The end of the weekend mail
Hey. Sorry I’m a bit late but the stone crabs were delicious and it was a great night with old friends.
Anyway, have at this, I’ve got a fair amount of writing to do and we’re back about 8 p.m. for the usual hilarity of the IGBT.
And thanks for the Miami recommendations, with off-nights Monday and Wednesday, I’ll be taking advantage of them.
Q: Hey Doug: You asked for questions, I got questions.
Which current NBA team would you like to coach?
For which current NBA team would you like to be GM?
Thanks for all you do - it is appreciated!
Tim H, Windsor
A: I guess the easier answer is you’d want to coach the Thunder because it’s a good young group that should be together for a while and it’s already successful. But I also put the Clippers a close second if not tied for first for the same reason.
GM? Well, Portland’s got some nice pieces, a couple of pretty good draft picks later this month and it’s a great city.
Q: Hello Doug. Because we all remember things in different ways and those memories are often a mixture of facts and opinions (both of which are important to telling a story) I've found the recent oral histories of The Malice At The Palace and The Dream Team illuminating reading. Telling a story that's crafted solely by interviewing people strikes me as being an interesting - albeit lengthy - process.
So with that in mind Doug, if you were to start right now (OK, OK - when you get back from doing that Olympic stuff) creating the definitive oral history of our HOTH as part of their Glorious 20th Anniversary Celebrations, whose thoughts and memories would you want to include? And assuming you'd want shared the story of others like you who've been there from the very beginning, how adept are you at translating from "Chicken"? Thank you.
Lorie P, London
A: Whose thoughts? Man, I bet I could come up with a list of 100 and even I don’t have that kind of time. It’d be the usual suspects – Isiah, Glen, Butch, Vince, Camby, Oak, Bosh, AD, Bryan, Sam, Jay chief among them – but the people behind the scenes like office workers who’ve been around since Day 1, equipment guys and travel co-ordinators, scouts and maybe people who’ve written about the team for a while are the kind of sources who make those stories better.
And, yes, The Chicken and I have developed a way to communicate over the years so he/she/it would be there for sure.
Q: Does your gut tell you that Erik Spoelstra will lose his job if the Heat don't win the championship this year?
And if you were the Bobcats GM right now, which player would you draft with the 2nd pick?
Mario A, Toronto
A: My gut? Yeah, I think there’s a better than 50-50 chance he gets let go if they don’t win, as unfair as they may be. But, I do know Pat Riley still thinks highly of him and he might let him go a third year.
I’m kind of guessing on the Bobcats true needs – I’m not all that close to the team – but I’d sure think Harrison Barnes would be a darn good fit, or maybe Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. It’d be one or the other right now, I’d lean towards Barnes.
But that’s just me.
Charlotte’s awful small and the Robinson kid’s a gamble but maybe worth it.
Q: With the baseball and soccer season upon us, I am amazed at how boring these sports are to watch on television. Even worse than hockey!
Give us your list of most boring to most exciting sports to watch.
Graham V, Vancouver
A: Here’s the thing: I don’t watch boring sports. And that’s why I won’t even stop clicking through the channels if I see, say, auto racing or curling or poker (right, not a sport, sorry) or darts. Top down on the best ones: Basketball, baseball, high level soccer, football, the pucks.
Q: Do you think the Raptors will go after Nicolas Batum in the free agent market? He's a 6'8" Forward/Guard who averaged 13.9 points and 4.8 rebounds for Portland, and is supposed to be good defensively. He would seem to meet the Raptors' needs and could play alongside DeRozan since they have different strengths.
Elliot M, Richmond Hill
A: I’m not sure “go after” is the right phrase but I am sure that if they still feel they have a hole at small forward after the draft, they’d explore a possible free agent signing. But I don’t think he’d be at the top of a list, I’d probably have guys like Ilyasova and maybe Gerald Wallace ahead of him.
