The end of the weekend mail
Well, well, well.
Ask and ye shall receive.
Well done, folks.
Looks like a nice day coming, could very well be time to break out the barbecue around here.
Q: Since it's that time of year again (playoffs), I was wondering if every series has at least one ex Raptor and of course stating the less then obvious ones would be appreciated.
I'm glad Matt has had such a long run out West and am still puzzled why he was traded?
John P, Fredericton
A: Well, let’s have a quick look, shall we.
Yeah, you’ve got Bosh, we all know that. How about Darrell Walker and Jim Todd on the Knicks coaching staff? They have to count, right? And, obviously, Glen Grunwald in the New York front office. And here’s a rather obtuse one: The Heat drafted Norris Cole with the pick that the Raps used to get James Johnson; not sure we count that.
Turk! Ball! Oh, and Brendan Malone, obviously but another Orlando one? Magic assistant coach Bob Beyer spent an ill-fated year here on KO’s staff. And lived to tell! Once you get by Leandro with the Pacers, though, that’s it for Indy.
Check out the Philly bench and see Mike Curry and Brian James as assistants to Doug Collins and there’s a link. Chicago? It’s a veritable smorgasbord. You’ve got Mike James on the playoff roster, you’ve got Ed Pinckney on Thibodeau’s staff, where he’s joined by Rick Brunson and when you’re running down Obscure Raptors From The Past, you don’t go too far down the list before you hit Brunson. And, no, I don’t count Chuck, he’s not on the team, as much as he’d like to think he is.
Outside of Tracy you have to look really deep. But if you do, you find Jannero Pargo, a five-game HOTH who might give Brunson a run for his Most Obscure money.
Obviously there’s Matt and it’s nice to see him do well but there’s also Ty Corbin coaching the Utahs and he spent some time here.
I’ve got nothing, you can ignore this one.
Sure, you’ve got HWSNBN and Marion in Dallas but you’ve also got Tony Brown on Rick Carlisle’s staff and he’s another survivor of the KO Year. Once you get past those guys, though, that’s it.
Enough for you?
Q: Was it not a Miss Washington who asked what a difference a day makes? The TOD is back. Well, maybe not the bullpen. Are there any submariners out there? Where is Eichorn?
If Reggie was the straw back in the day, is Hobbs the espresso machine?
Bob E, Kanata
A: They keep getting outings like Morrow and Alvarez and starters who continually get into the sixth and they could have Joey McLaughlin out there and it might not matter much.
Hobbs is like Red Bull, espresso and a greenie (that dates me, right? But apropos for seamheads) all rolled into one.
Q: A great song from one of the great songwriters. We know who we're dedicating this one too, don't we?
John C, Mississauga
A: Well played, sir.
Q: Hi Doug. With regard to the New York centred universe, given the Knicks rather unimpressive season, to what degree does the media's influence there bear the brunt of responsibility for Chandler's flawed selection as Defensive Player of the Year?
Frank B, Toronto
A: I don’t think you can put that one on the media – although I did vote for Chandler because of the impact he had on an otherwise atrocious defence and defensive players. The league spreads the votes out evenly and I trust us voters not to be swayed by other media types.
Q: I know that you don't follow soccer too closely, but you have mentioned Messi before. Since you have a couple of days to figure out an answer, I figured that I would ask. Messi is in the news again for setting a new scoring record. If you had to compare Messi to a basketball player, and another sports figure, who would you compare him to? In other words, Messi is (NBA player, past or present) and, Messi is (Other sports player, past or present)
Peter L, Toronto
A: It’s funny. I was talking to a friend who knows exponentially more about football and Messi than I do and he said Messi would never be in the GOAT conversation until he leads a team to a World Cup or something. So how about LeBron? That an apt comparison?
As for other footballers, I’ve got no one (had it not been for Hand of God maybe Maradona) but I’m sure some Irregulars (hello, Sportschick!) can help out? Would Drogba be one?
Q: Was recently teaching in my class the age-old debate as to whether things are genetic or environment based and which has greater impact into personal development. This discussion, the role of genetics and potential in athletes, prompted a question that might do for a list. We of course have the Griffeys and the Bonds where both father and son have had good to great careers. Yet a son like Josh Barfield has languished in the minors and never came close to dad’s accomplishments.
