ESPN: "The firing speaks as much to Colangelo's performance as it does to Mitchell's"

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Old 12-04-2008, 02:00 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default With Mitchell out, focus shifts to GM who assembled middling Raptors

When a team that went 41-41 a year earlier fires its coach because it started the season 8-9 with largely the same roster, that's going to raise some eyebrows.

When the coach is a former coach of the year winner who is on just the second season of a four-year contract, that also will tend to lift a forehead or two.

And when it's the third firing in just a month of basketball, and several other coaches already appear to be on life support, it makes you wonder whether there's something in the water in the NBA this season.

Nonetheless, you can make a few arguments in favor of the Toronto Raptors' decision to ax Sam Mitchell on Wednesday. Certainly, the lifeless effort the players gave in a 132-93 loss to Denver on Tuesday night was discouraging. Additionally, many have grumbled over some iffy personnel decisions by Mitchell in the early season. And if you factor in the 13-20 finish to last season, it's been a fairly miserable 50-game stretch the Raptors have had under Mitchell's guidance -- providing a large enough sample of mediocrity to satisfy the statisticians in the audience.

However, one still surmises that the greatest reason Toronto changed generals Wednesday is the fact that general manager Bryan Colangelo essentially painted himself into a corner. The Raps already played their trump card this summer by trading T.J. Ford, the expiring contract of Rasho Nesterovic and a first-round pick to Indiana for Jermaine O'Neal. Minus those three assets, the Raps have no tradable pieces left unless they want to nuke the Chris Bosh-Jose Calderon-Andrea Bargnani-O'Neal core they hoped would push them to a deep playoff run this season.

With no place else to turn, whacking Mitchell was the only option left. Canada's only team will now have the league's first Canadian coach, as assistant Jay Triano was promoted to the head-coaching job. Colangelo said that Triano will stay in the role until at least the end of the season, implying that (a) he'll wait until this summer to sort through the profusion of high-profile available candidates, and (b) Triano has a shot at being the choice should the Raptors rally under his tutelage.

Of course, if things don't turn around, Colangelo might have a tough time persuading anybody else to take the position. The firing speaks as much to Colangelo's performance as it does to Mitchell's, having come about partly because several personnel moves (Bargnani, Jason Kapono, Roko Ukic, arguably O'Neal) have flopped. As such, the honeymoon phase of his stewardship of the Raptors officially ended Wednesday.

As much as Colangelo might hope that Mitchell was simply misusing his roster, the GM's tenure has contained enough questionable decisions to raise considerable doubt as to whether the next coach can fare any better. The Raps have no wing players who can create a shot, no backup point guard, only one promising young player and just three players you could say would start for a majority of the league's teams.

Triano talked Wednesday about getting the Raptors to play faster because the team is last in the NBA in fast-break points, but good luck fixing it -- that's mostly an effect of roster composition. The club has few good transition players and, without Ford, lacks a floor general who can push the tempo (don't get me wrong, I love Calderon, but he's a half-court guy through and through).

Instead, the new head coach should focus his attention elsewhere. There are two significant changes Triano needs to make, and his ability to do those will largely determine whether the Raptors are any better under him than they were under Mitchell.

First and foremost, he has to get them to defend better. Acquiring O'Neal was supposed to help largely by improving Toronto at the defensive end, but the Raptors are just 24th in defensive efficiency thus far. Much of defense is effort and, regardless of personnel limitations, the Raps' effort often has been inadequate at this end of the floor.

But the second part might help bring about the first: Toronto has to stop granting unearned minutes to players in whom Colangelo invested heavily until those players actually perform on the court. Bargnani is the prime example; he's been granted far too much playing time based on potential future returns rather than current performance, and for a team in win-now mode, it's been puzzling to see him continue to have such a prominent role. The same goes for Kapono unless Triano can sit him down and explain to him that he's a lot more valuable when he's shooting 3s rather than 2s (71 of his 98 shots have been 2s, continuing his maddening, value-destroying career pattern).

Instead, Triano should revert to starting defensive ace Jamario Moon on the wing and bring Kris Humphries in as his first big man off the pine. Yes, each is capable of cringe-worthy shot selection, but each has been more productive both this season and last than the likes of Bargnani and Kapono. Additionally, doing so would remove two horrid defenders from the rotation.

While he's at it, Triano should beg his boss to make a call to the D-League and get somebody, anybody, to replace the comically ineffective duo of Will Solomon and Ukic that Colangelo imported to back up Calderon.

Even in their current state, the Raps aren't far off the playoff scent -- today's Playoff Odds have them finishing just one game out. So one could argue that Colangelo pulled the trigger while the season still could be salvaged.

The larger question, though, is whether this roster can be salvaged. The Raps have less than two years to convince Bosh that it's better to stick around than to pair up with somebody like LeBron or Amare in New York, and they're not exactly making a compelling case so far.

