A little light reading for you
A heavy, heavy mailbag today, which will give you something to read while I’m hanging around the Air Canada Centre at various camps and workout sessions trying to get my head around the draft.
And then, hopefully, finding an adult beverage or two.
Q: What is your opinion on Chris Kaman vs. Rasho Nesterovic. A friend and myself differ on who is a better centre. I say Rasho has the basketball smarts and enough moves to be the better player. While Kaman does put up bigger numbers, he is also a less consistent player, despite his athletic edge. If you were GM of the Raptors and the Clippers offered Kaman straight-up (assuming contracts were equal in price and length) would you pull the trigger? Where does Rasho rank among NBA centres?
And what is his likely fate once his contract expires with the raps?
Ricky D, Toronto
A: Let’s see, Kaman’s six years younger, quicker and an equal for to Nesterovic at both ends. He’s finally coming into his own as a good, young big man so I’d take him over Rasho all the time. And I like Rasho and his game.
If the Clippers ever made that offer, I’d take it in a minute.
I’d put Rasho about middle of the pack among NBA centres and I think when his contract’s done, he might be able to get one more deal for two or three years to play as a backup somewhere and teach the game to a promising youngster.
Q: Quick question (and not entirely a swipe at Bargnani, because I'm still reserving judgement until this season), but why do GMs "love" 7 footers with range? I understand the shooting and spacing and mismatch potentials, but it seems to me, that I'd just as soon have a dagger tossing 6'7" shooter outside who can slash and defend the players that normally play out there.
I can only think of one successful example (Dirk), and as good as he is, he doesn't look like a total game changer, and he seems to have more driving skills then AB or Darko, etc. Are there other examples, or are 7 footers with range a pipe dream that GMs get hooked on but doesn't generally work out? Interested in your thoughts...
Sasha F, Toronto
A: General managers and scouts are always looking for someone who does something no one else does, or at least something very few others do. A 7-footer with legit three-point shooting range is a pretty unique combination that can cause matchup problems.
I can’t think of a specific 7-footer with those kinds of skills, though.
Q: I always hear everyone talk about what a good GM Brian Colangelo is. For a while I thought so too. Then one of my friends (who hates the Raptors) asked me, "What has Brian Colangelo done in any organization that was so great?"
Then he got me thinking........he was right! I still can't come up with an answer so maybe you can help me out. What has B.C done in the past that was so outstanding? What he he done to get so much respect around the league?
Mark M, Toronto
A: Well, he turned around Phoenix from a 30-win team to a conference title contender by shrewd moves (Nash, Bell, Stoudemire, Marion); he took a Toronto team that had won 24 games the year previous and made some bold moves (Ford for Villanueva) and key additions (Parker, Garbajosa, Nesterovic for Bonner) and changed the culture around the organization The Raptors missed the playoffs for five years before he got here, they’ve been them in each of the last two.
Oh, and he's been the NBA's Executive Of The Year twice. That enough?
Q: Looks like Canada Basketball is starting to make some decent moves to get the program back to respectability.
My questions: Any Canadians have a shot at being drafted this year? If not (which I realize is likely) are there any in the next couple years that might make it?
Darren K, Kitchener
A: Can’t see a Canadian NBAer on the horizon in the next five years.
Q: I have been anticipating this off-season (i.e. Bargnani's development, the Ford/Calderon dilemma and the draft) as I believe it is a pivotal one for the long term success of the franchise. I am interested in your thoughts on Chris Duhon. I believe he is an unrestricted free agent and I think he would be an excellent backup to Ford or Calderon. I would also like to know if you think Calderon can become at least a passable defender? If we draft a guard or small forward, we will be hard pressed to find a legit interior presence who can compliment Bosh and provide help when Calderon, assuming he is our PG in October, inevitably allows penetration.
Omari J, Pickering
A: Chris Duhon would be an adequate backup, I guess; but they could do better, I think. If they’re going to go that route, I’d take Roger Mason Jr. over Duhon as a relatively cheap free agent backup.
Yes, Calderon can become a passable defender, it just takes work. He turned himself into a good shooter from a bad one so why couldn’t he do that on the defensive end, too?
Q: Conventional wisdom suggests that building a solid NBA team (which can contend for a championship) is a long-term strategy i.e. you begin with a solid nucleus, manage the cap well, add good role players -and given time to gain experience and familiarity with each other- you hope that's enough to translate into a winning team.
But every so often, a team is able to make the giant leap from very bad to very good, such as the Celtics this year. My question is, how often do these type of opportunities present themselves?
Under what 'perfect storm' of circumstances would the Raptors find themselves in such a position? It obviously can -and does- happen. I would imagine that of all people, BC (being the guy who engineered the Nash trade back on '04) is more aware of this fact than most other people.
