A whack of mail to start your day
Another week, another bunch of mail with some excellent questions, some not so much and some mundane.
But all quite interesting as you’ll see. But read fast, it’s an early game and you all have to be in your places for the in-game blog.
Q: I have a question about the Raptor games on TSN2. Is TSN's contract with the Raptors for this season only or is it a multi-year deal? Just wondering if there was any possibility that the current situation (not being able to watch the Raptors games on TV) could continue to next season?
Patrick D, Toronto
A: TSN will be involved in the broadcasts next year, you can be sure of that.
The various broadcast “partners” sit down over the course of the summer to divvy up the next season’s schedule once it’s released some time in July. If there’s no resolution to the Rogers-TSN impasse and the Raptors allow any games to be scheduled for a network that can’t be seen in Toronto, someone should get fired.
He or she won’t, but they should.
But remember this: No one from Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment did a single, solitary thing to get the issue resolved this season, I wonder if they’ll care at all next year, either. History would suggest they won’t.
Q: Hi Doug: You admitted this morning how big of a difference having one slasher like D-Wade makes, but you've also harped on needing depth and quality through 8/9 guys all season. So I guess my question is: what is the proportion of needing star power/play makers to role players and team work?
Dave J, Dundas
A: You know that’s impossible to answer because of the vagaries in skill level of the “stars” and the “role players.” But I’ll do it anyway because, as I’ve heard, impossible is nothing.
I say you need at least two stars to be a true championship-calibre team and eight others in the rotation. So, what’s that make it?
Let’s say 1-4 but, again, it depends on the skill level of the guys.
Q: I am going for 'third time is the charm' in regards to getting a question in the blog. Yesterday a group of hard working graduate students were having a heated debate on whether you can win an NBA championship while under the salary cap. How many teams in the last 10 years have been under the cap?
Stewart S, Listowel
A: In your graduate work, you should probably check out the difference between salary cap and tax threshold. No team under the cap has ever won anything, teams that have been champions have been right at the tax level, though.
Q: Hi Doug, I recently caught wind of the new D-league playoff matchup system and find it interesting. Here's the skinny. What are your thoughts? As part of its new playoff system, the D-League is allowing the three division winners to pick their first-round opponents. The top seed chooses first, the second and third seeds follow in that order and the No. 4 seed is left with the remaining team.
K W, Vaughan
A: I think it’s outstanding and quite workable in a minor league with no TV obligations to speak of, no chartered travel to speak of and the ability to schedule things whenever they like.
In another big league sport? It’s unworkable.
A cool idea, though.
Q: Does the NBA draft occur before the start of free agency? Does this change the approach the Raptors take? For example, if they obtain a player in the draft they really like, does it change who they go after in free agency?
Aaron C, Mississauga
A: The NBA draft is June 28, the opening of the free agency negotiation period is July 1. One does have an impact on the other.
Q: A quick non-raptor, non-TSN2, non-Bosh-leaving-2010 related question. Why are the referees assigned jersey numbers? Have you ever seen a fan wearing one?
Matthew S, Thornhill.
A: It’s to make them identifiable to coaches, players and the media. And if I ever see a ref replica jersey? I’m getting one.
Q: Bosh had a +/- of -27 and Calderon of -17. Meanwhile Pops had one of +17 and Roko was at +5. Why don't we trade Bosh and Calderon and "re-build" around Roko & Pops? And can we talk about the draft, players we will "definitely" sign this summer as well as all the trades we'll be making before next year's trade deadline? Thanks. PS: Does this comment deserve a "Ding Ding Ding"?
Ed C, Toronto
A: It might deserve it but I’m too busy thinking about Jose-TJ and who was right, wistfully recalling the Chuck Swirsky era and comparing him to Matt Devlin and doing the math to find out how many times they’ve taken 100 shats in a game.
Q: Doug, please explain the quality of CIS basketball. I know CIS hockey is one of the best brands of hockey that no one in this country knows about, but I don't know if this holds true for CIS basketball. I hate to ask, but how does the CIS brand hold up to the NCAA? Is CIS b-ball, a springboard to the pros (Europe etc.) or is it the last stop for Canadian basketball players?
