Early Sunday mail (and there'll be late Sunday mail, later)
Here we go again, swamped on the weekend.
Nestle in, grab the coffee, push the paper to the side and read this, it’s far more entertaining.
Oh, and there’s more to come so don’t get angst-filled if yours is not here, it might be in the next batch.
Q: So everyone knows Toronto has the craziest, most rant-filled, irrational fans quite possibly in all of North America. Now, I would assume you don't know this first hand, but maybe you're buddies with a beat grunt over in the hockey side of The Star. Who's crazier: Raps fans or Leafs fans?
Amanda F, Barrie
A: I have spoken to the pucks people at our office and I have spoken to the people who drive the web engine at our place and I’ve lived through every Raptor crisis for the last 13 years. I listened one night driving home to post-game Leaf radio and it was out of this world.
But I can honestly say Raptor fans win hands down.
Now, I’m not entirely sure that’s anything to be proud of, frankly most of me thinks it’s something to be not proud of, but it’s the way it is.
You folks (and I certainly don’t mean you specifically because you seem to be one of the saner ones) are, at times, out of this world. Adept at creating controversy where none exists, often unwilling to even consider another point of view and quite willing to rifle off an e-mail or a question at any time of the day or night.
And I love ya for it.
Q: Do you know if Andrea is planning on playing for the Italian team this summer in the Olympics? And if he is, do you thinks it's a good idea? I know you a big proponent of playing for your country, but I think it really hurt Andrea last year. Too much ball, no rest, to much pressure after being drafted first overall in the NBA, and not enough time to rest and to bulk up a little. I think Andrea need's to commit to the NBA and the Raptors, what are your thoughts?
Steph R, Glencoe
A: Italy didn’t qualify for the Olympics, nor did it qualify for the final qualification tournament so Andrea has no national team obligations this summer.
I think they should send him to a big man’s camp where all he does is work six hours a day on a low=post game.
But the dude is 7-feet tall and a solid 250, I don’t think there’s much more bulk he needs. He needs work on his game, not his body.
Q: After failing to catch your eye on my previous questions regarding Good Joey/Bad Joey and investing some Bargnani-type of patience with him, hopefully you can answer this one. Why hasn't B.C. picked up Gerald Green who's been sitting at home in Houston, instead of acquiring the older Linton Johnson?
Roberto H, Fonthill
A: Because Gerald Green does nothing – absolutely nothing – of what Toronto needs. He doesn’t rebound, he doesn’t defend and his work ethic has been questioned in every city he’s been in. Other than that, he’d be a perfect fit.
Q: Tell me I'm not losing my mind, but I think the NBA does have a sportsmanship award. Back in the day I think Hershey Hawkins used to win it every year, and I don't think my brain would "miss-remember" an obscure name and fact like that. I even recall hearing that A.P. was in the running for this award last year. Please confirm that I'm not crazy.
Brett M, Toronto
A: Not crazy. Maybe it was semantics by the J. Walter Kennedy Award, which is awarded by us fine folks at the Pro Basketball Writers Association and the league’s Sportsmanship Award have to do with off-the-court community efforts combined with on-court ability.
Q: Much has been made about the success the medical/training staff for the Phoenix Suns have had with players with a history of injuries. Most notably, they've been able to keep the likes of Steve Nash, Amare Stoudemire, Grant Hill and most recently Shaq relatively healthy. From what I've read, it seems as though they use analysis and treatment methods that are not commonly used throughout the NBA. Given Bryan Colangelo's Phoenix connections, do you know if there have been plans to implement similar procedures with the Raptors? I think the restrictions placed on Brian Colangelo after he left Phoenix may be expiring shortly (if they haven't already). Have there been any rumblings about the Raptors adding anyone from the Phoenix organization? Considering that both Bosh and Ford have missed time this year with injuries, it might be a good idea to add someone from the Sun's medical staff.
Rob J, Ajax
A: I know the Raptors are quite happy with their training and medical staff, which does an excellent job of preventative maintenance and treatment. The only reason I could see a change is if someone on the current staff got a better job offer and the Raptors wouldn’t stand in their way.
