Archive for the ‘Anthony Carter’ Category

Yesterday we were alerted about the news that the Raptors and veteran point guard Anthony Carter were set to part ways over the next week or so. Today, head coach Dwane Casey addressed the issue.

While he addressed the fact that the Raptors will be looking at younger players, one of the players he mentioned by name was Gary Forbes, stating that although he’s not a point guard, the team “needs to get a look at him there.”

This is good news both for Forbes himself and for the large following of Raptors fans that want to see as much of a youth movement as possible over the second half of the season.

Forbes was actually the pre-season pickup I was most excited about (apologies to Aaron Gray, who has proven to be the best pickup) because I though his instant offence and explosive type of play could be an intriguing component of the Raptors’ bench over the next couple of seasons.

Other than a four or five game stretch in January (where he logged some minutes at the point), Forbes hasn’t been given much of a chance to show what he can do this season. Though in fairness to the coaching staff, Gary hasn’t exactly opened our eyes when he has played, other than maybe one or two performances.

He’s appeared in 24 games this season, posting averages of 3.3 points, 1.6 rebounds, 0.8 assists and 0.9 turnovers in just under nine minutes per game. Hopefully Casey’s admission that the Raptors will take a better look at Forbes as the season winds down means we will see him get an opportunity with some extended minutes here and there. Though don’t expect a Forbes sighting tonight, as Casey revealed the 27-year-old is questionable after an emergency dental procedure.

The other interesting question Casey’s comments about “younger players” raises is to what extent does that apply? For example, are the Raptors so desperate and keen to experiment with their younger players that they would be willing to part with Jose Calderon at the trade deadline and run with Jerryd Bayless at the point for the rest of the season? Will they hold a guy like Andrea Bargnani out of some games to get a better look at Ed Davis and Amir Johnson?

These questions will begin to be answered at the deadline next week, and I’m sure all Raptors fans are anxious to find out those answers. Don’t get me wrong, I’d obviously rather root for a perennially contending Raptors team or one that’s at least closer to contention, but I really do find some of the underlying story lines in a rebuilding season interesting to follow.

Scott will have your Raptors/Rockets game thread up before the tip and I’ll have my six thoughts on the game post up later tonight or early Thursday morning. We’ll talk then.

Doug Smith of the Toronto Star first reported today that the Raptors are set to part ways with veteran point guard Anthony Carter, who signed a one-year deal with Toronto as a free agent in December.

According to Smith, “The Raptors are going to try to either move the veteran guard in some transaction or release him in the next week and a half, according to a team source.”

Since Carter has little, if any, trade value, and the Raptors wouldn’t get anything significantly positive or negative from an AC trade, I really could not care less whether a deal is made or the Raps simply release Anthony. While I’m sure he did what was asked of him as one of the veteran mentors to Toronto’s crop of youngsters, the truth is that out of the 24 games he appeared in, Carter only looked like an NBA caliber guard in a handful of them.

That’s not a knock on Carter. He’ll be 37 later this year and has hung around the NBA for 13 seasons now, which is obviously a testament to his talent, durability and workmanlike attitude. Perhaps a move to a contender can invigorate the vet, but I’d have to assume that one way or another, this season is pretty much the end of the road for Anthony Carter in the NBA (as a player, anyway).

Good luck to you, Anthony, we hardly knew you.

As for what it means for the Raptors, obviously if Carter is simply released it will open up a roster spot in Toronto. But before you get excited or think about a guy like Wilson Chandler, which I’ve seen float around on twitter, remember that the deadline for any team besides Denver to sign him to an offer sheet has already passed (March 1).

It may turn out to mean absolutely nothing at all, but the way I see it, no harm can come from Carter getting a chance to possibly play for a playoff team or from the Raptors having a little roster flexibility in the second half of this rebuilding season.

Game No. 31: Spurs 113, Raptors 106

One night after falling a shot short against Linsanity and the Knicks, the undermanned Raptors went toe to toe and blow for blow with red hot Spurs, but it was not to be, as a veteran San Antonio team denied Toronto a lead at any point in the game, en route to their ninth straight victory.

