Sunday's special delivery, just a wee bit late
Here we go again. Sorry for being a tad later than usual, something about a hospitality suite and a gaggle of grunts makes for a later night.
Loads of queries here, though, to give you something to read. And this fancy-schmancy “extended post” thing they taught me.
Q: I noticed that Bargnani's recent improvement over the last several games seems to coincide with him being named to the all-star sophomore team. Seeing that his prolonged slump had more to do with a lack of confidence than a lack of skill, do you see a correlation here? And, if so, does his participation in the All-Star festivities provide an additional boost to his confidence that he can take with him for the second half of the season
Mike M, Ottawa
A: I can’t imagine being in New Orleans hurts but I don’t think it’ll really be a factor in the next 30 games. After all, if you watched that thing that passed as a Rookie-Sophomore game, it’s resemblance to basketball was practically non-existent.
Q: Hey Doug, isn’t it obvious from the Rookie/Soph game that Bargnani is not athletic enough to play at a high level in this league? Even Barkley said that Yi is more athletic than Andrea!
Frank C, North York
A: Frank, meet Mike just above you.
Yes, Yi is more athletic now than Andrea. So are maybe 300 other players. Does that mean Bargnani’s never going to play at a high level? You can’t say that. And I won’t.
Q: How many basketballs are used in a regulation game? I'm curious because it seems that errant passes that go into the crowd are required to be tossed back in, unlike baseball or hockey where fans get to keep souvenirs. Would I get kicked out of the ACC if I, perchance, caught a game ball and refused to give it back?
Chi-Hung T, Richmond Hill
A: Two are taken out of the balls used for warmups and are set aside for that night’s game. And, yes, if you perchance, caught a ball and didn’t return it I’m sure the yellow jackets would ask you, politely, to leave.
Q: Without trading chips, it's going to be hard for Colangelo to make improvements this year. Given the Pistons' arthritis isn't setting in just yet and the Celtic trio might be healthy come 'Play every other day or so' time, maybe it isn't worth trying for a trade home run, to mix sports metaphors. Seems extremely likely that the current roster stays put into March. But a few questions:
 Is Ukic a viable trading chip?
 Would any of Hakkim Warrick MEM, Michael Pietrus GS or Michele Gelabale SEA fill the SF defensive stopper role?
 Valentine's Day spells the end of Hermann's enforced Detroit sojourn. Would the Pistons actually help an Eastern contender by swapping him for Dixon?
 With Ford's latest setback, does Dixon become more valuable as a backup, rather than a chip?
 Given the after-publication results of the bios on Stoudamire and Carter, should fans worry that you or one of your brethren might be negotiating a Bosh book soon? Just keeeding!
Gary M, Bramalea
A: A few answers
1 – No, he’s got little or no value.
2 – Warrick’s best as a four, a scout told me this week when we were talking about him; Pietrus is athletic but not particularly tough and Gelabale’s all right but hardly a difference-maker. And I’m not sure he could guard threes.
3 - No, it doesn’t. It’s three months, which is March 14.
4 – Ford’s going to be back by Wednesday, I don’t think it has any impact on Juan at all.
5 – Hahahaha. Maybe I should write that Sam book.
Q: You answered the last one so I'll try again - I was wondering about the roles the Raps assistant coaches fill. I know sometimes there's a defensive specialist or a big man specialist or mentor type, but I've never heard any real characterizations of Alex English, Mike Evans, and Jay Triano. I know their resumes and they seem to have a good relationship etc, but that's as much as I really know.
\While you're at it could you try to characterize Sam? (My sense is that he's one of the better player development coaches in the league, not as sharp as some on x's and o's, but he gets his guys to play hard and accountably and I love watching him celebrate great moments and victories. If I had to peg him as an archetype I'd say he's a character and heart and guts coach as opposed to an offensive or defensive type...)
Paul W, Parkdale
A: Two for two.
