The end of the all-star weekend mail
Here you go again.
Take this for now and depending on how the hospitality suite worked out, I’ll either have some leftovers from Saturday night first thing this morning or sometime, um, later.
Oh, and don’t forget, IGBT tonight, right?
Q: Hey Doug: I swear, this gets harder each week. I'm thinking that maybe all the questions have been asked and answered, so that is why there are times when the mailbag seems a little 'light.'
I don't think this has been asked before, so I'll give it a try:
In the 'blurb' next to your blog, the 'bio' says: "(Just don’t ask him about music nowadays it's not his cup of tea)." Now, being of a certain age like yourself, I partially agree with that sentiment. But, perhaps you could elaborate on why today's music is not your cup of tea?
Thanks again for all that you do for us - it is greatly appreciated!
Tim H, Windsor
A: I’m sure there’s lot of good music out there these days but I’m not at all a fan of hip hop or rap or heavy metal stuff and there doesn’t seem to be much melodic stuff being performed. Plus, I just like people who’ve been around a while.
I will take credit for having rather eclectic tastes so maybe there’s stuff out there I just don’t know about.
That little bio line might have something to do with trying to keep up the Old Grunt persona I’ve kind of made my own.
Q: Hi Doug. In the past you've mentioned the passing of some of the "Giants" of sports journalism, and how they're not being replaced. I agree that many writers today do not seem adept at crafting "a story". Are you aware of any compilation books of classic sports writing? I think this would make a great read.
Glenn M, Boston
A: I am. And if you can find Greatest American Sportswriting of the Century you will be glad you did. It’s a classic compilation of great tales and greater writing.
Q: Hi Doug, I know you don't like talking 'what-if' trade scenarios....but we love reading about them, so let's compromise!
Which current Raptors do you think other playoff-bound teams might be interested in? Are there are any 'core' players that other teams are interested in (and who, in your opinion, are the Raps core players)?
Bill L, Toronto
A: I can’t tell you specific teams because the people I talk to tend to keep that kind of information to themselves but Leandro is attracting some interest and Dwane told us before the Pistons game that teams are calling about Jose.
And if GMs don’t make at least cursory calls to find about the availability of Bargnani – which is non-existent – they aren’t doing their jobs.
Q: Hey Doug: I might have another 'draft' question you might be willing to answer:
You're the GM of a new NBA franchise, and to make your life easier (because, after all, it's always about you), the NBA has allowed you to pick a starting line-up. You get to pick first, eleventh, 21st, 31st and 41st. Which POSITION do you pick at each spot? Names are not necessary - don't want a tampering charge against you.
Thanks again for all you do to keep us informed, amused and entertained!
Tim H, Windsor
A: Hmm. I guess I’d go wing, point guard, shooting guard, and then two bigs of interchangeable denominations between power forward and centre since it’s all semantic there.
Q: Just watched your video clip about the first half of the NBA season and this thought hit me. Noticed how all these web clips for the Star has some videographer. Are these videographers hired by the Star? Or freelancers? And if they are hired by the Star, who would have thought that the Star, originally using a print medium, would have such a thing as videographer. I think it goes to show the evolution of your industry which is intriguing.
Jordan W, Columbus
A: The videos I’ve been doing have all been shot by staff photographers, who are growing with the times and adding video work to their usual duties. We don’t have specific, video-only people; it’s all about multi-tasking in this day and age.
Q: Interesting that when I mentioned the Raptors might be interested in Wilson Chandler last week, the blog note stated I was misinformed??? Oh well...
Question - do you see the Raptors keeping Aaron Gray next year? Seems they could use a back-up big man who is improving. Will they keep the veteran Magloire?
Arlene E, Chesley
A: I’m going to take exception to the Chandler comment; I’ve been writing since December that the Raptors had or have interest. I don’t recall your specific comment but my stance on it hasn’t changed since the season began.
Gray? I think they like what he brings and I could see him in the role of fourth or fifth big at the right price. But don’t forget, barring any transactions, they’re going to have Valanciunas, Bargnani, Johnson and Davis there already so there’s a possibility of a logjam.
Magloire? Not sure I see a scenario in which he’s back.
Q: Hey Doug! Hope you're having fun - or something pretty damn close to it - at this All-Star Thing. So, as part of your official duties, both for the paper and PBWA, I would think you HAVE to attend lots of those Hospitality Suite Schmoozefest Things, and I would think that having attended a few of these in your time, you're developed that handy skill of being able to tell within a minute or two of arriving - based totally on who's in attendance - whether it's going to be a blast or a bust of an event.
So, we'll steer clear of naming the names of the party duds and instead ask you to name the party dudes: who are the NBA characters that make a good time - hospitality-wise - even better! Can you give us your All-Time Top Three? Thanks! And hope all your events are a blast! (Oh, and enjoy Nicki Minaj! I hear her music eventually starts to grow on you.)
Lorie P, London
A: Oh, we’re all pretty good at storytelling but if you can get a table with the one and only F. Kerber of the New York Post, you’ll hear some good tales.
And here’s how the hospitality thing works: We usually drag ourselves back into it about midnight or a little later. It’s generally quite crowded at that point so there’s a lot of wandering from table to table like at a big cocktail party but as 12 becomes 1 and 1 becomes a bit later, the weeding out process begins and by the time they’re about to turn on the bright lights, there might only be a half dozen or so of us left. Funnily enough, I seem to be in that group.
Q: Hi, Doug. It is too bad that folks like me who do not have a Facebook account cannot view your weekly TV broadcast. I was able to view your first one, but not again. Please tell your technical guru to find some way to view your lovely face (I keed semi-seriously) and listen to your pearls of wisdom. Thank you.
Nicholas W, Markham
A: Hmm. Not sure what happened to the others, they go up on the video section of thestar.com and should be accessible.
