Five Bold Predictions For The 2013 Season

With the NBA season a mere two months away, speculation regarding teams' upcoming seasons has been rampant and welcomed by NBA fans. In this article, I'm going to present five bold predictions about the Raptors organization. Some of them might be far fetched, some might be pessimistic and some might be overly optimistic. But these are things that I can see happening, and feel comfortable committing to. Let's get to it.

1) Jose Calderon will finish the NBA season as a Toronto Raptor.

Rumours of Calderon's departure have been commonplace since 2009, when a botched trade with Charlotte would have awarded the Raptors Tyson Chandler and Boris Diaw. While the aforementioned trade was nixed by none other than Michael Jordan, Calderon trade rumours frequently surface. Many fans believe that the addition of Kyle Lowry signifies the end of the Calderon era, and it does. However, I believe that Calderon's value as the best off-the-bench point guard in the East, and arguably the entire NBA, is far too tempting for Bryan Colangelo to ship away without great returning value.

Calderon has long been the bane of many Raptors fans, which is odd considering his steadiness and offensive efficiency. His defense is atrocious, there's no way around that. But coming off of the bench, Calderon is allowed to play to his strengths without Dwane Casey worrying about his defensive inability for extended minutes.

I appreciate what Calderon has done for the organization, and fully acknowledge that he will not be a Raptor in the 2014 season. But he'll be around this season. Probably all of it.

2) DeMar DeRozan will not be offered an extension.

I love DeRozan. His ability and potential have fascinated me since his days at USC, and while I didn't think Colangelo would draft him, I was glad when he did. DeRozan's days in Toronto have been bittersweet. He's often touted as the future of the franchise, and while he frequently shows flashes and brilliance and dominance, he's rarely able to sustain an elite level of play. DeRozan took a small step forward last year, while also taking a small step back. His defense improved, his 3 point shot was better (and elite from the corner), and he showed floor awareness and some shot creating ability. At the same time, DeRozan took more long jumpers than ever before, and his efficiency suffered as a result.

DeRozan is undoubtedly one of the better young wings in the league, and one of the few players at his position that has legitimate star potential. He hasn't reached it to this point, despite management hyping him as the next big thing. He's improved, but not to the point that he needs to.

While I don't believe the Raptors will offer DeRozan an extension, I do believe they'll retain him through free agency. DeRozan himself is aware of his potential, and will probably ask for more money than he's worth. His agent, Aaron Goodwin, is not known for bizarre contract demands. He's more of a go-with-the-flow guy. DeRozan will be offered more than he's worth in free agency, and the Raptors will probably match whatever offer he gets. Thankfully, it will also be less money than he's asking for.

3) Kyle Lowry will average career lows in nearly all categories.

Let me be frank: Kyle Lowry has never played meaningful minutes on a well constructed team, nor has he played for a coach as strict as Dwane Casey. The Raptors look to be a balanced team on offense, and the idea of Lowry putting up any career highs is unlikely. That isn't to say his presence won't be felt: it will.

Lowry's ability on both offense and defense cannot be understated. Nor can his toughness, which should be contagious and spread throughout the team. With that in mind, his greatest contributions to the team can't be measured through conventional statistics. He'll have some huge games, but expect his numbers to be around what they've been his last couple of years in Houston.

Don't fret, though. With exception to Damon Stoudamire, Lowry is the Raptors' best point guard in franchise history.

4) Jonas Valanciunas will be very underwhelming.

Valanciunas, like DeRozan, has been marketed as the future of the franchise. The hype surrounding him since his drafting has been like no Raptor before him, and for good reason: he may end up being a top 5 Raptor of all time in the future.

Valanciunas is a big man. Big men rarely show any real consistency before they're 24, and to think that he'll progress any faster than normal is foolish. Especially because he's coming from the Euroleague, which is more physical than the NBA and has several different rules that appeal to his style (namely goaltending). It will take him a few years to adjust before he blossoms into one of the better young centers in the league.

Many fans expect Valanciunas to average a double double with a few blocks as a rookie, as well as be a contender for Rookie of the Year. No. Expect half a double double, a block, and more fouls per game than points. Averaging a double double isn't out of the question for him. In fact, it's expected and very likely. But it will take a few years before he's able to stay on the floor for extended minutes and contribute consistent play.

5) The Raptors will be the 6th seed in the East.

Bold, right?

Before his first injury last season, Bargnani looked like an entirely new player, and the Dirk Nowitzki comparisons fans prayed for but never saw began to sound sweeter than ever before. The team played defense. Then he went down. Calderon went down. James Johnson had a "run-in" with Dwane Casey. Rasual Butler got way more minutes than he should have. The team effectively tanked the rest of the season, preparing for a more readied and prepared 2013 season.

Now, with two solid draft picks, a recovered Bargnani and more depth, the Raptors are ready to compete. One thing that's often overlooked is that Dwane Casey essentially played the same terrible starting lineup that Jay Triano did in 2011, and enjoyed considerably more success on the defensive end. Now, with personnel that fit his system, the Raptors might become a top 10 team on that end.

This team is better than any team in roughly the last decade, both on paper and on the floor. They're young and will only get better. The Raptors may not have a traditional star, but they have a collection of very good players with chemistry and a very solid head coach.

Casey stated that making the playoffs was the Raptors' goal last year. This year, I'd be surprised if they aren't aiming much, much higher. And their success should trend upward as well.


While I don't expect all of these predictions to happen, and realize that there's a chance none of them do, I'm comfortable with them. This season is very difficult to project, with no lineups cemented and the possibility of injuries and trades to relieve a loaded front court.

What do you think? Any bold predictions? Leave some comments!


Starting 5 with Josh Lewenberg From TSN 1050

Yesterday marked a month before the first NBA camp opens. It has been an eventful summer for the Toronto Raptors. Last time Josh joined us was on the night Steve Nash said yes to L.A and No to Toronto. A lot has happened since that night and Josh who is the beat report for TSN Radio 1050 joins me to talk about what to expect from the Raptors. The conversation begins with me referencing a poll from my article on the Bleacher Report which talks about the Raptors off-season since Nash said no thanks. It might surprise you how optimistic Raptor fans remain despite the fact Nash decided to go to Hollywood instead of taking up residence at the ACC. It was surprising to me given all the improvements we have see with fellow Atlantic Division foes. Our guest Josh though almost nailed the percentage of Raptor fans that expect the Raptors to make the most season. This was a really fun conversation.

Thanks to Josh for dropping by. Also on behalf of myself and the rest of the staff I want to wish a very Happy Birthday to Jerrica who is one of our two community managers. She will also be doing a lot of interacting with all of you folks this season. You will enjoy her as much as we do. So have a great birthday and enjoy seeing your guy Ed Davis at the CNE tomorrow. All of you can go check out Ed at Ex as well but if you end up in line behind Jerrica expect a long wait. Anyway that is all and once again thanks to Josh who has been a fun newer addition to our line up of great guests we call on here at Dino Nation Blog.

#AmirCNE The Latest Way Johnson Gives Back To You

In the Dino Nation Blog we have always been supportive of anything that benefits you the fans of the Raptors. That has made us big fans of Amir Johnson who seems to always have something cooking to give back to his fans and Raptor fans. Here is what you need to do for his latest contest.

1. Find a Stuffed Animal or Toy

2 & 3: Get a Raptor Jersey and put it on him and take a creative photo of the stuffed animal or toy in the Jersey:

4. Now all you have to do is go on to Twitter and take your photo with the hashtag #AmirCNE and send that tweet to @IamAmirJohnson on Twitter and if you are selected the winner you go to CNE on Amir. The winner will be announced on Friday and you get two passes to the CNE.

So go out there and do it and don't steal my idea or I will rat you out to Amir. Don't worry I am not entering the contest. just wanted to get involved and help Amir promote his contest for all of you.


Some News And Notes

First of all if you were planning a trip to Memphis for the Raptors pre-season game vs the Grizzlies change your plans quick. Yeah no one probably was were they? None the less the Raptors will now head to the land of Elvis on Friday October 26th instead of the originally scheduled Monday October 15th. The only real impact will be the Raptors will now conclude the pre-season on the 26th instead of the 22nd. My guess would be the Raptors rest all the starters for this contest in Memphis now as it will be a little closer to the start of the season now. At the very least they will play very limited minutes.

I have some news as well. Over this off-season I have had a few offers to share my talents elsewhere. I finally decided to take one of them. I am writing some articles for The Bleacher Report. I even already have a profile and posted my first piece on life after Steve Nash for the Raptors. This will have NO IMPACT on all of the stuff that is being planed for the DNB. That was a vital point in me doing this. The only thing it will mean is a little more work for me. I would love it if you would take you love for the Dino Nation Blog for my work over there as well obviously. I am hopefully it can help build our audience here and be a step forward on  my own career path. Will see how it goes.

Tonight I make my regular appearance on the airwaves in Montreal. Talking NBA, Raptors and maybe life who knows. But from the feedback I get everyone seems to enjoy my appearances on The Sports Grind. You can listen to the show online from 10pm-12am EST. I usually appear near the end of the show at 11:35 or so. Sometimes that changes and if it does I usually will tweet it for folks. So if you have never checked it out and happen to be up feel free to give it a listen.

