A rather full mailbag for a lovely Sunday morn
Well, you folks have done it again. And, in one sure sign that the season’s approaching, there are a couple in here about trades they should explore.
Have at it, folks. I’ll be back in the morning. There’s a big Yankee end-of-the-season/summer buntoss this aternoon, no telling what kind of antics the urchins will get up to so there’s no telling when I’ll be back to check comments. -
Q: Dear Doug, thanks for taking through the Doug days of the Summer. It's been a great wake-up to read about our national teams and the odd tidbit from the Pros plus the family news.
I have a list and a question.
The list is the top ten Canadian contributors to the game.
The Edmonton Grads.
Honorable Americans: Jack Donohue, Steve Konchalski, Brian Heeney.
Three years ago (1 BC), I asked whether the internationals would beat the Americans in a Raptor inter-squad game.
I'm asking the same question with regard to this year's roster.
Frank B, Toronto
A: That, my man, is a heckuva list. I don’t know how I’d change it myself but the one name that I think should be there that isn’t is Bev Smith. But, again, I’m not sure who she replaces.
Anyway, if I was gambling man, I’d take Jose, Belinelli, Hedo, Bargnani and Rasho over Jack, DeRozan, Wright, Bosh and Johnson.
But I doubt we’d ever see it, I don’t imagine the coaches would want to separate them into those kinds of groups; they’d rather just have teammates rather than delineate based on nationality. Still, it’d be some game, I bet.
Q: Hi Doug - I'm wondering if you have any details regarding this Air Canada charter flight ban, and how it might affect the Raptors' upcoming season? What are the chances you'll find someone like Bosh seating beside you in economy on road trips?
Terence G, Mississauga
A: I’ve spoken to a couple of people at the Raptors who are directly involved in their travel arrangements and they think it could be a huge mess. However, their first trip that would involve any travel city to city in the United States isn’t until the second week of November so they hope saner heads will prevail. If the NHL, whose season starts about a month earlier, gets some kind of resolution, it’s expected the NBA would, too.
Q: Hi Doug. With the NBA referees expecting to lock out next month. How do you see this affecting the negotiations for the CBA next year. and how do you see it affecting the quality of NBA games next season?
I remember the refs last year got a lot of criticism with some questionable calls and most of them had years of experience, I just can't see rookie refs handling the situation in the NBA very well especially under the pressure of multimillionaire superstars who think they’ve never committed a foul in their lives.
Rob H, Victoria
A: I think it’s obvious the NBA will be looking for financial concessions from the players as the CBA discussions continue, just as it’s asking for concessions from the refs now. I’m not sure, however, that this one will have a direct impact on those other talks.
I will say this: We watched replacement refs work the last time there was a work stoppage (two months in 1995) and it was not a pretty sight.
There may issues with some in the current group of 61 NBA officials but you’ll see any number of weirder and worse calls with replacements.
Q: With all this Michael Jordan talk, and whether he was the best ever, I started thinking of his impact on the NBA as a popular sport. My question for you is, do you think Toronto would have been offered a franchise when it was if not for Jordan's impact on the NBA's popularity?
Charlie D, Montreal
A: Kind of a chicken-and-egg situation, isn’t it? Sure, Jordan – and Magic and Larry – created unimaginable global interest in the game and that made more people want to be involved, which led to expansion here. But, I also think the law of inevitable discovery would apply here: As the NBA searched for new cities in its due course of business, it would have found Toronto.
Q: Hi Doug. I recall a few months ago (maybe more) you had done a list of the five best Raptor trades ever (and the five worst). I'm guessing that after this summer you have to totally revamp that list. Care to?
Sohail G, Toronto
A: I probably will have to revamp that list – once I find it – but I’m going to reserve judgement until these guys play some games. But I’d imagine the Turkoglu trade would get in that list, maybe the Belinelli one if he pans out. The Evans deal? I’m not sure. But don’t forget a lot of these moves – Jack, Rasho in particular – were signings, not trades.
