Hey, remember this?
Hopefully, I can remember how it works.
And welcome back.
Hey, remember this?
Hopefully, I can remember how it works.
And welcome back.
If only someone has showed up with a bag of money.
There’ll be more details in a story I’m trying put together in between paragraphs of the daily Bosh tome but Canada lost its bid to host the 2011 Olympic qualification event.
Argentina beat Brazil in the final vote today, Canada was eliminated early because it couldn’t guarantee the financial windfall the other could.
Anyway, just a quick update before I write; watch for more details here later on.
Oh, yeah, Bosh.
Nothing new, really, there’s either a list or there’s not a list, he’s either going to stay or he’s going to go. But things are at a sensitive stage and will be for the next couple of months.
Just want to say it’s very nice of the Raptors and Direct Energy to pick a winner in that contest where Jamario and AP come to your house to shoot hoops who lives about five minutes away. Makes for an easy-ish morning.
Not much going on once yesterday’s announcement of the pre-season sked became official; can’t say I’m a big fan of back-to-back games on the west coast but it’ll be nice to see Edmonton.
Bet the fans out there will be treated to something more substantial than the last time, which was 1999 for a big Naismith Cup tilt with the Vancouvers and provided a couple of moments of great hilarity.
That was the game that featured 7-3 Alex Radojevic leading a fast-break like you’ve never seen a fast break led by before (all arms and legs and the ball being dribbled about six feet high with each bounce) and was also, I believe, the swansong for that Great Raptor Training Camp project Master P. If I recall correctly, he shot it every time he touched it and I must be recalling correctly because he shot it every time he touched it no matter what game he was in.
Oh yeah, that was also the arena (not sure what it was called then or is called now) that kept showing hockey scores on the auxiliary scoreboard instead of, you know, the score of the actual basketball game and I believe Butch Carter pointed that out quite vociferously at one point in the evening.
Ah, the memories!
Pre-season neutral sites, you gotta love ‘em.
Cool to see JT get a gig, no? In case you missed it, he joined the Hawks staff, along with Tyrone Hill, who I don’t believe owes Oak money any more. Although I could be wrong on that one, haven’t spoken to Oak in six weeks or so.
Anyway, I’m sure JT will do a great job with Mike Woodson (I’ve got him as the interim head coach by about Feb. 1) but the funniest thing is gonna be if he does his halftime TV gig with the Hawks, too.
Put that New England accent in the deep south and I’m betting no one has a clue what he’s actually saying.
Speaking of assistant coaches with a Raptor angle, New Jersey hired Roy Rogers yesterday.
You have to go deep in the memory banks to remember him. He came over in the Chauncey, Dee Brown, John Thomas deal that sent Kenny Anderson, Popeye and Zan Tabak to the Celtics.
Roy, who lasted all of six games with the Raptors, was also part of another significant deal.
It took him, and two second-round draft picks, to pry The Big Fella Kevin Willis away from the Rockets in ’99.
Ah, the memories!
A mailbag followup:
Q: Hey Doug. Guess what! Every single Raptors game is live on the radio anywhere in the world for free at NBA.com plus every other game on the schedule, also for free. I never miss a game that’s not on TV.
I'm surprised you didn't know this.
We will be able to listen to Chuck Swirsky on Bulls radio. Say what you
will about Chuck but he was not ever bland. Are you kidding me? Great passion!
Larry B, Sydney Forks
A: That’s true, but that certainly doesn’t help someone who, let’s say, is driving in Waterloo or someone who – gasp! – doesn’t have internet access all the time.
So, I’m at the ball yard yesterday, watching this Canadian kid make his first start and I’m talking to a few guys from the Olympic team ‘cause I’m going back to my roots and covering some ball over in Beijing.
And it strikes me that the Rogers Jays (I believe that’s the official name now, isn’t it?) royally screwed the national team.
The Richmond kid who pitched was going to be, if not the ace, a huge part of Canada’s rotation and now he can’t pitch because the Rogers Jays needed an emergency starter or somesuch in what was actually one of the more crucial games of the season (chasing Tampa for first, you sure want to trot out a guy who’s never pitched in a big league game in the deciding game of a series, don’t you?).
There wasn’t someone else in Syracuse or Double A, or even in the bullpen who could have made that start and kept Richmond available for the Olympics?
I think it sucks and shows a complete lack of respect for the national team program.
Speaking of the SkyDome (or whatever it’s called now), you’d think the kabillion dollar scoreboard in centre field would, you know, show the score?
It does have a nice Rogers ad, doesn’t it?
Okay, basketball, the digression is over. For now.
As a Former Beat Grunt Turned Political Reporter But Still A Musicologist (and you’ll have to try to guess who that is) points out, the Houston Rocket locker room is now populated by Rafer Alston, Steve Francis and Ron Artest.
Yip! and Eeee!
That’s a dream team of dysfunction and story possibilities.
Don’t you feel so good for Rick Adelman right about now?
Anyway, I don’t think the acquisition of Artest does much to move the Rockets from where they are, maybe top five in the West. I’ve got them behind the Lakers, Spurs, probably the Jazz and likely the Suns and I still say they’re hard-pressed to win a playoff series.
Oh, and you know that Artest is going to do or say something foolish and costly during the season. He always has. Everywhere he’s been. Can’t see it changing all of a sudden.
As one of his former teammates once told me, and I’m paraphrasing a bit, “Ron’s great. We just gotta keep him on his meds.”
First report just in from our coach in Beijing (he arrived a few hours ago) and it can’t be better.
The dorm rooms are fine, the Blackberry works, no trouble at Customs and – get this – beer’s like 8 RMB (I’m guessing about a buck and half Canadian) at the media village store!
