Sunday's special delivery
Another full week of queries. Glad I don't have a life and can spend a huge chunk of Saturday and Sunday morning answering them.
Q: I'm having a hard time getting this through people’s heads, maybe you can help. A message to all fans:
It's not about which point guard starts or finishes the game. It doesn't matter who scores and who assists. The only thing that matters is that at the end of the game this team gets a W instead of an L. SO STOP COMPLAINING!!!!!!!!!
Phew, now I feel better.
Mark M, Toronto
A: Ding! Ding! Ding!
I should start every single mailbag with this letter.
Q: How great was that game (Wednesday) night? Forget the turnovers, difference in offensive rebounds, or the Celtics shooting percentage. The final minutes of the game were ridiculously exciting and at the end of it a hush came over the entire crowd and I was left standing and cheering like that guy in those Proline ads. A couple profanities were thrown in my direction, some in Spanish, but I just assumed they were praising Jose. I never felt all that threatened, and I was wondering which arena in the league you think is the most hostile to opponent's fans?
Mark E, Boston
A: I’d put Detroit right at the top of the list. I only get to the western cities once a year so can’t really attest to the venom out there but I’d put Sacramento on the list, too.
Other Eastern cities: Maybe Cleveland, and the folks in New York, when the Knicks are good, can be vociferous.
Q: Doug, there's obviously plenty of basketball to be played. That said, I really do think that 'Tier 2' of the Eastern Conference has been established for this season, and that seeds 3 through 6 will be some permutation of the Raps, Cavs, Magic and Wiz. The rest of the East is playing for the right to sneak in and face Boston or Detroit.
>Do you agree with me that this four-team 'Tier 2' is a lock for the middle seeds? If so, how do you like the Raps' chances against those three possible first-round opponents?
Mike D, Toronto
A: I absolutely see it like that, I don’t think anyone below those four can creep up – although you’ve got to think Chicago will finally make a trade to make them better – and no one’s catching Boston or Detroit.
And I think the Raptors can beat – or be beaten by – any of those four teams. I think they’d like to get Orlando first, Washington second and Cleveland third but they would feel confident – justifiably – against any of them.
Q: I don't get to watch the games down here in SoCal, but I do follow them live on NBA.com and yahoo NBA, and occasionally catch them on the radio over the net. That being said I only can judge player performance so much, mostly by stats sheets. It doesn't appear that poor Kapono gets much of a chance to contribute. Has he played himself out of favor or is it just bad luck because others are playing better?
Scott S, Orange County, Calif.
A: Kapono’s probably not getting as many shots as many thought he would but it’s a matter of others playing better some nights and getting more minutes. But I assume there will be a night or two like the one in Indy when he had 29 points and virtually won the game himself.
Q: A Basketball 101 question. In the Celtics game, there is almost one pass Toronto almost threw the ball away. But AP was able to get a pushing foul from Celtics. I remember before the foul happened, there was only three seconds left for the shot clock. But when the ball was inbounded, the shot clock was reset to 13. Why did the officials put more time to the shot clock?
Leroy C, Waterloo
A: You must have blinked. On a reset following a foul, the shot clock is set at 14 seconds.
Q: Doug am I crazy for thinking that the free-agent frenzies of the previous decade are going to become extinct? Considering the amount of NBA talent that skipped on paydays or took 'make-good' contracts this year due to a few select overpaid contracts (see: Rashard Lewis) you have to believe that patience and cap management will reign in the traditional stupidity of free agent spending.
I don’t know what the numbers are but I would imagine it would be something like 1:5 or 1:10 contracts at or exceeding mid-level being anything but a total flop.
With the glut of mid-level types (especially restricted - Calderon and Delfino included) one has to assume that an increased supply decreases demand.
Ryan L, Calgary
A: I agree you’re going to see a lot more shorter term contracts for free agents and I think both sides might like that. Owners, if they had their way, would like nothing more than two-year deals so they don’t lock up money long-term and as we’ve seen with the likes of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, players are willing to take shorter deals so they can get more of them over the course of their careers.
Q: Hey Doug, it's your friendly neighbourhood Londoner back again. Your pleading for e-mails tugged a heartstring so I'll give it a go. What are your thoughts on the possibility of us acquiring a big man this off-season are? I have read somewhere recently that Fran Vazquez may consider playing for Toronto. What’s the deal with him and Orlando and would they consider moving him with some other piece for say Graham-Dixon?
Leon R, London, UK
A: Ah, London, full of friendly neighbourhood sorts, I’m told.
Vasquez is an interesting one. I’m not sure, despite his lofty draft status, that he’s going to be an impact player in the NBA if, or when, he comes.
