This postman only rings once (a week)
I tell you this, you folks are incessant. Love the mail, it's so interesting to read every day. Lots of Moon love, very little Jose Is The Greatest, Why Not Trade T.J. Talk and only a couple of Doug, you're a knucklehead comments.
Keep 'em coming, we get to three after every game and will try to sprinkle 'em in other days. If you want to send on, just click here.
And now, this week's themes: The triangle is square, still love for The Big M and Penny Hardaway's lone fan checks in.
Q: Bosh, Bargnani and Ford injured?? Time to panic and jump ship!!
Anyways, I don't know about you, but I'm always disappointed by the lack of Raptors representing the team during the All-Star festivities. I know that Kapono will be in the 3 point shootout this year to defend the crown, but do you see Parker (league leader in 3-point percentage right now) and Bargnani in the contest?
How about Moon in the Slam Dunk and TJ or Jose in the skills competition? Is there any way that us Raptor fans can do to help get them in...like by sending angry e-mails like we always do?
Ernest Ho, Scarborough
A: Nah, you're going to see one Raptor in the three-point contest and it'll be Kapono. The league likes to spread that kind of thing around.
But, there will be a lot of Raptors around New Orleans to keep us busy. I presume Moon's in the rookie-sophomore game and Bargnani likely is, too. I can see Moon getting into the dunk contest for sure and I'll be Bosh gets voted in as a sub by coaches from the East.
And here's one for you all to contemplate -- and for about a million of you to write me about -- what if the coaches vote Calderon in as a backup?: Will that start some angst around here or what?
Q: What would you say to the Raptors moving to a triangle offence?
This might solve some of their spacing issues that they have been having and their existing high/low post strategy is incorporated, being the weak side (ie not triangle) set-up. I know it's tough to learn, but there is a core of young players locked in for a while.
Please do not reply by stating a) you are not the coach and b) you wish you were making more money.
Lorne K, Toronto
A: Wow, a pre-emptive anti-snark comment. Very cool.
I would say the Raptors are never going to go to a triangle offence, nor should they. They don't have the kind of big shooting guard or small forward capable of initiating it, it plays away from their point guard strength and the triangle is so hard to learn and implement, there's only one coach who thinks he can do it and we know who he is. And the triangle sure sounds great and works well knowing that when it breaks down and the shot clock's running out, there's a guy named Jordan or Bryant to bail it out.
Q: I know it's early to be thinking ahead to the off-season, but can you give us an overview of what Colangelo has to work with next year, with respect to a) How much money will there be to spend, b) Who from this roster is likely to be re-signed and use some of it up (Calderon and Moon?), c) Who is unlikely to return (Rasho?), and d) which free agents might we see in a Raptor uniform? Also, do the Raps have both a first and second round pick in 2008 or have trades impacted those assets?
Kevin Rosen, Winnipeg
A: It is pretty early but here goes.
The Raptors will have the full mid-level exception (best guess, about $5.6 million a year to start) and they'll have to deal with Jose Calderon and Juan Dixon as free agents, although both will be restricted and their salaries won’t count against the mid-level exception, if they keep them. As for other free agents they might go after, there's really no way to answer that, or even take a guess so I'll take a pass. They have their picks for next year. But they don't figure to be good.
Q: As I'm two for two in your mailbag this year, I figure, why not go for the natural hat trick.
Just to add to the miasma of Garbo talk these days, I have a question about the consigliere, Maurizio Gherardini.
I feel he's been conspicuously silent on the whole busted ankle business. How do you think this controversy has affected his reputation as an international player broker, and what have you heard from overseas that might inform your answer ... and yes, I'm proud of myself for using the word miasma.
Sam Toman, Toronto
A: I am only including this question because you not only used miasma, you used it correctly and in the same question as you used consigliere.
But no, Maurizio's reputation is beyond reproach worldwide. And the public silence about Garbo is throughout the organization; I presume because no one wants to say anything that will either tick someone off unecessarily or jeopardize the talks between doctors for the team, Spain and the insurance company.
Q: I was wondering what's your take on the current U.S. national team? Some friends and I always argue about the original dream team and this "new" dream team.
I say this team will be better because it is still pretty young with the exception of Kidd and Kobe. But anyways, my main argument is that when the original US team rose to glory, most of their players were already in their prime so you can't say that the current team won't be as good, if not better. Also, today the international competition is a lot tougher, I mean A LOT so if this team can dominate at this years olympics can they be considered the best team of all-time?
Or are you like my friends and have already etched in stone that the other team is the greatest ever?
Mike Ulangot, Winnipeg
A: I know Kidd and Kobe and all of them have talent and all that but there is no way in the world they will be as good as Michael, Magic and Larry and that 1992 team. Sorry to sound like an old-timer longing for the good old days but that's as good as it gets. Or will ever get. In fact, even with Kidd and Kobe, I don't see the Americans going into the Olympics as overwhelming gold medal favourites. They'll be in the running but Argentina and Spain and maybe Russia will have as much claim to favoured status as the Americans.