The trip’s looking better every day.
Last mail bit for the day
Q: I just read about how Australia's national basketball team defeated China in an Olympic warm-up due to 'dogged defense' where Yao and Yi where held in check all night. I got excited thinking our boy Jawai might have been involved in shutting down the Chinese big men.
Is he on the Australian national team? If not, why not? You can't tell me Summer League is more valuable than the Olympics and playing against Yao Ming or Dwight Howard.
I know they have Bogut from the NBA but that's it, right? One NBA centre and a bunch of guys who play in Europe ... sounds familiar. Except they're in the Games and we're not.
Rob M, Toronto
A: With all due respect to the Australian team, the qualifying process for them is exponentially easier than anything Canada has to do. They need to, basically, beat New Zealand in a best-of-three series to qualify for any Olympics or world championship.
And, no, Jawai is not on the national team, never has been. Frankly, they have better, much more experienced international players they’ve taken.
You know why basketball’s better than golf? No rain delays. Man, days can get long when you have to be at the course at 7:30 a.m. to finish off the day before and don’t get out until after dark. Other than that? It’s not a bad gig. Fresh air. The odd bout of sunshine. And no deadline pressure.
Have a feeling it’s gonna be pretty quiet, hoopwise, this week so not sure what we’ll get in this little space. Got a lot of pre-Olympic stuff to do – the baseball team’s here, meetings, banking (you know how hard it is to find Yuan?) – but I’m sure some basketball stuff will pop up.
So here we go.
Did get off the course in time on Friday to catch the USA-Canada game (that wise tout who said take the Americans and give the 45 was pretty sharp, no?) and have to say I came away absolutely unimpressed.
No one thought Canada would win but keeping the game within 50 would have been a goal that they should have reached.
The last time I was speaking to the big boys over at Canada Basketball, they suggested the debriefing would begin today and that’s not a moment too soon.
It’s too easy to say change the coach and all will be right because the problems, and work, goes much, much deeper than that.
There are structural issues to resolve too and, as a public service, here’s a suggestion they should feel free to use.
I’d think about hiring at Director of Basketball Operations for the men’s program, one guy to oversee the senior, junior and developmental teams, a guy to go out and coach the coaches because that’s the only way they’re going to develop long-term success – starting with the kids.
Then I’d find someway to establish a national team hierarchy that includes a bunch of “old heads.” I’d find some way to convince Steve Nash to become the head of the group, I’d involve Jay Triano and Gord Herbert in advisory capacities and there’d be a role for Leo in there, too.
We don’t have enough sharp global basketball minds in this country to alienate any of them.
Maybe this group can help convince Euroleague teams to take a chance on some young Canadians because that’s where we need the players playing.
As for coaching? I don’t think you need a full-time “coach” who criss-crosses the country making speeches and conducting clinics.
I think they could hire a coach – to coach the players he’s given, rather than someone who picks his own team – on a summer contract each year. Maybe the guy has some European experience, maybe not. But he needs, I think, to be disassociated from the selection process as much as possible.
Will this work? I have no idea. But I presume something like this will be on the table when the discussions start today.
I don’t know about this Nathan Jawai character.
He’s in town and was supposed to help Jason Kapono out yesterday judging the tryouts for the Dance Pak but had to bail because he was, allegedly, sick.
Hmm. Passing on Dance Pak judging? I wonder.
Chalk up another sizeable step for Canada Basketball in programs that aren’t the senior men.
The women’s under-18 team went 4-1 (beating Brazil, Argentina, Venezuela and Puerto Rico, losing to the States) at the world qualification tournament on the weekend in Buenos Aires.
That’s a rather significant accomplishment and the experienced they’ll glean at next year’s worlds will be hugely important in the long-term development of the game.
Toss in the fact the men’s under-18 also qualified and that’s a great thing for the future.
I hear old friend Pape Sow’s about to sign with Armani Jeans Milano of the Italian league. Guess they needed a replacement for Danilo Gallinari.
And with Garbo and Carlos both in Russia and The Gangster in Rome, are the Raptors now being the EuroRaptors in reverse? Stocking teams over there rather than stocking their roster with Euros?
And before you ask, there was no way Pape was coming back here.
Here’s a rather lengthy one from the mail:
Q: A comment, and a question that you will probably - for good reason - not be willing to answer right now.
First, the comment - I know that I am not alone in commending you for continuing the blog - on a regular basis - far beyond the end of the Raptors season. But, I also want to point out that I, from time to time, check in on other blogs - by Star writers and in other publications. And I have to say, although I still am not sure exactly what a blog really is, yours is, BY FAR, the absolute best. And the reason I say that - yours is the ONLY one I have visited that is truly INTERACTIVE.
The others post their feelings in their blog, and then allow 'us' to comment. You not only allow us to comment, but, very often, you reply to the comment.
For that reason alone, my first 'read' of the day is not your current blog - although I certainly do get to that quickly enough - but rather, yesterday's blog, and comments, AND RESPONSES. I glean almost as much info from your responses to our comments as I do from the blog itself.
I have not seen another blog that works that way. Your extra effort is truly appreciated - that is what makes your blog truly exceptional!
Now to the question: You have made it abundantly clear (although it seems that many readers have missed that point - time and time again!) that the 13th spot on the Raptors roster will be a 'combo guard' that fits their needs, AND their financial abilities. I am not going to suggest, as others might, that, in order to fill this position, they package Joey and Leo to get Kobe.
But, I do wonder, based on your knowledge of the way the Raptors and the NBA work, is your best guess that that person will be a Raptor before the end of July; before the middle of August; or in the latter part of August?
