The mail, at least the first part, is in
Oh yeah, that permanent link to the mail bag on the blog was a greeeeaaat idea! I swear none of you work, do you? Just sit at home or at the desk and come up with questions, don’t you? (I keed, I keed, of course).
But, seriously folks, I’ve got a billion or so here, another zillion or so answered and a kabillion or two to get at. And I will over the course of the weekend so don’t despair if you’re not in here, you’ll probably be in tomorrow or Sunday.
And my fingers hurt from typing.
Q: Just wondering if you've ever been to a Harlem Globetrotters game. They'll be coming to Kingston in a few weeks and I'm just curious to see what I can expect from them.
Sam C, Kingston
A: You’re a regular in these parts, aren’t you?
I saw the Globetrotters eons ago, with Meadowlark Lemon and Curly Neal and I remember checking with ABC’s Wide World of Sports each Saturday to see if they were on from some aircraft carrier or something.
I haven’t seen them in years and years and years so I don’t know what you’d get. I have a feeling they’ve fallen off a bit over the past little while. You’ll see shenanigans (like a fake bucket of water they throw in the face of fan or a ref) but as for basketball? I’m not sure how entertaining it’ll be.
Q: It is early to talk about the draft, but I think there are two philosophies when drafting. Either drafting for what your team needs (this philosophy got us Araujo, since the team needed a centre); or, drafting the best player available (which got Charlie V, when we had a power forward named Bosh, but who got us a great asset in a trade later).
Do you know which philosophy the Raptors are leaning towards this year in the draft? I know there is a crying need for a slashing guard/forward, but I submit it is still better just to take the best player available.
Sohail G, Kelowna
A: A draft philosophy question I’ll answer. A question about a specific player? Not yet.
I was talking to a high-ranking team official on the weekend and he told me this draft is full of bigs so I’d presume that’s the way they’ll go. They’ll search out a veteran wing in free agency or via trade; they expect Roko Ukic here to be the third point guard so a centre will be their top priority.
But, if some stud small forward is there unexpectedly when they draft they won’t pass him up. They doubt that, though.
Q: I get the sense you are negatively disposed towards Primoz Brezec. And while this first sentence is a bit of an understatement, I have to admit he isn't great. That said, I thought he played with more intensity (Sunday) than most of the Raps (excepting perhaps Parker) and you can't deny he is passionate -- angrily corralling at least RB away from Mohammad and drawing a foul at same time. And (whoop-dee-do) he outplayed Mohammed: Same points, fewer minutes, more rebounds, fewer turnovers. He did get four fouls in 11 minutes, but at least three of them were on wing players slashing to the basket.
Tell me though, isn't it nice (as a reporter) to be able to get quotable quotes off a new player that are like this: "I think we were soft tonight, very soft. We’ve got to man up a little bit. Our focus was not there."
I like hearing it as a fan -- because he is right: the rebounding can only get consistently better if they are willing to man-up a bit more. PB certainly isn't a Godsend, and he isn't even walking his own talk incredibly well. I think, however, he is pointed in the right direction -- and it is nice to have a player (however briefly) who won't easily fit into the category of "soft."
Brook N, Toronto
A: Good quotes carry a lot more weight if they come from someone who plays regularly. Brezec may indeed end up getting 10 minutes a night (especially now that Bosh is out and Hump’s regressed to his shoot-first-pass-as-only-a-last-resort self) but if he’s here in training camp, I will be absolutely shocked.
Q: You wisely remind us that the fiasco in Charlotte is just one game. (Raptor fans definitely need those reminders on a regular basis.) Although in this case, it's the second consecutive stinkfest.
My question is, what is this absence of Bosh showing us? On the positive side, does it demonstrate that he is entering the realm of Garnett and Duncan where his leadership skills demand and bring out higher efforts from his teammates? As for the negative - have we been overrating the rest of the talent on this team? Is it fair to say that without Bosh, the Raptors would be right down there "battling" Miami for the Eastern Conference cellar?