Q: You asked for some mail bag questions, so here's what I've always wondered. It's been well documented that the referee's around the league would often make calls more in favour of Michael Jordan then they maybe would have if the player was wearing a number other then 23 with the name Jordan on the back.
My question is what is your sense of how the media treated Michael Jordan preferentially during his career? We know about his gambling, marital difficulties, and there are hints of other indiscretions. Were these issues held out of the spotlight more because he was Michael Jordan, or did the media just not know the extent of those issues while they were going on?
Peter L, Toronto
A: If you know about them, how were they “held out of the spotlight?”
I don’t think there was much we didn’t find out about Jordan; in fact, I’d suggest we knew more about his off-court interests than we did with a lot of other stars of the game.
Q: Love that little side-story on the Admiral, one of my favourite players of all time. Just a question, when he stood at military attention for the national anthem did that include both anthems when he played the Raps?
T Y, Toronto
A: It is my recollection that yes, he did.
Q: With the Hall of Fame Inductions this week it got me thinking about a potential list. How about a list of the 'Best Players Not in the Hall', who are eligible but have been over looked?
In the past I had asked if you thought Dennis Rodman was worthy of the hall and you said you did not, but how can you leave out a 5-Time NBA Champion, 2 time Defensive Player of the Year, All-NBA Third Team twice, a 7 Time All-Defensive First Team selection, as well as two time All-Star?
I completely agree that Rodman's antics of the court were at times disgraceful to the game and less than Hall-of-Fame worthy behaviour, but the Hall of Fame has members who have done far more heinous and criminal acts than Dennis Rodman.
Any chance I'll ever see the day he is enshrined, or at least given the respect his effort and talent deserves?
Marc D, Barrie
A: It’s generally considered that Artis Gilmore is the most worthy Hall of Famer who isn’t in yet and I’d concur with that.
Rodman? I honestly don’t know. Yes, he was a great defensive player and one of the best rebounders we’ll see and he was on a lot of very good teams. But is being good at one thing enough to get someone into a Hall of Fame? It isn’t in my books.
Q: Hey Doug, in terms of what's next for Basketball Canada, i find myself in agreement with you. Canada has little chance of contending at the World Championship's next year in Turkey, and it might be best to cast an eye towards qualifying for the 1212 London games, and the next World's. I'd like to see Canada field a young team next summer and continue to allow for some players to get some much needed experience so that Canada will truly be in a position to compete at these crucial games on the horizon.
Part of planning for the future means dealing with life without Steve Nash. Don't get anyone wrong, if you add a 2-time MVP to your lineup, he'll be a tremendous help, but Nash has made it crystal clear that his time with the national team is over. Some fan's obsession with Nash's participation is bordering on unhealthy. The guy already dedicated himself to the program for a decade, and at his age and health, if he wants to devote himself to finally winning an NBA championship, then all the power to him.
Imagine if other Canadian basketball players had the same attitude as Nash did? I waited to see Magloire play for Canada since he signed his intent to Kentucky, but I gave up on that long ago. Bonner's outside shooting could help but only with the future in mind. After last summer's meltdown between Dalembert and Leo, I don't think we'll be seeing Samuel anytime soon. Denham Brown and Juan Mendez's days are also over. Time to put these thoughts to bed. I know I'll miss guys like Rowan Barret and Todd MacCulloch but it's time to move on.
The key for Canadian basketball in the coming years will be to see more Canadian players playing in the top European leagues, let alone the NBA. Sounds like there are some prospects coming up but they’re still too young, and might not even be able to contribute significantly until at least the next worlds.
Do you know of any prospects coming up that could fill-in the gap? If so, we might have a nice mix of veterans and youngsters.
Thanks for all your coverage of the team, and to The Score for showing the games. I know I, and a lot of others, appreciated it.
A: There are actually quite a few good, young teenagers out there who, if they continue to improve, will have a major impact on the senior program. I really like this Manny Arop kid, along with the guard Myck Kabongo who spent some time with the senior team this year. This Tristan Thompson’s another name to watch for, I’m told.
But the thing that’s going to be hugely important as kids get out of college and look for jobs is that they get with good EuroLeague teams so they face quality competition all the time.
