The end of the weekend mail
Congratulations, folks, you’ve done it again.
Good stuff in here to finish the weekend; I’ll try to get back before my flight with some stuff off the big game Saturday night.
Hope you all had a good St. Patrick’s Day.
Q: Hello Doug! So, if timing's everything, I wonder if there've been occasions when you find yourself - thanks to the celestial and the schedule - in just the right place at the right time? And maybe Charlotte will be perfectly suited for a St. Patrick's Day pint (or three), but I'm wondering, if you could choose, in which city, in which pub, drinking which beverage would you be most happy to find yourself on March 17th? And, now for a wee bit of a reality check, can you share your most memorable on-the-road St. Patrick's Day ever? I know if printed, this will appear the day after St. Patrick's Day, but for many of us the effects of the "celebrating" tend to linger through to the day after. :) Cheers!
Lorie P, London
A: You know me, I’m more small city than big so, seriously, a place like Charlotte, or Indy, or OKC or San Antonio, somewhere with a bit of a compressed downtown good for walking and close to my hotel would be perfect. Although having just done Beale Street and having recently been on Bourbon Street, those two might work.
Did land in New York one year about 4 p.m. on St. Patrick’s Day and it was so, so packed it was impossible to move, let alone have fun. And I’m not one for lining up for bars, there’s always another one down the street.
Oh, and the night we were in Salt Lake on St. Patrick’s Day was a bit of a hoot, that was the first year the Raps wore their green and nothing says St. Patrick’s Day like green dinosaurs in Utah. Did manage to have a few with Jack that night, as I recall.
Q: What's the difference between being waved and a buy out? Also what restrictions are there on teams looking to pick up a waved player or a bought player?
Finally, are there any players recently bought out who could fill out the Raps roster, who they might be interested in taking a look at ?? (Terrance Williams??) or will they fill out the roster with a D-League player or two?
Jeffrey M, Saint John
A: A player being “bought out” usually negotiates a settlement of the money owed him; a waived player gets all his dough.
And, no, there is no interest right now in bringing anyone in “to take a look at.” That’s exactly what they’re doing with guys like Forbes and Bayless, who need the minutes to show what they’ve got.
Other team’s cast-offs hold no allure whatsoever at the moment; you will see someone signed at some point simply for book-keeping purposes to get the Raptors payroll up to minimum levels but as Dwane told us Friday, they don’t need to look at guys, they have enough of them already.
Q: Hello Doug. Just a couple od years ago, Portland was a shining example of an exciting young team on the rise, with loads of talent and dangerous potential. What's your synopsis of what the hell has happened since then?_Thank you, and for all your daily efforts here on the blog.
David M, Ottawa
A: I wish I knew because that city and those fans deserve better. I will suggest – and this is just an opinion – that ownership and senior, senior management has screwed it up completely by leaving a huge leadership void on the basketball side, the team doesn’t even have a general manager.
It’s a mess and I wonder if they’ll be able to find anyone fully qualified who’d want to go in there and try to fix it.
Q: In the Barbosa trade, the Raps got a 2nd round pick and financial considerations. What are financial considerations?
Andrew S, Toronto
A: Cash. Up to $3 million, although I’m told it was nowhere near that in the Barbosa trade.
Q: Doug, is there a purpose to the rubber bands so many players seem to where around their wrists during a game? It would seem possible to me for an opposing player to get a finger caught in one of those bands and potentially break a bone.
Steph R, Glencoe
A: They’re pretty tight so I’m not sure they’re dangerous – if they were, the league would clamp down, as they did years ago on jewelry – and it has something to do with biorhythms or magical mystical powers or something like that. May work. May be entirely bogus.
Q: Doug. I sense that you are reluctant to dissect the actions of the refs. However, I do have a legit question with respect to the Memphis game.
With 3.8 seconds left, DD was fouled on an inbound play. The ball was never touched nor did the clock move. I thougtht that this would mean that the Raptors were to get free throws plus the ball back. I suppose one could argue that a foul committed while the inbounder has possession of the ball is different than when the ball is in the air (though the official time clock says otherwise). But realistically, holding is rarely called till the ball is thrown in and one's movement is restricted.
In the future, can a team playing the Magic for example, tackle Dwight Howard while the ball is in the air to someone else? Oh and in the Raptor scenario please do not defend the refs and claim that the perpetrator was "making a pay on the ball" since he never got within 10 feet of it.
