Archive for July, 2007

And You Thought Joey Crawford Was Bad…

Okay, this is about as bad as it gets for the NBA. If it all ends up to be true, Tim Donaghy (the ref who is being investigated for betting on games and trying to influence the spread) is going to be in a heap of trouble. The NBA is in a heap of trouble. Irony is doing extremely well, as Team USA is currently working out in Las Vegas.

The first problem (outside of the obvious) I had with this story when it broke is that the name of the ref was not initally released. I am not sure why, but it took a while before the name came out. Let’s turn the tables on this. If this were a player, I can almost guarantee that his name would have been attached to the story before it went to print. Seems like a bit of a double standard to me.

The thing we will all start doing is trying to go back in our heads and think of moments when we thought the refs may have had significant influence over a game. Honestly, there are tons of those games. There are some real egos in the NBA officials ranks, so that is a fruitless procedure. But I know what any good Raptor fan is going to do next. You’re going to wonder if Tim Donaghy was on the floor for any of the Raptors playoff games. Yes, he was. He was there for Game 6, which the Raptors lost by a point.

Now, before anybody even starts thinking of saying that Tim Donaghy may have had an impact on the Raptors loss that night or the series overall (he only appeared in that one game), we can’t forget how poorly the Raptors played. They could have had all of the refs on their side, trying to work things in their favour and they still would have lost. They just weren’t ready.

So let’s examine David Stern. There is no way he could have known about Tim Donaghy and his gambling on NBA games. I say this because if there is one thing David Stern is, it is calculated. He wouldn’t want something like this hanging over him or the league, knowing that it would one day come out and he would have to answer why the guy was still on the floor. He wouldn’t want to be caught with egg on his face. That being said, it has been reported that people in NBA circles knew that Tim Donaghy was having all sorts of problems, from harassing people to gambling. So why wasn’t any action taken? Why wasn’t he watched a bit more closely or monitored through a league assistance program?

Anyway, this whole situation just makes you think about all of the times players have complained about refs in the NBA. I doubt there are other refs betting on games, especially ones they are involved in, but who knows?

See ya MoPete…

Well, it has officially come to an end. MoPete is no longer a Raptor. MoPete will be wearing one of the worst unis in the league next season as a Hornet. This is a sad day for me (and should be for every Raptors fan out there). I have already commented on it, but it hurt seeing Kapono holding up a #24 jersey the other day in his press conference. Couldn’t they have just had him hold up the front of the jersey until MoPete had signed somewhere else? Couldn’t that have been the last bit of respect they paid him? I dunno…

MoPete was a class act his whole time in Toronto, even down to when he wasn’t getting playing time. He never disrupted the team and was a team guy to the core. We will never see circus shots like his again.

Anyway, I hope MoPete continues to have great success in the NBA and that he has a real impact on the Hornets. They couldn’t have picked up a better guy. Click here to see a great compilation of some of MoPete’s better plays.

I’m gonna go down an MGD in honour of MoPete.

I’ve seen two Maceos in concert…

I’ve seen two Maceos in concert. Maceo Parker, one of the hardest, most important and tightest funk musicians ever…and Maceo Baston, the underwhelming former Raptor. I got thrown out of the Maceo Parker concert I went to (we won’t get into details, but let’s just say it was a complete misunderstanding between me, some dude looking for a fight and an overzealous bouncer) and wished I had been able to see the rest of the concert. I stayed for the whole game I saw when Maceo Baston was part of the Raptors…I wished I hadn’t. It was at the end of a season full of injuries and to see Maceo out there trying to stop the leaks on the floor was painful. It was like walking into a rainstorm with only a newspaper to keep yourself dry.

Anyway, the Raptors have signed Maceo Baston to an offer sheet, numbers were not disclosed (that seems to be a common term lately), but I have heard it will be around 2 years and just under $4 million. The Pacers have 15 days to match the offer, but I would be surprised if they did.

