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Davis Sidelined...

Jay Satur -- raptors.com
September 17, 2010



With training camp just days away the Raptors must now contend with an injury. On Friday, the team announced that rookie forward Ed Davis will be sidelined with a meniscal injury to his right knee. As first tweeted by the National Post, Davis suffered the injury while playing in an informal game in Mississauga on Wednesday.

The team says it's exploring treatment options, which will depend on the severity of the injury. Both Brandon Roy of the Blazers and the Lakers Andrew Bynum played through minor tears in last season's playoffs. Roy elected to have surgery heading into the post-season and returned in eight days for Game Four of the Blazers' first-round series against the Suns.

With Davis expected to serve as a key piece of the team's future, expect nothing less than a cautious approach heading into his first training camp.

Davis made his return to game action in Las Vegas during Summer League following a significant wrist injury that cut a promising sophomore season at UNC short. The lanky lefty shook off the rust quickly in Vegas, with averages of 12.6 points, six rebounds and an impressive 1.8 blocks per game.

Expect more on this in the days ahead.


Joey Dorsey: Paintball Wizard

Jay Satur -- raptors.com
September 17, 2010



Earlier in the week I caught up with the engaging Julian Wright (see below), but I also ran into Joey Dorsey, the imposing big man who's hoping to stick with his third NBA team in as many seasons.

"I think this is going to be a team that's going to give me a chance to play, said Dorsey, who signed as a free agent with the Raptors on April 4. There's a lot of opportunity for everybody on the team. I just want to get the chance to play... I'm just coming in here and trying to be a defensive stopper and try and show coaches that I can put the ball in the basket too."

Dorsey, who tied Kings rookie DeMarcus Cousins for top rebounding honours at this year's Las Vegas Summer League at 9.8 per game, knows exactly what he has to do and which former Raptor he wants to imitate in order to get there.

"If I'm on the floor I'm going to try my best to get every rebound out there. In summer league I played OK. I didn't play as well as I did last year when I averaged 15 rebounds, but I averaged 10 this year. That's what they (coaches) want... a guy that bring that intensity like when Junk Yard Dog was here."

It hasn't been all work for Dorsey since his return to the city, as he recently took time out with Amir Johnson, DeMar DeRozan and Sonny Weems to play a little paintball. So just who dominated his fellow human targets? According to Dorsey hardly the smallest bulls eye out there -- it was... well... Dorsey.

" It was crazy! When we first got in there, everybody was scared to get hit. So when we got in there, everybody just ran and hid. Sonny was hiding in a van, I was upstairs in a house and I was like a sniper. We couldn't find Amir."

"I saw DeMar coming up the stairs and he didn't see me and walked right past. I shot him in his butt like five times and he said 'I quit! I quit!' So he's got some bruises on his butt right now."

Clearly, you are now up to speed Raptors fans. Happy Friday.



Getting To Know Julian Wright

Jay Satur -- raptors.com
September 15, 2010



City of Toronto, meet Julian Wright. JuJu, say hi to T.O.

I don't want to jinx things, but I think you're going to get along well.

Wright, acquired from New Orleans for Marco Belinelli on Aug. 8, has only been in town for a few days, but in speaking with him on Wednesday you get the sense that the fourth-year swingman sees a fit with the Raptors in terms of his skill set and the city with his eclectic personality.

"So far, so good," said Wright of his new adopted home. "I've been able to do a little bit of walking around, seeing what's to offer here. It's a melting pot. Real diverse. That what I kind of like about it here as well. I always have an open mind to try new things and do new things."

That extends to his new club, which has seen several of its ranks trickling in for informal workouts this week, including DeMar DeRozan, Sonny Weems, Joey Dorsey, Amir Johnson, Solomon Alabi, Ed Davis and Jarrett Jack. Wright, who's been a part of playoff runs with the Hornets in 2007-08 and 2008-09, is encouraged by the early dedication shown by his teammates.

"The guys are very optimistic and relaxed in a sense," said Wright. "We're working hard, but mentally, we're not pressing. We know we have a lot of work to do and I think that's why guys are here early, trying to get in a groove before training camp and that bodes well for this team."

With no coaches involved (league rules prevent it prior to training camp), there's little in the way of strategy in what are essentially the best pickup games in the city. Wright's enjoyed the opportunity to shake off the rust in five-on-five situations and get a feel for his new teammates, but the defensive-minded high-flyer also expressed a real desire to start learning more about his role on a team that, on paper, is one of the league's bigger enigmas.

"I think they (coaching staff) are just trying to see what I'm able to do ... but at the same time, I'm waiting for that conversation, to be honest, because what I want to do is get into the right mindset as soon as possible.

If it's as basic as 'keep the ball moving' or as basic as 'stay in the corner' or if it's 'we want you to be aggressive and attack the rim' or 'we want you to start thinking about half court trap' -- I'm just throwing things out there -- but there hasn't been anything said to me. The sooner that happens, I think that will really help my mindset."

The more you listen to Wright speak, the more you learn just how much that mental approach means to his game. That also extends off the court, where his passion for writing and playing music (going back in his family for generations) provides a creative outlet and a refuge from the grind of an NBA season.

"That's what keeps me going," said Wright. "I'm competitive. I like to bowl, play chess, do other things. Just keep my mind going to stay in that creative and competitive mindset whenever possible, so either being creative in writing or doing things in music, or competing in other ways to kind of stay crisp in that sense on the court. You can only work out so many days, so many hours in a day, before your body is like 'alright!'"

With such a wide variety of interests, it's probably not surprising that Wright has naturally taken to Twitter, where his already sizable following blew up following his move to the Raptors. A simple request for a local food recommendation on Tuesday night for example, soon provided a sample of the passion that Raptors fans have for interacting with players.

"It's been kind of overwhelming," Wright said of the response. "I didn't think it was going to be like that. I thought 'well, we'll wait until media day for people to get to know me,' but that's what Twitter's for. They (fans) can see my personality.

"I feel like I'm as real as it gets -- that's my motto, if you will. I feel like people on Twitter sometimes have their own persona, but if you see me in person, I'm going to be the same way on Twitter. So hopefully, people can notice that and appreciate that. I try to be as accessible as possible, I'll do everything but tweet my location!"

Had he tweeted his location on Tuesday night, fans would have been pleased to learn Wright was discovering some of our finest local cuisine.

"I went to Poutini's House Of Poutine," said Wright. "It was good, but I couldn't finish it all. Too much going on!"



Kleiza Ready For Red, White & Blue

Jay Satur -- raptors.com
September 10, 2010



Win or lose on Saturday, Linas Kleiza should now be on your radar Raptors fans.

With 17 points and nine boards in Lithuania's thorough dismantling of Argentina on Thursday, he'll now continue an impressive run into the tournament semis against the Americans with averages of 19.1 points and 7.4 rebounds on 60.4 per cent shooting. To put that into perspective, U.S. forward Kevin Durant is the only other player remaining in the tournament with better numbers on offence (19.9 points on 60.7 per cent shooting). Odds are, those two player will get a very good look at each other on Saturday.

Logic dictates that Kleiza's going to be in tough and command plenty of defensive attention. He's a clear focal point on a Lithuanian team that just doesn't boast the same level of talent as the U.S., but talent isn't always the be all and end all in international play and Kleiza still likes his undefeated team's chances on Saturday.

"I think every team is beatable," Kleiza told Chris Tomasson of NBA FanHouse. "There's no such a team as unbeatable except that Dream Team (the Americans put together for the 1992 Olympics).

"They're definitely not beatable in a seven-game series. But in one game, who knows what can happen? A lot of things can go right and a lot of things can go wrong. But they're a very good team.''

Now I'm really happy that head coach Jay Triano is a part of this impressive run by the Americans, but part of me wants to see a guy with Kleiza's attitude, leadership and skill set get to extend what's been a pretty tremendous run on one of the world's biggest stages and then carry that into a successful return to the NBA. Oh and a potential final pitting the Raptors small forward of the past (Turkoglu) versus their future starting three is mighty intriguing as well.

More Thoughts

  • Meanwhile, Sekou Smith's NBA.com Hang Time blog featured an excellent wide-ranging interview with Jarrett Jack. Give it a read for Jarrett's thoughts on his approach for the season, the team's unchanged point guard situation, a prediction for the Miami Heat and much more.

  • Slowly but surely, the Raptors are starting to trickle in to T.O. Ed Davis for example, needed a lift from Pearson Airport the other day. Julian Wright arrives on Sunday and DeMar DeRozan comes the next day. Just a sign that training camp is nearly upon us. Stay tuned for some big plans on our end for that.

  • Amir Johnson works the refs a little earlier than usual in hislatest video on his website.

  • Finally, it's not Raptors-related, but I have to give some major props to Ron Artest for his decision to auction off his first and only NBA Championship ring for the benefit of mental health awareness. As someone who worked in that field in a previous life, I can assure you that it's a cause that needs many more champions behind it, even if they are as unlikely as the Lakers forward.


    Raps Alive And Kicking At Worlds

    Jay Satur -- raptors.com
    September 3, 2010



    Canada we hardly knew ye.

