The end (sort of) of the weekend mail
Okay, for some reason there’s a glitch in our e-mail system so I can’t get to the place where the questions go. Means I will have missed some from yesterday afternoon and evening and a few days ago; when it gets fixed I’ll get a look at them.
Until then …
(Oh, going to take today to get used to covering a game again, we’ll start IGBT for the game in Boston, okay? Thanks).
Q: Good morning Doug. I was wondering how the lockout, the shortened training camps and the upcoming condensed schedule are going to affect the referees? Do you think it might take them more than a couple of pre-season games to get into the flow of things? Will players and coaches be patient with them if that's the case?
You mentioned that the Raptors, and teams in general, would want to find ways of reaching out to the fans in order to make up for the lockout. The Raptors already had one idea torpedoed by the league. Any news or ideas on what other ideas they may have? What about the employees, security, concessions staff, etc, what if anything might they do to compensate them for the months of temporary unemployment?
Thanks as always for work. Cheers!
Dominique K, Ottawa
A: It’ll be interesting to see how the referees do this afternoon but there haven’t been any huge rule changes, they keep themselves in pretty good shape, they don’t have to get used to new teammates or coaches or systems so I imagine they’ll be fine. Might take a game, maybe two, to get familiar again with the pure speed and physical nature of the game but that should come quickly. In fact, in the few minutes of pre-season games I’ve seen on TV – some Nets-Knicks yesterday afternoon, a bit of Spurs-Rockets last night – they didn’t seem to be an issue at all.
As for players or coaches cutting them some slack? Can’t imagine that happening, complain is what some coaches and players do best.
The Raptors and stuff for fans and part-time employees? Haven’t heard of a thing, which saddens me a bit.
Q: Why are we making such a fuss about Jamal Mcglore coming to t.o. We should be booing him for being selfish and refusing to play for Canada in International comps. Go back to the states where his true heart lies. We need all our Canadian born players to follow the lead of Steve Nash.
Bill K, Markham
A: One has nothing to do with the other but, whatever. Do as you please, think what you want.
Q: Hi Doug. Since the Raptors are clearly in a rebuilding mode this season, do you think that influenced BC in his decision to bring in Jamaal Magloire? Not necessarily from a basketball perspective but more of a PR or fan perspective? Same with this interest in Andy Rautins?
A T, Niagara Falls
A: Marketing? PR
Look, if Bryan did things for PR or fan perspectives we’d have TJ, Mo Pete, Pops, Antoine Wright, Reggie and Solomon Alabi in the rotation.
And I’d be scratching my eyes out and we don’t want that, now do we?
Q: Dad, er, Doug, I love the blog more than life itself, you a great man. What kind of out-of-the-norm Christmas tune do you like?
Super S, Mississagua.
A: Glad you asked.
Q: I would love to know what the NBA rules are regarding one of its owners suddenly becoming the president of a country (or even running for President). You gotta give the NBA credit.. their owners sure aren't boring. It turns out Prokhorov isn't the Russian "Mark Cuban" but the Russian "Ross Perot".
David W, Oakville
A: And if Russia doesn’t work out, think he could be borough president in Brooklyn some day?
Rules? They don’t need no stinking rules. I’m just hoping that if he wins, David Stern doesn’t try to overturn the results of the election. For “basketball reasons” of course.
Q: Waltz happenin? How about Van the Man?
Do the refs have a training camp? Do they do two a days? What are their area of emphasis this year? (Hopefully, carrying is in there) Is Leo's favourite ref still alive?
How many wins for the HOTC this year? Is the answer hermetically sealed in a mayonnaise jar on Funk and Wagnall's porch?
Bob E, Kanata
A: They do have a training camp with fitness drills and tests and on-court sessions with grand league poobahs. Not sure about the two-a-day thing, though; that might be a shock to some of their systems. We haven't heard the Points of Emphasis yet this year (we usually get a pre-season tutorial, guess the league's been busy) but did hear something about post defence and travelling -- again -- being on the list.
Yes, Funk and Wagnall has it; I’ll let the secret out sometime soon. Or in April. Am not sure.
This Van the Man? The one and only?
Q: Now that the new CBA is in place, what happens to that trade exception the Raptors got for Chris Bosh?
Maxime B, Chambly
A: It expired Friday.
