There’s Nothing Left To Say, Besides “Let’s NBA”

It seems to be official – the Toronto Raptors can finally welcome back someone who didn’t want to leave in the first place. The deal for 33-year-old Rasho Nesterovic is said to be worth around 1.9 milion over one year. Even at a quick glance, the contract isn’t bad at all. Because of the Turkoglu sign and trade, Bryan Colangelo and company have been able to properly fill out the rest of the roster. And for a one year rental, Rasho will provide the Raps with what they need from the backup center position. Considering the intangibles, leadership, and steady locker room presence that he can provide, Rasho will be worth every single penny of the one year contract.

Though it doesn’t have the same glitter of the recent signings of Jack and Turkoglu, this is a solid move for the team. During his two year tenure in Toronto, the Raptors were able to make the playoffs. Before the 08-09 campaign, the savy vet was dealt to the Pacers in exchange for Jermaine O’Neal. Ironically enough, Canada’s lone NBA franchise failed to make the post-season that year. I’m not implying he was the main cog or the only reason why Raptors nation finally got a taste of playoff action again. But not enough can be said for a player who has seen the playoffs in ten of his eleven NBA careers. ¬†With ambitions of returning back to the NBA’s second season, this certainly raises spirit in the city of Toronto.

Let’s make the playoffs. But more importantly – Let’s NBA

- The Salute

Don’t Expect Jack To Be Content With Backup Role

There’s no denying it, bringing Jarrett Jack to the Toronto Raptors was a good move. A step in the right direction. At least that’s what the consensus seems to be. A young combo guard coming off a career high in points and rebounds. A very genuine and close relationship with the franchise Chris Bosh. What’s there not to like? When Chris himself walked into the room after Jack’s press conference, the positive vibe and mood was infectious. But lost in the midst of all the smiles, pictures, and handshakes was one small fact: Jarrett Jack expects to play.

A question I kept asking myself yesterday was “Why does the media keep assuming he will be the back-up PG”

Besides his durability and often-mentioned leadership, if there’s one thing that Jack represents, it’s that competitive spirit only found in NBA players. He comes off as one of those players who realize there’s no way to contribute while watching from the bench. If the game is on the line, he wants to be out there on the court. As laid back and professional Jarrett seemed during his presser, I felt like there was a certain swagger and confidence there. In other words: Playing time is important to Mr. Jack.

When Paul Jones of RaptorsTV asked him what was “shocking” about possibly joining the Raptors, Jack brought up the fact that Toronto seems to be locked in to Jose Calderon being their starting PG. To offset that deterrence, the Raptors were able to free up some minutes at the two with the losses of Jason Kapono and Anthony Parker. But with the addition of Antoine Wright (who averaged nearly 24 minutes on a playoff Dallas squad) and rookie DeMar DeRozan (who most expect to average at least 15-18 minutes, something similar to T-Mac’s rookie year), is there really a significant amount of minutes available at the two to be had?

Let’s say Wright proves to be more than adequate on the defensive end. Surely Toronto can afford to give him somewhere around twenty-four minutes, especially if the Mavs could. Jarrett Jack has been noted for his defense before, but I would think most teams would rather give minutes to the taller player if they’re near equal in defensive talent. And what about the intriguing USC product DeMar DeRozan? If he can even show us that he’s not as raw as people made him out to be, then the coaching staff will have no choice but to give him all the minutes he can handle.

Sure, those are a lot of “What Ifs”. But in my opinion, it just seems like too much of a gamble on Jack’s part. There are a few teams out there that would have been a better situation for a 25-year-old point guard coming off one of his best years as a pro. When you factor in the possibility of Carlos Delfino coming in, it only further makes it riskier for Jack to find those minutes everybody claims to be at the two spot.

I think it’s also important to note the fact that the two times Jack was confronted with the issue of starting, the former Pacer did not say he planned on being a reserve. In fact, when asked by Adnan Virk of RaptorsTV about whether Colangelo had gone into any specifics about his role, Jack was honest with his answer.

