Archive for November, 2011
Wednesday, November 30th, 2011
Wednesday November 30 2011 – 11:08pm Eastern – Toronto, ON
This whole ‘tanking’ thing has gotten out of hand …
( http://www.sportsnet.ca/basketball/2011/11/28/grange_raptors/ )
After chatting with Michael Grange on the air I can’t tell if he’s joking, serious, or giving a little bit of both; tongue-in-cheek.
You can’t ‘intentionally’ lose games. And I don’t think Grange is saying you should.
But if you’re not losing on purpose…then how exactly are you ‘tanking’?
If you’re playing your young core a bulk of minutes and letting them sink or swim in crunch-time, is that tanking or is that ‘developing a young team’ and allowing them to play through (and learn from) their mistakes?
Dwane Casey is not walking into the locker room and saying: “DeMar…Andrea…Amir…please don’t play at 100 per cent. Give me 50 per cent. Play half-assed defence and give the opposing team an open lane to the hoop.”
The newly-minted coach is not canceling practices or shoot-arounds either and he’s not going to stop demanding anything and everything from every single player on his roster.
So how is it you ‘tank’ a season?
As it stands right now … the Raptors have 10 players under contract … with the core (for now) consisting of:
Solomon Alabi was barely used last season and Linas Kleiza is the only other player under contract and he’s not expected back until some time in the new year (likely February).
So, we’re essentially looking at 8 guys. Eight guys that combined with Alex Ajinca, Reggie Evans, Julian Wright, Joey Dorsey (free agents) and Sonny Weems to win 22 games last year.
I ask again…is ‘tanking’ needed?
In all likelihood, this team will struggle again this season. As a broadcaster, I hope that’s NOT the case. I’d like to call games for a winning/playoff team. I’m sure Casey and Bryan Colangelo (let alone the players themselves) have great expectations too; they’d love to see a winner on the floor. And perhaps a free agent or two could help matters. But the reality is that the 2011-12 Raptors will sink or swim with DeRozan as the go-to guy and Bargnani finally stepping into a leadership role. They’ll battle for .500 or struggle to win 20 games based on how strong Davis is on the glass and how much of an impact Johnson and Johnson can have on both ends of the floor.
They’ll play hard and let the chips fall where they may. And at the end of the season, based on their age and inexperience, the Raps will probably still be in the conversation for guys like Jared Sullinger, Perry Jones, Harrison Barnes, and Anthony Davis et al. But if the team somehow catches lightning in a bottle and takes the world by storm and actually wins 30+ games and/or makes it to the post-season…how are you supposed to avoid that?
Tanking – intentionally – is simply an unrealistic option in professional sports.
Monday, November 28th, 2011
Monday November 28 2011 – 11:59pm Eastern – Toronto, ON
Yahoo Sports’ NBA columnist/writer, Marc Spears, recently compiled a list of the Top 15 free agents in the NBA right now. And on the heels of that list hitting the web, many in Raptorland wondered aloud on Twitter and in emails if Toronto would be active with any of these available bodies.
Here’s my take …
(NOTE: I have not spoken to anyone in the Raptors organization because they can’t comment (yet) on players ’til the new CBA is officially ratified)
Nene – Championship contenders will be bidding for his services. Toronto, right now, would be a tough sell.
Tyson Chandler - He and Dwane Casey (Raptors coach) have a fantastic relationship but would that be enough to pry him from the NBA Champs in Dallas?
David West - Fantastic player but I’d be nervous about giving big money to a guy coming back from injury.
Marc Gasol (restricted) – His overall game and grit may be exactly what the Raptors need; best fit on this list? But I don’t see the Grizzlies letting him leave Memphis.
DeAndre Jordan (restricted) – Young stud waiting to blossom in a new surrounding or decent player who will be good but not great? Toronto has to be careful to not overpay, for anyone.
Thaddeus Young (restricted) – See above RE: Jordan. I like Young’s game…big time. But I don’t know that he’s a true ‘game-changer’ for the Raps. Maybe.
Andrei Kirilenk0 - Not now. Not at this point of his career.
Jamal Crawford – Fabulous scorer and an even better person. But for a young team that’s developing and building a core…I don’t think Crawford is a fit for T.O.
Tayshaun Prince – A perfect 6th man for a team like Boston (if Green isn’t back) or Miami.
