Good news for Jose, Jermaine and, I'm told, Jack Armstrong
Welcome to Jermaine O’Neal and Jose Calderon Day here in Toronto.
Couple of news conferences, some words of wisdom (or something like that), maybe a grandiose prediction or two and then maybe things will slow down a wee bit.
Or not, given how things never, ever really seem to slow down a bit.
Cap and tax numbers are in, they’re a little bit below what many had expected and just reinforces, again, that the only move left here is to sign a minimum-value free agent, maybe someone with two or three years of service in.
The cap came in at $58.680 million, the tax at $71.150 million and the mid-level exception is $5.585 million.
The numbers, in reality, are staggering but in the world of basketball, they’re actually lower than some people expected.
And what’s going to happen is more than a few players are going to have to settle for less than they thought.
For the Raptors, the numbers don’t mean anything, actually. They still have enough to get the one guy at the one price they expected, and are willing to pay. I guess the only thing it might mean is that the pool of players available might grow a bit if some teams have budgeted X dollars and the limits are lower than they thought.
As we sit and wait for Matt Devlin to be formally announced as the new Raptor TV play-by-play guy, whispers around the organization are that Jack Armstrong not only will be back, but that we’ll see and hear more of him on games this year than we did last.
And that’s a good thing.
Elton Brand to Philly, what do you think of that?
The immediate reaction is, oh, oh; how much better are the Sixers going to be with a stud power forward playing next to Sam Dalembert and how will those two match up against Chris Bosh and Jermaine O’Neal?
Pretty much better, I’m thinking.
The Sixers still have to re-sign Andre Iguodala – and if they don’t, the addition of Brand simply keeps them at the level they were at last year – but with him on the wing and the two big guys under the basket, that’s a pretty formidable threesome.
Funny how a year ago now, everyone figured the Sixers were toast, in the midst of a huge rebuilding process that might take seasons.
Toss in their hot finish last season and now the acquisition of Brand and all of a sudden, there’s probably a new challenger for second in the Atlantic Division.
You know, sometimes you’ve got to give props where they’re deserved.
Like today to The Score and Canada Basketball.
I don’t know who urged who, or who paid what, or how it exactly came together, but the decision to show next week’s Canadian games at the Olympic qualifier in Athens is a huge boost for the program and should cement The Score as the basketball leader in Canadian television.
What I’ve heard is that Canada Basketball approached FIBA a while ago, trying to manipulate global TV deals to let them be more specifically tailored to Canadian needs. Nice to know there are forward-looking people in the organization, at The Score and even at FIBA who saw the intelligence in that move.
Sure, it’s stupid early with 6 a.m. starts but what the heck; I’m up around then finishing this off every morning, it’ll give me a reason to turn on the television.
Speaking of Canada, they’re in Hamburg today to face that iconic German athlete Chris Kaman and that Nowitzki fellow in their penultimate exhibition game before the Athens tourney.
I’m not sure the result is the most important thing to worry about today, what’s big is whether Sam Dalembert or Jesse Young plays.
Dalembert played the first game and about five minutes of the second – limping noticeably – of the four-game series here last week and Young didn’t play a minute.
Canada’s good, as deep and talented a team as we’ve had, but without those two big guys, the task of qualifying becomes exponentially more difficult.
It isn’t going to be easy, I’d rank Greece, Germany, Croatia, probably Brazil and maybe Slovenia ahead of them, but they’ve got a chance. A greater chance than some of us thought a year ago.
Speaking of Canada, here’s Rowan Barrett on how the zillion-year-old vet’s fitting back in:
"Coming in, it could have been challenging, I haven’t really played with most of these guys and supposed to be kind of coming into some kind of leadership role and sometimes that can be difficult, especially when the team has been formed and there’s leadership there in the past but at the same time, I kind of coached some of these guys when they were younger.
"I think that love and that respect is there and I’m just trying to use my experience at this time to help whatever way, if it’s to score in tight situations, obviously that’s what I do on the court.
"My role is a little bit more than one dimensional now. And I’m excited to do it.”
Since today’s Jermaine O’Neal day, here’s a topical question:
Q: Hi Doug quick question for you - do you feel the Ford deal for O'Neal was the best deal out there? If not what other deal would have been better.
Junior B-A, Toronto
A: Well, there were three others I know that were out there: Phoenix for Boris Diaw, Portland for Channing Frye and Martell Webster, and the ill-fated Charlotte one for Gerald Wallace that fell apart over an extra draft pick.
And all things considered, Toronto's needs for an inside defensive presence weighed against the need for an athletic wing, the long-term financial picture, what was left on the roster and what might have been available with the 17th pick, I think they got the right one done.
Is it a perfect trade? No. None are.
But when all of them are looked at and all things considered, this was the best one.