Toronto Raptors off-season plans: Keep Chris Bosh

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Before the season started, the talk in Toronto was a team that could reach 50 wins. Forget just making the playoffs, it was about hosting a round, advancing to the second round. It was about starting to look and act like a threat in the East.

Frustrated, disappointed and heartbreaking was the talk at Bryan Colangelo’s end of season press conference. Those were Raptors general managers own words.

“It’s never easy to look at a team that you feel underachieved or underperformed,” he said.

The Raptors have several goals this summer but only one really matters in the short term — to keep Chris Bosh. Colangelo said the Raptors will try to “maximize” the chances that he stays in Toronto. If going over the salary cap and spending more is what it takes to keep Bosh and put a good team around him, the Raptors will do that, he said. This has to be their main goal, there is no good Plan B for losing your superstar.

When pressed, Colangelo did say the Raptors would consider a sign and trade if they could not keep him. But he didn’t really want to talk like that.

Colangelo also emphasized the Raptors are not starting from scratch. There are the makings of a good roster here, he said, noting the team did go 25-11 over one stretch.

“It’s an inconsistent team to end up with 40 wins, but it’s not a bad basketball team,” Colangelo stated.

So why didn’t the Raptors do something at the trade deadline?

“There were things we could have addressed at the traded deadline. We didn’t do that because the team was playing very well at that moment,” Colangelo said, referencing the 25-11 streak. He sounded like a man who had regrets after watching the team finish out the season.

This team doe have some good young talent — Amir Johnson, Sonny Weems, DeMar DeRozan, to name a few. Look for the Raptors to do something at point guard, as he said the team needed more consistency there, a direct slap at Jarrett Jack and Jose Calderon.

Colangelo said he was “disappointed” in Hedo Turkoglu and that he expects the fans’ favorite whipping boy to play better next season. He expects Andrea Bargnaini to continue to improve.

But at the end of the day, it’s about Bosh, who said in his exit interview he has not made any decisions about his summer yet. The Raptors have some pieces and can put some other role players on this team, ones that are a better fit, but the hardest part to find is the transcendent talent. There are not a lot of Chris Boshs available. To have one and let him slip away would set this franchise back much farther than simple inconsistency.

Watch Lonzo Ball’s 29 point, 11 rebound, 9 assist game Friday night

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This was more of what fans expected from Lonzo Ball.

After a rough first game against the Clippers — with Patrick Beverley in his face all night — Ball found plenty of room to operate against the soft defense of the Phoenix Suns. With room to operate Ball had 29 points, 11 rebounds, and nine assists — just one assist short of a triple-double. He helped the Lakers pull away to a lead in the third then hold on for a 132-130 win over the Suns.

Ball wasn’t terribly efficient, 12-of-27 shooting, but he was 4-of-9 from three, he played with great pace, he was decisive, and was finding guys with his passes. It was a step forward, even if it was against a sad defense (Eric Bledsoe can be a good defender, but he has seemed disinterested in recent years).

Ball and the Lakers are going to be up and down this season, the goal is for there to be more ups near the end of the season.

LeBron James rejects Giannis Antetokounmpo at the rim

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Through the first couple games of the season, Giannis Antetokounmpo has put up impressive numbers — he dropped 34 points, 8 rebounds, and 8 assists on the Cavaliers Friday night.

But the Cavaliers still have LeBron James.

He had 24 points and 8 assists, leading Cleveland to the win.

LeBron also reminded the Greek Freak just how good a rim protector he is. Few people can slow Antetokounmpo on the drive, but LeBron is one of them.

Is it too early to root for a Cavs vs. Bucks playoff series?

Hawks’ DeAndre’ Bembry out with fractured wrist

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In their season opener Wednesday, Atlanta second-year man DeAndre’ Bembry came off the bench and played 17:45, scored six points and was +13 on the night. It was a good start to his career.

But now he is going to miss some time with a fractured wrist.

Bembry underwent an MRI, which revealed a fracture in his right wrist, the Hawks announced Friday. He will return to Atlanta with the team (the Hawks lost to the Hornets Friday night) and will meet with team doctors at the Emory Orthopaedics & Spine Center on Monday. His status will be updated after that.

“We just may play some other guys more, we may use some of the young guys,” Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer told the AP before Friday night’s game. “We’ll just figure it out tonight and as we move forward. I don’t think there’s anything guaranteed for anybody, it’s unfortunate for DeAndre’ and for us.”

 

Danny Ainge says Celtics will apply for Disabled Player Exception

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It’s not likely Gordon Hayward returns this season. His agent said as much, although a return in March is not out of the question. (It’s better PR wise for the Celtics to say he is out for the season, then if he returns early great, it’s better than setting a deadline he doesn’t meet.)

With that, the Celtics are going to apply for the Disabled Player Exception, which could help them land a replacement player, Danny Ainge told Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe.

President of basketball operations Danny Ainge told the Globe on Friday the club is applying for the Disabled Player Exception, which would provide the Celtics $8.4 million to pursue a player to fill Hayward’s roster spot.

“We’re in the process of doing that,’’ Ainge said. “We have a while to do that. There’s no urgency, but we will apply for that.”

There are limits to what that money can get the Celtics. The money is the same as the mid-level exception, the Celtics can go over the cap to use it, and the player can be obtained via free agency or trade. However, the player must be in the last year of his contract.

It gives the Celtics options. It also does not mean Hayward cannot return, it only means NBA-approved doctors determined he is not likely to return before a mid-June deadline.