Just like clockwork, here's some mail
I’m proud of you folks. A good week of legit questions, few rants, solid spelling and grammar.
There’s a few left after this compilation of Wednesday and Thursday offerings, I’ll get ‘em up in the now - typical bonus Sunday offering, so don’t despair.
And to all of you who’ve asked about a permanent link somewhere on the page to send questions, I’ll ask the powers that be about it sometime today. For now, just click here in your usual manner.
Q: Thanks again for letting us in on bits of your family and travel life. I loved the comments on Orlando vs. Miami. You expand the blog's reach when you offer travel, consumer tips (Marriott vs. Air NOCANDO-A) and family-snow shovelling duties. It's all good - hope it portends more writing from you (the Smith-Mitchell co-authored story of the improbable(?) rise of the Raptors under his coaching).
Hoops Question: What should we be watching for as the coaches attempt to solve our team's challenge with defending strong shooting wing players? What are the standard ways to think about this issue: double team before or after they start to dribble? Is it possible to deny them the ball? More challenge to opposing guards BEFORE they get the ball to great wing players? This problem has killed us this year. We hope that Jamario will learn to defend better out on the wing - at the same time we know that 1 on 1 defence is never enough to stop these guys from torching us. Please help us learn what to watch for by way of solutions in coming month or two.
Charles N, Toronto
A: Not sure if you’ll see many adjustments in the last month or so, they’ll want to keep what they’re planning for the playoffs as much under wraps as possible. You’ll see snippets so they can work on things at game speed, but not a constant diet of what they’ll do.
I don’t know what exactly they’ll do but some things to ponder and watch for:
Do they double the guy immediately on the catch beyond the three-point line? The danger being that a guy like LeBron can hit open teammates immediately and open NBAers generally make shots.
Do they double on the first dribble, which is what I think they’ll eventually do with James.
If they double, do they send a big or a wing player or a point guard? If it’s Dwight Howard, do they double from the side or the top, or do they switch it up to make it more confusing for him?
I think those are some of things you can watch for and maybe see the rest of the way.
But I’ll tell you this: In games against Orlando, Cleveland and Washington the rest of the regular season, they will not do what they are planning to do in the post-season.
Q: Just wondering, do the Raptors have both their first round and second round pick for 2008? I can't remember if they traded away their 2008 second round pick.
Jason O, East York
A: They have their own first round pick this year but traded away their second to San Antonio for Giorgos Printezis last June.
Q: I was thinking the other day I don't get to see any Andrea Bargnani interviews anymore on post-game (even when he plays well). So I figure he's a bad interview and no one in the media wants to interview him. So I'm just wondering who on the Raptors is a good interview and who's a bad interview.
Akshay K, Toronto
A: He’s quoted in the papers every now and then but not often ‘cause we don’t get a lot of good insight from him. Of the guys who play? I’d put T.J. at the top of the interview list with Bosh second. The rest of ‘em are tied, really; none are bad, but most are far from terrifically quotable.
Q: While it is only three games, is TJ somehow affecting Jose's confidence? Does he "school" him in practice? Is he just tired? Because it seems after playing so well once the injury to TJ happened, Jose appears to now be playing worse now that he is back.
Geoff H, Toronto
A: Coincidence, pure and simple. Read nothing into it other than that. Jose’s a little worn down, has nothing to do with T.J.
Q: As you are well aware (and constantly mention), Toronto fans are known to be...well...fanatical. Jumping from one extreme to another, and coming up with some of the most ridiculous trade ideas and coaching plans that I've ever seen.
Can you give us a breakdown of the emails you get every day? How many are fanatical? How many are thoughtful? How many are truly looking to learn more about basketball, the team, etc? And how many are just random questions about the Leafs, and why they suck so much.
Bonus question (just between us fat guys): My wife and I are thinking of taking a long weekend and coming to TO for some R&R&R, where at least one of those 'R's is a Raptors game. Where's the best place to go for a pre-game dinner with great food, and good value?
