Happy Long Weekend Eve (or something like that)
A little reading for the rainy days to come, or this morning when you’re goofing off at work waiting for the long weekend to arrive.
And don’t worry if you don’t see yours here, there are some left, including three or four lists that’ll get me through next week’s blog when there’s only one game a night.
Oh, and will be back on Monday. See ya.
Q: Doug, I hope you didn't think my last question to you was a wild, rambling and implausible trade scenario. Because it wasn't. It was a legitimate question. I'll try rephrasing: Do you think, now that D'Antoni is gone from the Suns, that the Suns might try to make a deal for Nash, who's never been known to be even a passable defender? He's past his prime, while still one of the elite, so they could get something good for him. I threw in the bit about the possibility of him coming to his second-favourite NBA team (the Raptors) as just an extension of that question.
Guy M, Vancouver
A: I know your questions and comments are the furthest thing from rambling, wild or implausible. Not to worry about that.
It’ll be interesting to see what the Suns do but I cannot fathom them moving Nash this season. I think they have taken a huge hit in public perception with the way they handled the D’Antoni departure and to compound that by moving Nash this summer would be folly. I think there would be a huge public outcry they don’t want to deal with.
Next summer, though, after a season in which I think they may struggle (relative to their recent success, of course) I can see them shopping Nash and his expiring contract.
And, I would think a team with legitimate championship aspirations – a group that I don’t think will include the local Toronto heroes of the hardcourt – would be wise to gamble on him.
Of course, I could be dead wrong because the last thing I ever expected to see was Shaquille O’Neal in a Phoenix Suns uniform.
Q: Quick question. How is a restricted clause (like the one Jose has) put into a contract? Is it just put in by the team to ensure they have the option to keep the player at the end of the term?
Also I was in Taiwan a couple months back and had a Lamond Murray Sighting. Seems like he now playing professional there.
Ron M, Markham
A: The clause making players restricted free agents at the end of their first NBA contracts is a basic part of the collective bargaining agreement and agreed to by both the league and the union.
When you saw Lamond, was he taking a jump shot?
Q: Doug, I recall Lacy Banks. A class guy.
Speaking of other beat guys, did I hear it correctly that Peter May took a buyout from the Boston Globe and left AFTER the Celts' first-round series? He didn't want to see the thing through?
Jeff H, Calgary
A: Yes, you heard right, a huge, huge, huge loss for the craft and a great friend of all things Canadian. And I think when you agree to a buyout, you go when they say it’s time. Unfortunately, that time was crappy in this situation.
Q: I want to ask this question because I would really like to hear your take.
It seems that Bosh has really stepped up as a leader this past year and history shows us that teams with good leaders, and good character players, can be successful with one, or a few, 'knuckleheads' if they provide what the team needs; See Rodman/Bulls/Spurs, Penny/Magic, Marion/Suns, Laimbeer/Pistons, Kobe/Shaq/Lakers, etc...
So the question is, if there is questionable character/'knucklehead' player out there that fits the Raps need of a slashing/rebounding wingman; i.e, Artest, Magette etc...
Between 1 and 10, what is the Raps 'knucklehead' factor (10 meaning they could handle/control and be successful with Ron Artest; 1 meaning they need to sign another 'good character guy')?
Nick M, Oakville
A: Interesting list of alleged “knuckleheads” you’ve got there.
Knowing the organization and the kind of player it wants, I’d say there’s a very, very low tolerance for bad character guys, much closer to one than 10. And, in my opinion, guys at the high end of that scale aren’t worth it, no matter what they bring on the court.
Q: Could you update us on the status of Jim Todd if you know anything because I know he was released when Skiles took over because he brought in his own staff.
Vanlang N, Ottawa
A: If I know JT, he’s somewhere about to tee off right about now, without a care in the world. He doesn’t have a job for next year – yet – but he’s also got a contract for next year from the Bucks, who have to pay him if he doesn’t find another gig.
I presume if he wants to coach another year or two, he will; he’s well-respected throughout the league and someone will need a wise old head on the bench.
Not going to be Toronto, though, that ship has sailed.
