Cleaning out the mailbag to wind up the weekend
Let’s see, played some golf with Super Son, did some barbecuing, got some quality couch time and now finished a long overdue mailbag? Yeah, turned out to be quite a day.
Q: Wondering where this year's training camp will be held. Moving to Ottawa in August so would love to see them up there.
Garth S, Toronto
A: We’re coming to Ottawa. Maybe I can get to all the places this year that I missed last year.
Q: Got another one for ya. Can a team absorb their mid-level exception with more than one player? For instance, two players salaries combined to equate to the exception (in rapz case it would be 5.7M).
Amar T, Thornhill
A: Teams can split the mid-level as many ways as they like, on as many players as they like.
And I presume rapz is Raptors?
(I truly fear for the future of the written word)
Q: Why not offering Herrmann a 1-year contract? He would take it. he doesn’t require that many minutes, and can totally shoot the ball. But aside from that, why do you think teams don't offer him a contract? Even for a minimum? It seems weird to me.
Tobias R, Thornhill
A: You seem pretty sure you know how a guy would think without, you know, talking to the guy. Maybe there’s a two- or three-year deal at a lot more money in Europe out there. Maybe he wants to retire. Maybe the thought of being the 10th man or so in Toronto isn’t particularly appealing.
Q: Do you ever follow ex-Raptors around the league? Any particular favourites? I see Luke Jackson (who I liked) is on the Mavs summer league team, and Hassan Adams (who I didn't) is on the Rockets team.
Chris D, Leeds
A: I wouldn’t say favourites but guys I’ve liked, like Marcus Camby, now AP, Damon when he was still playing, maybe a couple of others I’ll look for in the season. In the summer? Hardly any. In fact, I would never have known about Jackson and Adams until you mentioned them; if I’d scoured the summer league rosters closely, I might have raised an eyebrow when I saw the names but I sure wouldn’t have done anything like look to see how they’re doing.
Q: Well, since there've been so many questions about free agents and Bryan's next move(s), I'll go with something not Raptors-specific. When people have ripped on Bosh, you've always maintained that one player, no matter how great, could not win it by himself. So, my question is, what kind of team does? Throughout basketball history, it seems as though having a "Big Three" is pretty effective, but what other kind of team makeups can make for a championship caliber team? Two greats, a bunch of role players? A team without a superstar, but a solid eight-man rotation?
Raymond C, Scarborough
A: It’s impossible to say with certainty but teams with more than one good player always prevail. But do they all have to be superstars? I don’t think so and cite Detroit as an example. Do they have to have three? I don’t think so and cite Miami as an example. Do they have to be all bigs? No, and cite San Antonio as an example.
It’s chemistry, health, luck and matchups. Or a combination of those.
Can Toronto win a title with this roster? I don't think so. It is entirely out of the realm of possibility that they could win the East given a combination of chemistry health, luck and matchups? No. Which is why they play the games.
Q: Realistically, what are the chances that the Raptors can move or buy-out Marcus Banks? Or, do they honestly think that he will contribute? If so, how?
John-Peter B, Ottawa
A: None and none. Contribute? As much as any 13th, 14th or 15th man on a roster does, in the case of emergencies. Look, just about every team in the league has undesirable contracts to deal with (Charlotte has like $40 million tied up in DeSagana Diop and Nazr Mohammed). Stuff happens. It’s not great but maybe one day, Banks makes a play that helps in a game; maybe a year from now his expiring contract has value. I’d rather hope that happens than to give him $9 million, get absolutely no cap or tax relief whatsoever.
Q: Am looking forward to NBA live in London this year as I actually got a ticket. Not sure who will be coming over though as both the Bulls and the Jazz are in a period of roster transition it looks like.
Any chance of the Raps coming to England in the near future?
Anyway on to the main question: You rate BC's move this week as the greatest by a GM in team history, what are the top 3 then? I would put re-signing Vince up there but couldn't come up with a third. Anyhow thanks for being so great with keeping us all up to date with a wild, wild week. Let the best season in team history begin.
Leon R, Cambridge, U.K.
A: Man, I’d be all over camp or a pre-season game in London, and the Raps know it, too. I bet, with this roster, we’re in Europe somewhere in 2010 or 2011 at the latest.
Anyway, top three:
The week they got Vince and AD and Alvin and JYD to re-sign
The third would be three years ago when they got Bosh to re-sign to a franchise that was, frankly, nowhere and coming off a 27-win season that showed very little promise.
