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Thursday , Jun , 23 , 2011 Hoopsvibe

Breakdown of 2011 NBA Draft, Picks 1-10

Finally, the NBA Draft is here. The gossip, speculation, and home videos of mysterious Euro prospects is no more.

Below is how things officially unfolded in real time, with live analysis at the HoopsVibe News headquarters. So get at us with thoughts, ideas, and opinions in the comment box below.

1) Kyrie Irving to Cleveland Cavaliers.

Details: PG, 6-2, 181, Duke Blue Devils, Fr.

Pros: Irving is a good athlete, who uses his quickness and feel for the game to attack the basket. He’s smart, tough, and had little issue leading more experienced teammates during the NCAA tournament.

Cons:
While Irving is a good athlete, he isn’t explosive or big. And he missed much of his freshmen year with a toe injury. So the New Jersey native is a risk.

Fit: He'll be fine as long as he doesn't follow Baron Davis' training routine or try to replace that LeBron guy.

2) Derrick Williams to Minnesota Timberwolves.

Details: PF, 6-9, 248, Arizona Wildcats, So.

Pros:
He’s a pick-your-poison scorer. In his second season, Williams improved his ability to attack the basket, while also being able to knock down jump shots. This combination of skill and athleticism should make Williams a difficult match-up for opposing defenses.    

Cons:
Some feel Williams is a ‘tweener’, stuck between the 3 and 4 spots. And they’re unsure if his athleticism can compensate for his 6-9 height,   

Fit: Is there room for Kevin Love, Mike Beasley, and Williams in the frontcourt?

3) Enis Kanter to Utah Jazz.

Details: C, 6-10, 260, Turkey, 19 years of age.

Pros: Strong, skilled, and tough is how most describe Kanter. His polished game and physical tools should make a pretty good NBA player.

Cons: Kanter is undersized and not especially explosive for a five-man. And can his knee hold up to the grind of an NBA season?

Fit: His strong IQ and blue-collar approach makes him perfect for the Jazz.

4) Tristan Thompson to Cleveland Cavaliers.

Details: PF, 6-9, 225, University of Texas, Fr.

Pros: Thompson should have a nice NBA career because of his wingspan, improving body, and lefty skill-set. His energy and work on the glass is also a plus.

Cons: Despite shedding baby fat, Thompson is still a little undersized to handle NBA power forwards. 

Fit: The Canadian can play, but going fourth overall was a surprise. He'll need time to develop his offensive game for the Cavs.

5) Jonas Valanciunas to Toronto Raptors

Details: PF, 6-10, 230, Lithuania, 18 years old.

Pros: Valanciunas is an energetic player, who is active on the offensive glass and gets his share of put-back points. At 18, some believe he has the most upside of any player in the draft.

Cons: He’s extremely raw and could take several years before making an impact.

Fit: Of course, GM Bryan Colangelo had to take a Euro. But the young Lithuanian has a chance to be real good.

6) Jan Vesely to Washington Wizards.

Details: PF, 6-11, 240, Czech Republic, 21 years old.

Pros: He’s not your typical Euro. Long, athletic, and explosive, Vesely loves to get up the floor and throw down monster jams. His length and versatility makes him a force on both ends of the floor.

Cons: Vesely needs to extend his offensive range beyond put-backs and highlight reel jams.

Fit: Strap up Washington. This kid is a walking highlight reel.

7) Bismack Biyombo to Sacramento Kings (picking for Charlotte Bobcats).

Details: PF, 6-9, 243, Congo, 19 years old.

Pros: He’s an athlete. Biyombo has scouts drooling with his frame, wingspan, leaping ability, and quickness.

Cons: But he’s raw. Many of those same scouts are worried about his lack of skill and age.

Fit: Some say he couldn't score if locked in a gym by himself. He also needs to negotiate a buyout with his FIBA club. But he’s an incredible athlete.

8) Brandon Knight to Detroit Pistons.

Details: PG/SG, 6-3, 177, Kentucky University, So.

