Posts Tagged ‘Michael Grange’

Dave Feschuk breaks a very interesting … and tell-tale … story

Sunday, March 13th, 2011

… about the internal management, and impending sale, of the Toronto Raptors … which, once you break it down further, really contains just 1 highly provocative sentence.

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Feschuk: Number cruncher standing in way of Colangelo’s new contract

Some insiders downplay the conflict between Colangelo and Silvestri, and certainly there are many other factors that could be influencing the Teachers’ reluctance to re-up Colangelo. Peddie, who has announced he’ll retire at the conclusion of 2011, is expected to welcome his replacement in the coming months. A headhunting firm is currently conducting a worldwide search for that person; Peddie said the field will be pared to a shortlist in the near future.

While Tom Anselmi, MLSE’s current chief operating officer, remains the in-house front-runner to get the gig, giving Colangelo a multi-year extension on the cusp of a new CEO’s arrival — especially since the date of that arrival is unclear — might not be seen as wise.

It’s also unknown how much longer the pension plan, which owns 66 per cent of privately held MLSE, will be the majority shareholder. The Star reported in December that Rogers has kicked the tires on the Teachers’ stake, which has been estimated to be worth about $1.3 billion, and other suitors are expected to emerge. The real prospect of an NBA lockout doesn’t clarify anyone’s view of how Toronto’s basketball operation will look after this season.

As one source said: “Confusion reigns.”

And so Colangelo waits. Is it possible the GM could make the Raptors’ first-round pick in the draft on June 23, a week before his contract expires, without a new contract? Multiple team sources said it is. Colangelo declined comment on matters pertaining to his contract.

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To wit:

Along with criticizing Colangelo’s record as GM, Silvestri, one league source said, has also been heard to deride Colangelo’s career as the product of nepotism. Colangelo’s father, Jerry, was owner of the Phoenix Suns when Bryan became that franchise’s general manager in 1995.

Could it possibly be the case that Mr. Silvestri has actually been a regular reader of this lil’ blog, dating back over the past 4+ years?

Nahhhhhhhhhhh!

Couldn’t be a snowball’s chance in h*** of that ever happening.

Right? :-)

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Related:

Teachers’ move closer to MLSE sale
Is the sale of the Leafs, Raptors etc. a slam dunk?

Scathing indictment of Bryan Colangelo’s Raptors

Tuesday, April 20th, 2010

Being A “Successful” Pro Sports Franchise DOES NOT Equate With Ever Being Able To Actually Win A League Championship For MLSE

Last fall, Dave Feschuk [Toronto Star] and Michael Grange [Globe and Mail] collaborated on a book about the professional hockey team owned and operated by the MLSE conglomerate titled, “Leafs Abomination,” which chronicles the 40+ years of misery the loyal fans of this once-storied Original Six team have had to endure since sipping last from Lord Stanley’s fabled Cup.

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Love them or hate them, they’re the most successful team in professional hockey … just not on the scoresheet.

The Toronto Maple Leafs are an exception to every law of the sporting jungle. They miss the playoffs and the sellouts keep coming. They haven’t won a Stanley Cup since 1967, but the earning power of that blue-and-white maple leaf, no matter the chronic woes of the blue-and-white’s power play, never ceases to increase.

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Within this same school of thought, today’s article from Dave Feschuk, pins the current failures of the professional basketball side of the operation squarely on the shoulders of:

1. MLSE’s ownership group;

and,

2. The Raptors’ President and General Manager, Bryan Colangelo;

… which is precisely where it belongs, according to the views expressed in this corner of the internet for the last several seasons.

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Feschuk: Colangelo selling Raptors fans a bill of goods

Not to worry, Toronto sports fans. Yes, there are dramatic playoff series taking place in cities that aren’t this one. Yes, the Big Joke’s hockey team finished 29th and its basketball team won 40 games and its soccer team’s highest-paid player is afraid of, to quote Hedo Turkoglu, “Ball!”

But Bryan Colangelo, the Raptors president and GM, wants you to know everything’s under control around here, and so it must be. On Monday Colangelo called Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, the pension-fund-owned controller of the local NHL, NBA and fifth-division pro soccer franchises, and this is an actual quotation, “one of the best organizations in all of sports.”

He went on: “I’m talking about hockey, basketball, soccer, real estate. Everything. Television. It is a company that will do everything in its power to answer the fans’ concerns, and that’s what we’re doing.”

To paraphrase Allen Iverson: You’re talkin’ ’bout real estate? How relieving to know that the local sporting monopolists are condo-selling geniuses. And how fitting. Some sporting GMs are described as visionary architects, and maybe Colangelo will become one someday. But on Monday, in a wide-ranging post-mortem on his team’s second straight losing season, Colangelo sounded less like a savvy builder of great rosters than a desperate seller of swampland. Four seasons into his sub-.500 tenure, it’s getting harder and harder to buy a word he says.