Q: Congrats to team Canada for making next summer World's ... Question do you think this accomplishment will result in Canada Basketball renewing Leo Rautin's contract or did they already have their minds made up and it didn't matter what Canada did this summer .. Would you extend his contract?
Gaetano D, Etobicoke
A: Leo’s contract, which he agreed to much earlier this year, was for this summer with an option for next and I cannot envision Canada Basketball not exercising that option given the success at the qualifier.
After next summer? Well, that’s when they’ll have some tough decisions to make.
Q: Doug, will the Raps invite any additional players to training camp this year? Or will camp only include the 15 signed guys?
Graham D, Toronto
A: I haven’t heard of any plans to fill out a camp roster with guys with no chance to make the team.
That could change in the next couple of weeks but I kind of doubt it.
Q: Doug, I've been reading about a possible exhibition game with the Raptors playing Buffalo in 2010. The game would be part of a celebration to honor Bob McAdoo, Randy Smith, and the Buffalo Braves, with the raising of a banner in HSBC Arena. Any word about this from Toronto or the Raptors brass?
Chris W, Michigan
A: I asked about this during the week and was told that, yes, they are looking at Buffalo for a pre-season game next year but nothing has been finalized and there’s no word on whether it would be sued to honour the old Braves or not. That, to me, would make sense.
Q: Do you expect all of the Raptors to make the trip to London for their pre-season game against the Sixer's on Oct 6th? And if the big guns (Bosh, Bargnani, Calderon and Turkoglu) come down the 401, can we expect them to play more than a quarter? It would be smart for the Raptors to bring their 'A-squad' to London?
Andy L, London
A: Yes, it’s their first pre-season game so, barring injury, everyone will be there and play. But, be forewarned, because it’s the first game, I wouldn’t expect the starters to get more than a quarter, maybe a half, of playing time.
Q: By all accounts Andrea did not perform well for Team Italy this summer and was raked over the coals in the Italian press. This has added to my conviction that the Raps will never win with him in the middle, but I also believe management is too fond of him to end the experiment. I'm sure you disagree, but I'd like your view on what sort of market there would be for Bargnani.
Gary M, Ottawa
A: I don’t know and we’ll never find out because, having just given him a $50 million contract extension, there is no way they’d consider dealing him.
And, yes, I disagree wholeheartedly with your conviction – seems to me they won pretty well with him in his first two years, both playoff seasons – and what he did or didn’t do in, what, a dozen games tops with the national team has no bearing whatsoever on the coming NBA season.
Q: Doug, what's your thoughts on Juan Carlos Navarro's (post-Iverson) free-agency. Could this not pave the way for a mass Barcelona exodus in 2010 with Rubio?
Ben H, Ancaster
A: Juan Carlos Navarro is not any NBA team’s radar right now, I’m told; and I cannot imagine he will be when he’s two years older.
Q: Is there any logical sense in making a trade with Bosh sooner rather than later? Before the media just destroys his spirit and the team spirit throughout the year with, "Are you staying or leaving CB? “
The team has vastly improved and two players plus a pick or two may make it worthwhile. Love the guy think he is great but kinda doubt he'll be back.
From what you've said I think you'll just say no. But it does kinda make sense to get it over with and get our team chemistry moving the right way...the future is bright! And a deal could make it brighter...no?
It opens up the ball to other people. like Bargnani and could lead us into a big year next season. I am not really looking for a yes or no just an exploration on the topic.
Something for these slow days before camp. Thanx.
Blake J, Peterborough
A: No, no logical sense at all in my opinion in trading a 25-year-old perennial all-star who needs to have a big season to capitalize on his impending free agency.
And who says he’s going? He certainly hasn’t and, in fact, I think the general consensus is now that there’s every chance he will re-sign here if the team continues to improve. Something, I’ll add, that’s been a consistent opinion here for a year.
Q: Hi Doug, I love reading your blog and your insights on the game and the Raptors.
I have a question on Carl English's absence from Canada's last two games at the FIBA Americas tournament.
