Friday, April 30, 2010

Solving The Bosh Puzzle: The Boston Celtics Piece




So one day in late April, I checked in on my blog and noticed a lack of something. Sifting through them, I found pieces on Hedo, the Young Gunz, the Amazing Race, video games, the Olympics, etc. But the one thing that was truly missing was a piece about the franchise - CB4. And yeah, sure, maybe I did that because every other media outlet was beating the whole "Chris Bosh" topic to death; but still.

Like many others, I don't want to take Bosh for granted. And so with the realization that he may be gone very soon, I wanted to dedicate the next 30 days or so to him with my writing and this very blog. After all, this may be my last chance to discuss him on here.

The mission - should you choose to read it - is simple. Everyday, I'll breakdown a different team's outlook in regards to acquiring our franchise player. We'll take a look at how a potential transaction will affect both sides of the spectrum, and whether or not such a move could potentially go down.

Disclaimer: Let's please keep in mind that I'm not majoring in the NBA's Collective Bargaining Agreement; so if there's a few errors here and there in that regards, please let me know. Thanks!

Yesterday's Piece: The Atlanta Hawks

Today's Piece: The Boston Celtics



Players of Interests
- Rajon Rondo
- Kendrick Perkins
- Glen Davis
- Their fans to admit what the TD in "TD Garden" really stands for?

Breakdown:
We all realized that the Celtics sold their soul to the devil when they signed on to bring the Big 3 to Boston. To summarize: Mortgage your future for a few years of legitimately contending for a championship. As well worth the ride was, it's now time to finally break it all up.

Everyone but Kevin Garnett, Rasheed Wallace, Glen Davis, Rajon Rondo, and Kendrick Perkins are expected to hit free agency this year - yeah I know, not exactly the most threatening of teams. Right now, the biggest variable (and what has most Celtics fans concerned with) is whether or not they choose to re-sign Paul Pierce. He has a player option for next year worth around 22 million. But as lofty as a payday that may sound, he's better off opting for free agency and trying to snatch what will probably be the last big long term deal of his career.

So then it comes down to this: Do you give Pierce a big contract out of loyalty to one of the greatest Celtics of all time? Or do you finally part ways and realize it's best to rebuild while you wait out the remaining years on KG's and Wallace's disgusting contracts. I'm not sure what management is thinking, but I do know a lot of Celtics fans are either leaning or at least expecting what they call "A Return to the Dark Age".

Toronto and Boston really aren't the best of trading partners when it comes to Bosh; actually they're quite awful. The Raps don't want to trade Bosh to a divisional rival, and Bosh doesn't want to play on a rebuilding team. On top of that, I'm pretty sure Boston can just outright sign Chris if they wanted to depending on the cap amount next year. Of course, you also have to take into account the unlikeliness of that happenings considering Bosh really would like that extra 6th year only Toronto can give him in a Sign And Trade. Precedent in the NBA shows that no one can turn down an extra 30 million dollars.

I know Raptors fans would love Rondo, but that's certainly not happening. Ray Allen would be nice, but he won't be on the team next year. So what the heck do they have? Draft picks perhaps? But certainly, they would hold onto those right? If Bosh MUST go to Boston, I'm expecting whatever expirings they have in return, a fat TPE, as well as whatever draft picks they have for the next year or two.

The Preferred Scenario:
Raptors Trades Chris Bosh
Boston Trades Kendrick Perkins (expiring), Glen Davis (expiring), TPE, future draft picks

In this ugly looking trade, the Raps get the best of what Boston is willing to give up. I would prefer Rajon Rondo coming back, but obviously we'll try to keep this as realistic as possible. With this, Boston transitions from one of the best PFs of the last decade in Garnett to one of the best future PFs in Bosh. Paired up with Rondo, they could become one of the best big-small duos in the league. But with a rapidly aging team around them, the Celtics need to get young and athletic quick before they can start thinking championships again (hard to do with Garnett and Wallace' contracts). On the other hand, the Raptors get two small expiring contracts and serviceable big-men that will bring much needed swagger to this team. With the possibility of Boston struggling, those draft picks may turn out to be lottery picks as well.

More Likely Scenario:
We Just Stay Away From Each Other

I can pretty much guarantee this happens.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Solving The Bosh Puzzle: The Atlanta Hawks Piece




So one day in late April, I checked in on my blog and noticed a lack of something. Sifting through them, I found pieces on Hedo, the Young Gunz, the Amazing Race, video games, the Olympics, etc. But the one thing that was truly missing was a piece about the franchise - CB4. And yeah, sure, maybe I did that because every other media outlet was beating the whole "Chris Bosh" topic to death; but still.

Like many others, I don't want to take Bosh for granted. And so with the realization that he may be gone very soon, I wanted to dedicate the next 30 days or so to him with my writing and this very blog. After all, this may be my last chance to discuss him on here.

