The end of the weekend mail
Okay, so I took a gamble and stayed last night at the old Downtown Marriott in Atlanta rather than the Marriott Marquis because I thought I’d change things up.
Restaurant didn’t even open, bar was so-so and the wireless kept going in and out.
Live and learn.
But I did get this done, you all have fun with it and don’t forget we’ve got the odd Sunday 6 p.m. start time for the IGBT.
See you then, right?
Q: Dear mild mannered reporter for a great metropolitan newspaper.
Whatever happened to phone booths? How does Alan Anderson get into his outfit each game?
Which Lois Lane would be your kryptonite? Phyllis Coates( TV series), or that Kidder babe?
Bob E, Kanata
A: Great Caesar’s ghost, Bob. Do you have to ask? The Kidder babe I saw a few times ‘cause she used to hang out with the Argo glitterati back in the McNall, Gretzky, Candy era but I’m old school.
Phone booths? I’m stunned they even still have pay phones, let alone phone booths. When was the last time you saw anyone in a phone booth, changing or otherwise?
And if you’re talking about whatever happened to, I have a t-shirt – found and purchased by Super Wife at the Pike Market while we were on a vacation in Seattle – that has this on it.
Q: Doug: Ozzie Guillen? What do you think? Here he is with an unpopular pro-Castro opinion. The players don't seem to care.
But ownership sure does: many fans in Miami hate Castro and this threatens fan support for the team. So what does this mean?
Should teams "vet" the political opinions of their coaches and managers? Muzzle them? The line between sport and society; the line between sport and politics is a blurry one, especially pro sport -- this incident brings the connection between sport and society into sharp view.
Some will say: "Just watch the game between the white lines". Hardly realistic now in a n era when we are hungry to "know" the players-managers in greater depth.
Charles N, Toronto
A: My thoughts on Ozzie came out earlier but you bring up an interesting point on what management should, or shouldn’t do, when it comes to vetting the opinions of key hires.
I’m not sure anyone would expect even a Miami owner to ask a prospective baseball manager about his opinion on Fidel Castro because, really, who would imagine it’d ever come up? They had to know Ozzie was a bit of a loose cannon – that’s known throughout baseball – but as for asking him a series of away-from-the-game questions as part of the interview process, not sure that’s something that will ever happen. I will give the writer credit, though, he found a unique angle and a good question and evoked an extraordinary and contentious reply. Good for him.
But since we’re here, I’m going to echo an opinion offered by more than a few people on the Guillen thing. This is no a “free speech” issue at any level. No one is disputing Ozzie’s right to say whatever in the world he wants; what people – including me – are suggesting is that with free speech comes consequences. You can say what you want, it’s not the government that’s coming after you to nail you, it’s the simple fact there are, and should be, repercussions to what you say.
Say it, pay the price. It’s all cool with me.
Q: Hi Doug! There were so many remarkable parts that made up the Raptors' surprising win over the Celtics - but two things stay with me. First, Coach Casey admitting post-game that he hadn't slept the night before worried about his team (chiefly Uzoh and Dentmon?) being able to get the ball over halfcourt against Boston. Well, I hope he slept well Friday night because they did that and more. But doesn't this kind of sum up Dwane Casey for us? That he would literally lose sleep over a game against the Celtics, at the end of the season, with nothing on the line. But he's got this team believing. And he's got them playing for pride, and culture, and yes, jobs. And those two 10-day-contract PG's he was so worried about had a combined 8 assists and 1 turnover. Against. The. Celtics. And, the other thing that stayed with me, was that I'd perhaps just watched some D-League guys play the games of their lives. And that felt good. Now (finally!) my question: Dwane Casey signed a two-year deal with a club option for a third year. Has this third year option been dealt with, or picked up, or whatever the terminology is, to ensure another team doesn't lure this terrific coach away from us?! Thank you.
Lorie P, London
A: It hasn’t, it most likely will be, and should be, early next season but if they let this guy get away away, they need to fold up the franchise after firing everyone in a decision-making position and let us all become fans of the Lightning.
Q: Here's a question that that belongs in the better late than never category. With the condensed schedule this year did all teams have similar (eg balanced) schedules? I just keep seeing New Jersey win games and wonder who the heck they are beating. And if the schedules weren't balanced which team may have been given the easier ride during the year?
Bo B, Toronto
A: No, they didn’t. Some teams missed good teams in the other conference and there was no balance even within the conference. It was an abomination of a season.
