Welcome to the Sunday mail
Hello, folks. Here’s the usual Sunday mail offerings, covering a whole bunch of stuff that doesn’t have to do with the trade or all-star weekend. I’ve got some stuff squirreled away for tomorrow morning on the escapades in Phoenix that’s better off being done as a full all-star weekend recap.
I will say this: Rudy Fernandez got hosed. Big time.
Oh, and if any of you are interested, I’ll be around tonight on this machine watching the game, hopefully full of snark and cynicism and marginal comedy. You’re welcome to join me.
Q: Hi Doug, I am a fan of basketball who watches 2-4 NBA games on TV every week, plus some CIS games. The Raptors are having a bad season, and have generally played uninspired basketball (aside from the odd intriguing game). Even with Bosh it's not like the OKC situation where we get to see an exciting young layer growing into his role. I will likely still watch but I can see the obvious arguments against it. What would you say is the incentive for a fan to tune or attend any of their remaining games? Is there a point where a team’s fans should seek out higher quality basketball games by playoff teams rather than watching for the sake of supporting the team?
Peter S, Hamilton
A: Whether or not fans to go to games is not something I’m overly concerned about, if you feel the way to protest is to withhold your attendance and your money, that’s your call.
But the reason I watch basketball – at least games that I’m not attending because it’s my job – is that at least once in almost every game you’re at, something will happen to make you go “holy crap!”
In 40-point blowouts and buzzer-beaters, often in college as well as the NBA, there’s a moment of jaw-dropping athleticism that shows you why it’s such a wonderful sport.
Q: With the trade deadline approaching, I was wondering if you could entertain us on your thoughts as to whether it is easier to make a trade in the NHL or the NBA. In the NHL, there is a hard cap, no luxury tax, so teams just can't go over the cap. However, in the NBA, for some reason, the salaries have to match within a certain percentage. I would think both situations impair trades. But which one impairs trades the most, in your opinion?
Sohail G, Collingwood
A: The most? Probably the NBA one because there are fewer assets that can be involved. You’ve only got 13-15 players, only eight or nine of them play with any regularity, the financial restrictions are serious and there are no minor leaguers or late-round draft picks that can be tossed in to make things, hopefully, more even.
Q: Hello Doug. It seems to be the prevailing wisdom that Bosh needs some better players around him for this team to get better. However, this team was better in 06-07 and he wasn't surrounded by any more "stars" than he is now. What is the difference?
Tannis T, Eastend
A: The talent level of the players around him. No, they might not have been “stars” but they were, in the opinion of many, more skilled, younger, and a better group.
Q: Reaching back into the annals of Raptors lore, how close was Isiah Thomas to obtaining ownership of the Raptors? I'm guessing, based on his subsequent performances, that had he done so, there would currently be no basketball franchise in Toronto. Keep up the good work! It's a tough job to keep people engaged when the season has gone as horribly as this one has.
Stephen L, Toronto
A: He wasn’t close at all, there were financing issues that were too big for him to overcome. But I will say this: What he envisioned when he tried to take over is exactly that happened in reality. He knew that the Raptors and Leafs had to get together in some corporate entity, he knew they had to share an arena and branch out into things like television, internet and other sports properties.
He may not have done it, but what became Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment was very much what he wanted.
Q: Almost gave up on the game against the Wolves, glad I didn't. Kapono's quick shots can't be any worse than Raps usually half court, so I say shoot away. ESPN (which I like except for one guy) had five quick fixes for the Clips and Golden State, if you were asked, as Toronto's expert, for five quick fixes for Toronto, what would they be?
Bruce M, Winnipeg
A: I presume they just rattled off quick points so I will to:
Address wing positions and its lack of athleticism.
Find backcourt depth, especially at the point guard
Now shore up depth at centre, power forward
Play smarter on defence
Add some imagination to the offence, the sets are too staid.
Q: Given that the extended leash they've gotten from the coaching change has done nothing to solve the infuriating inconsistency of Bargnani, Graham, and Moon I ask the following: Was Mitchell right about these guys all along in giving them the quick hook? Or, did he beat them down so bad that their fractured psyches will never recover?
Mark F, Toronto
A: I don’t think Sam was entirely wrong, no. Sam needed to try and give his team a chance to win every night, or at least get to the fourth quarter within striking distance, and he felt he needed to run guys at the two-three in and out quickly to find which of them was going to be good every game. History will prove whether he was right or wrong.
Q: How does the NBA compare to other leagues when it comes to community relations? It seems that the NBA has a lot more media around their NBA Cares campaign. Do you know why that is? And are the rumours true that Matt Bonner is thinking of becoming a Canadian?
Sheel S, Seattle
A: I think the NBA Cares campaign, and the other stuff they do like Basketball Without Borders and the All-star weekend Day of Service puts the league head and shoulders above any other North American pro league.
Bonner? I think he’ll investigate the process, which is time consuming.
Q: I was wondering what your opinion is on the FIBA rule allowing only 1 naturalized citizen per team? Denying people the honour of representing their country, whether naturalized or not, seems rather outrageous to me.
Dennis P, Toronto
A: But that’s the point, it’s not “their” country, it’s one they’ve chosen. And there would be all kinds of abuses, I bet, if they let anyone get fake citizenship in any country they liked.
So I’m quite all right with it.
Q: This is probably a hard question to answer, but what was the happiest time you've had here one the blog? By that I mean there were no angry e mails from fans, the Raptors were doing well, not many negatives and a generally good vibe.
