To counterbalance Camp Hope down in Chile, it’s only right to tag the Raptor’s camp as camp no-hope. But alas there doesn’t appear to be any chance that they’ll have to resort to cannibalism here either, though it would make for a strange, and intriguing dramatic arc, not soon forgotten. Let’s face it - if Jose’s hammy goes on him one more time, they could start by chopping off his leg, and eating it, if they had to. Yet, although they begin the season in a metaphorical pit, the choices will not end up being quite so stark. Jose actually looks to be on the verge of finding himself right back in the starting five, along with Reggie Evans. I’m not sure what it says when a team attempts to trade away a couple of players, and then when the transaction is bungled, the said two players are made into two-fifths of the starting lineup. In any case, as I expected, team B is where the real intrigue lies, and where I think the heart and soul of the future might be determined. We’ll have to wait and see, but I see the possibility of the bench bringing more of the defense that they are going to need to build around, rather than using the model inherent in the starting lineup, of splitting the difference unsatisfactorily between strengths and weaknesses on either end of the court. If there is hope it is sitting on the bench.
Looking at the pre-season match-ups so far, it might be possible to find hope in the ability to beat teams from city’s that start with Ph, sporting undersized frontcourts, and playing bench players a good amount of the time. Aside from the sure success that those situations will bring, we’re going to see a lot of the same things we saw before Colangelo’s arrival - a costly lack of interior size, a costly bit of deadwood that just never gets cleaned up in some areas, young kids developing in the raw, and a player or two looking to have a Mike James sort of career year at the expense of the kids’ development. The good news has to be that guys like Leandro and Linas are not anywhere near as insane as Mike James, there’s no questioning the smarts or work ethic of the kids here now, and the guy that would fill Eric Williams’ role as the disgruntled has been, has been shipped off to the Suns. But the similarity of the situation is still close enough to be a little deflating. Sing it Pumbaa - it’s the circle of suck.
And oddly, sucking is what I’m hoping for. It just seems to be the most feasible way to inject the necessary talent into this lineup, come around draft time, and I mean talent that doesn’t fall to even the middle of the lottery selections. At the same time, I will feel for some of those guys in red, if the necessary losses stack up just so. It would be nice to see Jarrett Jack in the playoffs dammit. I’d love to see results for my Jungians. If nothing else, Colangelo’s constant shuffling has allowed for a fresh cast of characters that can tug at the heartstrings in the same way as reality show contestants, or trapped miners. There will be fan favorites and guys that we want to see voted off the court. But I really hope that none of that amounts to much this time around, and that instead, regardless of results in the standings, they can work towards building a solid foundation for when that injection of talent arrives. To me, that is where all hope lies. Hoping for a couple of playoff dates is just misplaced. Let them make the jump for real a year from now, not return as reality show victims. I’d like to see nothing less than a continuous climb and never be face to face with the circle of suck again.
To get there with that foundation in place, they need to make this camp into camp Esperanto. It’s going to be all about communicating. They are going to need to be speaking the same universal language when it comes to modifying expectations, filling roles, and supporting each other through some rough patches. The coaching staff is going to need more than just an assortment of matching ties to make this season work out in some fashion, in being able to assure individual players that they will be lifted out of that hole eventually, and that hopefully they can continue to wear the same uniform in doing so.
Ah - but those uniforms turn out to be a bit of a problem in their own right. It would be nice to see some ugly players make an ugly situation work out for the best in the long run. But with that new light fabric? Too sexy. I’ve seen enough episodes of the Bold and the Beautiful, and enough Jeanne Beker, to see how these jerseys are so light as to not even sit upon the shoulders, but rather flit and hover above the shoulder blades as if to suggest that these men of great strength and athletic ability are wearing sporty little nighties from Victoria’s Secret. All they need is to go back to the short shorts and the whole messed-up picture will be complete. This mental image that has befallen my brain, threatens to make this season that much more challenging as a fan. I can only hope that through a stretch of expected losses, I’ll stop seeing Amir Johnson in lingerie, and start to see Tyra Banks come into the game for Marcus, Alessandro Ambrosio for Leandro, Dani Evans in place of Reggie, May Andersen rather than David, and Geena Davis where Ed previously appeared. The mind can play tricks in these difficult times. Some might be worth an ounce of esperanza.