The weekly mail for whenever you like (rant alert near the top!)
It’s going to get pretty busy around here in the next little while, what with the in-game blog in half an hour or so and the insightful commentary that’ll come in the morning and then another game last night (not to mention a baseball practice I have to coach mid-day Sunday). This can sit if you like, to give you something to work through tomorrow or it’ll get you all pumped up for the next few hours.
Q: Gotta ask- Whose idea was it to start the daily blog to begin with? Yours or the Star's? It's certainly worked out well for both you and your employer, I'm just curious as to its origin.
Dave G, Toronto
A: I’m not entirely sure who the genius was, but I want to meet him and give him a piece of my mind! (I joke).
This actually started as a once-a-week thing known as Nothin’ But (Inter)Net to replace what used to be a notes page item in the newspaper. Then it somehow evolved into a Monday notebook and a Friday mailbag; some wisenheimer decided to make it five days a week with some notes and Raptor practice stuff added and, -- Presto! Changeo! – here we are. Six, often seven days a week with in-game stuff thrown in for good measure.
But I believe, ultimately, I’m responsible. I guess it’s good that we “engage” the readers like this but, and I’ve got to be honest here, I’d like some of those “engagements” to be estrangements.
Q: Doug, I read your blog, NBA.com and realgm every day. (I live in Beijing, China so I also check out CNN and CBC every day to stay connected). I suspect I spend an hour to 2 hours a day reading various articles. I have renewed interest in my Jays, and I have started reading Richard Griffin's blog as well. My question is, what websites, do you check on a regular/daily basis to say connected? Do you read up on all sports or just focus on bball? Are there certain writers you check out on a regular basis? To check out the competition? Also, with respect to the draft are there any mock draft websites that you give more credence/ creditability to? or are they all just wild guesses
Jeffrey M, Beijing
A: I might have gone through this a couple of times in the past but why not once more?
I read the websites of the local papers to see if they’ve got something Raptor-related I don’t and I read TrueHoop on ESPN.com without fail every day. I read ESPN.com and SI.com daily, for all sports, actually; and during the regular season I like to check the sites of the teams the Raptors are playing in the next couple of nights. I usually take a run through HoopsHype because it seems to be the best clearing house of stuff from the around the league.
General sports news? A fair amount, I guess; besides the online and NBA columnists around the league, I’ll try to see what my favourites – guys like Mike Wilbon in the Washington Post and George Vescey in the New York Times are writing and the NBA guys I admire most from newspaper sites are Bob Ryan in Boston and Mark Heisler in L.A.
But I do not, practically ever, look at the websites of the broadcast outlets in Toronto because if you can find a basketball story on their sites, I can practically guarantee is either some lame follow to a story one of us broke or something regurgitated from somewhere else or something written by someone with an opinion based on no research.
This is not to denigrate Paul Jones or Jack Armstrong or Eric Smith; but to let their bosses know they are missing out on a great opportunity because they are myopic followers rather than media leaders. I always thought part of the responsibility we have is to lead and to educate, rather than simply regurgitate what’s already been on highlight shows and the internet.
I would think the pucks-centric men – and they are almost all middle-aged men – who run the broadcast outlets here would realize the hockey people are still going to watch and listen but if you want to expand your listener base or viewership, giving something to people they can’t get anywhere else might be a good idea.
End of rant.
Q: A "Where are they now?" Draft related question: Remon Van de Hare. Drafted 52nd in 2003 from Spain. Seeing as Bryan Colangelo is no stranger to looking to fill holes from the international pool of talent, I was wondering whatever happen to this guy. Not that I'm suggesting that he be brought in next season. Just curious. Also, I had no idea that the Raptors picked up a guy named Doug Smith in the expansion draft for their inaugural 1995 season. Drafted 6th overall by Dallas in the 1991 draft. He was then released shortly there after never even playing a game for the Dinos.
Anthony R, Mississauga
A: Without knowing much about Remon Van de Hare, I will say with great conviction that he was a non-entity the day they drafted him and is even more of a non-entity today. I have no idea where he is and an not going to expend any energy finding gout and I would suggest you not, either.
He will go to an NBA game when he buys a ticket, like so many of the obscure-bordering-on-ridiculous other second-round draft picks this franchise has made or acquired.
And, yes, Doug Smith. A former sixth overall pick out of Missouri by the Mavs, played almost 300 regular season games in four seasons in Dallas and one in Boston. Was an expansion draft pick in Toronto for cap purposes only and was waived before ever setting foot in Toronto. Have his basketball card, though.
Q: This is regards to the question asked about when NBA players reach their prime. Specifically, do you believe Bosh has reached his? I'm hopeful that he can become a much better defender, and maybe raise his assists. Is it to much to expect or is this a natural progression for a young power forward to develop defense later in his career?
Jim D, Toronto
A: I don’t think he’s reached his prime at all, the kid’s only 25 years old, for goodness sake. So, yes, there is a natural growth, mentally and physically, that has years and years to go.
