A weekend's worth of mail
Holy crap. You know how much of a pain the butt it is to replace a cracked backboard on one of those portable baskets everyone’s got in their driveways now?
Oops, sorry, I digress.
Well, it’s a huge pain in the butt but it’s done, the deck and yard are almost ready for the incoming horde of budding baseball journeymen and their families so, too, is the mail.
Have at it now for the weekend because my friend Stella and I are hanging out around the house the rest of the day and I may be tad, um, worn out in the morning.
Remember, though, we’ll be back at 9 Sunday night for Portland-Houston Game 4 to do one of those in-game bloggy thingies.
Q: What age do you have to be, before you can bypass being in the NBA draft and just entering the league as a free agent? Ricky Rubio still has a few years left on his contract, if he bypassed this year's draft, and played out his current deal, would he still have to go in the draft? I remember a few years back, Isiah Thomas signed a player near the end of the season from Kentucky I believe, he was still relatively young, yet came on as a free agent. Do you have to be in the draft and not get picked?
Shawn L, Bowmanville
A: As I read the NBAPA guidelines, you have to get old to bypass the NBA draft.
Eligibility rules say, for North American players, at least one NBA season has to have passed after the year of high school graduation (or on NBA season after a non-graduate’s class graduates) and for international players, they have to turn 19 in the calendar year of the draft.
For North Americans, if four years pass from the time of high school graduation they are no longer deemed “draft elibigle” and for non-North Americans, that occurs when they turn 22.
Q: What do you think separates a guy like AP from some of the better 2's in the league? I've heard that he's got great basketball IQ and is a pretty good shooter. What differentiates him from someone like, Joe Johnson or someone like that? And I think at the beginning of this year or last year Sam used AP off the bench (started JK?) and he struggled to fit the backup role, How do you think he'll handle a backup role if he's brought back next year?
Matt U, Toronto
A: Athleticism, speed, quickness, youth. Smarts and jump-shooting are one thing but it’s the ability to do other things that separates players.
And, actually, Sam thought about starting Kapono over Parker but never did; that said, I have no doubts whatsoever that Parker can handle a backup role if he knows that’s what it’s going to be from the start of the season.
Q: Doug: Would you agree that the international basketball scene is important context even for died-in-the-wool NBA fans? If so, then I think you could make a case for your attendance and reporting at Eurobasket 2009 in Poland, this coming September. Having watched a good part of the 2007 event via internet streaming, I would certainly support the use of TOStar funds to send you there - it's good, spirited basketball and I, for one, would enjoy your observations. Besides which, it would appeal to the international makeup of the readership, and it could help us to understand the significance for top athletes to play for their country even if not Canada or the U.S.A.
Alfred D, St. John’s
A: Boss? You reading this? I’m all for it.
Q: Hey Doug, during the in-game blog the other night I had asked you if you are a fan of the Lakers and you replied that you are not a fan of any NBA team seeing as that would be unprofessional. Do you think that play-by-play guys, specifically the local teams' play-by-play guys hold themselves to the same standard, and if not do you think they should?
Ben E, Thornhill
A: I think there’s a different dynamic for employees of the team, which broadcasters are. I think lots of them are fans and that’s entirely cool with me. So, no, I don’t think readers, viewers, listeners should hold them to the same standard.
Q: What is the greatest basketball playoff game or games you have ever seen? (list?) What about the greatest baseball game?
Jeffrey M, Beijing
A: A quick list, in no particular order, an immediately off the top of my head: 2008 Olympic final, US-Spain; 1998 world championship final, Russia-Yugoslavia; 2000 Olympic round-robin, Canada-Yugoslavia; 2002 world championship gold medal game, Argentina-Yugoslavia; 1992 Tournament of the Americas, US-Cuba (historical significance rather than competitive nature).
Baseball? I don’t really have one. Craziest game I was ever at was Blue Jays 15, Phillies 13 in Game 4 of the 1993 World Series.
