Archive for the ‘Jay Triano’ Category

Jay Triano

As first reported by Doug Smith on Twitter and confirmed shortly thereafter by Matt Devlin, Jay Triano will not return to coach the Toronto Raptors next season. He’ll be retained as a “special assistant” to President/GM Bryan Colangelo, whatever that means.

I’ve asked Holly MacKenzie to provide a longer take on this since she knows him personally and is more qualified than I am to write about this topic. This move is only surprising to me since I assume this team will probably stink next season whoever is coaching them so I’m not sure bringing in somebody new is going to make much of an immediate difference. On the other hand, if team management doesn’t see him as the man to lead this team into contention — an opinion I’m pretty sure most Raptors fans share — then I suppose it makes sense to bring in somebody who they believe is better suited to develop the young players. Regardless, Triano will remain with the team as its token Canadian basketball guy until he inevitably gets hired as an assistant coach on another NBA team.

I’ve never had a particularly strong opinion on Triano one way or another. As much as Raptors fans have liked to take shots at his coaching acumen, he seems to be well-respected by many of the top coaches in the sport. Perhaps he’s a really good “practice coach” who is decent with X’s and O’s but not really suited to be the general who leads his charges into battle. I suspect he’ll join Kevin O’Neill and Sam Mitchell as fired Raptors coaches who will probably never get another head coaching job in this league.

Triano’s “re-assignment” is sure to ignite a flurry of speculation about his replacement, but something tells me that this won’t even be a consideration among Raptors brass until the new Collective Bargaining Agreement is worked out. Call me a cynic, but I can’t see MLSE hiring a new head coach until they know for certain when there will actually be games to coach. I also wouldn’t be surprised if P.J. Carlesimo is promoted into the job on a sort-of-interim basis with the intent to bring in someone new for the 2012-13 season. Of course, this won’t stop Raptors fans from screaming, “HIRE RICK ADELMAN!” as if there’s any chance he’d want anything to do with this mess of a team at this stage of his career. I’d love MLSE to surprise me with a sexy replacement hiring, but I’m not holding my breath.

Is that it for the Colangelo era in Toronto?

President and General Manager, Bryan Colangelo, gave his season-ending state of the franchise address on Monday, and as usual, it occurred before the calendar flipped to May.

Instead of fully transcribing sections of the more than an hour long news conference, I’m going to simply examine various points of Colangelo’s conference. I’ll get to his own contract status at the end.

- Colangelo supports Triano

By the sounds of it, Bryan Colangelo remains a believer in Jay Triano. Colangelo never came right out and said Jay would be back if he was back, but often referred to Triano in a “we” context, indicating that both men are on the same page. He also believes that he and Jay had to “check their egos at the door” and sacrifice their personal reputations to follow through with this currently painful youth movement. There likely is a bit of truth in that statement, but I would ask, what reputation had Triano garnered as a head coach over the last two years? Exactly.

Colangelo also added that should another man replace him as General Manager, he will recommend that Triano be considered for the coaching job.

- The other “R” Word

Well, he finally admitted it. After months of throwing around that useless “retooling” nonsense, Colangelo finally admitted that the Raptors are in the midst of a full on “rebuilding” process. Retooling is what you do when you fall short of high expectations but believe you are still just a few moves away. Rebuilding is what you do when you’re coming off of a losing season that included losing your franchise player, and you currently boast one of the youngest teams in the league.

While it may be painful to struggle through in the short-term, the word “rebuilding” should be music to Raptors fans’ ears.

- Season Ticket sales are ahead of pace

Of course, there is really no way for the average person or fan to ever find out whether or not this is true. But according to Colangelo, the pace of season seat renewals and new season seat purchases is ahead of last year’s pace, and even ahead of the pace from two years ago, in the Chris Bosh era. This is obviously good news for Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment and the Raptors as a whole, but the comical part came when Colangelo added that he doesn’t think this uptick has everything to do with lowering prices.

