You read while I go for a long walk
Now, you read this, I’m off on a nice long walk to raise some much needed money for multiple sclerosis research (find the walk in your area today and make a donation, okay?) and we’ll meet back here later today so I can post the comments.
That’s if I’m not curled up in the fetal position suffering body spasms, that is.
And I’ll let you know tomorrow morning in the usual drivel what the tall foreheads and I have come up with about in-game bloggy thingies for the first round or so of the post-season.
Have a nice day.
Q: As a regular reader of this blog and a huge fan of yours I can’t for the life of me figure you out. This team has been covered by you in depth from the beginning and you have always indicated to us that it is your job and not admitting any passion for the team and it's success or failure during the season. How can you sit and analyze a game knowing personally the players, coaches, the behind the scenes stuff and by now some of their fan base and not jump up and cheer or feel as depressed as we do when the play and results dictate such a response. You have proven to have an emotional side and yet you are able to control it, hide it, or just don't have it when dealing with the Raptors. Is this a journalistic facade or is it the real Doug Smith? Thanks for all your insight and contributions to this great blog.
Jack L, Kingston
A: There needs to be a level of dispassionate in any reporter; it allows you to sit back and observe without being truly tied to the outcome or the events. So you need to stand back a step and perhaps look a bigger picture than others, it allows you to do your job well.
That said, while it is my job and I have to treat it as that, there is a level of interest that goes with it. Not the screaming, “oh, they’ve got to win or my day’s ruined” kind of interest but if you don’t truly love what you’re doing (and in this case it’s covering a team in a league in a sport) you don’t do it well enough to be really good so you have to kind of like what you’re seeing.
And I do.
Q: Hi Doug, Thanks for the amazing job this year.
Just a quick one - what do you think of Turk's apology. Was it sincere or a cop out? Personally, I feel he should have made amends on the court and not with his words at the end of a disappointing season.
Jamil B, Sydney, Aus.
A: Of course he should have made amends on the court and I’m sure late in the season he tried, and he did have many better games down the stretch. But I also know he did feel terribly bad about how the season unfolded, thought he let down his team and coaches and was genuinely sorry.
Q: Hello Doug. After noticing the identical records of the Grizzlies and Raptors I found it interesting to muse on how the 15 years have played out for these two semi-linked franchises. Both have had some good times and some bad times. Which franchise has been most successful? The Raptors are still in Toronto but the Grizzlies had that great run with Pau. What do you think?
Garth S, Chiliwack
A: Compared to the Grizzlies, the Raptors are the Celtics and Lakers combined, with some Spurs thrown in for good measure. Let’s see: They moved from Vancouver, can’t draw flies in Memphis, made the post-season three times in 15 season but have yet to win a playoff game, let alone a series, and have a franchise winning percentage of about .333. Oh, and yes, there was Araujo in Toronto but he was a steal compared to Big Country.
That’s what I think. And, sadly, that’s what I imagine lots of people think.
Q: Is it a big deal or surprising that MLSE would come out and say they will go over the luxury tax if Bosh stays and they can land someone?
Or was that news expected?? Thanks for the blog enjoyed it every day!!
Karen P, Whitby
A: It was kind of expected here; I’d heard Bryan tell me confidently enough that if he had to go to the board to get tax approval he would. He’d always couched in terms of going after one guy in one specific situation so the fact he’s got pre-approval is about the only thing marginally big.
Q: Hi Doug, a long and exhausting season is nearly over. Once the playoffs are finished, are you looking forward to any particular sporting event taking place before the next NBA season starts? I can tell you that in most of the world outside of North America, the anticipation for the (soccer) World Cup is already enormous. I hope you get to catch a game or two to see what all the fuss is about the biggest sporting event on the planet.
Chris D, Leeds, England
A: I am looking forward to watching some of the World Cup, that’s for sure. I have no depth of football knowledge but I appreciate the beauty of the game. But the summer event that I’m most looking forward to – quite aside from Mighty Yankee opening night – is the world basketball championships because it’s a great tournament that the world looks at as far more important than the Olympics.
