Here's your regular Sunday morning fare
Good morning, folks.
Pretty good job again, even if we did lose a day or so because of a little interweb blip.
Some good stuff here, though, that’ll get you through until the usual in-game blog returns for the 12:30 start.
See you then.
Q: Hi Doug. Just read Rosie Dimanno's column about the challenges of suffering the slings and arrows of outrageous readers. http://www.thestar.com/news/article/750024--dimanno-they-don-t-shut-up-why-must-i?bn=1
While few of us put ourselves out there, inviting the volume of comment and feedback that you do, many of us have found ourselves on the receiving end of a sharp email at one time or another.
I was wondering if you could share some of your strategies on how you are able to read some of the venom laced missives and not totally lose it or become so cynical or hardened that you stop listening when even good suggestions come in.
I think this would be a good skill to have in an era where as Rosie describes, people can spout off and send emails without a thought.
Richard Y, Kincardine
A: The strategy, mostly, is to try mightily to ignore those kinds of notes, consider the sources and live with the knowledge that some people are – frankly – sometimes simply mean.
But, to tell you the truth, it’s hard. Very hard sometimes not to fire back but it plays into their hands, perhaps gives them a sense of legitimacy and makes them feel like they’ve accomplished something.
If you do this kind of thing you do put yourself out there and open the door for people with no sense of decency and anonymity I can’t possibly have. Which is really unfair but what can you do?
In some cases, perhaps I’ll write something but not send it, go get coffee or walk the dog and come back and delete it.
It tries a man’s patience, that’s for sure.
Q: Hi Doug. What advice would you give a basketball coach working with 10 and 11 year old boys and girls?
If you ever get the chance, maybe you could ask some Raptors (players and coaches) to offer advice to young players and their coaches. This request doesn't need to be answered any time soon. But, maybe advice from the pros could be included in your blog somewhere down the road.
Thanks for all the time and effort you put into it.
Will R, Toronto
A: I will see when I can get to ask a player or a coach but I honestly believe they will offer much the same advice I’m going to: Teach them all to do everything, to dribble, to pass, to shoot, to rebound. Don’t ever pigeon-hole any of them because of something like size and athletic ability. Let everyone do a bit of everything.
And I will add this personal advice, which I offer to Mighty Yankees at the start of every season: Respect the game. It was here long before you arrived and will be here long after you’re gone. Enjoy it, have fun, but treat it right. Don’t cheat yourself or your teammates or the game by loafing or not trying your best.
It’s doubtful that anyone you know will make a dime off basketball, or baseball in my case, and they need to enjoy the game because it’s a game. One that, if treated well, will give them decades of enjoyment.
Q: Sorry for you loss. Even the ones expected hurt.
A non-rant, non-Raptor question for a bit of a change.
When I read the AP report, I often wonder who writes it. Could you enlighten us on the ones from the 'wire' work? (as in, are they sometimes your words?)
Bruce M, Winnipeg
A: The Canadian Press, which has sadly moved The First Lady Of The Beat on to the Olympics right now, generally uses a stringer to write Raptors game stories now, either veterans of the business picking up some work in their dotage or kids trying to break in. The AP has staffers in each city that cover most games but also have stringers every now and then; they do have a “regular” guy here in Toronto.
And I know they are anonymous but that’s on the papers that use their stuff, each wire story that’s transmitted has a byline on it, the papers generally strip them off.
Because The Star is a member of CP, and by extension AP, they get our stuff as a matter of course but only use in rare instances, like from an off-day practice when they want to move a Raptors story but aren’t staffing that day’s activities.
Q: Hey Doug, before the season started several teams axed parts of / their entire scouting department. Now that the season is half over, and some teams are performing above expectations, and some are spiralling downward in hurry. Is there any moves to hire back these scouts or are they staying with the freelance guys? And do you think any team has been particularly hurt by axing their scouts?
Brad L, Guelph
A: No, not really. In fact, I’d think that as teams drop far out of the loop they might cut back on advance scouting and the like.
Not sure if there’s been one hurt or helped; I presume there are cases to prove both sides. I know two teams that made cuts were the Nets and Grizzlies; New Jersey is horrible and Memphis is having a good year so I guess there’s no clear-cut answer.