It has been a busy couple of days with interviewing some folks for #TeamDNB, accepting this new role with Bleacher Report, and managing things here. But you can be certain that the DNB will only get better and not suffer moving forward. If it doesn't let me know.


5 Things To Look Forward To For Raptors Training Camp

We are roughly about a month away from the Raptors and NBA opening up training camp. So let's press the fast forward button and speculate on what we will be talking about when training camp and the pre-season are underway.

1. PG Guard Battle: I can tell you right now this is not a battle at all. If Kyle Lowry is not the starting PG at the end of the day, I would be both shocked and disappointed. You don't make the trade the Raptors did for him to be a back up. He is a much better fit with Casey and his philosophy on how the game is played. Now obviously the Raptors are going to declare this a competition for the starting position, but in reality it is not. If you accept that as fact the question becomes how Jose Calderon will adapt to his roll as a back-up. It seems safe to assume at this point he is not being traded anytime soon. Can he accept it and take advantage playing primary against teams reserves. If he can keep his head screwed on straight and perform the Raptors could have a great one...two punch. Much like what they had with Ford and Calderon before he emerged to take the starting role. John Lucas III gives the Raptors some excellent depth should problems arise be they through injury or other factors that could occur.

2. Hype Meets Reality: I have been careful not to allow myself to become part of the hype machine. Let me make something clear though I am not against Jonas Valanciunas. In fact it is quite the opposite. What I am against is this year long hype campaign that has created some rather unrealistic expectation. I am not a euro basher when I bring up the fact that,  for any big man regardless of nationality, it is generally a longer process than at any other position. I am only pointing out the obvious, when I say that Jonas has never played a single game in life under NBA Rules. While the NCAA has different rules as well, the differences are far more subtle. All that said, Jonas will finally have his opportunity to make his own case for what he will be and how fast he will get there. I would be happy if he lived up to all the hype and build up he has, but I just don't expect that as I feel it is not fair to him. I will tell you this, get prepared for all those people that were hyping him up to be the same people screaming to preach patience. I won't be the guy saying I told you so. Jonas is going to take time and he might never meet the lofty hype and buzz that has been created. If you were willing to give Andrea Bargnani as long as some have Jonas deserves at least that.

3. Landry Fields vs His Contract: I like Landry Fields from all I have seen of him. It is not his fault he became part of some grand scheme to land Steve Nash. It is not his fault that he was happy to benefit from that financially. He seems like a very likely young man that I personally look forward to talking with. What he can ultimately produce for the Raptors is a big question mark. He will most likely find himself as the starting three when the smoke clears. He had a very encouraging rookie season with the Knicks and he became a causality of the Carmelo Anthony trade ultimately. Will he be able to bounce back to the form he showed as a rookie with a more secure role with the Raptors, in which he will have ample opportunity to succeed? One thing is for sure having dealt with the New York media the rather large Toronto media should not be much of a challenge. Still he is always going to face the reality of his contract and if he ultimately can ever live up to it. The odds are he can't, but still could be a good player for the Raptors. Time will tell on this.

4. DeRozan and Bargnani: The two main stars from last year suddenly have a cast of others around them to compete for that spotlight. How both respond will be interesting. It is obviously more vital in the case of DeRozan because the Raptors will have some decisions to make on his long term future with the team sooner than Bargnani. Although Bargnani should ultimately not feel safe either. If he does not perform like the All-Star level guy he did for a short part of last season it should not take long for the natives to get restless. Although the Raptors have remained loyal almost to a fault with their only number one pick in franchise history.Some feel that Colangelo would never trade him.  Both have a lot to prove and it will be interesting if either can take the ultimate control as the man to lead this franchise. Something neither has been able to establish.

5. The Other Rookies: The Raptors raised a lot of eyebrows taking Terrance Ross. Coming off what we saw at Summer League, you can make both an argument for why the Raptors took him so high, and why others felt they took him to high. We are all guilty of being focused on numbers and status symbols like being a lottery pick. At the end of the day when the ball goes up no one is asking where you got drafted. They are asking if you belong in this league or not. In that sense Ross may ultimately prove he does. He seems to have all the skills and potential that the Raptors would want. It also will be a daily challenge to push Demar DeRozan to live up to his ultimate potential. Quincy Acy might just find a way in a sea of bigs to get on the floor. He is hustle and heart and will get rebounds. If someone is slipping make no mistake that Casey would have a energizer to throw in to send a message. Acy could be a guy that has a chance to be around for the long haul and become a fan favorite the likes of guys like Jerome Williams, Matt Bonner and others including the guy who looks like his older brother Reggie Evans. The development of these guys should be on display in the pre-season and through training camp. Expect Ross to see time in the rotation. Acy likely will not and could even bounce back and forth with D-League at times if they can't find minutes for him. Acy however is far more than some mascot like Solomon Alabi kind of became.

There will likely be other stories and we are always one injury from having an unexpected story. Still, heading into the season and camp these 5 stories should all be front and center. I now return you to you waiting for the season and training camp to get here. 



Firstly, I have to say you ladies all look absolutely stunning in those videos! However, I also have to say, dance ability, and your beautiful faces are not the only two things that will make you the last member of the Raptors Dance Pak. I have noticed through social media that some of you have caught on the Facebook and Twitter wagon. Good for you. Creating hype towards yourself during this competition is very important.

I was asked to give my opinion and thoughts on who I think should get the uniform for the 2012-2013 team. As former co-captain of the Raptors Dance Pak, the most important thing for me was how each of the girls worked in a team setting. This is the Raptors Dance Pak, not the Raptors Dance Girl. When the season starts, you will be in rehearsal three days a week. These 3 hour rehearsals are not easy. Amberley may at times throw 3 routines at you in one rehearsal, and expect (as a professional dancer) perfection by the next rehearsal. She will at times throw a new routine in rehearsal, and want it danced on court the next game. Pulling this together takes a team.

In my previous work on the Dance Pak here in the DNB, I continuously refer to the Pak as my second family. Many of the girls and I have remained friends to this day. So, beyond the dancing, the makeup, and the uniform, what interests me is your ability to live, work, and play with 15-16 other girls, 4-5 days a week. It's not an easy task. There were some Sunday mornings when I would walk through the change room doors, tired from the weekend, emotionally drained from a breakup, or physically and mentally tired from my week of school/work etc. That's when my co-captain Kat would step in. This would happen without me asking. She just knew. And that's team work, that's friendship, and that's the type of personality that Amberley is looking for.

There will be times when you won't remember the choreography, (trust me I've been there), and it's 3:00 pm, rehearsal on court starts at 3:45 pm. The Dance Pak needs ladies will come in a little bit earlier and help one another out with the choreography. These are just hidden stresses that will come while on the Pak. A group of strong girls to hold each other up is important.

You must be friendly, a people person, a hard worker, and dedicated to your job. So, from watching all of the videos on Raptors.com if I had to pick a lady for this years team, I would choose Jamie. I think she's super cute, her humble personality shines through her smile, and I like that she's had passed experience on a University Dance Team. Her enthusiasm for the Pak is refreshing. It's important that every part of you wants to be in rehearsal and on court all the time.I'm sorry to single anyone out! But that is my job here. I think you all are fabulous! Good luck in the competition! Hope to see you dancing on court! If not this year than in the future

You can vote for whoever you like though all these girls are putting themselves out there and deserve your support. You also are rewarded by the Raptors with a chance to win a contest for all of you that are voting. So in the end there is no excuse not to have your say. Go to Raptors.com and make your voice heard. 

xo -CK

Starting 5 Catches Up With Myck Kabongo.

It has been awhile since we have had the chance to catch up with Myck Kabongo. He was just one of a large group of talented people that were part of the workouts for Canada Basketball this weekend in Toronto. He shared the floor with Tristan Thompson, Cory Joesph, Andrew Nicholson, and a list of perhaps the greatest amount of Canadian basketball talent ever assembled in one place at one time for Canada. When you factor in Steve Nash being in the building that might push it to an even higher level. Nash was working out on the Raptors practice court, maybe not in the way Raptors fans would have liked, but in helping take a hands on approach to his job as G.M of Canada Basketball. We got the inside scoop on how this camp was going  and how life in general is going for Myck Kabongo. He had his first year at Texas and learned a lot from it and seems to have been working hard towards his 2nd season with the Longhorns. We talk a lot more about Canada Basketball in this however and this whole idea of this great generation of players Canada has that Myck feels blessed to be a part of. He is a great blend of confidence and humility with a real fun nature about him. He even offers his services to join #TeamDNB as part of our staff.. He has an open invitation to do whatever he likes in the Dino Nation Blog. We are always thrilled to have him as a guest or for whatever. That said, Myck says he is completely focused on his work as student and an athlete for Texas Longhorns. No more rap music or anything else it is business of basketball and his Texas team first. He has been working out hard down in Austin getting ready for that. He also is very committed to being a part of what Canada Basketball is trying to build and dreams of being a part of a team in Rio that could really put basketball on the map in this country for casual fans of sports here in Canada.