The mission - should you choose to read it - is simple. Everyday, I'll breakdown a different team's outlook in regards to acquiring our franchise player. We'll take a look at how a potential transaction will affect both sides of the spectrum, and whether or not such a move could potentially go down.

Disclaimer: Let's please keep in mind that I'm not majoring in the NBA's Collective Bargaining Agreement; so if there's a few errors here and there in that regards, please let me know. Thanks!

Today's Piece: The Atlanta Hawks



Players of Interests:
- Joe Johnson
- Josh Smith
- Jamal Crawford
- Marvin Williams
- Al Horford
- Jeff Teague

Breakdown:
Atlanta's an odd case - probably so odd that it may not have been the best of teams to start off with this month long project. On one hand, the Hawks boast a plethora of talent that Toronto could find intriguing, yet at the same time Atlanta's future outlook isn't exactly as clear cut as some may think. The organization has always struggled to put fans into seats, and their owners have always been picky in regards to the financial side of things.

Right now, the word on the street is that they would like to sell their draft pick this year, and do whatever it takes to get Joe Johnson to re-sign. And so it really hinges on that alone - the value of the Hawks as trading partners varies depending on whether they retain Johnson or not. I feel with Johnson, Atlanta ownership will be more inclined to go way over the tax with two max players.

So let's say they do re-sign Joe Johnson for the max and then attempt to grab a 2nd max player in Bosh. What can they give the Raps?

Well obviously we can cross Johnson out. Because ATL doesn't want Bosh if JJ isn't their to pair them up, and Bosh doesn't want anything to do with ATL if he can't play with Joe.

They really don't have any expiring contracts of note - other than Jamal Crawford - and I don't think they send him off to us. As the reigning 6th man of the year, Jamal played too big of a role for the Hawks. On that note, I think he's just as important to the Hawks as Johnson is.

What does catch the eye right away however is their 4 and 5 position. With Bosh incoming, the Hawks present themselves with an interesting scenario. Right now, they have Josh Smith and Horford manning the inside. In my opinion, there's not enough room for a trio that includes Bosh. So possibly - we could end up with either Josh Smith or Al Hordford, both of whom would significantly help our pathetic defense.

And then of course there's the other "scenario". Atlanta could simply play Smith at the 3 spot - something he's well capable of - and have a nasty front-court of Horford/Bosh/Smith. With Bibby, Johnson, and Crawford providing the threats from the perimeter, that's a championship kind of team.

In this case, a Sign and Trade would most certainly revolve around Marvin Williams. Though not exactly the best of returns in regards to our defensive needs in the paint, Marvin provides us with that scoring wing who is capable of defending the perimeter as well. Fairly young at 24 year old, the North Carolina product has proven he can be efficient and score in bunches when given the touches. He hasn't quite become what the Hawks expected him to be when they picked him with the 2nd pick in the 2005 NBA draft. But perhaps a new scenery - and getting away from the shot heavy duo of Johnson and Crawford - will inspire him to breakout. Throw in a couple fillers as well as a TPE, and we're as set as we could possibly be in a trade that involves Atlanta.

My Preferred Scenario:
Raptors Trade Chris Bosh
Hawks Trade Josh Smith, and Maurice Evans (3 mil expiring)

Perhaps the details need to be worked out in that trade to match everything up, but an ideal return if the Hawks were to be our partners would involve Josh Smith. He'd provide us with one of the best help defenders in the league, as well as some much needed athleticism. For Atlanta, they get Bosh to return to the place where he played college basketball and gives Joe Johnson another max player to roll with. Immediately, they have one of the best inside-outside combos with Bosh and Johnson/Crawford.

More Likely Scenario:
Raptors Trade Chris Bosh
Hawks Trade Marvin Williams, Maurice Evans, Jeff Teague and/or Future 1st round draft pick, small TPE perhaps?

In this scenario, Atlanta goes all-in kind of like how Boston did a couple of years ago. They throw away their future for a chance at genuinely contending. The only difference is their talent isn't in the twilight of their careers. This would bring a ton of excitement to Atlanta, and would send us back into rebuilding mode with assets we could develop or flip in a future trade. It doesn't look like much, but it would probably be what we'd end up getting if Bosh was dead-set on going to Atlanta.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Raptors Rundown Podcast E.5 [Season-In-Review With Dino Nation Blog]



So check it out.

Yeah, the NBA Playoffs are already well underway, and our Toronto Raptors are once again sitting on the outside looking in. But that doesn't mean we can't look back on the season that was and breakdown what exactly happened. True, the season turned out to be disappointing, but no one can deny the intrigue and entertainment that came out of it. This will always go down as a Raptors season quite like no other.

