What to do on a snowy day? Read the mail!
You people are out of control. Comments, questions, questions, comments. So of them wildly entertaining, some of them wacky beyond belief.
And because it’s becoming a habit, I’m going to have to put one up Sunday morning to clear the excess. Mostly from the middle of the week ‘cause you crazies were in a particularly inquisitive mode Tuesday and Wednesday it seems.
So, here we go again.
Q: In the month of February that Raptors only play three games against teams over .500. The Lakers, who are missing Bynum and coming off a game the night before in Detroit while Toronto rests. The Magic, who are also coming off a game the night before in Detroit while Toronto rests. Finally, the Spurs, who are coming off a game the night before in Boston and will be missing Tony Parker it sounds like. The Raps do play an improving Wolves teams, but that's nothing compared to playing the Celtics the night before. All three of those games coming at the ACC.
My question is; does Bryan Colangelo or anyone connected to the Raptors have incriminating photos of the schedule maker?
Also, do you think the 'easier' schedule might have something to do with TJ Ford impending return? (Increased 'garbage time' minutes for him to work back into game shape.)
Adam H, Barrie
A: If there’s anything you should have learned watching this team this year it’s that the schedule has nothing to do with wins and losses, except for that night in Phoenix when everyone in the world knew they were going to get drilled.
So, I wouldn’t take a look at the sked and see great things ahead. But, to answer your questions: No, no one has any pictures, or much input outside of arena availability when it comes to the schedule.
And T.J.’s return has everything to do with health, not opponents.
Q: I'm sure you're receiving countless e-mails about Jose vs. TJ (especially now that TJ's return is looking more eminent).... just wondering whether you've changed your stance on who is Number 1 between the two floor leaders. I know you've always thought that TJ had the greater potential (with his quickness and ability to break opponents down one on one), but seeing what Jose has done in extended minutes (at or near all-star level) and how well he has clicked with Bosh, do you still think TJ is our top PG of the future?
I don't doubt that Jose would be content playing backup once TJ is back in game shape, but do you think TJ would accept a backup role full time if the Raps decided to go that route? Not that he is a selflish player, but TJ seems to have more of an ego and would likely be unhappy with a full time demotion.
Jack C, Ajax
A: They remain, as they always have, 1 and 1A. I’m sure Jose will continue to start, perhaps for the rest of the season; if he does, T.J. won’t complain. If Sam thinks T.J. should start sometime in March, that’ll be his call and Jose will be fine with it.
I’ve never thought there was 1 and 2; it was always two good players sharing one position and that’s not going to change.
Q: For the record, I’d be the one supplying you with the adult beverages for the honour of being part of any research team. But I digress …I have some more questions and thoughts for you to comment on…
Who would be your Raps MVP thus far? As great as CB has been, I don’t know where they’d be without Jose given TJ’s injury. So who has been more invaluable?
Since you’ve likely attended all Raptor playoff games in their history, what is your favourite memory, both in-game and non-game related?
Next, I’ve made the argument that Rob Babcock is the best thing to have happened to the Raptors. Though he signed a gem in Calderon, the Raps would not have hit rock bottom without him and MLSE would never have been forced to hire a first-rate GM.
I’ve gone from being an angst-filled fan concerned about the team’s future, to serene and peaceful now that there is a competent GM in charge, with a reputation he is proud of and wants to maintain. Having faith in B-Co and knowing that he’ll do what needs to be done to improve the team has done wonders for my stress level (at least where the Raptors are concerned).
So, thank you Babcock.
And lastly, not to dwell on my point from last week, but did you see KG’s reaction after the Celts won in the dying seconds by 1 over Minny - a last place team? There is an old Italian saying – when the fish stinks, it stinks from the head. I present to you, the head of the fish.
Diana T, Mississauga
A: Hello, Diana.
Okay, in order: If I had to vote today, and I don’t, thankfully, I’d say Jose has been the most valuable so far. Even when T.J. was healthy, he made the second unit run exceptionally well and, well, we all know what he’s done as a starter.
On-court playoff memory: Has to be Alvin’s shot in Game 5 in the Garden, hands down.
Off-court playoff memory: They lead Philly 2-1 and it’s an off-day. Instead of practicing hard or having an extensive film session, Lenny Wilkens all but gives them a day off. If they work, even on figuring out a different look to give Allen Iverson and win Game 4, they win the series, they likely beat Milwaukee in the conference final and play Shaq and Kobe in the final.
