Hey, Dads! Early mail so you can get on with being pampered
It’s here bright and early so all you Dads can get on with Father’s Day; I believe Super Son and I are off to Breakfast With The Azzurri and then some other shenanigans.
Q: Doug, how do you balance "protecting your sources" vs. "informing the readership" to Raptors news? It seems to me that beat writers more often than not "protect their sources" rather than informing the readership on the relevant info. One blatant recent example comes to mind - the Del Negro vs. Paxon fisticuffs incident.
I suspect that you guys are privy to a lot of stuff behind the scenes and that the most basketball operations related stuff isn't actually published out of respect (and I'm not talking about TMZ style gossip). There's sort of that wink-wink, nudge-nudge, that goes on - not dissimilar to say the White House Press Corps in the US. For example, last summer when Lewis tested positive for steroids, the NBA suspended him in the off-season - well after the play-offs. No one really "covered the story" from the angle that the NBA conveniently suspended him after the play-offs, even though they were well aware of the test results during the post-season. Everyone took the NBA at face value.
It seems that most stories break from the AP/national writers who don't have a vested interest in reporting the team info. They don't care who they burn or have to worry about facing the wrath of the GM/players on a day to day basis, and thus are free to report as they see it...
I know these are complex question, but as President of the PBWA I thought you'd be the best guy to answer this...
Amr A-G, Toronto
A: Well, it seems to me you’re wrong.
We don’t “protect” sources by not divulging what they tell us, no one does; it’s not professional and not the way journalists go about their jobs. We protect their anonymity if they ask but not the substance of what they tell us. That’s just logical because it gives them, in many instances, the freedom to pass on information without fear of repercussion.
If there is relevant information, we pass it on; and it’s up to us to determine what’s relevant.
If I have a private conversation with someone who works with the Raptors and they divulge information, if I deem it newsworthy, I’ll report it. And if I don’t, I won’t.
Let’s say, for instance, I’m talking to one of the Henchmen and we’re talking in an off-the-record situation about Hedo Turkoglu. Let’s say the guys says, ‘yeah, there’s interest out there’ is that news? Not unless there’s some specifics attached to it because, frankly, that’s a “duh!” statement, we all know there’s interest out there, it’s been written here a half dozen times.
Now, if the guys says, “hey, Team X and Team Y called about Hedo” we’ve got ourselves a story. But people in the know in sports franchises don’t often say those kinds of things.
Now, I want to ask you a question, rhetorically, since you’re so big on AP and “national writers.”
What are the three biggest stories in the 15 years of the Raptors? I would say Isiah Thomas coming, Isiah Thomas going and Vince Carter asking for a trade. Who broke those? Toronto writers broke those.
Q: Hi Doug. A reader since "nothing but inter-net", first time writer. Thank you for all of your efforts this year, with the blog, Q and A and mailbag.
I have a question about "sources" in journalism. When you're contacting a team official or player, is it specified at the beginning of the conversation if things are on or off the record (ie: if you can quote them directly), or is it just implied by your experience and relationship with the person?
Have a great summer!
Glenn M, Boston
A: The basic rule of thumb is that in conversations with reporters, everything is on the record unless there’s a specific mention that some piece of information is off the record.
Now, as you become more comfortable with sources and people you’re in contact with every day there may be an implied “off the record” situation or a point where someone says, after the fact, “I’d prefer you not use that” in reference to some specific phrase or quote. Those cases are judged individually and if it’s a relatively harmless situation where there’s nothing of subtance to be gained by using a certain phrase, I won’t. But each is judged on its own merits.
Q: Hello! Quick question, to which I'm sure that a satisfying answer isn't realistically possible, but I'll try nonetheless.
Media coverage in the last few years has exploded, both in former traditional formats (TV, print, websites), and newer online ones (Twiter, sports forums, etc). My question is: to what degree do you think that the sports media has influenced the movement of players from one team to another, or contracts that they sign, etc?
For example: If enough outlets report something as being fact, does it ever become a self fulfilling prophecy to the impacted teams or players, regardless of whether or not it was based in truth?
Just how influential are you guys?
Part B: Are you coming back to Ottawa this year for training camp? (I know, finals not even over as of this writing, draft not done, and I ask a training camp question....)