Q: Please make a fearless prediction: What happens first: Seattle gets their NBA team back with a NHL team to share the stadium costs or Quebec City gets their NHL team back.
Kevin F, Hillsburgh
A: I’m not sure but I do know this: Seattle is not at all interested in an NHL team, it’s a basketball market and that’s why they are considering a new building; there are no plans to share it.
But, given the financial woes of, what, have a dozen pucks teams if you believe the reports, I’d take Quebec in that pool.
Q: Greetings, regarding the seemingly non-existent "fun" aspect of the Miami's. Perhaps what you have touched upon is also representative of how difficult it is to "make" a Championship team in any sport, at any level. Previously you mentioned the Dream Team and how once in a lifetime kind of circumstance that was. Maybe we are also seeing that one can't make/buy/steal that magic intangible that can take a team to the highest level. Kind of like planning a party, all the preparations and invites cannot necessarily guarantee a great time for all, they can only set the stage and the final outcome rests in the hands of fate. Some may argue that it is luck that provides this boost, don't know that I agree with that totally, but there is some hard to define force that can take over and guide certain things.
Agree, disagree, perhaps an angle I am missing?
Anyways, thanks for what you do.
Doug T, Brantford
A: I think it’s called chemistry, really. If you find a group of solid citizens who get along with each other – and have a modicum of talent – it’s easier to build a successful team. You look at a group like the good Detroit team of the mid-2000s; yes, there were some citizenship issues, but that team got along and played for each other, much the way this Oklahoma City team does. It goes to finding the right “mix” of personalities and it’s not that easy at all.
It’s probably a bit of luck, along with some hard work finding out about the personalities of people you want to add.
Q: Not a Raptors questions Doug, but a question about your summer reading list and perhaps, your recommended sports reading list for the summer.
Me: I'm reading Pafko at the Wall, by Don Delillo. It is amazing so far: Dodgers-Giants (the most famous game), Soviet nuclear testing, and Frank Sinatra, Jackie Gleason and J Edgar Hoover all at the game.
Jay P, Owen Sound
A: I’m sure we’ll get more into this in the daily offerings sometime for sure but right off the bat, the one we have to read this summer if Jack McCallum’s tome on the Dream Team; it’s out early in July.
That’d be top of the list.
And I haven’t read Pafko at the Wall but if you want Delillo and sports, you have to read at least the opening passage of Underworld; it paints an incredible picture.
Q: Hi Doug. Two questions regarding the Heat:
Do you think that winning a championship will help Lebron in the sense that less people will hope he and the Heat fails.
What is the biggest difference between the 2006 NBA MVP DWade and the 2012 DWade?
Thanks as always
Monty M, Toronto
A: Rightly or wrongly (I personally think wrongly) I’m not sure one championship will change too many people’s minds on James and the same number of fans who dislike him will want him to fail whenever he plays for a title.
Wade? I think you hit the nail on the head: The biggest difference is 2006 to 2012; that’s six years of long seasons, Olympic and world championship obligations and the toll on the body is incredible. I’m not sure he has the same level of athleticism he had – he does in spurts but not as often – but you can chalk it up physical wear and tear.
Q: In the pre-game show last night (Tuesday), the announcers, (not sure which one) said "we are in OKC where they have some of the loudest and most loyal fans in the NBA..."
After I threw up in my mouth a bit when I heard the word "Loyal" in reference to a fan base that only endured a single "rebuilding" year.
I'm wondering if you could give me a list of the loudest fans in the NBA and/or the loudest games you have ever personally been at.
Also, I'm wondering what you think the criteria should be for determining loyal fans, and which teams have the most loyal fans in the NBA.
Jeff M, Saint John
A: The loudest games I’ve ever been at have been in Utah (mainly for playoff games) and Portland and, without being too much of a homer, home playoff games in Toronto, although that’s faint and distant memory. Sacramento, back when the Kings were good and relevant, was a great spot.
