More mail than you can imagine, or I can carry, Bag No. 2
And here’s some from earlier in the week to wind up today’s mailbag. And maybe we won't need to do one on the weekend (yeah, right!)
Q: Hey Doug, I'm trying to settle an argument, who was the better player? Charles Barkley or Dennis Rodman?
Chaz E, London, UK
A: Chuck. Hands down. Could do way more on the court. Not even close in my opinion.
Q: I know your answer already but I'm going to post the question to you anyways.
I think the entertainment value of the Raptors has fallen off over the years. I've been a diehard fan since Day 1; gone through the good & bad times. But one thing that a lot of people are agreeing with me on is that the Raptors are tough on the eyes in terms of entertainment value. "Where amazing happens" doesn't happen very much at the ACC. I think the patrons appreciate a winning team but also want to be entertained at the same time. The toughest part of the game for me to watch is the offensive sets where it's pick and roll after pick and roll and not much else going on. Sure the intensity gets amped up 200% which is makes up the difference during the playoffs, but during the regular season it's been tough.
And even the in game experience has dropped off. I've been going to 3-4 games every year but have decided to stay away and wait until the playoffs. The atmosphere isn’t what it used to be and again the product on the floor is redundant and the in arena boombastics are the same every game...again ho hum...
How do you feel over all about the overall entertainment value being at the games and being so close with the team?
Depressed Raptor fan,
(Your answer here: you should be happy they are winning; what good is it to have an really entertaining team that's not winning; you can be Denver, one of the most entertaining teams in the NBA but not make the playoffs if you like...)
A: You know, I’m at so many home games, I’m sure of inured to the shenanigans that go on outside of the game. All I can say is I think it’s gotten louder and more intrusive, which could just be me getting older.
But if you feel that way, I’m pretty sure there are others who are having the same experience and maybe they can jazz it up, or change it up somehow.
Q: My question for you is regarding Mr. Jay Triano. Last summer I believe he was an assistant on Team USA, which I thought spoke volumes (even though Canadians needn't wait for that to appreciate his contributions to the sport in Canada). Will he reprising his role this summer leading to the Olympics? Keep up the great work Doug - Have you been to Ghana? Over the last little while I've read entries from you where you have referenced a reader who is from there. I am a son of Ghanaians.
Richard A, Markham
A: Actually, Jay worked for the USA Basketball development team, the group of kids who worked out against the Olympic team. He and P.J. Carlisemo coached it. There’s a chance he’ll be back at it again this summer – definitive schedules aren’t done yet – but one thing I’m pretty sure of is that he’ll be in Beijing doing TV for CBC.
And I don't have any blood relations in Ghana, just a friend who seems to be quite enamoured of Accra (except for the days when there's no running water) and who speaks highly of Western Africa. And, besides, I need a football team to cheer for so why not the Black Stars?
Q: Question on purchasing playoff tickets. For the Raptors, of course. Not those lowly Leafs.
Watching the Raptors games of late, I hear Chuck telling me to log onto Raptors.com to buy playoff tickets. Once on the web site, it seems to only be available to those with season tickets. Would you know when the tickets are available to the general non-season-ticket-holding-public? Am I looking in the wrong place?
Tina C, St. John’s, NL
A: You’re coming from the Rock? Cool.
I don't believe they've set a definitive day for single-game, general public sales yet, I’m told. But they’ll let you know the minute they do, I’m sure.
Q: Hi Doug. I read somewhere last week that Sportsnet might drop their coverage of the Raptors in the next season. As a big Raptor fan who can't afford paying for RaptorsTV, this really concerns me. My 4 yr old son (who knows 10 Raptors by name and their number) and I always look forward to their next scheduled game on TV. Is there truth into this? If so, will TSN or The Score pick up the slack? Is CBC going to air more games next year? Hopefully you can answer this question. Thanks.
Arnold B, Mississauga
A: Your four-year-old’s pretty bright.
Nothing’s definite about who’ll pick what up but I know The Score is interested in becoming the basketball network of record (which is an excellent idea, methinks) and CBC has an option to more than double its broadcasts next season. I think you’ll still be able to find the vast majority of games on over-the-air networks rather than have to worry about spending on RaptorsTV.
Q: Love the blog. I now read it over your print stories - sorry.
