My old blog-friend Jeff, who currently writes for the excellent blog Pete Marasmitch, e-mailed me to ask to participate in his "Weeping With The Enemy" series. In this series of posts on his site, Jeff, a Toronto Raptors fan, hunts down a blogger who writes about a rival team and they exchange a series of Q&A's.
Below are my questions to a somewhat suffering Raptors fan (one the one hand, the Raptors are worse record-wise than the Knicks; on the other hand, they have Chris Bosh, Jose Calderon and Andrea Bargnani; and one the third hand, those guys may or may not all be there together for much longer). For my responses to his questions, check out Pete Marasmitch later today.
Here we go:
SML: The Shawn Marion question... where do you feel the Raptors' management will go with Shawn? Will they try to re-sign him, or let him walk? What do you think they should do? It seems that they don't have much of a role for him, especially with Bargnani's emergence this season (more on that next question), but don't you think he could have played more of a role in Toronto than he did, or is this really all Shawn's capable of?
PM: I get the impression that Bryan Colangelo will let
The Raptors need either a guy who can slash and create his own shot from the backcourt, or a defender who doesn't demand touches, since they have the Killer B's (Chris Bosh and Andrea Bargnani) to score 25+ points each, plus a healthy Jose Calderon to chip in 15+ points a game. Matrix is no shot creator, and he seems to get down when he's overlooked on offense.
Defensively, he's fine. But it's like a drop in the empty bucket that is the Raptors' D.
SML: On an aside, I've been among the first to note the D'Antoni effect (David Lee's 20/20 games are ridiculous) on certain player's stats, but I always thought Shawn Marion was underrated while in
PM: I think Mike D'Antoni's system is a big factor on
SML: What have you thought of Jose Calderon's first year as a full-time starting point guard? He's looked pretty good when he's been healthy, but it seems like he's always plagued by nagging injuries (the hamstring, for example). Do you think he'll be able to withstand the rigors of an 82-game season (plus playoffs) in his career, or is he going to be a Baron Davis (or TJ Ford, ironically) type point guard? Any other thoughts about his first year?
PM: Some Toronto fans were souring on Calderon this year, when he played significant stretches on a bad hammy, resulting in mediocre point guard play (especially on D); they were even lamenting the loss of Ford! Now that Calderon's healed and more comfortable, he's a force.
I don't know if he'll be forever injury prone as a starter. I think playing an 82-game schedule, plus playoffs, plus however many international games in the summer take their toll. But a little bird named Doug Smith said that Calderon's time with the Spanish nationals is coming to an end (http://thestar.blogs.com/raptors/2009/03/as-a-onetime-event-that-one-yesterday-was-a-doozy.html), so that should help.
For sure, though, the Raptors were deadly when they had Forderon (or Caldeford? http://caldeford.blogspot.com), able to change up the attack dramatically from the point position. Maybe a healthy Jose plus a quickly improving Roko Ukic will make that memory fade.
SML: One more player of intrigue: Bargnani. He's emerged a bit this year, showing much more of his game and potential. Just want to hear your general thoughts on Andrea, from what you have seen of him this season. Is he still worth the #1 pick?
PM: Bargnani's emerged, alright, and not just a bit. I'm glad to see him prove the doubters wrong.
I've been a big Bargnani booster since interviewing Caliper's CEO, Dr. Herb Greenberg (http://petemarasmitch.com/2008/10/gratuitous-photo-day-andrea-bargnani.html). You might remember that post, SML -- I remember you were quite high on it.
Now that Bargnani's got his health problems corrected, his body bulked up, his centre position solidified (formerly a forward), his mind acclimated ... he can build on his impressive rookie campaign. Last year was just a blip.
(SML Note: I do remember that post. And I still wonder, even with Bargnani's break out year, whether he's worth the #1 pick overall. That's generally reserved in my opinion, for a multiply all-star type player. Unless you make the mistake of drafting a Kwame Brown type player #1.)
SML: What's the offseason plan for the Raptors? Do you think they will make any moves? What do you do with a team that many expected to be in contention, but ended up not only missing the playoffs, but is currently the second-worst team in the Eastern Conference (heck, even the Knicks are ahead of them!). Do they make major moves to rebuild the team? Perhaps shop Bosh? What do you see the team doing, and what would you like to see them doing?
PM: Oh yeah, the Raptors will make moves! I'm looking forward to this summer.
We know this team can score, with Bosh, Bargnani and Calderon, and has decent depth at those positions. The things Colangelo must address revolve around the "2" and the "3" ... that is, if he doesn't trade Bosh.
Last I heard, Colangelo clearly said Bosh is still the cornerstone of the franchise. But I wonder if it makes sense for all the scoring to come from the frontcourt. On the other hand, I have some reservations about moving him (http://petemarasmitch.com/2009/03/will-this-be-the-summer-of-bye-bye-bosh.html). Very conflicted.
If the Raptors can somehow trade for Pete Maravich in his prime, I'm all for it. Perhaps Bosh could use his
Aside from that solid, solid plan, there are expired deals (Marion, Anthony Parker), maybe-movable contracts (Jason Kapono) and a high 2009 draft pick to play with. But whatever happens, I trust Colangelo.
Okay everyone, go check out www.petemarsmitch.com (just in case we didn't give it enough linkatude).
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