Q: Two questions today:
How overly simplistic is it to suggest that this year's individual Raps performances could be related directly to contracts? Guys playing for one played with some fire (most games). Guys with pay cheques already protected played as "comfortably" as they cared to, or not, any particular evening.
2) With so many NBA contracts up for negotiation this summer, do you see wholesale changes in rosters – with six, seven, nine new faces for a good number of teams? (Sound familiar?) And, if so, would there maybe be an advantage, for one year anyway, to teams that make fewer deals and, instead, work to keep their cores together and developing?
Cheers. And thanks again for another season of great grunt work and lord knows how many hundreds of hours of hard blogging.
David M, Ottawa
A: It might be a bit of an oversimplification, yes, but there is no doubt the presence of guaranteed contracts do tend to make some players more “comfortable” than maybe they should be. With this team, I don’t know if that was the case, I think there were far more important other matters – the coddling of Hedo early, the ankle injury to Bosh in February – played a role.
And for this summer, with a new CBA coming after next season that could radically alter the economic outlook as well as those guaranteed contracts, I think you’re got to see a whole lot of one-year, take-it-or-leave-it offers to middling free agents because teams are wary of long-term implications of longer-term contacts.
And, yes, I agree whole-heartedly that teams should try to keep groups together to let them grow, it’s how all kinds of good teams developed.
Q: The Del Negro/Paxson confrontation over Noah's playing time caught my attention -- I always assumed that the medical staff simply advised the coaches on the condition of wounded players. Is it usual for team executives to tell the coach who can play for how long?
TL I, London
A: In the case of injuries to key players, everyone is involved in the rehab process and the return. And it’s not unusual for a general manager to consult with the team’s medical staff – and the coach and the player – to determine the best course of action.
This seems to be an extreme case, though, and speaks to a rocky, mistrusting relationship between the coach and his bosses, I believe.
Q: Hi Doug, a question in regards to attracting free agents to Toronto.
Does going through customs twice in a 24 hour period dismay players from the idea of signing here, even though it wouldn't be the same hassle playing 41 games in this city.
I recall not so long ago a Forbes article talking about how much NBA players love to visit Toronto.
Just seems like players might not be that interested in signing here.
Matthew F, Toronto
A: If that’s a deal-breaker, I wouldn’t want the guy on my team. I’ve seen the American customs process for the players going into the States and it’s ridiculously easy (private lines with private border officials) and, when they come back from trips, Canada Customs officials go to them at the charter terminal.
Trust me, if that’s too much for a player to handle and would keep them from coming to Toronto, I don’t want to know how they’d handle pressure in a game.
Q: Hi Doug. I remember reading once that no writer is allowed to call themselves a "poet"...that is a title that can only be bestowed by a reader. Along those lines, am I allowed to designate myself as an "irregular", or is that an honorary title that is only bestowed by His Royal Dougness?
Thanks for all your hard work & dedication this year, Doug! Your patience with and commitment to your readers is beyond commendable. Sorry that the occasional "knucklehead" spoiled the atmosphere at times.
Peter L, Kingston
A: If you feel entitled to irregularness, far be it from me to deny.
But you’re first point is bang-on, we shall not judge our abilities ourselves; we’ll leave that to you. We try our best to inform and entertain and see where that leaves us.
Q: You appeared to chastise many fans who wanted quick changes during the year, and mostly I agreed with it. I found you patient with most of the players and I thought that was respectful and usually rational. But where are we now. Keep Jay? Keep Turk? Are there no constructive criticisms? Is no one to pay the price, is there nothing that can be done but accept more mediocrity? Davd Lee, Turk and Bargnani with Jose? I am at the point where I am not only bewildered by MLSE but also by this blog. Be a man... make a call...
Bob M, Meductic
A: I’m not going to defend any method of criticism I may use but it’s there. It may not be as vociferous or ranting or over-the-top as some but it’s rather subtle and has always been my style. Read the words closely and you see things there. What I believe you and some others my be looking for is screaming and validation of opinion and you won’t get it here. Sorry.
Q: Hey Doug. It's been a while! I hope all is well with you. I wanted to know more of your thoughts on this "grizzled old screamer" type you mentioned as a hypothetical addition to the coaching staff. I've long felt that a coaching staff needs someone other than the head coach to play the role of heavy. Could you expound please? Also, does Jay have a Tex Winter type who he could call in to work with him?
