NBA RUMOR MILL – The Vince Carter Update
THE VINCE CARTER UPDATE
If you think things in Toronto seem bad… they are worse… Think things in Toronto seem out of place… they are. On Tuesday the Toronto Raptors were blown out in Orlando, last night two technical fouls against Boston by Loren Woods and Rafer Alston got both benched and now has Rafer Alston talking retirement. This in the wake of rumors of Vince Carter’s demise in Toronto can be traced back to one single concept. Rob Babcock and Sam Mitchell do not care if you are happy, they do not care if you’re getting enough touches. They care about winning and building the “proper” kind of basketball team. Rob Babcock told media he and rookie head coach Sam Mitchell have a philosophy saying “We have some basic rules; you don’t play hard – you don’t play, you don’t play team basketball – you don’t play, if you’re not playing well, you’re having a bad game – you’re not going to play, someone else is gonna play in your place.” Rob Babcock’s approach may be part of the reason for the fracture that seems to becoming to a head, but he also understands he has a team that is removed from the playoff hunt, they are not a competitive team, and he believes the culture of the team has to change, not just to shake up the guys a little, but to get the team more in tune with the “philosophy” adding “This is what we want to do… this is how we think basketball should be played. This is how I think and Sam thinks a basketball team should be run, both on and off the court… There are a lot of changes and adjustments to be made by everybody” Does one of those adjustments including trading Vince Carter? A source close to Vince continue to say Vince wants out of the Raptors situation, entirely, that all of the drama both internally and externally have killed his desire to remain in Toronto – despite what’s being said publicly. Rob Babcock offers that the rumors have grown on their own and are out of his control, but offered his insight on Vince and Toronto saying “A bunch of things got out in the media, and which raised all those questions over again, but it wasn’t anything that Vince said or did or anything like that. Vince has been, since we started camp the first day – I went up to Vince and said “summer is over, let go to work and have fun” he said “I’m with you”… It has been that way. He’s worked hard, he’s done every thing he can to learn the new system. Sam is putting in a lot of stuff that’s a lot different than what he’s used to, he’s had to make more adjustments, I think than anyone else on the team – he’s worked hard to do that. He’s had a shooting slump and things like that, he’s come out of it – he’s playing hard and doing the things we’ve asked him to do.” Vince himself refuses to engage the speculation about his future, but teammate Rafer Alston sounded a lot more sure of his situation telling reporters that he was tired of being the scapegoat on the team saying he was considering stepping away from the NBA telling reporters “It’s tough right now for me… I’m hurting so much inside. I’m going to talk to Sam. I’m going to talk to Rob. I think it’s time. I’m tired of getting into it with my teammates. I’m tired of getting into it with coaches. I don’t know if I’m a good fit for this team, I don’t know if I’m a good fit for this league any more… ‘m going to take some time and I may just not even play any more the rest of the season… My mother didn’t raise me to be this way and I’m not going to continue to embarrass myself… I’m not going to continue to embarrass my family and carry their name on my back every night and everybody’s looking at Alston on my back and saying: ‘He’s an a–hole. He’s a problem.’… I’m not doing it any more. This is my fourth team and the only time I’ve really had fun was last year when I was on a team with a bunch of people where we just played hard together, we enjoyed being around together, and we didn’t worry about who shot the ball. Even when we had an off night, the guys still pulled for each other. I’m tired of looking like the bad apple in the tree. I’m looking like the bad guy, and it’s not right.” There has been some speculation from outside that the coaching staff has taken issue with the manner in which Rafer plays, people close to Rafer say he is genuinely doing everything asked of him, yet the bar and the standards continue to be raised. Alston is in the first year of a six-year contract worth roughly $30 million. Raptors sources say that while Rafer was obliviously upset, they did not expect this blow up to be any more of a major distraction than the other storylines in Toronto. The Raptors seem like they are “trying” to rattle the weaker guys… it seems there is a deliberate attempt by Sam Mitchell to engage and challenge his guys. Some of the players are equal to that – and some, maybe Rafer Alston need to be traded.
