The Sunday morning follies
Finally got through most of this stuff and there’s lots here. And there’s lots of other stuff rattling around in my little cranium that I’ll get to eventually.
For that, though, you might have to wait a day. There’s an early start this afternoon and then I’ve got to go hang out with those auction winners.
Oh, and thanks a lot for all the donations. The Ladies Of The Foundation tell me the total got up over $1,300 and that’s a fine reflection on you good people. Take a bow.
Now take a sip of the coffee and read:
Q: Me again! Re: Q & A below....can you go into detail regarding the "playoff pool"?? (ie: how the cash gets into the pot, how the cash is divided up per team/player) thanks ;)
Q: Hiya Doug! Is there a monetary benefit to the owners of a team for winning the NBA championship (besides the obvious ticket sales, merchandise sales...)??
Sherry E, Toronto
A: And hiya to you, too. No, there’s not a big cheque like a definitive $10 million for winning the final, waiting at the end of the rainbow, there is money from the playoff pool that’s shared by all post-season teams and the players on them but no bonus in what I think you mean as the traditional sense.
Sherry E, Toronto
A: The playoff pool is money that comes out of league revenues. It’s somewhere north of $12 million in total each year and is made available as a “bonus” because the all players are only paid until the end of the regular season. There are payouts to teams for finishing anywhere from sixth in the conference to winning the NBA title. Of course, the higher you finish and advance, the more money you get. It’s then up to the teams to decide how they’ll split it up, for instance some teams may pro-rate shares to players who came or left midway through the season, some take care of support staff, etc.
I’m not entirely sure how much each share was for Boston last year but it probably worked out to somewhere around $200,000 a man, if they only shared the money among players on the roster.
Q: I have been a fan of basketball for a long time but have only recently started to pay attention to the more intricate details of scoring, stats and players. I noticed that sometimes players don't play in a particular game and it is the "coach's decision.” What does this mean and what are the reasons a coach would decide not to play someone for a game?
Michelle L, Ottawa
A: Just as it says, the coach decides not to use Player A for a game. Usually, it’s the guys at the end of the bench who may not have the talent the coach wants for any particular game. Sometimes, like with Jose against Miami here and in Orlando, coaches don’t play guys who are active but injured but the general reason is skill.
Q: Is it still fair to make championship rings so important to getting into the hall? If the 07/08 Celtics proved anything it's that it takes more than one superstar to win a title, but sadly the Hall of Fame votes on individual players and not teams. In a league that now has 30 teams the vast majority of players (dare I say two thirds) won't even get a sniff at a title in their careers. Back in the early Bill Russell days when the league had less than 10 teams it was a different story but times have changed.
Colin J, Brampton
A: To me, it should be one of the major considerations, but certainly not the only one because things have indeed changed. Karl Malone, John Stockton and Charles Barkley are three examples of absolute bonafide Hall of Famers who never got a ring. But if were to come down to two players with nearly identical careers and stats, I would always support a player with a ring over someone without one.
Q: I enjoy your work and hope you don't get too caught up with the negative e-mails that for the most part I assume are just from zealous fans caught up in the heat of a bad game! A few quick thoughts and questions: 1) I think Sam is a fine NBA coach and I think those who scream for him to be fired are reacting on emotion rather than thoughtful analysis. Where would you rate Sam (approximately) amongst NBA coaches (1-30)? 2) I read several pre-season NBA publications and outside of Toronto most have the Raptors 5th to 8th in the Eastern Conference and losing in the first round. Where did this "win a playoff round" mentality come from? 3) I still believe the main failing of the Raptors so far, and it is only 10 games into the season, is to how to effectively throw the ball to one of their three bigs in the post, and then get a kick out pass for an open look at a three.....which doesn't seem to be happening a lot so far.
Mike D, Cambridge
A: Sam? I’d put him somewhere in the middle, no idea about a number but there are worse and there are better.
It’s the naturally expected progression of a team that’s lost two straight first-round series in the playoffs to improve on that and advance to a second- or third-round. It comes from internal and external expectations.
No, they don’t get a lot of open threes. The reasons? Lots of ‘em. Has to do with how teams defend Toronto’s best shooters and sometimes it has to do with bad spacing on the part of the Raptors.
Q: Do you think the salary cap is useful? What about just having a minimum team payroll, a maximum on what you can give a player per year, compensation for lost free agents and no maximum team salary? There will always be franchises that are run poorly, why should they be rewarded with a luxury tax payout? You're not going to win because you have the highest payroll. Every pro sport, except maybe Soccer, has proven this time and time again. If you can't compete because of money, than why does that franchise exist in the first place? I can't really remember the NBA in the pre-cap era, are they that much better off now?
Shawn L, Bowmanville
A: There are some flaws in the current NBA system but I do think it serves its purpose, which is dual. It does protect most teams from themselves, which is good business sense for the collective, and the way it allows teams to keep its own players (for a larger salary and higher annual raises) allows the game’s stars – for the most part – to spend the bulk of their careers in one city.
Your proposal has its merits but there would be teams that would spend themselves into oblivion without any deterrent like the current tax system.
