Q&A With Tas Melas of Basketball Jones

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If you only listen to one podcast, listen to Celtics Stuff Live.  If you only listen to two podcasts, make sure the other one is The Basketball Jones. The show is really well produced, informative, and funny.  This year they even took the next step and created video podcasts.  Great stuff.

Tas Melas is one of the co-hosts and a big Raptors fan, so I asked him some Raps questions.  Enjoy!

1.  Chris Mannix cooked up a Raptors/Celtics trade idea that I'm not a fan of.  (Kappono for House and Scalabrine)  To me 'Pono seems like a one dimensional player who's a better shooter than House, but can't help run the point and has a contract that runs through 2011.  On the Raps side, you don't get to dump salary till after next year.  So is this one of those rare lose-lose trade ideas?

Kapono is not a typical "Celtics" player, he's just not much of a presence on the defensive end - everyone saw him get absolutely destroyed by Pierce earlier this season. As for those that say he was part of that Heat title run along side Posey, well, he wasn't. Kapono played 1 minute that post-season (and that number is probably rounded up).
 
Kapono off the Celtics bench would give Boston that 3-point shooting that went to New Orleans with James Posey, but this proposed deal would create other holes. The C's would not feel comfortable going in to the post-season with Cassell and Pruitt behind Rondo, forcing them to pick someone up (Armstrong, Stoudamire, et al). That means integrating a new backup PG, wing player and possibly a big off the bench as the media has been suggesting (PJ Brown, Joe Smith, et al).
 
As for the Raps, the money saving is not enough motivation to make this move. This move is pretty inconsequential for the team and they're not lacking cap room for 2010. Toronto needs to improve on the wings with a star player (not a House-type player), they've got enough average types in Parker, Kapono, Graham and Moon. As for Scal, he wouldn't even crack the lineup.

2. I was one of the few that thought the O'Neal/Bosh two headed monster would work out great and the Raps would do some damage in the Atlantic.  I also keep thinking of Colangelo as the genius that won GM of the year a few seasons back.  Where did everything go wrong with that roster?

Many in the city of Toronto felt the same way as you before the season, but I don't think anyone has totally given up. Colangelo and the entire Raptor Nation knew TJ Ford must be traded, and I think the entire congregation would still agree Colangelo got more than fair value.
 
Has the Raps front court worked out well? Definitely not. O'Neal is not the offensive player he once was, and Sam Mitchell was treating him like that 6-time All-Star of the past. When he was healthy this season, much of the offence ran though JO, with Bosh going touchless for very long stretches. Also, the team went away from running plays for the 2 and 3 spot - players that are uncapable of creating their own shot. Things were stagnant. This recent stretch without O'Neal has been promising, specifically the confidence/play of Bargnani that has made Raptor fans forget about Roy/Gay/Aldridge for a couple weeks.
 
When JO returns, will Bargs keep up this torrent pace? Will new coach, Jay Triano, force O'Neal to take a reduced role - something JO said he would be good with when he arrived in Toronto? Will the wings continue to have sets designed for them? If JO is forced to be what he is - a very solid defensive/team guy with a decent offensive game - there is still hope. Things are looking up right now. I mean, hey, they picked up a game on the C's last night (Friday).

3. If you were starting from scratch, who would you rather have as your point guard for the next 5 seasons?  Calderon or Rondo?  Bonus question: Considering the limited number of star point guards in the East, does either one deserve to be in the All Star game?

Sigh. Geesh, didn't feel like tossing me a meatball, did ya? I would have to pick Rondo as my PG of the future. Rajon has the ability to break down players and create his own shot in a pinch, and I really prefer a point guard that can do that. Calderon needs a pick to create and isn't very aggressive at going to the rim. Jose is obviously the far superior shooter at this point, but seeing Rondo grow in his first three seasons, and with him being only 22, I wouldn't be surprised to see him develop both a jumper and more of a mid-range game. One thing people rave about with Jose is his assist-to-turnover ratio. Jose takes care of that ball like it was his last warm empanada - and that's extremely valuable come playoff time - but it's a bit of a trade off with Calderon. He plays the game so conservatively that he'll run only the play that's called, or he'll stay away from the lane and make the safe pass on the outside, or he'll rarely push the pace. Jose is such a steady hand but I just feel Rondo has the opportunity to impact the game that much more. Calderon can often be invisible for stretches as he has become exclusively a jump shooter. And, at the age of 27, how much will he change?
 
Calderon's numbers are slightly superior to Rondo's but I think being on a far better team and simply his overall impact would give him the edge in coaches minds. Still, Rondo's numbers won't be enough to get him there. They don't stand out enough to preclude coaches from picking an established player (Carter, Johnson, Harris, Allen) over him.

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