Some mail; a big, heavy bag full of it
As always, you folks came through. This should take you right up until game time, if you’re at all inclined to watch the game. If you’re not, why not sit back and click on to the live blog and keep me entertained, I’m thinking you might be more able to do that than the Raptors and Knicks.
Q: What exactly do players have to do to pass or fail a physical after being traded? Can teams just back out of a bad trade by saying the guy failed the physical?
Rob C, Toronto
A: Physicals are sort of like the physical you’d get, a bit more extensive with particular attention paid to areas that have previously injured, as we saw with Tyson Chandler’s toe. And I suppose unscrupulous doctors could ignore their Hippocratic Oath and fail a guy for no good reason but doctors do hold things to different standards. It may be intentional, it may be a case of one physician being more, um, careful, than the next.
Q: Just wondering what the cap situation is now for the Raps after the Marion and O'Bryant trades. Do they have enough room to sign another player from FA? Bring back Cool Hand Luke!! :)
Oliver A, Milton
A: After all the dealing is done, and with all the various cap permutations taken into consideration, they are just over $300,000 below the tax level so they could sign just about anyone they wanted to a pro-rated minimum for the rest of the season.
And I’m sure you’ve read, they had Antoine Walker and Pops Mensah-Bonsu in already for a look so they are beating the bushes.
If by Cool Hand Luke you mean Luke Jackson, I believe that ship has sailed.
Q: When a player is traded, what obligations do teams have to the traded player? Conversely what obligations do teams have to the player just received. I am thinking of moving expenses, accommodations, breaking leases, food, family, airfare, new digs etc. The mundane problems one has in moving un-expectantly. Is this issue covered by the CBA?
Peter T, London, Ont.
A: They pay for them to get here and for some accommodations right off the bat but after that, they help players find places and leave them on their own.
Q: Hope you enjoy your respite this weekend, even though NYC is never a bad trip out, is it? Anyway, I wanted to ask you about the backup point situation with Banks now in the picture. The way Ukic played the last few games before the break, and considering he is a nice piece going forward, do you think he will continue to get the backup minutes or is there a chance, with the team trying to make a run, they will go with the veteran Banks?
Isaac O, Thornhill
A: I do think you’ll see as much Ukic in the next 25 games as you’ve seen in the last few; what you’ll probably see with Banks is some minutes at either guard spot when the opposition goes small in the backcourt. For instance, Tuesday against Minnesota, if they go with Telfair and Foye, you might see Banks with either Calderon or Ukic.
Q: Hey Doug, I was wondering if you could explain to me how trade exceptions work. I'm not quite sure I understand how teams acquire them.
Simon S-G, Toronto
A: If you take the total monetary value of the players being dealt – and it’s a very, very complicate formula – the difference is the “trade exception,” which gives the team taking back more money an “exception” worth that value they can use to sign a player for one calendar year from the time of the original transaction. That money can’t be used in any aggregate deal.
The Marion, Banks-O’Neal, Moon trade was as complicated as it gets. I asked Bryan Colangelo to explain it to me and it went something like this: The main parts, Marion-O’Neal, satisfied the cap needs of 125 per cent, plus or minus $100,000 and then when you factored in the other two, the Heat came out with a trade exception of something more than $3 million. I was confused as I’ve ever been and just took him at his word.
Q: A quick glance through the league's salary statistics shows that very few teams will have cap space this summer and the ones who do (ie. Detroit and Atlanta) probably wouldn't be interested in adding Shawn Marion. If Marion's options are limited, won't that be a good opportunity for the Raptors to lock up a talented player at a reasonable number?
Matt J, Toronto
A: You’re leaving out the possibility of a sign-and-trade transaction, which brings every team in the league into the picture so to suggest there’s a limit on the clubs who might be interested is wrong.