Dale H, Waterloo
A: Wednesday (when I did this one) was a good day. Between 10 a.m. and 3:45 p.m. as I type this, I got about 45 e-mails and I’d say 35 of them were legitimate questions. Many of them I’d answered before, but I don’t expect everyone to read everything every day, even though they should. Not one ‘Trade TJ’ rant in the bunch.
Although, there was this, and I’ll not use the name because I don’t want to encourage him:
Hey Dougy it’s me again....(name withheld)!!!!!! You told me get my prescription refilled...haha, not funny. Mark my words DougMan Bargnani’s a bust. So I’m starting a campaign. Bogut 4 Bargnani!!!!! I’m praying that BC can somehow con Larry Harris into trading Andrew Bogut for Andrea Bargnani aka Hoffa jr. Anyone with half a brain knows this is a genius move. We would be instant Eastern Conference contenders. The Pistons, the Celtics, the Cavs, the Magic....bring em on! Now you can do your part in helping the summer campaign. Say it loud with me....Bogut 4 Bargnani, Bogut 4 Bargnani, Bogut 4 Bargnani, Bogut 4 Bargnani!!!!!
Anyway, to your other question. Perhaps you’ve heard me mention the Harbour Sports Grille before? Seriously, it’s close (just south of the arena), has a wide selection of adult beverages and I’ve never had a bad meal there. Reasonably priced, too.
There are a handful of other places north of the ACC on Front (Jack Astor’s would be my pick because I’ve been at a Jack Astor’s in Etobicoke and it’s excellent) and if you really, really wanna splurge, Harbour 60 steakhouse is very high end.
Have a good weekend, whenever it is.
Q: Three for you:
1) George Karl is a good coach, but would Denver be better off with a new coach? I don't think Karl is using Iverson and Melo well enough. Larry Brown anybody? hmmm? HMMMMMM?
2) So the Raps need a better consistent starter at the 3. And if I remember correctly, Charlie V was pretty solid when he played alongside CB4 and Loren Woods/Hoffa. So what would it take for BC to get him back in a raps uniform in the future? Yes he sucks now but you can't deny what he did when he was on Sam Mitchell's team.
3) Wouldn't the Bucks be better off with a new coach? George Karl anyone? hmmmmmm? Remember when the Bucks had Ray Allen, Cassell, Glenn Robinson, Ervin Johnson, and Tim Thomas? Kinda sorta like Redd, Williams, Charlie V, Bogut, and D. Mason.
Veronica S, Winnipeg
A: Little Bucks or former Bucks-centric, aren’t we?
If Larry Brown coaches next year, I’m betting on Chicago, with Atlanta in the running. And I think George Karl’s a good coach, maybe he just needs a couple of different players.
It would take Bryan having a seizure and an uncharacteristic loss of his mind. Charlie V is not coming back, ever. Sorry.
Yes, the Bucks would be better off with another coach, and another GM, and I believe they’ll have both by next season.
Q: Hey Doug, I read a blog by Bill Simmons from ESPN about the Sam Cassell to Boston deal, (cons and pros). In his article Bill actually makes fun of Raptor fans saying they are too easy to stir up. Are we that bad that we are actually gaining a rep around the league? Because that will be something to be proud of).
Rob S, Victoria
A: Gaining? Never mind gaining. You’ve got a rep. Read Simmons or John Hollinger or here. You people are nuts (I keed, I keed – a little).
Q: I have always been curious about players like Graham who are constant CD-DNP. What is their REAL mindset of not playing in real games for maybe weeks? Are most unhappy but take the money to shut up? Or are they very moody?
Brad W, Waterloo
A: The DNP-CDs around here, and the guys on the inactive list, are not happy with their lot in life, they all want to play and think they should. But they aren’t drags on the team in any way, shape or form. I think they know Sam, and Bryan, wouldn’t appreciate that very much.
Q: Doug, I really do enjoy you and M Grange™ providing comprehensive coverage on our beloved Raptors. Good to see both of you embracing the Internet with some good ol' blogging and mail fun with a good/wacky sense of humour. So are you Batman and Grange™ is Robin? Or are you guys doing the Forderon thing, and as long as the team (readers) win, everyone is happy? Your informative mailbags are much appreciated since it must take tons of time to answer.