Pros: Knight was always a terrific scorer, but showed he could involve others towards the end of his season at Kentucky. His athleticism and outside range makes him a strong prospect. 

Cons: Some feel he’s more of a shooting guard than a natural point guard.

Fit: Hopefully, he survives a Piston team that was highly dysfunctional in 2011.

9) Kemba Walker to Charlotte Bobcats.

Details: PG, 6-1, 172, University of Connecticut, Jr.

Pros: Walker has the ‘quicks’ to get to the basket and can also punish sagging defenders with his much-improved jumper. This made him unstoppable during his terrific 2011 season at UCONN.  
 
Cons: Well, size. Walker plays like a shooting guard, but has the body of a point guard.

Fit: Walker will bring leadership and confidence to Michael Jordan's Bobcats.

10) Jimmer Fredette to Sacramento Kings.

Details: PG, 6-2, 190, Bringham Young Unviersity, Sr.

Pros: He's a magical shooter with a cult-like following at Bringham Young University. 

Cons: Can he defend NBA point guards? Is he a point guard? 

Fit: Fredette`s range will mesh nicely with Tyreke Evans and the offensive-minded Kings.

--Oly Sandor.

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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.

Link

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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Thursday , Jun , 23 , 2011 Hoopsvibe

Rumor: Spurs moving Parker and Jefferson?

Yahoo Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski reported that the Spurs had been “in discussions” with the Raptors and Kings for a deal involving Parker.

Link

HoopsVibe’s Very Quick Call:
Want Tony Parker? Well, you may have to take Richard Jefferson, too.

A few weeks ago, Tony Parker told reporters the San Antonio Spurs’ championship window had closed. Parker believed the organization needed to rebuild.

Of course, the you-know-what-hit-the-Alamo-fan. Parked denied saying his Spurs were done. Management assured the public they’d still contend.

Business as usual, right? Well, wrong.

The Spurs are indeed rebuilding. And Parker, ironically, might be the piece this quasi-dynasty uses to turn the page, flip-the-script, and start over.

The Spurs have reportedly made their French point guard available in hopes of securing a lottery pick. Word is the Toronto Raptors and Sacramento Kings are interested.

However, the Raptors, Kings, or any other team would have to assume the four years and $32 million left on Richard Jefferson’s deal. This is a steep price for a former All-Star on the back end of his career.

Bottom line: Parker is on the trading block. Jefferson may go, too. And the Spurs are officially rebuilding.

--Oly Sandor.


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Friday , Jun , 17 , 2011 Hoopsvibe

Report: Rubio still joining Wolves

Ricky Rubio has already signed a contract with the Minnesota Timberwolves and the holdup keeping him from leaving Barcelona is related to his buyout agreement, multiple sources told ESPN.com. "This is just a bump in the road for (the Timberwolves)," said one source. Rubio's Spanish club won the ACB championship Tuesday, after which Rubio said: "We are talking with Barcelona and we will soon see."

Link

HoopsVibe’s Very Quick Call: Don’t assume the worst. The Prodigal Son is still coming. He’s just taking care of business first.

Ricky Rubio will join the Minnesota Timberwolves, the team that drafted him two years ago. The Spaniard is negotiating the terms of his buyout with FC Barcelona, who currently hold his rights.

Of course, it would be understandable if the worst was being assumed. Rubio crossing the Atlantic Ocean and joining Minnesota has had more delays than a Dr. Dre album.

When he arrives, there will be changes. Jonny Flynn, the Wolves other young point guard, will most certainly be moved -either to Toronto or perhaps Charlotte.

Then the hard work begins in Minnesota. Rubio, Mike Beasley, and Kevin Love will have the monumental task of righting the Wolves ship.

--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.”

Link

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.

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Saturday , May , 14 , 2011 Hoopsvibe

Rumor: Ricky Rubio to sign with Minnesota, Jonny Flynn to Toronto?

If Rubio does indeed sign as expected, point guard Jonny Flynn's days in Minnesota are numbered. Sources also indicated to HOOPSWORLD that Flynn is almost sure to be traded in that case with the Toronto Raptors being one of the most probable destinations.
 

