Archive for the ‘Sonny Weems’ Category

With guys like Kenyon Martin, Wilson Chandler and other bigger name players becoming available as the European basketball season comes to a close, Sonny Weems has kind of flown under the radar. Most NBA fans probably don’t know much about Weems, and most Raptors fans probably forgot what he was doing.

The Raptors did tender a qualifying offer at the end of last season, making Weems a restricted free agent, but with his team (Zalgiris Kaunas) on the brink of elimination in Europe, we still haven’t heard much about Weems from anyone within the Raptors organization.

Apparently, Weems hasn’t heard much either. Here’s what he had to say in his latest blog entry for Hoops Hype:

“Some people ask me about the Raptors. Well, Toronto is not my team. They don’t mention me in their future plans or anything like that. A couple other NBA teams are really interested in me and that’s what I’m looking for. I’m not just focused on Toronto because you read articles about the team and my name never comes up. I’ll just focus on finishing this season and find the best possible team. I have some overseas teams also interested, but my main goal is going back to the NBA. If it’s not possible, I’ll stay in Europe.

It’s still all up in the air.”

Here’s my reaction to this, and the reaction that all Raptors fans should share: “good riddance.”

Weems had a nice run in Toronto in 2009-2010, working his way from an end of the bench afterthought to a solid rotation guy for a 40-win team that came within a game of a playoff spot. He carried that over into an impressive start to last season, but quickly erased anything he had accomplished with selfish, uninspiring play. As I’ve said before, Weems became Jamario Moon 2.0. In short, he played his way out of a role in Toronto by forgetting what got him minutes in the first place – hard work, defence and knowing his role.

By the end of the 2010-2011 season, Weems had become a chucker, and was incredibly frustrating to watch.

Based on my math, in 34 games with Zalgiris across Lithuanian League, United League and Euroleague ball, Weems is averaging 12.5 points in just under 27 minutes per game, shooting about 50 per cent on two-pointers and 35 per cent on three-point attempts. He’s also averaging 4.7 rebounds and 1.1 steals, but is committing 2.5 turnovers per game compared to just 1.4 assists.

In general, his numbers in Europe have been decent, but far from impressive for a 25-year-old who has played parts of three seasons in the NBA. This leads me to believe that Weems’ game hasn’t evolved much, if at all. And if that’s the case, I don’t blame the Raptors for not considering him in their future plans.

They already had a good look at Weems, and in my opinion, he didn’t do enough to warrant another look.

As currently constructed, there are at least eight players I’d rather have than Sonny Weems (which isn’t saying much) that already belong to the Raptors (Valanciunas, Bargnani, DeRozan, Davis, James Johnson, Amir Johnson, Bayless, Kleiza) and that’s not including veterans like Jose Calderon and Leandro Barbosa. What would be the point of bringing Weems back to be, at best, the ninth or 10th most important piece of the future puzzle?

Exactly, there isn’t one.

If I wanted to write this post in five words or less, I’d simply answer my own question in the title with: Really, really, really bad.

I don’t like to dump on guys when they’re in a minor slump that’s lasted just a few games, but what Rasual Butler is going through right now can’t just be classified as a simple slump. His performance has become a punch-line.

The worst part is that we should have seen it coming.

When the Raptors signed Butler to a one-year deal, most of us saw it as another veteran signing to help mentor the young guys and provide spot minutes when need be.

Even though not much was expected of Butler from a minutes standpoint, a lot of Raptors fans still pointed that out that he was the type of player who could light it up from three-point range now and then and could play some solid defence.

So while many were thrown off, few were angry when Dwane Casey surprised us by starting Butler on opening night.

From a defensive perspective, Butler hasn’t been all that bad. In fact, he’s probably been about average, if not better. The problem is, when you are as bad offensively as Butler has been through 11 games, you should be a noticeable defensive presence to stay on the floor, similar to the type of player James Johnson is.

In his short tenure as a Raptor, Butler’s best shooting performance was a three-of-seven display in a loss against the Nets. He’s gone “0-for” three times and has made only one shot six times so far. That’s right, Rasual Butler has either missed every shot he’s taken or has made only one in nine out of 11 games this season. And that’s coming from a guy who has started every game and is averaging close to 20 minutes.

In total, Butler is shooting an embarrassing 23 per cent (14-of-61) from the floor and is a laughable nine-of-41 (21.9 per cent) from three-point range.

So naturally, most people are pointing out that Butler, a normally decent shooter, is just having an off-year. But that’s not the case. The fact is that Rasual Butler has rarely ever been a good shooter.

Butler, 32, is currently in his 10th NBA season, and yet he’s only cracked 40 per cent from the field four times and hasn’t shot better than 43.3 per cent since the 2003-2004 season. He’s a career 39.9 per cent shooter who hits just under 36 per cent of his three-point attempts.

In short, he’s a very inefficient offensive player who misses way too many shots to make his average three-point stroke or average defence worth trotting out on the floor.

Rasual Butler seems like a good guy, seems to like Toronto and seems to have some overall good qualities, which would explain why Dwane Casey reportedly loves having him here and how he’s stuck around the NBA for a decade. I’m sure that given the chance, he can fill the role that most Raptors fans assumed would be placed on him, and that’s the simple one of mentoring the Raptors’ young and inexperienced talent.

