Pro Bball Report last week discussed Rudy Gay, Tank nation, Greivis Vasquez, Kyle Lowry trades, Kobe’s return, Raptors pregame and post game stories and more.
If a coach and an organization are supposed to put their players into situations where they are most likely to succeed, the former Raptors forward Rudy Gay could perceive, in hindsight, his 10 months in Toronto as an attempt to sabotage his reputation and career.
Almost from the beginning, Head Coach Dwane Casey put Gay into situations where the forward had little experience. The Raptors went small – a lot, playing Gay significant minutes at power forward. Gay struggled in that role last season and he struggled even more in his new role this season.
The Toronto Raptors may have joined the long list of teams tanking the 2013-2014 season by shipping Rudy Gay and friends to the Kings in an 7 player deal.
The Raptors had one of the better pass-first point guards in Jose Calderon for 7.5 seasons and now 10 months after Calderon was traded, Toronto has acquired a younger version in Greivis Vasquez.
The biggest differences between Vasquez and Calderon are age and experience. At 32 years old, Calderon is 5+ years older than Vasquez and this is Calderon’s ninth NBA season while Vasquez is in the final year of his rookie deal.
Get ready for the deluge of rumors about the Raptors starting point guard Kyle Lowry. ESPN’s Marc Stein has the Raptors sending Lowry to the Knicks for Felton and another player.
Ujiri can probably do better than anything the Knicks can put together as the entire NBA will be assuming Lowry is available for young players and picks, but Mills is motivated, so don’t count the Knicks out prematurely.
It didn’t take long for the rumors about Raptors starting point guard Kyle Lowry being available to start and the various suitors for his services to begin to surface. President and General Manager, Basketball Operations Masai Ujiri is a master at the art of the deal. He knows it takes more than patience and a talented player to bring value back in a trade. You need competition and the possibility of negative consequences to maximize the value of your assets.
It would be easy to assume Bryant hand-picked Toronto as the team he wanted to face in his first game back. The Raptors have a reputation as a soft defensive squad that has represented easy pickings for the prolific scoring guard. Over his 17 year career, Bryant has averaged 28.3 points on 20.8 field goal attempts, 7.9 free throw attempts and 47.7 percent shooting, 5.8 rebounds and 5.2 assists in 29 games against Toronto – across the board better numbers than his career averages.
The story line around the NBA was that tonight NBA superstar Kobe Bryant would play in his Lakers season debut following his surprisingly quick rehab from Achilles tendon surgery. By game time, a new story line had emerged as details about a 7 player trade between the Raptors and the Kings meant Rudy Gay, Aaron Gray and Quincy Acy would not be available to Toronto at game time.
Bryant finished with 9 points on 2-9 shooting, 8 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals and 8 pretty bad looking turnovers.
This game belonged to Amir Johnson. Johnson had 13 points in the first quarter, 10 points in the second quarter and finished the game with a career high 32 points on 14-17 shooting to which he added 10 boards, 2 steals and 2 blocks. Against the relatively soft front court of the Lakers, Johnson owned the paint and faced little to no resistance.
Last year’s NBA Finalist San Antonio Spurs are 15-4 this season and there should be no doubt in anyone’s mind that this team is much better than the 7-12 Toronto Raptors. It’s not that the Spurs are unbeatable or the Raptors should just award San Antonio the win and head on up to the practice gym, anything can happen on any given night in the NBA, but Toronto doesn’t have the experience or the talent to matchup with the Spurs if everything goes according to script.
The short-handed Raptors started out strong and fizzled out quickly against the heavily favored Spurs on Tuesday night in Toronto losing 116-103. However, the game was never really this close after half, veteran teammates, Manu Ginobili, Tony Parker and Tim Duncan, leading their team in scoring once again.
Three weeks ago the 76ers and the Raptors battled for first place in their division at the Wells Fargo Center and Toronto emerged victorious 108-98 to claim the top spot in the Atlantic with a 5 win 7 loss record, the 76ers falling to 5-8. How things have changed since then.
Since these two teams last played, Toronto has 2 wins and 6 losses to fall to 7-13 and Philadelphia has 2 wins and 8 losses to fall to 7-16. The Boston Celtics have won 6 of their past 11 games to claim top spot in the Atlantic Division at 10-14 and Brooklyn has won 3 in a row to move to 8-14.
Friday night was the first game for the new players the Raptors acquired in the Rudy Gay trade with the Kings and Greivis Vasquez, Patrick Patterson and John Salmons all contributed in the 108-100 win over the Philadelphia 76ers at the Air Canada Center.
Terrence Ross scored a season-high 17 points in Philadelphia 3 weeks ago and topped that on Friday with 24 points on 10-16 shooting. Ross had 12 points on 5-6 from the field in the first quarter as the 76ers defense lost track of him on a regular basis early on.
This isn’t the season the Chicago Bulls envisioned. Derrick Rose is injured again. Luol Deng has missed 4 consecutive games with a sore Achilles. They were on a 3 game losing streak that included a loss to the lowly Bucks at home until last night’s 91-90 win over those same Bucks came on a very late Mike Dunleavy three-pointer. It’s been a rough season for Chicago.
It has been hard not to notice the changes to Raptors Head Coach Dwane Casey’s rotations in the post Rudy Gay era and with back-to-back wins over the 76ers and Bulls in back-to-back games, it would be hard to complain about the bench Casey acquired from Sacramento.
“We got a bench,” Casey said postgame in Chicago. “We got guys that can come in and at least hold serve or increase the lead.”