For episode 5, I have special guest James Borbath of the Dino Nation Blog to help me dissect what he describes as the "Raptors Rollercoaster". Topics include the home opener, the point guard situation, the Hedo Turkoglu mystery, Jay Triano's performance as a head coach, the Raptors' 20-7 stretch, Chis Bosh's amazing season and future, and many more.

Follow Dino Nation on twitter: @dinonationblog



Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The Address of the Raptors Senate



It's been a long time, I shouldn't have left you
Without a strong rhyme to step to
Think of how many weak shows you slept through
Time's up, I'm sorry I kept you


One of hip hop's most classic bars sums up a rather classic Raptors scenario we fans finds ourselves in once again. Let's see if we have all the ingredients needed to cook up the typical Toronto Raptors disaster of a season:

1. Huge signing that turns out to be a disappointment. ✔
2. A merry-go-round of injuries ✔
3. Miss the playoffs. ✔
4. Fanbase calling for the head coach's head. ✔
5. Franchise All-Star thinking about leaving. ✔

Yup. We've got pretty much everything covered. Except one thing that is, and that's the yearly Bryan Colangelo Press Conference. So yesterday at around noon, Raptors fans and media members sat, watched, listened, and learned.

Plenty of topics were discussed. The media did their job in attempting to dissect and maneuver around Bryan Colangelo; but if there's one thing we can't knock BC on, it's his ways with the media. In this franchise's entire history, he's probably the one GM that has not been intimidated.

But let's get right into this, and let me give you my take on the issues discussed.



The point guard duo of Jose Calderon and Jarrett Jack was brought up by both BC and reporters a number of times today. Obviously, everyone is wondering if they can co-exists. At times throughout the season, it seemed they could, but more often than not, it proved to be problematic. BC wants to use the off-season to find out "if they can work together". I take that as he'll be discussing it with both players' agents to see where each of them stand.

My Prediction: Don't expect both of them to be back next year. Bryan noted how minutes being split affected the consistency of both players, and the days of the "Two-Headed Monster" formula BC has used at the 1 spot ever since his arrival may be over. Right now, there isn't any clear cut option as to which one will be shipped off. Jose Calderon is who the fans want to see go because of his poor defense and his struggle to play with Hedo, but it's Jack who holds the more favorable contract and will also fetch a better return in a trade. If Bosh goes, don't be surprised to see both of them gone either.



Naturally, the issue of Hedo Turkoglu was addressed. You sign an aging vet whose best days are behind him to a 5 year-50 million dollar contract, only to see him play like a shell of his former self; well you're going to have to answer some questions. And to BC's credit, he didn't beat around the bush. He fully acknowledged that Hedo Turkoglu was a disappointment. Bryan placed the blame equally on the coaching staff (for not utilizing Turk correctly) and on Turk himself for not taking full advantage of the situation. Though the word "Lazy" was consistently associated with Hedo this year, Bryan made sure to stress that Turk worked very hard this year. Unfortunately, with the assistance of many setbacks (injuries, mother's illness, etc), Turk just wasn't able to get into a rhythm.

My Prediction: Expect a better Hedo Turkoglu next year. Why? Because Bryan Colagenlo says so. Now whether or not that is with the Raps is an unknown, for the savvy GM didn't specify. Chances are he does wear a Raptors uniform next year. Little known fact, but his contract actually increases in pay if he is to be traded, so that little clause alone scares other teams away. Next season however, expect the Raptors to handle Turk much differently. No longer will he be exempt from training camp, and don't be surprised to see the coaching staff constantly on him like the Orlando staff was during his tenure with the Magic.



The first ever Canadian head coach Jay Triano was actually a topic that I thought would be discussed in greater detail than it actually was. But I guess the media let it go when they realized the message BC was giving them loud and clear: He will be back. Colangelo reminded the reporters that Triano was basically a rookie head coach, and that he deserved a chance to prove that he learned something. Like Triano explained to the press last week, BC and the coaching staff wish they could have done certain things differently in retrospect.

My Prediction: Of course he'll be back. Regardless of the questionable coaching decisions, and his view on how the Raps played in certain games, there was improvement. And at the end of the day, the team finished with a better record than they did last year. If he continues to improve every year, then there really is no reason to fire Jay. And when you consider the fact that we're still paying Sam Mitchell, it only makes sense for MLSE to keep Triano on board for at least another year.



During Chris Bosh's end of season press conference, he mentioned the need for a presence on the wings, someone who could create his own shot and even create for others. The media relayed this concern to BC during his own presser. His response? Kobe Bryant isn't available, but we do have untapped potential in DeMar DeRozan and Sonny Weems. Colangelo went on to talk about the guard play of the Raptors and how that "20-point" scorer is needed. He did allude that we do already have that kind of presence on the team, but of the inconsistent variety.

