Posts Tagged ‘MLSE’

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?

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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.

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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.

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Third.

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

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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.

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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.

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Deciphering the correct code for the Raptors

December 3, 2008

FINAL SCORE: Raptors 93, Nuggets 132
Game Info

Jeez-louise … that one was ugly.

Three points to make.

1. The person responsible for the Raptors’ current situation is not Sam Mitchell, the team’s head coach … it is Bryan Colangelo, the team’s President/GM, who has made the decisions which have led this franchise dangerously close to “Treadmill Status” [right now], something that was relatively easy to see as a likely predicament for this group of players since this past summer, at least, for those who have not been drinking of the Kool-Aid from MLSE.

It’s not necessary to re-hash that long list again, is it?

[Let’s hope not. 🙂 ]

The 2nd-3rd week of December is approaching quickly, and the FACT IS … the man has a history of changing head coaches during this first part of the regular season, if/when there’s a need for a scapegoat to be found to explain the sorry plight of a team which he has been responsible for constructing in the first place.

Will he do it again this year?

Hmmm …

For the sake of the Raptors’ long term goal, which should be trying to eventually bring a NBA Championship to the City of Toronto, let’s hope not.

2. That said …

There are some individuals in this world who are positive thinkers … despite what certain others might have to say about them and their ideas, which can sometimes be complex and difficult to understand, especially at first glance … and incapable of ever accepting a No-win Situation, for what it appears to be, on the surface. These individuals, IN FACT, are properly characterized as out-of-the-box-thinkers who have learned the lessons well of Sun Tzu, and knowing both themselves and their opponent, at all times, are able to “Make chicken out of chicken salad”, on a regular basis, because it’s who they happen to be and what they happen to do in this world. Different strokes for different folks.

Finding THE WAY OUT for this year’s team is akin to the classic “trap scenario” involved with the single room, two doors [one which leads to eventual escape and salvation; the other which leads to death and damnation], two gate-keepers, one who always tells the truth and the other who always tells a lie; and, the single question which you, as the solo game player, must be able to ask correctly, of either gate-keeper, in order to choose the one RIGHT door, without knowing in advance which keeper is the truth-teller and which is the falsemaster.

i.e. All the pieces to the puzzle have been laid out in front of you already; what you have to do is decipher them correctly. Once the answer to the riddle has been told to you, it makes perfect sense. It is not earth-shaking, in any sense. It is simple “common” sense; which really isn’t common at all, at least, not until everyone IN FACT has it “in common” with each other, which unfortunately not all do in this topsy turvy world. Still, if you think it through carefully, there is nothing preventing you, or anyone else for that matter, from arriving at THE correct answer for yourself. One of the keys? “See” and “listen” very carefully, as “Looking” and “Hearing” alone, won’t get you very far. The answer to the riddle is always to be found in the original source material. Sorta like THE pudding and THE eating. 😉

When a team’s roster of players looks like this:

Calderon, Parker, Bargnani, Bosh, O’Neal
Ukic, Kapono, Moon, Graham, Humphries
Solomon, Adams, Jawai

a coach who is incapable of negotiating his way through the labyrinth correctly SHOULD NOT be held accountable for failing to be an out-of-the-box-thinker, in the first place …

as the simple FACT IS … relatively speaking, few men/women are, including the President/GM responsible for the operation of the Toronto Raptors.

3. There are some NBA observers who actually do know what they’re talking about when it comes to understanding, both, the League, in general, and the Raptors, specifically. If you wish to disregard what they have to say, on a regular basis, that’s your decision to make.

Complex, out-of-the-box-thinking is not everyone’s preferred method of operation.

GAME REVIEW: Raptors at Lakers [Nov 30]

December 1, 2008

When you read other reports today that detail the Raptors’ loss to the Lakers, pay close attention to which ones focus on the ineffective play of Chris Bosh and the absence of Jermaine O’Neal …

FINAL SCORE: Raptors 99, LAKERS 112
Game Info

as the principal reasons for the eventual L, and which ones do not.

Yes, Chris Bosh, the Raptors’ best player, had a sub-standard performance [i.e. 36:54/MP; 4-13/FGM-A; 3-4/FTM-A; 12 Pts; 6 Rebs; 3 Ast; 1 St; 4 To]; and, yes, Jermaine O’Neal was missing from their line-up.