    It was a short stay for the Senior Men's National Team at the FIBA World Championship, which went winless in Turkey and must now look to the future.

    And while the long-term outlook for the program looks bright, you'd have to think this year's finish can't be considered anything less than disappointing.

    An 0-5 record could have been 3-2 if they had stayed ahead of Lebanon, hung on to a 17-point bulge against Lithuania and pulled away from France late -- all games in which they lead in the fourth quarter.

    They were without a significant piece in Andy Rautins for much of the tournament and even at full strength, this edition of Team Canada would still have been in tough amongst a talented preliminary group, but expectations were undoubtedly higher. There may be some positives to draw from the experience, according to this Canadian Press story.

    Raptors Representing At Worlds

    From a Raptors perspective, on the other hand, things have been pretty impressive at the Worlds and leading the way is Linas Kleiza, who has Lithuania humming with a 5-0 record and looking like a legitimate threat to land on the podium.

    The Raptors probable starting small forward has averaged 17.4 points per game (good for sixth in the tourney so far) on 52.5 per cent shooting from the field and 6.8 rebounds.

    Great numbers the Raptors would gladly welcome this season, but perhaps most importantly, he's got that element of grit that this team could sorely use.

    You can check him out post-game following Lithuania's latest win by CLICKING HERE.

    Leandro Barbosa is also balling for Brazil and looks poised to shake off a miserable 2009-10 season. Barbosa's been a stat-stuffer during Brazil's 3-2 start, with averages of 15.4 points, 3.6 rebounds, 2.2 steals and 1.4 assists. His team next faces Argentina in what should be a stellar elimination game.

    Don't forget about David Andersen, who's averaging 11 points, eight boards, and 1.5 assists per game for Australia, which has also advanced and gets Slovenia in the first game of the knockout round.

    Meanwhile, Jay Triano continues to serve as an assistant coach for the undefeated Americans, who face Angola in their first elimination game.

    Other Raptors News

  • So Italy isn't getting in on the fun at the worlds, but as you can see in this video that Eric Smith sent along, Andrea Bargnani is finding ways to occupy his time. WARNING: Highlights of this GQ.com photo shoot may not be the most kid-friendly.

  • Newest Raptor Julian Wright, Summer League team member Bobby Brown along with a few other NBA up-and-comers were playing in the Nike Real Run Final at the HAX in LA a couple of days back and you can check out the highlights below, courtesy of ballislife.com



    Happy long weekend!



    A Little More On Masai, Andrea & DeMar

    Jay Satur -- raptors.com
    August 27, 2010

    Is there anybody DeMar DeRozan won't dunk on this summer?

    First, the high-flying swingman brought his gravity-defying act to Vegas for the LVSL. Earlier this month, he took on all comers at a local open run with Sonny Weems.

    Most recently, he teamed up with some of the most promising backcourt talent in the NBA to smash on some of the nation's top high school talent in the Elite 24 program (including Canadians Kyle Wiltjer and Myck Kabongo).

    For a look at how DeRozan, Tyreke Evans, Brandon Jennings, Bobby Brown, this years top pick John Wall, former second overall pick Jay Williams and the prospects fared, check the video below from ballislife.com.


    Find more videos like this on BALL IS LIFE

    - Italy doesn't control its own fate in terms of Eurobasket 2011 qualifying, but Andrea Bargnani has helped them finish pretty well. During the team's four-game winning streak to round out play in Group A, check out Bargnani's numbers...

    Opponent
    FGM/A
    3FGM/A
    Rebounds
    Blocks
    Points
    vs. Israel
    13/19
    0/3
    5
    2
    26
    vs. Latvia
    11/20
    0/2
    13
    4
    30
    vs. Finland
    3/11
    3/5
    7
    1
    24
    vs. Montenegro
    8/13
    4/5
    4
    2
    34


    Granted, this isn't exactly the best the world has to offer in terms of competition, but it was a solid showing that hopefully can carry over nicely into a season where hes expected to carry even more of the mail. Highlights of Andrea in Italy's last game vs. Montenegro are below.



    - Seems like this Melo situation is anything but at the moment. Welcome to Denver Masai Ujiri! At the very least, locking down that GM position has earned some glowing words of praise from ESPN's David Thorpe.

    Enjoy the weekend folks. Summer's fading fast!



    Back From Vacation With News To Dissect...

    Jay Satur -- raptors.com
    August 26, 2010


    Nice to be back from a break on the East Coast, with ample Raps news to discuss as the 2010-11 season fast approaches...

    - According to the Denver Post, the Raptors will be losing an assistant general manager as Masai Ujiri returns to Denver Nuggets to become the teams GM. Quite an accomplishment for Ujiri, who was a huge part of the Raptors' recent scouting and player development efforts and now becomes one of the youngest GM's in the league. The native of Nigeria appears to face some challenges in the Mile High City, where star forward Carmelo Anthony could want out and guard J.R. Smith has reportedly been involved in an altercation at the team's practice facility. Nonetheless, great to see a real talent that's enjoyed some of his development here get his shot.

    - I've seen some Raptors do some pretty incredible things off the court, but this two-parter featuring Sonny Weems and DeMar DeRozan joining an open run with some locals is just way too good. Losing some talent this summer is going to undoubtedly sting the Raptors, but it's been awesome to see how some of the remaining personalities on this team are starting to emerge and show a real willingness to embrace this city.

    - Speaking of enjoying their time here, a surprisingly candid Jose Calderon took some time on his official website to speak about his recent conversation with GM Bryan Colangelo immediately prior to suffering a leg injury that knocked him out of the Worlds.

    "Before my injury I wanted to speak on this blog about the game against USA and my chat with Bryan Colangelo, the same day of the match. Regarding the game, the truth is I'd rather not say anything, it does not bring back good memories for me and I think you'll understand, but I want to talk about my conversation with Bryan. First I would like to thank him for coming to Madrid to sit with me and tell me how things were and what had happened during the summer. He was very sincere and told me all the moves and why some did not advance. He also told me that they are counting on me in Toronto and that he trusts in me for this next year, all together we will achieve being a winning team. He and Jay Triano know they are going to be able count on me one hundred per cent and I am very happy because after five years in this city, I am the most veteran player of the team and from this responsibility, I want to return to the Raptors fans all you have given me in these years. From here, I tell them not to worry, in a few weeks I will be prepared and enthusiastic so that we can have a great season."

    A couple things you can draw from this statement:

    a) Despite a near deal earlier this summer, it sounds like he's staying put -- at least prior to the start of training camp. How that affects the team's point guard situation going forward is going to be interesting.
    b) Even after one of the tougher seasons of his NBA career to date, Jose Calderon remains a class act. Here's hoping he does come to camp 100% healthy, rested and ready for a bounce back season.

    - Eric Smith posted some great thoughts on the Worlds (beginning this weekend), so I won't go into that at length. But if there's one Raptor I'm keeping an eye on this tournament its Linas Kleiza. As the only projeted Raptors starter playing in Turkey, he'll try and help a young Lithuanian squad (currently ranked sixth in the world) make some noise.

    As for predictions? Even without Jose, I'll give Spain a slight edge over the Americans due to their depth and experience.

    - It's a little dated, but Austin Burton of Dime Magazine may have some of the only comments I've seen from Leandro Barbosa since his acquisition last month from the Suns. Good read.



    All The Wright Reasons...

    Jay Satur -- raptors.com
    August 11, 2010


    So the Raptors continued to tinker with their roster on Wednesday with the acquisition of Julian Wright from the Hornets in exchange for Marco Belinelli.

    On the surface, this looks like an exchange of multi-skilled but largely underachieving wing players drafted in the teens of the 2007 draft.

    Look a little deeper and it makes sense for the Raptors for a few reasons.

    1) Deals from a position of strength, while addressing a position of weakness. Belinelli is really a two who could possibly play a little point guard in a pinch but would have been in a battle for minutes amongst a guard rotation of Calderon, Jack, Banks, DeRozan, Barbosa and Weems.

    In Wright, the Raptors are getting an athletic 6'8" defensive-minded forward that has started 34 games over the course of his 179-game career, but is likely to back up Linas Kleiza at the three spot this season.

    As GM Bryan Colangelo mentioned in the press release, the roster is clearly more balanced with this move.

    Calderon/Jack/Banks
    DeRozan/Barbosa/Weems
    Kleiza/Wright/DeRozan
    Johnson/Davis/Evans/Dorsey*/D.Jones*
    Bargnani/Andersen/Alabi


    2) Wright COULD be a classic change of scenery guy. It was around this year's trade deadline that the man nicknamed JuJu took to twitter to voice his concerns about his situation with the Hornets.

    Off to practice, thinking bout how I'm jealous of all these players that managed to get traded before Thursday... 11:52 AM Feb 16th via Sidekick

    Just saying, might need a change of scenery, of course I love New Orleans! Bought a house here. 3:41 PM Feb 16th via Twitterrific

    Not bout blaming anyone. Just thinkin bout the C. Fryes, S. Browns, and the G. Wallaces, of the league who just needed a change of scenery. 3:50 PM Feb 16th via Twitterrific.

