Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Some Downtime and a Frustrating Weekend

So this was a frustrating weekend to be a Raptors fan. One game they gave away, and another game where they just couldn't get over the hump. I wanted to hold off on commenting about the Memphis game until I saw them against Orlando, but now after back to back L's, I am very disappointed.

The Grizzlies' game hurts the most in my opinion. Coughing up a 8 point 4th quarter lead is indefensible. Given the Raptors level of talent, they should have been able to control the end of the game, and close out what would have been a very nice comeback on the road. Instead, we have multiple turnovers on offense that led to multiple OJ Mayo step back 3's, which ended any chance the Raptors had at the W.

Orlando hit 17 three pointers, many of which were wide open and uncontested. No team in the NBA can win when they give up that many treys. I did find the fact that the Raptors battled back to get the game to 5 somewhat encouraging, but giving up 25 to JJ "the frat boy" Redick is even more discouraging.

So what did I learn about this Raptors squad this weekend?

1) Bosh, Andrea and Hedo are good for at least 68 pts a game. They are the offensive bedrock of this Raptors team, and I think they have proven that they can get their points.

2) Jose's 3 point stroke is MIA. This was a HUGE problem on Sunday against the Majic as Jose had multiple opportunities to close the game to 1 possession if he had knocked down wide open 3 point looks. This has to change. Am I confident that Jose will start to shoot the ball better? Yes, but he needs to find his stroke immediately.

3) The Raptors' inablity to guard the 3 point line is killing them. This problem is completely related to Jose's inablility to keep the opposing PG out of the lane. Right now, in both of the Raptors' losses, dribble penetration by the opposing PG has been the key to breaking down their defense. This was surprisingly less of a problem against Cleveland since Wright was about to slowdown LeBron.

I think finding a solution to point 3 will be key to the Raptors season, and here is what I think is the best way going forward.

I am about to link to something I thought I would never do since I hate Dave Feschuk more than anything else in the world, but he brings up a very valid point. The Raptors need to seriously consider starting Jarrett Jack (http://www.thestar.com/sports/basketball/nba/raptors/article/720221--feschuk-solution-to-raptors-weak-defence-start-jack).

From my vantage point in the ACC on Sunday, it was clear that Jose had no hope of stopping Jameer. However, Jameer was compeltely unable to stop Jose offensively as well, so its not like Jose is untalented offensively. I think Triano has a very important adjustment to make, and that is to play Jose and Jack together. Jack's ability to stop dribble penetration will prevent the complete defensive breakdowns that we are seeing. Jose is about 6'3, but I think he has the size to slow down opposing 2 guards. Having Jose's ability to shoot the ball, and drive it to the basket is a perfect fit at the 2, and his defensive short comings guarding quicker PGs would be somewhat hidden. Jack's defensive ability against other 1's should take the pressure off of the Raptors interior defense, and restore balance to the overall defense.

I am defintitely interested to see if Jay makes this adjustment, even if he just implements it in the 4th quarter.

I think Raptors fans need to chill out a bit since we are only 3 games into the season. All is not lost (yet), and this squad still has a lot of talent and potential!

Next up: the Pistons.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

View from Above the Tunnel: Game 1

I must say tonight was unexpected.

Well, I'll be the first to admit that I was totally expecting a double
digit blowout loss to the Cavs tonight. The Raps completely surprised
me on multiple fronts.

1) Andrea scoring 21 in the first half, and was well on his way to 30 plus if the refs had not nailed him with multiple dubious fouls on the "Big Fossil". His willingness to attack the rim, and taking full advantage of his mid range shot was very Dirk-esque. I was very impressed by Andrea's work on Shaq as well. He gave up a lot of bulk, but he was still able to control Shaq without much double team help. If Bargnani plays like this every night, I'll elated.

2) Relatively solid FG% defense, and they protected the paint fairly well. The Cavs got hot from behind the arc in their 3rd quarter run, but overall they were able to do a good enough job on LeBron to keep him from penetrating at will, and setting up the Cleveland shooters. Let's hope that the Raps will keep working hard on the defensive end, and keep this up.

3) They DIDN'T FOLD when the cavs made their run. I was totally expecting the Raps to pack it in when the Cavs got it to 69-69. Instead they go on a 21-6 run. What the hell? Who are these guys? That run after the Cavs tied it up was HUGE. I had mentioned to a friend the other night that the Raps big problem the last couple of years was their inability to bust a game open with a big run. I think a big reason for that was the horrific defense, but I think another major component was the fact that none of the Raps really seized the moment. Hedo (more on this below) and Jarret Jack definitely stepped up and attacked the basket to extend the runs offensively, Wright was excellent on the perimeter defense, and Bosh hedged every pick and roll extremely well and hovered up every defensive board he could get his hands on.

4) I didn't think Hedo did much, but he hit some very big shots down the stretch. His left handed layup to get the Raps back to an 8 pt lead was huge. I definitely thought the Raps were still in the danger zone, but Hedo settled the team down with that bucket. I think this might be indicative of what we will see out of Hedo this year. Not
huge numbers, but when the game is on the line, he will know what to do with the ball.

5) Bosh took his game down on the low block tonight, which was vital to the Raps victory. In fact, the Cavs made their run right when Bosh decided to be a jump shooter again. I don't think CB4 can keep this up because his body will breakdown, but if he does, the Raps are legit.

6) I am TBD on Antonie Wright, but there is definitely man crush potential.

