Monday, June 29, 2009

2009 NBA Free Agency Begins Tomorrow

Tomorrow, July 1st, at 12:01 AM the free agency period begins. Ben Gordon, Hedo Turkoglu, Jason Kidd, Mike Bibby, Carlos Boozer, Chris "Birdman" Andersen, Lamar Odom, Trevor Ariza, Rasheed Wallace, Allen Iverson, Shawn Marion, and Ron Artest are just a few of the big name players that will be without a team. But the big question is--who will the Toronto Raptors go after? Considering the very disappointing year the team had last year, and seeing that this is Chris Bosh's final season under contract, the Raptors must do whatever they can do to have a great 2009-2010 season. So far, they've done a good job by acquiring big man Reggie Evans, and drafting DeMar DeRozan in the draft. Carlos Delfino is also rumored to come back to Toronto. But, unfortunately, that's not enough--the Raptors must to a solid job in free agency, and bring in proven veterans to make the ball club better.

Despite the rough economy, the Raptors are one of few teams who will be able to show the big bucks to free agents. The Raptors are rumored to be interested in Orlando's Hedo Turkoglu. Turkoglu reportedly wants a 5 year/$50 million deal. On March 19th, Turkoglu blew out his birthday candles for the 30th time, so I have an issue with his age. Will he still be effective when he's 34 or 35? And at that point, will he be worth $10 million? I suppose when Turkoglu gets older we can try to trade him, and dump his contract, but will other teams still want him and his big contract? I would love Hedo Turkoglu in a Raptors uniform, and I think he does deserve $10 million a year. But I would prefer a deal that's a little shorter, maybe 2 or 3 years. But unfortunately, I'm a believer Turkoglu will sign with the Detroit Pistons. Last November, the Pistons traded away Chauncey Billups strictly for financial reasons, and I'm guessing Allen Iverson won't be back next year. So therefore, Detroit is going to have tons of money on the table to offer to some big name players. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if Carlos Boozer joins Turkoglu in Motown. With the market becoming thinner, and the economy getting worse, the offers Detroit will make are going to be hard to resist.

Another option is retaining Shawn Marion. Marion, like Turkoglu, will be an unrestricted tomorrow, and will be free to shop around with other teams. Bryan Colangelo has publicly said Marion would like to remain a Raptor, and the Raptors would like him back. Marion turned 31 last month, so it'll be interesting to see how many years the Raptors throw at him. Rumor has it, the Raptors are prepared
 to offer the 12 year veteran a 3 year/$21 million deal. Back in 2002, the Suns gave Marion a 6 year extension worth over $80 million. During that span, Marion approximately earned $14 million. But at the end of the day, Marion needs to realize he is 31 years old, so he will need to be prepared to take a big pay cut. In my opinion, this 3 year/$21 million deal the Raptors may give Marion is perfect. His numbers have dropped over the years, but he's still got a lot left in the tank. He's probably one of the most impressive athletes in the league, because he's an excellent penetrator, shooter, rebounder, and he can block shots. If this rumored deal is true, Shawn Marion should take it. I believe at this point in his career, he's worth around $6-8 million a year.

Many Raptor fans believe Lakers' Trevor Ariza may come to Toronto. But I don't think this is very realistic. Being only 24, Ariza has a very promising future, and he was a big part of the championship run for the Lakers. Considering his age and potential, I don't see how the Lakers can let him go.

The Raptors need to bring in a proven player who will be able to contribute immediately. But, hopefully they don't spend too much money, so a little cap room is saved for the summer of 2010. The Raptors certainly need to do something on July 1st, but I don't think we need to go crazy. If Colangelo can bring in a Hedo Turkoglu or keep Shawn Marion, we'll be a much better team in the 2009-2010 season. It looks as though Carlos Delfino will be back in a Raptors uniform next year, so he'll give us a big boost, whether it be off the bench or in the starting rotation. Pops Mensah-Bonsu was given a qualifying offer on Monday, and he'll give us lots of energy off the bench. And don't forget, we traded to get Reggie Evans, and drafted DeMar DeRozan. Those moves alone make us much improved.

It will be interesting to see how the 2009 Free Agency period plays out. Hopefully, Bryan Colangelo will have the phone handy at 12:01 AM on July 1st. I have complete trust in Bryan Colangelo. I believe he will indeed turn this team around, and make us contenders in the Eastern Conference.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Winners and Losers of the NBA Draft

As we all know, the NBA Draft was last Thursday. In what was a drama-filled night, teams made picks that were very good, very bad, and very questionable. Here are my winners and losers of the night.


LA Clippers: Pretty obvious decision here, as the team selected Blake Griffin with the #1 pick. He's a guy who I think will make a big impact in the NBA, and has a very bright future ahead of him. When it's all said and done, I think he can be a Dwight Howard type of player, because of his ability to score in the low post, as well as rebound and block shots. For a team that has been "cursed" with bad draft picks, the team didn't go wrong by picking Blake Griffin.

Memphis Grizzlies: With the 2nd pick, the Grizzlies selected Hasheem Thabeet. Thabeet has unbelivable potential on the defensive end, averaging over 4 blocks a game in college. The Grizz also picked DeMarre Carroll with the 27th pick. I think this guy is very underrated, and he will surprise people. And with the 36th pick, the team picked Sam Young. Young was projected to picked in the 20's on draft night, so the Grizzlies got a steal that late in the draft. By picking both Carroll and Young, the team added toughness, and two guys who will be able to contribute immediately. All-in-all, the Grizzlies had a very good draft night. The team already has the young core of Rudy Gay, OJ Mayo and Marc Gasol, so by adding Thabeet, Carroll, and Young, they have the chance of having a bright future.

