The end of the weekend mail; and more to come sometime
You’re going to have to trust me that the ones left over are going to get used, there are lots of good ones that require a bit more research and thought than I had time for on a busy couple of days. We’ll parcel ‘em out in the week or do some bonus thing some night.
For now, though …
Q: Hey Doug: Good news! The Irregulars just got together for the first annual "'Tis the Season Bun Toss" gathering, and decided to buy their favourite Grunt a Christmas gift. Once everyone chipped in, we were amazed at how much we collected!
So, knowing that money is no object, what will your wish list for the Irregulars look like?
Tim H, Windsor
A: Okay, I’m going to go all sappy on you.
How about a nice back room in a restaurant, a couple of dozen Irregulars who promise no fist-fighting, a night of cold Stellas, well-cooked medium-rare ribeyes, some robust red and five or six hours of stories and get-to-know-you moments. Seriously, that’d be nice and it’s not like I need or want anything material.
And then at the end of the night – or given the presence of those robust reds and My Friend Stella it might better be done early – we vote on a charity to give the leftover money to?
Sound like a good night? I bet I’d like it.
(That said, I am driving a Smelly Ford Focus ...)
Joe D, Mississauga
A: Don’t hear anything more than you do right now and nothing’s changed: He wants to be there and feels a loyalty to his teammates and his city but I guarantee you’ll hear his name front and centre of trade rumours, speculation and fabrication as the season progresses.
But for now? Status quo.
Q: I was reading an article on realgm.com the other day and it stated that if Dwight Howard resigns with his current club then he can receive a deal for 110 million dollars for five years, and if Chris Paul does the same thing with the hornets he can get a deal for 100 million dollars for five years. Can you please help me understand why Dwight Howard would be able to make more money then Chris Paul? Thanks for your time
Mario A, Toronto
A: A few factors to consider: The years they were drafted and therefore years of service, starting salary and percentage increase they’ve had over the years.
Q: Hey Doug. Glad to see you giving some time to the NBL and the Oshawa Power. Haven't been to a game yet but certainly plan on catching a couple. It's only a little over an hour from Hastings. great to see our own homegrown league, and a chance for some Canadian fellas to get paid to work on their game at home. I'll be getting out and catching the show. Do you think you will be attending any more games?
Paul S, Hastings
A: Oh, I imagine I will but it’s hard to say until I see the NBA schedule on Tuesday. I absolutely want to get to a game in London and if the league holds some sort of all-star weekend/game, I’ll be pushing hard to go.
Q: Doug: Tanking Light = not spending to the max, avoid front-line free agents & long-term contracts. Grange® wrote an interesting bit suggesting the Raps race to the bottom of the standings. I know how you feel about tanking, but how does Tanking Light sit with you? The Raps should institute the Tanking Light approach. Play the kids (assuring a 2012 lottery pick), and then start to build around your young core next summer.
P.S. I won't be able to read your answer here because Rob Ford asked me not to, but I will continue to follow you on FB, and listen via podcast whenever your buddy Bobcat has you over.
Len S, Seoul
A: They are going to “play the kids” it’s about all they’ve got and it’s why I haven’t advocated going out and finding some huge stud. But they need to improve the roster, they need a starting three, a fourth big on a one- or two-year deal and some shooting guard depth.
Now, I am not – nor will I ever – advocate not playing your best players the most; I don’t think they should hold back DeRozan, or Davis and Calderon or Bargnani or any of them in any way shape or form.
Playing your best players the most and trying to fill roster holes with the most capable people you can afford and who fit what you need is the best way to go.
Q: First of all if MLSE offered to have the Raps exhibition game free it's only because they knew the league would reject it.
We all seem to have forgotten what value we got for Chris Bosh. Could you recap and help me understand why we are all ok with this.
Does BC really believe that after 5 ? years in the job and last year's 22 wins, rebuilding is ok.
Larry B, Oakville
A: And you know this about MLSE’s offer because … well, because it fits into your pre-conceived notion? Not because it’s … well, not because it’s based in, you know, fact.
