Finally, the mail, a bit overdue
Sorry ‘bout the delay, gals and guys.
A trip to the national team camp yesterday turned into a longer reporting, writing day than I expected and then there was a little neighbourhood shindig that conspired to keep me away from the machine for a few hours.
But here’s the mail anyway and we’ll be back tomorrow with the usual pap and drivel.
Q: Thanks for making my morning coffee a little more informative and interesting.
My question is not so much about basketball as it is about reporting (I appreciate it when you give behind-the-scenes information on your job, as well as the team).
The other morning you posted a comment that mentioned the Pacer trade, but immediately clarified it by saying that nothing was imminent. This set off a storm in the forums, blogs, news sites, radio sports updates, sports TV updates, etc. I suppose, that is part of being in the media mecca that is Toronto.
My question is, in a broad sense but with this particular story as a recent example, how does it make you feel when you see such a strong reaction to some piece of information that you posted? In this case, it was often overstated on other mediums, as you had intentionally downplayed it at the time. Do you take any offense by being 'misquoted'? Is it flattering to see your hard work spread to the masses in such efficient style? If you give a piece of information out like that and it doesn't come true, do you feel embarrassed, or less satisfied with the work you put in to find it?
How about this, do your sources take offense to their tidbits of information spreading so quickly? Does one story like this coming out for you cause them to rethink giving you more info the next time?
Sorry, long post, and many questions.
Dale H, Kitchener
A: One of the best pieces of advice I ever got, from someone far more accomplished in this business than I am, was this:
On a beat, 90 per cent of the stories are tied, five per cent you win, five per cent you lose. That’s pretty much been true on my time covering the Raptors.
So you get your information – and believe me, it’s a very competitive city to report in – and you put it out there because, first and foremost, you’re here to serve the readers as best you can.
You feel quite proud when you win a story, just like you feel quite grumpy when you lose a story but, and I’m really getting clichéd here, you don’t get too high after a win and you don’t get too down after a loss.
There’s always another story brewing so you do one and move on to the other.
Sure, it’s nice to have your paper’s name, and your name, out there getting credit for a big break but it really isn’t what drives any good beat writer. What should drive them is doing the best possible job to provide correct, insightful, timely information in a style that includes context and is entertaining.
As for “sources,” the thing you do is build trust and the ones who help you out through stories don’t mislead you. Of course, if you protect them and help them, they will be quite willing to help you out again down the line.
Q: Some questions regarding team Canada's upcoming home games.
I plan on attending both games at the Ricoh Coliseum July 4th and 5th.
I've never been to an international game before so what can I expect in terms of skill, intensity, and general experience? I attend on average 10 Raptors games per year not including playoffs. How might these Canada games compare? Is there anything I should watch out for?
Scott F, Toronto
A: Good on you for going, all the rest of you should, too. In Hamilton and Toronto.
Now, for what to expect? The game’s different in a few ways. Not as crisp, not as free-flowing. Depending on the officials, it’s generally a bit rougher, both in style of play and the physical nature of the game.
There’s no defensive illegal defence, meaning defenders can camp out under the basket all day if they want, leading to more three-point and mid-range shooting.
With the Canadian team, you should watch for point guard play, since that’ll be the key to any success they have at the Olympic qualifier and you should watch to see if they are getting easy shots on offence because, last year at least, they struggled to score.
Q: A CBA 101 question for you: does a restricted free agent's team have the right to match an offer coming from a non-NBA team? For example, if a European club were to offer Delfino a contract which he accepted, would the Raptors have the right to match it and retain him or are they powerless should he choose to play for a team that isn't in the NBA?
Serge P, Ottawa
A: Good question. The answer is no, they can only match any offer he gets from an NBA team. If Panathinaikos or Olympiakos or CSKA Moscow or Real Madrid offers him a deal, he can take it and there’s nothing the Raptors, or any other NBA team in a similar circumstance with a restricted free agent, can do about it.
