Easter Sunday mail
Yum, chocolate. Heckuva bunny, isn’t he/she/it?
Here’s a little light reading in between finding the eggs and eating them.
Q: Dude, you are prolific! Thanks for answering many of my questions as well as all others.
Doug, one of my favourite teams was the Jordan era Bulls that featured The Triple Headed monster -- Longley, Wennington and Cartwright, three very mediocre centres. I loved watching them play rugged D and finishing games with a combined 15 fouls. I'm surprised I don't see teams play this style. I'd love to see the Raps aim for a similar makeup down the middle.
What do you think? Has the game just changed too much?
Luka M, Toronto
A: Alas, the game has changed way too much. Rugged D, at least the way they played it, is a thing of the past; those 18 fouls would be gone in the first half nowadays, I’m afraid.
Q: Hey Doug after watching LeBron dominate the Raptors in the 4th quarter again is it unreasonable to question why he doesn't play that hard all game long? It seems he plays the game on complete coast mode until the 4th quarter comes and he decides to turn it on. Would he be the unquestionable MVP of the league if he turned it on all game long?
Travis M, Saskatoon
A: Maybe not on a complete coast all game long, there were a few highlight reel plays in the first three quarters. But in my opinion, his tendency to relax for long stretches does diminish his greatness.
Q: Hey Doug. Where were you on the night of Feb. 17, 1997? I happened to take in the game between the Raptors and the Pacers in Indianapolis (in that old arena that they had prior to building Conseco Fieldhouse), and witness perhaps the greatest Raptor meltdown/ejection of all time.
The Raptors were up by about 19 in the 4th quarter when the Pacers went on a run, enabled in part by some absolutely atrocious officiating. Finally Darrell Walker blew a gasket, stormed out into the middle of the court, grabbed the ball and kicked it into the stands (if my memory serves me correctly), and was promptly ejected.
Perhaps you could check the archives to see how it was written up at your end - it was mightily entertaining.
David T, Nashua, N.H.
A: Ah, man, I remember that game now. I wasn’t at it. It was in Market Square Arena (one of the great old gyms of the era) and it was a call on Doug Christie for a dubious foul on Reggie Miller with less than two seconds left that finally sent Darrell off.
I’m going to get my peeps in webworld, once they get back from a well-deserved vacation, to teach me how to link stuff from our archives to here ‘cause as another reader suggested, it’d be fun to look back at stories from the past.
Give me a few days to figure it out.
Q: Doug, I read a lot about how Coach's motto is "practice hard, and you'll get minutes". My question is, how poor is Joey in practice that he doesn't even get a sniff of the bench? You look at the Raptors line-up and the glaring hole is at the 3. He played pretty well for us down the stretch last year. He brings more size than Moon and is probably about as athletic. He shoots better and tends to drive a lot more on offence than Moon. Is it on D that Moon brings more than a Joey would? I know you don't have a lot of love for Joey, but if all the swingmen are inconsistent at times would you give him a few minutes to see what you'll get from him?
Normiyuki H, Toronto
A: Man, there’s lots of love in the mail for the most inconsistent player of the last five years.
I’m guessing he’s poor enough in practice to be behind the other four swingmen on the roster. And there’s no way Sam should be playing five guys in those two spots. So, no, I wouldn’t give him minutes. Sorry. And it’s not about not having a lot of love. Joey’s the 11th guy on a 12-man roster. Someone has to be. It’s him. On merit.
But, yes, I agree. A year ago now, he was good. That, as they say, was then; this, as they say, is now.
Q: Doug, didn't the NBA enforce a rule that they would crackdown on flopping? I think the NBA should review the flop by Damon Jones and suspend him. He is making the NBA look like a joke. Also, I think T.J leaves his feet too much to pass. He must learn to get back to keeping his dribble like Steve Nash and finding his teammates.
Jay T, Hamilton
A: Flopping was supposed to have been, at one time, a ‘point of emphasis’ but sometimes they digress. Like I do.
T.J. does leave his feet too often, it’s one of the flaws in his game they’re trying to get him to correct.
Q: Hey Doug, what a profound statement you made at the end of the last blog. Tiresome with the constant pokes at TJ. While TJ brought some of it on himself the media was the catalyst. Anyway I have 2 questions for you, do you think the swap Peterson for Delfino was worth it (I know the weren't traded for each other but Colangelo chose to bring in Delfino rather than resign MoPete). Do you think BC will continue to improve his team by getting European type players. I think its obvious the Raps 2 biggest needs an athletic wing who can get to the basket and a powerful rebounding athlete up front.
