The questions, the answers, the usual Sunday fare
Had a nice, well-deserved couch night Saturday – did you see the dude almost throw the perfect game at Halladay and the Phillies? – so there are some leftover I’ll get to through the week.
Oh, and go Spain!
I’m figuring 2-1.
Q: Not sure if you've already put in your two cents worth on this, but what is your general take on the behaviour of the media throughout this whole free agency process? We've all certainly heard the word "sources" enough by now, and it's hard to believe anyone anymore. I know that you pretty much shy away from ANY speculative writing, even though readers might wish to see a few more sensational things here and there. But I totally respect your approach to journalism, and I'm interested to hear what you think of some of your brethren through all of this.
Dave M, Toronto
A: I think that some of my brethren were bamboozled by trusting people who didn’t know anything for real and I don’t think it was the greatest period in the history of basketball writing.
With a story of that magnitude, I really think you have to resist the urge to go with one-source items and some people – not all, mind you – did to the detriment of the very people they are trying to serve: The readers.
The one thing that kind of bothers me is that there seems to be a lack of context to some of the reporter.
Yes, it’s all well and good to say that “Team X has talked to Team Y or Player Z” because that could very well be true; but I also think in fairness, again, to the readers, a reporter either has to do more work finding out which other teams Team X may have talked to or at least explain in the resulting story that, yes, “Team X has talked to Team Y or Player Z but there are other discussions going on in the routine run of NBA business.”
Not as sexy. But more correct.
Q: Doug, in your opinion, what do you think BC'S goal this year should and will be: to rebuild for the long term future, or to build for an 8th seed playoff birth?
If you read the comments throughout the different media and fan sites, it is clear that the fans do not mind to have a good young team with long term potential.
It just seems that with what is available out there right now (which you mentioned could very quickly change), it is not enough to make this team competitive. So why not build a fun young team that is enjoyable to watch. I would rather see 82 enjoyable games than 86 games with all kinds of wishful thinking coming from the player, coaches and management. I say if the player is over 26, then move on.
A T, Niagara Falls
A: The goal should always be to put the best product you can on the floor and try to win every game possible because of you don’t, you’re cheating yourselves, the fans, the players and – most important – the game.
This is a young team, by the way, and it remains to be seen whether it’s fun to watch.
And, sure it’s easy to say get rid of everybody who’s over 26; in reality it’s a bit more difficult.
Q: After all that has transpired this past week do you think the landscape and treatment of free agents has been scared and tainted for good? The level of self promotion is unbridled but the sane part of me wants to think this was truly a one off event.
Jamil B, Sydney, Australia
Also how many hits are you up to these days. Ice got all my bball friends down here following your blog now too.
A: I think this was an aberration, for sure. People – teams and possibly players – had been pointing to this summer for years and years, I don’t see another one set up for this perfect storm of high-value free agents and teams with salary cap room coming for quite some time.
Q Mr Smith, I'm still a bit surprised by the development of the new "Dream Team" in Miami. I am wondering about the 'tampering' rules and why they only apply to ownership/management and not also to players? This trio will have an impact on many aspects of the NBA and the bottom line (finances) for years to come, I think, especially for smaller market teams. Is a new tampering rule something you might see as necessary for future free agency periods or is this situation simply a one-time occurrence and no changes necessary?
Michelle PB, Toronto
A: I am dead certain the issue of player collusion will come up sometime in the collective bargaining process that’s already begun. There simply weren’t any rules or penalties or even a process to think about them this time around.
But, again, this might have been a one-time thing and I wonder if we’ll ever have to go through something like it again.
Q: With Bosh now gone, is there any pressure on Bargnani to step up and try to become "the man?” I'm probably one of the few fans who likes Bargs as a player and would love to see him flourish. Unfortunately though, there's been debates as to whether Bargs has been a "bust" as the number 1 pick. Would this season determine whether or not he is a "bust"?
Dave R, Markham
A: Not sure if it’s “pressure” but there will be more responsibility put on Bargnani to carry a heavier offensive load without Bosh in the lineup. Can he? I think he might actually be able to if he continues to work on a post game to go with his shooting abilities.
As for his “bust” status, I think a lot of people have – wrongly – already made up their minds and this year will hold little sway in their opinions.
Q: So far it seems like LeBron James, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh all took less money than the max contracts available to them to play on the same team (ie. they took 5 year $90 Million dollar deals). I know playing on a potential dynasty with two other all-stars means a lot to each person, but does it mean more than another guaranteed year and $30 Million dollars?
What I am wondering is, can a team provide other potential income streams to these players that wont show up on the contracts/cap numbers? Can Miami say to all three players: "Don’t sign with your current team for max contract, don’t do a sign and trade deal with your current team, but sign with us outright for 5 years, and we will give you say: 5% of all concessions or 2% ownership in the team, or 3% from all the season ticket sales etc."
