Practice? Who can practice? And many other items of note
Rather a slow day yesterday, no?
No trades. No big news. No practice for me. No nothing, really. Was sort of nice for a change.
But today’s another day and I’m sure something zany will happen, if nothing more than a game that they might be able to win.
Oh, and a shootaround to see if there’s news on O’Neal and Kapono and to find out if everyone’s still here. That’s one of the best parts of going down to the gym these days, arriving to count Raptors and make sure they’re all still here. And if they’re not, to find out who’s coming.
But before shootaround and Starbucks and the regular start of a regular game-day, we’ve got a few gems (and I use ‘gems’ in the loosest possible terms):
There’s been a lot of chatter about the Raptors needing practice time to work on the intricacies of their offensive and defensive systems and to get up some volume shooting in the comfort of their own gym.
So what happens? They get home for four or five days, get a chance to put in some work and two of the key players – Jermaine O’Neal and Jason Kapono – can’t practice.
Figures, doesn’t it?
|Houston, we have an injury problem.|
And since neither of them played Wednesday or worked out Thursday, it’s probably a better than 50-50 proposition that they don’t go tonight against the Rockets.
Which may again leave us watching a group of something like Will Solomon, Joey Graham, Jamario Moon, Jake Voskuhl and either Chris Bosh or Andrea Bargnani.
Lucky, lucky ticket holders.
I’m not sure how closely any of you have been following the saga of the Rockets but it’s quite interesting, actually.
Old Friend Tracy McGrady (and will you boo him tonight?) is only going to play every other game because his knee’s sore, Shane Battier (who was never going to be traded to Toronto despite the great wishes of so many of you) is back on the shelf and Ron Artest is taking games off.
So does that mean they’re weakened to face Toronto? Probably. Does that mean the Raptors have an edge? Yeah, right.
Anyway, check this out for the latest from Houston.
Something from the mail:
Q: With the Raps struggling is it time to invest more into the development of the younger players? After all, if Parker and Solomon are likely gone after this season and O'Neal after two then it would be a waste to have Ukic and Bargnani sit then go through the requisite growing pains on the floor all over again next year.
Matt M, Calgary
A: Well, I don’t think you can suggest in all seriousness that Bargnani is sitting so I’ll give you a pass on that one.
Ukic? That’s a strange case to me, indeed.
The kid can’t shoot a lick at the moment, as we all know (and so does he and he’s working diligently on it) but if I were the coach, I’d have him out there for the eight or 10 minutes the backup gets.
The reason they don’t, and I wrote this last week, is that they think Solomon’s threat to make shots makes him more valuable at the moment. I’m not sure it does but, then again, I’m not the coach.
But don’t think Ukic isn’t developing. He’s getting lots of work in on his shot and he’s absorbing all kinds of nuances of the game sitting next to assistant coaches or Jose on the bench. He’s working hard.
Here’s something to think about.
I’m sure a few of you have been looking at the standings, just to see how far these guys have fallen off the playoff radar, and that’s causing all kinds of angst about the possibility of them climbing into the final spot and getting spanked by Boston in four post-season games.
But while you’re looking, look up. Boston and Cleveland have the same number of losses, Orlando’s two losses behind and that’s going to be a pretty good race.
Wouldn’t it be a hoot if Toronto somehow got to seventh and got Boston there?
More mail time:
Q: When it comes to the Raptors trying to make trades with other teams, are they are a significant disadvantage because other teams scouts don't know much about the Raptors players? Due to the Raptors lack of national television coverage, being located in Toronto, not having many big names and not being in the playoff chase at the moment, could you say other teams scouts don't concentrate as much on Toronto, or other lesser known teams like Milwaukee, as they do the big name teams like Boston and L.A?
Harry J, Auckland, NZ
A: No, you can’t say that at all. Every team has access to every game on video, there are always between two and four advance scouts from upcoming opponents at every Raptors game – home and away – and just because TNT or ABC or ESPN doesn’t pick up the Raptor games doesn’t mean no one sees them.
Just in case you were wondering, I was looking through the Blue Book (the NBA’s media directory) yesterday for something and came across this little tidbit under Key Dates:
“May 19: NBA Draft Lottery.”
From the department of utterly ridiculous, there was a headline on NBA.com sometime yesterday about the all-star balloting that said something like: ‘Yi closing in on Garnett in fan voting.’
I don’t generally have a problem with fan voting for the simple reason that I think the all-star game is dreadful and a relative bore. It is an event for the fans far more than it is for the players, the coaches, the GMs and the media so if they want Yi, let ‘em have Yi. Maybe more people in China will watch on TV and buy t-shirts and that’s pretty much what it’s all about.
And while I don’t want to hammer Yi ‘cause I have no idea if he’s good guy or not, the thought of him being an all-star is absolutely laughable.
And, to wrap things up before the day gets started:
Q: If you had to call it today, do you think the Raptors make the playoffs? If not, what do you do to prepare for the coming years?
Doug H, Toronto
A: I think even with this roster they can sneak into seventh or eighth place. For what that’s worth.
How would I prepare? I’d try to make a trade to make this year’s team better (just like the GM is doing) and I’d be out scouting the colleges, pros and Europe (just like the entire scouting staff has been doing since November). It’s not rocket science.