Big Nate, Bargs and a lot of other stuff
Sorry I'm a bit late, I was making Sam a friendship necklace out of beer caps and it took longer than I thought.
Okay, travelogue time.
I can highly recommend McLarens on Elgin (at the corner of McLaren, silly) as a very cool nightspot if you want to watch a very good ball game, sit around telling stories and have a couple of glasses of refreshing cold beverages. And the nachos aren’t bad, either.
I love discovering new places. And thanks the recommendations, you lovely, lovely readers; all are gladly accepted.
On to the regular gig:
Can we please, please, please, pull back on the Nathan Jawai’s Career Is In Jeopardy stuff I’m reading around here.
The dude, a really good guy it seems, still has to see more doctors, get more tests, check things out and could, actually, be on the court back home on Sunday. I think caution when dealing with “cardiac issues” is always wise but that’s what it is, caution. Not panic.
And the signing of Jamal Sampson is nothing more than getting a guy in to work out just in case. It doesn’t mean they expect Jawai to be out for a month, or a year, or forever. It means they need a backup plan in place, nothing more than that.
There is every chance Jawai will be fine and he’ll be doing this season what everyone expected him to be doing this season, sitting on the bench soaking up the experience and learning the game in practice.
The money issue concerning the tax and Jawai and Sampson really is a non-issue at the moment.
Salaries don’t start counting, for either the tax or the cap, until the start of the regular season so no matter what they’re paying anyone today isn’t a concern. And, if they do have to keep Sampson, or someone else, on a minimum salary contract because Jawai can’t go, they will be over the tax threshold to start the season but even that’s not a big deal.
The final tax number isn’t established until the end of the regular season so if, for instance, they are $500,000 over in November or January, there are ways to get below before the final accounting is done. If he had to, Colangelo could make a minor trade in February that eases the financial load a little bit to get them under the number.
They don’t want to exceed the tax level, as we all know, but if they are over it, they have a chance to correct it before the final accounting is done.
First dip into the mail:
Q: Hey Doug, love your blog, it's the first thing I read every morning, both winter and summer, as pathetic as that sounds. Wondering who the two best golfers were in the Raptors charity event that you were just at? Are you privy to their scores? Who was the absolute worst? Question 2, do you believe with a healthy Jermaine, Bosh, Moon and Adams that this years edition of the Raps could develop into the best defensive team we've ever had? Thanks
Tony V, Guelph
A: I’m not privy to their scores at all but if there’s a golf tournament, I want Kapono and Sam in my foursome. And I want to play against a group that inclues Jamario Moon.
Best defensive team ever? Maybe. But, despite his many failings, KO had the Raptors playing pretty good team defence in his one year on the job. Ugly, boring, uninspiring on offence, yes; but defensively? They weren’t bad.
You gotta see the set up they have for us at Carleton.
There really isn’t a room big enough to hold us all so they’ve put up curtains in the hallway just outside the gym to create room for tables and chairs and a place for us to work.
It’s functional, not ideal by any stretch of the imagination but functional, but it is a bit weird. The folks wandering the halls in the building, the people trying to get to class or to work out or to just go from here to there, are probably a bit put out and most likely wondering what’s going on behind those drapes.
I bet some of them are thinking, ‘hey, is that where the Raptors are?’ And maybe they want to take a look.
|THE CANADIAN PRESS|
|The Raptors will throw the ball inside to Jermaine O'Neal a lot. Shhh. Don't tell anyone.|
Of course, the Ravens’ Nest here does have a nice press box up on the third level where we could sit and work, I guess. Except for one thing: It’s got windows that look out over the court and it’s traditional NBA practice that writers don’t get to see the team work out. Don’t ask me why, but it’s like that in every city with every team, has been that way for ever. I guess they don’t want us giving out secrets or anything because I know we’d all rush to the phones and call the Knicks or the Nets or the Magic and tell them “Hey, they seem to throw the ball to No. 4 a lot, just wanted to let you know!”
Q: Hey Doug -- Long time so I figured you missed me and that I should write in again (ok, that is wishful thinking!).
With all the discussion of TJ moving to the Pacers, I feel Rasho has been left out and he was a pure class act. Do you know how he felt about that move and what sort of role will he have in Indiana this year.
Jamil B, Sydney, Australia
A: I talked to a guy who talked to Rasho this week and, yes, he was hurt by the trade because he truly bloved the city (still has a place in Toronto as a matter of fact) but he’s also grown up enough to realize it’s a cruel business and he’s got to go where they tell him to go.
The role in Indy is still to be determined, he’s going to have to fight Jeff Foster and Roy Hibbert for a starting role but if I know Jim O’Brien and the way he likes to coach, he’s going to love Rasho for what he brings defensively and with his basketball IQ.
Ever wonder what those guys wear under their jerseys?
Well, at camp at least, they wear heart monitors.
Every player, every practice, wears a little belt, an inch or so wide, around their chest with a heart monitor on it so the team’s training staff can see how fit they are, establish a base line to use as the season progresses and see who’s in shape and out of shape, I guess.
That’s all well and good for the players, I’m just glad our bosses don’t ask us to wear them, there’s like five or six steps we have to walk up and Lord knows some of us don’t want to know what that would do to our cardiac system.
So, we get into the final 20 minutes or so of the night practice last night (remember, we can’t see the whole thing because we might write that Jermaine O’Neal gets the ball often) and there’s Andrea Bargnani working with Jay Triano and massage therapist Ray Chow at one of the side baskets.
And, I swear to whatever deity you want, he looked good.
Drop steps. Spin moves. Left-handed jump hooks. Fadeaways.
Now, he was being guarded by ghosts and empty space but, I tell you, the kid looked comfortable. No idea if that possibly translates into success when there are other players on the court and the game’s at full speed but if it does, he’s got a chance to make an impact this season.