I wrote last week how truly excited I was for the future of Canada Basketball. Part of that excitement is just my pride as a Canadian. Another part of it is having got to know some of these young guys like Myck. I first got to know him after watching him play in the junior program for Canada basketball. I would later meet Cory Joesph and Tristan Thompson. Both were similar type people to Myck. They all share a confidence in themselves but a true humility to them as well. They are all guys that you can feel good for and proud to support. This is a first step in hopefully all of Canada getting behind basketball like they never have before. It is the dream that we all as basketball fans can share in. What happened this weekend in Toronto was a big first step for Steve Nash and the Canada Basketball program.


Some Random Thoughts For A Friday.

Demar DeRozan has had a good summer by all accounts. He impressed people as part of the U.S Select Team prior to the Olympics. Also he impressed the folks back home in the Drew League. Reports from out of their say they notice improvements in his handling of the basketball. This is something that Demar's detractors were always quick to point out needed improvement. Even people that are supportive and optimistic about his future, would concede that. I got a chance to see him at around the time of the draft and he already at that time looked a little bigger and more filled out. Coach Casey throughout the season last year made it a constant theme that he wanted both Demar and Ed Davis to bulk up over the off-season. It sure seems in photos recently from the Drew League that DeRozan continued that process through the summer months. I am not saying he is ready to go join the WWE or anything but he does look to have added the strength and wait to his frame. In general, as he enters into his 4th NBA season the spotlight is not going to be as bright on him. Raptors have new players like Kyle Lowry and Landry Fields to attract away some of the focus. Lowry for his play on the floor and Fields regardless of his play on the floor, seems to just attract attention through his personality and his other things he brings with him. Note, I did not mention his hot girlfriend at all. Ok, well before that last line, I did not mention his hot girlfriend at all. In addition the Raptors drafted Terrance Ross who will or should both push Derozan to be better but also lessen the amount of minutes he might have to endure in a full season. DeRozan in his time with Toronto has been one of the more durable Raptors. However last season he had the odd bump or injury that caused him to miss a few games here and there. The only pressure on DeRozan might be self imposed as he looks to secure his future with a good season and make the Raptors want to extend him to a nice contract in terms of a dollar figure. There is also going to be the debut of Jonas Valancuinas which will no doubt draw attention regardless of how he performs. It makes a pretty nice situation for DeRozan to have a good bounce back season. I think you should take note of his Drew League Team name "Money Gang", that might tell you all you need to know on why DeRozan would be motivated to have a big season. I don't fault him for that either. Basketball players, as do all athletes, only have a short window of their overall lives to make money. So make it while you can. Long after the bright lights of the NBA and sports stardom fade you have a life to live and in many cases a family to provide for.

I talked at length about the hiring of Jay Triano yesterday for Canada Basketball. I did fail to mention he has found his way back into the NBA as an assistant with Portland. It may surprise you that I am happy for Jay, I always have felt he makes an excellent assistant head coach in the NBA and in context of team Canada a great head coach. It was one of those things that just slipped past my attention his hiring in Portland. A reader and support of the blog pointed it out to me via twitter. I think that is great. One of the things I do enjoy about the people loyal to this blog is they always seem to have my back. I appreciate it always. I have never claimed to be perfect and never will. I never claim to be anything more than someone that has a good to decent knowledge of basketball and sports in general. In my time on the radio this week the guys who host the show were giving me praise for knowing everything there is to know. I quickly jumped in and thanked them for thinking that but it just isn't true. What I seek to be and what I have always sought to be someone that provides you some info, some informed opinion and do it in a way that is entertaining. I don't care if that is in the form of written words, my voice or myself on video or in person.

That is part of what this whole idea throughout the summer of building this #TeamDNB concept has been about and continues to be about. I want to work more on all of the elements that I mentioned above. It became pretty obvious that after close to five years of doing this primarily on my own that is was going to take a full staff of people to accomplish that goal. In addition to that though I want everyone to feel a part of this #TeamDNB idea. The staff I put in place and each and every one of you. I want to make this feel like a community and something you feel a part of. I do my best to do that through twitter but I want that to translate to here in the blog as well. I want at the end of the day for people to enjoy this place so much that they tell others about it and they become part of this community. It is good for the bottom line business of the blog ultimately but it is more a case of I just want to create a conversation and place for you to be a part of.

There is a lot of ideas that I have been coming up with and many of them will involve getting you more actively involved in what you are reading, listening and watching on the Dino Nation Blog. That is my mission for this season. I take the true spirit of journalism to heart. What is that you ask? It may get lost on a lot of people these days but that is to act as your representative in covering the sport and team that I do. I will take you back to a conversation I had way back to when I was in college with someone. I will not mention the persons name because it really isn't important and it honestly isn't someone with a big enough profile that a lot of people would know them. It was a conversation about providing content in a sports show or boradcast. This person said that the media's job was to tell you what you should feel was important. That the media should dictate to you what content was worth your time. I argued, and maintain that to this day, that is backwards. It is not the media's job to tell you what you are suppose to care about. It is my job and anyone else in this line of works job to listen to you and find out what you are interested in. It goes back to that core statement I made about the fact the journalists jobs are to represent the people they serve. In my time doing the DNB I have always went out of my way to listen to what the average person is saying about the Raptors. In this modern world of social media that becomes fairly easy to do. In doing that I may express my own opinions and thoughts as well. I am here to in effect guide a conversation. Sometimes, I will take the time to explain why I personally think a common belief or thought out there is wrong and give you reasons why I feel that way.

I carry those feelings in everything I do as relates to the Dino Nation Blog. Every single thing I have been able to do is all thanks to following that simple philosophy of feeling like I represent you. If it is interviewing a player, A fellow member of the media, or just sitting here pounding away on my keyboard. The media is not all that different from sports some people have egos and everyone has opinions. You need an ego to stick your neck out in front of the world on a daily basis. If that audience is 100, 1000, or 1,000,000 it is still the same. No matter what stage of things you are at, the day you feel you are bigger than the people that support you is the day you start down a path that ultimate leads to failure, even if on the surface it may seem like success.  

In the end I will always give my 100% to what I am doing and anyone that I work with or for me I expect and hope for the same. It is what YOU deserve. So with all of that said have a great weekend folks.


Canada Basketball Goes To Past To Guide It's Future

Ironically I was in Toronto today, but was not able to attend the press conference that announced Jay Triano as the New Coach of Team Canada. You may recall that I was a pretty harsh critic of Jay's time as the head coach of the Raptors. I was also though a harsh critic of Canada Basketball for letting him go and hiring Leo Rautins as his replacement. Jay never should have lost his job as the Head Coach of Canada Basketball. Their reasons for doing so were foolish and short sighted. Triano's involvement with U.S basketball spoke to just how stupid it was. If the best nation in the world in terms of overall talent felt Triano could offer them something maybe that was a sign to what was wrong with Canada Basketball for not seeing what they had in Jay Triano.

While the Raptors did not land Steve Nash, Canada Basketball did. The firing of Triano regardless of what people want to say on the record strained the programs relationship with Nash. They were able to mend fences and bring in Steve Nash to run the program as the GM. It was highly speculated at the time this would lead to a return of Triano to the job he never should have lost. Today that speculation became reality. Triano returns at a vital point in the history of this program. There has never been a time with so much young Canadian Talent in basketball in the history of this country. If you are a hoops junkie the list does not end with Joel Anthony, Tristan Thompson and Cory Joseph. DNB readers have got to know Myck Kabongo as well, as we built a relationship with him prior to his going to Texas where Thompson and Joesph starred for the Longhorns. If you haven't heard the name Andrew Wiggins and you are a hoops fan you might well be asleep at the wheel. He is considered the best player in North America not in the NCAA or NBA. He continues to amaze scouts and people have huge expectations for his future.

The list of talented players is long and not only was Triano announced as coach, he is getting right to work with a camp being held over the weekend in Toronto. The list of who will be there is a who's who of Canadian Basketball. If these guys were hockey players they would all likely be known from coast to coast. This list below came from North Pole Hoops twitter feed, which if you have any interest in the future of Canadians in basketball is honestly one of the best sites on the internet if not the best.

Braeden Anderson, Jermaine Anderson, Joel Anthony, Khem Birch, Junior Cadougan, Aaron Doornekamp, Justin Edwards, Brady Heslip, Cory Joseph, Devoe Joseph, Kris Joseph, Myck Kabongo, Owen Klassenm Trey Lyles, Andrew Nicholson, Kelly Olynyk, Kevin Pangos, Dyshawn Pierre, Dwight Powell, Laurent Rivardm, Robert Sacre Philip Scrubb, Jevohn Shepherd, Nick Stauskas, Tristan Thompson, Kyle Wiltjer

This is step one of the Nash/Triano reign of Canada basketball and it is damn impressive. Canada failed to qualify a team on the men's side of basketball in the recent London Olympics. If Nash and Triano can keep this pool of talent that is out there engaged and committed to the program it should mean the end of Canada just worrying about qualifying for the Olympics or World Championships. The Olympics in Rio in 2016 could be a coming out party for basketball in this country. Something for people who have been desperate to have reason to get behind Canada Basketball. The reason to do it with all their heart and soul. We watched a pretty big moment for soccer in this country in London with the ladies bringing home a bronze medal. In Rio 2016 while a medal might be dreaming very big, this is a group that potentially could be that good. When you consider what Triano was able to do with a team that had Steve Nash and a lot of supporting players that were several levels below him. It only stands to reason with this amazing pool of talent Triano could far exceed what he accomplished with Nash in Sydney in 2000. The days of people moaning on both sides of table on if Steve Nash should play for Canada again can finally call it a day. Truth is we have a talent base that doesn't require him to step on the floor. However his legacy when he did and what he has accomplished in the NBA will go a long way in selling these young stars and future stars on banding together to represent Canada and maybe shock the entire World a little.