Q: Some suggest that Bargnani's defensive problems in years 1 & 2 were because he grew up in the international game with more pushing/clutching. In his 2nd summer off, Andrea skips the national team to go to a big man camp and voila! he can play defense. Is there a chance his joining the Italians this summer causes him to regress back to the guy who gets 2 fouls in the 1st quarter? You've said experience playing is best, but I don't want him learning old habits.
Paul C, Grassy Narrows
A: He didn’t play for his national team the summer before his rookie season; the argument loses some steam there. And it wasn’t his defensive woes that were the huge worry in Year 2, it’s that he couldn’t shoot, couldn’t drive and had no post game.
There’s always a chance at him regressing, I guess; as much a chance as there is of him showing the same improvement season-to-season that he did month-to-month last season.
Q: Hey Doug, what is the importance of the summer league? Can you explain its value, to a team what the main purpose it is there for?
Ahmed B, Toronto
A: In a nutshell, it’s a good way for coaches to get a jump on teaching stuff (plays, defensive principles, etc) to rookies; it’s good for GMs to keep tabs on guys they might have an interest in as a last resort or during the 10-day signing period. It’s okay for players to be seen.
But I warn you: The adage that “you can’t tell who can play in the summer league, only who can’t” is quite true.
Q: Hi Doug, just wondering why Anthony Parker decided to sign with Cleveland when there was a chance that he could have returned to the Raps? Was it for money or the fact that he could play for a title contender with LeBron? I thought that he really enjoyed playing in Toronto and that this might have outweighed the other factors. Thanks!
Raquel R, Halifax.
A: I haven’t had a chance to talk personally to Anthony but the uncertainty in Toronto (remember, he committed to Cleveland before the four-way deal was even close to done) probably had something to do with it. It’s better to have a deal in hand rather than hope one materializes.
Q: This may well have been asked and answered recently, however there is a very real chance I might have missed it due to the sheer volume of comments lately... it is almost like plowing through "War and Peace" some days on the blog! (though thankfully without the confusingly similar Russian names). Anyway, to the point and the question: Does Bryan Colangelo and his own team of advisors have total autonomy over player transactions or is there, in whatever cursory fashion, an expectation for him to inform, if not get authorization, from the bosses? And if he indeed can act independently without ownership approval, is this standard around the league or a matter negotiated at the time of the GM's own contract?
Lorie P, London
A: It’s not “total autonomy” but it’s close. He’d keep his bosses – and that’s the board – apprised of what he’s doing but once they approve his budget, he’s pretty free to do as he pleases. Of course, it makes political sense in a big corporation to let the bigwigs in on what you’re contemplating.
But, for instance, he wouldn’t have had to call anyone before making the offer to Jarrett Jack, he probably would have told the board in someway what he was cooking up with Hedo and Bargnani.
Q: Hey Doug, what is it that the Raptors don't like about Pops?
Nick R, Mississauga
A: This is for all the Pops lovers out there and I’m sorry if it bores the people who’ve read the dozen or so responses I’ve already made on this topic.
It’s not that they “don’t like” him, they like other players better.
Pops’ drawbacks: He’s 26 with no offensive game, a good offensive rebounder who has a tough time finishing (go watch film, see how many of his offensive boards come off his own misses) and a very average defensive rebounder. He’s 26, much closer to 6-6 than 6-10 and at best, on this team, he’d be the fifth big, maybe sixth.
He was an okay contributor for 19 games (Raps were 10-9 in that time) on a team that won 33 games, it’s not like he was even a 20-minute a night guy on a playoff team.
Really, I hope he has a long and fruitful NBA career ‘cause he’s a good guy; I just cannot see how it’ll be here and no one in the organization I’ve talked to all summer has ever mentioned his name.
Q: Hey Doug. With teams not willing to spend much money this summer, what will happen to guys who can't find teams willing to give them minimum salaries? Will they get substantial offers in Europe or what?
Omar S, Niagara Falls
A: As we’ve been saying for weeks, a lot of veterans will be working on minimum or close to minimum value contracts. If they can’t find those, Europe might be an option, so would sitting around until February to see if teams have interest then.
Q: Doug, assuming Indy doesn't match the offer and the Raps bring back Delfino and Rasho, there are 2 big issues I'm hoping you can shed some light on:
1) Finances. The payroll is at $58m already. Jack and Delfino will get multi-year deals so even before factoring in Rasho's potential multi-year deal (I'm assuming he won't come for 1 year), we're dangerously close to a reduced tax threshold next summer. I know trades can be made, but there's no guarantee it will happen.