Someone with the power to get things right will see this, though, and we’ll see what happens this week.
Q: Greetings Mr. Smith! During the past little while, you've been mentioned on Grantland.com and recently you were linked on the great new site hoopsrumors.com. When things like this happen, do you notice an immediate spike in traffic to the site? Do the high foreheads notice and give you any kudos, or is the result non-quantifiable?
Shawn L, Bowmanville
A: I don’t notice, actually. It’s a nice and very humbling and very much appreciated, though. I do presume there is a small uptick in hits but it’s not something I track. And apparently, neither do the Tall Foreheads because it’s seldom mentioned.
Q: Hi Doug. Can two trade exemptions be combined to make one trade?
Aaron F, Thornhill
A: Nope, can’t be aggregated.
Q: About scoring at the end of games -- Truehoop guys over at ESPN have been talking about how at the end of games, teams tend to score best when they avoid giving the ball to one guy and letting him go into hero mode (like Kobe). They say you're better off running your offense, which is probably how you scored most of your points over the course of the game. Makes sense.
Yet, without that go-to guy, especially with Bargnani out, the Raptors really seem to struggle to score at the end of games. True? If so, is there a way to reconcile those two points? Maybe you're better off running your plays if there's the threat of a hero hitting a 20 foot fade away or shredding two defenders for a dunk? Or maybe you're better off having that hero who can save the day when the play gets blown? Or I suppose it's possible that having a go-to guy is over-rated, and the raps don't score well at the end of games because they're not a very good offensive team. Maybe they need a better offense overall, rather than someone to play hero ball.
Any thoughts? Sorry for the kind of rambling question.
Tim M, Kingston
A: Not at all rambling, not to worry.
I guess the easiest way to say it, and the most logical, is that teams should run their best plays in those situations and those best plays always involve the ball getting into the mitts of the team’s best player.
So I’m not sure there’s all that much of a difference, is there? The perfect world would be one in which you run your best stuff because anyone on the team can make a shot; that’s not always the case, which is why I would always want to have one guy who could get the ball and make a play with a game on the line.
Q: How is it that the New Jersey Nets are allowed to make a big pomp and circumstance for Dwight Howard, when he is still under contract to another team? How is that not tampering? I hear Bryan Colangelo on the radio and he can't even say what guys he's scouting for the draft, how then, could New Jersey be allowed to beg for a player while he's still in uniform with another team? Where is David Stern? Did he die and no one told us yet? Perhaps I'm making a big to do about nothing, but this reeks if you're a Magic fan and it sends a horrible message to all fan bases out there. Also, what makes Orlando so horrible that players can't wait to leave there, even when they're already on a perennial 50-win team?
Shawn L, Bowmanville
A: The Magic actually gave permission to the Nets – and I believe there might have been another team as well -- to speak to Howard about the future. I would have thought there would be some end-date to it but I guess not.
Q: Hi Doug. Had an interesting thought watching the Raps/Pistons game, and in particular, watching Teyshaun Prince. Back when Bosh played for the Raps, he was clearly the focal point of the offense, used to take a minimum of 30 shots a game (often a lot more than that) and averaged over 20 pts a game I believe. Now watching Bosh in Miami, as the 3rd best player on that team, he's averaging much more modest numbers, albeit still playing an important role. From most of the games I recall watching Prince play for Detroit, he's never been a "focal point" of the offense (certainly not when they had Hamilton, Billups, Gordon, etc.), and certainly doesn't take the "volume" of shots per game that Bosh used to. My thought, was that I wonder how many guys like Prince, who are considered "mid-level guys" (in terms of talent), would likely be able to accomplish the same level of success that Bosh had for the Raps if you put them on a weak team, made them the focal point, and let them take 30+ shots per game. My comment isn't meant as an insult to Bosh, but rather just an indication that I think there are alot of players who are considered "average" that if put in the same situation that Bosh was in TO, could probably achieve similar results (statistically speaking). I think the only "intangible" would be whether or not they could make key shots at clutch moments. I think the situation and opportunity a player has with a specific team can dramatically over-estimate (or under-estimate) their perceived value. Your thoughts?
Derek S, Bolton
A: Oh, I think there’s some validity to the theory that someone has to score on bad teams and that put on a team with inferior talent, a marginal guy will elevate his numbers. But I also think talent wins out and, in the case of Bosh, he is such a talent that he’d post impressive stats wherever he goes. Of course, he’s having less of a statistical impact because of his teammates but that’s not to suggest his skills have diminished because they haven’t.
Q: Doug, I asked this question earlier in the season but it was to early to answer. Dwane Casey: compare and contrast with other Raptors coaches.
Thanks (as always) for the work on the blot.
Danny H, Fredericton
A: That’s really difficult, actually, and a bit unfair because each was his own man with his own characteristics and personalities.
He’s got a more defensive bent to his coaching philosophy than anyone other than Kevin O’Neill, I don’t think he’s as offensively creative as Jay was. Brendan ran longer practice with more straight teaching, I’m told; and Butch probably devlved into the personalities of his players more than Dwane does.
He is so much more a hard worker than Lenny it’s not even funny and Darrell was only here such a short time, I’m not sure what the biggest difference between those two would be.
Q: As we start the second half of the season, which Raptors have contracts extending beyond this season and which ones have expiring contracts? Of the expiring contracts, who in your opinion has the greatest chance to be around come fall? Thanks as always for your great blog!
Jim F, London
A: I can’t even begin to think about the fall until I see how the summer plays out but the only players with fully guaranteed contracts for next year are Jose Calderon, DeMar DeRozan, Andrea Bargnani, Ed Davis, Amir Johnson, James Johnson, Linas Kleiza and Gary Forbes.