Joe S, Kingston
A: I think Bosh’s absence is showing that if you take the only all-star off a roster built to thrive in his presence (outside shooters rather than slashers to play off a double-team with good, rapid ball movement) the team will struggle.
I think it’s an over-statement to suggest they’d be in the East cellar but they’d be life and death to make the playoffs. They would still have two good point guards and a bunch of shooters that would win them some games, as it has in Bosh’s absence previously.
Q: Douglas, how much has Delfino enjoyed this season so far? He's contributing and playing regular minutes on a good team in a contract year. Has he liked the team environment, the snow, the coaches, and the beat grunts? Does he talk to you much?
Michael S, Thornhill
A: He seems to be enjoying it quite well. He’s not starting, and I’m sure he’s like a zillion others who would want to, but other than that, he does have a defined role and responsibilities he’s never had before in the NBA. I know he takes losses very hard (I’d say he, Jose and Bosh take them the hardest of anyone on the team) so that shows a commitment to the team.
We talk, sure. But not about the future yet, because it’s really not that time, and, besides, he’s a restricted free agent and really doesn’t have a say in where he’ll play. If Toronto wants him, they’ll keep him.
Q: Doug, who on the Raptors are the biggest jokers and who is the quietest? Like not in front of the media but among themselves. Delfino is definitely one of the quieter ones and I would imagine Bosh is one of the more vocal.
Michael L, Toronto
A: I’m told that Hump is quite the funny guy. And there are reports that AP can do a pretty good imitation or two.
Q: Hey Doug, just a quick question. I saw you saying something like Garbo getting medical attention during games? Can you elaborate a little bit as too why this happens during games?
Robert P, Toronto
A: Timing, mostly. The staff is generally busy pre-game getting the players ready for that night, stretching them out, massaging them, working out the typical kinks. Garbo gets his time with them after they’re done, which is during games.
Q: Hi Mother Doug … laundry is done, drive way is clear, time to submit a question: did it seem to you like Andrea seemed more comfortable when he was sharing the floor with Brezec? Is that maybe because he's less sure of his role when Bosh, and to a lesser degree, Rasho is on the floor? He often just seems a little out of whack when playing with Bosh. I know they're the future front court and I think better chemistry will develop with time. You seem convinced that Brezec is gone at the end of the year ... if you're gonna fill the end of the bench with a stiff, why not make him a 7-footer? Can't that only help Andrea to have another big body to practice against? As the ever-quotable Jack Armstrong said, "There's a pretty girl on every corner, but 7-footers are hard to come by." Keep up the insightful comments and hysterical retorts!
Peter L, Kingston
A: That Jack, he’s the master of the quip. Know what he calls chronic under-achievers who usually end up getting coaches fired? “Permanent potential.” Oh, and coach-killers, too.
I think they can find a 7-footer who’s younger, bulkier and cheaper to occupy the 13th or 15th spot on the roster. In fact, I expect that’s where they’ll concentrate their attention in the draft.
Q: I heard you on Bob McCown's radio broadcast (Monday) afternoon. "Don't play it again, Sam." Good to know you're keeping up on your piano lessons...
I only did a little high school basketball and some rec ball, nothing akin to your storied university career in my hometown of Welland. Even so, boxing out was always drilled as a basic skill. After the second free throw, after any shot, while jostling for position in the key... Box out!
Didn't these pros get the same fundamentals? Why don't they clue in that somebody needs to box out in order to grab a rebound?
Jamie A, Mississauga
A: Young pros? Fundamentals? Surely you jest! Ask any coach in the NBA his biggest problem with the players on his roster and I’m betting 80 per cent say they don’t know the fundamentals of the game. That’s a problem with coaching in AAU programs where they barely teach them how to dribble, let along box out or know that three-pointers from the corner that miss are most of the time going to miss long.
