Category Archives: Raptor Raves

Bryan Colangelo’s iPod Playlist – Summer 2009

bc-ipodAfter a busy summer of wheeling and dealing, two time executive of the year, Bryan Colangelo can finally relax. He’s done his part, now all he can do is sit back and watch. I decided to take a little inspiration from this post Natalie over at Need4Sheed did and came up with a Bryan Colangelo “Summer of 2009” play list. As always, if you have tunes to add, do so in the comments and I will update the list with the good ones.

1. Poppin My Collar – Three 6 Mafia
2. Checkmate – Jadakiss
3. We Takin’ Over – DJ Khaled
4. Run This Town – Jay-Z ft. Kanye & Rihanna
5. Guess Who’s Back – Scarface ft. Jay-Z, Beanie Sigel
6. I’m A Hustla – Cassidy ft. Jay-Z
7. Hustlin’ – Rick Ross
8. Big Pimpin – Jay-Z
9. This Is Why I’m Hot – Mims
10. All Eyez On Me – Tupac Shakur
11. Back In The High Life Again – Steve Winwood
12. Some Guys Have All The Luck – Rod Stewart
13. Man Of The Hour – Pearl Jam
14. Victory – Biggie Smalls & Puff Daddy
15. No Body Does It Better – Carly Simon
16. Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop – Young Gunz
17. Smooth Criminal – Michael Jackson
18. I Won’t Back Down – Tom Petty
19. I Believe I Can Fly – R Kelly
20. If I Ruled The World – Nas

*Bonus Track* I’m Doing Me – Stephon Marbury

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Incoming: He’s Baaaack – Rasho Nesterovic

RASHOAction – The Toronto Raptors have signed Rasho Nesterovic to a 1 year deal worth approx. $1.9M
Reaction – LET’S NBA!

Note to readers: The name Rasho Nesterovic will always go hand in hand with the phrase “Let’s NBA!” If you don’t know why – This should explain it all. (Kudos to Lockdown from RealGM)

The Details: The whirlwind summer continues for Raptor fans. Bryan Colangelo kept the ball rolling by locking up Rasho Nesterovic for the 2009-10 season. This marks the 7th new addition to the team over the span of 2 months. The signing comes as no surprise as it wasn’t a matter of “if”,  more a when and for how long. Colangelo made it pretty clear at the Jarrett Jack press conference that his next goal was to bring back Rasho. Lucky for him, he was working with some leverage. Rasho is one of a growing number of players who WANTS to play in the great white north. He maintains his off-season home in Toronto and mentioned in almost every interview since he was traded that he never wanted to leave. Both sides seemed keen to get this deal done and the one year contract is a bonus. Once again, the mastermind of BC comes through – He gets the veteran he wants while maintaining flexibility for next summer

The Benefits: I liked the Rasho deal with the Spurs and I like it even better this time around. This move isn’t going to make headlines outside of Toronto, but Rasho brings to the table a lot of the intangibles that went missing last season. He is the definition of a “know your role” player. A perfect compliment to backup Bargnani at C – Doesn’t demand the ball on offense, rebounds well, can hit the occasional jumper and plays defence. My only concern would be having him and Evans on the floor at the same time as the front line on the second unit (hopefully won’t happen since Jay has shown a lot more competence with his rotations than the Smitch). As a Pacer, Nesterovic averaged 6.8ppg and 3.4rpg over 70 games but it’s not his numbers that make this signing a positive one. In his previous stint with the Raptors, he was a veteran presence in the locker room who served as a mentor for Bargnani. This time shouldn’t be any different. The stat sheet may be lacking but those aforementioned intangibles along with the ability to play one-on-one defense makes one believe this is another step to get the team back on track.

Looking Ahead: I love this deal for the team but it pretty much kills any chance of the team bringing back Pops Mensah-Bonsu. With only one roster spot remaining, it will likey be used on a wing player. Unless Pops was serious about his transformation, the list of probable players is a pretty short one which includes Carlos Delfino, Joey Graham or any available player that can be had for the league minimum. Personally, I would be perfectly OK if Colangelo stopped right now and left that spot available for possible tweaking during the season.

