This and that and many other wondrous things
You folks keep ‘em coming, don’t you? This has got almost a regular season length to it, congratulations. And here’s not even a draft-specific one in here yet.
Anyway, it’ also the start of a long day with this machine; don’t forget we’ll be back for an in-game blog day-night doubleheader of Games 7 right around 3 p.m.
This should keep you busy until then:
Q: Hey Doug, enjoy the blog, you do a great job with it. I was just curious as to whether you would know which stories get read more online: the game stories you write for the paper, or your blog? Personally, I normally won't read the game story since I would rather watch the highlights or I would have watched the game myself. Thanks.
Darren L, Toronto
A: That’s impossible to tell because, unlike “hits” on an internet piece, we’re unable to accurately tell how many people read a story in the paper. We know circulation figures, but not actual readers.
And making newspaper stories on games relevant is the toughest part of my job. Everyone knows who won, everyone’s seen the highlights and heard the relevant sound bites; making a story off a game interesting but a “game” story is the hardest part of the job.
Q: When do you think is the peak age of a NBA player where they play their best and/or put up their best statistical year(s)? It seems to me that NBA players perhaps have their best years in their mid 20s and some players do drop off significantly starting around 30 or early 30s. Conversely, there seems to be a much higher percentage of MLB and NHL players who have career years north of 30 years old.
Joachim T, Toronto
A: Without statistical data, which I’m sure exists, I’d say between 27-33 are the typical high-water mark in a players’ career. That might be younger than other sports simply because players come to the NBA at generally a younger age and learn what it takes to become a good pro quickly.
Q: I was just listening to the Fan590 and Nick Kypreos raised a point that I hadn't considered, but I thought deserved your input. To paraphrase, he said that MLSE would be more concerned about a second hockey team in Southern Ontario because of the impact that the team would have on the Raptors, than the impact the team would have on the Leafs. Thinking about the media coverage that the lone hockey team gets in this market, would the coverage given a second hockey team bury the Raptors even further?
Alex H, North York
A: Ridiculous? Preposterous? Silly? Born from whatever kind of ignorance, jealousy and misinformation that seems to be a staple of some segments of the hockey media.
I don’t imagine the presence of a hockey team in Hamilton is going to have an impact on whether we cover the Toronto Raptors or not. And, besides, on most television newscasts, it’s not like the Raptors exist anyway.
And that’s the short-sighted nature of whatever news directors are under-serving a large segment of the population.
Q: Hey Doug, long time no see. Anyways, I was recently reading the whole Manny debacle, and it got me to thinking: I know the players are tested for performance and non-performance enhancing drugs (marijuana, cocaine, etc), but what about staff and officials?
Mike S, Seoul
A: Officials and coaches are indeed tested; support staff are not.
Q: Doug, reports from Spain today indicate that Jose WILL play this September in the Euroleague. Think this will cause a reason for concern with the Raptors? Since Colangelo explicitly stated that he prefers Jose not to play this summer.
Raj M, Toronto
A: Things, as I’m come to learn over the years, often get lost in translation from some of the Spanish media to Canada. I don’t know the true story of what was actually said and in what context. I still think, as has been the case since the end of the season, no firm decision has been made on whether Calderon will play for Spain in late August and early September and it still being May, I don’t expect a final decision to be made for months.
When it is made, people can worry about it; to get all worked up about a translated article in late May is, frankly, not worth my time. Or yours.
Q: Can a team buy a draft pick? In the O'Neal-Marion trade the Raptors received cash and gave up a pick. Colangelo said he could use the cash to buy a draft pick in the future. Can you do that? What's a good 1st round pick cost? A second?
Ian J, Barrie
A: Unlike any other transaction, which has to satisfy salary cap demands of the CBA, picks can be dealt for cash considerations. As a benchmark, first round draft picks go up to the maximum allowable $3 million (which is how much cash Toronto got from Miami in the trade) and the going price on second-round picks is about $250,000.
Q: We've seen an 8 man Rockets rotation (almost 7, since they don't play von Wafer much) that costs 28 million go 2-1 against a L.A. team that costs 75 or so. How are guys like Landry, Brooks etc. able to step up to the extent they have? Is it that the Rockets have been able to somehow assemble really undervalued talent? Is it more a team synergy thing--some fairly ordinary players giving everything? Or what? It seems to contradict what many commentators say about the role of superstars in winning, no?
