More mail than you may be able to handle
Seems a glorious day ahead, which is good considering the Mighty Yankees work out at noon. So have a go at this stuff and, if you’re interested, the plan is to do an in-game blog thingy off the Magic-Celtics at 3:30.
Sadly, well, maybe sadly, that plan now has to change. Something's come up here with Super Family that I'd absolutely forgotten about so I'm not going to be able to be around to charm (or disturb) you this afternoon. Sorry about that, folks.
Q: Dear Mr. Smith. I came across an article this week about Clippers owner, Sterling, and lawsuits brought against him regarding his alleged racism, discriminatory acts and sexist acts. If what is written is true, this seems far, far worse than what some NBA coaches and players have been fined for as of late. It appears there is a double standard and I am wondering why, in your understanding, if such, it is not more of an issue with the players' union and other owners or coaches?
Michelle P-B, Toronto
A: In my opinion, Donald Sterling is a despicable man. It’s one thing to mismanage a professional sports team, it’s quite another to be found guilty of housing discriminating against non-Koreans, specifically blacks and Latinos in a suit brought by the United States federal government.
And while I’m not privy to all the business conducted by the league with its owners, if there hasn’t been some censure or a fine levied, it’s a terrible double standard and sends a bad message.
There may have been something done behind closed doors; I would certainly hope so.
Q: More a cap/team management question. With a new CBA agreement just around the corner would it be wise for a team to sign a long term max deal (5 years ??). Or would it be better to ride it out a year or two and then pickup the players at a lower rate and maybe not 100% guaranteed ?
Of course the Raptors have already boxed themselves in.
John P, Vernon Hills, Ill.
A: I think that for all but the biggest free agent names this summer, teams would be wise to strike deals for as short a duration as they can. Who knows what the new deal will look like but if history holds, the league will win convincingly. Now, that said, you know that agents will be looking for contracts as long as they can get them so I think we might see some contentious negotiations with second- or third-tier free agents this summer. But if I’m a GM, I hold fast and don’t give out deals longer than, maybe, two guaranteed years to that kind of player.
Q: Doug, I really enjoy the blog and your in-game commentary.
A question about the Suns-Lakers series. I heard that, to protest the new Arizona papers-please law, the city of Los Angeles has decided to cut off all sorts of financial deals with the state of Arizona (no city employees can travel there on business, cancelled contracts with Arizona companies etc).
Have you heard anything about the Lakers taking part in any sort of protest when the series moves to Phoenix? Should they? How about 'Los Lakers' jerseys.
Jim M, Richmond Hill
A: No, there are no plans for the Lakers to do anything, nor the Suns for that matter. The Los Suns night was a one-off deal to coincide with the Cinco De Mayo celebrations a way to attract attention to a law they – and I – feel is terribly unjust. But it’s over now.
Q: Hi Doug. As the worries start to mount that Bosh is as good as gone when July 1 rolls around, I have another Bosh-related question for you:
In today's NBA, can your #1, head and shoulders above all his teammates, star player be a power forward or even a big for that matter? Looking at the rosters of the 16 teams that made these playoffs, the best player on most teams is a wing or point guard. And the teams whose #1 is a debatably their PF (San Antonio, Dallas and Phoenix) always have a "1A" PG or wing. Even Orlando with Howard is stocked with a whack of complementary scorers... SO the short question is: Is Bosh the guy to build around in today's NBA?
Sean F, Kitchener
A: Yep, with the right cast he can be your leading scorer and top rebounder and the guy who gets a lot of offensive touches. But, and I will say this for the umpteenth time, it’s never, ever, ever, never about “one guy to build around” if you don’t have other talent. If it was, you’d say that LeBron isn’t a guy to build around because he hasn’t won. And neither did Kobe, nor did Wade, Carmelo hasn’t, Jordan didn’t, Kareem didn’t, hell, Bird didn’t.
But there’s no reason in the world to think that Bosh couldn’t be a huge part of a very good team.
Q: Doug, what do you make of Philadelphia interviewing so many people for the vacant coaching position? Going through an interview requires quite a bit of work preparing for it, especially I imagine for an NBA position.
I know that the team can benefit from seeing this many coaches by getting multiple ideas on how individuals might run the team, or see as undeveloped strengths.
Just how is the team/GM viewed amongst prospects with so many candidates being interviewed?
As always, thanks.
Steph R, Glencoe
A: I think some of the interviewees would find it a good exercise, frankly, with an eye for future jobs. I think going through the process a number of times, to see what kind of questions are asked, to see if the preparation you’d done is enough or if it needs tweaking, would be a learning experience and if teams want to go through a large number of interviews, everyone probably wins.