    Ok, I apologize for venting and making anybody uncomfortable. I just worked hard these past two summers so that's what I'll do this summer! 8:15 PM Feb 16th via Twitterrific


    Probably not the best use of social media, but he makes a valid point.

    The high-flying Wright should have every opportunity to carve out a role here and bring solid perimeter defence plus an offensive game better suited to a Raptors team ready to get out and run this season.

    3) Contract year. According to ShamSports, the Raptors can extend a qualifying offer to Wright before next summer to make him a restricted free agent, meaning that he's playing for his next contract now.

    That assures Toronto of nothing, of course, but you don't need to go back too far for an example of Colangelo winning a similar gamble. It was roughly one year ago that BC took a chance by trading for a raw talent in Amir Johnson and an unknown Sonny Weems, which proved to be his best transaction of the summer.

    Discussing Deals With Diaw

    I attended the end of shootaround for France's Senior Men's Team on Wednesday as they prepare for back-to-back games against Canada on Thursday and Friday and caught up with Charlotte Bobcats forward/centre Boris Diaw.

    Of course, reports claim that it was very nearly Toronto Raptors c/f Boris Diaw -- if a rumoured deal with Charlotte didn't collapse very late into discussions back in mid-July. For his part, Diaw claims he never heard anything about a deal being done.

    "I just heard that they almost agreed to a deal and then they didn't agree," said Diaw, who added that his agent told him a trade was being discussed but never finalized.

    Support Team Canada

    If you're in the GTA tonight and/or Friday and are passionate about hoops, I can't urge you enough to come out to ACC and watch Canada's Senior Men's Team against France. Canada has fought hard to get to the World Championship in Turkey and these games provide a great opportunity to show them some support as they prepare to represent this country against the best in the world overseas.



    Breaking Down The Schedule...

    Jay Satur -- raptors.com
    August 10, 2010


    Summer seems just a little bit shorter and the NBAs regular season that much closer with the official release of the 2010-11 NBA Schedule today.

    As per usual, the guys over at Raptors PR have done an outstanding job breaking down the schedule with some great news and notes in today's press release, but there's a few other interesting nuggets (not of the Denver variety) that we can glean from each month of this years schedule.

    October/November

    - The season opens at home against the new-look New York Knicks on Oct. 27 -- the earliest start in franchise history and kicks off what appears to be a very tough first month of the season.

    - The first dreaded test out West (which has never been an exceptionally strong suit for the Raps) kicks off in Game 3 of the season with a four-game trip, including the Kings and Jazz followed by a brutal back-to-back in L.A. against the Lakers and then Portland for the Blazers. Ouch.

    - It won't take long to renew acquaintances with Chris Bosh as the Raptors take their talents to South Beach on November 13. That's the tail end of a back-to-back in Florida with a matchup vs. the Magic coming the night before.

    - The Raps will get their first look at first overall selection John Wall in Washington on Nov. 16.

    December

    - Two of the bigger whippings the Raps received last season came at the hands of Kevin Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder. The Raptors get their first shot at redemption on Friday, Dec. 3 at ACC.

    - There's a five-day break around the Christmas period, with the Raptors starting a mini-West Coast road trip on the 27th and rounding it out on New Year's Eve in Houston.

    - Remember this? The Lakers make their only visit to ACC on Dec. 19.

    - Granted the league is looking extremely different this season, but if we're using last season as a barometer, it's an interesting month. Only six of the Raptors' 15 opponents qualified for the playoffs last season (OKC, DEN, CHA, CHI, LAL, DAL).

    January

    - Could be the team's toughest month on paper with the most games played (17), the most road games (10) and four back-to-backs.

    - There's a very wacky road trip mid-month spanning three time zones in five days (WAS, NOH, SAS), followed by another back-to-back in FLA.

    February

    - February may feature fewer games due to the All-Star Break, but it's home-game heavy with eight of their 11 games at ACC.

    - Those home games are no cake walk though, with the Spurs, Blazers, Heat, Bulls, Suns and Mavs all on tap.

    - February might be a test of your lung capacity as Chris Bosh makes his first return to ACC on Feb. 16, while Hedo Turkoglu is back with the Suns for their only visit just days later on the 25th.

    March

    - The schedule makers were relatively kind to the Raptors with games surrounding their two-game trip to London. They'll have a home game against the Hornets on March 1 and get a few days off upon their return before getting the Jazz on March 9.

    - It should be noted that both games in London are considered road games for the Nets, meaning one less trip to Newark this season and no loss of home games at ACC for Toronto.

    - March also has the Raptors longest road trip of the season -- a five-game swing out West with stops in OKC, DEN, PHX, GS and L.A. to face the Clips.

    April

    - With their final game vs. the Western Conference coming on March 26, the Raptors remain in the East for the entire month.

    - April features three back-to-backs in eight games over the course of 13 days.

    - The regular season ends with Bosh and the Heat returning on April 13. Might be interesting to see if the Heat are chasing records or resting bodies by that point of the season.



    Another Assistant & The Atlantic Gets Tougher

    Jay Satur -- raptors.com
    August 5, 2010

    We're officially into the dog days now, but that doesn't mean there's no team news to report...

  • According to CSNBayarea.com, the Raptors will be adding another assistant coach to their ranks with the hiring of Scott Roth.

    Roth would bring an interesting track record to the Raptors, with stints as an assistant for the Mavericks, Grizzlies, Bucks and most recently the Warriors. He's also been a head coach with the NBAD League's Bakersfield Jam and the Dominican Republic's men's national team. About a year ago the guys over at Ridiculous Upside did this write up on Roth's strengths (player development, specifically with bigs) and how Toronto may have previously had interest.

  • According to Doug Smith in the Toronto Star, Vancouver may not be the only Canadian city hosting the Raptors this preseason. We'll have a better idea next week when the NBA officially releases its full schedule.

  • Andrea Bargnani and Marco Belinelli try to get Italy back on track at EuroBasket 2011 qualifying today when it faces Latvia.

  • So the Celtics have added Shaquille O'Neal, signing the Big Shamrock to a two-year deal. Shaq's obviously not the player he used to be, but he's the latest addition to an Atlantic Division that's seen every opposing team improve.

    Boston: Shaq joins Jermaine O'Neal and Von Wafer as new additions. Nate Robinson, Ray Allen and Paul Pierce all retained.

    New Jersey: Still a ways to go, but they're definitely deeper with Anthony Morrow, Johan Petro, Travis Outlaw and third overall pick Derrick Favors in tow.

    Philadelphia: Possibly the least improvement, but second overall pick Evan Turner's aboard as is Andres Nocioni and Tony Battie.

    New York: Probably poised for the biggest step forward with their additions of Amar'e Stoudemire, Raymond Felton, Anthony Randolph, Kelenna Azubuike and Rony Turiaf.

    The bottom line? The Eastern Conference still isn't all that deep, but every team in the Atlantic is poised to improve.

    As for the Raptors, I still believe that the roster you know now won't be the one set for opening day. It may be the lazy days of August, but it was around this time last year that Bryan Colangelo made possibly his best transaction of the season by acquiring Amir Johnson and Sonny Weems from the Bucks for Carlos Delfino and Roko Ukic.

    Stay tuned.


    Triano Going To Turkey?

    Jay Satur -- raptors.com
    August 3, 2010

  • Congratulations to head coach Jay Triano, who looks like a good bet to be on the U.S. bench when the Worlds roll around next month, according to Marc Stein of ESPN.com. Triano, who would be filling in for Knicks head coach Mike D'Antoni, has put in a lot of work with the future stars of the USAB program in recent years and is more than deserving of the opportunity.

  • Speaking of international competition, not the strongest start for Italy in their 79-71 defeat to Israel in Eurobasket 2011 qualifying on Monday. But Andrea Bargnani (20 points, eight rebounds) and masked man Marco Belinelli (20 points, three steals, three rebounds) got off to very strong starts.



  • According to Frank Isola of the NY Daily News, the Knicks will open their season here in Toronto on Oct. 27. It's safe to assume that's likely the season opener for your Raptors as well, but you can find out for sure when the full NBA sked is released next week.

    - Finally, some news from the world of social media this week as the NBA has just surpassed the two million followers mark. The Raptors, for better or for worse, have already amassed an interesting history with the social media tool, including such hits as...

    "Been wanting to ask. Where should I go next season and why?"

    - Chris Bosh (@ChrisBosh) on April 30, a full two months before Free Agency kicked off.

    "Nxt season I will b playing for the Toronto Raptors. I wanted to thank the fans in orl you guys were amazing the way u guys excepted"

    Lakers guard/forward (@Matt_Barnes22) with a somewhat premature announcement regarding his future this summer.

    "Thanks for all the support Toronto fans. I'm hella excited to be part of a great city and organization."

    - Raptors rookie Ed Davis (@eddavis32) shortly after being selected 13th overall by the Raptors in this year's draft.

    "Look's like I'm having a signing celebration on Friday on a rooftop patio in Toronto.....Who wants to come?"

