09-29-2009, 11:05 AM
The Killing Joke
Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: Burkina Faso, Disputed Zone
Grange: Having stars on light duties 'Perfect'
From Grange this morning:
Having stars on light duties ‘perfect’ - The Globe and Mail
It’s starting, but where to start?
The Toronto Raptors haven’t had an official practice yet and their two best players are either hurt (Chris Bosh) or just plain tired (Hedo Turkoglu), and both are likely unavailable for the hard part of training camp that starts in Ottawa today.
Still, it was as if someone set off a sunshine bomb when the team’s key figures came out to meet the media before boarding their Air Happy Times charter yesterday afternoon on their way to a week of two-a-days at Carleton University.
“It’s perfect,” Jay Triano said at the prospect of starting his first training camp as an NBA head coach with his two primary offensive weapons on light duties, Bosh with hamstring woes, Turkoglu fatigued after the European championship.
“It is. We have so many more guys who can play, they’re going to get a lot more reps and more time to play,” Triano said. “Until we get to the 28th [opening night against the Cleveland Cavaliers], the games in October don’t mean a whole lot. They’ll still be there watching and they’ll be ready to jump in when they’re ready, but it will give other guys a chance to showcase what they can do.”
Triano’s new, so he can be excused, but the coach was hardly alone in his bursting-at-the-seams optimism.
Team president Bryan Colangelo is coming off one of the busiest summers of his career so is understandably eager to see how his handiwork comes together – just three players of the 14 on the roster were in training camp a year ago – but the man enjoys eggs sunny-side up with a bottomless pot of coffee.
This time last year, Colangelo dented his credibility for the first time in his Toronto tenure when he said the roster he’d pulled together was the best team he’d had since joining the Raptors. A 33-win season and the square peg status of Jermaine O’Neal, his shiny acquisition from the previous summer, came back to haunt him when the team sputtered out of the gate and never established any lasting forward momentum.
But Colangelo was undeterred yesterday, standing on his tippy toes to place the bar for a team that has yet to play a game together. He had the day’s best line – “I’m not saying we’ve got all the answers and the roster’s complete, I just ran out of players to trade” – but also the boldest predictions.
“What’s the target, what are we shooting for?” he asked before he was asked. “What I’d really like to do is put us in position to advance in the playoffs, make it to the second round. … That’s a goal. How many wins does that take? Well, if you look at what it takes to be a fourth or fifth seed, I think you’ve got to be at a minimum of 50 games. Are [we] shooting for 50 games?
“Yeah, I think that’s what we should realistically be shooting for.”
So much for underpromising and overdelivering, but at the other end of the new atrium at the Air Canada Centre where Colangelo was holding court stood Bosh, who will have to make Colangelo’s goal-setting come to life as he enters his seventh NBA season headed straight for unrestricted free agency.
His hamstring, twinged while running sprints in Dallas this month and tweaked again last week in Toronto while scrimmaging, is going to be fine, he thinks. It’s not as bad as the problem that dogged Jose Calderon most of last season, but watching his friend struggle with a gimpy leg most of the season made it easy for Bosh to shut it down until his own leg is 100 per cent in a week’s time, he hopes.
Perhaps it’s the benefit of a little distance provided by the injury, but as anything-is-possible predictions came bursting forth yesterday, it was the 25-year-old Bosh who was sounding like the old head, shading himself from the sunny glare with his hand.
A year ago he nodded when O’Neal thought the 2008-09 Raptors had enough on the roster to win 60 games. Yesterday, talk of 50 wins and deep playoff runs was put it in proper perspective by the person most required to make it true.
“I’ll let him do a lot of predicting, that’s part of his job,” Bosh said of Colangelo’s forecast while looking noticeably bulkier after adding about 20 pounds during his off-season lifting program. “[But] some things just don’t work out. If you looked at our team last year coming out of training camp and the first week of the seasons, we had very high expectations and they stayed there, it just didn’t work out.
“And honestly my feelings were extremely hurt,” he said. “All those things I was saying earlier in the season just didn’t happen. I was still riding on cloud nine off the [Olympic] gold medal and making all these predictions and having all these high hopes – it’s not that I don’t have high hopes now, but I’m not trying to predict it.
“I’m just trying to work to get where we want to go and then we’ll enjoy the fruits of our labour later.”