The Killing Joke
Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: Burkina Faso, Disputed Zone
Perkins: Retooled Raptors wait to see how pieces fit
From Glen Perkins:
TheStar.com | NBA | Retooled Raptors
The inspiration, if not the proprietor, behind Burkie's Dog House, the brand new dispenser of tasty franks on steamed buns at the Air Canada Centre, has certainly revamped those Toronto Maple Leafs.
Yes, Brian Burke has shuffled and re-dealt the Leafs and there will be at least eight, maybe even nine new faces, when the real racing begins this week. Such extensive renovations – eight or nine new faces on what could be a 23-man roster – have been widely proclaimed successful even before the first important game has been played.
Now look to the Maple Leafs' little brothers in business, the Raptors. Their general manager, Bryan Colangelo, who has no pasta stand or sandwich shop to call his very own in the newly (and nicely) rebuilt west end of the arena, has changed nine men on a 15-man roster – and 12 out of 15 if you dial back one calendar year.
Now that, friends, is rebuilding. And while Colangelo seems to have walked the salary cap high-wire beautifully, the people-moving achievements are being greeted with more let's-wait-and-see caution. Which is fine. Colangelo, a year ago, called his team, with the addition of Jermaine O'Neal, his best yet in Toronto and we all know what happened. It was a mistake he said he will "wear on my resume," but that's not really the point; everybody gets them wrong at one time or another. The bigger point: No one ever really knows how the puzzle will fit.
This time around, Colangelo is managing expectations a little more. (Hey, it worked for the hockey team a year ago, when management said to expect very little and certainly no one went away disappointed by unmet expectations.)
"I can sell hope," Colangelo said at one point Monday during the team's annual media day before training camp opens in Ottawa on Tuesday. "I'm not the kind of guy who tries to undersell and over-deliver. I always try to put a realistic view on things."
Realistically, he has added plenty of pieces in what he terms a "radical makeover." Reggie Evans' toughness is vital. Hedo Turkoglu brings big-game presence. There's increased athleticism, primarily, but not only, from DeMar DeRozan. Anyway, you know all the moves and what the intended results are. It's too early to know how, or if, it will all come together and one more large element is entirely different entering training camp, namely the coach.
Jay Triano isn't exactly new, appearing in 65 games in relief of Sam Mitchell, but his training camp will be. Baseball is more a game of routine and ritual than is basketball, but major-league managers often say they didn't feel completely in charge until they had run their first training camp. Triano feels some of that.
"I think that's a very valid statement. We've changed some of the rules and procedures around the locker room and practice court and once we start teaching, it will be all different as far as what (the players will) expect," Triano said.
The good news, though, is that only Jose Calderon, Chris Bosh and Andrea Bargnani were there one year ago.
"So it's change for only three guys," Triano said. "Everybody else is coming into a new situation."
All these new faces and a new routine at camp, plus a couple of fresh faces on the coaching staff. Most training camps are overstated in terms of importance. This one might not be. There's plenty to do and learn and many relationships to forge, in not much time. Unlike the Leafs, the Raptors can sell hope only for so long.
wait to see how pieces fit