Harry J, Auckland, NZ
A: Happiest time? The four days each summer when there’s nothing going on. I’m joking, of course; it’s a great job; hard, but great.
But I was pretty happy for three weeks in Beijing doing some different stuff for a change. But around these parts? There sure was a lot of love at the end of the 2006-07 season, which seems like eons ago.
Q: Hey Doug! Great work on the blog! Keep the good intel coming! I got a couple of questions for you: First of all, I'm frustrated by all the talk about Bosh leaving next year. Have you ever seen the people of T.O. panic like this? Seriously, it's been a full year of will he/won't he and he's said nothing... Also, I was wondering what type of player you think we need to encourage him to stay. For example, when Kobe wanted out of LA 2 years ago, they traded for Pau Gasol and, all of a sudden, all was right with the world. So, who/what do you think Bosh is looking for as a compliment?
Steve N, Newmarket
A: Sure, people here panicked when Vince Carter was approaching free agency back in the 2001; the breathless anticipation and worry may not have lasted as long as this will but it was just as intense.
What kind player? That’s easy. Players who will allow his team to win more games.
Q: Doug, I love reading the blog in the morning -- between working and studying too much and the TSN2 debacle it still lets me follow the team. With 2 decent wins and some good feelings going into the all-star break I find myself cautiously optimistic: we're 5 games back from Milwaukee and our biggest competition for that #8 seed is New Jersey. Here's the question: I can remember the 200? term going, I think, 16-2 to beat out the Bucks for the final spot with VC hurt and out of it. Are their any historical playoff runs like this you can think of? Or, because you're likely a 7-8 seed does nobody remember?
David T, Ottawa
A: I’m not sure of exactly what the record was, but Philly went on a huge run just last year and had a pretty good playoffs, too. Whether these guys can do that, or mirror the 2002 team that went 12-2 down the stretch is probably asking too much but it’s also probably worth thinking about.
Now, whether creeping into eighth or seventh is good enough for you or any fan is a matter of taste – I’d term an eighth-place finish a terrible disappointment of a season – but at least it might add some juice to the final 27 games.
Q: After covering post games for years, and listening to the carbon copy responses, how refreshing is it to interview Jason Kapono? He's very entertaining, and his loose attitude is something that needs to rub off on some of the clones of the sports world.
Bernie H, Harriston
A: Jason’s rocketing up the charts as one of the all-time good Raptor quotes. Trouble is, he’s so lightning-fast at getting showered, changed and out of the arena, it’s hard for us to catch him every night.
Q: Great job of mentioning a couple of neat plays, in (Thursday’s) writings, in which "easy" baskets resulted. But isn't that why you run a play - to occupy and shift the D? Not because you expect to score on it but because it creates that momentary space for creativity. It also produces the movement that the offensive team needs to have a decent chance at the rebound. I find the static isolation plays that many teams run to be boring and when ineffectual, doubly disappointing. So how do the Raptors get to have more of this happening? They seem to have the ingredients in terms of players and team mentality. Would you agree that it is the spontaneity that makes the game so beautiful to play and watch, win or lose? Who are the existing Raptors they should preserve to enhance it?
Alfred D, St. John’s
A: I would absolutely agree, and I’m sure you’ve seen the answer to the first question which sort of deals with it.
I’m not sure they have the kind of players you’re talking about, who are usually wildly athletic guards and swingmen who can break down a defence and get the defenders moving, which leads to the kind of spontaneous play you enjoy so much. The secret to any good offence is a combination of ball- and player-movement, we haven’t seen that nearly enough with this group this year to suggest it’s going to change all of a sudden.
Q: Doug, love the blog, but don’t tell my boss. If they knew the amount of time I wasted everyday reading blogs and sports updates I would be fired-and I hear it is tough to find new employment today. Anyway I was wondering why the NBA has all those courtside seats reserved for media members - I understand the official scorer and a few key game personnel - but the Raptors have about 50 seats that they could sell at least $300.00 a pop, so why would all the other seats be needed? Couldn’t all the people there now just move up to the gondola level at the top of ACC?
Andrew S, Burlington
A: $300 a pop? Try about three or four times that, those suckers are expensive. Why do they do it? Most don’t and it’s to the ever-lasting credit of Media Relations Genius J. LaBumbard that we keep our seats here. In a lot of arenas, we’ve been moved to the baseline, or to the upper reaches of the lower bowl, or into seats suspended in the tunnels in the corners leading to the court.
Q: I was just checking an outdated basketball website and saw a fellow by the name of DeAndre Hulett on the Raptors roster. Who is this guy? Also could we get a Giorgos Printezis update?
Imran P, Kingston
A: Hulett? A blown second round pick from 2000 who never had a chance to make it.
Printezis? Having an okay year in Europe, certainly not someone anyone should count on making a lasting impression over here for years. It may be time to bring him to camp and find out if he can make the team as an end-of-the-bencher but he might want to stick in Europe and make some more money first.
Q: A couple of days ago you mentioned that Bonzi Wells would never be signed by the Raptors. And every once in while, in an article or site, a writer will mention that Bonzi will never get back into the league, but never get into the specific reasons why. He seemed to have NBA talent. Was he really that big of an ass? Any anecdotes or stories you've heard? It's not like I like Bonzi's game or anything. I'm just curious.
Talent P, Vancouver
A: My specific reason would be that he’s a 32-year-old former NBAer who hasn’t played a significant minute of good basketball since the 2005-06 season. His NBA career, a so-so one, is over. It happens.