Q: Do you think this Garbo mess (and it sounds like it'll get messier) will affect Jose Calderon's relationship with the Raptors, especially with his free agency coming up?
Thomas E, Toronto
A: Jose said it himself, he loves Garbo and he loves the Raptors. When he gets an offer, though, he's going to love Jose most of all and make his own decision. And I think that decision will be to return. And, as we all know, the Raptors have the right to match any offer he gets. I don't think money drives him, I think comfort does and I think he's entirely comfortable in his situation here.
Q: Around this time last year, with all the 'trade Mo Pete' talk, I wrote to you and suggested that Josh Smith is what the Raptors needed, and asked for your thoughts.
In all the trade ideas I saw proposed, no one ever mentioned him, which was surprising given that he's a tough defender (blocks and steals) who can grab boards, make points, get to the line, and drop the occassional three.
My question, rightly so, didn't make it to print, as there was no way such a trade would happen, and he's got a bit of a negative reputation. So ... this one is more of an observation masquerading as a question.
Moon's game looks pretty similar to Smith's, doesn't it? I don't want to overstate the case, but it's arguable that Moon's rise has had a bigger impact on this team than the acquistion of either Kapono or Delfino. Which is not to say that I'm critical of either. Your thoughts?
Marc Zahradnik, Halifax
A: I think it's absolutely true that Moon's addition has been more significant than either Delfino or Kapono, yes. That's not to say the other two were mistakes because they weren't but Moon provides something this team hasn't had, and needs. An athletic three. There was a school of thought within the organization that they'd have to trade a valuable asset to get the guy Moon has become. Getting that spot filled without losing anything is a huge plus.
Q: Watching the Raptors, specifically when Kris Humphries has the ball, pains me greatly. I love the guy's hustle and the toughness he sometimes brings to the floor, but one thing about him really irks me. Once he gets the ball, you know he is going to shoot it. He's like a black hole.
There is no way he is going to pass it out to the perimeter or hit a cutter. I know his passing ability is probably not the best, but even after an offensive rebound, or two, he always tries to put it right back up, or dribble (which is even a scarier sight by the way). So I am just curious why we never see him pass kick the ball out to someone open for 3?
I feel like his offensive activities really hurt the raptors on some possessions.
But don't get me wrong, I love a guy who is willing to scrap for rebounds. As it seems we don't have many other players who are willing to do so...(aside from Bosh most nights and Delfino, I love that guy)
Arie Rutgers, Orangeville
A: Irks you? How'd you'd like to be Sam? Or his staff? They are in a state of perpetual irk. And that's why you're not seeing Hump get 16 or 20 minutes a night any more.
Q: With Jamario Moon's now known affection for dogs, what will it take for the Raps PA people to start playing Ozzy Osbourne's 'Bark at the Moon?'
Geoff P, Toronto
A: Somebody having a seizure and hitting the wrong number on some CD? Ozzy Osbourne, bless is rather worn soul, is not of this man's NBA.
Q: Read the question about Chris Bosh wearing protective gear around his middle: Out of curiosity, do you know if the players wear any protective gear for their tail bones? They fall on their butts a lot when they attempt to take a charge or something of that nature so I figure it would make sense.
Pete H, Toronto
A: I don't know of anyone who wears padding specifically for tailbones. Compression tights under their uniform shorts, yes; padded for tailbones? I don't think so. But I haven't really looked that closely.
Q: Enjoy your blog ... enough sucking up. What has impressed me with this years Raptors is that Sam's message of defense is getting through.I realize you are high on Delfino but who else has surprised you defensively.
Cam McAlpine, Shenzhen, China
A: First, there's never enough sucking up. I'll do some, too; need some good Beijing tips for next year's Olympics. Ask around, would you? Defensively? I think Bargnani has improved (I've actually seen him in a defensive stance at least half a dozen times this year) and I remain impressed with the high basketball IQ, particularly on the defensive end, of Rasho Nesterovic.
But the overall improvement comes from a collective effort, they actually seem to care more this year about stopping people than they did last season.
Q: Hi, I just want to laugh in your face for the snarly comment of yours assuming Penny has nothing left and will eventually get injured.
Well it seems his experience is valuable to Miami and the other Saturday he dropped everything he shot against New Jersey. This includes four bombs from Memphis where you thought he'd end up (and not the team, more like his house with a bad knee). Obviously his PPG is low, but when you want to win games, do you think that after 10+ years you care about stats?
Now saying that, do you think Miami will guarantee his contract in January so that I can buy platinum seats to see the Miami game in March down at the ACC?
Wild Ace, Toronto
A: Dude, or dudette (can't tell by the rather unimaginative handle), are you high?
I would hope Penny Hardaway is only interested in personal stats 'cause he's on a team that's 4-10 and second to last in the Eastern Conference. Yeah, he's added some veteran savvy and how-to-win knowledge to that club, for sure.