Terence G, Mississauga
A: The perfect storm would be dealing TJ for a swingman who has a breakout year, almost at all-star potential; getting a player with the No. 17 who can crack the front-court rotation behind Bosh and Bargnani and ahead of Rasho and seeing Bargnani develop a low-post game and rediscover his three-point shot.
Q: I was wondering if you think Marreese Speights would be a good pick for the Raptors in the draft. He is an athletic 6'11 big man with good range who could help us in the front court. I am still curious if his post moves are good. If his post moves did develop well and he played solid post defence he would be a great compliment to Bosh's "outside" game. Also if the Raptors did draft him or another big man project like JaVale McGee would they consider taking the route of getting a former great NBA Big man to train their prospect like L.A. did with Bynum-Kareem and Orlando did with Howard-Ewing.
A: Speights is moving up the draft lists of people I talk to and may be on the Raptors radar. They’ll have him in Saturday to work out, too. And I’ll be able to tell you more after that.
Oh, and I don’t see a change in the coaching staff for the coming season.
Q: In one of your non-blog things (what'd you call those: "articles"?), you mentioned that John Lucas Jr. was "the son of the former Raptors consultant." When did senior get fired/not-re-signed? Is this part of TJ being on his way out? Have there, or will there, be any more coaching (I mean assistants...this is not a "Fire Sam" email) changes? On that front, do the Raptors still have the smallest coaching staff in the league (someone mentioned this a couple of years ago when we had three assistants)?
Paul M, Toronto
A: John’s contract to “consult” expired May 1 and has no bearing on the TJ situation at all. And, no, I don’t think there will be any coaching changes and having three assistants and Eric Hughes on the staff, it’s the same size as the majority of the league.
Q: Hey Doug, Why do teams promise to draft players? It doesn't make sense. What is the advantage of promising a player you will be pick them before draft night?
Aftab R, Brampton
A: Mainly so the player won’t go work out for another team, which then might want to trade up to get him.
Q: Here's a list for everybody, and I apologize if it's already been listed before. But anyway. Who do you think are the most skilled raptors of all time? What I mean is b-ball IQ, offense/defense, passing, intangibles.?
In not particular order I would have to include guys like Oakley, Mark Jackson, and Garbajosa.
Patrick K, Binghampton
A: Add Alvin Williams, Muggsy Bogues and Dell Curry to that list.
Q: I just read your summary of the Garbo situation in the blog and you make it sound like the buyout was more a Raptor initiative than Garbo's. I bet the fact that Garbo wants to play for his country in the Olympics more than anything, and was in fact listed on their roster, did more to precipitate the buyout than the Raptors seeking financial flexibility or roster space. (I'm sure they would have happily used his expiring contract as trade ballast. Now, if I'm not mistaken, it amounts to some insignificant cap space.) I like Garbo, and understand patriotism, but would you be as forgiving of Chris Bosh if he was coming off a significant injury and the Raps told him not to play for the U.S. Olympic Team and he reacted similarly to Garbo, putting national interests ahead of his NBA team obligations?
Richard E, Toronto
A: I would be absolutely as forgiving of Bosh or anyone in the same situation. But I don’t think it’d ever come to that, Garbo and his desire to play for his country and in his country surpassed any other national-team desire of any American-born player I’ve ever come across. Bosh included.
Q: Thank you for highlighting the positives of Garbo's buyout. I'm very excited to watch him play for Spain without worrying about how an injury could impact the Raptors season, like I feared every second he played during last summer's EuroBasket tournament.
Now that the Raptors have a job opening for a grizzled, glue guy, Euro-vet, are there any indications Colangelo is targeting Ramunas Siskauskas? It's been a pleasure to watch him compete for his Lithuanian national team and win back-to-back Euroleague titles in 2007 with Panathinaikos Athens, and this year with CSKA Moscow. He'd be a great fit and like Anthony Parker when he signed with Toronto, it looks like Siska has accomplished all he can in Euroleague play. What contract--in terms of years and money--do you think it would take to bring him to Toronto?
Peter A, Vancouver
A: I love Siskauskas’s game but talking to the people whose international basketball knowledge I respect, I don’t think there’s any kind of money or deal that would bring him to the NBA now. And aside from in general conversations about international tournaments and the like, I’ve never heard his name mentioned in Toronto.
Q: Three questions for you, at least one of them serious. First, now that Corey Maggette is opting out and becoming an unrestricted free agent, how much do you think he will cost and what's the likelihood he ends up in Raptors red? Secondly, what do you think about bringing Oakley back as a special assistant coach, just to toughen em up? Finally, is there a number I can call or a petition I can sign to get Hump his minutes back? Didn't seem he did anything to deserve the benching and no one exactly stepped up.
Dave W, Toronto
A: Considering Maggette’s opting out of $7 million a year, I’m guessing it costs $8-9 million to start on a five-year deal and that’s a pretty hefty price tag.
