I have an awful lot of writing to do today – please check back this evening or tomorrow to see the fruits of my labour – but this is here for you now and there’s a lot left over for the morning.
Still a chance to get in on some of the fun, you know the drill.
Q: Garbo, along with Charles Oakley (and starting cheerleader Chuck Swirsky) remain my favourite Raptors of all time because of their blue collar style. They competed, played hard and played the right way. I felt when Garbo was dismissed, his departure took a lot of the heart out of Jose's game for a couple of years too. Did that freakish injury diminish his skills that much, because I always felt he was run out of town for opting to play in the World Championshups that year.
Andrew W, Brantford
A: In the eyes of the Raptors and their medical people, the injury did; I kind of dispute that because he went on to play a handful of more years in Europe and it’s not like his game was predicated on jaw-slackening athleticism anyway.
But it was certainly a factor in Toronto deciding to cut ties with him, rightly or wrongly.
Q: If teams can't talk to potential free agents until July 1, how come there are so many "Player X has narrowed it down to 3 teams" articles floating around?
Are reporters making stuff up? Are GMs/agents breaking the rules?
Where do these stories come from?
Lee B, Kitchener
A: I think sometimes too many reporters extrapolate their own thoughts to come up with such information but remember this: There are no gag orders on agents and if they want to let people know what their clients thoughts are, they are quite free to do it. And often do, just to get a message out.
Q: Hi Doug: I'm sure you had a chance to read Steve Kerr's article on Grantland a while back about forcing players to college before the NBA, and one of the things he mentioned was marketability. Isn't Anthony Davis the poster child for why you would want players in college before going pro? I can't imagine many people would 'Fear the Brow' much, or at all, if Davis hadn't gone to Kentucky.
Thomas T, Antigonish
A: It was a very good point that Kerr made in that piece on that matter. Yes, the NBA does want players coming into the league who are familiar faces to the fans but it’s only part of the reason the league wants them in school for at least one and hopefully two years. Social skills development, along with physical development, would be the top of that list.
But if the league can piggyback on the marketing efforts and on-court success of the bigger programs, all the better.
Q: Hi Doug. I can actually be happy for the Heat players at this point, but I am a little tired about Spoelstra talking often about how the players who came together had to sacrifice. I think he needs to look up that word in the dictionary. A doctor who leaves his practice to do a stint of doctors without borders or parents who re-mortgage their house to pay for their kids university...those are sacrifices. All of the players who went to Miami made their choices from many excellent options.
Martin J, Toronto
A: Sure, athletes and coaches and reporters are terribly guilty of hyperbole or wrong descriptions. Terms and word like “warrior” and “hero” and “going to war” are thrown around willy-nilly and should be avoided at all cost. I’m not sure “sacrifice” would top that list but it’d be on it somewhere I guess.
Q: Doug. Sorry for the lateness of this question, even though I'm sending it to you more than two days before the draft. Unfortunately, you won't be able to answer it until AFTER the draft and the flurry of trades that will surely accompany it. Honest, I DID think of this last week. Tardy fingers.
At any rate, the question is about the effect of a player doing really, really well against 'your' team and therefore you developing a higher opinion of him than some others might have. Amongst noted Raptor-killers are Kobe Bryant (not available), Paul Millsap (if available, not a fit) and Rudy Gay (said to be very available, if you can stomach the sticker shock in talent/draft picks and at the pay window). On the other hand, most Raptor fans are mystified at the Irving fellow winning the rookie award, if all you had to go off of, was just his performances against the men in red.
Two things that will get a fella fired from a management job as fast as anything, but 'potential,' is rewarding a hot playoff performance (say, what's Yogi Stewart doing these days?) and obtaining the guy that always, always "plays lights out against us." Does Gay fit into that category based on his two buzzer-beaters against us last season? Or are there enough red flags over his injury and motivational history to give Raptor brass caution?
Gary M, Brampton
A: Not sure it’s the injuries or motivational history more so than the sticker shock and long-term impact of the money that’s the biggest issue but you do bring up an excellent point about falling in love with guys who beat you and guys who are coming off hot playoffs.
The tendency here is to remember mostly specific games and that’s dangerous and why a guy like Jay – who spent the majority of last season on the road scouting NBA games for potential free agents and seeing them in different environments – is so important. And it’s not only seeing games, it’s talking to teammates and coaches to find out what the guy is really like. It’s hugely important and I think an area in which the Raptors have been lacking in the past.
As for that theory about good playoffs being wrongly rewarded, I give you two words and two words only: