This is like one of those big brown leaf bags of mail
Hello, ladies and germs. Here’s the big ol' mailbag I hope you’ve come to expect. If it's Sunday morning when you see this, grab a cup of coffee or two, settle in and read. You’ll be glad you did. If it's Saturday night, what the heck are you doing reading this stuff on a Saturday night?
Me? I’ve got about a zillion preview things to so I'm working 'cause I have to.
Q: From a journalist's perspective, what's it like to watch a game on TV versus in person? Are there things you notice about the team when you watch them on TV that don't seem as apparent when you're watching courtside, and vice-versa?
Steve M, Toronto
A: It’s different, I’ll tell you that.
The biggest thing I find is that you see the game through the announcer’s eyes. Not sure, if you’re a guy in my place who might have to offer comment on something, whether that’s a good thing or not. I tend to think not.
Of course, you don’t get nearly the scope of the game on TV that you get courtside, or even in the arenas where we sit up in the stands. You’re at the mercy of the cameramen and the director as to what you see and don’t. You do miss a lot of off-the-ball stuff on television.
Of course, the big benefit is the replay but, more often than not, the replay simply affirms what you think you saw.
But it’s really the overall court vision you get in person that you miss on TV.
Q: Hey Doug a follow up on your comment about the e-mail beast you created and its constant bloodlust for fresh e-mails.
How were things before the whole blog, before even 'Nothing but (inter)Web'?
Did you put more time into the newspaper articles or write more of them or did you, you know, have more time to just hang out looking busy during the day.
Since the daily blog and e-mail beast have been born, you must spend countless hours reading, writing and posting while still putting out a similar number of paper articles.
So how have you coped? I take it from you that working from home probably keeps the family happy even if you are at the computer more than before.
Lastly, without getting into numbers or specifics, has the Star sweetened the deal for you since all this started? Any extra perks or a little extra scratch every 2nd Friday? I know if my employers came to me and said they were upping my work load 50% with no accompanying remuneration I would have some choice words for them!
You do a great job with all this though...best Raps coverage on the web as far as I’m concerned and I think most fans would agree....not all, but those seem to be the ones that also can't spell or write out logical arguments so what does that tell ya...
Game on Doug!
Alex L, Sudbury
A: Even before ‘Nothing But (Inter)Web?’ You mean when we were scratching on tablets?
Honestly, it’s just added time to the day but if you get in a routine, it’s manageable. Up about 6, finish off blog ‘til 7:30 or so, chill for a couple of hours and get ready to go again. You still have to go to practice, 11-2 most days, to gather information for the newspaper story and the web stuff, you still have to go to games and travel ‘cause that’s the bread and butter of the job. But it’s the job.
The time spent on gathering daily news and writing for the newspaper hasn’t changed – and I’d like to think the quality of the work hasn’t changed either – but I would hope that most readers feel more engaged because of the internet stuff. And I think that’s where we’re going, more discussion and dialogue rather than me writing, you reading and never the ‘twain shall meet. If it means more work, it means more work; I’d hope it’s appreciated by the folks it’s aimed at, guys like you.
It helps more than you can possibly know to have an understanding family and the ability to write from home, an airport lounge, a hotel room or, on the odd occasion, a saloon with wireless internet access.
Renumeration? We’ll just keep that private, if you don’t mind. You will notice, however, that I'm still working and not lounging at the villa in the south of Spain.
Q: Doug, two questions for ya:
1) During the Denver game I noticed that Roko rarely dribbled with his left hand (or go to his left for that matter) - As he brought the ball up the court he seemed to do so on an angle really favoring his right side. Don't know if you have noticed this, but over the course of the game it was very apparent, and actually looked weird. A point guard should at least have his dribbling skills down pat no? Any thoughts?
2) I don't know how it would/could work in terms of salary and not going over the cap, but I noticed Lindsey Hunter is available - now that’s the perfect veteran who can spell Calderon for 15/18 minutes a night and not have the turnovers of Roko or Solomon - what are your thoughts? (I'm very concerned about the backup pg spot - are the Raps looking at ways to bring in a new body seeing as our backup pg’s don’t look as sharp as they may have hoped?)
Jacob W, Toronto
A: Actually, Roko’s ball-handling is one of his better skills, I think you might have just turned away for a minute; his left hand’s as good as his right.
Lindsey Hunter? Is having him really going to do enough to offset the fact it might stunt the development of Ukic and/or Solomon? Not in my opinion. At some point, those guys gotta play and if they blow for a game or two, well, they blow for a game or two and it'll probably help 'em in the long run.