Q: What does a players off-season generally consist of? Is there any contact with the team or when the seasons done are they given a specific number of months vacation? Is there any times where they have to 'report' in with any training etc? I know some players have different responsibilities with summer leagues, but just wondering about the regular player such as an Anthony Parker, Chris Bosh.
Brad M, Waterloo
A: Well, it’s not like a “regular job” where a guy might take four weeks vacation in the summer and not hear a word from the bosses or the office.
When players leave at the end of season, they’re usually given some kind of workout regimen the team would like them to do and, maybe twice a summer, a member of the training or coaching staff will arrange – at a mutually beneficial time – a visit with any player.
Most veteran players are pretty good about following a regular off-season routine and teams don’t worry about them that much. The more, um, slovenly of them will get more visits from someone on staff.
Q: Hi Doug, could you please try and explain to us "future considerations", or "a player to be named later", in a trade. How does that work, what are the implications? Why does it exist? Thanks as always.
Steph R, Glencoe
A: Well, first off, you never, ever get “player to be named later” in an NBA trade, you’ve paid too much attention to those other sports. What you do get, sometimes, in the NBA is “cash considerations” for “future considerations.” Sometimes it’s simply pure money changing hands (the maximum is $3 million), sometimes it’s things like a team promises to travel to play a road exhibition game. It’s generally something cooked up by the GMs to make a one-sided trade not look so one-sided.
Q: Hi Doug, during some timeout close ups on televised games, we occasionally get to hear the coach actually talking to his players (instead of some overly-hyped sideline wannabe announcer). I am usually amazed to hear how basic, fundamental and unsophisticated those remarks are (more similar to the stuff I would talk about to girls teams I have coached aged 10 to 16 years old).
Are most coach timeout talks really that simply focused (or are there some where players are more mature and professional)?
Barry P, North Bay
A: They are indeed that simply focused; it is not rocket science or anything close to it. It is gently, or not so gently in times that aren’t captured on video and audio, reminding them to rebound, box out, run their stuff and defend. Of course, in the dying seconds of a close game there may be specific plays called that don’t get caught on tape by those “overly-hyped sideline wannabe” announcers but as a matter of course, timeouts are incredibly boring and basic.
Q: Hey Doug how come you never reply to my email, though I always start with a compliment. Anyway to the question, what happened to the guy that was drafted by Spurs acquired by Raptors last year, will he see him next year? I think his name is Printezes.
Mario L, Toronto
A: Obviously, you haven’t been complimentary enough (I joke, I joke). And just as obviously, you don’t read regularly enough because I’ve answered at least two Giorgos Printezis questions in the last 10 days.
He had a very average season in Greece and does not figure into any short-term plans.
Q: I have a question which does NOT directly involve TJ, or Mitchell, or any of the other topics which have been discussed to death.
What are the top 3 -5 priorities for the Raps this offseason? Is clearing up the PG situation more important then getting a slashing 3, or working with Andrea to improve, getting a younger 5, etc?
Steven T, Winnipeg
A: My priorities? If I’m Bryan?
An athletic big wing player, a rebounder, another big athletic wing player, a backup point guard (to whoever’s still here), another rebounder, and a young 5 to be groomed for the post-Nesterovic era.
Q: The Raps are sitting with the 17th overall pick, will they or can they trade for a higher draft pick for the likes of a Gallinari, Westbrook or Randolph?
Jay P, Brampton
A: I guarantee you Bryan will try to package No. 17 and a player (Ford? Parker? Nesterovic?) and move up into the lottery. But until we know the results of the lottery and the draft order, we can’t even guess which team he’ll call first.
Q: Hey Doug, I am a die hard Raps fan and a HUGE fan of your blog. This is my second attempt so here goes nothing. My friend and I have an argument going on right now about who was the best Raptor coach ever! We narrowed it down to Butch and Sam. In your opinion who is the better between the two??
Jason S, Toronto
A: You really need to clearly define best. Lenny Wilkens had more success in the post-season than any other coach, but he wouldn’t be near the top of my list. Brendan Malone did the most with the worst talent so where’s that put him?
