Get your coffee and bagel, here's some light reading
And for the final installment of the week, I humbly offer the following.
If you want to start filling up next week’s, click here.
Q: I have written to you once before, but you never answered my question. I did not think that it was so bad that it did not deserve to be posted. Anyway, I am over that and let’s hope that you will answer this one. I know this question may sound a little funny, but I still want to ask.
How about having a reality show to pick NBA players just like Canadian/American Idol or American Next Top Model. It could be called NBA’s next player. The player selected would not have to go through the draft and will be given a one-year contract (for any NBA team). Do you think that David Stern would approve such an idea or is it even realistic to think of possibility of having a show like that? If not, what would make the production of such a show impossible?
Patricia M, Toronto
A: I’m not sure the NBA would go for it for the NBA, those are pretty valuable roster spots you’re talking about. But as a promo for some D League team maybe? That’d work for me.
It wouldn’t replace Dancing With The Stars on my must-see list but I’d probably check it out every now and then.
Q: Good morning, Doug. Wanted to get your opinion on a different angle on the Dixon for Brezec trade. Do you think that BC might have engineered another one of his strategic moves, in terms of creating a "less is more" opportunity for his roster?
I mean, let's look at the worst case (and maybe most likely) scenario, which is that Primoz has no personal impact or contribution whatsoever. By eliminating an unhappy Dixon from the bench, doesn't that tighten up the rotation, and give the second unit a better chance to perform? Specifically, you've now got Delfino getting consistent burn at the guard position, and he's shown that he can get Kapono going. He's also more than capable of playing a strong 2/acceptable 3 with Jose, creating a pretty lethal combo for the 1st unit. Bottom line, giving up Dixon is the key to getting consistent production out of Delfino and Kapono, and that means a productive, consistent bench going forward.
Am I crazy, deluded or just plain optimistic?
Harley W, Toronto
A: Much more optimistic than delusional, my man.
One thing it does is reduce Sam’s options, and perhaps forces him to use Kapono more than he normally does, not that Dixon was eating up a lot of minutes.
Q: Is it at the end of next season that we have lots of cap room; and by lots I mean enough to sign a top level unrestricted free agent? If so, who are the best available players next summer? If the roster more or remains unchanged until then, I would like to see a star wing player added to the mix, assuming that Bargnani and Humphries show improvement between now and then.
And this summer is it only possible to go after another mid-level? Is there anyone that makes sense for us to pursue.
Colin B, Bogota, Colombia
A: In 2009? Well, a lot depends on teams picking up options or doing extensions, but some of the players who could be available are Gilbert Arenas, Allen Iverson, David Lee, Paul Millsap, Lamar Odom, Shawn Marion.
In 2008, when Toronto will only have the mid-level exception available, the likes of Antawn Jamison and Mickeal Pietrus are unrestricted, Corey Maggette and Marion have opt-outs and Ben Gordon, Luol Deng and Ronny Turiaf are restricted.
Q: Doug awhile back I remember BC and Sam saying that Andrea was going to start for the foreseeable future. I was all for that because I was pretty sure that come some time around game 62 if Andrea wasn’t getting it done Rasho would be brought back in to start for the late push and playoffs. It is obvious that we are a better and more consistent team when Rasho is in there instead of Andrea.
So my question is, do you think Rasho will be starting for the stretch drive and playoffs if Andrea is still playing like he is in 10 or so more games? If so when do you think that will be? We are at game 54 I believe.
Michael W, Toronto
A: No, I don’t. I think they are wed to Bargnani for this season and the start of next and the only way he’s going to get better is to play. I can see them shortening his minutes, but taking him out of the lineup? Can’t see it happening.
Should it? Nah, I don’t think so. It’s not that Bargnani’s been great, or even good, but he’s got to play to learn, as painful as it may be at some times.
Don’t fret, though, maybe over the course of the next 29 games, something will click.
Q: When VC was here and would not drive to the basket people suggested he was afraid of the contact?
At what point do we suggest that about Jamario Moon? Or do you feel his inability to drive is because he has a lousy handle or he just prefers to get up close and personal with Sam every game when Mr. Mitchell screams at him for not taking it to the cup?
Mike D, Cambridge
A: He doesn’t handle the ball particularly well, that’s for sure. And maybe he’s a still a bit unsure of himself going in there where big men live. But I will you this, eventually, Sam’s going to stop screaming and start sitting him if he doesn’t get it.
