Kudos to Canada and a whole bunch of talk, very little action
T-minus less than a week ‘til draft day and you can feel the excitement, no?
Maybe it’s just me.
Anyway, gotta go through the mailbag for the once-a-weekend offering so if you’ve got questions, I can bluff answers so send ‘em in, it’ll give me something to do tonight after a radio gig goes 5-7.
|STEVE RUSSELL/TORONTO STAR|
|He's working on it...|
With all this talk about the Raptors thinking of drafting a point guard (I still steadfastly believe they shouldn’t, unless it’s with a late-teens pick they purchase and even then it seems silly to me), what’s up with Mr. Ukic? Talked to a couple of people around the team this week about him and the sense I get is that they’re not quite ready to give up on him, which is good in my opinion, but that they want some kind of tempo-changer on the roster as well.
(I know, I know, TJ Ford, right? Wrong! A thousand times wrong. That was never going to work, ever. There were issues between TJ and his coaches, TJ and his teammates. Forget it. Put it out of your mind. Let it go).
Anyway, Ukic – whose $1.35 million salary could easily be cap ballast in a trade – is still in their minds, regardless of what happens next Thursday. If his shot’s improved, and he’s been working every day on it, I’m told, he could get some run at the two alongside Calderon. He’s still a heady player, a gym rat, as willing to learn as anyone on the roster and a sponge when it comes to soaking up instruction and information.
It’s ridiculous to give up on a 24-year-old, 6-5 point guard after just one season in the NBA. Hope they don’t.
I presume all of you haveread this story on the development camp that Canada Basketball’s running for a gaggle of talented teens, right?
The kid I wrote about is one of those teen prodigies the program has had a horrible time identifying and getting and the fact he’s in rather than out working at some shoe company camp is huge.
And when the team headed to the Under-19 worlds begins work this week in Hamilton (first practice Saturday, tournament starts in New Zealand in early July) I’m told the other two hotshot Canucks – Tristan Thompson and Corey Joseph – are expected in, although it may be Sunday.
It’s going to take years and years for Canada to get back to any sort of international prominence on the senior level, I fear (but if they don’t qualify for next year’s worlds it will be a failure of biblical proportions) but there can be no denying that things like this developmental camp, the cadet program that’s in the process of trying to qualify for next year’s worlds right now, and the junior team that could very well make some noise in New Zealand are hugely significant steps in the right direction.
I’m entirely impressed with the direction the organization is taking – and this is after years and years of being one of the worst-run major sports groups I’ve ever seen – and perhaps the general public will actually start to give a rat’s bum about what goes on with Canada on the international stage other than at the Olympics.
I hear Alvin Williams hasn’t gotten around to actually signing his coaching contract (he will, don’t worry) but after watching stuff in the gym this week, I bet he’s holding out for a playing deal.
(I keed, I keed).
But he and the rest of the staff are getting lots of work in. Not only do they handle the stuff with the draft picks, they’ve been working every day with Patrick O’Bryant and Quincy Douby, who’ve been in town working out.
Yesterday, it was the complete staff: Jay, Alex, Marc, Micah, Alvin and Eric Hughes all standing around working with two guys.
And I figure if those two kids don’t get better with that kind of personal coaching, they’re lost causes.
Pretty sure most of you know that I think John Hollinger’s a good guy, works hard, writes well and has developed some unique statistical and mathematical methods for determining the value of NBA players.
But if I hear one more word about his “draft rater” and how it slags Demar DeRozan, I may scream.
Look, here’s the scoop: DeRozan is far from a polished player; he’s got significant flaws just like about six of the six guys the Raptors are even considering have flaws. It’s that kind of draft down there at, oh, picks 3 through 60.
Blake Griffin’s got a chance to be pretty good (although I’m not sure how good), I personally think Rubio’s going to be outstanding but after that? After that everyone’s got problems and it’s an absolute crap shoot.
Oh yeah, did I tell you that we’re coming to Ottawa for sure for training camp next fall?
Speaking of Your Raptors, they’re hoping to get one more workout session in here Monday or Tuesday but no one has any clear indication of who might come in. Jim Kelly told us this week they were trying to get Tyreke Evans in but can’t imagine there’s a scenario that he’s available at No. 9.
Stay tuned, when we get names, you’ll get names.
This is why I love (and by “love” I mean “hate”) this time of year: According to the breathless headlines out there, and the resulting e-mails that come flooding in, the following may happen in the next week:
Shaquille O’Neal gets traded
Amare Stoudemire gets traded
Devin Harris may move
The Wizards are definitely trading the
No. 4 No. 5 pick
Josh Smith or Marvin Williams or someone in Atlanta is being moved
Al Jefferson’s in play in Minnesota.
Tracy McGrady’s moving (although why anyone would even think about obtaining a guy coming off microfracture surgery who will, at best, miss the first month of the season is beyond me).
I will venture a guess that, at the most, two of those things happen, maybe only one. And I would also venture a guess that if significant moves occur between now and the draft or on draft night, no one knows about them quite yet.
That’s how things generally work. Stuff pops up out of nowhere (one exception being last year’s TJ-JO deal that we knew about for almost a week before the draft) and a whole bunch of speculation gets washed away and forgotten.
The Mississauga North peewee house league Complete Mechanical Yankees (how ‘bout that plug for a sponsor?) go to 4-2 on the season with a big triumph last night. We throw two guys out at the plate (one on a perfectly executed cutoff play on a bases-loaded single to left, just like the coaches had been teaching), hit the crap out of the ball and the pitchers threw strikes.
Yes, Mr. Ricciardi, we are available for consultation.
End of digression.
End of transmission.