I know, it’s late but any night that ends with the DJ playing Danny Boy, Maggie May and My Way back-to-back-to-back with the gang in full throat has a way of wreaking havoc with the sleep patterns.
|AP FILE PHOTO|
|There's no need to shout. He's just here as an observer.|
This ought to get the cobwebs out of the early morning heads.
Marc Iavaroni’s coming.
Seriously, he is. To Toronto. Like, tomorrow. And he was with the Raptors last week in Philly but went unnoticed.
The deal is he’s on some “coach and idea sharing” mission or some such; unemployed coaches come and hang around teams for a few days, offer their insight.
This, of course, is the first time the Raptors have ever done anything like this and of all the unemployed coaches to pick in all the world, they had to get Iavaroni, former head coach of the Memphis Grizzlies, former long-time assistant in Phoenix – where that Colangelo guy held sway – and the apple of the eye of a lot of Raptors fans.
Now, before any of you get too worked up, he’s here to be an observer, won’t be on the bench or anything this year and is not – I repeat IS NOT – going to be the next head coach of the Raptors.
But when he and Jay Triano break bread some day, and they surely will, I can imagine it’s going to be like some quasi job interview.
Can you envision Jay with Iavaroni as his lead assistant? I can. And I’m pretty sure there are people in the organization who can.
What was that on Sunday? A win? An easy win? A win over a team with a better record, such that it is.
Hands up everyone who thought, at some time during the game, “what if?” What if Jose doesn’t get hurt, what if Andrea’s the starting five all year. What if, indeed.
But here’s a warning: You are what your record says you are and the Raptors are 24-44. If they finish strong, and there’s every possibility they can, no one can forget the flaws that have been displayed this year.
Seven wins, or six wins, or nine wins the rest of the year are as much fool’s gold as anything.
Reaction: The legend grows
I’m talking to a guy who has some power in the organization – before the game, mind you – and we agree the best thing the Raptors can do right now is shut Pops Mensa-Bonsu down.
Really, three more losses and he develops a backache, or a headache, or “flu-like symptoms.”
Of course, that’s after he gets a wink and a nod on a two-year deal starting next year.
All the guy’s doing know is costing Toronto money and driving up his value on the open market.
You think other teams aren’t noticing 8 1/2 rebounds a game? You think scouts aren’t talking among themselves? You think there’s going to be some competition for his services on the market?
Q: In your in-game blog you mentioned a salary quote from Hoopshype was wrong. I was wondering where you get your salary info from and how reliable it is? Thanks as always
Jim T, Toronto
A: My salary information is 100 per cent absolutely correct. It comes from absolutely unimpeachable sources that I won’t divulge. Believe me or not, when I give you a salary, it’s bang on.
Here’s a very interesting thing about Pops and how Will Solomon and Patrick O’Bryant screwed everything up.
On trade deadline day, about noon, the plan was to get nothing done, waive Will Solomon that afternoon and fill in his roster spot with a big man they’d had in working out the night before.
And since those guys were Pops Mensa-Bonsu and Antoine Walker, surely to the basketball gods they would have done Pops over the old, no-defending, three-point-shooting piece o’ junk Walker, right? But, no, they get involved in that three-way deal to dump Solomon and get O’Bryant and they end up not getting Pops for about two weeks.
Imagine if they hadn’t done that financial deal with the Kings and Celtics.
How much would The Legend have grown already?
In Indy, they seemed quite dismayed at Sunday’s turn of events.
Okay, let’s say they are bound and determined to hire Jay back – and I seriously think with a few more wins they will – and they don’t want the perception that Iavaroni would be the “head coach in waiting” and the fan favourite after every four-game losing streak, what do they do?
Well, a wise man or two suggested that maybe they make a call to P.J. Carlisemo.
Great assistant, history of winning, probably done as a head coaching prospect after three shots at it, familiar with Jay from the summer Olympic team gigs, familiar with Bryan from the same thing.
A bit, you have to admit.
They’ll be wearing O’ The Green again tonight here in Charlotte and if they win again, I bet they try to petition the league to wear them until they lose.
Speaking of Charlotte, when you wade through a billion words of NCAA basketball stuff, you eventually get to this.
Go back to the end of the 2005-06 season, the one with 27 wins.
There was no concern about whether you could “build a team” around Chris Bosh but that’s exactly what they did.
They got two wings in Parker and Garbo, a point guard in T.J. and some depth.
