The start of the weekend mail
Home, sweet home.
Anyway, Mighty Red Tigers practice this morning and then some quick work to do but if you want to get into tomorrow’s mailbag, it looks like there’s room so you know the drill.
Other than that, enjoy this.
Q: Doug, I just spent the weekend in Seattle watching my first WNBA game. It was a great experience in a city that really seems to know their basketball. I know they would like to get a team back there, in your opinion, what are the chances? Would another team have to fold?
Tamara S, Halifax
A: You were in Seattle? Totally jealous. Did you get to The Kells and Metropolitan Grill? And it’s a great basketball city, I’m sure the Storm draw well, wish I could see a game.
Anyway, the issue in Seattle for the NBA is very clear cut: They need to build an arena – and there are relatively firm plans – and then hope ownership there can find a team to purchase and relocate because there is no expansion anywhere near the horizon in the NBA. Attention is, of course, focused on the long-term feasibility of Sacramento and, perhaps, Charlotte and Milwaukee but you’re looking at least three or four years down the line, I’d guess.
Q: Doug. When a game story is really tight for deadline (for example, Jays-Brewers earlier in the week) do you guys always have back-up stories prepared (say a piece on a certain player) to put into the spot where the game story would be?
Isaac O, Thornhill
A: It’s all about planning and for games like that one – in all sports – that start at 8 p.m. or later, we’re always ready with something just in case. It’s why you might have heard me refer to “pluggers”, which are stories used to “plug the hole” where the game story would go. The challenge is to write something that won’t be superseded by something that happens in the game because despite the time we file it, most people will know who won by the time they get around to reading it. That’s hard part.
Q: Hey Doug, thanks for the diligent work. It is much appreciated by us fans. I got to see my first ACC basketball game this year and came away with the same feeling you've expressed- that was way over the top. They play music WHILE the game is going on! That's ridiculous. Why not just employ the Globetrotters full-time if you're not interested in basketball.
With that out of the way, I was perusing the draft history of the last few years. It seems like players drafted last year and the year before made minimal impacts (excluding the 'superstar' top picks). But in the 2009 picks I can find many of the younger contributors I recognize as the better players on their teams. What do you think is the typical time-line for players to maximize their talents within the team? Is it the 3-4 years my brief research suggests? Is it longer? The draft seems overblown if you're not picking #1- the odds of getting someone to come in and play at a high level right away are very slim, even for the Raps at 8.
H P, Oshawa
A: There are, of course, exceptions to the rule, but I’d say it’s generally in their third season that players “get it” and teams know what they actually have. Except for all but the top picks, the first season is a whirlwind dealing with the mere act of being a professional, to say nothing of the startling change in the calibre of play, and the second season is basically more getting used to the NBA game.
And the draft is in many ways overblown if you’re not in the top one or two spots; it’s just part of the process of building a team and it’s rare that you get lucky with a mid-lottery or late-first rounder who makes an immediate impact.
Q: I'm curious about the promises that teams are supposed to give to players before their draft. Quite a few sources have reported that Waiters got a promise from a lottery team and most suspect Phoenix at #13. Why would a team ever give a promise to a player? In this example, it would seem to me that if someone wanted Waiters bad enough they could trade up to #12. Obviously the player and agent are happy but i fail to see what benefit a team gets from giving a promise. Are these guarantees or are you aware of teams reneging on these agreements?
Paul P, Port Hawkesbury, N.S.
A: It makes no sense to me, either, to tell you the truth. I guess the reason is to keep that player from being seen by other teams, as well as being examined physically and psychologically.
In the Waiters case – and it is Phoenix – no other team has had a chance to let its medical people take a look at him and by withdrawing from the combine when he did, even the league physicians couldn’t offer a report.
But while I don’t have any first-hand knowledge of a team reneging, the possibility exists because there can be nothing in writing between a draft eligible player and a franchise; I just haven’t ever heard of it happening.
Q: Hi Doug. In football (or soccer) sometimes teams have had a player/manager in the past. My question is, has this ever or could this ever happen in basketball? Or any other American sport for that matter?
What current active basketball player would be the best player/coach? I'm thinking Derek Fisher.
Chaz E, London
A: Oh yeah, it’s happened quite frequently in the NBA, although not for many years as the demands on both players and coaches have grown. I’d guess the most famous basketball guys would be Bill Russell and Lenny Wilkens, who were accomplished player-coaches at the ends of their careers.
Over the course of time there might have been 75 or 100 in baseball, I guess the most famous player-manger might have been Rogers Hornsby; don’t know of any in the pucks or football.
Not sure any player could handle the double-duty right now, there are just too many demands away from the court. Even Fisher’s a stretch and, besides, I can’t imagine any player wanting to.
Q: Hi Doug. Quick question regarding free agent signings and NBA rules. If a player like Steve Nash signs with the Raptors, would Toronto be obligated to do a sign and trade with Phoenix to allow the deal to go through or can they simply sign him outright? If a sign and trade is necessary and Nash signs a $10 million/year deal, does Toronto have to send back $10 million dollars worth of contracts to Phoenix?