D H, Richmond Hill
A: It was actually Kapono for Mo and I haven’t heard a peep out of the legion of “man, what a horrible decision that was” group in a long time. So, I’d make that swap again in second.
And if Bryan finds a wing in Europe he likes he’ll sign him; ditto if the guy’s from Asia, North America or Mars.
Q: Since you're at most games live and in person, you're not witness to this as I am from watching on TV, but every time TJ Ford either misses a shot, makes a turnover, or last night for the first time on a phantom charge against Damon Jones, the 'guys in the truck' decide that now is the right time to focus the cameras in on Jose Calderon's face for a good 5-10 seconds, as if to say 'he should be in the game'. Take last night for instance- they did it three times in the fourth quarter - a quarter in which TJ actually played really well! But don't ask them to do the same when TJ hits a game tying 3 pointer. That would just be wrong. You might think I'm reading too much into this here, but next time you watch a game on TV live, check it out. You'll know what I mean.
Manny D, Mississauga
A: I don’t think I’m going on the Charlotte-Atlanta trip in a week or so, I’ll watch then.
Q: It is obvious this team will be blown up in the summer.
How many Raps do you see being put on the train out this off-season?
Is there a team out there with a swingman who needs TJ Ford worse than the swingman? A rebuilding team maybe?
TJ is playing his last few games for the Raps and I hope he does it professionally.
What is it with this franchise and its primadonna point guards ( Damon, Rafer, Mike James, TJ, Chris Childs).....? It's almost as frustrating as never have a Raps team that can play defense, in like 15 years....its insane!!!!
Peace Doug, I am done with the CRaps for the year. They will finish 7th and be out in four straight against Detroit. They are PAINFUL to watch play on most nights.
If BC makes any changes, I’ll be back, but if not, my new team of people that actually play their asses off is Portland.
See ya in 2010!
Dean W, Whistler
A: We still on for the Games, right? If I can get the powers that be to send me?
Take care, dude, sorry you feel you have to go.
Oh, and I figure there’ll be four, maybe five new guys here come training camp.
Q: Hi Doug, what is Raps draft situation in 2008? Any chance they can take a look at junior PF from ASU - Jeff Pendergraph (6.8/9). I am not sure if he is known outside the PAC-10. From what I read here, Jeff will not take an agent (he wants to keep door open to come back to ASU for his senior year), but he will try to get practice time with NBA teams before draft. Raptors should take a look at Pendergraph!
Kris S, Phoenix
A: An ASU alum, maybe? As for the draft, Toronto has its own pick, which I figure will be around No. 17. I’ll pass Pedergraph’s name on to the appropriate authorities.
Q: Hi Doug, I copied and pasted this from the comments section of the night after the Utah game:
Easy one here: what do Carlos Arroyo, Mike James, Roger Mason and Jannero Pargo have in common? They're all capable backup point guards who used to play for the Toronto Raptors and are still currently in the league. As of this morning, Doug, I'd rather have any one of them on this team than T.J. Ford. And no, I've never sent in a T.J. rant before or, in fact, been opposed to him being part of our point guard tandem. But this road trip has been the last straw for me. With his trade value already low due to his contract and health, he's now found a way to lower it even further -- poor play. Although it would be unfair to say he lost any games on his own, this being a team sport and all, I think it IS fair to say that he single-handedly took us out of 3 games we had a shot at winning. And that's simply appalling. Heck, at least when Mike James tried to take over a game, he had the shot to do it! What concerns me most about T.J., though, is that I have not seen evidence of a growth in maturity during his stint here. His play dictates that he should be the backup but since his ego can't handle it and his attitude on the court has become very detrimental to the team, I think the point guard tandem days need to end here in Toronto. So with this situation in mind, I have a couple of questions for you:
1. What current NBA players can you think of who are playing backup roles on their teams right now but would probably be starters anywhere else and are "happy" with their status? (Manu Ginobili comes to mind immediately!)
2. Bryan Colangelo has just called and told you that he wants you to set up a deal to get rid of T.J. and help this Raptors team. What deal do you propose?
3. It seems every time we play Washington, Roger Mason torches us in the fourth quarter with strong play and 3-point shooting. What would it take to get him back in a Raptor uniform backing up Jose? (Bonus points if you can find a way to bring Jamison over with him!)
