Archive for the ‘Jeremy Lin’ Category

A week ago we talked about a New York Daily News report that mentioned the Raptors as possible suitors for Jeremy Lin, by way of a potential back-loaded contract.

Already this week, the New York Post writes that “a source confirmed” Toronto will be an offer sheet suitor for Lin and ESPN.com has Toronto No. 1 on a list of teams besides the Knicks that might go after the young point guard.

One thing that hasn’t been given much thought yet though, is whether Lin would be a good fit in Toronto and whether signing him long term would be a good decision.

To really get a grasp on an answer to those questions, we have to look at what the options are at the point guard position for the Raptors next season, and going forward.

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Even the most optimistic of Raptors fans probably thought that between the season finale on April 26 and the Draft Lottery on May 30, there wouldn’t be much in the form of interesting or intriguing Raptors news. But as Manchester United supporters are painfully aware today, assuming makes a big pretty big ass out of everybody.

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Few will ever forget the atmosphere inside the Air Canada Centre when Jeremy Lin hit one of the most memorable shots in ACC history last month. The buzzer-beating three-point heave represented the absolute peak of “Linsanity,” and it should be noted that without question, Lin brought a buzz to the arena that hadn’t been seen for a single player since Vince Carter made his many returns to Toronto.

While the hype surrounding Lin and the endless puns have slowly faded over the last five weeks, it seems Canadians, and specifically Torontonians, are still as awe-struck as ever over the Harvard alum. Maybe it’s the country’s and the city’s growing Asian population, perhaps it’s the genuine eternal Canadian love for an underdog story, but whatever it is, OMNI television is going to try to capitalize on it.

The Hollywood Reporter, of all outlets, alerted us to the fact that Omni Television is going to broadcast Lin’s return to Toronto when the Raptors host the Knicks this Friday night. And they’re going to broadcast it in Mandarin, with Weiping Zhang, a former Chinese national player who now calls games, providing the commentary.

The Hollywood Reporter post includes a statement from Omni’s National Vice President, Madeline Zinak, who says: “The level of enthusiasm for Jeremy Lin from the Chinese and Taiwanese communities has been extraordinary over the past month, and it’s clear that his Cinderella story and stellar performances are inspiring youth in these communities across Canada.

CBC has done something similar in recent years with Punjabi broadcasts of Hockey Night in Canada, but the difference here is that one player, not a television tradition like HNIC, has created the demand for such a venture in this case.

As has been stated many times, Lin is a restricted free agent at the end of this season, with the Knicks holding the right to match any offers for the upstart point guard. In recent RaptorBlog posts, fans seem to think $4 million-$5 million per year is fair for Raptors guard Jerryd Bayless. As you can tell by a quick statistical comparison of the two point men, while Bayless’ effective and true shooting percentages are higher, Lin definitely seems to be the more complete player across the board. If Bayless deserves $4 million-$5 million a year, and Lin is the better, more complete, and exponentially more marketable player, then how much is Jeremy going to command this off-season?

You’d still have to assume that the Knicks will lock him up before he becomes an official RFA, but I still wonder how large of an offer it would take from a team like the Raptors, or any team for that matter, to dissuade the Knicks from matching.

After Tuesday night’s excruciating loss to Jeremy Lin and the Knicks, Ed Davis expressed his disappointment in the Toronto crowd for being pro-Lin more than they were pro-Raptors.

He mentioned three things when talking about this. That the fans cheered louder for Lin than they did Toronto’s “stars,” that Lin got a bigger pop from the fans during the announcement of the starting lineups than DeMar DeRozan did and that overall, he was disappointed.

First things first, here’s what Ed Davis and everyone else who’s interpreting what went down last night wrong needs to know. Raptors fans were not cheering against the Raptors, and if they were, it was a very small group. From what I heard and even read, thousands of tickets had been sold as part of Asian Heritage Night at the Air Canada Centre (though they did nothing in the arena to recognize that it was Asian Heritage Night), and those thousands of people weren’t necessarily Raptors fans.

At the end of the day, if someone, or thousands of people paid to be at the ACC to watch this game, were not Raptors fans and were there to support Jeremy Lin, they have every right to cheer and support their cause as anyone else in the building with a Raptors shirt on.

In terms of Davis’ claim that Lin was cheered louder than the Raptors’ stars. Ed, get over your teammates, none of them are “stars.” I’ve grown to like Jose Calderon and think he has been lights out, for the most part, this season, but he is not a star. DeMar DeRozan, with as good a sophomore season as he had and as much potential and athleticism as he possesses, is not a star, not yet anyway. He hasn’t been nearly good enough or consistent enough to be called a star. If Andrea Bargnani was healthy, he would have received a loud ovation. He played like a star this year.

As for Davis’ overall state of disappointment, I’m disappointed in him. Look, I get that emotions were running high after losing the way the team did for the second time in three days and then having to answer questions about how great the guy that just beat you was. But really, Ed, you’re disappointed in the crowd that spent their hard-earned dollars to come and watch a pro basketball game?

How about you be disappointed in yourself for taking a step back this season? How about you be disappointed in your “star” teammate DeMar DeRozan for doing the same thing and not being able to hit a shot, which by the way, might have had the crowd cheering for your team after a win? How about you be disappointed in Jose Calderon for being shut down in the fourth quarter and folding when it mattered most down the stretch, again? Most of all, if you don’t want to throw anyone or yourself under the bus, how about you just express your frustration with your team as whole, who blew a 17-point lead at home and a nine-point lead in the final few minutes?

You don’t let them come back, you don’t have to worry about hearing the thousands of non-Raptors fans in the house cheer for the other guy.

