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Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: Living in a van down by the river
Daily Raptor Dish - 03.12.10
Positive sign for Raps' Davis
Thunder's Russell Westbrook raises his game to elite level
So far, so good for Ed Davis.
The Raptors rookie big man reported no soreness, knee or otherwise, the day after making his long-awaited NBA debut.
Davis said he felt like the game against the Washington Wizards lasted a lot longer than he expected — the team’s season-high first quarter and halftime point totals likely had something to do with that — but otherwise didn’t feel much different than what he was used to.
Davis said he expected to get in for 10-15 minutes but the blowout margin allowed him to play 24.
Raptors head coach Jay Triano said Davis looked tired at a couple of points, but overall was quite pleased with his performance.
Though Amir Johnson tweaked his left ankle in the first minute of Wednesday’s game, he remained in and later said he was fine. Still, with Reggie Evans sidelined for about eight weeks, Davis will be seeing more action.
The lanky lefty’s debut was remarkably similar to that of the player he is expected to one day replace in the starting lineup — Chris Bosh.
Davis and Bosh both had 11 points and two blocks in 24 minutes in their first games as a Raptor and Davis outrebounded Bosh six-to-four.
The rookie said he expects to earn time by not trying to do anything fancy or out of his norm.
“I just have to go out there and play hard, do what I do and not play out of my character, Davis said.
“(Triano) said when I got (back from his knee injury) just rebound and block shots.”
The one-time Atlantic Coast Conference leader in blocked shots showed very well in those regards on Day 1.
Now he must prove he can do it consistently.
RAPTOR GAME DAY
Raptors assistant coach P.J. Carlesimo, who was the Thunder’s head coach when Westbrook was selected No. 4 overall in 2008, heaped praise on Thunder general manager Sam Presti and his staff after the Raptors practised on Wednesday afternoon.
“We looked at a lot of people that year, it was a good draft,” Carlesimo said.
“I don’t think there was any question he’d be a very good player, but those guys deserved the credit, they thought he was going to be very special.”
Indeed, while many league execs questioned whether Westbrook was just another athletic “tweener” — a player caught between two positions, unable to master either — Presti and Co. looked past the fact that Westbrook did not have a ton of hands-on experience running a team of his own.
UCLA, once a renowned big-man factory (think Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Bill Walton) has become the NBA’s premier point guard producer.
Westbrook was forced out of the floor general role at UCLA tanks to Darren Collison, who has gone on to become an emerging NBA force himself.
Once just an exciting athlete who could lock down his man and get to the rim at ease, Westbrook has revealed that he is a fine distributor and has even added a smooth jumper to his arsenal. In fact, many of his shots down the stretch against New jersey were jumpers.
Toronto swingman DeMar DeRozan — from nearby Compton — is very aware of what makes Westbrook special.
“He breaks down defences, he can kick the ball out and that’s what makes it tough (to guard him),” DeRozan said.
“He’s a handful,” echoed Carlesimo in explaining the difficulty of trying to build a game plan against the lightning quick guard.
“He’s an exceptional rebounder, good in transition, can pass the ball, (dangerous on the) pick and roll, (and has) a jump shot now.”
Still, DeRozan, who has a better feeling for Westbrook’s game than most since he has been playing with and against Westbrook “since I can remember,” is surprised at how far the old friend he calls “the most childish, goofy dude you’ve ever seen,” has come.
“I can’t explain it, it’s crazy, he’s one of the top three exciting point guards to watch.” DeRozan said.
“I swear, 12th grade, he couldn’t dunk … he was barely dunking. He wasn’t doing nothing he’s doing now.”
Now, young Westbrook is doing everything.
Raptors warned as lockout looms
OKLAHOMA CITY at TORONTO
Air Canada Centre
TIPOFF: 7 p.m.
TV: TSN2 RADIO: FAN590
Toronto: Jose Calderon, DeMar DeRozan, Sonny Weems, Andrea Bargnani, Amir Johnson
Oklahoma City: Russell Westbrook, Thabo Sefolosha, Jeff Green, Serge Ibaka, Nenad Krstic.
Calderon vs. Westbrook
Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook is having an all-star season and emerging as one of the best the game. Tough matchup for Jose Calderon — or any NBA point guard, for that matter — because he scores in a variety of ways.
NEED TO KNOW
All-star forward Kevin Durant sat out Oklahoma’s triple-overtime win over New jersey on Wednesday with a sore knee and is being listed as day-to-day. … Raps are 1-3 all-time vs. Thunder since the franchise moved from Seattle. … Peja Stojakovic will miss his third straight game with swelling in his knee. … Raptor assistant coach P.J. Carlesimo is an ex-head coach of both the Thunder and their Seattle predecessors.
Tanenbaum won’t sell minority stake in MLSE
“Times are really shaky as far as attendance, and it has to be a very careful process,” said Stojakovic. “It’s a great, great league and commissioner Stern has really made out of this an unbelievable thing.
“It’s now in every living room in every country; it’s an amazing league and hopefully they can find an agreement before any lockout. And maybe if they do lock out, I’m very confident they won’t jeopardize the season.”
Thursday’s meeting with the Raptors was just a typical information session from the players’ association as talks continue towards what’s seen as a pivotal session around the NBA all-star break in February.
But with all the doom and gloom scenarios being floated, the players knew what to expect: Don’t be crazy spendthrifts.
“I think you have to be careful (with your money) . . . and take care of yourself,” said Raptors guard Jose Calderon. “The last time there was a lockout, it was four months or 40 per cent of the salaries so you have to think of that just in case.
