Saturday, August 29, 2009

Who hates August? I do

I apologize for the lack of the blogs these past few weeks. It's August, and the only thing going on Raptors wise is Canadian basketball. But I don't live in Canada, so it's hard to blog on it.

But anyway, Chad Ford recently gave his off-season rankings on The Raptors were ranked #8. In my opinion, this is a little low, but it comes as no surprise, considering the Raptors never get credit. Ford gave the Celtics the #6 spot, which doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me. Don't get me wrong, the Celtics have had a good summer, but better than the Raptors? That's up for debate.

Some other key notables:
Spurs #1, Magic #2, Mavericks #7, Cavs #9

On Thursday, 53 ESPN panelists predicted who would win Rookie of the Year in the 2009-2010 season. Only 9 people didn't vote for Blake Griffin, while Jonny Flynn and James Harden received 3 votes, and Stephon Curry got 2. DeMar DeRozan wasn't voted. It also said in the article that the same panelists will be making future guesses in the upcoming weeks--one of which predicts where the 2010-2011 free agents will land, so I'll be sure to blog on it.

My good buddy James Borbath has set up a Mock GM league, in which participates can control an NBA franchise, weather it be from a GM or agent's perspective. As of about 10 hours ago, a handful of spots are still available. If interested, please get in contact with him via Twitter (dinonationblog). I've never done this before, but it sounds like it'll be fun. By the way--I'm controlling the Chicago Bulls.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Sports Illustrated releases pre-season Power Rankings

As a kid, what did you want to be when you were older? A firefighter? An astronaut? An athlete? I wanted to be a writer. Yet, I've feared this will only be a dream, because of my lack of insight and knowledge to write on a daily basis.

But then I saw an article, wrote by SI's Chris Mannix which changed everything-- NOW it appears, regardless of intelligence, I can be whatever I choose to be. I mean, if Chris Mannix, can write, why can't I? I consider myself to be decent, am I not?

Today, Chris Mannix released his pre-season Power Rankings. By no surprise, the "givens" are at the top--San Antonio, Cleveland, and Los Angeles are 1, 2, 3 respectively. But here's why I'm outraged--the Toronto Raptors are #18 [rubs eyes]. That's right folks, #18. Is this guy serious?

Now, maybe I'm being biased, but c'mon. I'm guessing somewhere around #12-14 is a much more logical number. Does Chris Mannix realize what the Raptors have done this summer? DeMar DeRozan was an excellent draft choice. Hedo Turkoglu is extremely clutch, and brings post April experience to a team who hasn't seen much of the playoffs in recent years. Jarrett Jack fixes the problem of a back-up point guard. Marco Belinelli, Antoine Wright, Reggie Evans, Rasho Nesterovic, and Amir Johnson Sonny Weems add much needed depth to a thin bench. Not to mention Jose Calderon is healthy again. I've already predicted he'll be a top PG in the East next season. Andrea Bargnani improved greatly from the previous season and I think he's going to start living up to his #1 draft pick. And, oh yeah--Chris Bosh is still a Raptor. With all this, however, Mannix believes the Raptors will be 18th best team next season. Seizes to amaze me.

I'm not sure what's more infuriating--the fact the Raptors are #18, or the fact that the Washington Wizards are ranked #8. The Wizards didn't even crack 20 wins last season. There is no way in HELL Butler, Jamison, and Arenas will play more than 35 games together.

Power Rankings usually don't mean much to me--but it's the fact that the Raptors never get any credit whatsoever. So many people are quick to talk about how well the Celtics, Magic, and Cavs have done this off-season. But, in my opinion, the Toronto Raptors have had a better summer than all three of those teams.

Maybe it's because the Raptors play in Canada--but I'm sick of getting the short end of the stick just because I'm a Raptors fan.

Check out the rest of the Power Rankings here:

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Latest on the Banks-Carroll trade

On Wednesday, news broke that the Raptors and Mavericks were setting up a trade that would send Marcus Banks to Dallas, and Matt Carroll to Toronto. While this deal is yet to be finalized, I'm guessing it will eventually go down.

But the more I'm thinking about it, the more I'm actually hating this trade. At first I didn't mind it, but now that I've had time to look into the numbers, it doesn't make a lot of sense.

