Good Enough For Team USA and Raptors ..But Not Team Canada?

So this might be old news but based on Canada's performance over the weekend it got me thinking about Jay Triano. I had my reservations and still do about Jay but they are rapidly fading away. When I consider Team Canada let this guy go and that was a move I totally disagreed with at the time. In fact still do disagree with. The Score had a feature on Jay and his work with Team USA. I heard from players like Kevin Durant, David Lee and other players singing his praises. But not just them but people like Jerry Colangelo, Coach K from Duke also commenting on how good Jay was. It is a bit of an apples and oranges situation given that we are talking about international ball. But at the end of the day, if you are a good coach that should translate on all levels.

To watch the lack of discipline yesterday from Canada was to say the least disturbing. Canada also had a pier 6 brawl with Italy. Although in defense of Canada that was something not started by them. However yesterday in front of a packed house of Peurto Rico supporters Canada just lost it's cool. Jessie Young flipped off a ref according to the announcers and Leo Rautins got a technical foul as well. It was just the cherry on the Sunday, of what was not a great game. Canada has just one lone NBA player in Joel Anthony from the Miami Heat. Leo of course had his famous blow up with Sam Dalembert that has resulted in him no longer being part of the national program. Steve Nash has remained out of the mix for the entire Rautins era as well. Leo when he took on the role had little to no coaching experience.

So why on earth did Canada Basketball let a guy go, that since has went from Raptors assistant coach to head coach and works now for Team USA as part of their developmental staff. Even in my concerns I have had about Jay they have always been those of circumstance and nothing to do with his ability. There was an interesting story Jay shared on that piece on The Score. He said that back when Sam Mitchell had won Coach of the Year and could leave the Raptors because his contract was up. That he had said to Bryan Colangelo that he was thinking if Sam left and went elsewhere he may in fact go with him. The reason Jay gave was that he wanted to get out of the situation of him being the Canadian coach on Canada's NBA team. In other words to lose the tag of some thinking he was the "token" Canadian. Colangelo was upset and responded to Jay that if you were not good enough, Canadian or not he would have been gone a long ago.

Sam ending up staying as did Jay, and at least for Jay that has been a great thing. Mitchell gets fired and if Jay had any doubt in what Bryan had said to him, the fact he was named the head coach spoke volumes. Yet Canada Basketball let's this guy go? Now there are some positives in the program and if you look at the younger levels talent is coming for this program. However the fact that Canada has not qualified on the Men's side of things for a World Championship or Olympics since Jay left. It is more then likely if Canada fails to make the World Championships this time around, it will mean the end for Leo Rautins as head coach of the senior men's team. It may be a pipe dream but I would love to see his replacement be the same one he has on T.V. Jack Armstrong splits T.V duties with Leo, and just like in the broadcast booth, I think Jack would do a far better job than Leo. It is just my opinion, but I have some basis to think it. Jack was the youngest head coach in NCAA history when he started coaching in college. He ran a program in the Niagara Purple Eagles that were a small fish in a very big pond. He has great passion for the sport and is very knowledgeable as anyone that has watched him work the last 11 years with Raptors can see.

I have no idea if he would consider it or if Canada Basketball would consider him. The type of person that Jack is you will never hear him express an opinion about it as long as Leo has the job. That is just the type of stand-up person Jack is. The only thing I can say is that in interviews here on the Dino Nation Blog Jack has shared that you never lose the desire to coach. At least he never has. Despite the fact that he has done his role in the media for over a decade. I can tell you one thing for certain that you would not have seen the mess that I saw on Saturday and Sunday with Jack on the bench.

Turning attention back to Jay Triano, we are all going to get to see just what this guy can do this season. He has a roster full of new faces to work with. I think as Canadians we all want to see Jay succeed. If he does it will be a great story not just for the Raptors but for all of Canada. Maybe if he can have some success it can help build the national identity for the Raptors Organization. It is something I have always felt the Raptors could do a better job of. Sure they do a few thing in having the NBA 3 on 3 tour that goes across the country. They have played the odd exhibition game in various venues across the country. But it takes more than being like the circus coming to town to build that relationship with the rest of this country. Success and winning are the obvious answers for Canada to get Raptorized. However there are other small things that can be done to help establish them. Get people in the Organization on Radio and T.V across this country. Don't wait for them to come to you. Take the lead and go seek them out. Chris Bosh if he sticks around beyond this year, should be a national brand in this country not unlike Steve Nash is. Bosh will never be a Canadian but he is the star of Canada's team. There are hardcore basketball fans all across this country this country. I see it in the people that read the Dino Nation Blog. But it is about getting all of those casual sports fans to buy in. Which can be tough when Hockey is the first, second, third and forth story on most sportscasts across this country. Step by step be it the Raptors, Media or fans of the game we all need to do our part to grow the sport. If you truly love basketball it is your duty to do so. We are all responsible to share our love of Dr Naismith's great game.


Wow Canada

Last night on DNB Radio I shared my thoughts on what was an impressive win that was by Canada over Mexcio yesterday. If you some how missed the live blog yesterday and DNB Radio...Canada beat Mexico by 55 points. It was a really amazing shooting day for team Canada. Andy Rautins gave Syracuse fans reason to be optimistic about his personal outlook for next season. The journey continues today as Canada will take on the Virgin Islands. I will once again be live blogging all the action here at the Dino Nation Blog same start time of 3:45.

The action continues over the weekend and I will see if I am able to blog those as well.Also, don't for get that our Fantasy League with PASPN launches tonight, so if you want you first choice of a team or players to represent if you choose to be agent it starts @ 7pm. If you have not signed up yet here is a link to the PASPN MOCK GM SITE and then sign-up for OUR LEAGUE. It works on a first come first serve basis so signing up after 7pm today you are going to be getting leftovers.


Break Out The Red And White

Not much going on in Raptorland. So for next couple days you might want to shift your basketball attention to Team Canada. They are trying to qualify for the World Championships next year. You can catch them in action on The Score tomorrow as they open up against Mexico. I give The Score credit for stepping up and broadcasting these games they did the same last year for the Olympic Qualifier. It is part of why I have some pride in that logo on the top of the blog. The Score truly does the most for basketball fans on all levels in terms of coverage of the sport. NBA, NCAA and CIS as well as Canada Basketball all get coverage on The Score. So here is the Schedule for Canada in the round robin portion of the tournament.

vs Mexico August 27- Live @ 4pm on The Score (Replay @ 10pm)

vs Virgin Islands August 28th- Live @ 4pm on The Score (Replay @ 10pm)

vs Uruguay August 29th- Live @4pm Replay on The Score (Replay @ 10pm)

vs Puerto Rico August 30th- Live @ 9pm On The Score ( Replay Mon @ 3pm)

This is an important tournament for Canada and for the future of coach Leo Rautins one has to believe. Should Canada not find a way to qualify it would likely mean the end of the line for Leo as coach of the team. Here is the roster he will be counting on to get it done.

4 Jermaine Anderson* Guard 6’2 Toronto, ON Tuebingen (Germany)
15 Joel Anthony* Centre 6’9 Montreal, QC Miami Heat (NBA)
6 Ryan Bell Guard 6’5 Ottawa, ON Schalke (Germany)
7 Jermaine Bucknor Forward 6’7 Edmonton, AB Maurienne (France)
11 Aaron Doornekamp* Forward 6’7 Odessa, ON Carleton University (CIS)
8 Carl English* Guard 6’5 Patrick’s Cove, NF Gran Canaria (Spain)
9 Olu Famutimi* Forward 6'6 Toronto, ON Khimik (Ukraine)
14 Levon Kendall* Forward 6’10 Vancouver, BC Panionios (Greece)
5 Tyler Kepkay* Guard 5’10 Vancouver, BC University of Utah (NCAA)
13 Kyle Landry Forward 6'9 Calgary, AB Mons-Hainaut (Belgium)
10 Andy Rautins* Guard 6’5 Syracuse, NY Syracuse University (NCAA)
12 Jesse Young* Forward 6’10 Peterborough, ON Murcia (Spain)

The * indicates those players were on the 2008 team that tried to qualify for the Olympics in China.