Now here are some thoughts on the game:

1- So much for D. Most people, including me, were expecting a grind it out defensive game between the Raptors and Spurs. After all, we’re talking about two teams that rank 11th and 12th respectively in opponents points allowed, both allow teams to shoot below 45 per cent and both are middle of the pack teams in defensive efficiency. Not to mention, as efficient as the Spurs offence is, the teams combine to average 186 points per game. On Wednesday night, the Raptors and Spurs combined for 219 points on a blistering 54.3 per cent shooting (88-of-162). It may have been a major deviation from the norm, but the extra offence and free pizza it delivered was definitely welcomed by the 16,000 in attendance.

2- A good game from DeMar still leaves us frustrated. After starting slowly and still not being able to buy a foul in his favour, DeRozan continued to attack the basket and hit his jumper when the Spurs gave him space, resulting in a 13-point explosion in the third quarter that kept the Raptors in the game heading into the fourth. When Dwane Casey pulled DeRozan late in the third, the 21-year-old already had 25 points. Unfortunately, DeMar didn’t get back into the game until midway through the fourth quarter, and ended up taking just two shots (making them both) in the final frame. Overall, it was a solid performance against a very good team from DeMar (29 points on 21 shots), but Casey keeping him out of the game and DeRozan not being aggressive enough when he did check back in might have been the difference between a 29 point game and a 35 point game.

3- Welcome to the 2011-2012 season, Anthony. It took nearly two months and 31 games, but Anthony Carter finally translated some of that solid veteran presence into an actual presence on the court. 10 points, five rebounds, six assists and a steal in 22 minutes of action, plus an honest effort on the defensive end. While I’m hopeful Carter can give the Raptors more quality minutes and possibly give himself some (minimal) trade value, I feel confident in saying that was the best performance we’ll see from him in a Raptors jersey.

4- Amir Johnson has been inconsistent this season and Ed Davis, who we all expected a lot of this year, has been at least a little disappointing, but I really liked what these two guys gave the Raptors in this game. Neither of them really went off for big personal nights, but both were steady and got the job done. Amir provided good energy with the starting unit while I thought Davis really made an impact on the game in the second half and established an inside presence for the Raptors. When it was all said and done, the two big men had combined for 21 points on an incredibly efficient 10-of-11 shooting, 12 rebounds, three assists, two steals and a block in 46 minutes. If they can put together collective efforts like that, the Raptors won’t need one of them to have any kind of monster breakout season. Though I will admit, I do want to see what Davis can do with consistent minutes.

5- A word on the Spurs. A lot of fans will overlook them in the Western Conference, yet again, because they’re older, have been around forever and aren’t nearly as flashy as teams like the Thunder, Clippers and Lakers. But they’re finally getting healthy, have the best coach and minutes manager in the NBA in Gregg Popovich and have won nine in a row to give themselves a 21-9 record, which is good for second best in the West. You won’t find many point guards playing better than Tony Parker right now either. The 29-year-old is averaging nearly 19 points and eight assists to go along with over a steal per game, and in my opinion, should be considered one of the 10 most valuable players in the NBA through the first half of the season.

6- Yes, the lowly Raptors fell to 9-22, giving them a winning percentage of .290 and a 4-10 record at home, but the shorthanded team gave a good ACC crowd yet another solid effort and good basketball game. I just spoke about how good the Spurs are, and yet the Raps, who were missing three of their top six scorers and a ridiculous 45.5 points from their lineup, still found a way to hang around and make a competitive game of it. While some focus on the fact that the Raptors are now 1-4 on this extended homestand, I look at the fact that they have a win over the Celtics and a differential of just -4.5 in the four losses, with three of those losses coming against playoff teams. Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t this exactly what “Tank Nation” was asking for, entertaining and close ball games that ultimately end up in losses?

***

Speaking of Tank Nation, with a Pistons win on Wednesday, Detroit pulled even with the Raptors in the standings for the fifth and sixth worst records in the league. The despicable Bobcats, who come to Toronto on Friday, and the Hornets, are rightfully untouchable at the bottom of the heap, but only 1.5 games separate the Wizards, who have the third-worst record, from the Raptors.