So I would think a lot of the interviewees would be quite glad a team like Philly seems to be casting a wide net.
Q: Hey Doug. Love the work you do, please keep it up. Got somewhat of a personal question for you: if the planets ever aligned properly and if your bosses asked, do you think you could ever see yourself give up the basketball gig to follow your apparent second passion and become a grunt for the 'Heroes of the Baseball Diamond'?
Steve T, Ajax
A: First off, let me preface this by saying I love my gig, love my summers with the Mighty Yankees and have absolutely no desire to change much. That said, I did a little baseball for The People’s Wire Service back in the heyday of the early 90s here and I would prefer to go back there rather than to, say, the pucks.
But, truth be told, I’m getting to such an advanced age and Gruntdom is a young mug’s game so my next gig, I hope, involves something other than six- or seven-day-a-week coverage of a team.
Q: Hi Doug, non-Raptors, non-basketball related question. There was some talk lately on whether the MLB should take a stand and take the all-star game away from Arizona, as a boycott for the negligent law that everyone is talking about. I was just wondering what your thought is and whether this could actually have an impact on the people who can take a stance and reconsider the regulation. I heard the NFL did something similar back in the 80s and it worked.
Tobias R, Thornhill
A: It’s an interesting and vexing question but I would certainly think the powers that be in major league baseball should be thinking about revoking Phoenix as the site of the 2011 all-star game given the continued backlash against the state law. And, since that law is seen in some circles as direction aimed at Latinos, I would think MLB, which is so heavily tied to the Latin community in so many countries, might have another reason to think about moving the game.
I guess the difference is that in 1990, when the NFL pulled the 1993 Super Bowl from Arizona, it was after citizens had voted down recognition of Martin Luther King Day as a holiday; this time around, the law against illegal immigrants is already in place.
And I don’t know nearly enough about the civics of Arizona stat law and the process to repeal a law already on the books.
Q: Just wondering your thoughts on Doug Collins and Mark Jackson as coaches. You did a run down of coaches a few weeks ago but I don't recall comments on either.
Jeffrey M, Saint John
A: I think, and history seems to bear me out on this, that Doug Collins is a good coach who burns out quickly. As for Mark Jackson, I have no idea since he hasn’t as much as been an assistant. I know Mark harbours hopes of being a head coach right away, without putting in any time on a bench, and I think that’s a big, big gamble and I don’t know if he can pull it off.
Q: Doug, what do you think about the 2-3-2 format in the finals? Do you think that the team without the home court advantage is really at an advantage here since the other team gets 3 games in a row at home? Any idea why The Finals are like that (other than they get to travel 2 times less each). And do you agree that the 2-2-1-1-1 format is better, even for the finals?
Philip L, Markham
A: I don’t mind it, actually. It was changed in the 80s, in part because the quality of play might have suffered and fatigue was a big part of what seemed to be routine Finals between the Lakers and Boston and everyone was tired of traipsing from one coast to the other. The first-round series, 2-2-1-1-1, remain that way because the travel is easier.
And from my own selfish perspective, 2-3-2 is far easier to handle from a travel – and expense – point of view.
Q: Doug, can you please confirm something I heard a while back. A team that has space under the salary cap to get a player in a trade does not have to match the salary with a player. Example, the Heat have the room for Bosh and do a sign and trade with Toronto. Because the Heat are under the cap, Toronto does not need to accept 17 million back in salaries and can just get back they player that they want, even if that player is making just 3 million. Am I wrong in my understanding of what I heard?
Brian M, Barrie
A: You’re correct in that scenario.
Q: Hey Doug, just read an article saying Joel Anthony will opt out of his contract this summer. If the Raps are able to get a starting caliber wing/point guard for Bosh (assuming he wants to leave) wouldn't Anthony - a shot-blocking/hustle/defensive type of center - be the perfect 5 to Bargs at the 4? (Plus all the positive PR for signing a Canadian couldn't hurt!)
Steve G, Grand Falls-Windsor
A: While Joel Anthony is an intriguing young player, I don’t see him as anything more than a role player off the bench to provide some shot-blocking and defence. He is not a starting calibre big, in my opinion. And Toronto’s first priority among young bigs has to be Amir Johnson. But I can see making a call to Anthony to fill in a fourth- or fifth-big spot if there’s space on the roster.
Q: Hi Doug. You're a first year GM of an expansion tam, with a healthy budget and a desirable locale that all players want to come to (yes, I know, very realistic.) What are your first 3 priorities in terms needs you are trying to address when constructing your team? What "type" of players are you going after?
