Yeah, right, this is the quiet time
Supposed to be slow now, isn’t it? Then why am I still doing hours and hours of mail? It’s ‘cause you mooks never take a break, which is why I love you sooooooooo much.
Anyway, not sure how it’ll work next week, the next missive you see from me here is going to come from Beijing on Monday morning (that’s if the 14-hour plane ride goes smoothly enough) and there’ll be lots of Olympic stuff up and around.
But send the basketball and Raptor questions, it’ll keep me in touch and give a welcome break from baseball, softball, football, water polo, field hockey, taekwondo and whatever else I find myself writing about over there.
Q: I was thinking about this this morning and thought I would ask you:
Assume that the Huskies didn't fold and had actually continued on in the ABA/NBA - what would the impact of that have been in Toronto? Would there be more of a basketball culture? Would they be as revered (with 60 years of history) as the local hockey team? I just want your thoughts on that and the impact of the team had it continued.
Second, you've been around the Raps since day one. Looking back in retrospect, are there a few things that the Raps have done well in their history when it comes to spreading the game in Canada/Ontario/Toronto? And are there any things that you would like to see the team improve on or try that they haven't done before in their brief history?
Rob K, Brampton
A: That’s a very interesting question. There would definitely have been more of a basketball culture but hockey, even by then, was so ingrained in our collective minds, it still would have been a distant second for a very, very long time.
The Raptors have done pretty well, actually, but I would never have had training camp in Buffalo for two or three years or whatever it was, I would have moved it around the country; I would have found some way to get every game on national television every year (not sure that was workable, though) and I would have played exhibition games in one Canada city every single year.
Q: So if Will Solomon plays great in camp, and at the start of the season beats out Ukic for the backup role, do you think it'd be worthwhile for Ukic to be sent to the D-League to get consistent playing time? Same question for Nathan Jawai?
Justin C, Kitchener
A: No, I cannot envision a scenario that has Ukic in the D League. They need all three guards around the team at all times. Jawai? More likely but a very big longshot. He’s going to get better practicing against Bosh and O’Neal, not by playing the guard- and swingman-dominated D League.
Q: How is this Raptors' roster in any way prepared to handle the onset of injuries and under-performance that is sure to plague them?
You're starting five features a PG not fully accustomed to starting an 82-game season in the NBA, a Jekyll & Hyde-type SF, and a centre who has been injured more often than not in recent years.
These uncertainties would be less disconcerting if this squad was as deep as the 06-07 team, but a 13-man roster with no proven back-up to Calderon and a bench rounded out by fringe NBAers (Adams, Jawai, Solomon) hardly inspires confidence.
Am I being overly critical? Is this a "wait and see" situation?
Ben F, Toronto
A: A tad overly-critical but it’s a legitimate concern. But also remember that the end of the bench of the 2006-07 season was populated by guys like Uros Slokar, Luke Jackson, Pape Sow, Fred Jones and Darrick Martin.
Q: Hi Doug! Thanks for answering my mail. Although I am a big fan of the Raps and the East, I’m still convinced that the West will dominate.
My question: Not sure if this has been asked before but I'll ask anyways. Did you ever apply for Chuck Swirsky's job when he left? I think your color commentating in your Star articles will definitely sell with the Raps viewers. And we always get your insights on paper but any chance we'd hear or see you on any gig with the Raps?
Also, do you think TJ feels blindsided by the Raps because of the trade? I don’t think Raps fans should hate TJ because he was acquired to be the starting PG of this team and then when he said he wants to remain the starter, people started feeling he was selfish when in fact, that’s why he was acquired by BC anyways. I’ve been trying to find TJ interviews after the trade to see if he had ill feelings towards the Raps, but the guy hasn’t said anything bad, mark of true class.
Tobi B, Toronto
A: Thanks for the kind words but no, I did not apply for that job, nor could I do it. Play-by-play is hard.
As for TJ? I bet he knew the day after the season ended that they were going to try to trade him and I know he and his agents were kept abreast of developments leading up to the deal. That’s the way Bryan operates.
Q: Two quick ones for the mailbag...
1) I know this will probably be decided at camp, but looking at the roster right now, between Solomon, Jawai and Adams who's on the injured reserve?
2) When do we get to see our new alternate black-gold trimmed jerseys? Do you know if they'll be for sale soon? I'm quite excited for this as I plan to buy a Ukic.
PS I saw the Jermaine O'Neal jeresy at the NBA store in NY and let me just say that O'Neal looks great on the back of a Raps jersey!
Andrew R, Toronto
A: If everyone’s healthy, I’m guessing Jawai, who’s playing behind two all-stars and a former first overall draft pick (and the Hump, of course) starts on the inactive list.
I don’t about the jerseys (actually black with red trim, I’m told) but I’m sure when they’re for sale, the good folks at MLSEL will let you know how you can spend your money on them.
