More mail than you can wade through
My, oh my.
You folks certainly got the itch to write this week; this might be the biggest mailbag we’ve had in months. And there’s more to sprinkle in during the week.
But, while I’m out with The Mighty Yankees (two straight playoff victories, huge semifinal of the double-knockout tourney this morning) and then getting Super Son officially into his teens, here’s a whole whack of stuff to get you through the day.
Q: Since things seem to be quite slow these days, I'd thought I'll ask you a random question. In order to be a beat grunt for a newspaper, do you need to know detailed knowledge about every sport or would one sport suffice? For example, you are asked to talk about Golf and Football. Does the Star expect you to know all the players, the storylines, the plays, basically the intricacies of these sports? Or does a broad, generalized understanding of the sport get you by?
Dave R, Markham
A: When I’m asked to go cover something with which I’m not acutely familiar, like golf or football or – egad! the pucks – it’s implicit in the assignment that I have some idea of what’s going on with the team or the sport I’m covering.
My bosses may not expect me to break hard news from sources but they do expect me to come up with a solid, informative story. And I expect that of myself.
Q: I know you don't want to talk about one particular Canadian NBAer (aka Magliore) but do you not feel that the Raps should make, even a modicum of effort, to snag a native born / raised son to run the hardwood in TO?
Seems to me that there is a strong desire on the part of fans to see it happen. Nash might be out of the picture now with his new long term deal, but surely there is some way, or some how, that we can land a native son.
The way things shape up now we have a Euro Team and even a solitary Canuck at the bench, e.g. Carl English, Denham Brown, Sammy Dalembert, Jammal Magliore (oops, that name again) would fit the bill rather nicely.
Just a thought Doug, just a thought!
Frank K, Orillia
A: Ah, tokenism. Always a fine idea.
Let me put it this way, as it was put to me by a coach here and I honestly don’t remember which one it was:
Let’s say they sign a Canadian just because he’s a Canadian. Let’s say that guy can’t play. Let’s say every single day, someone asks the Canadian coach and the Canadian player why there is no playing time for the token Canadian.
You think the coach is ever going to say: “Well, he sits because he’s not good enough and we only signed him because a couple of fans were clamouring for a Canadian.”
And do you think the player is ever going to say: “Well, I’m only here because I’m a local but I’d love to play.”
Talk about unnecessary distractions.
And, outside of Nash, who with a Canadian passport can they legitimately consider as a possibility? Jamaal, who’d never get on the court and have to explain to all his buddies from his city why he isn’t playing? Or Dalembert, whose contract might be one of the worst in the league?
Not going to happen, shouldn’t happen and, if by happenstance there is some next wave of Canadian who is a legitimate NBAer and has a chance to sign here when he can contribute, I’m sure they’ll look at him.
Q: Granting that in basketball terms alone the Bellini acquisition seems like a good move, do you think the fact he's an Italian, and therefore might make Bargnani more comfortable, had any impact on the decision to trade for him?
Are we seeing a pattern here of the Raptors bringing in people to keep their stars happy a la Jarrett Jack for Chris Bosh? Will the Raps be picking up sidekicks for Calderon and Turkoglu next?
Geoff R, London
A: Bargnani got a five-year $50 million contract extension before the Belinelli trade, that’s what will make him comfortable, not having another Italian in the locker room.
And having seen how horrid the backup PG play was last year, Jack was purely a smart basketball move; the fact he was a roommate of Bosh’s six years ago is purely gravy and had nothing at all to do with the move
Q: Hi Doug.
Simon Fraser University will be competing in NCAA Division II next year with a view to full membership by the 2012-2013 academic year. What is your take on the issue?
According to this article, Steve Konchalski doesn't think too highly of the move, basically saying that if you're not moving to Division I, what’s the point?
I tend to agree. The top CIS teams seem hold their own against their U.S. counterparts who come up our way on their preseason tours (although from what I understand, many of the those teams play their bench players a lot more than in a regular season game) Sounds like the competition in Canada will be better than what SFU will get in Division II.
To be fair, the article mentions that SFU will benefit from the arrangement by playing schools that are closer and also by being able to dole out more scholarship money.
Warren Z, Toronto
A: I’m pretty much with Coach K on this one, too.
