Mail's early because it was "supposed" to be a nice slow day
So all a guy really wanted to do today was get this mail done, enjoy some nice dim sum to begin an afternoon puttering in the yard before cake and candles but, no …
Now it’s all about figuring out what’s real and what’s fake and what might be in the never-ending Chris Bosh saga and work awaits.
I tell you, free agency can’t come and go fast enough.
Enjoy this, see you in the morning.
(Oh yeah, there are several more questions lurking about here that I’ll get to sometime in the next day or two for a bonus mailbag).
Q: Dear Doug. I recently watched John Thompson interviewing Steve Nash and Grant Hill and got to thinking about who I would like to spend an hour with talking about life and basketball. Aside from these three, Bill Russell and Wayne Embry were the most prominent choices.
If you had the opportunity, given how close you are to the game and how you are able to distinguish between what is important and what is trivial in life, which individuals associated with the game would you like to spend an hour with?
Frank B, Toronto
A: Aw, way to go, Frank, you took Wayne and Russell off my list; although I have had the pleasure of talking about life and sports with Wayne on several occasions.
Sooooo … if they’re off, I’d like to have an hour-long session with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar so he could tell me about life as Lew Alcindor and how he became the man he is.
And if Bill Walton could cut some of the hyperbole out of his conversation, I think he’d be fascinating to chat with about his off-court interests and his long-ago involvement with the activist Jack Scott.
You know what? If I could host a dinner party with Red Auerbach, Sweetwater Clifton, Earl Lloyd and Chuck Cooper, I’m not sure it’d get any better than that, basketball wise.
Q: "Always ready to answer with the biggest competence Doug" just a joke: "why don’t they do this sign-and-trade mister X with Chris?”
Stop with the never-ending question, I agree with you, we have to wait what Colangelo will be able to do.
Now the real questions. I saw more than 60% of Raptors games from the day Andrea signed with Raptors. You know I'm Italian and obviously I'm not so objective on Andrea evaluation. I think that Bosh is a wonderful player but I always thought that he was the biggest limit of Raptors development. He needs the ball too much, he is a great scorer, a nice guy, but, and this is a big BUT, he has a big limit: he is unable to understand when to be selfish and when it's better to assist some teammate. He has not in his mind the right and quick timing for the best decision about passing or shooting. His talent is unbelievable but his limit in understanding when to stop shooting to involve someone else in offensive responsibilities is so redundant and evident (in my poor opinion) over the years. I played basketball from 8 to 36 in Italy, then I coached the under 16 youngs of Benetton Basket (former team of Andrea, Kukoc, Del Negro and Messina), so you can understand my love and proudness for il Mago As NBA repeats "I love (and so much) this game". OK the questions, just 2:
Nr.1: Maybe CB was the "filter" to the Raptors development in this period? What's your sincere opinion?
Nr.2: I think that Andrea is probably limited in his development by his mandatory assignment to co-exist with CB, so he is in my opinion very underrated. I never saw by person a talent similar to Andrea. He could be an immediate impact all-star player, but he needs a team and a system build around him. For example I think that AB involved in a Phoenix-like way to play would flourish with very unimpressive stats (obviously Steve is fundamental for Suns success). So could we this year (if CB chooses to go to another team) see a very consistent new star in Andrea, if Triano gives him totally the Raptors keys?
Paolo P, Rome
A: I’m not sure that Bosh was any real kind of impediment to Andrea or anyone, I think his mere presence opened on-court possibilities for all his teammates.
Now, I’m sure you’re aware of the fact I’ve been pretty much defending Andrea for a long time. I see a unique skillset and thought patience and time was all he really needed to shine.
And I know that beneath that rather, um, placid exterior, there is a competitiveness, and an ego, that’s full of self-confidence.
I know, regardless of Bosh’s future, the coach and management plan to give Andrea far more responsibility next season and I’m also pretty confident he’ll come through. I think he perhaps shrunk a little with the presence of Bosh and his role as “the man” but I see signs of emerging attitude that I think will come out more next fall.