My Prediction: I'm not sure about you guys, but in my eyes, I felt that this was Bryan doing his best to temper expectations. Many people are expecting the organization to act out on CB4's words and somehow obtain that kind of star wing player. But like Colangelo, I'm of the opinion that it won't be as easy as some make it to be. These kind of players just don't grow on trees. Sure, the front office will probably do what they can (realistic players like Andre Iguodala, Rudy Gay, and Danny Granger come to mind). But just in case they can't snatch these players away from their teams, BC went out of his way to remind us about what DeRozan and Weems could become in the future. I think DeMar definitely has the potential to reach that coveted 20 point average that was talked about. The Compton product already has that ability to get to the free throw line, a prerequisite for scoring wings.



Now onto the main event - What will happen with Chris Bosh? Like many people already know, the Raptors want to retain Chris, and Chris is certainly open to returning. But what exactly do we have going for us? Well Colangelo brought a few points to light during the PC that we're sure he'll bring to the table during negotiations. First and foremost, we can guarantee Bosh of being the # 1 guy here. Nothing better than stroking the ego, and reaffirming what many people think: He is the most coveted power forward in the NBA. And believe it or not, but this is very important to him. Yes he does want to win and contend, but the truth is, precedent shows that players his age usually choose the money and franchise player tag over championships. It's a trend that continues to this day, just ask Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett. Secondly, Colangelo brought up the fact that he is already established here. He's made a lot of contacts (one being Universal Music Canada) and this is a comfort zone for him. Many past Raptors have gone on record saying they regret ever leaving Toronto. The most prominent being Toronto's first ever basketball star - Damon Stoudamire. He's gone onto say he thought it would be greener on the other side, but boy did that turn out to be wrong.

My Prediction: This one is the toughest to call. Obviously, the ball is Bosh's court. Unfortunately, we're not the ones with the leverage in this scenario. If Bosh wants to leave, he can leave, there's nothing stopping him. On top of that, if we want to involve him in a "Sign and Trade" scenario, we will have to trade with whatever team Chris chooses; ultimately tying BC's hands. Let's put it this way. If Colangelo goes out and brings in attractive enough players (at least borderline all-star), then Chris will re-sign. He will give this franchise one more shot, and if it doesn't work out, then he'll quietly ask for a trade. However, if there are only minor pieces brought in, then Bosh will ask for a "Sign and Trade". That extra 6th year and nearly 20 million would just be too much to leave behind. In this scenario, we will probably end up with a TPE, cap relief, young players, and draft picks; thus truly sending us back into rebuild mode.



So now this remains. What is to become of Bryan Colangelo? And more importantly, how does he see the future unfolding? Well first off, the once titled "Golden Boy" made it clear that he is under contract and has the backing of MLSE. For those who are calling for his head on a platter, chill out for awhile, because Bryan isn't going anywhere anytime soon. And really though, is getting rid of Colangelo honestly the sensible thing to do? Regardless of the back-to-back disappointing seasons, BC is still the most credible member of this organization; and perhaps the most recognized and respected person to ever work for the Raptors. Lest we forget Glen Grunwald (who gave ridiculous contracts to players and couldn't make it work with Vince during his superstar years) and Rob Babcock (who set this franchise years back with trading Vince for scrap).

The most encouraging thing to take from BC's presser was that MLSE will go over the tax threshold if that's what it takes to put a contender out on the court. If the right players become available, then BC can work his magic knowing that there are no limitations being placed on his creativity. He made it clear that he understood fans were disappointed, and that more was expected of not only the team, but himself as well. So hearing that MLSE will finally go over the tax definitely softens the harsh blow of this past season.

My Prediction: I'll use a line BC threw out there a couples times during the conference - "That's something that's impossible to answer right now". Many variables must come into effect before we can even get a good idea of what's in store for this team. The most important variable being where Chris Bosh ends up. Colangelo noted that it all starts with LeBron first: If he leaves, then the rest will fall into place like a domino effect. There are really 2 scenarios that our GM prepared us for in the hour or so he was up on the podium...

1) Assuming Chris Bosh returns to the team, Colangelo's first priority is shoring up the horrible defense. Expect a big man to intimidate/protect the paint, and more importantly, grab rebounds. Next, a guard will most likely be brought in to help strengthen the perimeter defense (which at times consisted of Jose-DeRozan-Turk - sigh). The point guard situation will also look different next year. Either Jack or Jose will be gone, or even both. Lastly, look for the expiring contracts of Marcus Banks, Reggie Evans, and the draft pick we own to be dangled in an attempt to get Bosh his 20 point scoring swingman. When you take in the likely re-signing of Amir Johnson, then we'll probably be well into the tax.