Generally speaking, the three assistants are interchangeable although we usually see Mike working with point guards, Jay the wings and Alex the bigs. But they do change around a bit.
Sam? You could write a book on Sam (attention publishers: Writer for hire!). I think he’s a fine and honourable man whose greatest strength is that players respect him and play for him. If he says do this or sit and you don’t do that, you sit.
He is a huge character, loves to talk, loves to bush on people but can take as good as he gets.
Sure, he may have some X and O flaws, find me a coach who doesn’t. But look at the years when he had horrible teams with, um, odd personalities (see Alston, Rafer; James, Mike; Rose, Jalen) and not once did you hear stories players ripping him or quitting on him.
That, more than anything else speaks to his ability to lead men.
Q: Love your columns, and your opinions seem to always have an effect on the Raptors fans, ever thought of changing to politics?
On to the question, do you think Gilbert Arenas deserves the Vince Carter treatment in the ACC? Twice this year he attacked raptors players for no reason and his arguments make no sense whatsoever. The first time against Moon and now against Jose. What are your thoughts?
Will BK, Toronto
A: I have a feeling Agent 0 will get the gears when he’s here in March. I know from personal experience a whole bunch of fans have very long memories. The big question might be: Will he play? There have already been rumbles that Arenas might shut it down for the season to give his knee time to heal, with the Wizards in a freefall now, that could very well happen. Does he deserve it? Probably not as much as Vince did his first zillion times back, but he does deserve a little razzing.
Politics? Yeah, right.
Q: Just wondered a few things myself after watching in horror as Mr. Maggette and Mr. Manu tore us apart. I, along with the entire Raptor nation I'm sure, noticed that Mr. Maggette draws more fouls than I have ever seen. He certainly gets to the line a lot which is something this team needs. Can you tell me whether the league or teams track the number of fouls each player DRAWS each game/season. I don't mean just shooting fouls, I'm talking fouls period.
Steve H, Mississauga
A: Nah, the league doesn’t but I’m sure some stat-geek website does.
Q: Hey Doug, as a player, it bothers me to know that a kick-ball on defence gives the opposition a new 14 second shot clock. Have you spoken to any players about their thoughts on this, which to my knowledge is a rule only in the NBA? Last time I checked, kick-balls were a sign of playing good active defence (and maybe moreso, a sign of a bad pass) that should not reward the offence. When will this be changed?
Shawn M, Ottawa
A: In 13 years, never had a player complain or even comment on the kick ball rule, it is what it is and I can’t envision a scenario in which it’s changed. I actually don’t think it’s such a big deal, you might see it one time a game, if that.
Q: You always talk about how you would get juicy quotes from guys like Oak, Jalen and Mike James ... I was wondering, who did you go to back in the Barney days? Damon was a kid and Carlos Rogers always looked high. I know Zan Tabak was a good guy but was he a quote waiting to happen? John Salley maybe?
Ed C, Toronto
A: Ah, throwback time! Cool, since we just ran into Old Friend Damon the other night.
Way, way back in the day? Yeah, John Salley was a good one but he wasn’t around a lot; we used to go to Popeye Jones and even though Damon was a kid, he’d sit there in the locker room every single night, win or lose, and answer questions.
But for “juicy” quotes, it really didn’t start until Oak arrived. And then it never ended.
Q: Even though they're winning lately, its obvious that the Rockets need to make a trade to contend in the upgraded West.
I'd love your thoughts on trying to pry Shane Battier from them, as I think he's the type of glue guy we don't have with Garbo out. Would you send Kapono (head's up) or a package like Delfino and Hump? Would the Rockets consider it?
Forest K, Toronto
A: Not sure how emphatic I can make this.
NO, the Rockets wouldn't consider it.
NO, the Rockets wouldn't consider it.
NO, the Rockets wouldn't consider it.
Q: I have 3 questions; hopefully I will be one of the chosen ones and be blessed by your wisdom:
1) I saw John Lucas sitting behind the Raptors bench on Monday, is he now part of the Raptors staff?