Jeff Green (restricted) – I’m intrigued by his upside but I suppose there’d be a risk of ‘duplication’ with Bargnani and I don’t know that Green would bring enough – beyond his scoring – to make a major difference beyond what Toronto should get from Amir Johnson, Ed Davis, and more.
Shane Battier – Where do I sign? Unfortunately Battier will be in-demand all over the NBA and with this (possibly) being his last deal, I doubt he’s looking to be a piece of a young, building core. He wants a ring.
Caron Butler – See David West (above).
Jason Richardson – I’d be concerned that he would stunt the growth and maturity of DeMar DeRozan. DD has to be the go-to guy this year for the Raps. The team has to find out if he has ‘All Star’ in him or not.
Rodney Stuckey (restricted) – Another name to consider…but one has to wonder if he’d be THAT much of an upgrade over Jerryd Bayless. Maybe…maybe not. We should find out early what the plan is for Bayless; if Bryan Colangelo deals for a point guard…the writing is on the wall. If no PG is brought in…Bayless is likely the man. Of course, Jose Calderon is still very much in the mix. And, no, I don’t see the Raps using the Amnesty Clause on Calderon. Not now.
Kris Humphries – The last thing Toronto needs right now is a PF. If they’re going big, it has to be a center
Samuel Dalembert may be worth keeping an eye on as well. But the Raptors may end up going with a veteran piece; a stop-gap for a season, and await the arrival of youngster Jonas Valanciunas next season.
Keep in mind…Toronto currently has 10 players under contract and THEIR free agent picture looks like this:
Sonny Weems (restricted)
Reggie Evans, Alex Ajinca, Joey Dorsey, Julian Wright (unrestricted)
No matter what unfolds, it’ll be a wild ride for the Raptors and every other team in the league when free agency begins at the same time as Training Camp…on December 9.
Sunday, November 27th, 2011
Sunday November 27 2011 – 11:18pm Eastern – Toronto, ON
The National Basketball Association released details of the 66-game season on Sunday evening and here is how the 2011-12 season will break down if the players approve the Collective Bargaining Agreement this week (which they are expected to do):
Regular Season Start Date: December 25 2011
Regular Season End Date: April 26 2012
Playoffs Start Date: April 28 2012
Last Possible Finals Date: June 26 2012
Conference Games: 48
• Play 6 teams 4 times (2 home, 2 away)
• Play 4 teams 3 times (2 home, 1 away)
• Play 4 teams 3 times (1 home, 2 away)
Non-Conference Games: 18
• Play 3 teams 2 times (1 home, 1 away)
• Play 6 teams 1 time at home
• Play 6 teams 1 time away
ALSO OF NOTE: Every team in the league will play at least 1 – and as many as 3 – back to back to backs. The NBA also announced that back to backs could be possible in the 2nd round of the post-season as well.
Individual team schedules are expected to be released some time this week.
Saturday, November 26th, 2011
Saturday November 26 2011 – 10:19am Eastern – Toronto, ON
At approximately 3am this morning – while most of us were sleeping – the NBA and its players reached a tentative agreement on a new Collective Bargaining Agreement.
Commissioner David Stern and Union Executive Director Billy Hunter announced to the media in the wee hours that IF their handshake deal is ratified by a simple majority of the owners and of the Players Association then the 2011-12 season will be a reality.
The rough plan right now is to have a 66-game season that would start on Christmas Day with the Heat vs Mavericks, Celtics vs Knicks, and Bulls vs Lakers.
Training Camps would open up league-wide on December 9.
Details of the CBA (system issues, split of Basketball Related Income, etc) are not yet known.
How this new deal with affect the Toronto Raptors remains to be seen. But if the CBA limits spending and brings competitive balance and parity back to the league, then Toronto will be in a decent position to be a significant spend by next season – armed with a lot of cap space. That said, as is always the case, signing free agents has as much to do with being an attractive destination (i.e. – a winning team or a team that is on its way to doing something special) as it does with the actual dollars and cents. Thus, the Raptors will have to make some strides with their young core.
Either way, this 66-game season is great news for T.O. and its players, coaches, management, fans, arena workers, local businesses, and more.
The 66-game schedule will likely be released within a week of the deal being ratified (assuming it IS approved) and then we’ll be able to break down how things look for the Raptors specifically.
