Tag: Toronto Raptors

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Kobe’s Triple Double A Breath Of Fresh Air [Video]

During one of the most tumultuous seasons in Lakers history, there has been little to cheer about for fans of the much fabled franchise. 

One of the few joys still afforded to the fans however, is a well rested and rejuvenated Kobe Bryant who, while shooting a career low…. is as aggressive and determined as ever. That was on full display yesterday as Bryant carved out his 20th career triple double, while also becoming the only member of the 30k+ points club to eclipse 6,000 assists. Not bad for a 36 year old right? 

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Coach-of-the-year award wide, wide open

When it comes to voting for the 2013-14 NBA Coach of the Year, I wish those ‘fortunate’ enough to be asked to fill out a ballot all the very best of luck.

Always a hotly contested award, this season has an even deeper field of worthy recipients, for which I personally struggle to nominate the one eventual winner.

Though there remain roughly 20 games left to play for each team in the regular season, it’s already evident that a number of coaches will be deserving of the accolade.

Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but San Antonio’s Gregg Popovich has done a remarkable job of managing his roster through injures and advanced age, and once again has the Spurs positioned as one of the best teams in the West.

Image Courtesy of BallerBall.com

Image Courtesy of BallerBall.com

Pop’s use of his bench has once again been brilliant, and the Spurs propensity to move and share the ball is a credit to their coach. They’ll once again make the playoffs, and it would be a brave man that writes off their chances of making the Finals for the second year in a row.

At the beginning of the season, I struggled to see how the Phoenix Suns would win double figure games. They promptly achieved that feat in the opening month of the season. Egg meet face.

Ex-Suns guard Jeff Hornacek has done a wonderful job with the team, who compete every night, and despite lacking the elite-level talent of other teams, play with energy and hustle.

Though any young team should play with enthusiasm, the most surprising aspect of the Suns’ season is their intelligence. The team plays smart basketball, and full praise for that must go to their coach.

Chicago Bulls Tom Thibodeau has become a victim of his own success. It’s now simply a given that his teams will be outstanding defensively, hustle their butts off, and do their best of overcome their offensive limitations via solid teamwork. And do so in every single game.

Never mind the fact the Bulls are once again without their most talented player and only true creator, Derrick Rose. Never mind the fact that Chicago are currently third in the Eastern Conference. Never mind the fact that they are still beating the league’s best teams despite all evidence suggesting they shouldn’t be.

Image Courtesy of NBA.com

Image Courtesy of NBA.com

‘Thibs’ deserves way more recognition than he gets. The Bulls aren’t just staying afloat and competitive; they actually remain an upper echelon team. It’s an amazing achievement, which could see Thibs take home his second Coach of the Year award.

Not much was expected of the Dallas Mavericks at the start of the year, but via a resurgent Dirk Nowitzki, the surprisingly steady play of Monta Ellis, and the tactical brilliance of Rick Carlisle, the Mavs are right in the thick of the playoff hunt in the ultra-competitive Western Conference.

The Mavs execute extremely well, and though the players receive the ultimate kudos, Carlisle is the mastermind behind it all.

Erik Spoelstra is criminally underrated as a coach. I can only assume he doesn’t receive the respect he deserves because people believe that any coach should have success with the stars on Miami’s roster. While there is unquestionably some truth to that sentiment, ‘success’ is subjective until you actually win the title, something Spoelstra has now done twice.

It also shouldn’t be forgotten that handling egos is a difficult but vital aspect of NBA coaching, for talent alone doesn’t guarantee championships.

Image Courtesy of ESPN.com

Image Courtesy of ESPN.com

Yet even beyond the excellent man-management skills, Spoelstra has shown himself to be a great tactician. It was Spoelstra who implemented the offence which capitilises on LeBron James’ unique skill set. It was ‘Spo’ who refuses to give players traditional positions, but rather relies on a system that has constant movement and flexibility.

Miami’s smothering defense – particularly their half court press – is further proof that the Heat are a well coached side, of which Spolestra is the chief architect.

Scotty Brooks deserves credit for keeping the Oklahoma City Thunder at the top of the Western Conference standings, despite the fact he has been without the services of his second best player, Russell Westbrook, for large chunks of the season.

Brooks has made some subtle changes to OKC’s offense, however one feels that Kevin Durant will receive much of the kudos for keeping the Thunder rolling – rather than their coach – with KD’s sublime season probably having the averse effect of robbing Brooks of some votes.

Image Courtesy of BallerBall.com

Image Courtesy of BallerBall.com

That’s six coaches I’ve already named as potential recipients of the Coach of the Year award, yet it is far from an exhaustive list.

I could very easily be talked into Portland’s Terry Stotts, Indiana’s Frank Vogel, Los Angles’ Doc Rivers and Houston’s Kevin McHale being legitimate candidates as well.