Q: Hey Doug. First off, how can McCown only give you four minutes of air time earlier this week. He should be ashamed..
Do you know if there is an open practice this year? Its usually held the last Sunday before the season but I've heard/read nothing about it.
Frederick L, Mississauga
A: I’m sure he is ashamed, and I’ll mention it to him. But I’m sure there was a valid reason (maybe Mats Sundin burped) for the earlier segments running long. (I kid, McCown’s the one guy who has about the same amount of time for the Sundin saga as I do).
Anyway, as has been mentioned a few times, there is no open practice this year. Instead, they had about 13,000 kids who took part in the team’s reading program at a shootaround before the Minnesota pre-season game.
Q: Hi Doug, love the blog, 2nd time writing in. I don't miss a day reading it. Even though we had triplets a couple of weeks ago, I manage to sneak away to read your blog everyday on my week off.
A couple of quick questions, if Ukic develops a jumper like Calderon did. Do you think he will be as good if not better than Jose? I haven't seen the kid play so I can't make that assessment, and what do you think are his best attributes?
Calvin L, Milton
A: Triplets? Man, I’m impressed. I hope you’re changing diapers while you read or you read in down time after you’ve sent your wife and a friend out for dinner.
Now, I can see a career path quite similar between Ukic and Calderon, actually. There’s no telling if he’ll have the on-court decision-making that Calderon does but, skillwise, they could turn out quite the same.
Q: Hey Doug, with our boy CB4 coming into the season as healthy as ever and with his new confidence and recognition from the Olympics (and those unfortunate Leno appearances), I feel that this could be the year he FINALLY gets the superstar recognition in the US that he deserves. Very hypothetical question (I know how much you love hypothetical questions, I keed, I keed) but do you think that if everything comes together, the big three stay healthy, Andrea has his breakthrough season, the Raps are near the top of the East with 45-50 wins, do you think it’s at all possible Bosh gets at least mentioned in the MVP talk outside by anyone outside of the ACC? Or is he doomed to maintain his status as an underappreciated star, no matter how great he plays, as long as he’s playing in Canada?
Marc S, Pickering
A: In a league with Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Chris Paul, Kevin Garnett and Tim Duncan, it’s going to virtually impossible for Bosh to get serious MVP consideration unless Toronto wins like 57 games, the Atlantic Division and he averages something stupid like 26 and 14. And, frankly, it doesn’t matter if he plays in Canada, the United States or Mars. The voters, and I know most of them personally, aren’t at all swayed by the country he plays in.
Q: Hi Doug, I was one of the few T.J. Ford supporters in Toronto last year. I blame the media mostly for portraying him in a negative manner and forcing Colangelo to trade him instead of Calderon. But anyways, with the increased minutes and shots T.J. will get this year in Indiana do you think T.J. averaging 18 points and 8 assists a game is out of the question? Do you think T.J. cracking the all-star team is a possibility considering Arenas is injured and Chauncey Billups is getting old?
Shahan K, Brampton
A: Hang on a sec. Do you really think Bryan Colangelo is swayed by what’s written and said by us? You don’t think he would come to his own conclusion of which point guard he wanted without having to worry about the acceptance of the move by the media. Come on. Seriously. This whole “the media drove TJ out of town” is a crock, pure and simple.
But anyways, I think T.J. will have the same kind of year in Indy as he’s had in the other two places he’s been, he’ll put up good numbers, try to do too much some nights and get his team in contention for the eighth and final playoff spot in the East. An all-star? Nah, I don't think so.
Q: Today on Yahoo! Sports, Adrian Wojnarowski writes that the Bobcats are shopping Gerald Wallace. With the Raps 2 and 3 positions looking rather pathetic, is there any chance Bryan Colangelo would trade for Wallace and really try to challenge the top teams in the East?
Patrick D, Toronto
A: The Raptors talked to the Bobcats about Wallace around the draft but the deal broke down. I don’t know if Charlotte'’s shopping Wallace again – I presume Adrian’s story is right – but I also don’t think Toronto would have the pieces to make a deal. And I’m also not sure if they want to assume that kind of contract, which is like $9 million a year for about four more years.
Q: Usual starters, which I think should be Calderon, Parker, Graham, Bosh and O’Neal.
Did you really state that you believe Joey Graham should be in the starting lineup? I looked, and then looked again as I thought it was a misprint.
No problem with it - have always wondered what numbers Joey could put up if the team ran a few (say 6-8) plays through him per game.
Let's hope for "good" Joey.