There was no question that Bosh, who signed a contract extension that summer, was “the guy.” He was the team’s leading scorer, its best player, top rebounder, main front court presence.
By adding talent they “built” around him and, presto, won 47 games and the division title.
I think it’s fair to say the pieces on this team (Bosh, an emerging Bargnani, a healthy Calderon) are far better than they were on that team and it worked out pretty well.
Q: Thanks for posting my comments re Patrick O'Bryant during the Indy game. I'm sorry to use incorrect info on his salary (whether it’s $1.62MM or less) however there's still something noteworthy here about BC's lack of due diligence. You would think there would be better evaluation prior to bringing in a player who got released by GSW after only 2 years (and after being drafted #9 overall), someone who had no chance to get off Boston's bench even though Boston is crying for "big" support, and someone whose twin brother and personality is Loren Woods. I know, I know, you're to take your chances sometimes on bigs (like Pops) but you're understated the financial impact of this move by your 300K savings comment. How about stating the amount to be expended off the salary cap?
Michael C, Toronto
A: Okay, this is probably the last time we should discuss that guy at the end of the roster who never plays. It’s not like he’s important or anything.
Look, they took a chance on a young big, no huge deal.
It’ll end up costing them $500,000 next year – that’s the guarantee on his deal and all that’ll count towards the cap or tax – and, honestly, that’s chump change. The financial impact is negligible. Honestly, $500,000 is nothing.
They did due diligence, they thought maybe the guy could play and, frankly, they needed a warm body on the roster to get to the league-mandated minimum of 13. He couldn’t play, they at least got a guy without a huge number to carry forward next year.
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.
Holy Alarm Clock malfunction, Batman. Look at the time.
Sorry ‘bout that kids, the sandman kept me prone for a lot longer than I’d expected.
But the rest was welcome, got me all set up for a long day of hanging around practice trying to come up with something marginally interesting and a few hours doing the mail bag.
Talk to you then.
Reaction: Pops, Pops, Pops
Whaddya gonna do? Kill guy for a boneheaded play after a hustle play we haven’t seen around these parts all season? Yeah, the pass-shot-whatever-the-heck-thing that was looked awful and cost them a chance to tie at the end of one overtime but, seriously, whaddya gonna do?
Kid made a great play followed by a great gaffe and no one was going at him too hard after the game.
And you know what was most impressive? After he took forever to get dressed, he stood there and answered every question everyone had. Spoke clearly and loudly and probably would still be standing there if there were more of us with more questions.
For that alone, he gets a pass.
And that begs the question: What do you do with Pops next year?
Not taking into consideration that there will be other teams trying to land him and he might want to go somewhere else, what the Raptors do with Mensah-Bonsu as a free agent is quite interesting.
They are likely to have four bigs – starters in Bosh and Bargnani, backups in Hump and Nate Jawai – with guaranteed contracts next season and they aren’t going anywhere.
There are those who propose bringing back an old head like Rasho or someone of that ilk to lend some experience to the front court but I’m saying it’s far better to have a young stud who can rebound with efficiency and energy that it is to have the steady hand of a guy who’s hardly going to play.
I’d make Pops an offer of two years plus an option – probably at something like just over a million to start – and then let him fight with Hump for the third big position. And I bet he wins.
And for that calm, experienced hand? Well, if they get one, they’ll have to get one as a wing.
Nothing says Two Days Before St. Patrick’s Day better than a green dinosaur.
Yep, the Raptors are trotting out the green uniforms for tomorrow’s big tilt with the Pacers, continuing a long-held tradition that began last year in the hotbed of Irish partying, Salt Lake City.
And not only are they going all green with the jerseys, I swear I saw some green shoes in Jason Kapono’s locker last night.
Which leads us to:
Q: I love your blog. I think I've figured out what's wrong with the Raptors chemistry. Their new jerseys are the wrong colour. They need to go back to wearing purple.
Don L, Mississauga
A: No. Green, my man. Go green. More green.
What’s coming next year? The traditional Dec. 12 Christmas Game?
Joey, Joey, Joey
Q: Hi Doug, I'm mildly surprised, now that the playoffs are all but officially out of reach, that Jay hasn't inserted Joey into the starting rotation (and have Parker or Marion come off the bench) the rest of the way. They need to take a hard look at if he's in future plans or not, so might as well give him some major minutes and see what he does with them.
Andrew J, London, UK
A: I know you wrote this before Friday but I think Joey’s 15 minutes of absolute atrocity on Friday – as many points as you scored, as many rebounds as a dead man – shows that maybe he’s quite fine where he is.
