Morning mail on a lovely weekend day
A tad lighter than usual, but guess that’s to be expected, what with the dearth of Raptors news. But everyone’s back from the EuroLeague Final Four at the beginning of the week, they have to get the coaching thing settled and start scheduling workouts for draft prospects so there should be some dribs and drabs of information this week.
Until then, there’s this and there’s the Game 7 in-game blog for Boston-Chicago tonight. And there’s trying to figure out who’ll win the conference semifinals.
Have at it:
Q: Hi Doug, would representatives (GM's, assistant GM's, scouts etc.. from every team be in Berlin?
Steph R, Glencoe
A: Without a doubt, yes.
Q: To me, the Bulls are reminiscent of the 07 Playoff Raps in sense: they need to make some changes (Del Negro needs to go, I have never seen so many bone-headed mistakes by players down the stretch and they need someone who can point this out), but they may be less likely and able to do so because of their success in the playoffs. Do you agree that they might be a bit of a disappointment next year?
David C, Victoria
A: There’s every chance they’ll be better, like Atlanta was this year after learning hard playoff lessons a season ago.
And I think there will be changes, like the return of the really good Luol Deng, the maturity of Derrick Rose, the offensive development of Joakim Noah.
So, they might disappoint, they might be better. I’m thinking the latter right now.
Q: Hey Doug, many days ago during a Toronto - Orlando game You stated that Jawai is going to be like Gortat in 18 months. After Gortat's performance yesterday do you really believe that Jawai can be for the Raps such a good bench player who when needed to start gets a double-double? In addition, does Jawai share the same characteristics as Gortat: the willingness to work hard, the passion and desire to learn and be better? I think that if he would be 75% of Gortat then the Raps would have a better bench.
Michael C, Piekary Slaskie, Poland
A: If Jawai averages less than five points and five rebounds and fewer than 13 minutes a game while sitting out a quarter of a regular season and having a one good playoff game as a starter, the Raptors may be please, yes.
And if he’s only 75 per cent when the careers are over, the Raptors will be disappointed.
Q: Hey Doug, no doubt this Celtics/Bulls series has been insane. Four overtime games?? I was wondering if that is a record for most overtime games in a playoff series or if there is another record out there?
Simone S, Toronto
A: No series has ever had more than two so, yes, we are witnessing history.
Q: Bryan is widely considered to be one of the top executives in the league, which I agree with, but I was wondering if you might expound on what makes a great GM in one of the mail-bags.
Is it a great scout with an eye for the big picture? Is it a man who only looks at the big picture and finances and hires the best of the best as his team to rely on? Is it one that stays completely out of the lime-light, or one that is as involved as possible?
I realize there's a subjective nature to these questions and particular GM's fit some teams better than others, but in your opinion, what does it take to be a great GM? On the subject, is there a fairly collegial attitude between all the GM's (barring exceptions here and there)?
You've mentioned they speak to each other on almost a daily basis during trade deadline / off-season periods, and it seems like a certain amount of mutual respect between them all is essential to the league running smoothly.
M C, Ottawa
A: There are so many layers to being a good general manager it’s not even funny. But, in my own personal opinion, the best are those who have a definitive view of what they want their team to be and then go out and find players and coaches who share that opinion. Whether it’s fast and exciting, slow and relatively plodding, the best should stick to one philosophy and have the guts to see it through even in bad times, and by that I mean sticking with a coach while the inevitable roster tweaking takes place and losses mount.
But I know there are always different “tugs” on GMs, mostly from impatient owners more concerned with the bottom line than anything and, sadly, too many of them are often forced by economic issues to abandon their plans.
I guess the short answer to “what it takes” is equal part vision and support.
As for the relationships? I’m not that close to many GMs but from what I know, there is a level of mutual respect and friendship that develops.
