Some news before we get to the weekend mail
First, the news.
You might want to hold off on putting those Mickeal Pietrus Raptors jerseys under the Christmas tree.
Not sure why, entirely. Maybe the chance to get a younger Gary Forbes (the details are somewhere in here) came out of the blue; maybe it’s Pietrus’s knee, maybe it’s the money in deal but it’s looking less likely today than it was yesterday.
Like we always say with this team: Nothing’s ever done until it’s done.
Oh, and here’s a name – and this is entirely as an end-of-the-roster guy and, again, contingent on health – that you might want to look up: Rasual Butler. Old guy, likely close to done but affordable a guy who’ll fill a uniform.
Whatever happens, it should happen soon; word overnight was a third PG, a big and a wing no later than Sunday.
And now … the mail.
(Lots left, one last shot to get in on the fun by clicking here)
Q: Hey Doug: Since you obviously enjoy riling the canaille (I've missed your Word of the Day!) by stating your opinion, how about you do so once again by answering this question: Which North American city (or more than one, if you would like to make this a list question) do you consider the best overall sports city?
(I know it's not basketball/NBA/Raptors, but you can probably get at least one of those words in your answer somehow.)
Thanks for keeping us informed and entertained on a daily basis!
Tim H, Windsor
A: The usual answer to this from the brainiacs who do my job around the continent is Boston because of the passion of the fans, the depth of their knowledge, the success of the teams from there and the area.
I can see it, might even agree with it but I tend to think it’s Philadelphia.
Sure, the fans are over-the-top nutty sometimes but isn’t that part of the fun? Teams are generally good, ownership tends to spend money, the city’s had some, um, colourful characters parade through its teams.
It’s working class and harsh on its athletes and the visiting teams but I’d have it right at the top of my list.
Q: Doug keep up the good blogging and I glad we finally have some B-ball to talk about. A couple questions about the shortened season. Although our new coach was brought in mainly for his defensive acumen, how realistic is to think he can implement anything with so short of a training camp?
Second with so little prep time and a compressed schedule making injuries more likely our teams building up their training staffs, insurance coverage etc?
Terry S, Durham region
A: I don’t think a week’s long enough to put everything in, at all. But over the course of the first few weeks, there should be enough time to get everything in and to let the players work at it but I know there will be times in early-season games when they will look absolutely lost.
I don’t think it was done with the lockout first in their minds but the Raptors added one of the most respected trainers in all of pro sports when they brought on Alex McKechnie, formerly of the Lakers, to be the new director of sports science. It was a significant commitment to training and, possibly, rehab, and he will be among the most important employees of the organization this year. But, no, they didn’t add any more staff or insurance other than that.
Q: Doug. I would like to pose a hypothetical question, or maybe it actually has happened. If anyone knows I expect you would.
Curious about grunts in general and you in particular. If a grunt were to see a kid playing in the CBL (or D league or any other for that matter) who was way above the league level, would a grunt pass a suggestion to a scout or GM or coach that they may want to take a look at someone who is a bit rough with a lot of talent? I realize that this is a faint possibility but its like lightening. It has to strike somewhere.
Gerry T, Halifax
A: I don’t presume to know nearly enough to make my opinion count for anything, or my suggestions to be taken. What I might do, in search or a story or a note, would be to saddle up to a GM or a scout and say, “hey, I saw this kid at this game and I thought he was really something. What’s your take on him?” And then we’d go from there to see if my thoughts were validated.
Q: Hello Doug! So, we've drawn the Office Secret Santa names and this year, sadly, I didn't draw the name of the Fabulous Fashionista (who's so easy to shop for - why, it's like shopping for myself!) but rather the serious of mind and dour of disposition fellow in Estimating. I don't know him very well, but I understand he enjoys reading about 20th century history and accessorizing his F-450 SuperDuty. Well, for me, accessorizing involves suede shoes and silk scarves, so I'm thinking a book is the way to go. So, I know you and many of your Irregulars read a bit of history now and then, and I'm wondering if you'd mind if I used this space to ask for some recommended titles? Thanks so much!
