A little early mail this week
Trying to keep on top of all this stuff, some of it quite interesting, here’s a midweek offering. We’ll be back Friday with the usual fare.
Q: I know you don't want any questions about the draft yet and I agree it is too early to talk about it considering we haven't even settled the playoff picture yet for this season, however please give me the benefit of a response if your time allows. Danilo Gallinari seems to be a good fit for the Raptors' current needs. Do you see him as an ideal candidate if we can trade up to draft him? The more important question I have is how do you think Raptors fans would react if Bryan Colangelo drafted him considering the backlash Bargnani (who is also Italian) recieves on a regular basis? I can't seeing him being well received here though in my opinion he would be a great fit. Thanks.
Michele F, Toronto
A: Gallinari’s a top seven or eight pick, I’m told and it’d take a lot to move up to get him.
Your second point is very intriguing. I think fans are so down on Bargnani right now, unjustifiably in my opinion, they’d have a hard time accepting a big trade to move up and draft another unproven teen from Italy.
Although, I’ve heard far more good about Gallinari at this point in this year than I ever did about Bargnani at this point in his draft year.
Q: Hey Doug, Damon Jones might have had the all-time greatest dive in NBA history? What about VC's dive when he collided with Stan Van Gundy? Nothing in NBA history beats that... Does it?
Aftab R, Brampton
A: It was one of the all-time great collisions but a dive? I don’t think so, I think Vince went down like he’d been shot because that’s what he felt like.
Q: Do you think that Navarro instead of Kapono would be an interesting/feasible change for the Raptors this summer?
Jorge P, Khartoum
A: Interesting scenario but I can’t see Memphis taking on Kapono’s contract. And while Navarro can score, he’s not what you’d consider a ‘lock-down’ defender by any stretch of the imagination. I don’t think a move like that significantly changes the fortunes of either team.
Q: I watched the Houston - Boston game and the commentators were talking about a player with a 10-day contract which leads to my question. If a team signs someone to a 10-day contract, and re-signs them to another or even just the one 10-day, and that team goes on to win the NBA championship, is that player "entitiled" to a ring or is it purely at the team’s discretion?
Christopher P, Montego Bay
A: Teams can give rings to whoever they please so I guess it’d be a case-by-case decision.
Q: All right, so I know you don't want to answer draft questions, but the tournament is upon us, and I'm wondering whether you've been watching it and whether any players have particularly impressed you in terms of pro prospects. Likewise, are there any particular players (obviously SF/SGs) that may be on BC's radar?
Side/technical question: am I the only one who finds it slightly strange that the NBA doesn't have some form of an alternate ref available at games (hence the two refs in the Cav's game)? Every other sports league seems to have something like this.
Paul M, Toronto
A: I’ve only been watching a bit, actually, this whole game-blog-practice-travel thing gets in the way of really watching. I’ll tell you one guy I really liked was that Lopez dude, the one with the normal hair. He’s solid. And I’ve liked the big Georgetown kid for a while. But I have no idea what particular players these guys might be looking at and the time of draft disinformation is coming upon us so separating fact from fiction is hard.
And the NBA doesn’t have enough good referees for three at each game (at least that’s what coaches and players tell me; I guess it’s like any industry, the talent level varies) let alone have a fourth sitting around waiting to maybe work a regular season game. They do have emergency officials around in the post-season.
And I cannot remember a Raptor game that I’ve been at where an official hasn’t been able to work so it’s not a real common occurrence. Besides, I thought Dick and Violet did a really good job in Cleveland.
Q: Hello Doug, I have 2 questions:
1) How come there are no talks of a possible Shawn Marion signing this summer? With the talks of Pat Riley possibly looking to get rid of his contract, the Raps needing more at the "3" and BC drafting Marion in Phoenix, it seems to make sense, other than the fact Jamario Moon has potential, but could be used as trade bait.
2) Speaking of trade bait, who do you see the Raps sticking with of their 4 current swingmen? My list of keepers from first to last would be Parker, Delfino, Moon, Kapono (unless they actually used him).
Thanks Doug I look forward to your response.
Blake S, Truro, N.S.
A: I’m not a big Shawn Marion fan at all, and I cannot imagine him opting out of a contract that pays him $17 million a season. And I don’t think the Heat will move him, either. They may want to hang on to that expiring contract into the season and see how things are working out with him, Wade and, possibly, Michael Beasley.
And that’s a petty good order of keepers. I’d probably swap Kapono and Delfino, though.
Q: Hey Doug, I asked you about Nathan Jawai. Please write back I want to know if this dude can make the Toronto Raptors a better team.