    - Amir Johnson after news broke of his multi-year contract with the Raptors.

    "In da locker room, snuck to post my twitt. We're playing the Celtics, tie ball game at da half. Coach wants more toughness. I gotta step up."

    - Former Raptor Charlie Villenuava, who made waves early on in the twitter revolution by tweeting at halftime of a game while with the Bucks.

    And of course, you can always follow me on Twitter to talk Raptors ball as well.

    On The Andersen Acquisition...

    Jay Satur -- raptors.com
    July 29, 2010


    The Raptors continued their offseason makeover Wednesday with the acquisition of centre David Andersen and some of the reaction out there has been somewhat surprising considering the fact that his addition is basically a free one.

    Usually, there's more than enough opportunity out there for fans to hate on trades in all their forms. Whether it's sacrificing immediate talent that makes up your core or the future in the forms of cap space, picks or young talent.

    The Raptors deal for Andersen is none of those things.

    Toronto gets a player that fills a definite need up front, albeit one whose comfort zone is primarily the perimeter. With per games averages of 5.8 points, 3.3 rebounds and 14.1 minutes, he's not going to be challenging Andrea Bargnani for a starting spot, but he's got ample international experience and is more than capable of holding his own in reserve role.

    So the Raptors receive a player that will undoubtedly make the roster, but what's the cost?

    Notwithstanding the protected 2015 second-rounder sent to Houston, there isn't one here.

    Anderson is absorbed by nearly all of the Raptors' small Traded Player Exception (TPE) generated from the Barbosa/Jones-for-Turkoglu deal, which already counted against Toronto's salary cap.

    So the Raptors fill a cap hold with a serviceable player, who's owed roughly $2.5 million this season and only a small amount guaranteed before Aug. 15 next summer.

    That means he's virtually an expiring contract much like Marcus Banks, Marco Belinelli, Reggie Evans, Sonny Weems, plus the unguaranteed contracts of Joey Dorsey and Dwayne Jones. So a $2.7 million dollar TPE which can't be packaged with other assets is transformed into a roster player that brings Toronto's total of expiring deals this season to anywhere from between $16.5 and $17.5 million.

    But the question is, what's next? Looking at the roster as it currently stands:

    Jack/Calderon/Banks
    DeRozan/Barbosa/Weems/Belinelli
    Kleiza/Weems/DeRozan
    Johnson/Davis/Evans/Dorsey/Jones*
    Bargnani/Andersen/Alabi

    *non-guaranteed


    It's more than a full house now, but some issues still remain. Namely:

    - The unresolved point guard issue
    - A glut at the two. No real clear-cut starter at the three despite BC's claim that Linas Kleiza could fill that role.
    - Glut at the four.
    - If the reported failed Charlotte deal is any indication, the search continues for a defensive-minded centre.

    Agree? Disagree? Let me know on Twitter.


    Get Up Bird No Longer...

    Jay Satur -- raptors.com
    July 23, 2010

  • So Matt Barnes ends a wacky free agent saga the began with his decision to join the Raptors on Monday and ends with a one-year deal to join the two-time defending champs in Los Angeles. Disappointed he couldn't have landed here, happy to see he'll get a solid shot at his first ring with a Lakers team that suddenly looks better than ever. Barnes joins Theo Ratliff, Steve Blake and a pair of intriguing second-round picks in Devin Ebanks and Derrick Caracter as additions to their roster. The Raptors just have to move on to their next target.

  • Scratch one less potential returnee off the list with the news that free agent guard-forward Antoine Wright will sign with the Kings. The source of some of last season's most interesting sound bites, Wright didn't seem to be in the Raptors' plans this offseason and jumps from one crowded wing rotation in Toronto, to another in Sacramento.

  • Andrea Bargnani's official website is counting down to something. Just so you know.

  • The twitter feed for tracking all NBA things salary-wise, @ShamSports, points out that Sunday is an important day for Joey Dorsey's future as a Raptor.

  • When Matt Devlin was at the Raptors NBA TV studios earlier this week to chat, the song he sang the most in our office was "Livin' On A Prayer". The type of player addition he talked about the most was "veteran big man". Let's see if Bryan Colangelo is thinking the same thing in the coming weeks.

  • It was a tough sell, but we've got Akil Augustine covering Raptors Dance Pak Auditions this weekend. That content is going to start a whole new level of coverage for the Dance Pak, so look for it in the near future.

  • Also coming soon to Raptors NBA TV? An excellent behind-the-scenes special of the Raptors Summer League team's experience in Las Vegas. Check out the preview below.



    Time For A Road Trip...

    Jay Satur -- raptors.com
    July 21, 2010

    The Toronto Raptors are heading west.

    More specifically, they're making their long overdue return to Vancouver, where Canucks Sports & Entertainment and Rogers Arena have partnered to host the Raptors and the Phoenix Suns for a pre-season tilt on Wednesday, October 6th.

    Even though it's an exhibition game, the matchup is rife with storylines. New Raptor Leandro Barbosa faces the only other NBA team he's even known for the first time, while the man he was traded for -- Hedo Turkoglu -- returns to Canada for his first visit since a contentious one-season stint with Toronto.

    Factor in the presence of Victoria native and two-time MVP Steve Nash (who's excellent charitable foundation will receive a donation at the event) and you've got the makings of a great matchup.

    Read the official release for more details on ticket prices and how partial proceeds from the event are going to the local BC community.


    Breaking Down The Barnes Situation...

    Jay Satur -- raptors.com
    July 20, 2010

    It looks like another case of the Mondays for the Raptors, who may see a reported player acquisition scuttled for a second consecutive week. Toronto appeared to be close to acquiring free agent guard/forward Matt Barnes late last night, but less than 12 hours later, that move seems to be in jeopardy.

    What we know...

  • Matt Barnes announces on Twitter last night that he's decided to sign with the Raptors.
  • Marc Stein of ESPN.com then reports that the Raptors have offered Barnes a deal worth roughly $10 million over two seasons.

    Immediately some issues arise with those terms:

  • Orlando has already committed the majority of its Mid-Level Exception to Chris Duhon and Quentin Richardson. The Raptors, of course, have already committed the majority of their MLE to restricted free agent Linas Kleiza. This rules out Barnes signing with the Raps outright or a sign-and-trade with Orlando's MLE.

  • If the Magic had "Bird Rights" on Barnes they still could have signed him (without having to consider the salary cap) and sent him here. But as Eric Koreen of the National Post deftly explains, the Magic do not hold Bird Rights for Barnes and as a result, the Magic can only sign him to a contract at roughly $1.9 million. That deal would also need to be at least three years in length (only the first year would need to be guaranteed). In short, both the length and dollars involved seem off here -- undoubtedly a factor for Barnes, who was reportedly entertaining offers from several teams.

  • There's also been suggestion that the lack of an official announcement on Linas Kleiza's signing could signify a possible solution to the deal. The thought process was that the Raptors and Kleiza would mutually agree to rescind the extended offer sheet and a sign-and-trade could occur with Denver thereby creating an opportunity to sign Barnes with the freed up MLE. That may have been possible days ago during the seven-day window the Nuggets had to match the offer sheet, but that's no longer the case. I've been told that the Raptors now own the rights to Kleiza and reports indicate that the two moves are unrelated.

    The important thing to remember is that all of this has merely been rumour and conjecture with a side of unfortunate premature announcement from Barnes. Teams are in talks about deals all the time, but we're now living in an age where every twist and turn of a negotiation between teams or free agents is fodder for social media.

    That being said, although this deal is proving to be much more difficult to consummate than initially suspected, the Raptors are reportedly still trying to find a way to make this work.

    As always, it's not official until you see the press release here at Raptors.com.


    Capping Off A Crazy Week...

    Jay Satur -- raptors.com
    July 15, 2010

    It's been quite a hot start for the Raptors in Las Vegas Summer League play, improving to 3-0 overall with a big second-half surge against the New York Knicks on Wednesday night. Just some brief thoughts from what we've seen so far...

  • Sonny Weems and DeMar DeRozan have been cranking out the highlight reel plays, but what's been most impressive is how they've handled the increased emphasis on ball handling. This was a specific focal point for coach Eric Hughes and he has to be impressed with what he's seen so far from the pair.

  • The rooks have also had their moments. Ed Davis, who's still shaking off the rust since being shelved in February with a wrist injury, has shown those rebounding and shotblocking instincts. We've also seen flashes of a crafty offensive game, with some nice touch around the basket. Solomon Alabi is without question more than a little raw, but you can see the elements. Solid shooting stroke (even at the line) and some agility with that frame. With work on his strength, post moves and footwork, he's got a chance to be a real keeper.

  • Joey Dorsey continues to dominate the glass in Summer League play. No surprise there as the Memphis product is built like a tank. But the key is if he can carry that focus into training camp to ensure he's a contributor for the Raptors this season. Keep an eye on him.

  • I have no idea if Bobby Brown is going to stick with a Toronto backcourt that's looking pretty crowded as of this post, but he's going to warrant a second look from somebody. He's been incredibly efficient so far (shooting at a 78.9 per cent clip from the floor) and leads the team in steals (five) and assists (15) with an assist-to-turnover ratio of 3:1.