For one, Matt Carroll is going to see extremely limited minutes. I'm guessing 80% of the time he's going to get DNP-CD. It won't help, in Carroll's case, the Raptors bench is extremely deep and a handful of swingman are more talented than him. Secondly, Carroll still has 4 years left on his deal In the remaining 4 years, he's getting paid roughly $4M per season. Marcus Banks also makes $4M per season, but his contract only has 2 years remaining on it. Yes, getting rid of Banks is a positive. But I'd much retain him, rather than dealing him for someone who isn't a free agent until July 2013, and isn't much better talent wise.

In my opinion, this is the first questionable off-season move by Bryan Colangelo. With this trade, I think it just shows how desperate the team was in moving Marcus Banks. But by any means, I'm not going to hate on Bryan Colangelo--this was a small move, and it doesn't make the Raptors any better or worse. But financially, it doesn't make sense.

When/if this trade goes down, it will probably complete the off-season. The Raptors have 15 players on the roster, regardless if we keep Banks or add Carroll. By the way--I felt dumb after Thursday's blog--I didn't realize the Delfino and Ukic trade was technically a 2 for 1 (because Delfino wasn't a Raptor). So, my bad.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Still 1 spot left..

These past few days have been busy for Bryan Colangelo. On Tuesday, he finalized a trade that sent Carlos Delfino and Roko Ukic to Milwaukee, while the Raptors got Amir Johnson and Sonny Weems in return. And according to a report on Wednesday, the Raptors are ready to send Marcus Banks to Dallas for Matt Carroll.

In these trades, if a player was lost, another was gained-- so neither team didn't lose any players, number wisel. Despite all these off-season trades, the Raptors still have 14 players on the roster and one more can still be added. Many Raptor fans are getting anxious about this, but I am one of the minority who believes that at this point, it doesn't really matter.

The Raptors have an extremely deep bench. Player 6 very well may be equally talented as player 9. Every player on the bench will have the opportunity to make a solid contribution when hitting the floor. But at the same time, I realize there's only 48 minutes in a basketball game, and not everyone will get equal distribution time--that's not my opinion, that's just basic math.

At the end of the day, fans need to realize the Raptors bench is pretty much set in stone. Honestly, will player #15 put the Raptors over the top? Chances are no. And with a slipping economy, it doesn't make sense to invest a ton of money into a guy who will only get flashes of court time.

Frankly, I don't care who player #15 will be. Because again, he won't make an impact. The only thing I do care about is how much he's getting paid. So all you angry Raptor fans, I'd chill out if I were you--because if I were you, I'd focus on the upcoming and promising season ahead, rather than debating who the 15th man should be. That's the absolute last thing I'm concerned about.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The trades keep coming

As one trade is completed, another is in the works.

That's the attitude Bryan Colangelo has had over the past few days. Yesterday, the trade that would supposedly send Carlos Delfino and Roko Ukic to Toronto for Amir Johnson and Sonny Weems completed (applause).

And NOW, the very next day, Toronto Star's Doug Smith is reporting Bryan Colangelo is working on a trade that would send PG Marcus Banks to Dallas for SG Matt Carroll. While Carroll's contract lasts longer than Banks, his shooting ability makes up for it. In his 7 year career, Carroll's shooting percentage from 3 point land is 40%. Not bad numbers for a Toronto Raptor team that is shooting orientated.

Carroll still has 4 years left on his contract--making $4.7M, $4.3M, $3.9M, and $3.5M respectively. Banks only has 2 years left on his deal, in which he'll make $4.53M next season, and $4.8M in 2010-2011. So financially, this could be considered questionable, but it's certainly an upgrade.

Banks never really worked out in Toronto. When he wasn't playing, he was hurt. When he wasn't hurt, he sat the bench. And in the rare occasion of when he did play, he was decent at best.

The irony of the trade? Banks will once again be joined with Shawn Marion.

Carroll has been all over the NBA in his 7 year career, playing for 4 teams. While he will fit into our system, finding minutes may be difficult-- the Raptors have DeRozan, Turkoglu, Jack, and Belinelli, so the wingman position is a little full.

I like this move--Banks wasn't going to play anyway, and at least the Raptors have a decent swingman to fit into the Raptors system. I don't think Carroll will play much, but I think he'll certainly get more time than Banks would have.