So its game 1 of 82, so I am going to keep it all in perspective, but I think the Raps definitely showed me something tonight, especially when I fully expected the King to spank them coming off his loss to Boston. I think the key for the Raptors is to build on this win by keeping up their intensity. Friday is a big night, the Griz are terrible, the Raps need to come out and rip their hearts out in the first half.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Pre-Game Meal

Uh oh, LeBron dropped 38 and lost to Boston at HOME! Tonight is going to end badly for the Raptors. My hope is for them to keep LeBron under 50 and the game within 5 at the end of the 4th quarter. I have a feeling I might be setting my expectations too high.

Things I will be watching for tonight:

1. Shaq is a borderline statue at this point, so the biggest thing I'll be looking for is how Andrea will take advantage of his speed and quickness over the "Big Fossil".

2. Hedo is going to have to guard LeBron, and I think this is going to end very very badly. However, if the Raptors are serious about playing a total team concept on defense, Bosh should be able to rotate off Sideshow Bob or Big Z fast enough to prevent LeBron from breaking the defense down completely. Tonight is going to be a very interesting game to see just how committed Bosh is to stepping up his game, especially on defense.

3. Will Demar Derozan be able to take AP off the dribble. Demar has shown a very welcome willingness to attack the rim off the dribble when the ball swings to him. AP is old and slow, and it will be a HUGE bonus for the Raps if Derozan can get to the rack and start drawing some fouls on the Cavs.

Finally, I would like to point out that Danny Ferry is probably the worst GM in all of the NBA. Watching the Cavs play the Celts last night, I realized that former Raptor's senior citizen, AP, and former Raptors migraine, Jamario Moon, are in the Cavs top 7. In fact, AP is a starter because Delonte West is bat shit crazy, and Jamario Moon is the 2nd guy off the Cleveland bench. Danny, are you seriously telling me that in the season before LeBron can bolt for LA or NJ, your biggest signings to get you to the Finals are 2 guys that weren't good enough for the Raptors to keep? REALLY? Jamario Moon? I know Toronto is in Canada, but there is still game tape of Moon chucking ill advised jumpers at critical moments of EVERY SINGE GAME HE HAS EVER PLAYED IN. I can't disrespect AP, I loved the guy in TO, but you do realize that he is 35 right? Just so you know, if he gets more than 25-30 mins a night at the beginning of the season, he will be totally useless by April. By the way, you coach is still Mike Brown, and after coaching LeBron for the past 4 years, his best 4th quarter offense is still, give the ball to LeBron will I bury my head in my hands and hope LBJ can bail me out.

Season starts tonight fellow Raptors fans, I am looking forward to it, even if its going to start on a low note.

View from above the Tunnel will be back after tonight's game!

Random Musing

Looks like Rondo didn't sign an extension with the Celtics! Apparently he wants top 5 PG money. Can we all dream of a Rondo S&T for Jose this summer?


Before you call me crazy, a Jose S&T isn't completely out of the question. The Celtics have a ridiculous about of money committed to Paul Peirce, KG, and Ray Ray. Since Rondo knows that he is one of the best up and coming PGs in the league (and he's already got a ring) why is he going to take a hometown discount just cause old man KG has to rack up close over $200 million in career earnings. If I am Rondo (or Rondo's agent), the only words that the Celtics would hear out of my mouth is, PAY ME! PAY ME LIKE YOU PAY THE SENIOR CITIZENS ON THIS TEAM! What is Danny Ainge going to do? He has no leverage on Rondo whatsoever, worst case for Rajon is for him to sign a 1 year qualifer and hit the open market (when the Celtics may not get anything at all for him).

So here is where I think BC could make yet another bold move. If he steps up after the season, assuming that Bosh gets traded or walks, and offers to sign Rajon to a max deal, why wouldn't the Celtics be willing to take Jose (or Jarret Jack) back instead of losing Rondo for nothing. Now to execute this type of coup, BC would have to offer Rondo Brandon Roy-type money, which means something in the ranage of 5 years for $66 million. I would do it because Rondo is the type of PG that would completely change the makeup of the Raptors. He would be able to prevent unchallenged lane penetration that our beloved Matador Jose likes to to give up, and if you pair a drive and kick PG like Rondo with Andrea and Hedo, the Raptors half court gets very dangerous. As an addeded bonus, Rondo and Derozan would be monsters on the break.

I know, I know, Rajon Rondo as a Raptors is a completely ridiculous thought, but next off season (if Bosh doesn't re-sgin) is a one that is full of possibilities for the Raptors. Let's all try to look at all of the angles.

Friday, October 9, 2009

We FINALLY Get to See the New Guys Play!

The summer has finally ended, and Raptors basketball is back! You can paint me every shade of excited right now.

This isn't my official season outlook post since we are only 2 preseason games in, and I still haven't had the chance to actually watch Hedo and Bosh play. I'll be posting every couple of preseason games as we get a better understanding of how the Raptors training camp battles shake out.

For now, here are my VERY early impressions of how the Raptors have done so far:

1) Andrea Bragnani seems to be building on last season

Andrea Bargnani is without question the best Raptor out there right now. I don’t know if this makes me very afraid or very excited, but I do know it’s good to see that he doesn’t look completely lost on the court anymore.

I have really liked how he has taken advantage of Sammy D’s over eager defense in the first 2 games, and really attacked the basket off his mid range pump fake. Barney also looks like he is making quicker decisions with his passing, and he isn’t in love with the 3 ball anymore. I am very impressed with the way he is playing so far into the preseason.

2) Jose’s defense is still atrocious.

Apparently, Jose took the summer off to rest his body to get ready for the season. I think this story was a lie to coverup Jose’s secret training as a matador. It’s the only reason I can think of to explain how Lou Williams has torched Jose over the last 2 games. I mean, Jose isn’t even close to stopping Williams off the bounce. I am hoping that this is more a product of Sweet Lou’s skills rather than Jose being more pylon-like then I suspected. I blamed his poor defense on his injury woes last year, but I am worried that he really is this bad.