Your point on Babcock is well made, and I’m sure shared by many a fan. And if relieves your stress (at least where the Raptors are concerned), that’s a good thing, too.
Q: Carlos Delfino has been a very important part of the Raptors success so far. As with Calderon I think Delfino must be re-signed. Do you think BC will give him an extension after this season?
Matt W, Lethbridge, Alta.
A: I think they will try to negotiate a new contract, yes. What the value of that deal is, it’s hard to say. Carlos has been great in stretches, he’s also been invisible in stretches. That’s gonna make it tough to negotiate. I think what probably happens is Colangelo waits to see if he gets an offer and then decides whether or not to match it. I figure someone out there will offer him a full mid-level exception deal.
Q: Hey Doug I recall a fan writing in just before the season started asking you for a jersey to buy for a player about to breakout out the Raptors. Well good call I remember you pushing Moons name and now he is a fan favorite.
Matt F, Toronto
A: I know, I wish I’d signed a deal to get a cut of the proceeds. But you’re welcome.
Q: I remember When Jamario first got the starting gig he had a run of consecutive games where he had at least 1 block. How many games did that streak last? Did he set either the rookie record or the Raps record in the process?
On a side note, when are the Raps coming back to the rock? THEY OWE US!
Alan S, St. John’s, NL
A: That streak lasted 19 games and it tied him for third all-time among Raptors. Marcus Camby had a block in 21 straight games in the 1997-98 season, Keon Clark went 20 games in 2000-01 and Antonio Davis went 19 in the same 2000-01 season.
And, yes, they should go back to Newfoundland and honour a commitment they made very publicly. It’s an absolute disgrace that they haven’t done something out there.
Q: I was wondering if you could tell Jamario Moon to do a double alleyoop dunk in the contest. It would be extremely difficult but Moon could pull it off with the help of the passing skills of Jose Calderon and T.J. Ford. If he pulled this dunk off which has never been done he will get 50 and automatically win.
Ian G, Toronto
A: Yes, I will tell him. No, he won’t try it.
Q: Is it me or does it seem like the Raptors don't give up as many offensive rebounds when Rasho's in the game? I know he's doesn't have great rebounding numbers, but maybe he's one of the better guys at boxing out? There should be a stat or something for "number of offensive rebounds given up while on the court." I think they really miss Garbo in this area too.
Chris L, Waterloo
A: No. No. No. No. NO MORE STATS!
Q: Okay, now that Damon is heading to San Antonio to beat Boston in the finals, can Colangelo start to focus on addressing the gaping hole in Toronto's interior toughness? I've never witnessed a game thus far where Toronto has lost due to poor PG play. I have, although, witnessed them lose games because they can't rebound or show some grit and venom when needed (ie: the Wizards OT loss where they forever spited the prayer-shot Gods by coming out and lacklustrely shooting 19 foot bricks which had been their crux all game... instead of penetrating to the hoop). I am frankly a little baffled in prioritizing getting a 4th PG instead of getting someone who can rebound especially with Calderon looking so good and being a young player.
Is Colangelo going to let the Raptors get beat in the first round again and then get a rebounder in the off-season or make the adjustment now to compete on the glass?
Shawn B, Toronto
A: Yes, he is absolutely going to let them lose in the first round again because he doesn’t want the team to progress, or win.
You don’t think Bryan’s capable of trying to do two things – a PG and a rebounder – at once? If there’s a deal out there that makes sense, in the short- and long-term., he’s going to make it. Today, tomorrow, or in the summer.
The dalliance with Stoudamire was based mainly on the timeline but don’t for a second think it was the only thing the GM was working on.
Q: I seem to remember reading that Kris Humphries was signed to a 3 year extension but don't remember seeing any details. Do you have any info how he fits into the salary cap?
John N, Oshawa
A: The numbers were out there the night he signed. It’s a three-year deal for approximately $3.1 million next year, $2.9 million the year after and $3.2 million the year after.
Q: Question re players like Maceo Baston. What's the mindset of a coach who has a player like him but doesn't play him for weeks, and when he does play, it's spot minutes in garbage time? Why not just waive such a player and save the money? I like Baston, but his status intrigues me.