HoopsVibe’s Very Quick Call: Whenever Ricky Rubio crosses the Atlantic and joins the Minnesota Timberwolves, Jonny Flynn becomes very available.
 
Sources say Rubio’s migration will happen this summer –and sooner rather than later.
 
Unfortunately, Flynn’s stock is at an all-time low, so the Timberwolves won’t get much for the sixth pick in 2009. Hopefully, executive David Kahn reflects on how he wasted this asset.
 
For instance, Kahn could have traded the lottery pick two years ago for an established pro, young asset(s), draft picks, or cap relief.

He could have drafted a player at another position like Stephen Curry (and used him at off-guard), DeMar DeRozan, Tyler Hansborough, James Johnson, or even Taj Gibson.
 
If Kahn was absolutely determined to have another table-setter, he could have drafted Brandon Jennings, Jrue Holiday, Ty Lawson, Jeff Teague, or Darren Collison.
 
Just not Flynn, who has underperformed. Now Kahn has the unpleasant task of trying to get something for his underperforming asset.
 
The above report cites Toronto as a likely home for Flynn. The former Syracuse star had expressed interest in suiting up for the Raptors.
 
Perhaps this happens. However, MLSE, the wealthy and dysfunctional holding company that owns the Raptors, has bigger fish to fry, specifically executive Bryan Colangelo.
 
Colangelo’s contract expires next month, and there has been no indication on whether he’ll be extended or let go. Instead, he twists in the wind.
 
Under such circumstances, it’s hard to imagine Colangelo acquiring Flynn. He’d have to trade veteran Jose Calderon and make a call on youngster Jerryd Bayless.
 
And he probably doesn’t have authorization to do anything except focus on the draft.
 
So the Rubio saga will continue when he lands in ‘The Frozen Tundra of Sota’. Only his presence will create a stir with Flynn.

Oly Sandor.

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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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Monday , Apr , 04 , 2011 Hoopsvibe

Is Kris Humphries succeeding because of ‘Kim Kardashian Effect’?

He also just happens to be dating reality TV star Kim Kardashian. Calling it the “Kim Kardashian Effect”, many can’t help but notice the correlation between Humphries’ success this season and his recent romance. “You know, it’s interesting. Just being around her, seeing how hard she works, and everyone in her family and what they do, it’s motivating for me,” Humphries said. “I want to be the best that I can be. I wouldn’t say it’s the only reason I’ve had a great year, but it definitely factors into that.”

Link
 
HoopsVibe’s Very Quick Call: Perhaps it’s her brilliant reality television show. Perhaps it’s her sensational musical talent. Perhaps it’s something else like her work ethic –yeah, that’s it, really.

Jokes aside, New Jersey Nets big Kris Humphries believes Kim Kardashian’s dedication to her craft, whatever that is, has had a positive influence on his basketball career.

After a so-so run with the Utah Jazz, Toronto Raptors, and Dallas Mavericks, Humphries found his way with the Nets once he hooked up with the curvy celebrity.

Interestingly enough, many athletes struggle once their personal life becomes fodder for TMZ. Not Humphries, though. The opposite has occurred.
 
The 'Kim Kardashian Effect' has Humphries playing well, happy, and a possible candidate for Most Improved Player. 

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

Link

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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Tuesday , Mar , 29 , 2011 Hoopsvibe

Rumor: Howard for Anthony or Stoudemire?

It wouldn’t be shocking at all if the New York Knicks make a play for Dwight Howard next season, perhaps offering either Amare Stoudemire or Carmelo Anthony at trade deadline.

 Link

HoopsVibe’s Very Quick Call: Did you enjoy Carmelo Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire battling Dwight Howard last night?

According to the Orlando Sentinel, the main characters in yesterday’s epic battle between the Knicks and Magic could switch places. Reports indicate the Magic would consider sending Howard to the Knicks for Anthony or Stoudemire.

A few thoughts:

1) The Howard rumors will continue to fly because he can opt-out of his contract at the end of 2012 and become an unrestricted free agent.

