Better late than never; here's the weekly mail
Sorry for the delay, had some things to do over Friday and Saturday, I’ll fill you in later.
Figured I’d better get this huge mailbag up to at least feel like I’ve done something over the weekend.
Q: Hi Doug, who do you believe are the all time "blog favourite" Raptor players.
The defintion of "blog favourite" can be described as a player who has or will have little impact on the team's success and his playing time is inversely proportional to the number of mentions and words devoted to them in this particular forum.
Thanks for accepting this indulgence.
Jamil B, Sydney, Australia
A: It starts and stops with Pops Mensah-Bonsu. He’s so far ahead it’s not even funny.
I think Pop Sow and Mamadou N’Diaye would be on the list, as would any player who’s ever had one good stretch of one game and thus becomes “the guy they cannot do without and how in the world does Jay or Sam or whoever not play him more; that’s just stupid coaching.”
Q: Hi, Doug. With the addition of former Raps assistant Jim Todd on Leo's Canada Basketball staff it got me thinking about how many NBA coaches/assistants moonlight with national programs. I know Jay has had his gig with USA Basketball over the years. Is this a common practice? Also could you give us a list of your top five favorite assistant coaches in Raps history?
Darren A, Weyburn, Sask.
A: Not really common, no. The Americans, as you know, have some NBA talent on Coach K’s staff but for the most part, it’s retired guys who work with other national teams. Donnie Nelson did some work with Lithuanian one time, Del Harris was the head coach of China for a while but there really aren’t a lot.
My top five:
Stan Albeck is No. 1, Jim would be on the list, I got along really well with Butch Carter when he was an assistant, Brian James was a hard worker and a good guy and I’d put Alex English on my list, too.
Q: Hi Doug. With the big three aging in Boston and the new big three teaming up in Miami, it got me thinking of a list topic.
Best 3somes in NBA history. And I don't mean from Wilt Chamberlain's autobiography.
Geoff R, London
A: Bird, McHale and Parish; Magic, Kareem and Worthy and I’ll save five older-time threesomes for a day in the regular blog because it’s a fun list.
Q: Hi Doug. I have been wondering about that for quite sometime so why not ask the question even if it is naive. Thinking about Steve Nash back problems and thinking more generally of the physical abuses taken during a 10-12 year career in the NBA (including also all the years of training before that), what are the main and most common physical problems incurred by professional players. To put it in a nutshell, can these guys still run and jump a bit at 40?
Michel C, Toronto
A: Not nearly as well at 40 as they could at 30. Most retired players I talk to tell me the big complaint, physically, is the toll that the game exacts on knees and ankles and backs. They really do take a pounding.
Oh and if you see an ex-player some time, check out his fingers. They’ve generally been broken or dislocated or banged up and are often quite ugly.
Q: I hope you and your good friend, Stella, have found your way to a few patios this summer to enjoy the amazing weather we've been getting.
I just have a quick question that I'm hoping you would be able to answer. When a general manager is shopping a player and, let's say, Team X and Team Y are legitimately interested. After a few days of negotiating, Team X provides a better offer than Team Y. Would the general manager be inclined to call up Team Y and tell them that the player is headed to Team X? Or does Team Y hear the news the same way we all do?
I would think general managers would make a few courtesy calls, just to tell the other GM "sorry for taking your time, but the player's going to another team".
Thanks for answering my question. Enjoy the summer!
Dave R, Markham
A: I think most, if not all, general managers are honourable men and would have the courtesy to call and say, ‘you know, I liked what we had but I have a better deal that will help my team more so I’m going to take it.’ It’s the proper way to do business and since what goes around comes around, I think not ticking off a colleague is the best way to go and believe the vast majority of GMs would feel the same.
Q: I have never really had the opportunity to watch an International basketball game. What are the key differences between an NBA game and an International game, and why does someone having international basketball experience help over someone that does not? I would think that if a team was stacked with NBA all-stars that they would typically roll over all the other teams, but that doesn't seem to always happen.
S S, Newmarket
A: There are a lot of differences, really. I’d say the biggest is that North Americans tend to play a more individual style, with lots of isolation and one-on-one play; European teams tend to have more ball and player movement.
And it has been shown that the very best NBA players on a team would win; but that a second-tier group will have trouble because there are some very good teams around the world who’ve had groups playing together for years.
Q: This is a two parter - 1. How long is our TPE good for? Can we hold it for as long as we want say 1 - 5 years? And second is the 2011 going to be deep enough that if the Raptors do end in the basement, we can expect to see the possibility of a new franchise player coming to Toronto? And who are those people - Sorry 3 questions.
