The HQ gives a quick summary of this afternoon's annual Raptors' media extravaganza...
A few quick hits from the Raptors' Media Day that concluded a bit earlier this afternoon:
-As opposed to last year where most of the players came out at once and you could grab whoever you wanted, this year it was almost all scrums which made it tough to get the content you wanted.
-Therefore I expect most stories from the mainstream media tomorrow to be quite similar, as the opportunities for exclusive pieces were somewhat limited.
-That being said, I thought our HQ team did a great job grabbing what we could, and will have exclusive one-on-one video interviews with Sonny Weems, Linas Kleiza, Alvin Williams, Ed Davis and the Godfather Gherardini up soon, as well as tons of photos and some other soundbites.
-The mood at camp was pretty light and the players were all in good spirits, however that seems to be the case every year before the games are played. That being said, you did get the feeling there was a certain pressure lifted from the club overall. The Bosh situation is done, no one expects this team to win 30 games let alone make the playoffs, and so the club has a bit of an underdog mentality, something they all seem to be enjoying right now.
-In talking with me, Bryan Colangelo even went as far as noting how much worse things could have been had the team returned this training camp with "no financial flexibility and the same unhappy faces." Sounds like things in Raptor-land last year were a lot worse than many let on.
-On a first-view basis, nobody looks like they reported to camp in an Eddy Curry-esque state, and Ed Davis told me that the recovery from his injury is coming along fine. He's on schedule to return in 5 weeks barring any set-backs and while disappointed he'll miss key pieces of camp, is just glad the injury isn't more serious, which was his original concern.
-Linas Kleiza is all business. As you'll see in the video interview we shot with him, he's got a certain swagger to his personality but more in a "I'm going to get the job done and there's nothing you can do to stop me" way. He also seems tough as nails just from the limited interactions I had with him today. I was joking to him and Jack about the cold and without missing a beat he noted that this weather was nothing compared to his home country.
-Also, Kleiza has one of the most interesting accents ever. It's a bit of a southern drawl mixed with his Lithuanian native-speak and you forget that his time at Missouri in college is probably responsible for this.
-There wasn't a lot of earth-shattering stuff from the scrums, mostly expected or canned answers, but a good deal of the focus was obviously on former Raptor Chris Bosh. Jarrett Jack spoke about wishing things had gone down differently, and made some pointed remarks as to how the Bosh situation unfolded, pre and post CB4's departure:
"I feel like if you felt like that, why didn't you say it or tell him about it while it was going on?..."I'm going to approach you while it was going on, while it's fresh. We can have a healthy discussion about it.
"Saying it now, it doesn't matter. He's with the Miami Heat now. Like (Cavs owner) Dan Gilbert, he did all that stuff with LeBron, that he was a quitter and all this other stuff. But if LeBron would have signed back with Cleveland, you would have welcomed him back with open arms."
-Other Raptors weighed in on the Bosh situation too, from talking about carrying the torch in his departure (DeRozan and Weems), to discussing the opportunities that may now come without CB4 in the mix (Bargnani.)
-From a coaching standpoint, there wasn't much that Triano got into in terms of strategy. He did emphasize increased ball movement without Bosh and that while Andrea might be the number one option offensively, he wasn't sure who the team's leaders would be, or who else would carry the offence. It seems that Bargs is the one obvious starter, with Amir and DeMar probably joining him, but really Jay kept things pretty ambiguous in terms of any real rotation commitments.
-Triano also discussed his experiences with Team USA this past summer at length, and indeed it sounds like from both him and Colangelo that the Raptors will run with a number of "small-ball" and unusual line-up combinations, similar to what Team USA did at the FIBA Worlds.
-As for Colangelo? Well, we're going to get into this in full detail tomorrow but safe to say it was again a very interesting chat that he had with the media. Some of it made me want to scream, other parts though were encouraging and quite revealing.
-It does sound though like the team is still looking to shore up its staple of Bigs, possibly targeting former Knick Earl Barron. Nothing too sexy here, but sounds like BC and co. expect their overtures to Erick Dampier to be rebuffed making Barron the next choice on their list. I don't mind Barron, but if they grab him at the expense of Joey Dorsey it will make that David Andersen acquisition even tougher for me to swallow.
-And finally, while no one would put any specific numbers or wins predictions out, Colangelo as usual stated that his goal was for the team to make the playoffs, and the rest of the players scoffed at the various pre-season predictions that had the Dinos dwelling in the NBA's basement.