Raptors Player of the Game: DeMar DeRozan – 37 Min, 29 Pts, 13-21 FG, 1-1 3PT, 2-2 FT, 3 Reb, 2 Ast, 1 Stl, 2 TO

Spurs Player of the Game: Tony Parker – 39 Min, 34 Pts, 11-23 FG, 0-1 3PT, 12-12 FT, 3 Reb, 14 Ast, 1 Stl, 5 TO

Game No. 28: Raptors 86, Celtics 74

As Scott pointed out in his game thread, the Celtics had beat the Raptors by a combined 59 points in their first two meetings, so despite the fact that the old-timer Celtics were coming off of an overtime loss to the Lakers on Thursday night, no one expected the Bargnani-less and Bayless-less Raps to hang with the Celts, let alone beat them.

So much for that. The Raptors jumped on the Celtics early and never trailed in a wire to wire victory.

Now here are some thoughts on the game:

1- What a start. After going 14 straight games without winning a first quarter, the Raptors have now won two straight opening frames, and did so in dominating fashion on Friday night. The young Raptors jumped on the older, fatigued Celtics from the tip, jumping out to a 16-point lead with some infectious energy on both ends of the floor. Eight minutes into the ball game, the Raptors had a 14-2 advantage in points in the paint and were holding Boston to just 25 per cent shooting. When it was all said and done, the Celtics matched their lowest scoring first quarter of the season (14), and Doc Rivers was hilariously steaming.

2- Despite a great start for the Raptors, the first half overall was a dud for basketball fans. The Raptors came crashing back to earth in the second quarter and easily could have lost their lead, but luckily for them, the Celtics were just as bad. That second quarter was one of the worst quarters of basketball I’ve seen this season in any game. At one point, both teams combined to turn the ball over on five straight possessions. By the time the comedy of errors was over, the teams had combined for 21 turnovers in the first half and were shooting just 28-of-72.

3- Is DeMar finding his game again? DeRozan’s month-long slump was well publicized, but it seems that he may finally be putting it behind him and getting back on track. During his rough patch, he was never able to build on one good performance and put a string of good games together. All the more reason why his 21 points on seven-of-13 shooting against the Celtics just two days after 25 points on nine-of-18 shooting against the Bucks was encouraging. In fact, it’s the first time since early January, right before his slump began, that DeRozan has put together back-to-back 20-point games. Since exploding for 27 points against the Nets on January 29, DeRozan is averaging 17.6 points on 45 per cent shooting over his last eight games and is going to the line an average of 7.4 times per game.

Perhaps the best indication that DeRozan is finally climbing out of this funk is this – Four of DeMar’s nine 20-point games this season have come during this eight game stretch.

4- From DeRozan’s good game to the down right horrible game of Anthony Carter. When the Raptors signed Carter in December, I was fine with the move. A one-year deal for a veteran point guard who could serve as a mentor to a young team and step in when needed seemed right. While A.C. may very well be that veteran leader in the locker room, he is far from anything positive on the court. I didn’t expect him to be great, or even above average, but I thought he could at least look competent in a few minutes of burn when called upon. To date, Carter is shooting just 35 per cent and runs Toronto’s offence at a rate that makes Darrick Martin look like he deserves a spot in our Ultimate Raptors Rankings. Hopefully tonight was rock-bottom for Carter, as the 36-year-old finished with zero points (on 0-for-5 shooting), one assist, two turnovers and was a minus-15 in 11 minutes of action. He also threw an alley-oop pass that failed to make it past the restricted circle and landed comfortably in a Celtics’ player’s arms. Tank Nation, indeed.

5- As good as Jose Calderon has been this season, the point guard position is still one of many areas the Celtics have a clear advantage over the Raptors. Naturally, you would assume that Calderon would have to at least come close to competing with Rajon Rondo if the Raptors ever have a chance against Boston. On Friday night, Calderon did more than compete with the younger, faster Rondo, he flat out took him to school. While Rondo fumbled and bumbled to just five points (on 2-of-10 shooting), seven assists and five turnovers, Calderon lit him up for 17 points (on 7-of-12 shooting), 14 assists and zero turnovers.