Sam S, Toronto
A: As it turns out, the financial hit was more along the lines of $15 million rather than $30 million (yeah, I know, waaaaay easier to take, right?) but, no, there cannot be any side deals as you describe.
They are clear circumventions of the salary cap and the league takes things like that very, very seriously. The last team to try something and get caught was Minnesota in the Joe Smith fiasco and it cost them the player, four first-round draft picks and a big old fine.
Teams are scared of Uncle David and his beancounters, trust me on that.
Q: I have been paying limited attention to this crazy free agent season and have a question for you about rumours.
Every day there seems to be a new "scoop" or story to spin, which may or may not turn out to what actually comes to pass. I know that you don't put much stock in rumours as such, but I wonder if in your experience you find most of them to be complete fabrications. Or are many of them actual possibilities that have been tossed around or considered by the people with the power to make the decisions?
I wonder if it is probably the former option, since if a Coach or General Manager's casual conversations or brainstorming routinely showed up on the internet, we would hear alot more about staff close to the GM/Coach being fired....
So if that is the case, at what point in tracking down a story are you satisfied of its veracity? Do you always confirm with the top guy (or in the case of a trade - at least the player(s) involved)?
Brenda C, Sault Ste. Marie
A: I probably answered a bit of this in the very first question but the last paragraph of your question kind of caught my eye.
I’m never satisfied until I have multiple sources with direct knowledge of whatever situation I’m writing about. I know enough of the inner workings of some organizations, though, that it might not actually be the top guy or the specific player, but people who I know are fully aware of what’s completely going on.
Q: Glad that you're maintaining a cool head in this crazy free agent shuffle. It’s refreshing because I truly believe that the Raps have some solid young guys, and with the extra shots to go around someone like DeMar DeRozan will have the opportunity to be at time a second option on offense. Agree? Disagree? Will there be opportunities this season for DeMar to be in an iso situation where he can create is own shot, or is he even there yet as a wing player?
With a few more pieces could you see the Raps surprising some people and being something like Houston Rockets of the East?
Love the blog. Any chance of coming back doing those video web headlines? My opinion is that the written word can often be misinterpreted, ever for the greats of wordsmiths - Call me crazy, but I think it somehow made for less venom and hate mail.
Mike E, Toronto
A: If DeMar works on his ball-handling abilities to the point where he can beat his man off the dribble and extends his shooting range a little bit, I do think he can thrive. But he also has to pay attention to the other end, not lose his man going around screens, to be a better help defender, to rebound the ball more consistently before he’ll be an integral part of even a so-so team.
As for the video stuff? We need to figure out a better way to make more use of it and, perhaps, get to those 30-hour days before we can do much more.
Q: Hey Doug, already sent something in, but I've got to ask how you're enjoying this new gig of yours? What does an "assignment editor" do, as in, do you HAVE to provide coverage of pucks for the next few days if your opinion is that the Star readership has had quite enough of that hockey stuff now??? And what sort of boss are you? Hovering? Hands-off? Or a just-carry-on-guys-and-don't-wake-me-unless-the-joint's-on-fire kind of boss? Now that you've had a taste of life in the corner office, will you ever give it up? Can they make you? And why do you think you were "awarded" this gig? Your respected reputation for fairness, wisdom and good judgement, or did the incessant whining finally break them? (And was it nap or party - and I've discovered that as one reaches at certain stage in life, it's possible to do both at once!) Thanks!
Lorie P, London
A: It was pretty much a situation of me drawing the short straw for the past few days, actually. Staffing levels are so low and vacations pile up that someone has to do it.
And it’s as much caretaking as anything, just making sure all the stories of the day are assigned and if something breaks in the world, knowing who to get on the story right away.
We’re a pretty senior, self-sufficient staff of pros, there are days the ship pretty much runs itself for the most part and even an assignment guy like me can’t screw it up.
It’s tough to nap, though, with the calls coming in, the wires humming and mundane chores to finish, as I’ve found out.
Q: I could really get excited about the Raptors' next season and era of young blood, but the Hedo situation feels like such a downer. I think people could get over the Bosh departure more easily if Turk would either regain focus and commitment here or leave. Any sense of when we might hear about his future?
Jenny F, Toronto
A: I can see how it’d be a downer without question, it was a rather terrible season. There is no timetable, really. Bryan will listen to offers and probably seek some out but, and I’m getting this from everyone in the organization, if there’s no “blow us out of the water” deals, they are quite fine with Turk coming back and think he will return with more focus and commitment.
We, as they say, shall see.
Q: I was curious about the Raptors re-acquiring their first round pick in 2011. Since it's their own first round selection, does that mean where they pick will be determined by their record rather than by Miami's?
Matt C, Fort Lauderdale
A: Exactly. It’s as if the Jermaine O’Neal trade never happened and the pick never left town. Oh, and they get Miami’s pick next year, too. That one will be determined on where Miami finishes – except if they finish out of the playoffs (yeah, right!) when they get to keep it.
Q: I will avoid entertaining or derisive comments and re-state my question(s):
You've said it before; teams need to grow together over time to be good. The Raps have used the opposite strategy. Is it's because GM's have always been fearful of losing the"Superstar" who wants instant glory? If so, now that Toronto's in a rebuilding phase yet again, do you think BC will abandon the scatter-gun approach to team-building?
And since Matt The Red Rocket Bonner is on the market what do you think the chances of getting him back in a Raptors uniform might be?
TC W, North York
A: Our old friend Matt just signed a brand, spanking new four-year contract you’re just a day or two late.
But I will take this chance to pump the benefit concert he’s part of this Friday at the Phoenix with The Hold Steady and The Whigs and this, as the man once said, is a Dontcha Dare Miss It kind of event, I’m told.
Q:I realize that it isn't an official team expression, but if the "Young Gunz" moniker catches on, how long until David Stern pooh-poohs it? I kind of like it for the group we have (young guys with something to prove), but I can see the league wanting to avoid such terminology given the history of gun-related problems.
Darren A, Scarborough
A: Yes, these are politically-correct times in which we live so I’m sure there are those who don’t think it’s quite appropriate. Not sure the team will use it too much in its promotional material. But also don’t think the league would get too involved in that kind of thing, except for maybe one gentle reminder.
Q: Mr. Smith, I'm concerned that we won't see the "young guns" play as much as I hope this coming season. With the signing of Kleiza and the possibility of keeping Turk, it again puts the Raptors in a four man wing rotation like last year, with Derozan and Weems. Will the young guys again have to split time and will Belinelli again be the odd man out? Could this lead to a regression in their play?
Thank you, and go Spain!
Jamie M, Winnipeg
A: I fear for young Marco for precisely the reasons you point out. However, I do think there will be times you’ll see both Turk (if he’s here) and Kleiza playing a little four. And those might be the minutes that let Marco push someone ahead of him in the battle for time.
But, and this is the big but, I don’t think Bryan’s done dealing so who knows who’s actually on the roster when camp opens.
Q: I'm just curious your thought on this hypothetical scenario:
Do you think if Bryan did not fire Sam, and they made it to the playoffs that year and/or last year, do you think Bosh would have left? Also considering their relationship and that Sam helped him developed over the years.
Cindy J, Toronto
A: You’re right, I don’t do a lot of hypotheticals but this one’s kind of fun.
Sam and Chris did have a unique relationship. Sam challenged him in a much different way than Jay did, much more caustic and public because that was Sam’s manner. But whether Chris would have ultimately tired of it and run screaming from the franchise like his hair was on fire, I don’t know.
Would certainly have made for interesting tmes.
Q: Hey Doug, I'm curious as to whether or not BC is still thinking about trading Jose or JJ and which PG is most likely to leave. JJ has expressed his desire to stay but nothing has been said from Jose. Could they coexist?
Jessica H, Toronto
A: I’m sure it was just a minor oversight on your part to have missed this epic story on Jose that appeared in this space a couple of weeks ago.
(I keed, I keed).
Anyway, I think they can co-exist, as long as there’s a clear delineation of who the starter is. Trouble is, I’m not sure that’s going to happen so it wouldn’t surprise me at all if Bryan didn’t move one.
And whomever he moves is likely to be unimpressed.
Q: Hey Doug, if one were interested in going to one of the two friendly matches the Canadian Senior Men's Basketball team is playing in Toronto (Aug. 12 & Aug. 13), which night would you recommend? Will Leo be resting his starters on the second night, or will it likely be the same lineups for both teams on both nights?
David H, Toronto
A: Well, those are the last two games in Canada before they head to warm-up tournaments in Greece and Turkey so I presume there will be some end-of-the-roster spots to be won and therefore lots of guys will play.
My initial reaction would be to see the first one before the teams get used to each other, the second games of these kinds of things tend to disintegrate into sloppiness.
Q: Hi Doug. Started reading the blog this past season and really enjoy your calmness and wisdom addressing the many issues that arose throughout.
My question concerns the signing of Kleiza. On the surface it looks like he can stretch the floor and rebound a bit, I was wondering if he plays any defence and what’s your take on the guy's all-round game? Also, do you know if BC and co were looking at slightly, imo, more attractive wing options like Reddick or Korver?
Cheers and thank goodness the madness is over.
Mark E, Dubai
A: Obviously I haven’t seen a lot him since he left Denver but a few people I spoke to who follow European basketball say he’s got a nice level of toughness in him. But we’ll have to see whether that translates back into the NBA.
As for Redick and Korver? They might have made calls but they didn’t have the money to get either of them even if those calls were returned. And they’ve had their eyes on Kleiza for a year.