Man...the off-season moves keep coming.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Sources: Bucks to acquire Delfino

Once again, the Toronto Raptors are set to make another off-season move.

According to ESPN's Marc Stein, the Raptors and Bucks have agreed in principle to a deal that would send Roko Ukic and Carlos Delfino via sign and trade to Milwaukee, while the Raptors recieve big man Amir Johnson and Sonny Weems.

Delfino, who played in Russia last season, is now a restricted free agent. Back in June, the Raptors gave Delfino a qualifying offer, but it was later withdrawn due to the Turkoglu signing. When Delfino last played for Toronto back in the 2007-2008 season, he put up career numbers--averaging 9.0 points and 4.4 rebounds in 23.5 minutes per game.

Roko Ukic is a guy who has a ton of potential, yet he hasn't lived up to it. While he showed flashes of being a great PG last season, he hasn't put it all together. Considering the Bucks lack of PG's, maybe Roko will get more opportunities to show what he's got.

Financially wise, this is an excellent move for the Raptors. Amir Johnson gets paid $3.5M next season, in which will be his final year under contract.

Personally, I don't mind this deal. I didn't expect Delfino to return anyway, considering the Raptors acquired Marco Belinelli, DeMar DeRozan, and Hedo Turkgolu this past off-season. But at least by getting Amir Johnson, the Raptors are getting something in return. It also doesn't look like Pops will be back in Toronto next year either. Rumors have spread that he's been visiting with the Rockets and Cavs. According to ESPN's John Hollinger, Johnson is actually a little underrated, and may find minutes in Toronto, unlike Detroit

2007-08 season: Remind me again why this guy didn't play more? Johnson shot 55.8 percent, had the second-best rate of blocks in basketball, ranked in the top third of centers in rebound rate, and lost his minutes in the postseason to Theo Ratliff. Really.

Sure, he's a bit raw. Johnson was mistake-prone, with 10 offensive fouls and six illegal defense violations in just 769 minutes, and he wasn't always in the right spots on D. But he was also devastatingly effective, ranking 14th among centers in PER. There is absolutely nothing in his track record to suggest this was a fluke either -- his numbers from his previous two D-League seasons and his scraps of NBA time have all been outstanding.

Scouting report: Johnson is listed at 6-9 because that was his height when he turned pro out of high school, but he now appears to be 6-11 or even seven feet. He has a thin frame and still needs to add muscle, and he has no perimeter game to speak of -- last year he was 5-for-26 on shots outside the immediate basket area.

However, he's a freak of an athlete. Johnson has made at least one crowd-wowing play every time I've seen him perform, whether it be a flying swat or a soaring follow dunk, and despite his slender frame he's a superb rebounder. Right now his biggest issue is his propensity for turnovers, but otherwise he appears to be one of the game's top big man prospects, a Marcus Camby in the making.

2008-09 outlook: Johnson unquestionably needs to play more, but it's hard to see how he'll crack a rotation that includes Antonio McDyess, Rasheed Wallace, Jason Maxiell, and Kwame Brown. OK, scratch that last part, but the first three guys will be difficult to displace. Somehow, the Pistons need to get this kid (he's still only 21) at least 20 minutes a night to let him develop, because game experience is probably his biggest need and he's shown he can run with the big boys.

Most similar at age: Andris Biedrins

All in all, Bryan Colangelo has made yet another quality move. Maybe Delfino and Roko are gone, but this off-season was all about re-shaping the franchise. The Raptors have done that. It's time to forget about the past players, and look into the future. With the moves the Raptors have made this summer, the team is certainly hoping a brighter future is in store.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Expectations for the 2009-2010 Raptors

Considering the off-season Bryan Colangelo has put together, heavy expectations have now been placed on the Toronto Raptors. The last time the Raptors had these kind of expectations dates back in the 2007-2008 season, following their 47 win season--which they failed to live up to.

Now that the Raptors have brought in Hedo Turkoglu, Jarrett Jack, Rasho Nesterovic and Marco Belinelli, I can very well see this team right back in the Eastern Conference playoffs.