No matter how much Howard tries to defuse rumors, the feeling is he wants to bolt Orlando for a larger market. Like Los Angeles. Or New York.

The Magic have a dilemma. They could try re-signing Howard and risk having their top player as an unrestricted free agent without compensation.

(This would decimate the franchise. See the Cleveland Cavaliers. See the Toronto Raptors.)  

Or the Magic could concede that re-signing Howard would be tough in today’s era of super-teams and move him. Cutting their losses would bring back some assets.

(See the Denver Nuggets. See the Utah Jazz.)   

2) Anthony and Stoudemire are an awkward pairing. Their partnership doesn’t seem natural. Given time, things will improve. The supporting cast will be upgraded; a training camp together will make a difference.

Here’s the question for Knick fans: would Howard with Anthony or Stoudemire be superior to Anthony and Stoudemire?

3) The new Collective Bargaining Agreement to be negotiated between players and owners this summer could sideswipe all plans.

Small market owners may try to eliminate the super-team trend that’s permeating the NBA. They could gain the ability to keep star players by using an NFL-style franchise tag.

So the Magic could hang onto Howard –whether he likes it or not- by slapping him with the franchise player tag.

--Oly Sandor.

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Monday , Mar , 28 , 2011 Hoopsvibe

Rumor: Nash and Hill to follow Carter out of Phoenix?

Suns coach Alvin Gentry inserted center Marcin Gortat and swingman Jared Dudley into the starting lineup, putting Gortat into the spot of Robin Lopez, who had been groomed as a future franchise center, and Dudley in place of guard Vince Carter, who likely won't be with the Suns next season.

Gortat, 27, has received minutes and produced the numbers as if he were a starter and embraces the idea of a bigger role in the future. Sunday was his first start as a Suns center after receiving one previous start at power forward alongside Lopez.

Link

HoopsVibe’s Very Quick Call: How the mighty have fallen.

A decade ago, Vince Carter was supposedly the next Michael Jordan. ‘It was over’ when he won the Slam Dunk Contest with the Toronto Raptors. 

Five years ago, Carter was still a perennial All-Star with the New Jersey Nets, running the break and filling the lane alongside Richard Jefferson and Jason Kidd.

Today, he lost his starting spot to Jared Dudley, a very solid but hardly spectacular player for the Phoenix Suns. Carter probably won’t return to the first-five this year.

His timing couldn’t be worse.

Carter’s $15 million per annum contract isn’t guaranteed for 2012, so expect the Suns to exercise the $4 million buyout, making him a not-so desirable free agent.

Heading into training camp, center Robin Lopez was an up-and-comer for the Suns. Coach Alvin Gentry even declared him the team’s second most important player behind Steve Nash.
 
Well, it hasn’t worked out.

Lopez has struggled with his game and emotions. He was recently replaced in the starting line-up by the active Marcin Gortat, who was acquired in the same mid-season trade that brought Carter to Phoenix from the Orlando Magic.

Like Carter, Lopez`s demotion isn’t a short-term thing. Gortat is the man in the middle. For now, and for the foreseeable future.

Change has hit Phoenix. Unfortunately, Carter may not be the only aging starter jettisoned out of Arizona.

Grant Hill and Nash are in their mid-to-late thirties. Unlike Carter, both can still play; however, Phoenix has to rebuild at some point.

And trading Nash and his considerable salary would provide much-needed relief for owner Robert Sarver’s limited resources.

The once mighty Carter and Lopez have fallen. Sadly, the still mighty Hill and Nash could also go this summer.

--Oly Sandor.

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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.

Link

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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Thursday , Mar , 17 , 2011 Hoopsvibe

Tracy McGrady: ‘I see myself playing five more years’

“I see myself playing five more years,’’ McGrady said. That might not be easy for McGrady, a 14-year veteran who turns 32 in May. He has a lot of wear and tear on his body, something he said came from all those years of having to carry the Magic and Rockets.

HoopsVibe’s Very Quick Call: Tracy McGrady could easily float his way through the NBA for another five years.