Q: I help my wife coach her elementary school team. They are a challenging but good group of kids (picture the Bad News Bears). We've often talked about how humorous it would be to take the team to a Raps game!
This got me to thinking. Tuesday afternoon the Jays game started at 1 p.m. and got an attendance of 30,000, well over average, which was mostly school kids and according to Alan and Jerry was a good crowd.
Now I know that the Raps do not have attendance problems but have they ever thought of having an afternoon game for schools?
The crowd could be great and give the opportunity for young kids that would never have that opportunity to watch an NBA team and maybe grow interest in the game.
Nick M, Hamilton
A: I don’t know if they’ve thought about it, but they should. And what they should do (and I’m sure someone over there is reading this) is this:
Take one, maybe two, of the pre-season games, play it at noon and give 10,000 tickets to either Ontario Basketball or some school boards.
And they should take the other two games out of the season-ticket package and sell them individually. They should make upper deck seats $7.50 and lower level seats $12.50.
That’s what they should do.
Q: Hey Doug, Already submitted something for this week's edition, but during a lull in the workday a question popped into my mind that I thought might have some mailbag-worthiness to it. And, this is it: I am presently doing preliminary planning with a group of very nice folks towards the design and construction of a group retirement residence. Now this is to be quite a unique place, designed specifically for retirees who had worked in the same specific profession. And, I wonder, if you were to be charged with the task of designing such a residence for retirees in your profession what particular amenities, features, requirements would need to be included to make it just right and suited to, as you have referred to yourselves, a gaggle of retired "ink stained wretches"?
Lorie P, London
A: The other one’s in here somewhere, no worries.
Now, I presume you could guess what I’d suggest such a home have: Lots of flat screen TVs, a whole whack of fully stocked fridges and perhaps a wet bar on every floor.
Oh, and I’d like to see a kick-ass barbecue on a huge deck with a brick charcoal barbecue close by and a nice stereo system pumping in some Sinatra, Springsteen, Pink Floyd, U2 and some old time jazz in a continuous loop.
If you build it, we will come.
Or at least I will.
Q: You noted that there will be no games in Chicago (so that agents' meal tickets won't have their weaknesses exposed). There also are various tryouts of players brought to Toronto and other cities prior to the draft. I admit that I don't get it. These kids have been playing college ball all year. Don't the teams have enough film and scouting reports on them in real game situations to be able to assess their strengths and weaknesses? What more can they learn watching them workout in a gym 1:1 or 2:2 or whatever? Thanks, Doug and absolutely love your blogs. Must read every day.
Richard W, Toronto
A: Not much, actually. And that’s why I think those individual workouts in the gym are an exercise in futility. I think the best part about those visits is the time the coaches and GM get to spend with a kid off the court, dinner the night before, interaction and before and after the workout, that provides the most pertinent information.
Q: Hi there Doug. A couple of general draft questions for you. (Yes I know, your favorite topic.) Are there some schools that run a 'prostyle offence' that may tilt the selection towards or away from a specific player. Are there some schools in general that have a better reputation for producing pros? And Raptor specific, if you were drafting, would you be looking at getting a big name big or getting a big man who specializes in the defence/ rebounding / shot block categories? Thanks for your insights as always.
Randy M, Crystal Beach
A: There really aren’t, actually, because it’s such a different game, especially now, and players’ talents vary so much.
As a way of an example, an NBA scout once told me he didn’t like kids from Kansas because they weren’t taught the right things. Guess Paul Pierce proves him wrong.
Another guy once told me kids who play at Syracuse are dangerous because the only play zone defence. I imagine the folks in Denver are glad that guy doesn’t work for the Nuggets.
And if I’m the Raptors, I take the best available legitimate big man, regardless of “name” or where he played.
But “best available” is pretty subjective, which is why the draft, especially at No. 13, is an entire crapshoot.
