A break from Turk and tweets for a dip into the mail bag
It’s almost time for The Three Stooges on TV, which is destination viewing for me and Super Son so we’ll get this up and out of the way.
Oh, there is nothing new with Turk, don’t imagine there will be for some time but check back periodically just in case. After the Mighty Yankees go through their final spring training session this morning, I’ll see if I can make some calls.
Until then, have it.
Q: Dear Sir (aka Beat Grunt): I wanted you to know my Neo-Rap group is called The Beat Grunts.
The theme of the exit interviews given to the press by Raptors and management seemed to be, in my view, a couple of things didn't come together the way we envisioned, and we were close to being somebody's. Using that theory, do you think it could be sold to Chris Bosh as a key element to re-signing him? From that flows this: What do the Raptors need to take them to the next level with Chris Bosh? And, since the Legend of Hedo is now an emerging meme in this year's playoff coverage, what length of rope do they give Hedo before would be jettisoned in a trade?
TC W, North York
A: Given the drama that’s developed around Turk, there really isn’t an answer to your question. However, what self-respecting grunt wouldn’t want to help promote a Neo-Rap group.
Of course, I have no earthly idea what a Neo-Rap group does but I hope it’s good.
Q: Hey Doug. Thanks for the excellent work as always. I was wondering about the Hedo thing. I wonder why this did not come out in 'exit interviews', because if I was the Raps front office I would be very, ummm, p- o'd about what may look like deceitful behaviour. Telling one thing but feeling another puts egg squarely on the face of BC, no? All in all I see this as a great opportunity to augment a strong core who was only a couple of missed buckets away from getting into the playoffs. So a couple of questions... what was the relationship like between Bosh and Turk/ Will subtraction of one possibly lead to the pacification of the other? Can moving Turk lead to acquiring the all star quality shooting guard CB4 spoke of desiring, and then moving DD and/ or Weems to more small forward time? Thoughts?
Randy M, Crystal Beach
A: As I mentioned in the original blog post yesterday morning, Turkoglu did say the day after the season that there has to be some shared responsibility for what transpired with him. But, again as I’ve mentioned, he did not come clean publicly with his specific points although I would presume he made them to his employers.
Now, as for the relationship? It was professional, like most in the locker room; I don’t think Bosh and Turkoglu were particularly close friends but also don’t think they need to be as long as they can co-exist well as teammates and they did.
Whether Bryan can trade Turkoglu for a piece that would give Bosh pause to seriously consider re-signing in Toronto is impossible to tell but if I know Mr. Colangelo, he’s thinking along those same lines.
But it’s a long, long way from thinking to doing.
Q: Hi Doug. Long time reader but I never write in. the piece on the potential LeBron-Wade-Bosh-?? combo got me thinking. Hypothetically, would it be possible for each of those guys to sign a one year contract with a team, like, say, New Jersey in the quest of gong for the perfect season or at least a one year run to get a ring?
Kind of an out there question, but could something like that happen?
Thanks for all your great work covering my favorite team.
Mike E, Toronto
A: Sure, they can do that, as long as the contracts fit under the salary cap rules. That’s kind of what we saw when Karl Malone and Gary Payton teamed up with Kobe and Shaq with the Lakers, although they were far from in the prime of their careers.
The trouble would come when it was time to re-sign with whatever team they joined; one-year deals don’t carry Bird Rights so they’d continue to take a financial hit and none of them would want that.
Q: Hey Doug. Earlier this week during a post-game presser (I think) Stan Van Gundy took a dig at Mike Wilbon, which Wilbon would go on to say was only fair as he takes digs at people all the time. As reporter-specific digs seem a bit odd to me, I was wondering if you've ever had a coach/player take one at you?
Ryan M, Ottawa
A: Oh, we take shots all the time from coaches and players. Most, in my case, quite good-natured and generally in conversations that take place after scrums are done, but we do.
I remember one day, after I had pointed out that Mo Pete, bless his soul, was mired in a slump and hadn’t made a jumper in about a week, he broke out with a pretty big game.
We talked to him after, as we always did, and just as we were breaking up, he turned and gave me one of those: “Not bad for a guy who can’t shoot, right Doug?” lines.
And I don’t remember anything too specific but, trust me, Sam could take a dig with the best of ‘em.
But it’s not generally mean-spirited and they don't linger; life's too short to hold grudges.
Q: Hey Doug, with the evolution of the point forward, do you think thee will ever be a team that forgoes the point guard entirely? By that I mean a team that plays one point forward, three 6'7/6'9 wings and a center? I suppose that they might have problems rebounding.
David S, Toronto
A: I can’t, actually, and not for the rebounding situation you bring up. The way point guard play seems to be going, with lightning-quick little waterbug types, not sure teams can afford to try to stop them with bigger guys.