Thus, although Mitchell took the bullet Wednesday, Colangelo is the one who must bear the brunt of the blame for the Raptors' sluggish start. This move says more about his performance than about Mitchell's.

http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/column...langelo-081203
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Old 12-04-2008, 02:29 AM   #2 (permalink)
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I guess we haven't been watching the same games. When this season has Hump ever outperformed Andrea? Andrea got promoted to the starting lineup because he was playing better and earned the minutes and no other reason.

Moon maybe a better defender than Kapono, but he seems to think his offense should come from 3-pt shots which is what we brought Kapono here to do. So if Moon is not going to use his athleticism to get to the rim and is going to continue to shoot the 3 than you might as well have the better 3 pt. shooter doing it.

By the way I believe Ukic was drafted back in the Babcock era, not sure but that was what I believe I have heard a few times. Also give Ukic some time he is still a rookie learning the NBA game.
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Old 12-04-2008, 02:33 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Wow...

I was so angry reading this, I actually thought TO2988 wrote it. I was preparing a profanity-laced retort until I saw the link on the bottom.

lol

This guy is a fucking moron. It's actually hilarious. How can idiots like this actually work for ESPN?
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Old 12-04-2008, 06:50 AM   #4 (permalink)
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One word can explain that: American.
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Old 12-04-2008, 06:56 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Just e-mailed my first post (#2) to the esteemed Mr. Hollinger, wonder if he will respond?
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Old 12-04-2008, 06:58 AM   #6 (permalink)
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As far as B.C. goes people seem to forget pretty quick the lame team we had when he took over and that he has got us at least to the playoffs since he's been here and our first division title to boot.
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Old 12-04-2008, 07:14 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lonewolfpoet View Post
As far as B.C. goes people seem to forget pretty quick the lame team we had when he took over and that he has got us at least to the playoffs since he's been here and our first division title to boot.
So he's beyond all criticism? I'm sure Sam would have been happy with such an idea. Take out the dumb paragraph about Humphries and Moon, and there is still an analysis worth looking at. There is so much talk about bringing in a proven coach, but I have to agree that it will be tough to do if things don't turn around. Right now this team screams "coach's nightmare". I think if any coach was asked they would say they would rather exploit matchups against our starting pg, than to have to try to "mask" our starting pg's deficiencies, especially considering the lack of depth to make use of in doing so.
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Old 12-04-2008, 07:57 AM   #8 (permalink)
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i was reading this last night and i just kept getting angrier as i kept on reading.
i just kept telling myself that americans like hollinger don't pay attention to the raptors.
so anything they say means nothing.

there was even another one. when i watched "game time" before the PHX/NO game. kenny and eric snow kept making fun of the Raptors and this whole matter.

i swear man. all these ignorant analysts. i think i'd rather have no news on the Raptors down in the states if they're just gonna be garbage like this.
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Old 12-04-2008, 08:10 AM   #9 (permalink)
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That article is hillarious.

They are just trying to drum up a reaction from us fans.

For example, if Bargs sucks so bad and doesnt deserve to play before Hump, then why do GM constantly call the Raps to inquire about him? Why has he been our best defender who's offense is starting to adapt in ways that makes him a very versatile scoring option both inside and out...from 2feet to 30.

Kapono does need to shoot more threes though, I'll give him that.

And on Jose, I have absolutly no fear that he will be just fine in a quicker passed game.
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Old 12-04-2008, 09:22 AM   #10 (permalink)
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OMG ... Hump better than Bargs? This guy needs his head checked very quickly, before something bad happens to him.
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Old 12-04-2008, 10:02 AM   #11 (permalink)
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Default ESPN: "The firing speaks as much to Colangelo's performance as it does to Mitchell's"

I think many of you here would agree with Hollinger's statements.

Quote:
Originally Posted by John Hollinger
Of course, if things don't turn around, Colangelo might have a tough time persuading anybody else to take the position. The firing speaks as much to Colangelo's performance as it does to Mitchell's, having come about partly because several personnel moves (Bargnani, Jason Kapono, Roko Ukic, arguably O'Neal) have flopped. As such, the honeymoon phase of his stewardship of the Raptors officially ended Wednesday.

As much as Colangelo might hope that Mitchell was simply misusing his roster, the GM's tenure has contained enough questionable decisions to raise considerable doubt as to whether the next coach can fare any better. The Raps have no wing players who can create a shot, no backup point guard, only one promising young player and just three players you could say would start for a majority of the league's teams.
Source - Click here
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Old 12-04-2008, 10:17 AM   #12 (permalink)
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I agree and disagree.

Bargnani has played outstanding this season and has been our best big man defender and has been a reliable offensive threat every game. Ukic was a Babcock pick and considering he's only what 17 games into his career, you can't call him a bust at all yet. I mean Deron Williams (not comparing the two) had a terrible rookie season and O'Neal has looked good up until the Nets game where he got injured.

