From Romy Aquino, Hip Hoop Junkies: What significant moves were made during the offseason? Well, the offseason has pretty much been a bust for the Toronto Raptors. First off, Chris Bosh decided to “take his talents to South Beach” and join forces with Dwyane Wade and one, Mr. Lebron James. To make matters worse, Bryan Colangelo wasn’t able to turn CB4 into a substantial name coming up north. Then, there were a flurry of rumours that were flying around this summer, where Toronto would give up Hedo Turkoglu, Jose Calderon and Reggie Evans for Leandro Barbosa, Boris Diaw and Tyson Chandler. Most fans got excited for this potential new-look Raptors team but that dream trade was quickly crushed when MJ got off the golf course and vetoed the trade. The lone bright spot of the offseason was that Colangelo was able to unload that hefty contract of Hedo Turkoglu for the Brazilian Blur, Leandro Barbosa.
From Ryan McNeill, Hoops Addict: What are the team’s biggest weaknesses? The team is going to get torched in the paint and on the glass this season. Last year the team averaged 40.4 rebounds per game and Bosh averaged 10.8 of those rebounds. With over a quarter of those rebounds up for grabs it makes sense that Johnson, Bargnani and Davis will step in and gobble up the extra rebounds. However, that is far from being guaranteed as the numbers from last season don’t back up that assumption. In the seven games Bosh missed at the end of the season, Davis saw his rebounding numbers stagnate (4.8) instead of increase. Even more troubling is the fact those numbers were inflated due to two games which saw him snag double-figure rebounds. The scary part is in three of those seven games Johnson only managed to grab two rebounds.
From Adam Francis, Raptors HQ: What are the goals for this team? Bryan Colangelo would probably answer this question by saying the goal is to make the playoffs. Yes, that’s always a nice thing to say to the media, but frankly this to me looks like a rebuild situation for the franchise. Therefore I think the main goal for this club should be player development. Guys like Sonny Weems, DeMar DeRozan, Ed Davis and even Joey Dorsey etc need coaching and experience as well as adequate playing time so hopefully Jay Triano and his coaching staff provide these things next year. The truth is that no one really knows if guys like DeMar or Weems have what it takes to be stars in this league, let alone solid role players. If this team wants to rebuild, it needs to sort out the true potential building blocks from the fringe types, and this should start this season.
From Darius via Land O’ Lakers: Soriano: While Miami poses the best hypothetical threat due to their extreme talent base, I still have to go with Boston. Yes the Celtics have aged a year and adding the O’Neals [Jermaine and Shaquille] doesn’t make them any younger. But that team defines the term “tough out” and we all saw how hard the Celtics pushed the Lakers in last year’s Finals. Granted, the Celtics will have to get to the Finals first but if they do I think they’d present the toughest challenge and would have the best chance of winning the series.
From Chad Ford, via Brian Kamenetzky of Land O’ Lakers: “The Lakers, fresh off their second consecutive NBA title, weren’t going to reinvent the wheel this summer. The team had most of its key players in place once Phil Jackson decided to return and really needed to address one big issue — point guard. The Lakers took care of business by bringing in free-agent guard [Steve] Blake and then re-signing [Derek] Fisher. Fisher is getting old and Blake won’t light up the world, but together they’re strong enough to lead the Lakers to a third straight title. The Lakers’ front office also did a solid job in the draft. With two second-round picks it landed [Devin] Ebanks, a Trevor Ariza-like long, athletic wing, and [Derrick] Caracter, a low-post bruiser who can really score in the paint. Both players would’ve been potential lottery picks had their bad reputations not scared teams away. If Jackson, Kobe & Co. can keep them in line, the Lakers may have scored big in the second round.”
From Mark Medina, Los Angeles Times: Kurt Rambis had already seen the transformation last season, changing from Lakers’ assistant coach to the Minnesota Timberwolves’ head coach. The losing culture, the fledgling personnel and the bitter cold served as the most vivid differences compared to the Lakers’ 2009 title run, the loaded and steady roster and the year-round perfect weather. Minnesota also recently did something the Lakers wouldn’t need to do in a million years: putting out a full-page ad in the local newspaper in hopes to assuage concerns from its fan base. Among the highlights from the Timberwolves’ “long-winded letter” in the back of Monday’s Minneapolis Star-Tribune included the team’s admission it likely won’t win an NBA championship this season and a jab at Ricky Rubio. The Lakers wouldn’t need to resort to these measures in buying a full-page ad for The Times, as they’re eyeing a three-peat and have enjoyed being the main sports franchise in Los Angeles. But in case they were to change their mind, it might go a little something like this…
From Brian Tung, Silver Screen and Roll: Superstars are rare. We who are Lakers fans might lose sight of that from time to time, because we’ve had the fortune to watch so many, but it’s true: Superstars are few and far between. It’s part of what makes them superstars. So when you’re lucky enough to have one on your team, you root for him long and hard. Inevitably, those who aren’t lucky enough to have a superstar on their team send some bitterness your way. And because they aren’t lucky enough to champion their own superstar over yours, their only option is to champion some other team’s superstar—even more so, usually, than the fans of teams that have a superstar. It’s a bizarre sort of one-upsmanship where some third party ends up on top.