The Dino Blogger will be watching and in fact I am going to live blog the games as well. For now it will be here on the Dino Nation Blog if that changes in terms of venue I will let you know. But if you want to join some basketball fans or you can't get to a T.V and want to follow team Canada you can do so with me here at the Dino Nation Blog.

I will also talk some Canada Basketball this week on DNB Radio. There will be lots of chance to talk Raptors but at least for a few days the Dino Nation Blog is going a different red and white. Go Canada Go!!!


The Raptors Great Expectations

The Toronto Raptors entered into this off-season looking like a team that could be on the verge of being blown up. What I am saying is having the core of it altered. However that is not what happened, it was just everything else. Last summer many were excited about the acquisition of Jermaine O'Neal. However, as I have said a few times this is different this summer. My initial reaction to the J.O trade if you recall was that I hated the move. When the deal had fallen apart I wrote that it was probably for the best. Eventually, I would be swayed into thinking it could be a good thing but my initial instinct was correct. The trade involving one of my favourite players in T.J Ford, I had felt was clouding my judgment.

This season is different and my eyes are wide open. It is not that I am a huge fan of any one player that has been brought into the fold. Sure I picked the Magic to go to the NBA Finals last October and Hedo was a big part in how they got there. I always have said the Raptors need to address what they lost in T.J Ford. They now have with Jarrett Jack. Who ironically beat out Ford as did Jose Calderon here. Amir Johnson was one of a number of talent young guys that the Pistons had. I am not sure he stuck out from the group in any way. Reggie Evans has long been on my list of guys that would make a good fit on the Raptors. He adds rebounding and a toughness that has not been here since Charles Oakley was traded to the Bulls. Marco Belinelli has talent and was in need of a new place to call home. Don Nelson did not exactly help Marco grow and develop as a player. Many credit Jay Triano for getting Andrea Bargnani back on the right path with his career. Perhaps he can do the same for Marco? Can Sonny Weems be the next Jamario Moon or Pops Mensah-Bonsu? I have no idea at all but he has spent a lot of time in the D-League and you would hope and think that he is motivated to stick around in NBA. I have never traveled with an NBA team or a D-League team but something tells me you roll a little better in the NBA. You can ask Rasho Nesterovic how they roll in the NBA cause he is back as well. Which I think all Raps fans are happy about.

Basically this is a lot different then last year hoping that one guy was healthy and that a point guard that had never been a starter for a full NBA Season could hold up. We all know how that played out last year. However with this team it is build with some depth and is not so dependent on so few things. Let's say Demar DeRozan develops a little slower than we all expect. Is that the end of the world? That is just one example, but the point is, it would take a number of things going wrong for the Raptors to not still be competitive. Last season they were a J.O or Jose injury away from being a very bad basketball team. Even if Chris Bosh missed time are you not somewhat confident this team could still win? That is how much better Bryan Colangelo has made things this season. I doubt anyone will be able to get him to say it but this could be the best team he has assembled with the Raptors. He said something like that last year and the words came back to haunt him. This time around he will leave those kind of embarrassments for folks like me and other media outlets to say.

It is clear the expectation level has risen for this Raptor team. Along with that will be a rise in speculation on the future of Chris Bosh. This is going to be a season that will ultimately tell you a lot about Chris Bosh as a basketball player and as a person as well. How will he handle being in a contract year, with heavy expectations for his basketball team and the constant speculation by the U.S media about his future. How tough is Chris Bosh mentally? This season is going to provide a real answer to that question. Can he lock in on the task at hand and put aside all of the pressure and speculation and perform at a high level? I think he can do it. My personal expectations are that we see the best season ever from Chris Bosh. If I am right given the amount of talent that now surrounds him it could indeed be a very successful year for the Raptors. Some people will crack under pressure. However pressure is also what makes diamonds. The question will be is if Bosh comes up with a diamond like performance will diamonds be forever for the Raptors? In other words, if Bosh has a huge season will that help ensure he stays or pave the way for him to go? If I am going to bet on it if Bosh is successful and the Raptors are along with him, CB4 will remain a Raptor maybe not for life but for another contract at least. Sure this is speculation on my part but the one thing I am pretty certain of, is Chris Bosh is not going to be answering any questions about his future until he wants to and that is not going to be anytime soon.

Given the way the schedule has been constructed, we will all know just how good this Raptor team can be early on. If the Raptors can be a team that is above .500 heading into 2010 they will be on a path to success. The real question then becomes what is success for this team? They still even in the best case situation most people see them as 4th best team in the East or worse. Which would mean the Raptors in theory need to finish in 4th or 5th to advance at least a round in the playoffs. Which if you go by expectations would see a Hawks and Raptors Playoff series. Interesting that would be given the strange and odd history between the 2 clubs. However there is an entire season to play and you never know what lies around the corner. Just ask the Miami Heat who apparently have had there young star in Michael Beasley find himself in a rehab suffering with depression. The point is life is dynamic and none of us truly know what tomorrow can bring be it good or bad.

But if you base things on what the expected outcomes could be the Raptors seem like a team that is ready to return to the Playoffs once again. There is a lot of heavy expectations for them to do so. Which I think is fantastic. After all this will be year 15 of Raptors basketball. Just to have grown to the point that so many people care about the Raptors and basketball is something to smile about. A lot has changed in 15 years and one of those things is the number of fans and people that love basketball. If you have been a life long basketball fan this is something that is cause to celebrate regardless of if this team matches the lofty expectations that will come it's way. The Raptors are truly relevant and important to a lot of people. Look around the league at how many cities that can not honestly say that. Raptor fans have stuck with this team from the start and just grown in size and scope. I can not think of a group of people I enjoy more as a whole than Raptor Fans. I am proud to invest my time each day for such loyal and passionate people.


The Summer Of B.C

Things are slowing down as we approach the end of August. However what a summer it has been for Bryan Colangelo. He truly has recreated the Toronto Raptors and done what most felt was near impossible. Only the core of this Raptor roster remains from opening night in Philadelphia last year. How it will all work out is up for debate but no one can question that Bryan has not been hard at work reconstructing this Raptor roster. He even in a interview on the Fan 590 this past week suggests he may not be done.

If there was an off-season G.M of the year award it would go hands down to Bryan Colangelo. He has given Jay Triano a number of tools and options to allow him to be a success in his first full year as head coach of the Raptors. It has to be a good feeling for Triano to know that his G.M would put in so much work and is always striving to make this team better. It allows him to just focus on the task of coaching this squad and getting them prepared to be successful. Speaking of Jay, Romy Aquino of Hoops Head North had a chance to interview Jay as he was out in Halifax. I got to know Romy as he did a bit of work live blogging with us on The Score.com, so congrats to him on being able to land an interview with Jay Triano.

In a summer that started with rumours of if Chris Bosh would be traded it has drastically changed for the better. I entered into this off-season feeling unsure about the Raptors future. Now that we are approaching the end of it, I find myself the most optimistic I have been in a long time. Sure there still is a lot of questions to be answered. The biggest of which is if Chris Bosh will remain with the Raptors beyond this season. However the team Colangelo has built gives me hope that it is possible to see a path that may lead Bosh to stay in Toronto. At the start of this off-season that was a lonely dark road that few people dared go down.

I had said in this blog long before this reconstruction started that the number one goal of Bryan Colangelo was to keep Chris Bosh and not trade him. I am not sure how many people believed me when I said it, but now do you believe? You should because Colangelo said that part of why he came here was to build a team around a talent like Chris Bosh. I think to often Bosh is not given the true respect he is due at times. He is a top talent in the NBA however you cut it and he gives all that he has to try to win. Vince Carter was and is a guy with immense talent but seldom lives up to it. Chris Bosh as worked is way to NBA stardom and he continues to do so.

