Your regular Friday delivery
I have to commend you people. Lots of good ones in here, questions about things other than Jose-TJ, Sam and whether or not Bargnani is a bust.
But, as always, there were quite a number of them so there’ll be more on the weekend sometime; I’ve just been putzing around on these for about eight hours on what was supposed to be a day off; toss in the five or six I spent doing some Wednesday and this is like a full-time gig.
See how much I like you?
On with the show:
Q: I know everyone says Bosh-TJ-Andrea are the core of this team and are pretty "untradeable" but in light of Andrea's up and down (mostly down) year and TJ's inability to play off the bench do you think if the Raps were offered decent players with decent salaries for these either TJ or Andrea, should the Raps move on it? Say a Maggette, from the clips for TJ and a pick. Or say the players coming back are a bit older (28-30)...would/should the Raps move on it? If they wait another year and Andrea and TJ struggles their trade value may never recover... thoughts?
Steven T, Winnipeg
A: I’d certainly move Ford before I’d move Bargnani but, in a perfect world, Ford comes to accept a backup role and they have the two point guards back. But I’m now not sure the world can be perfect.
I don’t think Bryan is ready to give up on Bargnani, so to even think about possibilities seems futile.
Q: I must begin by saying that you seem very dedicated to your blogging, and attempting to satiate the ravenous, insatiable mob that is Ontario's Raptor fan base! Kudos to you! I enjoy all of the Raptors blogs that are about, and I find myself often agreeing with, yet occasionally questioning some of the fodder that is out there.
I am an avid Raptors fan, and that said, I think I would classify myself as more of a basketball fan than anything. What a great spectator sport! Anyhow, praise and meaningless background about me aside - Here is point of interest I choose to make:
1. I have always liked the acquisition of Humphries (for Araujo, no-brainer), but even more so throughout the season he seems to be one of the two pieces the Raps need to get to the next level: A hard-nosed rebounder whose shot attempts consist of dunk attempts (ala Varejao, or Maxiell). Obviously those players are much better than Kris, but it's the mold. So basically, I wonder why he's always in your doghouse? We need rebounds!
2. Most playoff-bound contenders have 3 major scoring threats, surrounded by consistent role players (Duncan, Parker, Ginobli; Billups, Hamilton, Wallace) and it seems to me Colangelo is attempting to create the same type of thing with Bosh, Ford/Calderon, Bargnani. I truly believe that this attempt will work given some different role players (Moon must go, jury's out on Delfino) but only if Bargnani develops in timely fashion. How long do you think BC & Co. are willing to wait for development? Or perhaps you think my championship formula is nuts-O!! :)
Dave B, London
A: “A hard-nosed rebounder whose shot attempts consist of dunk attempts?” Hump? Shot-happy Hump? Um, okay. He gets in the doghouse, mine and Sam’s actually, because he tries to do too much; if he just rebounded, ran the court and defended, I could see a limited role. As it is, though, he’s the fourth big man after Bosh, Bargnani and Rasho and he’s got that spot on merit.
As for the formula? I think you’re right and I don’t know exactly how much time they’ll give Bargnani but I do know it will be more than he’s had already. Lots more. Bigs don’t develop quickly – see Kaman, Chris – and they’ll be patient. As they should be.
Q: I just read Houston is considering signing Loren Woods to fill out a roster spot. What's he been doing to warrant such consideration.
Also, I have been contemplating the plight of former players who are now execs. Excluding Detroit and Boston -- Boston would have been on this list last year -- these guys don't seem to be accomplishing a great deal. T. Wolves, Knicks, Pacers, Bobcats all led by former all stars, championship winners, Hall of Famers. You would think these guys would have a better understanding of talent, players, and what it takes to create a team that can win. yet it seems most of them are failing. Why? What do you think?.
Brian A, Toronto
A: Woods? He’s been being 7-feet tall and available. That’s what he’s been doing.
And, yes, you would think that McHale, Isiah, Bird and Jordan would be better able to build teams than they have. Not sure there’s one recurring theme to why they’ve all failed so far. I think they all just have shown no ability to judge talent consistently but – trust me – there are just as many GMs with no playing background who are just as bad.
Q: Too many serious questions you get, here's a question from the dumb and stupid file :)
1. Who does a better wagging of the finger? Dikembe Mutombo of the NBA or Babu Bhat from Seinfeld?
2. If you had to be on the receiving end of one of these, which one would you fear more?
3. Between Dikembe and Babu, who started doing the finger wag first?
Sadiq M, Toronto
A; I’d say Babu’s is better, I’d fear Mutombo’s and since Deke’s like eleventy-hundred years old, I’m pretty sure he started first.