Q: In regards to talks about the possible sign and trade scenario with Shawn Marion. What I don't understand is why would another team want to trade for him when they can simply sign him as a free agent? Is it simply the fact of the other team getting rid of some cap space? If so, who would be the front runners
Serge A, Richmond Hill
A: There are no “front-runners,” you’re about six weeks early; let’s let teams draft before they worry about July’s free agency. And teams would obtain players in sign-and-trades so they can either move players and/or salary out.
Q: Hi Doug, I'm not sure if you can put a number on this, but what the heck. When grading potential draftees, what percentage of that grade will be based on scouting reports collected over the course of that player's college career, and what percentage will be based on what that player shows during the private workout with the team? 80 and 20?
Jay B, Toronto
A: Yeah, you’re right, putting a number on it is impossible. But we try to do the impossible here so I’ll say 85-15 in favour of the knowledge already gleaned through repeated scouting trips.
Q: First time writer and long time reader. Thinking of SG-SF options out there, any chance Josh Childress is available as an option for the Raptors?
Jon T, Daejeon
A: As long as the Atlanta Hawks tender a qualifying offer to Childress – and they would be foolish not to – he will be a restricted free agent and given Toronto’s money and needs, I cannot envision how they could make an offer that might be accepted and not matched by the Hawks.
And, to be quite honest, every time I’ve mentioned Josh Childress to anyone connected with the Raptors, I’ve gotten the equivalent of yawns and long stares of disinterest. Which isn’t surprising since you’re talking about a guy who’s never been an NBA starter and had a so-so year in Greece.
Q: As I'm driving down the QEW yesterday after work, I noticed how close the Star building and ACC are. Just curious, when you do the practice interviews/games/media day or what not, do you walk there or... how do you commute? P.S. Your blog has been great (as always). Please keep us entertained during the hot summer days.
Enver M, Toronto
A: Ah, you mean the area known in some circles (mostly circles populated by family) as Doug’s Bermuda Triangle, the delightful area bordered by the office, the arena and the bar. You know, the area where grunts go and often disappear? Well, even a lazy sot like I can traverse the area on foot.
Q: I keep hearing that many NBA teams will be dumping salaries this summer, the team that is most frequently mentioned is New Orleans. The Hornets actions at the trade deadline appear to confirm that theory. Are you aware of any of these other teams supposedly looking to cut costs?
Iain L, Victoria
A: Every business everywhere in the world is looking to cut costs – hell, I’m looking to cut costs at home – but with the way the CBA is structured (where most deals are close to financially-neutral at least in the short term) to suggest it’s easy to “dump salary” is probably wrong. Lessen long-term financial obligations? Maybe. But I’m not sure you’ll even see much of that because there aren’t a lot of teams out there looking to increase long-term financial obligations.
Q: I'm sure you've answered a question or two about the possibility of trading for another pick. I remember that our $3 million dollar exception can be used for such a deal, right? This exception confuses me. If they use it to acquire another pick, do they have to use the whole exception, or can they trade roughly the sum of the pick's rookie contract? Can the raptors just wait and trade it for the pick the want after he's been selected so they can wait and see where he goes? Anyway, clearly how disorganized my questions are lets you know how much this exception confuses me. I guess I'm really wondering how the team can use the exception and in what situations they might be likely to do so?
Alex S, Toronto
A: It’s clearing up misconception time, I see. And, trust me, you’re ot the only one harbouring illusions.
It’s not an “exception” at all. The $3 million Toronto got from Miami has nothing whatsoever to do with the caps, the tax or any CBA factor. It was simply a negotiated part of the O’Neal trade.
What it does is give Bryan some extra money in his budget to facilitate another, quite separate transaction, which is to purchase the draft rights to a player chosen by another team. The maximum amount of cash that can change hands in that kind of transaction is $3 million; perhaps, if it’s a low enough first-round pick, Bryan can negotiate the purchase for, say, $2.5 million and the spend the rest on beat grunt entertainment over the course of next season.
Q: Sorry if you've answered this before, but as a consistent reader I can't recall this being brought up. We all know that Bryan has expressed his desire to bring back Carlos Delfino. Can you enlighten us as to what it would take to do that? (ie. how many years does he have left on his current contract? and how much would we have to contribute to a buyout if anything at all?) Also, when would be the soonest we'd be able to sign him?
Matt N, Toronto
A: Carlos has no obligation to his Russian team after the season ends there in a week or so (Khimky’s in the final of the domestic league right now). And they can start negotiating on July 1 – which is also when they’ve have to extend a qualifying offer to keep him as a restricted free agent – and he can be signed starting July 7.
Q: Will the Raps try to move up in the draft to get a guy like Rubio (who doesn't seem to have a place in Memphis)? Should they? My thought is that Rubio has the potential to be special, and BC should do everything in his power to try to nab him.
Ryan R, Toronto
A: Given that Bryan said publicly the night of the lottery that the only way he’d consider even trying to move up would be to get the No. 1 selection, I doubt it.
And, if he’s as good as you say – and he may be – why wouldn’t you think he’d have a place in Memphis? It’s not like they’ve got all-world guard play.