I guess the geographical issues are important but I don’t think CIS travel is too arduous. Plus, I’ve long been a proponent of all but the very, very best players sticking around to deepen the talent pool in Canada because countless Canadians who go south end up buried on benches, don’t improve and never really get the opportunities they expect.
As for scholarship money, it’s my understanding the ability to get grants-in-aid are much improved for Canadian kids who want – and should – stay home.
Q: Hey Doug, $3 million for Hakim Warrick next season seems like a nice deal for the Bucks. Do you know if he was on BC's radar?
Given their rebounding needs, I think his size and athleticism would've been a perfect fit in Toronto as the back-up SF. Plus, he's only now entering his prime years. Am I crying over spilled milk or did BC drop the ball on this young, affordable "asset"?
Nathan I, Montreal
A: Not so much spilled milk as milk that was impossible to obtain. Yes, Warrick would have been a nice fit but, as we’ve mentioned a couple of times here and there over the past few weeks, all Toronto has to offer anyone other than Carlos Delfino is a minimum-value contract. So while $3 million may seem like an affordable price, it was out of the realm of possibility here.
No balls were dropped.
Q: You wanted questions so I decided to finally send one in. It has to do with the Raptors wearing retro Huskies jerseys. Why are the Raps the only team in the league that don't wear retro jerseys?
Does it have anything to do with not owning the old designs or something of that nature? It seems to me that selling the old jerseys (especially from the first couple of seasons) would make MLSE a ton of money, and we all know they're not against that.
Zack H, Mississauga
P.S. I'm heading to Beantown at the end of the month to watch the Jays vs Red Sox, any suggestions for where I can stuff my face and enjoy a cold beverage?
A: Actually, I don’t believe they are the only team not to have a “retro” jersey but if you say so, I’ll just dispute it and take you at your word, it’s no big deal.
In fact, the Raptors have three jerseys – white, red and black – they have worn St. Patrick’s Day specials in the past and did trot out a Huskies version on opening night of the second season.
And when they trot out those Huskies jerseys again this year, I imagine it will be accompanied by the cha-ching of cash registers, which is like the MLSEL theme song.
Ah, a good P.S., too.
I’m not all that familiar with the area around Fenway but The Fours is a very good sports bar across the street from the Boston Garden or whatever it’s called now and I’d also suggest the area around the Cambridge Marriott as a good place to find sustenance and liquid refreshments.
Q: I know that everyone has been anticipating what BC is going to do with the final roster spot. Amazing, since we are talking about who the next "bench warmer" will be. But I wonder whether you think there is a chance for him to pull off one more slick move - such as buying out Marcus, giving away Roko and Patrick for a "song" (or a draft pick) - and then resigning some combination of Joey, Pops or Carlos?? Watching what BC has done this summer, it wouldn't surprise me to see him make such a move...what do you think?
Brenda C, Sault Ste. Marie
A: I don’t think there’s a “slick” move anywhere on the horizon but we have seen Bryan do all sorts of wild and crazy things this summer. But, realistically, they are looking at a third-string small forward or a fifth string big, it’s not like they have some magical roster move to make to obtain a rotation player.
Q: A non-Raptors question for you....
I was lucky enough to attend the University of Memphis a few years ago, and I was there when they opened FedEx Forum for the Grizz/ U of M Tigers. While there, it struck me how paranoid the fans were about the Grizz leaving Memphis, even as they were able to cheer for a playoff team in a new building.
Seeing how things are now playing out down there with all of the salary dumps and poor trades, and with the Grizz struggling off the floor as well, do you think the fans in Memphis are justified in their concern that the team will leave soon, or is it a case of the plight of the team being exaggerated to a certain degree?
Shaun G, Toronto
PS. If you are travelling to Memphis this year, make sure you stop in to Silky O'Sullivans to say hi to the goats and drink a Diver (possibly the most ridiculous drink ever made, served in a plastic bucket).
A: The Grizzlies are an interesting case at the moment.
They are absolutely for sale, a fact that owner Michael Heisley has made known for some time, but he says he only wants to see to someone who’ll keep the team there and as I know from friends down there, the cost of breaking the lease at the FedEx Forum is so prohibitive, it makes it virtually impossible to move the team now in any case.