Q: Hi Doug, One of my favorite ways of enduring winter is by planning The Summer Vacation. A quick look out the frosty, snow covered window by my desk says it is the perfect time to begin thinking about lazy, hazy summer roadtrips. A couple of years ago I began an excursion to some of the lighthouses located in the Great Lakes Region; this year I plan to visit those ones remaining on the list, and thought I might include a couple of side trips to some of the more historically notable ballparks in Southwestern Ontario. Excluding Labatt Park (very lovely and very historic - but too familiar for a resident of the city) here in London, can you don your baseball historian cap for a moment and suggest one or two parks that might be included in this year's expedition? Thanks!
Lorie P, London
A: Wow, it’s been more than a few years since I’ve been traversing the concession roads of the province, coaching and playing but …
I’ll give you a couple off the top of my head: You need to get our way and check out a game sitting on the hill at Christie Pits and, speaking for truly personal experience, if you don’t get to Oakes Park in Niagara Falls, I’ll be hurt (I kidd, but it’s a nice spot).
Just down the road from you in Tilsonburg, they’ve got a nice little yard in the middle of the town, too.
But you know what else is cool? Check the Ontario Baseball Association schedule in about May, find the various small town tournaments and simply drop by one, it’s a blast. You’ve got, I believe, Corunna and Strathroy up that way, I know they do a lot of stuff in Kingston and Ottawa; just pick one or two and spend a day watching games.
Q: Doug: You are right about what a mug's game it is to judge a specific trade.
Life is not linear. Especially the games in our lives. In baseball announcers sometimes say, "If he had not tried to steal and been thrown out then he would have scored on the next batter's triple". Really? MAYBE the next batter would not have seen the same pitch had the runner been on second base and therefore there would have been no triple. It is a logical fallacy to think we can know what would follow from a specific event had another course of action been taken.
On another score: Some of us have to make webcam presentations from time to time. What are the top lessons you have learned from your successful appearances in front of the computer webcam for Grunt TV?
Charles N, Toronto
A: I think “successful” may open for debate.
I’m still trying to figure it out, actually. I know looking directly into the camera works, it takes a bit of editing since you tend to look at the finger clicking it on before you speak. Getting the camera at eye level works best.
And lighting is big. A reading lamp just on the other side of the screen tends to work best, at least it does in this little escapade we’re trying.
Other than that? What I do is pretend I’m sitting on a stool talking to a friend rather than chatting into a laptop screen.
Q: Hello Doug. This is my first post anywhere ever! I'm excited, thanks for having me and, moreso, for providing this great blog.
My question to you:
Bryan Colangelo said last summer that he would wait until the summer trading/signings were done and then lay a full-court press on Bosh with a presentation on why he should resign with the Raptors.
I may have missed this, but did this meeting ever happen? I'm sure there have been countless informal discussions between BC, Bosh and agent, but was there ever a formal presentation and offer made like Bryan insinuated? Or is it possible that this idea was let go so as not to magnify the importance such a meeting and kind of back Bosh against a wall in the court of public opinion?
Vinny M, Toronto
A: To the best of my knowledge, and it’s something I’ve been sniffing around about all season, there has been no official offer, no exchange of paper, nothing of that sort. And I think it’s best, actually.
As you put it, there may be no need to magnify the importance of something like that; Bosh and his people know full well the Raptors want him and are prepared to make him a maximum value offer; the Raptors know that Bosh set himself up to have some flexibility this summer and it’s not summer yet.
Q: Hey Doug, I have a good question for thou. Say you're drafting a starting line up from scratch. And say every player available in every round is of equal skill, with all positions always being available. (So whoever you pick first would be a 90, next an 85 etc.) In which order would you pick your starting lineup? In other words rank the relative importance of each position in the lineup if you were to build a team.
David S, Toronto
A: With the way the game’s going these days, I’d be looking for a crazy athletic two-guard first, then a small forward, then a point guard, followed by a power forward than a centre.
I know that might be against the grain that says big is best but I’d want my team to be athletic and quick and able to play multiple positions, I think you get that most with the wings and point guard spot.
Q: Great work on the blog, keep it up.
Two questions; one Raptor, one non-Raptor related. Your comment about the Clips being only 3.5 out of a playoff spot got me thinking. First, I didn’t realize the Clippers are 3.5 out of a playoff spot. Are they that good or am I hallucinating?
If both Clippers and Lakers make the playoffs, and both are top 4 seeds (i.e. both had home court advantage) how will they decide who gets the Staples Centre?_I know it’s a long-shot scenario, but it’s a possibility the NBA needs to consider at some point, right?