Colangelo deserves blame but not on the fronts that Hollinger is claiming. I'd blame him more on not capitalizing when Jose's stock was at its highest and not making shrewd late round draft picks where teams are actually built (well, benches are).
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Old 12-04-2008, 01:00 PM   #13 (permalink)
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for those who don't follow ESPN, Hollinger is the biggest Colangelo hater you'll ever see. For some reason, even before he got here, he constantly criticized him for every move he made. What's funny is that once most of those moves prove good, he never as much as makes a mention to his previous remarks.

Not to mention that it was Hollinger who said three months ago how the JO trade is a very good one for the Raptors, and how we will end up winning 45 games (and 76ers 48), and how Portland will suck this year, and how Utah will be the top team in the west, and how Boston will take a step back, and how Cavs will be a .500 team or so and how Atlanta will suck etc. Not a good year for Hollinger, that's for sure.

And his comment about Bargnani only proves he watched the Raptors games via the boxscore, and probably the last year ones ...
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Old 12-04-2008, 02:00 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by moremilk View Post
for those who don't follow ESPN, Hollinger is the biggest Colangelo hater you'll ever see. For some reason, even before he got here, he constantly criticized him for every move he made. What's funny is that once most of those moves prove good, he never as much as makes a mention to his previous remarks.

Not to mention that it was Hollinger who said three months ago how the JO trade is a very good one for the Raptors, and how we will end up winning 45 games (and 76ers 48), and how Portland will suck this year, and how Utah will be the top team in the west, and how Boston will take a step back, and how Cavs will be a .500 team or so and how Atlanta will suck etc. Not a good year for Hollinger, that's for sure.

And his comment about Bargnani only proves he watched the Raptors games via the boxscore, and probably the last year ones ...
+1

It's so nice when someone is writing your thoughts for you.
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Old 12-04-2008, 02:39 PM   #15 (permalink)
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The funniest part of that was "defensive ace Jamario Moon".
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Old 12-04-2008, 06:38 PM   #16 (permalink)
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yeah - that was hilarious
and he says Andreea is taking Hump's minutes, which is not true, unless he wants Hump to play SF. And based on PER, Hump should play almost as many minutes as Bosh, since they have similar numbers ...
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Old 12-04-2008, 07:17 PM   #17 (permalink)
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The Moon and Bargnani comments prove Hollinger doesn't watch our games
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Old 12-04-2008, 07:32 PM   #18 (permalink)
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That is too funny Moon is an amazing defensive player and Humps should play the SF instead of Bargs This guy is killing me LOL
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Old 12-04-2008, 09:43 PM   #19 (permalink)
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I agree with Hollinger about Moon's defense. He is the best perimeter defender we have.

The Raps usually do well with Moon on the floor. Moon's +/- is consistently better than any other Raptor. Off hand, I can't think of a match up where Moon has been abused by an opponent, and I can't say that about anyone else on the team.

Jamario's offense isn't as good as it could be, but his efficiency is still up from last year. He's obviously been working on his shot. He doesn't drive as much as many would like, but he isn't a strong finisher, at least in part because of his size (too tall and skinny, he gets knocked around by opposing bigs)... No player is perfect, but on the whole he is an asset to the team. He is a better passer than people recognize. He's not an assertive player offensively, but he's also not a black hole. I'm a fan, and I think most of the criticism he gets is unjustified.

I remember one loss when Andrea "The Sacred Cow" Bargnani had like 14 and 5 and Moon had 2 and 1, when they both played 20-30 minutes, and everyone after the game was raving about Bargs' offense, and Moon took most of the blame for the loss. Bargs had some amazing individual plays, but he was not effective on defense, and really didn't contribute to the team offense. He didn't set any good screens, or make any good cuts. If you looked at the +/-, Bargs was -17 and Moon was +1. Moon was the ONLY Raptor on the plus side.

I know people don't like (or don't understand) the +/- stat, but I'm a fan. It tells you how the team did when a guy was on the floor, and in the end that's a better guide to an individual's impact on the game than points, assists, rebounds, blocks, steals, or anything else you want to attach a number to.

Say what you want, Moon isn't a stats machine, he's a glue guy and he does a good job. He's no all star, but he's very valuable to the team, and I like him as our lock down defender. We're lucky to have him.

I disagree with Hollinger about Hump somewhat. I thought that Hump deserved more playing time than he was getting at the beginning of the year, but the past few games he's been getting a good run. I think he's playing just about as much as we want him to. I don't think he'd be any more valuable to the team if he was given more time. 10-15 minutes a game is a good amount for him. When he's playing high energy basketball he's very active and is a pain in the ass for opposing bigs to box out. He's also willing to foul hard, and I know I've seen him lay down some fouls that made the other team not want to drive anymore. I like what Hump brings to the table, but only when he's playing all out, and he can only really do that for 10-15 minutes a game.