But the thing that sticks out in my mind, and will be a big reason WHY the Raptors are successful, is a healthy Jose Calderon. Back in Janurary, Calderon strained his hamstring, and for about 3 1/5 months, wasn't the same. He didn't get up and down the court like he did in November and December. He was more cautious. Now, he's had a full summer to let the hamstring heal, and I think his play will be a deciding factor as to how successful the Raptors will be. Many fans thought Calderon had a bad year last season--with another year of starting experience under his belt and a healthy leg, I think he'll silence those critics in 2009-2010.

I can very well see the Raptors getting the 4 seed, worst case scenario 5 seed, in next years playoffs. I don't think a first round exit is in store for the Raptors, either--at WORST, I think the Raptors will make the conference semi-finals. Bryan Colangelo has upgraded the Raptors tremendously, and I believe they will be right in the thick of things in the Eastern Conference.

Bryan Colangelo has done whatever he can to force Chris Bosh to stay in Toronto. This is a make or break year for Bosh--if the Raptors have another disappointment, you can kiss the Chris Bosh era goodbye. If the team does well, Bosh may stay.

Hopefully, all goes well in Raptorland in 2009-2010.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Congratulations, [Insert Name] you're the Toronto Raptors starting SG!

Without a doubt, Bryan Colangelo has had a very good off-season. He's addressed key problems, while adding depth to the team, and putting the Raptors right back into the thick of the things in a competitive Eastern Conference.

Despite this, Raptor fans still have that one big question on their minds. Which shooting guard will Herbie Kuhn say when he announces the starting lineups on October 28th? Will it be DeMaaaaaaaaar DeRoooooooozan? Marrrrrrrrrcooooo Bellllllllinellllllli? Antooooooooine Wrrrrrrrrrright?

This is actually a pretty tough question, and I don't think we'll know until perhaps the pre-season. DeMar DeRozan has a very bright future ahead of him, but he needs more time to put the pieces together. Will he be ready to take on a starting role? Antoine Wright could also start, considering his exceptional defense. But does he have the shot consistency to be a starter? Marco Belinelli could also start, but I think the chances are slim. While he's talented, I don't think his defense is acceptable in a starting role. I think he's a guy who will give the Raptors a big boost off the bench.

In my opinion, it's a toss up between Antoine Wright and DeMar DeRozan. For the first few games, I wouldn't be surprised if DeRozan and Wright switch on and off for the starting position (DeRozan starts one game, comes off the bench next game....) But when it's all said and done, I think DeRozan will be full time starter at some point in the season. If he's not, I think he'll be considered as a somewhat bust, given his high draft pick and potential.

Whoever comes off the bench, however, will give the Raptors a big boost, and will contribute immediately. Bryan Colangelo has put together a great bench, and it's one of the big reasons why the Raptors will be successful next season.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Recapping the Weekend

Pardon the lack of blogs these past few days--I was in Canton, Ohio for the Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement Ceremony for the weekend and I was pretty swamped.

Not to much happening in the NBA right now--the off-season's lull continues.

On Friday, Rashard Lewis tested positive for elevated testosterone levels, and will be suspended for the first 10 regular season games. 

Lewis said in a statement that he took an over-the-counter supplement late last season that included a substance he did not realize was banned by the NBA.

“First and foremost I take full responsibility for the situation and accept the corresponding penalty,” Lewis said. “I apologize to Magic fans, my teammates and this organization for not doing the research that should come with good judgment." many times have we heard that?

Anyway, if I'm David Stern, I'm a little concerned. By no means are performance-enhancing drugs used in the NBA, but will this trigger other players to use them?

Linas Klieza has signed 2 year deal to play for  Olympiakos. Klieza was rumored to play for Toronto, but when Marco Belinelli was acquired that rumor died.

LeBron James has made it pretty obvious he won't sign an extension this summer. ESPN is making a big deal out of this, but it comes as no surprise. In these type of situations, it's all about having the upper hand--because LeBron won't sign an extension, it only forces the Cavs' front office to make the team better. The same goes for Chris Bosh, Dwayne Wade, and all the other 2010 free agents.

Kurt Rambis will be named the Timberwolves head coach. I was a little surprised Sam Mitchell wasn't hired--he played for the team, and has the experience of head coaching. I still hope Mitchell finds work, because I have much respect for the guy, and wish him nothing but the best. 