Two seasons after he told you Jermaine O’Neal was the answer, six months after he told you Hedo Turkoglu was the answer, on Monday Colangelo insisted he isn’t far from hitting on the actual answer. Never mind that his only all-star, Chris Bosh, is committed to testing free agency. Never mind that, in a guard-driven league, Toronto’s starters are certifiable second stringers. Never mind that Turkoglu’s massive contract appears as immovable as Jose Calderon on defence — not to mention Calderon’s contract. Never mind the toothless (and cheap-as-they-come) coach who is “learning” on the job, and slowly.

Colangelo actually attempted to sell his audience on the notion that MLSE is in these games to win these games.

“The plan is to win basketball games at whatever cost,” Colangelo said at one point.

I am not making this up.

At whatever cost,” are the words he used.

That, folks, isn’t a sales pitch: It’s just a lie.

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Readers should examine the next sentence written here carefully.

This does NOT mean, however, that Bryan Colangelo SHOULD be fired by MLSE for being a bad General Manager.

What this means is that … first and foremost … it’s important to understand properly what THE PROBLEMS actually are with the Raptors [and the Maple Leafs] before it’s possible to attack them in a way which is going to produce a meaningful difference for their fans and create a Culture Of Excellence within the pro sports sector of this conglomerate.

As was said in this space yesterday …

The main problem which the Raptors have at present is not concerned with the many deficiencies of the specific players on their roster,

Common mis-perceptions regarding the sources of the Raptors’ problems

or, the relatively poor decisions made by their head coach, or their General Manager, etc..

The MAIN problem has to do with the specific way in which MLSE has been allowed to define the term “SUCCESS”, as far as the Raptors and the Maple Leafs are concerned …

i.e. such that, the primary objective is, ”To Develop a Competitive and Entertaining team which wins a relatively high number of regular season games, keeps its fanbase ‘engaged’, and turns a healthy bottom-line profit,” 

and the fundamental NEED for a PARADIGM SHIFT

i.e. Such that, the primary objective is, “The Winning Of Multiple League Championships,”

in order for any substantive headway to be made in terms of becoming an authentic championship calibre organization … in the not-too-distant future … within the pro sports landscape. 

Until this actually happens the Raptors and the Maple Leafs will be little more than “highly profitable Treadmill Teams”, in their respective leagues, run by carpet-bagging profiteers.

When Chris Bosh plays his very best basketball …

Thursday, January 21st, 2010

… he is quite capable of resembling The Great Man, himself, in a sort of “poor man’s version” of Bill Russell.

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FYI … and, in response to these two pieces earlier today from Chris Black and Michael Grange, respectively:

More on Bosh [Jan 21, 2010, 3:00 PM]

You’ve got questions … I’ve got answers … [Jan 21, 2010, 8:14 AM]

these are the thoughts of yours truly concerning the Capacity for Excellence held by Christopher Wesson Bosh:

====================================

Chris [Black],

Here’s what I wrote at “From Deep”, after reading Mr. Grange’s reference to your insight on what works best for Chris Bosh and the Raptors:

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Michael [Grange],

“But he does come up with some data that suggest that Bosh’s performance can be correlated pretty closely to team success. Most significantly it’s a phantom number (let’s face it, most of them are, but it’s fun) that I agree with in that it suggests the key for the Raptors success isn’t more scoring from Bosh.

The premise is that Bosh playing more like he did for the U.S. Olympic team – hustling, ball-hawking, defending in addition to score – could have an impact for the Raptors come playoff time.”

For the last several years, I have endured a fair amount of criticism for making the claim … long before others seemed to realize that Chris Bosh is, in fact, as good as he really is, as a dominant under-sized Center in the NBA … that CB4, when he plays his best and gives his TEAM its best chance to win important games against high end opponents, is actually playing the game like a poor man’s version of Bill Russell … i.e. which is to say that what he needs to do is, in fact:

* Score fewer points
* Shoot fewer shots
* Amass more rebounds
* Key the team’s offensive transition game as its main defensive rebounder/outlet pass maker
* Amass more assists
* Block more shots
* Play exclusively in the low-mid post area, as the Central hub of the team’s half-court offense
* Provide first-class leadership and emotional stability to his teammates who are sound, individually, as team defenders and secondary rebounders, but very good offensively moving without the ball and with the ability to make open shots.

If Chris Bosh has the right Point Guard on his team [i.e. pass first], and the right Off Guard [shoot first], and the right Small Forward [drive and defend first], and the right Power Forward [rebound and defend first], and the right Back-ups at the PG [defend], OG-SF [score] and PF-C [score] positions, and the right head coach [set based with expert leadership skills], he is plenty good enough to lead his team to a NBA championship.

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IMO, Chris [Bosh] actually has the capacity to ratchet-up his production in each of the Russell-based categories I listed above, if he decreases his current emphasis on Scoring.

What Chris [Bosh] has needed for a long time now is the kind of coach who can see accurately that is in fact where his emphasis NEEDS to be, if he is going to be able to achieve his personal goals as an elite level basketball player. Chris [Bosh] has always valued WINNING more than anything else. Unfortunately, he has yet to find the right coach to show him how to do this properly, given his specific skill-set.