Colin W, Toronto
A: A coach’s mindset is easy to figure out: A guy like Baston is there in case of emergency or injury, he’s not as good as the guys playing ahead of him. I know Sam appreciates Maceo’s professionalism, Baston doesn’t complain about his lot in life because he realizes everyone can’t play. But the coach also knows if he calls on him, even for nine minutes in a 40-point blowout, he’s going to get an honest, total effort.
Q: Since you REFUSE to print my many missives asking what should be done to get JK untracked, I'll switch tacks and ask you something off the wall: what's to stop a team from bugging and/or secret camera-ing the visiting team's dressing room and picking up valuable info on the other team's strategy, etc? To your knowledge, has this ever been done before? And a follow-up: what can be done to get JK untracked? He's a one-trick pony (can't create off the dribble, can't play D) whose trick has been nullified (his man sticks with him out at the 3-pt. line and they each just stand there picking their noses). How about some curls? How about some double screens? How about some pick and rolls? Failing all that, how about trading him for a rebounding defensive presence? This is not someone who can create his own offence. He should fare better on the second unit once TJ gets back, because TJ can break down the defence and get him some looks. But still...
Lee Z, Ottawa
A: You gotta chill a bit, I know your name from questions (like the one you sent earlier this week on the same issue) almost as well as I know Diana’s insight. But good attempt at snark.
I suppose shooting 49 per cent from the field and 51 per cent from three-point range needs getting “untracked” from and I would think the only thing wrong with Kapono right now is the absence of T.J. Ford.
Once they get back to having a point guard on the floor who can either attract the defence on a high screen and roll or turn the corner and draw defenders from the corner, you’ll see Kapono back to the kind of guy who killed the Pacers.
He is not someone you can put in a screen and roll ‘cause teams would switch and he’s not quick enough to beat a guard off the dribble; they run a couple of curls for him but that’s not the strength of his game. He gets his shots in the corner, off guard penetration and when Ford gets back, he’ll be the happiest guy in the gym.
Q: I'm usually content with reading your blog and never writing in - but something has been bugging me for a while and I figured this is a great place to sound-off.
Now, what has been rubbing me the wrong way?
The Raptors' inability to rebound? Well yes, but that's not my issue right now. Moon's apparent lack of desire to take it to the hole? Again, yes, but it's not the issue of utmost importance on my mind.
It's the Raps' television broadcast!
Is there a course they can take on knowing when the appropriate time is to show a replay? Because, they need to sign up for that ASAP.
I know you watch the games in person Doug, but for us sitting at home we don't want to see replay after replay DURING the game. They paste replays across the screen as the next play goes on. Ridiculous!
Show us the game. Do your fancy replays during halftime or at the end of a timeout.
Travis P, Scarborough
A: End of rant? Thanks.
Q: Since the Raptors need a big stud in the middle of the A or B type and since there are so few around and few available do you not think that they must trade T.J. Ford to have any chance of getting one. As I see it the Raptors have only 3 "star" players to move. Bosch, Ford and Calderone. Bosch is not going anywhere and I think Ford would be the one to move because of his injury history. This is not a snag on ford because in many ways I still think he is as good or better than Calderone but it is the reality of it.
Secondly do you think the Lakers or Clippers would move Bynam or Kaman for Ford straight up? Would you make that kind of a deal?
Stan G, Toronto
A: Dude, I’m in a particularly snarky mood so I am leaving the Bosch and Calderone in there and suggesting remedial spelling. Like Bynum, too.
Now, to your point: The Lakers wouldn’t include Andrew Bynum in a trade for Jason Freaking Kidd, you think they’d deal him for T.J. Ford? And Chris Kaman is about the best player on the Clippers, there’s no way they give him up.
Q: When Bosh and Bargnani both have solid games, does this team look almost like an elite NBA team? We've really only seen it a couple of times like in Game 6 of the playoffs last year (yes, I know they lost), NJ (game 2) this year and the Boston game but when both of them are playing well, the team almost looks unstoppable offensively.
Aaron J, Markham
A: When those two bigs are playing well, this team is as good as any in the East. Trouble is, that happens on too rare an occasion.
Q: Just wanted to say thanks for the idea to give my ticket away. I was at the Wizard game last night and there was a homeless man asking for money and I gave him my ticket and his face lit up. Great idea whoever came up with it.