Ryan W, Ottaw
A: We are not nearly as influential as some of us think. Trust me on that. Not only don’t things become self-fulfilling prophesies, a lot of GMs laugh at the stuff that’s reported they’ve done or said.
As for training camp, I’m afraid we are not coming back to Ottawa this fall – I’ll miss Pub Italia and my folks at the Keg in the market – but maybe another year.
Q: Typically, the Raptors would hold a presser with their new draft pick a day or so after Draft night. I have heard something about some large festival that might be going on in the city that weekend, that has elicited a travel advisory from the U.S government that it might be safer to travel to Somalia that weekend. Have you heard about any change in plans from the Raptors regarding the post-Draft press conference?
Brian V, Toronto
A: Um, “some large festival” would be the G20 Summit and, um, yes, it will have some kind of impact on the downtown area. So, no, there are no plans now to do anything with the draft pick – if there is one – on the Friday and I hope to be on a golf course.
Q: Hi Doug. Well, as teams now take time to look back on this season and do their annual evaluation of performance, will you and Mother Star do the same? And if so, what do you feel were the highs and lows of the Star's coverage of our Heroes of the Hardcourt? Any plans to make changes for next season? What would you care to change, if anything? Think you might hopefully increase coverage of university/college, national programs and even the WNBA? (Any plans to clone yourself?) :) Thanks!
Lorie P, London
A: We haven’t had that discussion yet; still been in a bit of decompression mode from the finals and gearing up for the next month.
I’m pretty happy with what we did but there’s always way to tweak it and bring something new. I’d like to do more league issue stories rather than the mundane day-to-day stuff of the Raptors and I absolutely think we need to do more university stuff here.
But I’m sure the tall foreheads have their own ideas and we’ll have to sit down and chat sometime when it’s slow. Like in September.
Q: Hi Doug, I always hear about how communication is very important especially on the defensive end. When a team is in their defensive end and communicating well, what kinds of things are they saying to each other? Is there any kind of common slang or terms or code that is communicated. As a fan that has only seen the games on TV, I've often wondered what the players say to each other. Any insight you could give would be appreciated. Thanks.
George G, Nanaimo
A: It’s mostly what’s coming and is usually communicated by the guy “behind the play” if you will, calling out what sides screens are coming from, to watch a shooter in the corner going through a zone. It’s not rocket science but players do need some reminding.
Q: Hi Doug. Approximately when do you think the free agents like James/Wade/Bosh will begin signing/re-signing their contracts after July 1st? A month, maybe? Could some players potentially still be an FA into the preseason?
Francis A, Guelph
A: Well, they can’t officially sign anywhere until July 7 and there’s been no indication things are going to move at all quickly. I’d expect the last half of the month.
I’m sure some players will be looking for jobs into the pre-season but the vast majority of them will get something before training camps start.
Q: Hey Doug. A few questions since your mail bag is empty.
It’s been a few years since I went to a game. I loved going and I remember the energy and experience being very exciting. I hear comments every once in a while about Leaf games and how once there is a break in the action, instead of letting the fans build in momentum and energy, a commercial from a sponsor breaks up whatever cheers and energy the fans had. Do you think this problem will ever happen to the Raps as the get more and more popular.
How would you gauge the popularity of the Raptors? Is this the peak or can they ever reach 1992-93 Blue Jays levels? By that i mean the buzz that surrounded the Blue Jays at that time where everyone listened on the radio or watched the games on TV and every game was a sell out.
Last one. If Bosh leaves, they trade Hedo for whatever they can get and the Raptors stick it up next season, do you really think Colangelo's job would be at risk? I really think he is one of the best GMs out there and I don’t think there is a replacement of his caliber that would not only come to Toronto, but make as significant of an impact as he did.
Matthew M, Toronto
A: They have mindless promos and contests at inappropriate moments all the time, it’s silly but it’s always part of some sponsorship gig (this game has to be played at this specific break) and until they allow some flexibility in the scripting, it’ll always be an issue. And I have no idea how to gauge popularity except to say if they win consistently, there’s a huge buzz; this was quite the place to be back in the early 2000s.