    As always, you can check out our Game In Six Minutes for full highlights of Thursday's win. You should also check out this great behind-the-scenes look of the team at Summer League courtesy of our super-producer Jeff Landicho, who's on the scene in Vegas.



    Fantastic to see how well these young guys are coming together both on and off the court. You can also get a little bonus coverage with Sonny Weems and DeMar DeRozan taking time to greet fans and answer a few questions from NBA.com.

    Bonding With The Brazilian Blur

    One newcomer who shouldn't have any difficulty joining and leading this speedy, up-tempo young group of Raptors is Leandro Barbosa. He's a proven winner with several strong Phoenix teams and on an individual level as a former Sixth Man of the Year in 2007. A wrist injury contributed to a down year for the Sao Paulo-native, but he's reportedly healthy and poised to be a key contributor for Toronto.

    For more on Barbosa's arrival, check out this great interview with BC talking about his latest acquisition.



    Also a plus? The guy's hilarious. Clearly these aren't new, but they never get old.





    Owning Florence

    Andrea Bargnani and Marco Belinelli are home preparing with the Italian National Team for EuroBasket 2011 qualifying right now and took a little time out to receive the keys to the city of Florence. Congrats to both and we'll be watching Italy beginning August 2 as they compete for one of five remaining berths in next summer's EuroBasket tournament.



    A Little More On Linas

    Just a heads up on the potential signing of free agent forward Linas Kleiza. Although we did see the Lithuanian at ACC last Thursday looking good in Raptors red, the Denver Nuggets (who own his rights) didn't receive the offer sheet until the following day. As a result, any official news of a signing likely won't come until Friday.

    As always, you can share any Raps-related news with me to post via twitter.


    Deal Or No Deal?

    Jay Satur -- raptors.com
    July 13, 2010

    UPDATE 2: Yahoo! Sports is now reporting that the Bobcats have packaged Chandler along with centre Alex Ajinca to the Dallas Mavericks for Erick Dampier, Matt Carroll and Eduardo Najera.

    According to The Toronto Star, the deal with Phoenix involving Hedo Turkoglu and Leandro Barbosa as the main components is expected to be completed, but not yet official.

    UPDATE: As of 11:30 a.m., Doug Smith of the Toronto Star is reporting that the portion of the deal involving the Charlotte Bobcats is now dead. We'll have more on this as it develops.


    It's been about 36 hours since the initial rumblings of a deal with Phoenix first popped up in the Arizona Republic and we've had several twists and turns along the way.

    Over the course of Monday, the reported deal expanded from Hedo Turkoglu for Leandro Barbosa to a three-team swap that would also bring forward Boris Diaw and centre Tyson Chandler to Toronto in exchange for Jose Calderon and Reggie Evans.

    But it seems that this deal is anything but complete. Here's the latest...

  • Doug Smith of the Toronto Star was the first to report that the deal would not include any of the large Traded Player Exception from the Chris Bosh trade, resulting in another piece sent Charlotte to make the deal work (thought to be forward Reggie Evans).

  • From there, a report came out in the early evening from Charlotte Observer reporter Rick Bonnell, who speculated that the trade was still likely but was "no given this deal will come off."

  • Then comes word late on Monday night from Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports that the deal may be hung up due to Bobcats owner Michael Jordan's reluctance to part with Chandler, according to his sources.

  • This of course sort of contradicts the fact that Chandler himself said on Monday he's been told he's moving.

  • Evans has also signed off on his time as a Raptor via twitter, thanking the fans for their support here in Toronto.

  • Everything comes full circle this morning, with Smith saying "there were issues but no major snags and things are in negotiation and, as we know, nothing is done until it's done."

    Remember, it's not official until you see a press release here at Raptors.com.


    A Little More On Friday's Deal...

    Jay Satur -- raptors.com
    July 10, 2010

    With the news that Chris Bosh will uncage the wolf on South Beach for the foreseeable future, Raptors GM Bryan Colangelo did well to gain some assets in return with a sign-and-trade deal on Friday night.

    The Raptors receive two first-round picks, including a lotto-protected selection sent to Miami in the Jermaine O'Neal-Jamario Moon for Shawn Marion-Marcus Banks swap at the 2009 trade deadline.The Raptors did have lottery protection on that pick for the next few seasons, but on a team seemingly without a true star at the moment, it's a solid asset to have back in the fold.

    The other pick is Miaimi's 2011 first-rounder, which is also lottery protected (something I don't think is going to be much of an issue with the Heat going forward).

    The Traded Player Exception (TPE) is also a significant chip for Colangelo to play and while it won't allow the Raptors to outright sign free agents it does present options in terms of taking on more salary than they send out through trades.

    It wasn't an asset "sent" to Toronto in exchange for Chris Bosh, but generated as a result of him going to the Heat. Bosh signs his six-year deal with the Raptors and is traded to Miami, which can absorb Bosh's salary with the mountains of cap space they've worked to create. With nothing coming back to the Raptors but picks, a TPE worth Bosh's first-year salary (reportedly $14.5 million, yes... each of Miami's big signings took a pay cut) is created.

    The Raptors, in turn, can now absorb more salary from other teams in a variety of ways. Free agents could be signed and traded to Toronto for virtually nothing, or teams looking to shed salary potentially become very good trading partners.

    Other points on TPEs

  • Depending on the direction the Raptors want to go from here, the luxury tax threshold might be a consideration. If they don't want to exceed this year's tax level, set at just over $70 million for the 2010-11 season, they won't be able to use the entire TPE without shedding additional salary. This is taking into consideration Denver not matching Toronto's offer sheet to Linas Kleiza, making the restricted FA forward a Raptor.
  • So when do the Raptors take advantage of this flexibility? No idea. The TPE expires exactly one year after it's created and an argument can be made for waiting things out due to the current landscape out there. Cleveland, Phoenix and Utah also have big TPEs as a result of signing and trading their own big free agents and several other teams still have cap room to spend. On the other hand, would anyone be shocked if the Raptors already had some specific targets? Should be interesting.
  • For much more on TPEs consult with Larry Coon's NBA Salary Cap FAQs. Probably the best resource to learn more about the league's cap system.

    We'll hopefully have much more to discuss about the deal in the coming weeks and check back tomorrow for some stuff from the start of the Vegas Summer League. As always, you can reach me on twitter to discuss anything Raps-related.


    Meet The New Guys And More...

    Jay Satur -- raptors.com
    July 6, 2010

    I'm not sure I've seen a combination of humility and confidence quite like Ed Davis. He was definitely reserved (almost camera-shy) on Monday and he's self-described as "laid back, still a kid who likes to have fun." But hear him speak and he seems focused and quite self-assured of what he needs to do and that's got to come, in part, from his strong pedigree.

    Doug Smith of the Toronto Star describes how Ed's father Terry, who looked on from the wings on Monday, brought a similar brand of defence and toughness to the Heat, Mavericks, Wizards and Nuggets for 10 seasons.

    So what did a decade in the NBA allow the undrafted father to teach the son selected in the lottery?

    "Just knowing all the ins and outs of the league, all the little things that if you don't play in the NBA, you just don't see," said the younger Davis. "Like the lifestyle and knowing what to do and what coaches want and the organization."

    Raptors GM Bryan Colangelo also believes that big exposure with one of the nation's most successful programs is going to help.

    "Ed played in an NBA arena every night," said Colangelo of his rookie's time at North Carolina. "If you've ever been down to the Dean Dome, it's like being at an NBA game so the environment won't affect him."

    Add in a run to the NCAA Championship as a freshman in 2008-09, followed by his return to Chapel Hill for a sophomore season to refine his game and you've got a 21-year-old rookie with a very strong foundation to build upon.

    Caught In A Numbers Game

    Davis is sticking with his familiar #32 as a Raptor, the same number worn by Solomon Alabi at Florida State. Alabi explained to our Mike Ulmer that he'll be wearing #50 as a reminder of his draft position and former Spurs great David Robinson, so was there any negotiating between the former Atlantic Coast Conference rivals?

    Not according to Davis, who says he simply claimed it with no issues.

    Bosh Watch...

    Needless to say, the Chris Bosh situation is still an addendum to nearly everything team-related right now. Bosh's free agency wasn't addressed specifically by Colangelo during the news conference but he held court with media in a separate scrum following the rookie intros.

    Eric Koreen of the National Post has a good recap, with Colangelo revealing that re-signing Bosh remains an option but the more interesting info is that the Raptors GM wasn't present for the team's July 1st meeting with Bosh (it was Marc Eversley, assistant GM, player development, who traveled to Dallas for the visit).

    Colangelo also spoke about sign-and-trade possibilities, saying that "He [Bosh] might decide on a franchise and we may participate, we may not. That's kind of where things are," which falls in line with an ESPN.com report from the weekend.

    Expect some sort of resolution to the situation by later this week.

    Summer League Sleepers

    I know many Raptors fans will be watching several key names with interest this weekend when Summer League action tips off in Las Vegas this weekend. Davis, Alabi, DeMar DeRozan and Sonny Weems are the four names that should command the most attention, but three other names you might want to keep an eye on...

