The start of the weekend mail; and usual stuff still coming
Here’s what we’re going to do today and tomorrow:
You have fun with the mail bright and early in the morning and I’ll scribble some thoughts on the previous night’s game while I’m flying from Toronto to Chicago and then Chicago to Atlanta and we’ll have the regular fare up sometime around noon.
(Oh, if you want one more crack at the mail for this week, go right here and do it)
Q: Doug, when did they start selling seats between the media/officials tables and the team benches? When I was watching on TV this week I thought one of the Raptor coaches was eating popcorn until I realized it was a fan.
Are they concerned opponents might buy these seats and report back to their respective teams? They are very close to the coaching staff.
Tamara S, Halifax
A: I guess it was three or four seasons ago here that they found a way to maximize the amount of money they could charge patrons for great seats right in the thick of the action. And while, yes, the fans do get a rather up-close-and-personal look at in-game strategy and could use it for nefarious means to tip off the other team, that’s not a really big concern given the income those seats generate.
Cool story this week, though:
In a Dallas-Detroit game, I think it was, the bench was too crowded, there were empty seats a couple down (with fans between them) and HWSNBN went down and sat in them, leaving himself a couple of regular people removed from his team. Someone at the league office saw it on TV, made a quick call or text or e-mail to the Mavs and Vince got himself back to the bench. Not sure if he was eating popcorn or not, though.
Q: I assume that after all the calories players burn during a game, they eat some king of meal not too long after the end of the game. When they are flying out shortly after finishing, are they able to get food on their charter (unlike regular travellers)?
Penny D, Fredericton
A: Oh, yeah, they eat like kings on their charters, plus there’s food in the locker room if they want. Was on a charter one time when they were kind enough to offer me a ride over the holidays and you walk in to find a very nice spread in the middle of the plane – usually cold cuts, fresh fruit, a hot entrée or two – and then, once they’re airborne, a full meal is available to anyone who wants it.
Tough life, indeed.
Q: I'm not sure if this has been asked yet but when do the pitchers/catchers report for spring training? And of course any news on any pitching help?
John P, Madison, Wi.
A: Not a minute too soon, actually. And a quick check with my seamhead buddies finds out that Feb. 21 is pitchers and catchers days for the TOD; some teams start as early as Feb. 18. No news on augmenting the starting staff, sadly.
Q: It seems that this season, more than any before, the photos being run almost always feature players making funny faces, or doing something that isn't inherently a 'basketball move'.
Is there any reasoning behind this?
Matthew M, Waterloo
A: Not except it shows the talent level of our photographers and I think they do an exceptional job capturing emotion, which generally makes for better pictures than some guy dribbling or releasing a shot.
Q: Hey Doug. I recently read on SI.com that Flip Saunders thinks John Wall picked up some bad habits playing summer league games and I immediately thought that it's what DeRozan has done as well. I follow DeRozan and a few other Raptors/NBA players on Facebook and Twitter and he constantly posted videos and all that promoting himself and his play in these summer games/events. He's even recently gone to FB to ask fans to vote for him for the All-Star game. Not a good time I would think considering his scoring average over the past several games and the teams record.
Anyway, while playing in these games over their extended break seems like a good idea to keep him in shape, I have to think that the drastic difference in defence and drive to win that's maybe given him a false sense of how good he thinks he is. For months he's been getting easy layups, jumpers, dunks, 3 pointers, showing off for the crowd and making fun videos - and now he's not, frustrating him and his fans.
I know DeRozan is young and talented and that he'll snap out it and eventually he'll help the team be better, but the summer league thing, while good for a show and charities and all that, seems to put players egos even higher than they already are.
How do you feel about how the players handled keeping themselves ready? I honestly think DeMar came into this season thinking he'd score 25+ points and be a highlight machine and never really thought about being a better team player. Do you think the summer play kills any thought to team play?
Thanks in advance! Love your blog.
Julian H, Toronto
A: I think those summer things were what they were, easy runs with no pressure and just for fun. I don’t think they’ve had an impact on how these regular season games have unfolded or how guys like John Wall or DeMar DeRozan are playing. I think Flip’s looking for some excuse, actually. Wall, and everyone who was in those games, had more than enough time to get back into the swing of NBA basketball and it certainly doesn’t seem to having any impact on guys like Kevin Durant, who played in as many as anyone, if memory serves.
Q: Hello Doug. I always wanted to ask you, as I couldn’t find anything regarding trade of Odom from LA to Dallas. From the first 10 games or so, Lakers really miss his minutes. Why was he traded, next to nothing? Plus, to Dallas, team they might go against when it matters. I don’t believe that week before, he was focal point in Paul trade, and the next, he is a give away. Do you have an idea what is the story behind the trade?
Also, you talked about Butler, and SF position. Why you don’t mention Forbes? Is he terrible on D, and that’s the reason Casey doesn’t use him? He has a solid shot, and might need minutes to perform. Last year he played behind 2 good SF's. this year, he is on a team that probably has the worst dept in this position. Again, what is your opinion on that? Thanks
Alex V, Toronto
A: The Odom trade – and this is well documented fact – eased tax burdens on the Lakers, who were looking to save some money to perhaps take a run at Dwight Howard in a trade and gave Dallas a good player on a one-year rental. But I don’t think it shifted the balance of power in the West, the Lakers are going to be quite fine and if they should happen to meet the Mavs in the post-season, the presence of Odom in Dallas probably won’t be the difference.