Atif S, Mississauga
A: I want a young, explosive, athletic wing; a veteran big with a wealth of playoff experience and a pass-first point guard who can defend.
Q: That disappearing act by LeBron got me thinking. There are 5 seconds left and you're down by 1 point. Who do you want on your team to take the shot? Top 3 active players, top 3 all-time?
Bob H, Mississauga
A: Only three? Okay, of the active guys it has to be Kobe by a mile but then I might take Pierce and Wade, although there are a handful of others who’d get consideration.
All time? I’m only going back to the 80s but I want Jordan, Bird and Reggie Miller with the ball in their hands.
Q: I've just finished reading the book "Moneyball" and it was interesting how the A's gave a writer total access to the A's draft room. Is there any scenario where you could see going into the Raptors draft room and doing a really cool piece on what goes on behind the scenes?
Evan G, Thornhill
A: I think that kind of access works best when it’s set up for a book project that’s longer term rather than a newspaper article that would be more immediate. I think there might be too many “off the record” requests because you’re talking about guys still in the league and in mix if the story was going to be written soon after.
But, that’s just the kind of off-the-beaten-track story I need to do more of. All I need is the ideas and the time to pull them off.
Q: Hi Doug. Been meaning to ask you this, not sure if someone had asked before this question. You've often somehow dismissed a player who puts up big numbers if that player happens to be playing for the Clippers, Warriors, etc. Setting this as a measuring bar, can it also be said that CB4 is a good player who puts up huge numbers on a poor performing Raps team? Thoughts?
V C, Markham
A: You could, yes. Except the Raptors are better that the teams I generally refer to; and there is no doubting Bosh’s talents. I guess, like everything, there is no blanket answer and you take every situation on its own.
Q: Hi Doug, love the dedication to the game that is seemingly endless that you have to continue to cover playoff "action".
Anyways, quick question about the draft prospect process. What is the difference between a team with great scouts that find overlooked talent, hidden gems or amazing 2nd round talent and a team's scouts (like the Raptors) just can't seem to get anything out of the lower picks? Is luck? A lot of homework? a large team? a feel or instinct? Or a combination of all that? And does it matter how much money a team invests in its scouting? Is it expensive? And finally where do you find great scouts? (scouts that scout scouts I believe haha)
Okay that’s all, thank you very much
Jars G, Guelph
A: It’s a combination of good luck, bad decisions by teams drafting just ahead of you, the willingness to gamble on someone who might be considered flawed and, yes, the Raptors have fallen down greatly in second-round drafting. That said, I think it’s about 20 per cent of second-round picks who ever actually play in an NBA game and far fewer who are regular members of a rotation.
Scouting isn’t all that expensive – you can play money-saving trips quite easily since schedules are out so early – and I think good scouts develop with time; there is a knack for unearthing gems that comes with seeing a huge number of games.
Q: Hi Doug, thanks for keeping the blog all full up with interesting, even after the Raps have folded.
Two things; first, are you completely convinced that Jack and Calderon can't be on the same team? Is it just the fact that both want to start, because I think they compliment each other quite well.
Second, did you catch Jerry Stackhouse singing the American national anthem in round 1? Pretty good, eh? How about a top 5 singers in NBA history list this week, in honour of Stack's pipes (kinda made me wonder if Al Green's got a jumper).
Chris A, Bowmanville
A: No, I actually think both Calderon and Jack could exist on the same team as long as roles are defined clearly and consistently from Day 1. I’m not sure that opinion is shared by people with titles or decision-making capabilities, though.
Singers? Sorry, I don’t hear nearly enough locker room warbling to have an answer to that.
Q: Not hoops-related at all, but I wondered what odds you give the Black Stars of Ghana for getting out of the group stage at the World Cup?
C W, Iqaluit
A: Well, conceding the No. 1 spot in that group to Germany, I think they’ve got a better than good chance to come out as the second team against other group members Serbia and Australia.
And I bet we know early because their first match out of the box is against Serbia, the other contender for that second spot.
Q: Hi Doug. I noticed from your writings and musings that you seem to know a bit about soccer (or international football if you like). I was wondering if you knew if some of the big European soccer clubs were attempting to scout North America for players. How would you compare and contrast that with NBA teams scouting Europe for players. Is there an anti- North America bias in soccer clubs as well?
Sohail G, Collingwood
A: Well, thank you for the kind words but all I know about international football you could wrap in a hooligan’s scarf. But I do know I like it.
