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.

Quinn Cook signing two-year contract with Hawks

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The Hawks began last season with just two point guards, one fewer than most teams – especially notable because neither starter Dennis Schroder nor backup Malcolm Delaney was experienced for his role.

Schroder and Delaney return, but Atlanta is adding another option – Quinn Cook.

Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports:

Cook is a borderline NBA player. He might not make the regular-season roster. He also might supplant Delaney for a rotation spot.

A 24-year-old who has spent most of the last two years in the D-League (also getting stints with the Mavericks and Pelicans), Cook is a good outside shooter. He’s also steady, if unspectacular, in his lead-guard duties.

This is a solid flier at a position the Hawks could use depth.

Knicks sign Xavier Rathan-Mayes and Jamel Artis

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The Knicks signing Nigel Hayes leaked first.

But New York didn’t stop there.

Knicks release:

The New York Knickerbockers announced today that the team has signed forwards Jamel Artis and Nigel Hayes and guard Xavier Rathan-Mayes.

Like Hayes, Artis (Pittsburgh) and Rathan-Mayes (Florida State) went undrafted this year – making them eligible to be waived and assigned to the Knicks’ minor-league affiliate. That’s likely all three’s fate.

But first, each will have an opportunity to make the regular-season roster. The Knicks have just 14 players with guaranteed salaries, leaving one roster spot for someone on a standard contract. Chasson Randle (unguaranteed) is the incumbent choice, but these three could supplant him.

O.J. Mayo says abusing prescription painkillers triggered NBA ban

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Last year, O.J. Mayo was banned from the NBA for at least two years due to a drug violation. Aside from stating a plan to come back, Mayo didn’t say much publicly.

Until now.

Ben Golliver of Sports Illustrated:

He acknowledged smoking marijuana and abusing a prescription pain medication that triggered his two-year ban because it is on the NBA’s “drugs of abuse” list. (He emphatically denied testing positive for hard drugs like cocaine.)

Mayo also concluded that he had been “overwhelmed” by a string of difficult life events: his father, high school basketball star Kenny Ziegler, was sentenced to more than 10 years in prison for distributing crack cocaine, his brother was placed in juvenile lock-up, a close friend went to jail, and another was killed. “I was bred to play basketball and I thought I could balance everything,” he said. “I couldn’t.”

That’s part of an interesting feature on Mayo, who’s training for his come back. Golliver’s story makes it easy to pull for Mayo.

But the guard will be 30 when he’s eligible to apply for reinstatement, and he played lousily in his last three seasons with the Bucks.

Hopefully, Mayo has and keeps his personal life in order. But returning to the NBA will be an uphill battle.

James Harden throws alley-oop to Chris Paul, pair puts on show at Houston charity event

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What chemistry problem?

There are legitimate questions about how Chris Paul and James Harden will share the backcourt and ball with the Rockets, but none of those were on display on Sunday. That’s when CP3 joined his new teammate in Harden’s charity game (raising money for Harden’s charity, which helps children from single-family homes get a higher education), a kind of pro-am with some names thrown in to draw a crowd.

Harden and CP3 put on a show for the fans.

This is a charity event, not every team is going to defend like this or the Phoenix Suns. It’s going to be harder when the games matter.

But the Rockets are going to be entertaining to watch this season. No doubt.