I was a proponent of giving him a 20-game stretch as a starter over Jamario Moon, I’m quite fine – and so are his coaches and his general manager – with him coming off the bench behind Shawn Marion.
When it comes time to think about what to do with him when he’s a free agent this summer, it’s going to be the totality of his time here – not the last 17 games of a lost season – that will determine his future.
Action: Roko’s energy
Reaction: A welcome sight
Start of the fourth, Raptors are down and it really looks like this one’s over. After all, fourth quarter energy and rallies are not particularly a trademark of this squad.
But the kid, who I really think is going to be good one day, ignites a run with a little 9-footer, a nifty layup and another pull-up jumper.
He leaves after six minutes and the Raptors are within six and the game’s got some juice.
Sure, he’s still going to make some mistakes because he’s a rookie and his jump shot still looks a tad shaky at times but that little stretch was a pretty good glimpse.
A blast from the past:
Q: In the post game interview the other night Dalembert took a pretty nasty shot at Leo Rautins. I didn't see anything in print about this. Does this mean:
A) Dalembert has no credibility?
B) Leo's a nice guy and no one wants to call attention to how he and the one big NBA name on Canada's national team couldn't get along?
C) No one cares anymore?
Kevin M, Maple
A: The whole Leo-Sam thing is boring and was beaten to death in August when it happened and in October when the Sixers first played the Raptors so, yes, not many care anymore, especially me.
I heard about Sam’s comments (something along the lines of he think about playing for Canada again “when they got a real coach” and my immediate reaction was that it was a bush-league cheap shot entirely uncalled for.
I’m not sure who was right and who was wrong in the little fracas between the two (I’d presume there was more than enough blame to share) but it’s over.
Oh yeah, once they got through the tributes to Bill Davidson,here’s what they were reading in Detroit this morning.
Yes, it took Chris Bosh 31 shots – one more than he’d ever taken in an NBA game in his life – to get his 27 points but, really, look at that roster he was playing with and tell me who should have had more attempts? Maybe AP, who only got nine, but past that, Jose had 13, Marion had 14 and with the bench going so horribly at the moment, I’m quite fine with Bosh hoisting that many.
And yes, he was slow to start but a 5-for-9 fourth quarter that also included four trips to the free throw line (two misses) and five rebounds was a big-time period.
Today, let’s tackle the big shots for a while. After all, they’ve got some ‘splainin to do.
Wanna know what happens in my perfect world?
Wait, I take that back.
Wanna know what happens in my perfect world regarding one facet of basketball that I have to write about every day?
Here’s what happens:
The bean counters and tall foreheads over at Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment are sitting around deciding when to spring the full season ticket renewal thing on the unsuspecting customers.
They call this guy, let’s say Mr. Grunt, and invite his input.
Them: “Mr. Grunt, oh wise one, what should we do?”
Grunt: “Sit down, folks, and listen closely.
“First, do not – I repeat DO NOT – even contemplate as much as a one penny increase in a single seat in your arena.
“In fact, you need to freeze the prices of every seat in the bottom half of the lower bowl and you have to reduce the price of the top half of the lower bowl by about three per cent.
“You need to reduce the price of seats in most of the upper bowl by five per cent and you cut the cost of seats in the corners by seven per cent.
“These are horrible economic times, people are losing jobs left and right, the amount of disposable income is drying up rapidly and if you want casual fans to augment your season-ticket base, those tickets have to be affordable.
“The Phoenix Suns, Minnesota Timberwolves, Charlotte Bobcats and Detroit Pistons have already announced they’ll reduce or freeze ticket prices so there is precedent in the league today.
“Oh, and one other thing, if season ticket holders want to pay over time, you allow them right now to make seven or eight equal monthly payments – with no interest charges – and if they want to pay it all up front, you give them another two per cent off.”
“You’ve put a substandard product on the court this season, you’ve been party to one of the all-time fan screw jobs in history with this Rogers, TSN2 mess you got yourself into and, trust me, you don’t have a lot of goodwill with the people.”
Them: “Are you out of your frickin’ mind!”
Mr. Grunt: “Power to the people, baby!”
|TORONTO STAR FILE PHOTO|
|There's the Raptors, and there's guys like Charles Oakley.|
We’re standing around chatting with Chris Bosh yesterday and the conversation turns to Mike Curry, who played here in Bosh’s rookie season.