I also know that MLS is often scouted by top European teams, I know there are Canadians who have been plucked out of programs here to join academies and ultimately big firms in Europe so, no, I don’t think there’s necessarily a bias. I do think some Europeans look down their nose at the majority of North American soccer but that’s their loss.
Q: Would the Raps look at going after Gilbert Arenas, or does Canada have a rule in place where a convicted criminal cannot come to the country. I think that he may be a wild card next year worth taking a chance on.
Drew L, Edmonton
A: I don’t think getting across the border would be an issue. But whether they should look at him or not? I don’t know that, either. I know M. Grange ™ has espoused the view that they should but it would be a huge gamble that would cost them quite a few pieces to put together.
But I also think Gilbert’s going to be on his absolute best behaviour next season; how long that lasts is anyone’s guess.
Q: Hey Doug. Loved watching the Cavs' dramatic implosion the other night. All the talk is about the LeBacle, but what do you think this defeat means for Shaq? Is this the end of his playing days in the NBA? I for one would much rather watch him do analysis on TNT or ESPN than lumber around the paint.
Love the blog!
Jim W, Aurora
A: I’ve had tons of Shaq questions since Game 6 in the Boston series so I’ll use as representative of all them, if you don’t mind.
At 37 years old, a defensive liability against any team that runs a lot of screen and roll action with bigs, I’m really not sure there’s going to be a lot of interest in O’Neal.
But, that said, O’Neal does have some offensive game left, he can be an imposing presence and I’m sure there’s a general manager out there who’d love to have him in some supporting role off the bench.
Whether he goes along with, I don’t know, although he said after the series that he wants to keep playing.
I do know this, I cannot see him going to some bad team as a novelty to help sell tickets; I’m pretty sure he’ll be looking at a place where he thinks he can win another ring.
Q: Hi Doug. Any insightful thoughts on the Woodson firing? I remember during the regular season that you were quite impressed with the job he was doing in Atlanta. But it also seems like the Hawks lackluster playoff performance sealed his fate. Is this another example of an organization placing too much blame on a coach for the under-performance of the players?
Ryan S, Boston
A: Insightful? I doubt it.
I was impressed that he had that group of individuals playing team defence and creating offence off it and I thought he did a good job. The fact his team won more games in each following season for the years he was there kind of makes that point, doesn’t it?
The fact the players degenerated into a group of selfish individuals when I know first-hand from seeing them up close that he preached ball movement is the reason he was let go but I don’t see it being all his fault at all.
And with a roster likely to undergo significant change this summer, I think management pulled the plug too quickly. As management tends to do.
Q: Doug, I was wondering who you would consider the best grunt out there in the league today--somebody that you would suggest is, or is close to, a must-read no matter how well the team they cover is doing. You have to exclude yourself, and if your position in the PBWA doesn't allow you to answer for some bias reasons I understand. And as a classic second comment, what if LeBron scores 50 or 60 but they lose by a couple points--does history remember game 5 or game 6?
Mr. C, Kingston
A: I’m going to take the easy way out on this one, and it’s got nothing to do with my PBWA role or anything. I tell you, this business is chock full of great beat writers at newspapers that the general public doesn’t know a thing about.
I can’t pick one over another, though, because (a) I don’t read enough of everyone every day and (b) judging “best” is virtually impossible.
I will tell you this, I read Dave D’Alesandro in Newark almost every day during the season; if there’s a story to be broken in Dallas, I feel comfortable Eddie Sefko will be the one breaking it and K.C. Johnson in Chicago does a fabulous job in a tough competitive market.
That said, none of us have it really easy; we do what we can and hope to get the right story every day.
Q: HI Doug. Do you think the Raptors can sign Joe Johnson (I keed!)
Actually, there are 2 statements I've heard recently and I was wondering what percentage of those statements you believe to be true. 1) The Raptors gave up and didn't want to make the playoffs. 2) LeBron gave up on the Celts._Thanks
Richard F, Victoria
A: Zero on both accounts, probably. I know for a fact every Raptor would have rather had their season extended if only for four games as opposed to how it ended.
And I don’t know that “gave up” is the right word for LeBron’s play in the final two games against Boston. For some reason he was certainly out of sorts in Game 5 but his triple-double in Game 6 leads me to believe he didn’t give up the ghost. Now, maybe the inevitability of a loss in the final 90 seconds might have led him to concede defeat early but giving up is probably the wrong phrase.
Q: All I hear is that Dwyane, LeBron, Amare or Chris are off to N.Y., Cleveland or Miami. Is it so unrealistic to think that one of the 'big' free agents could come to Toronto, play with Bosh and bring a contender (if not a title) to Canada? If it is so unrealistic - why?