Both Nash and the Raptors have build a legacy or a generation of basketball talent in this country. I have spoke with some of these guys and they all have nothing but praise for Nash and all have a story about being Raptor fans. While the Raptors success for themselves has been far from good. They have accomplished one of the goals of this organization. It was to grow the game in this country. All of those kids watching Vince Carter and Mighty Mouse have grown up and are pretty good. It makes you smile as a Raptor Fan, a basketball fan and as a Canadian.


Some Storylines For NBA 2012-13 Season

I am willing to admit this is the time of year where things kind of slow down in terms of the NBA. It seems far to early to start making predictions for the upcoming season. In terms of news, things have pretty much died off for now. All that said we have a good idea of what should be the major stories for the upcoming NBA Season. So here is my take on what people will be talking about.

The Brooklyn Nets : Just the fact they have moved from New Jersey to Brooklyn is a story in itself. Brooklyn has not had a pro sports team since the Brooklyn Dodgers back in the 50's. I imagine Jack Armstrong sitting in the stands rooting for them as a small boy. This is a big deal though and it should make the rivalry between the Nets and Knicks mean more than it ever has. Heading into this off-season many felt the Nets debut in Brooklyn was going to fall flat in terms of the on court product. Most felt Mark Cuban would swoop in and land Deron Williams and the Nets off-season would be an epic failure. This didn't happen of course and the Nets not only kept him but added Joe Johnson and a number of other interesting pieces to the puzzle. Among those former Raptors Kris Humphries who eventually re-signed with the Nets and Reggie Evans who they acquired in a sign and trade with the Clippers. Some think the Nets could go from all the way out of the playoffs to into the top 4 in the Eastern Conference. That is a big jump if they can actually pull it off. They might be as big a story as the Knicks when all is said and done. It was not a great summer for the Knicks as they saw a few players signed away and failed like the Raptors to acquire Steve Nash.

Is Linsanity For Real?: Seems a good time to mention Jeremy Lin, who said so long to New York for a big pay day in Houston. No doubt all eyes will be fixed on him to see if he can have the same kind of success with a much younger and inexperienced group in Houston. The contract he signed by almost all accounts is insane and the fact that in 3 years Jeremy Lin will be making the kind of money some big time proven NBA All-Stars make is kind of laughable. The Tim Tebow of the NBA does not have to worry about beating out anyone in Houston. They cleared the deck by trading Lowry to Toronto and seeing Goron Dragic walk. Kevin McCale has a tough job in front of him and the success of Lin will likely determine if he is still coaching in Houston when Lin is due all those big bucks in Houston.

Got One now can you get Two: Miami Heat and the defense of their NBA Title will always be a story. In fact the Heat champs or not are always a story. They have added some vets to the mix and can argue they are even stronger in defense of their NBA Title. Will Ray Allen find new life in Miami playing reduced minutes with the Big 3 on the floor making him a 4th option at times. It is going to be strange seeing his mom in a Heat Jersey. Lebron of course did not just promise Miami would win one title he promised they would win Not 4, Not 5 and so on. To get there though you need to reach number 2. James was a lone wolf in terms of his appearance at the Olympics as both Bosh and Wade took a pass on London due to injuries. I can only imagine the conversation between Lebron and Kobe when news broke of the Dwight Howard trade. It was often speculated that Lakers and Cavs could meet up in the NBA Finals for a generation . It never happened and we still wait to see if a Kobe vs Lebron final will be in the cards. Given the power both have behind them now it seems a more real possibility than ever. Just don't tell Kevin Durant or anyone on OKC that.

The Lake Show Is Back: The Lakers were the big winners of the off-season sweepstakes. First they swoop in out of no where and land Steve Nash. That was pretty good on it's own. They were not done though as the rumours of Superman II coming to L.A became reality. Kobe was a co-star in the original Superman movie along side Shaq and Phil Jackson. That group would be dominate and win a few championships to add to the Lakers impressive legacy. When Kobe Bryant is praising management in L.A you know they did something right. The Lakers looked like old news as the Thunder pretty much took care of them with out breaking much of a sweat in doing so. Just when you thought the torch had been passed the Lakers said not so fast. On paper with Nash running the show this could be just an insanely good basketball team. Much like when Miami former their Big Three of James, Bosh and Wade all of the talk is about what this group in L.A could potentially do? The key might be health though. Nash has his issues health wise as he is not getting any younger. Same is true for Kobe Bryant who even admitted that he sees the day when this will be Dwight's team after he is gone. Howard himself is coming off back issues. So Lakers better have signed a great massage therapist as well this off-season. This is a very interesting cast of characters and yes Ron Artest AKA Metta World Peace is still there. Miami and L.A will dominate the headlines this season as everyone looks for a reason these two teams are not destined to meet up in the NBA Finals.

Respect OKC: Not that anyone would admit this but the Lakers rise might be just what the OKC Thunder needed to remain motivated and focused. Kevin Durant stood out in a sea of stars on the U.S Dream Team in London. He unlike Kobe or Lebron had his boys along for the ride. Westbrook and Harden were also on that team of course. OKC made it to the NBA Finals and could not close the deal vs the Miami Heat. The normal nature for a team who has made the giant steps the the Thunder have is to become satisfied to a degree and think it will be easier now. Lakers by their off-season made that pretty much impossible to think now. I would venture to say most of the folks that supported OKC as the next dominate franchise for years to come to challenge the Heat have gone Hollywood. That is likely fine with Oklahoma City they represent a one sport town in which they rule everything. However more than that they represent an idealistic view of how people would like to see a team win a championship. They are built through the draft mostly and have done it the old fashion way. They didn't prey on small markets and go steal their stars. Ultimately it will be them fighting to retain the respect that they deserve. Scott Brooks as a coach can focus on the X's and O's as the motivation part has been taken care of by the Lakers.

In terms of here with the Raptors will save that for another day but it will be all about if these young pieces can over-achieve as the Atlantic Division form top to bottom on paper looks like one of the tougher divisions in the NBA. Note I am going be down in Toronto tomorrow actually working on some stuff for down the line in the DNB. So if there is not a blog tomorrow that is why. If you see someone that looks like me in Toronto tomorrow it may in fact be me. So feel free to say hello.


The New MLSE

Recently the CRTC approved the purchase of MLSE to Rogers and Bell which is one of the final hurdles in the transition of MLSE from the Teacher's Pension Fund. People will never look fondly back on that era of the company. While the company always projected that they were committed to winning in terms of all their sports teams, that for the majority of people was never believed to be true. The facts of how they did are self evident. The perception of their efforts is up for interpretation. However, most feel that by nature of being a pension fund the number one goal was always profit not winning. When you go around the ACC and see the development that they have created around the arena it seems like a monument to that fact. When you consider just the Real Sports Bar and retail store next door are more profitable than a lot of NHL franchises and probably some NBA franchises as well it puts that into context. The fact that while always promising to go above and beyond the luxury tax they never delivered on that promise. While you can say they spent money in other areas of the organization in the most obvious area to fans they stayed below the tax level. This while great in terms of the bottom line and creating all kinds of new revenue streams of income for the company is outstanding from a business stand point,  it is winning however people care about. That all might seem like a bunch of amateur economics for people but the bottom line was people had a perception this company was profit first, winning was at best second.

Now in this new era will anything change with the big corporate empires of Bell and Rogers taking over? Well that obviously remains to be seen. However the Raptors push for Steve Nash might be a sign of a fresh new direction for the company in terms of the Raptors. Still they never did deliver the goods and land Nash ultimately. That said the whole concept of signing Steve Nash means something different for companies like Bell and Rogers. The simple reason is ratings for all of their media outlets lead by TSN and Rogers Sportsnet. There is no one that will question the addition of Steve Nash would have meant a significant change in ratings for Raptors with casual sports fans. There is also the fact that the beast that drives the company the Toronto Maple Leafs may not have a league to play in come the fall. Like the NBA last season the NHL is on the verge of a labor war. The NHL is the only pro sports league to have the distinction of cancelling an entire season. While most don't feel the NHL will go that far this time around there is a very good chance the NHL will be working with some sort sort of lockout shorten season. It makes the Raptors success a more important part of the companies bottom line.

So this Raptors off-season might well be a modest success in terms of what they are able to accomplish. It will be interesting to see how the organization responds to what ultimately happens this season. Bryan Colangelo has had a fairly long run as the G.M/President of this organization. The lack of success that he has had in recent years make his future up for debate. He has slowly started the dig out from Chris Bosh basically getting the better of him by leaving for Miami for basically nothing. One of the big parts of that was his surprising draft pick  of Jonas Valanciunas. It was a move that was first met with negative response from the general fan base. The Raptors have spent a year in building Jonas into the can't miss prospect. How well and how fast Jonas develops could play a major role in Colangelo's ultimate future. However not in how fans take to that but if the two major stakeholders believe in Jonas as prospect and if Bryan along with Jonas' actual performance and what Bryan can sell on his future. The Raptors have a number of young players that need to come through and deliver. Rogers when you consider the direction they have taken with the Blue Jays may be more patient and be willing to buy into what Bryan is selling. Ultimately though the goal of both BELL and Rogers is to turn the Raptors into a viable property that will attract people to all their various outlets from T.V, through Radio to the Web and everything on down the line.

