The Raptors finished off their exhibition schedule last night in Portland with a win, and Doug Smith reports that Morris Peterson looks to be coming from off the bench to start the season, rookie Joey Graham starting.
Ready or not, here comes the season. That urgency, perhaps, provided some impetus for yesterday's Bucks-Hornets deal that has Jamaal Magloire and Desmond Mason trading places, and No. 1 overall pick Andrew Bogut going to the bench. At least, that was Milwaukee GM Larry Harris's explanation:
"We had not been rebounding well in the preseason and that was a concern. And then Joe (Smith) can't play until the seventh game of an eight-game schedule and Dan (Gadzuric) goes down . . . It showed how tenuous we were. As I started to look at things, Jamaal's name was out there and so I reached out to see if it could happen. He fills the bill of what we need."
We'll be coming at you next Tuesday and Wednesday with some preview-like stuff. For now, I'll just throw a few links at you I've been hoarding, setting up the theme that has settled around the Raps like low-lying fog: not just minimal expectations, but no expectations at all. And a sense that this is a franchise that has lost its way.
Couple of examples: ESPN's John Hollinger came out a while back with his player ratings and only three Raptors -- Bosh, Rose and newcomer Mike James -- scored above the league average. I know these things are kind of bogus, subjectivity disguised as numbers, but they do relate back to expectations.
CBS Sportsline's All-Poison team has all the usual suspects including Stephon, Kobe, Iverson -- and a couple of Raptors, including coach Sam Mitchell: "Who better to coach the most dysfunctional team we could dream up than a coach who reportedly regularly challenged his own players to fight him last season?" they ask.
Amid the gloom, a dispatch out of New Jersey from columnist/blogger Dave D'Alessandro to put the cherry on this custard pie-in-the-face:
It’s official: Vince Carter is a Jersey Guy. It has nothing to do with home ownership – any carpetbagger can buy a house. He has become embraced by the Candlewyck Diner (just off Rt. 17, on the East Rutherford/Carlstadt border), which has honored his frequent visits by naming a wrap for him. Grilled chicken, we’re told. Try not to share that last bit of information with sarcastic Ontarians.
Er, we just did, Dave.
(UPDATE: The wrap is in fact named for Lawrence Frank, the boy-coach of the Nets. According to DD's email correction that just arrived, this has nothing to do with Ricky Davis torching VC for 24 the other night.)