Well, look who's back!
Miss me? Yeah, thought so.
Anyway, after a couple days of catching up with the family and more hours of sleep than I had in about a week over there, it’s time to get back in the routine.
Not sure how much there’ll be over the next month (it’s almost a month to the day until media day and the opening of camp) but we’ll try to stay on top of as much as possible.
So, here goes.
Now I know why they don’t call it The Mediocre Wall of China.
It’s unreal. One of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen.
We went to the Mutianyu section, where you take a cable car up and, after a gruelling 90-minute walk up and down uneven steps, there’s a toboggan-like luge ride at the end that’s like nothing I’ve ever experienced. Having a Tsing Tao while walking was something else. (And they’ve got these vendors up there selling water and pop and beer and if that’s not the hardest job – lugging your wares up The Great Wall every day – I don’t know what is).
The Wall is a marvel of engineering. The section we were in dates back to the Ming Dynasty, which went from the late-1300s to the mid-1600s and it’s virtually impossible to envision how they did it, and how much manpower was needed to construct this thing.
It was an amazing end to a trip.
And you haven’t seen anything until you’ve seen about eight Canadians, all tired and worn out, riding one-person sleds down from the wall, looking like little kids on the longest sled ride they’ve ever taken.
Very, very cool.
Now, on to some other stuff:
In watching Carlos Delfino tear it up for Argentina at the Olympics, the one thing that came to mind was everyone connected with the team should be glad they still have his rights.
Not sure how he’ll do in Russia but NBA scouts had to come away from Beijing impressed with his all around play. He ran a lot of the offence as a point guard, didn’t take many of those crazy shots that he was known for at times here and was as consistent as he’d ever been.
Of course, we all know he can go for long periods being entirely invisible and that was his biggest problem in the NBA.
But as one exec said at the Olympics, “that’s a pretty good asset” for the Raptors to have.
But, no, he wasn’t going to be back here this season. It was a money decision, the Raptors didn’t have enough and didn’t want to spend what they had on him.
Maybe next year. Or maybe, because he remains a restricted free agent, they can work some sign-and-trade next summer. Whatever happens, extending the qualifying offer and not rescinding it seems like a pretty good no-lose move at the moment.
Here’s one from the mail:
Q: Carlos D. will never be a Raptor again. The US economy will be in the toilet for another 3-5 years; during this time the Euro will be of 'good value'. More people will sign over there, including some very surprising ones.
It may be my mistake, but didn't CB4 enter the final 5-6 minutes of the (gold medal) game with only a lead of four, and sloppy US defence. If there were an MVP ranking for the team, how close does Chris come for the Games.
Richard S, Lethbridge
A: Thanks for the economic lesson, I’ll be sure to buy Euros and not American dollars with my next investments.
Now, for Bosh?
I’d put him behind Kobe, Dwyane Wade and likely LeBron as the fourth most valuable American throughout the tournament. But, really, ranking them is silly, all the guys who played substantial minutes (that’s everybody but Carlos Boozer and Michael Redd) were great.
Do you know it’s almost a month to the day before camp starts?
Not sure anything of substance is going to happen with the Raptors between now and then – there are no rosters moves to make whatsoever – so it’s going to remain pretty quiet news-wise.
What’s going to happen is players will start filtering back into the city, probably beginning next week, and they’ll be hanging out at the ACC doing workouts and scrimmaging pretty much every day.
I haven’t heard how many players they’ll be bringing to camp as fodder, if I had to guess, it’d be three but no one who gets an invite has a chance to make the team.
Speaking of Bosh, we all saw how well he played in Beijing and how his defensive intensity was off the chart.
A word of warning:
You are not going to see the same level of intensity every night for an 82-game season. Not going to happen. It’s one thing to play that way for 20 minutes or so for eight games over more than two weeks; it’s quite another to expect it on back-to-back nights in, say, Toronto and Milwaukee some Friday-Saturday in February.
What you are going to see, I think, is a different Bosh in “big games.” Important regular season games, playoff games, moments of tight games when they need a leader to step up on the defensive end.
Then you’ll see a new level of confidence, a new level of leadership that was born in the Olympics.
Every night? Not going to happen. It can’t. No one – not you, not me, not him – is wired that way.
Another from the mail:
Q: What are your thoughts on Ricky Rubio? Possible first overall draft pick and future NBA all-star?
Alex H, Oakville
A: Kid’s gonna be good, really good. Has a great court sense, defends well, impeccable ball-handling skills for a teenager and he sees the court extremely well.
He cannot shoot a lick at the moment, and that troubling, but it’s also a skill that can be taught.
It’s way to early to suggest a draft order for next June but he’s an early favourite for No. 1. Future NBA all-star? Don’t know about that quite yet.
Okay, that’s gonna be it for today, gotta easy back into this what with things being so slow and all that.
Will try to get a usual Friday mailbag up tomorrow (and that’s a bit on you to get some good question in there) and then we’ll pick things back up the first of the week.