Jim S, Whitby
A: The officiating was awful, no question about it. But so what, go play. And on the play in question, the determining factor is whether or not the ball has left the inbound passer’s hand; the refs determined it had. Had it not, it would have been shots and the ball.
Q: Doug- the idea that US college players are pros in all but name - and therefore should be paid - is gaining traction. All this in a situation where over $1 billion(!) per year is made "off NCAA college hoops" by the NCAA in USA. We know the players are "kids"; we know that for a lifetime we have been told they are "amateurs". But NOW, interestingly in an era of new awareness about terribly unfair disparities in wealth, the players' situation is likened to that of poorly or unpaid corporate interns: exploited by their "employers" who market their images and make millions off of their athletic work. And we know that all this is the "pipeline" of players to the NBA - where you and we fans wait to watch the "interns who graduate and make it"(most don't). What do you think? Are we about to watch some sea change in this "system" or are we watching a passing phenomenon of concern for this sort of exploitation.
(I know many would not like the word, but after all, what other word is there?)
Charles N, Toronto
A: I would think at this time in history, there will be – and should – be an increased push to provide college athletes with a stipend. The disparity of wealth, those who create it and those who enjoy it, is just too big.
And I am all in favour of some sort of monthly “wage” if that’s the best word, for athletes who generate all that income. There is absolutely, in my opinion, a level of exploitation; that’s a strong word but it’s correct.
And it goes deeper than just “paying” kids to play games.
Let’s say you’re at a school on an academic scholarship, getting a “free” education in some pursuit like business or engineering or music or anything. You can find work as a teaching assistant, a research assistant, something associated with the university where you are attending school; if you’re an athlete enjoying that same benefits, you can’t work, it’s against the rules and that’s ridiculous, to me.
Q: Hi Doug. I was listening to the radio broadcast of the Raptor/Cavalier game this week with Paul Jones and Eric Smith. That got me wondering. Over your long career, have you ever had an opportunity to do the play by play or colour commentary of a basketball game or other sport? If not, would you ever consider doing it if you had the chance? Thank you and keep up the great work.
Joe D, Mississauga
A: Way back in the day, and I’m talking about Year 1, I used to fill in on the radio every now and then and it was a bit of gas, I must admit.
But I do truly like the writing process, and the permanency of what you do (radio tapes disappear a lot more quickly than papers and now internet searches) so I’m quite happy doing a wee bit of TV or radio as a guest and then going back to what I think I do best.
Q: I've never filled out a "bracket" before - do you work through the individual games from 1st round to final, or do you pick your winners from the top and then see who they have to beat to get there?
TL I, London
A: Looking at mine, there are those who may think I’ve never filled one about before, too.
My method, timeworn and barely successful, is to do each region, working from the first round until the final and then figuring out the semifinal winners.
I do know people who get a Final Four and work backwards, doesn’t seem to “flow” for me that way.
Q: Doug. In the game Wednesday, one of the fans in the Gucci seats between the scorer's bench and the coaches had a baby on his lap for most of the last quarter (all that I saw). Would you have any qualms about doing that? I mean, even the most protective dad in the world might be a bit over-whelmed if somebody in the 7 ft. 290+ vicinity decided chasing down a loose ball coming at your infant was really, REALLY important. Just sayin'.
Switching topics, any idea why Matt Devlin was so distracted the last couple of broadcasts?
Gary M, Brampton
A: What’s that old saying: “There’s two things you can’t tell people what to do: Raise their kids or spend their money.”
I would have huge qualms about taking a baby who had to sit in my lap to a basketball game, nor would I take him/her to the close rows at a baseball game or hockey game.
But that’s just me and I’m not sure what a team can do about it except to hope fans had more sense.
Q: Doug, just in case there are no big trades to keep you busy...
So a day or so ago we were at the same win/loss record as a year ago...and in a weird way I think the team is more fun this year as they work hard most nights...but do you think we really needed to let Jay go to get here? Does Dwayne bring intangibles someone like me does not see?
Andrew T, Huntsville
A: They’re different people with different personalities; Dwane has been able to drill a defence-first mentality in much the same team as Jay had; Jay’s offensive stuff was probably a bit more creative and effective.
