t catch it …
Some of you need to get your facts straight before making uninformed comments or accusations about questions or sequences of events.
I hosted a live chat (with Jonesy) for 3 hours (last night on Sportsnet.ca). Two hours were spent on anti-Euro bashing from the majority of the fans that were taking part in the discussion. In fact, the dislike and venom of the Raptors selection of Jonas Valanciunas was probably 70-30 overall (my rough guess of those that were against the draft pick VS those who favoured it). In fact, some even started making references to Rafael Araujo (multiple times), Aleksandar Radojevic, and, of course, Andrea Bargnani.
The comparisons to Araujo and Radojevic were/are ridiculous and I said as much during the chat last night. However, the Euro-bashing continued online and from what I hear it was in full throttle on Twitter and in the chat rooms as well. And it certainly filled my email Inbox when I checked it later in the night as well!
I never made those comparisons to Valanciunas. I said over and over – on the air and during the online chat – that folks needed to be patient and not rush to judgement with their assessment, like, or dislike of Big V. I stressed that folks needed to give him a chance … adding that he “may be a bust (not likely) but he may be a stud. We just don’t know yet.”
Later in the evening, Raptors President and GM Bryan Colangelo joined me (and Jonesy) on the special 2-hour edition of HOOPS. Based on the negativity that was swirling around Toronto’s latest selection, I asked Colangelo about the anti-Euro sentiment, etc.
However, since that interview (at about 11:20pm last night), folks have been filling up my Inbox and Twitter account with comments and questions about my/our chat with Colangelo; some alleging that I was the one to compare Big V to Hoffa and Radojevic, etc. It’s simply not true. Hence my initial statement at the top of this blog: Some of you need to get your facts straight before making uninformed comments or accusations about questions or sequences of events.
In fact, I went back and sifted through 19 pages (!!) of our 3 hour chat last night and pulled out some of the comments that came after the Raptors made their pick at #5:
“Why did they get another Euro”
“Grrr! Colangelo is now on the clock with his time in Toronto”
“You can have my season tickets back, Raps”
“Dumbest pick ever!
“Biggest Draft bust in Raps history? Or Araujo, Bradley or Radojevic?
“Sad that Bryan doesn’t get it! Too many Euros”
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For those that need to be further enlightened, here’s a transcript of the portion of the Colangelo interview that’s been discussed to much:
ME to COLANGELO: You addressed, down in your press conference, some of the criticism that has already existed – and it’s predominantly coming from fans that, respectfully, may not really know anything about the guy’s game. They’re automatically just saying ‘It’s a Euro, I don’t want another European. I don’t want a European big man.’ What do you say to that – to the folks that say, okay, ‘Radojevic, Araujo, even Bargnani – that hasn’t lived up to some of the potential …’
COLANGELO: You’re off base right there.
Colangelo and I sort of talked over each other for about 10 seconds as I tried to make it clear that I was not assessing Valanciunas that way, but many fans were. Colangelo, meanwhile, was trying to defend or deflate what he thought was a ridiculous comparison (and I did not – and do not – blame him. I agree with him).
ME: Those aren’t my words – that’s where the fan-base is going…
COLANGELO: Let’s talk about Bargnani for a second. He’s an enigma. There’s no doubt about it. He’s weak defensively – we’ve talked about that. He needs to get better at rebounding; we’ve talked about that. But to put him in the same sentence with those two? You’ve got to be kidding me.
The interrupting / talking over one another continued for a few seconds …
ME: That’s not my words.
COLANGELO: Hold on. Let me keep going here …
ME: I’m telling you that’s what the fan-base is saying right now based on 3 hours online talking to these folks.
COLANGELO: That’s okay. So, no problem. We’ll wait and see how it all plays out. But you can’t make your judgement based on that. Let’s not pass judgement today. People will react; it’s happened before.
Colangelo went on to speak about when the Suns selected Dan Majerle and got openly booed. Or when Kevin Johnson was originally drafted and folks didn’t like the pick either. He also spoke of his selection of Shawn Marion over Corey Maggette – how he faced instant criticism for that move too. Then he went on to say …
COLANGELO: The bottom line is fans are obviously entitled to react whichever way they want. And we respect that.
We’re here to win basketball games. No matter how we get there, we’re going to try to get there and make the right decisions. But you can’t necessarily be swayed by what the blogging community or the online community … you cannot do that. You can’t let others dictate how the business is run.
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Admittedly, some agreed with me RE: Valanciunas. Some were/are willing to give the kid a chance. Some believed right off the bat that he was a steal for the Raptors. Others conceded that they knew nothing about the Lithuanian so they were waiting to pass judgement – good or bad.
But the initial reaction over this selection – based on the kid’s birthplace or the colour of his skin – was pathetic and embarrassing. So I understand why Colangelo got a bit defensive with the question. I would have too.