He could bounce from irrelevant destination to irrelevant destination, getting minutes as a reserve and spot starter.

Hopefully, he’s learned from his experience with the Detroit Pistons. Hopefully, he’s learned playing for a mediocre franchise isn’t much fun. And hopefully, McGrady will sign on for the minimum with a contender and agree to play a role.

McGrady will never again be T-Mac, the 30 points per game superstar of the past. But he can still use his length, passing ability, and athleticism to facilitate and defend for teammates.

In short, McGrady needs to hit up Classic ESPN and watch highlights of his time with the Toronto Raptors. Back then, he was a very good complementary player.

Of course, McGrady was willing to play a secondary role. And it remains to be seen if he’d do it again –even if it meant getting to play meaningful basketball for a contender.

--Oly Sandor

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Wednesday , Mar , 09 , 2011 Hoopsvibe

Dwight Howard: I want to stay in Orlando

“I love Orlando. The city has been very good to me and I would love to finish my career here. I want to win a championship and I want to win it in Orlando,” Howard said on the Dan Patrick Show Monday morning. “That’s all I’ve been thinking about.”

Link

HoopsVibe’s Very Quick Call: You’ve heard rumors Dwight Howard will leave the Orlando Magic as a free agent and sign with the Los Angeles Lakers in 2012.

Well, not so fast. According to the massive five-man, this isn’t so.

Howard recently told scribes he wants to finish his career in Orlando, and bring an NBA Title to Disney World. There are a few reasons for these comments:

  • Clearly, the Magic aren’t trading Howard, so he and the team want to avoid the publicity that plagued Chris Bosh and the Toronto Raptors, LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers, and, most recently, Carmelo Anthony and the Denver Nuggets.
  • He may choose to stay in Orlando. Howard is comfortable, the Magic are competitive, and Executive Otis Smith is committed to providing him with a top flight supporting cast.
  • Of course, he may have to stay in Orlando. The league’s Collective Bargaining Agreement expires July 1st, and owners may prevent superstars from building super squads by allowing teams to apply a ‘franchise’ tag to top players.Translation: Orlando could keep Howard. It may not matter whether he wants to stay or go.

So Howard has to keep all options open. And that’s exactly what he’s doing with his comments.

--Oly Sandor
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Saturday , Mar , 05 , 2011 Hoopsvibe

Jeff Van Gundy: ‘Tracy McGrady should be a Hall of Fame player’



“Tracy McGrady was 1,000 hours of practice,” Van Gundy said to laughter from the audience. “He should be a Hall of Fame player. His talent was other-worldly. He was given a great leg up in the race against other players. He’s as close as I’ve ever seen to someone with a perfect body and a good mind.”

 
HoopsVibe’s Very Quick Call: For Tracy McGrady, it was never about winning or about being the best he could for his team.

Not in Toronto. Not in Orlando. Not in Houston. Not in New York. And not in Detroit, either.

For McGrady, it has always been about one thing: getting his. Minutes, touches, and shots have always taken precedence over wins and losses.

Sadly, McGrady still could have salvaged something from his career this summer. He could have signed on as a reserve with a contender. He could have agreed to play a role; blocking shots, facilitating, and using his length on defense like he did with the Toronto Raptors. 

Instead, he’s part of the problem with the Detroit Pistons. No matter how much you hate your boss, there’s never an excuse for not appearing at practice like McGrady did last week.

Sadly, there was no punishment. After all, the Pistons are in flux; Coach John Kuester is a lame duck; Executive Joe Dumars is on shaky ground; and the roster has underachieved.

Change won’t occur until the team is sold, so McGrady got off scotch free for his no-show. Things could be different in a few months, though.

In July, McGrady becomes an unrestricted free agent. Teams will see his numbers:  9 points and 4 assists. Teams will remember his one-day boycott. And they`ll take a pass.

His career will be over with a whimper. Bottom line: the great McGrady will go down as a ‘should have’.

--Oly Sandor.


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Thursday , Feb , 24 , 2011 Hoopsvibe

Will Deron Williams and Carmelo Anthony trades force a lockout?