Joe T, Toronto
A: Sorry about that, got caught up in other stuff.
I don’t know about “anywhere else” but let’s say a few other places. I think Jason Terry in Dallas is probably happy but would be a starter on a lot of teams, I’d put Leandro Barbosa in that category, too. I bet Jordan Farmar of the Lakers could start for a handful of teams but he seems pretty content and Sam Cassell went from starter to backup of his own volition.
Okay, I’m only doing this T.J. trade thing ‘cause I promised. I’d call the Pacers to see if I could Mike Dunleavy, I’d call Chicago about Nocioni (although they’ve got a point guard, which is the same problem when I call Atlanta about Josh Smith) and I’d call the Clippers about Maggette.
Roger’s an unrestricted free agent this summer coming off a career year in which he was paid a paltry $770,000. He’s from Washington and he might want to stay, and the Wizards likely want to keep him, but I’d make a call on him, that’s for sure. But I can’t see a scenario that brings Jamison here, too; that’s too much to ask.
Q: Simple question: How much if at all do the guys that play in the summer leagues get paid? Also, what are some of differences in perks that these guys get (per diem, hotel, etc)?
David G, Halifax
A: They get paid a salary, nowhere near six figures for any training camps they may take part in before summer league as well as for the time at the league itself. Their housing costs are taken care of, obviously, as are meals, etc., but there is no per diem to match that of a regular season.
Q: I have more of an NBA CBA question rather then a Raptors question and perhaps it's poorly timed as the Trade Deadline is well over. I've never understood the rationale for the rule where Salaries must match in all trades (+/- a certain percentage). I'm thinking that the NBA is the only one of the four major sports with such a rule. I seem to recall hearing this rule was proposed by the Players Association. What was their rationale for wanting such a rule? To me it seems like the rule that does no one any good. It seems to make it difficult for Players who request a trade and difficult for GM's to make trades as there may be a limited number of teams that have the right package that could come back. Would the Nets have been able to get a better deal for Kidd from another team that didn't have Keith Van Horn to sign? Would the Raptors have been able to get a better deal for "He who shall not be named" if they didn't have to find a team with an Alonzo Mourning type deal? I don't understand why any team looking to rebuild couldn't just trade a player straight up for draft picks if they so choose. Is there a greater good to this rule that I'm not seeing?
Mark D, Belleville
A: The rationale is that it’s the rules of transactions under this salary cap. It keeps teams from simply selling off assets for nothing and protects teams from going even crazier in their spendthrift ways.
The Nets, and the Raptors before them, were quite able to seek other trades that would satisfy their competitive, and financial, needs.
Q: Great blog, thanks for all the work. Two comments/suggestions.
1) Have you considered an FAQ page? As a daily reader I'm tired of reading about Jose's contract situation and your opinion of Charlie V. vs. Ford. Next time someone asks a question about that just link to your FAQ's. Saves you typing, and me reading.
2) Can you get your technical people to arrange it so that links automatically open up in a new tab? Thanks. I really like the links you provide to other papers. You could even start doing it for the upcoming games.
Now for a basketball question: Some writers have been pretty vocal about changing the format of the playoffs. Your thoughts?
Michael M, London
A: I’m investigating at FAQ page for just those types of questions, not sure if, or when it’ll happen because some of the repeated questions have different nuances not earlier answered. The new tab? I’ll see what they can do, I have no idea if it can work or not, I am not nearly technically savvy enough.
Now, back to basketball.
The only change I’d make to the playoffs right now would be to re-seed after the conference semifinals, allowing for an all-West, or all-East championship series. Other than that, if they wanted to go to an entirely balanced schedule, where every team played each of the others an equal number of times we could talk dramatic change but I don’t see how that works.
Q: A round of golf during the day and Raptor ball at night. What is not to love about Bogota? Why won't the NBA expand down here- forget Europe...
Another Hump question. Were he to stop his Mike James impersonations and limit himself to rebounding and defense, would that be enough to get him out of the doghouse? Not being able to see enough games down here, I don't even know if he is defending regularly...
Lastly, I agree with you about putting up numbers on bad teams (see the aforementioned James of the Mike variety) but I don't think that is enough to say the TJ deal was good. If the Bucks had a good record, would that be enough for you to reverse your opinion on the deal? One player does not make a team... I am not disagreeing with you (happen to like TJ and the deal), just questioning the logic.
