Heavy duty delivery
There’s lots and lots and lots here.
And lots more in the pipeline so if I get some down time in Detroit this afternoon or before a flight to Boston tomorrow, we’ll get up a bonus mailbag.
Have fun reading:
Q: I have two questions for you. One of them is a Vancouver Grizzlies question and the other is a Raptors/Grizzlies question.
A few friends and I were sitting around the other night and had a heated debate about who scored the first Grizzlies and Raptors baskets. We all knew Alvin Robertson 3 from the left elbow but what about Vancouver's? An adult beverage rides on the outcome. I'm convinced it was Chris King whereas my friend swears it's Benoit Benjamin. Can you help?
Now Benoit Benjamin is the segue to my next question. Who are all of the players that have been members of the Grizzlies and Raptors organizations?
Off the top of my head I can name this list: Benoit Benjamin, Roy Rogers, Mighty Mouse, Tony Massenburg, and Darrick Martin. Any others?
P.S. Be sure to pick up a 150th anniversary of Welland T-shirt! They're selling....though not particularly quickly!
Bernie T, Peterborough
A: Ah, Mighty Mouse is cheating, ‘cause he never played in Vancouver.
And you forgot the illustrious Milt Palacio and Aaron Williams.
Hope your friend is ready to buy (I'd order the Johnny Walker Blue). It was Chris King, a layup about 90 seconds into Game 1. And I know this is true because of the original Vancouverbeat grunts, Howard Tsumura, told me so. He also reminds me that King won Game 2, too, with a tip-in at the buzzer as Vancouver beat Minnesota in its home opener.
Someone else has suggested that King’s game-winning tip at home came over – get this! – Sam Mitchell.
Q: Just wondering a couple things:
a) what in your opinion is the "best case" scenario come mid August? (for the RAPTORS, and the state of the franchise)
b) of the free agents we have right now who are the best 2 available minus Jose?
I read your blog everyday, I haven't gotten a response yet, and am looking forward,
Marc C, Scarborough
A: The best-case scenario in August? They will have at least one new starter at the two-three spots, Jose Calderon will be signed to a five-year deal worth between $33-$40 million and they’ll have a better fourth big man behind Bosh, Bargnani and Rasho. Or a good third big man behind Bosh and Bargnani.
Not sure what free agents you’re referring to: On the Raptors? Well, there’s only one, Delfino. And I guess second by default goes to The Gangster.
League wide? Let’s see who opts out of their contracts before we compile any list.
Q: Hey Doug, long time reader and 3-time writer-with-no-answer! Let's hops this works.
What do you think of our beloved raptors moving up in the draft for the purpose of drafting Mr. O.J. Mayo. I think his stock is low right now and he has the most potential in the draft.
Not to mention, he'll be our starting 2 for the next decade.
As long as we don't treat him like T-Mac.
Even if we don't draft him, let the record show that I think O.J will be a great player in the NBA.
Chris M, Detroit
A: The record so indicates. And I don’t envision a scenario in which they can move up, I keep hearing Minnesota’s interested in Mayo and there doesn’t seem to be a fit with Toronto in a deal. And his stock is not low, at all.
Q: Any talk of the D-League team being put in Kitchener Waterloo? The Memorial Auditorium has similar capacity as Ricoh, and you wouldn't be competing with so many other teams. I know the Marlies had a pretty good team this year but had a lot of trouble filling the stadium.
Travis S, Waterloo
A: Kitchener-Waterloo’s intriguing but the fact is, Maple Leaf Sports is going to be an investor, not a sole owner, and the people with the most of the most money aren’t looking that far afield.
Marlies? Trouble filling the arena? Yeah, I’d say so.
Q: Can a player, team willing. sign an extension before the end of his contract? For instance, could Anthony Parker sign a new contract with Toronto starting in 09/10, now?
J L, Oakville
A: No, as a basic rule, they can’t. Players on their rookie scale contract can sign extensions, as can players on a deal for longer than three seasons. But those players can only sign extensions after their third season.
Q: My friends and I were having a discussion about the NBA Hall of Fame and it's exclusivity. We came to the conclusion that players like T-Mac, Vince Carter, and Chris Webber will never make the fame. Great career numbers, but they've never accomplished anything of significance (assuming T-Mac and Carter go championship-less).
