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Hen: (Tip-In: A Sloppy Sunday)

Here’s a cheap-shot at Sam…isn’t this when he’s suppose to be really earning his pay? When our star is out, isn’t this where coaching becomes the difference? Think about the job Carlisle did with JO out, and Artest AWOL. Shouldn’t we be seeing our young cats really be motivated by our coach in these remaining games…if to just show their support for his return next year? Just a thought.

HOWLAND: Hen, you can knock Mitchell for a lot of things these days but one think I think he has done a great job with is motivation. I think over the year he has gotten to know his young players better and now knows what motivates them. The effort is truly there every night and with Bosh out this team simply does not have enough talent to comptete with most teams.

There is a strong support group within the Raps organization for having Mitchell stay on, at least for next year. If I were a betting man however, I would say that if Bosh gets locked up this summer and the team stumbles then Colangelo will be bringing in Iavaroni pretty quickly. The thing with Sam is that the players really like him. This is a blessing and a curse. The question I have is whether they like him too much. Sure they play hard for him, but I don't think they listen to him. The defense has been terrible all year, and I would find it hard to believe that he has not been preaching D since day 1.

The Mitchell issue is going to be ongoing next year. Without an extension he is a sitting duck. It will be interesting to see how Colangelo deals with him. Does the team ride it out and let him grow with the team provided there is progress, or do you pull someone in who has a little more experience and is better with the X's and O's? This is definitely a top 5 thing to watch for this off-season.

Chris: (Tip-In: 81 Down - One To Go…Or, Lessons For Next Season)

The raptors better bring in some defensive help over the summer, right now they can’t guard anyone one on one, so they have to double, and then the other team kicks the ball out, and passes it to the open man or hte cutter, and since our defensive rotations are always slow or non existent the other team winds up with an open shot or an easy layup. That’s been the raptors problem this season. I would say I defensive presense is more important than finding a point guard this summer. Our offense is fine (usually).

FRANCHISE: Couldn't agree more Chris and indeed this was the main point of my piece. Until the Raptors can instill SOMEWHAT of a defensive mentality in the current players, or bring in players that already possess this mindset, the team will be spinning its wheels so to speak. And as an aside, this is another reason watching Monday night's debacle against the Pacers was so painful as they featured one of the players who I really felt could have helped Toronto defensively this season - Danny Granger. I wanted Granger for his size and defence in last year's draft and it still burns me up to see him in an Indiana uni...especially after watching him guard Mike James one-on-one and steal the ball off of him...argh...

Aaron: (Tip-In: Audition Time)

Why are you guys so obsessed with Ronnie Brewer? He is average at best and would instantly have the ugliest shot in the NBA. And no hops, he’s three inches above the rim (a la Joey Graham). You know who I like, I’ve said it enough by now, but at the very least we should go after Tyrus Thomas.

HOWLAND: Let me deal with the Tyrus Thomas bit first. Unless we finish top two in the lottery Thomas will not be around for the Raps. Even if we were, I have no interest in that guy. I take nothing away from his performances this year, he was awesome. But where do we have space for him? He is a 4 and I am pretty sure we have that position locked up. I actually see a lot of Stromile Swift in his game (and the same school) and the same questions surrounding his game. Both were great dunkers, shot blockers and athletic freaks, but can he bulk up? Can he play more consistenly? If I were the Bulls, or in particular Atlanta, you would have to look at this guy. Not the Raps.

Why Ronnie Brewer? Sure he has an ugly shot, but so does Marion. I don't think that has held him back. But the real reason I want this guy is that he is versatile, a passer, a great defender and he would be a great back-up for Peterson. Don't forget Mo is a free-agent after next season and after a year of seasoning Brewer could step in. I just have a feeling he could be a solid contributor and a 6'7" guard with a good handle is not a bad thing. This is a weak draft and it is in weak drafts that I think teams should draft more for need than simply the best player available. In this case I think Brewer would do both, bring some defense and bring more athleticism. I am sure some people would read this and think Joey G, but these guys are very different players coming out of college. Graham was a 4 and is more of a banger. Brewer is quicker and plays guard.

Keep this in mind though. Although I like Brewer I would not want us to reach for him. Of course all of this depends on the lottery.

Lil' Scrappy : (Tip In: A Family Affair)

Let's sign Kareem Rush!

CHAPMAN: JaRon, is that you? We've been looking for you. While we've got you, JaRon, why did you come out after only one season at UCLA? Jordan Farmar and Aaron Afflalo should think of you when they make their decisions.

