Plenty here to digest, have fun with it
Q: A question about the comments to your blogs: Is there a specific reason (other than you post all comments) why you post comments that are direct questions? Posting "Doug, how would you compare Ed Davis to Chris Bosh at the same stage of their development?" without an answer, adds nothing to the blog/comments? I'm not be critical here, but is there a reason?
Tim H, Windsor
A: There is a reason, actually. And I’m not sure it’s going to satisfy a lot of people.
Sometimes, to tell you the truth, the sheer volume of comments I have to deal with is overwhelming and direct questions slip by because I either don’t have the time, the inclination or the ability to answer them at length in that forum.
The whole “comments” thing tends to get out of hand some days, and while I don’t usually mind the interaction or the workload, some days I don’t feel like, or physically can’t be, tethered to the computer all day.
I try to do my best with them most days, sometimes things just get past me that probably shouldn’t.
I’m not sure the comments section was ever meant to be a conversation tool; it’s kind of become that some days, though, and while I try to do as good a job as I can, I can’t – and won’t – offer replies to every one of them.
I do a pretty good job of engaging readers, I think, but I have other things on the plate as well and it can’t be a 24-7 endeavour.
Q: I've read lots of comments lately about how things were harder in Jordan's day because hand-checking was allowed. But I remember in the early 1980s, a friend of mine who had watched long before that said the same thing, that it used to be harder because they used to be allowed to hand-check. When did hand-checking really stop, and was it outlawed in increments?
Guy M, Vancouver
A: There was actually a rule change implemented – the NBA says “tightened” but it’s open to interpretation -- that made it illegal for a defender to use an extended arm to “guard” an offensive player who was facing the basket. That meant defensive players couldn’t “steer” offensive players the direction they wanted them to go with a hand placed on the hip and it did make for a more free-flowing offence.
It took a little while for it all to sink in so I guess you could say it came in increments in that regard.
But, yes, there are specific rules about using a fully extended arm on an offensive player with his face to the basket and you’re also only supposed to guard players in the post with a bent arm and not with two, although that sometimes goes uncalled.
Q: Hi Doug. In your opinion, how much does a young player's environment affect the player they eventually become?
For example, had Rajon Rondo been drafted by a team that had different expectations than the veteran laden, title contending Celtics, would he be the player he is today? Had Kobe played for the Hornets (the team that originally drafted him, and presumably had lower expectations than the Lakers) would he still gone on to become the best player in basketball? If Bargnani was drafted to another team with a different coach, could he be an all star right now? The list of examples could go on and on, but my question essentially is this: when it comes to players becoming who they are, is it nature or nurture?
Thanks for your time.
Michael K, Toronto
A: I think it’s far more nature than nurture. Talent prevails regardless of the situation for the top calibre players. Of course, there are exceptions where a guy ends up somewhere that carries unfair expectations and they perhaps develop more slowly but if you’re a good player, you’re going to adapt and be a good player wherever you are.
Q: Hello Doug. True confession time! Over the years, to help Raptors' fans avoid serious levels of angst, you have suggested that we might try to do as you do and keep "an even keel": that is to say that we avoid getting too high after a series of wins (or even a single one), or conversely too low after a string of losses. But I wonder, in your younger, less-sensible, before-reporting-on-the-franchise days, did you ever paint your face, wear outrageous headgear (those New Zealand Kiwi hats were wonderful), streaked across a playing field (and much more safely done before the introduction of Tasers), or otherwise embarrass yourself in support of a team or player? Thank you.
Lorie P, London
A: You know what? I never really did. Never had that kind of passion for a franchise. Closest I came, I guess, was running out on the street to celebrate with buddies when Henderson scored. (I know, pucks; don’t tell anyone).
I do remember sitting in a bar in Fonthill, I believe, on my way home from a day at college ready to celebrate before Bucky Bleeping Dent hit his homer and I was in my house, a celebratory bottle at the ready, when Bill Buckner let the ball go through his legs.
And that’s about it. I know, abnormal.
Q: Hi Doug. Aside from the usual lure of 1st money and 2nd winning, I assume the city itself has something to do with attracting talent. Given that we are the only team not in the USA and it can get rather cold here during the NBA season, is there any reason to believe that players who are not European of origin would list the Raptors as a preferred destination?
Really the question is, what is the general view that American NBA players hold towards playing in Toronto?
Andrew G, Toronto
A: I think it’s more near the top than the bottom but here’s the deal: It’s not really a big deal since scant few NBAers actually spend any more time in the city in which they play than is absolutely necessary. They get back to their hometowns the first chance they get each summer.