Dwane Casey and his crew were originally scheduled to travel to Cleveland on December 25th for a Boxing Day showdown against the Cavs and then the Raps were going to be on the road for New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day as well. But that could change given the fact that the Toronto Maple Leafs are on the road from December 22 – 31 and their first home game in the new year doesn’t come until January 2. The Air Canada Centre currently has only 2 events booked during that time-frame as well; the Marlies and Bulldogs (AHL) on Dec. 26 and two shows with the Trans Siberian Orchestra on Dec. 29.
The Leafs have another long gap of games on the road (combined with the NHL All Star weekend) between January 24-31 and other long stretches away from home between Feb. 12-20, and March 11-19. The only events on the ACC sked during those dates are concerts with “Simple Plan” (Feb. 19) and “Hedley” (March 13) so Raptors’ fans could probably expect to have a chunk of home games during those stretches.
As more details become available RE: the new CBA, I’ll update this blog.
Your thoughts on the NBA being BACK* are welcomed below
The folks at HoopsHype.com have compiled a list of all of the available free agents for 2011-12. Signings would likely start on Dec. 9 as well:
Friday, November 25th, 2011
Friday November 25 2011 – 1:59pm Eastern – Toronto, ON
Word filtered out this morning that the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan is no longer interested in selling its majority stake of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment. In spite of rumored interest from potential buyers like Rogers, Bell, and more … it sounds like the revenue that can be made off the likes of the Toronto Maple Leafs, Toronto Raptors, Toronto FC, Air Canada Centre and more was too enticing to pass along.
MLSE issued a statement on the ownership news on Friday:
“It was confirmed this morning that Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan (Teachers’) has decided to maintain its ownership stake in Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment (MLSE). From the onset, we knew a change in ownership was not a foregone conclusion. Teachers’ said then they were exploring the possibility of a sale in response to unsolicited expressions of interest they had received.
“Teachers’, along with Kilmer Sports, are great owners. They have always provided our teams with the resources needed to compete on the ice, on the court and on the pitch. MLSE has been operating ‘business as usual’ throughout this process and will continue to do so.”
Time will tell if the Teachers stay true to their word by NOT selling or if they’re wooed by any big buyers that may still be out there.
Thursday, November 24th, 2011
Thursday November 24 2011 – 2:41pm Eastern – Toronto, ON
The NBA Lockout continues (in spite of rumblings that the two sides are pushing hard towards finding a deal this weekend (I won’t hold my breath)) … And some ballers have been busy filling their free time with hobbies and other ventures.
Check out Raptors’ free agent swingman, Julian Wright:
We’ll try to track down “Jay Midi” for The Eric Smith Show tomorrow or some time next week.
Back to BASKETBALL soon … I hope.
Wednesday, November 16th, 2011
Wednesday November 16 2011 – 4:48pm Eastern – Toronto, ON
DeMar DeRozan was on Sportsnet 590 earlier today – with Paul Jones and me – and he broke the news that he has been considering the possibility of organizing a charity game in Toronto at some point in the next month.
Details are limited at this point, but DeRozan told us that he and Raptors teammate, Amir Johnson, recently discussed the idea and they are meeting tomorrow or Friday to figure out the details and determine if this event could fly or not.
Basketball fans in and around Toronto will remember how successful Vince Carter was when he held charity games at Air Canada Centre for a few summers in the early years of last decade. But DeRozan and Johnson would likely not be able to host their game at the ACC given the fact that Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment owns the building and the Raptors (conflict of interest RE: the ongoing Lockout). Ditto for Ricoh Coliseum. So a DeRozan-Johnson venture would likely tip off at somewhere like Ryerson or U of T.
DeRozan mentioned in the interview that he has been doing a lot of work in the off-season with NBA players like Corey Maggette and Matt Barnes so you could probably expect those guys to show up for a charity game in T.O. IF it went down. Brandon Jennings is a close friend to DeRozan too … And all-star Kevin Durant has shown up for pretty-much every charity game that teammates and fellow ballers have put on this summer and fall. But his participation is purely speculative at this point (as is the game itself for that matter).
Keep it tuned to Sportsnet 590 and this blog for more details.
* If you missed our chat with DeRozan, you can listen to it here:
Monday, November 14th, 2011
Monday November 14 2011 – 3:50pm Eastern – Toronto, ON
The NBPA, around 1:55pm, turned down the latest CBA offer from the owners and now all hell has broken loose in the NBA.