2) Does Brian Colangelo have more limitations on his basketball decisions by working for a corporation (MLSE), rather than a hoops crazed billionaire like Mark Cuban or Paul Allen, or better yet a rich idiot like James Dolan? Would BC be able to convince MLSE to dole out a couple of millions to buy a draft pick like Portland did during the draft (Rudy Fernandez) or is MLSE to concern about the bottom line?
3) Let’s suppose the Raptors continue to improve and a few years down the road the team becomes an elite team and a championship contender. Would Sam Mitchell still be the right coach for that team or would the Raptors need to bring a big name coach?
A: No, he’s not part of the staff. Yet. Watching him work out Jamario Moon and Juan Dixon after practice on Tuesday (a very intricate shooting, ball-handling drill that includes shots from the top of the circle, either elbow and a running layup) made it look like he wants to hang around. But he was in town to keep working with T.J.
Well, MLSEL isn’t going to throw around cash like Cuban, after all, those retired teachers have to live in the manner to which they’d like to become accustomed, but I think he’d tell you he’s got all the financial resources he needs. He can’t, and won’t, go over the tax threshold, though, and that’s where some teams out-spend him. But you only have to look as far as the Knicks and Mavs to see that tax-paying salary levels don’t equal success.
Sam? Yeah, he’d be the right coach then, like he’s the right coach now.
Q: I've got a quick question: There has been a lot of talk about the Raptors getting a perimeter defender in wake of getting burned by LeBron, Maggette and Ginobili. In my opinion, three of the Raptors top defenders are their 2/3's (AP, Carlos and Moon). This being said, is it possible that the problem lies in the help defence from the bigs? I know that Rasho is a great team defender and its great having him out there talking on D, but it seems that often the other bigs (Hump, Andrea) don't rotate fast enough. Even Bosh, is only an average defender in my eyes.
Alex H, Oakville
A: Oh, the bigs are far from blameless in those fiascos. But the blow-bys happen so often and the swingmen just simply lose guys in transition and on the perimeter, I’d say they’re 70 per cent responsible? Maybe 75? But, yes, they need some more help in the back and that’s where Bargnani has to learn. He’s not nearly a good enough communicator back there and that hardest thing he’s learning to do.
Q: First, a comment: I was watching those same games as you the other night (Detroit-Atlanta and Boston-Indiana). I found them to be much more enjoyable than you did for one simple reason: I had the volume turned down below where I could hear it. Voila, instant watchability!
Now my question: one quote stood out for me from Gilbert Arenas' dazzling display of ignorance laid out for all to read in his blog. And here it is:
"Calderon is managing a team. If he was up for Rookie All-Star, Sophomore All-Star … BOOM … he’d get in. He might even be MVP! But for the big show? The big game? No."
This led me to wonder if your crack team of researchers or your research tandem could find out just how many league MVP's were not also All-Stars in that same year. Please forward your findings to Agent Zero.
Joe T, Toronto
A: I seem to be research tandem-free at the moment but I looked through the record books I’ve got here and can’t find a case where the league MVP wasn’t chosen for the all-star game.
Q: Hey Doug, glad to see someone else out thinks so little of Tommy Heinsohn. The guy actually yells "teribble call!!" at the refs from the broadcast booth. I figure that even Beantown fans have to get sick of his one-sidedness.
Anyway... it begs the question - who are the best (and worst) color commentators in the NBA. My list... Best: Doug Collins, Hubie Brown. Worst: Heinsohn, Bill Walton (although he's entertaining sometimes). Thoughts?
Pat K, San Diego
A: Colour guys? I really don’t hear a lot of them but I think Mark Jackson at the Nets does a good job, I’m a fan of Clyde Frazier and the Al Horford stuff aside, Steve Smith does a good job. Don’t really have any favourites in the West but I don’t mind Dan Majerle.
I’m not a big Hubie Brown fan, though.
