A second helping of the weekend mail
Looks like it’s going to be a wonderful day around these parts, hope it is where you are and you can put this aside until all the yardwork’s done, okay?
But make sure you read it eventually.
Q: Hi Doug. Not a draft or bball related question. I am wondering if you have any guilty pleasure reads (magazine, online or book) that we would not expect from you? I can not see you picking up the latest issue of Home and Garden with how much you tell us that you love yard work. Perhaps you hate everything about the Dan Brown's Da Vinci Code and the press it got but couldn't wait for the latest one to come out. Thanks for making the blog fun and about Doug's pop culture as well. You could almost say that you are the Canadian Bill Simmons and your blog was Grantland before it was! Thanks Doug!
Sean G, Regina
A: Hmm, aren’t we supposed to keep guilty pleasures private?
I think Irregulars know that I’m okay with a day of The New Yorker, Vanity Fair, some Law and Order re-runs, a bunch of Criminal Minds and Seinfeld to cap it all off.
But, as long as you don’t tell anyone, to your point, I got through Da Vinci Code in book form but couldn’t stay awake during the movie.
And, this few know and I’d prefer you keep it to yourself but hardly a week went by that I didn’t watch Gilmore Girls and if I see a rerun, I generally stop and watch.
There are others but we’ll let them out in dribs and drabs when I figure out how to fill this space in a very dry summer.
Q: Hey Doug, can you please give us an update on what BC is doing with that huge sum of $$$ that the Raps got from Miami and Dallas from last year's big trades? Isn't it expiring very soon?
Thanks and keep up the good work.
Arnold M, Toronto
A: He used part of it to help facilitate the trades that got them Jerryd Bayless, Alexis Ajinca, a second-round pick and a bit more cap flexibility in the next couple of years. There remains a bit more than $9 million and given that a lockout seems inevitable at the moment, I’d be surprised if he used it between now and when the league shuts down July 1. A wasted asset? Not entirely since part of it was used to get them where they are but it certainly didn’t return a “stud” as so many had expected. Could be because no “studs” were available but I don’t know that for sure.
Q: Doug. I was wondering about hotel arrangements during the player's travels in the NBA, do teams keep their whereabouts pretty tight to their chest so that locals wouldn't disturb the team? Do they make floors / the entire building private access only? Or is it pretty wide open and anyone can go knock on the door of Dirk, for example?
Philip L, Toronto
A: It’s not exactly a state secret but they don’t openly publicize where they’ll stay in each city. That said, more, um, enterprising fans know where visiting teams stay and there are always a few autograph-seekers around waiting when the players head to the bus to go to shootarounds or games.
But as for knocking on someone’s door? Not going to happen. Not only do most players register under fake names, the level of hotel they stay at usually means a high level of security.
Q: Hey Doug, big fan. First of all I would like to commend you on your patience with the would be GM of the year knuckle heads who litter the GTA. They're taking the fun out of watching Toronto sports for me and I'm sure for a lot of others. With the overwhelmingly negative response of last night’s draft and the immediate responses you get, does it ever wear on you? Do you think this is unique to Toronto at all?
And if I may, I would like to remind the Toronto "fans" that Dirk Nowitzki is a 7 foot Euro
Jeff Y, Orangeville
A: Wear on me? Heck, yes. I guess it’s the constant nature of it in some regards; I know I should be better and be able to entirely ignore and I think I’m pretty good at agreeing to disagreeing listening to the points of others. But the idiots, the name-callers, the ones who don’t seek comment more than validation, kind of rankle me.
But I don’t know if it’s unique to Toronto, I have a sense that it is because friends on the beat who interact with fans as much as we do here seldom seem to complain.
Q: Random question about the coach hiring process. Have you ever heard about a prospective coach running a workout with players as part of the decision making process? I would suspect it would be more likely with assistant coaches that head coaches and player availability would be an issue. Has it ever happened?
Jim R, Toronto
A: Outside of the obvious case where an assistant is promoted, either mid-season or to take on a head coaching role, after a GM has seen him work with players, I have never heard of it as part of an “interview process” if you will.
It would be a logistical nightmare for sure and it would also send a pretty clear signal who was a “favourite” for any specific job and GMs don’t usually like to let that get out.
Q: Out of casual interest, does the Raptors taking a Lithuanian help your cause in convincing the Star to support a summer trip abroad for our scribe, Mr Smith?
Andrew P, Toronto
A: The tallest of departmental foreheads was on vacation last week but you can be sure he’ll be hit with a memo and a request pretty early in the week.
Be a pretty logical trip, no?
And thanks for letting me get it out here in case he’s reading.
Q: Hey Doug. Won't bore you with the 'Ifs and Buts' left over from the draft; I agree they are hardly constructive when considering the future of the franchise.
So instead, I'll bore you with a lockout question. I know you will stay steadfast to your belief that we won't lose any games (though perhaps an hour of sleep) from all these negotiations. Question: if the players were locked out for the entire season, are they allowed to do what the NHLers did in 2005 and go play in Sweden, small town Quebec and Russia?