3) Where’s Demar?

I went out and bought this guy’s jersey the day after the Raptors drafted him! What the hell, he’s been almost invisible the last 2 games. Right now, I am going to chalk it up to a rookie trying to get his sea legs, but I am really hoping he starts to assert himself more. I don’t want to be too harsh, so there were a few nice things that I saw out of Double D. I especially liked the one handed tomahawk over Sammy D off the break, but Demar has to be more aggressive in traffic!

4) Reggie Evans has to stop shooting!

I have loved to watch Reggie’s hustle the last couple of games. His ability to get after loose balls and generate steals is definitely something NONE of us have seen around these parts since, well, never. However, Reggie’s gotta stop trying to be actually score after he gets the ball. I have always been a big believer that players should go up with the rock when they are close to the basket, even if it is just to draw a foul, but in Reggie’s case, every time he takes a shot, it’s like a turnover. I really hope this is Reggie thinking that it’s preseason, so he has to get all of his offense out now because once the season starts, he better not be hoisting up any ugly jump hooks!

I am going to hold off on comments about Marco since I want to see him off the bench rather than as a starter. As for Sonny Weems and a few of the other the end of benchers, I need to get a better understanding of where they will fit in overall before I start to make any definitive decisions.

The season officially starts in 3 weeks, so I really hope we start to see Bosh and Hedo start to run with the starters. With this many new guys in the starting lineup, practice time together will be key!

My Views from Above the Tunnell series will be back this year as well. As you can all tell, I am super excited for the season!!!!!!!!

The Hedo Signing Just Got Better

Looks like the trade will officially be a 4 way S&T with Dallas, Orlando, and Memphis. Fermat's got a rule, "If a trade involves Memphis, its probably good for you".

In this case, I think I will have to agree!


If you assume for a second that Jack ends up in TO, then I don't think its a good idea to bring back Delfino (maybe they can work a S&T?). With Wright as the starter at the 2 spot, and Demar coming off the bench, there is no need for another SG in the rotation. The biggest need would be to find a guy to play behind Turk, unless the Raps ran a really tight wing rotation of Hedo, Wright, and Demar (I am not opposed to this at all).

Billy Bee's Got Hedo's Back!

A response to the people who are angry at the Raptors for signing Hedo!

1) I know most of you watched the playoffs this spring, so I don't
know how any of you can say the Magic would have made it to the Finals
without Turk. He was the heart and soul of a Finals team, and that is
kind of "killer" mindset that Toronto has been missing.

2) For the last month I had to listen to how Steph Curry should be the choice for the Raps because of his college production, bball IQ, shooting ability, and that is lack of athleticism wasn't an issue because he was a "good enough" athlete. Well isn't Turk a bigger better version of Steph Curry? He's 30, the exact same age as
Marion! At the end of contract, he'll be 36 not 96.

3) Turk's game isn't based on explosive athleticism, so it can age well.

4) Marion turned down a 5 year $30 million earlier in the day. The
Raps had to make a move, so they wouldn't be left holding their nuts
since Matrix was leaving. Also, 35 year old Turk is going to a
billion times better than 36 year Matrix.

5) The Raps did not overpay for Turk, the Blazers set the market, and
the Raps just matched it. This is completely different than the
Alvin, Antonio, JYD contracts because NO ONE else would have given
those guys that kind of money and years.

All I am saying is to give this move a chance!

Fermat Hates Hedo

Start a protest outside the ACC, burn Raptors apparel on the street, egg Colangelo's condo....for the love and sanity of the next five years, please do not let this Turkoglu signing happen. I hate this move, here's why:

1) Turkoglu's "clutch" persona is overrated. Check out 82games.com clutch stats - http://www.82games.com/0809/CSORT11.HTM and he's even behind Bosh!

I think people mistake clutch for game winning shots. In that respect he's a bit better (http://82games.com/gamewinningshots.htm), but A) Toronto has to be in those close game situations in the first place and B) Roger Mason was doing that same sh** for 100x less the money

2) Unless you're crazy enough to think Toronto can contend next year, we're going to be lamenting the last 3-4 years of Turk's contract the same way we did JYD's, Alvin's, Hakeem's, and Yogi's. He is already 30 something - can you imagine how slow he will be even in a couple years?

3) Why don't we just trade Bosh for Lee right now to have the least athletic starting lineup ever. This move also detracts from any run 'n gun philosophy while also making no strides towards a tougher defensive minded one either. Just a horrible move. It's funny that the whole "Toronto is a cosmopolitan city" is a huge badge of pride for the city but a completely devastating one when it comes to professional sports and free agents.

I am officially depressed.......

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Billy Bee's Plan to Save the Raps

So the end of the season has mercifully arrived for the Raps, and after seeing the season go down in flames, but watching them play quite well at the end of the season, I have come to few conclusions about our intrepid Dinos.

Thoughts on the Starting Lineup:

1) Chris Bosh is a really great player that lacks the ability to carry a team into the playoffs. The argument is pretty clear when you watch D Wade single handedly drag the Heat into the playoffs with minimal help around him. This doesn't mean that Bosh isn't going to be good for 20 and 10 most nights (he is), but it does mean that him alone isn't enough for the Raptors to be a contender.

