Man, what’s it going to be like when they start practicing and playing? This mail’s getting out of control.
Q: A B-ball 101 Q for you, Doug: Could you please explain in detail what Player Option (PO) is and it's relevance vis-a-vis Team Option? If player X opts out in his final year of contract, does he automatically become an unrestricted free agent? What are the most common scenarios that such player opts out? On the other hand, if his play or contribution is deemed worth less than his contract, can the team trade or opt not to sign him?
Rikki C, Burlington
A: The short answer is yes, if a player opts out, he’s an unrestricted free agent. The common scenario? A player wants a change of scenery, the team he’s on is going nowhere, he might be coming off a career year and able to parlay that into a longer-term contract, striking while the iron’s hot, so to speak.
And yes, a team can totally ignore a player if they want, or make him an offer at a lower salary.
The difference between Player Option and Team Option is just that: The former can be exercised by the player, the latter by the team. Teams like to put options in so that the final year of a longer-term contract isn’t fully guaranteed.
Q: How hot is the seat Sam Mitchell is coaching from? I have a feeling that if by the all star break things aren't going well, he could be gone. Your thoughts? Doesn't he have something to prove this year?
Dave M, Oakville
A: No hotter than it was last year. Or the year before. Or the year before that. Almost every coach in pro sports everywhere has something to prove each season, it’s no different here.
Q: Hello again Doug! Our beer barrel (old-timers) basketball has started up again and the initial spate of injuries we old farts (I turned 60 last month and am NOT the oldest player)have experienced so far this season made me wonder what the (younger) pros do to minimize the pulled muscles, minor sprains, finger/hand injuries, etc during training camp. I realize professional athletes take care of themselves conditioning-wise year round now, but I would guess they still must experience more issues at the start of the season due to contact drills/scrimmages. So are the training staff the busiest or do players just work through the camp and get less injury prone as their reflexes improve or ???
Barry P, North Bay
A: Welcome back, hope the muscles are feeling better.
One thing I wish I had was the ice concession at training camp. These guys are covered top to bottom after every workout. And when they get done icing, they’re usually off to see the trainers or the massage folks to get some treatment.
The training staff is perhaps the most important group at camp and they work from dawn to after dusk trying to keep everyone healthy enough so that they can practice every day.
The players are definitely fit – the days of showing up at camp to get in shape are long, long gone – but there is a lot of preventative maintenance going on every night and day.
Q: Hey Doug, everybody is talking about the impact JO will have on the upcoming season, and rightly so. But let’s not forget TJ is gone and this is Jose's team to run now. He seemed to tire a bit at the end of last season and that jumper wasn't falling as much. How will Jose handle a full year as #1 (with no real, credible, backup to boot)?
Matt S, Toronto
A: I have no idea how he’ll handle it. I think he’ll be able to handle it just fine, given his skills and his experience. But it’s a situation that will be watched closely as the season unfolds
Q: I have been reading a whole bunch of season previews, however I have seen a trend in which people consistently position Philly on top of T.O. in the standings. I hear people question J.O.'s injury (nobody mentions Brand coming off of his) and Toronto's weak perimeter. However I am convinced, that our perimeter is pretty strong in terms of shooting and that the defence will benefit from our interior help. I would like your personal assumption on which team will be better and why!?
Mario A, Toronto
A: My opinion, oft-stated, is that I think the Raptors are a shade better right now because they have more better shooters. But all of the games against Philly should be interesting.
Q: Well, I tried to stay in Ontario, but its third world economy is pushing me back out West next week.
Is there a possibility that IF the Raps have a wonderful record after the first month or so, that the NBA can switch TV schedules to put them on a nationally (US) televised game, like a Sunday perhaps? Does having JO help us in getting any US TV time?
Peace Doug, next time I write it'll be from Whistler, and yes, I will buy the beverages when you come for 2010.......
Dean E, Hamilton
A: Travel safe.
Yes, there is a chance the Raptors can be added to American national broadcast schedules but it will all have to do with how well they are playing, and not just because of the presence of O’Neal. ABC actually added a game in Detroit last year so there’s a precedent been set for this team.
