A little bit of Sunday morning mail
Sorry it’s a bit late, had a chance to sleep in and took it. Lots of stuff here, a few draft related queries left over because the workouts start Tuesday and I can see this evolving in a week full of draft stuff.
Q: Doug, I will be hugely disappointed in this organization if we don't end up with either Joey Dorsey or Richard Hendrix in this draft. With two mean, physical rebounding specialists available (according to the draft boards) at reasonable positions in the draft and the Raptors with such a glaring need for toughness, wouldn't you expect the Raps to try to obtain a late first-round or early second-round pick so they can grab one of them?
Mike D, Markham
A: Prepare to be hugely disappointed.
No, I wouldn’t expect the Raptors to add a late first-round pick because the guaranteed contract that includes will limit financial flexibility in the next three years. And if they get a second-round pick somehow, I’d expect it to be someone raw they could maybe stash in Europe.
Q: I was reading that the PBL, the Premier Basketball League is expanding to Toronto. The league us made up of franchises that basically seceded from the ABA.
I can see a D-League team keeping its head above the water in this market, if they have the NBA behind them. I know that supposedly there is an ABA team headed to Hamilton, a league where franchises are truly day-to-day.
My question is whether or not there is any market for minor league pro-basketball in the GTA?
Steve C, Hamilton
A: The Premier what? No, it will not fly, it won’t draw flies and if there’s an owner out there willing to lose all that money, I suggest he send it to me, it’ll go to better use.
And if that alleged ABA team ever plays a game in Hamilton, I will be shocked.
The D League team? Maybe one partially-owned by the Raptors will be something like a financial loss-leader and it’ll draw a few fans on a consistent basis. It still won’t make a profit.
The market is basically there for the Raptors to develop front-office talent, maybe stash a player or two and keep their eye on the minors without having to travel to Colorado to see their franchise play.
Q: What do you think of the new flopping fines going in effect next season? I imagine the first 1-2 years it will be hectic. Refs maybe unsure of when exactly to call it, and of course players arguing the call to death. Do you think it will eventually end the flopping era?
Amanda F, Barrie
A: It’s a valiant effort by the league to clean up one of its problems but I’m not sure it’s going to work. Sure, the guys who sit in the stands and monitor games can provide video of flops and the league will issue fines – I can’t imagine they’ll be huge ones – but I think it’ll be one of those things were it works well at the start before it backslides. It’s really, really subjective and that’s not going to sit well with players who pile up fines. Oh, and I can here the whining from players and their agents, too.
But it’ll be nice while it lasts ‘cause we all hate flopping.
Q: Two questions:
First, I'm trying NOT to be completely negative, but I see the Raptors improving as a team if they trade Bargnani and Ford for a few half filled Gatorade bottles. (preferably lemon-lime or rain, but I'd settle for anything.) My thoughts are this: they are good players on paper, but the inconsistencies are too much to take. As a team, give the minutes to Hump or Calderon, we'd be better off.
Second, we as fans see what we need to add to our team to improve. A rough, aggressive, slashing, rebounding machine, but is it possible to cut out the dead weight as a package to get someone while keeping our goods? I just don't want to get rid of Calderon or AP to get better, because in my opinion, BC would just be changing our weaknesses instead of correcting the one's we have.
Chris G, Barrie
A: Positively, Gatorade’s way better than a 22-year-old seven-footer or a point guard, you’re absolutely right. And when you’ve got Hump ahead of Bargnani, you need to check what they’re putting that Gatorade. I believe you’ll find vodka or some other stimulant.
And if you want to obtain something good in a trade, you have to give something good back. Unless you’re dealing with the financially-strapped Memphis Grizzlies, who traded Pau Gasol so they could lessen the long-term financial burden on whatever sucker buys that team, you aren’t packaging “dead weight” for “a rough, aggressive, slashing, rebounding machine.”
What you do, if you’re Toronto, is deal from your depth, which is the foursome of swingmen and the two starting-calibre point guards. Even if you suspect one is worth no more than a sports drink.