Q: A totally trivial question here:
Why do the Lakers get to wear non-white home jersey's? (do they even own white ones?) It's weirding my eyes out watching the LA/PHX games... :P
Sherry E, Toronto
A: I know, it’s odd, isn’t it? But the Lakers have traditionally worn gold home uniforms so it’s really not out of the ordinary. The white ones they added either last year or the year before (my mind isn’t as sharp as it should be) were “alternate” jerseys and to be worn only on Sunday afternoon home games.
And there no totally trivial questions around these parts, by the way.
Q: Happy birthday Doug!
I have a question or two about the draft. Are the Raptors looking to acquire additional picks? If so, who do you think would be the most likely trading partners?
Nik W, Pune, India
A: I think they’ll go deeper in the evaluation process before determining whether or not there’s someone in, say, the second half of the first round that they’d like to get if they could. But the sense I’m getting is that there’s not a huge appetite right now to acquire a second pick.
As for who? Well, I think the first place you look is at teams with multiple plcks and that would lead you to Memphis (12, 25, 28) and Minnesota (4, 16, 23) right off the bat. And both those teams are young enough that they might not want additional young players.
Q: Hi Doug, It seems that the core we went into last season with (Bosh, Bargs, Calderon), aside from Bargs, has all but fallen out of the Raptor's future-vision. Are we looking at another season or two of rebuilding or is BC looking to win now?
How can Bosh's value, a deep free agent off-season, and our 13th pick in the draft fast track this process?
Andrew G, Toronto
A: To start, I think you’re quite under-estimating the “core” because, even before they played a game, a year ago you could have put Turkoglu and DeRozan in that group.
And while, yes, Turkoglu and Calderon didn’t have good seasons, they are part of the core group still.
So, if you figure that, regardless of what happens with Bosh, you’re likely to have four starters back, they hope three key backups in Jack, Johnson and Weems so add to that what, if anything, they get for Bosh and perhaps a 13th pick who can play, I think the track they’re on is far better than a “rebuilding” process.
Q: Hey Doug, Can a team include its 2010 draft pick in a (sign and) trade this summer? Thanks.
Lucas B, Richmond Hill
A: Sure, since the draft will have taken place by the time free agency opens, the draft rights to an unsigned player are in play.
Q: Doug, I know that you have mentioned that agents often do not want their clients to show up at evaluation camps and do one on ones with other potential draft picks as it may expose some flaws and lower their draft status. Is there any way that the league would be able to mandate full participation in these camps (other than medical exemptions) in order for teams to get a true read on all the athletes? I would think the teams, league and fans would want this.
Darren A, Weyburn, SK
A: Since none of the draft-eligible players are actually employees of any team, it’s virtually impossible to mandate their appearance. I’m sure there are a handful of GMs who’d like that to be possible but I don’t see how it can come about.
Q: Hi Doug. I appreciate your hard work and have a quick question, although the outcome is highly unlikely, do you think Colangelo puts in a call to Wade/LeBron's reps and gauge an interest in playing with the Raps? (again, highly unlikely...but, curious to know)
Neil T, Mississauga
A: I don’t think he’d be doing his job if he didn’t at least make a call. And one thing Bryan is, is thorough. So, yes, I presume he’s at least done some work on it.
Q: I remember a few weeks ago you had some list about things that the players on the Raptors needed to work on during the off-season. How come defense does not come up as a focal point for deficiencies needed to be addressed in all of the players? Is that just something that is more innate? More like the willingness to play defense as opposed to learning to keep someone in front of them? Time to time you have made references from other personnel in the league saying if the Raptors played some defence they would be a very good team.
Jordan W, Albany
A: While it’s quite easy to sit back and say players should work at becoming better defensive players, like it’s easy to sit back and say players should become better shooters or ball-handlers, defence is not only innate and effort-driven, it’s also a function of the team’s system as well.
So to suggest there are ways to become better individual defenders through some sort of drills is a lot to ask. Players can work on quickness, which is part of every facet of the game, but other than that, it’s far more an effort and team thing they something you can teach in the summer.