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The beauty of it is that those same thoughts have in fact been on display on this very blog for the better part of the last 2 years.

Chris Bosh’s strength … as a player and a person

De-constructing the mystery that is Chris Bosh

Cheers :-)

PS. It can be a real challenge if/when what you perceive to be the case is not immediately seen and shared by others. 

More Joy in … Raptorville?

Friday, January 15th, 2010

The NBA’s trade deadline is now just a little more than 1 month away.

On-line talk is beginning to purcolate concerning the eventual long term destinations for the marquee players of the Free Agent Class of 2010, e.g. LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Carlos Boozer, Tracy McGrady, etc.

The Bosh Trade Buzz 

Raptors approach fork in the road 

One of the best NBA-related blogs is The Wages of Wins Journal, authored by David Berri. This is his perspective on Chris Bosh’s situation with the Toronto Raptors: 

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Mixed messages on Chris Bosh

Examining the numbers for the individual players reveals that the change we observe with respect to Bosh’s production explains virtually all of the team’s improvement.  In other words, if Bosh maintained what he was doing last year, the Raptors – after all the changes made this summer — should have expected to win about 13 of their first 39 games.  And that mark would rank Toronto among the Pacers, Wizards, Pistons, and Sixers.  So if Bosh doesn’t improve, the Raptors are looking at the NBA lottery.

With Bosh improving, though, the Raptors have a good chance of making the playoffs.  And if that happens, Bosh has a good chance of experiencing a first round exit for the third time in his career.

Yes, Bosh had yet to experience much team success with the Raptors. Hence one suspects he might depart Toronto this summer.  And consequently, the Raptors have an incentive to trade him now.

A Super Dynasty with Bosh?

One possible destination is the LA Lakers.  It has been suggested that the Lakers send Andrew Bynum to the Raptors for Bosh (other players would have to be added to make the trade work, but Bynum and Bosh are the key players in the trade).  Such a proposal has apparently caused Andrew from Waiting for Next Year – a blog about Cleveland sports – a great deal of consternation.   Andrew explores how the Bynum-Bosh trade could happen and then concludes: “This deal would seemingly turn the Lakers into a super dynasty and give the Cavaliers little chance of being able to overcome the Lakers’ supremacy.”

I read this sentence before I looked at what Bosh had done this season. Since I knew that Bosh and Bynum produced at similar levels prior to this season, when I first read Andrew’s take on this proposal I had a hard time believing that such a trade would shift the balance of power in the NBA significantly.

But seeing what Bosh is doing this year, I guess there’s some reason for the other contenders in the NBA to be a bit nervous about a Bynum for Bosh trade.  For example, if Bynum was playing at Bosh’s level this year, the Lakers would be on pace to win about 64 games, or about six more projected wins than we currently see (and if Gasol was healthy, this projection is even higher).  And a Lakers team on pace to win 64 games would currently be the best team in the NBA. 

There are two issues, though, to consider. First of all, Bosh has never produced at this level in the past.  And if Bosh reverts to what we saw before this year – as I just noted — than the Lakers would not really be getting much more than what they are getting from Bynum. 

Furthermore, even if Bosh does maintain what he is doing this year, a 64 win team is hardly an insurmountable dynasty. The Cavaliers are currently on pace to win 59 games this year, and the difference between 64 and 59 wins isn’t really that great.  Yes, the Cavs would have to do a bit more to close to the gap.  But the gap could be closed (and even if it isn’t closed, it’s more than possible for a slightly worse team to win an NBA playoff series).

So although I think a Bynum-Bosh trade could make the Lakers the favorite to win in 2010, I don’t think the Lakers would be over-whelming favorites or a super dynasty.

Let me close with more thought on the Lakers.  If it’s true the Lakers are considering this move, it does tell us something about how the Lakers currently evaluate their own team.  There are pundits who believe the Lakers are already “the dominant team” in the NBA.  The fact that the Lakers are pursuing Bosh (that is, if they are) suggests the Lakers may not believe they are currently dominating the NBA (or maybe — since this is about mixed messages — this doesn’t mean that).

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… and, this, right here:

IMO, 25 is still a touch below the peak performance years of an elite level NBA player.

In all likelihood, Chris Bosh will continue to mature and, in the process, improve “his game” physically, mentally, emotionally and skill-wise. When he reaches 27-28 he will be at his zenith and, if teammed with the right cast of characters [i.e. owner, GM, coaches and players], be in position … relative to his peers … to seriously challenge for a NBA title, as a Core Player on a squad with Quality Depth throughout its line-up.

There’s a fine piece of Canadian Literature, by Morley Callaghan, titled, “More Joy In Heaven.”