And the Raptors see Forbes, as has been mentioned a kabillion times or so, as more of combo guard than a small forward and are working with him in practice to improve his overall game. The coaches have told he has a tendency to be a bit “hurried” when he’s on the court and may one day be a rotation guy but he’s not there yet. And, really, he’s the 11th or 12th guy on the roster who has played a grand total of 63 NBA games, with more DNP-CDs than starts so maybe we should just cool down on talk about him at the moment. It’s not like he’s Antoine Wright but …
Q: Hi Doug. I've often wondered what happens to a player's residence when they're traded to another organization? If the player is leasing a place, would their former team take over the lease? What about if they own a place, does the organization guarantee a sale price on the house (happens quite a lot for work transfers in the real world)?
Dow W, Bedford, N.S.
A: No, a team wouldn’t take a lease over but what has happened in the past is that the guy being acquired simply moves into the abode of the guy leaving town. Makes it easy on everyone that way. Teams, as well, are obligated to cover the housing expenses of acquired players for up to three months; most players find their how places before that period expires because hotel living can get pretty boring pretty fast.
And since most players and coaches rent, I’ve never heard of any guaranteed price thing.
Q: It appears to me that Andre has a lot of disdain for the media. Do you sense this also? If so, do you think it is because of his level of comfort with the language because it is difficult to be tactful if you have a limited vocabulary. Is it a result of the beating he has taken from the media over the years or is he simply tired of the why did the team lose/why did you play so poorly questions he gets after every lost. What else can he say, I played poorly, the team played poorly. It must get very tiring after awhile. There is no shortage of dumb questions being asked of the players. I don't know why they don't shake their heads (or say smh) and move on. I guess the team and the NBA wouldn't allow them to be bluntly honest.
Dave B, Cornwall
A: I don’t think it’s disdain, actually. I don’t think he’s particularly comfortable talking about himself – he always seems to deflect questions by referring to overall team play – and, yes, I’m sure he’s tired of hearing the same questions over and over again. That’s why some of us spend a fair amount of time trying to come up with new things to talk about.
And I’m entirely positive a lot of NBA players grow weary of talking the media but league rules mandate the must be available at certain times.
Q: I hope you don't take this as a frivolous question. I notice in watching the games on TV that thundersticks have disappeared from the end seats. While I'm sure the sound can be annoying to fans in the arena, they do add some colour to the free throws by the opposition (and the camera shot tends to emphasize the many empty seats). Have they been banned, or is there no sponsor for this year?
Garry S, Ottawa
A: Frivolous? Not in the least.
There was apparently no deal in place for a sponsor at the start of the season and I wouldn’t mind in the least if we went the whole year without them. But that’s just me.
Q: I cant for the life of me figure out why people who call themselves Raptor fans actually want to see the team win this season. At the end of the day nobody will remember if we win 15, 20 or 25 games. But in a draft year with studs like Andre Drummond & Anthony Davis, it is critical that we try and get into a position to draft one of these guys.
Right now there is only one way for the Raps to become a contender and that is via the draft. Players like Rose, Durant and Griffin can (and have) turned teams around but you aren’t likely to find those type of players at #8 in the draft. Drummond and Davis might turn out to be one those impact players!
Do you not believe that in the long run the Raps will be better by getting a couple of top picks over the next few years? Why win 5 or 10 extra games and hurt your draft position? Thanks.
J M, Markham
A: No, I don’t. Draft’s a crapshoot, it’s only a part of the process of building a team. And please consider, oh, let’s say the Dallas Mavericks, Miami Heat, Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers when you make such a ridiculous blanket statement as: “There is only one way for the Raps to become a contender and that is via the draft.” Seriously. Thank you.
Q: Doug. Do you think this team can become a 2nd or 3rd round playoff team with DeMar and Andrea as their focal points? If so, why and do other non-Rap NBA-types think so as well? If not, do we use them as trade bait for pics in what is supposed to be a deep draft? Thanks for your time.
A K, Richmond Hill
A: Yeah, why not? Will depend entirely on the makeup of the rest of the roster – as it does with every other single good team in the league – but both are quite capable NBA players. And the rest of the league doesn’t think so at this time because (a) DeRozan’s just in his third year, (b) they don’t have a great roster No. 1-15 although that might change and (c) they haven’t done anything yet.
And you need to understand that (a) you can’t use them as “trade bait for picks” because of the CBA rules and (b) if you do that you’re pretty much back at square one starting over with unproven kids and if you’d like a few more years of misery and losing, good for you.
Q: Hi Doug, I know you are loathe to speculate on potential acquisitions, but I wonder if you have an opinion on Wilson Chandler. The Nuggets will have the first crack to sign him once the Chinese season is over, but after dishing out big money to Afflalo and Nene, I wonder if they have the cash to sign him. I also read the the Nugs are in talks with Gallinari to extend him as well, further reducing the chances that Chandler will be back in Denver.
The Raps could certainly use help at the 3 and Chandler is a solid 2 way player and still relatively young. If you were Mr. Colangelo would you make him an offer?
Also, was there a uniform rule change since the lockout? What's with all the players wearing tights under their unis? I watched a Knicks game the other day, it looked like Melo had a unitard on under his jersey. I thought this was more tightly regulated in the past?
Xander C, Toronto
A: Chandler’s name was one I heard kicked around briefly before the season started – there was some thought about making him an offer and seeing what Denver would do even if they couldn’t get him until March – and I would suspect he’s a guy who’d be on a list of possibilities when the summer rolls around.
I agree it’s going to be financially difficult for Denver to keep him and I wonder if he and Gallinari aren’t too much the same guy for both of them to play there.
And there has been no change in the uniform rule, teams still have to get an okay from the league for such things as leggings but that permission is quite readily granted, it seems.