I suppose Colangelo has to say that, and it could be true. But realistically, as excited as people are over the current youth movement, do you really believe that fans would have snatched up more season tickets and renewed season tickets after a 60-loss season with no added incentive? Come on, if season ticket sales really are up, it’s because of the price-cuts.

Though I will add, this is the best time for people thinking about it to buy season tickets. It’s better to buy when prices are low and the team is in the early stages of building towards something than it is to wait until the team is successful and buy high.

- More on Bosh and last season

Once again, Colangelo alluded to the fact that there were problems in the locker room last season, and hinted that those problems involved Chris Bosh’s up-in-the-air status and Hedo Turkoglu’s less than stellar arrival. This is old news, as it seems every remaining player, coach or management member from last season has dropped hints about this over the course of the season.

The real interesting point, for me, was when Colangelo addressed, again, not trading Bosh mid-season last year. He said that Bosh repeatedly told him that he wanted to stay in Toronto, and always brought up loving the city. Again, we’ll never know if this is what really went down, but I tend to believe Colangelo in this case. Even if Bosh was tampered with, I doubt he would have ever told Bryan that he was going to Miami. Having said that, he didn’t have to lead Colangelo on about wanting to stay in Toronto. I guess Bosh didn’t want to be a rental player somewhere (other than Miami) where he knew he wouldn’t stay.

- How bad is Amir’s ankle?

According to Colangelo, the ankle that caused some problems for Amir Johnson toward the end of the season may need surgery. Hopefully that’s not the case, and if it is, Amir can make a full recovery. He’s played six seasons, but he’s still only 23-years-old and showing signs of improvement. With his youth and energy, Amir can still be a key component of the Raptors’ core going forward.

- What exactly is that “core?”

You’ll hear fans and analysts speak of a team’s “core” very often, especially with a young team trying to decipher which players are worth building around and moving forward with. Colangelo spoke of the young core on Monday, and when he did, these were the names he mentioned: DeMar DeRozan, Ed Davis, Jerryd Bayless, Amir Johnson, James Johnson and Andrea Bargnani.

I’m sure you all could have figured that’s what Colangelo would say, but it was still interesting to hear him name all of those young men.

Even more intriguing, is that like Triano a few days ago, Colangelo mentioned that DeRozan had a better sophomore season than Kobe Bryant did. While some laugh at the very mention of those two players in the same sentence, I see the statements for what they really are, and that is an open challenge to DeMar. Last season, Colangelo and Triano were very careful about how they spoke of DeRozan, almost walking on eggshells to avoid putting too much pressure on the youngster or getting fans too excited.

With their words in the last week or so, it’s clear that the eggshells have broken under their feet, and Triano and Colangelo now believe DeRozan can rise to super-stardom. Colangelo was right; if DeMar can extend his shooting range (which I believe he will do this summer) and improve defensively, he can be a special player. In terms of improved rebounding, I saw an improvement in DeRozan’s glass work towards the end of this season.

- The Bargnani factor

If you were waiting, patiently, for Colangelo to lose his undying support of Bargnani, it appears you got your wish. Colangelo will never come out and say he regrets his 2006 draft selection or that he has given up on Bargnani, but his tone regarding the seven-foot Italian this year is much different than it was at this time last year.

Colangelo referred to Bargnani as “the enigma of all enigmas to you and many” and mentioned that “he has not done the things that we would all like him to do.” Say what you will, but Colangelo would have never gone that far in his criticism of Andrea in the past, and when you consider the report that emerged last month about Colangelo opening up to the possibility of moving Andrea, it appears as though the writing is on the wall.

Now Colangelo did mention that he wants to find a true centre who can be a post presence, especially on defence, to add to the lineup. Perhaps Colangelo believes, like I do, that pairing a player like that with Bargnani could elevate the former no. 1 pick’s game. However, that would severely cut into Ed Davis’ minutes and development at this point, and I would not be willing to do that for a guy in Andrea, that quite frankly, probably doesn’t deserve it.