Friday, August 7, 2009

Top 5 2010 Breakout Teams

A recent question on the Raptors Facebook group inclined to me write this blog. A few days ago, a fellow Raptor fan posed a very interesting question--who will be the top 10 breakout players in 2010? So, aroused by this question, I've been inclined to post who I believe will be the top 5 breakout teams come next season (10 breakout teams is too many). These teams may not make the playoffs, but may raise some eyebrows. And by the way, these are in order, so the #1 team will have the biggest breakout.

5. Charlotte Bobcats: I'm putting the Bobcats at #5 because they've somewhat already broken out. Last year, the Bobcats won 35 games and just missed the playoffs. Gerald Henderson may have a decent rookie year, and I'm still waiting for Raymond Felton's breakout season...will it finally happen?

4. Washington Wizards: Until Gilbert Arenas, Caron Butler, and Antwan Jamison can play 50+ games together, the Wizards will never be successful. But the Wizards did bring in some extra talent this off-season by adding Mike Miller and Randy Foye. Will the Wizards make the playoffs next year? Probably not, they didn't even crack 20 wins last year. But with the hiring of coach Flip Saunders, the Wizards will be much improved next year.

3. LA Clippers: Yeah I know--the Clippers only 19 games last year. But on paper, the Clippers have a pretty decent lineup. Baron Davis, WHEN MOTIVATED, is a very solid point guard. I also believe Marcus Camby had an off year last season, and he'll bounce back next year...and correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't the Clips draft Blake Griffin with the #1 pick? The Clippers won't make the playoffs next year, but they'll definitely be better than last year's disappointment.

2. Golden State Warriors: I'm calling it right now: When it's all said and done, Stephen Curry may be one of the better players to come out of the 2009 NBA Draft. And, yes, I know it doesn't mean much, but Anthony Randolph dropped 47 points in a summer league game. That's pretty impressive. I've already posted a blog about my playoff predictions, but I'll say it again--the Warriors may make a playoff push next year.

1. Oklahoma City Thunder: Sam Presti, Thunder GM, may be the smartest man in the business, in terms of building for the future. The Thunder are extremely young--Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook are 20, Jeff Green is 22, and James Harden, who could win ROY is 19. I expect Kevin Durant to have a monster year next season, and he'll start to develop into one of the better players in the NBA. The Thunder won't make the playoffs next year either, but the young core may finally start to gel. Give it 3 more years, and the Thunder will be right into the thick of things in the playoffs.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Breaking down the Raptors schedule

I know I'm a little behind the 8-ball, but I wasn't able to blog yesterday.

Anyway, on Tuesday, the NBA's 2009-2010 schedule released. On Wednesday, October 28th, the Raptors will play their season/home opener against LeBron and the Cavs. This game will certainly be interesting, because it will be a first impression to see if the Raptors can play with the big boys in the East.

The first away game will be October 30th against Memphis.

Have the Raptors really improved from last season? Can the team make that next big step? Well, it appears we'll know rather quickly--in the first 12 Raptor games, 9 of the teams made last years playoffs. In my opinion, this is the most important stretches in the season. For me, anyway, I'll be able to see if this team can compete with the leagues best. It's all about first impressions, and these first 12 games will certainly sway me one way or the other.

Here's what the rest of the schedule looks like...


Atlantic Division
Boston (H: 1/10, 4/7, A: 11/27, 1/2); New Jersey (H: 12/18, 2/3, A: 2/19, 3/20); New York (H: 3/5, 4/14, A: 1/15, 1/28); Philadelphia (H: 2/10, 3/7, A: 1/8, 4/3) Total (H: 8, A: 8)

Central Division
Chicago (H: 11/11, 4/11, A: 12/5); Cleveland (H: 10/28, 2/26, A: 1/19, 4/6); Detroit (H: 11/4, 12/27, A: 12/23, 4/12); Indiana (H: 11/24, 1/31, A: 1/11, 2/2); Milwaukee (H: 1/22, A: 12/9, 1/20) Total (H: 9, A: 9)

Southeast Division
Atlanta (H: 12/11, 3/17, A: 12/2, 4/9); Charlotte (H: 12/30, A: 11/25, 3/29); Miami (H: 11/20, 1/27, A: 12/15, 3/28); Orlando (H: 11/1, 11/22, A: 12/16, 1/6); Washington (H: 12/1, 2/20, A: 12/4) Total (H: 9, A: 9)