Nik W, Pune, India
A: I think coaching staffs need different personalities and I’m not sure that Jay, Marc, Alex and Micah aren’t too much alike. I was a proponent last year at this time of perhaps considering someone like P.J. Carlesimo for the job Iavaroni eventually got because I thought his more intense personality and experience would have helped greatly. I’m not sure if Jay has a Tex Winter-type, to tell you the truth, because he hasn’t been around an awful lot.
Q: After seeing the post -season press conference, I must say I really enjoyed watching Jarrett Jack speak. He's probably among the most honest and well spoken/articulated Raptors I’ve ever seen. Would you possibly rank him among your top 5 all time Raps quotes? Or close to? If not, who would you say would be your top 3 of all time excluding Oak (who is obviously number 1 I'm assuming)?
Harut S, Toronto
A: Jarrett is thoughtful, no question about it. I’m not sure he’d be in the top five, though, mainly because he hasn’t been around the game all that long. I’m not sure I’d put on a top five, actually. Oak would likely be there because of the zany things he said but so would Dell Curry, AP, Darrick Martin, Jalen Rose, Michael Curry, Donyell Marshall and I’m sure I’m leaving someone off.
Q: Doug, I am sure you are spot on about them retaining Jay, but, please explain to me what Jay has done to warrant continued employment as the Raps head coach? The fact that their effort has been extremely inconsistent for long stretches of games, doesn't Jay have to walk for the inconsistency of the team.
Bo C, Toronto
A: Firing the coach after one season with a new team would be a knee-jerk over-reaction, in my opinion. I’ve said a hundred times, you need to let things grow instead of making change at the first sign of disappointment. Yes, Jay is a young head coach learning, I think you need to support him and let him learn rather than throw him overboard at the first chance. And do you think that, perhaps, the extreme inconsistency for long stretches of games you saw had something to do with the players? And, like the coach, I don’t support making wholesale change there, either.
Q: Hi Doug. Firstly, thank you for your dedication, wit and rational view of the Raptors and the NBA. You are one of two NBA writers (Charlie Rosen) whose opinions I search out regularly. That you both attract more than your share of venom because you are honest and sensible is fascinating.
Two questions: How would you categorize yourself relative to your peers (lead writers for NBA teams) in terms of self-perception as 'NBA experts?'
How much of Toronto's struggle might be due to a mismatched roster?
Mike B, Eastbourne, UK
A: I’m not sure how anyone perceives me out there, to tell you the truth. I’d hope it’s as someone fair, with an entertaining writing style and some connections. I do know there aren’t too many out there who’ve been doing this as long so maybe I get points for survival.
As for the roster, I think not having more solid defenders was the reason for most of the struggles and that’s where the mismatched, or unbalanced, part comes in. Not sure if can be addressed by improvement from within or by a couple of tweaks, but it does have to change.
Q: Hi Doug, thanks for the great blog all year season long and I hope you keep it going like you did last summer.
My question: Is the "Euro-centric" criticism of the Raptors unique to Toronto, or do you see the same criticism leveled at other teams with international players. (I ask because it sometimes seems so similar to an episode of Coach's Corner.)
Geoff R, Toronto
A: Toronto’s a unique situation for a lot of reasons, the passion of the fans, the makeup of the roster and the failure of the franchise. So I’d say the criticism is unique, as well. However, I don’t interact with fans of other teams, or know first-hand about them, so I really can’t comment.
Q: Hey Doug. In regards to the point guard situation, what do you expect them to do over the summer? Will one of the two PGs be starting next year? Or will it be a case of trading one and trying to find a consistent starter. We've seen this year that both Jose and Jarrett are capable of playing like a good NBA point guard at times, so I was just wondering what you think will happen with this situation.
Drew L, Guelph
A: I think – but I don’t know – that they’ll try to move one in a some kind of package over the summer just so there’s no doubt who the starter is. And – again, this is just informed speculation gleaned from a few conversations – I think they may look to move Jarrett. But if they can’t in a deal that make sense, I can see them being okay with two returnees.