Greg A, London
A: A trade exception is good for one calendar year from the date on which it was created; I have no clue about the 2011 draft and it won’t cross my mind until at least next April, or even June, and I don’t know that you’ll ever see a “franchise player” because it seems they’ve been there, done that and had little success. I’d prefer they try to build, you know, a team.
Q: Hey Doug. A non sports related question/comment. My wife and I do a lot traveling and we began to collect Starbucks global city mugs. It started on our honeymoon with Madrid, Barcelona and Paris. Ever since then we have been slowly adding to our collection. As I read your blog I realize you enjoy an adult beverage but also enjoy Starbucks. My question is do you collect city mugs to the NBA cities you visit?
Wesley C, Toronto
A: Nah, I’m not a collecting kind of guy. I do save credentials from various events that I’ll end up putting behind the bar in the house when it gets finished but as for knick-knacks, I don’t really do it. I prefer the memories kept in my mind.
Q: Why are the Raptors holding onto Marcus Banks
Jason S, Atl
A: Um, two reasons: He’s an asset and there’s not a lot of GMs out there beating down the doors trying to obtain him. And I’m not sure what you’d like them to do with him? Let him go and still have to pay him?
Q: Hi Doug,
Are you still cheering for the Storm? Haven't Lauren Jackson and Sue Bird and their teammates been great fun to watch? What an absolutely outstanding season they're having, and I hope word of their success has attracted new fans to the women's league. Now, last year the WNBA championship wasn't decided until nearly the last day of September, and if that's the case this year, (I tried, but couldn't find the WNBA 2010 playoff schedule online) it'll coincide with the preliminary round play of the FIBA womens tournament, which begin September 23. Do you happen to know if the WNBA has taken this into consideration? And if not, wouldn't this seriously affect the roster of the US team? Also, do you know if Lauren Jackson has committed to playing for Australia? Or Tammy Sutton-Brown for Canada?
Lorie P, London
A: I am still cheering for the Storm, just haven’t had a chance to see much of them lately for a few reasons. And I believe they’ve slightly altered the WNBA schedule so it won’t bother the worlds, given that so many of the women will go right from their North American season to their national teams.
Also haven’t had a chance to check with Tammy but I know the Canada Basketball people sure hope she does. But, she played in Turkey last winter, went from there to Indy and after a long WNBA season, she might need a break.
Q: Hi Doug. I am going to be in town next week for the U15 & U19 Girls Nationals for basketball (I have a daughter on each team) and I was wondering if there is anything going on with the Raptors or the national team that would be open to the public? Hopefully we will have some time to see something (but hopefully not to much free time).
Dale L, Saskatoon
A: Ah, up at Humber College, are you? Just got the schedule.
There will be nothing with the Raptors, I’m afraid, but the national senior men’s team will be working out here at least some of the time, down at the ACC, and I imagine if you spoke to someone from Ontario Basketball they might be able to help you out.
Q: In a lot of places I read that the NBA games would be a lot more competitive and fun to watch if there were only 60 games instead of 82 because the players will be more fresh, less prone to injury and eliminating back to backs will make the quality of the competition go up.
While I understand that is very unlikely due to the fact the franchises needs to sell game tickets to get their revenue, why hasn't the league considered making the season longer? Just extending it by 2 weeks would basically eliminate any back to back games would it not? If the players need time to enjoy their off court lives, the NBA can always shorten the pre-season by a game or two. What are your thoughts?
Philip L, Toronto
A:I don’t for a second think they’ll ever reduce the number of games but what they should do, as I’ve mentioned before, is cut two weeks and four games off the exhibition season and tack that time on to the regular season to lessen the grind.
Q: Hey Doug,
Y'know it seems like every day a new story breaks about some athlete getting into some sort of trouble. It's sad that when people open the sports page sometimes, this is all they see. I know there's more good in the world of sports then the DUIs and arrests we hear about. I know it may not be much, but what if one day a week (say maybe Friday, to start everyone’s weekend off right), you take a moment in the blog to highlight someone in he world of sports who's doing the world some good. Maybe an athlete who spends his/her weekends with kids, or an ordinary person who devotes their spare time to coaching a soccer team. We hardly ever hear about the good side of sports, perhaps you could use your blog to promote that aspect.
Lamond I, Markham
A: I’ll give that shot but, frankly, a lot of guys do stuff without wanting much publicity and, in the summer at least, it’s pretty hard to get hold of anyone,
Q: Would Jay consider starting Amir at the 3?
Amir, Ed Davis, and Bargnani. 2 bigs down low, with Bargnani playing like a quasi-3 on offence, 5 on defence. I think Amir has the speed defend 3's, right?
Jordan S, Thornhill
A: I cannot see it even in the case of the most dire emergencies. Amir may be able to defend some threes, although that’s a huge stretch given his propensity for fouling, and there’s no way he can provide enough offence from that spot.
