The usual start to the weekend mail
All right, folks, you got us off to a rousing start here for the weekend, still some time to get in on the fun for tomorrow.
Go here, do your thing and send it along, if you like.
Q: Doug: You could have knocked me over with a feather - or a spirited 8-ball - when you said Mr. C. Kelly has been assigned your Associate Grunt. Not that he isn't a very talented writer slash raconteur slash mocker of things deserving mocking (which seem part of the requirements of being a Grunt), but he seems...ahhh...too refined or something. (Sometimes, I think he and I would have a blast hosting an opera chat for the masses.) Anyway, what are you going to have to do with or to Cathal to whip him into shape to be as good as Beat Grunt as you are ('cause you know I think you're The Best Ever!) and, more importantly, comfortable for Irregulars to deal with? Thank you.
Lorie P, London
A: Yes, Mr. Kelly will be doing his fair share of HOTH this year (he’ll love Milwaukee in the middle of a February back-to-back-to-back) because I could use some help and he tends to be under-employed (I keed, I keed).
Top three tasks:
Leave the best stuff for the more veteran guy.
I take my coffee black and my Stella cold and it’s a quad vente non-fat latte.
Once he gets those down, he’ll be fine.
Q: Hi Doug. With this shortened season still having an All-Star break. Are your colleagues at the PBWA at all worried about creating the All Star ballots? I know that in previous years, you have had a bit of a guessing game, but with such a short build up to the season, not to mention a very short, and potentially wild free agent signing period, how will you be dealing with this?
Peter L, Toronto
A: That’s a very interesting question, actually. For the past two years, I’ve been on the committee that’s struck the all-star ballot and it’s been a difficult task (getting enough worthy candidates at each position while adhering to the three-nominees-per-team rule) that has drawn some criticism.
I haven’t heard from the league about this year but with the shortened period – and expected signing frenzy – it’s not going to be any easier, especially with the number of players who may change teams next week.
At one point, there were those who though it should be open to anyone in the league but that’s not workable for the paper ballots that are available at arenas. I honestly don’t know what they, or we, are going to do. Will let you know as soon as I do.
Q: Hi Doug...welcome back to the NBA. I have a question about Andrea Bargnani. What do you think about his future with the franchise? I think he's a gifted scorer and that's about it. I'd like to know a little more about the amnesty rule....perhaps getting rid of Bargnani and his 3 rebounds per game might be a good move. I like Andrea (as a 6th man), but I'd much rather free up the money to bring in Tyson Chandler as an anchor for the defense. We already know Tyson will mesh well with the new coach, plus it'll give Jonas Valanciunas some time to develop physically and adjust to the NBA game. I'll hang up now and listen to your answer.
Arthur L, Cambridge
A: It’s actually about five per game but why quibble.
I don’t see his role changing substantially at all, nor should it. Look, Andrea’s rebounding deficiencies are well known and historic, they aren’t going to change. And yes, Tyson Chandler is better defender, a far inferior offensive threat who will cost you more money for more years.
Would I rather have him or Bargnani? Apples and oranges. Chandler if my team had enough offensive firepower; Bargnani on a team that needs three-point shooting like this one does.
I presume Bryan will at least make a cursory free-agent call to Chandler’s people, I presume the entreaties will be rebuffed.
Q: Hey Doug, just posting the question from the comments section in the mailbag for future reference:
I’m wondering how you think the shortened season will affect veteran teams. Will teams like the Spurs or Mavs have an advantage not being as burnt out by the time playoffs roll around? Or does the high volume of games in a short time negate that? Further, will this help Miami’s "big 3" stay energized roll to a championship? Would it lose some of its luster due the shortened season if they did?
Ryan M, Ottawa
A: I think it’s going to help veteran teams, actually. Teams with guys who are entirely familiar with each other, teams with veterans who know how to take care of their bodies and know at which point in games they can, you know, save energy, could have a leg up on young clubs with new rosters who might feel invincible physically as the season wears on.
But I don’t think it’ll take any lustre away from the eventual champion and there’s no need for an asterisk. I think 66 games is representative – I think 60 would have been okay – and it’s not like 1998-99 when it was only 50, that was too few.
Q: Hi Doug. Do you think Calderon or Bayless is our long term PG? I am a big Jose's fan but I think none of them is the answer for our PG position.
Chi F, Markham
A: I think you need to define “long-term.” No, three years from now I don’t expect it to be the same two guys, I think Jose by that time will be a backup, which may best suit his skills by then, but, for now, they have far greater needs to address.
Q: Hi Doug: I realize that just asking this question could get me booed in public for 20 years but if HWSNBN still "has it" and will work for reasonable money, would you sign him? I know his leaving from here wasn't exactly textbook and that still bothers some but people in the GTA forgive easily as well. Mr. HWSNBN was the quite the player in his day. Of course, perhaps his day is gone. Whaddya think?