First a statement/question. A certain morning radio show I listen to on Canada's national station keeps mentioning that the Raps need to stay in 5th place so they can avoid playing Orlando. I swear I've read it here and elsewhere that Toronto is better matched against Orlando?!
Also, if the Raptors do wind up playing Orlando is there rivalry between Moon and Superman over the dunk contest? I think if Jamario made it to the next round he would have won.
Raf K, Toronto
A: Personally, I think they match up far better with Orlando than Cleveland because the Magic don’t have that LeBron dude, who is pretty good. So, I guess the lesson is don’t believe everything you hear.
And I've got a feeling Mssrs. Moon and Howard will be concentrating more on winning games that doing dunks. I don't believe any rivalry will enter into it.
Q: Any chance, and I know it's a longshot, that the Raps or Wiz could knock off Cleveland for the 4 spot? If so do you think home court would help stop in any way LeBron from dominating that series?
Graham H, Toronto
A: A very big longshot. The Cavs, as I type this, are three games up on Toronto and Washington with eight to play, it’d take some kind of collapse for them to fall out of No. 4.
And I don’t think it matters a lick where LeBron plays, you might want to check with the Pistons on how he does in the post-season without home court advantage.
Q: Doug, as I greatly respect your opinion on all matters of basketball, I will ask a question completely unrelated. And in no way feel judged as I'm just curious. How you feel about the recently released smoking commercial where the kid gives his dad a tape of himself begging him to quit? Do all the beat grunts enjoy the fresh air at half time?
Nathan J, Toronto
A: The commercial gets to me. I know fresh air is bad for you, I hope no one out there in any way thinks otherwise. Giving it up is something that’s never far from the front of my mind. As for the other grunts? None around these parts but there are a few of us throughout the league, probably about the same percentage that exists in the general population.
Q: Basketball is naturally a game of runs. Sometimes the runs build up big leads which can be lost when the other team makes a run. It happens to every team in almost every game.
My question is, why do the ink stained (OK maybe chicken wing stained) wretches insist on the histrionics when the Raptors "almost blow" a lead? The bottom line is the "W", isn't it?
It's not just the Toronto contingent of writers (who maybe mimic the fickleness of the Raptors fans); it's writers in every city (which I know thanks to your excellent service of providing links to out of town papers in your blog).
Danny H, Fredericton
A: Yes, the bottom line is always winning, it’s why they keep score. But let’s say you’ve got to chronicle the events of a particular game. It’s often pertinent to way the contest unfolds to report swings in momentum, and letting a big lead almost slip away is often something that should be brought to the attention of the readers.
Q: Is depth overrated? It seems to me that depth is something that gets you through the regular season. As inconsistent as the Raptors bench has been this year, things could have been far worse if it wasn't for the bench. However, when it comes to playoff ball, does depth really make a difference (barring injury)? The big talk of the NJ series last year was it was the "Big 3" against a Raps team 12 deep. The one problem with that in the playoffs is that generally the opposing team's best players play 40 minutes or more a game. Thus, very little bench vs. bench. I guess what I'm getting at is, do the Raps need to increase their star power even if it means giving up depth?
Aaron J, Markham
A: You’ve got a very valid point. I think depth is necessary in the regular season to work through the inevitable slumps and injuries that arise but in the post-season, I think a nice tight rotation of eight guys is enough. That’s why I’d expect good teams to start narrowing the rotation in the final, oh, I dunno, eight games of the regular season to get everyone primed for the playoffs.
In the post-season, there’s no back-to-backs, not much practice time other than getting shots up and doing video work so it’s not like you’re going to wear anyone out playing them 40-42 minutes a game.
Q: Long time reader first time question asker (or so the saying goes). I love both yours and Chuck's blogs for varying outlooks on my favourite team. My question is what do you think about the possibility of an NBA expansion team in Mexico City? Why have "our" professional sports leagues not opened their doors to a neighboring city of 20 000 000ish people? I have been and thought it a great place for the league. Basketball is apparently the second most popular sport in the country after soccer, although some might argue for wrestling. Is it a question of infrastructure? Safety?
Nick C, Toronto
A: I think it’s a combination of things. Start with the cost of tickets (is there enough corporate money?), toss in the lack of a first-rate, NBA-ready facility and the general concerns over the long-term economic viability of the market and I think there’s a wariness that far out-weighs any possible interest in putting a team there.