However, these are NOT the main reasons the Raptors lost yesterday’s game.

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Beginning at the 10:00 mark of the 4th Q, in what was then a 6-Pt contest, this is the specific sequence of Possession Outcomes which determined the eventual outcome.

PositionLAKERS—-vs—-Raptors
PG/1——Farmar———-Ukic
OG/2——Vujacic———-Kapono
SF/3——Ariza————Moon
PF/4——Odom———–Graham
C/5——-Bynum———–Bosh

LAL 90, Tor 84

#1. LAK Poss 1 – Vujacic beats Kapono off the bounce; Makes twisting Layup slicing between Moon & Graham … LAL 92, Tor 84
#2. RAP Poss 1 – Graham Misses a Pull-up Jumpshot
#3. LAK Poss 2 – Odom fouled while posting-up vs Graham
#4. LAK Poss 3 – TO [Ariza]; Steal by Bosh
#5. RAP Poss 2 – TO [Ukic]
#6. LAK Poss 4 – Farmar Misses Jumpshot [vs Ukic]; Team Rebound to LAL
#7. LAK Poss 5 – Ariza Makes Turn-around Jumpshot/hook vs Moon … LAL 94, Tor 84 
#8. RAP Poss 3 – Ukic Misses Jumpshot
#9. LAK Poss 6 – Bynum Makes Dunk on lob pass; Bosh helping vs Odom [fronted by Graham] … LAL 96, Tor 84 
#10. RAP Poss 4 – Graham Makes Layup vs Farmar … LAL 96, Tor 86
#11. LAK Poss 7 – Ariza Makes Jumpshot vs poor switch by Moon [with Graham] on the ‘Post-Split’ action … LAL 98, Tor 86
#12. RAP Poss 5 – Graham Missed Turn-arond Jumpshot/Layup vs Odom
#13. LAK Poss 8 – Bynum Makes Dunk + fouled on rejected Pick & Roll with Farmar; Graham late arriving with weak side help [coming off Odom] … LAL 101, Tor 86

07:26 mark of the 4th Q … Calderon replaces Ukic; Bargnani replaces Graham

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What should you have noticed from these 13 possessions?

In General:

* The Lakers were able to generate 2 extra possesions. One, when Odom was fouled, in the Low Post by Graham; and, two, from their Team Rebound.

* The Lakers were too quick, athletic and physical for the Raptors to handle [which ultimately resulted in a decisive Rebounding edge over the course of the entire game, i.e. Total Rebounds: LAL 54, Tor 36].

Specifically:

#1. Jason Kapono is an inferior NBA athlete, in comparison with Sasha Vujacic.
#2. Graham’s strength is not his Pull-up Jumpshot. As a perimter player, Graham is effective when he can ‘Catch & Shoot’.
#3. Odom vs Graham, in the post, is a mis-match [despite the fact that Odom picked up an offensive foul earlier in the quarter, in this situation]. Graham should not be defending Odom.
#4. Bosh is a capable Post defender … when he uses his quickness.
#5. Ukic is an inexperienced PG who sometimes makes poor decisions with the ball.
#6. Ukic is a solid NBA athlete at the #1-spot. The Lakers size & athleticism is difficult for the Raptors to handle … especially with Kapono [too slow vs Vujacic] and Moon [too weak vs Ariza] and Graham [under-sized vs Odom] on the floor together … the Raptors have difficulty gaining possession of loose balls.
#7. Ariza is too strong for Moon to handle on the block. Moon needs to check Vujacic. Graham needs to Ariza. Humphries needs to check Odom.
#8. Kapono cannot dribble the ball vs Vujacic. Ukic is a poor perimter shooter.
#9. Graham should NOT be checking Odom.
#10. Graham is a solid Low Post option for the Raptors.
#11. Moon is not a strong enough player to check Ariza.
#12. Graham is a solid Low Post Option for the Raptors. Odom, however, is too big for him.
#13. Bynum is among the VERY BEST ‘Aerial Finishers’ in the NBA. Graham should not be cheking Odom. 🙂 Graham should be checking Ariza, with  Moon checking Vujacic, and Humphries in the game, checking Odom.