Q: Hey Doug, Looking at the all time PPG leaders, 10 of the 30 players listed played this season. What would you say the main reasons are for players scoring more today than yester-year?
Is it because the rules are different (i.e. no hand checking) or is it because players today are simply more talented / athletic / bigger? Or would you say it's because talent is more diluted among teams today, and thus there's more scoring load on stars?
Bobby D, Kitchener
A: I’m not sure scoring is up all that much on average but I do think with the ban on old-fashioned hand-checking, the increased number of three-pointers taken and made, it’s far easier to score a lot today.
Plus, the depth of talent in the league is so watered down, good players can thrive far more often.
Q: This is a question about the rules of sign and trades rather than a what if:
If Chris Bosh wanted to go to team x (let’s say the Knicks because they are so far under the cap) and a max free agent like Amare wanted to go to Toronto (and Toronto wanted him), could the Knicks sign Amare to the max and then trade him to the Raptors for Chris Bosh?
Evan G, Thornhill
A: No. Sign and trade transactions can only occur with players and their existing team. The scenario you paint can’t occur.
Q: Quick question, the Argentinean basketball association just posted the videos Manu Ginobili, Nocioni and others sent to help out Mar del Plata's candidacy for the pre-Olympic tournament. You mentioned that Nash sent a good one too. So I was just wondering if you know where/if that video is available online?
Tobias R, Thornhill
A: It isn’t, no. Am told by Canada Basketball officials that it was not done for public consumption, a deal they struck with the producers when it was being put together. They obviously made a different arrangement in Argentina.
Q: Hi Doug. I think Scott Brooks might want to think about giving back his NBA coach of the year award. With Mike Brown getting the axe today, if you take a look at the previous 4 “Coach of the Year” winners you will see that Avery Johnson won the award in 2006 and was fired in early 2008. Sam Mitchell won the award in 2007 and was also fired in 2008. Byron Scott won the award in 2008 and was fired in 2009 and now Mike Brown was just fired in 2010 after winning the award in 2009. It seems quite strange that all these coaches would be fired within a year of winning the award! Any theories as to why this is happening? By the way, I love the blog and it is the first thing I read in the morning every day.
Jason A, Toronto
A: It is an alarming trend, isn’t it.
But, generally, I think guys win Coach of the Year awards when their teams over-achieve at some significant level, that sets unrealistic expectations and when the inevitable bounce-back occurs, the easy thing to do is what the coach because impatience rules.
Sad, but true.
Q: Hi Doug. I was wondering, having read a new piece about the Antoine Walker debt saga, if the NBA has ever thought about putting mandatory financial seminars in place. I was curious to know what teams offer, beyond just having an agent and 'advisors', to players in terms of helping them plan for the future? Also I was curious what you think about picking a date before training camps start and having all first year players attend a mandatory seminar conference somewhere to teach them the basics. A shocking amount of players who have made over $10 million in their careers go bankrupt within 10 years after stopping play.
Mr. C, Kingston
A: The league does, as a matter of fact, have a mandatory program for rookies that includes all manner of counseling and advice.
There are also programs in place through the players’ association and the league office to give veterans any help they need.
Sometimes, guys just can’t figure it out and that’s a shame. But, as they say, the first step to fixing a problem is admitting you have one and too many of these irresponsible young men don’t think there’s anything wrong with their lifestyle.
Q: Hey Doug. Assuming Bosh will go to one of the four teams he's identified through a sign and trade, which team would have the most to offer the Raptors in a trade? It appears to be Chicago to me, with all of the quality young players on their roster. Los Angeles and Miami appear to have the least to offer. Would you agree that Toronto's strategy should be to start negotiating with Chicago, then move to New York, Miami, and Los Angeles (in that order), if nothing comes of their discussions with the Bulls?
Graham V, Vancouver
A: Here’s the thing, again: The Raptors are not driving this process. At all. If and when Bosh decides to go and where he’d like to land, only then can Colangelo et al start working seriously on some kind of sign-and-trade transaction.
I’m sure they’ve spent time already looking at some other rosters and seeing what they might want to talk about but they can’t “negotiate” until they get something more firm.
And, yes, I agree that Chicago, of those teams, would have the greatest number of parts that would intrigue Toronto.
Q: Hi Doug. So let me see if I've got this right: (and do you think we're all going to wish at some point this summer we had a lawyer on retainer just to help us navigate through this post season?) a player may not discuss his future plans with the team with which he is presently under contract to up to and including June 30th, but is within his legal contractual rights to give his thoughts and opinions on the viability of his signing with any one of the other NBA teams? (And does that make sense to you???) Thanks.
Lorie P, London
A: Actually, in some instances, players can talk with their existing teams right up until they become free agents. But you’re right, in many instances that makes absolutely no sense.