“Hopefully, it’s not like that but everybody has to be ready for that and the guys who were in the last lockout, they can teach the young guys just in case there’s no money coming in.”
For some of the younger players, there’s a well-founded sense of financial calm.
“I’m just trying to save up and prepare for the worst,” said DeRozan. “I don’t spend that much money anyway — some video games and stuff like that and I’m good.”
Teachers want $1.5-billion for its MLSE stake
“Larry’s goal has always been to gain control if he could, eventually,” said one source familiar with Tanenbaum’s past intentions. “The real question now is if the company has got too big for him to get control.”
The company has grown from the Leafs, the old Maple Leaf Gardens and a minor pro hockey team to a corporate juggernaut with the addition of the Raptors, Toronto FC soccer club, a new arena, three television channels and a major condo development.
The source added that Tanenbaum, chief executive of Kilmer Van Nostrand Ltd., will need a “complimentary partner” or partners to bid on the pension plan’s interest in MLSE.
Kilmer which owned the country’s biggest road paving company before selling it in 2006, has significant investments in sports related entities and charitable gaming ranging from Score Media, the NHL Network and World Fishing Network to Plaza Gaming and Entertainment.
The Star reported earlier this week that the Teachers plan, the biggest single profession pension plan in Canada, is seeking about $1.3 billion for its interest in MLSE.
“He (Tanenbaum) is in a quandary,” said the source. “If he had resolved it, everyone would have known about it by now.”
“If Teachers were to ever do anything, they’re not going to go make a deal with Rogers and then have Rogers go and talk to Tanenbaum,” an MLSE source said. “It’s all going to happen at the same time, they’re going to communicate. The relationship is all good, there’s nothing bad happening here and no one doesn’t like each other.”
Teachers loathes public controversy, a source said, and a deal would likely be completed quietly, in contrast to this week’s media uproar. There was also media speculation on Wednesday about the existence of a shotgun clause, wherein Tanenbaum would be forced to sell his shares if he was unwilling to buy the Teachers shares. Sources say that clause is not in place.
When Teachers offers its shares for sale, Tanenbaum (20.5 per cent) and TD (13.5 per cent) have the right to buy them in proportion to the amount of shares they own.
Under this formula, Tanenbaum is entitled to buy 60.3 per cent of Teachers 66 per cent, or 39.8 per cent of MLSE. That would increase Tanenbaum’s share of MLSE to 60.3 per cent. TD would get 39.7 per cent of the shares, presuming it bought the shares it was entitled to buy.
When Bell Globemedia sold half of its 15-per-cent stake in MLSE several years ago, Tanenbaum bought it to increase his ownership share to 20.5 per cent from 13 per cent. That move positioned him to buy a majority share of MLSE when Teachers sells.
When Bell Globemedia sold its remaining shares, Tanenbaum did not buy any because increasing his stake did not change his right of first refusal.
The catch in the agreement is the shareholders have to take all the shares offered or take none. That means Teachers does not get stuck with the leftovers. So Tanenbaum would have to be prepared to buy all of the Teachers shares he’s entitled to, and all of the Teachers shares that TD is entitled to. But, it's pretty unlikely that TD would want to increase its stake.
For example, if Teachers offers Tanenbaum the 60.3 per cent of its shares he’s entitled to, and TD the 39.7 per cent it’s entitled to, and Tanenbaum accepts but TD declines, Tanenbaum has to buy the 39.7 per cent. Otherwise, those shares can be sold on the open market.
“But the world doesn’t work like that,” an MLSE source said. “It won’t come to that. It will all be worked out together.”
Friday's game: Thunder at Raptors
As an assistant on the USA team that won gold at the World Championship in Turkey in September, Raptors coach Jay Triano has seen plenty of Durant - the tournament MVP - and Westbrook.
"(Westbrook is) a highlight film - he can do anything," Triano said. "He goes past everybody. He goes over top of people. He's one of the best physical specimens in the game right now.
"He's getting a chance now with Kevin getting a little bit banged up, where he's starting to shine."
With Raptors leading rebounder Reggie Evans out for eight weeks with a broken bone in his right foot, Triano is looking for his young guys to step up.
Making his NBA debut Wednesday after suffering a right knee injury prior to training camp, first-round pick Ed Davis scored 11 points with six rebounds and two blocks in a 127-108 victory over Washington.
"He's got that look about him where it doesn't look like he's giving you (much), but then all of a sudden he's at the rim blocking shots," Triano said.
While Davis and Joey Dorsey will be expected to pick up the slack on the boards and help contain Thunder forward Jeff Green, who scored a career-high 37 on Wednesday, the Raptors would like continued scoring from Andrea Bargnani, Sonny Weems and DeMar DeRozan.
The trio combined for 56 points and shot 22 of 36 from the field as the Raptors (7-11) shot a season-best 58.0 percent Wednesday.
"Everybody was on tonight, hitting jump shots and getting to the basket," DeRozan said after scoring 20.
That wasn't the case in the Thunder's last visit to Air Canada Centre, when Toronto made 43.8 percent of its attempts in a 115-89 loss March 19. It was the Raptors' most lopsided defeat at home since Nov. 16, 2005.
THREE THINGS TO KNOW
* Kevin Durant's playing status will be decided during Friday morning's shootaround.
* The Thunder is 3-1 all-time against the Raptors, last losing on March 27, 2009.
* Toronto forward Reggie Evans (12.1 rpg) is out indefinitely with a foot injury.