The Suns do do an amazing job, though.
Q: As talk of possible a TJ trade surfaces, my thoughts go back again to our good buddy Roko Ukic.
1. My memory is hazy, but didn't Rob Babcock "settle" for signing Jose when Roko chose to stay in Europe?
2. There were mentions of Roko coming to training camp to possibly be the third-string point guard. Is he good enough for the backup role
Eric E, Toronto
A: Not sure “settle” is the right word, but they did draft Ukic back then with hopes he’d be in Toronto right away.
Depending on what transpires in the summer, Ukic will likely be given a shot at competing for the backup job but right now, they see him filling the third point guard role.
Q: Howdy Doug! Do you know what's up with the barrier down the tunnel to the locker rooms? Do the powers that be think the players/coaches are stupid and might go into the wrong locker room?
Every time I see it on television, I go "hmmmmm???!".
Sherry E, Toronto
A: Nah, if they thought that, they’d probably put up signs: Visitors This Way, with an arrow. I think they want to keep the players separated, as if those barriers will do it.
But given the hugs and kisses these guys share with opponents every single night, the chance of mayhem breaking out is pretty remote.
Q: It seems that during every Raptors game Chuck or Leo make a comment about a player hitting a shot right in front of the opposition bench. What difference does the bench make? Does it send a message, or are bench players typically trash talking leading to a tougher shot? Please let me know what the point of that comment is. Thanks.
Mike G, Waterloo
A: It makes no difference in the world, it’s probably just good, descriptive television. There may be a bit of trash-talking every now and then but I don’t imagine that’s what the point of the comment is. I’d think it’s just a comment.
Q: Hey Doug, love the blog all the way from the Big Apple where I hate Isiah as a coach but I love him for bringing a team to Toronto. Just had a few questions on some moves that BC might make for this team in order to be a contender next year. Could you see the Raps get a big bruiser with their mid-level in the off-season and mix TJ with some expirings to get the starting swingman in one big trade that they have missed since the departure of VC? Or do you think he will address both needs in one trade (Ex.Crawford+Lee, Miller+Milicic) or two, if so, name 3 star swingman and 3 big bruisers that might be available on the block who you would target next season? I think J-Rich would be a perfect fit in Toronto because he used to play hockey so he could address the needs of the Raps and the Leafs at the same time (joking).
Marcus R, New York
A: I’ll use this as the platform to answer a lot of questions on the same theme.
I don’t think they’re going to be able to address their needs with one move involving T.J., if they move him at all. I can see Colangelo offering some contracts, some players and his draft pick for a significant wing player and then trying to address the rebounding needs through free agency.
And to the people who asked this same question with one twist: No, they can’t trade a player in a package with the mid-level salary cap exception.
Q: Hey Doug, you really have a jones for spelling. How come you jump right on people for spelling Calderon and Nesterovic wrong but let that guy who misquoted "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times" as coming from Shakespeare walk? That's weak, man. What were the Raps doing differently on defense this time around vs. the Pistons that made them so successful? They still gave up 12 offensive rebounds, so it wasn't exactly their rebounding. Was it just a case of the Pistons having an off night? Or does Rasho really make them that much better when he's in there blocking (4!) shots?
Hudson P, Windsor
A: Sticking up for the spelling-challenged? How nice of you.
I think what they finally did against Detroit was play the kind of defence they did early in the year, when they had the 11th best opponent field goal percentage in the league. And a lot of it has to do with Rasho, he’s an excellent traffic cop under the basket, making sure the right defences are being played on screen and roll and simply communicating assignments.
Q: Here's a thought. It's been reported that the Blazers are in the market for a PG to start next to Brandon Roy. How about a TJ-Outlaw deal? Sounds good to me.
Dave G, Toronto
A: I cannot for the life of me think Portland does that deal. It’s a non-starter.
