Regular delivery, an irregular time
Sorry I’m a bit late, time zones and all, although we are an hour closer to home here in Denver.
Lots of good ones this week and a lot of, um, other ones.
But there are lots, enough that we’ll do an extra one on the weekend, as always, to clear up the backlog. So don’t fret if you don’t see yours here, it’ll get up soon, I hope.
Q: Since I've become strangely attached to getting my daily dose of your Raptors blog, I hope this one makes it in.
I've read comments about Jamario remaining in the starting line-up, and I wanted to know if you think it's because of the inconsistency of Delfino. It seems like he plays amazing for 3 or 4 games, and then hits a slump where he's shooting air balls. Do you think that's why Jamario remains a starter? Since he's more consistent and a better defender than Delfino?
Melinda F, Toronto:
A: Delfino’s play does factor into it a great amount. I talked to a couple of the coaches over the past few days and they are pleased with the way Jamario’s defending lately, he seems to have fought through that rookie wall, and I also think he’s played pretty well in the last 10 days or so.
One thing they do like is that he gets his points in the flow of play, rather than having to have plays called for him; and he doesn’t dominate the ball when he’s on the court. And they figure what he gives them defensively in the first few minutes – to set a tone – out-weighs his periodic lapses offensively.
Q: Hey Doug, not getting much support from you for my get-Josh-Smith-to-the-Raptors-next year fan club. You'd rather have Nocioni? Please explain.
Max R, Toronto
A: I think it’s more realistic to look at a guy like Nocioni, or Jefferson or even Mike Dunleavy for a couple of reasons. When you’re trying to make a trade, you pick the teams you think want to trade. A team that under-achieves (Chicago), a team that’s going nowhere (Indiana), a team rebuilding (New Jersey) or teams with financial woes.
A young, up and coming team like Atlanta may not want to move a piece like Smith, which makes sense. I’m not saying Bryan won’t ask, it just might not be realistic at the other end.
Q: Hi Doug. I met you briefly at the airport (old terminal 2) a couple of years back. Long time reader, first time writer. Keep up the awesome work!
My question is about the Nets, do you think Rod Thorn could be one of the best execs in the NBA? I watched them beat the Cavs last night. I honestly think they are better since the J Kidd trade as they added a serviceable defensive big man in Diop, and I love Devin Harris. Add in Jefferson, I like Boone, and he who shall not be named and they have a pretty solid team. Do you think they could be a dangerous team in the East? (if they make the playoffs)
PS I can't believe that the first question I've submitted to you is about the Nets. Kind of sad really..
Malik M, Oakville
A: I’m a big fan of Rod Thorn and what he did with Kidd was excellent. It helped that he had a willing over-spender in Mark Cuban to deal with but considering how Thorn’s hands were tied by Kidd’s public demand for a trade, he did a great job. But now he’s got to decide if the retooling is complete or whether he can turn Jefferson, or Voldemort, into some good young pieces. I think he can.
If they make the playoffs, though, I see them getting dusted quickly, and with very little fanfare, but either Detroit or Boston. They have no inside presence whatsoever and Harris, while good, is very young.
Q: Hi Doug, I was just wondering who you think the better Raptors team is/was - The Raptors without Vince Carter back in the day when they made the playoffs with a late season surge, or this version of the Raptors without Chris Bosh? I actually think the team way back without Vince seemed to be much better than this group of guys. This group has more talent but that team worked so well together down the stretch and almost beat Detroit in the first round! Can you attribute the Raptors poor play without Bosh to coaching? It just doesn't make sense to go from an above average team to pretty much the worst other than Seattle, Miami and Minnesota. This team was supposed to be built on depth but I have not seen any depth yet. I would really appreciate your thoughts.
Ryan M, Uxbridge
A: I’m not sure it’s coaching because I think Sam right now is a better coach than Lenny was that year. But I agree that team was better, and played better. The one thing that team had was Antonio Davis, who provided a toughness and an inside presence this group doesn’t have.
The depth thing is interesting with this group: Yes, they have a lot of guys, but guys who are all inconsistent. You don’t know what you’re going to get each night from Delfino, and Kapono for that matter. TJ’s having his, um, issues at the moment, as we all know. Up front, Hump will make five shots in a row and then take two crazy ones and Bargnani can be all over the map. So the depth is there, it’s just not there every night.
