Here's a little start on the weekend mail
Here’s the start of the mail and we’ll get to a whole lot more tomorrow, which will give me something to do sitting out any rain delays at the golf. Or, worse comes to worse, while I’m sitting somewhere tonight relaxing.
If you want to give me something to do, click here, say hi, send in a question and we’ll see what we can do.
Q: Many of the teams these days are employing statisticians and other math types to look at new ways of assessing talent. Morey in Houston is certainly a biggie, and he has been a big influence on all of this by helping found the Sloan Sports conference. I believe that San Antonio, OK City and Portland (when Pritchard) were some of the best. These guys seem to have more of a knack of getting good contribution and not overpaying for talent. To what extent does Bryan use analytics to help him assess talent, and determine appropriate pay scale. We were lucky to get out of Hedo's contract, but even at the time, he seemed overpaid - a guy coming off one really great season. Thoughts?
Andrew W, Toronto
A: They use advanced analytics from a respected pair of statistical analysts as part of their evaluation process. It is not – and should not – be the biggest determining factor in building a roster, in my opinion because of the other variables that make building a team an inexact science.
And Hedo made $7 million in 2008-09, helped a team get to an NBA final and got a raise to $9 million in 2009-10. I have no problem with that at all.
Q: Hi Doug. I will keep this short and sweet. What are the league rules with regards to a player changing a number. From the research I've done it seems as though some people believe that you have to apply with the league office to have a number change months in advance that it happens. If this is correct (which I am hoping you can confirm) wouldnt this indicate that Chris Bosh had intentions of leaving the Raptors well before the regular season ended?
Frank C, Toronto
A: This is a level of conspiracy theory heretofore ignored.
But, alas, a player changing teams can change numbers as he wishes; if he wants to change it while remaining with his team, he needs to inform the league.
Q: Hi Doug. What have you heard about Nathan Jawai? Has he improved his game? I'm asking because I noticed he's a restricted free agent.
Cruz F, Toronto
A: Nate, while a very nice man, never developed any level of skill needed to play in the NBA. I fully expect he’ll be in Europe or Australia next season.
Q: Hi Doug. Love the blog, always a great read.
My question has to do with trades, and in particular, how GMs relate to one another. It seems that BC tends to deal with similar teams when making trades (a few with Orlando in the past while, even if the Barnes deal falls through, etc.). I know there are exceptions to this, but do some GMs just have better relationships with each other and therefore they are more likely to do business with one another, or is it simply a case of going after the players you need/want who are available?
Peter R, Regina
A: Sure, there are better relationships between some GMs than others but that doesn’t mean you always do deals first with people you are more familiar with.
General managers really aren’t about to let personal relationships, good or bad, determine what they do; they’d do deals with the devil if they thought it would make their teams better.
What generally happens is a GM might scour another team’s roster, think they might have a shot at guy they want and make a cold call, regardless of past transactions.
Q: Hi Doug. What do you think is the missing piece in the Raptors' rotation of bigs? I think you could live with a rotation of Amir/Davis/Dorsey (I'm assuming Joey's potential and cheaper contract have made Reggie Evans redundant) combo at PF and Il Mago can start at centre, so is the missing piece a steady vet to back up Bargnani (I like Solomon but he's probably a little young)? If so, do you think this means the return of Rasho by default?
Mike D, Toronto
A: I’d like to think so because I like Rasho a lot as a man but I don’t know that he has the skills left that this team wants. So I’d be quite surprised; then again, I’ve been surprised before.
I also know Jay doesn’t mind a four-bigs rotation and they do think that Davis can eventually guard both positions so maybe they’d be content with that group. I’d be leery of an undersized Dorsey and a young Davis as half of it, though.
Q: Hi Doug. In looking at BC's first pick up of the off season, Linas Kleiza, I can't help but wonder if maybe Mr. Colangelo should have saved his "powder" to complete a Matt Barnes deal or acquire a solid big?