Q: I heard you on the Fan suggest that in the summer Colangelo will be able to trade players in their last year for needed talent (you mentioned Garbo and Rasho).
I can see this happening before the trade deadline next February but which GM's do you think are willing to write off next season before it starts -- by trading their talent for roster fillers?
Which players do you think will be available for expiring contracts?
M S, Ottawa
A: I’m going to get into this more in the blog as we go along. It’s not so much giving up on the season as it is facing the financial realities of life in the NBA. If a team can save some tax money down the road, or save some money to eventually pay a player they really, really, really want, Bryan might be able to pull off a coup around the draft.
Q: Hey Doug, was it just me or was the Spurs mascot at the Raptors-Bobcats game?
Jack W, Brampton
A: I can’t believe I know this but chicken stuff seems to be something I hear about. I presume in an effort to sell tickets, the Bobcats decided Sunday to throw a “birthday” party for Roofus (which is the name of their chicken). They invited a few other stuffed animals over for the festivities.
Man, the stuff you learning reading this blog, eh?
Q: In reference to (a) comment about "needing another scorer". We had one, just never allowed him to play. At least in his natural position. Just traded him to Detroit. Stay tuned!
Guy B, Baltimore
A: I sense a little hometown bias there, dude. I like Juan Dixon a lot, he’s a great guy but he wasn’t the “other scorer” this team needed.
Q: My friends here in the Sunshine City, including my boss (a Magyar rebounding machine in his college days), couldn't believe how badly you beat me up over my "Big On Bargnani; Malignant on Magliore" correspondence of last week. At least half of Orillia (pop. 30,000) was miffed at your verbal assault on yours truly (one of you biggest fans north of Highway 7 I might add). At any rate, the point of my previous correspondence was to point out to you that the Raptors, as presently constituted, have no interior presence, no toughness, and no edge. After your slam dunk of my suggestion, the Raptors went out and proved me right by getting squashed twice, once by the sad sack Pacers, but even more telling by those cuddly Bobcats, via a 30-0 edge on second chance points. That alone can be commented on, i.e. a carnivorous Raptor getting slaughtered by a cute Bobcat. Anyway, despite the shellacking you gave me last week, the question remains, what can they do this late in the season to correct this glaring deficiency in chemistry before they get slaughtered in the first round of the playoffs by those rapier rebounding Cavs.
Frank K, Orillia
A: Man, that’s some question. Let me try to figure out what it is? Is it the “no interior presence, no toughness and no edge” or is it a “glaring deficiency in chemistry” which, I think, are two entirely different things.
The rebounding and interior presence? They can do nothing but try harder and be better, which, on occasion, they have. They have to listen to the coaches, box out, forget leaking out on fast breaks and turn around and face-guard their man.
The chemistry? It’s fine.
And I remain much bigger on Bargnani than I ever was on Magloire.
Q: Every article I read you're constantly sucking up & making excuses for Sam Mitchell.
So I'm just wondering... Has the Smitch ever made a coaching mistake? When was the last time the reigning Coach of the Year won his individual coaching battle?
When was the last time he made a mid-game adjustment, besides going small to match up with the other team (good teams dictate the flow of the game, they don't play into their opponents' hands)?
When was the last time he switched up the defense when his usual "Double-down in the post & leave the perimeter open" gameplan wasn't working? When was the last time he played a zone when an opposing team was getting to the rim at will, or double-teamed whichever swingman is lighting us up every other night?
Heck, for somebody who's supposed greatest strength is "Getting his team to play hard every night", why does his super-motivated team only seem to give full effort against sub-.500 teams, after they've been embarrassed the game before?
I could go on & on, Doug. I haven't even touched on his rotations & substitution patterns.
Is Sam Mitchell responsible for any of that? Or is that all on Jamario Moon & Andrea Bargnani as well?
Andy P, Toronto
A: Wow, I sense a wee bit of hostility in the old question here. You really gotta chill out, my man.
