Special delivery from The Big Easy
Yes, you still ask a lot of questions. Yes, some of them are even interesting (I keed, I keed). Yes, there will be bonus mailbags throughout the weekend, likely tomorrow sometime and Sunday. Yes, I’ll be doing regular blogs with oddities and niceties from all-star weekend that I’ll sprinkle in here every day. Yes, you should check this site often so the number of hits goes up and my bosses like me.
Q: Regarding the Mavs/Nets deal, and the idea that they can sign Van Horn to make the salary cap work, could Mark Cuban sign anybody? Like you, or better yet me, or hey why not Rod Thorn's nephew! That's a sure way to get the deal to go through!
Andy A, Dallas
A: I don’t know about you but my skills have diminished too much to make more than, say $2.6 million a year. And Rod Thorn’s nephew can’t go left.
But, yes, they can sign anyone they want but that person would have to actually show up in Jersey and play.
Q: Hey Doug, since All-Star weekend is coming up, just wanted to get your picks for the winners of the 3 events on Saturday night and the winner AND MVP prediction for the All-Star game.
Joseph D, Aurora
A: You know the last time I predicted anything, it was that Jose would be an all-star reserve and we know how well that worked out. But, since you asked:
I’ve got Chris Paul in the punt, pass and kick thing, I’ve got Jason Kapono in the three-point contest and Dwight Howard in the dunk contest. Oh, and the MVP? That’s a tough one, since it doesn’t look like Kobe plays. How about LeBron? Yeah, let’s go with LeBron.
Q: Hey Doug, I was at a game earlier this year and saw a female ref. She made some good calls. How many women does the NBA have as referees and, since they aren't former NBA players, what qualifications do they have?
David H, Toronto
A: Violet Palmer is the only female ref in the league. She’s good. And who cares about not being a former NBA player, I think there’s only one and that’s Leon Wood.
The qualifications? Years of work in colleges, minor leagues and wherever they can find a game.
Q: Jay Triano snags a W during his stint as interim head coach and Steve Nash is headed to yet another All-Star Game. What a banner week for Canadian Basketball! Where are Bill Wennington and Rowan Barrett when you need them? Following this Canadian theme, what's the deal with Joel Anthony? (in the Seinfeld voice). I know he was recently injured but even prior to that he was getting no burn on a Heat team that has lost 22 of 23 and 15 in a row at one point. Why isn't Miami playing him? I know they like him because they've kept him around and cut ex-NBAers Penny Hardaway and Luke Jackson. What's up with this fellow Canuck?
Justin L, Toronto
A: He’s still hurt and still very much a project but he’s got far more potential than Hardaway or Jackson did and that’s why they kept him. Raw talent, good shot-blocker, pretty good defender I’m told.
Q: Yo Doug, my son, the Raptors need a rebounder what about my man Reggie Evan. Come on. He brings instant rebounding.
2. Do you think the Raptors will go after Monte Ellis to play the shooting guard for the aging AP.
Man up and put this question up
Mustafa K, Toronto
A: You want me to “man up” and put this question in? Okay, you asked for it.
I’m not sure who this Reggie Evan is but Reggie Evans would be nice in Toronto if Philly would move him, but they won’t.
And Monte Ellis I have no knowledge of, Monta Ellis is not on their radar at any level.
Q: Apparently David Stern wants to create a 5 team European division for the league. I think it would be a great idea. However, instead of expanding into Europe, why not relocate a couple of struggling franchises like Seattle (new arena issues) or New Orleans (attendance problems) to Europe. 5 more teams would only dilute the talent in the NBA even more; you only have to look at the standings in the East to see this. No one team in the league has 15 all-stars in its roster, nor does the draft offer 30 future all-stars in the first round. Teams are always looking for that hidden gem in the draft or in free agency; true talent is at a premium in the league. What’s your take in this possible endeavor by Commissioner Stern?
Ramon L, Edmonton
A: The dilution of talent will be a huge problem, sure. But think of all the t-shirt they can sell in Madrid and London and Rome and wherever.
I think it’s a great business move, a pre-emptive strike, and the NBA is all about business and “growing the brand.”
Besides, a five-game European road trip once a year would be pretty good for, say, a beat grunt.
Q: Well, watching our ol' buddy Vince (Wednesday) night have a typical Vince game (Ground Canada having an off year after signing a long-term deal, who saw THAT coming?) got me thinking about the oft-forgotten draft night trade with G.S. for Antawn Jamison almost a decade ago. The early evaluation of the trade was that the Raps got a steal, but in the past few years, Jamison has really emerged as a force with the Wiz. So, if you are the Raps, knowing what you know now, do you still have Vince and Antawn switch hats on the stage?
I know, a world without "The Vince Carter Story" by Doug Smith...perish the thought.
Sean K, Ottawa
A: Today, you’d want Jamison on your team instead of Carter. But I still say it was a great trade at the time, all those years of excellence and excitement were good for the fans, the city and the franchise.