My Spanish spies say he’s okay, but nothing special.
I do think the Magic will be amenable to a trade but their most glaring need right now is a point guard and Toronto doesn’t have one to offer.
As for an off-season big man acquisition? I’m pretty sure that’ll be on the top of Colangelo’s list as he goes shopping with his mid-level exception. I’d bet he addresses his PG issue first between now and the trade deadline and, if he can’t pull off a second deal, he goes looking for bigs in July.
Q Doug, what's the cheapest shot you've ever seen in a game?
Craig W, Halifax
A: Wow, tough one. Personally witnessed? Involving the Raptors? Hmm, the one that comes to mind is Bruce Bowen sliding his foot under Vince Carter when Carter was in the air taking a jump shot. Had to be six, seven years ago?
I’m sure others will eventually come to mind but that’s the one with this team I recall quickly.
Q: Two questions, somewhat to do with TV broadcasts:
First, have we reached the end of 'niceness' yet? Why is everyone 'nice?' Every time Chuck or his broadcasting cohort mentions this, that or the other NBA player, coach, manager or whomever, the inevitable gets tacked on: "And you know what? He is the nicest guy you could ever meet, a true gentleman," etc. ad nauseum. You could play a drinking game with this schtick, it's gotten so cliched. Is nobody out there not nice? I'm tired of nice!
Second,I’d like to start keeping a tally of every time that the Raps are down by 15 near the end of the third or beginning of the fourth and Chuck says, inevitably, "there's still a lot of time left." They inevitably lose, of course. Chuck's cursing them when he says that! Stop it!
Don R, Stratford
A: Nice of you to write.
Q: With all this all-star talk, let’s throw in something from the left field. Let me be the first to vote for a 1-on-1 competition during the skill competition. From reading your insight into the Raptors practices, it seems players (sometimes even coaches) like to do a little 1-on-1 at the end of practices. I am pretty sure this is common to most NBA team ‘cause even player from my church basketball team does this often. Can we count on you to get this on the discussion topic for next year All-Star Game?
Ronald C, Toronto
A: Believe it or not, the people who organize all-star weekend don’t usually ask me what should be part of the festivities. Besides, I’m too busy trying to get Anthony and Candace Parker and Sam in the guy-girl-old dude shooting contest next year.
Q: When Chris Bosh came into the league, he was compared to both Jermaine O'Neal and KG. It looks like he's become a better player than O'Neil already. But what separates KG from CB4? They're physically similar, and though Bosh might have a slightly better offensive game, he's light-years behind KG defensively.
Joe L, Toronto
A: Intensity and experience. That’s the difference. I don’t imagine we’ll see another KG for a very, very long time.
Q: Every chance that I get to see the Raptors play I don't see Rasho playing a lot of minutes. With the way Bargs is playing I would like to see Rasho get starter minutes. Otherwise they should trade him and his $8 million. What are your thoughts?
Patrick C, Ottawa
A: There will be a time in the playoffs when they will need the defence and experience that Rasho brings and fans will be glad he didn’t get traded.
That said, he’s looking fine now in a limited backup role, which is a good one for him.
I presume his name will be bandied about in trade talks but, unless they get someone with his experience back, they need to hang on to him for the playoffs, when games get tougher and slower and you need a solid big defender.
Q: Doug, doesn’t it seem like Jamario fails to recognize that a lot of defenders cannot handle his first step? Do you think this is a confidence taking it to the hoop issue that can be changed without Sam having to taser him??
Eric P, Mississauga
A: It’s got something to do with confidence and it’s got something to do with the fact the easiest play is generally a jumper. Sam with a taser? Wow, wouldn’t that be something? He’d be hitting us, and players and the odd fan. Very cool.
Q: The way Chris Bosh has been playing of late, he deserves to be considered one of the best players in the NBA. Let's focus more on his position though. Besides Kevin Garnett, do you think Chris Bosh is the best power forward in the East? I certainly can't think of anyone else who comes close to him... well maybe Rasheed Wallace when he's at his best but he's way too inconsistent. Bosh will also get the honors of being the player of the month for January if he keeps this up.
Philippe A, Ottawa
A: I’d say right now he’s definitely the second-best power forward in the East and third-best in the league (behind KG and Tim Duncan). Rasheed would be in the conversation if he tried to dominate games like the other three every night.
Player of the month? I’m certain he’ll get consideration and it’d be a perfect set-up to his inclusion on the Eastern all-star team on Thursday night.