I got the impression talking to him the other night that Oak’s got a pretty cushy life and is quite enjoying it. I don’t think he wants to be anything more than he is.
Hump is, was and, until they make a move, the fourth big man in the rotation. He’ll get those minutes.
Q: Hey Doug. If the Raptors draft a center who right away shows more promise at that position than Andrea, where does that leave Andrea? Would you make him a sixth man or trade him. I just don't see him ever becoming the rebounder the Raptors need.
Dan W, Newmarket
A: If they draft a centre this year, that guy is not likely to be anywhere close to being a starter so it’s status quo for now. If, two years from now, let’s say, he’s better than Bargnani, then you might see some moves. But it’s not something that’s going to happen right away.
Q: Doug, Now that we're fully into the silly season I've got a question about perennial trade-rumour favourite Corey Magette - well not so much about him as about his salary. Let's say he opts out of his contract meaning he is an unrestricted free agent on July 1. Can Toronto still work out a sign and trade with the Clippers in that scenario or are we out of luck unless we figure out a way to sign him as a simple FA (which would be a problem given our proximity to the tax)?
Sam S, Toronto
A: Oh, yeah, they can do a sign-and-trade.
Q: Hey Doug, here's hoping third time's a charm. You mentioned that your odds on TJ moving are 80-20, I'm assuming that the 20 part is Calderon going in a sign/trade. What could we expect to make Bryan pull the trigger on Jose going that he wouldn't get for TJ? Also, I feel like Kapono could potentially be a killer someday. He just seems to have that intensity about him where he'd love to throw some nails in a coffin. Don't you think it might be wise to do what they did with Barney and just throw him out there and get through the growing pains? He was dead-eye Dick in the playoffs. Methinks he'd look great in a Lakers jersey.
Andrew I, Halifax
A: Actually, of that 20 per cent, I’d say it’s five per cent they move Jose and 15 per cent that they start the season with the two of ‘em and move T.J. during the season. But I think he’s gone long before that.
As I’ll mention in a question further down, Kapono’s going to have a chance to start. It’ll be up to him to win the job.
Q: Great Blog! While I generally agree with your cantankerous musings, I must disagree with one point regarding AP. I think he's one of the most consistent and talented players on the team who arguably plays the best defense. He's one of the better 3pt shooters in the league and definitely 2nd best on the team (except when Kapono's slumping)...why should he get lumped in with the rest? It's not exactly his fault they completely forget about him on offense while we all sit here and watch Jamario jack 3s.
Matt M, Yarmouth, NS
A: Cantankerous musings? Thanks! A new name for the blog!
I think the concern with Parker’s inconsistency arises from his periodic reluctance to either drive the ball, come of curls and get shots up quickly and his penchant for not having great defensive nights.
But you’re right, of the four, he was by far the most consistent.
Q: I'm still pretty new to basketball but I was just reading that Zach Randolph has 3 years and $16 million left on his deal. I was just wondering was the extension he got at the time considered reasonable or was everyone in shock when it happened? I'm pretty sure that LeBron fella isn't making that much
Joseph C, Toronto
A: I don’t know if “shock” was the right word, he’d put up some good numbers in Portland and seemed to be on the verge of being a dominant player.
And, don’t worry, when his time comes, LeBron’s going to get that and more.
Q: Who, or what, determines who receives the Finals MVP award? I'm looking at the box scores and it easily could've gone to KG or Ray, but why did Pierce get it? Not saying he didn't deserve it or anything, but how is it determined?
Sam C, Kingston
A: It’s a nine-member panel of media members who were covering the final. I didn’t get a vote but I would have given it to Pierce, too. Garnett was too up and down and while Allen was good, he didn’t dominate games like Pierce did.
Q: So, we keep saying that the number 3 spot needs an upgrade, number 3 needs an upgrade, number 3 needs an upgrade.
For some reason, Kapono seemed like he was the best player on our team in the playoffs.
Dude was hitting. Perimeter defense wasnt as any worse that anyone else. He is an accurate shooter that spreads the court and creates space in the middle.
Why so much hate Doug? How many minutes do you think he is worth on upper level team.
A: If you’re talking about an upgrade in athleticism, Kapono is not it. Not even close.
But I do know he’ll be given every opportunity to win a starting job when training camp opens, mainly off his resurgent playoff performance. The only thing we don’t know is who he’ll be competing against.
Q: With Juan Carlos Navarro going back to play in Europe, does it become official now that the NBA will have a very tough time attracting the top European talent to come over to play to the US? If a top European team is willing to give Navarro 24 millions for 4 years, would there be a another team in Europe willing to pay Calderon for example 8-9 millions per year? Why in the world would the top talented european players would come to play to the NBA when they can get equal or nearly equal money, play closer to home and not to have to worry about a US Dollar going downhill? Think also of Tiago Splitter and other Europeans selected in the draft not willing to come to the NBA for a rookie salary.
