Hard work and some interesting trade news
They were a little delayed in starting the workouts with those kids yesterday morning so we got to see about the last hour of drills and, yes, they do make them work.
After a series of fitness tests that went on before we got there, we saw some one-on-one post work (I can dutifully report there were no Hakeem Olajuwon clones in that group) and then some shooting drills.
And then the killer.
After about 90 minutes of pretty intense work they went through what the Raptors call The X-drill and it’s a killer for a tired kid.
Start at the hashmark, sprint to the left elbow and shoot, run to the right elbow and shoot; run back to the left corner, just inside the three-point line and shoot, back to the right corner and shoot, back to the free throw line and shoot.
Repeat, as many times as necessary, starting back at the hashmark until you’ve made a total of 15 shots.
Take a wee break and then do it all again, only this time with the shots coming from beyond the arc.
Lots of worn out kiddies at the end of that one.
I’m not sure if anyone should be really surprised that there are teams doing more than kicking the tires of T.J. Ford and word that five or six clubs made at least minor overtures to Bryan Colangelo in Orlando last week may not be the biggest news.
Ford is far from a bum, he’s a starting point guard in the NBA (just not here with the presence of Jose Calderon), his contract is far from arduous and it’s fully insured, giving any team that acquires him some financial peace of mind.
He can help a squad that needs a point guard who can step in and play right away.
No one in the Raptor hierarchy is ready to suggest which teams are more serious than others in their discussions but the feeling is palpable that they can move Ford and get something good in return.
We’ll leave that speculation for another time (like closer to the draft or when we can conjure up some specifics) but the feeling I’m getting is that it’s 75-25 there’s a deal done right around draft time or just after the free-agent signing date of July 8.
When you go to the workouts for these draft prospects – none of whom you’ve ever seen play in person – the crack PR staff of the Raptors gives you all kinds of clips on them. Stats, background, draft projection. It makes for some interesting reading.
We read this about Courtney Lee, courtesy of ESPN:
“He doesn’t contribute a lot in rebounds, assists or at the defensive end.”
We’re thinking: Perfect Raptor.
How about this on Shan Foster:
"Foster is pretty one-dimensional. He is not very athletic. Needs to add strength. Poor ball handler. He rarely gets to the line.”
Promising career ahead.
Oh, and when you read these stories about this draft pick “being up for grabs” or that draft pick “being shopped around” consider this:
Every draft pick, except for possibly No. 1 and that’s not even for certain is up for grabs or being shopped around.
That’s what GMs do these days.
Don’t read too much into any of those yarns.
Quick visit to the mail:
Q: So I saw your comment about disinformation season being here with the Draft coming up. How does a veteran......er......seasoned, beat grunt like yourself sort through which comments you hear from the teams are legit, and which are, in the words of the unique Mel Lastman, "el toro poo poo."?
Sohail G, Collingwood
A: Hard grunt work. Multiple sources on different teams. A level of trust with sources within in the organization you cover. The use of common sense. You know, all the stuff that makes a beat grunt a good one.
You’ve got to check this out.
I think Ron-Ron may have a new career path since the rap thing didn’t seem to work out all that well.
For all the workouts the Raptors are conducting in Toronto, there’s a handful of others in other spots they’ll be at as well.
DeAndre Jordan isn’t too interested in traipsing around the continent doing workouts for teams so his agent is holding one in Philly this weekend for a handful of teams and Toronto will be there.
They Raptors are also spreading out around the globe, too.
Jay Triano’s in Turkey now doing Basketball Without Borders and then he’s off to Italy for a camp, where he’ll be joined by Maurizio Gherardini and Masai Ujiri.
No idea if any of this will yield a player for this year but what it does is give the Raptors another look at young kids who might be in the draft in the future or who might fall through and become free agents.
Not so much a question from the mail as a statement but …
Q: My crystal ball predictions for a Raptors Divisional Banner for the 2008-09 season.
1) Draft one of the swings i.e, Walker, Rush, Batum or Greene to increase athleticism on perimeter and hopefully find a decent wing defender.
2) Trade one of our current wings (AP) for another athletic wing i.e Julien Wright of the Hornets or Outlaw from Portland (If they are available).
3) Trade Calderon for a decent big man that can help Bosh. Calderon is most tradeable asset but not as precious as most in Toronto thinks he is (doesn't defend or get to the rim like top tier point guards) and most championship teams do not need an all-star point as evidenced by Lakers and Celtics this year.
This is a recipe that will have winning division next year and baking Championship cakes in 3 years.
Kelsie M, Toronto
A: Interesting, all of it.
I can see them taking a wing as you suggest, I don’t imagine they can pry Wright away from New Orleans but I’d look seriously at seeing if there was a deal with Portland (I know the organization is looking at who the Blazers might want to divest themselves of) and if I had to bet today, the bet is that Ford is dealt. And I think you underestimate Calderon’s ability to get to the rim after turning the corner on the high screen-and-roll. Certainly, he can improve defensively but in the right team concept his flaws can be minimized.
Championship cakes in three years? That might be a bit of a stretch.
Tough day to be a coach.
Flip Saunders gets the Pistons to three consecutive conference finals and gets whack, Pepu Hernandez takes Spain to the world championship and gets fired two months before the Olympics.
Tough job, isn’t it?
And, as a pre-emptive strike to the mailers, no, neither of them are on Bryan’s radar.