There is a general sense that winning will matter more in terms of the Raptors for the future with these companies. They ultimately want strong content that will have growing numbers so they can turn that around into advertising dollars for not just the Raptors but all the companies they own. If the Raptors do not win and do not have success and numbers decline that is likely not something that is going to sit well with this new ownership. MLSE has in a sense grown to indirectly to become part of a larger corporate pie. In which the success of these sports franchises will be more vital to their ultimate bottom line. At the end of the day they are no different in terms of wanting profit first and foremost. However the road to that profit might be more connected to winning than it was for the past administrators of MLSE.

The other question will be if these media rivals can ultimately agree on the major decisions in running this company. If they can agree than they ultimately will steer the direction of the company. If they can not than Larry Tanenbaum becomes a significant player in this. He is one remaining part of the former Ownership group that in effect will be the tie breaker if the companies can not agree. Some might see that as a bad thing. Still most who have ever come in contact with the man express his true passion and desire to have a winner in all of the sports franchises in MLSE. He was ultimately handcuffed in some respects by his former partners in the teachers pension fund from ultimately going that extra mile one might logically think. I guess will get to see now if that is fact or fiction especially if Rogers and Bell are not able to play nice in the MLSE sandbox or boardroom if you prefer.

In terms of the fanbase more of the same is not going to cut it. Will see if this new setup responds and makes the moves that fans will ultimately see as trying to win. Will the days of pretending to be a small market franchise in the NBA be a thing of the past? Time will ultimately tell. If you have been paying attention to this off-season in the NBA if they don't shake off that mentality the Raptors are doomed to be nothing but an average to bad team for years to come. You can do all the right things in building a team the right way like an OKC has done but ultimately when you have the money and power to be a big time player and fail to do it that is just silly. The Raptors ultimately need to make a statement that they are heading in a new direction and come up with something that people can truly believe in. In pro sports today, I don't care what anyone says it ultimately takes spending money to have ultimate success. If you can achieve winning a championship or even get to a level as a team that is contention you will make that investment pay off with a increased interest in your brand and ultimately have the tools to be a success. That said it still takes making the right investments. Will see what the future holds but fans grow more frustrated as the years pass. The amount of tolerance for excuses is likely at an all time low. Sports like anything else is a results business.


An Update On The Atlantic Division

With the NBA Preseason just two months away, today we’re going to look at where things stand in the Atlantic Division. All of the teams, the Raptors included, have made significant additions over the past season and a half, making the formerly weak Atlantic Division quite the powerhouse.

The Raptors acquired Kyle Lowry, John Lucas, and Landry Fields and added draft picks Jonas Valanciunas, Terrence Ross, and Quincy Acy. They also let Jerryd Bayless and Sonny Weems go, to the joy of many Raptors fans and the bane of others. The Raptors looked poised to make a run for the playoffs, until a variety of moves in their division strengthened their competition quite dramatically.

Boston Celtics
The Boston Celtics, a team that since its inception of the “Big 3” has been labeled too old, has routinely proven its doubters wrong through consistent play on the court. Now, with Rajon Rondo a superstar in his own right, the Celtics are beginning to make the transition from the Big 3 Era to a new, younger squad built around him. They let Ray Allen go, which despite the frequent trade rumors over the years shocked everyone. Also gone are journeymen Mickael Pietrus and Marquis Daniels, along with some young guys that didn’t pan out.

However, the Celtics resigned Kevin Garnett and Brandon Bass and signed elite sixth man Jason Terry. While the Celtics are undoubtedly keeping their “old” mantra, they’ve added promising young players like Jeff Green, Courtney Lee, Jared Sullinger, and Fab Melo. They’re not ready to let their veterans go, but they’re acknowledging that the days of Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce are almost over.

Historically, the Raptors have struggled mightily against the Celtics. This year, they may be able to sweep them. Read: may. Danny Ainge fully realizes that the Celtics’ run is nearly at its end, and that the team needs to take a step back to take one forward. I would not be surprised if this was the Celtics final push for a championship.

Philadelphia 76ers
Moving west, things get more interesting. The Philadelphia 76ers are the proud owners of a new, angry, and committed Andrew Bynum. They finally shipped out Andre Iguodala to get him in the 4 team trade, and somehow managed to get Jason Richardson in the same deal.

Gone are a bunch of the 76ers young players, including Lou Williams, Nikola Vucevic, and Craig Brackins. They also used their amnesty provision on Elton Brand, who has since found a home in Dallas with the Mavericks. The 76ers are interesting in that they’ve improved quite dramatically but have also taken a step or two back. Prior to the Andrew Bynum trade, I felt the Raptors would have the best frontcourt in the Atlantic Division by the end of the season. No more. Philadelphia is very deep up front.

The Raptors and 76ers produce some interesting match ups at every position. Big point guard versus little point guard, dominant offensive center versus expected-to-be-dominant defensive center, athletic tweener versus skilled big…while both squads pride themselves on being defense first, games between these teams should be very entertaining.

New York Knicks
In New York, it’s a step back. Carmelo Anthony, Amar’e Stoudemire, and Tyson Chandler remain the Knicks’ core. The pieces around them, however, are different. They’re loaded with experienced point guards, which was to be expected when the Knicks’ refused to match Jeremy Lin’s offer sheet from Houston. In are Raymond Felton (who played the best basketball of his career in New York a few years ago), Jason Kidd, and the aging, elite Euroleague point Pablo Prigioni.

The Knicks also retained J.R. Smith, and are hoping that Iman Shumpert gets back from injury sooner than later. They also inexplicably signed James White, the dunking machine. The Knicks have what I consider the most athletic group of wings in the Atlantic Division. Something interesting, though? For a coach that demands defense and knows little about offense, it’s intriguing to see the players New York has acquired. They’re all one-sided players, the kind that are a dime a dozen in the NBA. Their only defense lays at the center position with Tyson Chandler and the newly acquired Marcus Camby (excluding the injured Iman Shumpert).

If the Raptors can contain Carmelo Anthony’s scoring ability and Amar’e Stoudemire remains the same player he’s been the last couple of years, they should be able to win the series against the Knicks. That’s a big if, as Melo’s offensive capabilities are very difficult to handle even for the best defensive players in the NBA. Depending on Tyson Chandler and Marcus Camby to anchor the entirety of their defense should leave Andrea Bargnani open a lot for open jumpers. Besides, Bargnani plays his best basketball against New York.

Brooklyn Nets
And now, the moment you’ve all been waiting for: the Brooklyn Nets. What can be said about the Nets? They’re finally moving to Brooklyn this year, and their Russian playboy owner has seemingly distanced himself from the team. First, they wanted Lebron James. Then, they wanted Carmelo Anthony. Then, they wanted Dwight Howard. What did they end up with? Deron Williams, Brook Lopez, Joe Johnson, Kris Humphries, Marshon Brooks, and Gerald Wallace. Not a terrible booby prize, but nothing close to what the Nets have hoped for.

The Nets shocked everyone by intentionally acquiring Joe Johnson’s contract, further proving that no contract is untradeable. It didn’t cost them much to do so, but it ties them up financially. It wouldn’t be such a big deal if there wasn’t a salary cap, because their owner has more money than he knows what to do with. But their starting five is expensive and not good enough to win a championship, severely limiting what other players they can sign.

They also acquired C.J. Watson, if that means anything. And the is-he-any-good Bosnian Mirza Teletovic. I’m not sure what the Nets are doing or are trying to do, but they've pretty much become the Atlanta Hawks. A bunch of good-not-great players being paid more than they’re worth, just hoping to make the playoffs. Which they should, but still.

Listen. If the Raptors play the Nets when they’ve had a few days to rest? They should be destroyed. However, if they’re on the second night of a back-to-back, they stand a chance. Everything depends on their starters. If they’re tired or hurt, this team crumbles. If they’re rested and healthy, they’re a handful.

The Atlantic Division is vastly improved this season, and should not be taken lightly. It’s likely that one of these teams won’t make the playoffs despite a good record, just like the Western Conference. The Raptors aren’t the best team in the division, but they’re also not the worst. They should have varying degrees of success again the rest of their division, but it’s very difficult to project it. Regardless, as fans we’re going to be treated to better basketball than we have in many, many years. I’m looking forward to it, are you?

Raptors Rank Last In Uniforms In Toronto

Here is something I came across over the weekend on NFL.com. It is a story ranking all the uniforms in North American Sports (No CFL or MLS though) and the Raptors did not fair well coming in 97 out of 122 teams. In fact they were last in Toronto teams with Jays coming in 52nd and the Leafs in 12th.

According to the NFL.com writer the Cleveland Cavs have the best uniforms in the NBA coming in at number 11. Which likely devalues this from an NBA point of view. Laker purple and Gold or Celtics Green and white would both rank well ahead of Cleveland for me. Thanks to a reader who checked out article Celtics actually were top NBA team at 8. Clearly it is Monday folks. Thanks for catching that thought I had actually read the article on Friday and my memory clearly sucks. 