M L, Halifax
A: I’m not sure how much of a springboard it is, perhaps the very, very, very best CIS players might get contracts to begin with in the lesser European leagues.
But I did see a little bit of the semifinals and anyone who did as well got to see how good the calibre of play is.
I don’t think Canadian schools can compete consistently with even mid-majors but there would be an odd upset.
That said, anyone who denigrates CIS basketball as less than good doesn’t know what he or she is talking about.
Q: Let me preface this comment by saying I wear my Bargnani jersey on gamedays... Everyone is making it seem as though Bargnani has broken through and is now a legitimate NBA starter and maybe even a potential all-star. How can this be? A center who averages a hair over 5 rebounds on 36 minutes is not legitimate in my books- and this on a team that can't rebound. While it may be easier to teach a player to rebound than score, I find this stat more than a little depressing.
Colin B, Bogota
A: It’s not just what numbers Bargnani puts up, rebounding’s far more than that. He occupies his man far better now than he ever did, he’s boxing out well and that’s allowing guys like Bosh or Marion or even Graham to grab boards.
And, let’s just take the 11 games since Bargnani was installed as the undisputed starting centre after the O’Neal trade. In five of those games, Toronto has out-rebounded the opposition, a very good percentage given the Raptors’ previous weaknesses on the boards.
Is he a great rebounder? No. Will he get more than six a game over a full season playing centre? I’d be surprised if he didn’t, he’s getting six a game since O’Neal left.
Q: With the season down the shoot, I’ll challenge you to 2 new lists: 5 best and worst sports cities right now. TO has to be close to the worst. The Jays stink, have a GM fans don't trust and are close to having to ship out their best player and rebuild. The Raps stink, appear destined to lose their best player and rebuild again. The Leafs are already in full rebuilding mode. And Toronto's attempt at hosting the NFL was a raging disaster. Are there North American sports fans that have it worse right now?
John U, Toronto
A: You make a pretty good point. But how’d you like to be in Seattle where the Mariners suck, the Seahawks were a disappointment and the NBA team left town? That’d have to be on a list, wouldn’t it?
We’ll do a more complete one during the week when I get a chance to really look at things but I can’t imagine any city beating Boston as the best right now.
Q: Doug, Is Miami getting more out of Jamario Moon than Toronto did? I read his stat line on nba.com and it suggests Miami is. Was the trade a wakeup call for JM to take his game more seriously or is he more suited to the Miami style or perhaps it is the DWade affect? Musings?
Joshua K, Toronto
A: No, they’re not really. He’s having the same kind of inconsistent games and blips within games that he had here, I’m told by people who see him every night.
It’s just that no one here gets to see him every game, they see highlights and that’s it.
He is what he is, a pretty good, inconsistent athlete who can thrill and infuriate all within the same game.
Q: You said that next year the Raps are going to have a new starting two-guard. Is this for certain? Is Bryan planning on overhauling the entire team?
Sam C, Kingston
A: Nothing is for certain, except death and taxes, I’ve been told but I think if you ask anyone connected with the team, if Anthony Parker does come back – if he doesn’t get a better offer in Europe or is used in some sign-and-trade transaction – it will be as a backup. And it should be because while I like a lot of things about Parker’s game, I think at this point in his NBA career, he’s better suited as a backup one or two than a full-time starter. And that’s an opinion shared by many in the Raptor basketball braintrust.
Q: Love the dedication!!! It really makes it worth my while to continue to watch the Raptors knowing that you'll be there after a loss (or occasionally a win) with some snarky remark during the in-game blog or a nice sarcastic comment after a stupid question sent your way!! Now, onto my question(s)!
Is this season more of a disappointment than the 16-66 season because of the expectations many had for the team? I know at the beginning of the season; many experts (including you?) said this season would be disappointing if they didn't get out of the first round?