Q: I have 3 quick questions that have been haunting me for the past few days. Thank you in advance for taking the time to answer them.
1) How much is a 10 day contract worth?
2) If team A has possession of the ball and team B forces a jump ball and gets possession of the ball after the toss, is team A charged with a turnover?
3) Given his erratic play of late, his neck condition and his salary, what is the trade value of TJ ford? PS- This is not a rant against TJ; I am pulling for him to be a part of the future success of the Raptors.
Michael S, Toronto
A: A 10-day contract is worth the pro-rated amount of a league-minimum deal; for an undrafted player, it’d work out to, approximately, $27,000 for each 10-day deal.
The offensive player who had the ball when the jump ball gets charged with a turnover if he ends up losing the jump. I got that right from an expert member of the local stats crew.
I can’t give you any idea if there is a trade value or what it is for Ford right now. I don’t imagine teams are burning up the phone lines seeing if they can work something out when the trade moratorium is lifted after the playoffs.
Q: The second half of that Heat game was, as my grandmother would say, slow as molasses running uphill on a cold day. But I will happily take the win over the western Slaughterhouse 5 trip.
My husband had a question while we were sitting in the stands -- is there a limit on the number of substitutions each team gets in the NBA?
Also, have you ever heard the nickname Cell Block 4 before for Bosh, or is that a Jarek (the husband) original? Seemed appropriate given his escape from injury land.
Ellie M, Toronto
A: I’m thinking Jarek has the market concerned on Cell Block 4. Get some T-shirts made, bet you can sell some.
No, there’s no limit on substitutions at all. You can make as many as you want as many times as you want.
Q: Just watched the Raps crush the Heat a perfect remedy for that awful road trip. And yes I know it was garbage time but I was thinking that Joey didn't look too bad out there and remembering the effort he gave the Raps at the end of last year I was wondering if you thought he gets a slim shot at getting into the rotation especially since Delfino has virtually dissapeared?
Tyler L, Brantford
A: No chance, in my mind, of Joey getting into any ‘regular’ rotation. In fact, I’m of the opinion Sam should shorten the rotation a bit in the post-season, not lengthen it.
Q: In between Jamario’s dunks against the Heat at the ACC, Super Friend and I were talking about the worst Raptors in-game entertainment schtick ever. Doug, I know you have issues with the dude on the microphone before the game, and the noisy thundersticks they give away to fans before a game, but what is truly at the top of your list? Could it be the Ford Power Pack? Baby Raptor?
Hands down our favourite is Red Panda, the woman on the unicycle who balances plates on her head.
David A, Toronto
A: Top of the list as in worst? Wow. So many choices. How about Buddy Mac or The Bleacher Creature from back in the SkyDome days? Those are 1 and 1A in my book.
The little baby chicken was cute, but it was a total sellout to a sponsor so that goes on the list, too.
Q: I was just sort of curious as to how offensive goaltending works. I mean, if a player is "stupid" enough to interfere with a teammate's shot, and causes it to miss, should it not be a punishment on its own?
Bryce F, Markham
A: Well, it works like this: If an offensive player touches the ball while it’s in an imaginary cylinder that ends to the heavens from the rim, the play is blown dead and the defensive team is given the ball. It’s not just if it causes the shot to miss, it often causes the shot to go in, which is why it’s illegal.
Q: It suddenly occurred to me that you probably get frequent access to Raptors' practice sessions. With all the drama going on lately surrounding our PG tandem, can you give us the goods on what's been going on in practice between the two? I know they're both competitive guys, so are they really taking it to each other in practice? Are they playing like they have a point to prove? Any noticeable difference compared to practices last year, or earlier in the season? Is one really besting the other?
Alex T, Toronto
A: We don’t really have the access you’re thinking we get. We usually get ushered in to practice right at the end, when the guys are shooting free throws or working on one-on-one games or silly shooting games. We don’t see scrimmages. Ever.
But I asked a couple of people and they say there’s healthy competition but nothing out of the ordinary and it’s not like one owns the other.
Q: I know this is supposed to be a Raptors blog but how would you rate the job Billy King did in Philly? Does it seem like his firing was a little too early or did his firing spark the team on its current run?