2) Jose Calderon is the most important player on the Raptors. He may not be the best player on the squad, but he definitely is the guy that makes this team go. When he is healthy (see last 10 games), he is easily a top 10 PG in the NBA, and a pretty deadly weapon in the pick and roll situation. When he is not right, he is a pylon on defense that has trouble turning the corner on offense. For all the haters out there that said Jose "can't" play in an open offense, I would like to point out the production we've seen over the past 10 games. He is almost averaging 15 pts and 10 assists a game. Jose is even starting to throw up more alley-oops in transition. Anyway, the idea of trading Jose is ridiculous, no PG you can bring in (who is available) would adequately replace Jose given his salary, age, and attitude (do we really want to see Baron Davis in a Raps uni for the next SIX YEARS!!!!!!). However, Colangelo has to forbid Jose from playing in Euro2009 bball, so he can rest his gimpy leg this summer, which should mean that he can actually plan to play 82 games next year.

3) Andrea Bargnani is a real NBA player. I didn't hate him as much as Chu and Richie did at the beginning of this season, but I was still a big time hater. Since he took over the starting C, and Smitch got fired, Andrea has looked like he could actually be a real player. His offense has taken off, and he is a legit threat to score 20 a night, and if his 3 is going, 30 is a realistic number. He's really improved on his ability to read the defense and he has developed into quite the triple threat on offense (drive/pull up, shoot, look to pass). His defense has really picked up, and I think he is the leading shot blocker on the team to date with 92 blocks this year. Would I like to see him grab more boards? Of course (the 24-4 lines can get tiring), but at least he isn't the bust we thought he turned into. Howver, the biggest improvement in his game that I have seen in him is his on court demeanor. When he gets called for a foul now, he starts to complain, when he thinks he got hacked he gets in the refs' ear, and this is a remarkable change to when he would just roll over when the refs called something on him. In fact, he got T'd up against ATL last night, and I couldn't be happier. The complaining definitely shows a jump in his confidence (if you don't believe that complaining has an effect, please see Duncan, Tim).

4) Shawn Marion has great bball IQ, and he has proven that the missing piece of the Raps is a dynamic wing player. However, Shawn Marion himself is not the answer. Personally, I think Marion is one of the highest bball IQ players to ever play for the Raps, but given his age (31 turning 32), and his expected salary (at least 8 million to stay in TO) the Raptors can do better (more on this below).

5) AP is the worst starting SG in the NBA. That is not to say that he is a terrible bball player, in fact, his sense of the game, and shooting ability makes him an ideal 3rd/4th guard on a contending team. However, his lack of athleticism at this point in his career, and his inabilty to get to the rim (even on fastbreaks!!!!!) means that the Raptors really need to find a solution at the SG spot if they are serious about being contenders.

Thoughts on the Raptors strategy this summer. I want to point out that I am not a big "Trade Bosh" guy. Now, that is not saying that I am completely against trading him. If G State calls and offers, Andris Biednris and Anthony Randolph for Bosh and Banks, I would be estatic, and I would totally understand if Colangelo pulls the trigger. However, I would like to see him take the following path:

1) Offer Marvin Williams a MAX contract to be the starting SF. This means that Marvin should get a Josh Smith contract which is about $58 million for 5 years. This means that the Raps will pay Marvin $10 million in the first year, the exact amount of cap space they will be under if they renounce Marion, AP, and Joey. Personally, I think Marvin is on the brink of breaking out, this season he averaged 14 pts, 6 boards, 1 assist, and 1 block per game. To keep expectations realistic, let's say he improves to 17 and 8, I would be very happy with that kind of production. As an added bonus, Marvin gives the Raps a form of Bosh insurance. With Marvin, the threat of Bosh leaving is somewhat mitigated because of Marvin's ability to shift over to the 4 in the event that Bosh decides to bolt in 2010. If Bosh is serious about winning, this move should convince him to take a little less than the max to stay in TO. As an added bonus, the Hawks are fairly broke, and giving $20 million to extremely similar players in Josh Smith and Marvin WIlliams probably isn't in the budget (given the downturn in the economy).

2) Draft a SG. I don't care if its Demar Derozan, Tyreke Evans, Gerald Henderson, or Willie Warren. Just draft ONE of them. Personally, I think Demar Derozan is going to be a lights out superstar in the NBA, but Richie is probably right as he predicts that Derozan will elevate his stock into the top 5. I would be happy with either Evans or Henderson as the backup picks.

3) Split the mid level exception ($6 million per season) between Pops and Delfino, and give the bi-annual exception ($2 million) to AP. Delfino gives the Raps a legit option as the starting SG (the backup/alternative to Delfino would be to give Von Wafer $3 million per, but not sure if that's enough to get him away from Houston). Pops is a great energy player, but he has clear flaws. I really hope they hold on to him because he is an excellent energy big to bring off the bench and compete for mins with Hump.

So this is what I would project the Raptors lineup to be:

1. Jose
2. Delfino/Wafer
3. Marvin
4. Bosh
5. Bargnani

6. AP
7. Pops/Hump (one or the other, the lazier guy gets no mins!)
8. Derozan/Evans/Henderson/Warren
9. Roko

One cavat: if Roko comes back with a jumper next season, I could be okay with him and AP in a time share where Roko is the main back up to Jose, and AP exclusively backs up the 2 spot. I have my reservations about Roko though, so we shall see what he does this summer.

Injured List
10. Jawai
11. Dooby

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Richie Rebuilds Raptors

Let’s focus on what is within the realm of CONCEIVABILITY about what could happen this summer. In other words, let’s speculate on how Brian Colangelo (BC) might be able to dig out from under the heap of shit team he has buried himself beneath.

Here is a chart of NBA team salaries and their free agents (stars indicate which free agents are restricted and a double star indicates player termination options) If you look at Atlanta, it means they will be 10.4 million under the salary cap and 22.9 million under the luxury tax. Meanwhile the Knicks are 16million over the salary cap and 3.6 million over the luxury tax.