And, yes, the league is much more financially healthy now than it was in the pre-cap era.
Q: I seriously doubt you will actually answer any of my question but here it goes: Can you please explain to me what direction the Raptors are heading in because as a long time Raptors fan I'm a little confused. Are the Raptors a treadmill team? Are the Raptors waiting for 2010 when they have enormous cap space but lose Bosh due to their lack of talent? Finally is Bargnani the face of this franchise? If this is the case, Bryan Colangelo should find a plan back to Phoenix ASAP. Fans will be chanting "BC Sucks" sooner or late. You heard it here first. Again, I really doubt you have the cajones to post this. Prove me wrong!
Marc C, Montreal
A: I believe the direction they are heading is more up than down. They are improving in some areas each year, adding pieces when they can and are building, they hope, towards being a team with legitimate title aspirations.
Are they there yet? No.
Do these things take time? Yes.
Are you satisfied? I doubt it.
Q: Doug, completely agree with your criticism of the couch bound cable blogger. For those of us who have to rely on the journalist for all our inside info and assessments. Could you share with us some of your favorite online journalists/blogs/etc from around the league?
Nathan T, Alexandria, Ont.
A: It starts and pretty much stops with Henry Abbott’s TrueHoop on ESPN. Of course, I read From Deep every day, too.
A glance at Hoopshype gives a nice overview of what’s out there, it’s a good clearing house of the day’s stories around the league.
And I read the regulars at ESPN and Sports Illustrated online every day, too.
Q: Short time reader, big time fan. My friend and I have a little argument going. He says that the Raptors practice only at the ACC (obviously when at home.) However, I say that they probably have a specially designed practice court(s) somewhere near the ACC. Could you please settle this little disagreement. I cannot find the answer anywhere on the world wide web.
Tim V, Ancaster
A: Your friend wins. The Raptors have their own practice facility on the third floor of the Air Canada Centre that they use exclusively when they’re in town.
Back in the bad old days when they played at that basketball mausoleum with the roof and the rat-infested hockey arena, they used to practice at a university facility on Lawrence but, thankfully, those days are gone.
Q: I can't believe the beating you're getting from Raptor fandom! Anyway, Butch Carter said something interesting the other day regarding a requisite to successful coaching: the need for a defined style on the part of the coach. Carter was suggesting the absence of this when it comes to Sam. What do you think? Man, Butch really sounds like he's on the ball.
Luka M, Toronto
A: I think it’s easy to sit in a radio studio and make points. Of course, a coach is better if he has one easily-defined style but if he doesn’t have the players to implement that style, he’s not going to be successful. For instance, take Jerry Sloan, who I consider one of the greatest coaches ever. He’s had a “style” for 20 years and when he’s had the players, his team has won. When he hasn’t – as recently as about five years ago, his teams have struggled and there were calls for his head.
Does Sam have a “style?” Probably not as defined a one as he could but there are a dozen coaches in the NBA who try to adapt to their personnel rather than hold fast to their teachings. Doc Rivers is an example. In Orlando, he used all kinds of different looks that year his team of under-achievers caught the conference by surprise; he certainly didn’t coach the same there as he is in Boston. So, does he have a “style?”
Q: Hey Doug, you've mentioned Garbo's contract is still counting against the cap, and that he's currently playing overseas. So I was wondering if his $4M (or whatever) is simply counting as money that the Raps aren't actually paying out, but that can't be used to sign more players, or if they are still paying Garbo while he's getting paid to play for another team? And if the Raps are still paying him, why not just keep him around to bolster the thin bench?
Scott K, Kingston
A: They’re not paying him. They came to a financial settlement on his contract, gave him the money and let him go. It was a mutually agreed-upon negotiation.
Under NBA salary cap rules, though, the number remains on the books. However, it cannot be used in any way, shape or form in any transaction.
Q: Hi Doug, I have a question regarding bigs. Generally, the thought is that Garnett and Duncan are the two best in the league, with a 2nd tier of players such as Amare, Yao, Dirk, Howard, Bosh, Boozer and Elton Brand. Would you still agree that Duncan and Garnett represent the top tier of bigs in the game, or is the balance of power shifting? Also, where would you rank Bosh amongst these. It seems that this year he's really risen to the top of that second tier.
Geoff A, Toronto
A: The power remains with Garnett and Duncan for sure. But you’re right, the gap is closing quickly. Of the players you’ve got mentioned there, I’d say Bosh, given his age and all-around skill, would be right at the top of that second tier. But not until his team wins something, like a playoff series, will he be able to separate himself from the others.
Q: Question that will put Luke Schenn and Andrea Bargnani in the same sentence.
The arguments that are being made to send Schenn down to the Jr A got me thinking about Bargnani. He started playing Pro Ball for Stella Azzura when he was 17 years old. Do you think this was a negative in his development. At the age of 17 years old he was playing with men and couldn't his development be better if he played with kids his own age and wasn't rushed along? Sorry if this is thinking too much but the things they say that will help Schenn develop i.e. playing with his own age couldn't that also apply to another sport?
