Solving the Riddle in Raptorville, in advance

December 11, 2008

Regular readers of this space already know that the Raptors should not have:

* Traded Rasho Nesterovic [PF/C], TJ Ford [PG], Maceo Baston [PF] and the 2008 No. 17 [overall] Draft Pick to the Pacers in exchange for Jermaine O’Neal [PF/C] and the 2008 No. 41 [overall] Draft Pick;

* Bought out the contract of Jorge Garbajosa [PF/SF/C];

* Failed to re-sign Carlos Delfino [SF/OG/PG];

* Signed Roko Ukic, as their back-up PG;

* Signed Will Solomon, as their insurance 3rd-string PG; and,

* Signed Hassan Adams, as their reserve Wing Player;

as it put their team in a highly vulnerable situation for this season, whereby, they:

* Are Over the Salary Cap;

* Are only $1,100 below the Luxury Tax Threshold; and,

* Only have a 13-man roster, in a league with a 15-player limit.

——————————————

What even these regular readers might not realize, however, is THIS CORNER’S:

* Antipathy towards the countless Woulda, Shoulda,  Coulda’s that are articulated by others, for the most, in hindsight only, after-the-fact;

* Focus on:

  • Learning … from What’s Happened Before;
  • Awareness & Appreciation for the Here & Now; and,
  • Providing a Legitimate Prescription for Future Success, Short and Long Term.

In this regard, here is some of what’s appeared in this space, about the Raptors’ situation, this season, once their present roster was finalized this summer, given the strengths and weaknesses of the 13 players on their team.

* Raptors’ line-up … tough enough [or not] [Sep 08]
* Toronto Raptors’ Best 5-Man Unit [Sep 11]
* First good news out of Raptors’ camp [Oct 01]
* Second good news out of Raptors’ camp [Oct 02]

——————————————-

Now …

* After losing to the Lakers, in Los Angeles
* Getting embarassed by the Nuggets, in Denver
* Firing their head coach, Sam Mitchell
* Losing miserably to the Jazz, in Utah
* Getting nipped at the wire by the Blazers, at home, and
* Getting hammered by the Cavaliers, in Cleveland

Here’s what the Raptors’ rotation was last night:

Raptors

1

2

3

4

5

+/-

1st Q

Starters

Calderon

Kapono

Moon

Bosh

O’Neal

-2

Sub 1

 

 

 

Bargnani

Bosh

0

Sub 2

 

 

 

Graham

 

+6

Sub 3

 

 

 

 

O’Neal

0

Sub 4

Ukic

 

 

 

 

0

Sub 5

 

Solomon

 

 

 

 

2nd Q

Sub 6

 

 

Graham

Bargnani

 

-4

Sub 7

Calderon

Kapono

Bargnani

Bosh

O’Neal

+2

Sub 8

 

 

Moon

 

 

+7

Sub 9

 

 

 

Graham

Bosh

0

Sub 10

 

 

 

 

Bargnani

 

3rd Q

Sub 11

 

 

 

Bosh

O’Neal

+4

Sub 12

 

 

Graham

Bargnani

Bosh

-4

Sub 13

 

 

 

 

O’Neal

 

Sub 14

Ukic

 

 

 

 

 

Sub 15

 

Kapono

 

 

 

+2

4th Q

 

 

 

 

 

 

-1

Sub 16

Calderon

 

 

 

 

 

Sub 17

 

 

 

Bosh

 

 

Sub 18

 

 

 

Bargnani

Bosh

+3

Sub 19

 

 

Moon

Bosh

O’Neal

-5

Sub 20

 

Moon

Graham

 

 

+3

Sub 21

Ukic

Solomon

Adams

Bargnani

 

 

Which, in turn, reveals the following things:

1. Calderon, Kapono & Moon … can, ideed, be a Solid Threesome for this team, with JC as the Facilitator, JK as the Designated Shooter & JM as the Designated Defender/Rebounder.

2. Calderon, Moon & Graham … can, indeed, be a solid Closing Group that makes the Raptors into a “bigger” Rebounding and Defensive team, especially, in combination with O’Neal/Bargnani [at #4/PF] and Bosh [at #5/C].