And, was it "easier" covering that 16 win team because they knew they were going to be bad or is it covering this team right now because they thought they'd be good?
Dave G, Grand Falls-Windsor, NL
A: Funnily enough, I had a chat Friday night with the one and only Darrell Walker about that 16-66 season (which was fashioned mostly under his guidance) and we were joking that those were the good old days.
Seriously, right now this is by far the most disappointing season that I’ve covered and I’ve been around them all and that’s because of those expectations – internally, externally, realistic or not – that were there at the start of the season.
But here’s something to think of in one context. That 16-66 season, that included a franchise-record 17 straight losses, came after a 30-win second season and everybody was feeling pretty good going into that season as well.
Easier? Nah, it’s never easy either way. You cover a team that lost 50 games and by this time of the year we’ve got nothing to ask and they’ve got nothing to say; you cover a team that wins 50 games and all of sudden bosses are involved, more stories are demanded and whole workload thing goes up.
Q: Given this season is over and we are tired of who-is-staying-and-who-is-not speculations, here is a suggestion for top five list: who in your mind are the top five players that ever dawned Raptors uniform who had so much raw potential but never realized it to the fullest? I'd say Joey is so far there, but also He Who Shall Not Be Named, I mean he had raw talent to eclipse Jordan but his head was way down south. And for good measure, how about top five Raptors who overachieved? Alvin being the honorable mention.
Dean B, Mississauga
A: Joey? I don’t know, he’s had his moments, don’t forget that 16-game stretch of a 47-win season, and Vince did enough on enough occasions that I don’t think I’d put him on the list.
How about these off the top of my head?
Martin Lewis, brilliant athlete who left after the first year and got fat; Jerome Moiso, who had no idea what hard work was; Oliver Miller, great hands but a great appetite and a highly over-rated sense of self; Keon Clark gets a mention for an absolute lack of desire and let’s say Loren Woods, aka Patrick O’Bryant before Patrick O’Bryant was Patrick O’Bryant.
Over-achievers? I’d put Alvin on that list, I guess; I think Zan Tabak was limited but more than serviceable on occasion, John Thomas got a 115-game career out of a little more than effort and desire. You could probably put Jerome Williams on that list, couldn’t you? And how about Reggie Slater to round it out.
Q: Looking back, how important do you think a deep bench was in the last 2 seasons? And while the "numbers" might not bear it out, was Rasho, TJ, and Delfino (the main rotation guys here last season who are not here this season) the difference between a playoff team last season and this year's failure?
Joachim T, Richmond Hill
A: It’s not Rasho, T.J. and Delfino in particular, I’m sure you bring them up because they are familiar names. It could be any three players because I don’t think there’s any dispute that the back end of the rotation has been lacking. I can point to the relative inconsistencies of Jamario Moon when he was here, Parker’s ups and downs, the foibles of Graham and Kapono and the lack of a truly solid backup PG as a prime reason for the mess they’re in.
So it could have been any three others, not necessarily those ex-Raptors.
Q: You talked about how one of BC's priorities should be a veteran who polices the team today. What about Rasho? As far as I know, his contract with Indy is done at the end of this season, and although I'm not sure how much of a police man he would be, there as got to be a certain level of respect for him coming from guys like Bosh and Jose and Bargs who played with him. Plus, with Nate in the d-league and the unlikelihood of Jake or Patty O'Bryant coming back next year, we could use a reserve big man.
Jake K, Toronto
A: I mentioned this yesterday but you can either have a guy like Rasho or a guy like Pops, there’s not room for one of each on this team.
That’s a decision Bryan has to make; I’d keep the energetic big and find an old head at the wing spots to be the other guy.
Q: I was interested in a comment you made this week during your in game "blog" where you addressed the Raptors terrible defence and specifically singled out Calderon as probably the worst one on one defender. I have long thought that when hoops fans discuss players they NEVER talk about defensive ability, and was wondering:
1) Why that is?