Even the Charlotte Bobcats’ Steve Clifford has done a fantastic job reconfiguring the team around the offensive skills of Al Jefferson, and may be lucky enough to have the odd ballot with his name on it, yet I doubt he’ll actually take home the hardware.

Likewise, would anyone be really upset if Dwayne Casey’s effort in Toronto was recognised? The Warriors’ Mark Jackson? The Grizzlies’ David Joerger?

It’s a large field, and to those tasked with naming the NBA Coach of the Year, I don’t envy your job one little bit.



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Rudy Gay Traded to Sacramento

Rudy Gay has been traded from the Toronto Raptors in a multi-player deal to the Sacramento Kings, reported Yahoo! Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski yesterday. As part of the deal Gay will head to the Kings alongside ex-Toronto team mates Aaron Gray and Quincy Acy, while the Raptors will receive forward John Salmons, guard Greivis Vasquez, Patrick Patterson and Chuck Hayes.

Following a 6-12 start to the season, the Raptors have seemingly elected to dump the salary of Rudy Gay, owed $17.8 million this season and $19.3m (player option) the next, and begin the rebuilding process with a clean slate. GM Masai Ujiri has also been able to unload the contracts of Gray and Acy in the deal, clearing approximately $3.5 million extra in cap room. Of the incoming players, Chuck Hayes is owed $6 million, while John Salmons is only guaranteed $1 million of his $7 million contract. Toronto has cleared the books, taking on board only expiring contracts while also clearing the quagmire that was Rudy Gay’s deal and can now stake their claim via a solid rebuild.

The Kings have now added another name to their roster of talented stars including DeMarcus Cousins, Isaiah Thomas and rookie Ben McLemore, and should fit in well with the 5-13 Pacific Division cellar dwellers. Gay, who was traded by the Grizzlies to Toronto before the trade deadline last season, is averaging a respectable 19 points (38% shooting), 7 rebounds and 2 assists per game in 2013/14 and while his shot selection is often questionable, is a good addition to an already talented group. Is he the answer? Probably not, but the Kings now have another name which will help put bums on seats at Sleep Train Arena.



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TWO MINUTES WITH: JOSE CALDERON

As part of a new segment I will be working on entitled “Two Minutes With” I will be endeavouring to make contact with all your favourite NBA personalities and bringing the interviews straight to you here.

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An Australian Sports Guide to the NBA pt. 1

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So I was sitting with my housemate the other day and we were brainstorming about what I could write for the site when he suggested this idea. Basically what we’ve done is taken Australian sporting teams from a variety of codes and given you the NBA team that we think they are most suitably matched with.

I’ll be releasing it in four parts over the next four weeks and this, ladies and gents, is the first instalment.

So without further ado.

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Knicks To Trade Novak, Camby For Bargnani

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According to the New York Times, The New York Knicks are working on finalising a trade with the Toronto Raptors that would send Steve Novak, Marcus Camby and future draft picks to Toronto in exchange for Andrea Bargnani. The deal would see the Knicks take on the remaining $23 million/2 year contract of the Italian big man. Novak and Camby will earn roughly $8.7 million next season.

The Raptors are generally seen as the winners of this trade, by clearing a little cap space and losing that big contract of the under performing Bargnani they are in a better position moving forward. The Knicks will see their luxury tax increase if the trade goes ahead.

Dan Attias.

Update – The League has yet to approve this trade and it will need to be revised to include the 2013-14 seasons salaries. According to most sources, both teams are still keen to make the trade happen.



NBA Nation Australia’s Podcast Guide

NBA Podcasting. A relatively new idea that has been brought about as a result of the planet continuing to engage in evolving technology. A medium for fans to gain access to a world of information surrounding their favorite topics and one that basketball fans are extremely involved in. Fans aren’t just listening to podcasts, they’re also being actively involved in their production with some fantastic amateur shows available, some of which originate right here in Australia. Yours truly has given up listening to music on the trip to and from work in exchange for NBA Podcasts and find a wealth of knowledge within it. There is something special about listening to a variety of different opinions and views on topics surrounding the game we love and podcasts are the ideal way to do that.

We at NBA Nation decided that as this ever evolving medium continues to grow and fluctuate, it becomes more and more important for people to become involved with podcasts. So, we’ve decided the best thing to do is provide our readers with a guide to six of the better podcasts out there including links so you can access and be a part of one of the fastest growing journalism avenues in the NBA stratosphere. In no particular order, this is NBA Nation Australia’s Basketball Podcast Guide. Enjoy!

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NBA Nation Australia’s Preseason Previews: Part 6

Welcome to NBA Season Previews Part 6! Today, we take a look at the Milwaukee Bucks, Minnesota Timberwolves, New York Knicks, Phoenix Suns and Toronto Raptors. We’re getting close to opening night, make sure you’re up to date with your team’s preview!

Milwaukee Bucks

How will they do?