This summer could mark the turn of not just Raptors chances for this upcoming season but for the franchise as a whole. Bryan Colangelo can change the perception of this franchise once and for all if he can re-sign Chris Bosh. That will end all of the V.C, T-Mac and Damon Stoudamire leaving talk in the history books where it belongs.

So Could You Do Better Than B.C?

I got approached by Ngozika Nwaneri about a fantasy basketball game called Mock GM. I took a look at the game and concept and it seemed pretty interesting and something very different from you average fantasy sports game. Now in the past I have taken part in all kinds of basketball related games. From sim leagues to fantasy leagues there is nothing I have not given a shot over the years. It seems fairly obvious that if you write a blog on basketball you would be a junkie for anything basketball related. I was asked if I wanted to set up a league for the Dino Nation Blog to try this out, I thought it looked interesting so after exchanging some e-mails, we did create a league for all of you to take part in if you like. Here is the link to our league on Mock GM. It is free to play and it will not cost you anything. How is works is unique. Instead of you standard fantasy game in which you would hold draft and pick players, you start with the current NBA franchise you sign up to be G.M of and go from there. You can also choose to go the Jerry Maguire route and be an agent for up to 30 NBA players. The league is set to launch on Friday at 7pm (Toronto Time) and basically it works on a first come first serve basis. I am going to allow some reader the chance to run the Raptors and I will take on some other team. I may even decide to be an agent. If you want some background on how all of this work I will provide a couple links to the basics and the rules. Mock G.M Basketball 101 and the rules to play as a G.M or Agent. However I thought it might be a good idea to have Ngozika pay a visit to the starting 5 as well to give me and you an overview of the game and tell us more about it.

It seem interesting enough to try. I still will have your more tradition fantasy options for you when the season approaches. But this offers a chance for fans who all think they have the answers to go out and prove it. Same goes for bloggers as well. It is very easy to say what you would do in a G.M's shoes but this game comes as close to putting you in that chair as you are likely going to get. As mentioned interview as well if you are a bit foggy on how the CBA works this will provide you some real life experience as to how it does. So if you think you have the stuff or just are looking to have some fun in the dog days of summer sign up at PASPN.net and get ready for the fun to start Friday. If you have friends or family that you want to join up feel free to invite them to play as well.


Adnan Virk Of Raps T.V In Starting 5

Today in the starting 5 it is a pleasure for me to welcome back Adnan Virk. I got to know Adnan long before he was "The Baller" when we worked together. He has done very well for himself since those days. He recently made the move from The Score to Raptors T.V and will also be working on the other networks of the MLSE family. When I do an interview with Adnan you never know what might happen. This time around we talk about Bryan Colangelo, Hedo Turkoglu, Chris Bosh, Demar Derozan and Jarrett Jack. That along with some thoughts on Adnan's new job and he even offers me one. It is always fun talking with Adnan and we have a lot of fun doing our interviews together. There is near the end someone in the background who is not exactly a fan of our interview. But hopeful you will be a fan of what we did this time around. It sounds like Adnan is going to be a very busy guy, but I will do my best to bring him back whenever possible. He truly is one of the funnier people I have ever had the privilege of knowing. Now if I could just get him to call me James instead of Jimmy. It was a nickname from when we worked together, although I forget the exact reason why.

Adnan did mention his blog on Raptors.com I will have to add that to the Web Directory. Right now his blogs are going under the Raptors TV blog. Not sure if that will change once the season starts I guess will see. But Adnan is always a guy that brings a lot of fun and energy to what he does. I am looking forward to him being part of the crew on Raps TV for this upcoming season. Hope you enjoyed this latest chat with the two of us. You truly never know what you are going to get when the two of us get together. The only guarantee is we both do are very best to be entertaining and informative. All the best to Adnan in this move and wish him nothing but success. Also the weather in Southern Ontario was not good. So you may not have been able to check out DNB Radio, but you can hear the full show if you check over on the right under DNB RADIO.


Matt Devlin is in The Starting 5

At this time last year Matt Devlin was in China covering the Olympics. It has been just over a year since Matt became the play by play voice of the Toronto Raptors. The team that he first signed on to cover has had quite the make over. Just 3 of the players who's names he called on opening night in Philly last year remain on this Raptors basketball team. He has in that year been a guest in the Dino Nation Blog on many occasions. I had Matt come on after he called his first ever game in the pre-season and many other times. He is always willing to come on and share his thoughts and have some fun with me. Today was no exception as we talk about many different subjects. Including Jay Triano and what all these changes mean for him. The job Bryan Colangelo has done in this off season. He gives his take on where this Raptors team fits into the mix in the Eastern Conference. Along with thoughts on the most recent trade. At least, the most recent one at the time of the interview. The way Bryan Colangelo is going you can never be sure. We even talk Twitter. Matt was on a cell so there is a bit of audio issues with that. But hopefully it does not take away from your enjoyment of the interview. But cellular technology is not perfect.

Thanks to Matt as always for making time for us here at the Dino Nation Blog. I do not keep stats on this sort of thing but Matt has been one of our most frequent visitors to the Dino Nation Blog and it is greatly appreciated by me. It has been a pleasure to get to know him in some small way over the past year. He is always very easy going and willing to take the time out for me.

So hope you enjoyed it, and don't forget DNB Radio is on the air over the internet on Blog Talk Radio at it's new and improved time of 10pm EDT. Hope you tune into to listen as I will have some thoughts on this interview and a couple others I have done recently. That along with thoughts on the Raptors and NBA along with maybe even some calls from you folks as well. I have another interview scheduled for today and if all goes well that you can look for tomorrow here on the Dino Nation Blog. I may have time to get a clip of it and give you a sneak preview of it tonight on DNB Radio.

DNB Radio- Episode 3

DNB Radio has moved up an hour to 10pm as it was meant to be in the first place. It is going to be a busy day for me. I have a couple interviews scheduled for today. I will preview those interviews that will be coming up in the blog. Going to talk about Bryan Colangelo and his latest move and the latest rumoured move. B.C was on the radio yesterday and suggested he still may have a few moves up his sleeve. Can that really be possible? He also said Marco Belinelli has the talent to be a candidate for 6th man award for the Raptors. Bold statement indeed, but do we expect anything different from Bryan Colangelo? Not sure if will have a guest but you never know. I will have some clips from interviews recently in the Dino Nation Blog with Zack Cooper as well as some clips from the latest interviews that I am doing today. If they come off without any issues. All off this and hopefully some calls from all of you at (347) 994 2767.

So remember we are on at a new and improved time of 10pm. Hope you will take the time to make DNB Radio part of you Thursday night.


Raps Have 15 and Reason To Think Positive?

You can never be certain with Bryan Colangelo but it seems like the Raptors... might be done? There is still talk that Raptors would like to move Marcus Banks but that seems more like mission impossible. But the Raptors have reached that magic number of 15 to fill a roster. It has been a heck of an off season... has it not? 9 new faces and realistically only the core players remain. Bosh, Bargnani and Calderon are really the only players of significance that Colangelo kept. No offense to Quincy Douby, Patrick O'Bryant and Marcus Banks, but I don't think any of them can be considered rotation players. It has always been said that Bryan Colangelo hates to lose. They also say actions speak louder than words. Well a loud and clear statement has been made to Raptor fans. It has been that same statement made to Chris Bosh. If the true goal of Bosh is to win. Which Zack Cooper said yesterday he thinks it is, in our interview and I agree with him. Chris Bosh has to be impressed with the response of his G.M to failure. In fact Bryan Colangelo makes other G.M that make excuses that they can't make moves look quite silly.

True all of this is on paper and in theory but everyone to a man thinks the Raptors have greatly improved. Many folks like to use statistics and what not to try to illustrate points. I respect the folks that do the work and research it takes to do these type pieces. However I have always based my opinions based on what I know and what I see. Stats are great when you are talking about your fantasy league. However it is about wins and loses at the end of the day. Lots of options for this team in terms of depth. It should make for a very competitive situation for the final few spots in Jay Triano's rotation. Amir Johnson and Sonny Weems just become 2 more people in the mix battling for time.