Sahil K, Mississauga
A: I doubt it. If they do draft him, which I doubt, I can’t see him helping in any significant way for a couple of years. It’s a long, long, long from Australia to the NBA and I’m not talking geography.
Q: I caught Stephen Curry's past couple of games in the NCAA tournament over the weekend and was wondering what you thought his prospects are for an NBA career?
The kid can flat out shoot the ball like the old man could and was just fantastic in Davidson's two wins.
Also I heard Stephen Curry wasn't recruited by any of the "big" ACC schools and was wondering your thoughts regarding if it might be a blessing for a player like him to become a "standout star and go to guy" at a school like Davidson or other mediocre NCAA Division 1 programs as opposed to attending say North Carolina or Duke and only being a role player?
Mike D, Cambridge
A: I’ll tell you this: Stephen Curry should be a first-round pick. A year from now. Moves his feet on defence, at 6-3 he’s big enough and probably still growing and his got the genes. But I also think he should go back to school for another to polish his game even more but I can see him being drafted for sure.
And, yeah, I think some guys should absolutely go to so-called ‘mid-majors’ where they’re going to play and improve. Much better than sitting on a Duke or North Carolina or Kansas bench for long stretches.
Q: Demetric Shaw. Why is he a bad option to pick up in the same manner that we picked up Moon (inexpensively)? The guy can flat out score, and we need players that can give blasts of offence, and play in limited minutes, which I am sure he would be okay with, considering at his age. He also has an amazing resume of international experience.
Louis F, Woodstock, NB
A: Who? (I joke).
The guy’s almost 30 and, yes, he’s lit ‘em up in Sweden and Mexico and a handful of other minor, minor, minor leagues. But if he’s a Raptor, or in the NBA next year, I’ll be shocked. Stunned. They’ve been down that path with Moon, they need guys they know can play in the league not guys they hope can.
Q: Now I know you don't like to field draft questions this early, but being tournament time, and seeing as the Raptors glaring holes are being exposed of late, I feel it's topical.
I won't ask you about specific players, but I'm sure we can agree that the Raptors need both a tough big man and a wing player, and the current mock draft makers seem to think there will be a few interesting players available at the Raps approximate drafts spot, all of whom have been featured in the tournament (wings: Chris Douglas-Roberts, Joe Alexander, bigs: Hasheem Thabeet, Roy Hibbert).
My question is, based on the caliber of the bigs/wings available in the draft versus those potentially available in the league, and considering the process and success rate of developing bigs versus wings, do you think the Raps should/will draft a big and trade for a wing, or vice versa?
Thanks Doug and keep up the good work, with the way the Raps are playing lately I almost look forward to your blog moreso than the games.
Dan P, Sarnia
A: I believe that the way the draft is shaking out and the moves they need to make, they’ll be looking big first. And they’ll get the wings they need in trades, free-agency or a sign-and-trade.
But, also don’t rule out them moving the pick as part of some larger transaction, packaging it with a Ford or a Nesterovic or even a Kapono to make some bigger deal.
Q: Watching Bagnani (as a Star headline mistakenly had called him for a few hours last week) in the first quarter (Sunday vs. Nuggets) heat up like that was a beautiful thing.
Then he cools off and the clankers rain. (Maybe exaggerating – my attention drifted – but it seemed to be so whenever I looked up later in the game.)
Was wondering if the cool cats from Denver know that the big U.S. city style trash-talk ‘gets him every time’ and if maybe that’s why he can go all cold, so quick.
Was thinking that if I was the coach (ya, don’t say it), I’d get in his face and tell him (as in, quietly ORDER him) to make his next long two or three point shot, no excuses. Just to give him a clear objective and give him less to think about, if you know what I mean.
Comment? Don’t be cruel. (Okay, be cruel, if you need to be.) Love the blog.
Will G, Toronto
Um, I believe the coaches do tell him to make his shots every time. And it is an order.
But trust me on this, trash talk, even if there was some directed is way which I doubt, doesn’t faze him.
Q: Two quick questions for you:
1. Do you think there should be restrictions on the length of contracts? Similar to what the NFL does where nothing is guaranteed year after year?
2. Are there any NCAA rules you would like to see incorporated into the NBA? Such as the one plus the penalty actually being one shot, and a reward of a second if the player makes the first [and it's only single penalty]?
Kevin L, Toronto
A: There is a length on contracts (five years for a team’s own free agent, four on other contracts) and while the NFL’s non-guaranteed contracts might be good for cutting under-achieving players, I think the NBA’s is a better system. It allows players to remain with their teams for their entire careers, in some cases, instead of the free-for-all we see in the football every spring and summer.
And, no, there is nothing about NCAA basketball I’d like to see in the pro game.