Q: I believe that there is a big European basketball tourney this summer (in Turkey) and that NBA teams can veto their players participation (like Dallas did). If you are Colangelo, what would you do when his 4 Europeans come asking?
J L, Oakville
A: Teams cannot “veto” although they can discuss the needs with each individual player; as part the NBA-FIBA agreement, the ultimate decisions rest with the player. As for the Raptors, there is no chance in the world that Hedo Turkoglu won’t play for Turkey at the world championships in his homeland. No chance.
The others? Well, Jose didn’t play for Spain last year and he’s undecided if he will this summer and neither Bargnani nor Belinelli have committed to play for Italy.
Q: Which Raptors coach (all-time) do you think would have gotten the most out of this year's squad? Or, do you think that Jay got everything he could out of them?
Steve N, Newmarket
A: Since I think the two best coaches in franchise history were Butch Carter and Brendan Malone, I’d take either of them. And the order really doesn’t matter. Both were able to coax maximum effort out of their talent while also handling egos.
Q: Thanks for the great work once again this season, your blog is something that I read daily. You provide great insight into the Raps organization.
So, do you think the Raps will keep the draft pick or trade it? I personally think they should trade it (unless John Wall falls to #12...). I don't think the Raps need another young work in-progress player, they have enough of those between DeMar, Sonny, and Amir (re-sign him please)
Dermot W, Bedford
A: I’m going to answer a question with a question: Why do you think teams would want a No. 13 pick and the inherent three years of guaranteed contract that goes with it heading into a year that could very well end with a lockout? I think the only way they could deal the pick is in a package with some players.
Should they? I’d try, that’s for sure.
Q: Great job covering a less than great team.
Disclaimer: this is a sign and trade question, proceed with caution :)
If Bosh goes in a sign and trade what do you see the Raps wanting/needing in return?
I would like to see them sign Amir to take Bosh's spot and then get a two guard and maybe a 1st round draft pick.
Mich G, North Bay
A: The real answer is they’ll take back what they can get but I think they’d be looking for a four in case they have trouble getting a deal done with Amir. A two-guard or backup three would be next but don’t forget they’ve made an investment in DeRozan and might not want to get someone to come in over his head.
Q: Hi Doug. Thanks for your hard work and effort this year as our grunt on the beat... A+++.
With all this talk of Tracy McGrady's retirement (something I seriously doubt), are there any former Raptor players worthy in your opinion that will be enshrined in the Basketball Hall of Fame?
A L, Calgary
A: Not anyone who’s spent the majority of his career here, no. The only two I can even remotely think of – and I don’t think I’d vote for them – would be Chauncey Billups if he wins another ring and that Carter fellow if he wins his first. Even then, as I said, I’m not sure they’d get my vote.
Tracy? I like Tracy and all but the only way he gets into the Hall of Fame is by coughing up some money for a ticket.
Q: Hey Doug, thanks for the report card. I'm a teacher and I thought I'd give you an update on the language we use to describe As and Bs in the school system these days (just for future report cards so you're speaking the same language as the kids).
Recently, grades are given based on what a teacher believes to be the standard: a B. If you can do what you are asked to do considerably well, you get a B. The rest of the grades are based on that...
A - above and beyond what is expected of you.
C - approaching what is expected
D - accomplished a limited amount of the standard
R - did not do enough to pass. This is mostly given to students who missed too many assignments for the teacher to even know what level they can do.
In Raptor-speak, I'd give P.OB. an R, not because he's a failure, but because he was absent on test-day.
My question is about the future of the 2-spot. It's obviously a perennial void for the raptors, but I wonder if an eventual s/t for a star 2 guard would limit DeRozan's development. Would they be willing to put him behind a bonafide SG and potentially hurt their long-term investment in him?
Paul C, Grassy Narrows
A: Thanks for the grades; back in the day we had A, B, C, D, E and F for failure. But thank goodness I didn’t hear about the ridiculous LO’s I’ve heard about; that’s apparently Learning Opportunity and would, to me, mean nothing except a politically correct way of saying a kid needs help and should get some.