Q: Hi Doug, what does it mean when only a part of O'Bryant's contract is guaranteed? What does he have to do to get the rest of the money? Does he have to stay past some deadline or something? Thanks,
Bryce F, Markham
A: As far as the information goes that I have – and it hasn’t been wrong on anything yet – his contract for next year, worth $855,000 and change – becomes guaranteed if the Raptors don’t waive him by July 1. If they do waive him, he’ll get $500,000.
Q: Why would Houston trade their starting point guard, when they still hold the sixth seed? Am I missing something about Aaron Brooks and Kyle Lowry? Not exactly who you want in crunch time. Seems Phoenix caught a break here.
Shawn L, Bowmanville
A: After watching Brooks drill two huge shots in the dying minutes of Friday’s win over Houston, I’m not sure that’s not who they want. I’ve been told that maybe Rafer was being Rafer (a tad negative and a bit disruptive) behind the scenes on a team that wasn’t going well and it was time to move him.
Q: Hi Doug. Can a player whose contract is expiring on June 30 still be traded between the end of the season and that date or can he only be traded before the trade deadline? After reading so many comments to the effect that the Blazers missed their chance to do something with LaFrentz, I'm not sure if the NBA allows it. Can you shed some light. Thanks.
Jay B, Toronto
A: The trade ban that’s on now lasts until the end of the regular season, when deals are permitted between teams that are not in playoff. As well, teams who are eliminated can begin making trades as soon as they are ousted. But what historically happens – and what makes sense – is that teams wait until every other team can be contacted before they pull the trigger on any deal. Why limit yourself to less than the entire league to talk to?
Q: Great blog, look for it with great excitement every morning. The Friday game was quite appalling, and I shook my head in disgust so many times my neck is still aching. However, I would like to make the curses I make to the television a bit more constructive (well as constructive as they can be without the players actually hearing them), so to my question: What is the optimum way to defend a pick and roll? Is there a way to defend it if it is done "perfectly"? How about a simple screen? I found the Raptors players in a no-man's land so many times, and coming late to contest open shots. It was disturbingly bad.
Ben L, Toronto
A: I bet if you asked 10 coaches, you’d get five different opinions of the “optimum” way to defend a pick and roll. There isn’t one. Just like there isn’t a perfect way to defend a side screen, or a zipper cut, or a flare. It depends on the opponent. And the coach.
Q: Not sure if you've answered this one already, but thought I'd throw it out there. Thankfully I've been out of town for the All Star Game and the Knicks debacle and while wondering the streets of Rome I see a bunch of Bargnani jerseys in storefront windows and it got me thinking: Which international Raptor has sold the most merchandise? Jose, Andrea? Or dare I say Sean Marks, Brezec or even Garbo? Do they keep track of these things, or is it an educated guess?
Rob K, Toronto
A: They probably keep track of these things but they don’t tell me and I don’t search it out.
If I had to guess, of the international Raptors, I’d say Jose but of all the Raptors? That Carter bloke was as global an icon as anyone ever will be from this franchise.
If you find a Brezec Raptors jersey, buy it, it’ll be the only one out there.
Q: Are the Raptors completely purple-less now? I noticed that the logo still has a tinge of purple in it, but the court, uniforms and nets are purple-less. Which leads me to ask: Should we expect a logo change soon? Perhaps to incorporate the Canadian leaf somehow?
Mark I, Oakville
A: They put the maple leaf on the top of back of the black jerseys. And, no, there will be no logo change coming any time soon.
Q: Hi Doug, I know your disdain for the puckheads but thought I would ask anyway...would the Raptors/NBA ever consider using the "3 Star Selection" after each game? I think that NBA ball would lend itself well to this concept as it could recognize players that fly under the radar (i.e. Garbo and Rasho would have won their fair share of these nightly selections despite modest stats), and if a by-product was it motivated our complacent Toronto hoopsters so much the better.
Andrew J, London, England
A: I guarantee you being selected a “star” of a game would in no way motivate anyone in basketball and I would presume it does nothing to make hockey players try harder.
It’s a pucks thing, leave it there.
Q: Hi Doug, I'm wondering what your opinion is in regards to the celebration of the NBA's past stars? Do you think there's an over-emphasis on this?
