The start of the long weekend mail
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:
Q: Hi Doug. I was surprised at the changes in Indiana. Why do you suppose they are shaking up the management after such a strong season? Is it really as simple as Larry Bird's health?
Greg W, Ancaster
A: Reading my man Mike Wells and talking to a couple of people around here, it was just time. There were some vague references to health issues but mostly it was just the moment to go; he’d built it to a significant level, left it in great hands with Donnie Walsh and maybe a rest was in order.
Too bad, though, the league was better off when he was a part of it.
Q: Hi Doug. I heard BC make reference to someone with a high motor when describing potential draft picks. What does that mean? You may have defined it for us in the past.
Secondly, if the Raptors make a run for Steve Nash and are successful - will that mean they will move Jose Calderon?
Thanks as always
Monty M, Toronto
A: High motor is one of those hoary and nebulous clichés making the rounds at this time of year and I guess the easiest way to describe it is by saying the player in question is a hard-worker and consistent competitor, they don’t loaf when they think people aren’t looking, play hard on every play and don’t need a lot of outside motivation to get going.
On Nash, I don’t think it’s 100 per cent that Calderon has to go, with one year left on his contract it’s not like they’re tying up a lot of long-term money but if they need that salary to facilitate a second move, it may be necessary, as Bryan hinted on Friday. But it’s certainly not a certainty right now and I know the coaching staff would have no issues having both on the roster next season.
Q: Wouldn't it be nice to see Calderon come back next year as the back to up a better and more athletic starter?
Is there anyway the Raps can make this happen financially? If we can amnesty the contract for the final year but keep him? Or we have to give him up if amnesty?
If the Raps do that would we still have enough for the wing we covet?
Blake U, Fredericton
A: See above for a lot of your answers but to the financial part of it, the answer is now. They can’t “restructure” the contract and if they use the amnesty clause on him, he cannot return to Toronto until the term of that contract is up, meaning the 2013-14 season.
Q: Hello Doug hope you are enjoying the off season. A couple of questions for you.
Watching the draft and noticed the ESPN gents talking about the Raptors and how Jonas Valanciunas may not be playing this coming season. How is that they still think that when Jonas negotiated his buyout and according to BC will be 100% playing this coming season? If I'm wrong then oops.
During the draft each team has 5 minutes to make their selection always wondered what happens if they don't pick within that time. Do they forfeit the pick?
Follow up to question 2 has any team ever had ever had that happen?
As always Doug love the blog and the interaction you give us.
Ken L, Bath
A: Basic misinformation and lack of knowledge on Valanciunas, it’s 99.99999999999 per cent he’ll be here so I wouldn’t worry.
And, yes, if teams miss their timing mark they would forfeit the pick but it has not happened and I cannot imagine a scenario by which it would.
Q: Curious about your take on the Magic new GM. Hadn't heard his name before (no surprise there) but wondering what you may know about him.
Gerry T, Halifax
A: I don’t know an awful lot about Rob Hennigan, actually. I knew the name and that he was he was a valuable part of the Oklahoma City Thunder front office but other than that, not much.
But after talking to some people at the final and around Toronto, it looks like an awfully good choice, he was groomed in both San Antonio and OKC, moved to the Thunder to work with Sam Presti and since those are regarded as two of the very best organizations in the league, his pedigree would seem to be impeccable.
The league is filled with people like that, names you might not know but men who do excellent work behind the scenes.
Q: I'm not going to complain about the pick (you must be getting a ton of that), but to think they lost Barnes to the Warriors on a coin flip... that hurts.
Maxime B, Chambly
A: Sure it does, but nothing is linear. What if they had won the coin flip and then watched as say, the Warriors had won the lottery from the No. 8 spot. How would that have made everyone feel?
I’m going back to an old Oakism:
No sense crying over spilled milk, just go to the store and get some more.
Q: Hi Doug, Long time reader. Thanks for the opp at a question. Given it's draft day, we're all wondering about the next new Raptor, but I haven't heard much about Ed Davis recently. That is, how is his progress? Do you think he is developing well or not so much? Is he going to fulfill his potential or, again, not so much?