Q: This has probably been asked already but I thought you'd might want to humour us...
When a GM wants to sign a free agent (let's say it's a huge superstar like a Kobe or LeBron - ignoring the fact that they aren't available for signing), what tools can he use to convince that superstar to leave their home and start anew in a different city, other than money and playing for a better team?
If you were BC, in what ways would you convince players to come play for Toronto?
Mary L, Ajax
A: Technically, they can offer no inducement because of the rather strict salary cap rules. What GMs do use when they’re making their pitch is a chance to play more regularly in some cases (a guy who’s a backup may be told he’ll have the inside track on a starting job), a chance to play with different players who may allow a free agent to do more, coaching comes into it, too.
If I was Colangelo? I’d pitch the city, the promising nature of the team, the chance to play with an all-star in Chris Bosh, the way the organization treats its players (first-class travel, all the support systems they’d ever need) and good beat grunts to ask them probing questions. Okay, that last one might be a stretch.
Q: This is the fifth time writing and it would be nice if you can print this out.
My question is, should the Raptors drop a few games in the standing on purpose to get a better match up in the 1st round of the playoffs? Since if playoff starts today, they will be playing against LeBron and the New Cavs, but if they manage to finish 6th they will be playing the Magic. From what I have seen this season, playing against the Magic is a much better match up for the Raps than playing against LeBron! What do you think?
Gabriel L, Hong Kong
A: And this’ll be about my zillionth time answering this particular question.
No, they cannot “try” to finish sixth, it’s folly. What if they try to finish sixth and Cleveland catches Orlando? What if they try to finish sixth, they can’t stop the losing and they drop to seventh and get Detroit?
It’s ridiculous to try and plan where you want to finish. You play games to win them and see where that gets you in the end.
Q: Do you think the Raps can run a pick and pop with Kapono? They do this a lot with Hump, I think Kapono is better. Please tell the coaches this... pick your poison, Kapono or TJ/JC?
Jeff U, San Diego
A: I think they could, but also know teams would defend it differently. There’s a reason Hump gets open; just like there’d be a reason teams would likely switch if it was Kapono and stick to him like glue. But I’ll mention it.
Q: I notice that Chris Wilcox hasn't been mentioned by you or anyone else as a potential Raptor acquisition this summer.
As a subscriber to my local cable company's "Sports Pack" I've had the opportunity to watch a number of Sonics games, and I must say that he has stood out in every game I've watched.
He's big, energetic, defends well, and appears to be extremely competitive. What is his contract status? Can you provide a reason he wouldn't be an excellent addition to the roster?
Rob L, Toronto
A: Wilcox is going to make $6.75 million next year, he’ll be an unrestricted free agent after that. He’d be a great fit on a lot of teams, including Seattle’s and I can’t imagine them letting him go. The Sonics need some toughness; they’ve got enough young athletes and 13 draft picks over the next three years.
Q: Hi Doug. Love your blog, it really keeps me in the loop down under (where the domestic NBL has a solid following and some Canadian players).
Looking back at the Raps over the years who do you believe have been:
a) the most athletic
b) the least athletic
c) most under-rated
My votes are: former number 15 from North Carolina; Oliver Miller and Sharon Wright; Doug Christie, respectively.
Jamil B, Sydney, Australia
A: I saw David Thomas’s name in a NBL championship story; I can’t still can’t quite get my head around “Chris Anstey, MVP” though.
Vince is the most athletic, I guess, but he’d be pushed by Moon and maybe even Joey. Thing is, Carter was a pretty good player when he was here.
Least athletic? Too many mention. Mengke Bateer, Garth Joseph, Oliver Miller would be in the discussion.
I’d say Anthony Parker might push Christie for under-rated, too.
Q: How come, regarding the block-charge call, announcers always make reference to the defender's feet being "planted" or the defender being "stationary"? Last I checked, in my experiences as a player and coach with junior basketball, as long as the defender establishes position he can move either horizontally or backwards. Is the NBA rulebook different or do respected basketball commentators not even understand the rule?
Brett M, Toronto
A: I think most of them understand it, as obviously you do. It’s the most difficult call in the game, I’d argue; and for the regular folk watching at home, I’d say the way it’s explained most times is the easiest way to make the point.
Q: Hey Doug, a few random thoughts from the prairies:
1) why is it that everyone is getting down on TJ for trying to take up the scoring slack with Bosh out? Nobody took issue with it last year.
