Summer is always a busy time for a sports fan with diverse tastes, which if you ask my better half, I have.
In my case I tend to wander off the beaten path to watch fastball, lacrosse, rugby and other sports rather often as readers will have noticed in recent weeks.
So it’s time to get back to the major sports for a quick look at just what has been going on.
Diehard Toronto Raptor fans have been trying to get their head around a huge deal which sent fan favourite DeMar DeRozan to San Antonio for Kawhi Leonard.
While there were others involved in the swap DeRozan and Leonard are the real deal, and if sports were solely about raw talent the Raptors won this deal big time.
But, in a team sport talent is not always the end all of building a team.
DeRozan was a proud Raptor, and part of a team which seemed to be made up of a group of nice guys who liked playing together, and liked playing in Toronto. From that foundation the idea of ‘We the North’ flourished with the players, led largely be DeRozan, seeming to be very much on the same page as fans.
And the atmosphere translated into wins. They led their conference last season, and while they lost in the playoffs, they did so to a team led by LeBron James, who had taken his team to the final dance for years.
The Raptors now have Leonard who makes the team better if he comes to play, but this is a superstar coming off an injury plagued season, who has stated his desire to be a Los Angeles Laker, beside none other than James.
Unless the Raptors can change his mind, Leonard could well be a one-year option as he enters free agency at the end of this season. Toronto essentially has to make the league final next spring or face the possibility of signing and then trading Leonard in what is then a major rebuild. We could be going from first place to the unknown rather quickly.
Whether Leonard can be part of a united team in Toronto if his heart is already in LA is also a question mark. He will want a good year personally to pad his next contract, but whether that makes the team a cohesive winner is a big question mark heading into the new season.
Down Highway #10 Saskatchewan sports fan have to be watching what is going on with the Roughriders with a high level of bewilderment.
The team is winning its share of games in a CFL west where it’s Calgary and then the rest in terms of the standings.
But how head coach Chris Jones is doing it leaves one to scratch their heads.
The most dynamic receiver on the team, and maybe in the league, Duron Carter is playing defensive back, a position where capable American players seem to be available in significant numbers.
They did move him back to receiver Saturday, but under-utilized him, then threw him back on defence to play both ways. It’s built an instability from the coach’s seat.
At the same time the ‘Rider offence struggles with Brandon Bridge and David Watford on a quarterback yo-yo that seems a questionable way to develop either into a regular starter. One has to think Carter would help either pivot be better.
Then two weeks ago offensive lineman Brendon Labatte hobbles through a large part of a recent game because the team has no back-up dressed, meaning when his leg got twisted a defensive lineman was shifted over. This is already an
‘O-line’ that has struggled, so not ensuring some depth seems strange.
But the team has been competitive so one can’t argue the results so far.
Or can we. It was a brain freeze by TO coach Mark Trestman in failing to throw a challenge flag on a bad call that opened the door to a ‘Rider win over the Argos early in the season.
And this week a bonehead gamble by the Roughriders was stuffed and led to an early momentum shift to Calgary. It was an obvious punting situation especially with the ‘Riders sputtering offence, and highly suspect offensive line.
Jones is very much a man on a pogo stick in a mine field. Some jumps (decisions) land him inexplicably safe, and others are blowing up in his team’s face.