A very hefty mailbag, again
You crazies are at it again. More questions than you can shake a stick at. So many that we’ll have another bonus mailbag sometime on the weekend ‘cause I like nothing better than answering your queries (well, that’s a fib, but maybe it makes you feel a bit better).
Anyway, here we go:
Q: I see the your amiable desire to bring the Mighty Mouse back to Toronto, but I still believe that Sam Cassell would be a better upgrade to man the point for the Raptors. What's his contract situation, and could BC and Sam Mitchell work out the possibility of getting his service? Another thing, Doug, in your 13 years covering the league, what do you think is the Raptors' chance of having an NBA championship banner raised in our home turf, if we were able to keep Billups (1), Carter (2), McGrady (3), and Camby (5), to play along side with Bosh (4)?
By the way, for a guy "who asked too many questions," I don't really know who Diana T. of Mississauga is. Maybe we can be a tandem doing investigative or research works for you ... and if she concurs, a case each of your favorite adult beverages would be enough to compensate us.)
Rikki C, Burlington
A: Sammy’s contract is worth about $6 million this and expires, which makes him quite attractive on the market, I’d think.
As for that lineup, I don’t know if it’d would have won an NBA championship but in the East, it sure would have played for a couple.
Oh, and you and Diana both sent in very long, question-filled questions a week or so ago, as I recall. The comment was a bit of a joke. Research tandem? I can always use a researcher or two. And if the cost is adult beverages, well, so be it.
Q: Hello again Doug, I have so many thoughts and questions rattling around my brain, so here are two topics I’d like your opinion on that have had me wondering and stewing for a long while:
Is there an approximate age or years of experience that an NBA player typically reaches his peak? And is it different dependent on position? I guess what I'm asking is, when we can reasonably anticipate the combo of TJ/CB/Bargs (and Calderon?) to be able to collectively take the Raptors from playoff guests to legitimate contenders-at least in the East? Or is it a matter of years of experience playing together?
And, I have no respect for the Celtics. Their arrogance and trash-talking style is infuriating. Seeing scrubs like James Posey, Tony Allen, Eddie House and Kendrick Perkins (who is suddenly a tough guy?-I laugh) acting so irreverently makes my blood boil. I think for that reason, more than any other, I am so thrilled that the Raps beat the Celts on their court. Good for Doc for calling them out after the game in NY. If the Raptors players acted that way, I'd be happy about their record, but I certainly wouldn’t be proud of their conduct. As for Paul Pierce – who was part of the problem in years previous – management needed to bring in not one, but 2-top caliber players to bail him out, and he still has the gall to behave like he does? Please. Contrast him with Bosh, who, after being surrounded with largely unproven players, was able to power the Raptors into taking a huge leap forward last year. I’d take the Raps guys over the Celts punks any time.
Diana T, Mississauga.
A: Hey look, Rikki. It’s Diana. Those are some cool thoughts rattling around in that brain of yours.
I don’t know that there’s a number of years, I do know anecdotally that it takes centres and point guards longer to learn the nuances of the game. If I had to put an age on it, I’d say five or six years in the league has player about to enter his prime and that could last another five or six years. And I think it takes about three years, maybe four, for true cohesion – the kind the Spurs have, or the Pistons – to develop around teammates.
Interesting comments on the Celtics, too; I assure you they are shared by many around the league.
On the Bosh-Pierce? I think Bosh is more of a leader in the locker room and on the court and probably less interested in numbers than Pierce might be. That being said, I’m not around Pierce every day and am just going on my own opinion from far afield and the opinion of people around the I know to be trustworthy straight-shooters.
And, as a beat guy having to cover a team every day, I think I’d take these guys over those guys every day of the week.
Q: When was the last time the Raptors scored on every free throw?
David P, Ottawa
A: You know what I could use? A research tandem. Wonder if there are any enterprising people out there to do it.
Well, after exhaustive research involving the Raptor media guide, we find out the last time the Raptors made every free throw they shot in a game was way back on April 4, 2006. That night they made 28 straight against – ta-da!! – the Bostons.
Q: Toronto's exciting win over Boston, your words: "the Raptors wouldn't have been in a position to win had it not been for a balanced offence that worked just as the team envisioned when the roster was assembled.
That win was great, and a statement game for sure. But what kind of statement did it make? How will the Raptors decision makers assess this win? Let's call the 19 turnovers the ugly and the 71.4% three point shooting the good, and say that both are polarized extremes of our typical game--the anemic rebounding being the bad, and unfortunately far too typical.
