Here we go with the mail. Finally
With the schedule all screwed up thanks to that rare Saturday night home game, this is a day later than usual.
But, thanks to you, it’s just as wildly entertaining and informative as ever.
Honest. It is.
Q: Thanks for emphasizing Rasho's performance in NJ, Doug. It is a huge positive in many ways, including building a strong feeling of TEAM on this Raptors squad. Surely it is a credit to players and coaches - and to Rasho as a person and professional basketball player.
In an era where individual performance is so heavily stressed, in an era where the STAR of NBA teams is such a focal point, what a pleasant change it is to see our team be successful without our star player available for one night. Can you help us understand HOW a team becomes a team in this era - what do players and coaches and execs do to create a feeling and fact of collective performance and recognition?
Charles N, Mexico
A: I guess the easiest way to put it is maturity and relationships.
While this certainly isn’t an “old” team by any stretch, the core group – Bosh, Bargnani, Calderon – has been together a while and looks at “team first” and winning as the only things that matters and that attitude trickles down.
In this group, the main newcomers – Hedo, Jack and Wright – also strike me as players who appreciate the “whole” as opposed to the personal.
It also helps that almost everyone has a long-term contract (on Bosh knows he’s going to get one), which cuts down on selfishness.
The other thing that comes into play, with this collection I’ve noticed, is that they seem to genuinely like each other. Not in the continually-hang-out, all-team-functions-all-the-time but there don’t seem to be any personality clashes that might even slightly fracture a team.
Q: Hi Doug, who would you say is the third best player in the league after Kobe and LeBron?
Chaz E, London
A: Boy, that’s a toughie. But, pressed, I’d probably have to say Carmelo Anthony but I think if someone suggested – right now – Chris Bosh or Dwyane Wade, I could be convinced.
But, at the moment, Anthony.
Q: Hi Doug, hoops 101 question. What's the incentive for a team to do a sign and trade? Future considerations? It seems like they get nothing back in return. And how much more can Team A (doing the sign and trade) offer than Team B (receiving the player)? Thanks.
Ian M, Ottawa
A: We’ll run through this really quickly now because we’ll be hearing about it a lot once the summer hits.
For the team losing the player, the incentive is that they get players back for one who wants to go.
For the team getting the player, being able to shed contracts and personnel can’t hurt.
For the player? He gets money, lots more of it.
Now, don’t forget, it’s got to be a negotiation. If the two teams can’t decide on which players are coming back, there doesn’t have to be a deal.
Teams can offer their own free agents contracts that are one year longer and have larger annual raises than any other team can. That'll be about $30 million on a maximum value deal this summer, the supposition is.
Q: With the talk of free agency and the fact that the existing team can pay extra there would seem to be three other factors that will play into the situation:
Personal happiness--very hard to evaluate.
Tax rate--Florida and Texas for example have no state taxes although the US could be in for a massive Federal hike due to their dire financial situation.
Bosh, Wade and James are all represented by CAA. This is the most powerful group out there and these three are by no means their top clients.(Bosh and James also have a separate agent but minor compared to this group)
It would seem that CAA would benefit by having two of these guys playing together or even all three. Your thoughts or have you had time to do an evaluation on this group and their influence?
Marcus R, Cameron
A: Agencies exist to make money, right? Well, doesn’t it make sense to have high-profile clients in different cities so they can sell more t-shirts and tickets, raise more cash so there’s more to go around? Not to mention the endorsements that wouldn’t have to be split in the same city.
Q: Hey Doug. I was watching the Wizards game Saturday night, and it dawned on me that the TV folk are quite fond of mentioning one specific stat over and over: the win-loss record following our 7-13 start.
I thought it was interesting that in your blog you mentioned more than a few times that you shouldn't judge a team until 20 games (or so) into the season. That 7-13 record is 20 games. The funny thing is, it's consistently cited as the time they turned things around and became a better representation of "what kind of team" they are: pretty good.
This obviously flies in the face of your theory. Care to re-evaluate the 20 game stance?
Thanks for all your hard work, my man!
Adam B, Kingston
A: Um, doesn’t it actually validate my theory that it takes at least a quarter of a season for a new team to find out what it is? And it did. Maybe it was 22 games, or 23, but my suggestion of 20 was, in fact, pretty bang on.
People who judged them as an historically inept defensive team and one destined for the lottery after 15 or 17 games were wrong.
Q: I noticed before the Wizards game you spent quite a bit of time chatting with Bryan and Marc. Were you talking hoops or places to eat in different cities. Are those types of conversations off the record? We do not read much about Marc, can you tell us more about his role with the team.
Howard B, Toronto
A: Those are conversations you have in the normal course of doing business, it’s what I do. And some of them are on background, some aren’t and they happen quite often, just not usually on the bench minutes to tip.
Marc? He’s an adviser, he travels with team constantly to be around and offer whatever assistance and advice he can.
I think you might consider him a liaison between the front office and the players in some regards.