According to this table the Raps are already committed to about 50million. I have read from a slightly more reliable source that it is only about 46million. Lets take the fact that the Raps are already committed to 46 million as a starting point and that they will still be about 22million under the luxury tax as gospel just for the purpose of this exercise.

Part One – Who to re-sign?

A couple weeks ago, BC almost made me drop a steaming turd in my pants when he suggested he wanted to re-sign: A) Marion, B) Parker, C) Delfino, D) Graham and E) Nesterovic. If he actually signs all five of these fuckers he should officially just quit with dignity before he gets fired by the wankers that make up the MLSE board.

Of these five aforementioned names, who should BC get back?

Marion – Yes, he is essential for reputation purposes. I fully expect him back in Toronto and I will explain why. If Marion walks away it means BC gave up Ford, O’Neal, Nesterovic, Baston and 2 first rounders for sweet fuck all in one year! Also, the Raps will likely be the only team able to give him something fair. What is fair? I personally believe anything over 10 million is too much. 7 million is a steal. I think it is REASONABLE to assume he could be had for 8 or 9 million per year in the current climate.
The next three (Parker, Graham and Delfino) I lump into a group of which I only think two of them (at the most) should be re-signed and I do not think any of them are worth more than 3.5 million.

Parker – Maybe he should return, on the condition that: A) he will come off the bench, B) not demand too much money and C) will be willing to tutor whoever the Raptors draft in the first round to replace him. Will he play for 3 million or could he get more in Israel? He wanted to go back there before this year. He might walk. Yet, BC is madly in love with him. So I don’t really know where he stands. My guess at this moment is that AP goes back to the Holy Land of Israel.

Delfino – Maybe he should return. Of these three, he is the one I like most since he is “kind of athletic” and can handle the rock. They say they want to push the tempo? Delfino is the best of the three to help do this since he has better handles and passing than Joey. Remember when he was the only guy who’d drive at Dwight Howard in the playoffs? I haven’t forgotten. I respected his guts in last year’s playoff series. (Delfino, Bosh and Kapono were the only three who played well in fact)

Graham – Maybe he should return. Good Joey is also solid in a fast break style and can play power forward in a small ball lineup. He is a good finisher on the break and has seemed to turn a corner lately. Could the Raps sign him to a contract of less than 3million per year? If yes, keep him. He’s a good backup to Marion.

Nesterovic – Maybe he should return. Is he better than Jawai, O’Bryant, Voskuhl and Humphries? Yes. The Raps need some toughness, rebounding and cannot afford to waste a top 10 pick on these skills when there is already such a glaring hole at shooting guard. Is Nesterovic a viable possibility to fill this hole? Sadly, yes. If not him then who? Maybe Brandon Bass or Channing Frye? They look to fall around the 3-5million salary mark. Nesterovic and Frye closer to 3million while Bass is closer to 5million.

Tally it up : Marion (9million) plus 2 wings (7million) plus Nesterovic /another goon (4million) = 20million. Fuck me! That’s a lot of money to spend on essentially keeping the same team! More changes need to be made in my view.

While I agree with Bunting that rebuilding is a great idea, I simply don’t think Colangelo is going to rebuild due to his homosexual tendencies towards Bosh, Calderon and Bargnani. So I am forced to consider a more conservative, realistic approach.

PART TWO - Other Free Agents

I have already mentioned the fact that I think Brandon Bass would be a good candidate to bring grit and toughness. Let’s be serious - other than a shooting guard - grit and toughness is what the Raps need more than anything. It needs to be number two on the team’s wishlist.


Shooting guard who can slash
Someone with grit and balls who can intimidate
Backup point guard (unless you love Roko Ono)
Scenario 1 – Marion Bolts for Greener Pastures

This would absolutely kill Colangelo’s credibility. I doubt it will happen because there aren’t any teams I can see that need him that also have the space to pay him.

However, for the purpose of argument, let’s say he bolts town on the first GO Train out. The only way to salvage him leaving would be to make a splashy free agent signing.

Oscar and I agree that a good candidate is Marvin Williams. However, when you see how far below the cap that Atlanta is, you gotta think they should be able to re-sign both Bibby and Marvin Williams.

If that doesn’t work, I advocate chucking money at Ben Gordon to solve the shooting guard conundrum.

If that doesn’t work, then overspend on D-League superstar, Ben Ford’s lovechild, known only as Mr Von Wafer. Hell, he is a great option no matter what. I want this guy to be the starting 2 guard next year. He’s better than Parker or Delfino. Does Houston have the flexibility to pay him?

Scenario 2 – The Raps re-sign Matrix but let the others walk

I think this is a good option. Why hang on to guys like Parker, Graham and Delfino when they are average benchplayers at best and borderline douchebags at worst? Lets try to spend money on another starter. If Matrix cost 9million there could still be enough to try to lure someone else to the Raps.

Paul Millsap would be money but he won’t be allowed to leave Utah since he is restricted.

You all know Colangelo has a raging hard-on for Linas Kleiza. If overpaid by Toronto, Denver may not be able to match. This really frightens me.

Hedu Turkoglu could be had if he opts out. Much like Kleiza, this possibility also terrifies me.

Best case: The Raps re-sign Marion, steal Wafer and also add a solid SG/SF through the draft. I realize that in this dream scenario the Raps have not fixed the problem of being a big bunch of pussies. Here comes my masterstroke…

PART THREE – The Trade Market

I’m not going to throw around Bosh or Bargnani trade scenarios because I don’t think they are likely.