So perhaps a list of sons who have outperformed their dads accomplishments (see Kobe and Jelley bean, Prince and Cecil), father and sons where the career was comparable (Rautins v Rautins) and my favorite, and because I am of a similar vintage to you, cases where the father still kicks the kids butt. I am intrigued as some of the stars I grew up watching are now having kids drafted and, sadly, it makes me feel quite old. Would be interested in your perspective. Thanks again for your great work this season.
Randy M, Crystal Beach
A: You’ve hit on the two where the sons have certainly eclipsed the fathers in the same sport.
But I’m with you in the dads better than kids department so how about Yogi over Dale Berra and probably Rick over any of his Barry offspring to played in the NBA with Ken Norton over Ken Norton Jr. in the ring and Jack Nicklaus over Gary on the links.
I’m sure there are many others but we’ll let the Irregulars chime in.
Now you have the Rautins in comparable careers and right now that’s probably correct but here’s one for you: Do you put Bobby and Brett Hull in that same category? I probably would.
Q: Please name Raptors core players or who do you think will be back.
Glen B, Markham
A: So, has “core players” replaced “franchise player” as the cool lexicon of the day? Someone has to give a clear and precise definition of “core” player and I don’t think there’s one out there.
But, if you’re asking me which group I expect them to try to add to, it would be Calderon, DeRozan, Bargnani and Davis, with the two Johnsons also in the mix. Toss in Valancuinas, the draft pick (if they make one) and, likely, Bayless and there’s a group.
Now, Gary Forbes is under contract next year so I presume he’ll be back, too.
Q: Hi, Doug! I have a question about Pacers. You've pointed a few times that they don't have a star or a go-to guy when the things get tough, and you seem to see it as a bad thing. Why is it a problem if a team has several really good players, but no stars? They did get to the third place and half way to a second round with that kind of "flawed" roster. Especially in the crunch time, isn't it better to have a few good options to go to than be so predictable with one or two?
And don't you think next season's Raptors would be that kind of team? Even with JV and a new SF, I don't see a star in that team. Regardless of his numbers and developing game, I don't think even Bargnani fits that script.
And I wouldn't mind seeing that kind of team at all. I'd rather have to guess who'd be THE guy on a daily basis than to have one Melo-like type of player to try to take over every time. It's more of European style, where the coach has to figure out the best options considering the matchups, the flow of the game, the hottest hands etc. to win the match. And I'm sure Dwane would excel at it.
Toni H, Zagreb
A: I don’t know that it’s necessarily a bad thing – and the Pacers seem to be adapting quite well – but I would prefer to have one guy on the team who can take over a game by himself – if necessary. Look at Chicago, for instance, they don’t have a start without Rose and can’t function but the rest of the top teams left – Miami, San Antonio, Oklahoma City – and they all have that one guy.
I guess the closest you can come to the “they need one guy” model would be Memphis, which is a delightful team but I’m not sure Randolph or Gay or even Gasol can consistently be that one star player.
I do think Dwane can build a pretty good team out of a group of solid players but how many times in the last season did we see a crying need late in close games for that one guy? A dozen? At least.
Q: Who is the greatest Yankee of this generation - Jeter or Rivera?
I'll take Rivera.
John B, Oakville
A: So will I, but Jeter’s career isn’t quite over yet.
Q: When is the amnesty period for teams to buy out a player on their roster? Can players be amnestied any time after July 1 and before the regular season starts? Also, across the league, who do you see as potential amnesty candidates? Thanks, Doug!
Jay T, Toronto
A: I was going to ask my bosses but figured some of ‘em might not know and wonder if I wanted amnesty. And I don’t, in case they’re reading.
Yes, the reading of the rule says any time before the start of the regular season each year between now and the start of the 2015-16 season.
Not sure of names for this summer but I do think you’ll see more since the teams have had a year to figure future financial situations out but remember teams can only use it once; which mean the Knicks cannot get out from under Amar’e Stoudemire and the Magic have already used theirs.
With the more punitive, escalating tax system coming, some teams will be looking for a financial breather.
Q: Hello, Doug! Musically speaking, there was very little common ground between my daughters: one was Mariah Carey, another Missy Elliot and the youngest totally Tori Amos. With the exception of one group: The Beastie Boys. And because it meant peace and harmony, this was the music that we listened to on the car CD player (obviously these were the olden days before the invention of iPods) on family road trips. Mile after mile. Over and over. Year after year.
