And now, answers to your pressing questions
Not a bad week, kids.
Not a bad week at all.
Have a good time getting through this:
Q: Hi Mr. Smith. Happy Saturday! What are your thoughts about the Bosh twitters? There seems to be some offense taken, as seen in one national paper and other articles/blogs. What say you? Michelle P-B, Toronto
A: My thoughts? And reaction? A great big huge yawn.
Chris, as we’ve mentioned a couple of times, has a little narcissism in him so it doesn’t surprise me that he’d do something like that.
Judging from the overall reaction I’ve seen Saturday (and a Happy Sunday to you) some people seem quite up in arms.
Me? I’m bored by it. I know it doesn’t mean anything, I have no idea what he was trying to prove except that he wanted to make sure people were still thinking about him, maybe. But it’s a slow time around the Raptors and any reason for folks to get up in arms is a good reason.
I’m certainly not, though.
Q: Hello Doug - not a Raptors or basketball related question but a couple of weeks ago you mentioned that you were going to MS Walk on April 18th. I was just wondering what your connection is with multiple sclerosis. It is an awesome event.
Gregory B, Toronto
A: I have a dear friend, one of the Yankees Moms, who has it and got me involved a year ago. Am glad I am, it’s quite a worthwhile event and I enjoy helping out. Even if my muscles tend to disagree the day after.
Q: Hi Doug. George Hill, Manu, Dejaun Blair, Wesley Mathews, Milsap, Ibaka, Maynor, Beaubois, Lawson, Varajao, even Hickson are all very good players who were picked late-round or second. I cannot think of one 10-or-over pick from the Raptors that has ever succeeded. Do you think draft scouting is another glaring quandary that sorely needs to be address in this organization? I think the track record speaks for itself, doesn't it?
Shawn B, Toronto
A: Mo Pete, at No. 21, was a pretty good pick.
But you’re right, their second-round drafting has been atrocious and they need to hit a home run soon with a late choice. But I will also point out that the draft, especially in the latter stages, is an absolute crap shoot and while you mention of a few names, you go probably go find 10 times the number of misses by the same organizations you laud.
Q: Hello again Doug, If Bosh was traded, or went to play in the western conference and assuming the western conference does not lose any of it's PF / C's, is Bosh still a perennial All Star in your opinion? And would something like that be a factor that a player like Bosh might consider?
As always, thanks.
Steph R, Glencoe
A: If he plays the first of next year like he played the first half of this year, he’ll be an all-star no matter what conference he’s in. He might have been the best power forward in the game over November-December-January.
And I don’t honestly think that’ll factor too greatly into any decision he’ll make.
Q: Hello Doug. This is not specifically a (Raptors) basketball question, but as a respected pioneer in the field of what we fondly refer to as the "Live In-Game Blogging Thingy" phenomenon, I would be interested to know what your thoughts are on the introduction of Major League Baseball games to this reporting format? I would think some sporting, or other cultural events (please, Canadian Opera Company, give it a try!), lend themselves more successfully to a "live blog". Do you see other sports where it would work as well as say, basketball and hockey? And any that you doubt the chances of success? And why? Thank you, and as we Irregulars say, "Blog Well, Doug, and Blog Long".
Lorie P, London
A: I’ve often wondered how that thing would translate to other sports and I’ve come to conclusion that I don’t know if it would. I guess it would depend on the man or woman doing the typing but hockey’s probably too hectic and the vantage point for writers too bad to make it work while answering comments and baseball may be a wee bit to slow. I really think basketball is the best sport for it.
But I’d love to try it from some opera or theatre or something, that’d be a hoot for the, oh, tens of others who might interested in the inane ramblings.
Q: Hi Doug. You mentioned the other day the interesting intro/pump-up-the-fans moment at the Rose Garden and that the Rap’s should consider stealing the “ball-intro” thingy. What other interesting intro’s or in-game distractions have you seen over the years that are memorable? As a kid I always loved watching the intro at the Shark Tank during the Tark/LJ years.