But with Linas Kleiza getting back on the floor, James Johnson continuing to provide a defensive spark off of the bench and Gary Forbes yet to be given a real chance to show his worth, the only good reason to keep starting Rasual Butler and giving him 20 minutes per game is to increase the team’s chances of landing the No. 1 pick in this year’s draft, as Scott has recently pointed out.

***

In unrelated Raptors small forward news, here’s Sonny Weems getting the game-winning dunk for Zalgiris Kaunas against BC Khimki and sending the commentators into a state of euphoria:

Sonny’s actually having a pretty good season in Lithuania, but let’s remember that he had become Jamario Moon II in Toronto. Translation: He was a guy who earned minutes by working his tail off and playing defence, then forget what got him here and became an unfocused chucker.

***

Lastly, Andrea Bargnani’s status will reportedly be made clear some time on Friday, so I’m sure we’ll be talking then.

We posted the first part of our convo with DeMar DeRozan on Friday afternoon. While that part was about looking back on last season, this one is about the L-word. No, not love or like or anything nice, I’m talking about this damn lockout. Here’s DeRozan on the possibility of going overseas, why the rookies are really losing out and when he realized that he’d be without his best friend when/if the lockout ends this season.

HM: So, about this lockout, have you talked to anyone for advice?

DD: I talked to a few guys and they just prepared me, telling me what to do, how to prepare. Hopefully it turns out for the best, but just be prepared for the worst at the end of the day. A lot of players that had been through it before.

HM: Have you spoken with anyone besides NBA vets about the situation?

DD: Coaches, old coaches. Even the fans, a lot of older guys who had been through the lockout, not necessarily players, people who remembered the lockout in ’99, when it took place. Cuttino Mobley has actually been talking me through it a lot. He’s been giving me a lot of advice and everything.

HM: What’s the main thing they tell you?

DD: Save your money.

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we won't be seeing this next season

A few days after the news first broke on Twitter, Sonny Weems has signed his deal with Zalgiris Kaunas of Lithuania. The deal will keep him there for the duration of the season, regardless of what’s going on with the NBA. Yup, even if there is a season, he’ll be balling in Lithuania. While the news of Deron Williams going to Turkey dominated the NBA headlines yesterday, Weems was the first NBA player to agree to a deal without the option to opt out and return to North America if the lockout ends in time for a season.

To be honest, I’m sad about this news. Happy for Weems, but sad because it shows how real this lockout business is. Players are recognizing just how far apart the two sides are and they’re also aware that there might not be a season next year. We’ve known this for awhile, but with players making the decision to go overseas, it really makes it hit home.

While the financial terms of the deal were not revealed, this is a great choice for a restricted free agent like Weems. He’ll play basketball, make money and stay in shape. Unlike a lottery pick who is more equipped to lose out on a year’s salary (not that anyone wants to give up money, of course), Weems made $854,389, the minimum for a player who has been in the league for two seasons. To lose a full year’s salary wasn’t a viable option for Weems, so he made the leap, took a chance and ensured he’ll be making money to hoop next season.

With the news of Weems and Williams going overseas, expect more players to do the same. With a limit on how many American players each team can have on their rosters, Weems was smart to make the move now. Still, it’s got to be deflating to know you won’t be playing in the league you have worked so hard to make it to if the lockout is resolved in time for there to be a 2011-2012 NBA season.

I was unsuccessful at tracking down Weems for some quotes from the source himself, but this could be because he turned 25 on Friday and is sure to be spending his weekend celebrating rather than fielding calls from media, however his agent, Roger Montgomery spoke with the associated press earlier this afternoon saying,“Sonny will be able to go in and make a true impact…There’s no way I’m going sit by idly and wait for David Stern to decide if he wants to be fair,” Montgomery said.

In the meantime, this means that DeMar DeRozan will be without his best friend for the first time in his professional career, unless he elects to join Weems in Lithuania. Unlikely, but at this point, who knows where these guys will end up. I did send a couple of texts after I saw Weems tweet that he and DeRozan would be “teammates for life” but was told that there wasn’t anything to take from that tweet, at least at this point in time.

We’ll be monitoring the overseas news all summer as Twitter will have us looking for deeper meanings in 140-character messages daily. Who else is psyched?! Yeah, me neither.

Whether we get a season or not, best wishes to Weems who proved he is an NBA player during his tenure as a Raptor. Equal parts intriguing and infuriating on the floor (so athletic, but such a misguided shot selection at times), Weems was once thought to be as big of a piece of the Raptors’ future as DeRozan. Remember those days? Regardless of whether Weems is ever in a Raptors jersey again, his stop in Toronto will remain as the most important in his professional career thus far.

Sonny Weems

Career Stats: 140 GP, 20.3 MPG, 7.7 PPG, 47.4 FG%, 24.1 3PT%, 71.7 FT%, 2.5 RPG, 1.5 APG

Season Stats: 59 GP, 23.9 MPG, 9.2 PPG, 44.4 FG%, 27.9 3PT%, 76.6 FT%, 2.6 RPG, 1.8 APG

Last season, when fans were getting excited about an unknown Sonny Weems, I warned that he could become the next Jamario Moon. Translation, he could be a nice surprise for one season, but he’ll probably start jacking up too many jumpers and forgot what got him here in the first place.

Then Weems got off to a decent start to the 2010-2011 season, drilled a big game-winning three in Orlando and got hot. I let my guard down, as did most Raptors supporters, and actually believed Sonny had played himself into a piece of the Raptors’ future.

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