Northwest Division
Denver (H: 3/26, A: 11/17); Minnesota (H: 12/8, A: 3/22); Portland (H: 2/24, A: 3/14); Oklahoma City (H: 3/19, A: 2/28); Utah (H: 3/24, A: 11/18) Total (H: 5, A: 5)

Pacific Division
Golden State (H: 4/4, A: 3/13); L.A. Clippers (H: 3/31, A: 11/13); L.A. Lakers (H: 1/24, A: 3/9); Phoenix (H: 11/29, A: 11/15); Sacramento (H: 2/7, A: 3/10) Total (H: 5, A: 5)

Southwest Division
Dallas (H: 1/17, A: 11/7); Houston (H: 12/13, A: 3/1); Memphis (H: 2/17, A: 10/30); New Orleans (H: 12/20, A: 11/6); San Antonio: (H: 1/3, A: 11/9) Total (H: 5, A: 5)

Games by Month
October/November18 (8 home, 10 away)
December15 (8 home, 7 away)
January15 (7 home, 8 away)
February10 (7 home, 3 away)
March16 (7 home, 9 away)
April8 (4 home, 4 away)

Games By Day
Sunday19 (15 home, 4 away)
Monday6 (0 home, 6 away)
Tuesday9 (3 home, 6 away)
Wednesday23 (14 home, 9 away)
Thursday1 (0 home, 1 away)
Friday17 (8 home, 9 away)
Saturday7 (1 home, 6 away)

Longest Homestand
4 games: 2/3 vs. New Jersey, 2/7 vs. Sacramento, 2/10 vs. Philadelphia, 2/17 vs. Memphis

Longest Road Trip
4 games (twice): 11/13 at L.A. Clippers, 11/15 at Phoenix, 11/17 at Denver, 11/18 at Utah and 3/9 at L.A. Lakers, 3/10 at Sacramento, 3/13 at Golden State, 3/14 at Portland

Back-to-Back Games
Overall: 20
Home game, followed by home games: 0
Home game, followed by road game: 7
Road game, followed by home game: 5
Road game, followed by road game: 8

Monday, August 3, 2009

Winners and Losers of Free Agency

The NBA off-season is obviously well under way. Considering many superstars will be available in 2010, it's made this off-season somewhat intriguing. Teams have improved--or done nothing--to improve the betterment of the respective team...let's check out my winners and losers.


San Antonio Spurs: It appears the Spurs are back. Earlier this off-season, the team traded for Richard Jefferson, who will add more athleticism, and fix a need of a proven small-forward. Despite having only 2nd round picks in the draft, the Spurs still scored big. With the 37th pick, San Antonio selected big man DeJuan Blair, and also welcomed Jack McClinton and Nando de Colo. Recently, Antonio McDyess signed a deal as well. Congratulations San Antonio, your back in the Western Conference Finals.

Dallas Mavericks: Ever since the Mavs had that HUGE upset against Golden State in the 2006 playoffs, the team hasn't been the same. With the off-season Dallas has had, it appears the team is out of disarray, and back into the thick of things in the West. I really liked the sign-and-trade for Shawn Marion--not only because of his talent, but the fact that Dallas didn't lose anyone. Drew Gooden was also added, and he'll add more depth to the bench. I've always liked Gooden's game, even back in his days with Kansas.

Boston Celtics: I hate the Celtics. You hate the Celtics. We all hate the Celtics. But you gotta give Danny Ainge some respect--he's had a pretty good summer. I wasn't sold on the Rasheed Wallace deal, but the Marquis Daniels signing put me over the edge. Not only does Daniels bring talent to the team, but he signed for...$1.9M? Wow, that's cheap. But sorry Celtics fans, I still have you guys finishing 3rd in the East--just check out Tuesday's blog.

Toronto Raptors: Ahh, you knew it was coming. C'mon, even if your NOT a Raptors fan, everyones gotta give Bryan Colangelo some props. The team literally went from having no money to having a surplus just because of a sign-and-trade. Hedo Turkoglu had a massive contract, but Colangelo's geniuses was able to work around it. Jarrett Jack was also added, as well as Rasho Nesterovic. I just get chills thinking about it!

Shaq to the Cavs? Ehh, whatever...doesn't excite me. I guess the Cavs had an alright off-season, but I'm not a big fan of Shaq--does a 37 year old really improve a team? I guess we'll see.