3. When the Raptors do NOT make the mistake of playing Anthony Parker + Jason Kapono together with Jose Calderon … and, especially, in conjunction with Andrea Bargani … then, they can, indeed, be an effective team, in terms of Rebounding, Team Defense & Shared Team Offense.

4. When the Raptors do NOT use Bargnani at the #3/SF position … or, at least, use him there as little as possible … then, they can, indeed, be something other than an atrocious defensive team, especially in transition.

——————————————–

Once Kris Humphries and Anthony Parker return to good health, if the Raptors use them in the proper way …

i.e. with Parker as their back-up #1-2/PG-OG and Humphries as their Starting #4/PF …

within the parameters of what’s written here … re: #1, #2, #3 and #4, above, and the suggested rotations … there is every reason to believe that this team should be able to qualify for the Eastern Conference Playoffs this season.

———————–

The answer to the riddle is always to be found in the original source material.

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Key early season games for the Raptors: Part II

December 9, 2008

On Oct 03, this corner of the blogosphere identified for you two key stretches of games this season for the Toronto Raptors:

1. The first 6 on the schedule;
2. The set of 15 from Nov 30 to Dec 27; and,

said the very real possibility exists that this team, with its roster as is, might in serious jeopardy of missing the playoffs entirely, despite the fact others [i.e. NBA observers and the team’s general fanbase] were considering it to be a “legit contender” for a spot in the Eastern Conference Finals this spring … based, primarily, on their off-season acquisition of a former 6-time League All-Star, Jermaine O’Neal [C].

In addition, a variety of different W-L scenarios were developed that explained just how this possibility might come to fruition this season for the Raptors, a team most NBA observers had put into the up-and-coming category, based on their Atlantic Division Title, 2 seasons ago, and their 2nd consecutive appearance in the EC Playoffs last year.

Key early season games for the Raptors

Should the Raptors happen to lose this evening, to the Cavaliers, in Cleveland, a likely scenario … considering they are +11.5 point underdogs … this would then give the Dinos a rather inauspicious 8-12 [.400] W-L record at the 20-game mark of the regular season schedule [i.e. approximately at the 1/4 pole of the NBA’s Playoff Race].

While the Raptors were able to get out to a quick start, winning their first 3 match-ups, they eventually finished that initial stretch of key games with a 4-2 mark. 

October Opponent Result
 Wed 29 [#1]   @ Philadelphia   W 95-84, 1-0
 Fri 31 [#2]  vs Golden State   W 112-108, 2-0
November Opponent Result
 Sat 01 [#3]  @ Milwaukee   W 91-87, 3-0
 Wed 05 [#4]  vs Detroit *   L 93-100, 3-1
 Fri 07 [#5]  @ Atlanta *   L 92-110, 3-2
 Sun 09 [#6]  @ Charlotte   W 89-79, 4-2
 Mon 10  @ Boston *   L 87-94, 4-3
 Wed 12  vs Philadelphia   L 96-106, 4-4
 Sun 16  vs Miami   W 107-96, 5-4
 Tue 18  @ Orlando *   L 90-103, 5-5
 Wed 19  @ Miami   W 101-95, 6-5
 Fri 21  vs New Jersey *   L 127-129, 6-6
 Sun 23  vs Boston *   L 103-118, 6-7
 Wed 26  vs Charlotte   W 93-86, 7-7
 Fri 28  vs Atlanta *   W 93-88, 8-7

—————————–
* Indicates game against a plus .500 Opponent
—————————–

That said …

it’s the 2nd stretch of key games … several of which fit into the winnable category [i.e. against less-than-stellar opponents] … that might prove to be the Raptors undoing this season:

November Opponent Result
 Sun 30 [#1]  @ LA Lakers *   L 99-112, 8-8
December Opponent Result
 Tue 02 [#2]  @ Denver *   L 93-132, 8-9
 Fri 05 [#3]  @ Utah *   L 87-114, 8-10
 Sun 07 [#4]  vs Portland *   L 97-98, 8-11
 Tue 09 [#5]   @ Cleveland *   ? [L-?]
 Wed 10 [#6]  vs Indiana   ?
 Fri 12 [#7]  @ New Jersey *   ? [L-?]
 Sun 14 [#8]  vs New Orleans *   ?
 Mon 15 [#9]  vs New Jersey *   ?
 Wed 17 [#10]  vs Dallas *   ?
 Fri 19 [#11]  @ Oklahoma City   ?
 Sat 20 [#12]  @ San Antonio *   ? [L-?]
 Mon 22 [#13]  @ LA Clippers   ?
 Fri 26 [#14]  @ Sacramento   ?
 Sat 27 [#15]  @ Portland *   ? [L-?]

Survive this 2nd set of 15 games … under the direction of their new head coach, Jay Triano … for example, with a humble 6-9 W-L record … and the 2008-2009 season remains salvagable for Toronto.

Fail to capitalize on the winnable games in this set, though, and the Raptors might just be better off … from a long term development standpoint … focusing their efforts [under Bryan Colangelo, President/GM] on, How exactly to get into the NBA’s Draft Lottery Again, without really trying to, as they did during the 2005-2006 season, under the direction of their vilified former GM, Rob Babcock.

Bryan Colangelo, unplugged [Dec 08]

December 9, 2008

“The answer to the riddle is found in the original source material.”
khandor

As a Raptors fan, you need to Listen to the whole thing.

Of Scorpions, frogs, GM’s and coaches [April 30, 2008]

Nothing more and nothing less than THAT.

The Raptors’ in-bounds play vs Portland

December 8, 2008

Given how the Raptors deployed their chess pieces …

What set Inbounds Play was Toronto trying to run yesterday during its final possession of the game vs Portland?

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

Here’s the best read this corner has to offer:

Initial Player Alignment

PG/#1 – Jose Calderon [vs Blake] – Left Baseline Corner
OG/#2 – Anthony Parker [vs Roy] – Left FTL Extended
SF/#3 – Jason Kapono [vs Outlaw] – Inbound Passer, Right Sideline
PF/#4 – Chris Bosh [vs Aldridge] – Left Elbow
C/#5 – Jermaine O’Neal [vs Oden] – Right Elbow

First Offensive Action

* Parker was to cut above Bosh and O’Neal [who were to set stationary Staggered  Screens at the Elbows], in order to free himself in the Right Wing/Corner [outside the 3PT-line], to receive the 1st Pass from Kapono.

If Aldridge tried to Switch this screen, Bosh was to Dive toward the Right Low Post position for a direct entry pass from Kapono.

Second Offensive Action

* Kapono was to step in-bounds; then cut hard to his left, above O’Neal and Bosh [who were to set Staggered Back-screens], in order to free himself in the Top Of The Key area [outside of the 3PT-line, to receive a Flare Pass [the 2nd Pass in the sequence] from Parker.

* O’Neal was to set his Back-screen then Dive hard toward the basket.

If the defense tried to Switch this screen, O’Neal should have been open Slipping toward the basket.

* Bosh was to set his Back-screen, then step out beyond the 3PT-line as a potential pass recipient, if Parker was not able to pass the ball to either Kapono [for the 3PT-shot] or O’Neal [for the Layup inside].

If the defense tried to Switch this screen, Bosh was to Slip towards the basket, as well, in the wake of O’Neal’s into the lane.

* If Bosh received the pass from Parker, on the perimeter, he was to attack the basket towards the middle of the floor with his strong hand drive.

[Option I] If there was no Help coming off [A] Kapono [spotting up at the Left FTL Extended] or [B] Calderon [spotting up in the Left Corner], he was to [i] get to the hoop vs his defender, or [ii] get fouled on his drive.

[Option II]  If there was Help coming off either Kapono or Calderon, Bosh was to “Drive & Kick” to either of his two open teammates for the uncontested 3PT-shot.

* If all three passes of these passes were Hard Denied, Parker was to drive against his solo defender, in a 1-V-1 isolation play from the Right Wing/Corner. 