What they got back for Chris Bosh was a draft pick – 29th or 28th overall, I don’t recall – that they turned into their current starting small forward, James Johnson; they got the financial flexibility to do a deal for Jerry Bayless that they wouldn’t otherwise had; they got the financial flexibility to make a deal to obtain an extra second-round draft pick in a deal with Dallas; they got room on the roster to allow Ed Davis to actually get on the floor a bit as a rookie; they still have some financial wiggle room but I will be the first to admit it’s unlikely they’ll use the remainder of the trade exception.
Now, if they’d signed Bosh to a maximum value contract and kept him, you would have been in the minority praising Bryan for making an astute move, right?
And, yes, after five years, two playoff appearances, the whole Bosh-JO-Turk saga, Bryan fully believes that rebuilding is okay and has been on that track for a season.
Q: What about using Amir Johnson, Ed Davis and Andrea Bargnani together for 20/24 minutes a game? I believe Amir has quickness and determination to play above average "three" defense even in man-to-man (for limited minutes). During same minutes while on offense, Amir could play the role of the four or five as Bargnani has outside range to be the offensive three.
Bob J, Toronto
A: Amir Johnson would foul out of games in, say, four minutes – or six defensive possessions – guarding threes.
I cannot see it happening.
Q: Hey Doug. I'm sure you have your opinions on Mayor Ford's decision to ice-out The Star, but since this is a sports blog I won't ask you to weigh in (unless you really want to). I'm wondering if you know of any times in sports that a team or player has tried to refuse access to a certain paper because of an article they disagreed with.
Paul C, Brantford
A: Petty, petulant, disrespectful to the constituents by denying some access by osmosis, bullying, bush league, predictable, childish.
Glad he’s not the Mayor of the city I live in.
Now, nothing like that has happened to me or here – the Raptors are a professional group above all else – but I do know a case where the Knicks withheld information from one beat writer – Frank Isola – because, well, because he was good at his job.
Q: Hey Doug. Just wondering who you think is a good bet to come back to Raptors camp in surprisingly great shape and who will shock us with their extended off-season overeating regimen? Raptors-specific and league wide examples would be great.
Matt K, Etobicoke
A: I don’t even want to take a guess on conditioning until I see guys but I am most interested in seeing how Amir Johnson looks, having had off-season surgery; I would think DeMar DeRozan will be in pretty good shape because all I’ve heard about him is that he’s been in the gym and I wonder how James Johnson came through the extended summer because there have been concerns about his conditioning in the past.
Q: Hi Doug. I've been reading your blog since the beginning, but recently, due to no basketball and the "strike" have not been keeping up. Upon the owners' and players' solution to their problem, and announcement that we will have basketball soon, I started reading again. To my surprise I notice that you no longer have a "Raptors" blog but rather a "sports" blog. Booooo! What made you special was the fact that you reported on the Raptors and not the other stuff. I might as well read elsewhere. Please go back to Raptors only stuff now that the heroes are back. No need for you to comment on other sports. Please!
Mike S, Ottawa
A: Sure there’s a need. I like to, bosses like me to, believe it or not, a reader or two likes it but, don’t worry, there’ll be more than enough Raptors stuff here to satisfy you. But give the other stuff a try, bet you come around.
Q: Hey Doug: Looking at your Bruins-Leaves talk got me to thinking - are there any real rivalries in pro sports these days? If not, why do think? And if so, what are some of the better ones that you are aware of?
And, despite the NBA coming, I would like to add my vote to keeping the blog about more than just basketball - if all I want is basketball, I can read your - and other grunts' - game reports!
Tim H, Windsor
A: First off, can you speak to my man Mike S from Ottawa just above? Thanks.
I think “real” rivalries are far fewer these days because of the movement of players, the familiarity and friendships they have with each other and the general “coziness” of pro sports.
I guess there are some traditional ones left, like Red Sox-Yankees, I think there’s some juice to a Mavericks-Lakers level of dislike and maybe the Pittsburgh-Baltimore one in the NFL. Not sure there’s a real good one in the pucks but I’m probably wrong about that.