Juanes S, Edmonton
A: Very good question and very good points. In fact, I think you’ll see lots of players deciding to stay over there and that’s why teams thinking of drafting Europeans are making sure beforehand that the guy will come.
No one wants a Fran Vazquez situation on their hands.
Q: A non-Raptors, non-draft related question: How are the Celtics looking for next year? Who's back? Who's gone? etc.
Tim H, Windsor
A: Sam Cassell’s a free agent and is likely gone; James Posey can opt out of his team, I’m hearing he will but he’ll re-sign in Boston; Tony Allen’s a free agent and they may not be able to keep him. Many expect P.J. Brown to re-retire. But the five starters are all back.
Q: Everything we here about Miami indicates they have no interest in Beasley and desperately want Rose in the backcourt with Wade. Could this be a ploy by "basketball mastermind" Pat Riley? Could he be downplaying interest in Beasley with hopes that the Bulls bite on Rose, thus letting Beasley drop to no. 2? Or has Beasley's stock legitimately fallen since the end of the college season.
Naweed T, Markham
A: I’ve been telling all of you for weeks, believe very little of what you read or hear around this time of year. Except for what you read here, of course.
So, yes, there is all kinds of posturing and misinforming going on everywhere, Miami included.
Q: A draft related question and a comment. Bill Walker was in for a work-out but now seems to have fallen off the radar, why? I like his game a lot.
All this talk about Lopez not having range - personally I don't want a centre leaving the key. We need rebounds and defense - not scoring.
Doug S, Peterborough
A: From what I’m hearing, there are concerns about Walker’s knee and whether he’s got a position in the NBA.
And, yes, Lopez does provide those things and would likely usurp Humphries as the fourth big man in the rotation. But he is raw, raw, raw.
Q: I know you hate trade speculation, and this is probably an exercise in futility. But what the heck, it's the offseason and there's not much going on. Here are some FAPs (Frequently Assumed Proposals) on trades involving TJ Ford. They work under the cap, so let me know which ones you like, which ones are never gonna happen, and anything else:
1. Nene - one extra yearf or an injury prone, but gifted big man.
2. Haslem - not a 5, but he rebounds and defends well and can be the new "Garbo". Same years and money as TJ.
3. Crawford - imperfect guard for imperfect guard, same # years left and at least he can penetrate and create his own shot.
4. Pryzbilla and Blake (for cap purposes). Pryz has equal length contract and becomes our best shot blocker and rebounder.
5. Kenny Thomas - take on a shorter deal in return for the talent downgrade, but at least he defends and rebounds.
I HATE the Diaw rumour - don't need another passive, inconsistent big man who has no clear position, especially at the cost of the 1st rd pick when there's some decent talent available in the draft.
S A, Markham
A: This is in now way a suggestion that any of those trade possibilities exist but I’d have it Nene, Haslem, the Portland deal, then Crawford and then Thomas.
But, in any of them, there’d have to be something else coming back.
Q: I know that a lot of people feel that the raps will select a big in the draft and address a scoring wing player via free agency. Has anyone mentioned Tony Allen with the Raps? It seems to me like his career has taken a few unlucky turns but he has the potential to be a very solid defender and he is a very explosive player on the perimeter.
Matt M, Hamilton
A: Allen’s also always injured, inconsistent when he plays and armed with only the mid-level exception, I don’t imagine the Raptors would want to spend money to sign him.
Q: I believe the Raps should draft a "big" with their pick as there are so many "bigs" available this year. I like JaVale McGee from Nevada and believe he will still be there at 17 even though much of what I read is that he is a project. In your column this morning Jim Kelly said he would not work out because of passport and "other issues.” Can you enlighten us on those other issues and would the Raps still be considering him?
Paul D, Ajax
A: According to other reports and what I’ve heard myself is that McGee doesn’t want to, or won’t, work out for teams outside the lottery and he may already have a “promise” from some team drafting before Toronto.
So, no, I don’t imagine they’d consider him even on the off chance he was still on the board.
Q: Do you think the Raptors would be able to keep their 17th pick, make a trade to address the wings and still have a chance (or have enough assets) to get back into the latter part of the first round? Perhaps around 25 or so.. If they could get a guy like Batum here the Raps would have another young talented prospect for the future. I'd say take him at 17 but I don't think you can justify taking Batum there because they need someone who can contribute right away. He might become what Joey G could never could.
Mike B, Calgary
A: I’m not entirely sure that whoever they take at No. 17 is going to be able to contribute right away. All the available players have flaws and it’ll take some time to correct them.
As for dealing to obtain another pick? The only way I’d see that being possible is if they want to “buy” one in a trade for the allowable $3 million. But I have to say I haven’t heard that even being whispered about with the people I talk to.