——————————————————-

What did the Blazers do to disrupt the play?

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

First Defensive Action

* Travis Outlaw Sagged Off Kapono toward the Right Corner, denying an easy pass to that area on the floor.

Second Defensive Action

* Aldridge stayed with Bosh; held him, and prevented him from diving into the Right Low Post. 

Third Defensive Action

* As Parker cut above the first set of Staggered Screens, Oden Sagged Off from O’Neal to deter the easy pass from Kapono.

Given the Blazers’ First, Second & Third Defensive Actions vs this set play, Jason Kapono … remembering the difficulty the Raptors had inbounding the ball successfully against New Jersey, in a similar scenario two weeks ago … made the first available “safe” pass he could see, which was a direct entry to Jermaine O’Neal [stepping towards the ball].

For his part, O’Neal immediately recognized that the original play had been broken; quickly found and then got the ball to Bosh [the Raptors “best player”], at the Top Of The Key, and took his own defender away from the ball [by diving into the Right Low Post position].

For his part, when Bosh got the ball from O’Neal, he quickly recognized the situation and drove the ball towards the Left side of the floor, vs Aldridge [in a favourable match-up for the Raptors], using his strong hand.

For his part, Aldridge made a good defensive play, initially, by tipping the ball away from Bosh, when he changed hands with his dribble [beyond the 3PT-line], going from Left-to-Right; and, then defending CB4 by moving his feet, not reaching in, and not fouling Bosh, on his drive toward the basket. 

For his part, Blake did a solid job, Hedging in from the Left Corner vs Bosh’s drive to the basket, while remaining in a good position to still Close-out hard vs Calderon, if Bosh had tried to pass the ball to the Raptors’ PG.

THE Answer for the Pistons

December 8, 2008

Whether Michael Curry, Joe Dumars or Allen Iverson like it or not … the Detroit Pistons will only become the 2nd best team in the Eastern Conference, again this season, if they eventually come to the following realization about their team’s mix of players:

#1. PG – Stuckey [should be playing 30+ MPG]
#2. OG – Rip [should be playing 30+ MPG]
#3. SF – Prince [back-up back-up PG, should be playing 30+ MPG]
#4. PF – Maxiell/Johnson/McDyess
#5. C – Sheed
=========
#6. OG/PG – Iverson [ala The Micro-wave]
#7. SF – Afflalo
#8. PF – McDyess/Maxiell/Johnson
#9. C – Brown
=========
#10. SF – Herrmann
#11. PF/C – Johnson/Maxiel/Brown
=========
#12. PG – Bynum [4th string]

Although their best Group-Of-5 does not include Mr. Iverson, if he’s used corrrectly, off the bench …

for high intensity spot duty, in relief of Stuckey or Rip, ala Vinnie Johnson [from yesteryear], as the 3rd Guard in the rotation, behind Zeke & Little Jo, who could really fill it up whenever he’s in the game; but, is nowhere nearly good enough defensively or in terms of rebounding, at this stage of his career, to justify [i] receiving major minutes on this team, or [ii] the holding back of Stuckey, in general, at the PG spot … 

then, the Pistons still have what it takes to regain their perch beside the Celtics.

——————————

How he handles this situation, from here on in, is the first significant test of Michael Curry’s leadership with the Pistons.

GAME REVIEW: Raptors vs Blazers [Dec 07]

December 8, 2008

The Raptors main problem this season is not going to be solved by the unjustifiable firing of Sam Mitchell.

FINAL SCORE: Raptors 97, Balzers 98
Game Info

48 Rebounds for the Blazers … with 18 of those coming at the Offensive end.

31 Rebounds for the Raptors …  with only 4 Offensive Recaptures.

That is everything you really truly need to know about the way in which this game was lost, from the home team’s perspective.

Adding Jermaine O’Neal [and Nathan Jawai, C, out indefinitely with a heart condition] this summer, at a salary of $21 Million/per, was the wrong move for this team to make. Period.