Q: I go to Toronto about 8-10 times a year, and I was wondering what they were building in front of the ACC? (the side facing towards the Rogers Centre) I saw a lot of construction when I passed it earlier this week.
Sam C, Kingston
A: Anything to help a visitor to our fine city.
Those are condos and offices and retail outlets and, I believe, future homes of wayward beat grunts.
Q: Doug, re the other player in the Pacers-Raptors deal, any thoughts on why Baston instead of Joey Graham?
Colin W, Toronto
A: The Pacers need an end-of-the-bench big more than they need another swingman and, I believe, they probably have their quota of Grahams.
Q: Being an open minded reporter, could you throw a few different perspectives on the trade? It's interesting to put yourself in these people's shoes.
1 - Andrea's view
2 - Rasho's view
3 - Jose's view
1 - Disappointment losing starting job, relief cause of less pressure
2 - Disappointment, no more playoffs
3 - hmmm, I'll let you take this one on
Andrew N, Ajax
A: I’d think more relief at a clearly-defined role rather than disappointment for Bargnani, I know Rasho will be ticked ‘cause he loved Toronto and I’m sure Jose’s full of confidence and excitement at now being the undisputed No. 1 point guard on an NBA playoff team.
Q: I am just wondering, what's up with Derrick Martin? Is he looking for another team or is the still going to stay with the Raptors?
Simen A, Brantford
A: Haven’t seen or heard of D Mart since the day after the season ended. I do know he won’t be back here in any capacity. I presume he’d try to hook on with a team as a third PG but more than likely he’s on someone’s coaching staff next year.
Q: Any chance we can get James Posey? How much do you think he'll command on the market? I would absolutely LOVE to have him in our lineup. It would really strengthen our perimeter defence, which is in serious need of help. I was pulling my hair our watching Turkoglu, Lewis, and Nelson go by our defensively challenged perimeter players in the playoffs. Any chance at all we could land him in free agency?
Bobby W, North York
A: Nope, no chance. None. Zippo. Ain’t gonna happen. No way, no how. Can’t be done. Won’t be done.
That answer the question okay?
Q: Doug if a team picks a long-term 'prospect' in the first round that they wish to leave in Europe (or wherever) for a year or 3, do they still have to sign and pay them right away? If they don't have to sign them right away then once they do it is for 3 years with a team option? Thanks.
Mike K, London
A: No, they don’t have to sign them, or pay them at all. But they do remain a team’s property in perpetuity. And once they sign, it’s for the standard rookie-scale contract.
Q: Although a late pick, I was surprised to see that Patrick Ewing Jr. was selected 43rd overall by Sacramento. From what I recall his college numbers were less then spectacular so I am left wondering why they drafted him in the first place? Is it the name? Or was it some hidden potential that I didn't see? With the Walton's and now the Ewing's still keeping one foot in the league I wouldn't be surprised if Michael Jordan's kids end up in a future draft.
Leroy B, Lethbridge
A: Teams often take gambles with second-round picks, trying to unearth some gem, or at least someone that might make the team. Bloodlines can’t hurt.
Q: Just a couple of quick questions.
1) Will Jawai be in TO next season? I, for one, am actually pretty excited to see how Baby Shaq would do in the NBA. It seems like the Raptors have identified their rebound deficiency and now are REALLY trying to fix it (adding two bigs down low).
2) Is there any chance that the Raps keep Hibbert? They were talking on TSN today about what Hibbert could contribute to the Raps if they happened to keep him. I know the pick is promised to Indiana, but is there any chance of this happening?
Cole C, Calgary
A: Yes, it looks now like Jawai will be in Toronto, sitting at the end of the Raptor bench, learning the NBA game.
And the trade is done, finished, kaput. I suppose in some weird, zany, unforeseen, cataclysmic circumstance it could fall apart but no one expects that to happen.
Q: Doug, there were a few well thought of prospects that went undrafted (e.g. Davon Jefferson and Pat Calathes). Do you see the Raptors pursuing any of them to fill out the roster?
