Tag Archives: Toronto Raptors

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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Raptor Report: Heels on the Airwaves

radioI haven’t had a chance to put out my thoughts on the Jarrett Jack signing but plan to get to that sometime today. I did though, get a chance to be a guest on the Fan590 last night to talk about the Raptors.

Firstly, I would like to thank Zack Cooper (@ZCooperstown) for having me as a guest on his show. He was a great host and led me into the questions with ease. We got a chance to cover everything from Summer League to Jarrett Jack and his impact on Bosh staying past next season.

The segment aired while most of Toronto was asleep so for those who missed it you can listen to it right here. Please excuse my rookie mistakes – This is my first time doing anything of the sort. Gotta admit, I was nervous going into it but had a blast and hope to get an opportunity to do more of these in the future.

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Raptor Report – School’s out for the Summer

The Toronto Raptors were 1 of 22 teams who took part in Vegas Summer League this year and ended the week with a record of 3-2. The win-loss record holds little importance here with the focus put on learning a teams system. The Raptors had 4 players on the SL roster who are under contract for the 2009-2010 season and the games gave the coaches a chance to see how they have been developing and pinpoint what they need to work on for the rest of the summer. The rest of the roster was made up of hopefuls trying to snag a roster spot on this team or any other that was scouting at the tournament.

DDDeMar DeRozan – I said it all week long – this kid is “As Advertised” and possibly more.
From Kevin Arnovitz on True Hoop

DeMar DeRozan is far more polished than advertised. He uses his quickness to build his game. As Mike Moreau said in David Thorpe’s twitter thread, “Demar DeRozan really comes off the curl with speed, balance and elevation-very controlled. Will come off a decade’s worth of pindowns.” He also rarely takes a bad shot — uncommon among rookies and in Summer League, and particularly uncommon among rookies in Summer League.

Breaking down his game, its evident that 3 point shooting is not part of his repertoire as of yet and I am happy about that. He showed a very solid mid-range game with the ability to get a shot of quickly before the defense was set. Dunkin’ DeRozan didn’t forget to show off his hops during summer league but struggled when he was sent to the free throw line. He was able to make room for himself and get to the basket consistently but with maturity will come the ability to make quicker decisions on passing out from the post. I was pleasantly surprised with his ball handling but if he wants to be a starter in the league at the 2 guard spot that is another part of his game he can work on which will help him create better. Tim Floyd instilled defense into the minds of his players and DeMar has good foundation but it would be to his advantage to focus on this facet of his game for the rest of the summer. The Raptors have a glaring weakness and he needs to step up to the challenge. The team has been horrid at protecting the 3 point line and have a penchant for constantly being slow on their rotations. If this kid can work on his man D and team D, coach Jay Triano will find it hard to keep him off the floor.

After only a year in college, Raptor fans got a little glimpse of what this guy is going to be doing on the next level. DeRozan showed why he was picked 9th and by years end I believe he will prove to be the steal of the draft.

unibrowQuincy Douby – Quincy Douby has been putting in the work and it showed. Knowing he is comfortable with his jump shot, the coaches asked him to be more aggressive and drive to the basket. He did as they wished, resulting in frequent visits to the free throw line. Showing his determination to improve he received high praise from the staff after leading the team in scoring and assists over the 5 games.
In a recent interview with the SacBee, Douby gave a ton of praise to the Raptor coaching staff.

“I learned more during one 10-day contract from coach Triano than I did during my three years with the Kings,” said Douby
“I went through three coaches in three years there. With Toronto coach (Jay) Triano is showing faith in me, letting me play my game. I’m out here showing that I’m a player, and I’m going to continue to work and help the team in any way I can.”

What impressed me more than the 18ppg was the 3.8apg. Summer league is after all a showcase and most players want to get theirs, yet Douby was able to do that and make the others around him look good. With Jarrett Jack Toronto bound, Douby will most likely be filling a spot at the end of the bench as the 4th or 5th guard. Watching his performance over the past week gave me a bit of confidence. Incase of injury to any of the other guards, he will be able to step in and provide some instant offense and take on PG duties in a pinch. Defensively this guy isn’t gonna be stopping Chris Paul from getting to the basket but he will do a better job than Roko Ukic. I envision Douby to try and become an Eddie House type of guy and he needs to just keep working at it which should in turn get him 10 minutes of floor time every other game or so next season. If he manages to discover waxing and fixes those eyebrows I’ll tack on an extra 5 minutes of playing time per game… just saying.

rokoRoko Ukic – Thank BC for Jarrett Jack, because if Roko was the guy coming in for relief PG duty, I don’t think any of the other off-season moves would have been worth it. The kid has potential but it is still raw. He could develop into an exciting player but he seems to be developing at a snails pace.

Besides DeRozan, Roko is the guy I focused on during summer league and came away unimpressed to say the least. He needed to work on his jumper and 4 games into the tournament I still cringed every time he took one. The ball handling is there but he seems overly excited to be running an NBA team offense leading to an inexcusable amount of turnovers. He needs to slow it down, stop leaving his feet to make passes and make smarter decisions when he decides to drive the basket. Another thing… Whats with these Euro players dribbling with their head down? It drives me crazy when Bargnani does it and even more so when the guy leading the offense is doing it.

Considering going into the offseason, Ukic was the primary backup point guard, after just 4 games he was completely outplayed by Quincy Douby at that position. He has a long road ahead of him to develop into the guy people projected him to be. I wouldn’t be surprised if he is waived at some point before or during the season and is back playing ball in Europe next year.

pobPatrick O’Bryant – The knocks on this kid have been about commitment to put in the work and take direction. Personally, I rather his derriere be warming the Raptor bench next season over Will Soloman.