Q: Hey Doug, Recently you mentioned in the blog that only a few teams had the ability to sign Jose to a big contract. Are there limits? For instance if the Raptors let's say are $7 million under the cap at the end of the season are other teams that have cap space only allowed to offer up to $7 million or can they try 'screwing' the Raptors and offer Jose say $10 million or more since it has been well documented that Colangelo does not want to lose Jose. Please explain.
Derek H, Markham
A: It doesn’t have anything to do with the Raptors and their cap number. It has to do with the team making the offer. If Team X is $10 million under and wants to offer it all to Jose, the Raptors can match. If Team Y is over the cap, it can only offer the mid-level exception, which the Raptors can match.
Q: Just wondering where you see this Raptors team going? They seem to be so inconsistent and it is really a bother to watch them sometimes. I am a fan and always will be a fan but they don't have what it takes right now to be really good. What do you think is missing?
Joe D, Newmarket
A: Mental toughness and experience. Which comes, unfortunately, only with time.
Q: In the Knicks game did Bosh take off from the same spot as Howard did in the dunk contest? It looked sick and he threw it down ... in the old skool way, you know, he touched the rim.
Kevin J, Toronto
A: It was a mighty impressive play. And he didn’t even have a strip of tape on the court as a marker.
Q: Surprise! Another perimeter player scores at will against the Raptors. I don't understand why the Raptors put up with mediocrity. Colangelo doesn't make a deal at the deadline because he didn't want to mess up their chemistry ... what chemistry? The Knicks just dismantled them. What do you think is the problem with their defence? The inconsistent play will come back to haunt them in the playoffs. Their longest winning streak is 4 games this year. Enough said.
Jonathan C, Aurora
A: Some nights, their defence stinks. Guys forget assignments, they are too slow rotating to shooters, they don’t close out on guys. Some nights their defence is fine. They get to shooters, they close out, they guard the rim.
Some nights they win, some nights they lose.
But inconsistency in the regular season has absolutely nothing to do with playoff success or failure. It starts all over again April 19.
Q: Maybe this will get my mail printed... Raps ruin my weekend again. What's your tonic after a game like (Friday)? Care to share with thousands of Raps fans who wants to jump off the CN tower. (the remaining ones that had not done so after the clippers game)
Another one.. Do you think that Sam will get a lecture from BC tonight after wasting Kapono on the bench?
Last one... What's your guess of the collective basketball IQ of Raps swingmen? (Add the coaches' IQ to see it reaches 100)
Jeff U, San Diego
A: The tonic is easy: Tomorrow’s game. And the one after that. And the one after that.
Don’t despair, there’ll be lots of good times and lots of bad ones between now and the end of the season.
Q: I'm a long time reader and have enjoyed your insight.
Before I ask this question I'd like to first make clear that this comment/question does not mean that I have any wild expectations concerning the Dixon for Primoz trade.
My question is about whether culture of Pistons is not conducive to Europlayers. Seems that their foreign born players don’t play up to their potential while with Detroit (e.g., Delfino, Darko, Herrmann) and then seem to play much better once they’ve left. It’s unfathomable how Delfino couldn’t have been useful to that team this year.
Just a thought.
Scott W, Kingston
A: It’s an interesting thought and an observation a few of us made the other night. Not sure it’s institutionalized but anecdotally it would seem that’s not a place for non-North Americans. Not sure what the culture around the team is like because I don’t see them enough but maybe there is something there. Or maybe it’s just a wacky coincidence.
Q: Please answer this for me, Doug. It’s been keeping up all night. I saw a game, don’t remember who was playing, where the people in the crowd had bottles of bear. Isn't that a really bad idea? Especially after what went on in the Indiana/Detroit brawl? I mean I can’t even keep the cap on my overpriced Coke bottles when I go to the ACC. why does the league allow bottles?
Matthew M, Scarborough
A: It could have been one of several arenas, actually. And they are soft plastic bottles. They wouldn’t allow glass, that’s for sure.
Hope you can sleep nights now.
Q: Watching the Lakers/Suns Friday night I had a thought. With the top teams in the league all making a push to win NOW rather than later, would it not seem like the Raptors plan to "Peak" in 2-3 seasons the perfect time to do so?
