Short on tall guysAtlantic move will be a large plus for Raptors and Bosh
By BILL HARRIS -- Toronto Sun
The Raptors already are looking ahead to their Atlantic getaway. It won't be a vacation, exactly. But Raptors general manager Glen Grunwald acknowledged yesterday that any roster moves he makes this season will take into account his club's relocation to the Atlantic Division next season.
"Yeah, I think so," Grunwald said. "It's something we consider, for sure."
For example, it's common knowledge the Raptors would like to shore up their front court to help rookie Chris Bosh, but does that search fall into the category of general priority or desperate necessity? Consider the teams the Raptors will share a division with beginning next fall:
The Philadelphia 76ers. No real centre.
The Boston Celtics. No real centre.
The New Jersey Nets. No real centre.
The New York Knicks. They have a real centre in Dikembe Mutombo, who has been sporadically effective this season. But this could be his final year, and even if he does play next season, he probably will be distracted by all the hoopla surrounding his 100th birthday.
So keeping the immediate competition in mind, does the 6-foot-10, 230-pound Bosh really seem so undersized?
"It's not only a matter of what division we're joining, but you also have to look at where our sport is headed overall," Grunwald said. "Look at the team we played on Sunday, the Seattle SuperSonics. They have a centre in Jerome James, but he doesn't even play for long stretches. The Sonics often go small and athletic, like we do.
"Guys like Kevin Garnett and Tim Duncan are great players, but they aren't traditional low-post centres, either. The only dominant one left is Shaquille O'Neal and the only dominant one on the horizon is Yao Ming."
The opinion here remains that the Raptors should try to get a little bigger, either through deals or signings, and Grunwald likely is of the same mind as long as he doesn't have to rip apart a roster that currently is working quite well.
But taking a good hard look around the league, and especially when analyzing the teams that are going to make up the new-look Atlantic Division, one is left with the impression that maybe the Raptors aren't as size-challenged as they appear to be at first glance.
No, the Raptors don't have a true centre. But how many teams do?
ALLEN VERSUS GOLIATH
Raptors guard Vince Carter yesterday was named the NBA's player of the week and he generally has been lauded this season for his increased willingness to get up when knocked down. But interestingly, Philadelphia 76ers guard Allen Iverson has suggested that his own inclination to venture aggressively into the land of the giants actually is hurting his cause with the officials.
This will sound a little weird to anyone who saw the Raptors-Sixers game last week in Philly, during which the 6-foot, 165-pound Iverson trotted to the free-throw line 23 times. But Iverson is of the opinion that being a gritty little guy is totally overrated.
"It's like (the officials say to themselves), 'He can take it, he's tough, he can take the contact and still make shots,' " Iverson said. "It's because they've seen me make all those tough shots before."
"I don't think it's right. I ask referees, 'Was there contact on the play?' And the referees say, 'Yes, there was contact, they got a piece of you, but I don't think it was enough.' When is it enough, when I fall and break something and hurt myself?"
Iverson's contention goes against the traditional wisdom that if a smaller player drives to the hoop with regularity, he'll be respected by the officials and thus will get the benefit of the doubt on calls that could go either way.
Can't you just hear Raptors fans nervously saying in unison, "Ssshhh, even if Allen is right, for heaven's sake don't tell Vince."
A recent Carmelo Anthony look-alike contest at a restaurant in Denver was a flop. There wound up being only four contestants and the winner was a guy who wandered in for lunch, totally unaware of the competition ... Ben Wallace of the Detroit Pistons thinks the Raptors got the better of the big deal in which they acquired Jalen Rose, Donyell Marshall and Lonny Baxter from the Chicago Bulls for Antonio Davis, Jerome (Junk Yard Dog) Williams and Chris Jefferies. "I don't think it makes either team a power, but I do think it makes one team a contender," Wallace said. "(The Raptors) were good before. They're a contender now." ... Williams on why he already has bought a house in Chicago: "You have to jump right into the community. A dog without a house is a cold dog."