Hey, guess what? Early mail!!!!!
Okay, so we’re going to try to change things up, see how this works.
It seemed to me that a lot of early week mail was getting, not lost, but usurped in the old system of Friday-Saturday-Sunday bonus mail.
So now we’ll spread out the mails, try to get one up sometime Tuesday and then Friday morning again.
Not sure if it’ll work with my workload but what the heck, you’re worth it. Sort of. (I … oh, you know).
Q: Sunday afternoon on CBC, the half time segment was a sit down with T.J. Ford, the suddenly disgruntled backup to Jose Calderon. T.J. revealed something to us Raptor faithful. He stated the player he would most want to be like is...wait for it...Stephon Marbury? Is that as worrisome as I think it is? Marbury has been a cancerous sore on every team he has played for. He is more concerned with his bank account, his "Starbury" clothing line and his ego to ever be a winner. He threw a hissy fit and left his dismal New York Knicks this year because he wasn't going to start a game. Somehow, Isiah didn't throw all of his belongings out of the closest open window at MSG.
My question is, will T.J.'s me first personality eventually start to hurt a team as close as the Raptors? If he continues to struggle and the boo's continue to rain on him after turnovers? Will he mope into BC's office and ask to be moved?
Chad N, Toronto
A: I didn’t see the interview, obviously, so I’ll take your word for it.
I don’t think it’s worrisome at all. Whatever you’re perception of T.J. is, it’s had no impact on the locker room and I don’t imagine it will.
Let me ask you something, and it’s not personal, it’s only ‘cause you’re here:
Let’s say you were tops in your job, the go-to guy from the boss for all the big assignments. Let’s say you got sick, like mononucleosis or something and you had to take eight weeks off. Let’s say you came back to work and your boss had changed your job. Let’s say he gave all the big assignments to the guy across the cubicle from you, all exactly the same things you did, and did well, for years.
Would you smile every minute of the day? Or would it take you a week or so to get over the expected disappointment?
Again, not you personally, but you get my point?
Q: I am not understanding how the Rockets have won 19 straight. Besides T-Mac, they have not much in the way of scoring. I mean Battier is solid, but nothing special. Alston is not much of a point guard, in my opinion, and there is no Yao. I just don't get it. Do you know?
Zack B, Scarborough
A: Defence. That’s the easiest explanation. They might be the most aggressive on-the-ball defenders in the league. And Alston’s playing out of his head, as a matter of fact.
Q: What do you think Delfino would go for on the open market? Would he get the full mid-level from anyone? If so is he worth that to the Raptors?
Jordan T, Toronto
A: An excellent question, difficult to answer. Put it this way: If Jason Kapono and Mo Pete got the full mid-level last summer, why wouldn’t Delfino get the same this time around?
And his worth to the Raptors is really going to be determined, I think, by what Bryan Colangelo does with trades around the draft and what they think Garbo can bring them next season.
Q: Doug, like you mentioned before, NBA teams sometimes take bad teams too lightly and sometimes they get away with it or snap out before it's late and sometimes they don't. Putting aside some too-high expectations after last season from many fans, do you get the sense the Raptors can no longer be one of the franchises to take lightly and that attributes to teams playing them tougher, thus a few less wins. Or is that balanced by the natural development/improvement of the team from last season?
M.K. L, Mississauga
A: I think there’s no question that the rest of the league knows the Raptors are a good team and they know they can’t just show up and expect to beat them. And I’m sure that’s translated into some losses this season. Teams below Toronto in the standings and the league-wide perception – like Charlotte, Atlanta, Philly and Milwaukee in the East – know they are measured in some degree by what they do against Toronto.
And until the Raptors realize that every night, bad losses to lesser teams are going to pop up every now and then.
Q: I'm a big fan of your shtick and usually sit along the railing of the players tunnel entrance at the games...I have often told you in person that I back your blog, and you seem to be able to feign a sense of genuine appreciation, so thanks.
Just a little heads up...a recent mailbag question asked about ex-Raptor players kicking it around as current assistant coaches and you seem to have forgotten about my boy Ed Pinckney, of Villanova lore, sitting on the Timberwolves bench.
Try to stop complaining about your travel schedule, you have a dream job and hardly show enough gratitude for how good you have it.
Jordan E, Toronto
A: Yeah, got the Pinckney thing in the comments section the other day.
"Feign a sense of genuine appreciation?” That’s not feigning, I genuinely appreciate readers and the hellos I get every now and then.
Q: Hey Doug, just curious as to how the Raptors are doing this year in TV ratings? Specifically on CBC?