Q: From the time T.J. Ford arrived in Toronto several years ago, the presence of two capable point guards has seemed to me a significant strength of the Raptor roster, especially when the players had contrasting styles. I believe this is the case now with Calderon and Jack. Could you please outline the rationale for trading Calderon if that is management's current intention.
James A, Victoria
A: The rationale, I understand, is that they need to improve in other areas and dealing one of the PGs might bring back a significant piece that fills a hole. After all, to get something, you have to give up something. I also believe they wonder if Jose and Jarrett would truly be comfortable with one or the other being a dedicated backup. I don’t personally share that second concern but my opinion doesn’t count, sadly.
Q: Hey Doug, heard that Joey Graham just signed with the Cavs for a couple of years. With AP and Jamario still on the team (I think), do you think those old ex-Raps connections had anything to do with the signing? How do you think he'll fit in there?
Andrew H, Toronto
A: I don’t think the presence of Parker or Moon played any role and I would presume Joey will do what Joey has done his entire career: Have some good games, so bad games, and be one of those guys at the end of the rotation who can’t be counted on for consistent production. A zebra doesn’t change its stripes.
Q: Doug, why would the NBA not include some of the better basketball scribes to the NBA without borders tours? I think the program would get more publicity, get players, coaches and the tall foreheads from NBA together. Win win in my opinion, what’s yours?
Steph R, Glencoe
A: I’ve been trying to get there for years, actually. But we do like to operate at an arm’s length and it’s a pretty expensive proposition for a boss to approve.
Q: Congratulation, your blog attracts most readers on the Toronto Star website.
When is the NBA schedule coming out for next season? I think it should be around this time
Hao Q, Mississauga
A: I think we’re a couple of weeks away from the schedule; it was delayed a little bit this season because the league, and the networks, wanted to get the big free agent season over with before finalizing plans.
Q: Hi Doug. Huge fan of your blog. Also been a fan of Bryan Colangelo, but I'm really starting to question him. He is no doubt smart, connected and can deliver a great interview. What I am struggling with is that I'm not hearing anything from him that sounds like a "vision" for this team. This off-season is obviously a huge step back not just by losing Bosh, but because every other move is no more than rearranging the chairs on the Titanic. I think it behooves Bryan to come out and be clear to the fans: "we're going to take a step back this year but we have X, Y and Z reasons and assets that will allow us to get back to the upper echelon in the East in a timeframe of X". Is that too much to ask from the Organization's leader? Thanks in advance Doug.
Dave E, Ajax
A: Why would he do that? Why wouldn’t he try to put a team on the floor that he thinks can be competitive? Fans may not think so but I would imagine the last thing players or coaches want to here is a GM say the team’s no good. He’s got assets and flexibility going forward but if I’m a GM, I don’t come out and denigrate my team before I’ve even stopped putting it together.
Q:Headed out to Richmond last night to check out the Canadian Women doing their thing against Sweden. It was quite the set-up at the Richmond Oval - they had bleachers at each end of the court, and two rows of benches (with one row of reserved seats) alongside the court, with the team benches on the other side. I would say worst seat in the house was about 12m from the court - not too bad for $9 and a $2.50 subway trip.
My question is about the team itself, though. I was surprised at how young the senior women's team was - heck, both us and Sweden didn't seem to have a player older than 25 on the roster. While I couldn't find ages listed on the website anywhere, I would have thought there were a few older veterans to guide the team. Any insights as to why they're going so young?
Ladies dominated, by the way... Ball movement around the perimeter that reminded me of the best days of the Allas Mavericks, and great rebounding at both ends of the floor. They were the far superior team, and the score reflected it.
Chris R, Vancouver
A: Generally, the women’s teams around the world are on the young side; it’s just the way careers evolve. I’m not sure who the Canadians will ultimately have – their worlds aren’t until later in September – but I do think they’ll be among the younger teams there.
Am glad to hear you went, though, that team deserves some support.
Q: Doug, on today's rosters, does Toronto make the playoffs?
Paul E, Toronto
A: Today? Probably not, no. But let’s see what things look like in late October.
Q: Do you think NBA teams’ perception of sport as pure business hurts global basketball? Most of significant NBA players are skipping World Championship to get ready for next season, or due to insurance/injury risk reasons. Having recent World Cup in mind, I’ve never heard of a player skipping World Cup to get ready for next season. Actually, Drogba played with cast on fractured arm and Chelsea FC didn’t complain about it. Shouldn’t 3-4 games (I exclude first round) in September for your country be more important than, say 5-6 games in early November?
