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Thursday , Jun , 23 , 2011 Hoopsvibe

Colangelo finally admits ‘Euro’ vision failed by hiring Casey?

Colangelo certainly paid attention as the 54-year-old Casey has been thrown the keys to the Raptors broken-down car, being affirmed on Tuesday as the new head coach of the NBA franchise. Casey, who signed a three-year contract, will take over from Jay Triano of Niagara Falls, Ont., who was relieved of his coaching duties earlier this month, in the aftermath of a frustrating 22-60 regular season.

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HoopsVibe’s Very Quick Call: Hiring Dwane Casey is the closest Bryan Colangelo will come to admitting he was wrong.

When hired, Colangelo had a vision for the Toronto Raptors. They’d be the NBA’s ‘Euro’ club. They’d emphasize scoring and skill. They’d collect players from every republic, federation, principality, and semi-autonomous region in Europe.

Most importantly, they’d win.

On the surface, it made sense. Americans were hesitant to come to Canada, even if it meant playing in a world class city such as Toronto.

So Colangelo did his best with what he had. Problem was, it didn't work.

Defense still wins championships. Drafting and re-signing Andrea Bargnani and having Jose Calderon at point guard made the Raptors vulnerable at point guard and center.

Slowly but surely, Colangelo has changed course. Bargnani, the player he drafted first overall, is at a crossroads with the organization. Calderon is more of a platoon player.

The new Raptors are young, athletic, and raw. The new Raptors are Jerryd Bayless, Ed Davis, DeMar DeRozan, Amir Johnson, and James Johnson. 

This collection of talent needs help in their own end, which is Casey’s speciality. He was the brains behind George Karl’s defensive sets in Seattle, had Minnesota running at 20-20, and helped Rick Carlisle’s Dallas crew win a championship.

For now, Casey is the Raptors’ only off-season change. His hiring represents Colangelo changing course from offense to defense.

--Oly Sandor.

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Wednesday , May , 25 , 2011 Hoopsvibe

Rumor: Bargnani, sort of, asks Raptors for trade?

Asked in a feature interview where he’d like to play if he could rub a magic lamp and transport himself to another NBA city, Bargnani told Italy’s Sky Sports: “I want to stay in Toronto, at least this is the politically correct answer. If (I am) to go somewhere else, I’d like a warm climate city and a team where I can actually play in my role.”

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HoopsVibe’s Very Quick Call: It’s time.

It’s time for the Toronto Raptors to trade former first overall pick Andrea Bargnani. The Italian basically asked for a trade and publicly criticized Bryant Colangelo, the club`s lead executive and his boss, to the European press.

Colangelo no longer needs to justify taking Bargnani first overall or re-upping him to the tune of five years and $50 million.

He has his own multi-year extension, courtesy of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, the wealthy holding company that owns the NBA’s northern team.

Besides, the Raptors are now  defensive. They no longer have, or want, a European from every country, breakaway republic, and semi-autonomous state.

They’re better with Amir Johnson and young Ed Davis down low, while DeMar DeRozan and others could pick up the scoring slack.

Where exactly does Bargnani, a finesse post, fit?

Of course, there’s a personal element to this. Instead of expressing his frustration behind closed doors, Bargnani called Colangelo out. This will do irreversible damage to his relationship with the organization.

So Colangelo may just give Bargnani his wish: a trade. Perhaps this was Bargnani`s plan all along.

--Oly Sandor.

Got thoughts? Well, get at HoopsVibe News in the comment box below.

 

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Sunday , Apr , 10 , 2011 Hoopsvibe

DeMar DeRozan on improving 3-point shot: ‘it will come’

Hoops Hype: You had only attempted 46 three-pointers in the first 78 games. Is that the next part of your game that you want to expand?

Demar DeRozan: Oh yes, definitely. It will come through time. I really don’t stress about it. Because once it comes, that is another part of my game that will develop. Will work on that this summer a lot and come back ready next year.

 
HoopsVibe’s Very Quick Call: He has been a bright spot in an otherwise dismal season.

The Toronto Raptors 2011 struggles can be tied to former franchise face Chris Bosh joining pals LeBron James and Dwyane Wade in South Beach.

Without Bosh, the Raptors had to rebuild. They already had a key piece in DeMar DeRozan -the second year man from USC, who looks more than capable of filling Bosh’s considerable shoes.

DeRozan is explosive, dynamic, and committed, and deserves greater consideration for the NBA’s Most Improved Player award after his terrific campaign.

However, to become an All-Star, to regularly attend David Stern’s February classic, he must extend his range. Currently, DeRozan is a solid mid-range shooter; he must become a three-point gunner.
 
Then DeRozan will be unstoppable. He’ll be able to go to the hoop at will or punish sagging defenders with his newfound stroke.

He’ll have help, too. There’s a crew of up-and-coming pieces in The Big Smoke: Jerryd Bayless, Ed Davis, Amir Johnson, James Johnson, and Sonny Weems.