Strangely – but also commendably – many of you have seemed to soften your criticism of Valanciunas and Toronto’s decision to take him over the last 12 hours. I think folks have had time to sit back and take in the future potential of this young big man and the impact he could possibly have on the Raptors. I don’t know if the popularity vote is now 50/50 or better, but it’s evident that many folks have chilled and taken a deep breath.
Plus, many seem prepared to give Colangelo credit (as I do) for having the ‘stones’ to make a pick that he believes is best for the organization, long-term, without worrying about whether or not a potential project-of-a-player will have a negative impact on his own current 2-year deal as President/GM. That, in itself, should prove the confidence BC and the Raptors have in Valanciunas and the kind of player he could be for T.O.
Perhaps they read comments like this one from Sports Illustrated / SI.com:
“Raptors executive Bryan Colangelo nails the half-court shot here, as Valanciunas became the apple of almost every lottery team’s eye in recent days. He might not be available to join the Raptors next season, but he can man the middle for Toronto for a decade to come thereafter. He’s a skilled and efficient scorer who can still fill out his 19-year-old frame.”
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We’ll find out more about Valanciunas when he is introduced to the media in Toronto about an hour from now.
Be sure to tune in this afternoon to Sportsnet Radio, the FAN 590 … I’ll be hosting from 2pm-4pm.
Thanks, have a good one
FYI … if you want to hear the Colangelo interview (from HOOPS) in its entirety, click on this link:
Friday, June 24th, 2011
Friday June 24 2011 – 8:29am Eastern – Toronto, ON
Let’s forget about the Toronto Raptors for a second (Big V!) and concentrate on the CANADIANS that made history on Thursday night.
Tristan Thompson became the highest Canadian-born player ever drafted (modern era) with the 4th overall selection of the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Cavs put a serious dent in the plans of the Charlotte Bobcats (and Detroit Pistons) with this pick!
Many (including me) were shocked to see Cory Joseph grabbed in the 1st round as well.
In spite of the fact that Joseph was projected to be a mid-to-late second round pick, the San Antonio Spurs took a chance on the Canadian PG and gave him a guaranteed deal with the 29th overall pick. And given the history of the Spurs’ selections, there’s clearly something they see and like in Joseph’s game.
Here’s a look at other top CDN selections over the years:
Leo Rautins (17th overall in 1983)
Bill Wennington (16th overall in 1985)
Rick Fox (24th overall in 1991),
Jamaal Magloire (19th overall in 2000)
Samuel Dalembert (26th overall in 2001)
Thanks folks. I’m back on the air on today from 2pm-4pm!
Thursday, June 23rd, 2011
Wednesday, June 22nd, 2011
Wednesday June 22 2011 – 2:01pm Eastern – Toronto, ON
Mock Drafts have to be taken with a grain of salt. Other than the first couple of picks … the process is a crap-shoot / guessing game at best.
But after taking the information I’ve obtained from conversations with NBA scouts and executives and trusted sources of Draft-specific information like www.draftexpress.com I’ve come up with my 2011 NBA Mock Draft. I’m only doing the Lottery teams though!
1. Cavaliers – Kyrie Irving – no doubt about it. In my mind (and pretty-much everyone else’s) he’s locked into that top spot
2. Timberwolves – Derrick Williams – In spite of the size that the Wolves already have, they can’t pass on Williams at #2 and he’ll fit in nicely with former top pick, Ricky Rubio, who finally decided to make his way over to the U.S.
3. Jazz – Enes Kanter – Many believe Kanter is the third-best player in the Draft and with questions in Utah about Mehmet Okur and Andrei Kirilenko, there would still be room for Kanter in spite of the presence of Paul Millsap and Al Jefferson. Plus, acquiring talent and depth is never a bad thing and adding Kanter could open up other moves (involving Jefferson or Millsap?) for the Jazz.
4. Cavaliers – Jonas Valanciunas – If Kanter is off the board, the Cavs will have a bit of a dilemma on their hands. They had/have dreams of getting a top guard and a top big man in the same year; two guys that could contribute right away. But given the fact that Cleveland is likely a few years away from truly contending for a playoff spot again, they can afford to wait for Valanciunas — a solid big that should have a bright future in spite of the fact that he may have to wait (due to contractual issues) to come to the NBA for another year.
5. Raptors – Brandon Knight – Toronto will jump at the chance to take Knight at #5. I believe he’s at the top of their wish list. However, if the Jazz take Knight at #3 (with Cleveland then grabbing Kanter at #4), the Raptors may throw the Draft into a tizzy by gobbling-up the freakishly athletic (but raw) Bismack Biyombo.