It deals with The Cycle of Life and those who fail to recognize the following truisms:

i. The young and naive depend on others to survive.
ii. As maturity sets in, the young and naive begin to learn what life gives up and, therefore, by necessity, begin to develop their own sense of intelligence. When this happens, they actually become “smarter” than they were before.
iii. For some, when they think that they’ve reached the stage of full maturity, they’ve actuallyt become so smart that they realize what the world is really all about is dealing with harshness and the need for self-preservation/self-interest, at all costs. Hypocrisy abounds and what something looks like on the surface is rarely, if ever, what it actually is … when examined in-depth, “up close & personal”, in an objective way. Once they reach THIS stage, they elect to go no further.
iv. For others, however, there is a different path which still lies ahead, beyond the concrete [and, therefore, limited] reality of the three-dimensional world. At this stage, they are fully aware of the hypocrisy and moral bankruptcy which exists in everyday life, the need for “smartness” in decision-making, and the perceived need for an actual lack of naivete, if the goal is to Survive & Conquer. What these individuals choose to do next is very curious and involves a form of “wilful regression”, so-to-speak … which harkens back to their early days of life when they had no choice but to “trust in the inherent goodness of others”, as without that, in the first place,

[i] What does one really have? and,
[ii] How valuable is IT really?

in the grand scheme of things.

The key difference this time around, though, is that these “smarter-and-yet-still-naive” psychologically mature individuals know full well what life really gives up and that there is little true value to be gained by growing rich, in any sense, on the back of moral bankruptcy, while losing one’s soul, in the process.

It’s a wonderful short story which speaks to the nature of human intelligence, ruthless objectivity, and what actually is … in the world in which we live.

================================

IMO, the Lakers’ ownership is committed to Andrew Bynum and has no intention of trading him this season.

If they do acquire Chris Bosh, however, and insert him in a Five-Man Unit that looks like this:

Kobe/PG + Artest/OG + Odom/SF + Gasol/PF + Bosh/C

[supported by the likes of Shannon Brown, Sasha Vujacic, Luke Walton and Josh Powell]

it would instantly become the very best one in the entire NBA.

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is just some of what yours truly thinks about the matter.

Enjoy, one and all!

Related:

Chris Bosh’s strength … as a player and a person

De-constructing the mystery that is Chris Bosh

Yao Ming or Andrew Bynum: Part III [The Playoff Series]

Tinted glasses won’t help Raptors’ situation

Friday, December 18th, 2009

In three different articles published today, Michael Grange, Dave Feschuk and Ryan Wolstat … each of whom is highly ‘respected’ by this corner of the blogosphere, specifically, for their expertise in their chosen craft … all say, basically, the same thing, concerning the outlook for the immediate future of the Toronto Raptors [11-17/.393; 2nd, Atlantic, 9th, East]:

Judgement day could be coming for Raptors
Raptors’ schedule takes pressure off
Raptors have time to turn it around | Toronto Sun

1. The schedule the team has played, thus far, has placed them squarely behind the 8-ball.  

2. The schedule of upcoming games is about to ease, and allow the team to re-establish its proper equilibrium.

3. This proper equilibrium will be achieved by the posting of a W-L record of either 8-4 or 7-5, over the course of the next 12 games, at which point the approximate half-way mark [i.e. 40 games] of the season will have been reached. 

Given the present state of the team, however …

Is this really an accurate assessment of their current situation?

December

Opponent

Minimal

Practical

Optimal

 Fri 18

 vs Nets, 2-24/.077

 W, 1-0, 12-17

W, 1-0, 12-17

 W, 1-0, 12-17

 Sun 20

 vs Hornets, 11-13/.458

 W, 2-0, 13-17

W, 2-0, 13-17

 W, 2-0, 13-17

 Wed 23

 @ Pistons, 11-14/.440  

 L, 2-1, 13-18

L, 2-1, 13-18

 L, 2-1, 13-18

 Sun 27

 vs Pistons, 11-14/.440

 W, 3-1, 14-18

W, 3-1, 14-18

 W, 3-1, 14-18 

 Wed 30

 vs Bobcats, 10-14/.417

 L, 3-2, 14-19

L, 3-2, 14-19

 W, 4-1, 15-18

January

Opponent

Minimal

Practical

 

 Sat 02

 @ Celtics, 20-4/.833  

 L, 3-3, 14-20

L, 3-3, 14-20

 L, 4-2, 15-19

 Sun 03

 vs Spurs, 13-10/.565

 L, 3-4, 14-21

L, 3-4, 14-21

 W, 5-2, 16-19

 Wed 06

 @ Magic, 19-7/.731  

 L, 3-5, 14-22

L, 3-5, 14-22

 L, 5-3, 16-20

 Fri 08

 @ 76ers, 6-19/.240  

 L, 3-6, 14-23

W, 4-5, 15-22

 W, 6-3, 17-20

 Sun 10

 vs Celtics, 20-4/.833

 L, 3-7, 14-24

L, 4-6, 15-23

 L, 6-4, 17-21

 Mon 11

 @ Pacers, 9-14/.391  

 L, 3-8, 14-25

L, 4-7, 15-24

 W, 7-4, 18-21

 Fri 15

 @ Knicks, 8-17/.320  

 L, 3-9, 14-26

W, 5-7, 16-24

 W, 8-4, 19-21

For each of the last 3 seasons, one of the major areas of difficulty for the Raptors has been managing the expectations placed on the team, in a constructive way, given:

i. The history of the franchise;

ii. Where the franchise wants to go, short and long term [i.e. financially, and in terms of achieving excellence, on and off the court]; and,

iii. How exactly the franchise intends to achieve its stated objectives.