Q: Any truth to a rumour floating around about Camouflage Raptor Jersey's as the 3rd Jersey??
Bryan W, Toronto
A: Oh, I hope so. They don’t have nearly enough uniforms now with the red, white, black, green and the blue ones that say “Huskies.”
Actually, it’s a big state secret -- or not -- but they have something cooking; after all, separating fans from their money is, well, it’s a time-honoured tradition.
Q: Doug. With the changing of the coaching staff this year (or in other years) do the players ever say things like - for example - Amir Johnson saying he was grateful for the work Coach English put Amir's game and that he is going to miss "Coach" this season? Do they ever discuss recently departed players (trade, free agent, retired) at the beginning of the year?
Geoff H, Toronto
A: Oh, sure, quite often, actually. Was talking to a few people from last year’s team who were lamenting the fact not only that Alex isn’t here, but that he also hasn’t landed a new coaching gig anywhere yet.
But they also know it’s truly a business, things change and they have to develop new relationships with new bosses.
Q: Doug. Love the blog - looking forward to great Raptors content and also really enjoyed your coverage of the Jays (TOD) over the summer.
Regarding Yu Darvish - whom I hope we get the chance to sign - when it comes to negotiating, can teams discuss things like requesting a player to set up a charitable foundation, etc? The high number amounts seem a bit obscene in this day and age - what I'd like to see is to have Rogers overpay, but ask that the athlete give back some - like $82M over 6 years, but we'd like to see you plow back $1M a year into some charitable foundations, including one that pertains to the Toronto community. Are those types of things ever brought up in discussions?
Keep up the great work!
David M, Toronto
A: Not specifically as part of contract negotiations, per se, but teams will help a player – and some have probably suggested it – set up a charitable foundation. That could have as much to do with tax issues as anything but the end result is pretty much the same.
Q: Hi Doug, love the blog, I had a question relating to reports regarding Portland amnestying Brandon Roy. Wouldn’t Brandon's retirement automatically remove the remainder of his salary from Portland's cap? How come he needs to be amnestied, seems like a waste to use it on a player that’s retiring.
Vipan S, Brampton
A: There is a cap it even for retired players, a greater cap and tax hit if you simply waive a guy; doing an amnesty helps a team’s bottom line vis a vis tax and cap thresholds.
Q: Seasonal greetings Doug, I find myself wondering with this year's group and the level of competitiveness expected just what carrot is dangled in front of the players that are approaching the end of their NBA time? Granted they are professionals and are compensated accordingly but I can't help but think that in certain situations the fact that they aren't championship bound influences the degree of sacrifice or effort expended on the court. Perhaps by protecting themselves physically they could get another year or three on a contract somewhere, so why would they unduly extend themselves physically for a team that will be remembered (most likely) as an also-ran? I don't mean to come across as negative I am just curious as to where the motivation would come from.
As a secondary thought, as I sit here and listen to my 6 year old warble Christmas carol snippets, had her older sister actually gained entrance to Cawthra Park then perhaps, I too, would have attended one of their musical or dramatical performances, and perhaps I wouldn't find myself cringing quite so badly now. The thought of a school musical where even half of the performers managed to be in tune would be awesome. Anyway as always thanks for what you do, will tip a Stella to you Christmas eve, all the best to you and yours,
Doug T, Brantford
A: It is a rather insular world, pro sports, and if a guy dogs it because his team is out of contention and then seeks a contract somewhere else, word of his lack of effort for no good reason will get to any new suitors. It is the norm for a team next summer that is trying to add, say, Jamaal Magloire, to reach out to this year’s employer to answer that very question: “What’s the guy really like.” And if you’ve toyed with the people paying you, they’d make sure others knew.
That would be motivation to play hard all the time.
Q: Doug, With Jamal Crawford signing with Portland for 2 years, $10 million he seems like a piece that the Raptors might have taken a flier at. Outside shooting skill, short contract, not overly burdensome in money and obviously not looking for a city-lights market or a contender. Any comments from henchman on his free agency?
Mr. C, Kingston
A: No real interest. They wanted one-year deals at cheap money, which was never going to happen with Crawford; he’s hardly a defensive stopper and he plays pretty much the same spot as the go-to guy (DeRozan).