And, as a side note, what do you think that 13th player (who may not be the 13th player on the depth chart) will/should bring to the table?
Keep up the great work! You're my #1 read of each day!
Tim H, Windsor
A: Thanks for the kind words, much appreciated.
If I had to guess, we won’t be hearing about any 13th man signing until late-August. A lot of teams are starting to shut things down now for some much needed R and R; a lot of basketball people are turning their attention to the Olympics and even agents have to get some down time.
Someone may emerge during the Games but I’d bet it’s after, like first week of September.
Now, what should they bring?
The biggest thing is a willingness to be a 13th man, if you know what I mean. Someone who will accept a role as a basically a practice player but someone who, on the very odd occasion they’re needed to, can handle 15 or 20 minutes in a game or two. I agree it should be a combo guard who can make shots in a hurry.
The trouble is, if you’ve got guys on your roster, you don’t want them just there to collect a paycheque so finding a balance between a player who knows his role and someone competitive enough to push teammates in practice is hard.
Here’s something to look for tomorrow. Disgraced ref Tim Donaghy’s going to be sentenced. I don’t know much about the American justice system – except that every now and then it seems quite screwed up – but I’d think he gets a nice long sentence.
Not sure how this is going to work out this week, was sort of a weird feeling around the golfing course trying to write without 19,000 fans screaming their lungs out, music being played during the competition and, of course, there are no Chickens in golf.
Odd sport, that.
But I digress, as I do.
On to the hoops
Yes, we know by reading a snippet in our paper this morning that Jose went for 18 points and Spain beat Argentina by two yesterday in some pre-Olympic friendly (as they call it in my other sport, football).
Well, looking further into the boxscore, I notice that Garbo played 14 minutes or so, made a three-pointer and grabbed a couple of rebounds.
Haven’t talked to anyone who’s seen the game but I was told earlier this month that he looks the same as he always did. Doesn’t really run that well, can’t really jump that high but simply has a knack for making plays.
I know there were huge concerns n Toronto about how his surgically-reconstructed leg would hold up over an 82-game NBA season but if he can go 14-18 minutes of a 40-minute Olympic or Euroleague game, I’ve always thought he could probably tough it out for another three or four years, if he wants.
And that’ll make a lot of people happy. Garbo’s one of the good ones and it would have been a shame to see his career cut short by that play in Boston – a play, if you recall, that was pure hustle and work, trying to block an unblockable open dunk.
Still with Garbo, I know there were all kinds of quotes floating around yesterday about him signing with Carlos Delfino’s new Khimki team in Russia but people I talked to in Toronto last night say it’s not quite a done deal.
Could very well happen but Garbo’s got a soft spot for Malaga of the Spanish league and they’re still in the running.
I have no idea what it is, but Detroit’s like Brawl Central when it comes to basketball.
Check out the WNBA scuffle last night.
And here’s the story about it.
It was Promotions Day around the ACC yesterday. They upgraded a handful of execs, awarding them with new titles and, I’m sure, untold riches.
Maurizio goes to senior vice-president of basketball operations from vice-president and assistant general manager.
Masai Ujiri is now the assistant general manager, player personnel from director of global scouting.
Marc Eversley becomes assistant general manager, basketball development, from director of basketball operations.
Jim Kelly is senior director of player personnel after being the director of player personnel (I guess adding senior comes with being old?)
Steve Fruitman’s now the director of basketball operations after being director of basketball finance.
Micah Nori takes over as director of NBA scouting from his gig as the team’s advance scout.
I have no idea what any of this means except new business cards for all of them and, hopefully, gargantuan budgets for Beat Grunt Hospitality.
Quick look into the mail bag:
Q: Nice coverage on the Canadian basketball team but why was it that there were NO Canadian reporters in Greece to get the full story about what happened? Do you think we have anything to be hopeful about in the future of Canadian Basketball? It seems to me that unless we can get guys playing in the top leagues, (Spain, Italy, Greece, let alone the NBA) and a solid coaching staff, we don't have much chance.
Jeff S, Taipei
A: You’d have to ask all of our bosses individually why we weren’t in Greece, it certainly wasn’t because none of us wanted to go.
I think there’s a bit to be hopeful about, as I’ve said, I’ve always thought the 2010 worlds were Canada’s next step on the international stage but with the Olympics being only 12 teams and FIBA Americas usually only getting two guaranteed berths (it’s based on results from the previous worlds, in large part), the Olympics are always going to be tough. I think the only way they’ll get there for 2012 is through the same last-chance qualifier they were at this year. And, yes, getting players on to Euroleague teams – where they actually play and don’t just sit on the bench – is a huge step.
Remember yesterday I mentioned there may be a couple of Raptors lurking about the city this weekend for the 3-on-3 thing and other appearances?
Well, I heard it’s Kapono and Moon and they’ll be flitting hither and yon spreading the Raptor gospel.
And while I’m pretty sure the folks with the team will keep him busy, I’m guessing Kapono might try to find his way to the Abbey, being a golf nut and all.
The esteemed colleague D. Perkins reports that, while out traversing Torry Pines for the U.S. Open in June, he spied a rather tallish fellow among the great unwashed wandering the fairways.
Yep, our boy Jason out for a walk, watching golf.
More mail? Why not. I’ve got a feeling I’ll have some time today and tomorrow to answer your queries while I sit out rain delays at the golf (and that’s the one drawback to the game, rain delays. It’s nice that they don’t play at night – more time to coach the Little Leaguers – but nothing spells boredom quite like sitting around waiting for golf to happen).