Is there any chance we could see some of the NBA's top foreign talent go over and play in Euroleague on one year contracts?
Andrew P, Toronto
A: I doubt it, at least not until the point comes that they cancel the entire season and the threat of that, if history holds, won’t come until nearly next Christmas. You may see some guys start the season there but a flood won’t happen because many will be waiting to see what transpires with the NBA and I don’t know that European club teams might not want to sign guys knowing they’ll leave the second a settlement is reached. Same goes for European-born players, I imagine. But, really, we are a long way from that point.
As for whether it's allowable: In most cases, yes; but each deal has to be dealt with by FIBA.
Q: Doug. How respected is Lithuanian Basketball League, the league that Jonas Valanciunas comes from? How does it compare to say, the NCAA or other EuroLeagues?
Andy U, Maple
A: I wouldn’t put it on a level of, say, Spain or Russia, which are generally held as two of the better leagues for overall talent. But, it’s not so much the Lithuanian domestic league were he’ll get his best challenges, that will come in the EuroLeague season, a separate “league” consistently of the best club teams on the continent.
Q: Hi Doug. Hope you don't mind another question about the draft (though I wouldn't blame you for deciding to deep-six the topic after the near hysteria that happened After The Night Before. Anyway, my experience of draft processes comes chiefly from years of watching the NHL ones (waiting oh so patiently for a Leaf pick to happen AT ALL in the first round or two, let alone be "somewhat" controversial as we saw with the Raptors last evening) and the NBA event unfolds much more behind closed doors. So a couple of questions: Who would be in the "war room" with Bryan Colangelo? Is there any communication allowed after the draft begins between NBA teams? Players? Their agents? Media? You indicated your attempts at contacting them were being ignored...is this the usual? Or was it a much stricter sequestering this year? Thanks!
Lorie P, London
A: The war room? It’s full of people. All the assistants, all the scouts, the head coach, maybe an assistant of his, some support staff, the team’s legal staff, maybe a representative of ownership sits around to see what’s transpiring and there’s lots of chatter among them. They talk about what other teams might do, debate the merits of the guys they want and stuff like that.
Lots of outside conversations, too. Maybe the GM will have one of his assistants call someone from another team with a trade proposal (“Hey, if this happens and that guy’s on the board, why don’t you take him for us and we’ll trade you so-and-so for him?”) or just to see what other people are hearing.
Hardly any of it ever results in stuff getting done but it’s an exercise in information-gathering.
And the fact I couldn’t get a response to a couple of texts to a couple of people isn’t a big surprise; there have been years when they’ve been answered, some when they haven’t. You take your shot and see what happens.
Q: Hey Doug. Long time fan. I remember watching you when I was younger on Sportsnet with John Saunders and Leo Rautins during your halftime updates.
I read somewhere they thought he wouldn't come back because he was with ESPN for the most part of the season, but I really think he was by far the best play-by-play guy in franchise. Swirsky was too much of a homer!
How would you rank the play-by-play announcers for the Raptors? And the colour commentators?
Kevin C, Toronto
A: Wow, you do go back. I’d forgotten about that halftime gig myself.
Anyway, I don’t like to rank because it’s so subjective and I don’t get to listen often enough to really form an opinion. If I miss 10-12 games a year, that’s hardly a solid sample size to determine which guy is better or more entertaining or even just different from the others.
I will say this, I like Jack a lot (although the singing might be a bit over-done now) and I did think Norma did a great job as a sideline reporter when she got her shot.
But as for ranking them one-by-one? Can’t do it. Not a big enough body of work for me to assess.
Q: Hey Doug. After watching the draft last night I wanted to mention a few things.
Am I not the only one who finds it really annoying that guys like Jimmer had to wear the wrong cap when a trade had already been made from Milwaukee to Sacramento? I know it wasn't official but the league seems to be playing too close to the rules. I know I'd be a little peeved if I was drafted and the picture of me shaking the commissioner's hand was with me wearing a hat of a team I knew I would never play for.
How slow did ESPN seem in reporting all of these trades? I was following the draft on Twitter while watching and it seemed to me that Yahoo and other various sources knew of many trades and maneuvers before any of the ESPN guys. That definitely has never happened before. Thoughts?
About Valanciunas, I just wanted to say that most people are probably not so much mad at the selection as they are in the fact that he is the one guy big name international guy that won't be coming over next year.
My main question is about all the trades. For example, Minnesota and Kahn made about 100 moves yesterday that were very very technical with cash considerations, future draft picks etc being the primary moving pieces. I could hardly keep up with all of that, as with most others trying to track who was going where with all the wrong caps being worn, and picks being traded countless times. Is it the GM that keeps track of all of this? I mean, for the future where would a GM have written down that they are owed New Jersey's, for example, second round protected (in some range) pick in 2016 or something? Seems like something that would be super hard to remember off the bat. Just wondering if you know who is in charge (if not the GM) and how records are kept about these sort of things and comment on the quick pace that all these transactions transpired over.
Mike C, Montreal
A: To your main question:
A lot of what transpires in the last minute has been discussed if not for days, at least for most of the draft day, so the parameters are in place and it’s not all that hard.