The last time Colangelo did a major make over like this the results were fantastic. If you want proof just go look at the banner that hangs in the ACC for evidence. That being said this team needs to do some things that Division Championship team did not. The first and foremost thing is get off to a quick start. That team that won the Atlantic actually never got off to the greatest start if you recall. This team given it's schedule can not afford to fall behind like that out of the blocks. There was no Boston big 3 back then and the East as a whole was much weaker. If you are willing to concede that Boston, Orlando and Cleveland will be the top 3 teams in the East. That leaves just one home playoff spot to secure. The Atlanta Hawks held that spot last year. They also have made some adjustments and improvements. But, no team in the East has made more changes than the Toronto Raptors.

As much as people will crunch numbers and stats it will come down to that great unknown called chemistry. How all the people and personalities come together. A large part of building that falls on the coaching staff and of course head coach Jay Triano. In his time with team Canada, Jay did a tremendous job at building that kind of chemistry in short periods of time. He will need those skills to do that for this team to get them ready for a very challenging start to the the schedule. Go look at it for yourself, and tell me how many easy wins you find in November?

They do say it is not how you start it is how you finish. However if the Raptors want to not just make the playoffs, but make noise in them, that phrase will not apply. Remember how everyone talked last year about the turn in the schedule. Well the Raptors can't wait around for that this season. If the Raptors are serious about being in the mix in the East they can not be saying wait till February. That is when the schedule drastically shifts in the Raptors favour this year.

Even though it may be all just on paper at this point Bryan Colangelo has done a heck of a job turning over this roster. I don't think you can find a person that thinks he could have done anymore then what he has done. It is now up to his choice for the coach of this team to make him look good. It is up to the players as well. If Chris Bosh has the breakout season that I am personally expecting along with all these changes it should make the Raptors a solid team that no one can afford to overlook. Still a long way to the end of October, but expectations are growing for this team and unlike last year, I think there is a more solid foundation to believe in them.


Starting 5 with Zack Cooper From Fan 590

The Dino Nation Blog is always looking to add to our guest list. Zack Cooper works for the Fan 590 and does a lot of work for the Fan 590 in covering the Toronto Raptors. He can be found on many days covering Raptor practices or games. So to have someone like this as a guest is obviously something that will add some insight for us. It has been an off-season full of changes and the faces have changed quite a bit. Zack also hosts the the show Got Game on the Fan 590. That is on Sunday's at 5pm. He has a passion for the whole gaming world, as well as the sports world. So we do talk a little bit on that as well. I also recently had the pleasure of being a guest on The Fan 590 with Zack and was grateful for the opportunity to do that. He gave me my debut as a guest on the station. So it only seemed right to bring him to the Dino Nation Blog for his debut in The Starting 5. It is growing to become quite the impressive line-up. So is the Raptors line-up for that matter. We talk about the latest trade to go down off the top and get into all the moves that have been made. In addition some thoughts on what all of this will mean for Chris Bosh. I hope you will enjoy this latest edition of the Starting 5. There are a few more guests scheduled for this week. Zack is hitting in the lead off spot and does a great job in kicking off what should be a good week for the DNB on the interview front.

It has been great to recently get to know Zack. I am very lucky to have got to know so many talented folks thanks to the Dino Nation Blog. I consider Zack to be one of those talented folks. I had always enjoyed his work and hope to have him as a guest moving forward. I think you will agree he offered some excellent informed opinion and is someone that is around this Raptor Organization and can offer an insider point of view for us. Zack mentioned about Twitter and loving to chat gaming or sports so if you want to follow him on twitter he is @ZCoopertown Two more guests this week so make sure you check back in with us. Both are returning guests to the Starting 5. I am on Twitter as well if you want to keep on top of what is going on with the Dino Nation Blog that is one of the better ways to do it @dinonationblog


The trade for Roko Ukic and Carlos Delfino for Amir Johnson and Sonny Weems mentioned in this interview is now OFFICIAL the Raptors have issued a press release. Thanks to Holly Mackenzie for the heads up.


Don't Cry For Me Roko Ukic ..You Were Suppose To Be Much Better

If you have never seen the movie Evita with Madonna the humour of the the title may be lost on you. But none the less it seems Bryan Colangelo despises summer vacation of any kind. Still hard at work attempting to make his Raptors better. The deal that is being reported

To The Bucks:

- Rights to SG/SF Carlos Delfino
- PG Roko Ukic

To Toronto

- Forward Amir Johnson
- Guard/Forward Sonny Weems

When you consider the Raptors are doing basically a sign and trade for Carlos Delfino, was not like he was ever on the roster. This basically becomes a trade about Roko Ukic.It seems pretty clear that the Raptors felt much like myself that Roko had not developed at a rate they were happy with. That is why they went out and signed Jarrett Jack and it is why they considered drafting Jonny Flynn. So it makes sense to see Roko on the move. I was asked on the first DNB Radio if I saw any trade possibilities for Roko or Marcus Banks. My response was that I saw it as unlikely. However Bryan Colangelo was smart enough to package Roko with an asset he had, but had no intention of using in Delfino. Coming back the other way is Amir Johnson who was on of those young players on that Pistons bench that was suppose to be the the future. He is someone who perhaps could bring something to the table. Weems I will admit I am not all that familiar with but he is 6 foot 6 and will be a depth player at both shooting guard and more importantly small forward. He comes from a solid college program in Arkansas. Basically these are 2 guys that may be something or may not. This is not a trade that is going to shake the foundation of what has already been constructed by Bryan Colangelo. The deal speaks to me more about where Roko was at than anything else.

This also would put an end to any speculation of a return of Pops Mensah-Bonsu or Joey Graham until further notice. There is an outside chance that Marcus Banks could be bought out to open up a roster spot but that would seem unlikely at least not to just bring back Joey or Pops.

I heard someone on the Fan 590 today just in a full rage about the fact the Raptors would trade Roko and give up on him so soon? He used the example of Calderon. See that is your problem right there. What Jose Calderon did from year 1 to year 2 is the exception and not the rule. I watched Roko play in all 5 summer league games and he really had not shown any huge signs of growth or development. It was basically the same Roko. He also brought up his numbers with Croatia being improved. What people do in FIBA Basketball does not translate over to the NBA necessarily. Steve Nash did take his time with team Canada and used it as a spring board to his NBA Career but again that is rare and not the rule.

What both Nash and Calderon did was special and truly Roko beyond the odd flash of brilliance has never been that "special". This was a guy drafted by Rob Babcock. He was a projected first round pick that fell into the 40's. These things do not happen by accident. Rob Babcock does not have the best draft record in the world in his brief and destructive term as Raptors GM. Charlie V I would class as his only true solid draft choice. The rest have been variations of the word "bust". Could light come on one day and Roko will become a good point guard in this league? You can never say no for certain but the odds are highly in favour of the house on this one. Doug Smith on the same fan 590 said he doubts Roko is better than a 3rd string point guard for the Bucks. Who have according to Raptorblog's Scott Carefoot (and I don't disagree) the worst starting point guard in the league in Luke Ridnour. How can you really question Colangelo shifting things around and adding some depth at small forward and perhaps power forward in the case of Johnson.

So please don't shed any tears for Roko Ukic, or for Pops or Joey for that matter. This off season was about erasing all that went wrong last season and the addition of now (if this deal does get finalized) 9 new faces that mission has been more than accomplished. It also gives Jay Triano a fresh canvas to paint on in his first year as head coach full time. This was something that had to be done for Jay to have a good chance at being successful in my view. The only question I have is for Bryan Colangelo...are we done now? I doubt he will have time to answer as he is likely on the phones trying to trade Marcus Banks for someone. If Bryan can do that he truly will have nothing left to do but sit and wait for the season to begin.


Season That Will Define The Franchise?