Q: Thanks for taking the time to answer my Raptors questions, I think I am one of the few who truly likes this Raptors roster. There are a few gambles, but I think the biggest wild card will be the play of Jamario Moon. I would think Jamario could add about 5 more points a night just by getting to the rim or free throw line a few more times. What is he doing this off season to get better/stronger?
Also, what are the chances of Andrea playing the 3 with Bosh & O'Neil? I don't think it'll happen, but if Kapono is playing in pre- playoff form and Jamario gets hit by a bus, it might be interesting.
Dave M, Oakville
A: We’ve been through the Andrea as a 3 thing about eleventy zillion times and I’ll say it once more: I don’t think you’ll see it very often because he can’t cover threes in transition and he lacks the post-up game to go on the block and punish smaller players. The very, very odd occasion? Maybe.
Moon? He’s doing what every other NBA player worth is salt is doing, working on his conditioning and every part of his game, presumably ball-handling and shooting. It’s not like these guys go home and don’t touch a ball or go to a gym all summer. They work at their craft.
So, in another digression, I read on the weekend where the FC coached slagged the league’s officiating and the media and last night after they can’t beat the Montreal team he’s killing some of his players and all I’m thinking is, man, when did Sam move over to football?
Hey boys and girls, everyone get all the housework done on that dreary Sunday? Get caught up on reading, hanging out, drinking coffee, doing family stuff? Cool.
It might be a slow week this week, I don’t expect much happening with the local Heroes Of The Hardcourt and with summer league done in Vegas, things my dry up a bit.
Which is okay, actually, since I’m Golf Boy this week out that the Abbey (lucky golf readers, I say) but we’ll still endeavour to get something marginally interesting and informative in here each day (besides, slow or not, you folks still like to fill up the inbox with questions).
On to the good stuff:
So Carlos Delfino’s going to Russia and there are reports out there this morning that Josh Childress may be headed to Greece. Is the sky falling? Are these other leagues going to raid the NBA and turn it into just another league?
No disrespect to Carlos or Childress, but these are hardly NBA ‘stars’ we’re talking about. Neither has ever been as much as a starter in the league and if they can get boatloads of more money playing overseas, good for them.
Maybe it’s simply a fact of NBA GMs coming to their senses and not doling out lucrative long-term contracts to players of not dubious talent, but guys who are just pieces of the puzzle.
I can certainly see more young players going and spending a couple of years making big bucks overseas and I can certainly see players at the end of their contracts heading to Europe for one more big payday and one more life adventure.
But will the NBA miss either Carlos Delfino or Josh Childress? I can’t imagine it will.
The impact on the league: Shorter-term, shorter-money contracts for guys like Childress and Delfino.
Not sure when they’ll get around to announcing it, but when they do, remember you read it here first:
I’m told CSKA Moscow’s coming to Toronto this fall for an exhibition game against the Raptors.
No dates or anything but I hope for Toronto’s sake it’s near the end of the pre-season because if the Raptors don’t bring their ‘A’ game, they’ll get their heads handed to them.
A visit to the mail:
Q: Hey Doug, I posed this question to you a couple of weeks back, and surprisingly, you didn't jump at it. Perhaps it was too rambling so I'll keep it brief; how do you think He Who Shall Not Be Named will react in New Jersey since he's now in essentially the exact same situation he was in with the Raptors five years ago?
Alison B, Mississauga
A: Sorry, must have missed it and, believe me, I’m used to “rambling.”
A lot of what turned Carter south here had to do with management, the fact he didn’t believe in his GM, was playing for his fourth coach in about five years and being simply tired of being in the same situation with no real plan going forward. I don’t imagine he’ll love what’s going on in Jersey, but I think there are some different circumstances that won’t lead him to quit like he did here.
I digress but …
I’m watching the Argo game with Super Son yesterday (the Little League game was rained out) and I have to say that no head coach of any professional sports team in any professional sports league anywhere in the world should wear shorts.
And I now return you to your regularly-scheduled basketball stuff.
I see on Canada Basketball's site that Jermaine Anderson parlayed his play at the Olympic qualifier into a gig back in Germany for next year. That can only be good for the national team because the team needs Anderson to really polish his point guard skills before next summer’s qualifier for the 2010 worlds.
Speaking of worlds, you know I told you last week that Canada’s under-18 men have qualified for next year’s global championship in New Zealand (they ended up winning the bronze at their qualifier on the weekend). Well, this week some attention has to go to the under-18 women. They’re in Buenos Aires for a six-team tournament, fighting for one of four spots in next year’s worlds.
I think what we’re seeing in the laying of a foundation, for both groups, that’ll really help in the future. The NEDA program (a residency-training-educational program for many of the elite teens in Canada) is one of the best things Canada Basketball has ever done and we’re starting to see results on the floor.
Remember way back in the day, maybe a month or so ago, we had a story in the paper on Masai Ujiri’s annual big man camp back in Nigeria and how it’s got to help youngsters over there develop?
Well, I don’t know how many of you noticed Deji Akindele out in Vegas with the Raptor summer league team but he’s a graduate of that camp. He took part a few years ago, it got him a scholarship in the states and while he blew it by coming out of college too early, his hopes of one day being in the NBA are still alive. He’s been in the D League and France and will play this year it Italy.
He’s exactly the kind of guy Ujiri wants to help.
A summer league query from the mail:
Q: What do you think CJ Giles chances are of making the big club?
Sean J, Ottawa
A: I would say miniscule with gusts to non-existent.
|We got Good Joey at summer league - but that's to be expected.|
Speaking of summer league, now that it’s over (a stellar 1-4 record for the locals) what’s to be gleaned? Nothing, really.
