News, notes and a dogleg par-4 (oops, wrong sport)
Oh, wait, that’s for later today and tomorrow’s paper. Never mind. Let’s stay with a little bit of basketball.
Seems the crack that those free agents might fall through got a little smaller yesterday when Eddie House and Tony Allen both went back to Boston. A bit surprising, given the reports and rumours that were other there, but it does give the Cs a big chunk of their bench back.
So, who’s left?
Hmm, not a lot, actually.
Thanks to the good folks over at the World Wide Leader, here’s a list of available free agents still and it’s really pretty underwhelming from the Raptor point of view (and that point of view does not include Andre Iguodala, Josh Smith or Luol Deng or anyone of that ilk).
The plan still is to sign a minimum-salary combo guard who will sit on the bench and play in emergencies or if foul trouble hits both Jose and Roko in the same game.
I know Juan Dixon’s people have called Toronto – it was a call made right at the start of free agency – and he may be the default position right now.
Or maybe they have to gamble on a guy like Jaycee Carroll or one of the other guards they’ve scouted in various summer leagues (Utah’s on now to wind up the season).
But, again, this is not going to be a signing of significance. In a perfect Raptor world, where Jose’s healthy and Ukic gives ‘em 16-18 minutes a night every night, the 13th man is only going to get garbage minutes.
And that’s why it’s really not worth getting all worked up a bit.
Oh, and it won’t be Darrick Martin.
But wouldn’t it be cool if it was Sam Cassell? Be the best quote in that room. Of course, the fact that he looked absolutely done at the end of the finals might work against his signing but we’d love it.
Speaking of golf, I remember it was almost exactly a year ago when I was sitting in the press room, well, press tent, actually, at the Canadian Open early on the Saturday morning up at Angus Glen when the phone rings.
It’s a guy telling me to high-tail it down to the 3-on-3 tourney at the Ex ‘cause there’s a guy there who wants to talk to me.
And there in all his regalia when Our Man Oak, filling my head, and notebook, with tales of his planned comeback and a book planned that was going to be “a real book, not one of those Charles Barkley books.”
Hmm, it’s golf week again, the 3-on-3 thing’s on at the Ex again and I’m wondering if the phone will ring again.
I do know that there are a couple of Raptors due in town, not sure which ones at the moment, so there could actually be some live basketball later this week to write about.
Q: Got an argument (kind of) to settle. We were discussing team Canada's recent failure at the qualifiers and mentioned that I thought Leo Rautins was a bad coach. but that’s not what were arguing about. My buddy believes that at the end of the day a coach has minimal impact on the outcome of the game.
How about an experts (of sorts) opinion on the matter?
Will L, Toronto
A: Well, here’s a (sort of) expert opinion to settle your (kind of) argument:
I think in the international game, with fewer timeouts, 10-minute quarters, freer-flowing style and the like, in-game coaching may not be as noticeable as in the NBA, where too many guys micro-manage the game by calling every play. But don’t diminish it. A coach still has to see a matchup to exploit, or a matchup to avoid and that’s where a guy earns his keep.
And a lot of coaching in international play is done before the game, finding out what your team’s strengths are and putting in systems to maximize them.
Boki Nachbar’s going to Russia, there’s talk that Nenad Krstic is headed to Europe, too, and the exodus continues.
Still don’t think it’s a huge problem for the NBA and it’s good that those guys can get big bucks and if it elevates the levels of the other leagues, well, good for fans of those leagues.
But here’s one simple fact to think about when anyone’s worried about the NBA losing it’s best: Not many Euroleague teams generate nearly enough income through TV or ticket sales to give them the kind of cash to throw around outside of to maybe one or two players.
And the numbers you’re hearing are a tad skewed: Carlos did not get $10 million a year, he got about $5, I’m told, but when you factor in the usual tax-free status of salary plus perks like housing and transportation it adds up. But a base salary or actual money he’ll get to put in the bank? $10 million isn’t right.
Best early basketball game of the Olympics: Day 1, Spain vs. Greece. If I can slide over from softball or water polo or field hockey, that’s got “don’t miss” written all over it.
They tweaked some things in the upper echelons of the NBA’s officiating structure for the coming season. Here’s the news release from league headquarters.
Not sure what it’ll mean for the on-court product but having more people involved in the supervisory capacity isn’t a bad thing.
Another shot from the mail:
Q: I was wondering about how it works in regards to the press row at any arena. Does the media outlet you represent (Toronto Star) have to pay for those seats or does the NBA have a policy that certain seats have to be set aside for the media. And if so how do they decide how many and what papers, television stations get them? Plus do they have to be on press row if they are not paid for I can see teams wanting to free up those seats and move you upstairs as in some arenas I see you back from press row. So can you clarify this please.
Doug B, Toronto
A: No, we don’t pay for the media seating in any arena.
League rule stipulate that there has to be seating, with monitors, electrical outlets and table space, for whichever newspapers, radio and TV cover the team on a regular basis.
The rules have changed over the last few years so teams don’t necessarily have to have those seats courtside, they do have to be somewhere in the lower bowl. We’ve been moved “upstairs” so to speak, in a dozen or so arenas; thanks to the efforts of media relations maven Jim LaBumbard and the Raptor brass, we haven’t lost all of our seats courtside at the Air Canada Centre. Some have disappeared with the addition of seats for fans next to the bench and along the front row of the scorers table (the stats crew used to be in the front row, now they’re in the back) but there are generally enough for the four papers and two wire services to have a seat for everyone who’s covering any particular game.
However if, for instance, we send three people to cover a game, we usually get two seats courtside and one up in the auxiliary press seating by section 105 in the arena.