However, it is abundantly obvious that the Raps need to get rid of at least one of these two shit bombs:

Marcus Banks
Jason Kapono
My dream scenario is trading either one of them to Philadelphia for Reggie Evans. He addresses the toughness problem and is buried on Philly’s bench behind a host of other forwards. He has NO skills, but he is gritty as fuck. Good enough! I’d prefer to get Bass, but I doubt it will happen.

Other than this, I am not really sure what trades could be swung to improve the team. But I gotta say, I’m open to ANYONE on the Raps roster being traded.

PART FOUR – The Draft

I cannot pretend to know a damn thing about the draft. However, at this juncture it is absolutely imperative the Raptors hit a homerun on their pick. This much I am sure of.

Ideally this would be a shooting guard or small forward. The current crop looks like one of: James Harden, Brandon Jennings, Al-Farouq Aminu, Jeff Teague, Earl Clark, Gerald Henderson, etc.

However, I am also open to the idea of selecting a tough power forward or center who can disguise the femininity of Bosh and Bargnani.

2009-2010 Starting Lineup

PG – Calderon, Ukic, Banks

SG – Wafer, Rookie 1st Rounder, Delfino

SF – Marion, Graham

PF – Bosh, Evans/Bass

C – Bargnani, O’Bryant, Jawai (Nesterovic)

What do you think? Personally, I’d prefer even more changes, but this seems more likely.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

If a Tree Falls....

Well its finally done. I swore to myself that I would not write something new until BC traded Jermaine O'Neal to Maimi for Shawn Marion. Thanks to Pat Riely's dicking around, you have all been robbed of my insight into the craptastic Raptors.

So what do I think of the Matrix donning a Raptors uni? Well, to all the haters out there, I am standing up and saying, I really like this trade! I know, that's a pretty muted response, but you can't expect to say stand up and say that I loved it, when it clearly has its flaws.

Here's what I am thinking:

1. Marion is now the starting SF. Awesome!!!!!

A) Defense - He is hands down the greatest man on man defender on the wing that the raptors have ever had even though he has slipped. We no longer have to watch every elite wing in the L back our helpless defenders into the high post and hit gimmie turn arounds from the free throw line.

B) Offense - definitely trickier to integrate Matrix. Now I think we can all agree that Matrix's best seasons were with Nash. Which makes me think that he is a player that is really depandent on his pg to find him opportunities in the offense. Will jose find him those shots? We will see, but he is the best finisher that the raps have had since Vince left town.

2. Marcus Banks - I have gone on record many times saying that Banks gets ripped just because he is owed 4 million for another 2 years. At the same time people insist that Delfino NEEDS to be resigned this summer for a 500K less and an extra year, but that is worth it cause Delfino is the shiznit. I think Banks in the off guard spot on the second unit will be as good as Delfino on the offensive end. He is probably the 4th best athlete on the team, and on a team that is too white I welcome the additional pigmentation.

3. Trading a future non lottery first rounder. Colangelo definitely seems to hate first round picks outside the top 13. I don't share the same level of outrage that some of you have displayed. The pick has excellent lotoo protection especially since
the protection doesn't runout for 5 years. Many of the people who have said that a 17 pick really wasn't going to help the raps can't turn around now and say the raps gave up the "future" of the franchise. Yes, the raps gave up some potential young talent, who could be a solid rotation player, but I doubt this first will "haunt" the raps forever. Did BC give up a little extra to not pay JO 22 mil next season? For sure, but its not the end of the franchise.

As for the warts on this deal, I am not going to talk about them here. Most of the print media in this city hates it, so if you want to fill up on some haterade, I suggest you go to those sites.

Wednesday marks the start of a new era, I am excited again!

Friday, February 6, 2009

Don't Call It A Comeback Cause I'm Here To Talk About Amare

Ah fellow Raptors fans. I haven't written anything about our intrepid Dinos in a while, mostly because I have been compeltely disgusted by their play. However, word out of PHX is that the Suns are looking to move Amare Stoudamire, and they are willing to settle for some pretty shit pieces like Joakim Noah, Tyrus Thomas, or Raef Laferenz's contract, and a bag of Sour Patch Kids.

Now here's a thought to blow your minds Raptors fans. How come Colangelo doesn't make an offer for Amare, Barbossa, PHX's 1st rounder, and Matt Barnes for Bosh and Kapono. All the parts about this trade makes too much sense not to happen.

Amare has a history with BC, and he is equally as talented as Bosh. He is a better offensive player, and he does give up something on defense, but I would argue that Bosh is a vastly overrated defender. Bosh is a better rebounder than Amare, but Amare can hold his own in that catagory.

Now some of you will have objections due to concerns that Amare has had microfracture surgery. But let's look at reality, in the pasat 2 seasons, Amare has missed ZERO games due to knee problems, and Bosh has missed 12 games in 2007, 10 games in 2008, and at least 1 game (and probably more considering he is out right now with a knee injury) in 2009. At worst I would say that Amare has an equal chance to see his career ruined by knee problems.

I am not going to breakdown the advantages of swapping Barbossa for Kapono. If you don't think the Raptors are getting the better end of that deal, you should probably just keep watching hockey.

So the projected lineup for this revamped Raptors squad would be:

Starting Lineup: Amare, Bargnani, Jose, Barnes, and Barbossa/Parker
Bench: JO, Barbossa/Parker, Graham, Roko (on occasion)

I don't know if that team would be a contender in the East (ie at the level of Cleveland or Boston), but I DO think its infinitely better than the shit show that the Raptors are rolling out right now. In this deal, the Raptors rebuild their bench by bringing in a legit scoring option/ballhandler for the second unit (Barbossa or the demotion of AP) to team with JO to form a formidable 1-2 punch off the bench. As an added bonus, Graham/Moon get to battle it out for the backup wing mins rather than have us suffer with the prospect of watching either start.

