The end of the weekend mail, and more special guests
Well, wasn’t that some kind of game in Chicago?
HOTH played well, they played hard, and got a bad break at the end. Tough one but …
Anyway, have at this while I fly home, hopefully in time to see the NBL final on this computer, and we’ll be back Monday with the usual.
Q: A while ago, after the Raptors played Sacramento, I was thinking about short players in the NBA, and posted a question in the comments, but never got around to posting it here. I was looking for a 'short list' of the best players NBA under six feet.
BTW, I think it's a shame to be inside writing instead of enjoying Chicago. It's a great city!
Sheila C, Ottawa
A: This is tough only because heights are often embellished and a guy listed at 6-2 might be closer to 6-0 and a 6-footer could very well be 5-10.
But the general consensus, and one I agree with, is that Isiah Thomas was the best small guard of all time.
Of course, the rest of the list would likely include Allen Iverson, Muggsy Bogues, Chris Paul, Calvin Murphy and while most lists have Tiny Archibald at 6-1, I’m going to include him here. You could also put Spud Webb in here and everyone would concur, I imagine.
Q: Okay let me try this again. After a made basket, if the defending team calls a timeout without inbounding the ball, the ball is then moved to their offensive zone for inbounding after the time out. What’s with that. I have noticed it in the pros but not college ball. Or I am badly in need of new spectacles. I swear I saw it Doug, but I have been wrong before. I am just curious about the rule.
Gerry T, Halifax
A: I gotcha this time, sorry for not reading well enough last time.
It’s simply a rule the NBA has adopted – and you have to admit it’s created a lot more late-game drama – that the colleges haven’t. Teams are allowed – if they want – to advance the ball to the frontcourt hashmark after a made basket, or any stoppage, in the final two minutes of a game or overtime. It is all about creating more chances for dramatic finishes and it has.
So, no, you have not seen it in the colleges – nor will you see it in international basketball – but you will see it in the NBA.
Q: Hi Doug! Well, one way or another - either through a glorious Lightning victory or heartbreaking loss to the dastardly, but very good, Halifax Rainmen - the NBL will be winding up its first season on Sunday afternoon. And what a season it was. Great performances, appreciative fans and in London a team that I know connected with the city. And I believe, the city with it. I'm alread looking forward to next season and hope to attend even more games that I did this year. The level of play improved as the season went along and I'm wondering if any of the NBL players might - or should - be eligible for any of the 10-day contracts that are now available on some NBA rosters. For example, wouldn't it be cool to see Gabe Freeman have a chance with the Raptors???
Lorie P, London
A: I admit I only saw four games and did not see the Rainmen play but I didn’t see anyone who I thought would get a 10-day deal. Not to say it couldn’t happen, though; they are free agents in the eyes of the NBA and could be added if a team wanted.
Second-best Canadian band ever?
Q: Hi Doug, So let's pretend you're David Stern. Dwayne Wade, LeBron James and Amare Stoudemire ask you for permission to wear hoodies during pre-game warmups, as this would contravene current league uniform policy. What do you say, and why would you say it?
Sohail G, Collingwood
A: I would probably say no, actually. And I would say no because there are other avenues for them to express their feelings, and I would strongly encourage them to do that – but things like pre-game warm-ups at not times for political statements because if you open the door to one, you may have to open the door to many others and I don’t think that’s a very good idea.
Q: Hello Doug. If you were forced to take the same position you have now with any other basketball organization, who would you choose? What factors would you take into consideration.
Cory G, Jasper
A: Considering I actually work for a news organization, I’ll surmise you wonder what other team I’d like to cover? Hope so because that’s what I’m going to answer.
In a perfect world, you want a nice city with good schools and good weather – a handful of great microbreweries would help – and a team that’s well run. And you’d want a good airport easy to access with lots of direct flights to other NBA cities.
I’m more of a small- to medium-sized city fan so I’d suggest going to work in Seattle when a team goes back, or somewhere like Oklahoma City or maybe Indy would be fun.