Instead of having negative directional short term goals [like Rob Babcock once had], or blatantly unrealistic short term goals [like much of the fanbase seems to hold, on occasion] … given the team’s history … or simply “swinging for the fences”, repeatedly, whether hit or miss [like Bryan Colangelo & Co. seem to have done, to this point], what the Raptors – and the associated media that follow the team – need to do much better, going forward, is paint a more ACCURATE picture of where exactly the team is, at the moment, relative to the other franchises in the Eastern Conference.

It’s by doing THIS, on a regular basis, rather than looking at the team’s predicament with tinted glasses … whether this tint is ‘positive’ or ‘negative’ … that communication is enhanced, and those whose actual support is necessary to succeed can be made to understand effectively what precisely is expected of them, in a specific situation; and, in return, know what they should then be able to expect back from the person[s] who is [are] communicating with them.

Unlike what many people may choose to think, it is never really about “a glass being either ‘half-full’ or ‘half empty’”, depending on one’s own perspective.

What it is REALLY about, however, is being ACCURATE, or not.

Those who are … over an extended period of time … are, in fact, able to earn the R.E.S.P.E.C.T. of their audience.

Once R.E.S.P.E.C.T. is earned, in this way, then, it can be reciprocated.

Once a state of mutual R.E.S.P.E.C.T. is achieved, in this way … between an audience and a ‘message-provider’ … then, great things are possible … and, indeed, are likely to occur.

However, without being accurate, in the first place, there is little possibility that a state of mutual R.E.S.P.E.C.T. can ever be achieved.

In this specific situation, whether the glass is actually perceived to be “half-empty” or “half-full” becomes completely irrelevant. 

What’s really going on here … Part III

Friday, December 4th, 2009

Hopefully you, the visitor/reader, will take the time to click on each of the links you see below.

If you do … slowly but surely … a picture should begin to emerge which will help you to better understand the current, and on-going, “crisis” in Raptorville.

Like most good things in life, it really does take time … and, patience, diligence, expertise, well-honed instincts, perseverance, etc. … to build and, then, thoroughly understand something – or someone – of substance and authentic high quality.  

Here goes …

[for your added benefit, the most important/pertinent ones are marked with an asterisk/*]

1. You Make The Call [Mar 18 2008] *
2. Tic toc, tic toc, tic toc … [Apr 11 2008] *
3. Two solitudes in Raptorland [Apr 16 2008] *

4. Of scorpions, frogs, GMs & coaches [Apr 30 2008] *
5. Understanding Bryan Colangelo’s method of operation (good & bad) [Jul 02 2008] *
6. Talking the talk, already … in Raptorville [Sep 29 2008]

7. Deciphering the correct code for the Raptors [Dec 3 2008]
8. Wait a second … what’s really going on here [Dec 04 2008] *
9. What’s really going on here … Part II [Dec 05 2008] *
10. Respect for tellers of truths [Dec 8, 2009]
11. Understanding the Role of Defense in the NBA [Mar 11 2009]
12. Truth Tellers Beware – The REAL reason Sam Mitchell was fired by the Raptors [Mar 11 2009] *
13. In Raptorville, something changed last night … and it wasn’t good [Mar 12 2009] *
14. What observations like these SHOULD tell you about the quality of your player roster [Mar 13 2009] *
15. Of scorpions, frogs, GMs & faces of the franchise [Mar 25 2009]