Jazz CEO Greg Miller said he made the move because of a "gut feeling" that he wouldn't be able to sign Williams to a long-term deal after next season. "If you look at what happened with Phoenix, Toronto and Cleveland ... they all lost their marquee player and had very little if anything to show for it," Miller said. "This trade allows us to be competitive now and beyond the 2012 season."

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HoopsVibe’s Very Quick Call: Could this be the trigger that pushes the NBA’s small market owners to demand wholesale changes to the league’s Collective Bargaining Agreement and financial system?

Consider the Utah Jazz’s predicament. Their superstar and best player, Deron Williams, longed for bright lights, a big city, and a chance at a championship.

That wasn’t happening in Utah, so Williams likely informed management he was opting-out of his contract in July of 2012.

Translation: he was gone.

The Jazz could’ve spent the next sixteen months convincing Williams to stay. Of course, the end result wouldn’t have changed and the Jazz would’ve lost their prime asset without compensation.

Just like the Cleveland Cavaliers and Toronto Raptors with LeBron James and Chris Bosh.

Or, the Jazz could’ve spent the next sixteen months negotiating a trade. They’d be daily fodder for pundits and fans on-line and on-air. Maybe Conan O’Brien would get in on the act.

Just like the Denver Nuggets with Carmelo Anthony.

Neither situation was appealing, which led to the Jazz suddenly shipping Williams to the Nets for Derrick Favors, Devin Harris, and a pair of first round draft picks.

The Jazz did well, especially when considering Williams held all the cards, possessed all the leverage, and was hell-bent on using it. They were also lucky, though, because the Nets were willing to trade after losing out on Carmelo Anthony.

In four months, they –and the other small market owners- will get revenge. Much to the chagrin of the players, they’ll demand a hard cap, revenue sharing, and franchise player tags.

No more Anthony, Bosh, James, and Williams holding them hostage. And the looming lockout will be nasty, bitter, and long.

--Oly Sandor.

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Tuesday , Feb , 22 , 2011 Hoopsvibe

Rumor: Nuggets looking to trade Gallinari, Harrington, and Nene?

More than half the NBA has called Denver about Nene's availability in trades, but the team's first order of business after trading Carmelo Anthony to the Knicks is convincing their offensively talented center to remain with the team. Nene is eligible to opt out of his contract this offseason, despite being owed $11.6 million for the 11-12 season.

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HoopsVibe’s Very Quick Call: What’s next in The Mile High City?

Unfortunately, trading Carmelo Anthony to the New York Knicks has only created more questions and uncertainty for the Denver Nuggets.

For instance, do they trade or extend Nene, their Brazilian post who can also opt-out of his contract at season’s end?

Can management correct last summer’s error and find a taker/sucker to assume the remaining years and money on Al Harrington’s mid-level pact?

Meanwhile, ESPN is reporting that the Nuggets are attempting to flip Danilo Gallinari to the Cleveland Cavaliers, Los Angeles Clippers, New Jersey Nets, or Toronto Raptors.

There is one conclusion: the Nuggets are in overhaul mode. While they received a plethora of good pieces from the Knicks, Wilson Chandler, Raymond Felton, Gallinari, and Timofey Mozgov are hardly great.

The hard work is just beginning for rookie GM Masai Ujiri. He must now plot a path for Denver without Anthony, a top-fifteen player and recognizable personality.

The next two days could decide if Denver sinks to the depths of despair ala the Cleveland Cavaliers and Toronto Raptors post LeBron James and Chris Bosh.

Or, if Denver stays relevant by developing some pieces and moving others for tangible assets.

Expect Ujiri to burn up the phone lines and explore all options right up to Thursday’s trade deadline. Indeed, Denver’s future is at stake.

--Oly Sandor.

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Wednesday , Feb , 16 , 2011 Hoopsvibe

Chris Bosh on returning to Toronto: ‘I’m not stressed’

“I’m not stressed,” Bosh said in Indianapolis on Tuesday. “At the end of the day, it’s a game (and) when I get out there, that’s going to take over. I don’t stress about too many things. It is what it is and whatever will be, will be.”