For the actual question, of the expiring contracts after next season (Rasho, Graham, Baston, Moon, Parker, Greta), who do you see remaining with the Raptors? I'm guessing Moon (albeit with a significant raise) and maybe Garbo, and the rest is used as trade chips or cleared to make a run at 2009 free agents. I think Delfino can take over Parker's role.
Michael S, Thornhill
A: I like to think of us as Laurel and Hardy, or Martin and Lewis.
The real question about those guys is who’ll be with the team after the trade deadline next season, not the end of the season. And I have no answer for that question.
But, and this is purely me thinking out loud, I’d imagine that Moon, and maybe Parker, are with the team in 2009 if they survive the trade deadline a year from now.
Q: I can't seem to find this stat anywhere. Do any Raptors have any technical fouls this year? I can't recall anybody getting one.
Brezec should have for swinging on the rim in the Knicks game, but regardless, this is more evidence of the strong character of this team.
Dave H, Toronto
A: The Raptors have three technical fouls this year so far, fewest in the league by far (Seattle and Memphis have eight each)
Q: In recent years we've seen more and more teams make a serious effort to avoid "knucklehead" type players. Do you think, however, that the events that have taken place this season will also cause teams to think twice before drafting a Chinese-born player in the future? Players like Yi and Yao are doomed to be often-injured and thus, never reach their full potential as NBA players because they are obligated (see: forced) to represent their country every single year during the "off-season". Combine that with the fact that the Chinese Government is worst than Vince's Mom when it comes to meddling in team affairs (trying to hand pick where their players will play, how much they will play etc.) and it seems to me like a lot of teams might start to shy away from these guys.
I know this kind of turned into more of a rant than a question but I'd love to hear your take on all of this.
Serge P, Ottawa
A: Nah, I don’t see teams shying away from a 7-footer who can play no matter where he’s from. But if there’s two and one’s from China and one’s from, say, Canada, and they are dead equal in talent, teams would take the Canadian.
Q: It's been nice to watch Andrea improving in the last couple of months, particularly regarding the little things on defence, fighting for the ball, etc. Am I right in thinking, though, that his finishing touch is one of the things the coaches are focusing on? It's great to see him cut to the basket, but an awful lot of dunks and layups seem to end badly (more than one would expect, certainly). Do you agree or is this just me? And what is the issue -- is it trouble going to his weak hand, or does he just need to maintain his concentration when he leaves his feet?
David A, Toronto
A: Bargs did have a nice lefty finish at the rim in the Minnesota game but that’s one area he does have to work on. He’s not at the rim a lot so maybe he just has to get used to being there. And yes, the coaches work with him on it, like they work with him every day on every facet of the game.
Q: Seems not so long ago, you couldn't get any big man to move to Toronto.
I don't see many teams with 3 7-footers on their roster, except for the Kings (3) and Lakers (4). Do you think there's more stratagey to the Brezec-Dixon swap that meets the eye?
Also, will Primoz and Rasho bunk together on road trips? If so, maybe they should hire a camera crew to follow them around. I see a Slovenian version of the Odd Couple in the making.
JP G, Milton
A: I don’t know exactly how Bryan Colangelo thinks (if I did, I’d be a wealthier and a better dresser) but I know he’d have been looking for a big man when he was shopping Dixon.
Wait! You think these guys bunk together? Not a chance. But I’d sure watch a Rasho-Primoz reality show.
Q: Not a particularly deep question here, but I'm interested in your thoughts on Jamario's leash, which to me seems rather long. I like the kid, don't get me wrong. Good story and all that. He rebounds a little, runs, and finishes the odd dunk underneath when Jose or TJ create for him. His defence however is a work in progress and his propensity to shoot long J's has been well documented by yourself and M. Grange ™ . Shooting 31 per cent from 3 is not license to shoot after standing around and thinking about it for 5 seconds. I see a nice role player but not a long term starting 5 guy. So why the big minutes? Where was Delfino at the six-minute mark last night after JM air balled his 4th J? I know, he's our only athlete (not including Good Joey). But I still don't get it.