Q: Non-Raptors related, but thought I would share with you. With the new search engine Cuil released, I checked out how relevant it is to the fans of your blog. I am happy let you know that you're the first one on the list for "raptors blog" compared to 12th on Google (how's that possible?!?). In agreement to your colleage David Olive, this site does need tweeking (a lot) as both your name and his can be found, but in articles over a year old? But none the less, what's most important (your blog) is 1st.
Kevin Y, Scarborough
A: I know very little about what you’re talking about but I’ll hope it’s good.
Q: Have a great trip to China, Here's a somewhat basketball related question. Last year you mentioned many times that the Pizza promotion had its limitations. What would suggest as a replacement?
Also along that line is there any changes (toning down the intro/music) you could suggest to improve the overall fan experience.
John P, Fredericton
A: Ah, the pizza question.
What they should do, if the promotion is back again and I haven’t heard that it’s not, is his:
Only if the Raptors win and hold a team to under 90 points do they give away free slices; they should have drop boxes from food banks at every exit and fans should be encouraged to drop their ticket stubs in there on their way out.
Early the next morning, or even that night, they should arrange to take those tickets to three or four food banks – some downtown, some in the ‘burbs, where they can be given out.
Not sure what else they can do to change the game ops part of the “experience” but we’ve got to get more of The Chicken. And less of that goofy game where they try to guess the over-and-under with the card games on the ribbon scoreboard. Lame, for everyone except the person taking part.
Oh, and no music when the game’s going on.
Q: Doug, have you spoken personally with Matt Devlin yet? From reading his blog on the Raptors' site he seems genuinely excited to be here and to get the season started. Any other thoughts?
Steve G, Grand Falls-Windsor, NL
A: I have spoken to Matt Devlin a few times and hope to see him over in Beijing. I like him, he’s a nice guy, good story teller and I know he’s quite excited to be settling in to new surroundings. He’s not like Swirsky, which is fine, everyone’s got to appreciate his style of broadcasting for what it is.
i) In the 04 Games, Team USA stayed on their own boat, docked in Athens, why won't they stay in the Olympic Village like all other athletes?
ii) How come MLB doesn't send its top athletes (a la the NHL), for the Olympics?
Tilak J, Hamilton
A: They’ll tell you it’s security concerns (it actually began in 1992 in Barcelona, the American men have never stayed as a team in a village) and it may be a valid point. But they aren’t alone, there are hundreds of athletes from all over the world who don’t stay in the village. A bunch of Canadians among them.
And baseball has no wish to suspend its season so late to send major leaguers to the Olympics.
Q: Doug, while Jermaine and Chris and Jose are a formidable trio - I have much concern that the Raps don't have any true veteran savvy coming off the bench ie. James Posey, or Eddie House. BC will need to make another move at the deadline to steady the wind position. Maybe Parker and Graham for a vet. Any thoughts?
Anthony C, Newmarket
A: I don’t think they should do anything right now, and probably not until February. I think you need to see how this collection works together for 20 or 30 games before you think about making any moves.
Obviously, they like what they’ve done, I know they want to see the fruits of the labours before making any moves.
Q: A very simple question is J. Moon signed to a full/guaranteed contract, if so how many years?
Joseph E, Toronto
A: And, an equally simple answer. Moon has one year, guaranteed, left on his deal.
Q: Great blog. Just a quick question: do you know if any of the networks are picking up the men’s or women’s Olympic basketball games or if they are going to be streamlined anywhere?
Helen T, Ottawa
A: I don’t know that any will show every game. The one place I’d look is the various “platforms” of NBC to see where you might find games other than those the Americans play in. I know CBC will be at all the games, how much they show will likely be a day-to-day decision.
Q: Doug, good to hear you are going back to your roots and covering baseball this summer. I remember we talked about that when I interviewed you last year. As you know, I am a big baseball guy too and I've noticed there really isn't that much hype behind this year’s Olympics? Anyways, I was wondering how you think our men's baseball and women's softball teams will fair in the summer games? Do we have a shot at a medal. We seem to have a lot of good ballplayers. I'm excited to watch us compete.
Jesse N, Markham
A: Yes, it is a bit back to the future with the ball. Unfortunately, I have no idea how Canada will do in either since I don’t know enough about the competition. I do know a fellow scribe from south of the border who covers the American women’s softball program and he told me this spring that they have a huge amount of respect for Canada. The baseball team? No real idea except I know they’ll have a good time ‘cause they were a riot to cover in Athens. But both teams expect to play for medals.
Q: Basketball question it is,
There are rumours of Nocioni going to the Kings for Brad Miller, in addition to Simmons or Noah and a draft pick.
Do you see this deal going through?
Does it make sense for the bulls? pardon my question, but wasn't Nocioni the only guy that tried to play basketball for the bulls last season?
And the rumours say "Nocioni is very appreciated by the franchise, but he is a good tradeable commodity." You know what? After the disastrous season the bulls had, I would keep a guy who I know will fight for me no matter what instead of a unproven "better" player any time!