Q” Hi Doug, Rhetorically, will Bosh’s new nickname be Wally Pipp? Great job by Rasho as I type this during the second game. My question is what can Jay do to help them with their mental toughness or is that a job for BC?_
Nick K, St. Catharines
A: There’s nothing either of them can do; that’s all on the players.
Hey Doug. Long time fan ever since my school boy years and visits to the Sky Dome during inaugural season. As a dedicated student at WLU I spend break time from studying (that's what mom believes...) to check your blog, raptors.com, ESPN, etc. Ok, you get it - I bleed purple..I mean red, white and black. On that note, how about the Olympic spirit that is sweeping us non patriots up off our feet? I now know what it feels to be American. By far my favorite moment was Jon Montgomery's walk through Whistler, fan brings him pitcher of beer, Jon chugs it - on national television. Stereo-typers around the world were drooling as this truly 'Canadian' moment. What has been your favorite thus far?
Ben G, Waterloo
A: You know, having been in Dallas until late Monday night, at a game Wednesday, in Jersey Thursday and Friday and at a game Saturday, I haven’t seen enough to really have a “moment” yet.
I did see the Montgomery walk, though, and it was pretty cool.
Q: Hey Doug, no Raptors question today, more just a question of opinion on a matter. You make mention of the Tiger Woods fiasco, and you say it 'made you sick' that he controlled the entire thing... but does it not make you sick the way the media has covered his entire situation? And for him to even give a media conference in the first place is mind baffling, but no less respectable. And from this conference, the media will still have a story and still make money. I understand that a big part of your job is asking questions, but for the people that cover 'that sort of thing' do they even deserve to ask questions? I think we, the public, know more on the matter then we have a right too.
Joey H, Toronto
A: I agree with you and, frankly, abhor the titillating stuff that passes as “news” these days. The TMZing of our world, the picayune stuff that people think they need to know is too much, in my opinion. But crap sells, I guess, and as long as there are buyers, there will be sellers and you can’t put that genie back in the bottle.
Q: Hey Doug, this question may be better suited for a time closer to the off-season but now that the trade deadline has passed I've become curious: I think you mentioned we're still over the cap without his salary, which means we wouldn't be able to woo (other mitigating factors aside) a major free agent due to cap constraints right? What exactly is BC's flexibility if the worst case scenario occurs and Bosh leaves via free agency rather than a sign and trade?
Ryan M, Ottawa
A: The absolute worst case scenario?
With salary obligations already in place, the absolute worst would be Bosh leaving in no sign-and-trade and Bryan having only the mid-level salary cap exception to sign a free agent.
Q: Hey Doug. So I see that David Stern feels the NBA will lose $400 million this year. Obviously that has to be taken with a grain of salt given the labour negotiations, but any idea how the Raptors are doing financially? Are they making money? I appreciate it is difficult to sort that out in the byzantine structure that is MSEL but any comments would be appreciated.
Sohail G, Collingwood
A: Aside from where the bodies are buried, the financial health of Maple Leaf Sports is the most closely-guarded secret down there. They don’t have divulge so they don’t.
If I had to guess, knowing that they reap about $37 million (US) in TV money every year, sell an average of about 18,000 tickets a game, get money from the tax-paying teams and have a payroll of just under $70 million (US), I’m thinking they are turning a profit.
How much? Only the board and whatever creative accounting people they employ know for sure.
Q: Doug: With All Star weekend over, I can't help to wonder this : What are NBA players allowed / not allowed to do during the season and off season? I know from that Monta Ellis fellow that Moped is probably not allowed by the league. So what else are they not allowed to do? Are they allowed to say... play pick up street ball? Or snowboarding / Skiing (in the summer time they can go to South America). Also during the season is there really no stopping them from getting out of shape by drinking too much?
Thanks and keep up the good work!
Philip L, Toronto
A: Basically, the phrase that’s in the collective bargaining agreement covers “sports endangering his (the player’s) safety (including professional boxing or wrestling, motorcycling, auto racing, sky-diving, and hang gliding), or any game of basketball, football, baseball, hockey, lacrosse or other athletic sport."
Sports like golf, tennis, handball, hiking, softball and volleyball are specifically allowed.
Boozing? Nothing about it anywhere.
Q: It infuriates the fans: a contested shot goes up, maybe there's a foul, the shot misses and then there's the whistle calling for a foul. In a recent in-game blog you called it the "worst call in basketball". How do you feel the "higher ups" (David Stern, etc.) justify such a call. Or do they?
John G, Toronto
A: I don’t want to say they don’t care but at the level of Stern, there are other fish to fry. But it’s an issue that coaches have brought up with the officiating poobahs and the answer is always the same: It’s not an intentional thing; it’s just a call that’s made and there’s no malice aforethought.
I don’t particularly believe it but I don’t know what anyone can do except make it a “point of emphasis” for officials and hope it gets corrected.