A world without The Vince Carter Story would indeed be a world without sunshine.
Q: Remind me again... I was just looking at a comparison between MoPete and Kapono. Why didn't we sign MoPete again? Their stats are arguably relatively the same and I think that MoPete's a much better defensive player... I miss watching him play. Is there anyway he might come back to Toronto? EVER?
Andy C, Toronto
A: Okay, I’ll remind you.
Kapono’s younger and shoots the three-pointer with better accuracy (career-wise). Maybe it’s six of one, half a dozen of the other in many ways, but that’s why they did it.
And Mo will be back in March with the Hornets, that’s about it. As a Raptor? Never.
Q: Conspiracy theory - to go along with the frozen envelope in the Ewing draft and refs giving games to teams [wait: that's not a theory anymore, is it] - for you: did the NBA hold up the Kidd trade, JUST to keep Calderon out of the All-Star game (or, to make it less personal: to not have to deal with what to do about an All-Star player being traded from one conference to the next the week of the game)? Devean George is Lee Harvey Oswald. The question is: who will be Jack Ruby?
Paul M, Toronto
A: As conspiracy theories go, that’s one. Not a bad one. If you saw David Stern on a grassy knoll, that’d be way better.
But, as you know, it wasn’t the league that held up the trade, it was Devean George and I don’t think he’s got anything against Spain.
Q: Do the Raptors have a mid-level contract available for next year? (Like Kapono last year).
If so, what's the "maximum" contract the Raps will be able to take in this summer?
Blake S, Truro, N.S.
A: Yes, they will have the mid-level exception, which figures to be about $5.7 million or so to start. And that’ll be the maximum they can pay any free agent. They can pay Jose or Carlos, or even Juan, as much as they want.
Q: Reading about the homer announcers reminded me of when Jay Triano used to do colour with the late Don Poier, who was a great homer. Jay had a habit of criticizing the officials a bit louder when they were standing nearby. One game he was severely reprimanded and threatened with being tossed (by Ronnie Nunn, I think), which shut him up pretty good. I'm just wondering if you know of any announcers who have been thrown out of a game?
List time: If the all-star game went to an America vs The World format, who would be your starters? Would Jose finally make the team? And who would win? Also who would Tim Duncan play for?
Guy M, Vancouver
A: Announcers? Not thrown out, we can’t recall (and I’ve asked some of the greatest minds in Canadian basketball) but we do think there might have been a technical or two issued. And there was the day Steve Javie, we think, threw a mascot out of a game, believe it was Benny The Bull.
I think we might have done the world thing before and I think I might have had the same teams but today (and I’m putting Duncan with the Americans ‘cause he’s played for them in the Olympics) I’d have:
USA: Kidd, Kobe, LeBron, Duncan, Howard.
World: Nash, Ginobili, Nowitzki, Gasol, Yao.
And the Americans win.
Q: Hey Doug, I don't want to cause you headaches so I'll tone down a bit and hurl easy questions this time. Without further ado, here I go:
1) Will that summer camp held last year that brought the 'MoonJammer' to Raptorland be a continuous process, or just a one-time gig? I consider that as a good venue to unearth diamonds in the rough-kind of players that might yield some planetary aligned potentials like Moon's ray of athleticism; and
2) Do you have some information as to the non-draft eligible international basketball players that the Raptors organization and scouts have high on their radar? Is there a chance of landing 1 or 2 signings somewhat similar to what AP and Garbo had?
P.S. Please extend my appreciation to your volunteer research assistants for their contribution to my last week query. And by the way, I missed Diana T, too. I wonder what she thinks about Arenas' lowballing of Jose Calderon. I enjoyed her fiery and indignant display of emotion towards the Celtics last time. My calm demeanour indeed complements her persona.
Rikki C, Burlington
A: I’m all for easy. It’s like 6:30 in the morning here in The Big Easy when I’m doing these so, thanks.
Instead of the camp they held last year to discover Moon, which replaced a summer league team a year ago, they are going back to summer league this year. Going to Vegas in early July, I believe. And they’ll have maybe one day of practice before they start playing. They’ll have kids like Moon there but it won’t be in the same form as last summer.
Not sure if there are any Euro non-draft players. I think those leagues have been pretty picked over and the good ones are property of NBA teams now. Talked to Jose and Jorge about it a month or so ago and they couldn’t come up with too many names. But Bryan and Maurizio and Masai were fanned out over Europe earlier this month and who knows what they’ll find.
Q: Hi Doug, I have a few questions regarding 2nd round picks:
1) How is the order of second round picks determined? It does not seem like that it is the same way as first round picks.
2) What is the trade value of the picks (early, mid, late)? There are definitely a lot of gems that can be found in the 2nd round like Arenas, but a lot of times it seems like its a throw-in that make trades looks better.
