At least you've got some time to read
This is as big a mailbag as we’ve had in a long time and it didn’t even take a mid-week plea for submissions to get. Lots of good stuff – questions, that is, not necessarily answers – in and it’s long enough that you’ll probably need until the crappy 9 p.m. Sunday night start to this evening’s festivities.
Q: This question is in regards to your traveling. I've seen a couple of video segments on raptors.com called "Life on the Second Bus". In the segment, the TV guys talk Raptors on their bus which is following the "first bus" carrying the players and staff. I noticed that the second bus only had the TV production crew and some radio guys traveling with the team. Why don't the grunts also join the bus? (My assumption is that the bosses want to prevent any conflict of interests between MLSE and your reporting. Is this remotely correct?) By the way, the bus is always half empty so I know there's enough room for you :)
Summit B, Brampton
A: Oh, those zany RaptorTV types. That “second bus” stuff’s a hoot, isn’t it? But Grunts (and it should probably have a capital ‘G’) aren’t invited mainly because when they’re doing their schtick, we’re hard at work writing stories and blogs and answering mail.
My bosses? If it’d save them $25 in cab fare, they wouldn’t care where I got a ride home.
Q: Scoop Jackson of ESPN's "Page 2" has an article out, "A Mount Rushmore for each NBA team," where he picks the 4 people that best represent each franchise's history. I wanted to know your thoughts on his selection for the Raps: Carter, Peterson, Bosh and Stoudamire and also what you thought of this comment: "Finding four players that have stayed with the organization more than six years is close to impossible. That either says something about the city or the franchise."
Carlo R, Toronto
A: That’d be my four probably, although putting Alvin in ahead of Damon for character reasons might be justified. He did more for longer.
Now, on the comment? You have to understand the franchise is only 14 years old and the first five were repeated exercises in turmoil and turnover; give ‘em some time and you’ll find that not to be true. As I presume it would be proven true if you look at the first 14 years of any team that came into existence from the 1980s on.
Q: I have been watching a lot of different teams play on NBA T.V. and I have come to realize that Utah plays the most fundamental basketball in the NBA. Would that be an accurate statement? How has Jerry Sloan been able to adapt when so many "older" coaches cannot deal with today's NBA player? Also, I think Ronnie Brewer is a very underrated NBAer, if you could a top 5 of underrated players in the game today who would they be?
Zack B, Kuwait
A: Jerry Sloan adapts because ownership and his GM have enough faith in him to wait to get him the right kind of player who can adjust to his system. My love for Sloan well-documented because he does things his way and if the players can’t take it, they don’t play. But he’s allowed that luxury because ownership isn’t going to panic when things go bad.
Ronnie Brewer is under-rated a bit, I guess.
I can’t come up with a definitive top 5 because it’s so subjective but I’ll submit that Shane Battier, Udonis Haslem, Luis Scola, Steve Blake and Matt Harpring might be on people’s lists.
Q: Doug what is going on with MoPete? Is he even on the bench in New Orleans?
Joel R, Toronto
A: He’s hurt, has a foot injury. Not that he was a major contributor early in the year but that’s what is going on now.
Q: Doug I was just curious as to who was the last Raptor to have a triple-double and how many have even done it?
Chris A, Kitchener
A: The last? Alvin Williams on March 23, 2001 (11 points, 10 rebounds and 14 assists).
All time? Five others have ever done it: Damon Stoudamire (three), Marcus Camby (two times) and Vince Carter, Charles Oakley and Mark Jackson, once each.
Q: I just read today's blog and saw you say "Jay is getting all he can out of the roster" in reference to someone saying Sam Mitchell overachieved with this roster. Once again I find it funny that the only time you ever say anything about Jay is when you want to defend him. My brother in-law works for Rogers Sportsnet and I was telling him that I never hear you guys rip into Jay and he said the beat reporters favor the Canadian guy, I guess he was right. Jay has done a wretched job this year and friend of yours or not, admit that he has not maximized this roster. Do not lose your credibility!
Revin S, Toronto
A: Snarl and crank alert!
I’m not going to defend my opinions to you except to point out that criticism takes various forms and repeatedly writing that lineups are flawed and players are being played out of their best positions may not be the kind of screaming, over-the-top, constantly-harping criticism some like but it’s the way some of us do things.
And now I have question for you: Why would anyone at Rogers Sportnet know anything about the Raptors or the NBA since they ignore it and show up to practice about, oh, once every two weeks? So, I hold your brother-in-law’s opinion in about as high regard as you hold mine. And I’m quite okay with that, actually.
Q: Where do the Raptor/Leaf players get their MRI's done. Does MLSE own an MRI machine, or is it done in a public hospital. If it's done in a hospital are they charged for it?