For many reasons this was always going to be a big season for the Raptors. It marks 15 years in the NBA. Where has the time gone seriously? I was hanging around Toronto on Friday and was around the Skydome. You may prefer to call it Rogers Centre. But is was the Skydome when the Raptors called it home. I never attended a game at the dome. It was not the most ideal place to play a basketball game. Damon Stoudamire was booed in that same Skydome and he would have the last laugh being named rookie of the year. It was kind of proof that Toronto had a long way to go as basketball fans. Damon was a good player from Arizona but the people felt Ed O'Bannon was the guy based on being part of a championship UCLA squad. Damon was the little man that would lead what was the first era of Raptors basketball. Mighty Mouse may never be as popular in Toronto or anywhere else ever again. Be it the cartoon character or the man who took on the nickname.

The smiles and happiness would not last long. A struggle, both on the court with the young expansion team going through growing pains and one off the court for control of the team would lead to a short time on top for Mighty Mouse. Isiah Thomas would make a power play that would fail to get into the ownership of the team. He would end up leaving and Damon would follow not long after him.

Glen Grundwald would replace Thomas and it would be a move he made on draft night that would launch the next era of Raptors basketball. The Raptors headed into the draft and took Antwan Jamison but it would not be for long. He had mad a deal and swapped Jamison for Vince Carter. Air Canada "Carter" would soon take flight. He would just explode on to the NBA scene and became a Sportscenter hi-light favourite. It would lead to another Rookie of the Year award and excitement to come. Vince would become the first all-star in franchise history. He would not just become an all-star he would lead the voting for several years.

Vince would bring back the Slam Dunk Contest and win it in jaw dropping fashion. The Raptors had entered a whole new world. Games on national T.V in the states on a regular basis and a legit superstar in the NBA. The Playoffs would come as well. After being swept aside by the Knicks the Raptors would return to the playoffs and win a 5 game series over the Knicks with the deciding game on the famous MSG hardwood. A classic battle with the Sixers would follow. A UNC Graduation and a shot that was short from the corner and the Raptors were inches away from the conference finals.

The Raptors had arrived or so we thought. But that would end up being the high point of the Vince Carter era. The next off-season Glen Grunwald attempted to keep his team together. He would over pay for all the role players and re-signed his star in Carter. A failed Hakeem signing and it was all about to fall apart and no one at the time could know just how bad.

The years after would be full of injuries for Carter and frustration all around. The guy that once owned the Air Canada Centre had the building booing him and most people had lost their Vinsanity. The bad contracts and losing would cost Glen Grundwald his job ultimately. Rob Babcock would come in. He would be forced into trading Carter as the superstar made his intentions known that he wanted out. The hiring of Babcock had been the last straw for Vince. Carter had wanted Dr.J a hero of his to be considered for the job as G.M. MLSE did not hire him they took Babcock. He would make one of the worst trades in NBA History ending the Vince Carter era.

But the last move Glen Grunwald made or one of them was to draft Chris Bosh. When Carter was gone the position of face of the franchise became Bosh's in the eyes of fans and the media. Big shoes for a young kid that was if you remember pretty quiet and soft spoken when he first came to Toronto.

4 all-star appearances , a Gold Medal on Team U.S.A , A Division Title and no playoff series wins. Also the evolution of Bosh to media superstar. He made his famous Car Salesman You Tube Video that put Chris Bosh on the map in the world of pop culture beyond basketball.

Coming off a season of true disappointment the question of 2010 have got louder and some people have gotten louder in their disapproval of Bosh. It all sounds similar for Raptor fans. I outlined where we have seen it happen before. I also could have included Tracy McGrady who cut bait on the Raptors and has still never got to experience(as a player) the second round of the NBA Playoffs.

So will history repeat itself? Bryan Colangelo has worked his butt off to make sure it does not. We have talked about all the moves that he has made to improve this basketball team over the summer. Colangelo has done all he can to make the Raptors an attractive place for Bosh to want to remain. It will take this team winning to make it happen. However despite the speculation in the U.S Media that Bosh will bolt in 2010 it seems there is still hope that he can remain.

Bosh regardless wants to have a great season if he is staying or going. This could be the best season of a career that has been impressive to say the least. If that happens and the Raptors can be successful perhaps Chris Bosh will break the trend and remain with the franchise. If he does not it could cast a huge shadow on this franchise and leave you to wonder if you can ever truly believe that someone will remain part of the Raptors for the long haul.

If Bosh goes who is next to fill that role of Franchise Superstar? Andrea Bargnani would be the answer for some. I am not sold on that personally. I think Bargnani is a long way still from being a 4 time all-star and being ready to lead. Jose Calderon is not a guy that fits the role. Despite fans wanting to think Jose is ready to become an all star and take things to a new level it seems he is short of those lofty expectations. Perhaps Demar DeRozan? It is far to early to tell. However he does have talent and could be a star. He would be in a spot like Bosh when he took over the role. It would be something that he would need to grow into for sure.

However the best case for the Raptors is to see the CB4 era continue on. If it does this basketball team could finally turn the corner and build some consistence and become a contender in the East. The Raptors have never really been that. If Bosh does not remain, even though the team has been constructed in such a way it could deal with that, it still will be a blow to this franchise. This season will mark the Raptors 15th in the NBA and they are still a team looking to find that true formula to lasting success. Having comets shooting through Toronto only to burn out and die is not going to be the answer. Never has more been riding on a season for the Toronto Raptors. This season is going to be one that will define the franchise one way or the other.

Raptor fans have stuck with this franchise from beginning to now, I hope and pray for a happy ending for Raptor Fans. I think that as a group they have earned it.


DNB Radio Back On The Net

It was quite a night for the Dino Nation Blog and me last night. I have always been someone who has been a caller on the Fan 590. I call in a lot of times on "The Game Plan" and "Hoops". However last night the Fan 590 called me. I was on the air on "Sports Central" with Zack Cooper. This was a last minute thing so I never even thought to ask for a copy. However was able to spread the word through Twitter and Facebook and got some positive reviews. Most important to me thought is my mother got to hear me on the radio again. That was pretty special for me. The Dino Nation Blog continues to amaze me in how far it has come. I feel that is because of two things. First my own hard work and drive. Second and just as important is the support of all of you. Thanks to Zack for the opportunity to be on his show. When I started doing all of this I am not sure that I ever thought things would grow as fast as they have. I feel very lucky and blessed to have had so many people help me get to the point I am at. That being said there is still way more to do and come for myself and the Dino Nation Blog. I really hope for those of you that have been here from the start that you feel a part of the success the Dino Nation Blog has had because you are even if you don't realize it.

The one thing I never expected to be talking about was the recently created DNB Radio. However expect the unexpected is more than just a catch phrase on the Big Brother Reality Show. Tonight is showtime once again. The show hits the air at 11pm and will once again be an hour in length. To this point there is no guest booked. It will just be me talking ball with you. However if you had asked me if I was going to be a guest on the Fan 590 last night I would have told you that was nuts. However guest or no guest I want the people listening to feel this is their show as much as it is mine. So if you want to hear about something on the show let me know. Leave a comment here or shoot me a tweet on @dinonationblog. The beauty about doing a show on the net like this is that you can truly have a impact on what you want to hear.

The other way you can get in on things is to actually call in to the show itself. Even though, I am in Hamilton and you are where you are, the show is based out of NYC. So it will require a long distance call (347) 994-2767 is the number to call to get on the show. I would be happy to talk with you let you have your comments heard or if you have a question I will do my best to answer it.

Show survived week 1 and this is week 2 and it is always going to be about you. So hope you will listen and enjoy this latest venture of the Dino Nation Blog. I am committed to making this something successful and who knows where it will lead. If you had told me, the Dino Nation Blog would have got this far this fast when it started, I am not sure I would have believed you.

So thanks to all of you. Also there may not be a blog tomorrow cause I am going to be heading to Toronto and doing some things. Including going to the anniversary party for the magazine that I write ball for The Industry. Party is at the Guverment so that is where I will be Friday night. So if you see a large guy not on the dance floor that is white it likely is me or a bouncer. I will be the nicer of the two. I may have the size to be a bouncer but not the mentality.

