The second delivery of the day
Hi again, kiddies.
Here’s the last of the weekend installment, hope you get a chuckle out of ‘em, or learn something from them.
Had a dude write in to suggest that I not answer questions about: TJ-Jose, Jose’s contract or, I can’t remember what the other one was. Not a bad idea and seeing how there are lots of good ones here and in this morning’s other mailbag, I think he’s got a point.
So let's keep those to a minimum, okay?
Q: Do you think the lawsuit will affect the signing of Jose next year?
The lawsuit probably means the end of Garbo in Toronto?
Will S, Richmond Hill
A: No, I don’t think the lawsuit has anything to do with either of them, as a matter of fact. It’s business, pure and simple. It’s between the federation, the Raptors and the insurance company.
Whatever happens with Calderon and Garbajosa in the summer was going to happen, this lawsuit hasn’t changed Toronto’s thinking on either of them, the Raptors want them both back.
Q: Given (1) what happened when the Raps let Garbo play for Spain last summer and (2) Bosh's rash of injuries this season, what are the chances that Bosh will even try to suit up for the U.S. Olympic team this summer? The Raps can't afford to lose him for a huge chunk of next season. He needs the summer to heal up - again. Your thoughts?
Rex R, Brandon
A: Interesting case. I fully supported Garbo’s decision to play for Spain and I’d fully support Bosh’s decision if he plays for the Americans.
I will say this, though, playing for Spain means more to Garbo than playing for the United States does for Bosh.
I think the Raptors will leave that decision entirely up to Bosh who, if you recall, bowed out last summer because he wanted to rest. However, the Olympics are way bigger than the Olympic qualifier so I’d imagine Bosh would want to play if it’s at all physically possible.
Q: I came up with a theory as to why you're slightly more forgiving of Ford than many fans. You beat grunts always have your noses buried in your laptops in the second half, pounding out a story. You look up now and then, and certainly follow what's happening after the fact, but you don't see what leads to a particular stat lots of times in the second half. Is there anything to this theory? How much of a given second half do you think you see? That's gotta be one downside of the job. You get to see all these games live, but you have to work and thus miss the most compelling parts as you're frantically trying to get a story sent in within minutes of the final buzzer.
Guy M, Vancouver
A: Interesting theory.
But let me lay out a typical game night for you:
I do some interviews at shootaround and pre-game, transcribe the tape in the afternoon or in the final 45 minutes before the opening tip and formulate in my mind what the bottom of the game-over story might read like.
Then I watch the first half and type between 300 and 450 words at halftime, a chunk of copy that constitutes the tail end of that first story. I usually file that in the first minute or two of the third quarter of a late game or have it saved in a file for a 7 p.m. game
Now comes the second half, which I watch closely, typing in trends and notes and runs and the like during stoppages in play and the break between the third and fourth quarter.
It’s not until there’s about four minutes left in the game that I get serious about a lead and the top 350 or so words of the story because so much could still unfold. But, whatever transpires, I generally only type during stoppages so I can see what’s going on.
Q: I see it took Gabriel L from HK 5 tries to get his question answered; I'm only on my 4th but I thought I'd give it a shot. Which active ex-Raptors would you like to see on today's team?
Ron F, Toronto
A: Marcus Camby. And Chauncey Billups. And Tracy McGrady. In that order.
Q: Hey Doug, to follow up on your answer a few days ago regarding salary cap/tax threshold...you didn't answer the meat of the question.
Do you think its worth going a few million over the tax limit to get a key player here if that translates to more wins, more season tickets, more playoff home games, more profit?
I understand that no player guarantees instant success, that Toronto seems to have a "no-tax ever" philosophy, and that going over the tax isn't required for success (see Spurs, San Antonio) so try to go beyond that in your answer.
Alex L, Sudbury
A: For Kobe? Sure. LeBron? Absolutely. KG? Oh yeah. Anyone else? probably not. Teams have proven again and again that spending like drunken sailors doesn’t always work.
It’d have to be a case-by-case decision but there are few cases where I’d think it’s worth it.
Q: Is there any chance that when the All-Star game comes to Toronto that it will be played at the cavernous Skydo...err... Rogers Centre instead of the ACC?
I remember that game where the Raps beat MJ and the Bulls at the Dome was one for the ages for the 30 000+ in attendance that day.
Being able to have 37 000 fans instead of just 19 800 attend the game means us regular joes might actually be able to get a ticket. Also, ticket revenue would be almost double, and we all know the NBA is a business first and foremost.
Franny T, Markham
A: And let Rogers have all the in-house concession revenue? Don’t think so.