Rob F, Toronto
A: Tossed this one up to the dude who knows all things ratings and C. Zelkovich reports:
"Last I checked, ratings were up about 28 per cent overall. CBC averaging about 190,000 -- most of all the networks.”
Q: I read your list of players that you feel would fit perfectly with the Raptors. You didn't mention Corey Maggette. He's on a bad team and probably wants out. With no one having money to spend, isn't it conceivable that they can get him for the mid level?
Also, noticed Mutumbo's finger waving the other day and it dawned on me that when a player dunks and celebrates its considered taunting. Why is the finger wave any different? Shouldn't he be getting T'd up?
Francesco G, Toronto
A: Maggette would be a good fit, the list I’ve been working off is possible trades; I fully expect Maggette to opt out of his contract and be a free agent. And then I think he and his agents will look to work out some sign and trade that gets him a big payday.
And Joey Crawford got Deke for finger-waving Monday night so, yes, the refs watch closely and when the taunting gets over the line, they hit him.
Q: I was wondering if there was any way the Raptors could get Elton Brand from the Clippers? I'm thinking this would have to be a sign and trade, I believe that Elton is a free-agent this summer. What if we included Bargnani and Ford in a package for him? That way they get a promising young point guard to start while Livingston is recovering from his knee surgeries and a potential 5 of the future in Bargnani. We get toughness in a paint and a proven all star. Brand says he isn't one to "up and leave a situation", but if he is convinced this is better for LA there will be no hard feelings there and he gets to play with Bosh.
Sanders L, Toronto
A: I cannot imagine a scenario in which the Raptors get Brand, let alone a situation where the Clippers let him go. Not in a million years.
Q: Hi Doug, was I seeing backwards or did the Raptors start the game on Friday (vs. Washington) at the opposite basket than they normally do? I could have sworn that they always played the first half shooting on the basket in front of their bench. Is this something that changes more often than I've noticed? Whose decision is it, and any reason for picking one basket over the other?
Steve M, Toronto
A: No offence but I’ve gone through this a bunch of times. (And I wonder why the mailbags get so big).
Anyway, the visiting team gets to decide which basket it would like to shoot at; some want to be on offence in front of their bench at the end of a game, some want to be on defence. That’s why you see it switched up every now and then.
Q: I keep hearing about players we don't have or make on attempt to get because they put is over the salary cap and the team doesn't want to pay the penalty. Question- If the franchise goes up in value by 20-40 million a year (my guess) then why not spend 5 million or so over the cap to get us a great 2 or 3. The owners should invest more in the team as they are making a capital gains haul. Thanks
Doug L, Toronto
A: No, you don’t ever hear about players they can’t get because they don’t want to go over the salary cap. What you hear is they don’t want to go over the tax threshold, which is an entirely different issue.
The Raptor payroll this year, as of Feb. 22, is $67,252,973; the salary cap is $55,630,000; the tax threshold is $67,865,000.
Q: I think what the Raps need most is a forward who can create his own shot, but it seems like a lot of your readers are more concerned about the Dino's rebounding and defensive woes. Understand that a true big is hard to come by in this league, and adding another big might create rotation problems for Bargs, because he can't guard quicker guys.
You know who can opt-out, rebounds, hustles, and guards smalls? Shawn Marion. He's not looking good on the Heat, because without Nash and Amare garnering attention he's pretty ineffective offensively. I think Jose and Bosh are like Nash/Amare lite, and Marion could contribute here. Is he going to be too expensive? Is he gonna be a bad locker room presence? Does the fact that he can be shut-down if Bosh is hurt outweigh what he brings to the defensive end?
Duane C, Toronto
A: Marion’s got $17 million left on his deal for next year, which is waaaaay too much to pay him, in my opinion. It’s not his locker room presence, it’s his game. If he opts out – which would be a huge mistake, I think – there’s no way these guys have interest in a long-term contract at that zany salary.
Q: In a recent post you wrote that BC should go after one of Nocioni, Miller, Jefferson or Kirilenko this summer. What do you know about their character? Part of the Raptors' success seems to be built on the team being a good group of guys. How would any of those four fit into the locker room?
Murray G, Toronto
A: From what I know, and it’s second hand mostly because the only one of them I’ve had much dealings with is Jefferson, they are all pretty good guys. Kirilenko’s got some drama in him, at least he did when he was asking to be traded from Utah, but none of ‘em have a reputation as bad guys.
Q: When is Bargnani going to pick and roll to the basket. To date, he sets the pick between the top of the key and the 3-point line and then always takes a few steps back after the pick. Hasn't watching Rasho accomplish a lot more with less talent taught him anything?