16. State of the Raptors Address by Bryan Colangelo [Apr 20 2009] *
- this has Six [6] Parts to it and you need to watch each one
17. Assessing Bryan Colangelo’s Press Conference [Apr 21, 2009] *
18. Worst Owner in major North American pro sport? … You Make The Call [May 14 2009] 
19. Raptors might be Lottery bound, once again, after the 2009-2010 season [May 20 2009]
20. Five off-season moves for the Raptors which would have helped to address their Treadmill status [May 29, 2009]
21. Lack of Quality Depth is a major problem for the Raptors [May 29 2009]
22. Original Sin, in Raptorville [Jun 02 2009]
23. Knowing who the Raptors’ FOUNDATION player is [Jun 04, 2009] *
24. Local media for the Raptors is beginning to lay blame in the right place, at last [Jun 04 2009] *
25. Where will Andrea Bargnani rank in the Eastern Conference next year, as a Center? … You Make The Call [Jun 05 2009] *
26. Where for art thou, Saviour, in Raptorville? [Jun 06 2009] *
27. Could a Bargnani trade benefit the Raptors? [Jun 11 2009] *
28. Raptors fans: What would happen, if … [Jun 17 2009]
29. In the NBA Eastern Conference … It’s not hard to tell which one is which? [Jun 25 2009] *
30. 2009 NBA Draft Trackers for the Raptors [Jun 26 2009]
31. Raptors’ best possible line-up, as of June 30 2009 [Jun 30 2009]
32. Which franchise made out best from 4 team trade? [Jul 10 2009]
33. What the 4-team trade was REALLY about from the Raptors’ perspective [Jul 11 2009]
34. When three birds of a different feather flock together, it’s a poor omen for the Raptors [Jul 14 2009] *
35. Early look at NBA rosters: Eastern Conference [Aug 17 2009] *
36. Interesting [accurate?] POV on the Raptors, under Bryan Colangelo [Aug 24. 2009]
37. Initial thoughts on the Raptors talent base compared with the previous 3 seasons [Aug 24 2009] *
38. Strength of the Eastern Conference compared to 2006-2007 [Aug 25 2009]
39. Raptors Bench Strength: In eye of beholder [Aug 28 2009] *
40. YOU MAKE THE CALL: Best possible group of wing players for the 2009-2010 Raptors? [Aug 31 2009]
41. YOU MAKE THE CALL: Available Roster Options for the Raptors, 2009-2010 [Sep 02 2009]
42. How the Eastern Conference looks for ‘09-10, based on individual player ratings, by position [Sep 08 2009] *
43. Raptors improvement relative to other teams in division & conference [Sep 14 2009] *
44. Thumb-down 35 special … for the Raptors [Sep 18 2009] *
45. How the Raptors could be improved with Player X replacing Bargnani [Sep 18 2009] *
46. Uh-Oh, here he goes again [Sep 28, 2009] *
47. All the problems have been fixed with a Radical Roster Make-over? [Sep 29. 2009] *
48. Toronto Raptors Season Preview: Games 1-20 [Oct 20 2009]

49. Raptors half-way through their first 20 games [Nov 16 2009]
50. Raptors’ crunch time starts today vs Magic [Nov 22 2009]
51. Raptors punked by Celtics, according to Wright [Nov 28 2009] *
52. Ominous words … in Raptorville [Nov 29 2009] *
53. Source of Raptors’ on-going defensive problems [Dec 01 2009]
54. What the Raptors SHOULD do right NOW to improve their performance against High End opponents [Dec 02 2009] *
55. Raptors at the 20 game mark, exactly where an astute observer SHOULD have expected them to be [Dec 03 2009] *

================================================

When yours truly has occasion to read an article in which the Raptors’ GM is quoted as saying: 

Colangelo doesn’t pass the buck

- “At the end of the day, there’s a lot of talk about this being about coaching and systems and things like that,” said Colangelo, who was en route yesterday to meet his team in Washington for tonight’s game against the Wizards. “But at the end of the day if you’re looking for someone to blame, you can point to me because I’m ultimately the one responsible for putting this group together.”

- “The poor performance defensively has disrupted the other, more positive things we’ve been doing and the team is in a funk,” Colangelo said. “It happens in the course of an NBA season, and it’s up to us to get them out of it.”

- This team has far too much talent to cast off or give up on. I have no doubt these guys can play, but talk is cheap.”

- “We can change the system and tweak it all we want, but it still comes down to execution and effort by the players,” Colangelo said. “It’s been very disappointing.”

and, then,

read a column by Dave Feschuk, in which he has revealing quotes from the team’s former head coach that read like this:

Mitchell has advice for Triano

- “At some point you hope the owners start realizing that you just can’t coach in this league without having coached,” Mitchell was saying the other night. “People sit there and think they can do it. … If you could just do the Xs and Os, yeah, you might figure that out. But it’s, how do you deal with people? How do you deal with your team when you’re down 20 at halftime? You have to know when to kick ‘em in the ass, and you have to know when to go in there and put your arms around ‘em and love ‘em? … I had to learn that.”

- “People don’t understand how relentless I was on Jose and Chris. I cut ‘em no slack,” said Mitchell. “Andrea, it was different. I cut Andrea a lot of slack.

- “You pick your spots,” Mitchell said. “Sometimes you just have to walk away and say, `Don’t say (anything). It’s a bad night. Don’t compound it.’ … And sometimes you really get on their ass after you win. … You pick your spots.”

and, then,

read a blog entry by Chris Black, in which he begins to put the pieces of the puzzle together, one by one … 

Dissecting a Disaster
READING BETWEEN THE LINES
Mr. Feschuk is an intelligent writer. He knows there are certain things he can and cannot write in the paper. Jarrett Jack and Antoine Wright are both intelligent (if not exactly in-shape) basketball players. They know they can’t call out specific players in the papers.
However, if you read between the lines of Mr. Feschuk’s columns over the last two days, I think you’ll see that he’s saying the Raptors are growing frustrated about how Andrea Bargnani is treated by this organization.
You even get the sense from the Mitchell quote that he didn’t even want to cut Bargnani that much slack, that it was almost an organizational mandate to do so.
MY OWN OBSERVATION
As I mentioned earlier this week, I was at the Suns game on Sunday. On two separate occasions, Bargnani just totally forgot to rotate on defence (I’m sure he forgot to rotate many more times than that, but I’m just pointing these two out for a specific reason). After his gaffe led to dunks for the Suns, a visibly frustrated Hedo Turkoglu threw his hands in the air and said/yelled something in the direction of Bargnani. The Italian was naturally oblivious to Turkoglu’s criticism, and merely continued up the court, happily mouth-breathing away.