The Spurs will be two years older, Shaq and Nash will be two years older, Dallas with Kidd now will be almost out of gas and the Cavs with their latest additions seem to be in win-now-or-lose-LeBron mode. The Celtics will be two years older and so will the Pistons. The only teams I can see competing with players at or near their prime are the Lakers maybe the Blazers in the West and I can't think of anyone in the East that has a young core group like the Raptors do.
Also Mr. Grange ™ made a good point the other day in that the Raptors could make a splash at the deadline next year with about $12 million in expiring contracts to trade.
What do you think? Do you think it’s the perfect time to "peak" for these guys?
What other teams can you see making the push at that time?
Steve H, Mississauga
A: I believe The Pride Of The Ex-Pets had the wrong abacus out, like I’ve had so many times I can’t count ‘em all. Next year at this time they’ll have expiring contracts of Rasho ($8 million), Garbo ($4.4 million), AP ($4.5 million), Maceo ($2 million) and Joey ($2.5 million) to offer around. No bad coin. And that’s without touching the core of T.J., Jose, Bosh and Bargnani.
I think Bryan has absolutely managed his money and his roster, almost perfectly. The huge leap from 2005-06 to 2006-07 was unexpected and raised expectations too quickly. The plan has always been to grow to be a team that was a perennial contender rather than a flash in the pan.
Oh, as for other young teams? You might want to keep your eye on Atlanta and Orlando.
Q: You speak of the bad grammar you are subjected to, but I was wondering do you proofread you stuff? lol. You always seem to have a few words missing in your replies.
Now that the trade deadline has come and gone, what do you think B.C. will do in the draft? What do you think of Nicolas Batum at the 3?
Walden M, Cambridge
A: I don’t do draft questions now, write back in May when we have some idea of the order of selection, the underclassmen coming out and team needs. And buy than maybe my gramer and speling wil suite yor standerds.
Q: You mentioned Kobe and MJ being the type of players who fit the triangle offence. I was wondering if LeBron would be the ideal player in that model as well. What do you think? Imagine teaming him up with Phil Jackson, that would be another dynasty in the NBA for sure.
Peter T, Markham
A: Absolutely. I think he’d be a prototype.
Q: Hi Doug, here's a bit of a statement/question for you. I enjoyed Jonathon P's statement about Toronto fans being irrational, read: inconsistent with their feelings. You can place the blame on unabated passion or that we're all just whack-jobs, but in reality, can we not chalk it up to the inconsistent play of the team? The fans pendulum swings seem to directly echo the teams' peaks and valley, do they not? Granted, some may be a bit over-bearing, but the team's inconsistency is the catalyst to these outcries. The Raps show brilliant games (N.O., Boston, Spurs, Portland, Orlando, etc) where they look utterly capable, yet they come back the next game and totally drop the ball usually against horrid teams. Their longest win streak is 4 wins. I think it unfair to simply say "ah, they had a bad night" because that has been used oh so many times. What gives on this? Are they too young a team? Rely too much on streaky shooting?
I promise that if the Raptors show consistency (rather winning than loosing) than so will the fans.
Shawn B, Toronto
A: I don’t think you’re all whack jobs at all. Some? Hell yeah. Most? Fervent fans, knowledgeable.
They are too young and they do rely too much on outside shooting but they are also a work in progress. So don’t be too hard on ‘em.
Q: What would you put the odds at that the very first call Magloire received on his cell after being waived was from Leo? I mean, it's a natural fit: a man desperately seeking to prove he still has what it takes, and a Canadian national team in need of a big. Talk about motivation. Mind you, Magloire will have to say a lot of mea culpas for the team to welcome him, after so many years of him turning them down. Think it'll all go down?
Lee Z, Ottawa
A: I can virtually guarantee you that call has not been made, nor will it.
Q: Just curious about the Mavs/Nets deal. Specifically to the Mavs - do you have any idea what the feeling is like among the Mavs players/coaches when it comes to Devean George? Now that the trade has successfully gone through, do you think everyone will forget about it or will there be bad blood and a good chance that he does get much PT moving forward.
Aneil G, Scarborough
A: I would think that Devean George will see his minutes diminish because of his ability, not some grudge held by his coach. And his teammates will be fine; they wouldn’t have been had the trade been scuttled but they’ll be okay now.
Q: Re: Charitable work. The PGA might argue that they do as much charitable work as the NBA.
Mark I, Victoria
A: Yes, for money raised, they probably would. Good point.