Plus the Raptors can become a running team, by putting Barbossa in the backcourt with Jose, and sliding AP over to the 3 spot. That lineup can put its foot on the gas, and run most teams out of the gym. And for all you old school lovers of defense, at the end of the 4th quarter, and you need a stop, just put JO in for Barney, and I would argue that this Raptors squad is much more equipped to play in the NBA.

Worst Case scenario would be that Amare leaves in 2010 (which he won't cause he is a pay cheque player, and he ain't leaving $35 million on the table cause its cold). But isn't that the same worst case with Bosh. Maybe the grass seems greener to me, and Amare is inferior to Bosh, but all I know that the Raps haven't won with Chris, and if BC waits too long, we may end up getting 20 cents on the dollar for Bosh.

Saturday, January 17, 2009


It is a new low point as a Leafs fan. Last night, I was mocked at Phillips Arena by the fans of the lowly Thrashers. Yes folks, forget about the Habs, Sens, or any O6 teams, we are being laughed even out of the dirty south. Suffice to say, it was a long walk of shame home on a frigid night in Atlanta, one that couldn't even be warmed by standing alongside those in Domi, Mogilny, Potvin, and even good ol' Gary Valk jerseys.

Things started out well. 3-0 after the first, although only on 9 shots and with some nice bounces to boot. But the pace and quality of the game mirrored that of two of the NHL's worst teams. Even my girlfriend, who has never been to a live hockey game before asked me "Is hockey always this slow? I thought it'd be hard to keep up with." She clearly hasn't watched enough Leafs games lately. Unfortunately, I have and was not too optimistic, even with the 3 goal lead. Over the next 2 periods and overtime, the Leafs managed a whopping 8 shots on net against the powerhouse Thrasher defence. Pathetic. I've seen more scoring opportunities at a Weight Watchers convention.

When the pesky Thrashers sent the game to overtime (on an absolutley terrible move by Toskala), it was painfully obvious that this game wasn't going to a shootout and it wasn't going to be the Leafs who ended it. I considered leaving early to avoid the humiliation but at this point, we are all going down with the ship and playing the "We want Tavares" card anyways. Still, those Thrasher fans didn't have to barade me with "Leafs Suck" chants all the way out. We know guys, we know.

One additional piece of commentary from the girlfriend. We watched the skatearound before the game and the only player she remembered later was Brad May. She quipped, "That guy is ancient. He's probably been on this team forever!" Um, nope, we just traded a draft pick for him a few weeks ago. It's not like we're rebuilding or anything. Doh! However, he prolly was one of the best Leafs players out there last night, which is sad in itself. Mayday!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Draft Day in MLS

After weeks of Toronto soccer silence (especially on the DeRo front - WTF?), the action begins again today at the MLS Draft in St Louis. The TFC GM, "Trader Mo" Johnston is holding a pretty strong hand heading into today's events, with three early picks for a draft class that has the potential to fill some holes in teams across the league.

TFC Picks:
First Round: 2nd, 4th, 13th
Second Round: NONE
Third Round: 34th

Mo has obviously got a good eye for young American talent, having been responsible for bringing Jozy Altidore, Marvell Wynne and Maurice Edu into his teams - but players like this tend to be the exception rather than the rule. Very few NCAA players are ready to walk into an MLS game straight away. With this in mind, Mo Johnston is likely to start wheeling and dealing with his picks and Toronto Football Club could look very different come this evening.

I'll debrief the day's events once the dust has settled, but for now, here's a good site for all things MLS Draft, with plenty of info on the top prospects and all the teams' needs. Until tonight then...

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Raptors Rumors Running Rampant

Another day, and another set of Raptors trade rumours.

The latest? Raptors trade AP and Bargnani for Josh Howard.

Do I love this deal? Hell yeah, but at the same time, do I think its going to happen? Only if Mark Cuban and Donnie Walsh lose their minds (and if they are already smoking enough crack to give up Howard for Andrea, maybe they'll throw in a 1st rounder too!).

Bosh, Jose, JO, and Howard is some serious sickness as the starting five. Of course, this deal might mean that we may have to play the corpse formally known as Stack as our SG (assuming BC can rid the Raptors of Kapono as well), but who cares! As an added bonus, BC seems to be on board with bringing back Mr. Delfino as our 6th man (thank you financial crisis, gotta love it when the Russians run out of money, and can't pay their players, hahahaha).

I know, I can hear the haters now: "Andrea is the future, he has so much promise, we can't trade him!". You know what I say to you? Andrea is NOT the future, and while he might actually still develop into a half decent player, the Raptors are getting JOSH HOWARD!!!!!

What would this deal mean for the Raps cap space you ask? Well, have no fear, the Raps will still have plenty of space for the Summer of LeBron. Josh Howard's going to get paid $11.4 million next season, and he has a team option for $12.3 in 2010. Which means, that the Raptors improbably have an opportunity to get rid of him (if this trade goes to shit) at the same time we are saying good bye to JO. What does $32 million of free cap space during the Summer of LeBron get you? I don't know, but my brain hurts just thinking about it!

BC for the love of God, if this deal is for real, please pull the trigger, just do it, don't think about it anymore, Dallas might come to their senses sooner rather than later.

Quick Update: Good Ol' Dougie Smith from The Star doesn't think this deal is going to happen (http://thestar.blogs.com/raptors/). By the way Dougie, Hoopsworld is reporting that Toronto wants something else OTHER than just JHow, Brandon Bass perhaps, why do you have to jump to the conclusion that its Diop? Did you even read the link? How come I am better at your job that you are? I digress, based on Dougie's track record ("There is no way that Sam Mitchell is going to be fired"), this deal must be COOKING. Let's hope Dougie is wrong AGAIN, and you can bet that I am going to make the same mistake that Tex made when the Leafs traded for Owen Nolan!