At this point in the regular season … with these two player rosters assembled by their respective GMs:

* The Lakers are 14-1 and poised to amass 70+ wins; as forecast by this corner last season, prior to their predicted loss in the 2008 NBA Finals;

while,

* The Raptors are 8-8, on pace to put up approximately 40 wins; and, in all likelihood, finish in the middle of the pack in the Eastern Conference.

Despite a less-than-stellar performance yesterday by the Dinos, the signs are there, however, that this group of players [at these positions] …

Starters
1/Calderon + 2/Moon [3] + 3/Graham + 4/Humphries + 5/Bosh

Key Bench Subs
1-2/Parker + 4/Bargnani [3]

Situational Subs
1/Ukic, 2/Kapono [3], 5/O’Neal [or a different veteran Big]

either [i] without JO altogether, or [ii] with him in a decreased role …

has the capacity to become a solid contender for a playoff spot in the EC, down-the-road, if those responsible for running the basketball operation at MLSE, in fact, [A] know what they’re doing, and can [B] begin to make the best use possible of the resources at-hand [i.e. current players & draft picks, plus coaches].  

In the NBA … every organization has access to a similar set of ingredients. What separates the performance of one from another is the manner in which their Head Chefs choose to combine those ingredients in their recipe.

“The proof of the pudding is in the eating.”
Anonymous

Long time passing

November 23, 2008

If this most recent bit of news is, indeed, accurate …

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Time running out on MLSE’s Peddie

The winds of change are blowing at Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment Ltd., and Richard Peddie soon may be swept out the door.

The change involving Peddie may not necessarily have anything to do with the impending hiring of Brian Burke as president and general manager of the Leafs — maybe as soon as late this week — but it’s likely. And Peddie likely is on his way out at the end of the season.

Peddie has been under fire for failed sporting decisions — primarily the hiring of Rob Babcock and John Ferguson as inexpensive and inexperienced general managers for the Raptors and the Maple Leafs — and has been put on notice with a changing and more aggressive board of directors. And while he has clung to the job on the basis of the financial strength of the company, there are those who look at failed television networks and other problems within MLSEL and figure the time is right for change.

This won’t happen quickly. Peddie has been a marvellous survivor, but time is running out.

THIS AND THAT

Name to know: Erol Uzermeri, the newest board member of MLSEL, and unlike his fellow Teachers’ Pension Plan flag wavers, isn’t happy just to get a parking pass and dinner at the directors’ lounge. He, not chairman Larry Tanenbaum or Peddie, is considered the power broker on the board and not interested in the status quo …

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then it’s a godsend for the dedicated and beleaguered fanbase of the Maple Leafs and the Raptors.

An unequivical Halleluiah! … should be the Word of the Day, in Raptorville & Leafs’ Nation, if this specific action ever comes to pass, and a coronation ceremony planned for Erol Uzermeri, should he truly be able to clean house at the very top of MLSE.  

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Oh, when will THEY … ever learn?

Pistons stay the course … with a new head coach

August 13, 2008

Thus far, there’s a lot this corner likes about one Michael Curry, new head coach of the Detroit Pistons.

Courtesy of True Blue Pistons, Curry gets a positive vibe from Kwame Brown

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“What I was hoping for with him and what I got is that he didn’t use anything as an excuse,” Curry said of the most significant off-season addition to the Pistons’ roster, the 6-foot-11, 270-pound veteran big man signed as a free agent. “He put it all upon himself. He didn’t use the way the coach used him or injuries or being young when he came in the league – none of that.

“He took responsibility for himself and, really, once he did that, for me it was easy. That’s one of the biggest things – to get athletes to hold themselves accountable. Whether he did that when he was 18 or 19 – I’m pretty sure I was mature at 18 or 19, but I wouldn’t have been ready to be thrown into a No. 1 pick or right into the NBA and handle that kind of responsibility. Whether he acknowledged responsibility at that time didn’t really matter to me. The fact that now he does is the only thing I want to judge him on.”

