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The HQ Mailbag

Rex Chapman says: (Tip-In: Flick Goes the Switch): January 25th, 2007
If the Raps need to get a pure shooter, why not look at making at deal for Mike Miller? I believe he's under contract for around 8-9 million for another 3 years. You guys are good at matching salaries. What can we come up with to offer the Gangsta Grizzlies for M-Squared???

Howland: I have to admit that with all the discussions surrounding guys like Maggette and others if there was one guy to target that would do exactly what the Raps need it is Mike Miller. I have never been a huge Mike Miller fan but he has been playing out of his mind as of late. Sure it’s for a bad team, but the positive thing is he is playing this well and it is not in a contract year.

As I have mentioned before, a consistent swing-man outside of Parker who can spread the floor and rebound is exactly what this team needs. Miller has always been an outside threat and is shooting 42% from behind the arc. On top of that he is filling the stat sheet in all areas including rebounds (almost 6) and assist (just over 4.) The question that has to asked however is not whether M-squared would be a nice addition, because he clearly would, but whether (1) We can absorb the contract, and perhaps most importantly (2) what we would have to give up?

The thing about Miller is that his value couldn’t be higher then it is right now. The only reason the Grizz would trade this guy now is if someone overpays, or as a result of the ownership situation they are looking to clear out all of the big contracts (they obviously are not looking to take them on if they are looking at trading Gasol.)

So do the Raps have what it takes to get Miller out of blues country? Well based on salary alone the easiest match is Mo Pete and Fred Jones. Unfortunately that is not going to cut it. It’s Jerry West we are talking about here, not Mr. Thomas. What if the Raps threw in the right to Roko Ukic? I don’t think Colangelo wants to deal picks.

Another possible scenario is Mo Pete, Joey Graham and Pape Sow, and the rights to Ukic for Miller and Lawrence Roberts.

Fact is it will not be easy regardless of any scenario they try.

Aaron says: (Tip-In: Running on Empty): January 28th, 2007
Oh, give me a break! Granger asked to not draft him--that's a bunch of crap. Whenever the Raptors screw up a draft pick (see every year save Bosh--and even there I guess Wade asked them "not to draft him") someone comes up with this excuse. Granger should have been picked, Graham sucks and is ruining the team because Mitchell refuses to play Jones for some reason. Can anyone explain this to me?????????

Franchise: I’ll take this one as a perma-Danny Granger fan. I remember his interviews prior to the draft and he sounded excited about the prospect of playing in Toronto with Chris Bosh. In fact, it seemed to be a foregone conclusion that the Raps were going to draft him with their FIRST pick in that draft ( so yes, I don’t buy this whole "he told them not to pick him" thing. Not to mention that Toronto wasn’t the only team that passed on Granger…his knees were obviously a concern to many a GM and that’s why he dropped all the way to Indiana.

As for Joey vs. Fred Jones, I’m not sure what to say. For a while it looked like Graham was reaping the rewards of extended minutes while Jones was struggling and therefore the playing time situation that Mitchell was doling out looked to be validated by their respective on-court play. However we knew Joey’s inconsistent ways would rear its ugly head and now, Toronto finds itself in a situation where they’re choosing from the lesser of two evils to back-up Mo Pete and Anthony Parker. Like I discussed in yesterday’s piece, it would be nice to get rid of one or the other so Mitchell can establish some sort of consistency at that position off the bench. And lately it’s been Jones who I think deserves to get some more playing time so we’ll see who gets the PT tonight against the Wiz. Because right now it’s sort of like choosing between a girl with a great body who’s not so hot in the facial department and another who’s Rihanna above the neck, and Oprah down below…neither is an ideal option.

Todd says: (Tip-In: .500): January 27th, 2007
Why do the Raptors settle for so many outside jumpers when they're not falling (esp Bargnani)? Why did Rasho sit on the bench in the second half when he seemed to be working it in the first? Who is gonna step up for the team and help CB4 on the boards? It's so frustrating to see a team that can play so well, play so sh*tty against a team I know they can beat.

Howland: A few questions here but I want to address the first and the third. Rebounding. It has been quite a while since rebounding wasn’t an issue on this team. Much of this can be attributed to the gaping donut-sized hole that has been the 5 spot for so many years. Right now it is obvious that this team needs a gang rebounding mentality. The swing-men in particular need to be getting to the glass. Maybe that is why it is so frustrating to watch Graham at times. He has the athleticism and has shown a propensity to get to the glass, but as we all know, not with any regularity.

Of course there is Rasho, but Bargnani will really be key in this department for years to come. Given his size, how could he not be? The thing about Bargnani is not to expect too much too soon. I actually think he will be a solid rebounder as his game develops but right now his rebounding and play around the basket is suspect. It’s hard to criticize he’s play though as he has done a fairly solid job making the transition. I think over the second half of the season we will see his rebounding numbers go up. The learning curve has been a steep one for the big rook and he has met virtually all challenges thus far. As he starts to get more opportunities by the hoop and in the paint expect his rebounding numbers to least to surpass TJ Ford who is currently averaging the same number of boards.