Q: How do you think the 2/2/1/1/1 format compares with the 2/3/2 format in terms of benefits to either team? I would say that the 2/3/2 format makes things more even, for several reasons. One being that if both teams win all of their home games before Game 7, both teams have stretches where they are leading the series and have 'momentum.’ Also the team without home court advantage has the benefit of playing Game 5 at home, when they are either looking to take the lead or avoid elimination. I'm sure most teams would prefer getting those three in the middle at home so they can put together a bit of a run. What do you think? I'm guessing they only do that in the finals to avoid making teams from either side of the continent travel back and forth too often?
David S, Toronto
A: I don’t have the stats handy to back this up, but I’d suggest the 2-3-2 format is a huge advantage for the team with the extra home game because I believe only once ever has a team swept those middle three games; I think Detroit did it against the Lakers in ’04.
And yes, it became the standard format for the finals in the 1980s when it seemed to always be Boston against L.A. and the coast-to-coast travel was a killer for everyone involved.
Q: Doug, why are all the coaches and some of the broadcasters wearing pins on their collars that have a golden "CD" printed on them. Does "CD" stand for something?
Gabriel M, Waterloo
A: In support of Chuck Daly, one of the all-time greats who is currently battling cancer.
Q: As a follow up question to one answered in the blog just a few days ago, do you ever get called by members of the team? For example, if Bryan Colangelo wanted to leak some information to you or Feschuk, would he ever call you directly?
Mark D, Kingston
A: There are people in the organization who may provide nuggets of information that any good reporter then verifies.
But Bryan calling to “leak” information? Never happened but I wish it would.
Q: Love the blog, I read it everyday (on company time of course). I've written a few times but I strongly disagree with your opinion on this so felt inclined to write you.
Question: How can you really believe that the NBA SHOULDN'T re-seed the teams after every round of the playoffs? To use your argument regarding the 8th place team "deserving a reward" for beating the 1st place team. Don't that just further diminish the importance of playing an 82 game season? It makes the regular season much less meaningful. They way I see it the 8th place team deserves zero breaks in the playoffs, they should have to play to highest ranked team left in the conference the whole way through, the whole point of the regular season should be to reward the teams that finished highest in the standings come playoff time. If anything the 2nd place team deserves the reward of playing the 8th place team because of how well they played in the regular season.
The NHL has it right with this one. Do you honestly disagree with that? For the 4th place team to play the 8th place team while 2nd vs 3rd are forced to duke it out hardly seems right in my eyes.
I welcome your rebuttal
Mike L, Toronto
A: I have no rebuttal. I have an opinion. It differs from yours. Big whoop.
Q: Not to blow smoke, but I love the blog, your writing, but especially your work on Prime Time Sports. In your mailbag you discuss how you believe supporting a specific team is un-professional considering your profession. While I agree, I was wondering about your thoughts on Bill Simmons.
I read Bill Simmons all the time and love his podcast. The single best because you can't get the local hour of PTS on podcast except Friday, which makes no sense, but I digress. So Simmons is by far the most fancentric sports writer and you may take offense to that, but his fan-dom is so obvious and he admits it that I don't mind it at all because he is admits it and knows he is a fan. What's your take?
Andrew H, Huntsville
A: I think Bill Simmons has a helluva good gig going with his “fandom” and it works perfectly well with his style and his audience. I’m not sure if we could pull that off here in our neck of the woods. I don’t take offence to it at all, it works wonderfully for him; I’m jealous of his talents – and, I presume, his salary.
Q: Doug, it has been increasingly apparent that a combination of the recession and the internet have been hurting the newspaper industry. How has this affected The Star, the Beats and, in particular, the resources (time, coverage, technology) available to you?
Doug F, Toronto
A: I’m not going to say we’re not feeling the pinch – I think it’ll be a frosty day in you-know-where before we send two people to cover one road event – but things aren’t as awful with us as the moment as they are most places. We were, for instance, the only newspaper in the city that staffed all 82 Raptors games, home and away, and while we were asked to trim expenses, we were never told not to do something. The technology? Well, we all want better, more modern equipment, but I guess what we have suffices.
