More mail for a Saturday
Oh, don’t worry, there’s even more than this to come later this weekend. There are a couple in the in-box that require calls to folks in the organization and they're all in Vegas.
Hey, it’s Opening Day of the Summer League for the Raps? Everybody pumped? I mean really, really excited?
Not sure if you saw it, but they’ve added a second Canadian to the staff. Gord Herbert, a B.C. native who’s been coaching in Europefor years and was the first Canadian to coach a Euroleague team, is the new assistant coach/basketball development. He’ll occupy a seat behind the bench during games.
Anyway, on with the mail:
Q: Hi Doug, Just watching some Summer League games online and noticed that PJ Tucker is getting some burn for Memphis. Do you think he has a shot at making their roster? I think he played extremely well this year in Europe (Maccabi Tel Aviv, if I recall correctly). Would love to see him back in the NBA, even though he is undersized for his position. What have you heard about PJ lately?
Amy G, LA-Tor
A: It was actually Hapoel Holon (my man Eran over there would never forgive me if I got it wrong) and he did have a great year. Am told by someone who saw him live that he looks really good, albeit against summer league opposition. I think he would have two things going for him that Memphis would like: He’d come cheap and be a hard-nosed defender and rebounder. But, he might make more money back in Europe, one of the rich Russian teams was after him, if I recall, and that might be the determining factor.
Q: Hey Doug I'm just wondering but what would you do if you were the GM of the LA Clippers, two of your all-satrs walked away from your franchaise now who do you sign? What trades do you try to go through with?
Jermaine M, Toronto
A: Of all the unenviable positions in the NBA right now, Clips GM might be the most unenviable. I’d get on the phone to Josh Smith’s guy right away (he’d probably be a good complement to Chris Kaman) and I’d have to be looking to sign some people because there aren’t a lot of tradeable parts on that roster.
Q: I see a lot of questions regard JO number 6 jersey. I remember in 2006, when Andrea was selected, he chose (or wanted) number 11, because that was the number he used in Italy. He changed to number 7 when the trade for TJ Ford was declared, because he wanted number 11. Now that TJ is gone, if JO really wanted number 7, I'm sure Andrea would give it up for number 11. You said that JO wouldn't mind putting 7 behind, considering his years in Indiana, but I doubt Andrea would mind either, since he hasn’t exactly excelled. On a side note, I never got an answer on your opinion on Canada’s play on Friday against New Zealand, and whether the pricing was fair considering the level of play?
Nika L, Toronto
A: The cynic in me would suggest O’Neal wears 7 and Bargnani goes back to 11 so they could sell a whole lot more replica jerseys. But I’m thinking they just leave JO with 6 and Andrea with 7.
The Friday New Zealand game was the only one of the four I missed – crucial Little League game and coaches/staff/parents meeting at newfound Mississaugalocal Cooper’s was on the agenda – so I really can’t speak to the way they played.
And the pricing? I don’t think it was maybe a tad high but they drew 1,500-plus for all four games so it wasn’t that bad. Maybe next summer they put bunch of $10 tickets in packages for minor basketball teams or organizations.
Having to buy two games in advance sales was tough but you could still have shown up game night and picked up a single.
Q: I quote Doug:
I got the Jays at 91 wins, in contention until the last couple of weeks before falling to Boston in the division and out of the wild card that’ll come from the Central."
Doug, unofficially half way through the season, do you want to change your prediction about the blue birds??
As for I? I had them in the playoffs, now I don't even have them on my TV!!
Joe S, Toronto
A: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Everyone’s an expert (I keed, I keed). But did you see Halladay on Friday and that Scutaro-McDonald play?
Q: You're probably get alot of advice about going to Beijing, so here's another one: don't wear white unless you want it to turn grey in 24-hrs due to the smog, and carry your own chopsticks or utensils.
My question relates to the integrity of GMs and their trades. You mentioned that a GM would never renege on a trade, as it would destroy the trust amongst his peers. However, I seem to recall the Minnesota Timberwolves were fined several years ago by the league (I think 5 first round draft picks) for doing such a thing - I could be wrong. Was Kevin McHale the GM at that time? If the T'wolves did not renege, has there ever been such an incident in the NBA? Thank you for the excellent blogging.