But they’ve whacked scouts, dumped salary, pared costs and eliminated some staff so if there are any fans of the team left, I cannot imagine they feel too good about the product they’ll see on the court for the foreseeable future.
But a move? That’s not in the cards at the moment.
Good P.S., too. If Silky O’Sullivans is on the left side of Beal just as you walk up from the Forum I believe I may have been there one night on my way to B.B. King’s or some other jazz joint up the street. I have not, and probably never will, ordered a drink that comes in a pail, though.
Q: Okay, I don't know whether you're a hockey fan or not, but regardless, what is your take on this mess between Jim Balsillie, the NHL, and the city of Glendale and whoever else. I find it brings some excitement to the NHL when everything is dead and quiet.
Brandon M, Hamilton
A: Okay, let’s just say the pucks are far down on the “what I’m a fan of” list. I could probably name all 30 teams, I am virtually certain I couldn’t name one guy from each of them.
Anyway, I swing between mild interest and utter boredom with this never-ending court proceeding. I guess if you like court proceedings and the arcane process of a bankruptcy auction, it’d be something to read about every day but it seems to me that every headline and story is the same: Someone files some court papers, something gets delayed and Redfield T. Baum (who has one of the coolest names around) becomes more famous by the day.
And I’d venture to say, seeing your hometown, that you might have a vested interest in following it a tad more closely than I do.
Q: I just have a question regarding players' agents. Are they usually lawyers? How much do they usually earn? Why a player would choose a certain agent (is it money, reputation, etc?) Thanks
Baha W, Toronto
A: Agents aren’t, as a matter of course, lawyers but my experience is they will either have lawyers on staff or on some sort of retainer with their companies.
Their fees vary and I’d say the norm would be about four per cent of contract earnings and maybe five or more on outside endorsements. That’s as far as I know but, again, that is a deal struck between client and agent most times.
How the players choose representation also varies. It could be that an agent represents a friend of the player or a teammate; it may be an agent’s reputation is the drawing card and a lot of agents are out there soliciting clientele as soon as they can in the college and European ranks.
I presume “poaching” goes on more than we’re led to believe where a particularly aggressive or unscrupulous agent may try to take clients away from other agents and players may also want to change if they think “their guy” isn’t working hard enough for them.
I think you could say it’s a very cut-throat business.
Q: Doug, could you tell me what the difference is between a small forward and a shooting guard. I always thought that shooting guards focus is shooting on offense, and small forwards focus is slashing on offense. Although DeRozan is considered a shooting guard, from what I've seen though he seems a better slasher then a shooter. What attributes does a player need to be a shooting guard and small forward?
Chaz E, London, UK
A: You know what? There really isn’t much difference at all these days, which is why most GMs break rosters down into point guards, wings and bigs rather than guards, forwards and centres.
I guess, back in the day, it was thought that small forwards were bigger and more slashers than shooters while the shooting guards were better ball handlers and physically smaller. That’s not really the case today where the positions are interchangeable in most instances.
DeRozan? Like Antoine Wright, let’s call him a wing, rather than a guard or a forward.
Q: I realize the final backup forward spot may not be worth losing sleep over and play few minutes(though I worry about potential injuries). That said, if I understand correctly with Delfino now being unlikely they would only spend minimum dollars against this spot, correct ?. Do you think that with so many unemployed FA's they'll hold tight until September and pickup the best available bargain then?
Of those, which 3 names top your list? Thanks and enjoy lounging on your deck.
David C, Toronto
A: I do expect it to be at least the third week of August before they finalize anything and a lot of it will have to do with who’s still looking for jobs. I also think there’s a small chance they may wait until much, much closer to camp – like the third week of September – before they do anything.
I think in a perfect world, they’d sign someone on a one-year, non-guaranteed contract so they would have some roster flexibility at no additional cost during the season.
As for a September list, check back in September.
Q: Hey Doug, what differences do you think we will see this year on the defensive side with Iavaroni coaching. Do you think we'll see varied zones and see them used more often? More of the "stuffing the paint" philosophy Jay talked about last year? Or do you think we'll see standard D but with an emphasis on, you know, doing it better.
Alex L, Sudbury
A: I think you’ll see the same kind of defensive principles that were there in the final 60 games of last season – no middle, forcing guys baseline – only with more time to work on them. They changed courses in mid-stream last year and with an entire pre-season and training camp to work on it, they hope they will, you know, do it better.
