Did anything really change? Oh, and Carleton tix next week
I’m sitting around waiting for something marginally interesting to happen in the world of basketball and the Raptors and I got to thinking: Was there one move that vaulted a team from pretender to a legitimate contender status anywhere in the league?
I mean one KG-to-Boston-like move that turned a team into something it wasn’t? Either through a trade or a free-agent signing?
Can’t see it, really.
Sure, there were some significant moves – Elton Brand to a good, young Philly team chief among them – but none really that changed the balance of power in either conference.
If you had to pick today, wouldn’t the easy choice be to suggest another Boston-LA final?
The most important move, right now in my mind, is that the Lakers seem to have a healthy Andrew Bynum back and that’s not really an addition, technically-speaking.
Other than that? Which team in the West really, really made a bold move to challenge? There were a lot of good teams out there before and there still are.
I guess Mo Williams to Cleveland may have vaulted the Cavs to second-best in the East but they still aren’t good enough up front, I don’t think. Other than that? Some teams have improved, some of have regressed and if the season started tomorrow, you’d have Boston and a whole bunch of question marks.
Or course, this all could change when injuries occur. Chemistry either works or doesn’t and coaches either command respect or lose their teams.
Right now? Status quo.
Presume this is out there in Ottawa but here’s the lowdown on tickets for that Oct. 4 intrasquad game after camp in Ottawa and I’m guessing a few of you will have to cut a class or two to get them.
Tickets – at what the Carleton folks are calling a “suggested donation of $15” to the schools Adopt-a-Raven program (how cute) -- are going to be available Thursday, Sept. 25 at the school.
Apparently there are only 1,300 tickets, for seats and standing room, available; they’ll be offered on a first-come, first-served basis that day with a limit of four per person. Haven’t heard of a time when they’ll be on sale so you might want to go camp out now and bring the textbooks.
Now, before you rush out and make plans to sleep overnight at the school, let this be a word of a warning: This is not real basketball. It’s a nice, little, low-intensity scrimmage but I imagine The Chicken might be there, I’m guessing the Dance Pak makes an appearance and it’s as much about the show as it is the sport.
Don’t go expecting to see anything close to how the team will play when it starts games for real.
But have fun.
Here, we dip in the mail, as we often do:
Q: Not quite Raptors related, but basketball nevertheless. Give the monstrosity of some player contracts and the marginal return on the court of some clubs on those investments, do you foresee a time when salaries come down instead of always going up simply because GMs figure out (long overdue!) that big ticket players - especially some past their prime - doesn't necessarily guarantee winning seasons? It seems unconscionable that someone - no matter how skilled - makes over $20 million shooting a ball in a basket.
Colin W, Ajax
A: Salaries going down? Across the board? Because owners and GMs suddenly all become fiscally responsible? Surely you jest! Sorry, not going to happen because there will always be a handful of them doling out big bucks.
And, of course it’s unconscionable that someone makes $20 million a year shooting a ball into a basket, just the same what it’s unconscionable that someone makes $20 million for less than a year reciting someone else’s lines in a film; just as it’s unconscionable that I have to pay $1.30 for a litre of gas, just like it’s unconscionable that some CEO’s get annual bonuses that dwarf the income of entire neighbourhoods.
End of rant.
I’m looking at the pre-season schedule and trying to remember what the games are generally like and why I get this wave of nausea I’ll never know.
Oh, wait, yes I do. The games, generally, are crap. Maybe a quarter, perhaps a half of intensity and then, poof!, pre-season.
So, here’s a quick list of things they should do to improve, if not the quality of the games, the quality of the experience:
No team shall sell pre-season games at regular prices to season ticket holders, who have to sit through enough dreck in the regular season. All tickets shall be two prices -- $20 for the lower bowl and $10 for the upper bowl – and they shall be sold on a single-game basis as soon as the exhibition schedule is released.
There shall be no TV timeouts during exhibition games, just to quicken the affairs.
Starters shall play not less than 12 minutes no more than 24 for the first four games, not less than 18 and no more than 30 for the next two and unlimited minutes in the final two. That way, coaches are off the hook if they are even the least bit concerned about putting on something resembling a real show for the fans.
In the event of a tie, there shall be no overtime. Teams will shoot free throws – each player on the roster shooting two – with the best free throw shooters of the last season going first and the worst going last. If it’s still tied, coaches shoot. In their suits.
And more mail:
Q: What's your take on the pace that we can expect from the team this year? With the departure of TJ and the addition of a big body like JO, do you see the pace of the Raptors' offense slowing down significantly? I realize it will be nowhere near the "100 shots a game" (was it that high?) prediction that Sam made a couple of years back when they first envisioned a fast paced team resembling the Suns.
Steve D, Toronto
A: Slowing down? Au contraire.
The key to running, as it is from the playground to the NBA, is rebounding and defence, and if O’Neal improves those areas as they hope they will, they should get out on the break more often.
Not 100 shots – that was folly and a number picked out of a hat – but quicker, easier transition baskets is the hope.
Another day has gone by and Vince Carter is no closer to returning to Toronto.
Just heading off inevitable questions.
Here we go, again:
Q: Long time reader, and have tried asking a couple questions to no avail, so here goes. With a projected starting line-up of Calds-AP-Moon-Bosh-JO does it not make sense to replace Moon with Kapono? Judging by his playoff performance the space he'll most likely receive it makes to much sense in my humble opinion to keep him off the bench with that lineup.
I appreciate what Moon brought to this team last year, something we've been lacking for years, but with the presence of JO doesn’t that make his job a bit redundant? Instead He can step in for relief and help with the rebounding and defence, and replace Kapono, and Bargs for Bosh/O'Neal.
Scott B, Winnipeg
A: Maybe a long-time reader but, perhaps, not a regular one lately.
That suggestion has been out there, and talked about by people in the organization I’ve spoken with over the summer, for quite some time.
I’m sure it’ll be something they look at in camp; I have no idea if it’ll work (my guess is it will) but that’s going to be Sam’s decision.