The thought around team remains that the 13th man is going to be someone on a minimum value contract who’s a combo guard with at least a little bit of NBA experience, a guy who some night in the regular season will jump up and do something to win a game for them, and I don’t think that guy was on the team in Vegas.
And with only two games under his belt, nothing can be taken away about the performance of Nathan Jawai other than he didn’t look out of place.
Joey? Joey killed in the summer league but, quite frankly, if he didn’t there was no hope for him whatsoever.
Greece, Croatia and Germany grab the last three basketball spots in the Beijing Olympics and I can’t say I’m surprised at all.
Guess the only surprising thing was Slovenia losing to Puerto Rico in the quarter-finals, that was the lone upset of those four games.
Guess the other thing of note is that no country from FIBA Americas made it to the Games, other than the USA and Argentina as qualifiers last year, and that doesn’t bode well for the future of the game on this continent.
North, South and Central American teams (aside from those Big Two and I’m not entirely sure how long the aging Argentines can stay near the top of the world) are falling further and further behind Europe in each quadrennial.
It means that while Canada may one day be on par with a lot of the other countries over here, it’s how they stack up against Europe that will really determine where they rank in the world.
And another Canada season ends. Badly.
Not that anyone thought they had a legitimate chance against Croatia but that was rather dreadful nonetheless.
At no point in the game did anyone, ever, think Canada could pull off an upset and give itself a chance at the Olympics.
(Oh, and about that mailbag thing? I’m a tad under the weather and need the rest of the morning to finish it off; it’ll be up sometime later today, I hope. And there’s lots so come prepared to read)
Some quick observations in the early morning:
Canada now will have missed the 2004 Olympics, the 2006 world championships and the 2008 Beijing Games. I’ve long held that the next significant international competition they’d be in would be the 2010 worlds but now I’m not entirely sure of that.
I really like Olu Famutimi’s game and if he ever figures out how to assert himself consistently, he could be really good.
Levon Kendall and Joel Anthony look built for international play but they are too young to be real good right now.
That’s about it, actually.
Carl English disappeared. Don’t know if he couldn’t handle coming off the bench or if the game’s too quick for him but they needed him and he didn’t produce.
They still don’t have a backup point guard and as much as Tyler Kepkay and Andy Rautins might think they are, they are not good enough against even mid-level international teams at the moment.
Have we seen the last of Rowan Barrett and David Thomas? Probably. I can see no reason why Barrett would play again and Thomas is over 30 and probably has had enough.
Coaching? That’s an issue. I believe Leo’s contract runs out after the Olympics, or at least comes up for review.
You can argue Xs and Os ‘til you’re blue in the face – I don’t think there was nearly enough creativity in the offence and there’s plenty to discuss about that -- but there are other factors to think about besides plays and substitution patterns.
Like winning. Or being competitive.
No worlds. No Olympics. Nothing better than a fifth in FIBA Americas. That’s not good enough.
And I’m not sure the signal sent by cutting Sam Dalembert in the middle of a tournament is at all good.
Sam may have been the Devil personified (and apparently that’s how the coach painted him in a radio interview Thursday) but if that was the case, shouldn’t something have been done before the qualification tournament was under way? Shouldn’t someone maybe taken him aside when he was allegedly being late to all those meetings and practices and disassociating himself from the team during training camp or the games here? I cannot believe his disruptive behaviour happened only in Germany and Athens. If it did, it should have been dealt with before the Slovenia game, not on the bus to the arena to play Korea.
It was badly handled.
I’m not sure if some people think Andrea Bargnani’s been lying on the couch snacking on bon-bons all summer (I get a lot of questions asking if he’s “been following the program and working out”) but he hasn’t been.
And they’ll get to check on him as early as tomorrow.
I’m told he’s supposed to be at Impact Basketball, the venerable workout gym in Las Vegas, either tomorrow or Sunday for a week and then he’s sticking around to work at Tim Grgich’s big man camp right after that.
And he won’t be too far from the prying eyes of his bosses. Strength and conditioning guru Keith D’Amelia will be around Impact and Eric Hughes, who’s been coaching the summer league team, is going to be a guest coach at the big man camp.
So, yes, Bargnani is doing stuff.
There’ll be a big group of Raptors at Impact, too, I’m told.
Jermaine O’Neal’s there almost every day, Hassan Adams is sticking around after the summer league’s over and so is Nathan Jawai.
How do you think Canada, whoever wants to play, that is, will do against the United States next week in Vegas?
I got the USA minus-50.
Here’s one mail question I got to:
Q: Having read Leo Rautins' recent article reminiscing about the team mentality of the Canadian national team preparing for the boycotted Moscow Olympics, I wonder if he expects a certain collegial brotherhood on today's national team that realistically can't be expected in today's age. Do you think he has an expectation of what a team should be, i.e. a certain attitude or bonding away from the court, that has alienated some of this country's players?
Tim F, Monterrey
A: I’m not sure what Leo’s expectations are exactly, other than all members of the team are treated equally and should be equally committed to making sure the whole is better than the sum of its parts.
But I agree that expectation may be too much in this day and age. Every player has different factors tugging at him, contracts, background, history with the program and with his teammates. I don’t think on anything like a national basketball team that’s realistic.
I think each case, and each player, has to be handled delicately, and differently. These are professionals giving up a big chunk of their summer for no pay and under sometimes tough circumstances and each has to be taken individually.
It’s a tough balance, though.
I see Eddie House isn’t going back to Boston – they signed Anthony Roberson instead – and if you’re a Raptor fan, I’d keep his name in mind. I know he’s on a list over at headquarters of guys who might be available for minimum money later this summer to fill that 13th spot.
