It being close to Canada Day, let’s sprinkle in some Canada stuff today.
Not too many people over here have ever seen Nathan Jawai in person, let alone seen him play basketball.
So we turn to someone who’s actually been on the same court as the Aussie Shaq to offer this assessment:
"He’s a beast, man. He’s a monster.”
That comes for Canadian national team veteran David Thomas, who’s played about a decade Down Under and is uniquely familiar with Toronto’s second-round draft pick.
"He’s dunking everything in the paint in our league.”
I’m sure we’ll all learn a lot more about young Jawai when training camp opens (we need good stories to fill oft-boring days) so here’s one angle we’ll have to pursue, courtesy Thomas.
"The story was, they found him off the coast of Australia playing basketball barefoot … that’s what we had heard in Australia… He comes from an area that’s not well off.
"Great kid, humble, good head on his shoulders.”
Really, where else can you get information like that except here?
Now, while all of you are off barbecuing and watching fireworks and doing all the fun Canada Day stuff that everyone likes to do, the NBA will be buzzing.
Tomorrow’s Free Agent Negotiating Day, as we all know, the start of the interminable week of rumour and speculation before anyone can sign anything.
Thankfully, it’s going to be uber-boring around these parts.
No money, too many roster spots to fill, nothing much to do except sign the players they have to sign. It’s shaping up to be a nice quiet week of watching Canada play and relaxing.
Here’s the priority list:
Listen to sign-and-trade offers for Delfino, turn them all down.
Get ready for summer league.
As I’ve mentioned about a billion times, there isn’t the money – nor the desire -- to do anything big. Or, really, anything at all. They like the nine- or 10-man rotation they’ve created with the Ford trade and they don’t want to cloud the issue.
|TORONTO STAR FILE PHOTO|
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Quickly to some mail:
Q: Can you dedicate some time in your blog to discussing Roko? There seems to be a lot of hype around him and I was wondering if you could fill us in on what he is all about.
Bill K, Toronto
A: Sure, why not, this is information mostly obtained from people who’ve seen him since the last time I laid eyes on him was last year in the pre-season game in Rome.
He’s 6-5, a point guard who needs to work on his shot. I’m told he’s a bit of a gym rat, loves to compete and just play and has pretty good court vision when he’s running a team. He’s never really taken the Euroleague by storm but he’s been okay and his Italian league team made it to the final this year.
Seems like a good kid and there are those in the organization who think he, at 24 years old, is at about the same place, maybe a wee bit ahead, that Jose was when he came over.
He’s not going to take the NBA by storm but he could certainly develop into an 14- to 16-minute-a-night backup.
He handles the ball well but there have been concerns that he carries it a bit too much and for the NBA he’s going to have to work on that aspect of his game.
Off to the
Canada-Lebonon Canada-Lebanon game tonight (nothing stirs the sporting fires better than that intense international rivalry) and really don’t know what to expect from the local lads.
But one thing I do know is that these guys think they can do something spectacular – like qualify for Beijing and there’s a lot to be said for confidence.
Of course, confidence needs to be backed up by talent but glancing up and down the roster, this is a very athletic team with a good mix of young and old.
I still think it’ll be a major upset for them to make it to the Olympics but stranger things have happened.
I remember in 1999, the team went down to Puerto Rico, beat Puerto Rico in the final game for the final Olympic spot when few had given them any chance.
Can that happen again? I don’t know for sure and I suspect not. But it’ll be fun to watch. From afar.
Speaking of fun to watch, go watch them. Tickets are cheap, there are lots available at McMaster tonight and tomorrow and at the Ricoh Centre on Friday and Saturday and they could use the support.
After all, it’s not every year we get to see the best basketball players Canada has around these parts.
Let’s do this one last time, okay?
Q: If you are BC (besides the obvious differences in fashion and paycheck), would you have done the Gerald Wallace deal for TJ Ford without demanding a second round pick and thus keeping the 17th pick or the Jermaine O'Neal deal?
Nick O, North York
A: No, I would have done exactly the deal that they did.
And here’s why, again:
There were two glaring needs after last season: Toughness and rebounding and athleticism on the wing.
I think O’Neal addresses the former better than Wallace would have addressed the latter.
This trade defines the role of Bargnani, which may give him some confidence and a comfort zone. There is no question now about who starts at centre and power forward and who comes off the bench; there were questions last year about whether Rasho should start or Bargnani and what role each would play. Clearing that up was as important a factor as any.
And the 17th pick was not going to contribute for a couple of years, at best.
There are a couple of other reasons I like the trade:
You’ve got to something bold sometime and this was bold. If it fails, it fails, but I’d rather have a franchise fail trying something than fail sitting on its collective butt.
Believe it or not, there are members of the coaching staff here who aren’t really in love with Wallace’s game.