Gaetano D, Etobicoke
A: I have no idea about the pucks but I firmly believe that young players should be challenged by playing against the best so I have no problem at all with Bargnani playing as a pro at 17. If, let’s say, he remained dominant against kids his age, there’s too much chance he’d get lazy, develop bad habits and coast on his talent rather than improve.
Players need to be challenged to learn and you don’t get challenged having it easy.
Q: In yesterday’s blog you had talked about the 2001 squad and how they were deeper 1 through 12. I would agree with this statement however with respect to the bigs, if you were starting a team today do you take A) Antonio Davis, Charles Oakley and Keon Clark off the bench or B) O'Neal, Bosh and Bargnani? Rob V, Waterloo
A: In their absolute primes? I’d take the current three. Trouble is, they’re not there yet.
Q: Lots of talk on various forums about MLSE giving Colangelo the green light to exceed the luxury tax. I find this a nice gesture but at the wrong time. Who can you realistically get in here mid-season that'll improve the team? The only way to do that is sacrifice more depth by making a 2-1 or 3-1 trade. We don't have the pieces that other teams want either. Who really wants Moon or Hump? I'd like to keep Kapono and have someone give Smitch pointers on how to actually use a player like that. So who does that leave? No one really. Any rumblings amongst the grunts or front office staff about what kind of move might be made, if any?
Chuck D, Toronto
A: I don’t think there’s a truly “bold” move to be made because of the limited pieces they have to offer. But maybe bold isn’t necessary. Maybe there’s a $5 million guy out there with two or three years left on his deal who could be had in a 2-for-1 deal that only costs the Raptors, say, Joey’s expiring contract and Will Solomon. But if you’re looking for an all-star to suddenly arrive, you’re wasting your time.
Q: Let's say player A did a flagrant foul to player B and was thrown out of the game. Player A gets 3 games suspension and $100,000 fine. Player B, the #1 player of the team, was injured and out for the season. Does the team of Player B get anything from the NBA or team A like cash or whatever? or team B just have to live with it?
Paul M, Toronto
A: The team of Player B gets nothing. Except reason to hate Player A.
Q: Do you attribute the recent resurgence of the Memphis Grizzlies (4-7) to their hiring of the greatest Raptor coach in history (in my opinion), Kevin O'Neill to be an assistant coach? What I am really asking you to do is to rank your personal favourite all-time Raptors coaches, hoping for you to place the Diet Coke chugging, lamp throwing KO at the top of the list.
Phil S, Kanata
A: I wish I could, but no, I cannot attribute it to KO at all. The Grizzlies are still giving up a lot of points (about 94 per game) and have benefitted from a relatively easy schedule.
On the list of best Raptor coaches? KO would be ahead of Darrell Walker and, maybe, Lenny Wilkens. That’s the best I can do.
Q: Great Blog. Yours is my morning must read. There are couple questions perhaps you can shed some light on. 1. Why Kapano uses the pump fake so often after catching the ball instead of shooting it right away, especially he has a lightning quick trigger? Are the defenders that close to him most of the time or is it a mental thing?
2. Do the T.V. and radio broadcasting teams get to travel with the players when they are on the road, or do they have to find their own transportation like the beat grunts?
Winston K, Toronto
A: With Kapono, most times there’s a guy too close for even his quick release because every team in the league knows the way to limit his effectiveness is to make him put the ball on the floor.
And no, the TV and radio dudes travel in the lap of luxury with the team, they don’t have to do all their own commercial travel and good, but not opulent, hotels.
Q: Hi Doug, I know that Vlade Divac used to smoke pretty heavily back in the day. Now I hear that Adam Morrison smokes. This seems completely insane. I smoke, but my livelihood also doesn't depend on being in peak physical condition. What are these guys thinking? Do you know of any other players that smoked cigarettes? I understand if you don't want to mention current players (role model issues etc.) but surely there has to be some notable former/dead players that smoked. Thanks Doug! (I know that now you're thinking about getting some "fresh air". Sorry.)
Dave B, Toronto
A: I can’t speak first-hand about too many other teams out there and I’m sure there’ve been some Raptors who snuck “fresh air” that I never knew about but I do know that Keon Clark would have a smoke every now and then and Garbo would light up on the odd occasion.
Is it silly? Of course it is.
Q: It's been a while since I've fired off a question, so here it is. A friend and I argued about this over the weekend and wanted you opinion on the matter. Do you think the Raptors, with their current roster can make it to the eastern conference finals? One of us was arguing that the Raps could improve internally at the wing and back up guard positions, while the other was adamant that the Raps needed to make a trade to take that next step.
Nolan K, Winnipeg
A: No, in this incarnation, they can’t make the Eastern Conference final unless they get some kind of huge matchup break in the playoffs. Which could, I suppose, happen.
And the improvement in talent, I think, is going to have to come from outside, I’m not sure the guys on the current roster can get any better. But, before you throw the towel in on the season, I will say that if the current group develops more consistency, they can be all right. That’s the problem with them right now, too many spotty performances.