My bad I misread a note from a friend, it's the Knicks who signed Roberson. The note said they took him INSTEAD of Boston's Eddie House and it was early and I just read it wrong.
But House does really remain in Toronto's sights.
The Raptors are, what?, 0-3 at the Summer League and no one’s written to suggest Eric Hughes be fired? What’s wrong with you people?
Another one from an old mail delivery before I go get coffee and settle in to listen to the call from Greece and try to figure out what’s next:
Q: Hey Doug, I was just checking my source for all things true, untrue and everything in between (Wikipedia) about the Toronto Raptors. How is it that Anthony Parker is listed as a captain as well as Chris Bosh? Is it like the NHL in the sense that he is an alternate captain if Bosh is injured? Or is Wikipedia once again falling into the middle category?
Shannon M, Brampton
A: No, actually, a lot of NBA teams have two, sometimes three, “captains.” Not sure exactly why, tradition probably more than anything. It’s really not comparable to hockey at all.
Nice. A guy gets up at 7:15 a.m. to finish this off and it feels like sleeping until noon. Gotta love days off in Athens.
But in case you missed it, they’re back as the early game again on Friday, 6 a.m. start in the East, way, stupid early if there are any west coast Canada fans and once again it’s on The Score.
One question: If anyone out there from the network is reading, can you get the play-by-play, colour guy, cheerleader to identify himself once or twice. That way, people out there who write me to rip him will at least have a name to put with the notes.
Anyway, on to stuff.
Got to preface this by pointing out there are three sides to every story: His side, their side and the truth.
And since none of us were on the bus, or at the bus, that took Canada from the hotel to the gym in Athens to see first-hand what transpired, this is all second-hand information.
I’m sure there was some “eff you” “eff you, too” stuff going on, I’m sure Leo’s back got up and I’m sure the confrontation had the potential to get nasty.
All I know is that enough people told me yesterday they’d “heard” about Sam big-timing the program that there has to be something to it. And here’s an anecdote I saw with my own eyes.
Heading to a Saturday morning walkthrough at the ACC during the training camp portion of the season, I was walking along Lakeshore from the parking garage to the arena about 9:35 a.m. for a 10 a.m. session. The players, who were all staying at the Harbour Castle Westin were wandering into the arena, too, in groups of three or four. A cab pulls up, obviously not from the hotel and out gets Sam, all by his lonesome.
But I also know that after starting a game on a Friday, Juan Mendez disappeared from the program on the Saturday of the Lebanon game here because he wasn’t “committed” enough and now the team’s starting centre is kicked off, or quits, a few hours before what was then the biggest game of the quadrennial because of his level of commitment to what the coach wants from the team.
I’m not sure there’s a clear cut right or wrong in this situation but a team that needs to rely on the intangibles as much as it does its talent probably doesn’t benefit from the shenanigans that have gone on.
Perhaps the most telling quote of all of yesterday came from Sam’s agent, Marc Cornstein.
"Good luck ever getting another NBA player to show up again.”
I don’t know if there is another NBA player from Canada on the horizon, it’s likely years away, but when agents starting looking sideways at a program and, believe me, they talk about such things, it can’t be a good thing.
All those Canadians playing in Europe, who’ll be the backbone of the team forever, have agents, too.
I think some schmoozing is in order.
Okay, so what’s no Dalembert mean where it counts? Like on the court?
Well, it wasn’t as if he was playing at an all-world level lately but you cannot take a 6-11 shot-blocking centre off a team and expect it not to suffer.
I think it’s a huge longshot for Canada to beat Croatia– just like it’s been ever since the schedule was released – but it’s exponentially longer now that they have a front court rotation without Dalembert.
I will say this, Levon Kendall was a beast in the second half against Korea but that has to be tempered by the fact Croatia is wildly better in every facet of the game than the Koreans.
A guy with extensive international basketball experience told me yesterday that anything can happen in one game and Croatia certainly isn’t the United States.
But watching Canada bumble and stumble against Slovenia and Korea (an 18-point comeback is nice, digging an 18-point hole not so much), And unless Carl English (5-for-17 so far) and Olu Famutimi (4-for-12 so far) get going, Canada has precious little chance.
Oh, T.J. talked yesterday. In Indianapolis that is. Click over there to see how Mike Wells of the Indy Star chronicled it.
One from the mail bag and, judging by the in-box I’ve got more than a few hours of answering questions in my immediate future. Thanks, folks.
Q: Hey Doug, can you clarify whether or not teams have any special rights to players they invite to their training camp? Like if a player on the Raptors summer league team excels (eg. Jaycee Carroll), do the Raptors have the first rights to sign him? Or can any team offer a contract to any player on any summer league team not already under contract? Thanks.
Ron M, Markham
A: No, the Raptors, or any other team, has no extended rights to any summer league player they haven’t drafted. Guys like Carroll or Ron Benson or this C.J. Giles kid I’m hearing good things about, are free to make whatever deals they can once the summer league seasons are over.
That’s why you see some guys, like Carroll, playing for multiple teams in multiple leagues.
Right, forgot about the other big news yesterday.
Roko. Roko. ROKO.
He’s coming, three-year deal, the number I heard was $1.25 million in the first year.
It will be interesting to watch him tomorrow morning against Canada. But, remember, this is Canada he’s playing, not the Celtics. Or the Cavs. Or some, you know, good team.
One more from the mail having to do with the fascination out there with the Marcus Camby trade:
Q: Can you please explain this Trade Exception rule that developed as a part of the Marcus Camby deal to LA Clippers?
I always thought that in order to make a trade you have to receive the same salary in return for cap purposes. The Nuggets gave the Clippers Camby for nothing and now get a trade exception.