“He didn’t go into any specifics. I think he’s going to leave it up to coach Triano and myself.” Jack replied. “And come training camp, everybody will let the chips fall where they may.”

I think this is very telling of the situation, especially considering the previous assumption that GM Bryan Colangelo had informed Jack of his role before he proposed an offer sheet. You would think something like this would have been brought up during negotiations, especially in an attempt to avoid anything similar to what happened between Calderon and Ford. The reason why Jose and TJ didn’t work out was because they couldn’t be placed on the court at the same time. But can Jose and Jack?

“I think for a team to do well, you’ve got to have balance.” Jack said in response to a question by Doug Smith of The Toronto Star. “If I’m in the starting line-up, and you have Jose, Chris, Andrea, Hedo, those guys definitely have to get their touches and looks at the basket.”

Who’s not to say that can’t work out? It very well could. But if you were to ask me, having someone who says they’re a natural PG play the two is never a good look. Usually undersized twos earn that role and title because of their inability to play the point guard position. And it also rarely works out when you don’t have any real defensive presence at the other four positions.

At this point, let me remind the readers that all this uncertainty isn’t a bad thing for the team or its fans. In fact, it’s a great thing to have inner competition. Teams that hold themselves professionally and expect big things push each other day in and day out. The only person that should be at least a bit worried is Jose Calderon. Coming off a disappointing year plagued with injury, the Spaniard has to come out firing at all cylinders if he wants to prevent Jack (started 53 games last season) from taking over his starting spot.

The future is wide open at the moment. And in a league where the schedule is strenuous, having multiple options is a welcomed blessing. Now, it all becomes a matter of what you do with the options available. The Toronto Raptors have been dealt a pair of aces in Jose Calderon and Jarrett Jack. And as fans, we can’t wait to see where the chips fall.

- The Salute

Jack Can Officially Call Toronto Home

Seven days later, and Jarrett Jack can finally start packing his bags without any worry.

Signing a 4-year deal at $20 million, the 25 year old combo guard will be calling Toronto his new home after a career year playing for Indiana last season. As a restricted free agent, he had signed an offer sheet on July 13, giving the Pacers seven days to match. And so for a week, Raptors nation held their breaths. For the most part, fans felt the possible addition of Jack would turn this into the best offseason in Raptors’ history.

Fast forward to the ACC on this fine Tuesday afternoon, and Jarrett Jack found himself being introduced to Toronto’s media. Quick and to the point, the press conference provided Jack a podium to pitch his potential value to this team Raptor team.

Jarrett brings a number of intangibles to the table. His versatility (able to play both guard positions) and his durability (has missed only 6 games in his career) are two aspects Toronto has always seemed to be lacking. One also can’t ignore the fact that Jarrett Jack shares a close relationship with Chris Bosh. With the possibility of Bosh leaving in 2010, bringing in one of his best friends should play at least somewhat of a role in CB’s final decision. At the end of the day, regardless of how productive JJ can be, this can certainly be viewed as a good fit for T.O.

With the Jack situation out of the way, Bryan Colangelo and company can now move forward with filling out the rest of the roster. Rumoured names include Rasho Nesterovic and Carlos Delfino. Check back tomorrow for a more detailed opinion of mine in regards to what was said at Jack’s PC.

- The Salute

Grand Opening

What’s up Raptors Nation

There’s no denying that it’s an exciting time in the world of Toronto basketball. General Manager Bryan Colagenlo promised us with an interesting off season, and certainly delivered. As of July 21, The Raptor Salute is officially a live blog. In case you haven’t clued in on it yet, this will be a blog exclusively dedicated to coverage of Canada’s lone NBA club – the Toronto Raptors. Note that in no way am I officially affliated with the Toronto Raptors. This is just a fan expressing his love for his team through his love for writing.

Check back in a little bit. I’ll be covering the Jarrett Jack Press Conference scheduled at the ACC for 2:30.

Also check me out on http://twitter.com/kris_charisma

And my blog at http://www.demarderozan10.com/

- The Salute

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