What we don’t have in the luxury of a huge staff and unlimited space in the newspaper but no one does and we muddle through.
Q: Doug, How do you feel about an Antonia McDyess coming off the bench next year for the Raps? Think BC would be interested? I think I remember you saying BC should sign him when he was in exile in Denver this past year. Boy, if he could re-do that again.....
Philip S, Dresden
A: I love Antonio McDyess and he might fit well here but I think the Raptors don’t offer him the one thing he wants in the next two years: A better-than-average chance to contend for a championship.
Q: Doug, reading about the Greek player today in the Star that might fit the Raptors' needs for toughness. Do you think that the Raptors are unable to draw any interest from players currently in the U.S.; thus, they scout Europe and hire players from European teams? I have always felt, and it remains unsaid, that Toronto has the utmost difficulty drawing interest from U.S. players.
Susan D, Burlington
A: I'm afraid it's not just unsaid, it's not really true. They've hired whoever they think can help them -- Jason Kapono's a North American, Pops was trained in North America, so was Patrick O'Bryant and Quincy Douby, all the free agents they've added recently. Somne good, some not so good.
All from North America. The only difficulty they have attracting players from anywhere is due to their final situation, their performance of late and prospects for the future.
Q: Allow me to rephrase a previously submitted unanswered question.
Assumption 1: Regardless of where he signs Shawn Marion will not sign a contract for max money or max years.
Assumption 2: Toronto can re-sign Marion for more money and/or longer contracts than other teams can
Assumption 3: If the Raptors gave Marion more money and/or more years than any other team was permitted to give him, his contract would be less attractive to a team that wished to obtain him. Their signing advantage creates a trading disadvantage.
Assumption 4: The "sign" portion of Shawn's sign and trade would be for a contract of fair market value that he could get on the open market.
Mr. Collective Bargaining Agreement guru, please tell me this - what does Shawn Marion have to gain by signing a fair market contract with the Raptors to be used in a sign and trade rather than just signing with that that team directly?
Dave B, Toronto
A: If you’ve seen it submitted before, you’ve probably seen it answered a few times before.
The benefits to Marion are, in your case where he won’t be getting the maximum number of years, is that by signing with Toronto and then being traded, he is eligible for 10.5 per cent annual raises as opposed to 8 per cent if he signs with another team. Why would the other team do this? Because that’s the price they have to pay to obtain Shawn Marion. Why would the Raptors do this? Perhaps the salaries of the player(s) they are obtaining fit into the larger amount; perhaps they want to build some goodwill with an agent and his client.
It’s really not that complicated.
Q: I read that Commish Stern said that, "without question, there is an All-Star Game in Orlando's future." How about Toronto? When do we get to host the All-Star festivities? Or is an Ontario February too bleak for NBA big wheels to brave?
Liam C, Toronto
A: I’m not sure it’s the weather, it’s the timing. The Raptors were thinking about bidding on the 2011 game but there were issues with available convention space for such things as the FanFest. I think that may still be an issue with a thought about going for 2012 so we’re looking at 2013 at least. And, trust me, fans of the team get such shortshrift on things like tickets and access it’s ridiculous. I’d suggest that if there are, for instance, 20,000 seats combined for the Saturday and Sunday events, it’d be a stretch to think that 5,000 (and most of them would be for Saturday) would go to Raptors season-ticket holders.
Q: I tried asking this before with no luck so I will try and try again. Any chance the Raptors sign Hedo Turkoglu next year? He fills the mantra of being a European Player who can rebound, shoot, and drop some dimes to help his fellow team mates. Even though his numbers are lower than last year when he was MIP wouldn't that just drop his stock down a bit and maybe we could snag him for uhmm lets say 5 years $50-mill ? Thoughts?
Imran K, Toronto
A: And where do you suppose they find the $10 million to snag him? Of course he’d be a good fit, he’s a borderline all-star who plays a position of need in Toronto but the economic realities make it virtually impossible to pull off.