David L, Oakville
A: I don’t think the leash is all that long (28 minutes vs. Minnesota) and I think you’ll see it shortened as the season progresses.
Moon is long, and active, and athletic, and infuriating but they like him on the court with the starting unit because he doesn’t need to have plays called for him.
Q: Hey Doug, Any thoughts on the Seattle Supersonics' situation? Seems to me that a) there’s no way a city as wealthy as Seattle should lose a beloved NBA franchise and b) the NBA is not well-served by trading a market like Seattle for <gasp> Oklahoma City. Did we not learn anything from the past two franchise moves (Memphis, NO) in the NBA, neither of which has worked out all that swimmingly?
Sean K, Ottawa
A: I think a Seattle for Oklahoma trade will be Gasol-Kwame Brown-esque but I also think a city shouldn’t use tax dollars to subsidize arenas. It’s a tough situation out there and a sad one for anyone who only gets to Seattle once a year on business, it’s one of the great cities on the continent.
Q: Hi Doug, love the blog and the mail bag; please keep up the great work. Question, light-hearted question and rant for you. Well first the rant; that guy they have trying to get the crowd started at the beginning of the game has got to go. Talk about annoying and does nothing for the crowd anyways! Question: if you’re Mr. Colangelo do you just hand Jose a copy of TJ's contract? He paid the same for Nash in Phoenix for one player so makes sense to have both for the same money. Do you know if the players read your blog? Thank you.
Kevin V, Waterloo
A: I think those are two very good ideas. Presume the initial offer to Jose will be a little less than $8 million a year but that’s just a start to negotiations.
As for the players? I don’t know if they read it, some folks around the team do and for that I’m very appreciative. As I am for all the lovely readers out there, except for the dude who thinks I hate him because I didn’t run his question one week. (I don’t keed, I don’t keed)
Q: Looking to the off-season, how good would Antawn Jamison look in a Rapters uniform? Plays good D, rebounds great from the 3-4, strong on the post, leader in the locker room and can shoot the three. I know he would cost quite a bit ($10-12 mill) but if BryCo drops some salary (expiring contract of Rasho) is this a realistic possibility?
M C, Ottawa
A: He’d look great in a Raptor uniform, no question. But there’s no way they can clear enough cap room to make him an offer and I can’t even see a possible sign-and-trade if Jamison were to demand to come here.
And Rasho’s contract doesn’t expire, he’s got an option but can’t imagine he’d take it. No one is going to pay him almost $8.5 million next season.
Q: Do you see a day when there will no more back to back games in the NBA. Such a beautiful game, seems unfair to the team playing the night before (and beat grunts who miss there flights HOME).
Bob W, Winnipeg
A: I wish. But, alas, arena availability, television concerns and the pursuit of the almighty dollar say no. But at least it’s not like the lockout year when teams had to play back-to-back-to-back on the odd occasion to get a 50-game season in. The third games in those sucked like you wouldn’t believe.
Q: What is your opinion of the Dribble-Drive Motion offence and do you think it could be used by the Raptors. Grant Walh at SI wrote a great piece on it (http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2008/writers/grant_wahl/02/12/memphis0218/)
and how John Calipari has installed it at Memphis. The offence in a nutshell throws out all screens and picks and relies on multiple guards who can drive and dish. The big man, instead of being on the strong side, would be on the weak side. I think this offense is perfect for this team, especially for a lineup of Jose, TJ, Delfino, Bargnani, and Bosh. All of them can drive to the basket and pass well. If I'm not mistaken, Sam has already used a variation of it recently. The Minnesota color analyst even mentioned that he saw the Raptors using it last night. Read up on it and tell us (and Sam) what you think.
Shaun P, Toronto
A: I’ve just read the piece. Quite interesting. My initial reaction is that it might work well against college defenders but it’d never survive in the NBA because the players are more athletic, smarter, and, simply better.
It’s true that rarely can anyone stop his guy one-on-one but with the way defences are designed these days, the help would kill any kind of success for that dribble-drive-motion offence.