2) Assuming Chris Bosh leaves, then Colangelo has made it clear what becomes important - and that's entertaining the fans, and more importantly, the season ticket holders. There was much talk and bragging about what DeMar DeRozan and Sonny Weems could become, how they're still very young, and how there's untapped potential there. This team would look different in a sense that it would be filled with young, athletic, and raw players at every position. The only veteran presence I would see in this rebuilding scenario is Turk, and that's only because he's practically untradeable. But from what I got out of the press conference, if Bosh leaves, the team's main focus is attempting to keep their fanbase. And considering our position, the only way you get that done for a season is to play a high-octane athletic kind of basketball.

And there you have it Raptors Nation! General Manager Bryan Colangelo putting himself up on the podium to answer the media and your questions in his yearly end-of-season press conference. Look - I know many of you are sad, annoyed, and even pissed off about how the season went. But understand this, Bryan is someone who hates to lose, and he is easily known as one of the more competitive executives in the NBA. Today, the media asked him questions about his reputation. And though he jokingly mentioned it was ruined because of us, let's put things into perspective: This dude has a reputation to hold up and protect. Not many teams can say that about their GMs. Ours has already paid his dues and made something out of himself, and you can bet he will do whatever it takes to build on his previous success.

Even though we sometimes question his moves, we can always fall back on the fact that Colangelo doesn't just sit on his hands. He's as proactive as a GM can get, and you can be rest assured that he will do something "Big" for the 3rd straight off-season. This summer, not everything will be in our control. But like Bryan Colangelo told the media today, we can "control the intent to make it happen."

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Let's Take Up Bird Bull Watching




So it's not in our hands anymore.

Instead, we must rely on our new favorite team in the entire freaking universe; the Boston Celtics. It feels morally, biologically, and physically wrong, but whatever it takes right? Damn straight.

Tonight at 8pm on TheScore, we will all be glued to our televisions as if our very own Raps will be taking the court. All we ask is that those whining, chest thumping, illegal screen setting dudes in green beat the Chicago Bulls by at least 1 point. That's all.

Because once that happens, then Raptors Nation will be back in the driver's seat.

Right now, the Bulls have the Celtics and the Bobcats left on their schedule. Ever since we put up that stinker against Chicago, I've had a lot of friends feel free to point out to me that Boston and Charlotte will be resting their starters. Thus leading them to believe that Chicago will have an easy time getting these last two games.

But hold up!

The Boston Celtics still have something to prove. With 2 games left in the season, they can still grab the 3rd seed away from the Atlanta Hawks. Heck, all they have to do is tie the Hawks in order to accomplish this. And let's be real here. But these old and very much beatable Celtics would much rather take on a Bogut-less Bucks team than a Heat squad led by D-Wade.

And then you have the Charlotte Bobcats. Now this is a bit more difficult to call considering they are already locked in to play the Magic in the first round of the playoffs. But Larry Brown has consistently gone on record saying that he will not sit his guys all for the "integrity of the game". He also went on to acknowledge the tight race between the Bulls and the Raptors, and that it would only be fair to these two teams and the rest of the league.

So there you have it! A very much meaningful season remains for anyone left on the Raptors bandwagon. If the Celtics win tonight, all the Raptors need to do is win against the Knicks on Wednesday, and they clinch the 8th spot. And yeah, that would mean a date with the Cavs, whom we would realistically lose to. But I don't know anyone who could deny how crazy Raptors playoff games are like at the ACC. Personally, I don't want to go another year without the Sea of Red.

And secretly, neither do you.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Red and Black Attack or Retract?

It's really simple right now. If we want this:



Or this...



Then there can no longer be any limping to the finish line. It's as simple as that. Boiling down to one game against the Chicago Bulls, everything will be on the table, ready to be taken by whichever teams wants it the most.

Very rarely does it ever come down to this.

More often than not - at least in races this close - teams must rely on others to get the job done. There is after all a reason why tight races involve two evenly matched teams. And so regardless if you take care of your own business, you must still hope that the other teams aid you with hurdles. But this year, the Eastern Conference's 8th seed will most likely be determined with a do-or-die game between the very two teams trying to outrace each other.

No one else will be involved. There can be no excuses. You either win and enjoy the result, or lose and deal with the consequence.

The Cleveland Cavaliers will very well be interested in the outcome of this game, but this isn't about them right now. This is about two teams wanting to make it to the playoffs; where anything can happen. Sure, you have the typical fan or two who actually prefer missing out on the post-season. But it's these same people who most likely have never been in a scenario like this before. If you've played any kind of team sport during your school years, you know that the playoffs and the championship are the only goal one should have in mind. It doesn't matter how unrealistic your chances are, all that does matter is that you get to that "2nd season". Because you don't put in all that work only to finish early. That's never the point. You don't work hard all year to only be told you're not good enough to continue.

Put yourself in their shoes. Would you honestly throw away another year of your career just so that some random college player can be added to your roster with the 12th pick?

Tell Jarrett Jack that - who has never been to the playoffs before. Earlier this season, he and his mother could not contain their excitement at the mere thought of it.