I have the greatest regard for someone as accomplished, team-oriented and classy as Bill Russell, but to see him celebrating with the Celtics when they won the championship last season seemed out of place. Seeing an SI article a couple months ago that nominated him for 2008 Sportsman of the Year drove me nuts. The guy was great. He no longer plays.
He did not win a ring last year and it takes away from the game and the accomplishments of those in today's day and age to continue to credit him with contributions to a championship run when he doesn't coach, manage or play for a team that won.
Geoff A, Toronto
A: I think at every single opportunity, franchises and leagues should celebrate and welcome back the true giants of the game who paved the way for the excesses today’s generation enjoys.
I would offer Bill Russell a seat on the front row at midcourt at every single arena in the NBA for whatever game he wanted to attend.
Q: Do you think the Raps should pursue Mikki Moore (i.e. would he be the third best big on the team in the absence of Hump)?
Howie D, Toronto
A: Not only would Mikki Moore command a salary big enough to put Toronto over the tax level and bring no significant increase in the team’s faint playoff hopes, there’s no way Moore would give Toronto a second glance. He’s going to somewhere he can win, like Boston, Cleveland or the Spurs.
Q: I think the best news I've heard in the last little while is that there are only 25 Raps games to go this year! And I'm sure half of them are on TSN2, meaning that we only have to suffer through a dozen or so more! Finally, some cause for celebration!
Question: Does Bosh's play since Mitchell was fired remind you at all of Vince's play after Butch Carter was let go? It strikes me that both Bosh and Carter have played their best under the more traditional "hard ass" coach. They both seem to lack that competitive drive that the true greats have - Jordan, Kobe, etc. And without a coach that is really on them, whatever desire they do have just disappears.
Mike D, Toronto
A: Vince Carter’s most successful years came after Butch Carter was fired. And you cannot say Lenny was a “taskmaster.”
But, no, I don’t see that at all, of course it’s hard to say with Bosh since he’s had, what, 40 games under Jay, he’s missed five of them with an injury and was playing through a bunch of pain in probably 10 others.
Q: Now that the deadline is over with for another year and those teams who are out of the playoff picture will turn their attention to the first of millions of mock drafts, can you give us an update of what position the Raps are in for this year’s draft? Number of picks etc. and how many roster spots will need to be filled next year via free agency due to expiring contracts. It's all got a little confusing as to who we could be losing at the end of this year and what draft prospects we may be gaining. Also do we currently hold the rights to any drafted players overseas who we may actually see as a raptor in the future? Thanks for your input.
Leon R, Cambridge, England
A: Right now, the Raptors have their own first-round pick this year but not their second, it went to Detroit in the Carlos Delfino deal and the Pistons have moved it on somewhere, I’m not sure where.
Toronto also has its first round pick every year between now and 2015 except for the first year they make the playoffs between 2010 and 2015. That pick goes to the Heat.
And, right now, Toronto has seven players with guaranteed deals for next year – Banks, Bargnani, Bosh, Calderon, Kapono, Humphries, Jawai and Ukic. O’Bryant has a partially guaranteed deal and Parker, Marion, Graham and Voskuhl are free agents.
Q: What effect, if any, do you think the Matrix might have on Steven Graham's older brother? They have a lot of similarities in their build and somewhat in their game -- at least in that both are undersized 4's.
A K, Richmond Hill
A: They do have some similarities, indeed. But as for one-on-one tutelage? I don’t think you’ll see much. But what you should see is Graham studying Marion’s knack for finding open space on offence and rebounds on defence.
Q: I have heard Jay Triano be referred to as the Head Coach and Interim Head Coach since Sam's exit. What kind of contract is Jay on currently, have you heard anything about him staying on permanently, and/or does the term "interim" really mean anything these days?
Conas A, Halifax
A: TO me, interim means a guy who’s in a job for a couple of days, not a guy who has a gig for 55 games, like Jay has. I guess technically, he is interim in that he has no contract after this season ends.