2) Playing time. We'll have 15 players under contract (including Douby). Jack and Calderon will take all of the PG minutes, which will stunt Ukic's growth. The fact that Jack will be on a multi-year deal is worse for Ukic. Hedo will get his 38min. That leaves 58min between DeRozan, Delfino and Wright (assuming George gets the short-end). How much time will DD realistically get? Jay himself said a few weeks ago that rookies need to play to develop. 10min a game won't cut it.
Jay B, Toronto
A: The tax question is an interesting one because it’s so much uncharted waters. But they do have some contracts that expire after next season (George, Wright, Douby, O’Bryant come quickly to mind) and they’ve run the numbers often enough they are okay with what they’ve done.
Minutes? That’s something to be worked out at training camp but a scenario whereby DeRozan gets 15-16 a night starting each half has been suggested by Jay.
Q: What determines if a free agent is restricted or not? Can you also explain what the bird exemption is?
Chris R, Burlington
A: In the simplest of terms, a restricted free agent is a first-round draft pick coming off his rookie scale contract or a veteran who has been in the league for three or fewer seasons.
The Bird rights exception is for a player with a contract of at least three years who becomes a free agent and it allows his original team to sign him without regard for the salary cap. It allows teams to keep their best players, if they like.
Q: Hi Doug, Quick question on BC's handiwork so far the last week? Have the Raps improved materially (i.e. a potential 4th or 5th in the Eastern Conference in the 09-10 season)? I know a whole lot of shoes are still to drop around the league this off-season, but give us Raps fans some high level thoughts around whether or not the Raps are going back in the right direction. Thanks.
Andrew J, London, England
A: Absolutely going in the right direction, they have more good players. Where that puts them in the East is impossible to tell.
But I don’t think they were far off No. 4 or 5 in last month of last season.
Q: Looking at what has been done over the course of the offseason, where do you see the Raptors heading stylistically? Are they still a run and gun team, Euro-style team, or something else?
Evan G, Thornhill
A: I think you’ll see them like you did at the end of last year, a team that likes to push the ball in transition and look for early offence but one that doesn’t necessarily want to shoot in something silly like seven seconds because they’ll have a very potent offence predicated on the high screen-and-roll.
Q: Really liked the Jack signing, great fit with Jose.
I believe the rule is that you can’t trade consecutive year 1st round picks. So by trading the "protected" 1st to Miami BC can't trade another 1st round pick till it's used or conditions are taking off, correct? Does this not really hamper what the Raps can give up in a trade.
Mike P, Thornhill
A: Not really. It involves only “future picks” and since the known protection exists, if Bryan wants to trade next year’s first round pick, if he’s got one, he can.
Q: Hi Doug, I like most of what the Raptors are doing, but I also have some concerns. I don't think you get one tough guy, then say your team is tougher. Same thing with the athleticism this team badly needs, I just think these attributes should be across the broad, and not just a one player thing.
My main concern Doug is our defence, we still haven't addressed that in any serious manner. Evans may be above average defensively and a great rebounder, but he not the second coming of Rodman.
We all know our team is fill with very gifted offensive players, who pretends like they play defence (mainly Bosh). It would be good if this was football with separate offence and defence, but we are not that lucky. We got rid of our two best defenders in Marion and I don't hear anyone talking about Joey so I assume he is gone.
As they say offence wins games, but defence wins championships. It's ok to play game defence, but still got to have the desire to want to do it. Where is our defence going to come from.
Looking forward to your reply Doug. Until next time PEACE out.
Desburn S, Brampton
A: Sure, defence is a concern, no question.
Where’s it improve? Well, they hope Jose is better – and I think that’s a fair assumption given he’ll be able to move laterally and side-to-side and not be bothered by the sore groin.
They expect their team defensive scheme to be better given they’ll put it in during training camp and be able to work on it from the start.
Will they be among the best defensive teams in the league? Not a chance.
Will they be improved over last year? They expect to be.
Is it something to get all up in arms about in July? I don’t think so.
Q: I was just wondering, why are teams so careful when offering an offer sheet? Is there some sort of penalty if you sign a player to an offer sheet and the team with his rights match? I was never able to figure out why teams are very careful when signing players to offer sheets.
Zayr A, Mississauga
A: Not a penalty, as such. But while the offer is being considered, a team’s cap space is effectively tied up for up to seven days, meaning they really can’t do anything else with free agents.
Most teams, when they make offers, are able to predict what the players’ original team is going to do.