FRATELLO IN – HUBIE RETIRES
Hubie Brown’s decision to step down in Memphis caught many off guard, including Jerry West. It’s been no secret that Hubie has had some medical issues, but those issues on top of the draining life of a NBA coach simply weighed too much on a coach that had to battle for his players attention. Brown’s decision to step down was more than just medical, but it wasn’t as sinister as many in the media have painted it. Brown often found himself behind – not having enough energy to do the job they way he thought it should be done, and that is what ultimately prompted him to step away. The Grizzlies have found their new coach reaching a three deal with Mike Fratello, who inherits a team packed with players, and a new system to install. Fratello got his first win as a the Grizz head coach last night in Philadelphia. The Grizzlies will have their work cut out for them as their new coach learns their styles of play, and more importantly as the players learn to play Mike Fratello style basketball. The surprising side story to the entire Hubie Brown resigning story is word that Jerry West is considering leaving the Grizzlies at the end of the season himself. West has been the driving force behind the Grizzlies for the past two years and has been the face of the franchise. Its also being suggested that while Hubie Brown, was comfortable playing a ten man rotation, their new coach may not use the fire power on the bench the same way Hubie did, prompting some in the media to speculate a trade or two may be on the horizon. The Grizzlies travel to Orlando tonight, and there will be more to this story in the coming weeks.
THE 2ND YEAR STUD
Toronto’s second year forward Chris Bosh is 18 games into the 2004-2005 season. Last year Bosh was a surprise for the Raptors stepping into a tough role, where many nights he played the center spot as a very skinny rookie. After an off season of tremendous weight work, and adding bulk Bosh is averaging 34.6 minutes a game while grabbing 7.10 rebounds per contest playing again at his natural four spot position, his 13.1 point scoring average makes him fourth on the team on scoring, but its his upside that continues to impress NBA pundits. Chris sat down and talked about his team, his transition into the NBA, and where he feels the Raptors are headed:
Talk about the dynamic of this team?
– Man we just, I think every night we have to play night to our advantage, we’re a fast team. We like to have a fast paced basketball game, as long as we rebound correctly, and stop people on defense we’ll be tough to beat.
Last year as a rookie, you were a little undersized for the center position where you were playing, now it seems your playing more of a four role. Does that suit your game better?
- Yeah… This is my game, I didn’t even play center in college. You know what I mean, to come into the pros and play center that was a tough thing for me, you know I had to cause, I guess was one of the tallest guys on the team. I had to come in and do what I had to do, I had fun playing out there, that was my main thing.
What were some of the things you did during the offseason to get yourself ready this year?
– Getting in shape, running a lot, lifting a lot of weights. Getting quicker as well, I know a lot of guy want to step outside and I have to use that to my advantage right now.
Talk about Sam Mitchell as a coach, there were a lot of stories about Kevin O’Neill being a
fiery as a personality. It seems like Sam is a very player friendly coach, what are you seeing from him?
– He has a lot of intensity himself, he only demands that people come and work hard everyday. Come and work hard and play with a passion, and you’ll be fine with him. If you do all those things, he’s a good coach to play for.
What did you think of Dwight Howard?
– He’s good… It was my first time playing against him, unfortunately some things happened where I couldn’t play more minutes, we play them three more times – so.. it’ll be a little different next time around.
There is a lot of stuff that’s been going on in the media, do you think its fair that you have to deal with that, or is it just part of the business?
– Its just part of the business, stuff like that happens, you just have to go on. We can’t
complain and say we’re not playing well because of this right now. It happens. It comes with the business, we just have to handle it as best as possible.
Is The NBA everything you thought it was gonna be, now that your into your second year – your not dealing with all the rookie stuff?
– Its the same as last year… just a little bit better, I think once more games pass by, we’ll get a better feel for each other and hopefully win some more games.
While the Raptors continue to try and find their way under new leadership,
and a possible end to the Vince Carter era. Chris Bosh could easily become one
of the better four spot players in the East. With 18 games, and about 25 more
pounds on his frame since last year, he looks better suited for the 82 game NBA
season, and that next match up between Dwight Howard (who grabbed 20 rebounds on
the Raptors) and Bosh should be a good game to watch.