Q: The time has come to tighten the rotation. I'm still flummoxed that Jamario is a starter and I think the ups and downs of Andrea put his starting spot up in the air at times. In your expert opinion, who do you write down on your cocktail napkin at Harbour as your starters and the first 3 off the bench? I raise my Stella in return.
Scott P, Toronto
A: They have cardboard coasters at the Harbour Sports Grille (it’s a high class joint) but I get your point:
My eight: Calderon, Parker, Moon, Bosh, Bargnani with Ford, Delfino, Rasho as the backups. But I do think he’ll use nine with Kapono in the mix and Moon getting about 12 minutes a night, six to start the game, six to start the second half.
Q: In (Thursday’s) mailbag, you mentioned that we will see a D League team in Toronto.
I was watching the Lakers/Suns game (Wednesday) night at the commentators were talking about a player on the Lakers who played on their D League team (which is located in LA). Apparently, there have been a few occasions where he has played in the D League during the day and then the NBA the same night...
Will Toronto's D League team serve as a "farm team" for the Raptors (like Syracuse is for the Blue Jays or the Marlies for the Leafs)? And then, can Colangelo, Embry etc, choose guys they wanna check out and give a better look to? Potentially random Canadian players who haven't had much of a chance but deserve a look? Or is that a place where a guy like Ukic could get some North American PT before coming up to the NBA?
Aneil G, Scarborough
A: That player, I believe, is Koby Karl, George’s kid and maybe Jordan Farmer did it, too. And yes, they’ll use it as something of a farm team but not in the traditional sense since NBA teams can only send down a maximum of two players who are under contract. But what they will be able to do is perhaps steer free agents they’re interested in to their D League team so they can keep close tabs on them. They’ll also be able to see more players more easily; they’ll be able to hire their own coach to install whatever system they want so that whoever’s there is playing the same style as the Raptors do.
If there are Canadians worthy, they’ll get a shot on their merits, not their passports. And the only way they could get Ukic there would be to sign him and assign him, which they aren’t going to do; if they sign him, it’s so he can play in the NBA.
Q: It's funny listening to people talk about trades and how much they love seeing players move around. We seem to easily forget how much it must suck as a player.
If I showed up to work tomorrow and was told that I have been moved to Minnesota and need to be there by Monday, I'd be pretty ticked, especially if I enjoyed working/playing where I was. Having to work 'play' with teammates for 8 months of the year, there must be some great environments, and some brutal environments (ie Knicks). So my question: Have there ever been any Raptor trades that the players really didn't want to happen because of personalities? Either a great personality that gets moved, or a bad personality that gets picked up?
Brad M, Waterloo
A: Oh, yeah. Way back in the day, Kenny Anderson wasn’t coming here in the original Damon Stoudamire trade; I remember Kevin Willis being quite irked that he had to leave Toronto to go to Denver. Alonzo Mourning wasn’t coming but then again the Raptors never expected him, too.
And I cannot remember who it was, but there was a guy in Jersey, Kerry Kittles maybe?, who said he’d retire rather than come to Toronto when his name was in a rumour.
Q: Someone probably asked this already but what are your thoughts on the Raps getting Jermaine O'Neal? Let's forget about him and Bosh playing the same position cause in my mind O'Neal is a solid centre. And don't say something like "it won't happen so I won't talk about it". Hmm, how else can you avoid this question....oh yeah, don't say that the raps can't afford him or that the Pacers won't need players like say, Graham, Nesterovic, Kapono, Humphries, or Bargnani. Come on give us an answer that we would want to hear.
Mike U, Winnipeg
A: My thoughts would be that if the Raptors got Jermaine O’Neal, it’d be a bad move. He’s not that good anymore, he’s never really won anything for the salary he commands or the impact he has and I’m not a big fan of his game.
Q: Doug, I'm surprised by your column stating that Primoz isn't really anything when in reality, it’s actually six more fouls in the first round against Dwight Howard. Orlando-Toronto at 4-5 is basically a lock once the Cavs move up.
I see this trade as 24 trips to the line (Rasho, Primoz, Hump, Bargnani) for Howard and not 24 dunks. Seems to make sense to me.
Jason H, Princeton
A: The next time this team fouls the same guy 24 times in a game, as you suggest, it’ll be the first. By the time the playoffs roll around, rotations are shortened, not lengthened, generally. There’s more chance he gets a few minutes in the regular season than he does in the post-season.