Q: Hi Doug: There has been a lot of grit in these NBA finals, with Nash fixing his own broken nose and Howard taking out the Celtics (and giving them a taste of their own medicine) one by one.
When I think about the Raps, I don't think grit. But when Oakley and Davis were here, Toronto had a tough team.
So in your opinion, who are the best "grit" players in the league today? Who would you want on your team to reliably knock an opponent on his butt when it's called for?
Andrew G, Toronto
A: Kenyon Martin would certainly be on that list, wouldn’t he? And I think a guy like Luis Scola in Houston kind of fits that bill; Kurt Thomas in Milwaukee does, too. If Kendrick Perkins could control his temper more often, I’d certainly have to include him and let’s round out a list of five with Derek Fisher to put a little guy on it.
Q: Hi Doug. I recently read this article talking about the 10 best Raptors of all time. This person had TJ Ford in their top 10, which is a joke. If I had to put a list together it would be Bosh, Stoudemire, Carter (much hate though), A. Davis, D. Christie, Mo Pete, Alvin Williams, Dee Brown, McGrady, Calderon.
Who are your top 10 best Raptors of all time?
Jasper C, Toronto
A: I like your list a lot but the exclusion of Charles Oakley cannot be abided, he has to be on there, probably in place of Dee Brown. And, given what he actually did here, I wonder about Tracy.
Anyway, I think given the relative youth of the franchise as a whole, any Top Whatever list of Raptors can only be top five right now. Fifteen years of limited success isn’t enough time to make a Top 10.
Bosh, Carter, Stoudamire, Oak, Davis.
Q: Eh Doug, I totally enjoy your religious following of all things basketball and life as if they were one and the same. Seeing free agent additions of Richard Jefferson and Vince Carter excel on their new teams by making the playoffs and winning in the first round it made me realize how great Paul Pierce is so far in his career. He has won a title and is making a run for a second title. All three of these players are similar they all have the ability to handle, slash, and create their own shot which makes them unique. Does PP34 have a contract next year and what kind of team would benefit the most by having his talents? He could set himself up to be a champion on many NBA rosters for years to come.
C K, Mississauga
A: Pierce has a players option for next year, at something astronomical like $21 million. And while he hasn’t said 100 per cent whether he’ll exercise it or not, I can’t see a day when he’s not a Celtic. He’s kind of become the face of that franchise over the last decade or so, he appreciates the tradition of starting and finishing a career there and even if he opts out, I imagine it’ll only be so he can sign a longer-term deal there.
Q: With all the fines being made lately for "tampering" (and i use this word loosely) with the upcoming free agents (Cuban saying every team would be interested in LeBron and Kerr jokingly saying they could afford the mid level for LeBron) could a case not be made that in a Jay Z song Empire State of mind with the lyrics
"Me, I gotta plug, Special Ed, "I got it made" If Jesus is payin' Lebron I'm payin Dwayne Wade" not also be considered tampering seeing how he is a part owner of the Nets and possible stating if he can't get LebBron James than the Nets will attempt to get Dwayne Wade which is more blunt than what Cuban or Kerr ever said?
Barry F, Lindsay
A: Since the warbler you’re talking about has a minority share in a team, I’m stunned the overseers haven’t levied retroactive fines or figured out a way to garnishee royalties. Stunning.
That said, the lyric aren’t quite “Imagine” but …
Q: Hey Doug. After watching Boston's strategy to "Hack-a-Howard,” I was wondering why teams don't always do stuff like that in late game situations. Why can't they just hack the worst ft-shooting player even before the inbounds; why do they have to wait for the ball to be in-bounded and then foul whoever has the ball?
Kevin H, Richmond Hill
A: If a team commits an intentional foul away from the ball in the final two minutes, the team being fouled gets two shots and the ball. If a team commits a foul before a ball is in-bounded, the fouled team gets two shots and the ball.
It’s a good rule. I heartily endorse it.
Q: When a person, like Davis in Boston, is injured and cannot get up like he didn't, did Boston call a time out, or do the refs have the discretion to call the play and charge Boston with the time out or no time out is charged at all? It seemed it took a while for them to stop the play and Davis could have fallen on his face.
Henry W, Toronto
A: The refs have some discretion to blow the whistle. But, for instance, if there’s a player bleeding, after 30 seconds the team has to either replace him or call a timeout.
Q: Hey Doug, love the blog.
Are there any plans for Georgios Printezis making his way over the pond? May he be one of the five new faces?
Mike B, Newmarket
A: The word I’m getting is “no.” Not only has it not been thought of seriously, there’s been no indication whatsoever that the former second-round is near ready to even make an NBA team, let alone contribute to it.
Q: Hey Doug, Question about free agency - It's been said that the Raptors can't sign two max free agents. Is it because the nature of the salary cap explicitly prevents it or is it the luxury tax just becomes a big deterrent?