The main reason I decided to write a little blurb on this was his comments on the Raptor uniforms.

#97 Raptors: The Raptors, on the other hand, could actually stand putting a little purple back into their unis. (Note: I did not, I repeat -- did not -- encourage a return to the dinosaur jerseys.) The red and black is oddly configured on the current ensemble ... particularly the back of the shorts, which look like a half a toilet seat cover tucked into the waistline.

Raptors might have ranked lower if he had ever seen those Camouflage jerseys. The Worst in the NBA was OKC which I agree with 100%. They are one of best teams but their uniforms are horrible. In any case a nice light story to enter into another week. 


Raptors Release Pre-Season Schedule

Here it is your Pre-Season Schedule for 2012:

(7 PM) Oct 8th vs Real Madrid (ACC)
(7:30 PM) Oct 10th @Detroit
(7 PM) Oct 12th vs Detroit (ACC)
(8 PM) Oct 15th @ Memphis
(7 PM) Oct 17th  vs Washington (ACC)
(7 PM) Oct 19th  vs New York (Bell Centre- Montreal) 
(7 PM) Oct 22nd vs Milwaukee (ACC) 

All of those are local Toronto time. Before you know it basketball will be here. Raptors will be having training camp on the East Coast in Halifax.


#TeamDNB Take 2.

It has been a few months since we added some folks to the mix. It has gone pretty well. I am happy with having people to work with in helping make the DNB better. I think some of the things Josh and Candice have done writing wise have been great. We had one of the best months the blog has had this past July. Also Jerrica and Jevon will be doing more during the season to help promote, interact and hopeful grow our numbers.  I think we could still add some things to the mix based on what I have learned from the past few months. So here are some of things I am looking for:

Writing Staff (General) - This would just be someone that would fill in the gaps and contribute where and when required. You would be doing a little of everything. Game Previews, Recaps or basically anything that is required. You would need to be at minimum contribute at least one day a week to the blog. But the more you are available the better it is for us and you.

Writing Staff (NCAA) - This may come from the writing staff we have or it could be someone that wants to take on this challenge on their own. Basically you would be responsible for covering NCAA Basketball and giving are readers info on players in the college ranks. Also do things like Mock Drafts and anything else you care to bring to the table. Also focusing on Canadian talent in the NCAA as well.

Writing Staff (Fantasy Guru) - Again this could come from the general staff or be an individual person. Your job is to act as the DNB's Fantasy expert and produce a weekly column with the focus on Fantasy Basketball. You would be required to evaluate trades from a fantasy perspective, give tips on players to watch and help our readers out with their fantasy concerns. This will require someone that is very interactive and engages our readers to interact with them.

Web Designer: Yes I know our site is pretty basic. If there is a web designer out there that wants a chance to give us a new look and get all the credit for that I would love to talk with you. You would need to create a new design for our site and make sure myself and staff know how to keep it running. Also be able to work with me on a design that I will ultimately approve.

Camera Person: Someone that has their own equipment and can work with us in creating and shooting video features for the blog. If you also have editing skills that would be a huge bonus. The ideal candidate must be very responsible/reliable and able to work well with myself and other staff members involved in video productions.

ALL OF THESE POSITIONS are on a volunteer basis. However you are expected to treat it as you would A JOB. This just means that you act in a professional way, if their are deadlines for things you honour them, if you commit to doing something you are reliable and you treat the rest of the staff and our readers with nothing but complete professionalism.

I take what is done in the DNB very seriously and while I try to make it a fun and good place to be a part of I still demand that everyone be accountable. So if you think you would be interested in any of these positions or think you can add something else you feel we could use feel free to contact me and we can explore if you are a good fit to join us as part of TEAM DNB. Feel free to email me @ Dinoblogger@Gmail.com and I will get back to you ASAP.

Our goal this year with the DNB is to make it better than ever as we get set to mark our 5th year of operation. To be more interactive with our readers and to provide more content and expand on what we do. It is my hope to make this the best year in the history of DNB and that can not be done alone. It will take adding some dedicated and professional people to our staff and the support of all our great readers to push us to a new level.

Ideally we would like to have these new staff positions filled by the end of September but the sooner you are able to come on board the better it will be for us to develop you and get you ready to be a part of our team. Last time we did this we had a good response. Not everyone was taken to be a part of our team but I appreciated everyone that felt they wanted to be a part of what I have built here. 


The Demar DeRozan Question

This season is going to be a vital one for Demar DeRozan and his future in the NBA and where it might be. The easy answer is he has a good season and shows promise and he and Raptors agree to a reasonable deal for both sides. The Raptors would have all the advantages in being able to sign him. He will be a restricted free agent having played out his rookie contract with the Raptors. So even in a worst case situation the Raptors would be able to match any offers that come his way.

That would be in a perfect world. Still that doesn't seem all that realistic. Let's be positive and say DeRozan has a break out season and finally lives up to the expectations the Raptors had when drafting him out of USC. He performs to a new level and looks like the future for the Raptors for next 5-10 years at the shooting guard position, or even shifting to small forward spot, if Ross were to develop into something as well. Sounds all good right? It might be, but how much would that cost the Raptors in terms of a contract? That is the more than million dollar question. In this past off-season we saw money flying around at an alarming rate. Lockout....Smockout. Players getting max contracts like Roy Hibbert with the Pacers. It is not to say Roy is not a good or even great player, I feel he is. In fact I was the guy that was a strong backer of the Raptors drafting him and keeping him. They got it half right in drafting him but it was for the Pacers as part of the ill fated J.O deal. If you end up paying to many players to much money that they are not actually worth it creates a lot of issues. This is unless you make the choice to say the salary cap be damned which is one the Raptors and MLSE have clearer avoided in the past. So even a great season for DeRozan could lead to a challenging choice for the Raptors to make. If he does have a solid season and they let him go or trade him away it would be viewed as the Raptors once again letting a player get away like so many before and we all know the list.

If things go the other way the Raptors will still have a problem. Assuming DeRozan were to have an average or below average season than what would the Raptors do? Give up on DeRozan and let him go away feeling they have what they want in Ross? Given the athletic ability of DeRozan that seems like a risky move. Still if you sign him what would the market offer a guy like DeRozan now? Assuming he was a free agent with the basic same skill set he has now. Who is to say really in this crazy NBA we live in now. Guys are paid more on their potential as opposed to their actual production. If the Raptors were to extend DeRozan with out any clear signs of progress that could backfire badly. There is no Amnesty net to bail you out on contracts signed post lockout.

Also just where does he now fit in the scheme of things for the Raptors? The additions of Lowry, Valancuinas, Fields and Ross what option does this make DeRozan? He was the clear 2nd option on offense last season and when he was without Bargnani the number one option which was a role he struggled with at times. Now what is he? Lowry can not only pass but score himself. Ross can clearly make more 3's than DeRozan will, and most would say has an advantage on the defensive end of the floor. Jonas is expected to be a big part of things but I would suspect on Offense in the short term he is not taking a ton of touches away. Fields will also deem touches if he can play to level he did as a rookie in New York.

There is also the issue of his position both in terms of starting and the amount of minutes he will play. In being a contract year a lesser number of minutes or a move to the bench would not be welcomed by DeRozan. It is unclear how he would respond to these things as for the most part he has been secure in his minutes and basically has been the starter at his position since he arrived.

I personally like Demar and want to see him do well. I think he still can be the player people expected. It just is going to be a very complicated season for the Raptors to figure out what they plan to do with him. If there intention is to keep him regardless of what happens that is one thing. However, if they are unclear on what they plan to do with him that could make him an attractive piece to be traded. A lot will be determined by Demar himself and how he has and is working this off-season. If he is able to translate his work ethic into a better player come the end of October. It is a season that will no matter what happens shape his immediate NBA future greatly.  

My track record of players I personally like sticking around has sucked in recent years. While players I could do without seem to never go away. As a fan I want Demar DeRozan to stay. As someone that covers this team I know that it is not a sure thing he will. I find myself wanting to cheer for him to have a good season but not a great season. That way everything will workout for everyone including me. Still, as I said earlier it is not a perfect world. The Raptors off-season is more than proof of that. While they have got better it may not be good enough in the short term to make the playoffs. Much like DeRozan who I think has improved as player. It just may not be as fast as everyone would like.


Raptors Olympics Fallout

So the Raptors had 3 players in the Olympics on the current roster. Linas Kleiza, Jose Calderon and of course Jonas Valancuinas. Let's first take a look at Jose Calderon who won a silver medal again with Spain. His experience with Spain are a reflection of his time with the Raptors in a way. In 2008 he did not play in the Gold Medal game as he was out with injury. This time around he did play and was terrible in doing so with no points in 17 minutes and found himself glued to the bench for his lack of defense. In addition make no mistake that had Ricky Rubio been healthy, Calderon would have been the back-up for Spain. Just like he will be with the Raptors if in fact he is still a part of this roster by the time training camp roles around. After a brilliant game in the Semi Final vs Russia in the 2nd half he once again failed to deliver in the biggest game for his team. This was the case with the Raptors as well in playoff series with the Nets and Magic. Safe to say his terrible performance in the Gold Medal game did nothing but hurt his trade value for the Raptors. While everyone just assumes Jose will return and accept his fate and not be a problem, I think that is a bit of an optimistic point of view. Calderon would have every reason to be fed up with what has happened with him in Toronto. After being basically traded to Charlotte not that long ago, this off-season he watch his team go all in to get Nash and when they failed agreed to trade a lottery pick in the future to acquire Kyle Lowry. Jose Calderon for his squeaky clean reputation has still driven out indirectly T.J Ford, Jarrett Jack and Jerryd Bayless. All of those scenarios saw him as the chosen starter. The writing is on the wall he will not win this battle with Lowry.