Q: Your comment about how Rod Thorn did well with Kidd's trade (considering that Kidd went public with his demand) made me think about how well Glen Grunwald did in his first year as the Raptors GM.
With Isiah leaving, ownership turmoil, player injuries, Damon demanding a trade and in the middle of a 16-66 season, Grunwald was able to flip Damon for what became Antonio Davis (Anderson for Billups for the 5th pick in 99 for Davis), Alvin Williams, Keon Clark (1st rounders for Kevin Willis for Keon Clark) and Dee Brown.
Maybe it's debatable, but I think that the Raptors situation in the 97-98 season was worse than the situation in New York right now. And GG was able to turn Toronto around within 1-2 years into a playoff contending team.
What is GG's capacity with the Knicks? Does he have the authority to make trades or is it Isiah's (and ultimately Dolan) call? If Isiah goes, is GG tied to him as well?
John S, Toronto
A: Glen, one of the all-time nice guys, had a good run in Toronto, and his steady leadership right after Isiah left calmed the waters incredibly. He made some very good moves, and some dubious ones (Michael Bradley, Yogi Stewart) but, on balance, he was very, very good.
In fact, if he’d had his way, the story is, the Raptors would never have hired Kevin O’Neill, which means Glen wouldn’t have been fired and who knows where we are today if that happens.
He’s the assistant GM in New York, think of him as the school of sober second thought over there. I’m not sure of his exact contractual situation but I can see him sticking around in transition if Isiah leaves simply because he’d provide a level of calm that organization needs.
Q: Quick question: Can you please stop saying "I keed, I keed"? Thanks.
Shawn P, Brampton
A: You’re keeding, right?
Q: A few blogs ago, someone asked you if you were a fan of the Raptors or not. You answered by stating you were a fan of the game but not of a specific team, which in turns allows you to do your job properly and professionally. As much as I respect your professionalism - if you had to pick a team that you wanted to win the championship, who would be the team of choice? If it's the Raptors...you're a FAN!!!
Jimmy T, Toronto
A: I’m sorry you find it hard to believe, but it’s true. If they win or lose, my job doesn’t change. It’s hard either way. And good either way. Honest.
I want good stories and, trust me, over the years I’ve had just as many good stories about bad Raptor teams as I have about good Raptor teams.
And, honestly, I don’t “want” any team to win. If you absolutely made me pick one, it’d be the Suns ‘cause I like Steve Nash and think he should be rewarded with a title.
Q: Hey Doug, maybe my third time is a charm and gets posted. A couple of interesting ones I think the readers will enjoy.
1. What feedback are you receiving from your bosses regarding the blog? We've all complimented it, and it obviously takes a lot of your time. How do they qualify (and maybe quantify) all your efforts. Is it just another expectation of you or are you receiving your due credit?
2. I just read your response to a readers question about watching a game live. You commented that "good seats" will allow you to see spacing and plays develop. For a fan who wants to see the best aspects of the game and doesn't care about t-shirts or giveaways, where are the "best available to the public seats" at a game in general or specifically the ACC. Near the Raptors Dance Pac is never a bad alternative either.
David R, Little Britain
A: Well, my bosses don’t say a lot which is good, I guess. They certainly haven’t showered me with riches, unfortunately. But, sometimes, silence from the tall foreheads is a good thing; I do know they think we’re doing okay in this little corner of the cyber world.
As for the seats? I’d say about halfway up the lower bowl or in the first three or four rows of the upper bowl, as close to midcourt as you can get, would be the best. Although the same level on the baseline doesn’t suck, I’m told. Of course, the Dance Pak doesn’t get up in the arena too often, but you might run into The Chicken and that’d be pretty cool.
Q: I was wondering,
1) if the was a three on three tournament for coaching staffs, who would win?
2) how is the draft order determined after the lottery picks?
Mich G, North Bay
A: Thanks for wondering.
I’d have to like the chances of Alex English, Mike Evans and Sam Mitchell in any coaching three-on-three game but they’d get a battle from Detroit’s Mike Curry, Terry Porter and Dave Cowens. I’m thinking Byron Scott, Darrell Walker and Paul Pressey down in New Orleans would be a semifinalist against Brian Shaw, Kurt Rambis and Jim Cleamons at the Lakers.
The draft? After the 14 lottery teams, it’s in inverse order of regular season finish. Playoff team with the worst record picks 15th, team with best record in the regular season picks 30th.
Q: Hey Doug, I read your blog regularly but I rarely write in. Watching the 4th quarter of the Raps/Nuggets game right now and I have a quick question. Why isn't Mitchell letting Bargnani play in this blowout? You mentioned in the past that Bargnani hasn't developed like other lottery picks because usually other picks get drafted by bad teams, thus they get all the minutes. Whereas, Bargnani was drafted on a good team and got limited minutes during his rookie season. So, why not let him play in blowouts, to get that much needed experience/minutes?