I just don’t understand how teams like LA are able to work their way to a roster whose salary is almost double the cap while even *if* Toronto wanted to over spend and pay the tax to keep Bosh by getting another max contract player, their options are limited.
Drew M, Willowdale
A: When teams get to the salary level of, say, Boston or the Lakers, Knicks or Mavs it’s not usually because they’ve “signed” high priced players; it’s because they’ve obtained them in trades and then re-signed them using the Bird Rights exception.
And there’s no reason the Raptors can’t eventually do that, if they can find the high-priced guys to get in the first place in some transaction.
Q: Hi Doug, I've been invited to the MLSE President's breakfast next week with BB and BC and am wondering what to expect and whether I should spend the time to get down to the arena.
Will there be any privileged information shared or is it more of a boondoggle?
Lyndon L, Toronto
A: Now? I’d say go for sure; who knows what might have transpired between now and then. If you get any snippets of news, feel free to pass ‘em along.
Q: Hi Doug. I read your article on Tuesday about the work BC was doing preparing for the draft. I confess I was quite taken aback by your comment regarding Triano's input. Specifically, "The coaching staff plays a relatively minor role in the process. " Now I know you went on to say they would be consulted, and be at the individual workouts (and maybe some road ones), but isn't the Head Coach the one who is entrusted to develop the talent chosen. If so, he should be part of the "gang of six",.....er gang of seven shouldn't he? Does not including Triano as much not send a message his basketball views are not as appreciated as others?
Sohail G, Collingwood
A: I don’t think so at all. It’s rather commonplace in the NBA, as a matter of fact. The coaches will see individual workout but most of the work would have already been done by scouts compiling dossiers in the winter.
I didn’t say a coach would have no input but it won’t be as large as those who’ve seen the kids more often.
Q: It is the best Toronto basketball read of the day.
In my opinion, in terms of Toronto's place within the NBA marketplace, the one area that Toronto must be significantly above average is, drafting and developing of players. Accordingly, when you review the Raps drafts since 2000, not one Raps pick since Mo Pete in 2000, would have been drafted higher if a 'redraft' would have occurred 2 years later. The best pick since Mo Pete, would have been Bosh, who would still be 4th in that draft after - LeBron, Melo & Wade (picked after Bosh).
Agree or disagree?
Bo C, Toronto
A: I have to pretty much agree.
But I also don’t have the time or inclination go through 29 other teams and see which ones would be in precisely the same situation.
Q: Hey Doug, I was watching PTI last night and during a segment about whether Mike Brown would have a coaching job in the NBA next year, Mike Wilbon listed off a bunch of team that have or will have, coaching vacancies for next season. Needless to say, he mentioned Toronto in that group. I'm biased towards Wilbon, especially when he's talking NBA as he clearly has his ear on the pulse of the league and knows what's going on generally.
Wondering if you could provide any insight on this beyond the accepted belief that any coach who leads his team to a losing record should be worried about their job security?
Lorne S, Toronto
A: I know for a fact Jay has nothing to worry about at the moment; I’m not willing to say the same thing if the team’s in the toilet halfway through next season.
And I presume you could say the same for a lot of coaches of teams that don’t win. It’s a results-based industry and if you don’t win, you could very well lose a job.
Q: Doug, where do you see the Raptors team in 5 years/10 years down the road. Upper echelon of the NBA (ie Lakers), perennial playoff team (ie Jazz), struggling to make the playoffs (ie current Raptors), or cellar dweller (ie Timberwolves)? any why?
Thanks as always.
Jamie M, Winnipeg
A: I can’t envision where I’ll be in five or 10 years, I can barely envision where I’ll be tomorrow. As for the basketball team I cover? Who knows.
But I can say with 1,000 per cent certainty that wherever The Heroes Of The Hardcourt are, there will be a large number of angst-filled fans regaradless of how good or bad it is.
Q: Hi Doug. My question is with respect to NBA Playoff officiating. Do you not feel that the veteran crew officials who are paired together for playoff games (ie: JCrawford & ERush for game 5 in Orl) struggle with their officiating roles if they are not the crew chief and alpha-whistle-blowing-dog on the floor? There were some very curious sequences in game 5 where it seemed like Rush and Crawford were overly asserting their whistle into the game in response to their partner's calls. While I do think Eddie Rush is one of the best in the biz, I feel that Joe Crawford's eccentric personality is not what this stage of the playoff needs.
Jordan E, Toronto
A: Seeing how refs don’t work as a “crew” at any time in the regular season, I don’t see a problem with having a couple of veterans, or three of the best, doing the same game.
Now, I love Joe Crawford but you’re right, his personality is somewhat “eccentric” but it’s got nothing to do with who he’s working a game with and he is one of the very best officials in the league.