Keep up the great work.
Heath M, Toronto
A: The very, very best thing I’ve seen in all my years is at Laker games where they hang a curtain, for lack of a more descriptive word, from the scoreboard all the way down to the court and superimpose images of the players on it while they do the introductions. It’s outstanding.
Other than that, nothing really stand out. It’s the same old, same old. June Taylor Dancers, urchins delivering the ball to refs, tow-headed tykes welcoming the home team onto the court with high fives and a lot of the same in-game inanities we see here.
Q: Hey Doug. I read some comments by Tracy McGrady on why people might choose to leave Toronto for another NBA market. One of the reasons he states is "tax reasons". I've heard Chris Webber saying something like this about Toronto jokingly with a player (I don't remember whom) who came to play for the Raps. What's the deal with the taxes? Is it that bad for them? I've heard a creative accountant can take care of it for them so that it's not such a big deal. What are we talking about here?
Ashley M, North York
A: We’re talking about is one of the great red herrings of all time. If professional athletes can’t find accountants able to ease any tax burdens wherever their two main residences are (and just about every player in every sport lives somewhere else in their off-season) then those players have to fire their agents and find someone who can hook them up with a good number-cruncher.
And the Raptors, under the guidance of then-GM Glen Grunwald, actually put together a brochure that showed agents how to handle some thorny tax issues.
I’d suggest neither Mr. McGrady or Mr. Webber have a clue when it comes to that issue.
Q: Doug, which ex-Raptor(s) still active in the NBA would you like - in theory - to see back on next year's team?
Ron F, Toronto
A: Vince, Marcus, Chauncey. Probably in that order, too. In theory.
Q: Hi Doug. A few things I'm thinking about...
For those who are thinking about a Bosh for Dirk trade, can you imagine Dirk and Andrea together.
Does Andrea have the same role with Italy as he does with Toronto? I really think he needs an opportunity to just play in the paint at both ends. You wouldn't see everything he can do on offense, but he would work on the weaker parts of his game.
Finally, does the NBA do anything to educate the media on rules and rule interpretation? Some writers/announcers seem to be clueless about the rules while others have a good understanding.
Kevin M, Maple
A: I don’t know precisely what Andrea’s role is with his national team but I’m told he’s the focal point of what they do. I just hope they play strictly man-to-man defence so he can use those games and practices to work on his weak-side help and rebounding, both things you need to work on in games, not in drills.
And, yes, every season in the first couple of weeks, the league sends its referees to conduct seminars with any broadcasters or writers who care to take part. It’s my history here that most in Toronto do.
Q: Doug: Thanks for all your great work over the years. I have a question about the Playoff Format?. Why is it different than hockey where the top seed plays the lower seed regardless. For example the Cavs being a #1 now playing the Celtics who are a #4, when the Bucks at a #6 might still win their series. The same in the West, where assuming the Lakers win, they would play the Jazz or Nuggets instead of the #7 Spurs?
David C, Toronto
A: A lot of it has to do with television, which doesn’t want a handful of dark nights during the early rounds while some teams are waiting to find out who they’ll play.
And, personally, I think it’s a good idea and a not bad reward that if, say, a No. 8 seed knocks off a No. 1 that they get a supposedly easier series against a No. 4 or 5 instead of having to play a No. 2.
But it’s basically television driven in the NBA’s case.
Q: With the raptors missing the playoffs we get to keep our draft pick. What impact does this have on our 2011 draft, if any?
Jeffery A, Toronto
A: If the Raptors make the playoffs next season, they lose the pick.
Q: Would it be safe to say that BC's Jermaine O'Neil trade can be classified as the worst one in the history of the franchise? Maybe top 3 in the NBA if Miami is able to re-sign DWade to a max and use the cap relief of O'Neil this year to sign CB4 for the max?