Q: Hey Doug. Love the blogs, keeps me from going insane during exam time! I just have a few random questions.
1. You follow the Raptors wherever they go to report on them causing you to be away from your home and family during the winter. And you also get paid a tad less than NBA players. So my question is this, Why do you do it?
2. During the summer time what do you do? Relax for a while and keep everyone updated on the Raps? Or focus on other sports?
3. Obviously you're a basketball fan. Are there any other sports that you follow as a casual fan?
Dave R, Markham
A: Yes, there is a tad less in the pay packet.
I do it because it’s my job, one that I’m not bad at, and I still like it very, very much.
Summer? Well, the summer keeps getting shorter but I always try to find time to coach some Little League baseball out in Erindale ‘cause it’s a great organization and it gives me quality time with Super Son although the pesky Beijing Olympics will get in my way this year.
And I’m a big fan of September baseball and have a casual interest in golf.
Q: I’m thinking that this is (or should be) one of the most crucial off seasons in Raptors history.
Do we sign Delfino to a mid level for multiple years?
What to do with the TJ/Calderon situation? Ahem!… not that there is one.
What to do with our wing position. Eight games left in the season and we’re bringing in a guy on a 10 day? You’re right... this speaks volumes! We’ve got the 3-point champ at $5-6 million who doesn’t get minutes?
When Garbo comes back is he still capable of bringing what we need him to bring from a physical standpoint?
Do we have enough patience to stick with a kid at centre that has a very unique set of skills but not ready. If not, is Rasho’s expiring contract still in play?
Geez! I tell ya, we didn’t have all these problems when we were a 20 win team. Colangelo probably hasn’t slept in 2 months.
Anyway I don’t expect you to answer all of these (unless you want to) however I’m just wondering your thoughts on my initial point.
Rob V, Waterloo
A: Given how he’s played this year, so up and down, I don’t think Carlos is going to get the full mid-level from any team. And I believe the Raptors feel that way, too. I’d say something in the range of three years, maybe $12-$14 million might be a good jumping off point in negotiations.
Q: Doug, you gotta print this one!
Without naming any names, have you ever seen (this year or past) any relationships between Raptor players and Dance Pack Dancers that was more than just "professional"?
Not that I think there would be anything wrong with that (quite the opposite, it would kinda be wrong not to), but it would give me one more reason to say "man, I wish I was a baller!"
Alex L, Sudbury
A: I’ve never seen anything like what you’re asking. I know very little of the Dance Pak but what I do know is they are professional in the way they conduct themselves.
Oh, and I don’t “gotta” do anything.
Q: Two questions for you:
The first is an NBA-101 question (since the answer may not be the same for NCAA, CIS, high school, SuperSon's league, etc.) In the Charlotte game on TV, the announcers were discussing that Charlotte was trying to change a player (Wallace??) from a 4 to a 3 (or vice versa), and they were commenting on why it would/would not work.
In your opinion, what are the offensive/defensive qualities required in each of the five positions? And, if you could, which players in the NBA today epitomize those qualities?
Secondly, in response to a comment, you replied along the lines of "I'll get to it later - I have work to do right now." That got me to thinking - WHAT is a day in the life of Doug Smith really like?? It seems that you are always either: posting stories at thestar.com; putting up your blog; responding to comments on the blog; answering the mailbag - SEVERAL times a week now!; and living a family life (apparently on a part-time basis??) Is your job now - thanks to the internet - pretty much a 24-7 job?
Tim H, Windsor
A: Okay, the positions
PG: They need to be smart, comfortable looking for someone else’s shot before theirs, but quick enough to get in the paint and get the defence moving to dish the ball off; defensively, quick enough to keep his man in front of him. Two best in the game right now are Nash and Paul.
SG: As it says, a good shooter, probably the best on the team, but also capable of driving the ball when necessary; you’d like him to be 6-6 at least and a capable rebounder. Kobe’s hands down the best in the game.
SF: These days, you need to be multi-faceted, a shooter who can drive and you’ve go tot be 6-8 and strong. LeBron’s the prototype.