Jeff S, Ajax
A: Good Joey is the best athlete on the team. I can’t imagine them ever running plays for him (it’s Bosh, O’Neal, Calderon, Kapono, Parker, Bargnani and then, maybe Graham) but some of the stuff he can do no one else on the team is capable of.
Q: You said today that Sam can be wildly entertaining. Tell us one instance where he did something that gave you a good laugh. My personal favourite is when he was on the Fan with Landry and Stellick, those guys asked him the most outrageous questions and Sam just fired back with equally outrageous comments, good times!
John R, Markham
A: I’m trying to think of a specific incident with Sam and the beat grunts but a lot of it’s kind of off-colour and I don’t care to share it.
I will tell you the one that made me howl with laughter. Again, it’s with the radio guys and they get him to talk about something he originally didn’t want to talk about and one of them says something like, ‘ha, we own you.’
Without missing a beat, Sam say something like, ‘never tell a black man you own him’ which results in uncomfortable silence. Sam didn’t mean it in a mean way but, trust me, lots of us laughed uproariously at that one. Including Sam.
Q: Marbury has been getting some time on the court lately...despite the team having Duhon, Crawford and Robinson. How you think Marbury will do this year, in terms of stats and playing time or even a different team?
Willy W, Hamilton
A: Dude, please use your name, I only use first names and initials, no one’s going to know and it’s really childish to use something like Willy Wonka. But I'll answer your question anyway.
Now, for Marbury? I don’t guess at stats ‘cause it’s foolish. But I do think he’ll be a Knick for the entire year. The fact his contract expires, and New York wants no part of assuming any kind of financial hit before 2010 makes him, in my opinion, virtually untradeable by New York if they aren’t – as they shouldn’t be – willing to take money back.
Maybe they buy him out late in the year when it’s obvious they’re going nowhere but he’s theirs.
And with the way Jamal Crawford has struggled in the D’Antoni system, I can see Marbury getting some time at the two with Duhon or Robinson.
Q: Doug, please explain to me the fact that Jamario Moon continues to be considered as a candidate to start for the Raptors. Other than the first half of the season last year when he burst on the scene as a "feel good" story, in my opinion he has done little to justify being a starter and certainly, has done nothing to justify 25+minutes a game. He can't shoot and yet he continues to be allowed to shoot 3 pointers. His rebounding is inconsistent as is his defense...sometimes good but sometimes not so good. And worse, his minutes take away from Kapono's play time and while Jason is not a big time defender, his performance in last year's playoffs showed what he can contribute if given PT. Moon probably has a role coming off the bench and providing some energy for the second unit but, as I said last year and I repeat this year. If Jamario Moon gets significant PT, the Raptors will not have as a successful a year as is expected.
Paul N, Oakville
A: Big Moon fan, are we?
Well, when he’s on his game, he’s a better defender than anyone on the perimeter with his length and athleticism. Yes, his shot selection is bizarre at times, always has been, probably always will be. But he does things on the court that Kapono simply cannot do and if you’re looking to set a defensive tone off the bat, he’s exponentially better than Jason.
That said, if his game doesn’t improve, I think they should start Joey at the three and give Jamario very limited minutes.
Q: I think the Raptors have the worst rotation of swing men in the league. If Graham is our starter we're in trouble. Why doesn’t Kapono start at the 3? Is he too weak to guard forwards? ‘cause he's also too slow to guard guards so what difference does it make. Delfino had his flaws but I would rather have him at the 3 than Graham or Moon and he can even play a bit of point when Ukic and Solomon are stinking, as they have been most of the preseason.
Paul C, North Bay
A: Not a big fan of the wings, are you? And, really, you all have to get over Carlos Delfino; it’s amazing to me, who’s a Delfino fan, that he’s become this Hall of Fame guy after one inconsistent season here. And he was too expensive to boot.
And the difference with Kapono? He’s better off primarily guarding backup twos than starting threes.
Q: Say Doug, I don't know if this has been asked yet but has anyone considered Calgary to be the city of an NBA team. I think the people there would embrace the idea of an NBA franchise in Calgary. Good city, good fan base. What do you think?
A: How’s ‘when pigs fly’ sound for an answer? Or when hell freezes over? Or the cow jumps over the moon?
Sorry, Calgary is so far off the NBA radar it’s not worth mentioning.
Q: Hi Doug. Love the blog as it helps keep me informed about all good and bad things Raptor.
Having NBA TV I am able to catch exhibition games. I watched the Pistons play the Nuggets and I thought to myself that Pistons don't look the same. They looked slow, out of sorts and not as dominant. I know it is pre-season, but do you see this team taking a step backwards this season? Is this team going to trade one of its go-to players during the season if things start slow?