It can’t have been that much fun to be a Buck’s fan over the last couple of seasons. They certainly didn’t have bad seasons, but inconsistency hurt them when it counted and they just missed out on a playoff spots. I have a feeling that 2013 will take a similar path. The east is getting tougher across mid table teams. But, the Bucks certainly have the talent to prove me wrong. Without a doubt, the Bucks have one of the most explosive back courts in the game with Monta Ellis and Brandon Jennings, who now with a solid off-season together should be able to gel and cause some issues for opposition defenses. They are undersized though. The trade for Ellis took away one of the leagues best big men in Andrew Bogut, but they have replaced him with Samuel Dalembert, who may not be at the same level as Bogut, but has the experience and size to make a difference. The Bucks also have a couple of wild cards in Luc Mbah a Moute, Ersan Ilyasova and rookie John Henson. Mbah a Moute in particular is a beat on the defensive end and if he can add another dimension to his offense, i can see him making a big difference to this team. If the Bucks are to make a serious run at the Eastern Conference finals a few cards need to fall their way.

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Nash a Laker? STEVE NASH: FREE AGENCY WATCH

UPDATE:  10:37am AEST – Reports circulating Nash has done a sign & trade and will be sent to the Lakers.

In the Nash sign-and-trade, the Suns will get 2013 & 2015 first-round picks and 2013 & 2014 second-round picks.

While it may not be the circus that Dwight Howard created with his trade request, the Steve Nash trade talk, rumor mill and hear say could certainly be compared with a Merry-Go-Around.

Since Free Agency opened 5 days ago and teams were once again given the green light to talk trades with each other, the question of where Steve Nash, a 2 time MVP and perennial All Star will end up has been a  favorite topic among fans online and NBA Journalists.

We all knew that Steve Nash was as good as gone from the Suns. A team he had given 12 All Star quality years to (he also spent 7 season with the Dallas Mavericks), but where will he end up?  That’s the sticking point.

4 teams have been chasing Steve Nash in the last week. Toronto Raptors, New York Knicks, Los Angeles Lakers and the Dallas Mavericks have all come out and openly expressed their interest in signing Nash for his twilight years. 3 of those teams are contenders and can offer Nash that sparkling carrot he desires…a possible championship. One might expect this an easy decision then, but then you would be forgetting one key aspect of all of this. Steve Nash is Canadian.

The Toronto Raptors are the only Canadian team playing in the NBA. Since their inaugural season in 1995, the Raptors have never really been able to stamp any sort of authority on the game. In their 17 years, the Raptors have been to the playoff only 5 times, making it out of the first round just once. This record is certainly not what they are using to entice a player like Nash.  Steve Nash isn’t going to win a championship if he goes to the Raptors. But he will win the love and respect of an entire country.

If Nash chooses Toronto, he will become the face of the franchise and a national hero. He will be remembered as the guy who put country and pride before a ring.

A quick breakdown of what each team can offer Nash:

TORONTO – National Hero, the face of the franchise and the chance to leave a lasting legacy with a team that desperately needs him. Oh, and a 3 year $36Mil offer. No other team can really offer him this sort of money and there is a big chance that Nash will be in a Raptors jersey soon

NYK – The starting Point Guard. A chance to tame the beasts and bring some cohesion to a team with 2 stars in desperate need of a general, and most importantly, a shot at the title. Nash also lives in New York City, so he wouldn’t have to move far. If it’s not going to be Toronto for Nash, I can’t see him going any other than the Knicks.

LA LAKERS – The starting PG spot. The opportunity to play with Kobe and a quality young center in Bynum. A shot at a title and, um…the chance to play with Kobe??? Honestly I don’t see this happening. It would be great for the Lakers, but Nash has consistently battled the Lakers for 17 years now. You could say that the Lakers are his grand nemesis and I doubt he could swallow his pride and pull on the purple and gold.

DALLAS MAVERICKS – Starting PG, a chance to team up with best mate Dirk Nowitzki and help develop and rebuild the franchise.  I feel though that Steve Nash has already been there, done that with Dallas and whilst a return to the Mavs would be a coup, it would only be for Dallas. Nash’s eyes are elsewhere.

We are 5 days into Free Agency and Trade and all thought the Nash debate would be quickly settled, but it’s sticking around. However, it’s getting very close to wrapping up.

Over night (Australian time) it was reported that Nash has decided, and he wanted the Knicks, leaving his country men and the Raptors to ponder what could have been.  The Raptors GM even went on record to say “We gave it out best shot”. But all is not as it seems and no official announcement has been made by anyone. Game is still very much on.

Deep breath now everyone…

NBA Nation Australia will keep you all updated as news comes to hand on the Merry-Go-Round that is the Steve Nash saga. Keep an eye on @nbanationoz for all breaking news and we will update the website once Nash tells us what he wants to do.



RUMOUR MILL ON LIN-SANITY MOVE HOTTENS UP!

As the 2011-12 NBA season creeps ever so closer to an end, the rumour mill of moves & trades begins to warm up as usual.

The whispers gathering most momentum seem to be mostly about Jeremy Lin.

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