As for Colangelo, it is a results oriented business and if there are consistently bad results, someone has to pay the price.
Q: Hello Doug, Here's a question that I hope may generate a long lovely response in your blog or on the newspaper - and the longer the read the more time I can pass the day following Mr. Doug. The question: What is MLS and/or the city of Toronto doing to recruit/influence Bosh's decision to stay? And this is really asking what kind of things are being done along the lines of NYC and Miami where we have been hearing such things as: rename Miami-Dade to Miami-Wade; rename a track to Lebron Freeway; Donald Trump to speak to Lebron; billboards pleading for the player to stay; and etc. I have not heard or seen of anything of such for Bosh. Would this suggest that the chances of resigning are low? Or the fans are not supporting Bosh's return? Keep up the good work - anything you print is gold :-)
Mingo J, Toronto
A: What have they done? Nothing, really. And I’m quite fine with that. The team has told him they’ll pay him as much as they can or work with him on a mutually-beneficial departure. No fans have taken it upon themselves to do anything significant and the government has far, far, far more important things to deal with.
And I think the chances of him re-signing here are low anyway and I don’t imagine any frivolous attempts at currying favour by a civic government will make one iota of difference.
Q: Hi Doug, I was wondering if because Amir was up to Toronto to practice it means a contract is close? Also, will word make it to Bosh that the "Young Guns" are working to improve and will this add something to his pros and cons list of staying?
Thank you for all your trusted information and entertaining thoughts throughout the season.
R. M., Charlottetown
A: I don’t think it means a contract is close, although as I wrote the other day both sides would like to get something done eventually. And I’m sure Bosh would have heard since he’s in frequent contact with Jarrett, who I’m sure would tell him. Would it make a difference? I doubt it.
Q: Doug, I have to say that it’s been frustrating for me to hear all the talk about dealing away one of our point guards. After reading your article on Jack and him wanting to work with Jose and keep the tandem together I can't for the life of me think how by divesting ourselves of what is now probably one of our strongest positions is going to make the team better. I like both players, they each bring something different to the team and if they can work together why not keep them.
Doug, what's your feelings on this and what do you think are the chances that they keep both? Or does it really depend on what we would get in return if one of the point guards is traded?
Tom F, Guelph
A: Well, it would make the team better if they got something solid in return, like a good young big man, a defensive-minded wing or some other thing they might need.
And I think that’s why you look to make trades, to improve your team and if they can sign or draft a backup point guard, why not move a proven NBA starter?
I like both players, too, but if you can turn an asset – a starting-calibre backup – into something addresses other needs, you have to do it.
Q: Doug, noticed that you liked Bryant for MVP. I'm thinking Gasol was more the key guy, hitting the shots, getting the blocks, rebounding. Bryant for MVP seems to be traditional Hollywood hype. In the final game, he played selfish basketball, trying to do it all on his own. Was Gasol in the running at all? Seems to me this was a pre-ordained decision.
Frank K, Orillia
A: I haven’t canvassed my friends who would have had ballots but I imagine Pau would have run a close second, which is where I would have put him on my ballot.
Q: Love the blog, watching the World Cup makes me thinks this : Why isn't there enough star participation in FIBA as much as FIFA? As far as I can tell almost every star plays for his country (no matter if they could win or not) or is the game of basketball entirely different because of the long 82 game schedule?
Thanks and keep up the great work!
Philip L, Toronto
A: The World Cup is probably more significant to footballers than the world championships are to basketball players but you will see a fair number of famous names playing for their countries this fall in Turkey.
But, the grind of an 82-game NBA season and whatever playoffs follow does lead a few to take the summers off to recuperate.
Q: Hi Doug, first off, thank you for the great job you do covering the Raptors and the NBA. I truly enjoy reading your columns / blog every day!
Now on to my question - do you think Ray Allen's poor shooting performance in the NBA finals is a sign of things to come for him? Do you feel he has lost some market value because of this performance?
Just for the record, I am not asking because I think the Raptors should go after him. I think they have far more pressing priorities than an aging 2 with an apparently diminishing shot.