On to basketball:
No, I don’t think they’d have any concern about obtaining an all-star calibre two-guard and letting DeMar try to either beat him out for minutes or come off the bench. But, as I mentioned earlier, I don’t know if that’d be their first choice.
Q: I just read about Bosh's demands to set the ball rolling towards his return next year. My question is this: in your opinion, can this team ever become an elite member of the NBA with Bargnani and Bosh in the frontcourt? If they re-sign Bosh and keep Bargnani at centre, than the frontcourt defense will always be suspect. Bosh needs someone who can protect the rim beside him and vacuums up rebounds, not a 4-5 rebound a game centre who at times looks lost in the defensive scheme off the ball and doesn't put any fear into the opposition when they are attacking the rim. I just don't see how the two can co-exist on a successful team since they are both power forwards. If they do re-sign Bosh, wouldn't it make more sense to trade Bargnani for either a dynamic wing or a more traditional centre and draft for whichever position you don't address in the trade? Please enlighten me Doug because this is really confusing. Thanks
Jason W, Whitby
A: You may be right but I think we’ve seen them thrive on enough occasions that I think they can, personally. But your point is valid.
However, we really need to get off this Bargnani rebounding thing. He’s not now a good rebounder, no; can he be good? Yes, I think he can as soon as he learns how to fill in on weak side help and grab boards that way, which is the next step in his progression.
Anyone who thinks he should be getting 10 rebounds a game – a number I see often – is dreaming in technicolour since there were only 10 guys in the entire league who did it this season.
Q: Curious to know how Bryan takes the proposition to board of going into the luxury tax when he doesn't know who he will be able to go after that. Specifically, is it purely a numbers thing where Bryan tries to convince beancounters that spending the luxury tax will actually return greater profits in the short term and/or long term? Or does he go for something more thematic like "creating a culture of a winning basketball team in the city of Toronto and getting Canada excited at the prospect of a championship?" It seems like they'd all be serious enough businessmen to dispense with the latter and stick with the former--but that really takes a lot of the heart and soul out of the game and shines a big spotlight on the corporate aspect.
Mr. C, Kingston
A: Like most businesses, the president takes a budget to his board on what he projects his salaries and costs to be in the coming fiscal year. Knowing the projected cost to keep Bosh, sign Amir and add players to make the team more competitive Bryan proposed one that would go over a number that isn’t even set yet. And I’m sure there were related parts about increased profit that would make it make sense.
Q: Hi Doug I have 2 questions. Can you give us your 3 pointers on what every championship team exhibits (again)? Also, since I've been reading a lot lately about a sign and trade with David Lee (which I agree is a bad idea), and seeing as how you love these types of questions... If you were Colangelo (and if it was allowed in the CBA), would you do a Bosh for Lee and D'Antoni deal?
Thanks for your dedication, passion for writing, sense of humour and the most even-keeled, unbiased, basketball journalism going in Canada! Thanks again Doug! I hope all Raptor fans agree and appreciate what you do for us. Have a great summer!
Richard F, Victoria
A: Championship team? There are always exceptions but defence, familiarity with each other and overall experience are generally my top three. And if it were allowed in the CBA? Probably not even then, to tell you the truth. I think my feelings on Lee are well known and there isn’t the kind of roster here that would allow D’Antoni to thrive and I think his work in New York has taken some shine off his reputation.
Q: Yo Doug, if you had the choice to sign and trade Bosh for Andrew Bynum or Greg Oden which one do you go for. Both have their injury woes but Oden is not signed long term. I think Oden would be worth the risk.
Mike G, Corner Brook, NL
A: You know I had doing these things, right? But this one’s kind of intriguing. I’d say Bynum in a heart-beat. Better offensively, almost as good defensively and overall, in my opinion, a better player.
Q: For I don't know how many years now the 8th seed in the west has had (close to) 50 wins. Has this conference disparity gone on long enough that the NBA would consider changing the playoff format? Do you think they'd ever consider it?
Dave H, Waterloo
A: I think there will be a renewed push to have the teams re-seeded once the conference finalists are determined. However, given the tugs of television, which doesn’t want dark nights while teams sit around and wait for other series to end, I don’t know if that’s going to happen.