Colin B, Bogota, Colombia
A: If Hump only rebounded and defended and ran the court as we know he can, he’d be the fourth big man on this team. Which he is. It’s not a doghouse issue, he’s not as good as Bosh, Bargnani or Rasho. Simple, actually.
No, if the Bucks had a good record, it wouldn’t change my opinion of the deal at all, and before we start the Hall of Fame nomination time for Charlie, he is averaging, what?, 11 and 6 and 23 minute on a 23-44 team.
Q: I heard that the Raptors could receive a second-round pick from the Hornets because of the Aaron Williams deal from a couple of years back. I am curious, do you know what this depends on? What kind of protection does the pick have?
Michael C, Richmond Hill
A: As far as I can cipher through the file I have of league-wide transactions, that pick went to San Antonio in the Bonner-Rasho deal and may end up in Charlotte.
Q: Any truth to the rumour that the arm sleeves Kobe, AI, and Melo wear are imposed by David Stern and meant to hide "offensive" tattoos that would send families fleeing and sponsors scattering? (good alliteration, huh?) Or are they just compression bandages to keep muscles warm/loose?
Pat K, San Diego
A: Urban myth. Excellent alliteration.
Q: In case of Rasho, are teams allowed to negotiate a deal with him before he opts out of his contract or does he have to opt out first before he gets offers. Like say if a team was willing to give a multiyear contract which he may not get if he waits another year (and gets older) he might be interested. Also, do you really think it’s beneficial to the Raps if we lose Rasho, especially since one of our needs is help in the frontcourt.
George K, Toronto
A: No, no one can negotiate with anyone under contract to another team. If Rasho opts out of the final year of his contract, as unimaginable as they is, any other team could talk to him. And, no, I don’t think it’s beneficial to lose him at all, unless they can trade him and his expiring contract in some package for someone younger and better.
Q: Is it a coincidence that New York and Miami are scraping along with undisciplined players while the teams are managed by egomaniacs? What is the correlation between bottom-dwelling teams in disarray and teams coached by the team’s president?
TC W, Toronto
A: The two you mention are the only two presidents who double as head coaches so I guess you have to take that for what it is.
Q: First of all, I commend you on all your blogging adventures! It is great to see such uncustomary friendly commitment and dedication from a member of the media - a beat grunt nonetheless (I jest).
Now to the question, which actually has to do with comparing sports, though for once not a puck-comparison. In the wake of the Raptors huge win over Miami, it got me thinking why there was such a large talent gap between players normally in the D-league, and those in the NBA? Compare this with, for example, AAA baseball and the MLB, where AAA players often only need the opportunity to gain experience to become effective players in the big leagues.
Jim G, St. Catharines
A: If I had to hazard an explanation, the one I’d come up with has to do with depth of talent in the respective minor leagues. I’d suggest there are more AAA ballplayers with major league skills than there are D Leaguers with NBA skills. And if a ball player gets called up after playing top-notch opposition, it only follows that he’d be capable more quickly.
Q: With Dell Curry's son Stephen having another stellar NCAA tournament, having heard rumours of other Raptors children that could really play and having heard Maceo Baston's son is playing in a junior league in Etobicoke this year, I was wondering if you had a list of the best Raptors offspring that you had seen perhaps shooting around at the end of a practice. A top five or a list perhaps?
Geoff H, Toronto
A: You know what, there really isn’t a list. Most of the players who’ve been here with kids have had toddlers rather than anyone with much promise. Dell was at the end of his career, which is why Stephen stood out. I do remember John Shumate’s son had some game but that was 12 years ago and I’m not sure what became of him.
Walker D. Russell, who was a scout and an assistant coach, had a son who got a training camp invite from the Knicks last year but didn’t stick.
Q: Silly, silly question.
Can players with facemasks paint them like their puck-stopping contemporaries? I'm guessing they can't, because if they could, I'd bet about a third of the league would opt for the masks. I'd like to see "Il Mago" with an air-brushed wizard across his face, like a 70s Volkswagen. If not painted, can players at least get them tinted like NFLers?
Can anyone don a mask, or do they need to demonstrate a medical necessity to the league?
Duane C, Toronto
A: Checked with the Raptor training staff and there is no need to get any approval to wear a mask but if the league thinks it’s for fashion (as if that gawd-awful thing Bargnani is wearing could be considered ‘fashionable’), they’d require a doctor’s not to say it’s for legitimate medical reasons.
And I presume that if anyone wanted to paint something on a mask, they’d be a very quick, very terse letter from the home office suggesting they un-paint it pretty quickly.