2) sure it’s always nice to have an extra 7 footer around but what is with all the Primoz love lately? I haven't seen him do anything worthy of all the adoration (at least The Hump is trying). Are we just that bored with the team that the Primoz antics are required entertainment?
3) who ranks as your top five PG's in Raptors history?
Cory R, McLean, SK
A: I’m leaving the TJ stuff out of this one, it was written long before the Golden State game and you can find opinions elsewhere.
I don’t think there’s any Primoz love, actually. He’s the 10th, 11th, 12th man, nothing more. His “antics?” If you mean the fist pumps and holding his finger aloft and making sure he stretches on the scorer’s table every time out? They’re no big deal, a bit boring but why not let him do what he wants to.
Top five? These two, Alvin, Damon and Chauncey Billups.
Q: When I read "what they think Garbo can bring them next season", I saw that as being 'past his peak and into the law of diminishing returns'. If you were the coach, would you even have him in the rotation for the playoffs of 2009?
Bo K, Mississauga
A: Playoffs of 2009? A bit ahead of ourselves? (I keed, I keed). Actually, if I’m a coach, or a GM, I don’t consider him at all until I see him run and jump and shoot at the end of this season or early in the summer. To make roster moves believing he’ll be back before he’s actually back (if you know what I mean) is foolish.
Q: Had a question about B.C. When he was the GM of the Suns, he made some bold moves; sending and receiving star players. In his tenure with the Raptors, he has been kind of quiet on the ‘bold’ big moves. Is it because he lacks pieces in Toronto for a big trade or he has some restrictions from the ownership? Or is he waiting for something big this summer?
Emil T, Toronto
A: To be bold, you have to have bold to offer. Like trading Marbury. Or dealing Jason Kidd. Or you need to have money to sign free agents like Steve Nash.
He’s had the money but spread it around, wisely given the sorry state of the roster two summers ago; but he hasn’t had a true stud to make a deal around.
I’d bet money (although gambling is illegal) that he’ll do something “bold” this summer, though.
Q: Hey Doug, long time fan, love your basketball insight. The Raptors have been an NBA franchise for more than a decade yet Toronto has never hosted an All-Star Game. Why is that? I think its because the NBA wants to follow what the NFL does with the Super Bowl- only schedule these kind of events in places that have warmer climates.
Rah D, Mississauga
A: The Raptors have never applied for an all-star game that I know of. I do know they’re interested in hosting the 2011 game and, if they make a pitch, I bet they get it. Warm weather’s nice but it’s not the determining factor, things like hotels, convention centre space for the FanFest and arena suitability are first in the minds of the NBA tall foreheads who make that decision.
Q: I know you've gotten a ton of questions about the Nocioni thing, but I thought I'd throw one more out to you. Why not Dunleavy? he's good, young and a great shooter. You mentioned him in your list, but nothing else has come of this. Will the Pacers not let him go, or will he just be too much to pay for?
Jeff C, Richmond Hill
A: Personally, I like Mike Dunleavy and can’t really put my finger on why he’s not better more often. He does have three years and about $30 million left on his deal, I’m sure that’ll scare off a bunch of teams from even asking about him. But I’m also sure that if someone does call with an offer, the Pacers would listen just to ease their financial burden.
How high, or low, he is on the Raptors’ list (and he’s on it, I’m sure) I couldn’t say right now.
Q: My question is about AP. Obviously he has been playing great lately, but I wonder, do you think that he is generally underappreciated?
First of all, is he underappreciated on his team? He seems to be a true "glue guy" with experience and hustle. He always seems to hit the shots when we need them and has underrated versatility (how many big driving dunks or key rebounds does he get?), but does the team appreciate this?
Also, what about the fans? They all love his 3's, but do they appreciate the contribution that (I feel) he makes to this team?
What about league-wide? Has he shaken the perception of a first round bust that disappeared to Europe? Do opposing teams discuss how to play him before the game?
There's a lot of talk about the Raptors needing a swingman, and they do, but I'd say that this saviour be more of a three, because I think that AP is a perfect fit at the 2 spot, and the veteran presence that this team needs in the starting lineup.
Dan P, Sarnia
A: Parker may be under-appreciated by some fans, but he sure isn’t by his teammates or coaches, that’s for sure.