Come playoffs, I just don't see us winning games in this fashion, and strong teams will elicit the ugly from us more than the good. A bona fide back-up point guard (and/or TJ) will help, but we're never going to look this good throughout an entire play-off series against a top team. Let's say Bargs one day becomes as good a rebounder as Dirk (and nothing is for sure): will that be enough? So, what kind of statement do you think was made last night?
Marc Z, Halifax
A: Sometimes things are just what things are. It was a big win over the best team in the league on their court after being down seven in the fourth quarter. Nothing more, nothing less.
Q: Love your blog (and Grange's too). Plus the back and forth between you and Grange. But here's a Damon Stoudamire question:
Why wait for him to arrange a buyout and then hope he signs with Toronto? Why not just go try and make a trade for him now? A swap of Juan Dixon and Joey Graham for Stoudamire works under the cap.
John J, Toronto
A: They have talked trade, maybe Memphis wants too much, maybe Toronto doesn’t want any salary obligation to Stoudamire past this season, maybe they want to waive him in April if T.J.’s back.
I know Stoudamire’s people would rather he get bought out so he can be a free agent this summer and maybe that’s playing into it a bit.
Q: Totally agree with Mighty Mouse joining the team; this could be crazy if he returns and finish his career here. My questions: How many great players can come back from another team to the original team (the one they got drafted or signed) and finish their career there?
Is The Hump a trade-able player along with Dixon? Or is it better to have Joey and Dixon as a package?
Ken C, Toronto
A: You’re going to have to give me a few days on the first one, my man, that’s gonna take some research. On the second, Hump’s not tradeable unless he’s in a package that brings back a better big man.
Q: Hi Doug, Love your blog. Makes me feel like one of the guys sitting at the bar with a beverage discussing the game. Well done.
One of the great things about NBA League Pass is that I get to watch every single Raptor game. The bad thing about League Pass is that I always get the other team's feed. The Celtics' commentators are THE WORST!! The worst, biggest homers in the league. It's disgusting. (Clyde Frazier with the Knicks is the best.)Last night however, I heard them quoting items from your blog!! Three time, at least!
Well, here's my question for you. I get the feeling that the C's are like the Gary Carter Mets. Lots of love right now, but if they don't get a ring this year they will implode with Pierce's "I was the star here first" selfishness. Could KG actually hold them together for a multi-year run?
Mark M, Sun Prairie, Wisc.
A: Sun Prairie? Is that anywhere near Neena (better known as the Town LaBumbard Built)?
Interesting comparison to those Mets but if there’s anyone who can demand teamwork and accountability for years, it’s Garnett. He’s got what I think is the most forceful personality in the league.
Q: Hypothetically: You're Bryan Colangelo (congrats on the big raise by the way!) and you've cooked up two trade possibilities, each involving the same players on our side. That being said, you're either getting back a strong rebounder for the front court, or a decent backup to Calderon at the point, depending on which trade you choose to execute. Both players are probably going to be good bench players, but not starters. Which trade do you make and, more to the point, what do we need more at this point? Rebounding help or a competent backup PG?
I haven't had a question make the 'bag in some time, so I'm hoping you show me a little love here.
Mike D, Toronto
A: Me? Colangelo? I ain’t got that fashion sense, my man.
Okay, you haven’t told me what I’m giving up but I’ll play along. Right now, in one deal, I get the guard help first. That’s a more pressing need because if Calderon even misses two games, I don’t want to watch ‘em. The front court? Maybe Good Hump returns and you’ve still got Maceo Baston in a pinch.
Q: Seeing a game like (Wednesday’s) makes one wish that the Raptors could play more than the two games in the 9 or 10 days that they are currently scheduled. What effect do you see with such long layoffs between games? I am sure the guys like having some extra time for themselves and might get a little bit healthier. Isn't there something to be said for getting on a roll and staying on it though? Would SMitch rather the games be a little more consistently scheduled?
Ari S, San Ramon, Calif.
A: All things being equal, I think they’d like to get in a rhythm of a game every other day. But to rest nagging injuries and the like, a couple of stretches of two or three days off between games at this time of year is quite welcome.
Q: I completely agree with you that Il Mago will be just fine. He was better than Disco Dirk in his rookie season and while he's taken a bit of a step backwards this year, he seems to be coming around lately. My question is in regards to Anthony Parker. Do you see him continuing to develop? In your opinion, could he ever be a Rip Hamilton type of go-to guy?