Ping C, Scarborough
A: Actually, McHale didn’t renege on a deal, he cut an illegal, under-the-table deal with Joe Smith and got caught, that’s why they lost the draft picks. How the dude keeps his job is beyond me.
Thanks for the Beijing advice, I’m either eagerly anticipating the trip or absolutely dreading it, depends on the day it seems.
Q: I always enjoy reading the blog. Keep up the great work!
I have a two comments and one question.
1. I've never seen Nathan Jawai play but I'm wishfully thinking that he could be one of the best sleeper picks of the draft. He seems like a big tough dude who may become a Ben Wallace type player with more offensive potential. That would be sweet.
2. I have never before purchased or worn any player jerseys for any sports team ever before. I recently had a birthday and asked my wife to get me the one Raptor jersey that I feel I can always wear with pride. I chose a #20 Alvin Williams jersey. He was my favourite player during his too short career with the Raps and I wish he could still play. He epitomized effort, toughness, and quiet leadership. This leads to my question...
I take the purchase/wearing of a player's jersey fairly seriously because I do not want to buy an expensive shirt with the name of a guy on it that epitomizes not caring, (hello Vince) or some other bad attitude. So, at present, do you own any player jerseys, and if so, which ones, and do you ever wear them? Can you give us the top 3 current player jerseys that you would feel comfortable wearing and the top 3 former player jerseys?
I can't remember if you answered this question before so forgive me if I'm repeating another's past query.
Pete H, Richmond Hill
A: I’m an overweight, 50-year-old dude, they laugh me out of the replica jersey stores.
Seriously, I have never, ever owned one, not even as a kid if my (feeble) memory serves.
If I had to, I’d break the bank and buy a Bill Russell Celtics jersey, maybe a Wilt Chamberlain Sixers jersey with Phila on the front and a Randy Smith Buffalo Braves jersey.
Of the current players, I wouldn’t feel comfortable wearing any of them.
Q: I get the plan to shorten the bench and have more defined roles for the 8 or 9 who will see consistent minutes. My question is: Who scores the ball when the 2nd unit is playing?
Greg C, Toronto
A: Well, if the plan turns out that one of O’Neal and Bosh are always on the floor, that’d be the guy; I think Bargnani’s scoring will improve playing primarily backups and if Kapono starts, maybe Moon scores more and if Moon starts, maybe the Playoff Kapono takes care of that second-unit offence.
Q: Hey Agent Smith! Thanks for bringing all the latest Raptors news to my desktop. Your work is much appreciated. On to my questions, and there are many!
I agree with what was stated in your blog yesterday, namely that there are better options than Matt Barnes. What I was wondering is this: did the Raptors in fact make a qualifying offer to Carlos Delfino? If yes, does the qualifying offer count against the cap? In the event that both the prior are true, then does rescinding it free up cap space to sign a free agent for something more than the league minimum?
My vote goes to J.R. Smith. Simply, his offensive statistics are ridiculous: even when playing alongside Iverson and 'Melo. Despite his reputation for questionable shot choices, he has a .603 TS % (Jose Calderon is .607, Rashard Lewis is .591, Chris Bosh is .588), and a 18.15 PER (Richard Hamilton is 18.27, Joe Johnson is 17.34, Luol Deng is 17.07). Finally, he scores 12 points per game in under 20 minutes. His somewhat questionable attitude is the only thing that allows him to come more cheaply. Well that, and Denver's salary situation.
Any remote chance of this happening? As a fan, I would be more than willing to make a trade for him. His slashing and efficiency would markedly improve our team, and we would have a viable future replacement for Anthony Parker. The kid is only 22, after all. I'm pining for an athletic wing.
Finally, where is the money to sign Roko coming from? Brian Colangelo yesterday stated that he is about $1,000 under the luxury tax level. How does Roko's salary affect that?
P.S. Sorry for the opus, I'll try and be more succinct next time 'round.