These are the "Dog Days" of the basketball year but that does not mean people don't have lots on their minds and that is what I want to hear from you.

Update 3:05 PM

I got a surprise in my mailbox. Zack Cooper sent me a copy of my debut on the Fan 590 as a guest. So if you missed it last night now you can have a listen for yourself. So thanks to him and this is of course courtesy of the Fan 590


This and That For A Wednesday

Just wanted to draw your attention to the article I wrote for The Industry Magazine. My article/column(pages 19 & 20) talks about the NBA Off-Season changes and I have a top 10 list of must follows on Twitter for basketball fans. It was written for the magazine back in July. So consider it a means of review. The Industry is having it's 1st Anniversary Party on Friday.That is one of the reasons I am heading to Toronto. Also, tomorrow DNB Radio will be back on the air. Thanks to Natasha for designing the logo from DNB Radio. Also congratulations to her on having her blog Heels On Hardwood become just the 3rd NBA Blog to become part of The Score Sports Federation that this blog has been a part of from the launch last November. She has a great Raptor Schedule she has designed that you can use for you background on your computer. So you can always know when the Raptors are playing and plan your life accordingly.

There is nothing new to report on search for the Raptors 15th roster spot. Maybe they should just have a reality show "So You Think You Can Ball". The eventual winner of that could maybe claim like Master P did that they put the Raptors on the map. Someone might want to tell Master P that Damon Stoudamire was getting on highlight shows and won rookie of the year long before his PR stunt to play exhibition season with the Raptors. However there is a more relevant connection between Romeo Miller AkA Lil Romeo the son of Master P who is good friends with Raptor Rookie Demar Derozan. Here is some old footage of the two doing there thing on the basketball court.

The footage of Master P as a Raptor I could not find on YouTube. I do think it is out there I just could not track it down. He did actually hit a 3 pointer and was a decent basketball player. There are some other people that have some game but may not be ready for the NBA. Former Cowboy now Bill..Terrell Owns can ball remember this:

T.O may just come up and check out a Raptor game once in awhile he has been in the house before at the A.C.C as recently as last year. Maybe T.O could be the 15th man and be a 2 sport athlete like Bo Jackson or Deion Sanders who did it with baseball and football. T.O as your back up small forward. Perhaps not. But his reality show is getting beat by reruns of the Fresh Prince at 5am I am told courtesy of Fan 590. These are the crazy things you spend time thinking about when there is no really news to talk about.

But I am sure there will be lots of things to talk about for DNB Radio. It looks like for now I will be flying solo for this episode. However that leaves more time for you folks to have your say. You can call in and be on the air with me if you call in at (347) 994-2767. I want everyone to feel part of the show and that is the best way you can be to actually call in and be a part.


Why B.C Is The Man

Bryan Colangelo has got a lot of praise this off-season. It is well deserved praise as well. Bryan Colangelo is who we thought he was and would should never let him off the hook. I have been a fan of many sports all of my life, if I was going to describe a G.M for the team I cheer for, he would need the following qualities.

Intelligent- Bryan Colangelo is definitely this. Whenever you listen to an interview with the man you can just see that. He has a full grasp of the franchise he is running. He also has a firm grasp on the league they play in. In addition has a clear vision and direction for his squad. Although it may be very clear he is the smartest man in the room he still tries to build consensus with in the organization. He is willing to listen and is always looking for ideas on how to get better. He examines things not just for the moment but for the future. He sees the direction of the sports and instead of following trends he establishes them.

Opportunistic- He has the intelligence and skill to understand when opportunity is knocking on the door. In many of the moves he has made in his time in Toronto he has been successful in answering the door. But he does not just wait for opportunity to come knocking. Sometimes he would go out and create the opportunity himself. He took a complete bust in Hoffa and was able to find the one place in the NBA where he might have some value and dealt him there. Having played at BYU made him a more attractive asset to the folks in Utah. Recently he saw that there was a chance to get Marco Belinelli from Golden State. The player and the coach were not on the same page and the team itself was hurting cash wise. Sometimes it does not always work out. The J.O Trade is a the best example of that.

Educated Risk Taker- Having the ability to be willing to take chances with some logic and reason behind it. Bryan Colangelo has always been willing to take a risk and make hard choices to make a good team into a great team. There are always going to be mistakes along the way. However if you make correctable mistakes it allows you the chance to change course. No G.M has a crystal ball to the best of my knowledge and you can only make choice based on probabilities of success. The worst G.M is the one who does nothing and is fearful to make change. Look up Rob Babcock if you need an example of what I am talking about. If you seek reward that is seldom accomplished without a risk or two along the way.

Drive To Succeed and Never Be Satisfied - It is very easy in life to state you want to be successful. It is even easier when you achieve some success in life to be content with it. However to achieve true greatness in whatever you do it takes the ability to never be satisfied. Satisfaction is the enemy of greatness. Bryan Colangelo will never rest and say that he has done enough. Even in this summer, where he has accomplished so much, he still is always looking at ways to improve. The trade for Marco Belinelli was a shinning example of what I am talking about. I am positive even right now Byran Colangelo has ideas on how he can make this team better. You may disagree with a choice or a move but no one can question that Colangelo is not always hard at work looking to make his team better.

Vision For The Present and The Future - Bryan Colangelo has always been on the cutting edge of where the NBA and basketball in general is heading. The Suns played basketball a very different way from the rest of the league. It was a style of play that was ahead of the curve. Bryan is always trying to keep on eye on the present and one eye on the future. In his time in Toronto he has taken advantage of the appeal of the city to Euro based players. He has always been aware of international players long before it became trendy to do so. Colangelo has been able to see the changes in the game and how it is played. There is always risk in pushing towards the future. However if you follow the trends you have very little chance of being successful. Colangelo has seen the direction the NBA has been heading to a more offensive and skill based game. Sometimes to the detriment of defense. Still he creates exciting teams that more often than not are competitive and fun to watch.

Respected By His Peers - Bryan Colangelo is one of the more respected basketball people in the league. It is an important fact. If people respect you, they are likely not going to think they can take advantage of you. Part of being a G.M is being able to have good working relationships with all of your fellow peers with the other teams in the league. If you have that you are more able to gather information and be able to take advantage of those opportunities that I mentioned earlier. Colangelo is always working the phones and is always on top of what is going on with not just his own franchise but the league as a whole.

Flexibility- You have to always be able to adapt to situations. The NBA is no different from life. It like life is dynamic in nature. That requires someone to be able to make changes in direction and philosophy in order to fit in with the changes that occur. It also involves being able to re-evaluate your own choices with a true honesty and fix mistakes or errors that have been made in a quick and impartial way. One of the hardest thing for people to do in life in general is to admit to mistakes and correct them. There are many example of things in life where people cling to relationships that have become broken. If you are not able to see problems for what they are and react to them you can find your life altered in significant ways and seldom for the good. The Jeremaine O'Neil trade and how Bryan Colangelo acknowledged the error he had made and worked his way out of it, was rare and honestly brilliant. To often G.M's become married to the ideas they have had and refuse to admit they were wrong or miscalculated.

Confidence and Leadership- Bryan Colangelo is truly a confident man. He learned a lot no doubt from his father Jerry and has worked his way up to where he is today. He clearly has wanted to establish his own legacy and in coming to Toronto that was a big step in that. Bryan always in ever interview I have ever heard him do comes off as a confident leader. He is able to let you see enough of his though process to understand it. However he seldom shows you all the cards he has in his hand. He is able to sell a vision better than anyone I have seen. I mentioned about him being willing to build consensus and that is what a good leader does. While some fans were in full panic mode over the potential loss of Chris Bosh, Colangelo has been focused on building a team with or without him. He did not panic and trade his star player for a deal that ultimately has little chance of success. However at the same time he has build a team that should Bosh decide to leave has grown in overall talent. It takes a confident person to handle pressure and not crumble from it. Pressure can also make diamonds and Bryan Colangelo is doing his best to make the Raptors a shining jewel.