Tell DeMar DeRozan that - who coped with the fact that he wasn't asked to play in the rookie/sophomore game by leaning on the possibility that he would be playing in the playoffs and his peers would not.


Tell Hedo Turkoglu that - who though has been more than disappointing this year, was in the NBA Finals last year. Even he would not be fine with the possibility of not playing in April like he's accustomed to.

And finally, tell Chris Bosh that - who has his entire future and legacy as a Raptor on the line.

Believe it or not, but the Toronto Raptors want to be in the playoffs. Despite what you may see on TV, or hear on the radio, these players want nothing more than to beat the Chicago Bulls and secure the 8th seed. And after tonight's game that will without a doubt have a preview of what playoff basketball is like at the ACC, you'll feel the same as well.

Friday, April 9, 2010

With A Side Of Red - Apr.9/10

With just over three hours until tipoff between the Hawks and our Raptors, here's another installment of your favorite Raptors side dish. Today, I'm going Raptors video happy, lots of good stuff on Raptors.com...

Just like with every road game, you know your favorite broadcast crew will be busting out a new episode of "Life on the 2nd Bus". Keep up to date with the most entertaining 2nd bus in all of sports.




Last post, I talked about a possible future with the Young Gunz era. No matter what happens in the future with Bosh, I totally see us moving forward with DeMar DeRozan. He could very well turn out to be anything from a #1 option to a #3; that's how raw he is right now. It's hard to gauge a 20 year old rookie because of the numerous ups and downs, but give it some time - there's clearly potential there. Here's chapter 11 of the the Raptors original documentary that spotlights DeMar - "One Rookie".



In other news..

With all this talk about CB4 possibly leaving us for the US; it's funny that this recent update popped up. The "Baller" Adnan Virk (who used to work for The Score, and is currently employed by Raptors TV) has accepted a job in the States to work for ESPN. That's big man. Though you'll be missed, good luck to you.

Adnan Virk to ESPN

Lastly, to get you all hyped up for the game tonight. Check out a replay of the last game between the Raps/Hawks all in just six minutes. Amazing performance from Jamal Crawford in this one, and though Bosh struggled throughout, he hit the one that counted: the game winner.



I lied - one last thing. The Heels On Hardwood Blog of the The Score Sports Federation is having a contest where they will be giving away courtside tickets to the Raptors Knicks game. Real simple to get involved in, and the prize is crazy. Check it out!

And there you have it Raptors Nation. Whatever it is you happen to be doing, I hope you enjoyed it With A Side of Red!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

The Atlantic Division; The Cure For Your Raptors Blues



With the depression levels of Raptors fans reaching a season high in the last two days, I thought I'd go a different route than most of the morning papers I've sifted through this morning.

Let's ignore the Chris Bosh injury, the Turkoglu mystery, the Bulls stampeding behind us - let's forget about all of that for a few minutes. Everyone outside of Toronto keeps focusing on our future, a future without Chris Bosh that is. Well Toronto fans finally got a true glimpse of that last night against the Celtics.

Let's call it the Young Gunz era.

Assuming Chris Bosh's tenure in Toronto has finally ended, this is what the city has in store for it:



A high octane, fast paced and athletic offense led by a group of young fellas. That's what I saw last night. It may not have the same star power that Bosh has in one hand, but it's a good start nonetheless. Perhaps a proper rebuild is on the horizon for the Toronto Raptors? Again - assuming Bosh chooses a new home - Toronto could very well end up with the necessary pieces to rebuild a team like the OKC Thunder.

Before you get it twisted, i'm not trying to sugarcoat anything here. If we go into next season with a resigned Amir Johnson, DeRozan, Weems, Jack, Bargnani, and Turk (which looks pretty possible) then we'll surely lose more than our fair share of games. But then again, so did young teams like Portland and Oklahoma. But as soon as they were given a chance to develop together, it all clicked. Obviously, the Blazers had Roy, and the Thunder had Durant; but who's to say that Weems (23), DeRozan (20) and Amir (22) don't have the potential to be very good players in the future? They didn't get the nickname "Young Gunz" for no reason.

So let's put things into perspective. Regardless of how bleak you may think the future looks, remember this: An NBA season is truly won within your division. Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you the Atlantic Division:



Do any of these teams really strike immediate fear moving forward? Well - not really. And that's my point. With the steady decline of the Boston Celtics, this division is once again for the taking in the years to come. Let's look at each team here.

The Celtics: Let's be real here. This is the one division leading team of the entire NBA that many people feel are on its last leg. Their age is finally catching up to them, and that championship window is about an inch away from finally closing shut. Even Celtics fans are ready to go back to what they call the "Age of Darkness". They threw away their entire future for a couple glory years. Was it worth it? Of course. Absolutely. But will they now have to pay their debt? Yup.