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Other Detroit Piston Information from this Off-Season

When the Raptors changed directions with their team, dating back to Feb/2006 and the hiring of Bryan Colangelo (GM), one of the options they had at the time, was to hire Michael Curry, as a young Assistant GM, to work extensively with Wayne Embry (Interim GM) for a period of time and, eventually, to assume full control of the Basketball Operations, on behalf of MLSE, for the franchise in Toronto.

Had this happened, back then, it would have been intriguing to see how the on and off-court development of the Raptors might have been effected and, possibly, be in a different position than it is today (i.e. better off or worse).

A former (and highly effective role) player in the NBA, one-time President of the NBAPA, former Vice President of Player Development for the NBDL, and former Assistant Coach for the Pistons, with a Masters Degree from Virginia Commonwealth University, Michael Curry has the type of diversified basketball background it takes to eventually become a solid head coach in the NBA (in the mold of men like Pat Riley, Phil Jackson, and Gregg Popovich).

Time will tell … if Joe Dumars (Pistons GM) has Struck ‘Gold’, once again, or if this latest coaching move is simply ‘Strike Two’.

The next step for the Toronto Raptors

July 1, 2008

The problem with the Raptors, as constituted, isn’t with the make-up of their current team.

A top flight coaching staff could win 50+ regular season games with their team during the 2008-2009 season – given the fact that their Pythagorean Win Projection Numbers from last season indicate 49.28-50.71 W’s for next year – with a bunch of qualifiers thrown in for good measure (e.g. all key players remain relatively injury free) … using some form of the following line-up:

STARTERS
#1. PG-1 Calderon
#2. OG-1 Kapono
#3. SF-1 Moon
#4. Big-1 Bosh
#5. Big-2 O’Neal

KEY SUBS
#6. PG-2/OG-2 Parker
#7. SF-2 Graham
#8. Big-3 Bargnani (SF-3)

BENCH
#9. Big-4 Humphries
#10. PG-3 Ukic
#11. Big-5 Jawai
#12. OG-3/SF-4 TBD-? (free agent)

RESERVES
#13. ?
#14. ?
#15. ?

That’s the core of a solid NBA team, if coached and/or managed properly.

Potential Problems?

1) Is the Raptors’ personnel going to be used like that this season?

2) Does Bryan Colangelo (GM) know what a great head coach looks like?

3) Is MLSE prepared to pay the price to sign a top flight head coach to run their team, if Sam Mitchell struggles, in this regard?

4) Is MLSE prepared to pay the price to sign the players it takes to fill out roster spots #12-15 properly? (like the Boston Celtics did in 2007-2008, possibly exceeding the Luxury Tax)

5) What is going to happen if/when Calderon, Bosh or O’Neal suffers a serious injury?

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The specific answers to these five questions will begin to crystalize as the summer Free Agent Signing Period kicks-off today and the Raptors’ Management Team settles on their player roster heading towards training camp in the fall.

THE problem at Bay Street & Lakeshore Blvd

April 7, 2008

The Leafs and the Raptors are owned & operated by Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment (MLSE).

Why the Leafs stink
God hates the blue and white — it’s that belief which binds together all those who call themselves citizens of Leafs Nation. On talk radio, in chat rooms, and in sports bars across the country (but mainly in southern Ontario) they share the misery of loving a team that does not give back. Not ever. Their bond is galvanized by the common struggle against forces beyond their control, and by the knowledge that they are hated (vehemently) by fans in Montreal, Calgary, Vancouver and beyond. It’s that sense of grievance and isolation that, in the absence of anything real to celebrate, holds them all together.

The only problem with all this talk of curses is that there are perfectly logical reasons for the Leafs’ legacy of failure. The fact that the Toronto Maple Leafs are a bad hockey club is the inevitable by-product of the laws of economics. Their mediocrity is a design flaw, and it comes down to this: for any business to thrive, it must be obsessively focused on victory. Success must yield powerful benefits and failure must unleash harsh consequences. In the world’s greatest market for pro hockey, that cost/benefit equation doesn’t exist. A gusher of wealth, regardless of performance, has begat 40 years of infighting, a culture of laxity, and a refusal to admit the problem. The Leafs are a monopoly business that has been corrupted by its own market power.
It’s not a curse. It’s far, far worse.

Mandatory reading for each & every one of their fans … who owe it to themselves to digest the whole article.