Dave R, Markham
A: He was ticked at Bargnani for blowing defensive assignments and figured it was best he learn his lessons sitting, rather than playing. And, actually, in games like that, with the outcome decided and end-of-the-benchers playing, there’s really not much to be learned by being on the court. The game has little structure and intensity.
Q: All right Doug, hypothetical question for you. If Smitch was to "be away" for any length of time (nudge nudge wink wink), which of his assistants do you think would be ready to step in on a more full time basis?
Also, is there any kind of sinister undercurrent to the Bargs/Smitch relationship? I noticed Bargs seemed very despondent with Sam early in the season and although Bargs has been inconsistent at best, Sam's leash with him is VERY short. Any insight there?
Ian M, Pickering
A: Silly hypothetical but if you recall, it happened this year already. The assistant responsible for scouting he specific opposition acts as the head coach.
And there are a lot of you who think there’s some huge conflict between Sam and Bargnani. Sure, they get frustrated with each other, just like I’m sure you get frustrated with your boss and I get frustrated with mine every now and then. But the coach doesn’t hate the player, the player
has hasn't (sorry, Freudian slip? I don't know but an alert reader in far-off Ghana points it out and I'm thankful) tuned out the coach. In fact, after practice in Sacramento on Saturday, they were hanging out joking and talking and acting quite normal.
You, and I mean the collective you, read way too much into things without actually being around.
Q: I ask this not as a gambler (I'm not) but as a huge bball fan and someone who wants to see more round ball interest and less pucks. Do you think the NBA will ever be available on Pro Line or does the original deal last forever (condition of awarding franchise)? Does not having it available limit interest in the game since there are those who get into a sport because it can be wagered on? Or is it simply more wins by Raps equals more interest?
Mo T, Richmond Hill
A: I can’t see NBA games getting on Pro Line. The original deal, I’d imagine, would be grand-fathered into any new agreements that might come.
And as we’ve seen, if they win, more casual fans will catch on and maybe become more rabid fans, like we need more of them. (I keed, oops never mind, can’t say that any more).
Q: I read that bit about you not being a fan and the importance for you being impartial. And while we don't want our reports written from a homer perspective, I don't see any problem here. A bad game is a bad game, whether you like the team or not (see Nuggets last night). It is like saying a teacher can't have a favorite kid- we won't admit to it but we do and still manage to treat them all the same.
On a related note, I got in to the Raps playoff run vs. Knicks and Sixers a few years back with a small French newspaper and learned what you are talking about. After a huge Vince 3 ball, I jumped to my feet in press row (and promptly received death stares from the (not so many) beat grunts up there with me. I quickly learned this was not acceptable behaviour. Would the Raps fill press row for the playoffs now? The Leafs would for a Tuesday in November vs Columbus...
Colin B, Bogota, Colombia
A: No cheering on press row, it’s the cardinal rule. Absolutely cannot be violated, it’s what we learn the first day in Big League Beat Grunt School.
Wait ‘til you see the crazy hordes of media that show up around playoff time. Every organization that doesn’t know if the ball’s blown up or stuffed will be sending someone out to get in our way.
Q: A collective brain cramp? They knew what to do but inexplicably didn't do it? Come on, let's call the Denver game for what it was: a team who simply did not care. Not even a little. They didn't forget basketball stuff, they forgot to care. Actually, caring is not something you "remember," so how's about we say they just didn't care. Or maybe they just forgot they were getting paid to play?
D’Arcy C, Lively
A: To say they don’t care is ridiculous. Totally.
Q: Why does Sam M. always seem so upset and frustrated to the reporters, every time the Raptors lose? Most of the times you can't hear the questions but he can be rude to them sometimes. Is that because they ask dumb questions? A.P. is supposed to be the best perimeter defender, yes he is an excellent shooter but he hasn't done anything against Kobe, Baron, and Iverson. Plus all the other times they've beaten at the ACC by a shooting guard. Why is that? What happened to Calderon?
Ulises R, Calgary
A: Sam? Rude? Surely you jest! But he can be short and snippy, which is sort of understandable after a game his team’s lost or played crappy in. You just wait him out, steer the conversation where you want it eventually to go, wait out the bluster and he’s fine. It’s all part of the game. And, one thing we learned in school, there are no dumb questions.
The basketball stuff? Well, I’ll ask you one: Who does do anything against Kobe, Baron and Iverson? Not too many people, right?