Lorie P, London
A: Anyone? Anyone? Bueller? Anyone?
Can you help an Irregular out?
We’re part information, part entertainment, part mockery and cynicism and part service-oriented here.
Q: Doug, I just don’t find the enthusiasm any more... to find out what's happening with the Raptors? It's a wash of a season and we all hope they tank it bad and get a crack at Anthony Davis, Harrison Barnes or Andre Drummond... With the young team that we do have, we don’t want to be middle of the pack in the lottery once again.
Still, I will watch the occasional games and might even go to watch a live game JUST because I fundamentally support the team... but that support is starting to wear thin, especially with my wife's team of Boston doing quite well in the past few years.
Give us some hope that this team knows where its going Doug! And have a word with Colangelo too...
Nisarg S, Toronto
A: Hope? Sorry, doctor, this ain’t the place for hope. Maybe some mockery and information and a bit of pop culture and some news every now and then but hope? Not my gig.
But I will speak – sternly (not Sternly) – to Bryan.
Gerdie S, Scarborough
A: No way.
I want him to sign with Miami so we have the single greatest boo-fest in the history of Toronto professional sports.
How cool would that be?
(Guess that’s not going to happen, either. Word is Carter’s likely going to Dallas and that means fans here won’t even get a chance to vent since the Mavs don’t come here)
Q: Hi Doug. What do you do now if you're Dell Demps? If I was him, I'd be thinking pretty hard about resigning. How can someone be held accountable for the performance and personnel of his team under these ridiculous circumstances?
Mike L, Scarborough
A: I might think about resigning, then I might look at my pay stub and realize that, “Hey, I’ve got one of only 30 jobs like it in the entire world so I think I’ll stick it out.”
Principle only goes so far towards feeding one’s family. And oneself.
Q: Your plates are expired. I’m calling it in!
Craig E, Toronto
A: Ah, the Irregulars. Always ready to sell a Grunt out.
But gotcha! Stole the pic off Google images, hope the poor schmoe got his sticker in time.
Q: Hey Doug, I've always wondered a little about this. In the NBA, we have lots of back-to-backs (and this season some back-to-back-to-backs), and generally we hear that the players are tired to play efficiently on the back-end of these. But we never hear these kind of 'excuses' in a sport like tennis, where the players must play a match everyday in a tournament (other than Grand Slams). And considering that tennis players don't have substitutes, half-times, or time outs, it's not like the tennis players are less active than their basketball counterparts. So why do you think we hear about nba players being tired on back-to-backs, but not athletes in other sports?
Viktor Z, London
A: Tennis players are real men and NBAers are wusses?
Best I got right now.
But I would also venture that, in most tennis matches, the players are indeed less active than a member of the regular rotation of an NBA team would be. Open for debate, I guess; but you also have to realize that NBA guys get beat on a fair bit and their back-to-backs generally involve flights and new cities.
However, maybe it is that tennis players are real men and NBAers are wusses.
Q: Hey Doug. Love the blog, read it everyday. In response to your article comparing the Raps and the Jays I'm with you except for one painful difference, where is Jose Bautista? Throw a superstar into this mix and we'd all be as excited about the Raps as the Jays. The fact Bautista was signed for an extended contract after he hit the big time made us all think maybe these guys will do something. Will the Raps ever get us a superstar or, more to the point, keep a rising star? The difference in my excitement comes from repeatedly looking at a young team where the players get better, then leave when it comes time to pay them what they are worth. What signs are that this won't happen with these guys?
Dan R, Toronto
A: There was no slight intended to Bautista, who might be the best offensive player in the game.
I will, again, point out the fact that the three most significant players in the history of the franchise – Vince Carter, Chris Bosh and Charles Oakley – each re-signed in Toronto the first time they had a chance to leave so this whole “they can’t keep good players” argument holds no water.
What matters is winning. And if this team wins, I would imagine the core of it will stay together. If it doesn’t and the so-called best players win because the team’s losing, how good were they?
So if you’re looking for signs, continue to look at the win-loss column.