Eugene E, Toronto
A: Like anything, there’s no one answer. Guys like Landry and Brooks are good in the season but seem to elevate their games in the post-season like lots of role player are (see Kapono, Jason; a year ago) because they have a higher level of intensity and concentration and they know their team is counting on them. In the regular season, perhaps the find it tough to get “up” for every game, an attribute that keeps them from achieving star status. But while they’re nice to have, it generally takes a true star, or two, to win a championship.
Q: Hey Doug, congratulations for still managing to keep the blog interesting without any news from the Raptors. I want to know why are you so reluctant to admit that you're a Raps fan.
I'm sure you'd prefer covering for their games nowadays in the playoffs than just keeping the blog and The Goods on the Game alive. Which means you'd like Raps to win more. And if you want them to win, it means you're a fan. And as long as you keep your professionalism and objectiveness in your reports and stories, there's absolutely nothing wrong with it. It's not what you show outside, as much as what you feel inside, that makes someone a fan.
Now, for the real question: With the growing fan base in Europe, is there a possibility to move some home games an hour earlier? They start at 1 a.m. CET, and I think midnight starts would give more people a chance to see the games cause going to bed around 3.30 really makes a man tired the day after. And another, somewhat related thing - when will NBA change that horribly boring piano tune on Where Amazing Happens spots? Made me fall asleep during halftimes way too many times...
Toni H, Zagreb
A: I’m not sure about the genesis of this fascination with my status as a (non) supporter of a particular team. Winning or losing really has no impact on my workload but if you feel you need to believe otherwise, go right ahead. And who says I’m not really enjoying this relative downtime with no travel and no games to staff?
European fans notwithstanding, there is no movement afoot change any starting times, except to – hopefully – get some consistency to those Sunday starts.
Q: Hi Doug, in your opinion, what is the biggest difference between the European Game and the NBA game? Do they have similar approaches to the game as far as plays and defenses? What adjustments would a Euro-league coach have to make if he transitioned to the NBA?
Jeffrey M, Beijing
A: The NBA, of course, has far, far deeper talent than any European league and you see far more inside play in the NBA and screen-roll action that you do in primarily drive-and-kick play in Europe. And the biggest adjustments are to playing against great players every night and a frenetic schedule in the regular season.
Q: Doug, when it comes to the draft, are you a proponent of the 'always draft the best player available' principle or 'try to fill a need whenever possible, but don't reach too far' principle?
Jay B, Toronto
A: If there’s an obvious clear-cut difference – and there seldom is when you’re drafting in the second half of the lottery – I say take the best player available and let the coach figure things out. But if the talent level is basically the same, I’d put needs first.
In the case of Toronto this year, there will not be a clear-cut big at No. 9, no way, so I’d just go with the wing or guard they like best. If that’s a 2 or a 3, it doesn’t matter.
Q: Hey Doug, great blog.
A lot has been made of the Cuban-Kmart's mom debacle on sports talk shows and by the league itself. How come no one (besides you) has been talking about the fact that Cuban pushed a cameraman at the end of game 3? That's total bush league! Did Cuban get away scot free with that push which to my mind is even more disrespectful than his exchange with Kmart's mom? If so, how could the league miss that? And if not, what fine/penalty was he assessed.
Hugh M, New York
A: There could well have been a fine levied on the QT, wouldn’t be the first time, nor the last. And I expect there was.
Q: Now that Mr. Big Shot has his Nuggets rolling into the final 4, can you give us a little refresher on his time in a Raptor jersey? What kind of player was he for us and what were the circumstances surrounding his departure? Just curious on your thoughts why he didn't star here. Timing? Maturity? Coaching? Look back and share, oh wise one...
Wayne L, Toronto
A: It was a very short time – 29 games in a dreadful 16-win season – and the knock in him back then was he was a questionable decision-maker with the ball and not a particularly good shooter (34 per cent from the field, 32 per cent from three-point range). The Raptors didn’t see much long-term potential – and neither did Denver, Orlando or Minnesota, of course – and when the chance arose to use his salary as ballast in a three-way deal with Denver and Minnesota, they had no compunction about doing it.
Q: Hi Doug. If Delfino comes back do you expect he will start? Is he the up grade swing man we need? Or does it just create a log jam with another serviceable player that's not really a difference maker. Just curious on what your take is on what Delfino brings to the table. And if he comes to the raps what that means for J.K.
Jeffrey M, Saint John
A: It’s impossible for anyone to say whether he’d start or not, that’s going to be determined by the draft, free agency and trades. And I think he’s a pretty good player who can guard two or three positions and I think he’d be an upgrade on Joey Graham, whose roster spot he seems destined to take.