Q: Hey Doug, I know this is a late time to ask this question since the trades have already happened and the raps have their roster pretty much set but I was wondering when the Clippers had Randolph, Camby, and Kaman all on the roster and were obviously wanting to trade 1 or 2 of them, were the Raps talking to them about Camby at all?
I still remember his UMASS days and loved him as a Rap, he was a BEAST last yr on the boards and considering we could use a beast or 2 out there on the glass did we kick the tires at least? What do you think it would have cost to get him here?
Only thing I can think of is that they didn’t want to take significant minutes away from Bargs but I think he would of solved more problems than created. Thanks
Peter T, Toronto
A: It has nothing to do with Bargnani and minutes and everything to do with the fact Marcus has a contract that pays him more than $9.5 million this season. They had no legitimate talks whatsoever.
Q: I wanted to know if Jarrett Jack would be better defensively than Calderon. I haven't seen much of Jarrett Jack but I heard he can play some D. Also is there a chance for Jack to make the starting 5 at any point in the season?
Ahsan Q, Mississauga .
A: Barring injury, Jack is a backup and the plan is for him to be that all season.
As for his defensive abilities, he’s probably stronger and a bit tougher than Jose so if that fits your criteria as better, yeah, he is.
Q: From watching some game footage of Bargnani playing for the Italian National Team it seems that he is very lethargic and out of shape. Do you think he is just tired from the long NBA season or has he been taking it too easy this offseason after securing his extension?
Amul G, Markham
A: What do I think? I think this is hilarious. And I think it’s high time the season started.
You’ve seen, what, a couple minutes of a game here or there on youtube or some grainy website footage and you have him as “very lethargic and out of shape?” Holy snap to judgement, Batman.
I think you’re wrong, having seen him in person here not a month ago he actually looked good and healthy. And having spoken to people who’ve seen him actually play full games and work in practice, he’s fine.
Q: I have 2 questions for you!
1.) Why not do more interviews/shows with RapsTV or the Fan590 or TSN etc. You seem to be one of the more informative writers and one with the most knowledge about the Raps and NBA. Michael Grange seems to get on these shows all the time and he rarely has anything smart to say about any sport let alone BBALL.
My 2nd Question is, Do you think NBA rookies( DeRozan) would respond better to a guy like Sam Mitchell who is hard-nosed and makes you play perfect ball to get playing time and learn the NBA from that point of view?
Or do you think more players would respond to Jay's approach to DeRozan, which is the kid will start and have opportunity but will not be guaranteed big minutes?
Derek C, Orillia
A: I believe there are CRTC regulations concerning the number of times this mug is allowed on the air but thanks. M Grange ™ is pretty good, give him a shot.
I don’t know DeRozan well enough to be able to say how he’ll respond to whatever style of coaching he gets. But good coaches are able to get production out of players with diverse personalities. Look at Sam, for instance, and Jay. Sam got good work out of Mo Pete, who was a veteran at the time he had him, and he developed a kid like Jose. Jay got solid production out of Andrea by coaching him one way but coached Shawn just as well; two very different personalities. Good coaches adapt, it’s not up to the player.
Q: As the roster stands now when Jay draws up a play at the end of the game for one two point shot to win, please give us your order as to who he wants to shoot. I will go with: 1) Turkoglu 2) Bosh 3) Calderon 4) Bargnani 5) Jack Thanks Doug!
Mike F, Cambridge
A: Entirely unanswerable question.
Who’s being guarded by who?
What’s the officiating been like?
Your guess is as good as anyone’s.
Q: I noticed recently that Team Canada is having some funding issues in regards to their NEDA program and it would be such a shame to lose that; especially since it's showing some results with the boys finishing in the top 8 and the girls in the top 4 in their respective U19 tournaments.
I was thinking of ways that they could come up with the money and then an idea popped in my head: I remember watching Argentina playing in the Olympics and they had 'Visa' splashed all over the front of their jerseys. I'm assuming that they get some sort of financial compensation for that advertising and so I thought why not for Team Canada?
Why not call up 'Master Card' or some other company to put their name on our jerseys? Getting funding is such a struggle for Canada Basketball that I would understand and not mind it at all. Also, are there other national teams besides Argentina that do this? Do you think NBA teams will ever do this like Euroleague teams do?