Greg W, Toronto
A: When I talked to Bryan on Friday, it became clear the Raptors will be scouting heavily at every summer league trying to find a couple of young kids to fill out the roster. Maybe those two are on the horizon but I think they’d like to find at least one with some NBA, or at least professional, experience.
Q: Thanks for all of your coverage on the draft and the days leading up to it. One question I have relates to the now dead Gerald Wallace trade for TJ Ford. Why would talks have fallen through over a second round pick? Especially if the Raps still could've had their #17 and Rasho at the same time. The J O'Neal deal seems like it could be a good thing, but there also seems to be a lot more risk involved.
Zack R, Etobicoke
A: There’s risk involved in everything, and as far as I can tell, a potential Wallace deal fell apart because of the Bobcats, not the Raptors. And I guess you’ve have to ask that Jordanfellow down in Charlotte.
Q: I have a national team question regarding, Bol Kong. First he is in possession of a very cool name and from what I've read, and what little I've seen, he is in possession of a pretty solid game as well. Has there been any attempt to have him play for the National team? Is he good enough to be a benefit to the team? Last year Dalembert officially became a citizen so as to be able to compete for Canada, is there anything in the works for Kong? If not, why not?
Nik W, Ottawa
A: Far as I can tell, he’s got a pretty solid game for a teenager who’s never really played against anything close to good, consistent competition. And I’d presume he’s trying all he can do to clear up his visa issues to play college ball in the States. Once he does that, we can talk national team stuff. The kid’s young, let’s see how he handles himself against good players before we start thinking he can play against men internationally.
Q: So it’s pretty obvious the rapz have no confidence in Bargnani's game, at least at this current stage. His defence is questionable, his rebounding effort is pathetic and his footwork, yes his footwork is terrible. Regarding the latter point, which I believe has gone under the radar. Should the rapz invest in some ballet lessons or dance lessons for this underachieving big?
Amar T, Toronto
A: Who are these Rapz you speak of? Are you, like, cool? Or just young?
It’s not obvious, at all, actually. They have confidence he’ll regain his rookie season form this year, and improve. Whether that confidence is well-founded is open for debate but they are not giving up on him.
They, of course, being the Raps.
Q: I don't get Delfino's apparently imminent demise. AP and Moon staying is fine. But keeping Joey is pointless by now. And, why not trade Kapono? He has the very tempting "best 3P shooter" tag, which makes him very dealable. But he can't defend, rebound or penetrate, reasons why the incumbent defense/rebounding-oriented coach buried him in the bench for most of the season. And those are the things Delfino was able to do and kept him in on most 4th quarters of the season.
Oh, and I'm from Argentina. Bias? no way...
Andres LC, Toronto
A: Joey’s got a contract, Delfino doesn’t, that pretty much sums it up, actually. In a perfect world, I’d keep Delfino for sure; trouble is, the world is far from perfect.
Q: A question for you: The Garbo buyout and the O'Neal trade were close enough together that you would think Colangelo could have included Garbo's expiring contract in that deal and have had Indiana agree to the buyout, which would have given the Raptors more cap flexibility. What do think?
Doug H, Toronto
A: I think if they could have, they would have. But, Garbo’s deal (more than $4 million) would have been too much to include in the O’Neal trade, if the Pacers had even considered, which I doubt they would have because they wanted guys who could, you know, dress for games.
Q: With Delfino presumably on the way out who is the Raptors 2 guard off the bench... Moon? What if Parker were to walk away from his NBA contract to pursue the big deal over seas… where would that leave us at the 2? (Although I’m guessing Colangelo has already thought of this).
What do you envision next years rotation to be like.
Rob V, Waterloo
A: If Parker walks, they’ll have his salary cleared to go get someone to fill that spot but he’s not walking, I don’t believe. And the wing rotation right now is Kapono, Parker, Moon, maybe Graham or maybe some Moon-like free agent they sign.