3) Do draft picks in trades have any salary cap values? (this is referring to the salary restrictions in trading)
Calvin L, Markham
A: The second-round order is in inverse order of the standings, worst team picks 31st, best team picks 60th.
They have very little value, an enterprising GM can probably buy one for $250,000 or so. But there are gems, that’s for sure.
If I understand you right, you’re asking if, for instance, the two picks Dallas was going to send to New Jersey had any monetary value in a trade? If that’s the case, no. If I’ve misunderstood, sorry.
Q: Top five clutch shots, and no mention on MoPete's miracle heave against Washington last year? The half-court shot after the Raps turned it over, and Ruffin tossed the ball in the air, thinking the game was over? That was one of the most improbable, unbelievable sequences I've ever seen. Especially considering that was Mo's first time seeing the floor the whole game... that has to be in the top five. Maybe even #2 behind Alvin's.
Josh K, Toronto
A: On your list, sure. You know, of course, that the shot forced Toronto to play New Jersey in the first round of the playoffs instead of Washington, right?
Q: Kurt Thomas has been mentioned a lot in trade rumors. I wonder if you know what the Sonics are asking for him or what other contracts a team might be willing to take on in order to acquire him?
Tim B, Kaohsiung, Taiwan
A: You know why Kurt Thomas has been mentioned in trade rumours? It’s because way back about a month ago, I wrote that Someone Who Knows said the Raptors have some interest. It’s not as if the Sonics are shopping him. So they’re not doing any “asking.”
Q: I have asked this question before and I will ask it again. Are there any updates on Norma Wick? What is she doing now? I am always paying attention for her on my TV screen.
Michael C, Richmond Hill
A: Still doing fine, still around the area doing this and that, still badly missed around RaptorTV.
Q: I personally thought Carlos Delfino was our 2nd best player in the Spurs game next to Jose, his driving skills really impressed me as I've never seen him have such a quick first step before. However, it kills me that he's the second worst free throw shooter on our team next to Rasho (at 67% he's worse than Jamario). What do you believe the reasoning behind this is? Why doesn't Sam get him to sit on a free throw line and practice for a few hours a day?
Also, you think Carlos is a lock to be on our team in the future?.. I sure hope BC isn't offering any trades with him...I think he's a priceless role player.
One more thing (sorry for all the q's), what is TJ's status? Does his wrist have anything to do with his spinal injury? Did he suffer another stinger?
Andrew D, Dartmouth
A: Some people don’t shoot free throws well, that’s just a fact. No one can say why and if you can figure it out, someone will hire you. Now I need to ask you a question: Do you think Sam doesn’t have them shoot free throws every day?
And TJ’s wrist has nothing to do with his neck, back, nerves. By all accounts, he’ll be back Wednesday.
Q: I have Raptors TV, so every once in awhile I get to see the 10-15 minute press scrums with Sam. Couple of questions. On practice days are the scrums before or after practice. You always see 2-3 guys in the foreground playing around and as I point out to my son, it's almost always Bosh back there. That's part of why he's so good.
Second, I love watching Sam's interaction with the press. How much of that exasperated, slightly condescending tone is real, and how much is it just Sam fooling around with you guys and playing up for the cameras? How would you define SMitch’s tone and personality towards the grunts?
It makes for interesting watching and one of my guilty pleasures is watching Sam abuse you guys.
David G, Wallaceburg
A: The scrums are after practice. We usually get in to see them shooting free throws, doing individual work or, some days, goofing around taking shots from halfcourt or having one-on-one contests.
I think Sam actually likes us, but he doesn’t suffer fools, or foolish questions, well and that’s quite all right with me. He gets exasperated and it’s fun to watch sometimes but, eventually, in every conversation he comes around. You just have to know how to get him back on the track you want and, eventually, you can do it.
But I'm glad we can provide entertainment for you.
Q: Short question - I don't know if he is available or could be available, but Richard Jefferson of the Nets always seems to impress me with his ability to get to the basket and score. Your thoughts about his as a Raptor?
Jim A, Cambridge
A: Maybe in a fantasy world it works. In reality, not going to happen, don’t waste a second thinking about it.
Q: Got a b-ball 101 question for you.
Is there any difference from a pick and roll and a screen and roll?
Tim S, Toronto
A: Semantics, that’s about it.
Q: Okay, the NFL seems to think Toronto now falls into Buffalo's territory in the same way Green Bay used to play a few each year in Milwaukee.
With the departure of the Grizzlies, do the Raps have territorial rights now to the rest of the country? In other words, any chance they might play a regular season game outside of Toronto?
In Vancouver perhaps? Ottawa? Could be a great outreach program.
George B, Ottawa
A: Not going to happen, sorry. I do believe there’s an exhibition game out west next October (not sure if it’s Vancouver, Edmonton or Calgary) and they do owe the good people of Newfoundland a pre-season game but there’s no chance they ever take a regular season game anywhere.