Zack B, Kuwait City
A: The Pistons are going to be one of the team’s worth watching closely in the East this year. A year older (even with the presence of kids like Maxiell and Stuckey) with a coach who’s never been a head coach before? I can see, um, issues developing. Not that they won’t be good but I’m not sure about 50 or 55 wins. And I don’t think Joe Dumars would be afraid to trade anyone if they aren’t going well after a couple of months.
Q: With Steve Nash's contract coming up soon, do you see Colangelo freeing up cap room to try and sign him?
In general, is B.Colangelo using the same strategy as other teams in not taking on too much in contracts past 2010?
Rick K, Ottawa
A: The Raptors are poised to have something north of $25 million to check out free agents after the 2009-2010 season. Nash will be one of them but he’ll be one of the older ones, too.
Q: Quick question. Who is the most superstitious Raptor this season (and how so) and who is the most superstitious of all time?
D B, Toronto
A: This is a pretty vanilla group, actually, and I don’t know of anyone with a lot of superstitions.
Q: I remember a few years ago that Butch Carter had a no-headbands policy, and that Doug Christie and Dee Brown both ignored this policy in a playoff game against the Knicks and wore a "VC-15" headband, could you tell us what ever happened after that incident. Also any updates on former Raptors like Alvin Robertson, Acie Earl, and Oliver Miller
Joey L, Toronto
A: What happened after that incident? Well, the dislike some of the players had for Butch became more public and, along with other reasons, he was eventually fired.
And the last I saw Alvin Robertson was about two, maybe three, seasons ago at a Raptor game in San Antonio, where he was living. And I have no idea, and am not about to do much to find out, what became of Acie Earl or Oliver Miller.
Q: Hey Doug, here's another something to ponder on, I read a question the other day about the most under/overpaid players in the league, and it got me thinking about underrated players in general. Who would you say is the most underrated player in the league? In history?
Joey H, Toronto
A: Okay, here’s who’d be on my list of current players, and I’m sure there are people out there with other thoughts: Udonis Haslem, Shane Battier, Antonio McDyess, Tony Battie and Caron Butler, although it’s hard to imagine an all-star being under-rated.
All-time? Man, that’s hard. Really hard.
I’ll toss these out and I’m sure the floodgates will open. How about Adrian Dantley, Maurice Lucas, Kevin Johnson and maybe Rod Strickland?
How about Bob McAdoo? James Worthy?
And I know there’s more.
Q: Hey, Doug. Since a die-hard Raptor fan now in Malaysia asked how to get his Raptors fix and all you mentioned was NBA TV (almost certainly unavailable to him), just thought I'd let him and others know that the Raptors can be followed game time through NBA Radio and post-game through the many excellent NBA.com videos. For me, the radio broadcasts are definitely a bit of a nostalgia trip, as they take me back several decades to when the radio was the only option for away games for the Charlottetown Jr. Islanders hockey team (... for what it's worth!)
Anyway, my main reason for writing is that I think you're seriously misjudging my other favourite team, the Timberwolves ("I do know the Timberwolves are going to lose an awful lot of games this season. That’s just not a very good team...If they win 30, I’m stunned.").
Rashad McCants had a horrible night against the Raptors, but he's a game competitor and he, along with Foley and newly-acquired veteran M. Miller, each hit over 40% on 3-pt. shots last season. You think Craig Smith and Corey Brewer are basically crap, but check out Minnesota's stats in the paint in their five pre-season victories and at the end of 2008.
What I think you're missing is that they're a hungry, young team, and after a disastrous start last season they were VERY competitive in the second half. With the addition of Ahearn they probably will have one of the best backcourts in the league. Kevin Love has gotten a lot of press, though really he's still an unknown... but you're way off base on "sooooo-skinny" Corey Brewer (one of only four players to hit 1000 pts in three year's of college-ball while taking his team to back-to-back NCAA National Championships).
Anyway, you're not the only one picking them flounder around in the cellar in the tough Western Division. NBA predictions has them at #14. On the other hand, I've got them for 36-40 wins (assuming Jefferson avoids injury), which might just mean their first post-season since four years ago, back when I became Kevin Garnett's number one fan. And the future's even brighter.
What kind of odds can I get for that particular madness?
Art R, Huatulco Oaxaca, Mexico
A: Odds that the Timberwolves will win more than 35 games and might get in the playoffs? Seriously?
You realize it took like 50 wins to get the eighth spot in the West last year, right?
You realize the Timberwolves are in the West, right?
Long, long, long, long odds.
If they win 35 games, I’ll be stunned. I think 30 would be the over and under number.