I am NOT a Maceo hater. I actually think he’s a good player. Considering his NBA career has only allowed him an average of 8 minutes per game, it is tough to really get a sense of what he’s all about and I don’t think he was used effectively when he was in Toronto. Regarding his college days, his NBA bio says, “He finished his career at the University of Michigan as one of only two Wolverines (along with Roy Tarpley) with over 1,300 points, 800 rebounds and 100 blocked shots in his career…in Michigan record books, he ranked first in career field goal percentage (.652), fourth in career blocked shots, eighth in career rebounds and 19th in scoring…he missed only six games in four seasons…he had 15 double-doubles and led the team in rebounding 48 times.” But we all know how much emphasis I put on college numbers…not much.

So where do we go to get a good sense of M-A-C-E-O…MACEO!!! (sorry, taken from Maceo Parker)? We go to Europe where he has been a solid player, playing with a few teams, but most importantly, playing with AP for Tel Aviv (maybe there is something to be said about the Anthony Parker – Maceo Parker same last name, cosmos lining up kind of thing, but probably not). He won Euroleague titles with Tel Aviv in 2004 and 2005. In his first season with Tel Aviv, he averaged 14.3 ppg, 6.0 rpg and 1.64 bpg, while shooting nearly 71% (185-261) from the field in Premier League competition. That’s right, 71%. That is not a typo.

While he is a skilled dunker, what cannot be lost is his defending ability. He can get up and down the court well, which means that while he is an offensive presence, he will not get caught down the floor. He gets back down the court and will come out of nowhere to block shots. If there is one thing you can say about his D, it is that he is constantly active (kind of reminds me a bit of MoPete and Boris Diaw). Now THIS is more of a signing that looks like it will be something the Raptors need…but what will that mean for the other guys on the team?

Gatorade Graham. Dude, things just got a bit murky in Raptorland for you. Maceo always plays bigger than he is listed, although I still think he isn’t at his best when having to defend bigger guys. Then again, GG isn’t so great at defending bigger OR SMALLER guys on a lot of nights. Tough to say what is going to happen here, but if I am Gatorade Graham, I’m not going to be rolling out the welcome mat for Maceo.

Overall, I like this signing. Maceo is a quality player and a good locker room guy, so he will be a good fit. Looking forward to seeing him back if the offer doesn’t get matched.

Half Moon Half Amazing?

This could be the point where Bryan Colangelo really shows us how we are just mere mortals and he is some sort of basketball God. This is where he says, hey, you think my Kapono signing was strange? Well, wait until you get a load of this.

The Raptors have signed Jamario Moon of the CBA’s Albany Patroons (the what?) to a 2-year contract. Moon had 18.8 points and 7.5 rebounds last season in the CBA. Those numbers sound pretty good, don’t they? Well, he also averaged 2 steals per game and was second in the league with 2.4 blocks. Well, this just keeps getting better. He was also named Defensive Player of the Year and was fifth in 3-point percentage (.401). First team All-Star too.

Moon has played everywhere you can imagine. CBA, D-League, USBL, ABA, WBA, you name it. Apparently, he isn’t the brightest guy in the world as he received a scholarship to Mississippi State, but didn’t qualify academically. He was also suspended from his Community College team after 12 games.

Okay, so those numbers are impressive. But there has to be a reason this guy has kicked around so long in so many leagues without being picked up by anyone in the NBA. Could it be that he has just taken this long to develop into an NBA-ready player? Is it that he has played in so many different places, that when he finally got his shot at the NBA (well, he did have a shot in pre-draft camp in 2001…so let’s say “another” shot) he just busted his hump, let all the talent out and flat out earned a spot?

Let’s take a look at his strengths. He’s athletic, can get to the rim, has rebounding ability and can play D. Decent size at 6’8″ and around 200 lbs. It seems he has managed to get some previous character issues resolved and is ready to be a solid contributor (he has even called out teammates whom he did not think had the desire to win…).

I think this might be one of those signings where later on, people will be wondering why nobody took a chance on Jamario Moon, but I am just a little nervous that this guy has been putting up good stats for so long and didn’t get a sniff. It looks like he is going to be the slasher/wingman the Raptors have been looking for or at least he is going to be the guy they hope can fill that position. He has all of the tools, but transferring them onto the court in the NBA is a different story.