Evan G, Thornhill
A: I welcome league questions, my man. There are only so many pertaining to the Raptors that one guy can handle.
It has been my experience that the firing of a GM does very little to light a spark under a team. I think Billy King got a raw deal, he was put in charge of a rebuilding process once Iverson was traded and never got to stay and see it through.
Q: Hi Doug: I've seen a number of references to Arvydas Sabonis, and his apparent greatness on your blog; and it got me curious.
My only personal reference being his final years in Portland, and a few low-quality videos on You Tube; what makes this guy so great? From what I can see, he is a 7-footer, who can shoot threes, drive the ball, excellent passer. Hmmm...sounds something like a guy on the raptors. Any comparison?
S P, Mississauga
A: No, no, no, no, no. A thousand times no. For all the skills he’s got, Bargnani couldn’t carry Sabonis’s sneakers when Arvydas was on the top of his game.
Donnie Nelson, who knows international ball as well as anyone, once told me Saba was “a 7-3 centre who shot it like Dirk and passed it like Magic.”
I’m not sure where you can find old Sabonis clips, like from the 80s, but if you do, watch closely. The dude was unbelievable.
Q: Was at the game (Wednesday) and couldn't help but notice Pat Riley pat Calderon on the butt and enthusiastically tell him how great a game he had.
Just him saying "kudos", or is he setting up the offseason warmies with hopes of signing him with their new-found cap-space?
Steve M, Toronto
A: It may have been kudos but the fact is, Miami has about $58 million tied up in salary for next season, they are not going to be players for Calderon ‘cause all they’ll have in the mid-level exception.
Q: I'm away on business in Upstate New York at the moment, but that still can't keep me away from my Raps.
I've seen the highlights from tonight's game versus Miami (well, technically last night's game), and I noticed 2 things.
1. ESPN really needs to include more coverage for the only International team in the NBA (not to mention get better hosts).
2. The Raps really need a healthy Bosh if they're going to make ANY noise from now until the end of the season.
My question is this... would starting T.J. help alleviate some of his, ahem... "issues"? If I'm Jose, not only would I be wearing nicer clothes (thanks to NBA riches), but I'd also be pretty peeved at this cry-baby-esque attitude being shown by Terry J.
At the end of the season, is re-signing Jose totally up to Toronto? My friend seems to think T-Mac was in the same position Calderon is now, but I disagree. By the way, I know I said one question... but gimme some slack. I'm in the States at the moment, and all of their portions are, well... insanely large, so why not an extra question on the side?
Jonny F, Scarborough
A: I’d think if any American network of note showed more than one highlight of a Raptor-Heat game like that one, it would be one too many.
No, letting TJ start would be an admission that his play of late is being rewarded and that's ridiculous.
Yes, signing Jose this summer is totally, completely, unequivocably, entirely up to Toronto. Tracy was an entirely differnet situation under an entirely different Collective Bargaining Agreement.
Q: I would like to know why Jose's free throw percentage statistic does not show up on NBA.com? He's the league leader at 0.923 but the website indicates Chauncey Billups as the leader at 0.912. What’s up with that? Is this more anti-Raptor media???
Galen C, Burlington
A: Anti-Raptor media? Your insecurity is showing.
There are minimums that need to be met before a player can be considered in statistical categories. For free throw shooting, it’s 125 made. Before Thursday games, Billups had made 354, Jose has made 97.
Q: Doug, it's time you fess up and admit the error of your ways. Chris Paul is and should be the MVP of the year. The difference between the Hornets (best record in the real NBA) with and without Paul is ridiculous.
It seems like CP3 is being shortchanged because he's in a small market and doesn't have the marketing hype of Kobe or LeBron. Plus, as a hoops fan, I'll take CP's playmaking over Bron's brawn any day of the week.
Alex F, Ottawa
A: No, it’s not time. Sorry.
If I had a ballot today, it’d be Kobe, Paul, LeBron, Garnett, Duncan.
Thanks for your opinion, though.
Q: What's the toughest position to build a franchise around?
Mark L, Toronto
A: I’d say small forward or shooting guard. Even the great ones need teammates to give them a chance to be great. Point guards can create and bigs can dominate physically; even the greatest wing player ever – Jordan – didn’t win until he had some help.
Q: Everyone's going on about TJ and his play and perceived adjustment or non-adjustment to being a backup. The Raptors hired John Lucas as a basketball consultant primarily to work with TJ. Do you think this is having any effect, negative or positive, on TJ and his behavior on the court?