DA N, Toronto
A: It’s only in trades between two teams over the salary cap that the numbers have to match, or come close to match. The Clippers have enough room under the cap to assume all of Camby’s salary so they didn’t have to take anything back.
And the Nuggets get a “trade exception” worth the value of Camby’s contract that they can use for one calendar year to take on a player making up to that amount of money. If they don’t use it in a year, it’s gone and because they are shedding money to avoid a huge tax hit, I’d be surprised if they did use it.
Now, for all those who wonder why Toronto didn’t offer a second-round pick to get Camby – a personal fave who would have been a nice fit – please understand that they couldn’t have done the deal like the Clips did because they didn’t have the cap space.
And it’s obvious that Denver didn’t want to take back any salary in a Camby transaction so that cut Toronto – and almost every other team in the league – out of the sweepstakes.
Okay, that was far too much drama for before 8 am. I can handle writing buzzer beaters at night, or even on Sunday afternoons, but before the morning trip to Starbucks? Not so much fun.
Helluva game, though, wasn’t it?
Not sure how many of you were watching but that was a rather stirring comeback from 18 down in the third quarter.
And, yes, that’s exactly why they needed Rowan Barrett on this team. Those 22 points and that clutch three-pointer were vintage Rowan.
So, where’s it rank?
Big win, no doubt, but all it really did was get them right where they were supposed to be, in Friday’s quarter-finals.
I’d rank it third, maybe fourth, of the international games I’ve been at or know about, and I can’t go back to the Olympic medal-winning performance in ’36 because I’m old but not that old.
I’d put the 2002 Sydney win over Yugoslavia first probably, with the 1999 win over Puerto Rico in Puerto Rico that got them to the 2000 Olympics second.
Then, there’d have to be the ’83 win in the World University Games in Edmonton over an American team stacked with the likes of Karl Malone, Charles Barkley and Kevin Willis.
After that? Yeah, a big comeback against Korea in a must-win game would be next, maybe. You’ve still got the wins over Australia in Sydney and that final game in 2000, overtime over Russia when they showed some heart after having it ripped out by France to put in the conversation.
Best move of the game? Without question, it was shortening the rotation.
I know they crow about depth and all that, but in a 40-minute game, I’m not sure you can be shutting nine or 10 players in and out. Eight’s about the right number, maybe even seven if there’s no serious foul trouble and that’s something that helped turn the game in the second half.
Oh, and Jermaine Anderson is certainly not Steve Nash, never will be even close, but that jumper took some stones.
Good to see the kid make a big shot.
Moving on, for the moment …
It hasn’t been announced yet – which is why you folks are so darn lucky – but Carlos Delfino, I’m told, is heading to Russia.
I’m guessing he’s getting something in the neighbourhood of $5 million a season over there, which is far more than any legit offer he got from the NBA.
What’s it mean for the Raptors? Nothing, really.
They retain his rights for as long as the qualifying offer (about $2.7 million) is on the table (a year) but it’s not included in the calculation of the NBA’s tax.
I heard Carlos had a couple of offers in the NBA – the most significant coming from Detroit – but that the money wasn’t close to what he wanted.
One left over from the mail:
Q: What do you think is stunting Joey Graham. Is it the style of coaching or is it all in his head? He seems to have all the tools (decent jump shot, NBA body). I have a feeling the light bulb will go on if he is released or traded.
Andrew A, Mississauga
A: I think, and people in organization concur, is that the game is just a bit too fast for Joey to process sometimes. He’s as athletically gifted as anyone on the team but his decision-making process and court awareness is lacking too often.
Maybe he gets it this year, there are people in the organization who think he will, but I’m skeptical.
Remember last week when we suggested that Jay Triano would get another gig with the American “select” team that will practice, using international rules, against the American Olympic team next week?
Well, the official announcement comes today that the Raptor assistant will once again work with P.J. Carlisemo on the team that trains against the real team.
Here’s one that’s very topical
Q: Doug, quick question. How were the Clippers able to acquire Marcus Camby without taking back any salary in return?
Alex H, Oakville
A: The Clips can do it because they’re far enough under the cap to assume Camby’s contract.
And, to answer all those who’ve asked, NO, NO, NO, the Raptors could not have had Camby for such a bargain-basement price.
They didn’t have the money to take on his salary and I know they feel more comfortable with two years of Jermaine O’Neal than they would have with two years of Marcus.
A lot of concern about Rod Benson out there and why he hasn’t played a minute for Toronto’s summer league team.
He had a bit of a sprained knee that kept him out of the first two games and he might be able to go tomorrow when they play again.
But don’t get too excited. Spies in Vegas tell me the Raptors really aren’t that high on him, even if they were looking to fill their 13th roster spot with a big, which they aren’t.
He’s a good blogger, though.
In the wild and wacky world of international basketball, the buyout and contract closure that will allow Roko Ukic to sign with the Raptors had to go through two federations (Italy, where played this year; and Spain, where his rights were actually held) as well as FIBA and then the NBA has to take a look at it.
It might get done today, it might be tomorrow, but it’s going to get done, not to worry.
Gonna clear up one more piece of mail before I get into the many that are waiting in the queue to be answered:
Q: Knuckleheadism (not sure if that's a word) aside do you think Colangelo would ever consider a Bargnani & filler for Ron Artest deal to give the Raps a legitimate shot at the Eastern conference. Worst case, he's moved at the deadline or off the books next summer?
Rob V, Waterloo
A: Can’t see that happening in a million years.