- Colangelo’s own status

It’s weird to think that we may have witnessed Bryan Colangelo’s last public appearance as the President and General Manager of the Toronto Raptors, but that may indeed have been the case.

Colangelo stated that he wants to be back and hopes he is back in Toronto, but also finally admitted that he is not sure that he will be, adding that his contract status is still unresolved. In addition, for all of those who compare Colangelo’s work to that of an Italian gangster, he did throw in the famous mobster’s line, “this is the life I’ve chosen.”

In all seriousness though, here’s my take on the Colangelo situation. If MLSE honestly believes it has a better candidate waiting in the wings, then make that move. Get rid of BC and get on with it.

But if they don’t have that next great candidate in mind or waiting for a call, then they are seriously screwing this whole situation up. As poorly as Colangelo’s teams have fared over the last few seasons, the evidence is clear that he finally has the right plan in mind and is willing to execute it at all costs.

You don’t fire a guy like Colangelo (who is still a powerful NBA executive) when he has a solid plan in place for the future, unless you have an equally powerful candidate standing by. The decision should really be that simple.

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The 21-57 Raptors entered Philadelphia without Andrea Bargnani and Jose Calderon, and found out, just before tip-off, that they would also be without the services of Amir Johnson and Leandro Barbosa.

In theory, this game probably should have never been a game, but the Raptors were actually keeping things close early on. By early on, I mean the first six minutes. After tying the game at 14 midway through the first quarter, the Raps, who had been playing with energy and a decent effort on the defensive end, went ice cold.

Toronto missed its last 11 shots of the first quarter, and watched the Sixers finish the quarter on a 14-4 run to take a 10-point lead into the second quarter.

Things just got ugly from that point on. The Raptors turned the ball over, committed silly offensive fouls, clanked nasty jumpers, and were shooting under 25 per cent from the field early in the second.

But the Raps did respond with a 9-0 run of their own to get back in the ball game, and despite the fact that they committed 11 turnovers and shot just 37 per cent in the first half, they went into the break down “just” 12. Obviously, digging a double-digit hole in the first half is not ideal, but if you actually watched the first half of this game, you know that it could have easily been a 20-25 point deficit.

Philly must have regretted not putting the Raptors away early, as Toronto broke out in the third quarter. The Raps settled things down offensively, locked in on defence, and relied on the suddenly hot shooting of DeMar DeRozan to turn this into a ball game again.

After struggling to get over the five-point hump, an Ed Davis jam cut the deficit to three, and a Jerryd Bayless jumper put the Raptors ahead, at 71-70, for their first lead since the game was 14-12. After a mostly horrendous first half that should have had them down and out, the Raptors used a scorching third quarter to put themselves in a one-point game after three.

The Raptors continued to hang tough in the fourth quarter, and even had a chance for a game-tying three in the dying seconds, as Jerryd Bayless and DeRozan took over in the final frame. Unfortunately though, for the second game in a row, a solid second half effort could not dig the Raptors out of an early hole. And it was turnovers that killed them.

On to the positives for the Raptors. With a depleted lineup once again, the young core of DeRozan, Bayless and Ed Davis shone bright. Jerryd and DeMar combined for 51 points and knocked down some big shots late in the game, while Davis finished with a double-double of 14 points and 10 rebounds.

It was also nice to see Julian Wright providing a spark off of the bench again.

On a random sidenote, Jay Triano was ejected in the fourth quarter during a commercial break, but from what I saw, he was only given one technical foul.

So the Raptors drop to 21-58, but continue to show some promise for the future through their young, talented players. If there is a silver lining in all of this, it is that.

Next is up is a home date with the almost as equally lowly Nets on Sunday night.