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Free Agency – Match me if you Can

matchme
Jarrett Jack: The Raptors addressed a major need earlier in the week by announcing the signing of Hedo Turkoglu but they didn’t stop there. Word came out over the weekend that the team has signed Jarrett Jack of the Indiana Pacers to an offer sheet for 4 years $20M. Though they have Jose Calderon signed long term as their primary PG, Jack would fill the role of backup while possessing the ability to slide over to the SG position when needed. He is a typical Colangelo guy – does a bit of everything. He would be a major upgrade for the team and though they have multiple players who can play the point, none seem to be candidates for the job over the course of a 82 game season. Indiana was already flirting with the tax limit and may be handcuffed at this point unable to match the offer. The Pacers did try the tandem PG strategy with Jack and TJ Ford (a scenario that had played out in Toronto previously with Ford & Calderon) and by seasons end Jack had won the starting spot. Going forward though, seeing that they have a ton of money tied up with Ford and Tinsley, it’s very unlikely they pony up the cash to keep Jack in Indiana.

Marcin Gortat: The Orlando Magic lost Hedo and gained Vince. Over the weekend they added another front court player in Brandon Bass. When the Mavericks signed Marcin Gortat to an offer sheet, all signs pointed to Orlando letting him walk. Over the weekend, rumblings were that Otis Smith has changed his tune and the team is now expected to match the Dallas offer. They will essentially be paying $6M per year for a guy who will remain in the shadows of Dwight Howard. My stance? FREE THE POLISH HAMMER! Gortat has been a project for the Magic and has slowly been developing under the tutelage of Patrick Ewing. Bottom line though, he will never get much playing time on that team, where as in Dallas he had the chance to be their starting center sending Dampier to the bench or out of Texas. From this Fanhouse interview it seems Gortat is actually bummed at the idea that Orlando wants to keep him and Dallas may have to turn to plan B.

Paul Millsap: The Utah Jazz are in a serious bind. They need to find a trade partner for Carlos Boozer which will then make it possible for them to match the offer sheet and retain the services of Millsap. They gave Okur a contract extension, but with Boozer picking up the option of his his final year @ $12.7M, they would have to go over the luxury tax to sign Millsap. The Blazers already got burned once in the free agent frenzy (See: Hedo Turkoglu) and are not taking chances this time around. Their offer sheet is structure to pay a signing bonus of $5.6M and most of the first years salary upfront. This means if Utah or any team would want to partake in this, they would have to sign over a check of roughly $10M right off the bat. The likelihood of that happening is slim with the times the way they are and this being the first major decision being made by the Miller family (who now run the Jazz since the passing of owner Larry Miller). The total amount for the contract on the offer sheet is 4 years $32M and unless the Jazz can find some trading partners real soon, it looks like Portland may have one more piece to their puzzle. Only problem is they are still lacking that play maker to play alongside Brandon Roy.

Other notable moves:

Grant Hill (Phoenix Suns) – After being courted by New York and Boston, Hill opted for the desert heat of Arizona. Phoenix gave him a chance to revive his career and repaid them by sticking around. The deal is said to be for $6M over 2 years with the second year being a player option.

Brandon Bass (Orlando Magic) – The Orlando Magic were oh so close, making it to the NBA finals in 2009 and adding a player like Brandon Bass is a great move for a team lacking a true PF. With Bass joining the team, Rashard Lewis can move over to his natural SF position. The deal is for 4 years worth $18M.

Antonio McDyess (San Antonio Spurs) – The Spurs are giving the Celtics a run for their money when it comes to sporting the “over 30” lineup. The addition of McDyess is a solid one for a team whose window is closing fast. The 3 year contract starts at the full MLE which should keep him in Black and silver for the remainder of his career barring a trade.

