The mail -- a lot of it -- gets delivered
You people are still too much. We’re over-capacity again in the mailbag this week. Some of ‘em are even good questions.
So, here’s a whole bunch of them, complete with snarky comebacks and witty replies; I’ll put another bunch up Sunday morning so I can sleep in that day before the big Portland game.
This week’s themes: A couple of trades, all about bathroom breaks and He Who Shall Not Be Named (and we’re not talking Lord Voldemort).
Q: Colangelo needs to start shopping Bosh around. What are the chances the dismal Miami Heat would give up D-Wade for our Gbbbumby-esque grasshopper man?
Craig H, Halifax
A: Here’s the conversation:
"Pat, it’s Bryan. How are you?”
"We’re 8-28, how the hell do you think I am?”
"Not that good? How’d you like to get rid of that pesky Wade fellow?”
"What? The only good player we’ve got? Nah, I don’t think so, not even for Bosh. But, how about Shaq? He’s only got about $60 million left on his deal.”
Q: Unlike the travel tribulations that you beat grunts face, the players flying on the team plane must have an easier time getting through airports. I was wondering is the team goes through the same customs/immigration line process we mere mortals do? I can't imagine someone asking “Mr. Bargnani, you are travelling on an Italian passport, what is the purpose of your visit to the US, business or pleasure?”; or “Mr. Mitchell, you were out of the country for less than 48 hours, did you purchase any $1500 suits while you were away?"
The process that makes us apoplectic must be streamlined a bit for them.
Richard Y, Kincardine
A: Here’s the scenario Thursday at Pearson, I swear.
I’m in about a 60-person line to go through American customs and here come the Raptors.
They get not one, but TWO dedicated agents to clear them. A couple of them laugh and make funny faces at the poor dude in line.
I get through, eventually, and head to security. Wide-open lane, most of the players and staff have been through (they do have to take off their shoes and take out their laptops, just the like the great unwashed). I saunter over and the little lady manning the door shoos me away, “you’re not with the Raptors, sir.”
Stand in a 15-person security line before Little Lady motions some of us over when it’s obvious the Raptors are done. I’ve got my shoes off, laptop out, jacket off, belt off, boarding pass out and am about to slide luggage into x-ray machine when here comes Garbo. Wait, sir, they tell me. Wait for Garbo but, shockingly, am allowed to get my stuff x-rayed before Jose and Kevin DiPietro (the actual brains behind the travelling circus) go through.
Coming back? You don’t want to know. It’s even easier. Imagine a Canadian Customs guy coming on the plane to clear them. Yep. Although at Christmas, after that eight-day trip, Canada Customs did send about five guys over to check the luggage to make sure no one had exceeded the allowable limit of purchases.
Q: First off, kudos to both you and Grange ™ for your blogs. Great stuff. As for rumours, I like your Mighty Mouse idea, and even Kurt Thomas. Not sure about Najera - I think he tends to disappear, and he's not much bigger than Delfino.
How about Matt Harpring? Tough, great defender, minutes are down in Utah. No idea what is contract situation is. Question - assuming what we get back is along the lines of grit, toughness, rebounding, who would you rather keep - Delfino or Kapono?
David L, Oakville
A: Harpring’s not a bad name to toss in the hopper at all. His contract? Two more years and just over $12 million, which is a pretty steep price.
Today? I’d keep Delfino if I had to make that choice for the rest of this season. And seeing how he’s not likely to get more than the full mid-level, he’s probably as good a long-term project as Kapono right now.
And Grange ™ and I thank you; From Deep is required reading.
Q: Is the underhanded free throw extinct? How is it that arguably the best free thrower ever-Rick Barry-threw underhanded and we're hard pressed to even find one in today's game? Do you know of any within or outside the NBA.
Luka M, Toronto
A: It’s absolutely extinct. In this era of style over substance, I can’t imagine anyone having the stones to try it.
Q: Hey Doug, wut’s up? I was just wondering, since you been covering the Raptors ever since their existence, and they basically revolve around your life, are you close to the players? I mean relationship wise? Can you joke around with them? Have a non-reporter related conversation with them?
Omar L, Toronto
A: Relationship-wise? Well, we don’t date. (Not that there's anything wrong with that)
But, yeah, we talk about other things, politics, movies, kids, the weather, fans, the league. You can joke with these guys (I believe Chris Bosh laughed the other day when I asked him if his girlfriend and cousin were friends with Andre Iguodala). This is a good group of guys, genuinely likeable, which makes it easier to work around ‘em six or seven days a week.