6. Wizards – Jan Vesely – An athletic, versatile scorer whose length (about 6’11) should fit in well with the size in DC
7. Kings – Kemba Walker – Many Raptor fans are hoping for Walker if Knight is gone but I think he could slide to the Kings. Sacramento could use some help at the point – with Tyreke Evans’ (strengths may be better-suited at shooting guard) and Beno Udrih.
8. Pistons – Tristan Thompson – The Toronto-native stays close to home! Some mocks (specifically, SI.com) have him going as high as #4. His versatility and his ability to go after on the glass make him a very attractive prospect.
9. Bobcats – Kawhi Leonard – For a team starving for 3′s and 4′s, Leonard would be a nice fit for Charlotte. In fact, he’s the kind of player that could step in and possibly start right away (moving guys like Dante Cunningham and Boris Diaw to the 2nd unit)
10. Bucks – Marcus Morris – Milwaukee currently has athletic size up front with Ilyasova and Mbah a Moute, but Morris would give them a bruiser … that can score too. That said, if Valanciunas does not go earlier in the draft, Milwaukee would jump at the chance of taking him here. With questions swirling about whether or not he’ll be able to get out of his European contract and join the NBA in time for next season, the Bucks would have the luxury of waiting for the big man given that they have Andrew Bogut. Looking long-term, Valanciunas could back up Bogut for a year or two and/or play alongside the Aussie at the PF slot
11. Warriors – Klay Thompson – Much like Tristan Thompson (no relation), Klay has the versatility that many teams cherish. Many believe he can be a decent scorer at the NBA level as well. That said, if Biyombo is still on the board, I think Golden State takes him instead of Thompson. Biyombo’s athleticism would fit in nicely will the core and the style the Warriors possess.
12. Jazz – Jimmer Fredette – The BYU star stays ‘home’ in Utah. What a story. And I think it has a legit shot at happening.
13. Suns – Chris Singleton – If Klay Thompson is on the board still, it’s a toss-up … ’cause he’d fit in well to the type of team/style the Suns play. But Phoenix couldn’t go wrong with Singleton either. At 6’9, 230 … Singleton could play the 3 or the 4 for the Suns and with age creeping up on Grant Hill year after year, Phoenix will have to address his ‘replacement’ at some point. Singleton (or K. Thompson) could be that guy.
14. Rockets – Nikola Vucevic – Houston could go in a lot of different directions with this pick but with the status/future of Yao Ming and Brad Miller in doubt (and Chuck Hayes entering free agency as well), the Rockets need a center. Thabeet is still a big question mark too. They need some size. Vucevic would fill that void. Plus, Houston has depth at the guard spots, so I don’t know if they truly need to look that direction.
There ya have it folks. We’ll see how it all unfolds tomorrow.
Paul Jones and I will be hosting a LIVE CHAT form 7pm-930pm on Fan590.com and Sportsnet.ca (joint venture) then we’ll be on the air with a special Draft Night edition of “HOOPS” from 10pm-12am.
It’ll be a busy day!
Tuesday, June 21st, 2011
Tuesday, June 21st, 2011
Tuesday June 21 2011 – 1:26pm Eastern – Toronto, ON
Dwane Casey was introduced to the media as the new head coach of the Toronto Raptors.
President and General Manager, Bryan Colangelo, was on-hand as well.
Here are some key quotes from the 40-minute press conference:
“It was a long and exhaustive process”
“He has had some tremendous mentors in his career …some great experience to draw from”
“Everything we set out to find is sitting right next to me”
“I’d like to thank Bryan Colangelo for giving me this opportunity”
…Says the job was attractive because of Colangelo and the young core
“I want to continue the path that Jay (Triano) went down …(RE: the development of the players)”
“More of a free-flowing offence…not as many set players. We want to trust players offensively but your earn that on the defensive end”
Says DeMar is “on his way to being a superstar”
The offence has to be “natural and instinctive”
“Defensively, I’m going to be a control freak”
…..Says he spliced in hockey clips to his Mavericks post-season video sessions in order to try and fire-up the toughness in Dallas vs Miami
“Jay did a great job of starting the process”
“Every experience I’ve had has been good for me …even getting fired in Minnesota was great.”
“There are a few players in this Draft that would address…defence.”
“The best talent; the best fit. We have a young core we’d like to compliment.”
“I don’t want players to like me, I want them to respect me.”
…..Says he will get on players if need-be / whenever it’s needed but says he “never has and never will embarrass a player.”
“This team here has more athletic talent than that team did.” (Comparing Toronto now vs Minnesota – his 1st head coaching gig)
…..Says he got a call from Rick Carlisle on the night the Mavs won the championship asking what it would take to get Casey the job up in Toronto. Carlisle said to BC, “It’s right for him and it’s right for you.”
For more on Casey’s hiring, be sure to check out the world-famous Smith and Jones VLOG (video blog) as well.