You've certainly come through in the mail
Okay, I said I was a bit light in the mail.
Now? Not so much.
Have at it, I’ll check in from Boston as I get ready for my season debut at the ballyard.
Q: Hey Rockie...Nuthin up my sleeve..._Just a few rambles...
What about Aaron Gray for the 5 spot for a year?
Bellinelli coming back? Or has he burnt his bridge?
Four seamer...sort of like a Jamaal Wilkes foul shot.
Walker Brothers or the Righteous Brothers?
Ellie Mae or Bobbi Jo?
Spahn and Sain or Drysdale Koufax?
Lolich and Maclean or Cuellar and Palmer?
That's enough ... Keep up the good work!!
Bob E, Kanata
A: As I consider the relative merits of Boris Badenov and wonder if Sam Drucker was the greatest cross-over star of sitcom fame …
Aaron Gray would be a huge fallback but functional, I suppose.
Righteous Brothers, for sure.
Bobbi Jo but don’t discount Billie Jo
Koufax-Drydale and Cuellar-Palmer, unless I had to dodge the taxman for while, then Denny for sure.
(One for you: Is Cuellar-Palmer-McNally-Dobson best staff ever?)
Q: Here's something I thought a lot about during the last month or so. Since you're light in the mailbag (that's not a euphemism!) I thought I'd get your opinion.
I like and appreciate your MO in reporting where you don't cheerlead and don't profess to be a fan (even if I don't buy 100% that you don't have a slight rooting interest). I want my reporters to be unbiased observers -- or at least fake it! Which brings me to my observation, and eventual question.
During the craziness that was the Stanley Cup by the Vancouver Canucks, it seemed like every reporter here was representing the common fan and outwardly cheering on the home team. Granted, I didn't read everybody and generally skipped over any reference to hockey. But it got me thinking about you, should the Raptors ever make it to the final (I know, you'll be long retired). On the one hand, you want to be the dispassionate reporter you've always been, but on the other hand you'd probably want to represent the excitement of the fans and how good it would be for the city.
Wait... I need to form a question... Um... Would you see your role changing even slightly should the unthinkable happen and the Raptors found themselves playing for the Larry O'Brien Trophy?
Guy M, Vancouver
A: It probably would, to some degree. I can see getting caught up in the ride – and I’m kind of afraid to look back at the reporting I did during the halcyon days of Vinsanity and the marginal success the team had – but I also would think I’m professional enough to not misrepresent what goes on in any event, game, off-day or whatever it is I’m writing about.
That’s the true test, I think. I imagine representing the moment would include, well, would include not being a cheerleader but truly telling the story to people who aren’t hear but there has to be a bit of a “stand-back” position where when things go wrong for the home side, you can say why and discuss the implications fairly and with a dispassionate eye.
I don’t imagine it would be easy. I also don’t imagine at my advanced age I’ll have to worry about it.
Q: Hi Doug, great job with the blog! I know you don’t like talking about the complexities of the NBA lockout but I was hoping you could answer this for me. What happens to the negotiation between two parties now, is it imminent that the lockout will cover the entire season next year?
Hasan S, Toronto
A: No, no, no. A thousand times no. Nothing like that is “imminent” at all and, in fact, I read somewhere Friday night that the two sides expect to be back at the bargaining table in a couple of weeks.
That said, the next real “pressure point” to get something done is probably Labour Day as we get close to the start of training camp but there is no way we can say today that this lockout will last even into the coming season, let alone all of it.
In fact, I continue to be of the belief that no real games will be lost because of this hiccup. I could be wrong but there’s no way to know that today.
Q: Hi Doug. You said you're running low on mail so I have a couple questions here to help keep you busy.
First, with the suggestion of a hard cap in order to increase parity in the NBA I have read that some sports people don't believe parity would be as good for the NBA as it is for the NFL. What are your thoughts on that? As an aside, shouldn't Raptor fans root for a hard cap? Because I don't think Raptors ownership will ever spend the amount of money needed to compete with the teams in our division who have owners looking to load up on max players - KNICKS. Sure the Spurs compete while being financially responsible but we can't forget that they blew an entire season to draft a classy unselfish Hall of Famer who would set them up for the next decade. We don't all have that opportunity.