Oh, what’s that you say, it’s usually an unwritten rule that you don’t call out teammates through the media? I’d say it should be an even bigger, written rule that you don’t call out the paying fans.

Ed Davis is a good young piece to have, who I had high hopes for coming into this season and who I still have high hopes for going forward. But in this case, he should have looked in the mirror and around the locker room for disappointment before looking at the crowd.

Game No. 30: Knicks 90, Raptors 87

For three quarters, the Raptors outplayed, outworked and simply out-classed the Knicks. They did it by finding a way to keep Jeremy Lin in check for the most part, forcing him into tough shots and turnovers while Jose Calderon put on another ridiculous offensive performance on the other end of the floor.

Then the fourth quarter came, the Raptors committed nine turnovers, Lin matched Toronto’s entire fourth quarter point output and the Knicks finished the game on a 13-1 run, capped by a LINsane three-pointer with half a second left on the clock. The legend grows.

Now here are some thoughts on the game:

1- I’ve used the phrase “what a crowd” or “what an atmosphere” a few times this season, but Tuesday night’s crowd and atmosphere made previous ones look like amateur hour, including the great one in the ACC for the Lakers on Sunday. It started well before tip-off, with a noticeable buzz outside the Air Canada Centre and logjams at the entrances that I hadn’t seen since Game 1 of the Nets playoff series in 2007. It continued with a nice championship ring presentation for Dwane Casey, fans cheering the first few times Jeremy Lin touched the ball, booing Lin through the second and third quarters, and ended with mixed feelings and 20,000 people on their feet as the Taiwanese-American sensation hit the game-winner. The final scene left a noticeable amount of fans chanting “Je-re-my” as they filed through the exits. On a sidenote, the most used sign of the night was “Be my vaLINtine.”

2- Linsanity? I’m sold. Okay, I may not be as big a believer as some, and I don’t think Lin is going to be a full time superstar for years to come, but I do think he can be an above average, dynamic point guard in the NBA. He’s a pass-first point guard who sees the court well (though he still commits way, way too many turnovers), reads the situation and adjusts to it, is obviously willing and able to score in bunches when he has to and isn’t afraid to take the big shot. Is he going to average 25 and eight and single-handedly lead a team to contender status? No.  Can he be the starting point guard on a legitimate playoff team with enough appeal to be an All Star one day? Yes. Lin is set to become a restricted free agent after this season, and I would have to assume that the Knicks will give him at least a short extension before then, but if for some reason they don’t, or Lin holds out to become an RFA, I’m all for paying him.

3- What happened in the fourth quarter really was a complete reversal of the script that had been written through the first three quarters. The Raptors were absolutely dominating the Knicks on the boards heading into the fourth, where the Knicks then grabbed six of their 11 total offensive rebounds in the final frame and ultimately won the game on a shot they got because of an offensive rebound and second chance. In looking at it that way, it really was a tough loss for Toronto. The Raps did almost everything right for 36 minutes or so, but failed to close it out.

4- Despite what transpired over the last six minutes, I was impressed with the Raptors’ defence yet again in this one. Toronto held New York to just 41 per cent shooting and blocked 11 shots as a team compared to just two blocks for the Knicks. The Raptors’ undoing was not being able to close out defensive possessions with secured rebounds down the stretch.

5- After going his entire career (six-plus seasons) without recording a 30-point game, Jose Calderon looked well on his way to his second straight game of 30 or more in this one, with 25 points on the board after three quarters. Jeremy Lin will get all of the credit and hype for the way the game ended and his overall play over the last six games, but make no mistake, the tide of momentum turned in New York’s favour when rookie Iman Shumpert began guarding Calderon in the fourth quarter, holding the Spaniard scoreless in the final frame. Jose put together another solid performance for Toronto, but his dry spell in the fourth and a couple of uncharacteristic turnovers down the stretch really cost the Raptors.

6- I don’t want to take too much away from Jeremy Lin or the Knicks for their hard fought win, but I have to mention the large free throw discrepancy between the two teams. Both teams played hard, aggressive basketball for most of the game. Both teams attacked the basket, both teams were physical, and yet the Knicks had a 27-15 advantage in free throw attempts and were called for just 18 personal fouls compared to the Raptors’ 28.

***

Overall, the Raptors and Knicks gave the standing-room only crowd of 20,092 one of the best basketball games of the season, and the ‘interesting’ crowd gave the two teams one of the best atmospheres, if not the best, they will experience this year. I’m still not sure what to make of the divided crowd. It was definitely pro-Raptors, and I don’t remember the Knicks getting any cheers while Jeremy Lin was on the bench. But with Lin on the floor handing the ball, it was simply electric in that building. There were two guys sitting beside me who were clearly cheering for the Raptors, but also cheering madly for Lin. They applauded Amir Johnson’s big blocks late in the game and cheered for Raptors baskets, but when Lit hit “the shot,” the same two guys exploded in hysterical euphoria.

I had a hard time trying to separate who was just cheering for the Raptors, who was cheering for the Raptors but hoping Lin had a good game, who was just cheering for Lin and who was just cheering for the Knicks. Good luck figuring it out.

Raptors Player of the Game: Jose Calderon – 39 Min, 25 Pts, 11-17 FG, 3-5 3PT, 7 Reb, 9 Ast, 3 Stl, 1 Blk, 4 TO

Knicks Player of the Game: Jeremy Lin – 43 Min, 27 Pts, 9-20 FG, 2-2 3PT, 7-11 FT, 2 Reb, 11 Ast, 1 Stl, 8 TO