In his last two games, Calderon has 29 assists compared to just one turnover. It’s these kind of stretches that give some Raps fans hope that Calderon can bring back valuable assets in a trade, and others’ hope that he’ll still be in Toronto’s future plans.

6- As most of you are well aware, the Celtics have used the Raptors as punching bags during the “Big Three” era in Boston, and while the Raps had mustered two wins in 19 tries heading into this game, I think we can all agree that this victory had a much different feel. As you may recall, the other two wins came in games that were decided in the final minute and final possessions. This was really the first time in five seasons, and the first time ever against the Celtics’ Big Three (now “Big Four”), that the the Raptors have handedly defeated them.

In many ways, an undermanned Raptors team bullied the bullies. Maybe it was just another sign that the Celtics are getting old, maybe it was nothing more than an anomaly in this helter-skelter 66-game season, but I must say, Tank Nation or no Tank nation, it was pretty sweet to watch unfold.

Raptors Player of the Game: Jose Calderon – 38 Min, 17 Pts, 7-12 FG, 1-3 3PT, 2-3 FT, 4 Reb, 14 Ast, 1 Stl

Celtics Player of the Game: Kevin Garnett – 29 Min, 17 Pts, 6-9 FG, 5-6 FT, 8 Reb, 2 Ast, 1 Stl

NBA.com released the results of their annual General Manager’s survey on Tuesday, and from a Raptors perspective, there were quite a few interesting responses.

I’m always intrigued by the results of this survey, because after all, these are the men making personnel decisions for the 30 NBA teams, so it’s interesting to see how they view certain players and other teams.

Below, I’ve provided every time a Raptor was named in the results of the survey. Remember that according to NBA.com, GM’s are not allowed to vote for their own players/coaches, so when you see a Raptor appear in the results in a positive light, it’s not just Bryan Colangelo stuffing the ballot box.

- DeMar DeRozan received a vote for player most likely to have a breakout season. With how DeRozan played in the latter half of last season and the amount of work he was reported to have put in this past summer, this wasn’t a crazy vote, and it looked decent through six games of the shortened season. Since then, not so much.

- Jonas Valanciunas was tied for second (behind Kyrie Irving) with Ricky Rubio and Derrick Williams in the “Which rookie will be the best player in five years” category

- Valanciunas also received a vote in the “Which rookie is most likely to be a sleeper success” category and most impressive of all, was the number one vote-getter (with 36 per cent of responding GM’s voting for him) in the “Who is the best international player not in the NBA” category. Looking at the praise other general managers have for Valanciunas and at his performance in Lithuania over the last year, it’s hard to find many people still disappointed in Bryan Colangelo’s draft night selection.

- Andrea Bargnani received 7.4 per cent of the votes (tied for fourth) in the “International player most likely to have a breakout season” category. It’s easy to argue that Bargnani should have received more votes in hindsight, but come on, realistically, I’m guessing no one expected Bargnani’s early season performance outside of Dwane Casey.

- Bargnani also received a vote for “Which player does the most with the least?” This is either a GM who has never really watched Bargnani play and just assumes a big Italian guy has limited natural basketball talents or it’s a GM who misread the question as “Which player does the least with the most?” In another clue that general managers didn’t understand the question, Dwight Howard received a vote. Um, have you seen Dwight Howard? Nothing about him says “least.”

- Speaking of Dwane Casey, how’s this for a shocker? Casey did not receive a vote in the best defensive schemes category, but did receive a vote in the “Which coach runs the best offence” category. I’m thinking a random general manager voted for this after watching the Raptors play the Cavs on opening night.

- Jose Calderon received a vote for best passer in the NBA. Perhaps this bodes well for the sell high mentality I think the Raptors should have with Calderon.

- Anthony Carter received a vote in the “Which active player will make the best head coach someday” category. As if we needed any more proof that Carter is just a reincarnation of Darrick Martin.

- The Raptors received a vote for the team that is most fun to watch. I kid you not. A general manager not named Bryan Colangelo voted your Toronto Raptors the most fun team to watch in the NBA. Can someone check to see if maybe Ed Stefanski got a vote but was listed as 76ers GM? Other teams on this list, in order, were the Heat, Clippers, Thunder, Nuggets, Warriors, Pacers and Timberwolves.