Q: With all this talk that's been circulating around the alleged PG controversy in Toronto, what do you think the chances are that Bryan Colangelo try to resign Jose before the end of the season? Colangelo has already publicly stated that he would match any offer for Jose, so why not try to seal the deal before that even happens?
Marianne D, Toronto
A: Couple of reasons. I’m sure Jose’s agents think it’s in his best interest to wait to see what’s out there this summer and, under the convoluted NBA salary cap rules, extensions for guys like Jose can’t be signed during the season.
Q: What's Kapono's trade value like? While we seem to have three players with his skill set (Parker, Delfino and of course him). I'm sure there are teams who could use a 3-point specialist of his ilk. Put him in a package with Joey perhaps?
Fergal M, Kingston
A: I’m not sure they’re even thinking about seeing what the market is like for the second-best three-point shooter in the league this year. I agree there’s a glut of players with pretty much the same skills – and that might mean his name does come up when teams come calling – but I think right now they’d rather hang on to him. Parker’s age is a factor, as is the fact Delfino will be a restricted free agent this summer.
Q: Yo Doug, love the blog. A paint question and comment. A fairly frequent occurrence this year is to have the Raps lost the stat battle on points in the paint. When someone is fouled in the paint and makes the foul shots, do those count as points in the paint? Or are foul shots just not field goals and not counted? Not that we get to the line enough to tip the balance, but just curious.
I remember watching Sonics local broadcasts many moons ago with Kevin Calabro, a great play-by-play guy. And now that I think of it, he's bald, too. What's with follicly-challenged play by play guys? Swirsky? Shulman? Anyway, the points in the paint were sponsored by Dutch Boy, a surprise, surprise, paint company. Yo, MLSE sponsorship team - get Debbie Travis on line 2.
Wayne L, East York
A: Nah, it’s just baskets that count as points in the paint, not free throws.
Now, you want MORE SPONSORSHIP? Man, you should send MLSEL a resume.
Q: Doug, just looking at the last minute of the Raptors-Celtics game, I counted 5 fouls committed by KG (including a nice elbow screen on Calderon on the last play). Which 5 players currently playing get the most star calls?
Greg W, Toronto
A: If you ask the players, or the refs, no one “gets” calls. The perception, which is the reality as a wise man once said, is different.
I’d guess the list would be just as you’d think: LeBron, Wade, Kobe, KG and McGrady when he plays.
Q: What exactly is the kicked ball rule? I've seen a few players get burned on it when the ball smacks off their leg while they've been facing the other way and didn't see it coming.
So if a player doesn't have a good look with the shot clock expiring can he just wing it off an opposing player's foot to get a fresh 14?
Joel S, Toronto
A: If you saw that, it was a blown call. It’s supposed to be any time a defender deflects, kicks or contacts a ball with his foot. If, as you say, an offensive player deliberately throws a ball off a defenders’ foot, that wouldn’t be called.
Q: Hi Doug, it's been a while since you humbled one of my trade ideas and me being a glutton for punishment, I thought I'd send along another - if Joel Przybilla is apparently being offered around, should the Raptors be interested? I remember a few years back there was interest in signing him, but it never happened. I see him as a serviceable big off the bench who can teach Bargnani a few things about playing gritty.
Bill L, Toronto
A: There was indeed some interest in Joel Przybilla a couple of years back but Rasho arrived and it dissipated quickly. He’s got three years and about $20 million left on his deal but he is the kind of shot-blocking, rebounding presence these guys could use.
I’d presume if Bryan’s talking to Kevin Pritchard in Portland about, say, Sergio Rodriquez, the name Joel Przybilla would enter the conversation.
Q: PJ Brown is a veteran who would seem to be the type of player who could provide some rebounding help. The problem is he's sitting at home even though teams are offering him deals. Aside from him willing to play, what kind of money would it take to get him? Have you heard what teams are offering him?
Damian W, Calgary
A: I haven’t heard for sure, but I imagine teams are offering him the veteran’s minimum, which is just over $1 million for a guy with his experience. I can’t imagine anyone throwing a multi-year deal at him.
Q: Now, trust me, you are my boy, but for a guy with so much self proclaimed sardonic whit and snark you sure seem to miss it when it hits you in the face. Of course I am referring to a question I posed to you in last Sunday’s mailbag about the Raptors needing a physical presence and suggesting the 'Great One' should bring back Laimbeer, or Mahorn.
Just in case the riggers of the road have left you a little absent minded. It's obvious that I did not intend to insinuate we need an enforcer rather a physical presence. Someone who has an edge on a team that has no edge and no real physical presence. This is a common commodity among championship teams. Ben Wallace, Rasheed, Robert Horry, heck even Udonis Haslem.