Q: I do recall a lot of 100+ games last year and hence a lot of happy tummies with a free pizza slice. This year seems to be quite a different year and I think I recall one pizza home game? Am I right? If not, how many times have the Raps fans been graced with a comp slice?
Simone K, Toronto
A: You missed a couple, I’m afraid. There’ve been four times they’ve gone over 100 at home; three wins (Houston, Detroit and Washington) and a loss to the Spurs.
And a quick check of last year shows 14 times, which is either good or bad for the diet and appetites of the fans; I’m not sure which.
Q: Doug. Hoping you can explain something to me. In the Memphis game, Zach Randolph comes back after being off for a couple of months or longer and he seemed to be in mid season form while Andrea has been back for 6 or 7 games and he's still searching for consistency.
Is this due to their different style of play or is it a mental toughness issue?
Bob B, London
A: I think it’s got most to do with style of play. I think it’s easier for a guy like Randolph, whose game is a lot of power and post play, to muscle his way back into it than it is for Bargnani, who needed to find his long-range shooting touch.
Q: Hi Doug. It’s great reading about the Canadian talent in the March Madness coverage. Is Brady Heslip NBA material?
K J, Toronto
A: I’d say not right now and I don’t know if he ever will be. Been a great ride for him, though.
Where do these guys fit on the list?
Q: Hi Doug. A couple of random questions:
Which current or former NBA player would have the best shot at winning Dancing with the Stars? I was a bit disappointed with Clyde Drexler when he appeared on the show. Any early predictions for this year.
In light of the recent NFL suspension of Sean Payton - how would you rank the different leagues when dealing with issues of discipline for coaches/players (NBA, NHL, NFL, MLB).
Monty M, Toronto
A: Well, we’ve seen The Player Formerly Known As Ron Artest and Clyde Drexler dance and fail, I’m not sure there’s anyone I’d take a chance on looking at next, actually.
How I’d rank them?
That’s a tough one but the very personal observation would probably put NFL first because they hand out lots of suspensions for various indiscretions aimed at making a tough game safer.
I think the NBA does a good job in a lot of ways and might rank second, followed awfully closely by MLB. Both seem to take consistent, decisive action; the only thing I don’t like about MLB’s system is the appeal process it gave the union in various negotiations.
NHL? Dead last. By a mile. Seems they waffle and there’s no consistency whatsoever.
Q: There have been a lot differences this year as far as what I see from the coaching staff. Dwayne Casey's team of assistant coaches seem to be more involved during the game, where they will get up and speak to players directly, or have their say during a play. I like seeing that personally, and I think the players have a different voice that they hear from. Am I seeing things this year that where their last years, or is there more involvement during the game from the assistant coaches this year?
Steph R, Glencoe
A: There is a noticeable difference from last year; this staff is far more openly vocal. And I think it’s good, too, as long as the message is consistent and it has been so far. Not sure if one way is right or wrong, truth be told, but this one is unique to what’s been traditional around here.
Q: I am guilty of looking ahead: Last summer, the coaches were unable to work with the players because of the labour dispute. How are things likely to be different in the coming off-season?
James A, Victoria
A: Oh, they’ll be hugely different. You’ll hear or read about assistant coaches going to visit players for a week or so to work them out; there will be a “training camp” of sorts before the July summer league and I fully expect Davis and, perhaps, DeRozan to play in it. Valanciunas won’t, he’ll be with his Lithuanian national team, but the expectation would be that whomever they take in the draft plays, too.
Q: Hi Doug. I've heard to lament the lack of a quote-worthy Raptor over the last couple of seasons. Do you have an all-time list of players that you wish were Raptors solely because they'd have provided you with great quotes after every game?
Kevin O, Waterloo
A: The problem with coming up with these kinds of lists is that I’m not really around other teams often enough to get a good feel for it personally. But just from the few times I’ve been around them and limited to current players, I’d imagine Kobe, Nash, Durant and Metta World Peace would be on my list. Colourful, talented, insightful.