Anyways, just wondering if you have any updates on who the Raptors may be looking at in the draft? Big, small? I feel there pretty set at the point (especially with Ukic supposedly coming next year). Are they looking for a backup big to maybe take Rasho's spot when his contracts up or are they looking to maybe upgrade at one of the wings? Just curious is there is any talk out there about it.
Brad B, Kitchener
A: I can’t take credit for the ticket thing, it was an alert reader and it’s maybe the best idea to come out of this mailbag.
Now, it’s too early to start talking specific players in the draft but, philosophically, I’d think with Rasho under contract for another year, Hump with three more years and Ukic likely coming for a couple, they’ll be concentrating on a big, tough shooting guard when the time arrives.
Q: How do you feel about a possible trade to bring Flip Murray over to Toronto and send Dixon and Graham to Detroit
Junior B-C, Toronto
A: I think Flip Murray is no better than either Joey Graham or Juan Dixon so that’s a non-starter in my mind.
Now, if you want to pry Walter Herrmann away from the Pistons, I’m all for that.
Q: At the game (Wednesday) night, my buddy was wondering about how the 'officials' time out works. When does it happen, who gets possession afterwards etc. I told him "e-mail Doug Smith" but he wouldn't have any of it. So here I am, picking up the slack like a sucker. What do you say?
Ian R, Toronto
A: There are two timeouts per half that are not charged to either team and are known as “officials” timeouts. It’s a very convoluted process with regard to timing (it depends on which team, if any, has already called a timeout in any particular quarter) and the ball goes to whichever team had possession when the whistle blew, just like with any timeout.
And your friend’s a chicken.
Q: What is the GM’s role during the season on the daily subjects?
How often he gets in touch with players, speaks in the locker room, putting some pressure on players to make influence in a certain game?
Semion O, Thornhill
A: Very, very seldom will a general manager address a team during a season, there’s a very big separation between front office and team once the year begins.
Now, the GM and coach talk, pretty much every day, but anything the GM wants to say to players is filtered through the coach. OF course, the GM and players will have casual conversations whenever they see each other but as for a GM addressing the team in a formal setting, I’d say it rarely, if ever, happens.
Q: What's the greatest what-if? in Raptors' draft history? Taking Hoffa and leaving Iguodala on the board? Or were there far worse mistakes?
Wondering how often your colleagues in Detroit write about what the Pistons would be like if they'd passed on Darko and taken Anthony, Bosh, Wade, even Kaman.
Nick M, Winnipeg
A: What if Tracy had stayed?
What if they hadn’t fired Grunwald and got KO first?
What if they had given Antonio Davis, Alvin Williams and Jerome Williams one fewer years on their deals and what if they hadn’t signed Hakeem Olajuwon.
There’s three off the top of my head. Not sure they were worse than Hoffa-Iguodala but they were all at least close.
And my colleagues in Detroit have covered a team that’s been to,what?, five straight conference finals and two Finals? I don’t think they lament those moves at all.
Q: I’ve got a kind of basketball 101 question here. When a player dunks over top of another player they say they "posterized" the defender. What does that mean? Is it something like if they made a poster of the dunker it would show that shot? And do you have any idea where the term came from?
Mike S, Victoria
A: Of if they made a poster of that particular dunk, it would embarrass the guy being dunked on forever. Not sure who started it, though, probably some enterprising beat grunt.
Q: Quick question for you. I've noticed that in the boxscores on NBA.com they seem to have added a new stat this year and I haven't been able to figure what it is. They have BS (for blocked shots obviously) and now a new BA stat that I don't recall seeing in years past. Any ideas?
Doug W, Toronto
A: Depending on who you talk to, it’s either Blocks Against, or Blocked Attempts but it means the same thing, the number of times in that game, a player has had his shot blocked. We did this a while ago, but it’s probably good to bring it back up.
Q: Two questions that have nothing to do with Bargnani, Calderon, Ford or Magloire. In fact, they're about game ops at the ACC.
Usually, the Raps start each game shooting on the basket on the York Street end of the ACC, then switch to shooting on the Bay Street basket in the 2nd half. But once in a blue moon, they do the opposite. Is there a reason for this? And does anyone care?