  • Joey Dorsey: A bull down low, Dorsey hasn't been able to stick with his previous NBA teams in Houston and Sacramento. He's had the final weeks of last season to observe and adjust to the Raptors organization and now gets to an opportunity to build some momentum and chemistry with members of the team's younger core. Summer league is the start of the 26-year-old big man's battle for a roster spot.

  • Curtis Stinson: Put up an absolutely gaudy line in the NBDL playoffs last season (23.7 ppg, 10.8 rpg, 8.8 apg), the versatile guard currently is with the Magic in the Orlando Summer League.

  • Bobby Brown: An alumni of LA's Westchester High School, which has produced Raptors past (Hassan Adams) and present (Amir Johnson), Brown's no stranger to excelling in this environment. He used a big summer league performance in 2008 with the Hornets to earn a two-year deal with the Kings.

    Members of the Summer League squad take part in a mini-camp at ACC starting Tuesday, before heading out to Las Vegas. Game one is against the Phoenix Suns on Saturday live at 4 PM ET. Catch the replay on Raptors NBA TV at 6 PM ET.


    Colangelo Talks Bosh On Prime Time...

    Jay Satur -- raptors.com
    June 28, 2010



    Bryan Colangelo rebuked recent reports linking free agent forward Chris Bosh to any other team prior to July 1, but acknowledges the possibility that the Raptors captain could be moving on.

    "I've been saying all along, anybody who says they know what's happening, is nonsense," Colangelo said on the FAN590's Prime Time Sports tonight. "There is all sorts of different things you can talk about, different pictures you can paint."

    That being said, the Raptors GM realizes that there's a real chance Bosh could end his seven-year tenure with the club.

    "He will be exploring the market, I think it's likely that he will leave," said Colangelo. "The question is will he put us in a position to benefit from the sign-and-trade scenario that could net him the most money and us something coming back."

    Colangelo intends to meet with Bosh after July 1st in an effort to pitch Bosh on remaining with the Raptors or discussing the possibility of a sign-and-trade. Bosh can earn an extra year on a maximum contract and larger annual raises if he works on a sign-and-trade deal that lands Toronto a package of players, picks and or a traded player exception.

    "I don't think there was any kind of iron clad agreement," said Colangelo. "But it was acknowledged that leaving that kind of money on the table, it would be unusual.

    "I don't think I can control that, He's the only one that controls that decision. So we will see how it all plays out."

    Bosh becomes a free agent on July 1after he declined to exercise an option year on his current deal. He can begin negotiating with teams on Thursday but can't officially sign a max deal with the Raptors or any other team until a league-imposed moratorium is lifted on July 8th.


    Draft Day Is Here...

    Jay Satur -- raptors.com
    June 24, 2010

    It's draft day and there's been very little indication as to which way the Raptors are leaning with the 13th overall pick. But based on reports from around the league, a much clearer picture of how tonight's draft could go is starting to emerge. Here's one humble writer's take, for what it's worth.

    1) WAS - John Wall. Say no more.
    2) PHI - Evan Turner. The swingman out of Ohio State is pretty confident he's heading to Philly.
    3) NJ - Derek Favors. Some rumblings that Wesley Johnson could go here, but Dave D'Alessandro says Favors remains the likely pick.
    4) MIN - Wesley Johnson. Whether they get him at this spot or not, it sounds like he's the desired pick for the Wolves.
    5) SAC - DeMarcus Cousins. Adrian Wojnarowski of Y! Sports says he's the guy for the Kings.
    6) GSW - Ekpe Udoh. Possibly a mild surprise given some of the names still out there, but Tim Kawakami says the power forward has the edge right now.
    7) DET - Greg Monroe. The Pistons are reportedly hoping to trade up and get Cousins, but if they can't, Monroe seems to have the edge according to Y! Sports.
    8) LAC - Al-Farouq Aminu. ESPN's Chris Broussard thinks the Clippers like Aminu here, but there's rumours of a trade with the Bulls for the #17 pick and Luol Deng.
    9) UTA - Ed Davis. ESPN's Chad Ford says Davis "won't slip past the Jazz at nine."
    10) IND - Cole Aldrich. Here's where things get murky. Pacers have been rumoured to trade with OKC for Maynor plus the 18th, 21st picks. DraftExpress among those thinking that Aldrich could be the target for the Thunder if they make that deal. Patrick Patterson could also go here.
    11) NOH - Xavier Henry. Another candidate to move down or out of their position, according to Yahoo!
    12) Grizzlies - Paul George. He's far from a lock here, but he impressed the Grizz in a recent workout and could be viewed as the best player available.

    Which brings us to the Raptors at pick 13. Given that picks 10, 11, 12 are anything but sure things, Doug Smith of the Toronto Star has reported that the Raptors may have their list narrowed down to George, Udoh, Aldrich and Texas guard Avery Bradley.

    But if the draft unfolds like suspected above, that could leave the Raptors without several of those targets. That may explain why Chad Ford (Insider required) has reported of discussions with the Blazers (Rudy Fernandez + #22) and now the Thunder (who own picks #18, #21, #26) in an effort to potentially move down in the first round. Ford also reports that Kentucky point guard Eric Bledsoe might be the pick.

    Seems like there plenty of intrigue to come and you can catch it all (i.e. both rounds) LIVE on Raptors TV tonight, beginning at 5:30 PM. Akil Augustine and I will be LIVE BLOGGING the first round, starting at 6 PM.

    See you then.


    Last Chance For Some Second Looks...

    Jay Satur -- raptors.com
    June 22, 2010

    If you needed any more proof that the Raptors are looking at best talent available versus filling any kind of positional need with the 13th pick in Thursday's 2010 NBA Draft, look no further than the last two days.

    Kansas centre Cole Aldrich and West Virginia forward Devin Ebanks had a chance to strut their stuff at ACC's practice court one last time on Tuesday, while Texas guard Avery Bradley -- unable to participate due to an ankle sprain suffered in workouts last week -- met with team officials for a medical examination and a second conversation on Monday night.

    Toronto is the only team to work out Aldrich and Ebanks for a second time, although the motivation for working out each of them might differ.

    The Kansas big man is well in range to be in play for the Raptors with the 13th pick and realizes the opportunity another visit offers.

    "I think just trying to get to know you a little more," said Aldrich. "Just watching your game progress. I mean I was back here two weeks ago or something like that, so just kind of get to know you, watch how your game has progressed and just see you as an overall person and a player."

    While the presence of Aldrich and a second interview with Bradley speaks to the Raptors' possible intentions with the 13th pick, Ebanks represents another train of thought altogether.

    According to Bryan Colangelo, who spoke with the media following the workout, Ebanks could be in the mix if the right circumstances arise and the Raptors can acquire another first-round pick.

    "We've explored teams with multiple picks, we've explored teams that might want to avoid a cap charge," said Colangelo. "We're going to see if there's a pick there that might net us another player.

    "I think that's why you see us working out someone like a Devin Ebanks today for a second time and we've looked at a few other players for a second time because there's a lot of players in that 15-25 range, maybe the 15-30 range that we really like."

    For Ebanks, Tuesday's second workout offered an opportunity to show some improvement since his first visit, but also demonstrate a little versatility to team officials on hand.

    "I know every time I'm on the court, I'm going to play tough defence," he said. "So I really wasn't focusing as much on that aspect of the game as much as my offence."

    For more on Colangelo's post-workout scrum, be sure to check out the latest from Mike Ulmer.

    In other draft-related news today...

  • According to The Associated Press, the Pacers could be willing to move their 10th overall pick in search of some veteran help at point guard.

  • One day after the Blazers jumped ten spots to acquire the 34th overall pick on Monday, it appears that the pick swapping may be extending to the first round. ESPN.com's Andy Katz says that the Grizzlies are close to sending the 25th and 28th overall picks to Minnesota for the Timberwolves' 16th pick.

  • Meanwhile, Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports reports that Miami's 18th overall selection could be available as the Heat continue to attempt to clear cap space. Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel however, says it's not likely.

  • Michael Lee of the Washington Post says that the Wizards may be in the market to add another first-rounder in the late-lottery to early 20's range.

  • Paul George has clearly made an impression on many of you out there, but it also looks like he wowed the Grizzlies brass in a workout earlier on Tuesday. Memphis picks one spot ahead of Toronto in the 12th spot.

    Getting Down To Crunch Time...

    Jay Satur -- raptors.com
    June 21, 2010

    After a week of rest and relaxation, I'm happy to be back with you leading up to what's looking like a very busy couple of weeks for the Raptors. Here's all the draft links that are fit to print and as always, you can send any I've missed to me via twitter.

  • Adding a rotation-worthy player with the 13th pick is not a bad thing for the Raptors according to Scott Howard-Cooper of NBA.com.

  • Count Jack Armstrong as the latest expert who thinks Toronto might be angling for another first-round pick in this year's draft.

  • According to Cole Aldrich's dad, the KU big man is visiting Toronto for a second interview with Raptors' brass today. Aldrich will, in fact, be having a second workout with the Raptors tomorrow at ACC.

