The end of the weekend mail
Well, that was quite some day to open the playoffs, wasn’t it?
Sad, horrible injuries, a great game and it was nice to see 10 hours or so of high-level intensity.
Have at this until today’s action starts, if you like.
Q: Hello, Doug! So, some well-deserved 'coasting' for you, eh? And I can vouch for the philosophical, psychological, and spiritual merits of a complete 'time-out'. However, when I coast for a while, I'm able to 'disengage' totally if I so choose: shutdown all means of communication with the world outside my home and drift undisturbed for as long as I feel necessary. I suspect for you a day of 'coasting' isn't quite so peacefully idyllic, though. So, aside from obviously not having to attend Raptor games, practices and write about them, is it possible for you - and actually for any reporter doing the type of job you do - to choose how much to you can 'disengage' from it all? (And by it all, I am, of course, excluding your never-to-be-severed-connection with your demanding Irregulars!) :) Cheers, and thanks for all your splendid stuff this past season!
Lorie P, London
A: It’s difficult. Not impossible, but difficult. I know for me, and I presume for a lot of colleagues, we are so invested in the game we watch intently even if there’s no real reason to. And, of course, we all make the obligatory calls and send the obligatory e-mails and texts, to sources, friends and execs just checking in.
But there is also time for other pursuits, like the Mighty Tigers (nee Yankees, nee Rockies). And that there is more time for that, and long-neglected jobs around the house, is enough “disengagement” for a lot of us.
Q: Hey Dougie, Why is coach Karl not mentioned in anyone’s short list for coach of the year? Health aside, he's lost some good players and a great player in the last 2 seasons and Nuggets always seem to occupy a playoff spot. It actually bothered me that Sloan never got the award. It's like consistency goes unnoticed in this league. If Denver tanked last year and then made 6th seed this year, Karl may have got some recognition.
I posted this in the comments section, more eloquently. Forgive me if you already responded? I could not find it.
You said there ZERO chance of Weems coming back. Is that because there no need for his skill set/position? Is it a culture thing? Money? Or his disinterest in coming back?
I watched the press conference last night. You did a great job Doug. I really enjoyed your Q&A's more then others.
Marcus T, Newmarket
A: Oh, I’m sure George will get some votes and it was tough to leave him off my ballot, actually, but there was only room for three.
Weems? Not sure what the love is for a guy who was an average player on a 22-60 team but what the heck. It’s skill set (is he really any better than what they have?); it’s not particularly money because he won’t make much; not sure there’s interest on his part (seem to recall reading somewhere that he didn’t want to come back); it’s just time to move on. And there’s really no loss.
Q: Doug. Do you think that Amir Johnson is a candidate for amnesty? (Take away his salary the next couple of years and now there is 20 million to spend). Or do you think he has any trade value?
Isaac O, Thornhill
A: No, I don’t and I think you’re off by about $5 million on what’s left on the deal; the final year isn’t and has never been fully guaranteed. Been trying to dispel that myth since the contract was signed. Plus, for this summer’s calculations, only the value of the deal next year is to be added to any free agent money.
Q: Doug, two questions if I may. First, if the raps had the opportunity to acquire Dragic (FA) or Lowry from Houston, which would you prefer, or would you stick with Jose and focus energies at other positions?
Second, assuming the lottery balls don't bless us with the top pick, would you trade the pick + DD or Davis for Harden? I think OC may have to make some tough cap decisions and might have trouble justifying paying Harden over Ibaka.
Gary M, Ottawa
A: I much prefer Lowry.
And I might make that deal but first I’d have to run out to store and by a Get Well Soon card because it will have meant Sam Presti has suffered some kind of mind-altering seizure.
Q: Hi Doug. At the end of the year when none of the starters seem to be playing, are they upset by this - ie do they want to play knowing that the season is ending and there won't be any more games until next Fall (at least for the ones not playing in the Olympics)?
Penny D, Fredericton
A: I only talked to a couple of guys here and they were actually injured or worn out and had no issues with getting a night or two off. I did not get a chance to talk to DeRozan after the final game so I can’t speak to how he felt. It’s been my experience, though, that they’re fine with it.
Q: Hi. A very irregular Irregular who has had to a significant amount of catch-up on the blog over the last week or so (I'm so far behind in my reading that I am just now getting to the consecutive Sports Illustrated issues with Tim Tebow on the cover and I see in the pile that there are two consecutive Jeremy Lin issues). I hadn't planned on sending this in, but seeing as you said you're light this week, I was wondering if you could comment further on athletes being influential? I would have thought that as a sports writer you may have sided much more with the power of athletes to influence people. While not a big Tebow or Lin supporter I have to say their influence over the last calendar year has been remarkable. I truly believe sports can serve as a microcosm of life and these kind of rags to riches stories reach far beyond the field of play. Their stories might not inspire someone to pick up a football or a basketball but they may just serve as a reminder of what hard work and a belief in one's self can do. As someone who is constantly drinking from the bowl of kool-aid you serve up week-to-week (even the stale, week old stuff), I am interested in your thoughts now that some time has passed.
I want to believe sports have played a tremendous role in defining my character and the character of others (possibly even an old grunt that likes the way things used to be at the ball yard). So it is easy to say it is the sport and not the athlete, but within those sports if we do not have the characters that transcend the sport then we do not have a collective stories with which to share to magnify the lessons learned. Have I over-stated the impact of the people who play our games at an incredible level? To that end, wouldn't it be nice to have a fine person such a Steve Nash here influencing the people of southern Ontario?