Jeremy N, Toronto
A: If J.R. Smith ever “gets it” I think he could be a good player in the league. But right now he’s Jamario Moon with a jump shot and questionable character issues. But he’s got a world of potential, I just don’t think it’s here.
(And I have no idea what TS % is, I presume it’s some made up statistical analysis that’s dubious in real life)
As for Roko’s salary, I know they know what they’re going to pay him (I don’t know the figure, though) and it’d be in the overall budget and taken into consideration when they did the Calderon deal.
And on the Delfino situation, yes, they did extend a qualifying offer but in their budgeting process, I’m sure they didn’t include it since they know he won’t be back at that number.
Q: How do you get a trade exception in the first place? Is there a maximum?
Shawn L, Bowmanville
A: They are obtained in trades, as you’d expect. And they are worth the difference in annual salaries between the players dealt in transactions between a team under the cap and one over it. There is no maximum.
Q: I wanted to thank you for your excellent article on Ms. Sinclair. I've been watching her for a number of years, and agree that she as underrated an athlete as you can find in Canada. What she has done at the collegiate and international levels of play is utterly impressive and speaks to her talent and work ethic. Moreso, her commitment to giving back speaks to her awareness of her role-model status for young girls. Bravo Mr. Smith, Bravo!!!
Richard A, Markham
A: I know this has nothing to do with basketball, but thanks for bringing it up. I’ve just finished watching the 1-1 draw with Brazi l– Sinclair’s goal was a corker – and it was very nice to see 13,000 fans in the stands, the wide majority actually cheering for Canada.
Now, if we could just land that WNBA team for the young women basketball players, we’d be set.
Q: Would love to chat football with you, but you know it's another basketball question.
This time not about the "mule" (who came up with that name btw). But how about we sign Shaun Livingston.
He was renounced today. I think we can get him at the mid-level. He's a good player with a low risk- high potential.
Feel what im saying?
Chris M, Detroit
A: I’m not nearly enough of a football expert to have a meaningful conversation about it.
And they are not going to go over the tax threshold for Shaun Livingston, I don’t think. His health concerns are great right now but if he wanted to play for the minimum, I’m sure they’d give him a call.
Too bad about him, I always liked his game.
Q: Sportsnet made a pretty big thing of their "Goodbye Jack Armstrong" stuff on Wednesday night. Do you have any more insight as to his future involvement in Raptors' broadcasts?
Nervously yours, Jack Fans Everywhere
Brian S, Toronto
A: From what I’ve been told by people who know these sorts of things, Jack’s going to be an analyst on “a lot” of games. Not entirely sure what that means, but he’ll be around.
And the interesting thing? He and Matt Devlin have worked often together in the past, doing WNBA New York Liberty games and some college games so they’re familiar with each other.
Q: Two part question and a comment.
First, I was totally impressed with JO in his interview with Matt Devlin. I don't think Barrack Obama's speech writer could have scripted his answers any better. He said that this is CB's team but do you think that JO leadership abilities will shadow that of CB? I don't know about you but I don’t think that CB4 is as natural a leader as he believe himself to be.
Second, what were they thinking in hiring Matt Devlin? No offense but this guy is WAY too much American sounding. Why did they overlook some of the personalities that currently cover the Raptors?
Anthony T, Niagara Falls
A: I think it’s going to be fun to watch the dynamic between O’Neal and Bosh develop. And all this “who’s team is it?” stuff really is tiring.
Both have enough history in the league to be comfortable and won’t worry about “titles.”
American sounding? Your Canadianism is showing. He’s a good broadcaster and a good guy, that’s why they hired him.
Q: A few years back when Charlie V was traded for TJ, all we heard was how you never trade big for small.
Toronto was criticized at the time. You don't hear or read that kind of chatter this time...why so? Also, in the big picture it has worked out pretty good to get JO for CV and unload Maceo.
Jason D, Wainwright, AB
A: You don’t hear that kind of “chatter” this time because, in my opinion, it’s ridiculous. You make trades to help your team, regardless of the size of the players involved. I wasn’t against trading “big for small” two years ago, I’m not going get all happy about trading “small for big” now.