Q: Do you think BC should be escaping criticism for not bringing in enough players who defend? Do you think Philadelphia will catch the Raps in the playoff race? Just a sidenote but isn't this the same 76er team Billy King was fired for putting together earlier this year?
Kelsie M, Toronto
A: I think if the team continues on this downward curve and the season ends in utter disappointment, the GM will get criticized. I’ll wait and see what happens in the next month or so.
And, I don’t have the crystal ball out but just glancing at the schedules, I’d say the season finishes with Washington five, Toronto six and the Sixers seventh. And there’s a chance Toronto finishes with a flurry and gets to back to fifth, actually.
Billy King to fired far too quickly by irrational upper management that panicked, in my opinion.
Q: I thought Vince Carter has a triple double for the raptors too! I remembered him celebrating by pumping his fist at all/
Gary L, Mississauga
A: Vince had a triple-double against Cleveland on April 10, 2000. Alvin’s was the most recent.
Q: I am certainly no Kapono hater - but I might well be a Kapono indifferenter ... I really think there might be universal agreement that he has underwhelmed.
So let’s take an objective look at K-pono v MoPete. How do their numbers and impact stack up? It certainly seems that this team could use a little more D and drive out of that wing. I didn’t love MoPete when he was here - but as bencher or a 3rd option it seems he could have brought all that (plus he can hit the open 3 from that corner, too ...) so for the money it seems to me he would have been the better buy.
The one upside is that his underwhelmingness has allowed J-Moon to blossom (as much as 27 year old blossom) -- but really wouldn’t it be much better to have Moon and Delfino coming off the bench with the minutes going to the one who has the mojo that night?? What say you Oracle Doug?
Oliver B, Victoria
A: From a purely statistical point of view, here are the numbers:
Mo’s started 62 games, averages 24 minutes and 8.1 points; he shoots 41 per cent from the floor and 38 per cent from three-point range.
Jason comes off the bench, averages 20 minutes and 7.7 points; he shoots 49 per cent from the floor and 48 per cent from three.
Neither, I’d suggest, is integral to what their teams do.
As for who starts and who plays in the four-man Toronto rotation at the two and three? Sam mixes and matches every night to see who’s got it going, it’s what he has to do because he, and they, don’t know from night to night who’s going to be good, although Parker’s been far more consistent than the other three for the last three weeks. So, honestly, I’m not sure it matters who starts ‘cause they’re all going to get their shot most games.
Q: It's funny but in watching the Spurs-Mavs game a lot of things are obvious. At 9-8 the Mavs haven't set the West on fire with Kidd, with Dirk out indefinitely, the Mavs could lose MAJOR ground to the likes of the Nuggets and Warriors who are making their push now. And finally, if, and I know it's a big if but there seems to be a lot of people feeling this, the Mavs don't make it to the playoffs, it has to rank as the worst 3 year decline in the history of the league - '06 collapsed and lost four in a row in the Finals, '07 lost in six to Warriors in the 1st round (my mom and I still can't believe that one) and not making the playoffs in '08. Show me another 50-60-win-title-contender with that kind of decline in successive seasons. The look on Cuban's face after the game said it all. They may have the dibs on a recipe for also-ran or underachievement - lack of mental toughness (choking in '06 and '08), propensity to implode (Terry and Stackhouse trading technicals at inopportune times), questionable coaching (Avery's gem benching Kidd against Lakers), meddlesome/overbearing ownership (Cubans behaviour with is blow-up with Johnson last week being the most recent example). Thoughts?
Richard A, Markham
A: Okay, how about the meteoric demise of the team that won that championship. Probably not as precipitous a decline but, still, seeing Miami go from champions to swept by a so-so Chicago team last year to the laughingstock of the league this year is pretty big, don’t you think?
They weren’t 50-60-title contender but the Heat were good and now are horrid.
Q: I don't know for how long this tradition goes, but I can see you're pretty frustrated by this pizza thing. Hasn't anyone ever got an idea to change the "rule" of giving it after 100 points to giving it after a win?! That should clears the boos from the games like the one with Miami and the cheers from the games like the one with the Nuggets. And the fans would get the motive to cheer for the real things.
By the way, are you coming to Greece this summer for the Olympic qualifiers?
Toni H, Zagreb, Croatia
A: Trouble is, they win a lot of games at home, not sure the sponsor would go for the added cost. What they should do is give it out if they win and hold teams to under 100. Might be harder to do, but who cares. And what they should do is have boxes at each exit so after the game fans can dump their stubs in there and then early the next morning, someone should take them all to the Second Harvest food bank, or some other worthy charitable organization and let them hand them out that day. That’s what they should do.