This list could go on with other things. But the point is that Colangelo is a G.M that fans should love. He is willing to do the things that fans want. However he is smart enough not to react to quickly as fans tend to do. Life a lot of times can boil down to timing. Understanding when the time is jump at chances and when it is better to sit and wait. Colangelo has been a 2 time executive of the year but has yet to have a championship team. It has never been through lack of effort or intelligence. I am convinced that at some point Colangelo will reach his mountain top. I just hope that it will be here in Toronto. A lot of people had lost faith in Bryan but he truly is always worthy of people having faith in him.

He has a great understanding of finance and the collective bargaining agreement. In a couple years there will be a new CBA and a whole new set of rules to the game of being a G.M. I am confident that Bryan will be one of the first to understand that agreement and figure out ways to take advantage of it. Raptor fans should feel lucky and fortunate to have Bryan Colangelo as the G.M of the basketball team they love. He really gives you everything you could ever ask for in a G.M.


5 Questions for a Monday

The long summer marches on but with the release of the NBA Schedule last week the light is at the end of the tunnel for basketball fans. I thought today that I would ease into the week with 5 questions that should define the Raptors season.

Question #1

Who is the Raptors starting shooting guard?

This had been a given for the last few seasons. For the majority of his time with the Raptors Anthony Parker would be the man. The hope is that Demar DeRozan will be the answer for years to come at the position. But will he be the guy this year and when? Eric Smith in a recent starting 5 says he has a gut feeling it will be from the opening tip of the 09/10 season. The other candidates are Antonie Wright and Marco Belinelli. I had always thought it would be Wright to start and eventually DeRozan would replace him moving forward. The wildcard that has been thrown into the mix is Marco Belinelli. I would tend to think he is a long shot. Not because he is not talented enough. Just because I don't think he has the defensive skill that the Raptors are hoping for out of their starting 5. But I think by the end of the season if it is not DeRozan something has gone wrong. He is the future for this team at that position and the sooner he answers that call the better in my view.

Question # 2

Can Jay Triano be successful as the head coach of the Raptors?

Almost everyone last season said that Jay Triano was given a bad hand. They explained away his bad record by saying he was not given the benefit of having a training camp. Well no excuses this year it will be all about results. The challenging start to the Raptors Schedule is going to really test if Triano truly is ready for this challenge. You can say whatever you like about what Jay did or did not do last season. However, what will define him is this first season as the head coach from start to finish. No one can question that Bryan Colangelo has not done his job in giving Triano the talent to be successful. It is very important for Jay to get off to a good start and get this season heading in the right direction. You can talk all you want about him and Bryan being on the same page and having a similar philosophy. It is about wins and losses and Jay Triano will need to get wins. If the Raptors are not a playoff team I would seriously question if Jay would make it to a second season as coach. He has the guy that had always been rumoured to be Bryan Colangelo's guy in Mark Ivaroni on the staff. Credit to Jay for being man enough to handle that. However it has to be a bit of an uneasy feeling. If Triano can direct this team to an above .500 record by the end of the calender year he will be on his way to having a successful first full season.

Question # 3

Depth at small forward a concern?

Yes the Raptors do have Hedo Turkoglu. But beyond that what do the Raptors have? You could see both DeRozan and Wright play some time behind him at the 3 spot. The Raptors could shift to a smaller look with Calderon and Jack at the guards and DeRozan or Wright playing at the 3. The Raptors do have that one open roster spot to fill and perhaps your back small forward is addressed there. Hedo did play heavy minutes for the Magic and at times he showed that he was out of gas in Orlando's playoff run. Last year I had said prior to the season the worst thing that could happen to the Raptors was an injury to Jose Calderon. This season the answer to that question may be an injury to Hedo. The Raptors have no clear answer for that right now. It may not be as bad as Roko Ukic and Will Solomon but it will be far from ideal. The same problem could arise should Hedo get himself into foul trouble. If the Raps re-sign Pops Mensah-Bonsu he is not able to play 3 spot at least has never shown the ability too. If someone says re-sign Joey Graham I may scream. We have seen that movie for 4 years and I know the plot line and so should you. But the Raptors would be wise to find someone that can play the 3 to fill that 15th roster spot.

Question # 4 "The Question"

Chris Bosh... What can we expect and how will he handle the pressure of 2010?

Chris Bosh wants a max deal, at least that is what were told. In order to get that kind of deal be it in Toronto or elsewhere he needs to add another solid season to the books. The questions of where Bosh will be playing in the 2010/11 season are going to follow him through the season. Bosh has said he is asked about it on a daily basis. If he thinks the summer has been rough, that will be a walk in the park compared to the fall and winter to come. Can Chris block all of this 2010 talk out of his mind and focus on what matters most..his game. Bosh needs to have a break out season and take his game to the next level. If Bosh is successful at this he will give himself that max deal and the Raptors will be successful. Which ironically might just be enough for Chris Bosh to want to remain a Raptor. However if the Raptors season goes wrong it could spell the end of Chris Bosh as a Raptor. This is really the ultimate question for this franchise. If you are a Chris Bosh fan you need to cross your finger tight this season. Hoping that Bosh has a great year and the Raptors do as well. If that happens, the Raptors may in fact be able to keep their star for a few more seasons to come.

Question #5

How does this team rebound and what about Bargnani?

Andrea Bargnani has a 50 million dollar contract. That is about 10 million per average rebound. Andrea will need to play much more of an inside outside game. He will be needed to improve his numbers on the glass. The Raptors do have Reggie Evans on the bench who will be like instant rebounding off the bench. But Ideally the Raptors would like to have Bargnani, Bosh and Turkoglu on the floor as much as possible together. If that is true than all 3 must make an extra effort to get on the glass. Especially the offensive glass. Some will say as they have in past seasons that Andrea Bargnani is the X-factor in how the Raptors season will go. I am not sure if I buy into that. Last season everyone would admit Bargnani was better but the Raptors were not. However, on an individual game basis when Bargnani is playing at a high level, the Raptors are a much tougher challenge for the opposition. When it comes to the rebounding it falls on this entire team. It will take a team effort to allow this team to compete on the boards. Even your players at the guard spots will need to get dirty and find a board now and then.

I do not have questions about the point guard spot. Jose now has a legit back-up that will press him to perform and should he go down injured be able to fill in and do a solid job. Jarrett Jack could be a big answer for the Raptors and not a question at all. So those are my questions what are yours? Leave a comment and say what concerns you about your new look Raptors? You can also comment on mine if you wish.


Doom and Gloom On Friday

The big news in the NBA yesterday was the suspension of Rashard Lewis. He was suspended 10 games for having failed a drug test having elevated levels of testosterone. This will mean that Lewis will miss among those 10 games a trip to Toronto with the Magic on November 1st. But it opens up a much larger question of steroids in the game. I had an interesting chat with Justin Walsh of Slam Magazine on the topic in the debut of DNB Radio last night. If you missed the show you can listen to the show in it's entirety over on the right under DNB Radio. Here is what Lewis had to say in his defense in a statement released yesterday.

Rashard Lewis Statement(From Magic.com):

“First and foremost I take full responsibility for the situation and accept the corresponding penalty.Toward the end of the season I took an over-the-counter supplement which at the time I did not realize included a substance banned by the NBA. I apologize to Magic fans, my teammates and this organization for not doing the research that should come with good judgment. I hope this unintentional mistake will not reflect poorly on our team and its great character. I hope every athlete can learn from my mistake that supplements, no matter how innocent they seem, should only be taken after consulting an expert in the field.”

I am not here to tell you what to think. However, in all sports have we not heard a similar story to this before? Justin Walsh made some valid points on why steroids may not make sense for basketball players. However for the average casual fan of the sport will this not just lump basketball in with baseball and football? It has been a summer of steroids in baseball, Manny, A-Rod and most recently David Ortiz. This also has been an issue that has been addressed by the U.S Government. The 10 game suspension is light in comparison to the 50 game ban that baseball issues. 30.8% of the season missed for Manny and just 12.1% for Lewis.