And some interesting stuff comes from Chris:
“He taught me how to work, he taught me the value of hard work, even when you don’t feel like it. Mike always grabbed me and said ‘we’re going to get extra shots up.’ I didn’t understand why, (I thought) I got enough shots in practice. But he took me anyway and he showed me how to work to be successful.”
And then I wondered: “Who does that for this Toronto team?” Quick answer? No one.
And maybe that’s part of the issue, there is no one on the roster to police teammates, to make ‘em work harder than they normally would.
Maybe when Bryan’s out shopping this summer, that’s got to be near the top of the list.
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.
Remember when Toronto was good? What’d they have? Oak, Dell Curry, Kevin Willis, Muggsy Bogues, Dee Brown. Old dudes who knew what it took.
A solid question of money:
Q: Hi Doug, with the recession settling in do you think it could be a good time for Stern to let teams buy out bad contracts? Buying out contracts cost teams money, but it would allow a team like the Raptors rid themselves of one or two bad contracts (if they had any, cough Banks, cough Kapono), to put a better product on the floor to keep a declining fan base interested.
Steph R, Glencoe
A: That’s an excellent question.
There is precedent, the had a contract “amnesty” in 2005 – teams could buy out one player – and with the economic woes that exist now, it might be a way to reduce payroll on long-term deals. Depending on when the CBA talks begin in earnest and what the global money situation is like, I would imagine it’d be something they will revisit. And should.
They’re in love with Antonio McDyess these days in Detroit.
Oh yeah, there’s this:
There was apparently some whacked out report yesterday about the Knicks making Carlos Delfino some $4 million offer?
Um, here’s the truth:
The Knicks don’t have their mid-level salary exception left and could only offer a pro-rated veteran’s minimum.
Carlos is just getting over a shoulder injury and is still under contract to Khimki.
Why in the world he’d want to sign with a team now – one that’s life and death to sneak into the playoffs – instead of waiting until the summer to find out if he can get a better offer from a better team is beyond me.
I really wish people would do at least a modicum of research before they publish, you know, poop and send people scurrying breathlessly to their keyboards to e-mail me about it.
Q: Doug, if you could hand pick your starters for each position between the Raptors and the Heat rosters who would be your five? I have Jose, Wade, Marion, Bosh, Bargnani (and I think most people would). So does that mean that the difference between fighting for home court in the playoffs or fighting for last place in the East is really just due to 1 (very good) player. I guess that would explain the Heat's record last year vs this.
Brad M, Port Dover
A: Ah, yes. One extremely good ball-handling, slashing, dynamic scoring wing man is the difference between mediocrity and, maybe not greatness, but goodness. It always will be, it always was and it has been a failing of this roster for years.
This really getting a bit tedious, isn’t it?
They play, they lose, nothing happens that we haven’t seen too many times before (lack of energy? Check. Lack of rebounding? Check. No third scoring option? Check. Scary ugly defence? Check, check, check) so what’s a guy to do?
Well, plumb the recesses of the brain to come up with marginally interesting topics of discussion. And work on those goofy top five lists to generate some, um, discussion.
And today, this is what those recesses of the brain came up with (and if you think it’s easy, you don’t know my brain):
|DAVID COOPER/TORONTO STAR|
|Joey Graham has been one of the few positives this year.|
I can’t remember who and I can’t remember why (creeping senility, I say) but someone last night during the game asked about Marion and Graham and I suggested you could make the case for Joey over Shawn, so I will.
You can say Graham’s at least Marion’s match in athleticism (he’s a far superior physical specimen, the only thing he doesn’t have is that spectacular second jump of Marion’s) and in quickness and explosiveness, the worst it is is a tie.
Marion’s got a better nose for the basketball and an ability to track down rebounds that Graham only wishes he had.
Both are equally adept finishing on the break and if you really think about it, isn’t Graham a better ball handler? Sure, he handles it too long on too many possessions but he’s got a knack for getting by his man on the baseline and creating space in the mid-range area.
Defensively? You’ve got to give the edge to Marion. I’ve seen Graham beaten back door so many times, it’s not even funny. Fixable? Probably.
Shooting? Well, I don’t think there’s a question of who’s got the better mid-range game.
Now, all that said, I’m still not convinced that Joey’s a starter on a good team in the NBA and Shawn’s been, what, a four-time all-star and been through some huge, huge games in which he’s had a major impact.
The point? Not sure there is one except that those two are much closer together in skill level than many would think at first blush.
Action: Yeah, like there was any last night.
Reaction: 65 down, 17 to go.