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HoopsVibe’s Very Quick Call: Why would Chris Bosh be stressed about returning to Toronto, his former home for seven seasons?

Yes, Raptor-nation is hostile. Yes, they hold grudges for years, sometimes decades against superstars who leave under less than ideal circumstances.
 
And yes, Bosh left the Raptors to sign with the Miami Heat as a free agent last July.

The masses will be ready with pitch forks and fire Wednesday when Bosh returns to Toronto for the first time since bolting The Great White North. (Just ask Vince Carter about the chilly reception he received.)

This, however, shouldn’t bother Bosh. Leaving was the right decision.

His Heat are contenders. They will be for years, too. Instead of passing out of double-teams to Candice Parker’s brother and Hoffa Araujo, Bosh is hitting superstars like LeBron James and Dwyane Wade.

So let the Toronto boo-birds have their day. Bosh is having the last laugh.

--Oly Sandor.

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Thursday , Jan , 06 , 2011 Hoopsvibe

Grizzlies at fault for Allen-Mayo gambling scrap

Grizzles teammates O.J. Mayo and Tony Allen had to be separated during a physical encounter that stemmed from a card game on the team's charter flight Monday, according to team sources. Mayo owed Allen money from a card game called "Boo-Ray" and he became increasingly belligerent when asked to settle his debt.

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HoopsVibe’s Very Quick Call: Who exactly is to blame for Tony Allen and OJ Mayo scrapping over an unsettled debt on a team plane?

Well, Allen and Mayo have to shoulder a portion of the blame for acting in an unprofessional manner. However, so do the Memphis Grizzlies.

After all, most franchises have banned gambling. This was common sense after Gilbert Arenas and Javaris Crittenton drew guns on each other in the Washington Wizards’ locker room in attempt to settle a gambling debt.

Not the Grizzlies. They missed this tsunami sized warning sign. Of course, this wasn’t the first sign.

Years ago, Charles Oakley punched Tyrone Hill because he refused to ‘pay what he owed’ in a card game. ‘Oak’ and Hill were on different teams. They ‘happened’ to meet when their respected teams, the Toronto Raptors and Philadelphia 76ers, crossed path on the practice floor.

In short, players will act unprofessionally –if their team allows it. The Grizzlies allowed it. And now they have a mess on their hands.

--Oly Sandor.

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Monday , Jan , 03 , 2011 Hoopsvibe

Rumor: Teams talking to Raptors about ‘intriguing’ Stojakovic?

An intriguing player on the market is Raptors sharpshooter Peja Stojakovic, who has not played since Nov. 26 because of a knee injury but is close to returning. Stojakovic is earning $14 million this season, and the Raptors also have most of the Bosh trade exception to facilitate a deal.

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HoopsVibe’s Very Quick Call: Let’s clarify. Peja Stojakovic is ‘intriguing’ because of his contract, and not because of his on-court play.

Teams that inquire about Stojakovic are interested in his $14 million dollar expiring contract. They have no illusions about him recreating his Sacramento glory days by moving off the ball, catching, and converting from the outside.

It won’t happen. Injuries and age have taken its toll.

One scenario is worth watching, though. A rebuilding squad could trade for Stojakovic before the deadline and waive or buy him out.

Stojakovic would then become a free agent and, perhaps, ink a pro-rated one-year deal for the minimum with a contender.

In the all-or-nothing world of the NBA, a top team may have interest in renting Stojakovic for a couple of months and the playoffs.

However, the Euro gunner must first prove he can still play before Boston, Dallas, Los Angeles, Miami, San Antonio, or any other contender takes a flyer on him. This means getting on-court and producing for lowly Toronto.

If Stojakovic can’t contribute to the cellar-dwelling Raptors, how could he contribute to a team with championship aspirations?

The business of basketball means there’s a market for Stojakovic’s contract. Hopefully, he has something left to offer the game of basketball.

--Oly Sandor.

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