Second, I see your point in being disappointed in the reaction fans had on us drafting a "euro". Personally I was one of the upset fans but I would have been just as upset if they drafted Biyombo who is international but not euro. This is because BC has been rebuilding for years now and I've had to sit and watch the likes of OKC, Memphis, and the Clippers develop into promising teams. At this point it appears that most fans have lost faith in BC turning us into a contender and would have been satisfied with the potential excitement (not necessarily W's) a Knight or Walker would have brought. Jonas won’t be here next year! Now we are stuck with the SAME ROSTER heading into another lottery bound season (whenever it will begin). Its a shortsighted view but in a weak draft would it have been terrible for BC to have thrown fans a bone? Its not like Knight would have been a terrible pick. I mean BC can try and sell us on free agency but most free agents of significance want to go to contending teams. The ones who would come may just be looking for a payday and we've been burned by that kind of player before (i.e. Hedu). Keep up the good job on the blog!
Mark L, Toronto
A: Wow, where to start.
No, I don’t think a hard cap is the answer at all, to any sport; it is too restrictive and doesn’t tend to allow teams to keep their best players. I do believe there is a way to find a happy medium with some kind of flexibility and exceptions that can be reached based on a percentage of available income and I’m sure it will. Eventually.
Now, I am also going to take exception to your contention that the Raptors won’t spend the money necessary. That’s dead wrong on one major point: They have, they just haven’t hit on the right combination of players. And if you ask me whether you want a Raptors payroll or one of the Knicks, Nets, Sixers (the “division” rivals you speak of), I would suggest Toronto has spent more wisely than any of them. Especially the Knicks, who have had a bloated payroll for the better part of a decade and have had fewer post-season appearances and the same number of series wins as Toronto since, well, since 2001. So one does not go with the other, necessarily. As we’ve said, repeatedly, it’s spending wisely as opposed to just spending, that makes the difference.
Now, to your second point. You’d rather have “potential excitement and not necessarily W’s?” That’s ridiculous. You want a GM to “throw the fans a bone” by picking someone less capable that the guy he believes in? If you’re serious, you best go try to find a team led by a guy like that and if you do, I’ll be stunned. Truly stunned.
And I’m going to leave the entire “SAME ROSTER” point alone and ask that you come back here whenever the season starts and we’ll talk. You could be right, I’d bet my bottom dollar you’re not.
Q: Doug. There has been a lot of discussion about saving the owners from themselves because they were dumb enough to "overpay". My question is this:
If the owners agreed that they are making a boo-boo by paying players too much and all decide, independently, to stop and cut their costs. It seems to be what some players are saying, but then if it happen over 95% of the time, wouldn't the player go to court? (I recall some league having this problem a long time ago.)
Bruce M, Winnipeg
A: A very valid point and let’s say what the owners want is “institutionalized collusion” or a method that better protects them from themselves. I personally think it’s not necessary and if they want to screw up, they – and the GMs who do the actually dealing – should be free to screw up without a system to protect them.
That said, I do think there’s a way to limit the risk of the owners that provides the leeway for intelligently-managed teams to thrive without entirely limiting the market forces that allow players to make as much as they can.
Q: Hey Doug, clue me in. There's a lockout, but trades are permitted? Who would you say got the better of the latest trade, Kings or the Cavs?
Bob W, Winnipeg
A: Oh no, nothing is permitted but that transaction got done before the lockout hit so that’s why you heard about it.
Personally, I think the Kings got the best of it with Hickson go with a pretty good young group and while I like Casspi, the fact the Cavs didn’t do an Amare trade a year or so ago so they could hang on to Hickson and have now traded him for a relatively unproven young guy makes me scratch my head.
Q: Hi Doug: 2 questions.
First, days prior to the draft Jonas Valanciunas was projected as the 3rd or 4th pick on most mock drafts. So I assume the Raptors jumped on the chance of drafting him. That being said, if Jonas was picked as projected who would the Raptors draft? Again, I read anyone from Knight, Biyombo, Walker or Leonard.
Lastly, how long do you think this lock out will last? I cannot image reliving the '99 lock out again.
Barry B, Toronto
A: I’ve said since draft night that had Valanciunas not been available, they would have somehow ended up with Biyombo and no one connected with the franchise has dissuaded me from continuing to say that.
And I don’t think they will miss real games because of the lockout but that’s a total guess.
Q: Doug, I too would like some way to pay for my fix of your blog.