Then there was a little disagreement about this group: Chauncey Billups, Rip Hamilton, Manu Ginobili, and Tony Parker. They don't have off the charts career numbers, but all are proven winners and should get a chance at the Hall, especially Manu and Parker. But, we all came away saying that we could see them not making it. Fair enough.
The discussion then came to Robert Horry. Everyone was in agreement. Definitely going into the hall. 7 championships and counting. End of story. Right? Is he going to make it simply based on the fact he won 7 championships? I'm not saying he piggybacked his way to those championships, because he played crucial roles in a lot of them. But, would he be one of the worst players in the hall...talent-wise?
Mike S, Georgetown
A: You know, when I think of Robert Horry, I sure don’t think Hall of Famer but if he wins another, he’s in a very august group – Bill Russell, Sam Jones, Tommy Heinsohn, Satch Sanders and John Havlicek – and that’s got to count for something.
But Horry also will have played more seasons and on more teams than any of that group of iconic Celtics.
I don’t know. If I had a vote? I don’t think I put Robert Horry in the Hall of Fame.
Q: We all know about half the league smokes up. Will Noah be suspended from the league, since he got caught on the weekend?? If not, what's the difference between that and Chris the Bird man??
Jacques L, Toronto
A: I presume he will get a one- or two-game suspension when the process is all over. The difference is the number of times a player tests positive and the drug he tests for. It wasn’t as if Noah was caught by the league’s substance-abuse policy; Anderson was.
Q: "I also think that if there’s a GM in the league who can do it, R.C. Buford can pull some of the right strings."
That led me to think - who do you think is the 'wiliest' GM in the NBA? In other words, who is best at "pulling the strings?"
Tim H, Windsor
A: I’d certainly have Joe Dumars on that list, likely right at the top for his ability to make deals that don’t set his team back at all. Buford would sure be on there, I think Mitch Kupchak’s done an outstanding job getting the Lakers back to relevancy. Oh, I would think when it’s all said and done, the guy here is going to be right there with those others.
Q: Just looked on-line and see that the Raptors have dropped their lawsuit and against the Spanish Federation.
Why I ask as they have every right to re-coup the monies lost? Toronto has thrown money away so often but here us my top five dumb money moves.
1. Anything to do with Lenny Wilkens' contract
2. Hakeem the Nightmare
3. Alvin Williams, nice guy, not so good basketball player
4. The Alonzo Mourning affair
5. And by far the worst financial decision ever made by the Raps, Yogi Stewart, the single worst player to ever hit the league after Zan Tabak.
Are the coffers just that full at MLSE that they can throw away money, or not even collect on money owed?
Is this organization better off with BC at the helm? As the days continue to tick by, I say, not really.
If he cannot pull off a blockbuster on trade day, the Raps will be 5-8 again in the east next year. Every team in their division will get better this offseason with high draft picks. What do we get at 17, I'll tell, NOTHING! Batum, please, can you say soft and powerfully weak. CDR from Memphis, flash in the pan, undersized. There really is nobody out there to impact the Raps this season. If BC cannot move up or move bodies out in the next 45 days, this franchise is doomed for another dismal season.
The only saving grace is next year if they go barely above 500 and out in the first round , they will finally fire Sam Mitchell and get a real coach, who actually knows X's and O's.
The GM is soft, and the team is soft. I would have sued until I got partial amounts of Garbo's salary back.
Dean E, Whistler
A: Wow, we’re in a good mood, aren’t we?
First of all, Alvin Williams could play. So that’s a strike against you. And Yogi Stewart got a bad deal, yes; but he’s not the worst player in this franchise’s history, let alone to “ever hit the league.”
And I presume you’ve already learned that the Raptors didn’t drop the lawsuit, they are negotiating directly with the Spanish federation now rather than going through the courts. But that option is still open.
Now, go cheer up. Look out at the mountains or something.
Q: Doug, look back at the 2006 draft, I am sure its been said, but I believe the Raps brain trust was partial in drafting Bargani, L. Aldridge would have been the better fit for what they needed a rebounder and scorer, plus good friends with Bosh. If you look at all the teams still going strong, that good to great inside rebounding and Defense. Would like to know your thought.
Shawn K, Brampton
A: New here? I won’t concede until the end of next season that the pick was wrong. And watching Kendrick Perkins destroy the Pistons on the boards last night – and he’s no Wilt Chamberlain – as well as watching Pau Gasol get abused by Tim Duncan regularly, I’ll dispute that any of them have “good to great inside rebounding and defense.”
Q: Your article today about the Detroit/Boston game and the injuries McDyess suffered that almost cost him a career had me thinking about all the players who have had careers ruined by injuries. Who are some of the biggest disappointments in your mind in the past 20 or so years that have either had a career shortened or failed to fulfill potential due to injuries. McDyess, Larry Johnson and Penny Hardaway all come to mind for me.
Brad M, Waterloo
A: Well, one that comes to mind immediately is Grant Hill. People don’t remember just how good he was. Others? You’ve got a pretty good bunch there. Some scouts will tell you Shaun Livingston had the potential to be great and it’ll be interesting to see how he comes back from his knee injuries.
Ralph Sampson would have to be in the conversation, as would Bernard King. I’m sure there are others and I’m sure readers will point them out.
Q: You, and other columnists have reported that T.J. Ford's best friend on the team is Chris Bosh. Given that the Raptors are trying to trade one of their point guards, do they take into consideration how a potential trade of T.J. would affect their star player? How do you think Bosh would react to no longer having T.J. around?
Sohail G, Collingwood
A: No, I don’t think they should concern themselves one bit with that, they need to concern themselves with making the team better. And if they do that, it won’t have impact whatsoever on Bosh. This is a business, everyone knows it’s a business, and friendship, while nice, takes a back seat to winning every time.
Q: Hi Doug, I'm hearing a lot of people tout Batum as a possible pick for the Raps at 17. Sounds to me like he is Jamario: 6-8, long, athletic, unpolished offensively. Has Jamario reached his ceiling already? I know he is an older sophomore, but I have to feel that we would be better serviced getting a versatile, rebounding 4 or 5.
Adam T, Ottawa
A: I have no idea if Batum will end up being the pick but he’s about eight years younger than Moon, an inch taller and has more room to improve. I don’t know if Moon has reached his ceiling, I suspect he has, and if they feel Batum is an upgrade, they’ll take him.
Q: What has happened to my main man Roy Hibbert? If he came out last year, he was a top ten pick at worst, he stays another year, and people don't even have him in the top 20 anymore. His offence may be suspect, but in college, offence seems to ignore the post. His defence is NBA ready, and I feel he will end up being the steal of the draft. As they always say "You can't teach size." What has made his stock fall so far?
Shawn L, Bowmanville
A: It’s not so much what he did, but what others did. There are a whole bunch of freshmen who’ve entered the draft more highly touted than Hibbert.
Q: Skimming through the internets today and I came across an interesting Blurb which listed the names of the coaches that have won NBA titles in the past 20 years.
A tip of the hat goes to yahoo's Ball Don't Lie Blog....here is the list:
Popovich, Riley, Brown, Jackson, Tomjanovich, Daly.
And you know what? That's it.
As they put it "Basketball, quite simply, is a sport where coaching seriously, seriously matters."
Now having read that, are you sure that Sam Mitchell is the man for the Job here?
Steve H, Mississauga
A: I’m not sure of anything. But if you look at that list and extend it to include: David Robinson, Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili; Shaq and Dwyane Wade; Billups, Hamilton and Wallace; that Jordan fellow along with Kobe and Shaq; The Dream and Isiah, Dumars, Vinny Johnson and Laimbeer you’d get a sense that coaching, while important, is made much easier with the best players in the game.
Does Sam have it? I don’t know; if he gets quality players like that, I bet he does.
Q: Hey Doug, chalk me up as one of the people who love the Spurs... I fell for basketball after watching Tim Duncan in the 2003 finals.
Anyways, my question is actually about Duncan, in my opinion he is the best PF to ever play the game. Will it end up being a black mark on his career that he was never a repeat champion?
PS. Thanks for answering my Jim Todd question.
Vanlang N, Ottawa
A: If he retired tomorrow with four championships, the fact that none of them came consecutively will do nothing to diminish the way he’s thought of. Nor should it.