Channing Frye (Phoenix Suns) – The Suns seemed to be blowing this thing up but now with re-signing Hill and talks of a Nash contract extension, the plans may have been altered. Channing Frye was lost in the mix in Portland and will get more playing time here but he is not a game changer and neither is his new contract which is said to be for 2 years @ $2M /yr.

Anthony Parker (Cleveland Cavaliers) – One of the classiest guys in the NBA, as a Raptor fan I am saddened by his departure. The Cavaliers may have lost out in the Artest, Ariza sweepstakes but they landed a solid guy who may not partake in the pre-game antics with Lebron and co, but for 2 years @ $3M/yr,  he will bring it every night on both ends of the floor.

Dahntay Jones (Indiana Pacers) – He was playing for the Nuggets on the cheap, defended Kobe in the playoffs and now has landed himself a 4 yr $11M contract in Indiana. A tough loss, Jones had become the defensive go to guy for Denver and a fan favorite. He will get more playing time and an elevated role in Indy as he continues to develop his game.

Zaza Pachulia (Atlanta Hawks) – 4yrs $18M is what it took to keep ZaZa in the ATL. The Hawks signed him just a day after re-signing Bibby to a multi-year contact and it is widely rumored they will be doing the same for Marvin Williams in the upcoming days.

Anderson Varejao (Clevland Cavaliers) – It seems that everything that went wrong with their negotiations a couple years back is water under the bridge as the Cavaliers dished out big time to keep Andy in Cleveland. 6 year deal worth $50M – overpaying much?

Mehmet Okur (Utah Jazz) – With the possibilities of losing Millsap and trying to trade Boozer the Jazz wanted to take no chances with Okur it seems. The two parties agreed on a 2 yr contract extension worth approx. $21M.

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Inked: Andrea Bargnani – More Pasta for the Paisan

bargs-newdeal
With everything going on in Raptorland in the past 72 hours my head has been on a permanent spin cycle. Prior to all the Hedo hoopla, the Toronto Raptors agreed to keep Andrea Bargnani rolling in spaghetti by signing him to a five year, $50 million extension. The deal goes into effect for the 2010 season and from my understanding the final year is a player option. The contract is a safe signing where giving Bargnani a starting raise of $1.5 million over his current salary may prove to be a steal in the long run. Simultaneously, it also brings a sense of security to the front court, shoring up the Center and Small Forward position for the next 5 years. Along with point guard Jose Calderon (under contract through ’12-’13 season) and swing man rookie DeMar DeRozan, the team looks to be coming together as a strong contender in the Eastern Conference.

The Numbers
Upon hearing the news, the Internets went wild, most of the voices knocking the number for a yet to be proven guy. Sports fans tend to be hard to please when it comes to their team spending money. It’s a dammed if you do and dammed if you don’t situation. Its always a risk to give out these contracts (see: Jerome James) but if there is any man Raptor fans should trust right now its Bryan Colangelo. Looking at the NBA landscape the number is not as absurd as it sounds. Big men are a hot commodity and command a lot of money to start with, let alone a 7-footer with a definitive skill set. Fact is, Bargs was going to get paid eventually. A 7-footer who averaged nearly 20ppg on nearly 50% shooting post All-Star break. If he were to keep up that level of play next season and BC had waited to ink him, $10 million/season may not have be enough to keep his services in Toronto. I think Bargnani’s price goes up to $12 million/season if he repeats the success he had over the final 47 games of last season next year. Just looking at some of the recent contracts handed out to young bigs around the league – Andrew Bynum: 4 yrs @ $58M , Andrew Bogut: 5yrs @ $60M with $12M in incentives, Emeka Okafor: 6yrs @ $72M -Andrea’s extension is a much easier pill to swallow. It doesn’t necessarily mean he deserves the $50M or more $$ with continued growth in performance next season, but helps point out that if the Raptors weren’t willing to pay someone else would.

