Bonus mail from another wet day
What’s a guy to do waiting out another couple hours of a downpour at Glen Abbey? Why, mail, of course.
So here you go, but I warn you, this empties the mailbag as of Saturday night so I’m hoping there are more queries around to help me get through what should be a slow pre-Olympic departure week.
I’m pretty sure you’re not ready for women’s football, softball and men’s field hockey quite yet.
Q: You said this about the WNBA "brawl":
"But it did get the masses chattering about the league and that can’t be a bad thing.
As regular readers – both of you – will know, I don’t mind WNBA basketball at all and if there are a few converts after that set-to, that’s cool."
You don't "mind" the WNBA? Wow, what a vote of confidence! Why don't you just come out with your true feelings-- that the league absolutely sucks. Why do people try to be so politically correct about it? They suck and always will. Period.
Shawn P, Brampton
A: Why don’t you stop trying to read my mind and read what’s been written.
I like the WNBA, it’s a different game, played below the rim and more people – even Neanderthals like you – should give it a chance.
But that would require an open mind, which is apparently not something you have.
Q: Quick question(s) for you: You've mentioned more than a few times how you have reliable sources in the right places. Which made me wonder: why would sources choose to give out nuggets of information if the organization intentionally wants to keep them a secret? And how long does it take to develop one of those reliable sources? Last, but not least, have you ever had a source that turned out to be unreliable?
Sal L, Toronto
A: Sources provide information for any number of reasons. If you hear something and ask, they might just answer questions honestly, they might want to steer you in the direction of a good story, or – and this happens every now and then – you might get something because, regardless of what they say – they want news out there.
How long does it take to build a relationship? It can take years, actually, you have to be known as fair and trustworthy.
And, no, no one’s really turned out to be unreliable in my dealings with them, the only thing that might happen is someone tells you something one day and something happens that changes the landscape and makes the information wrong.
Q: Carlos Delfino, Josh Childress and others are taking good money in Europe. Anthony Parker has about 5 years of service in the NBA but may return to Europe after next season.
I understand that a significant percentage of players end up bankrupt after their career ends. That made me wonder about the NBA pension plan for the players. How many years of service qualifies a player for a full pension and how many for a partial pension? Parker and Childress may want to consider their post-retirement years rather than big bucks today that they will probably waste on SUVs and Hummers and their entourage.
Andrew B, Toronto
A: Basically, current players have to have three years of service to be eligible for the league’s pension plan.
Q: Is Alvin Williams contract still on the Raptors payroll?
If so, when does it come off?
Brian V, Toronto
A: Done and gone, off the books.
Q: Quick question about rookie contracts. Most (all?) NBA players have clauses in their contracts to make a certain number of public appearances in the community on behalf of the team, I imagine that Veterans and or superstars (the Kobes and LeBrons) would be granted to make fewer appearances. Do rookies, in their pre-determined contracts, have a set number of mandatory appearances? Or because they are younger, are they often exploited for their early popularity (say Rose, Beasley or Mayo this year) and forced into more public appearances?
Ryan M, Oakville
A: No, no. It’s standard, same number for everyone in the league. Teams may only ask their bigger stars to go to things that they deem more significant but everyone’s out in the community somehow the same number of times each year.
Q: I was just sitting outside enjoying the sun and having a "pop" when I got thinking of one of your recent answers. It was in regards to Ernie D and what he is up to now...it got me thinking of the Braves and some of their players such as Randy Smith, McAdoo (under-rated) and then I started thinking back to that era and the likes of Gervin, Thompson, McAdoo, Bird, Johnson, Jabbar, those players plus a long list of others such as Bernard King, Erving etc., they were just so gifted offensively and any of them capable of throwing up huge numbers and just impressive to watch...do you feel nowadays the players are as offensively talented???...I don't besides Bryant the players just seem so methodical and just settle for 3 pointers ... the artistry of the game has definitely changed and not for the better ... what are your thoughts..
Doug B, Toronto
A: Randy Smith was outstanding. Held that ironman streak for a very long time, I believe until A.C. Green snapped it. But I digress.
I don’t think there’s any question today’s players are more athletic – bigger, faster, stronger – than the bygone eras but I do think a lot of them lack the creativity of the others.
And a lot of that blame has to be placed on coaches today. They somehow feel compelled to call almost every play in a game, something you didn’t see back in the day and that stifles a lot of today’s athletes.
And the next time you’re enjoying a pop and those NBA Classics (and I don’t mean Raptors-Grizzlies) come on TV, look at the pace of play and number of shots per game. It’s astounding how the game has slowed in the last 25 years or so.
Q: I'm just playing armchair GM here, but don't you think Iverson for Marbury and a draft pick would make sense for both teams? What do you think?