Reuben B, Toronto
A: Well, it hasn’t turned him into a candidate for Sixth Man of the Year, has it?
Seriously, Lucas works closely with Ford and I guess we’ll see over the next 14 games how he does.
Q: I was at the game versus Miami, and going in it was pretty much a forgone conclusion how this game was going to go. Instead of the game itself, I focused my attention on the body language of TJ Ford. During the introductions, he looked disinterested, and during the game he looked very casual. After a series of bad turnovers he looked even worse ie: not attempting to defend, not coming back to bring the ball up the floor, not getting back (transition defense).
At times it looked like the guys weren't playing for him.
I think chemistry is becoming an issue on this team, or am I just reading into things?
Darnell C, Pickering
A: T.J.’s behaviour in that game was, at times, horrible. The last minute, when he didn’t even want to touch the ball was immature. I’m sure someone pointed it out to him and, if I know that locker room, someone like Bosh is going to get in his face if this stuff continues.
Whether it works or not is entirely up to Ford.
Q: When I watch Raptors games on TV, Leo and Chuck are always talking about how Jason Kapono is a smart player and explain that that is the reason why he doesn't just chuck up 3 pointer after 3 pointer, electing instead to take a few dribbles and then make a play (i.e. a pass or a shot). ESPN's John Hollinger, however, makes an entirely different argument and says that Kapono, instead of just catching and shooting the 3, too often will try to take his man off the dribble (something he isn't particularly good at) which usually results in either a tougher shot or a kick out and reset. I'd have to say that agree with Hollinger on this one. It seems Kapono's first instinct, when he catches a pass, is often to take a few dribbles before putting up a shot, even when he's open. This guy has such a quick shot and it seems he kills alot of his own offense with this "bad habit". What are your thoughts on this? Do you agree that he could be a more productive offensive player if he was more of a catch-and-shoot type on offense (which he does as well as anyone) or do like the fact that he tries to mix it up?
Serge P, Ottawa
A: I think the more ways a player can score, the better he is and the better he is for his team. If all Kapono did was stand in the corner and shoot, defenders would never leave him; if he shows he can take his man off the dribble and stick a mid-range jumper, defenders are likely to play off him a step or two, opening up space for a three.
Q: So Doug, many times we've read your wonderful reports on the "Chicken" aka the Raptor mascot. So what's the deal with him this year? Previous years he was performing quite a few high-flying dunks, sliding down the stairs in rollerblades or a sled, or various crotch humour skits. This year, nothing other than some inflatable suit roller blading and the odd appearance with the Dance Pak. Is he hurt, or did the Raptors blow their insurance money on Garbo?
Craig B, Toronto
A: I hadn’t really noticed. Every time I’ve seen him/her/it, he/she/it has been fine, a bit banged up but everybody’s hurting a little bit this time of the season. Maybe he/she/it is going for a more sophisticated brand of stuffed animal humour.
Q: Relax. Take a pill. Chill out. Or as my 14-year-old is wont to say, "brrrrrutes, Dougie, peace" (I have no idea what that means, btw). All this angst about the pizza booing is uncalled for. It was a blowout, Doug. A festive, playful mood, a mood of relief swept over the Raptor fans. And when JK threw the ball away, the booing was good-natured, kinda like the fans were busting JK's balls. Good-natured teasing. Now, under different circumstances (e.g. the Raps are losing), then I'm 100% in agreement with you about it being bush. But last night? Nah. Brrrrutes, Dougie, peace.
Oh, here's a post-rant question for you: are you aware of any plans the Raps may have for Moon this off-season to teach him how to beat his man off the dribble and get to the hoop? And/or plans to try to bulk him up physically so he can feel more comfortable driving the lane? Personally, I could see them sending him to the summer league with strict instructions to do nothing but drive.
Lee Z, Ottawa
A: So, if I say ‘brrrrrrutes, Super Son, peace’ will I get odd looks? We need to get to the bottom of this.
The plan right now is for Moon to play with Toronto’s summer league team in Vegas in July and every other play in every game should be an iso for him on the wing to drive his man. And then he should hit the weight room for an hour or two four days a week.