That’s about all I’ve got off that one, folks.
Maybe there is one:
Action: Bargnani’s big start
Reaction: And a so-so finish
Eleven points in the first quarter, 10 the rest of the way sort of sums it up for the kid too many nights, doesn’t it?
And if you’re trying to ascribe blame, there isn’t one single culprit.
Teams like Utah – you know, good teams – stick to him like glue after he gets off to a hot start; it was more the Jazz than the Raptors on Sunday afternoon who got him stopped.
There are times he stops himself, either by getting in foul trouble and having to sit down because he’s a rhythm guy like few I’ve seen and after going cold, it takes a while for him to heat up.
And, yes, some of it’s on his coaches and teammates. There aren’t a lot of specific plays set up for him, a pick and pop with the point guard is the bread and butter but until someone gets a summer and a training camp to figure out other ways to use his skills, that’s going to be about it. There’s been far too little practice time since December to revamp sets to get him more looks in different places.
A question off the game, sort of:
Q: Last night towards the end of the blog you responded to a question about BB IQ. I would agree Kapono has a high basketball IQ, but only off the ball. He sets great screens and moves to open space. If you give him the ball he seems to have no idea of what to do. It's the same on defense for him. He helps well but is clueless or athletically overmatched all the time. Your thoughts?
Kevin M, Maple
A: I see your point and it’s obvious that he’s physically over-matched at times but some of what you point out goes to his level of intelligence.
The offence? Well, that’s an issue, I think he sees himself as more of a slasher than he is, maybe because he sees space he thinks he can fill but his release is so quick, he’s got to think “shoot it” as soon as he catches it. I’m sure the coaches have pointed this out but when it’s the rush of the game, he seems to go blank on that point at times.
Defensively, a coach once told me this:
“If you tell Jason not to let his guy go left, he won’t let him go left. He might get beaten right like a rented mule all night, but the guy’s not going left.”
Now, if instances like that, the correct help is on the right, he’s not nearly as bad as many think. Trouble is, here it seldom is.
Oh yeah, in Philly, they got up this morning to read this.
The Not So Curious Case Of Marcus Banks
I’ve had a few, um, friends, suggest the Raptors are missing out somehow by not playing Marcus Banks an awful lot to see what they’ve got.
Well, here’s why:
You’re going to have a new starting two-guard next year and it’s not going to be Banks and there’s no way in the world he’s a starting point guard on even an average team.
And, if you caught the few minutes he got last night and the horrific airball he put up at home the other day, playing him to “showcase” him so teams might sniff around a trade this summer is not the wisest of choices.
No, what you do is try to include him in a summer transaction as cap ballast (“You want Bosh, you take Banks and Kapono”) or you hope that by the time you need him for a few minutes in a couple of games next year, he can get the job done.
Here’s a question.
Next time these guys win – and it has to be someday soon, doesn’t it? – when I run the story for the paper in the other city, it’s going to be something like:
‘OHMYGAWD, They Lost To The Raptors!!!!’
Yes, folks, it’s come to that.
Q: What's the difference between an unrestricted and a restricted free agent? Thanks.
Chili S, Toronto
A: Teams have the right to match any offer a restricted free agent gets on the market.
Just read that Galen Weston’s worth has dropped from $7 billion to $5 billion.
That tells me either (a) those omnipresent television commercials really do blow, or (b) a whole lot TSN2 viewers who can’t see them are Loblaw’s shoppers missing out.
Slim, slim pickings today. Spent yesterday in Casa Doug doing quite a bit of nothing until Super Son and I were lucky enough to be among the tens of fans at the Italy-Venezuela tilt down at the ball yard.
Oh yeah, taking Philly off tonight but seeing as it’s a TSN2 game, sitting around the house eating bon-bons and avoiding fresh air isn’t going to happen. Guess I’ll have to find a Diet Coke, veggies-and-dip emporium somewhere to take care of the live blog thingy.
First up, the Curious Case Of Roko Ukic.
|STEVE RUSSELL/TORONTO STAR|
|The curve flattened quite a bit for Ukic on Feb. 11 vs. the Spurs.|
I must admit to being a bit baffled by the use – or non-use – of the rookie point guard this last little while. He’s gone from 15 to 12 to nine to four to one in the last five games and it’d be all well and good, I guess, if they were five wins.
But, as most know, they weren’t.
Finding out whether Ukic can play – and I think he’ll eventually be a solid rotation contributor – was one of the keys to this season and finding him a consistent 12-15 minutes a night was going to do that.