Until the Raptors address the glaring deficiencies they have in their current roster, which include …

* No credible back-up PG [outside of Anthony Parker, who they refuse to play at this spot]

* No credible back-up C [outside of Jermaine O’Neal, of course, who they refuse to play at that spot … because of the $$$ they are paying him; and, possibly, Andrea Bargnani, who they also refuse to play at that spot … because he is the former No. 1 Selection from the 2006 NBA Draft]

* No credible back-up OG [outside of Jamario Moon, who they refuse to play at that spot … despite the fact he has improved his shooting noticably this season: [i] FGM-A/% = 42-90/46.7%; [ii] 3FGM-A/% = 12-33/36.4; [iii] LS-FGM-A/% 14-21/66.7% [LS = from outside the lane on the Left-hand side of the floor]; and, [iv] LS-3FGM-A/% = 6-9/66.7%]

related to the domino effect of that transaction, they are going to lose a slew of games like this, this season.

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

re: the Raptors’ Defense and Rebounding on the Blazers’ final two possessions

2nd Last Possession

* Parker did a solid job on Brandon Roy
* Chris Bosh did a solid job coming to help, providing a shot-blocking presence [he may have actually blocked the shot] in arears of AP [which was a necessary rotation given the move which Roy attempted to make]
* O’Neal did a solid job “Middling” LaMarcus Aldridge and Greg Oden, i.e. the two players he was responsible for defending in that specific situation
* Unfortunately the ball was tipped and ended up deflecting to Oden
* O’Neal recovered well and challenged the shot by Oden, forcing a miss
* Because of their initial defense on the drive by Roy, neither Parker nor Bosh were able to establish solid inside position, vs Roy & Aldridge, respectively, and the ball was tipped out to Fernadez on the perimeter [Joey Graham was in the key attempting to rebound as well]

Last Possession

* The error Jose Calderon made was not forcing Blake to penetrate inside the arc for the pull-up J … but, given the time & score and the way he contested that Final shot, the inidividual D he played was acceptable.

Steve Blake hit a tough shot, off the bounce [with the benefit of an offensive foul that wasn’t called, to give the Blazers the lead; but, the Raptors still had more than enough time left to win the game.

————

Unfortunately, the Raptors then ran an in-bounds play poorly and lost the game instead; something which happens every day/night, in the NBA.

Time to move on … because they are going to have their hands full in Cleveland. 😦

A modern day Anthony …

December 8, 2008

… Mason, is the Heat’s Canadian Jo-el.

Thick, strong and agile, he can compete effectively at multiple positions in the NBA, and should now be able to carve out for himself a relatively long and fruitful NBA career.

The best part?

Miami Heat Center Anthony coming out of his shell
“I don’t need any type of signature. I just want wins. People will hear about me if I continue to get better.”
Joel Anthony

Good to know that Pat Riley hasn’t lost his touch, when it comes to assessing NBA talent with a keen eye.

As long as Miami can avoid a re-occurrence of the injury bug-a-boo which befell D-Wade two seasons ago, it should be a short time only before the Heat are once again legit playoff contenders in the EC.

Respect for tellers of truths

December 8, 2008

This corner of the net has a great deal of R.E.S.P.E.C.T. for Jeff Van Gundy, as a person, a basketball coach and a NBA analyst.

“Hey, listen … that’s truth telling, right there … whether you like to hear the message or not. If Doc Rivers is always the one having to tell the truth, you will not be a championship team. Kevin Garnett risked being a truth-teller … maybe, at the expense of a friendship, right away,  I respect that about Kevin Garnett. I respect it about Paul Pierce.”
Jeff Van Gundy

——————–

Amen, bro. 🙂

What is really going on here: Part II

December 5, 2008

Mandatory viewing for each and every Raptors fan …

[Dec 4 2008/post-practice]

Be sure to “listen” to the entire thing.

——————————————

According to this corner of the blogosphere …

Sam Mitchell hadn’t lost Chris Bosh …

[Dec 2 2008/post-game]

nor, Jose Calderon …

[Dec 2 2008/post-game]

nor, Jermaine O’Neal …

[Dec 2 2008/post-game]

… when he was fired by the Toronto Raptors [Wed Dec 3 2008].