The Raptors also have cap space, a trade exception from the Miami Heat, and an upcoming lottery pick. The future is looking up north of the border. It starts and ends with DeRozan taking the next step and developing his three-point shot.

Fortunately, he knows this. Fortunately, he’s a gym rat, who loves working on his game. Fortunately, he’s mature beyond his years. And fortunately, he wants his team to succeed.

So next year looks promising -or just better than 2011- because of DeRozan. Bottom line: there’s something for Raptor fans to look forward to.

--Oly Sandor.


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Friday , Apr , 01 , 2011 Hoopsvibe

Evans on Weems’ girfriend search: ‘his other pillow must be getting cold’

Sonny Weems via twitter: “Think (it’s) time for me to get a girlfriend,”

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HoopsVibe’s Very Quick Call: Reserve swing for the Toronto Raptors seeks single female for relationship. She must be up for double-dates with DeMar DeRozan and girlfriend. She must up on basketball lingo and tolerant of a video-game playing male.

The Toronto Raptors are out of the playoffs, but they’re hoping to get Sonny Weems into a relationship.

Weems, it seems, is lonely. He recently professed his loneliness on twitter, and seems tired of being the third wheel with teammate DeRozan and his steady squeeze.

Several Raptors had advice for Weems' situation. Amir Johnson told the Toronto Star’s Dave Feschuk that Weems should relax and let things unfold.

“Just my take: You can’t search for your partner,” said Johnson, 23. “You’ve just got to let it happen naturally. Eventually you’ll find somebody.”

Well said. But leave it it to Reggie Evans, one of the team’s elder statesmen, to provide both wisdom and comedy.

“Sonny’s just going through mixed emotions. Want a girlfriend, don’t want a girlfriend. Want that lifestyle, don’t want that lifestyle,” Evans said. “We should do a poll on Twitter, see who wants to go on a date with him. We could make a Canadian reality show, Who Wants to Date Sonny Weems?

“There’s plenty of girls out here in Toronto that can be a good candidate for him. He’s a very nice guy, good guy to be around . . . I guess he needs somebody to keep his pillow warm. I guess his other pillow must be getting cold.”

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Sunday , Mar , 27 , 2011 Hoopsvibe

Rumor: Colangelo and Raptors finally open to trading Bargnani?

Despite Toronto losing Chris Bosh and making little progress this season, team president Bryan Colangelo is returning to run the team, according the several league sources. That could be good news for D'Antoni, whose offense has been a bad fit for Anthony.

D'Antoni, who worked under Colangelo in Phoenix, might be out of a job if Walsh leaves the Knicks at season's end. For now, the Raptors plan to bring back coach Jay Triano, despite their awful season. But if D'Antoni becomes available, Triano could be jettisoned. Whether it's D'Antoni or Triano, the Raptors want to build around rookie big-man Ed Davis and second-year guard DeMar DeRozan. They're said to be open to moving Andrea Bargnani, who has been anything but an impact player since entering the league in 2007 as the No. 1 overall pick.

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HoopsVibe’s Very Quick Call: It would appear Toronto Raptors’ GM Bryan Colangelo is finally ‘being somewhat real’ about Andrea Bargnani.

Bargnani is a nice offensive player, with a skill-set that can create mismatches. That’s it, though.

Bargnani is not the next Dirk Nowitzki. Bargnani is not an All-Star. Bargnani is not, and never will be, a competent rebounder or defender. And Bargnani was not worth the first overall pick in the 2006 draft.

Face it: Colangelo’s experiment has failed. Miserably.

It’s only now with the cover of an extension that Toronto’s Former Golden Boy will admit making a mistake.

The Raptors gave Bargnani every chance to succeed. They had to. They had to justify drafting the Italian ahead of LaMarcus Aldridge or Brandon Roy –despite the swing’s recent injuries.

Returns on Bargnani were mediocre, but Colangelo still rewarded him with a 5-year, $50 million extension in 2009, despite being a year away from free agency.

And Bargnani still started and logged heavy minutes, even though his finesse game wasn’t a fit in Coach Jay Triano’s system.

Bottom line: Bargnani isn’t an asset. He’s a liability. The team is far better developing Ed Davis, Amir Johnson, James Johnson, and franchise face in waiting DeMar DeRozan.

Bargnani’s isn’t a bust. His game is simply better suited to being a sixth-man than a superstar. Similar to Danilo Gallinari with the Denver Nuggets, he could excel as a scorer off the bench.

That can’t happen in Toronto, though. Expectations will always be sky high and unrealistic because of management.

Look for Colangelo, a master of the deal, to cover himself by finding a taker for Bargnani. And when that happens, he’ll again spin the situation in a well orchestrated press conference.

After all, Colangelo can’t be totally real in a media hot-bed such as Toronto. With three national sports channels, two national radio stations, five daily newspapers, and demanding fans, he can only concede so much.

Such is life in Toronto, especially with a mistake like Bargnani.

--Oly Sandor.

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