In return for O'Neil we got Marion who we parlayed into room to sign Turk. Plus we got Antoine who is one of 3 Raps who play defense hard each night but at least we can count in him for 3 to 4 bad shots a game?
Jero L, Hong Kong
A: Heck, no. Not even close. Look, Miami was going to get cap relief for this summer regardless of the O’Neal trade; they were poised to dump Marion and save enough to make a maximum value offer in 2010 no matter what. The trade did nothing to change that.
Q: World Cup of Soccer question: I know you favor the Black Stars, a great team. But you should look into the history of soccer in South Africa, and because of the venue, this tournament is so poetic for all South Africans. I bet you will feel compelled to root for Bafana Bafana.
Sep J, Amos
A: I’m sure the hosts will tug at my heartstrings for sure, it’s a hugely compelling story. I can’t wait for it to start.
Q: Hey Doug. Had a question for your regarding this teams progression. In the ever increasing likelihood that Bosh leaves this off season and we pretty much stand pat, I believe that the future of this team rides on our two young wing players, DeMar DeRozan and Sonny Weems. I think we can call last year the rookie season for both, so I am wondering what you consider to be the ceiling for these players? Could one or both of them soar to the heights of a certain previous raptor who for the purposes of this blog goes unnamed?
James R, Croydon, UK
A: I don’t know about ceilings, it’s such a nebulous, odd concept I don’t give any thought to. But I can say with almost 100 per cent certainty, neither of those two will approach the skill level of the fellow you’re talking about.
And, I warn you, DeRozan and Weems have such similar skills, I don’t know if there’s a place for both of them on the same team in the long run.
Q: Hi Doug. I tried this one about a month ago but I'll try again: I'm a Jose fan, but it seems undeniable that he had a poor season. What went wrong for Jose this year and what do you think he can do to prevent a repeat performance?
Geoff R, London
A: He had a poor season without a doubt. I don’t know if he lost a bit of confidence, if he found it too hard to mesh on the court with Hedo or if just had one of those “off years” that guys have. I fully expect he’ll be back better next fall. I don’t think he has to “do” anything specifically.
Q: Hi Doug, read your column and blog all the time. I would like to know what do you think about this statement: "a team with heart and desire to win always has an advantage over a team with pure talent". I love Raptors but sometimes it really bugs me to see them lose to teams that they are supposed to beat (on paper) like the Grizzlies and Bucks. I think the Bucks vs. Hawks series really backed up my statement as a team with heart will find a way to beat a team with talents. What do you think Doug, thanks for your time.
Gary L, Mississauga
A: “Always?” No way. Very rarely, actually because talent wins; I’d say 95 per cent of the time. And talent and effort never loses.
And that’s why they play games and don’t go by paper, you never, ever know. Next season, watch how many teams around the league “lose games they’re supposed to win” every week. I bet it’s more than 10.
Q: Hey Doug, let’s say 10 all-stars took a minimum contract, signed to the same team, and won a championship. Do you think that they would be satisfied?
Is there a point where a team gets so good that winning isn't fulfilling and it almost seems like cheating? Where do you think that point is? Or is winning, winning?
David S, Toronto
A: I think the best way to put it would be that they’d be satisfied yet unfulfilled because I believe in their hearts, the very best players in any sport thrive on the competition, being challenged by players of similar skill and running amok over weak opposition gets old in a hurry. But a title’s a nice thing to have.
Q: Hey Doug, watching the OKC, Lakers series I noticed that both Kobe and Durant were sporting low-top sneakers. In terms of the Raptors does the team mandate high-tops only? (less chance of injuries, etc?) Is this a new trend in the league?
Jason G, Mississauga
A: No, the team doesn’t mandate style or manufacturer of shoe. But I know a couple of trainers throughout the league are not all in favour of the low-tops because they don’t offer a whole lot of support. And I’m sure that message gets delivered to the players; however, they make their own choices.