As for loyal fans, I still put Portland at the top of that list, they fill the Rose Garden all the time. The criteria? It’d be total attendance and support without exception, you show up during good times and bad and cheer rather than rip.
Q: Doug, love the blog, read it every day.
First, can you give us an update on the Canadian Basketball League? What is happening on that front, is the league still alive? Are any teams joining or leaving?
Second, other than tying his shoes together, how can the heat effectively guard that Durant guy?
David M, Petawawa
A: The National Basketball League of Canada is kind of slow right now, the last time I talked to anyone connected with it there were in the process of doing the usual off-season stuff, putting sponsorships and the like in place for next season and trying to figure out how to make the league better. Not sure where the expansion plans stand, it’s probably time for another check to see what’s up.
Durant? Dude’s a three-time NBA scoring leader, you’re guess is as good as mine.
Q: OK Doug, you're the Raptors GM. What are YOU doing at the draft? Are you moving heaven and earth to trade the 8 pick as part of a package for a proven wing player? Or are you keeping the pick, since this draft is the deepest we've seen in a while? Which scenario do you think benefits the team most?
Chris A, Bowmanville
A: I’m not moving heaven and earth, that’s for sure, but I am asking around. But if I can’t a good 28-year-old (or something close to that) with a contract I can handle, I’d be okay with taking the pick. It wouldn’t be my first choice but often we don’t get our first choices.
Now, I’m also going to debate “deepest we’ve seen in a while.” It is an okay draft according the scouts I’ve talked to. Davis is a stud, there are some gambles like Robinson but right now – and it’s entire guesswork, really – it’s a draft of one big name and a bunch of guys who are basically the same.
In my opinion, with a 20-year-old coming already and a young roster, I think the scenario that best suits these guys is to get an established player instead of another teenager. But, as I said, we don’t always get our best scenarios.
Q: Hi Doug. I have a question about contract offers and amnesty clause. I'm wondering in the situation of a restricted free agent if a team can sign a player to an offer sheet with the expectation that if the deal goes through they will amnesty a player to get the required funds to pay the contract.
For example if a team only has 10 mil to spend in FA, can they offer a 15 mil contract to a restricted free agent with the understanding that if the other team fails to match they will amnesty a player to make it work or would the them with 10 mil to spend have to amnesty a player before making an offer.
Jeff M, Saint John
A: No, they would have to have the money “available” in any contract offer. They’d have to do any amnesty deal before to clear the space and hope things worked out.
The offer sheet has to meet the requirements of the CBA, making a financial offer you can’t fulfill wouldn’t do that.
Q: I have been reading your blog for many a year now. I have just recently moved to Toronto, and was talking to some rabid Jays fans about "Hobbs" and simply got the deer in headlights reply. Is this nickname (I believe for Brett Lawrie) exclusively used here? Can I get the full backstory on the nickname, so when it gets brought up I can get folks up to speed?
Was a beautiful day at the Skydome yesterday, even with all the silly aquarium construction!
Kyle G, Toronto
A: Hobbs is pretty much just a nickname he’s got here and I take full credit for it. The backstory is pretty basic, too; I was covering baseball an awful lot last summer, including when he made his debut in Baltimore, I was the ‘Dome when he hit his first grand slam and I just started calling him Hobbs.
Guess it didn’t resonate with your Blue Jays fan buddies; they should read here more often, I guess.
Q: I’m wondering about Jerryd Bayless. Nearing the end of the season, it looked to me like his game was starting to possibly evolve, the way it will for some players who’ve been in the league for a few years and who are yet to hit their peak or find their niche, especially for those who are still only 23 yrs old. With his obvious speed - albeit, sometimes (up to now) out of control - and his shot which at times can be deadly for stretches, isn’t he a perfect candidate for a very effective sixth man type of role? I’ve had plenty of moments when I’ve thought that ‘this is who he is’ in not-a-good way, but ... lately, I’ve been reconsidering all that and seriously wondering if we’ve yet to see how valuable he might really grow to be, moving forward. Any thoughts on this?