Q: In some circles, there is the belief that the NBA wants certain franchises to do well. It seems like in the last decade, San An has been a beneficiary of numerous calls and decisions. If Bruce Bowen is stepping underneath people, or bodychecking MVP point guards in a Pacers uni, isn't he instantly one of the league's most suspended goons
But after Game 4 it looks like the Spurs charms are lost on the NBA for a chance to get LA into the finals. Is that the common perception? I remember D-Wade getting all the "superstar" calls when he won his ring a couple of seasons back. How concerned is the league with their image of favouring certain players or teams?
Duane C, Toronto
A: Not as concerned as you think because they refuse to admit it’s a problem. And watching Bennett Salvatore make the absolute worst playoff call I’ve ever seen to take away a possible four-point play from Boston at a crucial point of Game 6 against Detroit (and killing all the conspiracy theorists who “knew” the league wanted Boston-LA) is case against the point.
Q: Just read on ESPN that Doug Collins has signed to coach the Bulls. It's an interesting but not surprising ews even given Collins' denials that he wanted to return to coach. He cited his relationship with Paxson, Reinsdorf, his fond memories of coaching Jordan back in the late '80s. I always see him as the guy who had the unenviable position of watching Phil Jackson take over from him and guide the team to the 6 championships and all the acclaim that he got from that. Then he goes to the Pistons and has little success. Then he goes to the Wizards, hired and fired by Jordan, and where he tore several strips off of Kwame Brown.
What do you think of Collins as a coach and how do you think he will do with guys like Joakim "light it up" Noah, Tyrus Thomas, Gordon, et al? If the Bulls don't turn it around next season, isn't Paxson on the hot seat?
Richard A, Markham
A: Well, you know now that report was a tad premature, I expect the official announcement to come this week.
I think Doug Collins is a very good coach – for about two seasons. That’s when his act wears a bit thin. He’ll get to the young players right away, that’s been his history, but then something will go wrong.
And I’d think John Paxson’s on the hotseat now, never mind next season.
Q: Hey Doug, quick question do you know if the ACC is planning on finally putting in new shot clocks next year? I know a lot of teams have put them in and was wondering why it hasn't been done here.
Mike M, Unionville
A: You’re the first person I’ve ever heard mention the shot clocks. I do know there’s allegedly a new scoreboard coming in next fall, not sure if they’ll change the shot clocks at that time.
Q: One of the questions which has intrigued me for all of this past season is why did the Raptors sign Maceo Baston? Was it because they needed a replacement for Slokar or Sow? Was he really bad and if so when did they make this discovery? Secondly what is the situation with Roko Ukic? Is he any closer to making the move to Toronto?
Mike C, Gravenhurst
A: They thought Baston could help. Slokar and Sow both got other offers and, as the 13th or 14th man, Maceo does a good job. Baston wasn’t bad, he just wasn’t as good as the guys playing in front of him, just like Slokar and Sow were.
Ukic should be here next season, they’ll start working on a buyout as soon as his Italian league finals are over.
Q: Since I saw you dropped a line about P.J. Tucker a few weeks ago, I thought you might like an update... (but you probably already know). After winning the MVP title of the Israeli league P.J. Tucker lead his team Hapoel Holon to capture the Israeli championship beating (the eternal champion) Maccabi Tel Aviv 73-72. He lead his team in scoring 18pts.
Ted K, Thornhill
A: I did see that and P.J.’s other publicist, my man Eran, reports that a couple of Russian teams are looking at Tucker, which would get him a pretty lucrative contact. Good for P.J.
Q: Doug, I've gotta ask you to elaborate: "It's a play that's not on the basketball or in the general flow of the game. It's like the old saying about pornography: I don't know exactly what it is, but I know it when I see it.
I think that's the way the refs are calling it, too." I don't disagree. I think that hard fouls are good old basketball, and your definition fits a flagrant. The million dollar question: why is the NBA not making hack-a-Shaq a flagrant? Not in the flow of the game. Not an attempt at the ball.
Paul M, Toronto
A: Hard fouls, yes. Hitting a guy in the head, or shoving a defenceless player while he’s in there air? Not a chance. That’s a flagrant foul in the first quarter of the first game of the regular season or the fourth quarter of Game 7 of some playoff series.
You know there’s a difference between hitting a guy in the head – which is illegal – and Hack-a-Shaq, which by the way the league is trying to make illegal as soon as next season.
Q: When can the Toronto Raptors start offering Chris Bosh a contract extension?