Q: Hello Doug. A bit of an off-basketball question here. After watching Bubba Watson win the Masters last weekend, I got to wondering, what is tougher, winning an individual championship like the Masters or Wimbledon or winning a team championship after going through a grueling 3-4 round playoff as an NBA, NFL, MLB, or NHL team would?
What are your thoughts Doug?
Joe D, Mississauga
A: That’s really too much apples vs. oranges to even do, isn’t it?
Guess it might be an interesting debate, although there is certainly no “right” answer so I’ll give you this:
I think it’s probably harder to win 16 games over two months than it is to win a two-week, or one-weekend individual event.
But that’s just me.
Q: Well this season is almost over for the Raptors. They have performed worst than I had expected. I had expected them to be between 25 and 30 wins. I expect if Andre had been healthy, I may have been close.
Now we are all looking forward to next year with more re-building. I don't think this team is anywhere close to competing in a playoff round. Do you see any player on this team (outside of Andre and Jose) who will be /would be a starter on a good team? I see some bench players, but no starters.
Dave B, Cornwall
A: You don’t? I disagree. But that’s why they have different flavours of ice cream, too.
Starters? Probably not outside of those two but even that’s impossible to tell and, really, doesn’t mean squat. First, you have to define “good” team and then you have to decide whether the skillset of a DeMar DeRozan would fit on that team. Entirely difficult to say, isn’t it?
And since you’ve got two Raptors who you think would start on a “good” team and there are going to be probably two new starters to come – a centre and a three – why couldn’t they be competitive in a playoff series a year from now. Who are they playing? Who’s playing well? Who’s injured? What are the matchups?
That’s one of those throwaway blanket statements that are, frankly, ridiculous.
Q: Hey, Doug - can we talk a little more about Jose? I've been a huge fan since he first arrived, and the photos circulating lately of him & his black eye seem to make a great icon of this season for the Raps. In the bigger picture, I always feel that my guy gets a little short-changed. Another writer noted that he's "not the most gifted" but the way I read it, he's highly gifted in ways that are under appreciated -- "smart" gifted more than "athletically" gifted. Gifted as a real point guard, not just a scoring guard. Although, he is still (I believe) the record-holder for consecutive FT makes!
What say you, oh Sage? Does the league give Jose his props? Do the fans? Does he deserve better?
TL I, London
A: From some fans, he absolutely does. Look, he’s not as athletically gifted as some of the premier point guards in the league but I am soooooooo tired of telling people he’s good, it’s not even funny.
And, trust me, that is an opinion that is shared by an overwhelming majority of scouts, general managers and player personnel guys I talk to.
Frankly, I’m tired of defending him, it’s so obvious to me that people who are super-critical have no real clue it might be the most frustrating thing I’ve dealt with in the last four years.
Q: Hi Doug. What do you think about this year's draft? Is it going to be deep? Who can we pick at 5th or 6th?
Anthony C, Thornhill
A: I think the draft is sometime in late June, some people think it’s deep, some think it’s Anthony Davis and whole bunch of other guys. And if they pick fifth or sixth after they do the lottery on May 30, we’ll talk about it.
Sorry, but ‘til then, not much more to say here.
Q: Hey Doug: Your profession affords you the opportunity to meet a great many famous people. Have you ever been 'star-struck' when you've met someone? I imagine if you had met the Grace of the IGBT, you still be getting over it! Thanks for all the time and effort you put into keeping your readers happy! (for the most part!)
Tim H, Windsor
A: Oh, man, how cool would that have been? Wow.
Anyway, I try not to get all flustered when I’m around people with a measure of fame and accomplishment and I have been truly lucky to have a job that lets me do that. I will say I was a bit awestruck when I first saw Muhammad Ali at a press party before the Sydney Olympics. Don’t imagine I could have spoken had I been given the chance.
Other than that, though? I’m usually working and can’t too overwhelmed.
But Grace? Jeez, that’d have been something else.
Q: Greetings oh Scribe. Given that Peyton Manning has been calling up the local newsies to say thank you.
I was just wondering if you have had any similar experiences. Cheers,
Mike D, Oshawa
A: Not like that, no. I’ve had a couple of guys come up to me after they’ve left town and say the odd thank you for the way I’ve covered them (no need for names, most prominent might have been Marcus Camby) and every now and then a player will take me aside if I’ve written some kind of profile on them to offer a compliment.