One thing I have learned is the both Calderon and Linas Kleiza care far more about playing good basketball in their national team jersey than they do in their NBA Jerseys. Kleiza was a key part of his squad at the Olympics and put up impressive numbers. However I have seen this movie before and so have you. The year the Raptors signed Kleiza he went nuts for Lithuania in the Euro Basket tournament. He would arrive for the Raptors season and be often injured and seldom a factor. Which pretty much can sum up his entire time with the Raptors. He is here as much to be a buddy for Jonas Valancuinas if for nothing else. So if you think the fact Kleiza leading his team with 13.8 points and having 6.3 rebounds means anything for the Raptors you might want to think again.

That said, most Raptor fans were concerned with one guy at the Olympics and that was Jonas. Some look at his performance and see it as concerning for his NBA Future. Others are still on this Jonas is the next big thing train. He did only manage 4.2 points and 4 rebounds in 6 games. I would say to both sides of the debate it really didn't tell us anything. What everyone seems to conveniently forget is these games are played under FIBA rules which makes these projections of failure or greatness a little out of whack. We could have learned a lot more about Jonas playing in Summer League under NBA Rules against lesser competition but with much more minutes than what we did from 6 games in London. Still maybe this will bring some sanity to what have been unrealistic expectations for the start of his NBA career. Both he and Anthony Davis didn't prove a thing about what they will be in the NBA. I have heard this constant noise about what a great experience this was for Anthony Davis. May I remind you all of the only other college player to be on a Dream Team or Pro U.S roster. That would be Christian Laettner, who was a college superstar at Duke, but in the NBA while he had longevity was far from a superstar in his NBA Career. He played for Minnesota (Drafted 3rd Overall), Atlanta, Washington, Detroit, Dallas and Miami in 17 seasons in the NBA 12.8 points and 6.7 rebounds for his career. He played with all due respect to Kobe, the greatest ever version of the "Dream Team", but it never translated to a great NBA Career. Davis and Jonas for that matter, will succeed or fail this season and it will have very little to do with how they spent their Summer in London barely playing for their respective nations.

Calderon in case you wondered averaged just 7 points and 2.5 assists in his 8 games with Spain. He did manage to not get himself hurt which ultimately is all I care about when any Raptor plays internationally. As for the tournament itself, it has become a complete joke and any time the U.S sends the best possible roster they have available they are going to win. It really is that simple. I enjoyed the Olympics for everything other than Men's Basketball. It was much more thrilling to watch Canadian Women's Soccer for me than any game in this tournament. When Canada has a horse in the race my feelings will change. But as we all know Canada only had an entry on the Women's side of basketball in this Olympics. Hope is high that will change for Rio in 2016. Now with the Olympics behind us we enter the dog days of summer before the NBA Season. Still we had a big Dwight Howard trade finally happen so maybe it will be more exciting than we think. In terms of the Raptors I wouldn't hold my breath I think what you see is what you get at this point.  


Howard Trade Scores Another Blow FOR NO COMPETITIVE BALANCE

I have loved basketball since I was as little as Kid Raptor. It has been a passion for me and a sport that I have always loved. That love is going through some tough times these last few years though. The Raptors had finally won a Division Title and there was finally some hope. After Vince Carter had been traded, in what at the time was one of the worst trades in NBA History. In fact it still stands up well to some of the awful trades of today. Boston had went through a drought in the history of that proud franchise. Paul Pierce was frustrated and on the verge of taking his talents elsewhere. It would lead to the creation of the Boston Big 3 that included Pierce along with Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett. It would also help evolve Rajon Rondo into a star in his own right. Hope of the Raptors winning another Atlantic Division title were basically gone.

That led to the Summer of 2010 and the creation of the Miami Big 3 which would include as it's third wheel the Toronto Raptors only true star in Chris Bosh. Now forget about winning divisions or even making the playoffs. Raptors would be kicked to the back of the NBA bus and be a constant presence in the NBA Lottery. They would have Cleveland joining them in that role. They lost Lebron James who most would concede was the best player in the game at the time and now.It sparked a hole diva like era of the NBA. Carmelo Anthony would force his way out of Denver, Chris Paul no longer would call New Orleans home. Deron Williams before he had chance to do the same was shipped off New Jersey and now is happy to be part of Brooklyn version of the Nets with a fat new contract.

Now today we have the end of the Dwight Howard Saga in Orlando. After getting a coach fired that didn't deserve to be and a G.M that deserved to be, that was ultimately not enough to satisfy the once loved Howard to remain in Orlando. He wanted out and he was successful in his confused diva act approach of finding his way out. Poor Orlando fans watch another star center go to the Lakers. Just like Shaq did he lead the Magic to one NBA Final but came up short. Raptor fans can only imagine what making an NBA Final is like. Perhaps if Vince made that three pointer in Philly we would know as well. Still it has to suck for Magic fans. In fact what is the lesson in all of this? Basically 20 NBA Teams have no chance in hell of making the NBA Finals including the Raptors. That is a fun way to enter a season isn't it.

While you can say the Raptors have made some moves that make them better ultimately when you have big names piling up on only a few rosters it makes that hard to deal with. Some of the fall out of the D-12 trade is it finds Andrew Bynum the Lakers All-Star center who was good but not Dwight finding his way to Philly. Jonas be he good or bad falls short of the Sixers having a ready made All-Star at center. It just really makes you feel bad for Bryan Colangelo. I mean how can he honestly win? He did try to land Steve Nash who now will be the guy having the positive problem of if he should lob it to Dwight? Pass it to Kobe? Or set up Gasol on the block? Sounds a lot better than options he would have had in Toronto without question.

Still wait a minute maybe we should not just give Colangelo a pass. Someone that worked under him has managed to find a way to have some success. Masai Ujiri some how ended up the winner of a trade to the only team a Superstar player wanted to play for. Orlando might have wanted to take notes. Ujiri has kept the Nuggets competitive despite being held at gun point to trade Anthony to New York. He also today got in on this four way trade and landed a guy a lot of Raptor fans wanted to see here. Andre Iguodala is now a Nugget not a Raptor. It all makes you wonder if the Raptors should have said good bye Bryan and promoted Masai Ujiri. He might not have get the Nuggets to a title but he has found a way to keep them competitive. 

Still this is bigger than the Raptors and their outlook. It is about fans in like 20+ markets in the NBA that are asked to believe and have hope their franchise can some day climb the to mountain top and win an NBA Title. That is a nice dream to sell but far from realistic at this point. It would be nice to think that Kevin Durant like players grew on trees and that quiet superstars like Tim Duncan was a every year occurrence but that just isn't true. Not to mention having the both luck combined with skill the Spurs and Thunder have had in terms of the NBA Draft. Will it shock anyone if Chris Paul says he has no interest in being a Clipper and some how ends up being a Knick. Something he proclaimed at Anthony's wedding allegedly that they would both go to New York as part of their own Big Three. It wouldn't me. 

I am growing frustrated with a league I once loved. It never seemed to be like it is today. However maybe it was and I was just to young and naive to notice. In the 80's the NBA was all about 2 teams in the 80's those being the Lakers and Celtics. Any other team that found a way to win was a minor miracle. Still it didn't seem as dirty as it does now. I don't think I have ever truly got over the Lockout last season. You know where David Stern promised to bring competitive balance to the NBA. I guess what he meant was to make owners more rich and continue to allow the players to run the league as long as Owners got paid. Sure every now and then he stops a Chris Paul trade to Lakers for basketball reasons. However the Lakers don't seem to be hurting today with settling for a Steve Nash and upgrading and an All-Star Center for a better All-Star Center. Yeah this league is really going great if you happen to be a Laker or Heat fan. If not than you only have a few realistic options. Even the plucky home grown Thunder have to be concerned at what they now see in Lakers Gold and Purple. 

If this was a 80's gangster rap this would be where I would go into a swearing rant of all the people I would like to blame for this. It would include Dwight Howard all the way to David Stern. Ultimately I am just not angry enough to bother. In fact I am not sure that I am more angry or sad. The NBA is rapidly becoming a league of have and have not teams. When you have a class system in sports it feels just as unfair as having one in life. What is so great about fans in L.A, Chicago, Boston, Miami, I have seen fans that are just as passionate if not more here in Toronto, in places without teams like Seattle. In small markets like Sacramento and elsewhere. However, just look at what happened to the Kings. Their fans finally realized that they were doomed to fail after a few years of tasting the good life. I think it would take a minor miracle to see a day the Raptors would win an NBA Title. 