Q: Doug, I need to get this off my chest and my wife is sick of hearing me talk about basketball. I suppose you'll make a fine substitute. I don't care if J.O. ever averages 20/10 again. The Raptors didn't lose much in terms of box score point production or rebounding - I have no worries about the players on this year's roster being able to pick up the slack. Anyway, scoring has never been this team's problem. For years the biggest deficiency in Raptorland has been team defence. What are the chances of J.O. having a K.G.-like impact in Toronto? Granted, his impact won't be anywhere near the extent of Garnett's move to Boston, but even if J.O.'s interior and help defense cut down the points against by 4 or 5 (or even 6!), that's gonna translate into 5-10 more wins this season, which could be the difference in finishing in the top half of the conference and getting through to the second round. What do you think? Could J.O. as team backbone finally shore up a soft defense (including on the perimeter) enough to take this team one step further? Also, here's a random/theoretical question: Who would have won the Olympic Gold Medal game by a larger margin - the Redeem Team, or the 07/08 Boston Celtics? Seeing the effect of team synergy displayed by the Spanish, I can't help but wonder if an NBA Championship-calibre team of primarily Americans with at least 100 games of experience together (one winning season) wouldn't outperform the USA Basketball teams full of stars who spend the whole tournament adjusting to roles they don't normally play. What do you think?
Stephen R, Manitoba
A: Wow, a tad long-winded, aren’t we? I don’t blame your wife (Joking! Joking!)
Anyway, I’ve been saying since the day the deal was consummated that O’Neal’s greatest impact is going to be on the defensive end but it’s impossible to even guess at how that translates into wins and losses.
I don’t think he’ll have nearly the impact KG did but if he even has a fraction of it, it’s a win for the Raptors.
As for the Olympic question? There were flaws on that Boston team that didn’t exist on the
USA team and they would have been exposed by Spain.
Q: It's almost pre-season so I figure I should start writing in again. Last year we touted our bench as one of our strengths. This year, it's not. However, an 8-man rotation may just be what this team needs. Ignoring the big 3 of most teams (Toronto: Bosh, JO, Jose; Philly: Iggy, Miller, Brand; Boston: Pierce, KG, Allen etc...) how does the rest of Toronto's rotation stack up against the best of the East?
Aaron J, Markham
A: If they play to their potential, they can be as good as any rotation in the conference. That’s the big worry, though, getting kids like Ukic to perform and making sure Bargnani improves. If they do, they’re good; if they don’t, the playoffs are hardly a sure thing.
Q: If the Raptors start off slowly who do you see on the club losing their cool first?
And if that happens do you see the coach stepping in or letting it run its course?
John P, Chicago
A: Not sure what you mean by “losing their cool.” I’m sure if they start slowly, Bosh will – as he has in the past – be quite vocal and public with his comments so I guess it’d be him.
And I think any good coach in any sport loves it when teammates hold each other accountable.
Q: Don’t you think by the addition of Ron Artest in Rockets will make them one of the contenders in the West. I think if TMac and Yao can remain healthy this team will be hard to beat.
Shriaz S, Mississauga
A: I have no confidence whatsoever that Ron Artest will behave himself for an entire season and not cause some kind of team-disrupting ruckus. He’s been a problem with every team he’s ever played for and I cannot imagine why anyone would think he’d all of a sudden change.
And a Houston locker room with Artest, Rafer Alston and Steve Francis is as volatile as any anywhere.
So, if the Rockets win a playoff series – something they haven’t done since McGrady got there, I point out – I will be surprised.
Q: Do the Raptors share the new HD scoreboard in the ACC with the Leaves? If so, are they a first in the NBA?
Andy U, Kingston
A: Yes, one scoreboard per arena is the rule. No matter how many teams play there.
Q: Hi Doug, keep up the good work. I think that you're a fountain of basketball knowledge. There's a tradition where NBA teams that win a championship visits the White House. If the Raptors ever won - where do they go?
Andy C, Toronto
A: I would imagine, in a tradition that started with the Blue Jays in ’92 and ’92, I believe, they would visit both the White House and Parliament Hill.
Q: Explain why a 12-man rotation would be a bad thing <emphasis> in the regular season </emphasis>. It would keep guys like Bosh rested, while lowering the wear and tear. Sure in the playoffs, you lower it to 8 or 9, but in the regular season, during those nights you're playing the Heat or the Bobcats, even the Cavs, the games don't matter that much--just look at the Spurs.