C L, Thornhill
A: I cannot see how that trade helps Denver in any way, shape or form and would never, ever happen.
Q: This isn't a question but an observation, some of these "fans" moves are ridiculous and I give you credit for your patience and understanding. In the last week you have answered mail that have suggested Darius Miles, and now Bonzi Wells. Do these people not realize the character issues with these guys they would be the last guys I would want on my team? As locker room, travelling time is paramount to a cohesive unit, these guys just don't fit in.
Also I do have a question what is/was Juan Dixon's attitude like?
Doug B, Toronto
A: Actually, in every manner that we saw, Juan Dixon’s attitude was fine; he was frustrated because he was in a contract year and not playing but anyone in that situation would be frustrated. If they weren’t, you wouldn’t want them on your team.
But according to coaches and teammates I talked to – none of whom had a reason to lie – the overwhelming comment was that Juan was a good guy in a bad spot.
And for the writers, he was one of the nicest guys in the room.
Q: Here's my breakdown of the Raps best case to fill out the roster. 1. Trade Joey to NY(16 signed players) for Collins(pg) and Balkman (defensive Joey): or for lil' Nate(combo) and Chandler (dream I know). 2. Joey to Indiana (17 players under contract) for Owens (PG) and Shawne Williams (talented trouble): or Diener (Ok pg) and Joey's brother.
All deals that work under the cap, do not involve long-term commitments to any of the player, but do provide the TR's restricted rights to most of the players. Best of all, the Raps still have money/tax space to spend/use this year whenever a real need reveals itself through injury.
Jim C, Toronto
A: Blogger’s note: I’ll pass this on to Bryan, who will, likely, laugh uproariously. One, why would either of the other teams want to make any of those trades? Two, actually, there probably isn’t a two since one pretty well sums it up. Three, well, there is a three because none of those gives them “money or tax space” to use.
Q: Assuming Garbo's deal is done, how much does it reduce his buyout cap hit? How much space does that BC, and was Garbo's signing what he was waiting for?
Richard S, Lethbridge
A: When Garbo signs a new deal, and after what the Raptors have budgeted for, it will make no difference on what they have left in the budget for the 13th man.
I’m not sure how many times this really has to be said but the money left is enough for a minimum value contract to a veteran combo guard.
That’s it, that’s all.
Q: Do you think Sam Mitchell has what it takes to take this team to the next level? I think he is a good leader of men and handles the media well. But, I think he lacks in the X's and O's department which really decides games. His complaint from the start has been that he doesn’t have the personnel. Now entering his 5th year he has a talented team with possibly the best big man combination in the league. With Chris Bosh's contract expiring in 2010 in the back of our mind. Can we afford to fall short of the 2nd round!
Andrew A, Mississauga
A: This is the first of what I presume will be a billion or two questions about Sam. So why not get started early.
Could he be better at Xs and Os? Sure, no question about but so could probably two dozen other coaches. He can design all the great plays you want, and pull all the strings you want, but the simple fact is if guys don’t make plays, the team won’t win.
I think, and hope, you’ll see a more defined rotation this coming season – he was always searching for a three- or four-man swingman rotation last year but the inconsistencies of the players worked against him – and having fewer guys in the mix this year will make it easier to cut back.
As you know, I think Sam’s a good coach, and I think that coaches get far too much blame and far too much credit game-to-game.
Q: A WNBA question for you.
Earlier this month, one of the national papers ran a very interesting story about Darnellia Russell whose battle to play high school basketball as a teenage mother was chronicled in the documentary, The Heart of the Game.
Now 24 years-old, Russell will be playing for Lakehead University in the hopes of obtaining a degree so she can move on to play in the WNBA.
Here's my question: Why does the WNBA have this stipulation that all players must have a degree from a four-year institution? This seems a bit hypocritical (and rather sexist) since, only a few years ago, the NBA was letting high schoolers go directly into the league. Even with the rule changes, a player only needs to play one year of college before he is eligible to be drafted. Not to mention all of the European players who enter the NBA after playing a few years in some pro league as teenagers.
Is this some kind of twisted extension of the NBA/WNBA's "Stay in School" campaign? Or is this about the WNBA trying to ensure that all of their players are ideal role-models for young girls?
Either way, it seems that the two leagues are sending very mixed messages to its young fans. That somehow it's OK for boys to use college as a way into the pros, but girls have to stay in school and get an education.
Mike M, Ottawa
A: There are actually four criteria for women to enter the WNBA draft: be 22 years old, complete eligibility at college; have a college degree (Candace Parker actually graduated in three, which is why she could enter this year’s draft) or has played two years in another (read European) pro league. I’m not sure if it’s got to do with role models or what, but I think it’s a pretty good idea. I know a lot of people in the NBA wish they could put the genie back in the bottle and keep kids in school to mature as men but that ship has sailed.