Jef M, St. Catharines
A: Whew! And here I thought you were being serious. As the Great Man says, d’oh!
A physical presence never hurts, but the dude has to be able to play, too. I’m a big Kurt Thomas fan in that role, actually. And maybe if Garbo comes back, he’s that man.
Q: With talk about finding the "Bryan Colangelo of hockey" for the Maple Leafs, I was wondering if there is a "John Ferguson of basketball" in the NBA. Some youngish GM with little GM experience, and meddling ownership. Does such an unfortunate soul exist?
Francesco P, Richmond Hill
A: You know what? I looked over the list of GMs and owners and can’t find a youngish one. I guarantee you, though, that Elgin Baylor of the Clippers wished Donald Sterling would mind his own business.
The young guys like Kevin Pritchard in Portland are being left to their own devices. I’m sure there are “creative differences” between owners and GMs in a few cities, it’s just that they don’t get out in public too often.
Q: Hey Doug, got a cap question that I'm tired of surfing for. FAQ it is not. Thought I'd let you or one of your underlings take a crack at it. What happens when a player is suspended for the rest of the year? He isn't getting paid any money, right? So does his 'salary' (that is not occurring) count towards a team's salary cap?
Hudson P, Windsor
A: Dude, my underlings are in my imagination, unfortunately.
Even in the case of suspension, when the guy’s not getting any money (like, say, Ron Artest) his salary still goes against the cap.
Q: Despite a constantly jammed upper deck, it always appears on TV that the Raptors don't draw much of a crowd because of the many unused red, gold and platinum seats visible to viewers.
Are the rows of empty seats in the lower bowl a case of unsold tickets that are overpriced, or are they more a case of corporate seasons tickets going unused?
Either way, its a shame that there are thousands of fans that would love to be down there supporting the team but either cant afford it, or don’t have the chance to buy the good seats.
Dave G, Toronto
A: You’re checking too early in each half. Those platinum seats get filled up, but only after the high-rollers get back from their cushy suites a few whistles into the half.
And the reds? Behind the baskets? Those are generally the seats that determine whether the game’s going to be a sellout or not. If they’re filled, the rest of the arena is, too.
Q: What the hell is this plus/minus business in basketball? What is this, hockey? Can you share your wisdom and explain?
Navin V, Toronto
A: It’s a made-up stat that’s now in vogue because the league puts it in boxscores on nba.com. Personally, I think it’s mostly useless but I’m sure I’ll hear from people who don’t.
And it is what you’d think it is. Add up points scored when Player A is on the court against points given up and you got that guy’s plus-minus.
Q: Two questions:
1: Could you update us on the draft situation? Do the Raps have any picks? Did they trade them away? Do they have anyone else's?
2: What is the all-star game worth to players? To me the game is a joke, I never watch, and it seems like the voting is a popularity contest, rather than an actual measure of player's skill.
Michael M, London
A: They have their own first-round pick right now but their second-round pick went to San Antonio for the great Giorgos Printezis. There are a couple of options remaining on second-round picks from New Orleans as part of the Aaron Williams deal way back when.
The all-star game? The game itself takes on a traditional form. A show for three quarters and things get serious. The players tired of all the extracurricular stuff they've got to do on the weekend, media, appearances, etc., but the game's sort of a respite from the other stuff and they don't mind actually playing, as far as I can discern.
Q: I have a question regarding Hump. The Araujo for Hump trade was without a doubt a good move for the Raps. Does that mean a bad move for the Jazz? Does Kevin O’Connor, or whoever the GM was at the time, get any slack for that move? Thanks a bunch
Matthew M, Scarborough
A: That trade, when it happened, was nothing-for-nothing so I can’t imagine anyone thought O’Connor made a bad move. And even today, with Hump playing a bit here and Araujo in Russia, I don’t imagine Utah fans are the least bit upset.
Q: I understand that you were the author of Damon Stoudamire's biography, 'Airborne.' Given that fact, and with all the talk about Stoudamire possibly joining the Raps if he is released by Memphis, what was the reason Stoudamire left Toronto in the first place. My recollection of the events surrounding the trade to Portland aren't very good, and I was wondering if you had any inside scoop for us.
Derek R, Toronto
A: Well, not sure if the possibility is legit – it’s Boston or Toronto as you see in today’s paper – but there is a slim chance he comes back.
The reasons he left? Lots of ‘em. His benefactor, Isiah Thomas, was gone; the team was wretched; ownership was a mess; he wasn’t going to re-sign as a free agent; they figured they could get something for him.
Lots of a legitimate reasons, at the time.