It makes you wonder why bother? I guess because you just love the sport so much you allow yourself to become blind to the cold reality that your team is not suppose to win. All I know is the NBA I loved as a kid has become a greedy place with selfish egotistical jerks that are screwing it up. Still maybe it is something that Sonny Weems said to me the other day. You got to have fun and just enjoy basketball. I guess we are just conditioned to have the enjoyment attached to having winning or the hope of winning at the root of that. Today's NBA does a increasing good job of crushing that hope with trades like this and players demanding and dictating where they will play basketball. They love basketball to we are led to believe. It is just on their terms. So if you are lucky enough to draft one of those true superstars enjoy it while it lasts. Likely it isn't going to be forever. Unless it happens to be on a team like Lakers and Kobe Bryant. Kobe is happy but that really doesn't matter much to me.    


Starting 5 With Sonny Weems

This is something I have been working on for awhile. It is my great pleasure to have Sonny Weems back in the DNB once again. He is returning to Europe playing with CSKA Moscow this season for what he says in our interview is a "Great" deal. Which is great news for a good guy and someone I always have enjoyed and supported. We talk about his career and plans going forward. Also his thoughts on the Raptors last season. He also talks about how he still remains friends with many of the guys on the team and still has a close friendship with Demar DeRozan who recently had a Birthday. We talk about his dunk contest from last year that most people feel was a better show than what the NBA offered last season. He also expresses his thoughts on Toronto and all the Raptors fans.

It was great to catch up with Sonny. I honest do miss his presence in the Raptors locker room. He was always a fun loving guy that was always willing to talk. Wish him the best this season over in Europe and hope to see him back in the NBA soon.


DNB Top 10- NBA Olympics

I am much like the NBA players at the Olympics, I get more interested in all the other sports. I mean honestly the U.S is winning the Gold in both Men's and Women's Basketball and there is not much doubt about that. So instead of talking about that thought it be fun to find some other events for NBA Players to take part in. This should be fun right?

#10 James Johnson (Judo)- The former Raptors already knows karate but that is not an Olympic sport. He is also known to train in mixed martial arts so perhaps he could master the art of Judo? Sure why not.

#9 Russell Westbrook (100 meter dash)- He is in my view the quickest guy in the NBA. In the past that title would go to guys like T.J Ford and Allen Iverson. So he should have a shot to lose to Bolt like the rest of the World.

#8 Reggie Evans (Wrestling)- Reggie is a beast and why not have him wrestle. I dare anyone to try and take this guy to his back.

#7 Steve Nash (Soccer)- He could do it. He said he would not play for Canada again in basketball he never said anything about Soccer right? Seeing as the men never made the Olympics in Soccer as well as Basketball they could have used him.

#6 Serge Ibaka (Beach Volleyball)- I think this works one of the better blockers in the league he could get it done at the net. Spike the ball in people's faces.

#5 Chris Bosh (Gymnastics)- Ok this doesn't make a lot of sense for a guy 6 foot 10 does it. But the thing is there is a lot of crying I have noticed in Gymnastics and that makes it a perfect fit for Bosh.

#4  Manu Ginobli (Diving)- He dives all the time in the NBA. Why not do it in the Olympics. We could have went with a lot of guys for this event honestly.

#3 Kobe Bryant (Decathlon)- Sure Kobe is getting up there in years but if he just uses the Kobe System how can he lose?

#2 Lebron James (High Jump)- You could likely have Lebron compete in many events but he can get up in the air and fly so why not take those skills and jump over a bar. We thought about Blake Griffin but he can only jump over cars not bars.

#1 Kris Humphries (Swimming)- You may have heard this old story resurface during the Olympics. Humphries as a 10 year old held national records in the U.S and actually beat Micheal Phelps. So he could have won like 22 medals and avoided having to marry a tramp to become famous. Instead he gets a nice big fat contract from Brooklyn as hopeful fodder for a Dwight Howard trade in January. Regardless Hump always gets paid.

So that is our list if you have some other suggestions be they funny or serious feel free to leave them in comments.



Is This Really It?

We ended up taking a rather extended long weekend. Not that much news has been going on other than the Olympics in London. Today is Demar DeRozan's Birthday. We wish him all the best. John Lucas III one of the Raptors latest signings has been vacationing in Barbados or the Bahamas I forget which it was. Amir Johnson  was in town ridding on a float for Carribana and having fun I would assume. Twitter kind of kills the allusion of guys working hard in the gym all summer long I guess. Still, we all can use some time off at this time of year. I keep thinking to myself is this really it for an off-season the Bryan Colangelo had built up for over a year. It is kind of like the build up for Jonas of over a year. It remains to be seen if his debut will fall as flat for me as this Raptors off-season has.

It is not to say that Raptors have not improved somewhat. I think they have made some decent moves and will likely be a top 10 team on defense this season based on the roster moves they have made this off-season. Pretty much every new face to the mix is an upgrade in terms of that end of the floor. Jose Calderon being pushed to the bench by the arrival of Lowry could alone be a big enough change to push the Raptors up to the top 10. Clearly the Raptors have made a point to get players for their coach that should blend well with his skill set. They have also said so long to some that would not.

All of that being said do I feel this team has made the kind of changes to make that huge jump to being a playoff team. I would like to say YES! YES! YES! ( Wrestling Fans Laughed at That),  but I just really can't see it. What is would take for that to happen is the Raptors getting significant internal improvement from both DeRozan and Bargnani along with others. That could happen but it remains to be seen. I still am not sold on Bargnani and really is he any better than what we had in Chris Bosh as an overall product on the floor? I would say no. While DeRozan enters the last year of his deal and if he shows signs of progress it will be good, but the Raptors will be left with a tough choice on what to do with him at the end of the season. As much as I do like DeRozan and believe in him, I am not inclined to commit huge dollars to him on a long term extension. The only thing that would change my mind is if he were to have a total break out season. Which might be difficult as I would suspect he might play slightly less minutes in favour of Ross based on Ross having better abilities to both defend and shoot the three in the eyes of most at this point.

Lowry should change to point guard position for the better. I think he could have a positive impact and it will be interesting to see how meshes with the various weapons he will have around him. In terms of Jose I would be greatly concerned. He has not exactly had a stellar Olympics and he clearly is not happy with his NBA situation here. I don't see how the Raptors can expect this to last for a season or even to the trade deadline. John Lucas III is a nice 3rd option if he bumps up to 2nd on the depth chart, if Calderon is moved on would be a concern to me.

Landry Fields to me does not really inspire confidence as the answer for the Raptors at 3 spot. Linas Kleiza and his inspired play for Lithuania doesn't either. While Fields will be an upgrade on D to a degree it really wasn't that bad with James Johnson on that end of the floor. Fields is a guy that could add some punch on the offensive end. In terms of non-basketball wise he seems like quite the character and someone I will look forward to talking with this season. Maybe dating tips with Landry Fields that would be fun. Still I might be the only one but Fields will always be a haunting reminder of how the Raptors failed to land Steve Nash. While Bryan Colangelo has said on the record he feels that he has addressed the issues at the small forward position. I would politely disagree. All we have is new question marks. Which is a constant theme since Vince Carter was traded away. It is a long list of guys that have attempted to be the answer at the small forward position and none of them have come close to being a long term solution.

As for the Raptors prize pick Jonas Valancuinas, I just find it odd so many people feel they can evaluate him without him ever having played a game with NBA rules. The biggest challenge he will have beyond matching the unrealistic expectations that have been created is being able to stay on the floor. It could be a major issue for him and how quickly he can address that will greatly define his first season in the NBA. This is not to compare him to Amir Johnson in terms of who is better, but Johnson when he has been able to stay out of foul trouble has shown ability to put up impressive numbers. Jonas is capable of doing that and likely greater numbers at times. The key is can he avoid that foul trouble that will no doubt come. If he can't he will be the most talented guy sitting on the Raptors bench. Josh in his post on Raptors line-ups had Jonas coming off the bench and not starting. I honestly can't see how the Raptors would not start him. After all the hype and build up it would seem odd to than sit him on the bench. Also look at the Raptors approach with Demar DeRozan in which he started from day 1. That said the Raptors did not have the depth of talent they do at Jonas' position. I still personally would be shocked if Aaron Gray is the guy in the starting 5 on opening night.

In the end, I would say the Raptors have got a lot more interesting, but ultimately I don't see them as team that has improved to the point of being a playoff team. I also don't see them as a team that can be much better than last in their division. Which makes the playoffs seem unlikely. The Nets have made some major improvements and while I expect the Knicks and Sixers to take slight falls backwards it is not like they are worse than Raptors in terms of talent. At the top of food chain Boston has done a good job in maintaining their status as the top dog in division despite losing one member of the original Big Three that won them a title. Raptors should be a scrappy team that will fight hard on most nights. They will kind of be like the Canadian Women's Basketball team at the Olympics. They will be in almost every game even against teams with more talent, but the odd time will get mauled by the big fish of the NBA. I am not saying the Miami Heat will beat them as soundly as the U.S Women did Canada this morning, but that the Raptors will be fighting an uphill battle on more nights than they are not. Not exactly the expectation this off-season was billed as bringing. Raptors are on a slow build to being playoff fodder in the first round for years to come at this point. Something dynamic needs to happen to change that outlook.