Q: From your main man Ira down in the swamps:
"It has nothing to do with what Toronto wants. The Heat simply can sign Bosh into its cap space. Bosh then can go back to the Raptors and say, “I’m going to the Heat, but I can earn more if you want to get something back in a sign and trade.” What the Raptors want has absolutely nothing to do with the process. It’s what Bosh wants. Bryan Colangelo is Bosh’s pawn right now, nothing more."
To me, that seems a little ruthless, not that it couldn't and hasn't happened before. But if you're BC, do you take back less than desirable players or say to Bosh: "No deal. Take your 30 million pay cut and have a nice day?"
BTW, from your choice digs, we can very clearly see you're not Brian. It's just that a little role-playing is fun to spice up life in Toronto's way too frequent long off-season.
Cheers and thanks for the late night game chats! It may be late for you, but here in China, a live blog over a cup of java is a nice treat.
Josh F, Ningbo, China/St. Catharines
A: If Bryan can’t get back assets he deems worthy – whether it’s with Miami or any other team – I would hope, and feel pretty certain that he wouldn’t make a deal just to make a deal. Any transaction has to make at least a little sense to him.
That said, what we deem unworthy, whether it’s players or cap relief or whatever, may be quite worthy to him.
But, it is first and foremost a business and I don’t think he’d make a bad business deal just to help a guy make more money.
Q: Hey Doug. Dwight gets fined $35,000 for criticizing the refs after sweeping away the Cats. Question one: Was this a pointless move or does he feel this will endear him to the refs in a much tougher second round series? Coach Van can't be too happy. Question two: How much of a hindrance is twitter, blogs etc for these athletes? Are there any advantages that you can see?
Adam R, Toronto
A: I think it was entirely pointless and rather unfounded since the vast majority of fouls I saw called against Howard in that series were entirely justified. But the NBA’s charities benefit from the fine money so I’m okay with that part of it.
I’m not entirely sure what you mean by the second half of your question, though. Personally, I find twitter mostly mindless ramblings that I couldn’t care less about; I presume the athletes think it’s fun and a way to connect with fans at 140 words per transmission.
Q: Hey Doug, haven’t written in since J.O. trade. Still keep tabs on you though.
Recent talk of defence and rebounding being about effort and heart led me down a winding path... Superman 2.0, Lee et al today. Shaq back in the day. Then Dennis Of Bulls Fame Rodman popped in my head and stuck there, leading me to:_
Who'd be your top 5 rebounders all time.
2) You have Dennis, Shaq (Magic days), Howard, Lee and whoever is in that top 5. You NEED a big rebound or 6, an elbow in a rib, butt in a chest etc. Who do you toss in there?
Bles M, London
A: My top five doesn’t really mirror yours very much, I’m afraid.
I go with Wilt, Russell, Rodman, Moses Malone and, in an upset, Charles Barkley.
And I’m leaving out all kinds of greats like Nate Thurmond and Elgin Baylor, Hakeem (who might have been the best offensive rebounder ever) and Shaq, Howard and Kareem.
David Lee? You’re kidding right?
Q: Hey Doug. With the way the Deer/Hawks series has gone up to this point would it be fair to have this year's Raptors squad stand in between both squads and wonder what could've been?
In looking at the Hawks they would see how pure talent alone does not necessarily win you games and then they could look the other way at the Bucks and see what it could look like if they played more cohesively as a unit. Is looking at how the Bucks play together as a group a good model for teams such as the Raptors even though they have totally different players I'm sure they could take something out of it?
Adam R, Toronto
A: I think there is a lot to be learned about teamwork, dedication to defence, consistency of effort and I’d hope the Raptors are watching closely.
And, yes, in overall talent level, I’d probably put them somewhere between those two teams.
Q: Hi Doug. I couldn't agree with you more about the quality of announcers. I think the only thing worse than watching the Celtics advance was having to hear their totally biased nutjob crew call the game.
Do you think BC et al. are taking note of the teams with 'surprise' playoff success (i.e., SAS, Bucks) - that they play solid team defence? At what point will BC see that maybe the one-way Euro philosophy needs tweaking?