Oh yeah, “wut’s up” with that?
Q: For my first ever question to the mailbag I was waiting for the type of question that no one has probably asked before and I finally came up with it at work on Monday. Maybe it was the chicken salad I ate for lunch or just the thought of another long work week but whatever it was I was struck by a very immediate need to run to the bathroom. A movement of sorts. Which got me thinking.
What happens when a player needs to do a number 2 during a game? As you probably know, sometimes holding it just isn't an option. Have you ever heard of anyone having to be taken out of the game to make a quick doodee? I appreciate your response even if this isn't the type of question you'd like to print but I assure you I really would like to know.
A: Ding! Ding! Ding! This week’s winner.
f the TV guys say a player’s had to go back to the locker room for “an equipment adjustment” you’ve got your answer.
One funny story: Two years ago, game at home. Matt Bonner’s not feeling all that well (maybe it was the chicken salad) but he’s on the court, gamer that he is. Now he’s gotta go, and fast, and the game’s going on. He signals the bench, everyone knows and they’ve got to foul to stop play so Matt can, um, go.
Except the guy they want to foul, right in front of the bench, is Jose, whose English at the time was a tad lacking. They scream and yell at him for about six or seven seconds before they finally make the universal gesture for “foul that guy” and Jose grabs the guy he’s guarding.
I swear, before the whistle stops blowing, Matt’s up the tunnel.
Q: If Jose makes the all-star team, would it still make sense to send him back to the bench if/when TJ returns? I know Manu comes off the bench and is an all-star, but he closes out games for the Spurs and thus plays starters minutes.
Scott M, Burlington
A: It’s going to make sense whether Calderon’s in New Orleans or not. I would imagine that when T.J. comes back, he’ll spend a good chunk of time coming off the bench to get back used to the speed of the game and his teammates.
He did it last year for five or six games, I believe, and this year, too. I’d presume he’d do the same this time around.
Eventually, and who knows, it might not be until next season, T.J.’s gonna start again.
Q: With the all-star game coming up, I'm wondering what the odds are that we'd ever see a format change to the game? Is there some way to avoid what is an assured 48 minutes of non-competitive, imaginary-defence basketball? I had the thought that something like a 3-on-3 tournament would work, but then that thought died of loneliness...
Mike D, Waterloo
A: I think they should do USA vs. The World to add a little juice to the game.
Q: Watching the Raps play the Sixers and seeing Moon and Graham's athletic plays, it got me to wondering. Who do you think the all-time most athletic Raptors of are? Presumably, He Who Shall Not Be Named sits atop the list.
Dave G, Toronto
A: List time, like the olden days. Cool.
Nice shot. I’d put He Who Shall Not Be Named right at the top, with Moon second and Tracy McGrady third. The guy I’d have fourth, and maybe chasing Tracy, would be Martin Lewis. You may not remember him but the kid was a crazy athlete who was around the first season. Fifth? Joey’d be in the conversation for sure. How about Keon Clark? After all, by his own admission he was always drunk or stoned but he could do some wild stuff.
Q: I have not heard any update on Garbo for a while. I mentioned at the start of the season, when Garbo was riding the pine, that the Raps could really use the guy at starting 3. Even though Moon has had some great moments, I still believe that we would be in a much better position if Garbo was starting. What's the chances of him playing again this season?
Troy S, Toronto
A: Garbo’s here in New York, think he’ll probably travel a lot now. He’s still in a cast that won’t come off until mid-February and I don’t think many are counting on him being back this season. If he is, it’s a bonus.
And, yes, they missed him greatly.
Q: Do you think the Raps can go big for stretches with Bargs, Bosh and Rasho? Gives us a rebounder on the offensive glass (since both Bosh and Bargs are right now perimeter guys), and then go zone on D?
I'm not suggesting for long periods of time, but I think it would be an interesting wrinkle for five minutes.
Jim K, Newmarket
A: I think you might be on to something. Or maybe Bosh, Bargnani and Humphries. Bargnani’s defensive liabilities might be even more glaring playing threes but if they use some zone, and hide him other ways, it’d probably good to go real big for a few minutes, see how it works.
Q: Here's one for Hoops 101. What does it mean when the announcer says a guy is going to the "left (or right) elbow" or in your blog where you talk about "Chris Bosh isolated at the left elbow?"