Oklahoma City Thunder: The Thunder made an excellent decision picking James Harden with the 3rd pick. Ricky Rubio, despite how much talent he has, wouldn’t fit in the Thunder system. By picking Harden, they now have a solid wingmen, with Harden at the 2, and Durant at the 3. I think when it’s all said and done, James Harden will be one of the best players to come out of the 2009 draft. The team also traded to get BJ Mullens. Mullens has the potential to be a starting center in the NBA, but he’s a little raw. He needs to develop his game a little more in order to take that next step. But all-in-all, the Thunder had a very good draft. I believe in 3-4 years, the Thunder will be one of the better teams in the Western Conference. With the young star potential they have, they could be very dangerous. Watch out for the Thunder in the years to come.

San Antonio Spurs: Despite having no first round picks, the Spurs were still able to have a great draft night. With the 36th pick, the team was able to snag DeJuan Blair, the big man from Pittsburgh. Blair was supposed to go in the late first round, so by drafting him 36th was certainly a steal. I believe Blair will come in and immediately help on rebounding. With the 51st pick, the Spurs drafted Jack McClinton. According to scouts, McClinton is a duplicate of Celtics' Eddie House. What does this mean? He'll be able to score well off the bench. Two picks later, San Antonio selected Nando De Colo from France. At Eurocamp, De Colo blew scouts away on his shooting ability. Despite having late picks in the draft, San Antonio still had a great night. And by adding Richard Jefferson on Tuesday, the organization had an excellent week. If I'm a Spurs fan, I'm hopeful for the future.


Minnesota Timberwolves: The Timberwolves had the possibility of having an excellent draft. Considering they traded to get the 6th pick, and they already had the 5th, the Timberwolves could have drafted two excellent rookies. In my opinion, they made very questionable calls. Minnesota drafted PG Ricky Rubio from Spain with the 5th pick, and Syracuse PG Jonny Flynn with the 6th. I don’t understand the logic behind this at all, because both players are PG’s. Now, reports are saying Ricky Rubio may go back to Spain, and play overseas for a more years. The Timberwolves claim this is why they picked Flynn, because they weren’t sure on the status of Ricky Rubio. OK, I guess that makes sense..but then why did they get Rubio in the first place? Because I’m guessing there would be no way to play Rubio and Flynn on the court at the same time, therefore they’d have to trade one away. Why bother drafting and taking the risk on Ricky Rubio, when both Stephon Curry and Jordan Hill were available? I think they should have drafted Jonny Flynn and Stephon Curry, because both come with no question marks, and both would feed off each other. And then, the Timberwolves pick Ty Lawson, another PG late in the first round. That’s 3 PG’s! Now, granted, they did trade away Ty Lawson, but still…with these picks it shows the Timberwolves don’t know what they are doing, and don’t know the right players to fit into their system. Overall, I was very disappointed with the Timberwolves night, and if I’m a Timberwolves fan, I’m not to happy with the front office.

Cleveland Cavaliers: Draft night marked the first night off a very important off-season for the Cavs. LeBron James’ contract ends at the end of next season, so the team needs to do whatever they can to make this team better, and force LeBron to stay. With the 30th pick in the draft, the team selected Mr. Irreverent, Christain Eyenga from the Congo. The Cavs made this pick with big man DeJuan Blair still on the board. Blair would have fit perfectly into the Cavs system, because the team is in need of an athletic big man. But instead, the team goes with an no-name from the Congo. In my opinion, this was a very confusing call. The Cavs front office needs to be smarter then that if they want LeBron to stay.

New Jersey Nets: The Nets really surprised me when they selected SG Terrence Williams with the 11th pick. Just hours before the draft, the team traded away SG Vince Carter to the Orlando Magic, for PG Rafer Alston, and SG Courtney Lee. I'm confused, because don't the Nets have a lot of PG's and SG's? I mean, they already have a solid point guard in Devin Harris, and they just added Terrence Williams, Courtney Lee, and Rafer Alston. What are they going to do with all these players? If I was Rod Thorn, Nets GM, I would have drafted Tyler Hansbrough. The Nets are in need of a big man, and I think Hansbrough, despite what people say, will be a good contributor in the NBA.

So there are my winners and losers in the NBA Draft. It'll be interesting to see how it all pans out.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

A Little Introduction...

Hello all, my name is Kevin Hooker and I'm from Livonia, NY. I am 15 years old, and I will be a junior in high school next September. I love basketball, and I'm an avid fan of the Toronto Raptors. I wanted to set up a blog last summer, but I didn't think I'd be able to do it. But because I wanted to get my name out there, and share my thoughts and feelings, I finally decided to make one. I will try to write a new blog everyday. I'd like to thank James Borbath for inspiring me to make this blog.

"The Salami and Cheese" was a catch phrase used back in the day by Raptors commentator Chuck Swirsky. Although Chuck is not with the organization anymore, he will always be remembered. Now, I may not have come up with my own blog name, but when the phrase Salami and Cheese is used, ya gotta go with it, right?

So here we go, the Salami and Cheese blog. Hope you all enjoy, and thanks for reading.