Q: Interesting that Marc Iavaroni is rumoured to be out as coach in Memphis after one season. Wonder if the Sam haters out there (they know who they are), still wish that he had been given the job here last offseason. Your thoughts on this Doug?
David H, Nashua, N.H.
A: Ah, some of ‘em are revisionist historians so they won’t re-appear.
One thing I will say though: Marc Iavaroni was never, ever going to be Toronto’s coach this season. It didn’t matter what became of Sam last spring, Iavaroni was not in consideration in any way, shape or form.
I have no idea if he’s a good coach, I don’t see Memphis enough, even on TV, but I do know he was not going to coach here.
Q: Not a question but a suggestion: do more editorial "weeding" in the comments section of your blog.
It looks to me like less editorial discretion is being used when deciding what to publish than before.
This means more traffic, but it also makes this section your blog read very much like the inane chat groups on RealGM and Raptors.com.
Following is one example, from todays blog, that is reminiscent of the aforementioned chat groups:
"Posted by: Robert | March 27, 2008 at 01:18 PM
Re: Sara's comment, you have absolutely no idea what you're talking about. None."
I don't want to read "comments" like this, and if this is the sort of comment that is going to get published then I will simply stop reading this section of the blog. Otherwise, I really enjoy your work.
Grant M, Cambridge
A: Well put, thanks. I’ll try to limit some of them. Trust me, I get as tired reading some of them as you do. But they are easy to pass over.
Q: "Shot-Happy Hump" I liked your response to my last (and first, coincidently) comment/question - I certainly agree that he deserves to be the fourth in the rotation of bigs.
I get the feeling, or maybe I just assume, that it is more difficult to bring in good players - especially all-star calibre players - who, as BC states "want to be here" - Canada, that is. Is this a reality that is known league-wide? Or is it just the jaded Raptor-fan mentality that I may be gaining through osmosis?..or your blog?
Always a pleasure, thanks for your lightning-fast typing fingers,
Dave B, London
A: I think there’s still a very little bit of thought that Toronto is “out of the loop” so to speak concerning the NBA. But it’s not nearly as bad as it was and they are always educating agents that this is not some foreign backwater.
Or course, it’s probably not as the “jaded Raptor-fan mentality” makes it sound.
Q: After the Raptors address their wing position problem by acquiring a SG/SF who is capable of creating his own shot and playing quality defense (ex. Corey Maggette, Richard Jefferson, Luol Deng), and after they move T.J. Ford, is it of more importance that they address their backup point guard situation or should they be more focused on acquiring a player who can come off the bench and grab boards (ex. Reggie Evans)?
James D, Toronto
A: I think it’s much easier to find a point guard – certainly not the quality of a Ford – on the free agent market late in the summer than it is to find a swingman. I think that’s going to be their first priority regardless of what happens at the point guard spot. And it should be.
Q: A Basketball 201 question (I know the game of basketball fairly well, I just don't understand some of the NBA 'technicalities.')
Can you explain, without going all legalese on us (that seems to be the only way to explain a lot of NBA technicalities!), what is a "sign and trade?"
Also, I think my goal in life is to have one of messages/comments get the "Ding! Ding! Ding! We have a winner" award! But, I'm guessing my chances will be greatly diminished if I send in an 'incisive' comment/mail every ten minutes?
PS - Your secret about not knowing what a blog is - just like me - is safe with me! I will tell no one!
Tim H, Windsor
A: Ding! Ding! Ding! is hard to come by, keep trying.
Sign-and-trades are, simply without the legalese, what they sound like. A team signs its own free agent and simultaneously trades him away.
By signing your own guy, a team can offer more money (a 12 per cent annual raise instead of seven) and longer terms (five years maximum instead of four), which may allow them to take back a guy making a larger salary. It also allows the departing player to make a bit more cash and it’s sometimes good for teams losing players to keep them, and their agents, pleased because everyone has to work together in the future. And, finally, it also allows the team losing the player to get something back at least and the cost is passed on to the team doing the signing.