Q: Hi Doug, love the blog, so glad basketball is back!! My question is about DeMar, i've notice on his twitter and facebook pages this summer he was mentioning that he was shooting quite a lot of three's. Was this something the coaches asked him to do after last season or was this something that he realized he needed to get better at to be more of a complete offensive player? Especially seeing as how bad the raptors were at shooting the three's last year. Thanks,
Tony W, Winnipeg
A: Oh yeah, they demanded he go work on his shooting range and he knew he had to, too; it’s the next step in his offensive evolution. He told me this week he made 500 3s a day in the gym and watching him shoot alone post-practice he looks a bit more fluid but it’s still very much a learning process for him. He’s not Ray Allen yet.
Q: Howdy. Happy holidays to you and yours.
Quick question about professional sports leagues and CBA's. Not to burden you with further thought of this beaten horse. However, why can a league be perceived as successful without a salary cap (MLB, Premier League), while other leagues (NBA, NHL, NFL) cannot be successful (or at least perceived as so)?
Does it have to do with traditional powerhouses being tolerated more in those leagues? Is it the nature of the sports where major talents (who can be accumulated on spending teams) have lower impacts on the game outcomes?
Colin K, Ann Arbor
A: I think it’s probably the ability of teams in non-cap leagues having the ability for teams to spend their way out of injuries and bad contracts. That puts an onus on management in the others to be smart and build teams successfully with little or no margin for error and we’ve seen that’s very difficult to accomplish.
Q: I thought the trade for Fernandez and Brewer was a great move for Denver (especially given all their free agents in China). Do you know if the Raptors were involved in any discussions with the Mavericks about these players and, if not, why not? I like Forbes' aggressive play, but Fernandez and Brewer seem to be a better duo than Forbes and Butler and their contracts are short-term too, I believe (1 year left for Fernandez and 2 for Brewer).
Alex S, Burlington
A: They had marginal interest in Rudy but Dallas wanted to add a “bad” contract to the deal, I was told, and that was the show-stopper.
I (heart) Rudy and would have loved to see Marco Bellinelli 2.0 here; too bad it ain’t gonna happen.
Q: Doug. You really are not much of a reporter with your daily blog just uttering commentary. you get your sports information form other web properties which leads me to think how you keep your job. for someone who has been covering basketball for 30 years u should at least have some relative information and/or contacts to provide avid basketball fans something interesting. Instead you write aboutyour favaorite things in life and if these are the only requests or questions you are getting then it is surely time for u to go to the entertainment section of the paper.....pull your socks up and starting being a sports reporter.
A S, Montreal
A: Send the application to the fan club to the Star’s Yonge Street office. I’ll be sure to get it.
Q: Thanks for all the hard work with the Raps coverage these years. I'm disappointed in the Tall Foreheads' decision to make this a general sports blog as I'm not interested in Lou Marsh awards or the like. I visited your blog for insider-type information about the daily machinations of the team. I may visit from time to time but not anywhere near the same frequency as pre-lockout. All the best!
Dan P, Baltimore
A: Maybe you and my buddy A S of Montreal can chat privately.
All the best!!!
Q: I have been reading articles, posts and blogs accusing the raptors of intentionally tanking this season in hopes of a great pick and getting serious about winning starting next year. I normally scoff at these threads showing their own home town bias, but when I start to look at the additions Brian has made since the season started, I am not sure they are really any better the Raptors were at the beginning of last season. What is frustrating is they had more options available in the new cba to make a change and they didn't. I have nothing against any of the players that have been signed, but I don't think any of them are an improvement over the players that the Raptors already have signed. Doug, I know you have said a million times before, and I have agreed a million times before that BC is about winning... But ignoring the use of assets in the name of patience, knowing that you will lose sounds like tanking to me.
Rob N, London
A: Tanking. Sticking with a plan. Filling holes smartly while maintaining future flexibility.
Play games. See what happens.
Q: Doug, there has been a lot of talk about BC maintaining flexibility for next year. Is there similarly any interest in increasing that flexibility? Obviously, they assess each transaction as it comes up, but they do operate on some grand plan (one hopes), and so I guess the question is, is it in the grand plan to increase the available money to be spent next year?
Paul B, Toronto
A: In a perfect world, absolutely. But I’m not sure how realistic that is, given the fact they don’t have an awful lot of longer-term contracts they could – or want to – shed this season to perhaps get someone back whose deal expires in June, which would allow increase the money they’ll have available next summer.