Sergi P says: (Media Watch for January 24, 2007/Game-Day Preview vs. Hornets)
By the way, that is great news about the "RaptorsHQ International"! Here in Spain the Raptors have quite some following this season, thanks a lot guys and keep up the great work!

By the way, did you know that Garbajosa didn't even attempt a single 3 in his first four seasons as a pro? At age 24 and not playing much at Benetton he figured being a shooting PF/C would be be a nice added skill to gain some minutes so he started practising a lot... This season he's still adapting to the NBA 3 point line, but hopefully he will get better :)

Franchise: Love this type of info Sergi, had no idea that Jorge only recently started gunning from long-range! Thanks for the props on the site too, we’re going to keep doing some translations every month. Actually, that’s one of the great things about the site I think, really a collective of information and opinions from all over the world. The bad thing? Our comment section which again is on the fritz…

Reading this info Sergi makes me think that Garbo will eventually become a Rasheed Wallacesque threat from downtown. This season he might struggle but if he can add that to his arsenal, it would give the Raptors two bigs who could pull the defence out from Bosh. Oh wait…with the way that CB4 is canning 3’s, that is going to make it really tough for opponents.

Johnn19 says: (The Grades: the Mid-Term Report): January 22nd, 2007 -
Let's forget about 2nd rounds. Getting to the playoffs with this team will be a major feat, worthy of an extension for Mitchell.

Howland: John119, I couldn’t agree more. If this team makes the playoffs it will have done something that Raptors fans have not seen in quite some time. It is great that people are becoming more and more interested in the team but expectations need to be tempered somewhat. Even though the East is really weak it will still be a big step for these young guys to make the playoffs and experience the post-season. Talking about the second round seems very premature.

The Raps have had a very successful first half and a lot of good things have happened. I am sure some people were sitting out there at the beginning of the season wagering on Mitchell lasting 20 games or seeing the team languish at the bottom of the league once again. It’s hard to ask for much more at this point as the team is still full of new players, has dealt with some tough injuries, and has experienced some tough road swings.

In terms of Mitchell, if this team makes the playoffs it will be hard for Colangelo not to extend him. I am still sitting on the fence in that regard and there is a lot of season left to be played, but when a coach finally gets some decent talent and gets them where they need to go, it would be hard not to reward him.

f baby says: (Media Watch for January 24, 2007/Game-Day Preview vs. Hornets)
Acording to we have the 4th lowest team salary in the L. we should make a big move at the trade deadline which I think could push us to the point where we could come out of the East. Even right now there’s a chance I think we could beat the wizards in a 7 game series.

Franchise: As some of our readers pointed out after this was posted, when Bosh and TJ Ford’s extensions kick in for next season, then we’ll be a lot higher on the "average team salary" list. In fact, that’s why any talk of trading for Iverson made no sense. The Raptors’ individual players salaries at the moment are so low that it would have taken the whole team to bring him here. Ok, I exaggerate slightly but you get the picture.

And an interesting point about the playoffs…I too think that Toronto could take the Wizards in a seven game series…or even in one that lasts only five games. Right now the only team I really fear as a Raptors’ fan is Chicago…we just don’t match up well with them.

Speaking of the Wiz, let’s take a quick look at tonight’s game.

Washington is coming off a big win over the Pistons last night which saw them increase their standing in the Eastern Conference to a game and a half over Detroit but also saw them lose third-leading scorer Antawn Jamison to a hyper-extended knee injury.

This of course bodes well for the Raptors who almost gave away a game against the Wizards’ high-octane offense last time these teams met. But without Jamison, Washington will have to rely increasingly on their anaemic bench to provide enough offense for them…

…or, Gilbert Arenas will have to score 60.

Therefore I see tonight’s game really coming down to a couple of things for Toronto to capture the win.

First and foremost, Toronto needs a solid defensive effort. Arenas is going to get his, but as long as players like Jarvis Hayes and Deshawn Stevenson aren’t pouring in 20 each, Toronto should be able to come away with the W.

Secondly, get to the rim! The Wizards for all their offense have one of the worst defensive clubs in the league and Toronto needs to take advantage of this and get to the basket. It sounds like TJ Ford will be back in action tonight and therefore both he and Bosh need to lead the charge in this category.

Finally, bench play. Andrea Bargnani should be over his flu by now and will be an important part of tonight’s game. The Wizards have no one to match-up with Il Mago and a big game from him off the bench could put things out of reach for Washington. Also, as alluded to in the mailbag, it will be interesting to see who plays more between Joey Graham and Freddie Jones. My guess is that Graham will get the first call off the bench but I’m hoping that Jones makes like Stella and starts getting his groove back.