Just like clockwork, the mail gets delivered on time
Wow, we’re pretty full this week, again.
Don’t despair if your query isn’t here, I’ll get some out in the regular blog and in the Three Things part of post-games this weekend.
This week’s themes: Do they need Rasho, a couple of wild and crazy trade ideas and – for something entirely different – an idea about moving Jose.
Q: Is it just I? We miss Garbajosa even though it is hard to put one's finger on WHY we miss him. I am sure the stats would not reveal he is being missed that much. Yet a strong if ineffable feeling remains: boy, was he good when we needed him for a pass, a deflection, a rebound, an important shot.
Doug, what do you think IS a glue guy?
What specific traits do glue guys provide? Why are they so rare and hard to define? Who are the top "glue guys" now playing in the NBA? Are they recognized for what they bring?>
Charles N, Mexico-Toronto
A: No, it is not just you at all. It’s Sam Mitchell and Bryan Colangelo and the other 14 guys on the roster who miss Garbo. A lot.
To me, ‘glue’ guys are the ones who make big plays that don’t really get noticed, they know their roles and perfect them, they are good teammates because they encourage others and set examples of hard work and a willingness to sacrifice for the good of the team.
I’d say the top one in the league right now is Bruce Bowen in San Antonio, I’d put Kurt Thomas in Seattle as another who’s helping a very young team. I’d also suggest Grant Hill’s going to do that in Phoenix despite only being there one season.
Are they recognized? Yeah, at the pay window and by sticking around the league a very long time.
Q: My question: We keep reading about how impressive is the ratio of assists to turnovers for Jose C. It is, maybe...I just wonder if the few turnovers is very much a reflection of the Raptors being an outside-shooting team. In other words, where some point guards make turnovers trying to hit cutters or others inside, with the exception of Bosh (and sometime Calderon himself), the Raptors lack an inside game. The majority of Calderon's assists seem to be earned on hitting outside shooters. I'd be happy to see a few more turnovers if it means a surge of points in the paint. What do you think?
Richard W, Toronto
A: With all due respect, I think only a Raptor fan would want the NBA leader in assist-to-turnover ratio to commit more turnovers.
I think the few turnovers are a reflection of his intelligence as a basketball player, not his unwillingness to make the flashy play.
Q: I had to comment on the Rasho-Andrea thing. I seem to recall about 12 or 14 games into last season you wrote "What the Raptors need is more Rasho," that was about 48 hours after I had announced the same around the office. I want to know how many games it will be before you make a similar announcement.
I think Rasho has been the unsung hero on this squad, it never shows up in the box score, but they do play better D when he is on the floor, get more rebounds, he doesn't block a lot of shots but seems to alter quite a few, he sets solid screens and while some match ups don't favour him he does defend the likes of Dwight Howard and Chris Kaman quite well. I know we need Andrea's potential offence, but one has to wonder if he can replace all or any of those intangibles that Rasho brings every night.
Robert K, Shelburne
A: I’m of the opinion that Rasho is an important player on this team, for his leadership on the court defensively. He’s been in the playoffs every year of his career, including in Minnesota and Toronto, and I think that says something about him.
I think, eventually, you’re going to see a three-man frontcourt rotation of Bosh, Bargnani and Rasho, with the Hump being fourth, used on nights when someone (Bargs) gets in foul trouble.
Q: A few questions:
Do you think that Delfino will command a Kapano-type contract ($ wise) next summer?
Is Grunwald still with the Knicks? I never see him mentioned by the New York press. Would he survive Thomas getting fired?
Who will be the starting/finishing five for the Raptors come play-off time this year?
How much can the Raptors spend on Calderon and Delfino before they get into luxury taxes?
A: Hey, do we have to put a limit on the number of questions per question? Kidding. Okay, here we go
Yes, a full mid-level contract is very much the kind of money Delfino will ommand.
Yes, the lucky fella’s still there in New York and I think he would survive, in the short-term.
Starters: Ford, Parker, Delfino, Bosh, Bargnani. Finishers: Probably the same, maybe a centre not currently with the team finishes for Bargnani.
Spending? That’s too hard to say, really. But I will. If the tax threshold is around $70 million and no roster moves are made, they’ll be about $10 mil below. So they could do Delfino at full mid-level and match a really good offer and stay below it. Of course, that’s all speculation ‘cause the numbers aren’t nearly final.
Q: Re: the great Bargnani debate, I'm of the opinion that, long-term, there are players who make more sense from a chemistry and "game-fits-the-needs-of-the-team" perspective. The Raptors have a surplus of shooters and an obvious lack of toughness and rebounding down low.
Share your thoughts on Emeka Okafor if you would. I see a very good rebounder, shot blocker, banger and help defender who just happens to play for a team that might balk at paying him the kind of money that he'll command as a restricted free agent. Could you see Bryan making a call, perhaps using Rasho's expiring contract as leverage?
David T, Nashua, N.H.
A: Hey, Jed Bartlett territory! Best president in decades.
I like Emeka Okafor, or I should rather say I used to like him a lot more. He is a good shot blocker, fine defender but he really hasn’t developed into the presence I, and many others, thought he would.
But he would be a nice fit, although I think he’d be too expensive as a free agent in the off-season and I don’t think the Raptors have the pieces Charlotte would want in a trade to rent him for the rest of this season. The Bobcats got their centre in Nazr Mohammed so Rasho’s out, and a package of shooters wouldn’t be enough, I don’t think.