The 2011-2012 season is truly in jeopardy and the battle is now in the hands of the lawyers and it takes to the court rooms.
I’ll have more on the players’ announcement later today/this evening in another posting … but for now … here’s the latest from the LEAGUE, following the PA’s press conference:
(quotes from Commissioner David Stern)
“At a bargaining session in February 2010, Jeffrey Kessler, counsel for the union, threatened that the players would abandon the collective bargaining process and start an antitrust lawsuit against our teams if they did not get a bargaining resolution that was acceptable to them.
“In anticipation of this day, the NBA filed an unfair labor practice charge before the National Labor Relations Board asserting that, by virtue of its continued threats, the union was not bargaining in good faith. We also began a litigation in federal court in anticipation of this same bargaining tactic.
“The NBA has negotiated in good faith throughout the collective bargaining process, but — because our revised bargaining proposal was not to its liking – the union has decided to make good on Mr. Kessler’s threat.
“There will ultimately be a new collective bargaining agreement, but the 2011-12 season is now in jeopardy.”
Monday, November 14th, 2011
Monday November 14 2011 – 10:32am Eastern – Toronto, ON
Player reps from the 30 NBA teams were scheduled to arrive at a hotel in New York at 9am this morning (but at 10am, some reps had still not arrived) to vote on the latest CBA proposal from the league’s owners.
We should know the outcome of that vote by the end of the day…or by tomorrow morning at the latest. And the outcome of this meeting could dictate whether we see a 2011-2012 season or not. If the players accept the owners’ offer, David Stern has already announced that the league will commence a 72-game season on December 15. If the players turn down the deal, the union will likely press forward with decertification and the battle will then head to the court rooms … where the legal war would likely take months to find a resolution.
Chris Duhon, player rep for the Orlando Magic already said on Twitter this morning that the Magic would accept this offer. But there haven’t been any other sightings or rumblings – pro or con.
Former NBA’er Matt Harpring – on Twitter as well – said if he were still playing, he’d accept the NBA’s proposal and tell all of his teammates and friends in the league to do the same.
The NBA released this video on YouTube – highlighting most/all of the details of their CBA offer to the players:
Turner Sports also obtained a copy of a memo Stern sent out to ALL of the players on Sunday. If you’d like to read it yourself, click on this link:
Be sure to listen to “The Eric Smith Show” today with Paul Jones and me … If anything happens in the NBA, we’ll have it on the air ASAP.
Have a good one folks
Sunday, November 13th, 2011
Sunday November 13 2011 – 10:35pm Eastern – Toronto, ON
The NBA took to Twitter on Sunday evening … answering questions from fans, media, and players on the latest Collective Bargaining Agreement offer that has been presented by the Owners to the Union.
Commissioner David Stern and Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver tackled the Q & A and offered a unique insight into what Billy Hunter, Derek Fisher, and the PA is dealing with right now … as they face their ‘vote’ (some time) tomorrow.
Believe what you want … decide for yourself if the answers are genuine or not … but nobody can deny that this “Twitterview” (as the league termed it) was a fantastic public relations coo.
(FYI – read from BOTTOM to TOP for the most accurate display of how the questions were asked and answered)
@NBA – We want our players and teams to do well and we hope our proposal is accepted. Good night.
@NBA – Thank you for participating. There is a fair deal on the table that will allow the season to start on December 15.
@NBA – No mandate to operate unprofitably
@sam_amick - Don’t teams that received public funding for arenas to be built have a responsibility to their communities to continue operations?
@NBA – Every team will have least 500 tickets for $10 or less for every game this season
@Lakeshow31 – what about lowering ticket costs and making attending games more affordable for fans during a tough economy?
@NBA – All league executives are taking pay cuts in addition to over 300 job cuts across the league
@Mrljd05 – How about Mr. Stern and Mr. Silver both take equal pay cuts that the players are taking? Would show some shared sacrifice right?
@NBA – Raising payroll floor improves competition among all teams
@theRealHrdlicka – How is raising each team’s payroll floor a concession when the OVR BRI drops? Seems to me, that helps owners w/higher payrolls.