Marcus M, Vancouver
A: Finding corporate sponsorships is the best way to fund programs but the trouble is, corporations want something for their investment and, quite frankly, the national senior teams haven’t done anything of substance in the last half decade to warrant getting some big-bucks deal.
I know they’re trying hard to drum up support – the days of living off Sport Canada grants are dead and gone – but until they’ve got something to take to companies, it’s a hard sell.
And, yes, I think the days of corporate logos or names on NBA jerseys is coming, perhaps sooner than you think. The league’s already given teams permission to sell sponsorship on practice jerseys, doing the same for game jerseys is inevitable.
Q: Ask and you shall receive, Mr. Smith. I had asked this a little while ago, but perhaps now that rosters are slightly more set through out the league, who do you see as taking the biggest fall this year? With so many teams having improved, one would have to assume that just as many teams will have suffered, through out the course of the off-season. Who’s at the bottom of the barrel of the NBA supremacy charts?
Joey H, Toronto
A: Biggest fall? Very hard to say, virtually impossible, actually. But I don’t like what Philly’s done among playoff teams from last year and Nets have done very little to improve their chances of sneaking into the post-season, I don’t think.
But, again, we have to wait to see how it plays out once the teams get on the court.
Q: Great job trying to keep the blog alive while through the summer months, we appreciate it. Quick question - why do you think Sam Mitchell doesn't have a coaching job right now? Throughout the season, many put him as a front-runner to become the next Wolves coach, but that speculation simmered down pretty quickly once the search began. Has he been linked with any other jobs? I wonder if he's more concerned on building his TV career or if there just isn't much interest out there for him. Frankly, I don't care where Smitch ends up, just let it be somewhere so the folks at MLSE can save some money. Your thoughts?
Hooman M, Toronto
A: How nice of you to want to save money for the organization, especially since it has absolutely nothing to do with player or coaching personnel. I guess MLSEL needs the extra cash.
I presume Sam didn’t get a job – like Avery Johnson didn’t get a job, and Doug Collins didn’t get a job and Jeff Van Gundy didn’t get a job and several others didn’t get jobs is that teams went in other directions, as sometimes happens.
The speculation in Minnesota went long after the search began, actually. And it’s apparent they are looking for someone who would command less salary and has less experience.
Q: Are pre season games in Sioux Falls & London part of "future considerations" when teams make trades. I haven't heard the term in a while but I've often wondered (usually in August when there's nothing else going on) what "future considerations" consist of.
Aftab R, Brampton
A: No, not really “future considerations” per se, as payoffs for prior transactions but the fact Toronto’s going to Sioux Falls to face Minnesota probably means if the Raptors need a team to go to, say, Ottawa some year, they could call the Timberwolves and say, ‘hey, remember what we did for you?’
Q: Just doing my part to help fill the mail bag and thanks for keeping us posted with this very busy off season.
With the addition of O'Neal last year resulting in a duplication if you will, with Chris Bosh. Occupying the same space and not giving Bosh room to do his thing. Do you see a possible repeat with the addition of Hedo for Bargnani? We all know Andrea likes to play away from the basket. Drawing centers away from the paint and creating more space for Bosh but, from what I can remember, Andrea would get most of his points taking mid range to 3pt jumpers, driving to the basket or in transition.
Now that Hedo is here, wouldn't he be doing much of the same thus getting Andrea less touches? I know we would all like to see Andrea improve his game in the paint and be just as effective as he is from beyond or just inside the arc but I'm fearful that he may regress from the lack of touches causing a lack of confidence. eg. the dreaded 2nd season.
Your comments please. Sorry for the lengthy question. However, we are in the dog days of summer. Thanks!
Anthony R, Milton
A: I don’t see it as an issue, as a matter of fact. Most of Bargnani’s stuff last year came off high screen and roll action with Calderon, right? Well, why can’t they run high screen and roll with Turkoglu and put Jose in the corner in the space formerly occupied by AP?
Of course, Bargnani has to work on his low post game to expand his offensive arsenal and he is doing that with the Italian team and with the Raptors coaches who’ll work with him in the summer but as for he and Turkoglu “getting in each other’s way,” I think Jay can design sets where that’s not a problem.