I've rambled. Apologies. Thanks as always Doug.
John D, Cairo
A: Of course athletes can influence those who follow them closely, by their actions, the strength of their personalities, their performance on the field of play. Rags to riches stories, talking about perseverance and fighting long odds are wonderful.
In the case of Tebow, specifically, it was entirely in North America and while Lin had a greater reach, it’s not like he introduced basketball to Asia.
They were interesting stories, hardly globally influencing.
Q: You were having an important coaching meeting on Friday. Now that the braintrust has gotten together, what are the expectations for the Mighty (Yankees, Rockies, Tigers....)? And who are the Dastardly Other Guys you have to watch out for this year?
David H, Mississauga
A: Oh, yeah, we’re getting the band back together but I don’t have too many specifics. We’re moving up a league with a very young group so we can keep all the kids together; have a big Midget A meeting tonight when we’ll have all kinds of information.
And not to worry, I’ll let you know because I believe we’re going to need all the support we can get.
Q: Hi Doug. I don't understand why the nets traded for Gerald Wallace. Was there any benefit to this trade? Considering what they gave up (including a lottery pick) just for Gerald Wallace seems like a bad trade especially with him now supposedly opting out if his deal so they may end up with no Deron, no Wallace and no pick and ultimately not a bright future. Any idea what the Nets GM was thinking with this trade?
Chaz E, London
A: Sure, it was a bit of an odd trade, no question. But it saved the Nets some money, gave them a better asset even if he opts out and was a shot they took. Maybe – and this could be of some interest to people here – giving up the pick wasn’t all that hard to do because the draft isn’t quite as stacked as some thought.
And, really, until we see what else transpires, it’s hard to judge the overall good/bad quotient.
Q: Hi Doug. Read your column religiously. I was shocked to see that Andrea Bargnani didn't appear for the last game of the season. If he's the leader why didn't he show up, isn't the Captain supposed to go down with the ship? Too busy packing, trying to catch the first flight out of T.O.?
Bob R, Brampton
A: I actually have no idea what you’re talking about. Bargnani was around in the afternoon to do his post-season media availability and to start his exit interviews with the coach and general manager, he was on the bench in street clothes during the game and was with his team.
Nice try, though.
Q: I think the Raptors did themselves a big disservice by trying so hard in that last game vs. NJ. If they had tanked it, they would have not have lost the draw vs. Golden State, would be below NJ, and tied with Sacramento for odds on a good pick. I can see it now, we drop to 10, and don’t get anything that can help us, or other teams just aren’t as interested in acquiring the pick.
B P, Toronto
A: Great, another tanking question; last one.
You’re wrong, dead wrong, so wrong my opinion it’s barely worth talking about. You try to win with what you have every time you play. I cannot and will not ever abide by anything else. Sorry. End of discussion.
Now, if you see them dropping to 10, can you please give me the lottery winners. Thank you.
Q: Hi Doug, Any indication from the henchmen that the Raps are thinking of using their Amnesty provision this summer? One year in with the new CBA, any thoughts on the Amnesty provision or any other element of the deal as it pertains to the HOTH or league wide?
David W, Oakville
A: No indication except that’s it something they’ll consider if they need to but Bryan made it abundantly clear on Friday that Jose Calderon is not a candidate, nor should he be in my opinion.
Overall, I think it’s a good idea; with a new, more onerous tax system coming in (it escalates a bit from dollar-for-dollar depending on how far over the level a team is), it does allow teams to try and create some financial stability and flexibility because they may have signed players to contracts under a vastly different CBA.
Q: Hey Doug. Now that the 66-game preseason is over, we can look forward to the part of the year that actually matters for the HOTH. Can you please give us 3 keys that we should watch for this off-season.
Thanks as always,
Jay M, Winnipeg
A: Think they’re pretty obvious right now and will become far more specific after May 30 when the results of the lottery are known.
To put ‘em out there in no particular order, I’d say to watch to see whether or not they extend a qualifying offer to Jerryd (it will give an indication of what they might be doing with the backup backcourt spots), what draft-eligible players they bring in for workouts (might give an idea of who they’re looking more closely at) and if, or not, they use the amnesty clause.
But I warn you, and everyone else, that is going to be painfully slow and quiet until that key May 30 date.
Q: Hi Doug. I normally don't send trade scenarios since you've made your feelings clear about those, but you've also been showing a lot of enthusiasm for signing Steve Nash and it had me wondering. Assuming Nash wanted to come here and a contract could be worked out (BIG assumptions!), would it make any sense to trade a second round draft pick for Nash AHEAD of the draft, as a way of showing whoever the Raps might draft that the expectations are to win next year? It might also give potential free agents some extra time to consider Toronto, as opposed to waiting till the free agency rush in July.
Sohail G, Collingwood
A: Won’t work for a couple of reasons.
The league would look quite askance at anything like that regarding its rather stringent tampering rules and there’d be no reason for Steve to go away from his well-stated intention of seeing what’s out there this summer.
Q: If Lebron James had come into the league believing he wasn't yet the greatest of all time, perhaps he would have put the effort in he needed to get there. I truly believe coming into the league, Lebron felt he was already the greatest. What do you have to strive for if you're already the greatest?
Steve Nash? How can't you love the guy for all the reasons you have articulated. But riddle me this o wise sage, what kind of a player would you have if you were able to graft Steve Nash's head to Lebron's body? All that wisdom, maturity and sense of team coupled to all that athleticism? What would we have?
Cluck K, Mississauga
A: Something to truly marvel at.