I do think Mike Breen, Mark Jackson and Jeff Van Gundy as a team on the national scope of things.
Q: A bit of a basketball 101 question for you. I was at the Clips game last week and Kaman (I think...) got called for a non-unsportsmanlike technical foul for hanging on the rim. Kinda funny how someone asked you about that not too long ago. Anywho, my question: is there a distinct difference between non-unsportsmanlike techs and normal techs (e.g. for arguing excessively)? If a player gets a second non-unsportsmanlike tech, does he still get tossed? Or does it just result in more free throws?
Nevin T, Scarborough
A: Just a free throw, doesn’t count towards ejection, or an accumulation that might result in a suspension and it doesn’t carry a fine.
Q: Basketball 101 for you. After the second of two free throws, or after a traditional three-point play, if the free throw is missed and the defensive team grabs the rebound, does it count as a rebound?
Mike S, Georgetown
A: Yes, it does. A cheap and easy way to pick up rebounds.
Q: Doug, re your "please, we’ve got to cut down on the lengths and try to include actual, you know, questions" flagellation of die hard fans, especially in northern, central Ontario, how about the question. How about the Raps pick up Diop. They need rebounds and right now, they aren't going anywhere giving up rebounds like donuts to a cop at Tim Hortons.
Frank K, Orillia
A: I’m not sure DeSagana Diop, who averages a whopping 5.2 rebounds a game in 17 minutes a game with the Mavs, is worth going after for the rest of this year and if they can’t do better than him in the off-season in free agency, the summer will have been a failure.
Q: Do you see the Toronto Raptors winning the Vegas Summer League this summer? They could be throwing out a lineup of; Roko Ukic, Joey Graham, Jamario Moon, Andrea Bargnani etc...
Joe L, North Bay
A: Not only don’t I know, you can’t imagine how little I care. And neither should you, Summer League wins and losses aren’t worth even thinking about. And I’d be shocked if Ukic, who has an Olympic qualifier with Croatia; or Bargnani, who is better off resting and going to a big man camp, are even involved in the summer league.
Q: First time writer long time reader here (how original I know)! If it wasn’t for your blog I’m pretty sure I’d go insane at university and work! Thanks for keep me sane!!! (How great is my originality?)
Anyhow, I’ll get on with my question; I wouldn’t want to keep you waiting from kickin’ back and having a cold one. Your blog is immensely popular, I’d hate to toy with such a great format but would you ever considering having a video blog, or trying it out for one blog session? I would LOVE to see your actual reactions to people’s questions/comments as you read them? Yay or Nay? Your written comments are so hilarious I can just imagine you facial expressions.
I hope that’s not too high tech for ya. (Just kidding! You’re the coolest, most tech savviest blogger around)!
Sadiq Motani, Toronto
A: You mean the rolling of the eyes, the shocked expression, the jaw-dropping stunned look at some of the craziest of queries? Yeah, I’m pretty sure people don’t want to see that.
But, thanks for thinking of a way to make me work just a bit harder.
Q: Hopefully I can get this in time for you to consider answering over the weekend while you are in the Big Easy.
Can you help me set me fantasy line-up for the upcoming week. I want to include T.J. in my line-up. So what is the word on T.J. Ford? Will he be playing right after the break? Help me Doug win my week!
Rob F, Toronto
A: As we saw T.J. Ford leave the locker room on Wednesday night, there was no way he was going to miss this Wednesday’s game.
Q: Hey Doug, this is a follow-up to your response about Mo Pete coming back to Toronto with New Orleans but never as a Raptor. Not that I'm expecting this to happen (at least I hope it doesn't), but given the reaction that many former Raptors seem to get when they come back with other teams, I'd like to suggest that anyone who boos Mo when he does come back should be banned from the ACC for life. What do you say?
Mike K, Toronto
A: If Mo doesn’t get a standing ovation, or something like it, I’d be shocked and dismayed and if anyone boos, they should be castigated by all those around them.