Raptors Player of the Game: Jerryd Bayless – 42 Min, 24 Pts, 9-17 FG, 3-6 3Pt, 3-4 FT, 4 Reb, 8 Ast, 2 Stl, 4 TO

76ers Player of the Game: Elton Brand – 35 Min, 22 Pts, 10-16 FG, 2-2 FT, 8 Reb, 1 Blk

Goat of the Game: The Philly faithful. The building looked shamefully empty for a team that is a week away from playoff basketball.

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By now, you may already have heard of a report/rumour going around that Bryan Colangelo and the Raptors are finally warming up to the idea of parting with Andrea Bargnani.

The original report, on the New York Daily News’ website, written by Mitch Lawrence, actually has a couple more interesting nuggets of Raptors-related news. The report states that Bryan Colangelo will be coming back to run the Raptors, “according to several league sources.” It also states that if Mike D’Antoni should become available (which is becoming more possible with each passing Knicks implosion), then “Triano could be jettisoned.”

First of all, I think we all expected Colangelo to be given an extension, no matter the results of this current season, the collapse of last season or the plethora of failed experiments in Toronto (Jermaine O’Neal, Hedo Turkoglu). There was, however, that very interesting report in the Toronto Star a couple of weeks ago that pointed out one reportedly dissatisfied MLSE board member.

No one can argue that after one great season in Colangelo’s first full season in Toronto, the franchise has gone downhill over the last four seasons. But one would also have to agree that Colangelo has been able to quickly erase his biggest mistakes (again, see O’Neal and Turkoglu).

I’ve been mostly convinced that I would want Colangelo back, on the simple premise that if you let him go, and you’re not going after Kevin Pritchard, then you’re still taking a step back. The only thing keeping me uneasy about BC coming back was my assumption that he still believed Andrea Bargnani was a franchise player worth building around.

However, today’s report could squash all of that. Now obviously, we don’t know, and likely won’t know for a while, if this report has any truth to it what so ever. Colangelo could come out tomorrow and say that it’s not true and that Bargnani will still be here long-term.

But if it is true, then I’d have to throw my full support behind a Colangelo extension. Over the last little while, Colangelo seems to be figuring things out. Besides drafting DeMar DeRozan and Ed Davis, Colangelo traded Marco Belinelli for Julian Wright, tried to turn Jose Calderon into Tyson Chandler, and picked up James Johnson for next to nothing.

The Linas Kleiza signing was still suspect, but everyone loved it while watching him in the World Championships this past summer.

As for Bargnani, those who have read any of my posts will know that I don’t think his “potential” is an issue. He has the natural talent, size and versatility to be a 25 and eight type of player, with a block per game in there too. The issue with Bargnani is, will he ever apply himself on both ends of the floor for a consistent period of time? And if we’re still asking that question in year five, then the most likely scenario is that people will be asking the same question throughout his career.

His shot-blocking, overall defensive game and rebounding have taken drastic steps backwards this season after some improvement last year.

My opinion on Bargnani remains that if he is a power forward playing beside a true, defensive centre (like the aforementioned Chandler), then he is an NBA All Star. If he is a centre, or a power forward playing beside another power forward (like Chris Bosh, Amir Johnson or Ed Davis), then he is more detrimental to a team than beneficial.

So unless the Raptors acquire a true centre with a profound defensive impact in the next six-to-eight months, then I totally understand and whole-heartedly support Bargnani getting the boot.

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Anyone with a clue about basketball or the human body knew that the Suns would be running in quicksand Wednesday night in Phoenix, less than 24 hours removed from a triple-overtime thriller against the Lakers. Jay Triano and the Raptors obviously knew the same thing, and were still feeling the sting of a disgusting blowout in Denver, because they came out with great jump and energy in the first quarter.

As usual, DeMar DeRozan and Andrea Bargnani carried the scoring load early on, combining to score 15 of the team’s first 17 points. James Johnson set the tone on the defensive end, and the Raptors quickly built up an eight point lead midway through the first quarter. The Suns responded, but a Leandro Barbosa three-pointer at the buzzer still sent the Raptors into the second quarter with a six-point lead.