Now, we all know Toronto has its charms – great neighbourhoods, fine restaurants and, I’m told, very good clubs – so most young players don’t mind it at all.
But, truth be told, geographical location is a distant third after, first, money; and, second, winning.
Q: Hey Doug, If Phil Jackson retires, where does the Lakers' gig rank in terms of coaching openings? Seems to me like it could be really good or really bad: having a great cast and a strong system is good, but there'll be lots of expectations and I wonder how open the players will be to listening to a less storied coach.
Savid V, Toronto
A: I think it’ll be a tremendously difficult job, actually. Two-time defending champions, roster of unique personalities, lots of expectations. Which is why I fully expect that they’ll either promote Brian Shaw or bring in Byron Scott, who has history with Kobe and the franchise.
Q: Hi Doug, just a quick question about Nate Robinson. I had honestly written him off when he was in NY but his play with the Celtics showed me that, when he accepts his role, he can really be a positive addition to a team with a great team attitude and excellent play. Where do you think his stock is at the moment and what do you imagine is in store for him?
As always, thanks, and keep up the tremendous work!
Lorne D, Tokyo
A: I think his stock is average at best. Yes, he showed that in a very limited role on a team full of very strong personalities and with the knowledge that his career may have been on its last legs, he was pretty good in a handful of playoff games.
I believe there are still lots of “hey, look at me” tendencies that would make any team thinking of signing him wary of giving anything more than a slightly-more-than-minimum deal not fully guaranteed after next year – when a new CBA will come into effect.
Q: Hi Doug. I keep reading about expiring contracts. Can the Raptors still trade contracts that expire(d) after this past season. i.e. Rasho, Antoine, and Amir?
Matt M, Winnipeg
A: No, they cannot trade them unless it’s in some sign-and-trade situation with Antoine; they don’t have the capability with either of the other two.
Q: Hi Doug. Do you feel that, if Bosh leaves after July 1 as we all expect, Amir Johnson could handle a starter's role at centre, with Andrea moving to the 4? Would this be an enticement for Amir to sign back with the Raptors and would the team even consider going in this direction?
At only 23, I think Amir still has lots of potential and is starting to come into his own, but I'd love to hear your thoughts on this.
Alon B, Thornhill
A: Yes, that would be the logical assumption and I think Amir could handle the job. But it will depend a lot of what they get back for Bosh if indeed a sign-and-trade transaction takes place.
Q: Hey Doug. Not a Raptors question, but a question about Shaq. What do you seem him doing this year? How long is his contract with the Cavs? How much longer do you see him continuing to play? I can't imagine he has too many years left in him as a player, though I'd love to see him in some kind of commentators role.
Hugh S, Halifax
A: His contract’s up and he’s an unrestricted free agent. He’s said he expects to play again and I can see a team like, say, Dallas or even New Jersey or New York taking him on with a one-year deal. And he’s said he’s off to be a police officer when his career’s done.
Q: Hi Doug: Hope you are ready for a long, peaceful summer. I'm sure nothing too eventful will get in the way of your rest. I asked this once before, but you did not answer it -- maybe you missed it, or maybe you answered and I missed it. Anyhow, I ask again.
And the question is: Don't you think the regular season in the NBA (indeed, in all North American sports) should count for more? I find it crazy that a team can win 66 games or so during a regular season, but because they do not win in the playoffs, that season is considered a "waste."
Should the regular season count more than it does? Is there anything the NBA could do to make it more important?
In the European leagues, the regular season is generally more valued. I think the NBA should have some sort of regular season prize or trophy. Just like the playoff winner gets the Larry O'Brian trophy, the regular season winner should get some sort of trophy... along with a bit of money for the players and team. Thoughts?
James R, Barcelona
A: Hey, great city; one of the best I’ve ever been in. They finish La Sagrada Familia yet?
As for the regular season, I think it’s about 12 games too long but that’s not going to change so I’ll leave that alone. But they do pay bonuses to players and teams for where they finish, they weight it enough to give the right kind of homecourt playoff advantage and I don’t see any reason to change it.
Q: HI Doug! With BC in his last year and the accomplishment of his tenure being 3 overhauled teams (Now on to 4) and 1 Atlantic Division Championship, do you think MLSE will start to look at other GMs available, the recently fired Kevin Pritchard perhaps?
Darren C, Pickering
A: Um, no. Bryan’s got a contract, there’s never been a suggestion from anyone other than a detached fan that he should be fired and I need to ask you and all the other Kevin Prichard acolytes out there just why he’s the flavour of the month.