Tobias R, Thornhill
A: I don’t think it makes much sense for a basketball perspective for the Bulls to move Nocioni but the financial problems they’ll face with all the contracts they’ve got and ones they’ll have to give out in the next few years is what’s driving the trade talks.
Q: What are the odds of starting up a contest, where you select one lucky reader to tag along with you during a Raptors game? I think it would be interesting to see the process for writing a column. I'm not sure of the logistics involved, but I know you have the stroke to pull it off ;)
Shawn L, Bowmanville
A: Sorry, doctor. Can’t happen. Limited seating courtside and, frankly, they like that to be the domain of the working media and staff members. And so do we.
Q: Any word on possible realignment in the wake of the OKC move? Geography would seem to dictate that the OKC-whatevers be in the same division as the three Texas although the Northwest division wouldn’t be entirely out of whack if they stayed.
Sean K, Ottawa
A: There’s been no suggestion realignment’s been discussed at all at the league level. Maybe for 2010 but I haven’t even heard that.
Q: Just wondering what your opinion is on the future of David Stern? While Stern has done a lot of great things for the league during his tenure, I think he should be held accountable for what happened with Tim Donaghy. The fact that these illegal activities were going on for 4 years and Stern knew nothing of it personally makes me question his abilities. We all know he's trying to remedy the situation as best he can and bringing in extra help to monitor the refs, but do you think that's enough to rectify what's been done under his watch?
Amanda F, Barrie
A: David’s reputation has taken a hit, no question, but he makes soooooo much money for soooooo many people that there’s no way he goes until he wants to go.
And I do think the change of the structure of the officiating oversight group and the coming Pedowitz report will be enough to silence almost all the critics.
Q: What's the deal with Andre Iguodala? Is he signing with Philly? I am looking forward to the Raptors season this coming year, but am worried that if the 76'ers sign this player, we may still have some problems getting out of the Atlantic. I realize that the Celtics are the favorite... your thoughts?
Rodney C, Toronto
A: As I type this, it looks like Philly and Iguodala are closing in on a deal and I think the Sixers and Raptors will be in a dogfight all season for second in the Atlantic and, probably, fourth in the East.
Q: Hi Doug, thanks for keeping the blog going in the dog days. Hope you have fun in China. 1 question, with the internationalisation of basketball and seeing a few players returning or turning to the euro leagues do you ever see the day when a first round pick signs overseas because he could get lots more money earlier in his contract say within the next 5 years or so? Thanks
David P, Ottawa
A: I presume there’s a chance, it happened with Fran Vasquez and Orlando (the circumstances weren’t entirely financial, though) and it happened with Danny Ferry and the Clippers back in the day.
But teams, before they make those first round selections, generally have an idea what the player in question is going to do.
Q: Hi Doug, quick question, if Jose gets injured this year and is put out for the season what options would the Raps have? Am I right in thinking there is a cap exception that can be applied for or not? would the GM go over the tax threshold in order to sign or trade for another PG if this were to happen?
Leon R, London
A: That’s a pleasant thought for young Jose, isn’t it? Options? The two other point guards on the team would be the short-term option, Ukic and Solomon. And, basically, an injured player has to miss more than a season before there’s any kind of financial relief.
Q: Just a couple of uneducated questions
- when do the FA's drop off the roster
- if during the season they run into some injuries does signing a player to a 10 day contract effect the luxury tax
- when is the next dance auditions :-)
Have a great trip to China
John P, Fredericton
A: Not sure what you mean by when FA’s drop off the roster? Restricteds? I guess the answer would be when they sign with someone else or are renounced by their current team. I hope I got the question right. Unrestricted are gone in July.
The tax is paid on the collective salaries on the last day of the regular season so if there was a 10-day guy around, I’m sure he’d be released before that time.
Auditions? I dunno, I’ll ask Nathan next time I see him (I’m joking people, I’m joking).
Q: What's the deal with the Knicks trading Balkman to the Nuggets for basically nothing? Balkman was one of the only bright spots for the Knicks.
Has Donnie Walsh lost his midas touch?
Dave H, Toronto
A: Renaldo Balkman was never, ever, ever going to thrive in Mike D’Antoni’s style of basketball, he’s far too offensively limited for that. And Walsh needed to get rid a contract, which is why he traded him for two players that he immediately waived.
Q: Always enjoy your blogs as a way of staying current with the game during the off season. A quick question for you on one guy that seems to have gone missing over the summer. What's the current status of Derrick Martin as he seems to be completely off the radar with the Raps? I've always enjoyed watching him being with the team even with his limited minutes. He seemed to be perfectly suited for the mentor/unofficial coach role with the team. Any thoughts on his liklihood of getting into coaching down the road? Keep up the great work both reporting and blogging!
Dave T, St. Catharines
A: He’s unemployed as a basketball player and I imagine that’ll be a permanent state. But he always told us he wanted to get into coaching, I can see him taking a year off to hang with his family and then looking for an assistant’s gig.