Second, I read an interesting article yesterday (in G&M, I think) about the chances of the Raptors becoming an elite team, and the argument was made it is solely dependant on $$$, and specifically MLSE spending over the luxury tax to improve the team.
Any chance MLSE will step up with cash, or is it too much to expect the pension fund managers to want to spend more than they already are. The article seemed to hint that as long as they refuse to spend above the luxury tax threshold, the Raptors will never become a championship calibre team.
Lorne B, Toronto
A: No, I don’t think the Clippers are for real, at least not in the context of western conference playoff contention; if they did get to a Top 4 spot, it’d be easy to schedule games on alternate days at the arena or, as they do often in the regular season, play doubleheaders, one team at 12:30 p.m. and one at 7 p.m.
As for MLSE, I think they are going to have to face serious questions about spending more freely than they have; I also think teams can stay within the tax threshold and be legitimate contenders.
I don’t know how they think – I don’t think anyone does – but let’s say Bosh re-signs at a maximum value deal and they’re far over the cap. A full mid-level signing, which is all they’ve had to spend, could very well mean paying a tax but, in the right circumstances, they’d almost have to just to create a better, deeper team.
Will they? No one knows, they’ve never been in that situation before.
Q: Seeing Jonathan Bender in the game Friday night got me thinking:_Where does the Antonio Davis (in his absolute prime) for Jonathan Bender in 1999 rank in terms of all-time Raptors trades?
Brian S, Toronto
A: To me? Second only to Oak for Camby. Because the Vince-Antawn Jamison deal was so pre-arranged, I don’t count it as an actual transaction.
Q: Hi Doug. I was thinking about some elements that are required for success in basketball. It seems keeping a core together over a number of years is a key element for most of the elite teams in the league. Another element seems to be stability in the front office and coaching. It makes sense that players will listen to a coach more if they think he has the confidence of the GM. And that's even further solidified if the GM has the confidence of ownership. San Antonio and Utah quickly comes to mind as examples.
Do you think MLSE believes in this mantra? Or are they swayed too heavily by public opinion? In general, why don't we see this more often in the NBA?
Vincent L, Toronto
A: You don’t see it often because owners and GMs panic too often, they don’t let things develop because of financial pressure or the thought that someone else is better. Neither being all that astute in my opinion. Not sure if it’s pressure from fans or simple impatience. You’d like to think the folks at Maple Leaf Sports would take their lead from perennially successful franchises but it sure hasn’t been that way.
The fact the Raptors are now on coach No. 7 in 15 years and their fourth GM in the same time period suggests they have no interest in true continuity. Or that they make bad decisions.
Q: Doug if a defensive player takes a charge that leads to an offensive turnover are they credited with a steal? If not then why shouldn't they be? Thanks.
Mike K, London
A: As I understand it, they aren’t. And I can see why they should be.
Q: Question about reffing. You hear all the time the announcers saying "he won't get that call on the road" or "he's just a rookie - not going to get that call". Do you think the referees actually take these things into consideration when deciding whether or not to call fouls?
Penny D, Fredericton
A: No they don’t, I don’t think. The refs I know and respect – and you see quite a few of them in various Marriott concierge lounges over the course of the years – truly and honestly just make calls.
Q: There has been a lot of talk recently about back-to-back games and how they unfairly impact the team on the 2nd day of a back-to-back.
Why is it that in the NBA there seems to be few or no home-and-home series during the regular season? Home-and-homes are almost a feature in the NHL, and are by definition fairer to both teams. Surely they would be a positive introduction to the NBA schedule?
Thanks for the blog and your thoughts.
Brian M, Toronto
A: I wonder about that, actually.
A quick glance at the local pucks schedule (and it took every ounce of my being to call it up) shows, I believe, just one home-and-home series.
The Raptors, on the other hand, have three. Milwaukee this week, Indiana at the end of the month and Detroit right around Christmas.
And, yes, they may be more fair because it’s difficult to beat a team two regular season nights in a row, but things such as travel schedules and arena availability trumps all.
Q: Hi Doug. It has been really fun watching Andrea play this season. Seeing how he has improved on defense, I am wondering whether if there has been any influence from Rasho on his development. Rasho's IQ must have some impact on his teammates!
Thank you for your insight.
M S, St. John’s
A: It’s probably had a little to do with it, but not an awful lot. I think the most significant impact would be in practice scrimmages where Andrea can learn by having stuff done to him.