Q: If you could pick any player in the league and put them on the roster who would it be? Rather than a player anyone pick like Nash, Kobe etc? Like a good star player that would help/support Bosh and Bargnani?
Jermaine M, Toronto
A: I can’t pick stars? That’s a toughy. Okay, here’s three: Richard Jefferson, Antawn Jamison and Joe Johnson would be on the list. We’re not talking all-stars, right?
Q: I'm not sure if you do the hypothetical trade forum stuff however it appears as though the Raps are only (1) impact player away from contending. Here is my trade, tell me why the Raps wouldn’t make this deal. TJ, Rasho, Garbo, Graham for Shaq and an unprotected #1. Miami needs to rebuild around Wade with good role players and gets cap relief next season (I think?). We use a few spare parts to get a chance to contend over the next 2 1/2 seasons. If it doesn’t work, Bosh, Calderon and Bargnani are still young enough to continue to build around when the Diesel comes off the books. Thoughts?
Rob V, Waterloo
A: Why they wouldn’t do it? How about ‘cause Shaq’s done? And that’s way too high a price to pay for a guy who’s done and who is owed about $40 million on his contract. I don’t do a lot of hypotheticals but this one caught my eye.
Q: I'm thinking now that Christmas has come and gone, it's finally no longer too early to start talking about trades. How about this one: Bargnani for Ben Gordon. Toronto needs a slashing/scoring swingman and Chicago needs shooting and a low-post presence. I can think of a bunch of reasons why this would or would not work, but assuming Bargnani regains his shooting form and continues to develop a low-post game after getting back into the starting line-up, could you see either Toronto or Chicago wanting to go for this coming up to the trade deadline? Not that I'm endorsing it, it's just the least ridiculous trade I could come up with ...
Andre C, Toronto
A: At least it’s not Shaq. But I don't think Bargnani gives Chicago what they want and I'm pretty sure Ben Gordon would be just another player in Toronto.
Q: I really enjoy your blog, and I hope you had a Merry Christmas. I was wondering if you knew if the Raptor players who aren't from the U.S. were able to get home for Christmas?
Tannis T, Eastend, Sask
A: Thanks, hope you had a great holiday, too.
All of ‘em got back from Phoenix to meet friends and family and even though they weren’t in their own countries, they all seemed to have had a good time.
Q: How does it feel to be among the list of famous "Doug's" in Toronto? Gilmour, Christie, and now Smith!!!
Okay, so my question, with regards to NBA players playing for their countries. For every Jose Calderon who plays for his country and comes back playing out of his mind for his NBA club team, there are guys like Garbo and Gasol who get injured while playing international ball. When injuries happen while playing for your country, are the teams that pay their salary on the hook for it if the player cannot play during the season?
Marino F, Richmond Hill
A: Oh yeah, the NBA clubs are on the hook for every dime of the salary. It’s two entirely different things, international ball and the NBA.
Q: I have recently been turned on to basketball (thanks to an elementary coaching assignment) and was wondering what age a typical American player would start playing. Is there an extensive club system in the States, or is most of the development through elementary and high school?
Steve B, Sudbury
A: Typical? Early grade school, I’d guess. Around Grade 4.
And you’ll find most the development, sadly, comes through AAU and club ball rather than the schools. I say sadly because the clubs are more interested in games, travel and shoe deals than making kids truly learn the fundamentals of the game.
If you’re coaching kids in school, make ‘em learn to dribble, pass and shoot, drill ‘em ‘til you can’t drill ‘em any more. They’ll appreciate it later.
Q: For the people who complain about Moon, he is still a steal even if he falls back to the bench. Nothing much expected, not much of a salary (except for dumping Luke, who is just filling up the stat sheet in Miami - that's a joke youngins) but he has given at least as much as most making ten times as much.
As for a question, how is Jose's hand. I would think that injury would bother most players but a PG, has he said anything about it? (and for Jose's defence of four assists against the Suns, if you could add two Hump blew, and a couple on the many fouls on Chris, he be right there at the season average - which is high cause of some hot shooting games by his team. )
Bruce M, Winnipeg
A: Jose’s hand’s okay. Asked him about it yesterday, as a matter of fact. He’s still got the two fingers taped together on his left hand and it’s limiting him a bit (hurts a bit when he catches hard passes) but he’s got to play through it. Doctors tell him it’s going to be a good long while before he’s 100 per cent but that’s something he has to live with.
Q: Any chance the Raps change their intro music this year? I’d suggest "Sunday morning" by K-OS for Sunday games. Also, here’s a scenario: Assuming TJ is all fine and dandy, in the off-season, would the Raps contemplate dealing Jose Calderon for Josh Smith in a straight up sign and trade? There are some pretty good projected late first round point guards available who could backup TJ (DJ Augustin, Darren Collison and Rodrigue Beaubois).
Josh S, Thornhill
A: I’ll pass on the music suggestion to the powers that be.
Nope, I wouldn’t do that Calderon-Smith deal for two reasons: Even if T.J. looks great for a long time, you never, ever know what his long-term situation is going to be and you need a backup as talented as Calderon, as we’ve seen of late. And I’m not a huge Josh Smith fan. He’s good, but not great in my book. I could be wrong – and I’m sure many people out there will let me know just how wrong – but that’s my opinion.