Q: Hey Doug! Couple of questions:
1. Why do GMs have interest in players which have been known to "just go through the motions", ex. Wince Carter. Do they believe they can change their attitudes or that a move may motivate them?
2. With the economic situation the way it is, do you see a lock-out any time in the near future? Will the max. contract players be willing to take on less money? And any bargains which can be had in the upcoming free agency?
Zeeshan D, Toronto
A: Couple of answers
1. At least one GM feels his team is a better fit for guys who have “issues” where they are.
Lockout? Not sure, but it wouldn’t surprise me if the league made a handful of financial demands. The good part is David Stern and Billy Hunter are already talking, two full years before the CBA can be re-opened.
Q: A question concerning team chemistry: When they're on road trips, do the Raps do the roommate thing like you see in old baseball movies? or because they're only 12 or so guys (and rather well paid) do they each get there own room? On top of that, what other team chemistry building things do they or other teams do offcourt beyond the occasional Sam Dalembert-esque "take everyone to dinner"?
Ryan M, Ottawa
A: No, there’s no “roommate thing” going on in the NBA. Everyone’s got their own space, as they should. These are grown men and should be entitled to private rooms.
Well, they don’t sit around and hold hands and sing Kumbaya. I think too much is made of “chemistry” off the court. These are grown men, some with families, many with disparate interests and to think they’d spend countless hours together is folly. Do you, for instance, want to spend any more time than is necessary with every single co-worker you have? I don’t, that’s for sure.
Q: You asked and I delivered, here are some questions for your mail bag. I was hoping you could tell me who Bargnani gets along with best on the team, to me it seems like no one, judging from his lack of conversations on the bench.
Alex R, Toronto
A: He gets along with everyone. It’s not like the elementary school recess period where this group hangs out and that group hangs out and nary the two shall meet. I’ve seen him hanging with Kris Humphries, I’ve seen him joking with Chris Bosh, I’ve seen him having long conversations with Jake Voskuhl. He’s got friends, don’t worry.
Q: What do you think is the one best NBA record, in the sense that it will never be broken? For example, 100 points in a game, 72-10 Bull's record, a triple-double in a season. Personally, I think it's 55 rebounds in a game by Wilt Chamberlain, made all the more impressive since he did it against Bill Russell.
Harry J, Auckland, N.Z.
A: You can take either of those two Chamberlain records, the 100-point game and the 55 rebounds and safely make a wager with anyone you choose that they will last forever.
Q: Doug, in all honesty, name the three best and three worst consequential (not inconsequential like Hassan Addams, Will Soloman, etc.) moves BC has made as raptors GM. My three best: 1) J. Moon F.A. signing 2) A. Parker F.A. signing 3) Rasho P/U through S.A. trade. My three worst 1) Kapono F.A. signing 2) T.J. Ford (both trades in and out) 3) 2006 1st overall pick not used to its full potential, just look at Portland since that draft (could have traded for players and/ or picks). I'm dying to know yours.
Harry B, Winnipeg
A: My top three:
Humphries for Araujo
Not finding or buying an extra first round pick last June
Firing Sam too quickly.
Q: Always a pleasure to read your blog. Since you ask to write an e-mail if I had some time, I thought about the Marion trade. In the short term, it's obviously a good trade giving the team a good small forward. However, I am a bit curious about when he becomes a free agent this summer? I have read that Bryan would try to re-sign him at a lower price. Do you think that they're actually going to re-sign him ? Because Marion is going to ask for at least three years and 8-9 million a season ... which would compromise the team's payroll for the summer of 2010! And at 31, will he be able to contribute as much as he did in his Phoenix years?
Julien B, Caen, France
A: I think they’ll use him in some sign-and-trade transaction this summer. Have always thought he was a 27-game Raptor unless it turned out to be the most amazing fit in basketball history and I doubt that it will be.
Q: A question not really relating to basketball but rather journalism. We often see write-ups without a credit being given to a single writer but rather the Associated Press or AP. My question is: what is the associated press and who makes up their association?