Q: Hey Doug. With Tank Nation being all the rave amongst a lot of Raptor fans and perhaps even within the organization itself, I haven't had anything on my mind to ask this season, but I can assure you, I've been reading the blog regularly. However, a question did enter my thought process when Calderon had his ankle injury.
I noticed that when Bayless was starting, Demar's production seemed to increase, which made me think of the later part of last year when Bayless was starting and Demar put up better numbers. And while Demar's great performance against NY yesterday was with Jose starting, is there any truth to Demar performing better when Bayless runs the show?
I'm not a stat hunter, so I haven't done my homework. Just wondering if perhaps this is a mere coincidence or if it's just that DD starts off his seasons slowly.
Thanks as always, I can't even imagine running a blog with as much dedication as you do. I hope Mother Star realizes you're as close to irreplaceable as possible!
Josh F, Ningbo
A: I don’t know that there’s been a large enough sample size to even make a guess on that. And I’ve seen DeMar both good and bad with both guys to think that it’s really not that big a difference, to tell you the truth.
I think DeMar’s good and bad games and starts have much more to do with him than it does who else is on the floor with him.
Q: In the game last night, Jose and Carmelo Anthony received double technicals. Do they have to pay a fine like a regular technical the players get for disrespecting the officials?
Penny D, Fredericton
A: Oh yeah, they sure do. Cost ‘em $2,000; but it was actually Aaron Gray and Anthony, I understand there might have been some misinformation on the TV broadcast.
Q: Hey Doug: I assume with Butler gone, the Raps are even lower than the minimum salary. Could they, 10 days before the end of their season, sign three guys to 10-day contracts, and satisfy the NBA?
Thanks again for all that you do - it never ceases to amaze me how you find the time to do everything!
Tim H, Windsor
A: Yes, they absolutely could and, at one point, that was the indication I got. Now I’m hearing they might bring someone in sooner, maybe next week, and they might keep them around for the rest of the season, which could also get them to the salary level.
But there are no names associated with any of this, just chatter.
You knew I couldn't ignore the hometown fellas, right?
Q: Doug Doug Doug. I am amazed because I greatly respect your opinions on things both basketball and culture and I rarely have opportunity to take issue with your opinions as they are well grounded and thought out. But I am not sure I can let your comments regarding the Band go unchallenged. We are of approximately the same 'vintage', but how can you miss out on the Guess Who and the Tragically Hip who come to mind quickly, followed by Rush.
Basketball related, have you watched any of the madness? I watched the Kentucky/Indiana game and was impressed by Kidd-Gilchrist. tough defender in the wing, stayed with his man thru picks, slasher, relentless offensive rebounder. So question is has JJohnson improved enough to not have small forward be the top need of the draft or in your opinion is he best suited to an off the bench guy?
Randy M, Crystal Beach
A: All those bands are great; none is The Band. But as you’ve seen, they’re on the list.
I know there are people in the organization who are, right now, quite high on Kidd-Gilchrist, if indeed he comes out. And while James has had his moments, more than a few, I think there’s some upgrade possibilities there still.
Q: Hi Doug. Quick question in regards to max. contracts under the new CBA. During the Dwight Howard sweepstakes, there was talk that Howard would be giving up $30 million dollars if he chose not to resign with Orlando since other teams would not be able to offer a max. deal with max. raises. That got me thinking. Couldn't a player like Howard simply sign a short term 1-2 year deal with the team of his choice and then subsequently resign with that team for a max. deal or is that not permitted under the new rules?
Thank You and keep up the great work.
Joe D, Mississauga
A: Not permitted at two years; basically, to have “Bird” rights, which gives a team the chance to sign its own free agents without regard to the cap, the contract has to be for at least three years.
Q: Hi Doug Smith: When opponents are shooting free throws, the fans behind the basket seem to go mental and wave stuff. Is that crap?
Watching the game from New York the other night, I noticed those fans did not freak out while an opponent was at the free throw line.
Do most fans waved stuffed fish or just us? Ok, maybe it's not fish...snakes?