Yes, it’s a pretty good young team, no question. But the word out of Portland in the last day or two is that Pritchard is not the greatest manager of people ever born, he had a tendency to undermine his superiors and I have to think that a man as smart as Paul Allen wouldn’t fires someone willy-nilly on the day of the draft unless there was a legitimate reason.
The word around the league is that Pritchard is far better in player personnel than as a GM and I think people here are just jumping on a bandwagon because that’s what they do.
Q: If/when Bosh does leave that it might encourage Turk to elevate his game with the Raps? Admittedly, his attitude this year almost forces the Raps to deal him, but with a definitive 'go to' guy like Bosh gone, it would place Turk into a more important leadership roll and hopefully solve is 'ball' issue. Thanks
Shawn F, Toronto
A: I said right from the start I thought there might be a way for saner heads to prevail in the relationship between Turk and the coaching and management staffs but that there might be too much damage done with the fans to make it comfortable for him to return. And that’s why I think a trade is the only way to go, unfortunately.
I’ve also said from the end of last season that I think Turk is still a very good NBA player who has many good years ahead of him; and while it’s interesting to think he might thrive here with Bosh gone, I don’t know that it makes a whole lot of difference since Turk’s best years were playing alongside Dwight Howard.
Q: You said something earlier that has really got my interest now. Who were the six (6) on Toronto's Draft Board prior to the Draft?
Richard S, Lethbridge
A: Well, since the guy they ended up taking wasn’t on the list, it shows you how much lists mean. But as I understand it, and this is not in any particular order because sources haven’t been that forthcoming, the primary four were Bradley, George, Udoh and Aldrich with Patterson and Bledsoe on their minds, too.
Q: Hi, Doug. There seems to be quite a few more slots available for top-tier free agents than there are TTFA's. Assume that Miami takes three (James, Bosh and Wade) and Chicago two (say Stoudemire and Johnson) there will be a lot of teams with a lot of money to spend left out in the cold.
Do you think we will see a rash of second- and third-tier free agents getting overpaid? Or might some of those teams save their space for the Carmelo sweeps next year?
Dave F, Kingston
A: I think you’re going to see teams pull back on spending greatly after the top tier of free agents is taken care of. The reason is twofold: The economy remains pretty much in the tank and they want to cut costs and with the new CBA coming after next season teams don’t want to get locked into too many long-term deals with second-tier talent.
Q: Hi Doug. With Chris Bosh's impending departure, do you think Ed Davis would start and at which position PF or C, considering Raps brass has mentioned of returning Andrea Bargnani to his more natural position at PF.
Manny F, Ajax
A: It being slightly ridiculous to try to figure out who’ll start five months before the start of this season, I will say this:
I can envision Amir Johnson starting alongside Andrea Bargnani with an unproven rookie coming off the bench.
But right now that’s a guess.
Q: Hi Doug. I'm confused about the Kirk Hinrich deal. I thought that under the CBA trades made had to match salaries. I imagined there was a percentage of leeway, but this trade included 9$ mil in player salary and 1.3$ mil guaranteed in a pick for essentially nothing; a second round pick they aren't obliged to keep.
How come they can do this, but we can't trade Turk or Bosh for peanuts and open up cap space?
Nate G, Beaverton
A: It’s quite simple and the reason the deal cannot be consummated until July 8. On that date, after renouncing other free agents, the Wizards will have room under the cap to assume all of Hinrich’s salary and rookie scale contracts have no monetary value under the cap until they are signed.
Deals only have to match with 125 per cent plus or minus $100,000 if they are between two teams over the cap.
Q: Okay, not a Raps question but what are you hearing about the Celtics? Garnett looked old and Pierce & Allen are free agents. They came within one game of a second championship in three years. Do they blow up? Can they do anything with Garnett? Do they try to keep Pierce?
What do you hear? What do you think?
David W, Oakvill
A: I’m not hearing an awful lot more than you are, actually. But I think the Celtics might have some issues going into the summer and next season that will knock them down a peg or two.
The biggest thing I’m hearing in routine chatter with people around the league is that it’s looking like Doc may indeed take a break from coaching to spend time with his family and that will be a crippling blow.
I wouldn’t be surprised if Ray Allen didn’t leave to try his hand somewhere else, I’m hearing they are definitely looking to re-do the contract of Paul Pierce but with Rasheed retiring and Glen Davis a free agent, (my mistake) they have some roster holes to plug.
So I don’t think they’ll “blow it up” but it won’t look the same as it did this past season.
Q: Hi Doug. Thanks for the great work as always. It seems that the NBA is becoming more of a guard-based league, with the big men becoming more of the second banana. That said, I went back to check the draft predictions re DD last year. The main weakness was that he displayed too much unselfishness and that when he decided to take things onto his shoulders in their league tournament, he excelled. Do you foresee the Raps shifting to more of a shooting guard focus on offense with Andrea being the big second if Bosh leaves, and second do you think DD would be capable of handling that increased responsibility?