If I had to guess as the rotation right now, it’d be Calderon, Parker, Kapono, Bosh, O’Neal starting with Ukic, Moon, Bargnani and Graham (or someone like that) coming off the bench with Hump, Jawai, and the guy who isn’t Graham and one other PG rounding out the 13.
Q: Hey Doug, it seems like everyone is thrilled with the acquisition of former All-Star Jermaine O'Neal and already mapping out the parade route for next year. What ever happened to focusing on improving our biggest weakness which is at the wings? I think you even mentioned that the combined production from the 2/3 spot is among the lowest in the league. Did we just waste our most tradeable assets on a center?
Robert H, Fonthill
A: I don’t think “wasted” is the right word. They made the best deal they thought they could get to address the other glaring need, a lack of rebounding and interior toughness.
Whether or not that works out remains to be seen.
Q: Since it's only four months until opening day, isn't it time you made some Atlantic Division predictions? Boston is obviously the front runner, but how does everyone else stack up?
What's your take on the NJ-Milwaukee trade?
Michael M, London
A: Sure, why not make bold predictions now. Let’s go with Boston, Toronto, Philly, New York, New Jersey. Of course, I reserve the right to change them a couple of times before the season starts.
The Nets-Bucks deal?
Milwaukee will have a zillion guys who want to shoot the ball (and Charlie V’s time is over) and the Nets are setting themselves up to be players in 2010, which they wanted to be all along. New Jersey’s bigger, but a lot younger and could very well struggle this year.
Q: Please correct me if I'm wrong, but don't the Raps have the approximately $5 mil after the Calderon signing, plus the full mid-level exception to fill out the rest of the roster - without getting into the luxury tax?
Kevin H, Freetown,Sierra Leone
A: Well, since no one knows what Calderon’s contract will start at, nor do we know for sure what the tax level is, it’s impossible to say.
But by the math I’ve done, and the math I’m hearing from people in the organization, they’ll have almost $5 million to sign Ukic, Jawai, another point guard and another wing.
Q: Doug, with the acquisition of Jermaine O'Neal, do you think that Bryan Colangelo will make a run at Amare Stoudamire in 2010? Bryan does know him from his Phoenix days and all it would cost him is the expiring contract of Jermaine O'Neal.
Adrian D, Toronto
A: I presume two years from now, Stoudemire might be one of the guys on a list of free agents but to think anyone’s thinking about who they might get then is getting a little ahead of ourselves. Actually, it’s getting a lot ahead of ourselves.
Q: Can Jorge Garbajosa’s contract be traded should the Raptors need it to make another trade. It is an expiring contract at the end of the coming year.
Rob R, Hamilton
A: Garbo doesn’t have a contract, it’s been bought out. He’s done and gone.
Q: Do you think the Raptors may try to use Chris Bosh at small forward throughout next season? Should Sam try to bring Andrea into a starting role at power forward? Could this look be effective for generating "mismatches" on offence and stretching out the opposing defence?
Ian B, Toronto
A: Can’t envision that ever happening. We saw in the playoffs how a three bigs front line didn’t work and I don’t think the arrival of O’Neal will change anyone’s mind on that.
What they need to do is establish a rotation and stick with it, not jerk guys around all the time.
Q: A few:
1. Does Brian ever have authority to go into the Luxury Tax bracket to sign the piece(s) to complete the team? At any time?
2. Does Toronto, keeping Bosh, O'Neal and Calderon, have enough left, if a 1st round pick is included, to make a Big Trade?
3. Who do they go after? SF,SG or both?
Richard S, Lethbridge
A: A lot of these have probably been answered earlier but here we go.
He’d have to check with the board to go above the tax level and I doubt he’d considered it unless it was some extraordinary circumstance.
They like their team, a big trade isn’t in their mind so that point’s moot, I’m afraid.
And they are not targeting anyone in free agency because of the financial reasons.