But his future? I don’t know. He’ll be 33 when next season rolls around, in the final year of his contract and I’m not sure how they see him fitting into the long-term future when he hits his mid-30s.
Q: Thanks for answering my letter regarding T.J.'s aspirations to be like Stephon Marbury. However, you slightly missed my point. I do understand what T.J. is going through, he is only human and who doesn't want to be the man?
My problem is that he idolizes this stat hound. A guy who has only played 22 playoff games in 14 years. Nobody doubts Marbury's talent, but the guy has been chased out of a job by classier individuals. Much like Ford in our case. Out of New Jersey, insert J Kidd. A couple of years later, Steve Nash chases him out of Phoenix. Both times, the subtraction of Marbury made those teams better. Made those teams NBA championship contenders for over half of this decade.
Now, "Starbury" is front and centre, earning huge money, doing nothing in New York but hawking shoes and such.
Face it. Some athletes, in today’s era, only care about the stats and the money. Love chatting hoops, even if it is one way most of the time. Keep up the great work, Doug.
Chad N, Toronto
A: As I mentioned, I didn’t see the interview. So, I asked T.J. about. He doesn’t “idolize” or “love” Stephon Marbury, nor does he want to pattern his game, or his life after him. Ford likes some of Marbury’s game, just as he loved part of Isiah Thomas’s.
And, I think the “idolizing” of Marbury is over and done with. If they didn’t see him for what he was before, I think they do now with what’s gone on in New York.
Q: I have 2 questions for you. Firstly, why has the West been so dominant over the East for so many years? As far back as I can remember (roughly '96-'97 season) they've always been the superior conference. Intuitively, wouldn't this even out over time due to better draft picks going to the East? But it hasn't. Please explain.
And secondly, what are these adult beverages you refer to from time to time?!?
Mark D, Toronto
A: Intuitively, it certainly would and an explanation is hard to come by. I think it’s got to do a bit with style of play – see Phoenix and Utah, which are hard for Eastern teams to guard and game plan for just two nights a year – veteran rosters, see San Antonio, now Houston and the Suns have lots of veterans as well. But I will point out – because Sam does to us every time we bring it up – two of the most recent champions (Miami and Detroit have come from the East and the two teams with the best records in the league today are Boston and Detroit.
Will it shift? Eventually.
Adult beverages? I’m not sure I can give away the secret since I’m not sure you’re of legal age. But there are many, I sipped a seasonal Belgian micro-brewed wheat one that was pretty tasty last night for the first time as a matter of fact.
Q: Is it much, much better and exciting to watch a basketball game in person than to watch it on TV, like when you see really nice plays and dunks. Or is it not all that much different? Also do you know who has the most technical fouls this season, my bet it’s R. Wallace.
Chaz E, London
A: It’s louder, that’s for sure. Much louder. Sensory overload louder. But if you’ve got a good seat, it’s a good experience because you can see the spacing on the floor, plays develop away from the ball and you get a much better sense of the speed and the physical nature of the game. If you can put up with the dancers and the incessant music and ‘in-game hosts’ who bombard you with screams it’s a pretty good night out.
Technicals: Kobe’s got 12 to lead the league, your man Rasheed is tied for second with Cuttino Mobley of the Clippers with nine.
Q: Doug - do you have the "onions" to post this on your blog?
I think that Sam is a great man, and I also think he and his assistants are the worst defensive coaches in the league. How many times did the Lakers draw up the Kobe drive and kick to D Fish for a wide open 3? At least make it look like you know what's going to happen and put a defender in the same area code as the guy taking 8 3s. I also think that his rotation is to liberal - and for the love of the Laker cheerleaders can someone tell TJ to share the ball, he's worse than a kid with a new toy who won't EVER share!
Mo D, Vancouver
A: There, it’s printed. Onions enough?
Now, to your point: The rotations in the Laker game were bad at times, yes. But, in defence of the players, it’s human nature, or basketball nature, for them to cheat off their guy a little bit when Bryant’s going to the basket. And, if you’re playing the Lakers, I’m much more comfortable giving up a three than I am with Kobe going to the basket. The Lakers are a 37 per cent three-point shooting team, their 15 makes the other night was an aberration.
Q: Can we please trade Bargs? I don't see him developing into anything beyond a decent starter. It's just not in his heart to have that "cut throat" personality like KB24 or KG. As he is the #1 draft pick, I'm sure we can get something good in return while his value is still "decent". How about Barg's for a decent rebounder which the Raps are in desperate need of? Someone like Haslem or Wilcox?