Gabriel M, Mississauga
A: At 32 years old, I think what they want from Parker now is maintaining the level of play he’s at. I think it’s too much to expect him to turn into a Hamilton-esque player at this point in his career.
Q: It's my second time for this question and I really hope you can answer this. After watching Raptors win last night against Boston. I have to say Bargnani's one of the keys to the win. He's also one of the reasons why they got on the roll last year. Why don’t the Raptors get a former NBA centre to teach him to be a centre more effectively just like the Magic got Ewing to teach Howard?
There were rumours saying the Raptors discussed about this idea. Is this true? Do you know any names they talked about and who do you think it's a good one?
Michael M, Markham
A: Specialized coaching is over-rated. You can’t expect Hakeem Olajuwon, for instance, to teach the Dream Shake to Bargnani, just as you’ve never seen Andrew Bynum shoot a sky hook despite the presence of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. And Patrick Ewing hasn’t taught Dwight Howard to be arguably the most imposing physical specimen in the league.
Bargnani’s getting good coaching, Sam knows all the little tricks defensively he needs to learn and Alex English scored 25,000 points in the league and knows how to get the offensive message across.
Time, people, time is going to make Bargnani what they want, not the magic elixir of some former player who wouldn’t have the same skill set as Bargnani does.
Q: What’s with you and Ghana in the African Nations Cup?
Nick J, Toronto
A: What’s not to love about the Black Stars? And there are Raptor fans in Ghana and I’m just returning the love. Oh, and Ghana 1, Namibia 0 on Thursday!
Q: Who pays a player's salary when he's down due to injury (e.g. Ford)?
Ron F, Toronto
A: The same people who pay it when he’s playing, the deep-pocketed folks at Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment.
Q: Hey Doug, here’s a question from the proud hometown of Steve Nash. This organization for the last year or so has been selling the concept of improvement from within to the fans. Apart from Bargnani (who is obviously nowhere near his ceiling) and maybe Jamario Moon, who else do you figure has room for growth?
It seems to me that Bosh, Calderon, Parker, Kapono, and maybe even Delfino are all close to maxing out their potential as NBA players. Is TJ Ford an X-factor as far as internal growth is concerned?
Zachary E, Victoria
A: I’ll gently disagree that any of them have really maxed out their potential. Maybe Parker. But Delfino can certainly be better, so can Humphries and definitely Ford. There lots of room for improvement.
Q: We're hunkered down in the frozen north dreaming of beach volleyball. If I squint that snow could almost be white coral sand.
First a Bball 101 question. When a team receives a shot clock violation does that count as a team foul?
Second, what's up with Mo Pete? His numbers are down almost across the board. What's the thought on him in N.O. No comparison between AP and him. Delfino has pretty much the same minutes as Mo Pete coming off the bench and numbers that are pretty similar. All in all I'd say the Raptors must be pretty happy to have let him walk away.
Richard P, Whitehorse
A: First, no, a shot clock violation is nothing more than a turnover.
Second, Mo’s doing just fine, actually. While his numbers are down, I think that can be attributed to his teammates, guys like Chris Paul and David West and Peja; he’s not high on the option list in New Orleans but he’s still a dangerous shooter. Oh, and his team’s got one of the best records in the West, too.
Q: I think Bosh is among the top five low post players in the game. It amazes me that the Raptors never immediately re-post him when he kicks it out. The double and triple teams he gets down there would never be able to get back to him before he could make his move. Shaq and Duncan always get re-posts. Why don't the Raptors do it?
Tom M, Vernon, B.C.
A: They could re-post more often but a lot of Bosh’s kickouts come on an angle to the top of the key or the free-throw line, which makes it hard to make that second pass.
Q: The mailbag simply wouldn't be complete without the requisite request for your top 5 mid-season MVP candidates. Personally, I wouldn't put KG as No. 1 because of all the help he's got in Boston, especially when the Cavs without LeBron are dead last in the league.
Geoff A, Toronto
A: Not sure when you wrote this, but the Cavs aren’t quite that.
As for MVP candidates: I’ll give you KG first (he’s the guy making the best team go), Chris Paul would get some love, as would Kobe, LeBron would have to be in the discussion and, you know what, I’d say Brandon Roy would probably be in my top five today.
Q: Hey Doug, love your blog and always wonder how you find the time to write it. Anyways as with many other Raptor fans I am worried about the Raptors rebounding. A team built on three-point shooting needs a rebounder and the Raps also need an inside presence.