Jamie M, Guelph
A: They pay for time on MRI machines when they would otherwise be idle.
Q: Do you see any scenario that BC goes after Allen Iverson? I realize that he doesn't really fit into the Raptors scheme, but he will definitely put rear ends in the seats? Isn't that MLSE's main priority?
Chris D, Toronto
A: I answer this only because many people have asked about Iverson. I cannot for a second think that a 33-year-old, small combo guard with many, many miles on his frame and a guy who has not done anything to improve the play of either of his last two teams will attract even a sniff of interest in Toronto. And that’s not even talking about the fact he not answer the need for a big, slashing, solid-defending wing in the event Marion leaves.
Sell tickets? They’re in the top 10 in attendance now, averaging more than 19,000 fans a game for a team that’s not very good, I don’t think that’s an issue.
Q: I love what you do with the blog, I read it all the time, so I think you're the only person who could truly answer this question, I was watching HOU v CLE and does Von Wafer have a Fauxhawk, a Fohawk, a Frohawk?
Mark M, Sun Prairie, WI
A: Personally, I’d call it a “fauxhawk” but I’d probably be wrong and, actually, should probably be the last guy to ask given my, um, fashion sense.
Whatever you call it, though, it’s ugly.
Q: Hey mate, just a quick one. Just wondering how often do teams train? Is it daily? My friend seems to think that they rarely train because of their tight schedule, but my argument is how do those that don’t get minutes stay fit? So how often do teams train and at what intensity?
Mike S, Adelaide, Australia
A: They train, in some way or fashion, every day that’s not a game day. Sure, after back to backs, they won’t have a full practice, or anything officially scheduled but many guys will get in the gym and do something.
Now, the intensity wanes, obviously, because games come so fast and furious – Toronto played 21 games in one stretch of 43 days – so it’s more important for them to get some rest and physio than it is to get in the gym and scrimmage or work on plays.
Q: Where does David Robinson rank on the list of all time greatest centers? He was my favorite player growing up.... and I think on top of his NBA accomplishments (71 pts in a game, MVP, Championship etc..) His community service efforts and donations are unparalleled by any NBA player.
Jeffery M, Beijing
A: You’re talking about a position that’s been occupied by some of the true greats of all-time, like Russell, Chamberlain, Olajuwon, O’Neal. Robinson certainly wouldn’t be in that group but he might be No. 5.
And that’s not bad.
Q: One thing I've noticed about living and dying with the Raps is that if they lose a game I normally feel like crap afterwards. Sometimes I get angry at players, the refs, the TV, etc. If they win, especially a close one.. I'm on cloud nine. Even though, as you mention in your last post, it’s your job. Do you get into the games? Love the close winners, hate the blowouts etc. In addition what are the highs and lows of your job?
Jeffery M, Beijing
A: I’ve mentioned this before, but blowouts are easier on the heart ‘cause you can get deadline game stories written early; buzzer-beaters cause all kinds of stress. But like everyone, it’s more fun to watch a close game.
Q: Watching Marion today and the man’s got some serious speed. A lot of talk lately about giving the fans some excitement with a run and gun style. Who would be your players for the best run and gun team (active players only as they are today)? Who would it be in a walk?
Ron F, Toronto
A: Offence only? Just to run? Do I have to pick them by position? Nash, Kobe, LeBron, Amare and Howard might go 82-0.
Walkers? There are no real “walk-it-up” guys but, at a slower pace, I’d take Deron Williams, Brandon Roy, Paul Pierce, Tim Duncan and Yao and look for 75 wins.
I know, I know. I have no place for guys like Chris Paul, who fits somewhere in the middle.
Q: A comment and a question. I was in NYC recently, and visited the NBA Store. I looked for DVDs of old teams, players, playoffs, etc. Everything was from Jordan until now. It's upsetting that the League doesn't promote its history, especially for the benefit of young people. My question is in regards to the amount available for (re)signing players in the off-season. Colangelo states that there's $10M available. As I understand, Bosh, Barg, JK, Calderon, Ukic and Banks are under contract. Their combined salary is about $40M, which leaves $30M to play with. What I am not understanding?
Frank B, Toronto
A: There are many – far, far, far too many – who think the NBA began with Jordan and I’m not sure what the league can do to counteract that misperception.
Now, the money.
I’ll probably do this a few times between now and July 1 but here goes: The Raptors have salary obligations for next year worth about $47 million and cap, they now expect, to be around $57 million, leaving them only $10 million to spend.
However, there are such things as “cap holds” money that is on the books for Parker, Graham, Delfino and Marion – amounts measured in varying percentages of their current contracts depending on the value of those contracts among other things – that will take them over the cap. They would need to renounce those players – which takes away restricted free agent status in some cases – to get even more money to spend.