As a tactician, Butch was better than Sam; in relating to players and getting them to play hard consistenly, Sam’s light years ahead of Butch.
If I had to pick one of those two, I’d rather hire Sam than Butch because, eventually, Butch would do something to alienate his players. Sam’s been here four years and that hasn’t happened.
Q: I have a general basketball/sports question for you. Are playoff numbers included in a player's career statistics? For example, when you look up a player’s career scoring average, does that number include results from the playoffs?
Mike J, Toronto
A: No, if you look in every record book, or all-time register, post-season stats are separate from regular season totals.
Q: Time for another list as we are firmly entrenched in the Playoffs. Inspired by the constant chirping and complaining by players to the refs.
Who would be your top 5 picks for All-Whining Team?
Detroit would easily top my list - if i were an official I'd have ejected Hamilton, Prince and Wallace before the 2nd Qtr finished. Followed by my other top picks of the Lakers, San Antonio and the Nuggets. Thanks.
Marc M, Mississauga
A: There really isn’t a list because, as I’ve said, every team whines incessantly about almost every call. But if you held a gun to my head, I’d put the Spurs, Knicks, Celtics, Nuggets and Lakers among the worst offenders.
Q: Hi Doug. I had a quick question regarding the Raps' assistant GM Maurizio Gherardini. I've been reading reports of other ball clubs (NY pops into my head, but I recall reading another team was interested as well) considering him for their GM position. Have you heard rumblings that Gherardini is unhappy in Toronto or that he's interested in becoming a GM for someone else? Is there any truth to these rumours or are they just that - the typical off-season rumours spawned from the imagination of the "creative" minds of writers such as Stephen A. Smith and Peter Vescey (I always take what they write with a bag of salt). Thanks in advance for your insight.
Stan C, Toronto
A: I have never heard a peep of dissatisfaction from Maurizio about his job or his place in the organization here. What happens far too often is a job comes open, people start to look down the lists of people they think might want to move, or move up, and compile a list without really investigating the possibility of someone like Maurizio moving. It’s a tad lazy but it does happen more often than you’d think.
Q: Hi Doug, your point about Kareem touched on the theme of a question I sent to you the other day. Why is it that some guys spend years as assistants before they ever get offered a head coaching job while others (like Mark Jackson, Doc Rivers, Larry Bird, Isiah Thomas) get coaching offers without any experience? Is it solely based on their reputations as cerebral players?
Michael K, Toronto
A: Mostly it is reputation, or the people doing the hiring looking for someone familiar. Sometimes, they just come cheaper and teams that know they’ll be in a rebuilding mode may want to have what could be called a “sacrificial” coach (see Sam Vincent, Charlotte) who they pay very little.
And some GMs just think a new voice, no matter how uproven, can do a good job.
Q: Doug, I'm about half way through Jack McCallum's Seven Seconds or Less book on the Phoenix Suns and loving the behind the scenes insight. What are the chances of you being interested/permitted in doing a similar series of articles or even a book on our Raptors?
Michael L, Brantford
A: Great book, isn’t it?
Trouble with a guy like me doing something like that is the pesky newspaper, internet stuff would really get in the way. And I’m not sure I’ve got Jack’s skills, either.
Q: Have you heard from the Raptor's staff what are the instructions for Andrea's off-season training? What should he be working on this summer? Will he be playing in the summer league?
Is he going to play in the Olympics? Will this affect his performance for the Raptors later on? (There were some suggestions that his playing in the European Championship last year tired him out.)
Maybe the Raptors should hire a big man's coach to spend some time with him, such as Karem Abdul-Jabbar. Why has BC not doen something like this for his prize draft pick?
Nick W, Markham
A: Just talked to Bryan Colangelo about this the other day. Andrea’s just had surgery to remove adnoids and correct a deviated septum and is recovering well.
He’ll be at a big man camp in Vegas and likely spend some time with John Lucas in Houston. He won’t, I don’t think, play in the summer league.