But you know what? I’m going to answer and hope it makes your blood pressure go even higher than it apparently is. (And I’d recommend 20 mg of Altace every morning, works for me having to deal with, um, well, never mind)
Sure, he’s made mistakes, probably as many as any coach in the NBA. It’s an inexact science.
In-game adjustments? Every single night. And, you know what, some of ‘em even work, hence the 32 wins and 25 losses.
Switched up defence? You do watch games, right? Closely? Ever see ‘em play a zone? Like a couple of possessions every night? When Sam puts up a fist? Um, maybe you were out sticking a pin in your Sam voodoo doll at the time.
Now, I’m sure you’re uber-ticked right now. Too bad.
Q: The list of players who were drafted by a team, traded away and traded back is incorrect because a handful of those players returned as free agents, Nash and Webber really stand out for me. Thanks.
Thomas C, Markham
A: No, thank Chuck, the dude who did the work.
Q: Well it has been a while since I last wrote in. I was the one who said I wasn't going to watch any more games... And I have only watched about 2 or 3 since then and they have played pretty much .500 basketball. I may be completely off here but what big things has the ever-praised BC done for the Raptors? Signed Chris Bosh which was very important, but other than that ... nothing. In the off-season he has to sign Calderon which will take up a lot of money because Miami will have a lot of money to spend. Then it will be pretty much the exact same team as this year because the only money he has is the mid-level. Maybe he will sign another Kapono. That would be good. I seriously hate to be a downer but I think the honeymoon stage for Colangelo should finally be over and people should realize that the team we see on the court this year will be virtually the same next year. Unless he can get a STEAL for 5 Million bucks. Unlikely.
Grant C, Orangeville
A: Garbo. Parker. Hump for Araujo. T.J. for Charlie. Delfino for two second round draft picks. Set the roster up so he can make major moves over the next two summers. Forty-seven win team. Playoffs. Sellouts. Exec of the year.
Yeah, he bites.
It’s been a while and that’s what you came up with?
Q: Seven or eight years from now (or whenever Kobe, Dirk, Nash, Duncan, and Yao are done) Who are the top 3 in the West considering there were no difference-making draft picks?
Same question for the East (when Detroit and Boston are done).
Mike U, Winnipeg
A: Seven or eight years from now? Dude, I might be in a home by then. And no can predict what’s going to happen seven or eight days from now.
But, for you, let’s
West: San Antonio, Portland, and, um, Seattle.
East: Toronto, Atlanta and, oh, I dunno, how about Charlotte.
Really, those are guesses. Not very good ones, maybe, but that’s all I’ve got.
Q: I was curious as to how the announcers get stats for the games. Like how does one of them know that within the 7XX games that we've had a three pointer in, 25 of them had exactly one trey? Is there a site for all this? There's no way they remember all the games.
Bryce F, Markham
A: Not a site, no. But Jim LaBumbard and his team of media minions are among the best in the business and supply that kind of information. Oh, and the broadcasters have crack researchers doing their thing, too.
Q: I was watching the Indiana game and I think I saw you sitting beside Swirsky and the other fellow who was announcing the game. Was it you? I did not realize you are so close to the action.
Here is my question. (This is not a knock on either pg) Do you think Sam should switch the starting pg's more often? Having Calderon and TJ share starting duties depending on the team? I recall Kapono and Delfino playing well beside Calderon. I also think TJ and Bosh have a good chemistry at the start of games.
Ret J, Toronto
A: That was indeed me, we get that front row seat (best seat in the arena, I’m thinking) every third game. Other than that, it’s back of the bus.
No, I think they should get a starting lineup and stick with it.
Q: It really seems as though Toronto is going to finish 4th or 5th in the conference and most likely face Cleveland. With LeBron and the addition of Wallace, do they have any chance to beat them in a best of seven series or would it be better for the Raptors to finish in 6th place and face off against an inexperienced playoff team in Orlando?