Brett H, Toronto
A: As his game evolves, and he figures out what works, you might see him go to the basket more. Right now, he’s more comfortable, and gets more open looks, by popping instead of rolling.
Q: It could just be me, but does Delfino ignore Bargnani when they're on the floor together?
Aaron J, Markham
A: I think it’s just you. Never noticed it myself, no one that I’ve spoken to on the team has, either.
Q: Hey Doug! Was wondering, am I the only person who is hoping that either Cleveland catches Orlando, or Washington catches the Raptors so we can play Orlando in the first round? Raptors win that series hands-down.
Jeremy M, Bay Roberts, NL
A: Hands down? You’ve been watching the same Raptor team as I have, right? They don’t do anything ‘hands down.’ They would have a better shot at beating Orlando, sure. But ‘hands down?’ Not in a million years.
Q: Doug, you're going to hate me, but since there are so many fans that seem to get their questions cut, I figured I should help them out with a quick guideline on how to get their queries posted (like you don't have enough already):
1) Praise the blog, feeding Doug's ego can only help your chances.
2) Use lines that Doug clearly likes (again... ego feeding) such as "I keed, I keed" or "I slay me"
3) State that you're a first time writer (more chances he'll go easy on you) or that you've written 25 times and haven't been answered (pity posting)
4) No ridiculous trade questions ("do you think the Lakers would trade Kobe for Joey, The Hump and 2 second round picks?")
5) If a question has been asked (and answered) about 20 billion times, let it go. No more "Jose vs TJ" or "where's Magloire" or "Andrea should be traded/put in the hall of fame" or "why does Sam still have a job" kind of questions.
6) Where you're from doesn't really matter, is the quality of your question. Don't say you're from Caracas (where I'm from by the way) and then ask about the chances of getting Wade, Lebron and Chris Paul to join the Raps next year.
7) Keep it relevant/dated, if you ask about a game 3 weeks ago Doug may elect to answer a question about the next opponent instead.
8) Toss in a little sarcasm (at your own risk), if done well Doug seems to appreciate it.
9) No rants, they're pointless in blogs. Keep it for a night out with the guys.
10) If you're a rookie, you have a decent chance to get your question answered if you ask for a top 5 list, b-ball 101 or a story from back on the glory days (ha ha ha... glory days).
Ed C, Toronto
A: Thanks for the primer. Am sure all kinds of readers will take your advice.
Q: I was just wondering if you could tell me what it means when the Raptor announcer Chuck says "Onions, baby onions"? I tried to look it up on line, but the only possible answer I got was that it was a reference to a player's testicles dropping, and I thought that's probably not what he was going for... but maybe it is? Please enlighten.
Julie M, Toronto
A: Well, I guess that’s close. I think he’s going for, you know, cojones, testicles, the willingness to take, and make, a big shot.
Q: Doug, (Sunday’s) game is how the Raps should play... no small ball, no humpMJ, less TJ TO and aggressive ball.
Here's my question. You talk of coaches drilling Bargs on his low post play, do they do the same with Jose? I find it troubling that he doesn't seem to know how to position himself so that the person he is guarding don't blow by him every time. In today's game, I saw a number of blow bys by Watson and Ridnour and most times, Jose is on the side moving sideways instead of in the front. He has to clean that up since that will be the Raps death knell in the playoffs. Do you agree?
Jeff U, San Diego
A: Sure, Jose can be better defensively and Watson did get past him rather easily. I don’t think it’ll be the death knell, though, not at all. I think whichever team they get in the playoffs, Orlando or Washington, won’t present too many problems at the point guard position.
Q: Hey Doug! Just wondering if the Raps have any interest in the recently waived Gerald Green? I always liked his upside I don’t know if I could say the same about his work ethics.
Hasan F, Woodbridge
A: Nope, no interest at all right now. He’s not better than anyone they’ve got on the team and they’re looking for someone much better in the off-season.
Funny how they don’t want to touch a guy that three teams have already given up on.
Q: Hey Doug, not sure if you had a chance to watch the Suns/Spurs game on Sunday, but I think that Jeff Van Gundy has lost his mind! In addition to last week saying that Kobe going off for 81 against the Raps was a better achievement than Wilt's 100 (because Wilt just sat under the net putting the ball in), but he said that Rafer was the BEST pg in the NBA right now! No wonder this guy got fired. Has he gone nuts? His rationale is because he is playing pg for the best team in the NBA right now, similar to a quarterback leading his team in the NFL. WHAT? Can you talk to some people in LA and get this guy pulled?