Nor will he play in the Olympics, or even the final Olympic qualifier, because Italy didn’t qualify for either. The Italian team has to play in the qualification tournament for next year’s European championships but the Raptors have already told the Italian federation that they don’t want Bargnani playing, a request that will most likely be granted.
As for a big man’s coach? Maybe they need one, maybe they don’t. If they want him to become a true back-to-the-basket centre, he could probably use some instruction in that regard.
Q: Congratulations – Mr. Doug Smith is announced the new Commissioner for the 08/09 season! What are your priorities for change? (other than thundersticks etc - maybe in a list format?)
Ryan L, Calgary
A: Yes! Finally, a good gig.
First, I dump all back-to-backs because the second game is generally a dog by whichever team is playing it. And four games in five nights? Never, ever happens.
Oh, and weekend games are in the afternoon (that’s the beat grunt in me having his say).
I’d have them put in a larger no-charge area around the basket because I want guys going to the rim.
I’d extend the three-point line a couple of fee to make it a more difficult shot.
You’ll see what I think of timeouts a couple of questions down.
I’d ban thunderstix and find some comfortable decibel level that could not be exceeded by in-house music. I don’t know what that is, but it’s lower than the one they’ve got in place now.
I’d ban the playing of any music while the ball was in play.
Oh, and screaming, in-game "hosts"? Gone. Outta here.
Man, this is fun, but that’s probably enough for now, no?
Q: Long time reader of your blog and first time writing on it. Got two questions
1) What is the nature of the problem between Bryan Colangelo and Phoenix Suns owner?
2) I'm a big fan of Chris Bosh and I know he's going to be a perennial all-star but I'm not confident he can be the lone all-star on a championship winning team. So how long do the Raptors have to get him help or he starts wanting out?
Seeralan R, Markham
A: I don’t know the exact nature of the thing between Colangelo and Sarver; from this viewpoint it’s a petulant owner not wanting to be reminded of the good executive he drove out of town.
As for Bosh, he’s under contract for the next two seasons with a player option for 2010-11 so that’s how long they have until he can test the free agent waters if he wants to.
Q: Okay, I tried asking this once already, but to no avail, so I thought I'd rephrase, and see if you'll enlighten me. Why is Manu Ginobli the 6th man of the Spurs? Is it because the Spurs have 5 incredible players who deserve to start before him? Can Manu only perform coming off the bench? Is it a TJ-Jose situation, where that makes someone else more comfortable? Please enlighten me, oh knowing one.
Julie M, Toronto
A: Sorry if I missed it earlier. No slight intended.
Ginobili, who has started a few games here and there, seems better suited for that Spurs roster as an energy guy off the bench who can provide some instant offence.
You can make the case he’s the third most-skilled player on the team (behind Duncan and Parker) and could start ahead of Bruce Bowen or Mike Finley but he’s in a role he plays so well, they don’t want to mess with it.
And given the number of games and championships San Antonio has won, you can’t argue with the success.
Q: While watching the end of the Cavs/Celtics game (Wednesday) night, I timed how long it took to play the final 1:05 minutes. It took close to 14 minutes!!! I believe they should reduce the amount of timeouts a team is given - I think the current amount given per team per half should be for the WHOLE game. Thoughts?
Adam R, Toronto
A: I think the last minutes of close games take waaaaaaaaay too long to finish and would be all in favour of limiting the timeouts to two a half for each team. And reducing that to one full and one 20-second in the final two minutes of a game. The TV folks would hate that so I’d give them one or two each quarter – one at the first stoppage after three minutes have elapsed, the next after seven minutes have elapsed but that’s it.
Q: Just wondering, if the Raps do end up trading TJ, wouldn't it be smart to draft a back-up point guard? There might be a couple of quality point guards available at the 17 spot such as UCLA's Russel Westbrook and Texas' DJ Augustine.
Ryan G, Auckland, N.Z.
A: No, I don’t think it would. They have more serious needs to address. They can likely find a suitable backup in free agency and if they can get Roko Ukic over next season and have to use him for 14-16 minutes a night, so be it.
And I can’t imagine Westbrook still being there at 15; Augustine, maybe.