Q: Hey Doug, loved your line about the angry mob and the Pops vs POB debate. I wanted to ask about Jawai. Any discussion about him next year or have Pops and Patrick pushed him out of the picture? Thanks
Patrick D, Toronto
A: No, he’ll be back. He’s got a year left on his guaranteed contract and they’re certainly not going to give up on him.
Q: Doug...with all the talk of Bosh leaving because the team isn't competitive enough for him, has anyone asked whether or Bosh has a roll in trying to attract other players to come play with the Raps? It would seem logical to me that good players would want to come play with a guy of Bosh's skill.
Eddie C, Thornhill
A: I’m sure if the Raptors are chasing free agents and they think a call from Bosh would help, he’ll make it. And, besides Kobe, LeBron and Wade, this whole “I want to go play with him” theory is a bunch of bunk, in my opinion. Free agents want to go where the money is, to a city where they feel comfortable and to a team on the upswing.
Q: Doug, just curious if you know of any reason why Brendan Malone never got another head coaching gig in the league (other than that brief interim stint with the Cavs). It seems to me he was a very-well respected assistant before his time in Toronto, then he did a pretty good job here with a bad team, was fired for trying to win games (!), and went on to... being a well-respected assistant. Why not more?
Also, with regards to pre-game traditions, didn’t Jordan used to clap the resin powder into a cloud of dust in front of Bulls radio man Red Kerr before every game?
Josh K, Toronto
A: As the years passed, I wondered the same thing. I’m sure he wanted a head coaching gig but, truth be told, he was very well compensated in Indiana and wherever else he’s been. And as a lead assistant, he got to do what he loves best, teach the game and instruct young players.
And, yes, Jordan did do the resin thing, just not with as much fervor or in a “hey, look at me, people” manner that LeBron does. To each their own.
Q: As a regular reader of the blog and the online blogs, I notice that sometimes you have to answer the same question twice in the same online blog (people not taking the time to read from the start).
A. What is the most commonly asked question this week? Draft related?
B. Are there any generic questions that people ask over and over again through out every season that you just get tired of answering?
C. When you are questioning players or sitting though a media session is there any question in particular you get tired of asking (or hearing others ask/answer?)
Jeffrey M, Beijing
A: Draft questions? Right now? Well, there are a lot of “should the Raptors go after Ricky Rubio” (duh!), what will they do if they win the lottery” (celebrate!) and, “should they draft Stephen Curry” (I take it from people who know him through his dad).
I get tired of the misconception that the salary cap and tax threshold are the same.
And the question I get tired of hearing is “what happened out there?” when the more appropriate question is – generally – “why did that happen out there.”
Q: Doug, you know I love the blog (well maybe you don't know, but I do love it) but I gotta ask: today you chided Raps fans for being so wrapped up in the Pops (non)signing. I sometimes get the sense you're fed up with the level of comments you get on certain issues - but isn't it better for the fans to have passion, even if it may be misguided, than no passion at all? Isn't that how teams end up bankrupt and leaving cities?
Bryant S, Burlington
A: I love the passion of the fans here, it’s unique in a lot of ways to anything else in the league. But, really, we’re talking about two very incomplete basketball players who are years – maybe their entire careers – from being significant cogs on very good teams.
Q: Doug, if the Raptors up and left town tomorrow and you could switch to covering another sport, where would you end up?
Jeff S, Ajax
A: A home for old age grunts? Like the one Stumpy wants to open so we can sit around whining about the good old days. Seriously, I haven’t given it much thought, I’d like to do golf (great travel, no night games, very little hard-hitting breaking news) and sitting around pontificating as a general columnist always intrigued me.
Q: All the studies I have seen suggest that NBA teams enjoy the highest winning percentage at home overall among the four major North American sports. Why do you think that is? I don’t think an NBA home crowd is any louder/disruptive/supportive than an NFL or NHL crowd. So what are the other tangible disadvantages that NBA teams on the road face which make it so hard to win?