Q: Let me start off by saying that I am in no way in the 'we have to trade Calderon/TJ to balance the roster' camp, and that I seriously thought about saying I was from Cote D'Ivoire to increase my chances of getting published.
Having just watched the Raps/Pacers games, I couldn't help but think about a Calderon (or TJ) for Granger trade. I don't know whether either side would (or should) do it, but I think there's an interesting barstool discussion to be had. What are your thoughts on it? maybe Jose(or TJ)/Moon/Graham for Granger/Tinsley?
Also, with the recent changes to the West, who's your pick to come out? My bet's on the Lakers.
Brad C, Port Coquitlam
A: Danny Granger’s pretty good on a pretty bad team but I think you can find a guy just like him for a far smaller cost than a starting point guard.
My bet’s on the Lakers, too; they look unreal these days. But do not sleep on the Spurs
Q: Doug, do you think David Stern should be more concerned with Larry Bird and Donnie Walsh's management of the Pacers than Isiah Thomas and James Dolan's handling of the Knicks? It's one thing to assemble a team that's the laughing stock of the league, but it's another thing to assemble a team that's a potential danger to the community.
Forget the TJ-Jose debate or what's wrong Bargnani, Raptor fans should be grateful we have a team to be proud of on and off the court.
YF W, Etobicoke
A: I think Stern and his boys are very concerned about Indiana, much more than they are about New York. The Knicks, after the sexual harassment suit’s in the past, just suck on the court and that can be fixed. The Pacers are a blight on the league and its reputation now because of all the gun charges and fights and other stuff that’s going on. And it’s an absolute shame because that’s one of the best basketball cities in North America and they’ve got a team loaded with reprobates that they’re ignoring. Rightfully so.
Q: We all here in Toronto love the Raps and think they're underestimated by the US-centric basketball media. So two questions:
1. What do you make of the Raps recent ascension to a Top Five -- number four as I type -- ranking in the ESPN Hollinger NBA Power Rankings? As in, do you think it's a credible, though somewhat abstract, system?
2. Do NBA players and coaches notice or care about this sort of thing? They're currently behind only the Lakers, Celtics and Pistons.
Roy L, Toronto
A: I think John’s ranking system is unique, and abstract and good for spurring on discussion, which is what a good columnist does. And I count John in that group.
And if the players notice, I don’t imagine they care very much.
Q: I really hope that we could keep Brezec beyond this year. I remember him as a Bobcat in 2005 scoring 13 and grabbing somewhere around 6 boards a game (Albeit that's a bottom feeder team). If he could get back his 2005 rhythm, we would have a pretty solid trio of big men in Bosh, Bargnani, and Brezec (3 different flavour/style of big men); what do you think?
Marco L, Toronto
A: I think if Bryan can’t find a better fourth big man (don’t forget Rasho’s under contract for next year, and so is Hump) than a 28-year-old whose best season was four years ago on an expansion team, I’d say the GMs summer wasn’t as good as it could have been.
Q: How does the NBA come off as a league that is doing so well? Talking about European expansion?
I have realized that the Raps may have one of the best home courts in the league. After watching the Raps in front of 700 in Indy, then last night, two games on TV. In Memphis and Miami, the crowds were equally dismal. How do these teams stay afloat?
Chad N, Toronto
A: Maybe it’s the almost $40 million each team gets annually from TV revenues? The cut they get of league-wide merchandising and other revenue? This is not a gate-driven league.
Q: I was wondering why the COY used Bargs against Tim Duncan, F, and Bosh on Oberto, C. Also (Monday) AB against Granger and CB against Murphy C.
I see 3 answers: Mitchell thinks that AB is a better defender than CB so he have to guard the best player, or he would like to save CB from fouls, or the two things together.
What's your two cents on it?
Mauro R, Veruno, Italy
A: On the Duncan-Oberto matchup, if you’re worried one of your bigs might get into quick foul trouble, you’d much rather it be Bargnani than Bosh, right?
The Indiana one? Why in the world would anyone want Bosh chasing Granger around the perimeter instead of guarding the slower Murphy?