  • The Houston Chronicle reports that the Rockets (currently holding the 14th overall pick) are angling to move up in the draft and although need may dictate selecting a big, the plan is to take the best talent on the board.

  • Luke Babbitt, one of the more polarizing potential lottery prospects in the draft, held a solo workout for the Hornets (picking 11th) on Monday. Hornets General Manager Jeff Bower described the Nevada forward's grueling workout as "outstanding".

  • Adrian Wojnarowski and Marc Spears of Yahoo! Sports call Avery Bradley, Paul George and Larry Sanders (a personal favourite in this corner) three of the bigger potential sleepers in this year's draft. Bradley and George are both likely in the Raptors' draft range, while Sanders seems to be pegged to go just a little later than 13 in the first round.

  • Wandering off the beaten draft path, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention this NBA.com piece on Chris Bosh's pending free agency by Art Garcia. While I don't think it gives any inclination that Bosh is more or less likely to remain a Raptor, it's a strong reassertion of his goals. Bosh clearly wants to be the centrepiece of wherever he lands, which might dash any thoughts of Bosh joining LeBron, Dwyane, Kobe, etc.

  • Not to bore the masses with details of my vacation, but a couple of hoops-related footnotes I have to mention. The first was the unbelievable enthusiasm for the NBA Finals from not only vacationers but Bahamians. From sports bars to the streets of Nassau, it seemed everyone had their own passionate views on the Lakers-Celtics series. With the World Cup in full swing and the U.S. Open teeing off, I was stunned to see so many people captivated by the series. Awesome stuff.

  • Wasn't all limited to Lakers-Celtics in Nassau. I'm at the top of a big tower where two long lines are queuing for a pair of waterslides and who do I spot waiting patiently for his turn but former Raptors forward Jamario Moon. Let's just say the current Cavalier wasn't all that intent on attacking the towering slide, named "The Abyss", with any kind of enthusiasm.

    More from Tuesday's workouts to come. Also, Akil Augustine and I will be hosting a live chat on draft night from Air Canada Centre, starting at around 6 PM so hopefully, you'll be there too.

    Things Are Picking Up...

    Jay Satur -- raptors.com
    June 14, 2010

  • Chad Ford has several intriguing bits of info in an entirely Raptors-focused piece posted late on Sunday night. Chief among them is that the team is attempting to convince Chris Bosh to stay in Toronto by reportedly "cleaning house" and surrounding him with a new cast.

    The article goes on to discuss deals a potential deal for Hedo Turkoglu and speculates that both Jarrett Jack and Jose Calderon could be on the move.

    From a draft perspective, it's also interesting to note that Bryan Colangelo and co., have once again been tied to acquiring a second first-round pick plus there's mention of some potential names coming in for workouts this week.

  • Speaking of Bosh, congratulations to him on winning the Professional Basketball Writers Association's Magic Johnson Award, honouring the player who combines on-court performance with steady co-operation with the media. Well-deserved recognition for a player who was forthright and courteous with the media during an increasingly intense season.

  • Texas guard Avery Bradley has shut down workouts for the next 7-10 days due to a "mild to soft medium left ankle sprain," according to Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress.com. That means cancellations of workouts for a handful of teams, including a reported second workout with Toronto. The popular draft site says Bradley will return to T.O., for another meeting with the Raptors.

    No updates from me for the week, but keep checking this space for updates with the latest video from draft workouts and this weekend's Free Agent Camp.

    Mock Of Ages...

    Jay Satur -- raptors.com
    June 11, 2010

    With this year's draft class wide open, I thought it was a good idea to get some Raps-centric views on how the first 14 picks will shake out with a casual poll of some of our experts here at the Raptors NBA TV Studios.

    Bear in mind that everyone's submissions here are merely educated guesses. Hopefully, we'll get an update on these before draft night on June 24. In the meantime, send me any thoughts you have on these mocks, or better yet, send me one of your own, and we'll try and get them into this space.

    Most Common Picks
    1.WASWall (5) 8.LACUdoh (3)
    2.PHITurner (4) 9.UTAAldrich (3)
    3.NJNFavors (4) 10.INDPatterson (3)
    4.MINJohnson (4) 11.NOHHenry (2)
    5.SACCousins, Monroe (2) 12.MEMGeorge, Davis (2)
    6.GSWCousins, Monroe (2) 13.TORHenry (3)
    7.DETAl-Farouq Aminu (4) 14.HOUBradley (3)


    Jack Armstrong
    Raptors Broadcast Analyst
    1.John Wall
    2.Evan Turner
    3.Derrick Favors
    4.Wesley Johnson
    5.Greg Monroe
    6.DeMarcus Cousins
    7.Al-Farouq Aminu
    8.Ekpe Udoh
    9.Ed Davis
    10.Patrick Patterson
    11.Xavier Henry
    12.Paul George
    13.Larry Sanders
    14.Avery Bradley
    Akil Augustine
    Producer- Raptors NBA TV
    1.John Wall
    2.Evan Turner
    3.Derrick Favors
    4.Wesley Johnson
    5.DeMarcus Cousins
    6.Al-Farouq Aminu
    7.Ekpe Udoh
    8.Ed Davis
    9.Cole Aldrich
    10.Luke Babbitt
    11.Xavier Henry
    12.Greg Monroe
    13.Daniel Orton
    14.Avery Bradley
    Jeff Landicho
    Producer - Raptors NBA TV
    1.John Wall
    2.Evan Turner
    3.Derrick Favors
    4.Wesley Johnson
    5.Greg Monroe
    6.DeMarcus Cousins
    7.Al-Farouq Aminu
    8.Gordon Hayward
    9.Patrick Patterson
    10.Cole Aldrich
    11.Hassan Whiteside
    12.Ed Davis
    13.Xavier Henry
    14.Paul George
    Jay Satur
    Producer - Raptors.com
    1.John Wall
    2.Evan Turner
    3.Derrick Favors
    4.Wesley Johnson
    5.DeMarcus Cousins
    6.Greg Monroe
    7.Al-Farouq Aminu
    8.Ekpe Udoh
    9.Cole Aldrich
    10.Patrick Patterson
    11.Paul George
    12.Ed Davis
    13.Xavier Henry
    14.Avery Bradley
    Eric Smith
    Raptors Radio Analyst
    1.John Wall
    2.Derrick Favors
    3.Evan Turner
    4.DeMarcus Cousins
    5.Wesley Johnson
    6.Greg Monroe
    7.Al-Farouq Aminu
    8.Ekpe Udoh
    9.Cole Aldrich
    10.Patrick Patterson
    11.Ed Davis
    12.Paul George
    13.Xavier Henry
    14.Luke Babbitt


    Triano, Carlesimo Visit New Jersey...

    Jay Satur -- raptors.com
    June 10, 2010

  • As previously mentioned, no pre-draft workouts for the Raptors at ACC this week, but members of the front office and coaching staff have traveled to New Jersey for the third and final large group workout before draft night. NBA.com's John Schuhmann offers a good read on why the large workouts for potential late-first/ second-round picks benefit both the teams and the players.

  • The Sixers are getting every projected top five pick not named John Wall coming to the Wachovia Center before draft night, according to their official site.

  • Nice story from the Deseret News out of Salt Lake City about projected top ten pick Patrick Patterson of Kentucky. It's unlikely he slides to 13, but he'd be an intriguing potential pick for the Raptors if he did.

    Moving Expenses & Some Prospect Updates

    Jay Satur -- raptors.com

    June 8, 2010

  • As first reported by Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, forward Hedo Turkoglu "has privately expressed to league friends a desire to return to the Sacramento Kings." Without talking about the rumour, it does make you wonder if the Raptors are open to dealing this year's pick in an effort to shed long-term salary commitment, which was also discussed on Monday by...

  • Chad Ford of ESPN (Insider access required), who reports that the Raptors have inquired about moving out of the draft under the right circumstances, but have also done their due diligence and have looked into acquiring the second or third picks from the Sixers and Nets, respectively. Trading down wasn't mentioned, which seems to fall in line with what he heard from senior director of player personnel Jim Kelly last week at workouts.

  • Many draft sites have Kansas freshman Xavier Henry going to the Raptors and the latest NBA.com consensus mock draft has him going 11th to the Hornets. No major draft site has the 19-year-old swingman going higher than eighth, but according to the San Jose Mercury News, the Warriors might be warming up to taking him with the sixth pick.

  • VCU forward Larry Sanders reportedly impressed in his workout at ACC last week against the likes of Cole Aldrich, Daniel Orton and Ekpe Udoh and the Detroit Free Press says, he could also be an option for the Pistons if they choose to trade down from the seventh spot.

  • More proof this year's draft class is wide open? The caliber of competition in recent workouts. Much like how the Raptors were able to get some brilliant bigs in last week, the Jazz hosted five projected first round picks on Sunday in a workout Jazz GM Kevin O'Connor reportedly described as one of the most intense he's seen. That workout featured Henry, Gordon Hayward (Butler), Al-Farouq Aminu (Wake Forest), Luke Babbitt (Nevada) and Damion James (Texas).