Not sure if they’re more fun to watch or not, I recall at the first of last season they were lauded for their work ethic.
I do think, given the roster and the finances and the natural growth of some players, they are better poised this year to make a major step next year than they were last year coming into this one.
Q: Hi Doug. List time…
A few weeks ago in the in game blog thingy, my alias Perry suggested a possible list of the best brothers to ever play in the NBA -- eg, the Gasol brothers -- and you indicated to submit it to the mail bag the week the Raps play Memphis.
Peter L, Kingston
A: Okay, I’m going to say Pau and Marc Gasol are the best brothers to play in the NBA and I’m putting Dick and Tom Van Arsdale second and Horace and Harvey Grant third.
Jon and Brent Barry and Dominique and Gerald Wilkins wold tie for fourth.
Q: Since it's still near the Ides, how about a bit of Wayne and Schuster's classic? " I told him Julie, don't go.”
Okay, March Madness begins, which Canadian will contribute the most to his team? Who will be drafted first? If you were a physics grad would you play in the NBA or go to med school?
Who will be Knicks coach next year? Phil? Larry Brown? Isaiah? Holtzman?
Bob E, Kanata
A: Not much better than classic Canadian comedy, is there?
I think the Canadian draft race is, today, a dead heat between Andrew Nicholson of St. Bonaventure and Kris Joseph of Syracuse, a couple of possible late first-rounders who might move up with impressive pre-draft workouts.
And as I type this, there are still a few Canucks going, I’d keep my eye on Kevin Pangos of Gonzaga and Brady Heslip of Baylor as the Canadians who contribute the most.
Now, that said, I’m doing this before either play on Saturday and they could both be gone by the time you read this but I have a game to cover tonight and want to get this out of the way.
Q: Hey Doug: I'm not sure if you're allowed to print a direct quote from another publication without permission - if not, I hope you can paraphrase, as I'd really like your opinion.
In the March 26 issue of Sportsnet magazine, in an 'editorial' by the Publisher and Editor-in-Chief Steve Maich, he writes, "According to an ongoing annual poll run by Harris Interactive, basketball reached its peak popularity in the late 1990s, when Jordan, Malone, Barkley and Robinson were at their peak, and about 13 percent of Americans said it was their favourite sport. This year, the number was down to five percent, behind football, baseball and auto racing, and roughly on par with pro hockey..."
To what would you attribute this relatively drastic decline in the interest in the NBA?
Based on all the work you do for Mother Star, I suggest you ask to be paid by the hour! Thanks
Tim H, Windsor
A: It’s probably a combination of a lot of things and I’ll list among them a natural drop-off following the Jordan boom, the fact the best team of the 2000s was probably the less than sexy San Antonio Spurs and a splintering of the sports market with the proliferation of games that could move fans from one sport to another.
And now, with LeBron and Durant and the global aspect of the game, I bet if you do the poll in eight years, basketball will be right back to where it was and I bet its global reach is bigger than its ever been.
Q: Hi Doug. Haven't been able to watch the last few games. Is Bayless playing as well as the numbers seem to indicate, or is more playing time inflating everything? Any talk among the coaches/management that he could be the answer as the starting PG after this year? Thanks, Keep up the good work.
Matt M, Winnipeg
A: He’s played quite well the last few games but no one I’ve spoken to is thinking long-term starter or anything close to that. What they think, and I agree, is that he could morph in an energy-changing combo guard off the bench; much the same as Barbosa was only younger and cheaper and with vastly superior defensive skills.
Q: Hi Doug. Thanks as always for taking so much time to answer reader mail. I was a bit confused by one of your answers today, I was hoping you could clarify. You had mentioned an advantage of trading Barbosa was that the Raps could now take on a player making, say $9 million, if they didn't like whoever was left in the draft by the time the selection came up. But wasn't Barbosa a pending unrestricted free agent anyway? The money was coming off the books anyway, so couldn't they have made such a trade even if Barbosa hadn't been traded? Thanks again.
Sohail G, Collingwood
A: It’s when that money was, or would have been, available. Now the Raptors have significant cap room to assume a contract without anything going out any time from the day the season ends until July 1, a period that includes the draft. Had they waited, Barbosa’s contract wouldn’t have come off the books until July 1, it’s a huge factor.
And, no, teams might not have wanted it even on the books for a few days because of tax considerations.