Sam A, Toronto
A: Long-term planning, are we? If, at the end of the 2009-10 season Bosh does not elect to opt out of the final year of his contract, the Raptors can offer him an extension that would kick in after the 2010-11 season.
Q: Hey Doug, I have a short question but hoping for a detail answer. How was your reaction when they drafted Araujo knowing they could draft Iguodala? It's ok to rant, just let everything out, choose the harshest words if you have to. Actually, it's actually quite funny when you do that. Thanks.
Troy P, Edmonton
A: My immediate reaction was: “Who the hell is Rafael Araujo?” We had heard of Biedrins as a possible big man, we knew about Iguodala’s athletic ability, it took a big ol’ google search to find out anything about Araujo. And then it was “big, immobile, thuggish dude who played in a rather inconsequential NCAA conference.”
After that, though, we let the story unfold and as you recall, he was a pretty good story. Kid arrives in U.S.from Brazi lwith no money and no English and becomes pretty solid basketball player.
It really wasn’t until summer league – I remember the game he committed 10 personal fouls – that we thought things might not work out so swimmingly.
I think the phrase that Summer League day in Minneapolis was: “Holy crap, this kid’s got some work to do.”
Q: Okay, so I have seen the Sprite slam dunk contest every night during the playoffs. I'm wondering if Jamario has seen it? What has the coaching staff tried to do to get this guy to use his physical ability on the offensive end. I would be fine with two charges every night taking it to the hoop. It would make the team offence much more dangerous if opponents actually thought he might come flying down the lane with the ball about 12 feet high.
Will we see more of this next year?
Kevin M, Maple
A: I presume he’s seen it ‘cause I presume he’s watched games on TV.
The coaching staff has done the same thing since the first month of last season, tell him to drive the ball, shown him video of the space he has to drive the ball and screamed at him incessantly to attack the basket.
And if it didn’t work over the course of 75 starts last season, why in the world would anyone think it will work next season? Hence the need for the upgrade at that spot.
Q: So everyone knows that a wing SG/SF scorer will likely brought in. But what about a stopper? Parker is getting up there in age and is better suited as a well-rounded 6th man. So can the Raps use the MLE on a guy like Pietrus? There's been talk of him coming here last offseason, and at the trade deadline. If the luxury tax was preventing them from signing him wouldn't they rather just not sign Delfino and use the money on "Air France" instead?
Jonny G, Kitchener
A: The luxury tax had no impact on Toronto’s interest in Pietrus last summer whatsoever, it was a combination of the fact he was a restricted free agent and that the Toronto spent its available money quickly on Kapono.
As for this year? I presume there’d be some interest again but be careful not to over-estimate Pietrus. He’s good, no question about it; but he’s not great.
Q: Celtics and Lakers. You never would have thought it a year ago when Kobe was crying for a trade and Paul Pierce was all by himself. Times change though. I'm still a young buck born in the 80's, any chance you remember any outstanding moments of previous Celtic/Laker finals which created them as such historic rivals?
Andrew N, Ajax
A: I do remember them and the first of the week here and in the newspaper are going full of them.
Here’s two to look up: Memorial Day Massacre and Jack Kent Cooke’s antics in 1969.
More later, of course.
Q: Do you think the number 1 reason why both teams are in the finals is the one sided trades both made. What was the best raptors trade of all time. Did you ever cross watering holes with Norman Mailer?
Bob W, Winnipeg
A: Best trade the Raptors ever made? Antonio Davis for Jonathan Bender. Got them a starting centre who helped them get the playoffs and stay there for three seasons. Second best? Oak for Camby but that move came at a much higher price than Bender.
And, no, I never had occasion to see, meet or hear Norman Mailer.
Q: Why doesn't Chris Bosh whine and pout about not surrounding him with better players like Kobe Bryant and Paul Pierce did? Maybe the Raptors will find the courage to pull off one or two blockbuster trades involving all star calibre players coming this way. It may get him a shot at a championship next year. It worked for these two cry babies.
Or maybe Chris Bosh has more class then these two unprofessional athletes combined.
Rob R, Hamilton
A: My thoughts? I don’t think Pierce is considered a whiner; in fact, he wanted to stay rather than go. Bryant? Yes, he put some pressure on his GM in the off-season but when the year began he was the league’s MVP so his disappointment didn’t have an impact on his play one little it. In fact, he’s never played better.