Q: Don't you have an obligation to provide an objective stance about the Raptors and the way the organization handles the team?
With that said, don't you think you should take the "O'Neal was the best option" out of your latest blog post and instead write "The Raptors made a mistake. They should have taken Gerald Wallace."??
James S, Los Angeles
A: I have an obligation here to present informed, contextual insight and opinion. When I’m writing news stories for the newspaper, it’s far more objective.
My opinion is this was the best trade out there. Yours is that it wasn’t. I’m cool with that.
And read your question over again. What’s “objective” about saying “The Raptors made a mistake. They should have taken Gerald Wallace?”
That’s not objective. That’s an opinion. Yours, not mine.
Q: Hey Doug: A slightly obscure, but potentially important question for you about the cap, exemptions, and timing.
Now, I'm asking this assuming that Bosh has Bird (or early-Bird) rights when he becomes a free-agent - if he doesn't could you answer it anyways, just for the hypothetical situation?
Okay, how do exemptions work with regard to timing? Does it matter at all? An example: JO's salary is finally off the books, and we manage to pick up LeBron (yes, I know it won't happen) for the roughly 22mil in cap space we have; we can then, using the Bird exemption, sign Bosh for some pre-determined amount (his current salary plus a raise of some percentage, I think?). This would put us legally over the cap by whatever Bosh is making. All Kosher, yes?
But what if instead, we lock up Bosh before we start our free-agent hunt? Assuming Bosh signs for 15mil (number out of thin air) do we still have the 22mil for our free agent (because Bosh is covered by Bird) or, since we signed him while we were under the cap, do we only have 7mil to spend?
Thane B, St. Catharines
A: It’s an interesting point and all I can say is they wouldn’t do Bosh before getting a free agent, any free agent signed. They could come to an agreement on a number but it would be shoddy general managership. And you don’t get to be a GM by being shoddy. Or, rather, you’d be an ex-GM if you were.
Timing, as they say, is everything.
Hope that answers it.
Q: I have not written in a while, I used to write quite often about the Raptors improving toughness and gaining some edge.
I do believe they have done this well with the addition of Jermaine O'Neil for the various reasons that have been yawned over for some time.
I just feel like, as most people do, we are missing one piece on the wing to make us a little more legitimate. Now I may be way off my rocker with this, and I subscribe to any punishment I will take for this but... Ruben Patterson? Bonzi Wells? A big veteran 3 that can play the game of basketball defend, score a big, have some toughness and may come cheap?
Just a vet coming off the bench; am I taking crazy pills or what?
Jef M, Burlington
A: Neither are at all under consideration here and, really, seriously, besides being old (and in Patterson’s case a registered sex offender) do they really make the Raptors that much better? Or are they just old heads whose best days are behind them?
Q: Hey Doug, Think the Raps might have any interest in a couple of warm bodies that the Clips will be renouncing? I'm thinking of Nick Fazekas, who has good shooting range and a high shooting percentage at the PF/C position and averages about 12 points and 10 boards per 30 minutes, and Dan Dickau, who can spell José at the point. They'd come super cheap. Also, apart from perhaps an end-of-camp open scrimmage, will any of the Ottawa training camp be open to the public?
Lee Z, Ottawa
A: I imagine they’d take a look at Dickau before they’d consider Fazekas, who would seem be to redundant now that they’ve got Jawai.
And if history holds, the only thing open to the public would be the last-day scrimmage. I presume some of the corporate “sponsors” of players might try to set up some sort of appearance but that’d be it. Nothing in the gym is open.
Q: What do you think the reasoning was behind acquiring Delfino last year to not try and resign him this year? Seems like a waste of playing time last year if he wasn't in their plans for the future?? Joey G could have used some more floor time. Also a waste of a 2nd round pick going to Detroit.
Brady L, Calgary
A: Actually, it was two second-round picks and they way they’re openly traded on the market, I don’t think they’re missed at all. And they got something out Delfino, a few good games so it was probably worth the price.
And if they don’t make the O’Neal trade, they might have kept him.