L G, Whitby
A: Well, let’s see. Rafer’s quarterbacking a team without its best big man that’s won seven in a row without Yao and 19 overall. Gimme a point guard in the league doing more right at the moment? And that’s what he said, right now, Alston’s running the hottest team in the game. An honest assessment easily defended.
And I can make the same argument about Kobe’s 81 as Van Gundy did. Different game, different eras, different competition. So, I can see his point.
Q: Let me first by saying I am a basketball fanatic and when I have the chance to spend the money to go see a game I do my best to make it happen. I am at the game this Sunday and to see this Raptor team fall behind early to lowly Supersonics. So understandably I get a bit upset and start hollering and slapping the chair beside me. A fan with his girlfriend turns around and says, “Bro, relax.” I almost lost it. I thought I was at a basketball game, not Tai Chi. My brother who went to school at the Univ. of Windsor and took in games at the Palace while there, couldn’t believe it. What’s wrong with Toronto fans? From your travels around the league, who are the most boisterous fans. I want to know, I may need to move there.
Sonny B, Toronto
A: You want me to bust on Toronto fans? Not a chance, I’d have to answer their e-mails.
Most boisterous? I’d put Detroit at the top of the list, Sacramento, probably Cleveland and Utah.
Q: Hi Doug, I have been a long time reader and this is the first question I have decided to send in. I still don’t understand the logic behind letting Mo Pete walk away and opting for Kapono. From what I recall Mo Pete could create his own shot, hit the three and most importantly DEFEND...all for the same amount of money. We are currently in fifth place and if the playoffs started tomorrow we would face Cleveland and LeBron James. No Disrespect to AP but if Kevin Durant is blowing by him like a pylon then we are out the first round of the playoffs guaranteed! Am I the only one that thinks letting Mo Pete leave was a bad move?
Alex H, Toronto
A: No, you’re not alone in that thinking but I’m not agreeing with you. Mo’s older, doesn’t really create his own shot, wasn’t going to be happy in a backup role in Toronto and it was, sadly, time for him to go.
And I’ll also add this: Mo, as good a guy as he is, could no better defend Durant or Kobe than anyone on this team.
Q: Doug -- come on -- Hump is shot happy at worst. But usually he is the sort of energy and hustle that teams DO need. None of three guys you want in your regular rotation bring what Hump can -- that mix of bulk and solid athleticism. What's the difference between Hump taking ill-advised shots and Bargnani? Oh it's Humps vastly superior Per minute averages and PER. Now OF COURSE Hump doesn't have the ceiling Andrea does. And those stats I mentioned are distorted because Hump likely isn't ready to be effective in 12-minute stretches at this point in his career. I get that. But I look at the Cavs rugged front line -- and I definitely see some use for Hump. Either a) if foul troubles raise their heads or b) if Andrea is in one of his - 'shoot and miss and do little else' modes.
Conor M, Toronto
A: Yes, Hump brings all that stuff you say. Every now and then. Not every night. Not every minute. And may get time if there is foul trouble, no doubt; but if there isn’t, and the way Rasho’s been playing, I say stick with three bigs. Of course, Sam may say otherwise.
Q: It's time. Accept it before it destroys you. The Forderon era needs to be terminated with extreme prejudice. And this is not some knee-jerk reaction to TJ's abysmal recent play (notwithstanding Sam's attempt to buck his spirits by endorsing that travesty of a performance against Seattle). I'm far from a TJ basher; he will definitely turn it around. If this team were solid at every position, or nearly every position, I'd say yeah, definitely keep 'em both, what a great advantage to have two starting guards. But this team has GAPING holes at least two positions, three actually. We need an athletic 2/3 who can create his own offence (thereby reducing the need for 48 minutes of great point guard play) and guard his counterpart, who usually kills us. We need a power forward who can hoover rebounds when subbing for Chris. And we need a centre to either back up Bargs or replace him if the experiment doesn't work. It is a huge waste of talent to have TJ or José sitting prolonged minutes, especially given the aforementioned holes. Do you think Brian has seen enough?
Lee Z, Ottawa
A: I think Bryan sees everything everyone else does, and with a more critical eye. Whether he’s seen enough will depend on what transpires in the last 20 games of the season, what happens in the playoffs and what he can find on the trade market around draft time. I don’t think he’s given up on the two point-guard situation at all.
Q: After hearing this once again at the Sonics game yesterday, I felt compelled to ask you this. Whenever the defense gets called for a 3-seconds-in-the-key violation, the bald announcer always says it's a "non-unsportsman-like" violation/free throw or whatever for the team on offence. Why doesn't he just say sportsman-like??
Byron C, Toronto
A: Because that’s the way the NBA describes those kind of technical fouls. I don’t get it either, it’s just one of those things.