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The Mailbag for March 10, 2006: RapsHQ Responds

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Hoffa Stoppa: (Raptors Report Card - Second Edition)

Two issues:

1. If we trade Villanueva I will snap, unless its for an amazing big, not an established big
2. Why are you guys hating on Orangina?…strong beverage

HOWLAND: Wouldn't it just be quicker to call yourself Hoffa? Essentially the same name.

Trading CV Smooth is not something you will hear us support anytime soon unless we get top 10 talent in return. The fact that this is even being discussed sheds light on the greater issue that we have been touching on. Babcock had a "blueprint" for building this team. Now whether you thought it was good, bad or not even useful to build a brick sh*t house, Charlie was an integral piece. Now we have a new GM. New plan? Let's not forget when Peddie fired Babcock he mentioned accelerating the plan. Fine. Anyone notice there was no mention of the "plan" when Colangelo was brought on? Interesting. No one on the roster is truly safe, except Bosh. You would have to think that Villanueva would be a distant second on the untouchables list however.

Perhaps the biggest factor that suggests Charlie is going no-where is that his production per dollar (PPD) is extremely high and will be for the next few years. Guys who show so much talent and promise right off the bat are few and far between each draft. His salary is staying where it is for another three years. Charlie's production on the free-agent market or through a trade would almost definitely cost twice as much. The other thing to remember is that Colangelo can put his imprint on this team through the $15M or so in free-agent money at his disposal. He can make changes without dismantling. In the end I'm with you....trade Charlie and I'd likely be very upset.....maybe we would get some people together and rush the ACC Braveheart style.

Oh and the best orange drink ever? The McDonald's orange drink you used to get at birthday parties as a kid. Fruity delicious.

CHAPMAN: Heck, I'll throw my two cents into the ring here as well. McDonald's orange drink? Man, that's a Play Day special. And to clear things up, there's no hating on Orangina. I agree that it is a solid beverage. I just wonder why Europeans go buckwild over the stuff. Plus, it’s no C-Plus….

Jeff (Tip In + More):

I like Mike James, but I’d have a hard time giving him more than $5 million per year. We might have to go ahead and give him more years (5 or 6) to keep him here.

HOWLAND: This guy's value has been fluctuating more than the TSX this week. No, not that TSX, this TSX. Some nights he can convince you he should get paid. Other times I think we would be better off buying $3-5 million dollars worth of Cracker Jacks to see if one of the prizes would be a solid PG. I guess the risk there is that PG ends up being...well....this guy.

Ok, in all seriousness the next 20 games are really going to determine whether Colangelo coughs up the dough or whether James takes his Space Mountain thrills elsewhere. I have said it all year....I want this guy back in a Raptors uniform. Although over-paying is a concern, my biggest concern is whether Mike is the kind of guy that will kindly take a back seat to a younger player when the time comes or whether when he turns 33 or 34 he will still think he is 24. Best example of that? Think Gary Payton the past few years. If people doubt whether we should re-sign them I simply ask them who they would rather see out of the other point guards available in the free agent pool. It's slim pickings. Right now James PPD is fantastic. This could take a huge hit over the next few years though.

As a complete aside, I really think Andre Miller would be the perfect PG for this team. He is clearly not going anywhere now that Watson was moved, but he is a pass first guard who can score when required.

I would have to say the over under on what sort of money Mike James gets would be $24M, and that would be over 4 years.

Sohrab (Tip-In Plus More: Tough Loss but Tougher Questions)

How come no analysis of Calderon? He had some good moments, but if you watch the game again, you’ll realize that over a three or four possession stretch where he was running point, and bosh was on the bench, is when the game was really lost.
He forced a couple of quick inexcusable shots (and I think Bonner took a shot in that stretch too), which catapulted a huge transition based run for Dallas that changed the complexion of the game and got their crowd roaring. It went from I think an 18 point lead to 10 points (two 3s in there but my memory could be a bit off). By the time Mitchell figured this out, on the third bad shot, and put Bosh and James back in, it started to feel too late and the loss started to feel inevitable.
Calderon is a decent player, but he should not be shooting those shots, especially when the Raps are trying to nurse a lead.

