Of Sam and Marcus and T.J. talks
Nice. A guy gets up at 7:15 a.m. to finish this off and it feels like sleeping until noon. Gotta love days off in Athens.
But in case you missed it, they’re back as the early game again on Friday, 6 a.m. start in the East, way, stupid early if there are any west coast Canada fans and once again it’s on The Score.
One question: If anyone out there from the network is reading, can you get the play-by-play, colour guy, cheerleader to identify himself once or twice. That way, people out there who write me to rip him will at least have a name to put with the notes.
Anyway, on to stuff.
Got to preface this by pointing out there are three sides to every story: His side, their side and the truth.
And since none of us were on the bus, or at the bus, that took Canada from the hotel to the gym in Athens to see first-hand what transpired, this is all second-hand information.
I’m sure there was some “eff you” “eff you, too” stuff going on, I’m sure Leo’s back got up and I’m sure the confrontation had the potential to get nasty.
All I know is that enough people told me yesterday they’d “heard” about Sam big-timing the program that there has to be something to it. And here’s an anecdote I saw with my own eyes.
Heading to a Saturday morning walkthrough at the ACC during the training camp portion of the season, I was walking along Lakeshore from the parking garage to the arena about 9:35 a.m. for a 10 a.m. session. The players, who were all staying at the Harbour Castle Westin were wandering into the arena, too, in groups of three or four. A cab pulls up, obviously not from the hotel and out gets Sam, all by his lonesome.
But I also know that after starting a game on a Friday, Juan Mendez disappeared from the program on the Saturday of the Lebanon game here because he wasn’t “committed” enough and now the team’s starting centre is kicked off, or quits, a few hours before what was then the biggest game of the quadrennial because of his level of commitment to what the coach wants from the team.
I’m not sure there’s a clear cut right or wrong in this situation but a team that needs to rely on the intangibles as much as it does its talent probably doesn’t benefit from the shenanigans that have gone on.
Perhaps the most telling quote of all of yesterday came from Sam’s agent, Marc Cornstein.
"Good luck ever getting another NBA player to show up again.”
I don’t know if there is another NBA player from Canada on the horizon, it’s likely years away, but when agents starting looking sideways at a program and, believe me, they talk about such things, it can’t be a good thing.
All those Canadians playing in Europe, who’ll be the backbone of the team forever, have agents, too.
I think some schmoozing is in order.
Okay, so what’s no Dalembert mean where it counts? Like on the court?
Well, it wasn’t as if he was playing at an all-world level lately but you cannot take a 6-11 shot-blocking centre off a team and expect it not to suffer.
I think it’s a huge longshot for Canada to beat Croatia– just like it’s been ever since the schedule was released – but it’s exponentially longer now that they have a front court rotation without Dalembert.
I will say this, Levon Kendall was a beast in the second half against Korea but that has to be tempered by the fact Croatia is wildly better in every facet of the game than the Koreans.
A guy with extensive international basketball experience told me yesterday that anything can happen in one game and Croatia certainly isn’t the United States.
But watching Canada bumble and stumble against Slovenia and Korea (an 18-point comeback is nice, digging an 18-point hole not so much), And unless Carl English (5-for-17 so far) and Olu Famutimi (4-for-12 so far) get going, Canada has precious little chance.
Oh, T.J. talked yesterday. In Indianapolis that is. Click over there to see how Mike Wells of the Indy Star chronicled it.
One from the mail bag and, judging by the in-box I’ve got more than a few hours of answering questions in my immediate future. Thanks, folks.
Q: Hey Doug, can you clarify whether or not teams have any special rights to players they invite to their training camp? Like if a player on the Raptors summer league team excels (eg. Jaycee Carroll), do the Raptors have the first rights to sign him? Or can any team offer a contract to any player on any summer league team not already under contract? Thanks.
Ron M, Markham
A: No, the Raptors, or any other team, has no extended rights to any summer league player they haven’t drafted. Guys like Carroll or Ron Benson or this C.J. Giles kid I’m hearing good things about, are free to make whatever deals they can once the summer league seasons are over.
That’s why you see some guys, like Carroll, playing for multiple teams in multiple leagues.
Right, forgot about the other big news yesterday.
Roko. Roko. ROKO.
He’s coming, three-year deal, the number I heard was $1.25 million in the first year.
It will be interesting to watch him tomorrow morning against Canada. But, remember, this is Canada he’s playing, not the Celtics. Or the Cavs. Or some, you know, good team.
One more from the mail having to do with the fascination out there with the Marcus Camby trade:
Q: Can you please explain this Trade Exception rule that developed as a part of the Marcus Camby deal to LA Clippers?
I always thought that in order to make a trade you have to receive the same salary in return for cap purposes. The Nuggets gave the Clippers Camby for nothing and now get a trade exception.
DA N, Toronto
A: It’s only in trades between two teams over the salary cap that the numbers have to match, or come close to match. The Clippers have enough room under the cap to assume all of Camby’s salary so they didn’t have to take anything back.
And the Nuggets get a “trade exception” worth the value of Camby’s contract that they can use for one calendar year to take on a player making up to that amount of money. If they don’t use it in a year, it’s gone and because they are shedding money to avoid a huge tax hit, I’d be surprised if they did use it.
Now, for all those who wonder why Toronto didn’t offer a second-round pick to get Camby – a personal fave who would have been a nice fit – please understand that they couldn’t have done the deal like the Clips did because they didn’t have the cap space.
And it’s obvious that Denver didn’t want to take back any salary in a Camby transaction so that cut Toronto – and almost every other team in the league – out of the sweepstakes.