Thanks in advance and enjoy the draft ... beer. J
Augusto A, Bermuda
A: There really hasn’t been much news on Ed or any of the players because they haven’t been doing much other than simply working out since the season ended. Did see Ed at the draft and he says he’s doing fine but he’s about to enter an extremely important month in his development.
He’s going to play in the summer league as one of the focal points on the court, he’s going to have a lot of stuff run for him, he’s going to be asked to expand his game and that’s when we’ll know how his development is coming along.
Personally, I think he’s quite capable of handling it, he improved quite a bit near the end of last season and since this marks the first time he’s had a full summer league, training camp and pre-season, it’s a big year for him. But we can’t know for sure how he’s going to develop for at least four months.
Q: Hey Doug. Despite your downplaying of the draft, I find it a pretty exciting time. But even better, is free agency period, especially given Brian's penchant for making a big splash. All three questions below are related to free agency.
Who will be the starting center for the Raptors in November? Valanciunas, Bargnani, Grey, or a Free Agent?
Some writers have said DeRozan is a better fit at SF than SG. What do you think? Totally changes our free agency strategy.
Thanks for your hard work to keep us Raptors fans in the loop.
Graham V, Vancouver
A: Sorry, I’m not going to guess on the starting lineup until we have some clue what the team will look like and I know Dwane’s going into training camp with an open mind.
And you may know that I think – and so does the coaching staff – that positions are basically interchangeable in most circumstances. Whether we call them small forwards or shooting guards is, in most cases, a question of semantics so, yes, they can see DeRozan playing what you see as both and, no, it won’t have a major impact on what they do in free agency.
Q: Bonjour Doug. Thank you for your mock draft. Looking at any such exercise for this year, I am struck by the absence of European (or even just non-American) players. Have NBA franchises cooled down on foreign players or is it just a year like that?
Matthieu B, Bern
A: I talked to Maurizio about this and, for the first round at least, it was simply a matter of Europe being picked over and in a down period. It is cyclical, though, and it won’t be too long before there’s another few Europeans clouding the lottery part of the draft rather than being chosen late in the second round so they can be stashed at home for a year or two.
Q: Doug. I get a distinct feeling that nobody, The Raptors and the media in general believe that Bayless has a future in Toronto as a PG. True?
Anthony C, Newmarket
A: As a full time, starting NBA point guard? I think you’re right. Doesn’t really matter what the media thinks but I do believe the coaching staff here sees him more as a combo guard off the bench than someone you want running your team for 38 minutes a night. Still unsure – they and I – of his decision-making the screen-roll and his ability to manage a game and the other four players on the court.
Q: I agree that penalties are a stupid way to decide a winner although to be fair in this Euro tournament I think the two best teams (Italy & Spain) won. As odd as it was the NASL shootout was still a greater test of skill and would in my mind be preferable to penalties, barring that let them play, as you suggested, but remove a player from each team every 15 minutes, that way there is a more open field of play and managers are also put to the test.
Richard S, London
A: That’s still a bit of a bastardization of the game but I would highly prefer it to penalties so, yeah, I’m okay with it. I still say you just let ‘em play until someone scores.
Q: Hi Doug. Any chance the Raps would be looking at Grant Hill in Free Agency? Would love to see both Hill and Nash with the locals - level headed veterans and all.
Greg W, Ancaster
A: I guarantee he’s on the list, yes. Not at the top but he’s certainly someone they’ll look at. And should.
Q: Doug: Recently there was a highlite reel, that showed some of Vince’s explosive moves. I had forgotten just how amazing he really was. I think it's time to move on from the moniker....HWSNBN. Can you please encourage your posters to refer to him as simply Vince? I know, I know, he quit on the team, but he was a performer who should be named. Thanks.
Ken B, Matheson
A: I still think HWSNBN is kind of cute but I see your point. Not sure I’ll change forever but will use Vince more often.