Robert B, Oshawa
A: One more time.
The more players who play, the more disjointed offence and defence becomes, players get accustomed to roles every night, most thrive on extended minutes rather than short ones.
And if anything has been proved watching this team over the last couple of years, there is no such thing as “games that don’t matter that much.”
Q: Quick questions:
1) Are there any social cliques within the Raptors? Ie, Do social circles form, with players usually dividing off into the same groups to go out with outside the court?
Jay C, Toronto
A: No, not really. In fact, this team (at least over the last couple of seasons) did more as a full unit (eat together on the road, get together after home games) than a lot of others I’ve covered.
Q: I just read that Darius Miles was suspended for 10 games. Does this automatically free Portland from his contract?
Alex D, Toronto
A: One really doesn’t have much to do with the other (the suspension vis-à-vis the contract) but the financial implications are huge for Portlandif he plays.
Because the Blazers got cap relief because Miles had apparently retired due to a career-ending injury, if he comes back and plays 10 games for the Celtics, Portland will take about a $10 million cap hit this season they weren’t expecting.
Q: Kevin Garnett brought something special to the Celtics (besides the 20 and 10) on the way to the championship. Who do you think are the Top 5 guys currently in the league that influence their teammates to play harder? and who are your top 5 of all time? Love the blog. Love it so much I often happen to check it before it's been updated. Love it all except for the ANNOYING Vince Carter questions.
Riggs R, Toronto
A: That’s a hard one, actually.
But I’ll go with Garnett, Kobe, Chris Paul, maybe LeBron (although the Cavs do have stretches where they stand around and watch him) and, when he’s healthy, Dwyane Wade.
All-time: Well, the list starts and stops with Jordan. But I’d put Magic and Larry on there, too, and probably Russell and maybe Olajuwon.
But there certainly is no right and wrong and I’m sure there are others that others will remind me of.
Q: Hey Doug, I know you like to reminisce about the good old days..so: Outside of Dell Curry, who would be the top three Raptors shooters of all time?
Zack B, Kuwait City
A: Walt Williams would have to be on that list, no question. I’d think you could make a case for Mo Pete and Donyell Marshall. Honourable mentions might go to Mike James and He Who Shall Not Be Named.
Q: You made a statement earlier this week along the lines of "The Raptors will play faster this year because they now have J. O'Neal, therefore they will have more defensive rebounds .... the key to running the break is rebounding the ball". This was in response to a question asking "Without TJ won't we play even slower?"
Your response was flat out wrong. Let me explain.
Toronto had a top 5 team defensive rebound % last year (it was lack of offensive rebounding that killed them), but I digress.
(If you plot) team defensive rebound rate vs Pace, there's no correlation between being a good defensive rebounding team and playing a faster pace. If anything you would conclude the opposite, as there are many more teams playing below league average pace with a better than average defensive rebound rate than vice versa.
I can't explain it other than those good defensive rebounding teams (Spurs, Boston, Houston, Dallas pre-Kidd, Toronto) win games by grinding out possessions, teams that can't rebound on D worth a lick (Phx, Sacto, Golden State) have to run like hell to overcome their crappy defense.
In fact, the 5 best defensive rebounding teams in the league all played below average pace. 8 of the best 10 were below average paced.
I'm predicting the Raptors will be one of the 5 slowest paced teams in the league this year with Jose - but it will result in us winning more games.
Your logic is flawed and a retraction is in order imo.
Mike K, Toronto
A: Yes, if you use defensive rebounding percentage instead of total rebounds and “pace” as shots per game and not possessions per game and you take a one-year sample, you are right.
Q: Interesting thought about nothing changing in the off season. Where does the TJ for O'Neal rank? It seems like a pretty huge change for the team's overall personality and identity.
Michael S, Toronto
A: In the East? I’d put it right behind Brand to Philly, probably. Maybe on a par with all the moves the Bucks made and the Mo Williams to Cleveland deal, which I think is pretty big.
But as for changing the pecking order in the conference? I still say Toronto’s way behind Boston and in a group of about six or seven teams that will fight for five or six post-season spots. Just as they were last year.