Goran P, Oakville
A: The perception doesn’t help, that’s for sure. And I agree that players should play for their countries as much as they can and, generally, that’s what happens with the European and South American countries, actually. There is an odd occasion where a player will take a summer off but as a general rule of thumb, most take part. As they should.
Q: Is it possible to rework a contract so that it is more flexible for the cap? For example... Marcus Banks is on for one more year at 5 mil. That is cumbersome. Although he did provide quality off the bench for what he was asked to do. Presuming he may not get a contract after this year and he is a serviceable back up would it be possible to redo his contract for say 4 years at 10 or 12 mil. Then his cap hit would be 2.5 or 3 mil which I would guess would be more in the neighbourhood of what he's worth. Also wasn't there another Aussie that played for Toronto by the name of Nate who went on to play for the Spurs and burned us one night as their backup centre or was it PF? Anyway cheers.
Craig C, Ajax
A: Under terms of the collective bargaining agreement and salary cap rules, that scenario you paint is against the rules. Makes sense, too, because allowing that to happen would really mess up the cap situation.
And I don’t know which Nate you’re remembering but the only two who’ve played for Toronto are Jawai and Huffman and neither of them went to the Spur. I believe you’re thinking of Sean Marks, who is actually a New Zealander and did have a career night against Toronto.
Q: Hey Doug. As I'm sure hundreds of other people have been saying, I called the Trio Team Up ages ago. It just made sense from a "we want to be a legacy and have the ability to make that happen" standpoint.
Thing was, I called the wrong zip code. I'd assumed the three were going to play in New Jersey. And I was pretty okay with that - Jay-Z, Brooklyn, Billionaire owner, new arena and new look. But then they had to go to Miami and the three of them there just annoys me, as I'm sure it does hundreds of other people.
Does the "where" matter? I'm curious as to your thoughts.
Thanks Doug, all the best and as per usual great work.
A P, Markham
A: No, I don’t think the “where” matters a bit; if they had orchestrated a move to any other city in the same fashion they made the move to Miami I think they would have been equally vilified.
Q: Is Reggie Evans that much of a liability? It seemed to me that last season we were all waiting for him to get over his injury so he could add toughness and rebounding. How did he get so bad, so fast? Just curious.
Timothy D, Toronto
A: I don’t think he got “bad” at all. I think there was a tendency to over-rate his contribution before he played but he did rebound well, and work hard, when he got on the court. I think he took too much self-induced offensive responsibility and that irked some fans.
But “bad?” Nah, he was what he was.
Q: Hi Doug. I just wanted to get your thoughts on why the Raps went for David Andersen as opposed to other bargain-basement centres who are presumably available. Kwame Brown and Jason Collins, for example, are bigger bodies and likely more capable post defenders who would likely have been available in the same price range. Was part of the attraction Andersen's ability to contribute on a tough-minded Houston team that played above its head despite a lack of star players, not unlike the current Raptors roster?
Mike D, Toronto
A: A couple of reasons, I bet. The money was a perfect fit in to the Turk trade exception and they think Andersen, while very much an extra piece rather than a significant contributor, can better fit into the style they want to play.
Q: Just thought of this the other day - do you think there's any chance that Pat Riley was in on the "big 3" machinations from an early stage? I mean surely if this plan was hatched years and years ago perhaps the 3 of them looked at the most likely team to be able to accommodate them or the destination they'd like best. Then, all it takes is for Wade to approach Riley with the plan so he can clean house, take on expiring contracts like Jermaine O'Neal etc. I know that on the surface it seems like a conspiracy theory but really it's not THAt far-fetched to think these types of discussions were taking place. Clearly these three guys are not being up-front about the whole thing
Howard F, Toronto
A: I honestly don’t know if he was or not; I do know he’s been working for years to have the cap room to do something big this summer and it worked out pretty well. Whether he envisioned all three being there or not can’t be known.
Q: If the NBA wants to have a truly competitive league, and give teams an equal chance of attracting talent, outside of the obvious salary cap changes, wouldn't it make sense for the league to ensure that every team (including the Raptors) get exposure on US National TV (ESPN, TNT, ABC) at least once a season? Seems as though outside of money, players are concerned with being showcased on National TV and always showing Lakers/ Spurs, Celtics/Heat instead of a few OKC, Raptors, etc puts those teams at a disadvantage. The NFL does a great job of showcasing every team and every city (ie. Buffalo on Monday Night) every season. Yes, the networks would squawk at this concept, but both Lakers/Raptors games last season were truly entertaining to watch and probably would still generate high ratings on national tv in the states.
Patrick F, Toronto
A: They used to have a rule that every team has to appear on Turner at least once a season, as I recall. And I think they should but, then again, that’s perhaps why I don’t run television networks.
And I imagine more than a few of us will be sick over the number of time we see the Heat on national TV next season.