The Knicks: This is obviously the wildcard of the division. They've gone all-in for the 2010 off season. If they manage to get LeBron, then everything changes and this becomes their division to own. But with recent reports coming out of Cleveland saying LeBron isn't going anywhere, there's a good chance the Knicks may end up with something like Joe Johnson or Rudy Gay with a resigned David Lee. Bosh could also end up here as well - which would only make the rivalry between the Knicks and Raps heat up even more.

The Sixers: They finally get it. This team isn't good enough, at least not when you consider what their being paid. The Philly front office has been more than ready to part with Iggy, Sammy D, and Brand. Not because of their talent, but due to the fact that they can't afford to keep them around. They are really the one team that resembles the Raptors' scenario the most. They too have some young talent moving forward, but are currently strapped down with some bad contracts.

The Nets: They almost made history this year as the worst NBA team ever. They'll most likely end up as the team with the worst record, which would ultimately give them the best chance of landing the #1 pick. John Wall anybody? No one in the Atlantic wants this Wildcat phenom to settle down here. But remember this, having the worst record entitles you to a 25% chance of landing the first pick. Well with that in mind, in the last 20 years of the draft, the team with the worst record has only won the lottery a total of 3 times.

Surely, Colangelo will sell these points when he attempts to re-sign Bosh. But even if the greatest player to ever rock a Raptor uniform departs, know that there is a very manageable future just around the corner. Winning your division guarantees you a top 4 seed in your conference. From there, anything can happen.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Raptors Rundown Podcast - Episode 4



It's that time of the week again folks. Check out episode 4 of the Raptors Rundown podcast! Remember to keep the feedback and listener questions coming, you guys know I appreciate it.

This week, Joel Reilly of Boshtown makes a special guest appearance to talk about the Canadian trending twitter topic that's taken Raptors Nation by storm. On top of that, the creator of the Boshtown movement also gives his thoughts on the games to come for the Raps, Hedo Turkoglu, and his pick for this week's Raptor Factor. Oh and by the way - Joel also drops the exclusive scoop of a sick Boshtown contest he has planned for Raps fans.

Check out the facebook group as well: Boshtown on Facebook



Monday, April 5, 2010

A Very Easter(n) Raptors Weekend [WSR]



Lots of Eastern Conference implications over the weekend...

In a matter of 2 seconds, the season was summed up quite nicely. The Raptors pulled off the unexpected, then Chris Bosh went up, before falling back down. I know a bunch of people are still not over the crazy finish at the ACC last night. I know I wasn't - which is why I couldn't take my eyes away from the video above. I had to watch it over...and over...again.

BTW - was am I the only who found the Nellie/Warriors moshpit a tad hilarious?

Second on the docket of this edition of "With A Side of Red", I've got another Easter Egg of news that Raps fans may like.

Here's a snippet from an article that can be found at Cleveland.com

"One option the team may consider is giving James and some other players some time off this week and then putting a full team out on the floor for the final two games against the Magic and Hawks next Sunday and Wednesday. There is a chance Shaquille O'Neal could return for one or both of those games."

Okay. I like it!

Lastly, here's a video regarding the recent Autism Awareness Night that was held at the ACC. For those that don't know, April is considered Autism Awareness Month. It was good on both the Toronto Raptors and Toronto Maple Leafs to go out and show their support for a great cause. Autism is a serious thing, but at the same time, those with it should be considered just like everyone else. They're fully capable of probably more than what you expect. On top of that - they can be huge basketball fans as well. Trust me - I know one that could talk ball for days!



And that's it from me today. Just wanted to let everyone know that I appreciate the surprising success everyone has brought to this blog and the Raptors Rundown podcast. After a mere 3 months, everything has come quite quick, and I'm enjoying every second of it.

With that said, I've gotten emails regarding the drop in activity over the last 3-4 days. Before I get bombarded with anymore, I would like to point out that it's been Easter weekend, I had my birthday to celebrate, and final exams were taking place. But now that it's all out of the way, expect me to have all hands on deck as we approach the finish line.

To prove that, I've already got an interview with Joel Riley of Boshtown lined up for tomorrow. He'll be appearing on episode 4 of the Raptors Rundown to talk Raptors basketball. So keep a look out for that.

Whatever you happen to be doing Raptors fans, I hope you enjoyed it With A Side of Red!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Sonny Weems Is No Joke



While you're dodging April Fools jokes left and right today, let's take a closer look at the one Raptor that has been a surprise of the pleasant variety. His name is Sonny Weems (real name is Clarence - but don't tell him that), the 23 year old starting shooting guard for the Toronto Raptors.