The majority of the Raptors problems have come because of injuries and a tough schedule. It HAS been a tough schedule so far, we really have won every game we should have except maybe against the Nets, but they were hot at the time, and still are. The other loss we should have had was against the 76ers, but we stole the opener against them, so that's a one for one trade off. The Nuggets are hot, the Lakers are the Lakers, we've already played the Celts twice (the time they came from behind was disheartening, but you could see it coming, the Raptors came out flying and were dead tired by the end of the game), and we also ran into a hot Hawks team. It's not like we've been losing games to bottom feeders.

Injuries, as I already noted, have played a large part in what's been going on. I know Jose has huge support on RF (I support him too) but he has not been 100%, and although he still has the skill, patience and good judgment to lead the team on offense, his injury has turned him into a weak link on defense. He has been exploited numerous times by the opposition in this respect. What can you do but wait for him to get better? Maybe Roko should get more run. I know people don't like Solomon, but he's been better than he's been given credit for. Sure, he turns the ball over sometimes (he hasn't recently, if you've been watching), but he also gets way more steals than Jose. At least these guys won't get consistently torched by mobile PGs. Maybe less, but higher energy minutes from Jose would help the team. I know that Jose would be in favour of playing less if it helped the team.

This town has too much of a hockey mentality. I don't want to see Jose's career shortened because he tried to play through injury. This situation reminds me a lot of Alvin Williams (one of my all time favorite Raptor alumni). The guy had great heart, but a guy like that needs to be tempered by the coaching staff for his own benefit, and ultimately for the benefit of the team in the long run. This has been a VERY DIFFICULT three game west coast trip that ANY team in the East would have been lucky to go 1-2. So why risk shortening a career on games that we really don't have any business winning? The Lakers and Nuggets are probably the two best teams in the west right now and two of the best four teams in the NBA (plus Boston and Cleveland).

Ultimately, I don't think that the Raptor's record is as bad as people are making it out to be. The biggest worry this team has is getting JO and Jose back to full strength. The wins will come, and I still fully expect to see the Raptors in the playoffs.

Sam was a whipping boy. Firing him took the responsibility away from the players on the court. It's like the team can start over with a clean slate starting tonight. In that sense, it was a well timed move from Colangelo. I actually support the decision. I don't think that Sam was the right coach, in terms of style or personality, for this team. From Sam's comments about the team's weaknesses, I don't think that he was optimistic enough about the Raptor's chances to keep the team competitive on a nightly basis.

I haven't seen Jay Triano lead an NBA team before (for the obvious reason), but it will be interesting to see how the team responds. I'd also ask the people on this forum to actually pay attention to the teams we're playing against once in a while, to realize when we're playing teams that are actually far better than we are, rather than assuming that the Raptors should win every night. Also watch what players do when they don't have the ball, and you'll see why Bargs (among others) has his detractors. Hopefully this can be fixed with more creative offensive sets. I just don't like seeing our C camping out behind the 3pt line when he's more than capable of setting screens, making good cuts, and getting involved on the boards on offense. In particular, I'd like to see Bosh and Bargs setting picks for each other in the high post a lot more. Both guys have huge arsenals from that range, as they can both pass, shoot and drive. They have so damn many options! And someone needs to get to the glass on EVERY shot. No doubt Bargs is a gifted player, but his talents aren't being utilized as they should be.

I'm confident in predicting that the Raps will be +.500 for the remainder of the year (barring more injuries to key players, or a total meltdown in team chemistry), but that comes in large part because of an easier schedule.

This is the collection of thoughts I have right now on the state of the team, I'd be interested to hear anyone else's opinion on these topics.
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Old 12-04-2008, 10:08 PM   #20 (permalink)
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wow - quite a long read. I myself am a big fan of the +/- as long as it's read correctly. From game to game it's meaningless, and the biggest mistake people make is not to adjust per minutes played. +/- is an aggregate stat, which means that two players playing equally well will have +/- numbers proportional with the minutes played.

Moon on defense has been pretty weak this year, he was absolutely abused by gerrard wallace, the same player Moon handled quite easily the previous season.

Finally, as many people have pointed out, it's not the record that got Mitchell fired, we had worse records at this time of year in the previous two seasons. It's the way we played. We made a lot of elementary mistakes, a lot of highly questionable coaching decisions (kapono on pierce, Bargnani on carmelo etc), many blown leads, a lot of inconsistency in the number of minutes given to players, and finally, total disinterest in the game against Denver. Our defense is horrible, our offense is below average, and all coming after a very poor second half of last season. The record itself is only half the story - if BC thinks we are a good team, it's inadmissable to lose by 40 points. If we were 5-10, with 10 losses in single digits, Sam still has a job in my opinion.
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