Sean K, Ottawa
A: Oh, I don’t know about that suggestion home crowds aren’t as loud, disruptive or supportive, actually. The intangibles are the momentum that a home crowd can provide – it really does get adrenaline flowing and truly does help the home team – which is why you often see home teams go on huge runs to open games.
The tangibles? Well, there is something to be said for familiar rims and don’t discount sightlines and backdrops as significant reasons why teams tend to be better at home. That and the whole comfort level – being at home, going through the same game-day routine – does factor into it.
Q: Quincy Douby was signed for 2009-10 season. How much does he get paid (NBA minimum salary for 0, 1, or 2 years)?
Richard S, Lethbridge
A: Time to bust – yet again – another contractual misconception. Quincy Douby IS NOT signed for the 2009-10. He has a partially-guaranteed contract – for the third-year minimum – that has date-specific thresholds to meet.
If he’s on the roster at the start of training camp (after summer league), he gets ‘X’ dollars; if he’s on the opening night roster he gets “X plus X” dollars; and if he’s on the roster in early January, his contract becomes fully guaranteed for the rest of the season.
But to say he’s signed for the 2009-10 season, which so many do, is dead wrong.
Q: Do you believe youth participation in sports leagues parallels the success of pro sports teams? Because we live in Canada, hockey enrollment will be relatively steady forever. But, do you think that enrollment in baseball and basketball leagues hinge on the success of the Blue Jays and Raptors, respectively?
Tunch M, Thornhill
A: Nah, I think what mainly leads to increased enrolment in minor sports is immigration patterns and finances.
Q: I asked this the other day during the in-game blog but unfortunately it went unanswered, and its extremely vital you answer it because my roommate and I have a bet as to who you will agree with (yes the same roommate who didn't pay the cable bill has money to make a bet, but as you would say I digress).
Allen Iverson? Good fit for the Raptors, or no? I would say he is. Personally I think he could be exactly what this team is lacking. He is still capable of scoring 20+ a game which takes a lot of pressure off of Bosh & Bargnani, he plays decent defense, is as tough of a player as you'll find in the league, he won't have to worry about coming off the bench because we all know Parker is going to be the back-up 2, and IF Bosh were to leave Iverson would still be a marketable player for the franchise.
Do you agree with me? Or do I owe my roommate the next case of cold ones? Thanks a lot,
Marc D, Barrie
A: Let’s see: A soon-to-be 34-year-old small guard with defensive liabilities and a whole lot of miles on a slight body who dominates the ball on offence and refuses to even consider coming off the bench is the last thing this team needs.
Sorry, dude. Maybe your roomie will take the money and pay the bills?
Q: Hi Doug, with Vaughn on the verge of getting a new NHL franchise, do you think that Vaughn also has a chance at getting an NBA franchise? They're going to need some additional income when the hockey team's on the road. Besides, it will give us a chance to finally have a "Huskies" team. (Please no sarcasm in your response).
Kameleon Z, Vaughn
A: Dude (or dudette), you don’t seriously expect me to not do a bit of sarcasm here, do you?
New York? One team
LA? One team
Chicago? One team
Every other city in the freaking world? One team.
On the verge? Wow, you’re really, really taking leaps with credulity there. Believe me, there is more chance of you owning of that pipedream of a second NHL team (if the first puck drops before 2015, or 2018, I’ll be stunned) than there is a second NBA team anywhere near these parts.
Q: I'm taking advantage of the fact that the mailbag is a bit empty to try to get one or more of my questions to appear in your blog and be answered by your wisdom:
- in a article in a Swiss paper about the NBA, John Ferguson, a US coach that's lived in Switzerland for some years, was quoted as saying that today, he wasn't sure that the 5 best US NBA players would beat the 5 best European ones in a game. Questions: who would those 5 European players be (provided you have a normal team with 2 guards, etc. and that the 5 US players would be the starting 5 of the US 2008 Olympic team) and what's your take on the winner? [And thank you for putting aside the coherence factor in this question as I imagine that the starting 5 of Spain for example would be better than any collection of European players that never player together as good as they might be invidually]
- You mentioned once in the blog that no player in the current Raptors roster had his home in Toronto. But do you know of any NBA player (current or past) that has his home in Toronto or even GTA?