Also, the $30 million figure you’re talking about takes them up to the expected luxury tax threshold and is entirely different than the salary cap level.
Q: I'm an Italian living in NY and still a Raps fan after I saw them live losing (and survived to the Knicks fans jokes) in NY. My questions are: Now Andrea is playing better and sometimes like #1 pick; how much do you think his under-development is Sam's fault and how much Andrea's fault? Second, do you think that Bargnani can improve that much to become an "all star" and help Toronto to fight for a championship? Thanks for your columns and Blog.
Leonardo T, Brooklyn
A: I can apportion blame in the Mitchell-Bargnani thing, no one can. The coach could have let him play through mistakes more often, the player could perhaps learned not to foul twice in 30 seconds as often as he did. The coach could have left him as a centre (it would have helped if the GM wasn’t broadcasting his hopes that Bargnani would be a three, of course) and the player could have worked a bit harder a bit quicker.
Now, can he be an all-star? Depending on how the rest of the conference’s centres evolve, I can see him being a backup to Dwight Howard, yes.
Q: When a player gets waived it means that any team can pick him up if they are willing to assume the rest of his current contract right? So when a player clears waivers and signs with another team, what happens to his original contract? Is the player double-dipping?
Serge P, Ottawa
A: And that’s why you seldom, if ever, see players picked up on waivers. If you take a player, you’re on the hook. If you wait, as for instance the Celtics did with Moore and Marbury, you can sign them for a pro-rated portion of the minimum salary or a part of any cap exception you may have.
And, yes, that does lead to “double-dipping” although in some cases, there’s an offset, where a player gets ‘X’ amount to be bought out of his deal but it’s “X minus Y’ if he signs a new deal.
Q: Just watched the Wizards vs. Nets from 2003 when Jordan goes off for 43 pts. First and only time a player over 40 has scored 40 or more points. I had forgotten what an insane performance that was. How do you rank this record amongst the big ones, and do you ever think it will be beaten? What did you think of his performance?
Phil R, Oslo
A: Since no one ever plays until they’re 40, I’d say that’s a safe “record.” What did I think of eye? Eyebrow-raising at the time, maybe, but nothing I’ve given a second’s thought to since.
Q: With all due respect, when people send you a question such as "what should I do with my time," or "the season is over," you retort by saying you don’t really care if these people watch the team, you are just doing your job. Do you truly not care about fan support, or the team’s success or failure or are you just an employee of the Toronto Star who covers basketball? I really love the blog, and especially the Mailbag. Keep up the great work!
Martin A, Thornhill
A: I hope everyone in the world clicks on to this site or reads our newspaper every day. But am I going to get all worked up if people find other things to do rather than watch a team finish out the playoffs? No.
Q: We hear a lot about the top of the standings and how they may play out towards the end of the year, curious to hear your take on the last couple spots in each conference and who you see coming out of the East and West as the 7 and 8 seeds and why.
P K, Guelph
A: I’m sort of waiting for things to shake out a bit more in the East, maybe in a couple of weeks, but right now if I had to guess and I haven’t looked that closely at the schedules by I think Chicago might give Milwaukee a run for No. 8 and I bet Detroit finishes at No. 7. Out West? I can see Dallas holding off Phoenix for the final spot.
But, like I said, I haven’t really looked at the schedules that closely and won’t until probably the middle of March so don’t hold me to this.
Q: Hey Doug, I was looking up the Raps history in the draft, and I saw how the Raps ran on Sunday. I was wondering if the fact that BC wanted to build a team that could run played into his decision to draft Bargnani. Being 7 feet and able to run down the floor is very special, and this makes Bargs a perfect fit for a running team. Do you think this could be a reason why Colangelo drafted Andrea over others like Brandon Roy?
Philip P, Steinbach, MB
A: He drafted him, as he said that night and still says today, because he had a unique skill set that should allow him to play multiple positions and create matchup problems at both. I think he’s being proved correct. I don’t know that “running” was a particularly large part of the decision.
Q: Hi Doug, Great job as always. I read Howard Beck's column in the NY Times with David Falk and his opinion on what next CBA should resemble. Three questions:
1) How soon will the NBA know how bad the economic downturn has hit them
2) As a beat grunt that hits the road, have you seen any indications that it is already here attendance wise
3) David Falk thinks there should be more money for superstars and less for the average player - not something I think the majority of players would support (lot more average than superstars).
David P, Ottawa
A: I think the NBA already knows it’s going to get hit financially but I don’t think they have any firm idea – like most industries don’t – about how bad it’ll be which is why they are preparing for the worst.