Q: Doug, your bits on Jay's selection for USAB plus some comments elsewhere got me thinking about that history with the Canadian team. Also recall comments about maybe there's some bad blood between Jay and Leo Rautins. I love both guys, though I'm not all up to speed on Leo's coaching ability. Can you fill us in a bit? Why did Canada fire Jay? How does Leo fit in? Is Canadian ball not just one happy family?
TL I, London
A: I don’t think there’s any bad blod; Leo got a job Canada Basketball fired Jay from. Why they fired him? Well, the bogus line at the time was that he couldn’t devote the necessary time to the job.
One happy family? It’s sure better than it ever was seeing how three former head coaches – Jay, Steve Konchalski and Ken Shields – are all part of the advisory committee set up to oversee the senior men’s team.
There are rapid improvements being made at Canada Basketball almost daily; we may no see the fruits of their labour for a while but things are getting better in every respect.
Q: Looking at past drafts where we had picks, and with the benefit of 20/20 hindsight, my Raptor picks are as follows: 95: Michael Finley 96: Kobe Bryant 97: Tracy McGrady 98: Dirk Nowitski 99: Andrei Kirilenko (or Artest) 00: Michael Redd 01: Tony Parker (or Arenas) 02: Tayshaun Prince 03: Chris Bosh (or Wade) 04: Andre Iguadala 05: Danny Granger 06: Andrea Bargnani (or Roy)
Tony B, Madison, WI.
A: Sure, in some fantasy mind, hindsight way I’d agree that you could probably say the same thing for, oh, I dunno, 18-20-25 teams. It’s silly and not worth really thinking about. But knock yourself out.
Q: Hey Doug with all the focus on the Coyotes are any of the NBA teams feeling the economic crunch? If so which ones? There are a lot of rumors about teams looking to trade down in the draft for salary dumps/cash.
Ben S, Toronto
A: Given that the NBA is run about a zillion times better than the NHL with no teams on the verge of bankruptcy, no owners in jail or on the way to debtor’s prison, I would suggest hockey owners would give their eye teeth to be part of something as globally successful as the NBA, which is to hockey what an international conglomerate is to a mom and pop hotdog stand.
And this time of year, rumours about teams trading down or selling picks are rampant, it isn’t that much greater this time around, especially given the fact this is perceived as quite a weak draft.
Now, the economy isn’t what it was for any sports league but any suggestion the NBA is as bad off as the NHL is absolutely laughable.
Q: Isn't it a myth that Ray Allen is one of the greatest 3-point shooters of all time? I think most people, myself included, just assume he`s one of the best ever because his shot is SO nice, but actually he’s barely cracked the top 20 for 3-point shooting in any season of his career.
Peter Z, Vancouver
A: I will take your word for the stats issue and suggest that stats lie. Allen’s value is his ability to make big threes at crucial times, that’s what makes him one of the best three-point shooters ever.
Q: There was a lot of discussion in the past regarding the effectiveness of having both Bargnani and Bosh on the floor at the same time. Their play has shown that it is possible for them to be good offensively and they've also gotten better defensively, therefore those talks have lessened since. However, with Bargnani averaging less than 6 rebounds per game (while playing a position that should average AT THE VERY LEAST 2 more on a nightly basis), shouldn't the Raptors' concern be to either train Bargnani to play defense at SF or trade him for an SF (or that SG we constantly talk about if Marion stays) and make space for a bona fide center? Because as long as Andrea is the starting center, I believe the Raps will have defensive & rebounding woes, which does not produce wins.
Eric I, Mississauga
A: Wow, I haven’t had a “Bargnani can’t rebound” question since the season ended, I thought that hobby horse had been put out to pasture, guess not.
Yes, Bargnani could be a more effective rebounder; yes, he probably will be since he’s improved greatly since his rookie season. Yes, he is much improved in the positional aspects of rebounding, blocking out his man, face-guarding defenders to allow teammates to go after missed shots
And now, your statistical analysis of the situation, flawed though it may be.
Yes, he averaged 5.3 rebounds for the season but, in the 44 games as the starting centre, he averaged about 6.7, which would have put him in the top 35 in the league, which isn’t bad. And asking for two more per game may sound pretty simple but it isn’t. It would put him in the top dozen or so in the league, which would be pretty darn good, don’t you think? I think if he gets to average 7.5 as a starting centre, that’s a rather significant improvement. Yes, that=’s 2 a game from his season average; it’s not 2 a game from the reality of the situation. See? Stats lie.
Q: With Bryan Colangelo realizing that Bargnani may never become a good rebounder (and therefore ill fitted to be the teams starting center, as centers are made to play defense and rebound), do you think he would likely trade him if/when Bosh resigns? Possibly to get Rudy Gay in return (who hasn't shown any character issues since entering the NBA). Or should Bargnani be traded so that Bosh resigns.
Steve N, Montreal
A: Wow, I haven’t had a “Bargnani can’t rebound” question since the last question, I thought that hobby horse had been put out to pasture, guess not.
No, I don’t think he should and I’m virtually certain he won’t from every single conversation I’ve had with anyone in charge over there. In fact, I’d start talking extension with Bargnani the minute I can.