What do you think of Brendan Haywood? I know that just his name would turn some away but he's rated eighth on John Hollinger’s centre ranking, ahead of even Camby. He contributes for the limited minutes he plays and would allow Bargs to come off the bench and play more of his game which is definitely not the C. Also his contract is not that bad either making 5.5M a season till 09/10.
Robert P, Toronto
A: Brendan Haywood’s okay, not great, not horrible. Just all right. Maybe he’d help here, he’s taller and can be more consistent than Humphries but that acquisition wouldn’t be one to shift the balance of power in the East.
Oh, and Bargnani ain’t coming off any bench behind Brendan Haywood, I can guarantee you that.
Q: Great blog, never miss a day of it even during slow days when the topic veers from basketball. Anyway, here's a question I don't think anyone has asked yet.
Going over Raps present and past and even with the NBA, which GM/coach combination has been the most effective and on the other side worst. (They don't need to like each other so much that they exchange Valentine notes).
Peter M, Toronto
A: We’re witnessing the best right now, with Colangelo and Mitchell and there was a time, very early in the process, that Grunwald and Lenny Wilkens worked well together so I’d put them second and, for about 18 months, Grunwald and Butch worked well together.
The worst: I’d say that’s a tie between Grunwald and KO and Babcock-Mitchell with Isiah-Brendan Malone third.
In the NBA? That’s a tougher one ‘cause I don’t know the intricacies of relationships too well. I’d say R.C. Buford and Gregg Popovich would be high on the list of best, with Kevin Pritchard and Nate McMillan in Portland seem to be on the same page. Not sure about a worst but Isiah the President and Isiah the Coach sure haven’t been doing each other favours in New York.
Q: This is my first time writing in so here it goes. If you could pick one player you could start a franchise with, who would that be? This player has to be on an active roster. Mine would be LeBron James or Dwight Howard.
Calvin H, Milton
A: Both fine picks and I’d have to agree with James as the guy. But Chris Paul would get a whole lotta love from this corner.
Q: So for the dunk contest, I can see Jamario coming out in a old school dinosaur Carter jersey, ripping it in half, wiping his feet with it and then getting on with the show. That would be money in the bank. no chance, eh?
Chris C, Halifax
A: Nah, no chance.
Q: How much longer do you see the Hornets staying in New Orleans? A young exciting team with a winning record can barely draw 10,000 fans for a home game, and with the Sonics more than likely heading to Oklahoma City where does that leave the Hornets?
Dwayne D, Vancouver
A: You’re right that attendance in New Orleans is troublesome, especially with such a good young team. But I think they’ll be there for at least a few more years, maybe five or more, before there’s any serious talk about them moving. And where would they go? As much as I’ like to say your hometown, I’d put Vegas, St. Louis and San Diego ahead on the preferred list.
And who knows, maybe the league goes back to Seattle if the Sonics leave, us beat grunts would be all for that.
Q: With the formation of NBA China (let's call it the C-League for the lack of a better name), we can see how the law of large numbers prevailed (large wad of cash and largest population in the world is a potent mix). However, I have a few questions:
Is the league treating the C-League as a minor league for farming (a la NBDL)? Or will it be more autonomous, more like the unaffiliated European leagues? On one hand, I can see NBA teams signing Chinese prospects and groom them in the C-League. However, calling up the players across the Pacific on less than 24 hours notice is almost inhumane and definitely unproductive.
>Will the rosters be open to foreigners, or will they contain mostly Chinese players? While the game will be potentially more exciting when foreigners are allowed on the rosters, there is always the chance of former stars treating it as a retirement home. Just like the MLS is to European football (the REAL football, known as soccer only in US and Canada).
\While the league has talked about global expansion for years, the focus was mostly on Europe. Did this C-League surprise anyone? How is the potential of European expansion affected? Our European friends will be disappointed!
Cindy W, North York
A: We’ve been calling in the C League, too. Very cool.
It’s going to be quite autonomous and I don’t think you’ll see too many North Americans in it, and the ones who are will have very little legitimate chance of making it to the league.
I think they’re still working out the logistics of rosters and how they’ll be put together but I’m betting it’s mostly Asian who make the teams.
We’ve been hearing talk of an increased NBA presence in China for years so I don’t think this joint venture caught anyone by surprise. But I also do think it’ll have any impact on European players, or leagues.