Greg H, Toronto
A: Yeah, the league’s littered with Bryant and Garnett clones, teams are trading them every day.
No, they won’t please trade Bargnani, neither should they. You’re going to trade Andrea Bargnani for Udonis Haslem or Chris Wilcox? Man, I don’t think you’ve got a future as a GM. And, no, I’m not going to give you a list of who I’d trade Bargnani for because it’s not going to happen.
Q: Doug, with more and more people becoming eco-friendly, and environmentally aware, doesn't it seem a bit ridiculous and irresponsible that the Toronto Raptors and other NBA teams continue to hand out those disposable tubes of plastic (thunder sticks) to the fans behind the baskets? Besides, a good free-throw shooter is going to make his baskets, regardless.
Terry W, Toronto
A: YES!!! Another reason for them to ban thunderstix! Great idea. Or course, I believe they should get a thousand thunderstix, the guy who invented them and beat him about the head with them. But that’s just me.
Q: You always hear about how the Raps are a good bunch of guys. I wish I knew what that meant, so here's my question. With your late nights travelling I bet you and the other beat guys get talking over some adult pops. Some sarcasm here, a TJ Ford defense there, and the night goes pretty smoothly. But given the choice, would you a) rather be talking to a Raptor than about a Raptor, and b) if so, who on the Raps would it be? I bet Jamario has some pretty cool stories about being in the D League or AP in Israel, who takes it and why?
Mark P, Ajax
A: Good question. They are good guys because they are friendly, they understand that we have a job to do and treat us with respect and courtesy (I have not been blown off by a Toronto player when I ask a question or for an interview in years) and generally give us solid insight.
But as for hanging, I don’t have a lot in common with them, either in age, income, life experience. We discuss current events every now and then, talk about guys in the league, games we might have seen the night before or, in the case of a veteran and gourmand like Darrick Martin a good restaurant on the road. Stories? On this team, the Spanish dudes have good stories about international basketball.
The coaches are the ones I like to sit around and chat with about the past, their lives, their experiences because I can more relate to them than a 20- or 30-something athlete.
Q: Hey Doug, question on Bosh's injury and how injuries are treated in the NBA.
What exactly is this process of "receiving treatment" they always speak of? They often refer to Bosh not being on the bench watching because he is doing this. BC mentioned this while being interviewed during the Sonics game, and I have yet to see Bosh on the bench or even in the stands watching. Is this a daylong process, or do they just happen to do it during the game because all the medical staff are available only during game times? I ask this as I grew up playing basketball eventually developing bad knee problems myself. Eventually I was refereed to a sports doctor who then had me do physio to rehab my knee. Is this the same process with pro athletes, or is there more of a science to it then what us average Joes receive?
Caleb H, Ottawa
A: They do a lot of rehab, or treatment, with injured players during games simply because of time. In the two or three hours immediately before a game, the trainers are working with the guys who are going to play, stretching them, massage, taping, etc. Guys like Bosh get theirs – ice, electrical stimulation, etc. – during games.
I think, at its basic, the treatment would be the same for you as it is for them. It’s more intense for pro athletes and absolutely more frequent. I’d bet it’s more specialized, too; the equipment they use and the skill they have is more advanced that what you or I could get at the local clinic.
Q: Hey Doug, I know it’s been mentioned that resigning Calderon is priority number one in the off-season. But isn't it true that he can't be signed until after the draft. If so wouldn't this have some type of affect on any deals that the Raptors can make at draft time?
Tyler L, Brantford
A: It could very well. They can’t sign Calderon until mid-July and we know all kinds of big trades go down right around the late-June draft. But if Bryan Colangelo knows he’s going to match whatever offer Calderon gets, it wouldn’t preclude a point guard deal at the draft because Calderon’s future would be sealed, just not official.
Q: I'm going to try and follow the advice that someone from Caracas gave, a couple of days ago on your blog, about how to get my question answered.
I read your blog every day, I really enjoy it. This is the first time I'm writing in a question, and I think it's a very simple one.
Why "Salami and Cheese"? What's that referring to?
Boyan T, Waterloo
A: Schtick. Pure and simple. Go to the fridge, get the salami and cheese, make a sandwich ‘cause the game’s over and you won’t miss anything.