Sure, there will be cases where some players leave for whatever reason even if the team’s successful but that happens everywhere.
Q: Hi Doug. Just catching up on your blog as I was away south for a bit. I saw your posting from the Last Waltz and thought you might enjoy this story. I heard this from Michael Watkins, a television director I've worked with a couple of times who started out as a camera operator and shot the documentary for Martin Scorcese. The story goes like this:
After shooting a lot of interviews and other footage for the film, it was time to shoot the concert itself and Scorcese had assembled some of the top camera operators around and would be directing the whole shebang via headset. Now these were the days when everything was shot on film and it would routinely take a few minutes to change the magazines on the big bulky cameras. As the concert was about to start, the director instructed everyone to roll cameras and the shooting began.
Everything went smoothly until some minutes into the start of the show, when a camera assistant yelled "CUT" into his headset and abruptly turned his camera off, to which a bewildered Scorcese replied, "What in the hell are you doing?!" The camera assistant responded, "Guys - we all started rolling at the SAME TIME!". At that point, it dawned on everyone else that this meant that they would all run out of film at the same time; their mags being the same size. So the one camera paused for a few minutes and began rolling again, then all the other cameras ran out of film, reloaded, then began to stagger their starts so that there was always an overlap.
So, there is one segment of a particular song (Michael mentioned it, but I don't remember which) where there was only one camera running and only one possible shot to use. I thought that was a pretty cool little behind-the-scenes tale about an iconic concert film that almost got messed up because of that little oversight, but got saved cause one guy had a flash of insight and did something for which he would have otherwise been canned.
Paulino N, Toronto
A: Excellent. Any chance I get to use a clip from The Last Waltz, I will.
Q: Was waiting until Friday so that I could register an official whine about the loss of Reggie, but since you asked so nicely, here goes. In the last 11 years, how many times did the Raptors try to sign Jamaal Magloire?
K J, Toronto
A: As far as I know, the only time they even made small overtures was a year ago when they were looking to fill out the frontcourt. Before that, management had decided there were other bigs they had interest in. And if Jamaal hadn’t been a free agent willing to work for a contract not guaranteed past one year, I don’t think they would have had any interest this year, either.
It was a confluence of events that got us here.
Q: Can the Raptors amnesty a player if that player was traded to us from another team?
Mario A, Toronto
A: No. The only players teams can use the amnesty clause on are those who were under contract to them before July 1, 2011. You can’t use it on anyone acquired now, which makes sense to me since it was put in to allow some teams to lose money off their cap and tax to meet new thresholds.
Q: Hi Doug! We are planning to see the Raptors play in Detroit, and were wondering what the chances were of possibly getting a photo/autograph with/from Jose? Is there a typical time when the away players might be available for interactions with fans?
Jamie and Gillian H, Toronto
A: It’s not all that different than a home game, actually. The best chance – and it’s not something that happens all the time or with every player – is after they’ve done their pre-game workout and are leaving the court by the tunnel to the locker room.
If it’s the Palace, you’ll be able to see where other fans are gathered and all I ask – on behalf of all players – is that your request is made politely and not done by simply shouting “hey, Calderon!” and thrusting a piece of paper over the railing.
Q: Hey Doug. I have a question about Dwane Casey's coaching staff. Does he have the group that was here last year or did he bring in his own group of guys?
Ray F, Waterloo
A: He mostly re-structured his staff to add people with whom he was comfortable and familiar. Scott Roth and Micah Nori return from last year, as does development assistant Eric Hughes, but Alex English is gone, as is PJ Carlisemo. PJ’s got a gig with Avery Johnson in New Jersey and Alex is still looking.
Q: Hi Doug. Saw our man Sam was moved from Assistamt coach to scout in New Jersey. This seems like a downward move to me and I am just wondering how a former coach of the year could see his stock drop so precipitously?
Mike D, Cambridge
A: As far as I can glean from talking to my people around New Jersey, Avery Johnson wanted to make a change and Sam, still under contract, was given different duties rather than simply let go and paid not to work. But I also know Sam remains interested in getting back on to a coaching staff and I would presume he would some day.