Their best plan may be to just make sure they don’t take on any additional money this season.
Q: Doug, In your opinion did the lock out accomplish anything?
Steph R, Glencoe
A: Right at the moment, no. But I do think it’s going to take a season or two, maybe three, before we see the trickle down impact of increased tax levels on the highest spending teams and if that somehow evens the playing field.
One thing it might have accomplished already is that teams don’t seem to be throwing out huge long-term deals and there are some serviceable NBAers still looking for work because teams seem to be more financially prudent.
But the proof of the lockout won’t fully be known for a while.
Q: Will Coach D let the boys loose on o? It’s a young athletic group who appears to be in great shape and might be an early season advantage on more mature teams where guys weren't overly diligent during the lock out.
I'd like to see AB's unique skills maxed with a transition game.
I believe it would create match up problems for opposing bigs.
The HOTH were better in transition than half court....reward the d for hard work and let em roll.
John C, Mississauga
A: That’s one part of the game we’re unsure of; they’ve spent so much training camp time on defence so far they are far behind offensively. Hope it’s what they do next week. I do think they’d like to get some transition offence going – I think scoring is going to be an issue with this team every now and then – and the best way to do that is by getting steals, deflections and defensive rebounds.
But, like you, I want to see ‘em run a bit, far more entertaining.
Q: Hi Doug. Couple of quick questions:
Has one of my favourite former Raptors, Anthony Parker, found any team to play with this year?
They say that in baseball, being a starting pitcher is the hardest position to learn to play while in hockey, the defenceman is the toughest position to play. From your experience, what's the hardest position to learn to play in the NBA (PG, SG, SF, PF, or C)? Why?
Joe D, Mississauga
A: Parker re-upped in Cleveland, we’ll see him Boxing Day and I’ll say hello.
In my mind, it’d be point guard, simply because you have to learn the needs/wants/desires of the four guys on the floor with you as well as being a creative scorer, first-line of defence and the de facto coach on the floor. No easy task at all.
Q: Understandably there's been a lot of love for Reggie and interest in where he might land. I share that, but I also have always been a fan of Hump who, like Reggie, always seemed to bring it every night, is a better than average rebounder, and, I think, a somewhat underrated offensive player (and certainly better than Reggie). I'll omit commenting on his marriage disaster or should that be called a comic tragedy? Anyway, are you hearing anything about where he might land or whether the Nets might re-sign him?
Thanks as always and I never fail to read your blog daily (and I like you digressions from commenting only on basketball).
Richard W, Toronto
A: I have to admit, I’m a bit surprised Hump’s still looking for a job a week before the start of the season, especially coming off the year he had. I still think he’ll get back with the Nets – only team I’ve heard him linked to seriously – and I imagine the New Jersey management is dragging its feet on him until they exhaust all chances at trading for Dwight Howard. Once that gets settled once and for all, I hope they call the Hump and get him back.
Q: If Darvish actually lives up to the hype—and that's admittedly a big "if"— the money wouldn't be that out of whack. $50 million to talk to him, plus $70 million to sign him for six seasons equals $120 million for six years; or $2 million less than CC Sabathia just signed for FIVE seasons. If Darvish puts just another 4,000 butts in the stands for each of his 15 or so home starts, that's 60,000 fans x $50 at least in ticket F&B sales, so that's $3 million minimum from general fans in his first season. And that's not including the who-knows-how-many millions in marketing/advertising and private box sales he'll entice.
As for the Raps. for all the new guys, Andrea's still the one I'm most curious to see in game play under the new regime.
Happy Holly Daze, Doug.
Ted M, Oakville
A: Here’s thing: You may very well be right but history would suggest it’s a bit of a stretch. Attendance didn’t spike for Roger Clemens and not even for Roy Halladay; maybe it’s different with Darvish if he ends up here but I wonder.
Q: Hey Doug: A question from my head-cold addled brain:
The amount a team must spend on salaries has gone up, I believe, and will go up again next (?) year. The players share of BRI has gone down significantly. So how do these two facts mesh? The owners are paying more, and yet the players are getting less. It doesn't seem to make sense.
Tim H, Windsor
A: It’s a percentage of the cap they will have to spend, not real dollars. Think that’s where some confusion might come in.