It was clear that the game was there for the taking for Toronto.

But the Raptors weren’t as sharp in the second quarter and the Suns hung around with timely threes and their reserves. With Steve Nash sitting for the entire quarter and Grant Hill and Mickael Pietrus leaving the game early, the Suns actually kept pace in the second frame.

Despite shooting 54 per cent in the first half and hanging 61 points on a dead-tired team, the Raptors still only managed a six-point lead at the half.

Toronto got out to a 6-0 run to start the second half, had Bargnani stroking it in the third quarter, rode their starters for the majority of the quarter, and held a 13-point lead at one point. It looked like the Raps were finally going to break the game open. But again, the Suns reeled in the Raptors and actually ended up enjoying their best quarter of the night in that third frame.

Phoenix finished the third on a 17-4 run to even the ball game up after three.

The fourth quarter was a game of runs, as the Raptors once again opened with a 6-0 run and the Suns, once again, responded. A 9-0 run put the Suns in front for the first time since a 6-4 lead in the game’s opening minutes. All of a sudden, a game that the Raptors had controlled from the start was slipping away.

Luckily for them, the Suns began to show their fatigue at the worst possible time, with the game on the line. Phoenix got sloppy on the offensive end, leading to leak outs and fast breaks for the Raptors, and inevitably, an 11-2 run that should have finally put this one away for the Raptors.

Instead, Toronto failed miserably, as their inability to do anything against the Suns’ late zone defence and their inability to guard the three led to one last run; a 15-2 run by the Suns.

And just like that, a game that should have resulted in win no. 21 ended up as loss no. 51 for Toronto. That’s 14 straight losses to the Suns and 18 straight losses to Steve Nash for Canada’s lone NBA franchise, dating back to 2001.

But it wasn’t Steve Nash that decided this ball game. It was the Suns’ bench, who dominated the Raptors reserves, 63-40 , and were the reason the Raps were never able to pull away.

As for the starters, Bargnani was putting together quite the game through three quarters, but dropped off down the stretch. DeRozan had a decent ball game, but also failed to take over when it counted. Jose Calderon had a phenomenal 13 assists without committing a turnover, but never really looked to be aggressive with his own shot. Amir Johnson is clearly not 100 per cent, and in a lost season, shouldn’t be out there risking further injury.

That leaves James Johnson, who I thought was very good on both ends of the floor tonight, but failed to see any action in crunch time and finished with just 23 minutes in what was probably a poor decision on Triano’s part.

In Jay’s defence though, he probably thought Leandro Barbosa was a better option to close things out, and he had fair reason to assume so. Barbosa was 6-of-11 for 14 points in his return to the desert, and received a nice ovation when he first checked in.

Speaking of returns, aside from a flurry of threes in the first quarter, Vince Carter was uncharacteristically quiet against his former team, though I guess it’s different for him without 20 000 people booing and yelling mostly well-deserved obscenities at him. I have to agree with Scott’s assessment of VC earlier today.

Next up for the Raptors is a back-to-back in the Bay Area on Friday night and L.A. (to face the Clippers) on Saturday night. Both teams are better than the Raptors, but Toronto should be able to deliver at least one entertaining game out of the two, and could very well steal one.

Raptors Player of the Game: DeMar DeRozan – 34 Min, 19 Pts, 9-20 FG, 0-1 3Pt, 1-1 FT, 8 Reb, 4 Ast, 3 Stl (That’s back to back eight-rebound games for DeMar)

Suns Player of the Game: Aaron Brooks – 34 Min, 25 Pts, 9-16 FG, 4-7 3Pt, 3-4 FT, 4 Reb, 8 Ast, 3 Stl

Goat of the Game: Reggie Evans – 15 Min, 0 Pts, 0-2 FG, 6 Reb, 2 TO, -7 (We all have bad days, even Reggie)