Only call I got was one that went to a lot of people and was kind of cool. When Rick Carlisle was coaching the Detroit Pistons, he personally called everyone who had a ballot for Sixth Man of the Year one time to offer his endorsement of Jerry Stackhouse. That was kind of cool and pretty typical of the way Rick rolls.
Q: Re: James Johnson, he seems to be at a crossroads of finding what kind of career he is going to have. What do you think the best path would be for him to follow. Surely he has some elite athleticism, but I think he gets a little bit of Kris Humphrey's syndrome and thinks a little too much about his own offence. Wouldn't it be better for him to concentrate on becoming an elite lock-down defender in the Tony Allen/Bruce Bowen mould? He could still get his offence as it comes to him but it seems to me that working to become that elite defender would ensure a much longer NBA career than as just a guy who is ok at a lot of things, but isn't great at any of them. What do you think the coaches are trying to mould him into?
Ken M, Toronto
A: Having watched him rather closely this year – it was hard to get a read on him in the less-than-half-a-season he was here last year – I agree with Dwane’s assessment. He has a tendency to go rogue at the wrong time, to get all fancy schmancy on offence and to roam on defence. He can be, I think, a very good lockdown defender if that’s what he concentrates on and a passable offensive player who needs to look first to move the ball as soon as he gets it.
But, and this was from a guy who knows more than I and is a troubling independent assessment:
“He’s just good enough to get you fired.”
Not sure I share that but it’s out there.
Q: Hi Doug, needing some clarification on the Amnesty clause. As I understand it, as an example, if the Raptors were to use their Amnesty exemption on Kleiza, they are effectively releasing him, they still have to pay his salary for the duration of the contract, and they can use 75% of his salary to sign another player? Part two of that is could they do it again with another player next year? Do you see the Raptors staying with Amir and Davis next year? With Jonas in the fold, not sure where Aaron Gray would fit in especially if the are thinking about having Jamal come back for another year at the minimum to work with Jonas.
Matt D, Dorchester
A: Yes, they pay his salary unless he’s picked up by another team in what amounts to a waiver claim but it doesn’t count against they’re tax or cap numbers; there is also no limit on what they can spend since they’ll be so far under the cap, it’s moot.
And, no, it’s a one-time deal and only for players who were under contract with your team on July 1, 2011. You can’t trade for a guy and then amnesty him.
The situation with big men next year is going to be terribly interesting, actually. You’ll have Valanciunas and Bargnani and maybe a draft pick, which has led me to suggest they should explore trade possibilities with both Johnson and Davis and see what’s out there.
I have a hard time thinking both Gray and Magloire will be back and for the deal they’d be offering them – a one-year, non-guaranteed, veteran’s minimum contract – I’d suggest it’s more likely that Jamaal fits better than Gray, who might get a multi-year deal as a free agent.
Q: Doug, here's this week's "things that don't show up in a box score" question. Aaron Gray and Kendrick Perkins put up nearly identical stats in the recent Raps/OKC line, and I checked their season stats and found that they're also pretty similar: 4.9 ppg, 6.3 rpg and 1.2 bpg in 26.6 minutes for Perkins vs 4.1 ppg, 5.8 rpg and 0.4bpg in 17.1 minutes for Gray. They're both similar in size and age, and after watching Gray's screens and his attempt to set a "Carmelo distance toss" record during the Knicks game at the ACC I don't view Perk as significantly more intimidating. Nonetheless, I think (salary aside) most NBA types would rather have Perkins. What does Perkins contribute away from the stat sheet that makes him more valuable?
Mike D, Toronto
A: Kinda goes to show you that numbers don’t tell the whole story, doesn’t it?
Anyway, I think in this specific case it’s attitude and history. Perkins, I think we can all agree, is more feisty, he is probably more protective of his teammates and has had more success in his career. Those are the kinds of intangibles that people see beyond the numbers.
Q: Probably should have inquired about this before the Philly game, and if you didn't hear any specific info about this player than feel free not to answer.
Question is, what is the story with Evan Turner? Is he progressing as the 76ers would like? Do they believe he will be worthy of the number two selection in the future (i.e. a game-changing wing)?
Although his numbers are better, he seems to have regressed a little this year. Could this just be a Bargs situation?
Nick M, Hamilton
A: Didn’t get around to a lot of chatting about Evan Turner when I was talking with people I know on the Sixers staff but I think they probably imagined they’d get more out of him. He’s a bit of a tweener, I’m told, but he’s also still very, very young and no one’s getting to worked up about his career quite yet. He may still blossom into a solid player but I don’t think he’s ever going to get, say, all-star consideration.