And not only do the teams have staff members who track things like that, the league is involved as well – it has to approve each transaction – and it has an army of people who make sure everyone knows what’s going on and what the future ramifications are.
Q: Hi Doug. Love your work and all the input that you provide Raps fans. My question is:
If I were to take a road trip to NY in the future and wanted to attend the NBA Draft at MSG, where would I purchase tickets to attend that event? Or are tickets limited, for family, corporations, etc? Can I buy tickets online or do I have to physically buy them at MSG or at a box office etc in NY?
I'd love to 'boo' David Stern every time he steps up to the podium and get rowdy with the Knicks fans lol.
Afshin S, Scarborough
A: I don’t think you’d have a problem getting a ticket through the league’s website a month or so before the next draft at all. The league kind of likes to get money from paying fans to go see things like the draft. Check back there a year or so from now.
Q: Hey Doug. You said Cory Joseph & Tristan Thompson's success in this draft would prompt more Canadian kids to go south for prep school; you mentioned that you didn't believe it'd be a good decision for all of them.
Why do you think some shouldn't go? Do you think staying playing in Canadian high schools negatively or positively affects an elite player's chances of making it to the NBA?
Sam R, Toronto
A: I think the danger – and it’s existed forever – is that kids may go down south, either to prep schools or mid-level colleges, and get forgotten. Their development stagnates, they don’t maximize their skills in a star-driven system and I think there’s enough good coaching available to them here that they can improve. And enough summer programs or national team possibilities or clubs that do enough travel to get them high-level competition.
Now, don’t get me entirely wrong, in some instances it works perfectly, as we saw with Thompson and Joseph but I do think teenagers – and most importantly their parents – need to exercise a bit of caution, ask questions of a lot of people and not get swayed by smooth-talking street agents before any moves are made.
Q: Hi Doug - Regarding the JV pick, would you agree that the Raps would have taken him even if they had the third pick overall? I can't see them taking either Kanter or Thompson.
Rex R, Brandon
A: Yes, they would have, I’ve been told.
Q: Hey Doug. I wanted to know if you noticed the Steve Nash snubs during the draft broadcast and how it could ever be possible for them to forget about Captain Canada?
When Tristan Thompson was drafted they put up a graphic of the highest drafted Canucks ever and left Nash off it completely? But even more inexplicably going to break Stu said Thompson joins Joel Anthony and Jamal Magloire as Canadians in the NBA.
Did Steve Nash retire or something? Do you think this snub was somehow intentional, it seems impossible to forget about him twice, he is kinda decent at this basketball thing?
Dave W, Toronto
A: We heard that, too, over our shoulders and were quite, um, alarmed. All we can think of is that they were referring to players actually born in Canada but that’s entirely misleading. Anyway, not sure it was any intentional snub but it was something odd.
Q: Hi Doug. I was watching BC's post draft press conference last night, and I thought there was a fairly snarky/slimey question/comment made by a reporter, indicating that BC's comments that he just had made about the team and the draft were the exact same as last year's comments. What did you think of that question, how did the room react to the question and what of BC's reaction/answer?
Dermot W, Bedford
A: I don’t think it was snarky/slimey at all, actually. It was a good, hard question. And as far as I recall, there was no “reaction” other than to wait to hear what Bryan had to say. I don’t imagine he appreciated it very much but, frankly, that’s neither here nor there, it goes with the turf.
Q: Hi Doug. There are writers such as your self, that seem to focus on covering teams, and then there are net work "analysts" for the NBA and other sources who paint with broader strokes. I am wondering if you could give me the names of a few of the more reliable writers who cover the NBA as a whole. There is just so many articles and Rumors from ESPN writers, Yahoo sports and NBA.com it's difficult to know who is reliable, or in your opinion of top quality. Thanks!
Jeff M, Saint John
A: If you get to that level, you get there because you’re good and reliable, trustworthy and talented so you really can’t go wrong. I know it’s hard to sift through them all because there so many sites out there but I tend to respect the reporting ability of the biggest hitters, Stein at ESPN, Woj at Yahoo, Thomsen at Sports Illustrated and Berger at CBS. They tend to lead the pack on league-wide news.
Q: Hi Doug. You were commenting about Maurizio Gherardini today in your blog. I am wondering if you can give some light into what he and perhaps Brian have done or contributed to Basketball Canada. Brian spoke a little bit about Basketball in Canada on Draft night...is he invested in some way?
Jeff M, Saint John
A: The entire organization at the Raptors is heavily invested and it’s one of the better things they do. It’s not only financial support, it’s things like making the Air Canada Centre available for training camps – all the men’s teams will have worked there free of charge before the summer is over – and the like.
Maurizio has been a giant for the organization. His contacts around the world have helped players get jobs, helped the teams get important exhibition games and when he makes a call to some FIBA official, it gets returned. He gives Canada a global cache and respect I don’t think it’s ever had and the political world of international athletics, having someone as respected as he is on your side is bigger than you can imagine.
Bryan? He’s a steadfast supporter, he lets his staff do pro bono work for Canada Basketball and he’s always willing to help when needed.