Q: Hi Doug, It was mentioned here a while back that Tammy Sutton-Brown, during the WNBA off-season, plays ball in Turkey. So I was wondering, where does the game of basketball rank in the sports milieu in Turkey specifically, and Europe generally, for a woman who chooses to go play there? Does the women’s game get more serious media and fan attention than it does here in North America? How, if at all, does the level of competition differ? Is there just one league, or several? And, have you personally seen any women’s league games played overseas? Thanks.
Lorie P, London
A: I haven’t seen first-hand the women’s game played overseas so I’m going on information gleaned from a handful of women I know who’ve played there. It gets moderate attention, probably not as great as the WNBA gets in the cities where it has franchises and it certainly doesn’t have a national television broadcast deal.
But Turkey, specifically, is quite the basketball hotbed. Has been for years – that Triano fellow played there back in the day – and the Turkish men’s league ranks as one of the top in Europe. I’d say Spain and Greece would be 1-2.
Q: Some draft reviews describe players as highly motivated, or conversely, having a poor attitude, or occasionally "tuning out" the coach. How much credit do NBA teams give to the major sports media web sites that provide draft reviews? Do you know if NBA teams (at pre-draft conferences) ever ask/demand a battery of confidential phyc tests to assess the potential candidates "attitude to authority", "maturity", "self motivation", etc., or are they likely to make a pick based pretty much on their own scouting notes summarized as hunches, and lots of reviewing play footage with stats.
Y W, Halifax
A: I believe teams pay scant attention to “major sports media web sites.” But most teams do some sort of psychological testing, informal and formal, as they go through the interview process with potential picks. It’s all part of a very involved process.
Q: Hey Doug, after seeing the outcome of the draft lottery it's pretty clear that two teams in the Raps' division will get better and will get better quickly. But after seeing Philly getting #2 pick which will most likely get them the likes of Turner or W. Johnson I wonder if Iguodala could become more expandable to the Sixers given his pretty big contract and in turn become a potential target by the raptors. Do you think that it is a possibility or something that Bryan and his team would look in to? Thanks
Tomas L, Toronto
A: Trust me, if the Sixers make it known that they’ll entertain offers for Andre Iguodala, Bryan – and I’d presume more than dozen other NBA GMs – will take a look at it.
And I would venture to guess that Sixers GM Ed Stephanski has had a handful of calls exploring that possibility already.
Q: Doug, assuming you could still actually play the game (and that's no dig -- I'm in the same boat), what NBA player would you want for a partner playing 2 on 2? I think I'd go with Steve Nash. I might actually see the ball.
Alan C, Kawartha Lakes
A: Kobe. I’d let him go 1-on-2, I’d sit back and sip a cold drink and reap the benefits.
I don’t really care if I’d touch the ball, to tell you the absolute truth. It might scare me.
Q: How safe is Colangelo's job? If the Raps struggle again this season, do you see Colangelo's job being in jeopardy?
Bo C, Toronto
A: Sure. His contract expires at the end of next season so I’m absolutely certain his bosses want to see improvement this year.
Q: Not trying to change the hot topic of CB4 here, but I’ve been thinking this for the last few years. Wouldn't it be an awesome acquisition for Colangelo to pick up Yi or Yao or Sun or any Chinese player? I mean, with the massive Chinese community (many located in Richman's Hill), and many tourists in Toronto from China, Hong Kong & Taiwan, MLSE could potentially make tonnes of money just through rich Chinese people who live in the city. Sure, there maybe a few more Chinese flags in the stands, but that would also mean more fans cheering for the team.
Kevin J, Markham
A: Holy Stereotype, Batman!
Really, I have nothing good to say about tokenism, which is pretty much what you’re proposing since Sun is a stiff, Yi’s not far behind him and Yao’s always hurt.
And, trust me, MLSE makes tones of money now and will make oodles more if they win, regardless of the citizenship of the players on the roster.