I must admit I have never paid much attention to Kleiza however in reading reports published back in his draft year of 2005 this one line jumped out at me:
“Not a very good defender due to his lack of athleticism."
Doug assuming Linas hasn't become an above average defender do you really think it was wise to spend so much of the mid-level exception on this type of player?
Mike D, Cambridg
A: Well, I would presume that five years ago, as a 20-year-old coming out of Missouri or as a rookie in the NBA with Denver, Kleiza would have been a very poor defender. I don’t think he’s the same kid now as he was then, though. He may not be an above average defender but he does have some athleticism.
And the fact is, the Raptors wanted him and went out and got him; I don’t know if they figured Barnes would last as long on the market as he did so it makes sense to me that Toronto would make its move on Kleiza when they had a chance.
Who knows if other deals that were in the offing may have had played a role in what they ultimately did but you take your shot when you get your shot and if another comes up – like Barnes – you take the shot at that, too. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.
Q: If there's not much left on the free agent market, then we're left with trades. So, given what Toronto has to offer, what teams should the Raptors be targeting to secure a starting SF and C?
Geoff E, Toronto
A: I’m not sure they would be “targeting” one or the other, rather they’d be looking at all kinds of different scenarios to see what might pop up. If it was me, however, I’d probably be more interested in finding a big rather than a small forward although both spots need some help.
Q: Just two quick questions:
With Bosh and James leaving their respective teams for less pay than they could receive elsewhere, would you say that this is a paradigm shift in free agent attitude?
And when players leave like this, is it considered an indictment of the composition of the teams they left - that they have no faith the GM will get the player mix right? It sounds like the top players are trying to be their own GMs. Perhaps franchises don't need GMs anymore, but really good salespeople instead.
Brad B, Ottawa
A: I think at the very, very top level, where money is not an issues simply because the overall size of the contracts, you may see players eschew some money to give themselves a better competitive advantage. But for the middle-class who aren’t signing nine-figure deal, I think things will stay the same – money talks. Of course, we have no idea what impact a new CBA will have on that.
And GMs have to be more sales-oriented now, yes. And I’m not sure if it’s an indictment that a GM will never get it right in the minds of players who leave, it’s probably more a fact of not thinking the GM can get it right in a hurry and getting out at an opportunity that may not come up again.
Q: Doug, help me understand. Why couldn't the Raps have signed Barnes as a free agent like LA did? why did we have to do a S&T and offer 9 mil. If we have 14mil left to spend, do we have to spend it on one player or can we spend it on 2,3 or as many as we can get players for 14 mil. So a player who would get more minutes than in LA, goes to LA to probably sit on bench. Why can LA sign him for 3.6 mil, and I bet overall the LA payroll far exceeds the Raptors payroll. So the best team in BB improves itself, and a team that tries to improve itself can't. It doesn't seem to matter what BG does, he can't improve the team. We can't sign a player but we'll carry Banks & Bryant who will sit on the bench and do nothing. Also, David Stern should have stepped in and declared the trade with Charlotte valid once the players were informed. If they were not then MJ has every right to back out, but once the players have been told then it should go through. Also, in changing trading partners, did Charlotte actually do better in the trade than if they would have stayed with Raptors offer?
The NBA is the worst league with regards to contracts and free agency. There will always be only a few good teams. A totally selfish me first league. Something is wrong when players making 5-10mil don't even play 15 mins a game. When most of these individual players make more than a whole CFL team like the Argos with a payroll of 4.3 mil (1 player versus 43 players) something is wrong.
Thanks Doug, appreciate your expertise.
Angelo R, Toronto
A: I don’t know where to start.
The Raptors don’t have $14 million left to “spend,” they have a $14.5 million trade exception (and a $2.7 one from the Turk trade) that they can use to acquire players under contracts to other teams. They Lakers had enough money left in the mid-level exception to make the offer to Barnes; the Raptors didn’t.
The rest? Good rant.