Q: Greetings, couple o' random thoughts this week. Firstly I would think that a competitive to maybe good Leaves team may work in the HOTH's favour somewhat this season. Have to think media and public focus will be on the exploits of the Puck's leaving less time and resource to go negative on the Rap's rebuilding/preparation for next year's tribulations.
As a second thought I wonder while the hoops season will occur over less time whether the compressed time between tilts nullifies any potential wear and tear gains coming from playing fewer games over all? Further to the above, do the teams' strength and conditioning staff approach their duties differently?
As always thanks for what you do.
Doug T, Brantford
A: I’m not sure if they’ll approach their duties differently but I can promise you that’ll be one of the first training camp stories we get to once things get rolling. I do think what’s going to happen when the season’s on is that there will be little or no time for practice with games coming at such a rapid pace. And that might hurt the HOTH, too.
Q: Hi Doug - What impact, if any, do you think the length of Colangelo's contract (two years with a team option for a third - is that right?) will have on what he does or doesn't do this off-season (both in terms of free agents and trades)?
Or to put the question in a much more loaded and inflammatory way: do you think he might sacrifice future success (which may require some more losing and growing pains from what is a young team nucleus) for a few extra wins in the present and a chance at a contract extension?
Diego S, Toronto
A: I think, in fact, he’s doing exactly the opposite of what you say. He could go for some pretty big fix right now, trade a couple of guys, use the amnesty clause, blow up his reconstruction plan in mid-stream. The fact he hasn’t – and certainly doesn’t appear to have any inclination to – would suggest the length of his contract has absolutely nothing to do with the moves he’s making.
I think that kind of speculation needs to be snuffed out right now, if all he was worried about was self-preservation, he wouldn’t be taking the path he seems to have chosen.
Q: If you could choose the GM in the worst position for 2011/12, who would it be?
Can New Orleans sign any free agents?
Who, for the HOTC, gets more floor time at the point guard position? How about at the 5?
When wakened from a bad dream do you sometimes think it's real? Or is it only false emotions that you feel? (J Ray)
Bob E, Kanata
A: I think the answer to the first has to be New Orleans, you don’t have an owner, only have about half a dozen players under contract, your best guy wants out and the second-best guy may leave and is coming off surgery anyway. And if Dell Demps can’t sign free-agents, it’s going to be a tough season.
The Raptors believe – and I concur – that Jose does more things well, like shoot, run screen-roll, make other players better, so he’ll play more and I’m pretty sure the three-man bigs rotation of Bargnani, Davis, Johnson is interchangeable with respect to “four” and “five” and that minutes will break down in that order.
Oh, and I only dream of sunshine and lollipops so I can’t answer the last one.
Q: Hi Doug. Just wondering, has any Toronto sports executive or coach pulled a "Rob Ford" on you and not wanted to talk to you?
Also, have you got into an altercation with a coach like John Tortorella and Larry Brooks?
Youtube both of their names and you'll see what I'm talking about if you're confused.
Yezzir C, Toronto
A: If by “Rob Ford” you mean petty and petulant and small-minded and ridiculous and anti-democracy. All of the grown men I’ve dealt with have been mature enough to handle criticism and if they had an issue they spoke to me about it in a professional manner, not by being like a sucky six-year-old taking is ball and going home.
And, no, I’ve never had a public shouting match with a coach; some rather difficult private discussions that shall remain private because they had nothing to do with the job and, yes, Sam and KO used to get quite caustic on occasion but nothing out of the ordinary.
Q: Congratulations Doug! Your blog has made its way to the top spot on my bookmark list. There was some tough competition from the big boys, but I found myself referring to your insight more and more often and that earns you the first stop on my daily fix of hoops.
On to my question, I read that Bargs is noticeably lighter, quicker and faster. Did you notice anything when you saw him? Is there a bit of a fire in him that wasn't there last season?
Rob N, London
A: Yay for me!
I haven’t actually seen Bargnani in person; the three days he was in the gym here, I was otherwise occupied. Will let you know what I do.
Q: Hi Doug. The big percolating NBA story seems to be a potential trade demand from Chris Paul, who seems to be attempting to force his way to NYC. The problem is that the Knicks don't have a lot left in assets after their Carmelo Anthony trade.