@NBA – Restricting taxpayers makes more talent available to other teams
@MrMichaelLee – How does a system set up to restrict tax paying teams actually help bad teams get better?
@NBA – If decertification occurs, players’ contracts would become void
@bagsack – If decertification of the Union occurs, will players’ current contracts become void?
@NBA – NBA would suffer enormous losses with no season; losses much greater without a fair agreement
@darrenrovell – You said you lost a total of $300M last season. How much would teams collectively lose with no season?
@NBA – Teams suffering enormous losses; no choice but to recover if season does not start soon.
@mcten – Explain why you will revert to an alternative, lesser deal if the current offer isn’t accepted. How is that bargaining in good faith?
@NBA – Spending & competitive balance are closely related. A fair agreement deals with both.
@kevincote – Why kill the season for tax/cap rules when spending & competitive balance are not related? Add #financialfairplay clause & be done.
@NBA – We need a system that allows all 30 teams to compete for a championship
@AzazNYK – Are you willing to lose the season over system issues?
@NBA – Teams suffering enormous losses; no choice but to recover if season does not start soon.
@JohnLigon – What would be accomplished by offering a worse deal if the players reject this one? Isn’t that just giving up on the season?
@NBA – Minimum age is subject to further discussion with union; amnesty excludes a waived players’ salary from his team’s cap
@kc1nyk – Is it true that u guys are thinking about making the age minimum for the draft 20 years old rather than 19. And can u explain amnesty?
@NBA – Smaller MLE for taxpayers is not about the money, it’s about competitive balance
@pwinfield24 – Why can’t tax paying teams use full MLE since they are paying luxury tax at a higher rate? Doesn’t tax money go to non paying tax teams
@NBA – Tax calculation in year 3: 53.5% of BRI, subtract player benefits, divide by 30: projected at $74 mill
@BimaThug – How EXACTLY will the luxury tax be calculated starting in Year 3? Throwing out random #s doesn’t indicate its relation to salary cap.
@NBA – We want a system where all 30 teams regardless of market size can compete for a championship
@mavndgooner – How can you expect the players to go from 57 to 50 BRI & be satisfied with a deal unless the owners also make significant concessions?
@NBA – The economics & system favored the players in prior CBA — Teams lost over 300m last year
@DwyaneWade – why are all your “system solutions” only impacting the PLAYERS?? What have the owners giving up of significance??
@NBA – Max salary will be $20 mill in year 3: higher maxes would take money from other players especially middle class
@gostu22 – why don’t you raise max salaries so teams can’t fit multiple stars under the cap? Seems like it would enhance comp. balance…
@NBA – 50% of BRI would fund players’ salaries
@LLCOOLREN – is the BRI funds the players share with the owners along with their salary that they already make?
@NBA – Teams are group being criticized for trying to raise avg salaries from $5 mill to $8 mill & provide for better competition
@spencerhawes00 – if the commish calls the agents greedy for trying to protect their clients from a trbl deal what does that make the owners?
@NBA – No matter the system, teams will have to make smart decisions to succeed
@The__Cooler – Why does the NBA feel the need to protect bad owners/GMs from themselves? Knicks proved $ doesn’t give u an advantage.
@NBA – No such clause was even proposed
@One_Sage - using the D-league 5 year $75k demotion clause, are you trying to get out from guarantee contracts? Isn’t this clause a bit too unfair?
@NBA – Players not unreasonable or greedy; system is broken
@momomoses7 - And why are players being “unreasonable” and “greedy” when they are the only side making sacrifices from previous CBA?
@NBA – The last five NBA champions were taxpayers
@kennyclark05 – How can the league cite competitive balance as a reason for this terrible offer when 3 of final 4 teams last year were not tax teams?
@NBA – Don’t agree; season starts if union agrees to NBA’s proposal.
@spencerhawes00 – since we have covered all of your alleged losses(and more)why am I not getting ready for a game tonight. Reason the lockout continues?
@NBA – Stretch exception only applies to contracts signed under new CBA
@_andresb – Is it true that teams will not be allowed to use the stretch exception on players already signed under the previous CBA?
@NBA – Contraction has been discussed but is not a complete solution
@sportsguy33 – Why not contract over missing a season?
The NBA also posted this informative video / “slide show” on YouTube which outlines the Owners’ latest CBA offer to the Union. You can watch it below … and decide for yourself which side you want to take …