And as a result, if asked, I could recite for you all the words to all the tracks on Licensed to Ill, Ill Communication and Hello Nasty. And while processing the sad news of Adam Yauch's death (and fondly recalling all those roadtrips) I started to think about musical meeting grounds. And it struck me that I don't think my sisters and I ever achieved a musical consensus. Our tastes were quite diverse - think Bach, The Beach Boys, Black Sabbath - so our long family road trips were made even longer by my dad controlling the music and that music being the somnolent stylings of Mantovani. Ugh. Yawn. Groan.
Anyway, how about you, Doug? Did you and your siblings have similar tastes in music? Or were your family road trips played out to a sleep-inducing (Hey! Maybe that was dear old Dad's goal?!) soundtrack of Mantovani, too? Thanks!
Lorie P, London
A: We didn’t, actually. Maybe it has to do with years between us but we all kind of went our separate ways and music wasn’t an integral part of the growing up process.
And Super Brother, six years my junior, was far more hip than I.
Q: Doug, I wonder if the demographics of fans is changing. I look at my kids and they don't seem to be fans like I was when younger. Many things have changed but the newer fans don't seem to have the loyalty older fans had. Newer fans seem more interested when playoffs come alive.
My question, is my interpretation of a newer fan correct, IYO? And, how might that impact professional leagues going forward? Do leagues shorten the season and schedule more playoffs? And what professional league is more likely to change in order to remain relevant.
As always, thanks for your efforts.
Steph R, Glencoe
A: I think it’s hard for kids to develop affinities for teams with so many players moving so often; I remember back in the day you became a fan of a team because either you knew all the players or your dad was a fan. And there are so many other things for kids now, video games, other sports, video games, school, video games, social media, video games, that it’s tough to get them and capture them.
But I do think basketball, more than the other sports, is using multi-media and social media and the video component quite well.
And here’s what I’ve found in arenas: The ticket prices are so high that most audiences are populated by fans who got tickets from the company or a friend and it’s impossible for regular folk to afford more than a game or two a year; that has to be a huge factor in the overall support of a franchise.
I’m not sure how it changes, actually; I think it’s only going to get worse, where you have far more “casual” fans than “hard core” ones and leagues can only hope to reach people in ways that don’t include forcing them to pay too much money to actually go to games.
Q: Because I live out here and only see Jerryd Bayliss on TV, I just don't get the hype on him. I understand what is said, but fear he may be one of those players (Hello Odem) who end up chronically injured. Should the Raps sign him? Why or why not?
P.S. Steve Nash would look great in a Raps uniform.
Beverly G, Vancouver
A: Actually, Jerryd’s been pretty durable throughout his – still young – career, I definitely cut him some slack on the “chronically injured” thing. And I think he’s got a role in the NBA on good teams as a solid combo guard off the bench so, yeah, I can see a place for him here. Now, if they have to put him in a deal for cap purposes, it’d be tough but they’d have to do it.
Q: Hey Doug: You no doubt have attended many events in your lifetime. Has there ever been an event (sports or not) that you attended (as a grunt or not) that did not live up to its hype?
Thanks for all of your hard work - it is appreciated!
Tim H, Windsor
A: Well, I’ve never covered a Super Bowl but many of my colleagues would probably put that at the top of their list.
Now, if you know me, I’m quite capable of having fun pretty much anywhere but in my career, the one that stands out are the 1996 Atlanta Olympics. Logistical horror, the people of the city were quite detached from the event and there was the whole bomb thing. That’d be at the very top of my list.
And I can’t think of anything that would be a close second.
Q: Hi Doug. Raptors' history question. I never understood why the Raps drafted Antawn Jamison 4th, and then traded him for Vince Carter who was drafted 5th. Why couldn't the Raps have simply drafted Vince, and leave Jamison on the board to be chosen 5th? Was there a financial savings? Was it really worth it? It seems odd.
Peter L, Toronto
A: They could have, they probably did a bit of bait and switch with the Warriors, who I’m told wanted Jamison. Raps played coy and finally “relented” by telling Golden State they’d take Jamison for them as along as the Warriors took Carter for them.