Oh, and another thing, JaRon: Say hi to Lenny Cooke for us.

ghosty guest, theabstract and tommy: (Mike James - Thoughts On A Breakthrough Season)

ghosty guest: - I think a sign and trade would be ideal as I can’t see James being willing to take a smaller role with the club especially if it’s Calderon taking the starting job. Only if it were Alvin would he be somewhat cool with it.

Sign and Trade James (what could we get for him?).
Draft Splitter (if he enters).
I’m happy.

theabstract: - I really hope Mike James doesn’t go for nothing. How about signing him to a contract under the raps and trying to trade him during next season?

tommy: - Dont have to wait to trade - do a sign-and-trade to a capped-out team for a 1st rounder, or something.

FRANCHISE: Some interesting takes on what to do with James this offseason. A sign-and-trade situation would of course be ideal for Toronto in terms of negating another potential "Donyell Marshall situation." However sign-and trades can at times be tricky as teams sometimes take back a bunch of lesser pieces that don't fit simply for the sake of salary reduction. A good example of this is the Jamal Crawford situation when he was traded from the Bulls to the Knicks. Chicago did get some financial flexibility out of the deal, but I'd hardly consider dealing Crawford and JYD for Othella Harrington, Frank Williams, Dikembe Mutombo and Cezary Trybanski a good deal "talent-wise" for the Bulls. So if Colangelo makes a sign-and-trade manoeuver involving Space Mountain, such a deal in all likelyhood will be made with the Raptors' cap-space in mind and fans may have to remember this when viewing the talent obtained in return. And unless Colangelo is dealing with the Knicks, the idea of Toronto getting a draft pick, especially a first-rounder, is extremely unlikely.

Scott: (Tip-In: When Space Mountain goes off the tracks)

I like James for his clutch shooting, passion, and killer crossover driving to the net. But it seems to me that he might be a good 6th man coming off the bench to spell a young point guard. I'm really not sure if i would rather have him on my team or not.

HOWLAND: Scott, you pretty much nailed it here. I don't think many people are 100% sure what to do with James and this likely includes Colangelo. Where would we be without him? Where can we go with him? As much as he would be a great 6th man I would say there is no chance that he signs with a team not willing to promise him the starting job.

There are tons of things to like about James and his passion is definitely one of those things. He has said he wants a three year deal but with a ton of now have to look at risk and reward. If this was a one year show and he regresses once he gets paid you risk having Marbury material....completely untradeable. That being said how likely is that? Three years is pretty reasonable and Calderon still needs another year and Ukic does as well. Much of this is going to depend on what is available on the trade market. Ridnour? Knight? Tinsley? I think we will see this play out fairly quick in the off-season. Will be very interesting.

Ryan: (RaptorsHQ Final Four Diary)

Dude, so jealous of you! Some buddies are planning a trip to Greensboro next march for the ACC Semi’s and Finals and then we’re going to try to catch opening weekend of March Madness. I was stoked about that until I read this post… you take the crown for road trips!

CHAPMAN: Ryan, thanks for the props. Road trips are something that I do very well and not just in basketball. We hit up Buffalo two years ago for the first two rounds, Syracuse last year for the Sweet 16 and Elite 8 and, of course, Indianapolis for the Final Four this year.

That ACC tournament trip sounds good. We're thinking of doing up the Big East Tournament next year or maybe hitting Vegas for the first weekend of the Madness.

Of course, all of these trips will pale in comparison to the future RaptorsHQ takeover of NYC for the NBA Draft...

coach: (Tip-In: Audition Time)

I think colangelo must produce concrete results starting this coming draf.
he said he’s looking for some vets. thats the right move . he needs instant results not another young baller to develop.he’s likely to trade the raps draft pick for some vets.
the vets he’s eyeing , i hope someone with fight in them.
the raps are too soft.

FRANCHISE: coach, this is something again that I totally agree with. I feel that Bosh, Mo Pete and Mike James play with passion and some fire the majority of the time. Pape is a bit overly aggressive at times but competes hard every night. Other than those players though, I do feel the rest of the team is too soft and secretly I feel this is a big reason the team lost so many close games this year. A hard-nosed team doesn't let Kobe get 81 points, I'm sorry. And a tough-minded team doesn't let Rasheed shoot left-handed threes, Gerald Green do show-off dunks at the end of games or even let Jeff Foster go for career highs in points and rebounds. In what was a reoccuring theme this year, many players had their career evenings against our beloved Raptors. Next year this has to change. If Colangelo can't get the changes via free-agency, there are several players in the draft competitive and fiery enough to look at starting with Adam Morrison and Brandon Roy and ending with Bobby Jones and Craig Smith. Admittedly though, I really thought that Joey Graham would give us some of this fire when he was drafted...