I know you're hesitant to comment on specific trade ideas (for good reason), so here's hopefully a small twist.
If you're Bryan, do you: a) Try and get involved as a conduit to facilitate the trade, on the theory Paul will wind up in NYC anyway so you'd better do what you can to improve in the process? b) Stay completely away from the whole thing?
Mark R, Waterloo
A: I don’t “try” to get involved but I’d certainly take calls and see if I couldn’t do something significant to help my franchise. I also don’t think there’s anything he can do so the point may be moot. But if you’re a GM, you’re not doing your job if you don’t at least listen to just about everything.
Q: Hi Doug. I'm a long time season ticket holder and, while there hasn't been much to cheer about in the past number of years, I enjoy the game of basketball. The games... as all sports... are a break from the crazy world we live in.
I've always found that having to pay full price on my seats for pre-season games to be nonsense. I have to be honest though, the decision to charge full price, albeit one game, annoys me quite a bit... probably more than it should.
I'll hold off here, trying not to make a silly decision, but I do feel that I've had it. The last thing I want is to have the annoying feeling follow me to my seats...it's always been a place of refuge!
John D, Toronto
A: I won’t presume to tell you what to think but I am confident that the reasons you found the game delightful won’t have left you entirely. What drew you to them originally will bring you back.
Now, as far as pre-season games go specifically, if I didn’t “have” to go to them, I would pay them little heed.
Q: Hey Doug. What league provides for the most opportunities for a team to quickly turn around its fortunes?
I see the Leafs on year eight of a three year rebuilding phase, the Jays on year 18, and the Raps on year. . well a lot. Either through trades, drafting, or just lucky schedule, which league provides the most chances for a team to get better quickly!?!
Daniel G, Toronto
A: The first thing that comes to mind would that it’d be basketball because there are so few players who have big impacts but anecdotally, I think it falls third.
You hear of so many more worst-to-first teams in the NFL and major league baseball that I’d have to rank them one-two.
Q: Hello Doug. Seems there was a time, just a couple of years ago even, when David Stern was regarded in some (many?) circles as maybe one of the top two or three sports commissioners of all time. Now that the CBA/lockout dust is starting to settle, how do you see the Commish regarded today? Still a Top 5 contender?
I'd have Paul Tagliabue pretty much alone on a pedestal at number one, followed by Bowie Kuhn, Pete Rozelle, Gil Stein, and then maybe Stern.
I reserve a permanent spot in last -- dead last -- place for Bud "If I Only Had A Brain" Selig. Bettman's way down there, too, but nowhere near Selig depths.
How about you? Thanks for the blog!!
David M, Ottawa
A: I know David’s reputation is at perhaps an all-time low right now but for a body of work, for taking a league that couldn’t even get its championship series on free network TV when he started and leading it to become a truly global $4 billion a year enterprise he has to be in the top five and maybe in the top two. And I think that is how history will judge him whenever it’s time for him to leave.
I’d probably put Rozelle right at the top of that list, and then maybe Tagliabue and Kuhn but I don’t share your disdain for Selig, I’m afraid.
He has had labour peace, enhanced the post-season, presided over incredible financial growth and, yes, there have been issues but he’s done a pretty darn good job.
Q: I have a couple of questions about Cap Holds and other CBA-related stuff. Does Julian Wright's, Sonny Weems' and Alexis Ajinca's Cap Holds count against team salaries for Cap purposes? Does Toronto get a possible Disabled Player Exception for Linas Kleiza for 2011-2012? (If they do, I make it $1.00 less than $2.3025 Million.) How much Cap Space does Toronto have? What exceptions are available for them now? Thank you.
Richard S, Lethbridge
A: Weems’ qualifying offer does but they’ll keep it in place, probably, to have a measure of control over him next year as an asset; there is nothing for Kleiza, who should play this season and they have about $7 million in cap room, if the cap’s $58 million – give or take a couple of hundred thousand – and if nothing changes in the final CBA talks they won’t have any exceptions because they’re under the cap.