Randy M, Crystal Beach
A: I think he would, if he works on his ball-handling and shooting range, as I’m told he is. But I do think, regardless of who plays where, this will remain primarily a high screen-roll offence.
Q: Hi Doug, I know you've gone over this countless times since he arrived but when does Banks' contract expire and is that something the Raps can use as bait? I like the guy. I heard him on the radio one night last season and he seems like a true professional and accepts his role while still trying to contribute.
Matt M, Toronto
A: Marcus Banks’ contract, worth about $4.7 million this season, expires at the end of the 2010-11 season and I’m certain Bryan would try to put it in a deal if he could.
Q: Hello Doug. Can you explain to me how this draft was, in your words, "good, with gusts to pretty good".
In your blog from the day before you stated, "if this day ends with Toronto simply making the 13th pick in a so-so draft, people will feel it’s been a failure. Me included." Is the addition of Ed Davis and Solomon Alabi enough to make this draft "good with gusts to pretty good"?
I remember reading about the potential to buy a late first round pick, using money from the Shawn Marion deal, but it never happened even though teams like the Dallas Mavericks managed to acquire the 25th overall pick for cash. Why wasn't that pick available to the Raptors? Or was it a case of the talent the Raptors wanted not being there at that point in the draft?
Bill V, Toronto
A: The quality of player they got at No. 13 and the fact they got a guy for practically nothing in the second round made it more than a failure; good with gusts to pretty good is how I’d put it.
Now, Dallas did manage to buy a pick, a couple of other “purchases” went down and the reason Toronto wasn’t involved in either is because they didn’t think it was worth the purchase price and the three-year guaranteed contract they’d have to give a guy they got in a first-round transaction. The second round pick carries no guaranteed salary obligations at all.
Now, if there was a guy at No. 25 they absolutely felt they had to have, they probably would have been more active.
Q: Doug, can you tell us a little about "entourages". We hear a lot about LeBron's group. How many might there be and what is their role? And are most entourages similar? Carmelo I understand has a large group also. Are these entourages not more of an encumbrance then anything else?
I see them mostly there to take responsibility for when an athlete does something stupid in a public place.
Am I missing something?
Steph R, Glencoe
A: In my experience the “entourages” you hear about are generally four or five childhood friends who are trusted confidants and buddies who hang around to make a player feel comfortable. And, yes, to take some heat when things go awry.
But in this day and age, with so much money at stake, a player who takes the majority of his advice from pals who are often sycophants is stupid. That’s what agents are for.
Q: Hi Doug, Lee from Mississauga again, been a while, life gets in the way of life. Doug, I have heard thru the media that the best thing the Raptors can do is attach Hedo to a sign & trade in wherever Chris Bosh goes.
I know a sign & trade is the only way Bosh gets Max Money on his next contract. I can’t see the numbers working out.
What am I missing? Thanks as always.
Lee D, Mississauga
A: I know about this “life” thing you’re talking about; every now and then it gets in my way, too.
The scenario you paint is fanciful but nearly impossible to imagine. Let’s say the first year value of Bosh’s deal is $15 million and Turk makes $10 million next season. Toronto, because it’s over the cap, would have to take back $25 million in annual salary (within 25 per cent, plus or minus $100,000) so I can’t see a match being made.
Q: Hi Doug, great blog, I follow it every day.
Kathy English from the Toronto Star said more than 50 of their reporters are covering the G20. Are any other Star sports reporters covering it? Are you on call for it? We don't want to see you getting hurt. So it should be the hockey reporters doing it, they're used to seeing scuffles.
Also, don't you wish you had a Diego Maradona to get quotes from? Any jobs for him here? New Jersey Nets president? That Cathal Kelly story was brilliant!
Andre D, Toronto
A: Oh, no. None of us are anywhere near it, although I guess we could be pressed into action if it was absolutely necessary, but our news people are so good that’s unthinkable.
And, yes, Cathal and Chris are doing outstanding work, as I knew they would. Maradona? Man, I had Sam, I’m fine.
Q: Hi Doug. Just wondering if you have any idea what your demographic is? Who's reading this right now? For the record, I'm a male aged 18-30 in the GTA. My hobbies include basketball. Thanks.
Frankie T, Markham
A: I wish I knew. Actually, all I know that we can track are pageviews and hits, not who made them. So unless we take a daily public accounting, we’re out of luck. Not a bad idea, now that I think of it.