Q: Hi Doug. As a Hamilton (then Toronto) guy now living in Baltimore, this year has been quite strange. First, we've got the most snow I've seen in my life and second, the dysfunction of the local hoops team is eerily reminiscent of the Raptors (although far worse overall) before the hiring of BC. I'm a lifelong hoops fan and part time player but have yet to get a clear understanding of the three-second rule (both defensively and offensively). Can you explain it using kid's words for me? Thanks!
Dan P, Baltimore
A: I hope so.
Offensively, a player cannot stay in the key for longer than three seconds; a rule put in to make sure the giants of the game didn’t simply stand there all night, take passes and score baskets.
Defensively, no player can stay in for three seconds because the league wants to create room for players to get to the rim and because they don’t want big guys standing there all night swatting away shots and opponents.
Q: Good morning Doug. I was wondering what the relationship is like between the NBA and the NCAA. The NBA works hard at creating an environment for kids to learn and play the game throughout the world.
The NCAA seems to have a different approach, exploitation. Does the NBA have any influence on the NCAA? If the NBA implemented a two year waiting period before players could come to the NBA, would that not be counter-productive if the NCAA does not teach, coach the players how to play?
Or, do I have it all wrong?
Steph R, Glencoe
A: I’d say the relationship is cordial. The NBA loves that the NCAA serves as something of a minor league, although the teaching the kids get has dropped off considerably and NBA guys I talk to lament the lack of basic skills in many rookies.
But the desire to raise the age limit really doesn’t have to do with the development of basketball skills; it’s as much, if not more, to let teenagers grow up a bit more before entering a man’s league.
In fact, because the NBA will allow 18-year-olds to play in the D League suggests they’d be open to doing the teaching themselves in what’s become their own minor league system.
Q: Hi Doug, I've read it here a few times that when the Raps fly to on road trips, the entire team and basically anyone associated with it flies together. Whenever I need to fly somewhere with the executive team, we always take separate flights in case the unthinkable ever happens. It's part of the business continuity plan. Wonder if the Raps ever do this or any team has ever thought about it. If not, why?
Normiyuki H, Toronto
A: It’s too impractical. Too many people, too many overnight flights. Simply unworkable in any pro sports environment.
Q: I always read that Rob Babcock was forced to trade Vince, and made his move with approx. two months until the trade deadline and got what had to be NJ's first offer (which Rob forgot to counter). With the magic Darryl Morey was able to pull off this week, and in somewhat the same position (high priced star who was never going to play again for their team, and the league knew it), why was it that Babcock acted so quickly way back when? Morey couldn't have managed his situation any better and got a king's ransom in return for the poster child of what is wrong with the NBA, and all because he waited until the last second on deadline day.
Shawn L, Bowmanville
A: I don’t know if you’re joking about Rob not making a counter offer but I’ve never heard that. Anyway, times and circumstances are different; and some GMs are better than others. That’d be simplest explanation.
But there were no New York Knicks trying to shed salary and take on an existing, expiring contract then like there are now so it’s really apples and oranges.
Q: It’s sunny and almost warm out here in Victoria Doug, even a Raptors loss or Olympic fiasco can't bring us down!
Regarding the Raps, it would be tough to argue that Turkoglu has been a disappointment for the most part this season to fans; justly or not. My question is this: if Turk plays the part of the post-season hero, say he hits a couple game winners or two against their first round matchup and gets credit for taking them to the second round. Does that vindicate not only Turk, but also Colangelo and the contract he signed Turk to in the fans eyes?
Ian M, Victoria
A: I doubt it. Maybe until Turk plays four bad games in a row at the start of next season, but that’d be about it.
Q: Hey Doug, what are the Raptors looking to get out of Beli? I really like this energy but obviously his decision making can be questionable at points. I think he can be an asset to the team as his unpredictability and ability to slash to the basket are huge in my books, yet I feel Coach Triano is hesitant to put him in at times. What does he need to improve?
Chris R, Aurora
A: Man, there’s lots of Belinelli love in the air these days now that he’s not playing very much, if at all.
But here’s the simple reason: He’s a lot of fun to watch and you never know what you’re going to get and while that’s good in some ways, I can see how it would drive a coach mad.
And the simple fact is that a rotation of five wings – DeRozan, Turkoglu, Wright, Weems and Belinelli – simply won’t work and I agree entirely.
Jay’s not “hesitant” to use him,, he just can’t right now.
So what Marco has to do is bide his time, work hard in practice and when the opportunity presents itself – either through an injury or the drop of in play of a guy like Weems, who is the most likely to fall out of the rotation – be ready to contribute on a more consistent basis.
Q: Reports are already suggesting a number of players may be bought out in the near future. The Raptors have roster space and probably enough room to stay under the tax for a player.
Do you see any realistic possibilities that may help the Raptors as a short term rental?
Ken V, Burlington
A: No I don’t. Not on the radar at all. A lot of guys who are about to be bought out have their eyes on the teams they’d like to go to and, frankly, none of them would be such a substantial upgrade over what Toronto already has to go to the trouble to bring them in, teach them the system and then use them regularly.