If you had told me to pick someone who was going to get nailed for performance enhancing drugs or steroids don't think Rashard Lewis would have been in my top 50. The problem in this is not that someone got caught cheating. It is the shadow that is casts on the game as a whole. It is about the guys who are clean that get lumped in. Dwight Howard, Lebron James and others now may have to deal with the issue. If they are clean athletes and not cheating that takes away from their greatness. The fact I used the word "if" just shows you the difference. I have always wanted to believe for the most part basketball is a clean sport. That might be being naive in the world we live. If this turns out to be a one off event it may not matter. However it opens the door to things going down a very wrong path.

More gloomy news for a Friday. We also talked about Labor unrest last night on DNB Radio. David Stern is taking a hard line with things for the next CBA. He is said to want a 50/50 revenue split with the players. That number now is at 57% for the players. But he also wants to tighten up the cap. No more mid-level exception, a dollar for dollar tax for those that go over the tax threshold. It is a dark and gloomy forecast that could mean a lockout is coming. This is why it might play into hands of Cleveland, Miami and Toronto to keep their stars. Players like James, Bosh and Wade would be well advised to get as much as they can for as long as they can. That plays to the advantage of the teams they are currently with. That may go away in the new CBA as well the concept of "Bird Rights" could be gone. It is going to be interesting how the NBA (David Stern) is going to get what they want financially but still have player stability. It just might not be possible. Still love him or hate him if anyone can pull it off it is David Stern. You do not keep your job for as long as he has without being highly successful at it.

While the mood around the Raptors has been sunshine and lollipops the times ahead for the NBA could be dark indeed. So take some advice and enjoy the good times. You really can never be certain what lies ahead. Twitter can get hacked and you suddenly wonder how you lived life without it.

Back on the radio tonight in the traditional sense, for my weekly appearance on the Off The Bench on CJLO. Should be on at my regular time 12:15am. Thanks to all that checked out DNB Radio last night. I got positive response on Twitter from the show. Thanks to Justin Walsh and the folks that called into the show. We will do it all again next week at 11pm next Thursday. I hope folks enjoy it and get behind the show and help make it as successful as the Dino Nation Blog has been. Have a great weekend folks.


Radio Killed The Blogging Star?

Let's hope not. But today I am going to be going back to my past. DNB Radio hopefully will be something you enjoy and take part in. For this first show I am basically just going to freestyle it and see how it goes. I do have a guest coming on with me for about first 20 minutes. After that will see what happens. You can call in to the show with your comments or question. There will really only be 2 rules to that for me. Please be respectful and keep your language to an acceptable level for the listeners. In the future I may have guest co-hosts and have a lot of fun with this. But for this first show I am just going to be learning on the fly. The goal of doing this is not unlike that of the Dino Nation Blog. To give basketball and Raptors fans something entertaining and fun along with giving you a place to voice your views and thoughts. I hope you decide to tune in and the show will be archived on the blog here in case you miss an episode. But if at all possible try to be there for this first one.


(After our Guest) Your Call In Number- (347) 994-2767

Thanks for all of the praise that has come my way for some of my recent interviews. It is very nice to know that people appreciate you work and take the time to let you know.

NOTE: There was a mix up the Show is starting at 11pm EDT...There was a mix-up when it was booked, Be talking at you in less then an hour.


Eric Smith Is The Guest In The Starting 5

It has been awhile since Eric Smith has been a guest with us here at the Dino Nation Blog. He had a acceptable reason though, as he recently has become a father. Family is always something that has been important to me as many of you know. I was able to catch up with Eric after co-hosting the Game Plan with Jack Armstrong. Eric will be doing the show next week when Jack is having some vacation time. So it was great to talk with Eric and get his thoughts on all that has gone on with the Raptors this off-season. We get into his thoughts on the job Bryan Colangelo has done. His thoughts on if Jarrett Jack impacts on the re-signing of Chris Bosh. This along with his thoughts on Bosh staying or going in general. Along with some thoughts on the Raptor draft choice DeMar DeRozan. He shares how he thinks the Raptors may use him. Along with talking about the fact the people need to manage expectations both good and bad. Also some thoughts on the schedule and the task that faces Jay Triano and the Raptors. In getting ready for DNB Radio tomorrow I had been making some music bumpers for that. So name that tune off the top and then it is Eric and myself. Hope you enjoy it.

So thanks to Eric for his time and thoughts on the Raptors. Just a reminder to everyone about the start of DNB radio on the web tomorrow night at 10pm. The first show is going to be an hour long and I am looking forward to it. Going to have a guest in the first 30 minutes and you can call in and take part. Check the link for all the details.

Challenges That Lie Ahead

It has been a summer of excitement and enthusiasm with all the moves Byran Colangelo has made. The release of the schedule yesterday was a sign it is clear reality is coming. There is no question that this new group of Raptors are going to be baptized under fire. Jay Triano will need to prove Bryan Colangelo right and not wrong in picking him to coach this squad. I have grown to be accepting of Jay despite my doubts. However if this thing does not get off to a good start all eyes will be on Triano. It will be interesting to see what happens should things go wrong. I think most people want Jay to be successful because he is Canadian. It is not to suggest he is not a good coach, it is just the reality that he has a positive bias going for him. Sam Mitchell was someone who based on his personality that would be a guy you loved or hated. He was bombastic and funny, with Sam what you saw was what you got. Despite a much more mild mannered approach, Jay is a competitor as well. Last season when he smashed a defenseless clipboard you got to see that fire inside him.

One of the things, that I had said would be required, for Jay to be successful, was a turnover of this roster. He had been a part of this organization for far to long to not require that. It is a very hard task to move from being an assistant coach with a team to the head coach of the same team. The core players remain but there has been enough change that Jay can be effective. Chris Bosh has a solid relationship with Triano and actually endorsed him keeping his position at head coach. The question will be when adversity comes, and given that first month of the schedule it will, how is that handled.

No matter how much you love the moves Bryan Colangelo has made, it still will come down to his choice as coach and that coaches choice of staff. It will be a great task to get all of this talent to learn fast and get to know each other over the span of a training camp and pre-season. This Raptor team will need to be ready right from the start. It is a lot of pressure for Triano. I am not saying that I don't hope and think he can rise to the challenge. But I think everyone would agree that Bryan Colangelo has went above and beyond to give him the tools to be successful. Now it real is up to Jay.

It is also is up to Chris Bosh. If the goal for Bosh is to get a max contract he will need to rise to a new level. Much like the case with Triano, he can not say that Bryan Colangelo has not done all he could to make the team around him better. It is on the defensive end where Bosh has the most room to grow. He did average a 20 and 10 season last year. That fact seems to get lost on some with the Raptors terrible season.

Despite what people like Chad Ford seem to think they know...Bosh seems happy here. Ford in a recent article suggests that Bosh is counting the days till he can return to the United States. That seems odd when you consider that Bosh has spent perhaps the most time I can ever recall this off-season in Toronto. Anyone who saw him out at Caribana would dispute the fact he seems so unhappy here... according to Ford. When all this is said and done a lot of people could be eating crow if Bosh remains a Raptor. I am proud to say that I am not one of them.

Calderon and Bargnani also must prove they are going to be core pieces worth keeping. Bargnani took some major steps forward last season. The addition of Marco Belinelli should add some stability for him off the floor. He must continue to grow on the floor and live up to the promise of when he was selected number 1 overall. In terms of Calderon he must show he can stay healthy and expand his game. Better defense and taking more educated risk on offense is necessary. The addition of Jarrett Jack gives the Raptors options should Calderon not improve in these areas. It also will allow him to play less minutes, which at least seemed to be a factor in some way to his injuries in my opinion.

Speaking of opinions. I have lots and hopefully you do as well. I am going to start tomorrow doing a weekly radio show online. DNB Radio is set to take to the internet on Thursday at 10pm. I am going to have a guest but there also will be time for you to call in and have your say as well. If this is successful it will continue every Thursday from now right through the season. There is a call in number for the show (347) 994-2767. I hope to hear from some of you.