Q: Usually 71 games into a season, everyone on the team knows their role, knows when they're playing, how much they'll play, etc. I mean, pretty much every good/great team in the NBA has players who know their roles. My question is, what are the Raptors players' roles b/c 71 games into the season I have no idea. And I bet they don't either.
Chris Bosh- OK, his role is set.
Calderon- Hmm, starter or backup?
TJ Ford- Hmm, obviously its not a backup, b/c they tried that and he sulked like a baby. So starter? By Default.
Bargnani- This one really kills me. He’s young, in his 2nd year. Don’t keep messing with the guy. Starter, Backup, Starter, Backup. 35 mins/game, 13 mins/game. What is it?
Moon- Do everything the coaches tell you not to?
Delfino- one game tonnes of minutes, the next game nothing.
Kapono- See Delfino
Parker- All right, he knows his role and does it well.
Rasho- Well his role changes every day, but he's a veteran and does whatever role he has well.
Humphries- Every second month you get to play?
I believe if our players had roles that don't change as much as your opinion, which coincidentally changes everytime Sam Mitchells does, they would be more consistent.
Do you think the players have established/known roles and if so what are they, because I sure as heck don't know.
Mark B, Italia
A: They know exactly what their roles are and what it means if they don’t play them.
Moon, Delfino and Kapono have to play well to keep playing; Hump is the fourth big man to be used in the case of foul trouble only; Bargnani’s to try and score because he can’t defend. Bosh is Bosh and I think now you’ve learned what the PG roles are.
Q: It seems that Jamario Moon has been playing better defense in the last couple of games. He's actually trying to stay in front of defenders (not too bad against Melo), rather than letting blow by him and trying to swat from behind. But what I don't get is his inability to BOX OUT! It's not that hard, you find an opponent and shove your back into them. Do you think if he can't do the simple things, he will not get the long-term deal next year he desperately needs? And will the Raptors make him an offer? Probably not even worth mid level expectations.
Derek K, Hamilton
A: Moon’s not getting a new deal next year whatever he does this year. The team has an option on him next season for about $770,000. He’s got no other recourse unless Toronto declines the option and he’s an unrestricted free agent.
And mid-level? Even if they could offer him the mid=level there’s no way in the world they would.
Q: Question then rant, if you don't mind.
I can understand people who prefer Jose over TJ, but since you found time to call fans out on booing over pizza, do you think you could do the same over booing TJ? I can understand booing him if he ever pulls an Orlando stunt again but that was totally uncalled for last night. He missed a wide-open 3 and wound up playing a great game. Dude was a starter playing very well, suffered a nearly career-ending injury, got demoted and struggled finding his game and role. A little slack doesn't seem uncalled for. Also, how about the recent habit of the Raps production team cutting away to Jose when TJ misses a shot? That also merits a big old BOO if you ask me. Didn't notice it as much last night so maybe someone upstairs said something?
Let this also be said: Both guys deserve to start in this league. When TJ went down, Jose got an opportunity to play 40 minutes a game. That's an opportunity TJ never got (if you extrapolate the numbers he probably would have averaged 10 assists a game...not bad for what some would call Me J Ford).
I love Jose but people are going to miss what TJ brings to the table when he's gone. His swagger/ego is a blessing and sometimes a curse, but this team will miss it. How quickly people forget the Bogut incident. I hope he finds a team whose fan base is less insane than Raptorland.
JoJo T, Ottawa
A: I think the boos for T.J. when he missed a wide-open three-pointer were, frankly, ridiculous.
Q: With the retirement of Chris Webber, I started thinking about if he would be elected into the HOF. He's in elite company numbers wise but never won a title. Then, after watching 'Sheed play last night I started comparing the two. 'Sheed has the title, but he also has a bad rep as a hot-head and overall bad apple. If you had to choose either to make the HOF, who would it be and why?
Luke S, Montreal
A: Wow. Chris Webber? Hall of Fame? I don’t think so. I’d put Wallace in the Hall of Fame before Webber but, truth be told, I don’t think he’s worthy yet, either.