And let’s not lock in that 4-5 thing yet, okay? Cleveland still has to play games.
Q: Doug I really need your help here. I was under the impression that Calderon was a Bird Rights guy, and therefore he could be signed to a new contract that didn't impact the salary cap. Colangelo goes on record saying that he didn't want to take on a big contract this trading deadline because he needed flexibility to sign Calderon this office season without getting into a luxury tax situation. I thought luxury tax only kicks in when a team is over the cap? Why would Calderon's contract have any impact on luxury tax if the contract doesn't count towards the cap? What gives here?
Ian M, Toronto
A: It doesn’t impact the cap because if the Raptors are over the cap they can sign their own free agents for any amount. The dollar figure does, however, count towards the tax threshold.
I gotta put a post up somewhere laying this whole thing out.
Q: Here's one that has nothing to do with the trade deadline.
Don't mean to call you out, but a couple of months ago you mentioned that the Raps were planning on ditching that dreadful Kanye West "Stronger" opening tip-off music video for something new.
We're past the unofficial halfway point in the season, but no new tunes! Why? Forget Calderon vs. Ford, Bargnani's struggles and the big Cavs/Bulls/Sonics trade, these are the things that matter.
J C, Toronto
A: I know, I know. Dude who runs things over there told me they were likely to change. I’m hoping it comes soon and they don’t wait for the playoffs because that song does nothing for me, or the crowd, it seems.
Q: Hey Doug, my question relates to Free Agents this summer. There are a number of teams who have been clearing cap space for this summer or the future (Memphis, Seattle, Philly, and possibly Miami if Marion doesn't re-sign)...who are the free agents that these teams will be chasing? I think one of these teams will probably be smart enough to offer Calderon more than the mid-level exception. What are your thoughts on which of those teams will land a difference maker?
Ryan B, Toronto
A: My thoughts, which are exactly the same thought as the guy who makes the decision (B.Colangleo) is that it doesn’t matter who offers what, Jose will be a Raptor next season.
Q: Now that the trade Deadline has passed where do you see the Raptors overall in the East?
I was at the Magic game and my main observation was that the Magic cannot hang with the Raps, they had no answer for Bosh nor did they have one for Calderon. If it came to a 7 game series with these two, I would take the Raps in 5.
In my opinion the Cavs are the same team they were before the deadline, maybe a little worse off. Any thoughts?
Zack B, Toronto
A: I think the Raptors could beat Orlando in a series but there’s no way in the world Stan Van Gundy doesn’t come up with some other defensive scheme for Bosh. What it is, and how the Raptors react, will determine who wins.
As for Cleveland: I said it the day after the trade and I’ll say it again. I think they’re different, but not necessarily better.
Q: I was watching a locally telecasted Rockets game early on in this season, and it was extremely funny to hear their own commentators' take on Rafer.
”Rafer has improved a lot on his jump shot. Now when he misses, he only misses by a little bit...”
Phil K, Singapore
A: Insightful commentary, methinks.
Q: Hey Doug, just a Phoenix-Sun-quick question (oops … guess they are not so quick now are they?)
Now that Dallas has sent a village of people and some pocket changes for Jason Kidd. Dare we said they admitted their mistake in letting Steve Nash go? If they didn't want to pay Nash the big buck worry about his health, I can't believe Kidd is that much sturdier than Nash at this point.
Looking for your unique crack at the guy with too much money and ego who happen to own a basketball team that wouldn't be winning the NBA title any time soon.
Ronald C, Toronto
A: I don’t know. Since they let Nash walk, which was ridiculous, Dallas has played for an NBA championship. Maybe they win one if he stays, who knows? But while I’d like nothing more than to make a crack about the guy you’re referring to, and there’s plenty of other ammunition (I still say he cost the Mavs that series with the Heat, he often looks like a nut when he’s berating officials, his over-the-topness takes away from what his team has accomplished), the Nash thing is just another one on the list.
Q: How come the Raptors don't fly out of the Island Airport? I'm sure MLSE with their clout could make it happen.
That airport seems perfect for chartered flights. From what I hear, all the players live downtown near the waterfront anyways and we won't have situations like today where Bryan Colangelo is an hour late catching the plane because he has to navigate rush hour traffic from the ACC to Lester B.
F L, King City
A: Runway’s too short, plane’s too big. What do you think, these guys fly in tiny regional jets? No way. It’s Airbus all the way and they don’t fit down there.