William G, Toronto
A: I think that role – scoring combo guard off the bench – suits him quite well; and I think the braintrust in Toronto thinks that, too, and I know Jerryd loves the city. But other factors come into it, too, like how much he’d have to be paid and for how long and what other opportunities are out there.
That said, of other opportunities aren’t there, I’d be fine with Bayless back in that role.
Q: Hi Doug. How does this Miami Heat team compare to the 2007 Cavaliers Lebron brought to the finals? I can't really remember that team too well, but it seems like then, as now, James needed a superhuman performance to advance to the finals. With Wade playing so-so, and Bosh hurt for much of the playoffs, James has had to carry an awfully heavy load this year, which is precisely what he was trying to avoid when he left Cleveland. It makes me wonder if maybe he couldn't have done just as well if he stayed in Cleveland and let that team retool.
Tim M, Kingston
A: This team is exponentially better than the one in Cleveland. I don’t think the likes of Larry Hughes, Drew Gooden, Damon Jones, an unproven Anderson Varejao and Sasha Pavlovic can hold a candle to Bosh, Wade and this group. Deeper, perhaps, but not nearly as good.
Q: I’m intrigued by the Nash to Raps talk. I'm wondering if Nash agrees to a deal with the Raps (let's say the 10 mil 3 year deal you suggested), does this spell the end for Jose via trade or amnesty? It seems odd to tie 20 mil up into one position.
Jeff M, Saint John
A: No, I don’t think it necessarily does at all, as a matter of fact. And since there’s only one year left on Jose’s deal, the fact he makes that number next year isn’t a big factor.
Q: Doug. A question about the Staples Center, which is home court to both the Lakers and the Clippers and of course, the now Stanley Cup winner LA Kings.
Do the Lakers and the Clippers have their own separate dressing rooms? I can't imagine Kobe's locker being used by Chris Paul, or vice versa, during their respective home games.
And is there a separate third locker room for a true Away team?
Gary D, Stouffille
A: They do have separate rooms, pretty much the same (the Laker one might be slightly bigger) and they are configured differently. And, yes, there is a tiny third locker room that visiting NBA teams use regardless of which Los Angeles team they are playing. Makes for a pretty rushed post-game period on the double-header days when one team’s moving out after a noon game and another is moving in for a 7:30 p.m. start.
Q: Hi Doug. As a lead up to the draft in the past, I have enjoyed watching NBA TV replay old draft nights just to see how well that worked out now that years have past. In the weeks leading up to the draft would you consider picking some past drafts and share how you would re-draft say the top 10?
Trevor B, Saskatoon
A: I’m not an awful big hindsight guy but maybe the week of the draft I can go through a few and come up with some do-overs. It would, of course, start with Oden-Durant.
Q: Hey Doug: This may be a tad long for the mailbag - maybe spread over three or four blogs might be better?
Would you kindly go through the 30 NBA cities, and tell us what food is a 'must-have' for you? Sort of a "Foods of the NBA" list. Might even be a good idea for s show on the Food Network - kind of like "Diners, Drive-ins and Dives"!
Thanks for your seemingly non-stop efforts to keep us informed and amused!
Tim H, Windsor
A: Ooh, good idea. Maybe I can find some slow days and do division-by-division; might a better thing for when the season’s on, though. Can you remind me closer to then? Thanks.
Q: Thoughts on Charlie V getting cut from the Dominican Olympic team for being out of shape? My first thought was, thank g-- I am not a Pistons fan. My second thought was, thanks Bryan.
Colin K, Ann Arbor
A: Think there’s some debate whether it was conditioning or not but I guess it’s too bad for the Dominican. And I must admit I wasn’t a bit Charlie guy even when he was in Toronto, nice fellow but not sure of his talent or commitment.