Quick Update #2: Colangelo crushes my dream of having Howard on the Raps - http://www.hoopsworld.com/Story.asp?story_id=11152 - now the question is, when will JO be moved (where's there's smoke there's fire!)

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

The Art of Tanking

So, I finally decided to look up the Leafs record, since after watching the Juniors, I am totally obsessed with the idea that JT NEEDS TO BE A LEAF. He is destined to be the Leaf messiah, and only Gary Bettman's hatred of Canada prevents that. Anyway, Richie pointed out that the Leafs are actually kind of close to a playoff spot, so their tanking wouldn't be as potent. BUT, I looked it up today, and the Leafs only have 6 more wins than the Lightening. Admittedly, i don't know much about hockey standings, but 6 games doesn't seem like that big of a lead. I think if Burke gets it together and starts shipping everyone out of town en masse, Tavares is still a possibility. Think positive thoughts, and hope against hope that JT will lead our lowly Leafs out from the wilderness (btw, anyone who watched the Juniors, and isn't convinced that the Leafs should do everything they can to throw enough games to get the chosen one, just isn't a true Leafs fan).

I have also read a several Raptors fan posts that our beloved Dinos should really start to give up on the season. Now, I am all for getting high draft picks, but unfortunately the Raptors are just too "good" (I use this term lightly) to get the top spot in the draft*. Oklahoma is historically bad, I mean, they are on pace to be the WORST TEAM IN THE HISTORY OF THE NBA. Seriously, they have won 4 games this ENTIRE season. The Raptors would actually have to shut everyone on their roster down to reach the same levels of incompetence as the Thunder, and we are talking about a team that employs Will Soloman as their backup PG. On top of that, this year's draft class looks like it might be one of the worst classes in the history of basketball. Did you know that Blake Griffen is widely considered to be the #1 pick in the draft. Did you also know that Blake Griffen is Kris Humphries with a slightly better J? Seriously, watching NCAA basketball this year makes me want to claw my eyes out. This isn't just going to be a weak draft, its going to be historically shitty. So I am definitely off the tank the season for a high pick bandwagon when it comes to the Raptors.

Now a much more realistic scenario is to trade JO for a guy like Matrix, so that they can free up their cap space one year sonner than 2010. What would getting a cap injection of $32 million (Matrix + AP + Garbo + Joey) mean for the Raptors? It would mean that we would own this summer's free agent market (especially now that Memphis seems determined to stick up Portland's ass and play Darius Miles in 10 games, you go Chris Wallace!). Getting rid of JO also let's the Raptors embrace a potential 2nd unit where Hump is the C, Joey is the 4, and Roko is the point guard! Scary? Definitely, but personally I would LOVE to watch it.

Either way, its clear that neither the Raptors nor the Leafs are going to do anything this year, but I think the paths back towards to prominence for each are DRASTICALLY different.

*as an interesting aside, when the Raptors have hit rock bottom in the past, they have had exceptional luck in winning or getting close to the top of the lottery. The Raptors have won the lottery twice (once was the Camby year when David Stern proved once again that he hates us, and took away the pick, and of course the Barney year, ugh), and have had two top 5 picks turn into superstars (VC and Bosh). In 12 years of existence the Raptors have drafted in the top 4, 4 times, and drafted in the top 7 twice. Ironically, the other 6 drafts that the Raptors have had, they were playoff teams. Clearly, the Raptors know that when you suck, it pays to suck huge!

...annnnd we're back, with a few musings on hockey.

Happy New Year!

As a result of the holiday season, its been a few weeks since we've posted here at TPTFUA. Our sincerest apologies, but we trust your lives went on without too much disturbance.

I won't bother recapping all that's occurred over the past few weeks, including the usual up-and-down performance of this year's Leafs squad, and the same results from the Raps. But
I do want to start out by sending a very hearty congratulations to all of the kids (and staff) on Team Canada for their 5th consecutive gold medal at the World Junior Championships. This is a tourney I have always enjoyed watching, as it has produced some incredible play - and players. Plus, its always a sign of the holiday season - and is a winning team that us Toronto fans can actually be a part of.

As an aside, I actually got to watch big chunks of this year's tourney from the US thanks to the creation of the NHL Network (and thanks to DirectTV which actually airs the NHL Network). The NHL Network carried TSN's feed (and some of their own content) of the games, so it felt like I was back "home."

Now, to all those people who thought that the Leafs' potential strategy of tanking this season in order to get John Tavares was a bad idea, I hope you watched even a little of the tourney. He ended up as the second highest point scorer in the tourney and as the MVP. He played a key role in a bunch of games, including the game vs. USA where he scored this goal (watch the first 55 seconds for the goal and the replay):

All I could think the entire time is that he would look awesome in a Leafs jersey, especially given that he's from Oakville, and how shitty its going to feel if he pulls on an Islanders, Atlanta or, worse, Ottawa jersey next year. Here's to hoping Burkie can work some of that alleged magic.

Finally, two staples of the TML defense over the past few years are back at the ACC tonight. For the squad in blue and white, Luke Schenn is coming back from injury to patrol the blue line while, on the other side of the puck, Bryan McCabe makes his first return as a visitor with his new squad, the Panthers. How will you treat him tonight? Oh, and Sundin is getting set to debut with the Canucks soon, maybe even this week.

There's a lot to get caught up on in the coming weeks, and while posting may be sporadic as we adjust to a new year and all the challenges it brings, we hope you'll stay with us in 2009.