FRANCHISE: I feel for Calderon, Graham and the other rookies and youngsters on this team right now. Yes, it's great to see the team compete each night...but at the expense of the young gunz? Sow was showing the team what he could do, Calderon was running the offence effectively and Graham was getting the minutes he needed to keep improving. Now? Since the AD trade two things have happened as I predicted:

1) Sam Mitchell's love affair with the vets would be renewed in earnest. Sure enough, Eric Williams, who may not even be IN a Raptors jersey next year, is STARTING for us now. He's played ok in stretches but I haven't seen him do anything that Graham couldn't have done and Eric has been just as foul prone. And even with AD hurt the past few games, Pape Sow has been MIA. If I was Colangelo this would drive me nuts. How can you evaluate and expect a young team to grow if the players don't get to play? Hence my previous D League stance for Joey Graham and Hoffa (provided his shoulder is ok.) If they're not gonna get any run up here, the argument of "they need to get used to the NBA game" is kind of useless isn't it? Even Calderon is only playing spot minutes now as the team is becoming increasingly reliant on Mike James...which I don't feel is always a good thing.

2) The bench's play has dropped off. My short-term worry with the Jalen Rose trade was that it would hurt our bench. When he or CV Smooth were coming into the game off the bench for us it gave the team a nice shot in the arm offensively. Now, our bench is giving us almost nothing and if the starters don't score at least 80 of our points, we're done. Luckily our starters are doing this but to start winning some of these close games, it would be nice for a Joey Graham or Jose Calderon to come in and give us a lift. But right now, Mitchell simply doesn't seem to have any confidence in any of them besides Bonner and I fear it won't be until the off-season and some time with his national team that we see Calderon get his confidence back up.

Headdie Jones #6 (Around the Mocks - Updated February 15, 2006)

RONDO is ill for real thosh.

CHAPMAN: Franchise, is that you? Rondo’s game has looked rather ill of late, I will give you that. But more ill in the sense of H5N1, as opposed to ill like Al Scratch. I have no idea what "thosh" means, either...

FRANCHISE: I gotta get in on this one too...no, I didn't leave the comment, but I'd love to see this kid in a Raps uni. He's got one of the best first steps to the basket, is a pass-first point guard, has crazy ups and is a ball-hawk to boot. Sure he shoots like I do (not a good thing) but that's something that can come overtime...it's not like he has Shawn Marion or Ronnie Brewer mechanics on his shot. Everyone's down on him now because he's not putting up numbers but I don't know how he can when Tubby Smith now has him coming off the bench in the SHOOTING GUARD spot...which makes about as much sense as playing Jose Calderon at Power Forward.

Tim: (Tip In: Raps Close One Out)

Devil’s Martini? 2 a.m.? Give the guy a break, when you’re looking for a secretary to take home, it’s the only game in town.

HOWLAND: Tim my man. Don't let the secret out. This place is a gold mine....when you are mining for coal.

Al (1 More Press Conference and 100 More Questions)

Great blog. Notice in yesterdays press conference, not once was Rob Babcock mentioned. Wayne was credited with clearing cap room. Technically, I suppose Wayne did create cap room, but it would have been nice to say something about Rob. Like he did a great job in drafting Charlie V. And like he did a crap job with the VC trade and the Hoffa draft!!