Couple of reasons: I fully expect Artest to be traded before the season starts, the knuckleheadism factor is huge and, while you and a thousand others may not see it, I don’t think strengthening the wing spot is a good idea at the expense of weakening the front line and leaving a big man rotation of O’Neal, Bosh, Hump and the unproven rookie Jawai.
Yeah, that’s what it was over in Athens today.
Now we find out what kind of mental makeup the national men’s basketball team has because if it wants any shot at qualifying for Beijing, they have to beat Korea on Wednesday morning.
But you have to wonder how shaken their confidence is and if all the talk about being a team will hold up under adversity.
I still see ‘em beating Korea and getting to the quarter-finals but if they don’t play better than they did this morning, it doesn’t matter who they get in that game on Friday.
A key moment:
If they had a chance, it was to build a lead and when Jermaine Anderson got two fouls in the first quarter, any flow to the offence was lost. Backup point guard was always a problem with this team, we saw today why.
No disrespect to Andy Rautins and Carl English and whoever else had to initiate the offence but that’s not a role any of them play well.
|Canada got burned in the paint.|
A key problem:
Halfcourt offence. Non-existent, really.
Another issue that’s been burning for a while, they need to do something more than dump the ball into the post and have four guys standing around waiting for it to come out, or not.
That may work against teams with no inside presence – like Korea, I presume – but not against the, you know, good teams.
How’d you like the start of the game with no play-by-play? No offence to whoever that guy was that ended up doing it, but just watching the game devoid of commentary was all right.
Pretty cool to see those little Rasho floaters and up-and-unders again, wasn’t it?
And Slokey looks way more polished than he did when he was here, didn’t he?
And, no, I don’t think they should bring Uros back, as much as we’d like that ‘cause he’s a good guy and all.
Jaka Lakovic and Sani Becirovic are two prime examples of guys you’ve never heard of who are excellent basketball players.
I would surmise that the overwhelming majority of early-morning viewers were a bit taken aback by the Slovenian guards, who scorched Canada for the first half of the game.
But the world is littered with good players you haven’t heard much about. That’s why the game internationally is so cool, you get solid performances from guys you don’t know and then next year, when they do it again, you go, ‘damn, I forgot about him. He’s good.’
Becirovic’s 27, been with the national team for a decade and played for Panathinaikos last year.
Denver liked him enough to take him in the second round of the 2003 NBA draft but a knee injury really ruined any chance he had of coming over here.
He’s 30 and might have been the best player on Barcelona last year.
These dudes are no slouches.
And now, when you watch Euroleague games next year, you’ve got two guys to look for.
The one over is Athens is not the only Canadian men’s team in action this week.
Down in Argentina, the under-18 team is trying to qualify for next year’s world championships and there are a couple of kids you should keep your eye on.
Tristan Thompson had 19 points and 14 rebounds and Mangisto Arop had 17 and 12 on Monday when Canada beat Mexico 78-65 in its first game.
Had a chance to see Canada against some college kids in an exhibition game before the Canada-Lebanon tilt a couple of weeks ago at Ricoh and came away impressed with those two.
Canada gets Uruguay today and Argentina tomorrow. Four of the eight teams in the tournament qualify for the worlds next summer in New Zealand.
And besides the kids getting key international experience, head coach Greg Francis is building a resume that I imagine will some day land him the same gig with the senior national team.
Have been hearing for a couple of years how good a coach he is and watching him work his team that night at Ricoh, I saw why.
Just seems to have a calmness and a presence.
Here’s one from the mail:
Q: Just wondering if those new uniforms that I heard about earlier in the season are finally going to be unveiled for the 08-09 season. If so, have you seen or heard about what they're going to look like?
Sam C, Kingston
A: Oh yeah, they’ll be out for the start of the season. It’s a third jersey, all black with red trim, and I think I heard that they’ll wear them somewhere around a dozen times in the regular season.
Early report on Nathan Jawai at the summer league: Smooth, energetic.
Raw. Very raw.
But more promise than disappointment in his first game, according to people who saw it out in Vegas last night.
One thing to remember, though: Jawai is behind two all-stars, a former No. 1 overall draft pick and the Hump as the Raptors head into the summer. Expecting him to get more than garbage minutes is asking a lot.
Joel Anthony got a nice little gift just before the qualification tournament began.
The Miami Heat picked up the option on his contract for next season, guaranteeing him $711,000 or so next season.
Miami had until July 25 to exercise the option.
Notice that Roko Ukic was a DNP-CD in Croatia’s first game in Athens yesterday. All I can think of is that his contract status kept him out of the game because I haven’t heard that he’s banged up or all.
Was told the other day there’s no real glitch in the process, it’s just taking time to finalize the buyout, get the FIBA clearance letter (all players need one when they move from Europe over here) and get him signed to his Raptor deal.
That should get done this week, I’m sure his country wants it cleared up so he can play when the Olympic qualification tournament gets serious on the weekend.
Here’s some more mail:
Q: Just a question for someone reasonably old enough to remember: You and ESPN's Stein seem to remember the Buffalo Braves years with fondness, based on where you guys grew up I suppose.
What was the deal that the team got moved? Was Toronto ever in consideration for picking up that team, or was the city deemed too empty of basketball fans at that time?
Tim F, Monterrey
A: I’m not sure about My Man Stein (who I know has a fondness for all things Canadian) but my age and Niagara Falls roots made the Braves the team to watch.
The team got moved because the owner saw greener pastures out west and Toronto was never in the running.
Doug Smith has been a sportswriter for more than 30 years, a journey that's included seven Olympic Games, numerous and varied championships and more dreary regular season games than he'd care to remember. Here, he'll talk about them all, as well as current events and pop culture. (Just don’t ask him about music nowadays — it's not his cup of tea).