Some thoughts. Seems that people don't mind paying 99 cents for apps and songs on iTunes so it needs to be cheap and easy.
What about an app that let's you pick the columnists and blogs you want to subscribe to for a recurring charge of 99 cents a week?
Or a LIKE button that takes you to a thank you page with an ad?
Or a " rate today's blog" feature that 'rewards' you by giving you a coupon/discount from an advertiser.
People seem to like a little interactivity.
I know it feels cheap but what if people who want to, could use paypal and make a donation to support their favourite blog?
Anyway, in the meantime I have purchased books, rented movies, and made charitable donations based on things I have seen mentioned in your blog. Anyway to capitalize on this?
And don't forget the Best of the blog book idea.
Richard Y, Kincardine
A: If the Tall Foreheads get to this point in reading the mail, I hope they take particular notices.
Book idea? Hmm. A charitable endeavour, perhaps?
Q: Hi Doug. I'll go for short and sweet. Is there currently a salary cap "floor" in the NBA, similar to the NHL?
Sohail G, Collingwood
A: Indeed there is; it was – and who knows what it’ll be when they get back under whatever system there is – 75 per cent of the cap number.
Q: Hello Doug. My question or questions is about the current state of events transpiring in the N.B.A.
Are the GM's, coaches etc. allowed to follow their players, say if there is a story, are they allowed to read up on it or not?
What happens if they catch wind that one of their players is breaking their contract by say doing something dangerous, could they void their contract?
What happens to he NBA.com writers I noticed their website seems down (excluding the David Stern interview)?
Rob A, Oshawa
A: There can be no personal conduct whatsoever but I don’t imagine the Thought Police at NBA headquarters can stop, say, Bryan from reading what I write about players. They may try but …
As for the breaking-of-contracts thing, if players are stupid enough to do stuff like that during a lockout, they get what they deserve and coaches, if they catch wind, will probably shake their heads and say, “dopes.”
My boys at NBA.com, on the other hand, I’m worried about. Not all of them are on staff, which gets them benefits, etc., and the ones who are freelancers may be in for some tough times and I worry about the long-term impact on staff writers, as well. Guess that’s one we just have to wait and worry about.
Q: Doug: Happy Canada Day.
Could you please explain what lottery protected first round pick means.
In the case where "Hickson was sent to the Sacramento Kings in exchange for sharp-shooting small forward Omri Casspi and a lottery-protected 2012 first round pick." Also, "The first round pick acquired from Sacramento is lottery-protected in 2012 (1-14). The pick is then protected in 2013 (1-13), 2014 (1-12) and 2015-2017 (1-10). If the pick is not conveyed by 2017, then Sacramento will convey its own 2017 second round draft pick to the Cavaliers protected (56-60)."
Does this mean if the Kings are in the lottery next year the CAVS won't get the King's first round pick? Otherwise the Cavs get the pick. If the Kings are in the lottery in year 1 and out of the lottery the following year, the Cavs will get the Kings first round pick, etc.?
Dave B, Cornwall
A: That’s exactly what it means, yes. It’s a way to “protect” one of the teams in a trade and make sure that if things stay horribly wrong, they’re able to, hopefully, improve through the draft.
It’s not necessarily a part of every transaction involving future pick but it is more often than not.
But there is always an end to it: If, for instance, a team wants to protect itself for, say, five years, eventually it will have to give up something, even if it’s a second-round pick six drafts from now.
Q: I know that the "union" isn't really a union, but a player's association. But what would happen to the game if they acted like a real union? What if each team was allowed to assign the same numbers and types of contracts and completely even the playing field so that players who did similar things were paid in a similar way and had similar expectations.
For example Each team could assign one "Franchise" contract for the largest percentage of the team's BRI and the longest contract. Then two "All Star" contracts worth a smaller percentage of the Team's BRI and a shorter term. Several "Starter", Veteran, Rookie Contracts of diminishing worth and length. This would force players to choose between dollars and ring chasing, forcing trades onto teams of their desire or loosing money if they move from being a franchise player in one franchise to an all-star in another.
Rob N, London
A: You need to call David and Billy and see what they say. Makes some sense to me and, tell you the truth, anything that makes sense is better than the nonsense going on now.