There's a lot of post-game/season "D" talk in Raptorland, but these players seem like they don't believe they can deliver. I'm not advocating 9 new players, but maybe 2-3 hardnosers that can deliver 30 mins each and maybe change the mentality! I'd even be OK if we had to lose CB4 for that.
David W, Toronto
A: Yes, I’m pretty sure Bryan and his people are watching what works in the post-season very closely and would like to improve the team defence. And I trust they’ve thought that way since long before the post-season began.
But if you’re ditching the “one-way Euro philosophy” you are not allowed to hold up as shining examples either the Spurs, with their French-born and raised point guard and Argentine-born, European-trained shooting guard, or the Bucks and their own Argentine-born, European-trained small forward and Turkish born and raised backup power forward.
Q: I sent you a question that was posted in last week’s mailbag about the improved performance of many former Raptors (e.g. Arroyo, Bonner … etc.), and the reasons why they have blossomed in their new setting. Your response was that the Raptors didn’t have enough horse for the courses. I find 2 fundamental issues with the horse argument, and I was respectively hoping to elicit your response.
First, from most accounts the Raptors have horses. Bryan has mentioned that the 2009/2010 Toronto Raptors were among the best ensemble he’s put together, and most NBA analysts had the Raps finishing in the playoffs (some as high as 5th). Clearly, the Raptors, as an organization, have under-performed.
Second, the horses argument doesn’t hold up. If the Raptors didn’t have horses then once those horses leave Toronto they shouldn’t they do as good or worse on their new team (given their reduced roll on a better team, more competition for minutes). Yet, many former Raptors have blossom!_ ed once leaving Toronto especially on better teams (see my previous Q, but see also Chauncey, Camby, Delfino, Roger Mason). As such, my only conclusion is that there is something inherent within the Raptors organization that helps nourish under-performance (I think your report card for this year would support this as well). Some would place this underperformance on the lack of the toughness (the Oak factor), some too much partying, or lack of chemistry; but Feschuk had an interesting take a few weeks back. He mentioned (I am paraphrasing) that MLSE as a corporate conglomerate/fiscal machine does not provide the emphasis for success, only ROI (return on investment); and as such players can get by with just getting by. If you were to dissect the horses the Raptors have, how many are just getting by? What is needed (type of player/coach/GM ) to change this organizational malaise around?
Mark P, Burlington
A: I don’t agree that it’s an institutional malaise and think you may have slightly misinterpreted my answer.
I think the Raptors, because they haven’t been a very good team very often, ask too much of players. Take Moon, for instance. No way he should have been a starting small forward on a good team but he was on a so-so team; now, in a role better suited for him, he’s doing well. Parker, for instance, is a definite role player, he was put in a position of too much responsibility as something of a go-to guy here.
Once the Raptors get better players, guys like that will go back to the roles they are best suited for.
To me, a guy like Sonny Weems, for instance, is better suited as a backup and if the Raptors to continue to need him to start, he could very well plateau. And he could very well leave and be a productive role player as a backup somewhere else.
That’s horses for courses; the Raptors have mudders running a fast track too often and they way to change it is to get better studs and let the others go back to what they’re best suited for.
So, if there’s an “institutional malaise” is that the front office hasn’t found enough studs yet and over-estimates the abilities of lesser quality players.
Q: Any chance the NBA will move free agency before the draft (like the NFL)?
Also do you think the raptors have any intensions of packaging their pick with a contract like Turks or Calderon to grab a savvy vet a la John Salmons?
Tony R, Budapest
A: No, I don’t think there’s any chance, or need, to change the current system. And have never heard a suggestion it’s even on the radar.
And, yes, I presume they will look to make package deals with all kinds of guys but if you think a lottery pick and either Turk or Calderon are equal value for John Salmons, you are, in my opinion, far, far, far over-estimating the value of John Salmons.