Andrew C, Toronto
A: The “elbow” is generally the foul line, maybe extended a few feet out from the lane. If the basket’s the head and midcourt is the feet, look at the basket and see where an “elbow” would be.
Q: With all (?) the talk of retirement around here, is there a chance that you may give up your pen/typewrite/laptop to move onto greener pastures?
You've been on the beat since the beginning; maybe you want to write a novel? Not that I pushing you out...your blog is a lunchtime fixture!
Jamie S, Thornhill
A: What pastures could be greener than watching 75 Raptor games a season, plus playoffs plus the pre-season? Nah, I’m not going anywhere, unless you’ve talked to my bosses and know something I don’t.
Now, if someone out there dangles five years guaranteed, at about $150,000 a year with a good travel plan) …
I keed, I keed.
Q: If the Raptors are up at the half of a game, and I was to run into Chuck Swirsky in the bathroom during the break, would it be inappropriate to ask if he was Breaking Out the Salami and Cheese? Would I jinx the team if I asked too early?
Geoff H, Toronto
A: I don’t know about jinxing the team but that’d be wildly inappropriate. And I’d give you a dollar if you do it.
I keed, I keed.
(Sometimes I slay me)
Q: In an attempt to get Jason Kapono some more open looks, why not temporarily insert him into the starting line up until the point guard situation gets sorted out. Take Moon out and maybe he adds a spark off the bench. He's athletic, can rebound, shot block, and at times beat players off the bounce which is what the Raps need right now from that second unit.
Michael D, Woodbridge
A: Been there, done that with Kapono as a starter. I think Kapono might even suffer playing with the first unit; not sure where his shots would come playing with Bosh, Parker, Calderon and Bargnani.
And he’s not the, um, best defensive player on the squad so it’s probably best he doesn’t have to guard starting small forwards.
Q: Joey Graham goes from "lost man at the end of the bench" to getting non-garbage PT in 2 games in a row. Do you think this is at the behest of the GM, in an effort to showcase him for a potential trade? Sam doesn't seem like the kind of coach that would "fall in line" to do that.
Brian S, Toronto
A: I’ll take Sam at his word that Joey played 15 minutes against Philadelphia because he’d been practicing well and they needed his athleticism against a quicker Sixer team.
Showcasing isn’t really a thing that happens in the NBA, unlike, say, baseball.
But if they want to get something for Joey, having him out there, however he earned the minutes, is a good thing.
Q: You mentioned the possibility of Roko Ukic being in T.O. next year. I love the situation we have now where TJ (injury issues aside) starts and Jose backs him up.
I think Jose has proven that he can handle more minutes than he gets when TJ starts so where does that leave Roko?
There's not much point of him coming to T.O. to pick up all of Darrick Martin's minutes.
Seriously, where would you see his place on this team?? I think he's close on 6-5 - could he see time at the 2?
Carl M, Port aux Basques, NL
A: I can see him playing some 2, too. I also see him watching and learning a lot by being the third point guard.
Q: How about a trade involving Zach Randolph? He appears to be on the block in NY and knows how to rebound! - yes I admit he has a few issues.
Chris H, London
A: An approximation of a conversation I had with a guy this year:
Me to scout: “Love that Portland team.”
Socut: “Yeah, they lose 22 points a game (Randolph) and get better. What’s that say about him?”
Me: “Look at how he’s turned the Knicks around.”
Scout: “Hahaha. You slay me! (I said it was an approximation)”
Zach Randolph? Yeah, he’s just what a team with an offence predicated on ball movement needs.
Q: Hey Doug, Reggie Evans was looking good last night, not great but good. He'd look even better bolstering the Raps front-line.
My question is, besides one of our superfluous players and some cap filler, is he worth a first-round pick keeping in mind that Raptors will be mid-bottom of the lottery the next few years? But also keeping in mind BC's keen acumen at uncovering mid-draft gems (Nash, Marion, Stoudamire, Barbosa!!)
Alex L, Sudbury
A: Reggie Evans is interesting. He’s got a rep as a dirty player (maybe worst in the entire league) but I’m told by someone who’s around that team every day that he’s a very good guy.
I don’t know if they could get him, or at what cost, but he’d be an interesting addition here.
Can’t shoot foul shots to save his soul but for rebounding and toughness he’d be solid.