Why don't the ACC folks announce each game's attendance number anymore? The sellouts used to get a good cheer, but they stopped a year or two ago. I'm wondering if it was because attendance was lagging and they got sick of announcing 16000 per game.
J C, Toronto
A: First, the visiting team decides which basket they want to shoot at in the first half, which is why sometimes it changes, some teams want to defend in front of their bench in the second half, some teams want to shoot in front of their bench in the second half.
Second, I hadn't noticed but I presume they don’t have time to announce the attendance because they are too busy bombarding everyone with loud screeching music or they’re selling something.
Q: Doug, please don't take this personally but comparing your work to that of Michael Grange is like comparing the didactic ramblings of Teddy Kaczynski to Moliere™. You're welcome.
Having said that could you please list some of the more colourful putdowns heard at a basketball game between any of the participants [fans, players, referees, coaches and scribes].
Perhaps you could make this a regular part of your blog, thus shrinking the quality gap between your mailbag and From Deep™. Budda Bing™.
Erik F, Toronto
A: Thanks for lowering your standards to write in. But what papers do that Kaczynski and Moliere write for? I should read them.
There’ve been too many to mention, and too many I’ve forgotten, but I will tell you one of the funniest I heard was in Year 1, Vincenzo Esposito comes in a pre-season game against Atlanta, they play that cheesy music they used to play and the Italian national fans in the crowd go nuts.
Vincenzo wanders up and stands beside Steve Smith, who looks over at him and says, “who the bleep are you?”
Almost spat up my coffee.
Now, I’ve got to go find out about this Moliere dude.
Q: Wow, people still haven’t given up on the XL(40) thing. Moving on, how many people do you think will still ask about Jamaal Magloire? On to the real question, in your last blog you said that “here’s why sometimes this job doesn’t suck.” You’re obviously being sarcastic but when does it ever suck? Any stories you would like to share? Lastly, can you hear the broadcasters of opposing teams? Do you ever think, “Damn this guy is ridiculous he’s so one sided”?
C M, Kitchener
A: People don’t want to hear how much the job can suck but I’ll give you two examples.
Let’s say you have to write a 650-word story that has to be filed at the buzzer for, oh, a website, let’s say. And the game is close, the lead changes hands three or four times in the final 45 seconds and someone hits a shot at the buzzer and you’ve got a minute to file. Then let’s say you have to go, gather quotes, and your thoughts, and re-write that 650-word story for your paper in, oh, let’s say the next 45 minutes. Then let’s say you’ve got to get back to the hotel, try to unwind (and that’s where the adult beverages come in) and get a couple of hours sleep before a 3:30 a.m. wakeup call to catch a 6 a.m. flight to get to another city to do the same thing all over again.
I’m not even going to get into the Super Son’s school things missed, the family events unattended because you’re at some dreadful 20-point game on a December Tuesday night in Freaking Milwaukee or somewhere equally exotic.
Oh, on the TV thing, yes, I’ve seen Boston Celtic games.
Q: Doug, I don't understand why you think signing Magloire would be a bad thing, he'd be the first Canadian to play for the Raps which would be nice and there’s nothing wrong with adding a legitimate seven-footer that can rebound. Why wouldn't this happen?
Tyler L, Brantford
A: Jamaal Magloire cannot get off the bench for a team with what’s generally regarded as the worst frontcourt in the NBA, the question would be why you think he can help any team? Come on, seriously.
Q: Found the Star story about the long-term financial prospects of NBA players interesting and wondered whether Toronto's players get paid in American or Canadian dollars. I suspect the former since in the past being paid in Canadian funds would be a disadvantage
Ellie W, Toronto
A: It’s all about the Benjamins. Good ol’ Yankee greenbacks.
Q: Lately we've been hearing about all of these NBA players who are over-paid and don't produce (Wince, Shaq). On the flip side, can you think of some of the more under-paid guys in the league? Obviously Moon and Calderon have been a bargain for the Raps this year, but throughout the league. Maybe David Lee?
Amanda F, Barrie
A: I’m gonna leave out guys on their rookie scale contracts because they had no say in what they make and keep in consideration the average salary is about $5.6 million.
Here’s five that come to mind:
James Posey, $3.2 million
Grant Hill, $1.8 million
Michael Finley, $3.1 million
Travis Outlaw, $4 million
Paul Millsap, $687,000
Those are all very good value for the salary.