Brian C, Toronto
A: Yes, it is so unrealistic. First off, there is the salary issue and let’s just say it this way: Toronto doesn’t have the money to offer nor the pieces any team would want in a sign-and-trade. And, secondly, the team doesn’t appear close enough to contention that any of the top free agents would be eager to come here.
Q: Does David Lee make the most sense for both teams as a sign & trade option? How do you think he fits with the current roster? Are there any point guards out there we could target?
Ray S, Toronto
A: David Lee makes absolutely no sense to me, but I in the minority in that opinion.
And here’s the thing people don’t seem to quite grasp: You cannot “target” people in a sign and trade; if that’s the route Bosh wants to go, he and only he, will decide which teams he’d join and then it’s up to Bryan and the other GM to come up with some package. Or, you just let Bosh walk instead of getting saddled with terrible long-term deals.
Bosh is driving this process in that regard.
Q: Ok, I'm sure this can be filed under "most ridiculous questions" or even "utterly impossible/improbably," but... if T-Mac does recovers over the summer, do you think he can still be effective (and now for the ridiculous part) and do you think he could help the Raptors, either by helping Bosh stay with a Mid Level, or by being an effective player.
Wayde S, Toronto
A: No, I don’t think he can be effective any more except perhaps as a backup; and no, I don’t think it would have one iota of bearing on Bosh; and, if Tracy gets a full mid-level contract for more than one year I’ll be stunned.
Q: Doug: Does the collapse of the Cavs, their quit and the evaporation of any sense of team chemistry and spirit, put the Raps mid-season demise in some context? Different players I know and not to equate CB4 with LeBron, but it does point to team and how transient that notion can be -- any reflective insights?
To me it suggests even if you have the best player, it is not a guarantee -- it is the intangibles that allow teams to coalesce and win. The Pistons over the Lakers of Shaq and Kobe being another example.
Wanted to give you a topic to muse over.
Graham S, Shedden
A: I’m not sure you can equate the two, although I can see your point.
The intangibles, like team chemistry, are really odd to figure out, aren’t they? Indeed, a team with the best player doesn’t always prevail, especially if there are some kind of “issues” between teammates or between players and coaches. It can blow things up pretty quickly.
But, on the other hand, enough talent can overcome some odd relationships, as we saw with the Kobe-Shaq teams in L.A. in the early 2000s.
Q: I just want your honest opinion on who is better LeBron or Kobe. LeBron has finished his 7th season so we have seen a lot of he can do. So what’s your pick?
Mohamed A, Toronto
A: If I needed one guy to win one game, I’d take Bryant. He’s got a bigger killer instinct and a better overall game. He shoots it better from the field, has a better low-post presence, is at least as good a defender and ballhandler.
Q: Doug. I've asked you a question regarding your evaluation of the Turkoglu signing at different points throughout the season and you have always preached patience citing the five year deal. Let me put a slight twist on my question: now that Orlando has gone 8-0 in the playoffs will you admit that Colangelo, who I am a big fan of, overvalued and overpaid Turkoglu? I don't buy the argument that until Orlando reaches the finals - the point they reached last year - they lost a key player. I want Turkoglu to work out, but I've known he has been overrated since he was in Sacramento.
Thanks and I look forward to your response.
Evan M, Chicago
A: You’ve “known” that for, what, nine years? You should have told people. And, no, after one season I’m not admitting anything except Turkoglu was a huge disappointment last year. But to write off the next four on the basis of one is not something I’m prepared to do.
Q: Sign and Trade. If the Cavs can only expect to get 10 cents on the dollar for LeBron, what are we going to get for Bosh.
The silver lining of this whole free agency thing is supposed to be the option for a sign and trade.
What type of player can we really expect to get back, in your opinion? Starter? Role Player? Projects? Some combination of both?
What are your thoughts?
Jeffrey M, Saint John
A: I think you’d like to get a starter, another rotation player, a draft pick and maybe an expiring contract. But who knows.
Q: OK so Raps win the lottery, get first overall and draft Mr. Wall. Does he start next year. Which current PG do you most try and trade???
Brad G, Toronto
A: Pretty pie-in-the-sky thinking but I’m pretty much on record that if they are going to trade a point guard, I think they should see what they can get in return for Jarrett. That said, if your wish comes true, why not shop ‘em both and see what’s out there. I don’t know that it’s a “either-or” situation. It never is.
And I’ll tell you in November who starts, kind of silly to think about it in May.