Toronto fans are likely very disappointed by NBA TV Canada’s strange decision not to air the Raptors at Knicks preseason game in New York as the Knicks now feature three former Raptors from just two seasons ago in Quincy Acy, Andrea Bargnani and Jose Calderon.
Acy was a rookie in 2012-13 and the Raptors traded him to the Kings with Rudy Gay last season, but the young power forward was very popular in Toronto because of his heart and hustle. Acy remains a crowd favorite in his return visits.
Bargnani was the team’s controversial first overall draft pick in 2006 and was unfortunately promoted as the face of the franchise after All-Star Chris Bosh took his talents to South Beach to join LeBron James. A talented big man with limited defensive and rebounding skills, Bargnani looked to be breaking out as an offensive force until injury after injury grounded him and Raptors President and General Manager, Basketball Operations Masai Ujiri was surprisingly able to off-load him on the Knicks last season. Bargnani isn’t expected to play again until after the regular season starts because – well – he’s injured again, this time with a serious hamstring strain. Toronto fans like to be reminded that his injury woes are now the Knicks problem.
Love him or hate him, Calderon was a very effective floor general for the Raptors who nailed down a number of franchise records over his 6.5 seasons in Toronto. A step slow on defense, but a great facilitator and team-first player, no one can doubt Calderon always gave his best effort on the court.
Calderon was the key to the trade that brought Rudy Gay to Toronto, so indirectly his trade brought in the players that Toronto rode to last year’s record setting season. The longer he’s been away, the quieter his detractors’ voices have grown. Calderon is an easy player to like as long as you are not relying on him to be a star as he is genuinely a nice person.
Unfortunately, Toronto fans will not be watching tonight’s game on TV .
The Knicks retained one of the best pure scorers in the game when Carmelo Anthony re-signed this summer. Calderon is an upgrade at point guard over Raymond Felton, however, the team swapped Samuel Dalembert for Tyson Chandler, so it’s very hard to see how this team will be significantly better than the group that won 37 games last season.
Installing a rookie Head Coach in Derek Fisher and a new offensive scheme courtesy of Phil Jackson’s influence suggests this will be a transition year as the Knicks await some $54 million or thereabouts of payroll to come off the books at the end of the season. The Knicks will also have their own first round draft pick in 2015 – was that a tanking sound in the background?
Toronto has their entire starting lineup back after a franchise record setting 48 win season, so the Raptors are on a different path than New York this year. However, that does nothing to reduce the interest in this game or watching the former Raptors players now with the Knicks.
The HEAT, Hawks, Pistons, Nets and Knicks will all be fighting it out for playoff spots in the middle of the Eastern Conference pack.
“I am feeling very good, better than two or three weeks ago, but I am not ready yet,” said Lucas Nogueira.