No financial terms were released on his contract, but realistically, they probably signed him for a few ham sandwiches. Two years with a league minimum of just over $400K would probably be low, so maybe two years and $750K per? I don’t know, just a total shot in the dark. A completely uninformed shot in the dark.

I’m hoping this works out for everyone.

See ya Norma…

Okay, strange as it may seem for me to say, I am actually a bit ambivalent about Norma Wick leaving the Raptors broadcasts. While she definitely wasn’t one of my favourites on television, on the radio, she seemed like a completely different person. But besides that, I don’t think anybody could really make a strong argument that Norma doesn’t know her basketball. She does. As I have mentioned before, if you’re a woman and you’re in a position like she was on national television in sports, you probably know your game pretty well.

The important thing here is that the Raptors broadcasts are losing an important female voice, a voice that I think is necessary if the Raptors are going to be the focal point of trying to build the game in Canada. We have all seen some of the women who have been put in sports broadcasts in meaningless positions (hello sideline reporters) or on highlight shows who just are not in their element (um…hello Jennifer Hedger). So when you have a woman who actually understands the game and has interesting things to say, it’s too bad that they have to go.

But as I said, I don’t think Norma’s strengths were well conveyed on television. Thankfully, there weren’t any halftime interviews with Jim Todd last season, because those were downright painful.

Anyway, as we like to say on RF, “See ya _____.” This time, Norma, it’s your turn to fill in the blank. Best of luck.

Great, another 3-point guy…

Well, the Raptors have dipped into free agency and picked up Jason Kapono from the Miami Heat on a 4 year deal. A few beat guys had talked about this one coming through, so good on them for picking up on it. I’m just not sure if this is the kind of guy I think the Raptors need right now.

The one thing that almost everybody knows the Raptors need is a guy who can attack the basket, a forward who can knock down an outside shot, but is more comfortable taking it to the rim with aggression. Jason Kapono is not that guy. Is he a good player? Yes. But I am a little nervous about a guy whose career field goal percentage is lower than his 3-point percentage. There could be an argument made that while he is first in 3-point percentage, that he ranks 43rd in the league in 3-pointers made, suggesting that he takes good looks and doesn’t force the issue, but in the end, I’m not looking for Kapono to dunk on anybody.

Once Daequan Cook was taken in Thursday’s draft, I had a feeling Kapono might be coming this way, because that selection showed that Miami wasn’t going to be throwing any cash to keep Kapono around. I still wasn’t sure if he was going to be coming to Toronto, because while his style of play may actually suit what the Raptors are doing, I didn’t think he was really the piece they needed.

Outside of his not really being a guy who can attack the basket, there’s another big problem with his game. The dude can’t play defense. He would what an announcer would call a “defensive liability”. I’ve seen guys blow by him like he was stapled to the ground and he knack for looking over his shoulder to see what play he just missed kind of reminds me of that look Hoffa used to have in the middle of the lane (did you hear that the Jazz may be offering him a deal? WHA?). The Raptors need some defensive work, which includes rebounding and that isn’t going to come from Kapono.

On a good note, hopefully, having a serious 3-point threat will create some more room for Bosh and Andrea down low (note: “Andrea” and “down low” are not commonly seen next to each other, we’re hoping this will change). Also, there’s nothing better to start (or stop) a rally than a 3-pointer. If there was ever a final nail in the coffin for MoPete, this would be it. Heartbreak in Toronto on Canada Day.

So at this point, the Raptors have picked up Delfino (after a lot of thought, I’m 50-50 on that one), Kapono (I’m also 50-50 on that one) and some Greek God, Giorgos Printezis. Now let’s quickly talk about Printezis. To put it out dead straight, I have never seen him play. Not even a YouTube clip. But I have read some different stuff about him, which may or may not equate to anything. That being said, from what I have read, the kid can play some D and likes to attack the rim. Let’s not harp on the fact that he looks like a bad night at Palazzo (circa 1993…click here to see what I am talking about), he sounds like the kind of young talent the Raptors need.

So…um…do the Raptors like Americans anymore?