… what, then, becomes clear is:

I. Just how much on target the views expressed in this space have actually been for the last 2+ years, concerning the goings-on with the Toronto Raptors;

II. Just how much of a negative and divisive force Andrea Bargnani’s poor Defense and Rebounding have actually been within the Raptors’ team for the last several seasons; and,

III. Just how off-base is the Basketball Philosophy [and overall Basketball Acumen] of the Raptors’ Management Team, in terms of placing the correct value on:

A. Team [and Individual] Defense

B. Rebounding, and

C. Shared Team Offense,

when assessing the REAL ability of their players, compared to the other High End teams in the NBA.

Since the Boston Celtics of Red Auerbach, Bill Russell, Bob Cousy, and John Havlicek, etc., first established their pro hoops dynasty, more than 40 years ago, High End performers across the league have learned to value and identify the individual players, and coaches, and GMs, etc., with the personal attributes it takes to be able to WIN BIG, i.e. given their commitment to: i. Defense, ii. Rebounding, iii. Sharing The Ball, and, iv. Physical, Mental and Emotional Toughness.

When a franchise, at its core, has a Basketball Philosophy that DOES NOT reflect these basic, fundamental values … which dwells at the heart of the game and a successful team … it has very little hope of ever developing into a championship calibre organization in the NBA.

There are NO successful short-cuts in THIS game.   

Fun-da-mentally Dysfunctional, after 42 years of ineptitude

Saturday, September 5th, 2009

Although this story first appeared last weekend, it deserves a special place [and a page of its own] in the “Site Map” of this blog.

The Leafs Abomination
“Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment has massive resources, which is a good thing. I’ve seen a real lack of foresight in the use of those resources to really gain a competitive advantage. Personnel, scouting procedures, processes, development, all those things,” Button says. “I couldn’t fathom how pennywise and pound-foolish they were. I mean, if development and recruiting are going to be key parts of your operation – and they need to be – well, I’ll tell you what, you blanket the earth. You use your resources. If you can’t spend some of your resources on player acquisition (because of the salary cap), you spend it on developing players. You make sure you’re as sharp as anything. In my time there, I thought that was severely lacking.”

———————————–

Kudos galore to Dave Feschuk and Michael Grange, two of the best journalists who happen to patrol a sports beat in the Greater Toronto Area.

Mandatory reading for Maple Leafs and Raptors and TFC fans everywhere!

 

Related:

Winning Isn’t Everything

What the 4-team trade was REALLY about from the Raptors’ perspective

Saturday, July 11th, 2009

For Raptors fans who think that the recent 4-team trade was in fact based on the commitment of MLSE to do what’s necessary to win a League Championship, one day in the not-too-distant future:

Colangelo still tinkering with Raptors roster
“You have to find a way to get the right pieces in this year and roll forward and keep below that luxury tax level,” Colangelo said. “It’s going to get tighter and it’s something to contend with.”

———-

you SHOULD seriously re-evaluate that specific line of thinking.

When you hear Bryan Colangelo speak next of DOING WHAT’S NECESSARY TO ACCOMPLISH THAT SPECIFIC GOAL, down-the-road, please feel free to notify yours truly [perhaps, via email] right away! ;)

The Raptors’ GM … and chief representative of MLSE, on the hoops side of the operation … talks, repeatedly, about being “committed to building a winning team” BUT he NEVER EVER takes the NEXT STEP and mentions something about,

“Doing what’s necessary to actually have a legitimate shot at winning the League Championship.”

What’s the reason for this?

Does he actually know what this involves, in today’s NBA, regarding such things as: i. Basketball Philosophy, ii. Coaching Philosophy, iii. Player Personnel, and iv. The Financial Commitment Required [etc.]?

The teams that are “honestly” trying to WIN the Championship in the NBA, these days, know full well that in order to give themselves a “real” chance at accomplishing this goal, they are going to have to accept the fact that they will be paying The Luxury Tax … which is really Nothing More than the “current toll fare” … in return for The Right to be able to drive on that specific Super-Highway.

The highest level of competition possible is where the Big Boyz play and that’s the going freight just to ante into the game.

The San Antonio Spurs … located in a small-to-mid sized market, but with a 1st-class ownership group [expertly led by Peter Holt] and a Top Notch GM/Head Coach tandem  [i.e. RC Buford & Gregg Popovich] … are a prime example of a team that is now fully aware of this and, therefore, chose to act accordingly this off season … i.e. as you can plainly see from their recent decisions to:

* Retain their best 3 players [i.e. Time Duncan, Manu Ginobili & Tony Parker]

* Retain a veteran like Michael Finley

* Select 3 new players in the 2009 NBA Draft [i.e. DeJuan Blair, No. 37, Jack McClinton, No. 51, and Nando De Colo, No. 53] who are ready to compete right away

* Trade for Richard Jefferson [i.e. another high end player], and

* Sign Antonio McDyess [UFA]

While the Toronto Raptors, on the other hand … chose to go a different route, replete with a Magician’s Wand & Cloak, a rabbit, a head stand, a glass of bottled water, a still dry shirt – with an exceedingly high collar - and an accompanying 3-piece band of partners in crime.