Q: Hi Doug - I am a recent fan to basketball, after watching a Phoenix Suns game with Steve Nash. Man, he's amazing to watch.
One thing I have noticed is that players that are picked in the draft are often expected to have an immediate impact on their team, at least more often than in other pro sports. In hockey and baseball, it seems to me that draft picks tend to need more time to develop before they enter the league - think Jason Spezza of the Sens. What is it about basketball that allows such a relatively large proportion of young players from the draft to make an immediate impact? Is this a naive question?
Love the blog - I've learned a lot from your writing.
Finally, am I the only one with a man-crush on BC? He's so cool....
Albrecht S-H, Sudbury
A: No, not naïve at all.
The biggest factors are age and experience. NBA teams now can’t draft players until they’re 19 and have spent a year in college, where they play top-flight basketball and grow as men, too (well, most of them at least).
There’s also the fact there’s really nowhere for top picks to go and learn. The D League isn’t really an option for a top 15 or 20 pick and it’s not like NBA teams can draft a teenager and leave him in junior or college. It’s almost like they have to force feed them all the intricacies of professional basketball.
Q: Being a sports writer and an overall hoops fan, you must grow fond or partial to other teams and/or players. It seems you have a lot of respect for the Pistons organization as well as the Spurs. For players it seems like Kobe, Duncan and Billups? For fan base it's the Jazz fans. Is this assessment accurate? Also any other notables that have your respect?
Phil K, Singapore
A: Very accurate, actually.
I also have huge respect for Steve Nash and Kevin Garnett, I appreciate the way Jerry Sloan comports himself as a coach and seeing a guy like Grant Hlll persevere through so many injuries makes me appreciate his mental toughness.
Q: Hiya Doug. I've never understood 100% the difference between an "analyst" and a "colour commentator". Are you able to explain? What are the qualifications for each position?
Sherry E, Toronto
A: Nothing, really. The words are interchangeable. They are the guys who fill in the airtime when the play-by-play guy is done, they are supposed to add insight and explain why what just happened happened.
Most teams look for ex-players or ex-coaches to fill that role.
As for the description? Well, we sometimes like to change up words, simple as that.
Q: I'm a little concerned about the Raptors and their drafting since Grunwald left. While Grunwald had some success in the draft (Carter, McGrady, Bosh) he seemed to have trouble keeping them around and finding the right coach/compliment players. Since he left, the last two GM's have done well with the compliment players from Europe or by trades (Calderon, Ford, Parker, Garbo, Rasho, Delfino), but have seriously missed out on some high draft picks. Would you agree that the Raptors biggest problem is that they haven't found a starter in the draft since 2003 despite having high picks?
Dave T, London
A: Let’s look at it
In ’04 they blew the pick on Araujo, in ’05 they took Villanueva, who started almost half a season (36 games) and then was traded for a starting point guard. In ’06 they drafted Bargnani, who will be a starter and in ’07 they didn’t have a pick. So, four years, three drafts, two starters, only one really blown pick. I’m okay with their drafting, except Araujo.
Q: It’s been a while since I have sent you a question. How important is it for a team to have a Big Three? A lot of teams have ‘em, KG Peirce and Allen. Parker, Duncan and Manu. Johnson, Horford and Bibby to name a few. And if the Raps land a great player this off-season, is Calderon good enough to be seen as part of a big three?
Matthew M, Scarborough
A: I think it’s important to have good players, period. I know much is made of “Big Threes” but if it wasn’t for Oberto and Bowen, would the Spurs be that good? How about Fisher in L.A.? Which of the Pistons constitutes a Big Three?
Calderon is, by my estimation and in the opinion of a whole lot of smarter NBA types, more than capable of being a top three player on a very good team.
Q: Doug, as I have been watching the playoffs a question came to mind. Do the players actually practice their strange and unusual dances/warm-ups (see Rasheed Wallace or Damon Jones/LeBron James)? After seeing numerous commercials on the Score hi-lighting these hi-jinks I just had to ask.
Garth S, Chilliwack
A: I don’t think they “practice” the dances, they seem pretty free-flowing, at least in the case of the Pistons. I do think the pre-game dances/hand slaps/kicks/arm waves are scripted, or at least consistent from game-to-game.