Serge A, Richmond Hill
A: Sure, they’ve got a chance against Cleveland. Maybe not as good against Orlando on paper but we’re talking six weeks from now, who knows what happens by then. And this whole idea of trying to pick where you’ll finish (a) disgusts me, you should play every game to win; and (b) seldom, if ever, works.
Q: Doug, I noticed something in the Knicks game a couple weeks back, something that you also mentioned in your blog the next morning. Four consecutive trips down the floor the Raps ran the same play - Calderon to Parker coming off a screen on the right, Parker to Kapono curling into the middle off a screen on the left - and each time they got a decent look, whether it was a layup or open jumper. I haven't seen them run this play or anything like it since, so my question is why not? Was the motion offence a one game experiment? Seemed to me like it worked out pretty well, so where has it been since?
Michael L, Brantford
A: It’s been around. In fact I commented on it during the game at Indiana a week ago; one of their more effect sets as a matter of fact. Watch closely, you’ll see it every game.
Q: Two questions for ya Doug:
1) I know the +/- stat is pretty unused and irrelevant at this point but is there anywhere I can find accumulated +/- for a season instead of just the +/- for each individual game?
2) You say something we're missing is 2 solid people who can play the wing... does that mean you feel AP and Carlos are insufficient? I agree we could use a Gerald Wallace athletic type wing but where does the secnd solid wing come into play?
Dan K, St. John
A: Because I care so little about a made-up stat like plus-minus, I don’t know if it’s kept season long anywhere. I’m sure some website for number-crunchers has it but I’m not going to be able to help you.
I don’t they’re insufficient, I just think they can improve on those two spots. And, besides, no one’s sure if Delfino will be back next year.
Q: First off, you looked mighty natty in high-def last week in the background of the interview with Alex English.
It was actually that interview, and a mention of Mike Dunleavy Jr., who was playing for the Pacers, that triggered my question. Way back in the day, I was visiting family friends in South Carolina and I got to take in a couple of Gamecock games featuring English and Mike Dunleavy Sr., a former NBA player himself. I know there have been generational family dynasties in the NHL and Major League Baseball, but has the NBA had any three generational installments?
George B, Ottawa
A: Alex English and Mike Dunleavy Sr. playing? Outstanding. That must have been great.
I don’t know of any three generations of the same family but there’ve been all kinds of fathers and sons.
I’ll give you the Dunleavys, Bill and Luke Walton, Henry and Mike Bibby, Rick Barry and Brent, Jon and Drew, Joe Bryant and Kobe, Bob and Danny Ferry, Jimmy Walker and Jalen Rose, Press and Pete Maravich, Ed and Danny Manning, Walt and Eric Piatkowski, and how about Ernie and Kiki Vandeweghe. There are a few others but space doesn’t allow me to list ‘em all.
Dude, never mind high def. I’m all right in regular TV too. (I keed, I keed).
Q: Greetings to everybody. Here a first-time writer from Spain.
I have been watching many Raptor games due Jose and Jorge play there so I know a little about the team. More recently I have been reading this blog almost every day and I must say I really enjoy it!
Doug, you have been saying that in playoffs Nesterovic will be a very important man for the team.
Do you think he will start games then?
If you think so, do you think is good idea to be playing with him in the bench all the season and put him to start games in playoffs?
Luis G, Lalin, Spain
A: No, when Chris Bosh gets back, they’ll go back to the old starting lineup of
Ford, (oops, typo, sorrry) Calderon, Parker, Moon, Bargnani and Bosh but if it’s Orlando they meet, Rasho will get a good run guarding Howard.
Q: Has a Raptor fouled out this season? I can only vaguely remember one player fouling out in any Raptor game this season, and I think it was a Wizard in the OT game in Washington.
Has a team gone an entire season without a player fouling out? Or is that a normal occurrence?
Mike S, Georgetown
A: In keeping with their image, the Raptors have only had one player foul out of a game this year: Bosh against the Clippers in early February.