PF: A tough one. Must have shooting range and a post-game and be strong enough to defend on the block but quick enough to run the floor and beat the defenders to the block. Tim Duncan and/or KG are the best today although Amare Stoudemire, if you think of him as a PF instead of C is re-defining the position with his strength and quickness.
C: Big, bulky, great rebounder, with one or two signature back-to-the-basket moves. Before he got hurt, Yao would have been the best because he’s also a great free throw shooter so you can leave him on the court in the dying minutes of a close game.
Now, to my day? Let’s just say they’re as busy as you’d think. Start around 7:15 each morning blogging, game nights end around 11 p.m.; practice days I usually file by 7 and then do some mail. But, you know what? You cover a beat and take on internet responsibilities and the job is what the job is. Just put your head down and go to it. Luckily, I can spend a lot of time working from home on off-days, which keeps me around.
Q: Thanks for answering my previous question about Bargs improving his fouling...I think I jinxed him. Three questions for you this week.
1) Do you think BC and Maurizio would take a run at Rudy Fernandez this summer. Internet reports have him questioning his role if he were to join the Blazers.
2) You are the GM of the Raptors and Elgin Baylor calls you this summer. Straight up sign and trade, Maggette for Calderon, do you do it?
3) If you could bring back any former Raptor player who would it be?
[For me, right now with this team's needs I'd have to say T-Mac]
Bonus Question: Would you ever kiss "TheStar" logo, as you enter your offices?
Rahulan S, Winnipeg
A: The Rudy Fernandez thing has as much to do with his buyout and his NBA rookie scale salary slot so I’m not sure that any team that takes a run at him would be successful.
No, I wouldn’t make that trade straight up, that’s too high a price to pay for Maggette.
Sure, Tracy would fit well and so would Marcus Camby.
The Star logo? Um, no. Mostly 'cause I try to avoid the office, and mimicking AI, at all costs.
Q: After watching Chris Paul the other night I was wondering if the Toronto PG's are as highly ranked as last year?
I don't have a PG favourite (I wish they were both more consistent) but I think they are well below the top level this year (at least in the past 4-6 weeks).
Does BC make do next year with whichever guard he keeps or does he start looking for an upgrade in the next season or two?
Kevin M, Maple
A: Well, neither of the PGs are at the level of Paul, Nash, Parker, Davis, Billups or even Kidd, no. But there are more pressing needs that have to be addressed before they worry about a couple of years down the road at PG.
Q: Doug, is there any way that Sam can FORCE Kapono to take threes? (Like have everyone give him a few punches in the locker room after each game when he doesn't take at least three good attempts)?
I know you've mentioned reasons before about why he isn't getting the 3-pt shots up... but is another contributing factor his stinginess, not wanting to ruin his percentage? Bosh with more threes than Kapono in March... this is getting outrageous.
Kevin D, Toronto
A: I don’t think it’s got anything to do with percentages. There’s no money in leading the league, his contract doesn’t change if he’s tops again.
One thing I’d like to see is on the occasion he gets the ball a step or so inside the three-point line, that he make a jab step and move back to shoot a three rather than drive and take a floater in the lane or along the baseline.
I don’t think a few punches would work, though.
Q: Hey Doug, I have cut down my remarks from a previously unanswered email to make it more appealing to the old fella. Away I go:
Your thoughts on potential off-season moves to bring us the more "substantial" wingman (at the 2 or 3) we MUST obtain to better this team and take them to the next level.
TJ Ford (and a daft pick or what not) for Al Harrington?
Would we even want to touch Jamal Crawford on the Knicks?
Lastly...what about Colangelo pulling out a crazy move way outta left field and signing free agent Iverson to a three year big money deal? Would that be NUTS in a good or bad way?
One last Question to slide in...of the four Raptor wingman (Parker, Moon, Kapono, Delfino) who is back next year?
Jacob W, Toronto
A: Is all you do read for your own name? Been there, done that on a lot of these.
I like Harrington but don’t think the Warriors are in need of a PG ‘cause of that Davis fellow.
Crawford’s just the kind of high-scoring swingman this team needs.
I hadn’t heard the Iverson one but they have no money to even think about it.
I believe the first three will be back and am uncertain about the fourth.
Oh, and if you're always talking about what "we" have to do, why don't you just do it. You must work there, right?
Old fella? Thanks