Q: Hey Doug. Long time reader, first time writer. I'm hoping that you can provide some comments about the rumour that the owner of the Canucks is talking to the owners of the Pacers about buying the team and relocating them to Vancouver. Here is a link with the story: http://bleacherreport.com/articles/170615-pacers-to-vancouver-canucks-owner-makes-pitch-to-simon This has been all over the local radio and I'd love to hear your thoughts on this. Is it only a vague rumour or is there hope for hoops on the west coast again?
Chris M, Vancouver
A: According to people I’ve spoken to over the last two days, it is even less than a vague rumour and little more than an effort in Indy to squeeze concession out of the city. It is not in anyway a legitimate possibility at the moment or even in the near future.
And considering there's no real source to any of this, I'd take it with an even larger grain of salt.
Q: A question about the Celtics (because I can't hypothesize about Raptor draft picks until Wednesday): who of the team's free agents will they keep in the offseason? Can they afford to keep Powe, Davis, and House when Rondo and Allen come up for free agency in 2010? Can they afford to lose them? It's pretty much the entire Celtic bench, and each has built a reputation in these playoffs.
Craig B, Toronto
A: They can do anything they want if they are willing to pay the luxury tax and they’ve certainly shown that willingness in the past. But, the fact is they’ll have to make a tough decision on an injured Powe and an emerging Davis this year and that’s going to be difficult. But, if they want, they can keep them all and deal with Allen, Rondo and House after next year and Garnett the year after that.
Q: I remember a Laker team that stormed eastward for a road trip, ending Cleveland's home unbeaten streak and winning one in Boston for good measure. I handed them the trophy after that. What happened to those guys? Any chance they reappear?
Niels H, Toronto
A: I doubt it. Not only is the calibre of competition better so is the intensity of the games. The Lakers are still good, but not as good as they looked in that stretch.
Q: I'm wondering if you can explain in as simplified a way as possible the luxury tax threshold. I know the salary cap is a fixed number of around $58 mil. but is the luxury tax the same for every team (I know it's a lot higher than the salary cap). You can go over the cap with some contracts - like resigning your own players, but not others? How does the MLE affect things? Are there too many intricacies to explain it in a short answer?
Doug H, Toronto
A: The salary cap isn’t a fixed number, it’s set at 53 per cent of Basketball Related Income, which is determined each July and includes all manner of income from ticket sales to t-shirt sales to television revenue. The luxury tax level is set at 58 per cent of BRI and also changes every year.
Q: I was watching a "classic" post season game on NBA t.v. between the Jazz and Blazers from 2000. Watching an older Sabonis play, but still play at a fairly dominating level, I started to wonder about where he fits into the All-Time great centers? In your opinion, does he rank in the top 5? If he had played earlier in his career in the NBA would he be in the top 3?
Zack B, Kuwait City
A: Sabonis could play, man. Really, really play. There was a time, long before injuries slowed him and he got to the NBA, when he was considered one of the top five or 10 players on the planet, a big, quick, sweet-shooting big man with gorgeous passing skills. And because he never got to play against the best consistently while in his prime, it’s impossible to say where he’d rank. He certainly would be in the discussion of the top five centres of all time, I think.
Q: You always say if a guy's listed at 6-9 he's probably 6-6. Why would the possibly do that in the NBA when it is so obvious?
C B, Mississauga
A: Ego has a lot to do with, some does some wacky superstitions and ill-conceived perceptions.
For instance, there have been players who have told publishers of team information to lie about their weight rather that report how heavy they actually are; there is a story out there – unconfirmed personally – that Kevin Garnett won’t allow team publications to list his height as more than 6-11 because of some weird concept of what it means to be a 7-footer. So take all weights and measurements with a grain of salt.
Q: You mentioned the quickness and the ability to drive and the tough match up he is as the qualities that allowed Rashard Lewis securing the contract he has. If that is true for him, it will become true at the end of next season for Bargnani too who also has the ability of making clutch shoots. It is being debated whether this team can keep Bosh and have enough money to build around his max contract, could they be forced to make a tough choice anyway by the raised value of their other killer Bee?
Renato D, Barcelona
A: Apples and oranges; Bargnani will never be as quick as Lewis. That’s not saying he won’t be as productive, just different. And they can keep Bosh and pay Bargnani thanks to the way the CBA is structured.