And I can’t find a team that’s gone an entire season without a disqualification.
Q: I know you mentioned the players getting a meal allowance per day and was wondering if the same was true for you beat grunts. If so, I hope you get as much as them when on the road.
Luka M, Toronto
A: Hahahahahahaha. Hahahahahahaha. The Star takes care of my expenses, the players get opulent accommodations, first-class travel, good meals on the planes and post practice or shootaround and $103 a day.
Q: The Raptors woes are deeper than just a lack of rebounding. Given that several players have gone off against our team with season/career highs (Dunleavy, Knicks Crawford, Kobe, bobcats etc. etc.), defense in general is not being played by the Raps. Check out all the 3's Dunleavy was hitting WIDE OPEN! Defence is driven by passion, passion driven by coaching...and if I have to look at Sam Mitchell's blank stares during an opponent's huge run one more time, I'm gonna puke!
Don't the Raps need someone on the coaching staff to step up and call the players out a little? Get in their faces and drum up some passion and pride?? Yell at them during timeouts. Heck do it publicly - seems to have worked for Stan Van Gundy recently! thoughts??
Mike M, Toronto
A: You’re kidding, right? Blank stares? Not yelling? Sam? Sam Mitchell? Tall fellow? Well dressed?
Q: When the Raptors slump does coverage of them in newspapers, television and radio lull?
A: Au contraire. At least here on the web. When things are going badly, as they were this week, the in-box is flooded. I was at about 50 a day through the Florida trip and if they lose tonight, I’m sure it’ll be the same. As for the paper, we run more stories and graphics in the post-season but the regular season stuff stays the same. I can’t really speak to TV and radio, though.
Q: I am a long time regular reader, first time writer. Trying to be a loyal Raps fan here in PistonLand is hard.
I was watching the Clips-Pistons game one the weekend (hardly a classic). I watched Juan Dixon go 6-for-6. Also, watched Walter play well. I'm thinking why did we get Brezec, who is marginally better than you and I, rather than getting Walter? Might as well have kept Dixon.
Christian M, Detroit
A: For one, the salaries for Dixon-Herrmann wouldn’t work and I’m sure if Toronto tried to sweeten the pot, the Pistons wouldn’t have wanted to keep the guy they actually play. It’s not as if the Raptors could have demanded Walter if Detroit didn’t want to give him up.
Q: When was the last time David Stern came to see the Raps LIVE in the big smoke?
Jimmy I, Toronto
A: I don’t recall him being here this season but he was here to give Sam the coach of the year award at the end of the regular season last year and, if memory serves, took in a playoff game last April as well.
Q: Well, thank you so much Chuck of Toronto for that list of NBA returnees to the original team that drafted them. You mentioned four out of 12 played here so I guess Raptorland is a good stopover towards their 2nd honeymoon destinations. Good research!
For you Doug: With the current roster, how else can BC and Sam make the team to overcome being out-hustled inside the paint? Surely, the team is not lacking in heights nor in motivation from the coaching staff, right?
Rikki C, Burlington
A: The current roster will be changed, or tweaked rather, in the off-season. For the rest of this year? It is what it is, I can’t see any way they can make a change, nor do they want to.
Q: During the broadcast (Tuesday) night, Leo mentioned that the rims in Orlando were "tighter" than other arenas; presumably less forgiving of slightly errant shots. Is this true? Are some rims consistently "kinder" than others, or is Leo just filling up airtime? I can't imagine a league that exerts so much control over their on-court and off-court image/product/players/game allowing any noticeable variance between rims in different arenas.
Mike D, Toronto
A: It’s probably as much perception as reality but there’s a feeling that all rims are indeed not created equally. “Softer” rims accept the ball more easily, an errant shot might go in rather than bounce out.
The rims are supposed to be uniform and probably are a lot closer to consistent throughout the league than some players think but if guys “feel” the rims are softer, they are.