Too Many Euros on the Raptors?

by April 14, 2010

It’s a question posed by a rather angry (and perhaps, crazy) Globe and Mail scribe: “So if we’re going to whisper things about Bosh – if we’re going to put that out on the table just in time for the New York Knicks to come to town for the Raptors’ season finale tonight – let’s talk about the Europeans. Or, as general manager Bryan Colangelo more properly calls them, ‘international players.’ C’mon, you know that’s been out there all year, right? Does this team have too many international players? Or maybe just one too many Canadian-born head coaches? Jose Calderon is not a starting point guard. Period. He is a walking mismatch. Andrea Bargnani seems happy being a complementary player who can disappear when it matters. And Hedo Turkoglu? I mean, really. So since we’re looking in all the closets and corners, I asked Colangelo five questions via e-mail about his team being too international. He received it on his BlackBerry while watching Bosh get his face rearranged in Cleveland last week. (Bosh, no doubt, deliberately took the elbow for cover – all the easier to shut it down mentally.) This is a serious matter for a GM, who in his words still gets ‘told by a few agents not to bother.’ Toronto’s long-term viability as an NBA franchise will depend on international players because international basketball players are a great deal like Latino baseball players: They’ve grown up with passports, so for them going through the Canadian border is not akin to an invitation to a night in Guantanamo Bay. The flip side is that people still wonder about communication and culture. Hell, old-time basketball guys still wonder whether a team with so many internationals gets less respect from NBA game officials. Colangelo wonders why Turkoglu doesn’t get more calls (‘Hedo, for whatever reason, has just struggled getting calls but it has nothing to do with him being an international player’) and Bargnani’s limited trips to the charity-stripe are due to his hovering on the perimeter by design. But with Bosh out, Colangelo agreed that, ‘Andrea does need to get more post-oriented and get to the line.’ Colangelo acknowledges his team has problems with defensive intensity but ‘that is not something limited to the international players.”’