There was some minor financial savings – the difference in first-year salaries, which also included a difference in subsequent contracts – and I guess if there was any money saved, it was worth it to some degree.
Q: Is James Harden deserving (relatively) of a max contract? Should the Raptors try to sign him to a max deal? Thanks.
Mike K, Halifax
A: No, he isn’t. So, no, they shouldn’t. He’s a very good player and if someone in Oklahoma suffers some kind of episode and lets him go they should definitely take a shot at getting him. Max money? Not on any NBA payroll I’m in charge of.
Q: Hi. I believe the Raptors next order of business is draft related.
Would you please comment on when they might start signing free agents? Have you heard any names they are interested in?
Dave B, Portage
A: The free agent negotiating period begins July 1, contracts can be officially signed July 11; and I have no clue about names yet since we’re not past (a) the draft and (b) the time when players who have contracts outs have to exercise them so we’re not exactly sure who’s available.
I know everyone wants answers now but there are none and won’t be any for a couple of months.
Q: Hi Doug. Last year when Val was drafted expectations in the short term were low. I can't remember the specific comments but it seemed as if BC and Dwane were both suggesting Val was not the immediate answer at 5 for the Raps. If I remember correctly I think Dwane went as far as saying they still needed a Tyson Chandler type of player to fill the 5 position unil Val is ready.
In a recent interview Dwane suggested Val could fight for starting spot this year.
Do you think Val will be an impact player in his first season or two? If no what sort of time line do you project?
Has something changed in Valencuinas's game that suggests he is more ready than initially projected?
Jeffrey M, Saint John
A: Impact player? No. I think he’ll be a pretty good player for a 20-year-old. And I can’t guess as to his progression.
But as for what’s changed, Valanciunas is a year older, a year more mature both physically and emotionally and has spent a season – and will spend a summer – playing against men. He’s better because of the experienced he gleaned.
I have been told – and this comes from people with no connection to the Raptors – that he could be very good but there are few rookies who are very good right away. Good? Yes. Very good? Not so often.
Q: Hey Doug. Who are the top two or three free agents this summer and will the Raptors go after any/all of them? Also, are they thinking of packaging their lottery pick with a player in order to trade for a stud? What do you think?
Jon W, Toronto
A: Since all the free agents haven’t declared yet, it’s rather tough to tell but it looks like an underwhelming group led, probably, by Deron Williams, Steve Nash, Gerald Wallace, Ersan Ilysasova, Eric Gordon and a bunch of guys. And since the Raptors may have substantial money to spend, I hope they have some interest in them. As for trading the pick, let’s wait ‘til after the lottery and see where they are, okay? I do think they should explore trade options if they aren’t picking No. 1.
Q: Doug. Who draws more attention in the off-season, former Raptors V. Carter or A. Jamison? And for yuks, throw in T. McGrady. And NO, I'm not asking about Raptor interest, just general league-wide interest.
Gary M, Brampton
A: Probably Jamison but all three are done, in my opinion.
Q: Doug. Early in the season, just before Bargnani's first injury, I asked a question about his possible inclusion in the Most Improved Player contention. As a throwaway at the end, I then joked whether the voters would just vote for whoever had the biggest PPG increase. You took umbrage. I certainly could have worded the question better, since it lead to the focus of the answer being on defending the voters rather than addressing whether Bargnani's defensive improvements were MIP-worthy. But in the harsh glare of subsequent results, maybe I wasn't so far off in my jocularity after all.
Ryan Anderson won the award with what amounts to a slight uptick in per-minute performance thanks to a substantial increase in playing time. Do you feel the writers did do the due diligence you expected they would when defending them early in the season? (I'll leave aside the reported first-place vote allegedly cast for Andrew Bogut)
Gary M, Brampton
A: You might not have been far off in the minds of some voters but I’d hope most of us looked at other factors, as well. I know I did. Those factors included overall impact on the team, the increased skill at other things rather than just scoring and, had things progressed for the final 45 games as they did for the first 20 or so, I’m sure there would have been some interest in Andrea, but we’ll never know.
And I did see that vote for Andrew Bogut and was aghast. The only thing I can possibly think of, and I truly hope that I’m right, as that the voter had a brain cramp when he was meaning to type Andrew Bynum. Surely that has to be it, doesn’t it?