Cold day but some hot news (not really, but some astute observations)
Yeah, I know.
They’re in Florida and I’m in Mississauga and it’s early January and I’m thinking, ‘man, you are one crappy scheduler.’
Every indication I’m getting is that, yes, Jose Calderon will be back in uniform tomorrow night in Orlando; it’s the been the target date for about a week now and there have been no setbacks along the way.
Today’s practice is the last hurdle and it’s expected he’ll clear it with no problem.
So, what to do?
Well, the other indication I’ve been getting is that they will try to keep him on some minutes limit for at least the first few games (no one’s saying what that limit is) and that has to mean coming off the bench.
But eventually, and much to the chagrin of so many of you it makes me laugh, he’ll start again. As he should.
The first unit runs better when he’s in there running the screen-roll or spotting up in the corner as a more dangerous shooter than Jarrett Jack.
The second unit runs better with Jack at his tempo playing alongside Weems and Johnson and DeRozan every now and then.
Defensively, it’s a wash, really. The slight changes to the system – more ball pressure higher in halfcourt sets – puts the onus on the wings and bigs and they’ve been doing a pretty good job helping when necessary.
It really doesn’t matter who’s out there at the top if the help’s there, and it has been.
There will be blow-bys, folks, lots of them. There have been in the last dozen games but, shockingly, they haven’t been pointed out to me every single time.
I think you want your best ball-handler and best shooting point guard on the floor against other starters, at least at the beginning of the game. And I defy anyone to suggest – after watching the last dozen games – to suggest that isn’t Calderon.
How long it takes to get back to the regular rotation remains to be seen. It might be three games, it might be five. But it’s got to happen.
Apparently there’s some kids hockey game of some importance being played in picturesque Saskatoon tonight?
I kidd, of course.
Because if there’s one thing I know, it’s Canada-U.S. for gold at the world juniors.
Why, you ask?
Here’s the story:
It’s Jan. 5, 2004 (you could look it up, as the wise man once said) and I’m sitting in my office trying to drum up a Raptors off-day story since they weren’t practicing.
The interweb starts bubbling with news of a blockbuster deal, Stephon Marbury from Phoenix to New York and, lo and behold, I figure if I call a couple of Raptors types, get some reaction since Marbury’s now in the Atlantic Division and a rival acquired by old Raptor poobah Isiah Thomas and a hard day becomes an easy one.
First call? Coach Kevin O’Neill, of course. Quotable. Reachable.
First thing out of his mouth is something to the effect that “New York is going to have pay him $20 million in 2009? They’re gonna hate this deal eventually; bad, bad trade for the Knicks.”
Seems he was right and I’ve got a not bad story.
Anyway, the point – and there is one – is this.
KO asks what I’m up to for the rest of the day, I tell him nothing and he says he’s at this establishment across the street surrounded by crazed pucks fans and that I should get over there.
I do and in a sea of Canada-wearing, fanatical Maple Leaf supporters, I sit there with the lone – and increasingly loud – American cheering on a bunch of teens he’s never heard of.
And when the Yanks win, in rather dramatic fashion as I recall, the looks we got were something else.
Ah yes, me and the pucks. What memories.
News out of Milwaukee that the Bucks are waiving Roko Ukic so he can go back and play in Europe comes as no surprise to this corner of the world.
Had a nice little chinwag with Roko the night we were in Milwaukee and it was obvious he wasn’t happy.
He wasn’t playing, he knew the Bucks had invested all their marketing and much of their future in Brandon Jennings (who has come plummeting back to earth, I see) and the writing was clearly on the wall for Ukic.
Oh, and he was not all that enamoured of Milwaukee as a city, either, as I recall. I think the word “sucks” came up in that conversation.
Anyway, to answer a couple of questioners, no, there is no way he’s coming back here and, yes, I still think he’s an NBA player who never got a fair shot in either city he was in.
That’s too bad, because I think the kid could have become a solid NBA player.
Here’s something to think about.
(And I don’t know if anyone in the Raptors organization is thinking it but they might be.)
Today is the day teams can start signing guys to 10-day contracts.
And let’s say you’re a team that’s got a guy who’s contract becomes fully guaranteed today and you’re wavering between keeping him and not having roster flexibility or letting him go and saving about $400,000.
Do you think about waiving him and bringing him back on a 10-day deal? Saves money, buys some time to help him find another job and you still have that roster spot you may need as the trade deadline approaches.
Not sure, again, if that’s in the thought process here but it’s in mine.
Got the parka out of the closet and the shovel out of the garage and must say I am entirely unimpressed with winter. Increasingly so, as a matter of fact, as I grow older.
I know it’s a day early but if I’m going to get this up to some kind of usual length, here’s the link to this morning’s Orlando Sentinel report.
And seeing how the Magic play tonight and tomorrow’s likely to be some dry game story, you may as well try to find out what’s going on with the next opponent.
I particularly like the part about Vince cheating death – again – and going despite hurting his ankle the other night.
Anyway, nice off-day today. Some PBWA stuff to do, that crappy snow to deal with and a very inviting couch to check out after the chores are done.