BC Knows Best
Even if some are okay with the numbers they are asking why now? With the economy the way it is and the cap and tax numbers expected to drop drastically, did Colangelo jump the gun? Part of this quick trigger move could be to defend the initial draft pick. Colangelo hedged his bets on Bargnani and has stood by his decision from day 1. Bargnani will always get every opportunity to succeed as long as Colangelo is the man pulling the strings. This move could also be looked as insurance for the club moving forward as Bosh, seems hesitant to sign an extension and commit long-term to the Raptors. If he does decide to bolt next summer the team will have a solid replacement in Bargnani, who probably is still best suited at the PF position. Then there is the “2010 sweepstakes” effect which may have come into play when making this decision. In 2010, a handful of teams are looking to make a splash in the FA market, Colangelo may have made this preemptive move to avoid risking losing Andrea to a team who may have come short in the 2010 lottery and choose to break the bank on a player like Bargnani. The final factor is the CB4 factor and is probably the most important at this point. Signing Andrea, Hedo and Jose long term is showing the commitment from the team and providing Bosh more reasons to want to stay. Knowing they will be fighting the odds next summer this move works best for all parties involved and there is no better time than the present when it comes to committing to winning.

Il Mago – The Future
Bargnani, the 1st overall pick in the 2006 NBA Draft, had an good rookie season but followed it up with a horrible sophomore slump. This past season, somewhere along the midway point (or closer to when Smitch was fired), Bargnani awoke. He averaged 19.1 points, 6 rebounds and 1.2 blocks per game with a .469 FG% and a .435 3PT% through the last 47 games of the season.  Those aren’t All-Star numbers, but they’re solid. He also managed to set career highs in almost every statistical category. Add in the fact that he’s 7 feet tall and only 23 years old, things are looking pretty good from my vantage point. The knock on him is the rebounding and defense but I will go on record saying his man defense is better than our current franchise player. He is still expanding his game and there is no question he has a ways to go. Adding a low post game is definitely on the to-do list this summer along with getting stronger to battle other bigs in the league. The rebounding is still a point of issue and I don’t think he will ever be a great rebounder due to the way he plays his position (outside in) but it is not out of the realm of possibility that next season we see him averaging 7+ rebounds – I can live with that.

All this said… if nothing else, we know Dolce & Gabbana is thrilled Andrea has $50Million more to keep him in custom suits for the foreseeable future.

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Raptor Rave – Air Canada DeThroned

Jason DeCrow/Associated Press

Jason DeCrow/Associated Press

With the 9th pick in the 2009 NBA draft the Toronto Raptors selected DeMar DeRozan.

Looking back at a sub-par draft track record, I think the team got it right this time. I haven’t been this happy with a Raptor draft pick since Chris Bosh and it’s only fitting going forward, a new category on HoH is created called “Raptor Rave”

It is no secret that since the departure of Vince Carter, the Raptors have been hurting at the wing position. The lack of scoring and a player who can create his own shot has been an ailment being treated by weak band-aids for temporary fixes. The selection of DeRozan finally gives the team a legitimate player who can develop into a version of the man they called Air Canada. On a day when the original Air Canada was sent home (traded to Orlando), DeMar comes into Toronto with a lot to live up to. Vince Carter put Toronto on the map, dunked his way to a max contract and whined his way out of town.

Coming out of a weak draft class, DeRozan has all the coveted attributes – Upside, Athleticism & Raw Potential. It will now be up to him to work through the summer, nurture his skills and come into the season vying for a starting job.

Shortly after being drafted, DeRozan hopped onto twitter and sent out this message: DeMar_DeRozanToronto here I come. Air Canadas back.

He may want to rethink using that name though, since the mention of it brings back a sour taste into the mouths of Raptor fans. I am all for someone taking over that nickname and putting Vince Carter in the past but it would be nice to give the kid a name of his own. With no Chuck Swirsky around, its up to the fans to come up with something before Matt Devlin comes up with a sorry ass nickname (see: J Killa).

Justin Walsh from Slam Online: Q&A with DeMar DeRozan
Raptors Republic: Linkage from 2009 NBA Draft