No rest for the winner
I’m not sure what this says about Kobe Bryant but his decision not to have surgery on his injured finger runs contrary to what happens with veterans every now and then.
I’ve heard of a couple of players – Lindsay Hunter of the Pistons was one and the perhaps the most recent – who aren’t afraid to have operations (usually scopes and other such non-serious operations) in September which miraculously allows them to avoid the drudgery of training camp and the pre-season. And, believe me, missing that drudgery – two-a-day workouts and meaningless games often in bad cities – would be the first thing on the minds of many.
And sitting it out allows them to come in fresh in late November or December when the season is really just getting started.
It’s obvious that Bryant’s sore finger wasn’t presenting a huge problem since he hurt it last February and not only led the Lakers to the NBA Final but also was the best player on the Beijing Olympic gold medal team. And it’s obvious that a 12-week recovery period would have cut into at last the first month of the season and was too much of the year for him to give up.
I say good on him.
Hey, remember yesterday when I was going down the list of pre-season results to find the worst October in franchise history?
Never did give out the best.
Well, I’d certainly put 2001 right at the top of the list. Not only did they play just seven games – one fewer than usual – but five of them were at home, one was in Indiana and even a trip to horrificly boring Billings, Montana, couldn’t take too much away from it.
But the all-time favourite? It’s easy. It was the lockout shortened 1999, when they only played two games, one here and one in Boston. Excellent.
You wonder what a guy like me looks for in pre-season?
Easy trips to cities where they’ve held games before, at least one day off in-between games (a Columbus-Winnipeg back-to-back in 2005 was a flight delight) and, of course, a visit to Rome, Treviso and Madrid.
Here’s a very timely one:
Q: In Toronto there seems to be a recent trend towards "What is old is new again". The Jays, Argos and now the Leafs have all brought in people from their past to fill new roles with their teams. What I was wondering was who would you bring back from the Raptors past in some sort of coach/scout/management role. I myself would like to see Grunwald back what about you?
Jason K, Toronto
A: Yeah, these are indeed wacky times, aren’t they? Although I’ve been watching the Blue Jays closely and re-signing Cito was a stroke of genius and if he’s not back next year, everyone who works above him should be fired.
Anyway, I digress … if I had to pick one guy from the past, I’d have to go with Brendan Malone and put him on the bench as the old head to help Sam Mitchell. Guy was, and still is, an excellent coach, and had a lot to do with what’s going on in Orlandothese days.
Glen would be a nice one, too, I guess, although the front office is pretty solid right now. But, again, you can’t have too much experience in your basketball braintrust.
I think it you went back one year to the day from today and asked a handful of NBA types which coach they thought might get fired first in the 2006-07 season, Mo Cheeks would be somewhere near the top of everyone’s list.
Today, he’s got his second contract extension since that time (he got one year in February and another yesterday) and his Sixers are one of the sexy picks to make a big move in the East this coming year.
Not sure about how much better the Sixers will be – they still don’t shoot it enough and I’m not a huge Andre Miller fan – but Mo’s one of the good guys in the game and it goes to show that sometimes not pulling the pin too quickly on a coach is a good idea.
I still don’t think they should have fired GM Billy King a year ago (he pretty much put that team together) but the brass did make a smart move by not making a move on Cheeks.
Panic firings are never the right thing to do.
From all you people who wonder what Andrea’s been up to this summer? And to those who don’t believe me when I say he’s been working and not sitting around eating bon-bons and resting on his laurels, news that new assistant coach for basketball development Gord Herbert has been over in Italy working with Bargnani must be welcomed.
Herbert’s going to do a lot of teaching and one-on-one work this season – notably with Bargnani, Ukic and Jawai – and he’s spent the summer getting involved with them all in every facet of their games.
A sreies of qestions:
Q: I know that the Raptors have no interest in paying the luxury tax, but I would like to know if you ever see them, if close enough to being a championship calibre team, going for it and going over the cap short term.
And, what's it going to take for Canada to start producing NBA level talent soon?
Also, we all know 2010 is when there are monster free agents available. When you dream big, who can you see as a starter along with Bosh (assuming he signs here again), Calderon and Bargnani?
Hammond A, Toronto
A: I’ll ignore the fact you incorrectly used the team cap when you meant tax (argh!) and let you know this.
If there was one guy they felt would absolutely put them over the top in not only the East but the entire league, I’m sure Bryan would make a pitch to the board to creep into the tax and no one knows what reaction he would get. But, the simple fact is – and this is indisputable among the people who make the big decisions in the front office – that one guy does not exist right now. Maybe next summer he will. Now? They don’t see him, and neither do I.
As for Canadian talent? What they need is better coaching from the grassroots level right through high school and college and some kid as driven as Steve Nash does. But, as I’ve mentioned many a time, I don’t see the next Canadian NBAer out there in the next half decade. There is a chance – a very, very, very, very slim chance – that a guy like Olu Famutimi might finally twig to what he needs to do to make it (concentrate on defence, first and foremost) but I don’t know if that’s going to happen.
And let’s nip the 2010 stuff in the bud right now. It’s two years away, there are all kinds of issues at play (injuries, opt-outs, team performances) and I’m not going there.