Richard B, Mississauga
A: I wouldn’t sign him here because he’d just be a space-filler on a team rebuilding; I do think he has skills left and if I was a veteran team looking for a proven scorer and a veteran, I’d absolutely make the call.
Tell me how good he might look in, say, Boston coming off the bench? Or with the Lakers? Or Thunder? Or even Miami.
He’s got some game left and someone will take a shot at him.
Q: Hi Doug. I was wondering what you think the year has in store for Mr. Kardashian (aka The Hump). I expect the fan reactions could be a problem for him. And with that in mind do you see a possible fit with the Raptors even to get him out of the limelight for 41, oops sorry, 33 games of the year.
Bo B, Toronto
A: Don’t see a fit at all, actually, and I like Hump. It’s a given at the moment that the three bigs this year will be Bargnani, Davis and Johnson with a fourth veteran signed acquired on a one-, maybe two-year deal. Next year, the bigs will be Valanciunas, Bargnani, Davis and Johnson barring (a) a Johnson trade (unlikely) or (b) an amnesty (far, far less likely) so where’s Hump fit?
Q: Doug. Since the Raps were in on Eric Dampier for so long last year I have to believe that acquiring a 5 and allow Andrea to move back to his natural 4 spot is a priority for BC. Agree?
Anthony C, Newmarket
A: No. I think everyone’s getting way too caught up in semantics and, as I just explained on the Hump thing, they don’t need anyone now except someone on a short, cheap deal.
Q: Doug, do Raps still have a PTE and will they use it?
Alex K, Toronto
A: It would appear that when the new CBA is signed they will have the nine days remaining to use it. Every single indication I’m getting from everyone connected with the team I talk to is that they won’t.
Q: Hey Doug, I read that the two exhibition games will likely be a home and home series based on geography, which makes sense. Could be TOR-BOS. Do you think the coaches will try to get into their regular rotations right away, given only two games to get ready, or will they split the playing time more evenly to get everyone some court time?
Jeff G, Oakville
A: I would expect they would lean towards getting right into something akin to a regular season rotation, especially on a team like the Raptors where a youngish group is learning a new system and a new coach.
Q: Do you think MLSE will put pressure on Bryan Colangelo to make short-term moves to improve the 2011-2012 Raptors so they can maximize any potential revenue from a playoff run to make the MLSE seem more valuable? Ideally I think the Raptors tank the season, get a top 3-4 pick in the draft and build this thing right.
Jason S, San Francisco
A: There’s no more pressure than there’s been any year; it’s got nothing to do with making MLSE “more valuable.”
And you’re proposing you take a young team with a lot of kids learning what it takes to succeed in the NBA and teaching them that it’s all right to lose? Or you want to throw games? Or you want to cheat the fans who pay for tickets? Or you want to cheat the game? Or all of ‘em?
Q: Doug. In your column about the schedule, you suggested that the Raptors really want bad teams multiple times. Grange, however, said the Raps best bet is to lose as many as possible and get #1 in the draft. I tend to side with Grange on this one...but for arguments sake, what benefit is it to the Raps to win? Do they have any shot at the playoffs?
Adam H, Barrie
A: Benefit to win????? Come on. You’re not serious? The benefits are, um, you learn to win, you gain confidence, you give your team more relevance in the league, you feel better about yourself, you sell more tickets, you create more buzz; winning makes everything better.
Playoffs? Maybe not. Maybe. As a wise man once said, ‘that’s why they play the games.’
Q: Hey Doug. Now that the NBA is back and competitive balance is the buzzword; the aversion that players seem to have for playing in Canada remains a puzzle. When you look at some of the options out there: Minnesota, Milwaukee, Oke City (Kevin Durant notwithstanding), Sacramento, San Antonio (sorry, the Alamo and the Riverwalk don't cut it!), Toronto should come off fairly well. This is a good market but I think its days are numbered unless perceptions and attitudes change. We've had Isaih Thomas, Damon Stoudemire, Antonio Davis, Vince, Tracey, CB4, Hedo etc etc. basically just quit on the team. Do they try to weed out the losers before they sign them or continue to roll the dice. Too bad the owners didn't get non-guaranteed contracts in the CBA.
Timothy D, Toronto
A: Its days aren’t numbered and if the team starts to consistently win, players will stay, as Carter, Bosh and Oak all did the first time they had chance to bolt. Look, you gamble on any player you sign at any team, I’m sure you can go through 29 other teams and find people who left.
There is no “aversion” to Canada, there is an “aversion” to a team that hasn’t been in the playoffs in four years and one that has only one won playoff series ever.
Patrick D, Toronto
A: I’d probably rank them Paul, Rose, Williams of those three, who seem to be the premier point guards in the league today.