Have the Toronto Raptors and coach Dwane Casey forgotten about Lucas Nogueira? Doubtful, though it is easy to imagine Casey awaking with a start while dreaming of supercut of Bebe's various miscues. For better or worse, Bebe is hard to forget. Still, a lot has been going on with this team; let's take a step back.
Do you ever wonder if people will remember you? During a walk in my neighbourhood, I saw a middle-aged librarian who works up near my office. We often see each other — or at least I think we do — in passing, or on the subway. But we never acknowledge each other. I wonder if I even register, if the occurrences over time have any effect. Do you remember the faces of the people you see in the street?
When Serge Ibaka joined the Raptors, Bebe recalled seeing him play in Spain. This was back when he was 16, a youngster on the come up about eight years ago. Ibaka made an impression then and suddenly reappeared in Nogueira's life now. But in the interim, new people had emerged, some of whom are now gone. The Ibaka excitement was real, but a wistfulness crept into Bebe's voice as he reflected on his old teammates. He remembers — and is remembered.
On a different walk in the neighbourhood, I was with a woman who was in the process of telling me she didn't want to stroll around anymore or, in fact, see me in this or any other capacity ever again. It was a blow. But then, moments later, I had to laugh.
Coming up the street was someone from a not-so-distant past life, a trail of what ifs in her wake. I had been the one doing the talking then. Everything in those moments had felt very much alive with possibility too — until, like a switch flipping, it wasn't. These times are often hard to forget, even as they drift off into the past. She declined to make eye contact.
Yes, I suppose these people, the ones we know and spend time with, will remember something of us, even if it is hard to quantify. The stamp of memory is powerful in that way, colouring the past as it does for a hopeful, brighter future. In any case, let's resolve to worry less about it.
A short section this week because there's not a ton to be happy about. The excitement around the new-look Raptors was short-lived, despite wins in three of the last four games. This was supposed to be a freeing moment, but without Kyle Lowry — Bebe's preferred pick and roll partner — it's tough to stay upbeat. Last night’s dismantling by the Wizards was like a warning shot across the bow: continue on this course at your peril.
If there's a way to stay positive in this most recent downturn (as opposed to the downturn for most of 2017) it's this: Lowry will be back, the incomplete feeling is temporary, the team can and will be whole again. You've got to believe — and, as Bebe’s struggling teammate Patrick Patterson intimated last night, sometimes you do just have to forget it.
That said, it's one thing to never get a chance, but to have had one and lose it? That's got to sting. For Nogueira, the minutes tell the story. In this past week: 11 minutes, then nine and a half, the a measly two seconds (against the Knicks!) and then... nothing. This man has been averaging 20.7 minutes on the season. It's as if the Raptors did forgot about Bebe, though not really. There are mitigating factors here. Toronto has a new, devastating (in every sense of the word) combo forward in Ibaka. And P.J. Tucker factors in. Maybe it’s just not Nogueira’s time.
Still, to see those spare backup centre minutes go to rookie Jakob Poeltl, who may very well be the future, may be the perfect fit for the Raptors going forward, must cause Nogueira some pain. He's trying his best.
Level of High Level
Head up, Bebe. Apparently at the trade deadline, you, along with Norman Powell and Delon Wright, were the most asked about Raptors. Teams want to know if you are available. That's got to count for something, right? You still have potential, there's still a place for you somewhere. Just keep on keeping on and things will work out. At least that's what I'm told. (I’m also told these things take time, so hang in there.)
High Level Result: 5 out of 10 — It's a bummer to see Bebe's minutes dry up like this, and not just because it gives me a lack of things to write about. Given his skill set, it feels like Nogueira should have a spot in the NBA. The chance of this result going back up remains high though: Bebe's shown he can do the work.