Seriously, are we poor fans for exhibiting this end zone hijinx?
Ditch D, Toronto
A: It happens in more arenas than not and, as I’ve said before, I’d like to find the guy who invented those infernal thunderstix and batter him about the head with them for a while.
I guess some people like them, and enjoy waving them around, even if it does nothing to distract a player.
Me? I think they’re fake noise and, yes, crap.
Q: Hello Doug. This question may have been asked - if so I apologize for asking again - it has to do with Linas Kleiza. Leo was praising him the other day for how he's been playing at a high level albeit inconsistently, which should get better as he completely recovers from his long absence due to surgery. What is the feeling of his coach and more importantly the people who make decisions on his future? How does Kleiza feel about the team and the city? Is there any possibility that he will continue to be a Raptor after the current contract is up? Thanks as always for your great work!
M S, St. John’s
A: As you’d expect, the coaches and decision makers would like more consistency and since we’re more than a calendar year since the surgery and 48 games into this season, I don’t think post-op recovery is a legitimate explanation.
I think he likes it here quite fine and since he’s got two years left on his deal, no one’s really thinking past that at the moment.
Q: Doug, what do the Raptors brass feel like they have in Alabi? In a year where I believe Bryan wanted to assess his talent I would have hoped to see more minutes for him but it seems like he has had just as many minutes as he did last year.
Do the Raptors bring him back for one more year or do they give him up freeing up a spot on the roster for someone else?
S S, Newmarket
A: They took a shot on Solo with a late, late, late second-round pick and it didn’t pan out. Seldom does. And I cannot envision a scenario in which he’s back here next season.
Q: Hey Dougie. I mentioned this in the IGBT, was hoping you could give me some info. I picked up a pair of autographed game shoes by former HOTH Hedo Turkoglu at a Salvation Army for $40. Now I was not totally surprised to see them there. But I can't help but wonder how they would get there?
What usually happens after games to uniforms and equipment? i.e. Jerseys, shoes, game ball. Are things reused? or is it one and done?
Marcus T, Newmarket
A: I have no clue; maybe someone just got fed up or moved and had some junk to clear up?
And they re-use a lot of stuff; a guy might not wear more than three jerseys in a year – some do give them away to charities or friends and that pushes the total up – but some guys use maybe three pairs of shoes in a season, another guy might go through seven.
Balls? They use the same ones all season.
Q: Good morning Doug, been a while since I have sent in a question but still a faithful reader. First off how's the fresh air battle? (Don't worry I won't tell super wife). Okay on to the real question. After spending a lot of time in the States this year; most people I have come across still consider Toronto an outpost/foreign country. Yes a winning program attracts free agents, but really perception is everything. Other than retaining players to max out their earnings, and a few mid-tier free agents the Raptors can't seem to land the big fish in free agency or even be mentioned as a possible destination. Toronto does not seem to have big money player endorsement contracts to fill in their income which agents are looking for (HWSNBN is the exception to the rule as he was a special talent). So having all kinds of cap room does not seem to have a point other than to sign more mid-tier NBA players which this team is loaded with. Has MLSE tried working with the NBA to get some type of assistance ie: 10% over the tax threshold without penalty or anything to even generate something positive to get agents to consider Toronto as a destination?
Kevin W, Waterloo
A: No, they haven’t, they shouldn’t, they couldn’t and they’d be laughed out of the room if they asked.
Not sure what kind of people you’re hanging with but the perception of Toronto for most NBA players is that it’s a good city with a team that’s had no success.
And I’m just going to throw this out there for the “they can’t get big name free agents to come” crowd: How many “big name” free agents are there each year? Not many and a team has to have money to spend on them when they are available. The only time this organization has had a lot of money was in ’07 and the free agent class was, frankly, crap. So, they got Garbo and AP and ended up winning 47 games.
This summer, depending on what, if anything, they do with the amnesty provision, they could have between $15-$20 million to spend and take a look at the free agent class: Underwhelming.
Fresh air? I’m losing.
And this, folks, is just really, really nice music.