This locker room was embarassed … by the lack of effort put forth against the Denver Nuggets … but, these three players had no desire whatsoever to see their head coach fired, 17 games into the 2008-2009 regular season, with a 8-9 W-L record … and the current roster of players. 

——————————————-

If anyone would care to explain the integrated Plan of Action they see in place with the Toronto Raptors, since Feb/2006, when the current President/GM was hired by MLSE, yours truly would be overjoyed to read about it in the comments section below … as, to these eyes, it does not seem as though there’s been one, when reviewing the following list of transactions:

2006
* Kris Humphries acquired in exchange for Hoffa Araujo
* Rasho Nesterovic acquired in exchange for Matt Bonner + Eric Williams
* Maurizio Gherardini [Assistant GM] is added 
* Marc Eversley [Manager of Basketball Operations] is added

2006-2007
* Mike James [UFA] is not re-signed
* TJ Ford acquired for Charlie Villanueva
* Andrea Bargnani drafted [1st Round/No. 1 Overall]
* PJ Tucker drafted [2nd Round]
* Anthony Parker signed [UFA]
* Jorge Garbajosa signed [UFA]
* Fred Jones signed [UFA]
* Darrick Martin signed [UFA]
* Dave Hopla [Shooting Coach] is added
* Juan Dixon is acquired in exchange for Fred Jones [Portland]
* Luke Jackson is signed [UFA]
* Luke Jackson is released
* Sam Mitchell receives a 4 year contract extension
* Dave Hopla leaves
* Jim Todd [Assistant Coach] leaves
* Masai Ujuri [Director of International Scouting] is added

2007-2008
* Morris Peterson [UFA] is not re-signed
* Jason Kapono is signed [UFA]
* Carlos Delfino is acquired in exchange for two future 2nd Round Draft Picks
* Maceo Baston is signed [UFA]
* Mike Evans [Assistant Coach] is added
* Mark Hughes [Assistant/Development Coach] is added
* Jamario Moon is signed [UFA]
* John Lucas [Assistant coach] is added
* Primoz Brezec [Detroit] is acquired in exchange for Juan Dixon
* Linton Johnson is signed [UFA]
* Linton Johnson is released

2008
* Darrick Martin is not re-signed
* Jermaine O’Neal is acquired in exchange for TJ Ford + Rasho Nesterovic + Maceo Baston + flip-flop of 2008 Draft Picks [i.e. Pacers get No. 17/Roy Hibbert;  Raptors get No. 41/Nathan Jawai]
* Carlos Delfino [UFA] is not re-signed
* Hassan Adams is signed [UFA]
* Will Solomon is signed [UFA]
* Roko Ukic is signed [former draft pick]
* Jorge Garbajosa is bought out [contract off the books for the 2009-2010 season]
* John Lucas leaves
* Gord Herbert [Assistant Coach] is added
* Sam Mitchell, head coach, is fired [Dec 3 2008]
* Jay Triano [former Assistant Coach] appointed interim Head Coach [Dec 3 2008]

Wait a second … what’s really going on here

December 4, 2008

What to make of the Raptors’ decision yesterday to relieve Sam Mitchell of his coaching duties?

———-

Well …

First.

This whole business that …

Sam Mitchell was somehow never Bryan Colangelo’s CHOICE to run the Raptors’ team …

* Smitch is Out, Bring Back the Cursing

… is completely false.

The simple FACTS are these:

1. Sam Mitchell was the Raptors’ head coach when Bryan Colangelo was hired as the Team’s GM [Feb 2006].
2. At the conclusion of the 2006-2007 season Sam Mitchell was voted the NBA COTY Award.
3. During the summer of 2007, Bryan Colangelo CHOSE to re-sign Sam Mitchell [to a multi-year contract worth millions of dollars] as HIS coach for the Toronto Raptors.
4. Approximately 18 months later, on Wednesday, Dec 03 2008, Bryan Colangelo relieved Sam Mitchell of his coaching duties with the Raptors.

———-

Second.