  • A little more from the "unrelated to the draft" file, but be sure to check out the new website for Sonny Weems.

    Is there more draft news Raptors fans need to know about? Email me at jsatur@mapleleafsports.com or reach me on Twitter.

    Checking In On DeRozan...

    Jay Satur -- raptors.com
    June 8, 2010

    This really isn't about this year's draft per se, but thanks to this clip courtesy of the good folks at Ball Is Life, you can see that the Raptors' first-round pick from last season has been putting in work.


    Find more videos like this on BALL IS LIFE


    DeMar DeRozan has been taking part in the LA Drew League and not surprisingly, has been ripping it up. Now while his gaudy stat lines shouldn't be all the shocking, there's some interesting things on display here.

    The first is DeMar working on that turnaround jumper, something we didn't see a lot of last season. The second thing that stands out is DeMar using his jaw-dropping athleticism on the defensive end, as evidenced by nearly cracking his head off the rim with a nasty block (possibly a goaltend) at the 19 second mark.

    Short clip, but positive signs as DeRozan continues to expand his game.

    The Latest From Around The League...

    Jay Satur -- raptors.com
    June 4, 2010

    No action on the draft front for the Raptors today, so we'll take a closer look at some other draft news...

    - One name you shouldn't expect to see working out for the Raptors? Donatas Motiejunas. NBA.com's David Aldridge is reporting that the 19-year-old forward out of Lithuania (and playing with Benetton Treviso) is on the verge of pulling out of this year's draft. Interesting to note that it's a reported top-12 guarantee he was seeking, considering the Raptors sit one pick away at 13 and have ample ties to Benetton. With Motiejunas possibly out and French centre Kevin Seraphin reportedly suffering a knee injury this week, there's a real chance zero international players will be drafted in the first round on June 24.

    Update: According to ESPN's Chad Ford, Motiejunas has decided to withdraw from the draft.

    - ESPN.com's Chris Broussard is reporting a potential trade involving the Warriors sending Anthony Randolph to the Timberwolves, possibly in an effort to move up in the draft. Golden State currently holds the sixth overall pick, while Minnesota sits at four with two other picks in the first round at 16 and 23.

    - The Bucks worked out Nevada forward Luke Babbitt on Thursday, who's starting to generate plenty of buzz as the draft approaches. He's been pegged to go late-lottery by many draft sites, which obviously puts him in the Raptors' range. No word on if the versatile forward is coming to ACC for a workout, but you can learn more about him here.

    - Some interesting tidbits from DraftExpress.com president Jonathan Givony in the latest edition of the Dontonio Wingcast. Primarily Blazers-based, but some interesting tidbits on Avery Bradley, Paul George and international prospects.

    - Finally, in case you missed it yesterday, check out post-workout video from Raptors senior director of scouting Jim Kelly. He offers his usual evaluation of the prospects but also makes some interesting comments about how potential roster changes might affect whether the Raptors draft a player considered to be a "project" versus someone ready to make more of an immediate impact.



    Big Men Take Centre Stage On Thursday...

    Jay Satur -- raptors.com
    June 3, 2010

    The Raptors pre-draft workout on Thursday seemed like a microcosm of how many have described this year's class. A draft loaded with talented bigs, but there's absolutely no sense of how to rank them after the first five or six picks.

    Baylor's Ekpe Udoh, Larry Sanders of VCU, Kentucky's Daniel Orton and Cole Aldrich of Kansas were all in action at ACC and according to senior director of player personnel Jim Kelly, all could be in the mix for the Raptors with the 13th pick.

    "We had four pretty good bigs. Four guys who I think are right in our range if there is such a thing as a range for the draft," said Kelly, who went on to say scoring inside was scarce during drills due to defence and strong physical play down low.

    If you're a Raptors fan, that's got to be music to your ears.

    Media had limited access to the actual workout (the norm all week), but did see some three-on-three play (including guards Eric Hayes of Maryland and Jeremy Wise of the NBADL). Here's a quick recap for each of the four big men.

    Ekpe Udoh (Forward, Baylor)

    Udoh's been on the workout trail a little longer than Thursday's other participants and by his own admission, he didn't perform as well as he has for other teams.

    But given his projected draft range and skill set, it�s hard not to imagine him as a viable option for Toronto at 13.

    Udoh brings a defence-first mentality with strong shotblocking and rebounding abilities (undoubtedly appealing for the Raptors based on recent seasons) coupled with a developing offensive game. He also brings some maturity to the table -- a product of missing a year of eligibility after transferring from Michigan to Baylor after his sophomore season.

    "It just really helped me to love the game more," said the 23-year-old Udoh of his season off. "Me and coach Driscoll (former Baylor assistant coach Matt Driscoll) and his staff, we just really put the time in."

    That experience hasn't gone unnoticed by the Raptors.

    "His body's matured a little bit more," said Kelly. "A lot of times when you sit out a year and you know a little bit more about the game, you have a little better feeling of what you're supposed to be doing out there. "They had a very good run at Baylor this year and he was a big part of it there so, I think you put all that in and maturity as well and that's why I think he's raised his overall level."

    Udoh has been pegged as high as eighth and as low as 19 by independent draft sites, and has been slated to go to the Raptors at 13 in nba.com's Consensus Mock Draft.

    Cole Aldrich (Centre, Kansas)

    Attending his first pre-draft workout, the junior from Kansas seemed to have plenty of energy in both the final few minutes of the workout and during the post-workout scrum.

    Aldrich fits the mold of a classic, traditional centre and is probably the next best one on the board after DeMarcus Cousins in this draft. He could be long gone by the time the Raptors pick, but if he does drop to 13, the Minnesota native sees a fit.

    "One thing which really helps me and the other (big) guys in the room is that you guys need a big. A good defensive big and a guy that can kind of hold the paint down," said Aldrich. "I think I'm one of those guys that can help out."

    Perceptive observation by a guy who can definitely do a lot of the requisite dirty work down low. But while his personality and skill set are plenty appealing, his shooting motion is another story.

    With a motion that seems to begin from between his shoulder blades, it's definitely not textbook, but it's all he's even known.

    "When I was really little -- I guess I was never really little -- I played soccer," said the six-foot-11 Aldrich. "So that overhead pass out of bounds, I think that's kind of how it evolved so I'm not really sure."

    Aldrich said he intends to try and clean up the motion, but Kelly isn't so sure there's a need for correction.

    "I think the results are the main thing that counts," he said. "You probably worry a little bit about getting it blocked, but he seems to be living with it now and he has a very high basketball IQ as well so, I think he knows about his game, he knows about his shot, its limitations, its strengths and I think that weaves into how he plays the game."

    Aldrich has found himself in the top 10 of most mock drafts, including nba.com, but the latest version from nbadraft.net has him falling to the Raptors at 13.

    Daniel Orton (Forward-Centre, Kentucky)

    After receiving limited minutes with Kentucky this season, 19-year-old Daniel Orton might not be a �safe� pick, but he�s shown enough flashes of talent for consideration in the top half of the first round.

    "Very big body, pretty good outside shooter for his size," said Kelly. "I don't know if he's quite played into his body size and strength yet, but he's very strong. I don't want to say he's 'further away', but you might not know what you have with him right now because... he didn't play all that many minutes. But I think he has a good base, he's got a great frame."

    Media on hand got a good glimpse of that range at the end of the workout, as Orton had little difficulty canning a few corner threes in a final catch and shoot drill.

    But how long does Orton think it will take for him to become a regular contributor to an NBA team?

    "I don't know. That's something I'm looking forward to, being in the gym 24/7," he said. "Hopefully I can do all the right things and make a quick impact, an immediate impact... If not, great things come in time. Hopefully it's not a lot of time though."

    Much like Udoh, several draft sites have Orton heading to the Raptors with the 13th pick.

    Larry Sanders (Forward, Virginia Commonwealth University)

    Larry Sanders, who made his fourth workout stop in Toronto on Thursday, is considered to be a late first-round pick but has been rapidly rising up draft boards.

    The six-foot-eleven Sanders brings an excellent motor, athleticism, defence and speed, but questions surround his ability to operate in the paint at the NBA level given his current weight of around 222 pounds.

    "It's something I've struggled with in the past but I'm getting to know my body now and working on it and I'm gaining weight and I'm loving it," he said.

    Kelly labeled Sanders as the fastest of Thursday's group and mentioned some sideline observers with the team wondered aloud if he could play the three spot. But he also felt Sanders could easily add 15-20 pounds to his frame.

    Not a problem for Sanders, who said he weighed in at his heaviest at around 230 last year. He knows that getting above and beyond that point won't come overnight.

    "I wish I could just eat a cheeseburger and blow up, but it doesn't work that way," he said.

    Sanders is likely a reach for the Raptors at 13, but Kelly has been fairly open about the team's willingness to acquire another pick if the right circumstances arise.

    The Raptors brass will now take a break from hosting prospects and will send representatives to Treviso, Italy and New Jersey to evaluate prospects next week. Workouts are expected to resume at ACC mid-June.