Q: I absolutely agree with you about pre-season games. I don't understand how MLSE can justify charging the same amount for meaningless games as for relevant ones ... wait we are talking about MLSE - what was I thinking? Anyway, shorten up the games and put tons of kids in the seats rather than force the suits to buy tickets they won't ever leave the lounge to watch live.
Quick question - have you seen the new screen and what do you think?
KJ C, Brampton
A: I haven’t seen this particular one up and running yet but I’ve seen one exactly like it in Boston and it’s incredible. Really, really something.
Q: Can you tell me if the NBA is going to have online subscription for games, the same way the MLB does?
Live and re runs of games missed is something I really would like and avoiding TV charges for channels not wanted. Thank you for your time and blog!
P.S. Are there any FIBA rules that you like and or would like implemented into the NBA and why?
Jesse P, Toronto
A: I don’t know if they’ll have live video streaming of games, I do know the NBA offers audio.
FIBA? Well, I love their timeout rules, that’d be the one thing; and I used to like the trapezoid lane but they’ve dumped it so that’s out.
Q: I just was wondering if you could give us your take on Hassan Adams vs Willie Solomon as a backup 2. Which situations are better for what player, and what do you think the strengths and weaknesses of both are?
Kinnon Y, Toronto
A: Now, I preface this by saying I haven’t seen either of them play in years and am just going by what coaches, scouts and others say.
I think Adams is far better suited as a backup 2 than Solomon because of his size and skills. He’s just a hard-worker who isn’t going to take a step back against anyone.
Solomon? Far more a point guard than a 2.
I’m told Adams’ strengths are his work ethic and energy, his weaknesses would be shooting. Solomon? I think there are size concerns but he’s able create for himself and others, I’m told.
We’ll get a much better handle on them over the course of the next six weeks.
Q: You said in your blog today (Sept. 18) that Vince doesn't push himself when he’s playing. My question to you is, what coach and player right now could bring the best out of Vince on a consistent basis, kind of like what Oak and Butch did.
John L, Markham
A: I think a strong-willed, super-competitive player – a guy like Kobe or KG – could do it. And I’m not sure which coach would be best. I think, and this is a bit of an easy way out, any new coach would get that reaction at the start. I suppose a strong-willed guy like Jerry Sloan, or a guy like Pat Riley before he quit (again) would have the personality to carry it off.
Q: Hello Doug, time to start revving up for another Raptors season this one is one of the most interesting to come along in a long time, in terms of what and this team can finish in the standings.
I was just reading your comments on Vince and I agree and when I was reading it and it made me think of a player (who I can't remember) saying that all fans assume that the players are as passionate as playing the sport as the fans are about watching it.
I found that a very important quote. He went on to state that there are quite a few players that are actually playing their sport and would rather not be doing it all, as they just don't like it or enjoy it but the money and life are to hard obviously to turn down. With Vince I can see this.
In your travels do you see this, do you give credence to this viewpoint as I do, just because you are blessed with physical talent and gifts in a sport doesn't necessarily translate into a love of that sport.
Doug B, Toronto
A: Players don’t usually make those kinds of feelings known publicly but I think there are several in the NBA, and probably several in the other pro sports, who don’t have the passion for the game. They play because they are extremely well compensated, or because it’s what they’ve done all their lives. There has to a level of passion, no question, but it varies player to player and some that you see leave the game early do so because they just don’t like what they do for a living any more.
Q: Doug, this isn't a basketball question it's a life question. If you wanted to watch Monday Night Football at a public house in the downtown Toronto area, where is the first place you would go? Please drop me a line... before Monday. Thanks!
Craig B, Toronto
A: I don’t get out very much, and I certainly don’t get out to watch Monday night football games but my personal choice would be the Harbour Sports Grille on
by the ACC. But I’m sure there are a dozens of other spots that would work.
Q: Wacky idea and wacky question. To me the Olympics (particularly the summer Olympics) have become a bloated mess, with too many sports and too little focus. What do you think about reducing the number of team sports by making everything co-ed. In basketball, 2 women would have to be on the court at all times.
Andy W, Toronto
A: Yes, a wacky idea indeed. And that’s about all I’ll say.