A list of sights and sounds observed, thus far, by yours truly, regarding the explanation of events provided by Bryan Colangelo:

Part A – From the individual Conference Calls of Bryan Colangelo and Jay Triano with the Toronto media on Wednesday afternoon

* Sam Mitchell was a good coach for the Raptors during his 5 seasons with the Raptors.
* Sam Mitchell is a highly intelligent basketball person, who understands the ins and the outs of the NBA game and was well-paid to coach the Toronto Raptors.
* There comes a time when a change is needed in the lead voice within a NBA team’s locker room.
* Sam Mitchell has always had a good relationship with the players he’s coached, who have always seemed to play hard for him, save for specific periods, so far, this season.
* The feeling still exists within the Raptors’ basketball brain-trust that this collection of 13 players is the “most talented” team put together yet by Bryan Colangelo.
* There’s an expectation that this team, as is, is under-performing.
* There’s an awareness that this team, as is, has a flawed roster.
* There’s a belief that this team, as is, has not been playing its best players enough.
* There’s a belief that certain players were not being put in specific situations offensively to maximize their abilities to help this team perform at a level which is consistent with its perceived talent-base.
* There’s a strong belief in the ability of Jose Calderon, as the PG for this team.
* There’s a belief that Jermaine O’Neal has shown, in a period of 5 or 6 games, so far this season, that he has what the Raptors’ basketball brain-trust was looking for when they traded for him this summer, i.e. 16 pts, 9-10 rebounds and 1-2 blocked shots per game.
* There’s a belief that this team should be “running” in offensive transition [and scoring] more consistently than it has been, to this point, this season.
* There’s a belief that the players on this team have a strong belief in one another.
* Jay Triano is the new coach for the Raptors, at least, until the end of the current season, at which time he will have an opportunity to be named the permanent head coach, along with any other candidates who might be available at that time.

Part B – From the Raptors’ Official Website

* The events of Wednesday do not coincide yet with the specifics of what this observer saw and listened to in the post-game interviews from Tuesday’s debacle vs the Nuggets:

I. re: Sam Mitchell II. re: Jermaine O’Neal III. re: Jose Calderon and IV. re: Bosh

“Cause, as you know, I played in the League. Mike Evans played in the League. Alex English played in the League. You know, at the end of the day, coach’s coach, but the players go play. You’ve got to out and compete every second you’re on the court.”
Sam Mitchell [former Head Coach, Toronto Raptors]

… which is most intriguing.

————

Third.

John Hollinger’s take on the situation … which has considerable merit.

———-

Fourth.

The exact timing of this decision yesterday [early Wednesday afternoon] … of all days, when there was a “players only” meeting scheduled for the morning, in place of a regular practice session between games, that followed the post-game “players only” meeting  … is a key to understanding, in part, some of what is still insidiously wrong/corrupt with MLSE, and the way in which this organization chooses to conduct its pro sports related business.

Trust that this corner will be seeing and listening intently over the next little while to the words and the quotes which come directly from the different parties involved in this decision, made abruptly yesterday … to decipher accurately what it means for this franchise, short and long term, going forward from here.

—–

To wit:

Analysis: Mitchell firing not a surprise
This team’s a lot better than an 8-9 record,” Colangelo said during a late afternoon teleconference. “Despite the criticism of this roster, this is a roster that was put together on a consensus basis…you might look back at last season, and the games, a series of games, where we underachieved. Expectations were high.”

—–

* Did that 2nd “players only” meeting happen Wednesday morning?
* Did it happen prior to this decision being made?
* Or, did that 2nd meeting not take place at all?
* If it did … Who exactly was running this team, at that moment, when Sam Mitchell was relieved of his coaching duties with the Raptors, from amongst this specific group of players?
* And, if it did … To whom is that person[s] reporting?
* What was really accomplished by making this move yesterday?

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When dealing with an entity like MLSE, and a most intelligent person, like Bryan Colangelo, know that it’s an elaborate Game of Chess … and, Every Move Must Have A Purpose.

Part of the fun, therein, lies … with trying to figure out what that purpose actually is.