I have not been able to get any concrete information around this issue but I've heard he had to leave to attend to personal issues at home. However, I've also heard that he was dismissed from the team and sent home for disciplinary issues.
Do you have any knowledge of what the actual situation was? Is this another Sam Dalembert scenario or is this just a rumour?
David P, St. John’s
A: I don’ t know where you heard anything about any disciplinary problems, it has to be somewhere where fiction is produced because it was, as everyone reported from the weekend he left, a family matter that took him away from Puerto Rico.
Q: Hey Doug, what new digs are there at the ACC?
Bob P, North York
A: There’s lots new. The highlight’s probably the outdoor plaza and huge HD screen that impressed me mightily when we saw it the other day. The bar at the top of the west end seems very cool, too. And there’s a new sound system in the bowl that sounded quite clear when we heard it, but there weren’t 19,000 fans screaming so I can’t attest to its clarity in a crowd.
Other than that? There’s nothing for the grunts, which was kind of disappointing.
Q: Hey Doug, I'm thinking about the Michael Jordan greatest of all time debate and it got me thinking.
Compare playing an 82 game season now with playing one 15 years ago. On average which season would have a higher overall quality of defenders at the starting SG position? In other words if you were to drop the same player into either season, which one would provide him with the most challenges from opposing team's defenders?
I know it's hard to say because offensive playing styles have changed and so on, but this is just for discussion sake.
David S, Toronto
A: I don’t think there’s any debate that today’s players are bigger, stronger, faster and just more overall athletic. Are they as smart or skilled in fundamentals as those 15 or 25 years ago? I’m not sure they are.
But I think it would be far harder for a regular schmoe from 15 years ago to have the same impact on the game today that he did back then.
Q: Question for you Doug : As with everyone, our jobs get a bit boring from time to time.
As a whole, what type of team would you rather cover? A team full of misfit characters and non-stop stories/quotes (Think Oak, Jalen, Vince's Mom, Rafer etc.) which make your life easier cause every practice is a story...or a boring championship caliber team (Think San Antonio in their 3rd championship year).
Chris D, Toronto
A: Oh, I’d take the crazies and unpredictables over the boring any old time.
We’ve got to write, win or lose, may as well have some, um, characters to write about.
Q: Hi Doug, just want to get my vote in for more NBA coverage (love the Raptors but definitely love the league and would love to see more. Used to love that full page weekly that I think you did which I believe has been "minimized" over the years).
Mike D, Cambridge
A: Yeah, it did get “minimized” and ultimately replaced by the old Nothin’ But (Inter)Net thing that preceded this little exercise. Maybe I’ll combine some more league stuff with the regular Raptors fare this coming season.
Q: Love reading your blog on the Raps. You bring your insight into the day-to-day goings on of my favourite team like no one else. With that in mind, I was kind of disappointed to hear you plan on making your blog more about the NBA in general.
The thing is, there are lots of places I go online to catch up on NBA news and get the latest scoop. But there's only one place I can always go to get really good Raptors info and insight on a consistent basis, and that's your blog. The more you write about the rest of the NBA, the less you write about the Raptors (unless you plan on doing twice as many posts). It's your unique place that no one else on the web can match.
So lump me in with those others at your office that think your column should be a Raptors blog and not an NBA one.
Ian M, Toronto
A: Oh, don’t worry; if we do more NBA stuff, it won’t be at the expense of the usual Raptors stuff. That remains the bread and butter.
Q: Do you know if the Raps are planning on having an intrasquad game at training camp in Ottawa this year? I went last year and really enjoyed it.
Thanks Doug and as always, keep up the good work!
Kyle S, Ottawa
A: I think they are, but I don’t have any firm details. It would be on the Saturday afternoon, Oct. 3, I believe it is; just before they head back to Toronto.
Q: The only reason Michael and co lost that Dome game to the Raps was that 3 of the starting five were in a downtown club until last call and then seemed to be heading out for more (I put them in a cab). Before leaving, they gave the 19 year old waitress some fake names at the hotel they were staying at. Does this have anything to do with the wink you wrote about?
Colin B, Bogota