It’s not that I think he should start, or even play half a game, but more consistent minutes would give a more consistent idea.
Yes, Anthony Parker has done a good job as the backup point guard most games and it’s a role he might play next season. But that’s only if he comes back and that’s not a certainty. I don’t know how much they’ll want to pay him, I have no idea if some European team might throw enough money at him to send him back over there but the simple fact is Ukic is under contract next year and Parker isn’t.
And say one thing for Ukic: In the dying seconds of a quarter, a half or a game, the dude wants the ball in his hands. Too much, some would say (and there are times I certainly agree) but on a team sorely lacking wing players with the ability to break down their man off the dribble, someone who’ll try it is a welcome sight.
He’s got to get better at it, especially knowing when to get past his man and look for an open teammates, but that’s all part of the learning curve.
The curve’s flattening out.
Things aren’t going particularly well for Sammy Dalembert down in Philly these days, but at least he’s getting some instruction from someone who knows a thing or two about being a good NBA centre.
I’ve picked this one only as representative of about the six I got asking the same thing yesterday:
Q: Hey Doug, what do you think of Marcus Williams? Is he on the Colangelo's radar at all? I know he couldn't crack the Nets or the Warrior's lineups, but Williams may be a better backup PG than Banks/Parker.
David H, Toronto
A: Okay, I think we need some guidelines around here: Any player who wasted away on the bench of a team with a worse record than even Toronto cannot for one single second be seriously considered as someone they’d have interest in.
I know Nellie does some wild things out in Oakland but Marcus Williams has been an unadulterated bust now in two cities, why in the world would these guys even sniff around him?
He is not a good NBA player. Never really was, never really will be.
As one scout said to me one time: “He doesn’t bust plays because he wants to bust them, he busts plays because he doesn’t know them.”
Just want you want in a point guard.
I’m sure there are people out there in readerland who like this guy; you will not find one in the NBA, though.
I now pronounce the Phoenix Suns dead.
And what’s that mean?
Well, a theory once espoused by the wise Butch Carter was that GMs looked around the league each summer to find the most disappointed organization out there and try to pick it clean under the guise of helping it improve.
Outside of Toronto – and maybe Philadelphia – you’d have to put the Suns on that list.
But here’s the thing. Suns owner Robert Sarver once forbid team broadcasters from mentioning or interviewing Bryan Colangelo during Raptors-Suns game and still won’t allow him to be shown on the scoreboard if he’s at a game in the US Airways Arena.
You think Sarver’s really going to sit down and listen to serious talk between Colagnelo and Steve Kerr? Probably not, and something that should be kept in mind.
New favourite ball team:
Anyone else watch that great game last night before clicking over to Phoenix-Dallas?
It’s Cranky Doug for a minute:
Q: Your lists of "top 5 greatest" disgusts me.
Why, in modern sports media, are we so obsessed with the impossible question of who is the best of all time? It is both ignorant and arrogant of you to possibly assume that you could ever pinpoint the five best positional players/coaches of all time. It just seems ridiculous to me. You are only setting yourself up for failure.
And yes, you have failed - - - Joe Dumars? The omission of Jerry Sloan as one of the best coaches!
What's next, are you going to make up the top 5 GMs and suck up to Bryan by putting him on the list? Stick to what you do best and leave the prophetic "greatest lists" to the commissioner when he tries to add another 25 players to his 50 Greatest come the League's 75th anniversary.
Jordan E, Toronto
A: This irks me no end so …
Let me get this straight.
It’s an “impossible question” and “ignorant and arrogant” to try and have a little fun and do something like a top five list and it’s “ridiculous?”
And then you do point out failures like you’re right and I’m wrong.
Dude, it was a fun exercise and if you hated it so much and it’s so worthless and “ignorant and arrogant” why in the world would you be so presumptuous as to make suggestions for your own list.
I swear, the stuff I sometimes have to read …
End of rant.
Forgot this yesterday.
I don’t believe they should let Julianne perform with her beau, even if he is some celeb of some sort and I believe Lawrence Taylor hasn’t spent as much time in the studio as he should. We will not have a sports type among the finalists.
That’s not code; if you understand it, that’s cool.
Doug Smith has been a sportswriter for more than 30 years, a journey that's included seven Olympic Games, numerous and varied championships and more dreary regular season games than he'd care to remember. Here, he'll talk about them all, as well as current events and pop culture. (Just don’t ask him about music nowadays — it's not his cup of tea).