Attendance? Oh yeah, it’s down, at least that’s how it looks anecdotally to me, which is hardly a surprise.
And David Falk generally represents superstars. For him to say anything different would shock me.
Q: Love the blog! I read it everyday, first time asking a question. I hear BC always talking about how much the loss of Garbajosa set the Raps back because he was a glue guy. I kind of see Marion as the same kind of glue guy. He seems to be willing to do the dirty work; rebound, defend and score on second chances. Do you see him as the "second coming" of Garbs (lol)?
Mike U, Barrie
A: Except for the fact Marion can run quickly and jump fast and can’t shoot a three, he’s exactly the same as Garbo. Oh, and Garbo spoke English far better than Marion speaks Spanish so there’s that difference.
Q: Hey Doug, what's with the no headband rule that both Chicago and Miami have? What's the reasoning behind it?
Pat K, London
A: They’ve actually waived the no head-band rule in Miami now, thanks to Jermaine O’Neal.
Q: Hey Doug. How is a max contract related to the salary cap? Because of the poor economy/low salary cap that is predicted for the 2010 season, is there any chance that the class of 2010 doesn't opt out and waits until 2011 to sign their new deals?
Francesco G, Toronto
A: The maximum value of any starting contact can be 20 per cent of the cap figure, whatever it may be in the year the contract is originally signed.
Q: You mentioned both P.J. Tucker and Pape Sow in your article about Nate going to play a stretch in the D-League... what's up with those guys these days?
Michael W, Toronto
A: The last I heard, P.J. was toiling way in Ukraine, where he’s probably not a game-but-undersized power forward with limited shooting range and Pape was spreading his unique brand of basketball – run around a lot, fall down a lot – in Milan.
Q: Since the Raptors will be under the salary cap does that mean that they don't have access to the mid-level exception?
Anthony C, Newmarket
A: Any team that’s under the cap by more than the value of the mid-level exception cannot use it.
Q: Nice story on the trey streak. Just curious, is it regular season only or does it include the playoffs? If it includes the playoffs, it looks like there may be an opportunity for Dallas to pass us and claim the lead. I'm not really big on this as a Team streak anyway as players come and go. Would you know who individually has had the longest consecutive trey game streak? I would think Reggie and Ray would be on top or near the top but MoPete has to make the list?
Ron F, Toronto
A: It’s a regular season record.
And, after exhaustive research (hi, NBA.com) the record for most games with a three-pointer made is 58, held by the otherwise unremarkable
Dana Barros, between Dec. 23, 1994 and Jan. 10, 1996, split between time he spent with Philadelphia and Boston.
Q: Appreciate the blog and the online chat, it's amazing. I just have a few questions so I'll get right to them.
1. The NBA will be giving 200 million dollars to 12 teams, do you happen to know which 12 teams?
2. How are the Raptors doing financially and does this economic problem pose a threat to the Raptors potentially leaving Toronto?
3. Bill Simmons of ESPN wrote that a lockout in 2011 is quite possible. What's your take on the CBA situation and will we see a potential work stoppage?
4. Lastly, It looks like many teams are in financial trouble (Thunder, Kings, Nets) and might relocate to different cities. Will there ever be a time when the league will finally stabilize into 30 stable markets?
Dave R, Markham
A: I don’t have, and I don’t think anyone has, a list of teams that are taking advantage of the available credit although I did read the Phoenix Suns are because it was smarter business for them to transfer debt to the league-backed loan.
There is no threat whatsoever at this time to the viability of the Raptors; I wouldn’t worry about that at all.
A lockout? I think you see some sabre-rattling but the sides are already talking and, surely to all that’s good in the world, they’ll come to some resolution. But it will, as these things always do, come at the expense of the players.
I think in the next five or six years you’ll see a team or two move, but I don’t think you’ll see any disappear.
I think Memphis is on shaky ground, as is New Orleans, New Jersey if they don’t get the Brooklyn thing going for real, and Sacramento if they don’t get a new arena are all good possibilities to move.
Q: Hey Doug, don't always watch it live, but I always read the blog after every game, don't have anything but basic satellite here, no sports channels. My question is regarding Karl English. I've noticed he's been doing well in European play, any chance the Raptors would sign him in the coming years? I really think some Canadian content would further excite this nation's basketball fans. Thanks.
Jesse V, Lethbridge
A: Carl English? Yeah, he’s having a pretty good year in Spain but the fact is, he’s now 27 years old, hasn’t cut it in two NBA camps and is a 6-5 shooting guard. I’d say there’s little or no chance he gets a training camp invite anywhere in the NBA next season, let alone a job.
And, far more than a Canadian, a winning team in Toronto would excite the nation’s basketball fans.