There are just a few teams in this League that are legitimately trying to WIN It All [i.e. Category One] …

then, there’s Everybody Else [i.e. who can be further sub-divided into two additional specific Categories: Two. Those trying to field a highly "competitive" team, in the process of turning a profit, annually; and, Three. Those simply trying to survive in hopes of maybe turning a profit].

DO NOT MAKE THE MISTAKE OF THINKING THAT WHAT THE RAPTORS DID WITH THEIR PARTICIPATION IN THIS 4-TEAM TRADE WAS DESIGNED TO SHIFT THEM FROM CATEGORY TWO INTO CATEGORY ONE.

It was not; not by a long shot.

————-

Related:

Which franchise made out best from the 4-team trade?

Raptors’ Bosh ‘building a locamotive’

Monday, June 15th, 2009

If Chris Bosh can accomplish this task …

———-

Bigger and better
If you want to be the best, you have to do what the best do: they work really hard,” Bosh says after this day’s workout is over. “That’s why I’m doing this now. This is what I do. I want to be crazy about this to get better.

“I’m going to be in great shape, I’m going to be stronger. I’m thinking on down the road.”

———-

at 6-10, 250 … which would be the same weight as Pau Gasol, but on 2 less inches of height … there might not be a whole lot of people left in the NBA community who think that CB4 is somehow “too small” to play Center on a full-time basis for an elite level team.

It’s about increasing his Explosive Power, while retaining his maximum level of Agility & Quickness, relative to the position he’s asked to play.

An elite level male athlete’s years of Peak Performance usually occur somewhere in the range between 27-35, when he’s reached his optimal combination of physical, mental and emotional prowess, in conjunction with his maximal skill level, and then seeks to maintain that specific standard as long as possible.

This is going to be an interesting experiment to witness first-hand with CB4.

Original Sin, in Raptorville

Tuesday, June 2nd, 2009

Araujo pick set off chain reaction
I‘ve always considered the drafting of Rafael Araujo the Raptors’ original sin. It set off a chain reaction the team has never really recovered from.

Araujo, as every Raptors fan knows, was picked No.8 overall by Rob Babcock, who promised on draft night that the big Brazilian was “Not a stiff.”

Well, he was a stiff. One with small hands and short arms and – quite literally – no upside.

Missing at No.8 isn’t ordinarily the end of the world. It happens. And it says A LOT about the NBA that having the chance to pick the eighth – or in this year’s draft – the ninth best player in the world in a given year carries with it no certainty of success.

Tough league.

But the 2004 draft had its share of good players. One of them – Andre Iguodala – was taken ninth by the Philadelphia 76ers, as every Raptors fan knows.

Which is the problem: It’s not so much that Araujo was a bust, it’s that Iguodala represents exactly and – short of Kobe/LeBron/Wade – I mean exactly what the franchise needs.

He slashes. He defends other wings. He’s a one-man fastbreak. He’s a passable spot-up shooter. He’s very good playmaker and passer. He’s relatively affordable, at $12-million a year, which is pretty good value for a Tier 1A wing player in the NBA.

But you know all this.

Still, I’ve been thinking about Iguodala as I’ve [been] watching Mickael Pietrus with the Orlando Magic.

———-

In contrast, what this corner sees is that the specific time-line … i.e. Chain Reaction … for the de-evolution of the Raptors looks like this:

* Fired Glen Grunwald, Apr 1, 2004
* Hired Rob Babcock, Jun 7, 2004
* Drafted Rafael Araujo [No. 8], Jun 24 2004
* Hired Sam Mitchell, Jun 29, 2004
* Traded Vince Carter, Dec 17, 2004 [for exactly what, in return?]
* Fired Babcock, Jan 26, 2006
* Hired Bryan Colangelo, Feb 28, 2006
* Drafted Andrea Bargnani [No. 1], Jun 28, 2006
* Traded Charlie Villanueva for TJ Ford, Jul 1, 2006
* Traded for Carlos Delfino, Jun 15, 2007
* Signed Jason Kapono, Jul 11, 2007
* Traded TJ Ford & Rasho Nesterovic & No. 17 Draft Pick for Jermaine O’Neal & No. 41 Draft Pick, Jun 26, 2008
* Signed Hassan Adams, Jul 8, 2008
* Signed Roko Ukic, Jul 16, 2008
* Signed Will Solomon, Jul 28, 2008
* Bought out Jorge Garbajosa, Aug 10, 2008
* Fired Mitchell, Dec 3, 2008

33-49/.402, 14th place in the Eastern Conference

———-

April 1, 2004 [and, then, Dec 17] will live-on, in infamy … as a sort of very real, cruel JOKE … in the history of this franchise, purpetrated by Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment [MLSE, i.e. Richard Peddie & Larry Tanenbaum].