- Are the Raptors a particularly popular NBA team among Canadian NBA fans or is it just a team among others? In other words, what's the fanbase of the Raptors in Canada?
Matthieu B, Biel-Bienne, Switzerland
A: Now, I don’t know John Ferguson except by reputation but I think he might be pandering a bit to the European audience. And, are we talking European players or non-North Americans? Does Yao count? How about the South Americans?
I think a team that started Chris Paul, Dwyane Wade, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James and Dwight Howard would beat a team that started Tony Parker, Rudy Fernandez (in place of the injured Manu Ginobili), Dirk Nowitzki, Luis Scola, and, hmm, and Pau Gasol.
As for your other ones? Rasho’s got a place here and I don’t get out enough to know about the Raptor fan base around the country but, anecdotally, traffic here, in the mailbag and on the in-game blog has dropped off since they were eliminated so I would say there are far more Raptors fans than there are NBA fans.
Q: Hey Doug, I really thing Big Baby Davis is gonna end up being a major second-round steal for Boston. Look at how his play has improved in the two years he's been a pro, and it seems to be all coming together in the playoffs this year. I guess playing behind an all-time great in KG on a championship team helps. But to me Big Baby is being groomed to team up alongside Garnett, and then taking over the team as the next great Celtic. After all, that's the tradition of the organization. Your thoughts?
Simon S-G, Toronto
A: “Next Celtic great”!!!! Surely in the name of Bill Russell and Bob Cousy and John Havlicek and Satch Sanders and Tommy Heinsohn and Dave Cowens and a hundred others you can’t possibly mean that?
I think Glen Davis is a pretty good backup right now in Boston and could probably start in a handful of teams. He may, one day, be considered very good player; he will never, ever be considered a “Celtic great.”
Q: A lingering question that I've been wondering about all season. When you go into NBA.com and look at the game review, there is a section that says "unanswered points". Usually the numerical values are not that high, 2 or even 0. What exactly is this stat? And how does it have any relevance whatsoever to the game?
D C, Peterborough
A: No real relevance, actually; it’s all about the fascination with numbers that’s taken over the world. It’s actually the game-ending “run” if you look at a post-game boxscore; it’s the current run if you click on during a game. Pretty much yawn-worthy in most circles.
Q: Finally got time to watch the last televised episode of Hoops with Eric, Jonesie, and Jack, and heard you as a radio guest. Definitely the highlight of the show (even though I am a Hoops fan period.) That got me wondering if there has ever been talk about you filling in for Jack when he is unable to make the broadcast?
Conas A, Halifax
A: I don’t believe the CRTC would allow that. Nor would my bosses. Nor would Jack’s bosses. But if someone wants to make an offer, I’m always willing to listen.
Q: Since there isn't much Raptors news to report how about some fun/interesting stuff such as who else besides Rasho makes Toronto their "home"? I have a lot of respect for Rasho for choosing Toronto as "home" because most pro athletes can't seem to get out of here fast enough after their season ends (i.e. Joey G). I've seen Jose quite a few times in Toronto during the past two summers. Spezza makes Toronto "home".
Joachim T, Toronto
A: Nobody on this team does and this whole fascination with who lives where when really, um, fascinates me. Toronto is where athletes work, it’s not “home” and I don’t blame them one bit for heading to their hometowns, or their homelands or their wives hometowns or whenever as soon as the season ends.
It’s not a slight against the city, it’s not a slight against the franchise, it’s not a slight against the country. It’s a comfort level and who cares where they spend four months a year as long as their back at camp when it starts.
Spezza? Who’s he play for?