FRANCHISE: Thanks for the recognition Al, and yes, great point about the press conference. I didn't get too into this in the article because it gets me pretty fired up but yes, it really bothers me now that Colangelo and Embry are viewed as "saviours." Babcock had the toughest job in perhaps the league and while the Vince trade and Hoffa fiasco might not look so great right now, I admire that he stuck to his guns and got this team out of financial hell...the financial hell left to him partly by the very person who hired him to fix it....Richard Peddie. You really have to ask yourself if Babcock had not done what he did, would we even BE in a position to have Colangelo come in? Of course not. And for someone who was so criticized by the ESPN jokers for his draft, it looks like he and his staff did a great job in hindsight. Based solely on current performances and not future "upside", a re-draft of 2005 would probably go like this in terms of the top 5:

Chris Paul
Charlie Villanueva
Andrew Bogut
Channing Frye
Danny Granger

So Babcock grabbed arguably the number 2 pick in the number 7 slot. And even regarding Joey Graham who was drafted 9 spots later...has he shown any less flashes of upside than Marvin Williams, Raymond Felton, Sean May, Martell Webster, Deron Williams, Yaroslav Korolev, Antoine Wright or many of the other players in the draft? My point is that Babcock is gone, let's move on...but let's not continually crucify a GM who I feel did about as good a job as anyone put in that situation could have done.

Benjibopper (Around the Mocks - Updated February 15, 2006)

Are there no solid centres in this year’s draft?

CHAPMAN: Benji, this is not a good year for centers. Then again, what year is? The top centre prospect is Brazil’s Tiago Splitter, who we profiled earlier this week . You could make an argument that LaMarcus Aldridge is a center, but Aldridge is a center like Chris Bosh is a center.

The player who is starting to climb some draft charts is Florida’s Joakim Noah. Before this season, he was better known as the son of flamboyant French tennis star Yannick Noah. However, he has had an excellent season, culminating with a monstrous 37 point, 11 rebound performance against Georgia last week.

Noah is a high-energy player who has improved his game enormously this season. He has extended his range out to 15 feet and can put the ball on the floor and finish with either hand. He is an improving free throw shooter, as evidenced by going 19 of 22 from the stripe in the Georgia game.

It’s always tough to project how NCAA fives will project to that position in the pros. Others to keep an eye on are: Duke’s Shelden Williams, Hilton Armstrong and Josh Boone from Connecticut and Paul Davis from Michigan State. Two players that might be under most fan's radars are Denver’s Yemi Nicholson and South Florida’s Solomon Jones.

UStat - (Raptors Report Card - Second Addtion)

Obviously, you “derived” that I’m Road Scholar like Rhode Island. (Never could spell or do calculus. And I couldn’t prove it either.)
I understand your evaluation includes contribution to teams, however I think I leave the “A” grades to the all-star or near all star types, because I think the whole point of grading is giving the opportunity to make comparisons, or evaluating to some kind of standard or skill/competency.
A- leaves little room for growth, and I think Mike would be the first to agree, that there’s a whole lotta room for growth! And the C+ for the team means to me that we should be satisfied with their performance.
Ok.. my grades? B- for Mike and and D- for the Raps. C’mon, B- is still above average!
I’m sure everyone else has gotten bored of our conversation, however I’m enjoying it! Too bad for them. Don’t even get me started about Mo!!.

FRANCHISE: UStat...I'm going to chime in with one final point on this grading business. When looking at the grades we handed out, you can't think of them in comparison to other players in the league. Therefore as my compadre Chapman mentioned, Allen Iverson's play is indeed of no interest to us for comparison sake. And in the same manner, the grades are also by no means a reflection of the player in terms of future potential or anything like that. We are simply evaluating what WE believe the value of each player on the Raptors' current roster is TO THEIR OWN TEAM. Therefore the most valuable players, Bosh, James and Mo Pete, got the highest grades. The players who have underperformed, also received grades that reflected this. While I agree that on an NBA wide scale James is probably a C+ or B- value, to this team, he's worth so much more. Think about where this team would be without his spontaneous scoring, or Bosh's inside presence, or even Mo Pete's clutch shooting. THIS is what we were evaluating on.

Lion (Media Watch for February 23, 2006/Trade Deadline Special)
When did Marty York start writing for you guys?

FRANCHISE: Wow...wouldn't you know it...we let York do ONE measly article so he can be down with the team...and he goes crazy with the trade ideas...what a guy. Well, you'll be happy to know that we released him of his duties so he could go back to writing quality articles like this one for the TTC's free "Metro News."