Alon B, Thornhill
A: I think Rah Allen will be just fine and I think his eight three-pointers in Game 2 showed that. Yes, he didn’t make many shots after that game but watching the way he defended Kobe Bryant in the latter part of the series makes me think there’s still a lot of life left in those legs. And I’d expect him to get a three-year deal somewhere this summer.
Q: Doug, I was in England last week and met a big basketball fan who fell in love with the game in the US. He said he was looking for a team to root for and I mentioned I was a Raptor's fan. He asked me a very simple question: Name one good reason I would cheer for the Raptors?
I thought about it for a while, but eventually I gave up. I can't imagine anyone from the 2009 Raptors being on a potential contender down the road, and we have no cap space or tradeable assets. Can you answer his question (and mine now)?
Ray S, Toronto
A: No, I can’t. A decision to support a sports team is personal, if you want either validation for having nothing to do with them or to be convinced you should still, that has to come from your mind and heart, not mine.
Q: I'm not sure if you've answered this question before, but when NBA players retire, does the team their retire with still pay their salary.
If not, do they get a pension, and how much is it/how does it work.
I'm curious with the talk of 'Sheed retiring, and him just signing a three year extension, I'm curious if he's getting paid all that salary, part of it, or does pension kick in.
Hope you can answer for me.
Wayde S, Toronto
A: NBA players are currently vested in their pension after three years in the league and it pays roughly $300 per month of time served and can be collected at age 50. They can start collecting a lesser amount at 45 if they choose.
As for the salary cap situation with retired players, if a team decides to pay a player after he’s retired, that amount goes against the cap for however long the contract runs. If the player retires and draws no more salary, there is no hit.
There are exceptions for cap relief if a player is forced to retire because of medical reasons (which have to verified by a league-appointed physician) but there is up to a two-year waiting period for that relief to kick in.
Q: Hey Doug, just wanted to get your thoughts on Doris Burke? I have to tell you that I thought she did a great job with the sideline questions, easily the best of any of the reporters. "See" you over the summer.
Scott M, Ilderton
A: I think she’s very good, but I also like her better in an analyst’s chair rather than conducting inane sideline interviews. Granted, she asks far more straight-forward, easily-understood questions that should elicit good responses but coaches are pretty distracted in those situations so that hampers her.
But, overall, best new NBA analyst to come down the pike in a while.
Q: Hi Doug. Very excited to see how the next three weeks impacts the following season(s). Forget the Bosh and Hedo drama for the moment, though, I'm interested in what you think the chances are of the Raps resigning Antoine Wright.
Daniel A, Richmond Hill
A: Slim and none and Slim has his plane ticket for a flight out of town. Now, the Turkoglu situation may have an impact but even if he leaves, the presence of DeRozan and Weems make it seem like Wright’s a goner.
Q: Hey Doug, is it easier or harder to win a championship today compared to twenty years ago?
David S, Toronto
A: To me, it’s harder. Better teams, more of them, a tougher playoff schedule.
Q: Hey Doug, love the blog. What do you think of The Score not carrying any more Raptor games? Do you have any personal preference between the networks or are they all the same to you? I'm pretty disappointed The Score quit on the Raptors, I find their sport casters to be the best. It doesn't make much sense to me, The Score seems to have much more basketball content than Sportsnet and TSN combined.
David S, Cole Harbour
A: I don’t see enough games on TV to really have an opinion about the relative merits of the broadcasts but I will say this: The Score did more basketball and more reporting on basketball than anyone ever has and its departure from the game will be a loss. I don’t know why the decision was made exactly but it seems to me The Score had carved out a niche is no longer has.
What will be interesting to me is whether or not Sportsnet actually devotes any resources on a daily basis to covering the Raptors and the NBA because they wanted nothing at all to do with it when the network wasn’t showing games.
Q: What's the over under on how long it is before raptor fans say 'we never shoulda let Turkoglu go?' No one should be surprised when he has his best year ever next season. Just as no one should be surprised when Bosh swoons as injuries occur later in the year. If you had to choose one to stay and add around, who would it be?
James K, Toronto
A: To answer your first question, I’d say American Thanksgiving. It’s the way people roll around here.
As for your second, I’d take the five-time all-star big man who’s four years younger and about to reach what many think is the prime of his career.