You can listen to the entire Chris
Bosh Interview here.
The Houston Rockets are 6-11, they have lost 5 straight. There is speculation that Jeff Van Gundy will quit or be fired, there is speculation that a major trade is in the works. The media continues to prod Yao Ming, accusing him of a lack of aggressiveness. So what is the real story? The Rockets are off to a horrible start for a couple of reasons: #1- The players Orlando sent them in trade this past summer were the cancers in the locker room last year, Tracy McGrady is the invisible teammate, Juwan Howard is abrupt and abrasive and a career non-winner, while Tyrone Lue and Reece Gaines are not NBA players – Lue is a lot closer than Gaines, but neither should have a meaningful role on any team, they simply are not that talented. #2- The TMAC effect; it was often the joke in Orlando that regardless of the players surrounding him, players tended to defer to Tracy McGrady and stand around watching him play. This kills movement, rebounding and fast break defense, and this happens a lot in Houston. Yao Ming is obviously not going to be the aggressive impact center many had hoped he’d become – the sooner the Rockets realize they don’t have an angry young man in the paint, the better off they’ll be. The Rockets have got to get some help – they gave away all of their scoring depth to Orlando to get McGrady and the Grumblers – its time to add leaders to this mix, and until the Rockets do that, they will be a sub-.500 team. The return of Bob Sura will help, because Bobby is a competitor, but the Rockets need to get into the trade talks, and find themselves a vocal leader, and letting Darrell Armstrong slide to Dallas yesterday was a mistake – Tracy McGrady played his best basketball with Darrell in his ear in Orlando, and Houston could have had him for next to nothing. Jeff Van Gundy is clearly in over his head, his guys have not bought in to his system, it was clear in the pre-season and it hasn’t changed, and Jeff has proven before when the players stop listening he has no problem walking away. For The Rockets they cannot afford to go the way the Magic went last year and ride this out, its time to make some aggressive changes, and make them fast. And when your wondering why the Rockets stink so badly this year, consider where Orlando was last year, and where Houston is this year and there are some common dominators, and its those dominators that have to change for things to change in Houston.
Here are some of the random stories from the week…
- NBA TAKES UNION TO COURT:The NBA took it’s Players Union to federal court this week to block the league’s grievance arbitrator Roger Kaplan from hearing the appeals of the three Pacer players who were major participants in the brawl in Detroit last month. NBA deputy commissioner Russ Granik told media “We do not feel that he is entitled to arbitrate this case. We don’t think he should have even said that he’d consider hearing this case.” Roger Kaplan is the interim arbitrator, due to the inability on both sides to agree on a new one as outlined in the Collective Barging Agreement. The league filed its claim after Kaplan ruled that he would hold a hearing next week to consider the issue of whether he has jurisdiction in the case. A court case could force a delay any hearings Kaplan wants to hold.
- TRADING DARRELL: In a surprise move, the New Orleans Hornets traded Darrell Armstrong to the Dallas Mavericks yesterday in exchange for Dan Dickau and a second round draft choice. Armstrong, a testy and vocal leader was shocked by the decision, but is happy to be part of a winner. Maverick’s head coach Don Nelson explained the move, saying Darrell is insurance offering “This is an insurance policy for the playoffs… Lord forbid something should happen to Jason, but if he goes down, it would be a little bit scary. Now we’ve got a three-headed point guard. Devin is experiencing the highs and lows of being a rookie. JT is a scoring point guard, and that type of player has done great in this system. Darrell gives us more of a conventional pass-first presence.” Armstrong explained the move saying “I had mixed emotions. Dallas needs some help at the point, but I always like a challenge, and I felt like we can win games in New Orleans…. I’m excited. If I need to come off the bench or if they need me to start, I’ll do whatever I can to help make them even better.” At times the Mavericks miss Steve Nash’s leadership and Darrell Armstrong has always been known as a fiery competitive spirit and his energy should help the Mavericks in close games