Joe W, Toronto
A: The Associated Press, and The Canadian Press here, are collectives of newspapers, radio and TV outlets and businesses that pay a fee for, and provide news, to whoever belongs. “Member papers” provide their copy and each service has its own staff of reporter and editors, and photographers.
The “wires,” as they are known, are vital for papers to get stories from events or locations they cannot send staffers to.
I spent 6 1-2 outstanding years at Canadian Press so I may be a bit biased but news services are the backbone of the industry in many ways. Obviously you read sports pages carefully, imagine what it would be like for you if you couldn’t see game stories or summaries or boxscores from games. That’s the kind of stuff we get from CP vital.
Q: Do you get annoyed when people say "we" when referring to the Raptors (i.e. ‘we are so useless’). I know some people who do, personally I don't mind, but do you have a problem with people who use "we?"
Harry J, Auckland, N.Z
A: Annoyed? Yeah, a little bit. I understand it, but I don’t like it.
Q: It seems that the accepted explanation for the 'failure' of the J. O'Neal experiment (other than the games lost to injury) is that he and C. Bosh are too alike offensively (I've heard the phrase 'they like the ball in the same spots' often enough).
What I don't understand is this: given that the Raptors must have know this when they made the trade, what were their plans for dealing with this issue? Did J.O.'s defensive potential dominate all other concerns?
Yet I remember at the time of the trade all this talk about the potential for dominance of two good inside players. Now I'm confused since it seems both are so good at what they do that they stepped on each other's toes. Did the Raptors think two 'similar' big men could coexist (I remember a few beautiful passes from Bosh to J.O. or vice-versa, but also many fumbled two-foot passes), and if so, how? Did they try, without success, to change J.O.'s offensive game?
Another thing I don't understand is: what is the best type of center to complement a player like Bosh?
Jean Guillaume F, Toronto
A: Absolutely the first thing they were trying address with the acquisition of O’Neal was their distinct lack of interior defence and, in many of the games he played, he did a good job.
Offensively, I think they hoped for some kind of high-low presence that never really developed. That’s part coaching, part personalities and part that O’Neal and Bosh both need the ball to be effective and they never figured out how to share shots in the right proportion.
Best type? A big, strong, low-post presence who can rebound and make quick passes would be the prototype. And Bosh would have to become more adept at “diving” from the elbow, too.
Q: Is Jose a better half-court player than he is a full-court run and gun player?
Jeff A, Toronto
A: Probably. But I think you might be getting “run and gun” mixed up with smart. He can quite effective running a break, moving the ball by passing it, seeing open players in the open court.
Q: Could you provide me one reason as to why I should look forward to next season and continue to follow the team this year? Thanks.
John V, Markham
A: No, and I don’t really care whether you do or not. That’s your decision, this is my job and I’ve got to do it whether you look forward to next season or not. Please don’t confuse me with a season-ticket salesman.
Q: Doug Smith, I would like you to admit that the 2008-2009 Toronto Raptors season is over! They will not make the playoffs and quite frankly, do not deserve to. They look like they have given up. This has taught me a lesson (especially watching tonight)...NEVER GIVE UP!
Eric M, Toronto
A: The season is not over, there are 25 games left to play and it will end most likely on April 15. Of course, it won’t end then for me. And, frankly, whether you or anyone thinks it’s “over” is of quite little consequence to me because I still have to do my job.
Q: Hey Doug, about the lack of movement in the Raptors offence, what is the cause? Could it be that because they have such good shooters, they feel they can make jump shots anywhere they find themselves with the ball? It seems that the only players who consistently move are JG and now Marion, who have unreliable jump shots.
Peter R, Adelaide
A: There are multiple causes.
Most of the players don’t have the ability to drive consistently, either because they aren’t quick enough or handle the ball well enough. Some of it is the offence, it’s predicated on post play which makes it easy for players to stand around and watch as compared, to, say, the perimeter offence used by the Lakers or Boston.