Q: In (Wednesday’s) game, I noticed that Sam Mitchell pulled Bosh early in the first and third quarters and brought him back at the end of each of those quarters to play with TJ on the floor. I am sure part of that was because Bosh was gassed, but was any of it to try to get TJ and Bosh on the floor together? My thought was that he did it so that TJ wouldn't try to force shots and would be forced to go through bosh on offence. And if that was the reason, will it continue once Bosh is in shape?
David B, Toronto
A: Playing alongside Ford was more a byproduct than anything. Bosh was running out of gas after about a five-minute run and that’s why he was shuttled in and out so quickly.
Q: Just wanted to throw this out there for kicks. Richard Hamilton suffered an injury in Feb 2004 which led him to wear a protective mask. Looking at his numbers after that injury (and still playing with the mask), he has certainly improved his performance. His PPG and FG% have increased over the next 4 years. This might be crazy to suggest, but it seems like he's more aggressive and determined to score. Do you think we can blame the mask for one of the most consistent performances in the league the last few years? Oh and BTW, you are perfectly welcome to tell me I'm nuts to hope that maybe Bargs should wear his mask full-time so we can get some determination from him.
Mohammed S, Toronto
A: Interesting observation on Hamilton. I think having less concern about being injured would tend to make one more aggressive.
And after watching Bargnani drive three or four times in the first quarter I imagine Sam would have wanted that mask stapled to his face.
Q: Do you feel that the two most important moves that Colangelo has made since starting as GM, trading Charlie V for TJ and drafting Andrea first overall, have been his two worst?
Manny M, Kitchener
A: No, I don’t. I’m not ready to give up on Bargnani and I contend that Charlie, while a great guy, is putting up numbers on a very bad team and that’s not something to hang your hat on.
Q: Having wrestled control of the remote, I was able to watch the final quarter of the game Monday night, and for a while the Raptors 'Green, Green Grass of Home' version made me think that the game unfolding was between the Jazz and my "beloved" Celtics. (The description is a deliberate attempt to awaken your blog two-timer sleeping beauty, aka Diana T, from her deep hibernation).
Only TJ's ejection confirmed that I don't need a new eyeglass prescription which leads me to the question: Can you recall the number of times a Raptor player has been ejected from the game in your 13 illustrious career covering the league? Anything that stands out down memory lane?
Likewise, your anecdote on Jack Armstrong as the older Bush is quite hilarious - no wonder you decided to bid goodbye to his "Hello!" shirt. Doug, suppose the Raptors beat grunts follow Jack's example, which former US presidents do you think would closely resemble your profile? My line will be Doug as Roosevelt, Feshuk as Clinton, and Swirsky as George Washington. Do you agree?
Rikki C, Burlington
A: I’m sure I can’t recall them all. I do recall Mo’s little slap to Vince’s face, Matt Bonner getting tossed for nailing KG and, way back in the day, Oliver Miller got thrown out of a game against Chicago, I believe for hitting Bill Wennington. Keon Clark got in a dustup with Troy Murphy one night, too.
But as for a player getting thrown out trying to get a ref? I don’t recall one, although I’m sure there was one.
There was the night Sam got tossed in Miami in one of the all-time good tantrums.
I don’t know about your presidents, I want to be Jed Bartlett, thank you very much.
Q: In light of the Raps obvious need for a slashing guard/forward who can score, but knowing salary cap ramifications, do they have any chance at any of the following free agents this summer (outright or sign and trade)?
1. Corey Maggette; 2. Monta Ellis; 3. Josh Smith; 4. Andre Iguodola
Joydip B, Mississauga
A: I would think the only one on that list who’d be available would be Maggette; I presume the others go back to their teams.
Q: I wonder if you know what's the latest with New Jersey Nets moving to Brooklyn? Is it a done deal?
I know Rasho has a "player option" last year of his contract, do you think he'll opt out? What's the feeling out there?
Valentin P, Toronto
A: The Jersey deal is allegedly done, believe it’s coming in 2012 now but I won’t believe it’s ‘done done’ until I see a game there.
As for Rasho? No one I’ve ever spoken to expects him to opt out. Would you? Think there’s another team out there that’s going to give him $8 million a year? Neither do I.
Q: I'm pretty sure I saw our beloved Raptor working the crowd at the Detroit/New Orleans game on Sunday? what was he doing there?
Kim S, Toronto
A: Another Chicken question? Yeah, that was it/she/he. Was there visiting the Detroit horse for some kind of made-up mascot birthday party. Was part of a big weekend, I’m told; seems our little fuzzy thing was in Jersey on the Saturday night, too.