I’m going to keep telling myself that big guys take longer to develop and with the Raptors being desperate for size in the front court a 7 foot warm body can’t hurt. POB has a nice jumper but so do most of the bigs on this team. He needs to use his frame, get stronger on the boards and impose his will to become a reliant shot blocker. My advice would be to watch some Samuel Dalambert tapes and try to become that type of player.

Worst case scenario … Patrick O’Bryant = 6 fouls to give off the bench.

Rest of the Class (Notables)

Smush Parker: A guy who has been a round the block and then some, didn’t do much to impress me as he jacked up shot after shot. He has no chance of taking a spot on the Raptor roster that is already handcuffed with the untradeable contract of similar player Marcus Banks.

Brent Petway: Petway is an entertainer. Unfortunately, all the athleticism in the world can’t help him until he manages to do more on the floor beside provide a few highlights. He may want to look into Jamario Moons approach of making it and if he keeps at it I wouldn’t be surprised to find him on a NBA roster a few years down the road.

Ekene Ibekwe: This guy was my surprise on the Raptors roster. He had good instincts, moved the ball, active on the boards and shot a good percentage. All the skills are there in raw form and with more playing time in other leagues, he may have a chance to play on the big stage soon.

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Raptor Rant – Never Underestimate an Athletes Will to Win (Race to 50K)

cb4 V/S cv31

These are the dog days of summer when it comes to the NBA. You are trying to get excited about next season and summer league ball just isn’t cutting it.

Enter twitter…

I joined twitter about a year ago (@Nat77) and used it primarily to connect with other sports bloggers and fans. It was different from facebook because it lends itself to discussions. Slowly it began replacing my RSS reader and before I knew it I was addicted. Twitter has become a primary platform for athletes to connect with their fans and several athletes on twitter have echoed my sentiment, admitting the addiction.

Sometime last week, Charlie V(@cv31) challenged Chris Bosh(@chrisbosh) to see who could amass 50 thousand followers first. It’s not uncommon to see athletes conversing over twitter and this was a chance for fans to take part. The wager was that the loser would have to star in the winners video on Youtube. CV wanted Bosh to do the Shane Mercado and Bosh left it up to his “twitter army” to decide CV’s fate if he came out on the losing end of this. Bosh started off the challenge behind Charlie by about 2k followers but with the help of some major twitter spam, live chats and a entire country backing him – he managed to take the lead. The two started pulling out all the stops. Bosh pulled out the free stuff card and CV raised using the charity card.

This was all meant to be in good fun but at some point along the way it started to annoy the diehards. These guys were straight up begging – Charlie V even offered up $3100 worth of diamonds if he won! At any given time my entire twitter feed was taken over by the two, lost in the mix were tweets from people that were actually offering up intelligent material to ponder over. It came to a point I just wanted one of them to win quickly so my twitter could return back to normal. I found it amusing at times to see these athletes showing how bad they wanted to win even though this duel wasn’t going to be settled on a basketball court. No one likes to lose, especially two guys who play a sport for a living – winning is everything.

Late Tuesday night,  Bosh was down about 500 followers with under 1000 to go. It was the 4th quarter, it was go time and for a change Bosh came through in the clutch. He thanked his fans, CV gave him a virtual pat on the back and the world was spinning again.

In other news…

Lets NBA! – Trading away Jawai and Humphries suddenly left the Raptors lacking depth at the 5 spot. It has been widely rumored that the team is interested in bringing back Rasho Nesterovic using their bi-annual exception ($1.9M) Rasho has openly stated that he has always loved the city and the feeling is the team would welcome him back with open arms. The reunion will happen, the only question remains is – when?

Jacked Up – We are at the halfway point regarding the waiting period to see if the Pacers are going to match the offer sheet signed by Jarrett Jack to join the Raptors next season. Multiple sources have mentioned they don’t believe that Indiana is in a position to match but as we have seen this summer (See: Marcin Gortat) it ain’t over till the clock strikes 12. For what its worth, Bosh did have Jack as a guest on one of his live chats where the two spoke about Jack coming up to Toronto soon to find a place to stay – that is if bosh doesn’t plan to set up the bunk beds in his home. The two were roommates in college and from listening in on the chat, they seem to have maintained a solid friendship. I wanted the team to draft this guy in place of Joey Graham in 2005 and getting him now with the experience under his belt would be so much sweeter.

D Squared – The heir apparent in Toronto coming through “As Advertised” at NBA summer league. In 4 games, he has averaged 16.3PPG and 4.5RB (DD stats) He has been aggressive in all the games, his jump shot has been falling and aside from the production at the FT line, DeMar DeRozan is already proving to be just what this team needs. He has not shied away from having the ball in his hands in late game situations and the coaching staff have trusted him to make the correct decisions on the floor. With just 1 game left to go, he knows what he has to work on for the rest of the summer. There has been nothing but praise about this guy from the day he got drafted – check out this interview by Holly MacKenzie from the score – and we are still a few months from seeing him take the court in Toronto, but I believe this rookie will be in ROY conversations by mid January.

Delfino – $5 million? Apparently that’s what its going to take to get the former Raptor to return to the ACC. News came out yesterday that he was offered $4million a season and he was none to thrilled by that number. Personally, $4 million is still too much for a guy who didn’t show us enough the first time around and I would be hesitant to bet the bank on him. Sure he fills in some of the leaky spots in the rotation but I would much rather have Jack split time at the 1 and 2 and sign a Matt Barnes or Linus Klieza to fill the holes at the backup 3 spot. Either way we probably wont see any movement on this issue until the Jarrett Jack deal is finalized.

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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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