Born out of Arkansas, Weems was the typical super athlete growing up. Excelling at football and track and field - especially high jump where he manaed to clear 6'10 - there was little doubt that Sonny was born with God given athleticism and talents. Shooting up to a respectable height that complimented his play style, his athleticism ended up translating quite well onto the basketball court. As a senior, he ended up leading West Memphis High School to a state championship. The 20 points and 14 rebounds he averaged was good enough to have him recognized as one of the best high school players in the Nation.

The early success didn't end there however. After high school, Sonny attended the University of Arkansas-Fort Smith where he eventually was thought to be the #1 junior college player in the entire country. Soon after, Weems declared his commitment to the University of Arkansas through a transfer. In 06/07, he was actually listed as the #1 junior college transfer in the nation by CollegeHoops.net. In his junior year, he played a noteworthy role (11 pts a game) that led to the Razorbacks' 3rd straight winning season. Unfortunately, the party ended abruptly in a first round knockout in the NCCA tournament.

In Weems' final year at Arkansas, the high flying guard made it his mission to go out with a bang. Earning his spot on the first team All-SEC, Weems led Arkansas all the way to the NCAA tournament once again; where they would ultimately ruin a couple of brackets all over the world with an upset win over Indiana. The 31 points he scored (on 12-14 shooting) gave the Razorbacks their first NCAA tournament win in 9 years. He followed that up with a 22 point performance in the next round, but unfortunately could not overcome a beastly UNC squad. Wanting to end his collegiate career on his terms however, Sonny topped the experience off with an entertaining win in the NCAA Slam Dunk Contest.

Many scouts expected Weems to play in the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament in an attempt to raise his stock prior to the draft. However, he ultimately decided to skip out and instead opted to workout for several NBA franchises. Already 21 years old and running out of time on his NBA dreams, Weems pushed as hard as he could in order to impress somebody, anybody. Even in the days leading up to the draft, Weems was projected to go somewhere in the low to mid 50s; to possibly not even being drafted. All he wanted to do was for some team to give him a chance.

Fortunately, that chance came - but not in the way Sonny had been playing it out in his head ever since he was a kid.

Selected with the 39th pick of the 2008 NBA draft by the Chicago Bulls, Weems wasn't even given a chance to smile. Immediately, he was traded away to Denver for scrap (2nd rounder). Already considered a fringe player, consistent and nagging injuries glued Sonny to the Nuggets bench. Eventually, the franchise sent him down to the D-League.

Playing for the Colarado 14ers, Sonny Weems put up 18 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 2.3 assists a game; a stat line very similar to something he'd put up in college. Yet regardless of his steady production and seemingly translatable game, the Nuggets still refused to put Weems on the court. His time soon ran out in Denver, and the team traded him for next to nothing to the Bucks (Malik Allen who's averaging 2.3 points, and 1.6 rebounds this year).

Ten days later - that's right, ten days... - Sonny Weems was traded once again. But this time, it was to the Toronto Raptors. Used as nothing more than a filler, he and Amir Johnson were sent to Canada in exchange for Carlos Delfino and Roko Ukic. Considered merely an afterthought in the grand scheme of things, many fans expected and even preferred Weems to be wearing a suit every game. With their young lottery pick rookie DeMar DeRozan, prized free agent Hedo Turkoglu, veteran wing defender Antoine Wright, and fellow Italian countryman to Bargs in Marco Belinelli; Sonny Weems found himself in a particularly crowded field.

But just like always, Weems fought through it all. Always being noted to be one of the hardest working players by the coaching staff, the 23 year old athletic wingman put in the time to make his case for head coach Jay Triano. The message was heard loud and clear: "I deserve to be here."

Fast forward to today, and with the playoffs just on the horizon, Sonny Weems now finds himself as the starting 2 guard for the Toronto Raptors - a team bound for the post-season. Peaking at the absolute right time, Sonny is putting up career numbers in the month of March and appears to have the starting gig locked for the rest of the year. He gives this Toronto team an aspect and element that this franchise has lacked for years now, and that's athleticism on the wings.

The best part is that:

1) He's basically a rookie. Recording practically no minutes in his rookie year, this is in a sense, his first season that he's been given a chance to play. At the age of 23, he's got plenty of time to grow.

and

2) Weems is earning the minimum in regards to salary. The Raptors can either choose to use their team option on him next year, or just outright extend Weems. Either way, Toronto will end up with very good production per salary. Amazing bang for your buck? I think so.

What does the future have in store for Sonny Weems? No one knows for sure, though Raptors fans can only hope it involves them. It was only two years ago that I remember first seeing him. He was assisting J.R. Smith in the Dunk Contest, and commentators Reggie Miller and Kenny Smith took no liberties in making jokes at Weems' expense. But in their defense, what they didn't realize at the time is that Sonny Weems is no joke. There's a hidden gold mine of potential somewhere there that the Denver Nuggets couldn't find; and all it took was a Raptors jersey for Weems to realize that.