Miami Heat: Dear Pat Riley,
Just writing to let you know your superstar Dwayne Wade is a free agent in 2010. You probably know that, but I'm just confused because you're yet to sign anyone this off-season. Anyway, you should definitely get on that.
Kevin Hooker

New York Knicks: LeBron to the Knicks? It looks much less likely, considering the shrinking cap and the fact the Knicks haven't done anything this off-season. Congratulations New York, you suck again.

Portland Trail Blazers: For some reason, no one seems to be talking about this team. Kevin Pritchard, Blazers GM, has been desribed as "agigated", and even "desperate". Every plan Pritchard planned quickly blew up in his face. Hedo Turkoglu was SUPPOSED to go to Portland, but quickly bailed to sign with Toronto. Paul Millsap received an offer sheet from Portland, but that was matched by Utah. Pritchard is also having a hard time giving Brandon Roy a 5 year max deal extension. On top of all this, Nate McMillan doesn't want to sign an extension, and wants to be a free man come 2011. All in all, it's a messy situation in the state of Oregon.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

One spot left...

15 players. 14 are signed. 1 spot left.

That's the situation Bryan Colangelo and the Raptors front office face. Because Marco Belinelli was traded to Toronto on Thursday, the Raptors are now faced with many different scenarios. The trade meant Carlos Delfino probably won't return to Toronto, and it only makes sense--Belinelli plays 2 man, Delfino plays 2 man, as well as DeRozan, Wright...there's just not enough room to incorporate everyone.

The Raptors can now go out and bring back Pops Mensah-Bonsu. When Pops signed with the Raptors back in March, he somewhat snuck up on people. I, along with many other fans, was impressed by his energy and rebounding. As he continued to play, he continued to surprise people, and started to become a fan favorite in Toronto. It now appears Pops may return to Toronto, considering the Raptors are still in need of some back-up big men. In fact, Pops thinks he'll return to Toronto as well. On his Twitter, he tweeted to a fan:

@Khalid_Elgalal no worries youngfella, gone be in a raps uniform for sure

Hakim Warrick was another name that floated around, but he signed with the Bucks. I think re-signing Pops is the smartest decesion at this point in the off-season. He'd add even more depth to an increasingly better bench, and bring big boosts of energy. Whether the Raptors re-sign Pops or not, I think everything will be set in stone in the next few weeks.

By the can follow Pops on Twitter at Pops44.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Recapping the month of July

Bryan Colangelo, can I buy you a drink?

The busy month of July for the Toronto Raptors has come and gone. On July 1st at 12:01AM , I remember being at the movie theatre watching "The Hangover", and tweeting "It's July 1st at 12:01AM..let the NBA free agency begin". However, when I sent this text, I NEVER imagined what would be in store.

On July 3rd, it was rumored Hedo Turkoglu was going to sign a 5 year, $53M deal with Toronto, but it couldn't be official until the 8th. Many Raptor fans were up in arms because the Raptors wouldn't be able to sign anyone else, due to the enormity of Hedo's contract. However, during those 5 days before the trade became official, the Raptors, Mavericks, and Magic worked out a complicated sign-and-trade, which sent Shawn Marion to Dallas, while the Raptors were able to retain all of their exceptions. This was huge because it allowed the Raptors to bring in more support off the bench.

Just a few weeks later, Bryan Colangelo made another splash. On July 21st, the Raptors signed PG Jarrett Jack to the midlevel exception. By adding Jack, the Raptors bring in a proven backup PG who will complement Jose Calderon nicely. I loved this signing, because not only will it fix a key issue, but it adds more depth to the bench.

As if Raptor fans couldn't praise Bryan Colangelo anymore, he made yet another move. In his next move, we (and yes, I know I said we) welcomed back Rasho Nesterovic. Nesterovic, who played for the Raptors from 2006-2008, signed a 1 year deal, worth around $1.9M. It's nice to welcome Rasho back, because he'll fix the problem of an athletic, back-up big man.

All in all, Bryan Colangelo put together an unbelievable July. The Raptors still have money left to spend, so I'm sure more moves will be made within the next few weeks. It has been a great off-season for the Toronto Raptors, one that I believe will put the Raptors at the top of the Eastern Conference.