2) Are many members in the media also guilty (in my opinion yes) of not ever talking about defence in assessing a player's ability
3) And would you agree with me that even GM's and team's personel seem to quote stats and not talk often enough about a player's shortcomings on his own side of the court, and why is that?
Mike D, Cambridge
A: Ah, have you not been reading people absolutely carving Jose, Bosh and Bargnani for their defence. Readers and writers alike.
And, trust me, GMs and personnel gurus look more closely at defence than you apparently think. Butch Carter, for one, used to say the only thing that would allow a guy to have a long NBA career was his ability to defend his own position.
Q: Hey Doug, I was talking with a friend yesterday and we came to this conclusion. What is your favourite Raptor squad of all-time? By taking any player in any time frame and creating a starting five. I came up with this: 1. Damon Stoudemire 2. Vince Carter 3. Doug Christie 4. Chris Bosh 5. Antonio Davis It’s screaming title isn't it? Your thoughts?
Imran K, Toronto
A: That’s the obvious one, although some might put Tracy in ahead of Christie, who was more of a two-guard.
Title? No, not so much.
Q: Good article on Friday by the equally curmudgeon Sam Smith, in which he includes a story about everyone's favorite player they love to hate, Ron Artest and how he has matured, not just as a player, but as a human being. I don't know you well enough to know if you are willing to change your opinion about someone, but is it safe to say that Ron Artest has proven how valuable of a player he is? His contract is for next to nothing compared to some of the overpriced stiffs in the league, he defends the best players in the world on a nightly basis (very effectively) and he can bring the offence when he has too. Since you've taken the time in the past to chastise Mr. Artest on numerous occasions, perhaps you can take the time now to say that maybe you let previous offences cloud your judgment and going forward, Ron Artest is one of the most valuable TEAM pieces in the league?
Shawn L, Bowmanville
A: Ron Artest has been, for the most part, exemplary this season, for the first time in about five years and, not coincidentally, in the final year of a contact.
No, I am not anywhere close to suggesting he’s the most valuable TEAM player in the league. Let him go, oh, another full season or two without disruption and then, maybe, I’d say he’s all right as a teammate.
Q: Hey Doug, I read that Toronto owns the Clippers 2015 2nd Round draft pick (if pick is 51 - 55). It also went on to say that if the Clips don't have a pick in that range then they owe the Raps nothing. 1. How did Toronto acquire this pick?; and 2. How useless was acquiring that pick from LA? (that's tantamount to me telling you if we ever meet on the moon one day I'll buy you lunch) I assume it was just to make the numbers work for some trade once upon a time, but it seems a little silly having that many conditions on a draft pick so far down the road.
Conas A, Halifax
A: It was in the Great Hassan Adams giveaway of 2009, an easily-missed transaction that simply got the Raptors under the luxury tax threshold.
Q: Doug Smith writes, "Trouble is, those old codgers don’t exist much anymore. I guess maybe you could say Garnett does it in Boston but Orlando doesn’t really have one, Cleveland doesn’t really have one, the Lakers don’t really have one. You could probably say San Antonio has three or four ‘cause I think of a lot of them as oldsters"
You're right about Orlando, but what about Eddie House in Boston, Derek Fisher in LA and Ben Wallace? I think they qualify as tough old guys who could patrol pretty well. I feel Wallace in particular has to be in the conversation with Garnett in terms of pure unadulterated scariness.
Thanks for being the only consistent thing this season.
Andrew C, Toronto
A: I’ll give you Derek Fisher, although a team with Kobe Bryant, who is his 13th season hardly needs an “old codger” but Eddie House does nothing in the leadership department in Boston and Ben Wallace, on a team with LeBron, is really just another Cavalier.
Q: This is a follow-up to a question you answered in your blog's comments section. If a player has 4 years remaining on his contract at 10 million per year and his team buys him out today. Is that team still on the hook for 10 million each of the next 4 years? What if the bought out player signs a new deal with another team?
Serge P, Ottawa
A: Yes, in that scenario the team is on the hook for the entire contract any new deal that player signs would likely be for the veteran’s minimum which would still leave the original team on the hook.