Q: My question is this, Do you know if the Raptor's have a specific 'big man' trainer that has been working with Andrea to improve his defence and all around game? I know other teams such as Lakers and Orlando had Hall of Famers work with their bigmen. If not who would be your Hall of Fame pick to work with the Andrea B?
Oh and the cab situation in Ottawa continues to be a problem, especially with all this snow. That makes 2 things not working in this city, the cab drivers and the politicians.
Lyndon G, Ottawa
A: They don’t, really. Alex English and Marc Iavaroni both work with him on all facets of the game. And it’s working pretty well.
Of course, if I could have one, it’d be Bill Russell.
Q: Hi Doug. Now that silly season with respect to trades rumours is in full flight, I had a salary cap question for you (considering how much you love those). I actually wondered about this given TMacs request to be traded (NO! He should not come to Toronto). One of the stumbling blocks is his salary and the need to match salaries. I was wondering if the need to match was something teams close to the cap liked to do, or if the CBA stated it had to be done. For example, couldn't a team with a history of willfully and blatantly going over the cap (hello New York) trade back contracts of less value, and simply pay the luxury tax? Or is the rule firm and the salaries have to match if you are at the cap?
Sohail G, Collingwood
A: The rules are firm. If both teams are over the cap, the salaries coming and going have to be with 125 per cent of each other, plus or minus $100,000.
Of course, a team under the cap can assume salary with no regard as long as they remain under the cap after the transaction.
Q: Doug, I know Sam Smith can fling some crazy rumors, but he obviously has some connections. How seriously should we take his recent comments that with ever increasing airline security "players around the league are grousing more than ever" about delays in getting through customs. And as a result, "some" NBA executives say "recruiting to Toronto may become more difficult now than ever" as "it’s becoming even more difficult to get in and out of Canada."
Adding to the reluctance of players to relocate to Toronto, Smith reports that there's something of a feud between some NBA players and Canada Customs... "There’s been another interesting dynamic you hear about on occasion. Sometimes players have not been so cooperative as they’ve become accustomed to being left alone at airports. As a result, some customs officers haven’t made it so easy on teams."
Joe S, Kingston
A: I think that may be over-stating it a wee bit. No, maybe over-stating it a lot. It’s been my experience, talking to players, coaches and writers who come through that Canadian Customs is hardly arduous. It’s not something they have to do every trip, obviously, and for that reason it’s strange to some of them but it’s not like they are singled out for special ill treatment.
Q: Hi Doug, Love your blog. Read it every day. Since I live in NB, my only access to Raptors games is TV, and that leads to my question. Could you tell me why broadcasters think they have to show a close-up of a player every time he scores, gets a rebound, makes a pass, etc? It is so annoying and frustrating. Several times in the past few games we have missed seeing plays where someone has intercepted a pass, or stolen the ball and created a turn over. I want to see the whole game, not just what the floor director THINKS I should see. You must have noticed it while you were home last week and had to watch on TV.
Peter G, Saint John
A: I wish I could tell you, I found it a bit frustrating, too. But I will say this in their defence, the emotion of a play is sometimes compelling television and the game resumes at such a fast pace sometimes things get missed. I don’t think there’s any malice or intent in what they’re doing.
Q: Hi there, great blog, I read it from here in Europe and appreciate how early you get your posts up...makes for a nice early afternoon read here.
I have a burning question, not about the Raptors but I don't know where else to turn so may I tap into your basketball brain?
It's about that game-winning play by Ginobili in OKC the other night. Game on the line, 11-some secs on the clock and the Spurs down by 1. He drives the lane, makes a errant pass which flies over the baseline, seemingly without touching anyone. But he then makes a ridiculous dive to save the ball to a teammate, who finds Richard Jefferson, who sticks the dagger off the broken play. Not sure if you saw it, but what I was thinking was, didn't he travel? I guess not, since by now everyone and their dog has watched it (definitely a season highlight, travel or no travel). Even the OKC homer play-by-play guys calling the game on League Pass were heaping praise. But I still don't understand how that isn't a walk. Am I missing something?
Thanks and keep up the good work!
Adam T, Berlin
A: I didn’t see it, I’m afraid. I can presume that the officials deemed that either (a) he never lost control of the ball or (b) if he did on the original pass, he never regained “control” making the save.
Or they just blew the call, which is not out of the realm of possibility.
Oh, and Ginobili can do some wacky and quick stuff that catches a lot of people by surprise.