Q: Doug - With the announcement of the lock-out, I have seen many articles refer to the teams that are absolutely losing big bucks (Wolves, Nets, Pacers), those making big bucks (Lakers, Knicks, Rockets, Bulls) with all the other teams falling someone in between. Any ideas as to where the Raptors fall on the spectrum of losing big money, losing a little money, breaking even, making a little money or making lots of money?
Greg T, Toronto
A: Oh, as a privately held company, the Raptors never, ever, ever let financial secrets out of the bag and Perk and I have been searching for years for the room full of cash that’s somewhere in the Air Canada Centre and accessibly only by a retina scan of Richard Peddie. When we find it, we’ll count it and a thousand years after we get through going through the wads of cash, I’m sure we’ll be able to report they are shockingly profitable.
No, seriously. The numbers aren’t known at all but if you had to guess and guessed they made money, I’d be on your side. Of course, as the wise Paul Beeston once said, any accountant worth his protect protector could turn a profit into a loss using generally accepted accounting in principles so who really knows?
Q: This might be too late to be relevant, but might still be of interest, even if decisions have been made.
From what you know, how is the coaching staff formed after the head coach has been hired? Does the head coach have total control? Does the GM/MLSE have to approve the hires? If so, is it just a formality? Will/can Brian say, "You have to keep/hire this guy"? Is there an 'average' number of assistant coaches that a team has/needs? Would BC/MLSE say "That's too many"?
Sorry for all the questions, but, you asked!
Tim H, Windsor
A: Not sure “total” control is the right word, although as I’ve mentioned most head coaches want to surround themselves with people with whom they are familiar and GMs don’t tend to balk at that. That said, everyone’s answerable to someone so any hires would have to run past the boss but in the somewhat incestuous world of NBA coaching where everyone knows everyone else and agents help get one guy hired where another is fired, I can’t think of an instance where I’ve of a GM say “no” to any potential hire. He may suggest but, ultimately, an agreement is reached.
And I’d say three assistants would be about the average with a couple “development” assistants who tend to sit behind the bench during games and do most of their work in individual pre-game and post-practice work with the players.
Q: Hey Doug
With Casey naming what will most likely be his opening night staff - some holdovers and some newbies - one name that obviously hasn't been talked about is our dear friend, Alex English. Fitting, in a way, as the Hall of Famer never really has a visible part of the Toronto bench (to me, at least). Obviously, a lot of teams would feel pretty good about having one of the leagues all-time greatest players backing their corner, so I doubt he'll be out of work too long.
I'm drawing a parallel to another assistant coach switcheroo over in Denver, with Adrian Dantley getting hustled out of town. Any chance we could see Denver welcoming their golden boy back into the fold?
Andrew P, Toronto
A: Oh, I don’t think it’s out of the realm of possibility at all that Alex ends up in Denver and I can assure you people are working to make that happen. Or at least to make sure he’s got a job in the league on a bench whenever next season starts.
He’s too good a guy, too good a coach, too legendary a player not to have a gig.
Q: Hi Doug. I like the pick. It may be a long shot, but in a weak draft, that's the time to take a chance.
Do you have any thoughts on what the players think? I don't think Brian exactly asks "what do you think?", but am curious if they saw this coming. It gives us an idea of how well they may buy into the "future" of the club. An previous drafts that were "surprises" to the players as well as fans?....sans Hoffa
Jim F, Toronto
A: I’m told – without any first-hand knowledge I’ll fully admit – that some of the players who were in town were quite put off by the pick. That’s entirely born of ignorance, of course, because none of them have any idea whether or not the kid can play and if he can, they’ll love him.
Q: After having a full year to absorb Chris Bosh's departure, what are your thoughts on how everything occurred? Did it help or hurt the team in the long term? What about the use of the TPE, could it have been used better or did the team do a good job?
I know you don’t like hypotheticals but I have to ask: Since the future unknown, which do you thing is a better unknown team. Last years team, with Chris, 4 years from then –or- this current team, without Chris, 3 years from now?
Love the blog and the daily snark.
Jamie M, Winnipeg
A: Oh, probably this group in three years as long as it can keep adding pieces. The issue with Chris was never his abilities, it was the abilities of those around him and they never, ever found the right mix. I guess that’s partly on him, partly on his coaches, partly on the people the GM picked but no one can tell me it wasn’t for a lack of “spending” because the salary obligations of the main pieces they put around Bosh – Bargnani, O’Neal, Marion, Turkoglu – showed a willingness to commit salary; just not successfully.