Joe D, Mississauga
A: Oh, no. Toronto has the cap space to make an offer outright if they want to. In fact, Nash is an unrestricted free agent so it’s a moot point.
Q: Hey Doug. A partially Euro2012-inspired question here. In the past, you have expressed your disinterest with the "draw". Why is that? Is it mainly for 0-0 (yawn) scorelines? Or do you believe that every game must have a winner?
In some ways, I find it strange that we have to, in the rules, force players and coaches to determine a winner. In this way, I actually very much like the way that football (soccer) awards points during competition (3 for a win, 1 for a draw). This puts a heavy emphasis on winning but does not force players or coaches into action. Wouldn't this give us a better idea of who a real champion is? Or who has the best heart? I'd much rather see a team playing for the win than playing for overtime - we can save these for the playoffs. And wouldn't this make meeting deadlines easier for you?
Felix T, Loughbrough
A: I believe the essence of sports is competition and by its very nature it needs to have a winner and a loser. I understand the issues of time and TV, etc., that mandate ties in regular seasons but it doesn’t mean I have to like it.
And what I truly hate: Penalty kicks determining the winner of significant international soccer games; it’s ridiculous to me, play until there’s a goal and I don’t care if the players get tired playing 150 minutes rather than 90, it’s how games should be decided at that level.
And because I mainly cover a sport that doesn’t rely on points to determine standings, I haven’t given a lot of thought to the 3-1 split. But I do know I don’t think you should reward losing and that’s why I don’t like the three-point hockey game where an overtime loser gets a point.
Q: Hi Doug. With the draft fast approaching I thought it would be timely to ask about whether there is an unofficial code of ethics that GMs abide by. For example, let's take the following hypothetical scenario:
Toronto and Detroit are picking 8th and 9th respectively in this year's draft
It is well known that Detroit is very high on a specific player, let's call him Player X.
It is also well known that Toronto has no real interest in Player X, having instead targeted Player Y.
By the time the 8th pick rolls around, Player X and Player Y are still on the board.
In the above situation, what if anything prevents Brian from calling Joe Dumars and letting him know that, if Detroit wants Player X, the price is Player Y (whom Detroit would draft with the 9th pick) and some other piece (e.g. a future draft pick)? Would this example violate some sort of unwritten code amongst GMs, or at the very least cause Joe Dumars to ignore his telephone the next time Brian called? Are there lines that GMs won't cross or is the mentality that you have to "win at all costs", so to speak?
Serge P, Ottawa
A: No, there’s nothing to prevent it and it’s happened in the past but if you’re Bryan, you better be darn sure the Player X is Detroit’s guy and you’re not likely to get the absolute truth when you ask. It’s part of the disinformation campaign and subterfuge that goes on at this time of year.
But nothing ventured, nothing gained so go ahead and make the call.
Q: Doug. One or both of the Raptors picks in the second round of the draft will probably be likely headed to (or staying in) Europe come fall.
Discounting Sonny Weems, is there any appetite to bring in any current free agent Euros? Have a sneaky suspicion that Alexy Schved might actually be a backup SG worth considering. Don't think Mirza Teletovic is a fit in Toronto, although he can certainly shoot. There are other good quality players over there.
So, what is the current Raptor braintrust's feelings about mining the experienced Euro market? We know they like them big and young.
Lastly, given past reports of a reluctance on the part of both parties to see Weems back in Toronto, how long before he ceases being a Toronto asset on paper? Thanks,
Gary M, Brampton
A: Sorry but I have absolutely no idea about possible European picks with the 37th and 56th choices; and I don’t know that I will ever. I have been led to believe they think they might get a guy who can make the roster at 37, though.
And I believe, like most NBA talent evaluators, the Raptors feel the Euro market has pretty much been picked clean, it’s in a down cycle and there are far more suspects than prospects right now.
As for Weems, as long as the Raptors keep making qualifying offers, they retain his rights forever; I would presume he’d be off the books in July, though. I think some team will make an offer to Toronto that makes it easy to get something for him or lets him go on his way.
Q: Hey Doug. I have been watching the post workout interviews with the potential draftees... Is that a word?... and I am somewhat surprised by the vast differences in the draftees' comfort with the interview process, articulation and novelty in expressing their opinions. I was wondering if you had a chance to draft solely based on whose media interaction will make your job easier, of the draftees you have seen so far, who would make your short list? With the same parameters in mind are there draftee interviews that would be more useful if the draftee were replaced by a speak and spell?
Rob N, London
A: Austin Rivers, Harrison Barnes, Damian Lillard of the couple of dozen kids I’ve talked to would be one, two, three but I am sure there are more.
And, yes, there is a vast difference in them; with some you’d kind of like them to be replaced by cliché-spewing tape recording so you could fast forward to the end.
Q: Hi Doug. When the clock was ticking away on the back-end of the 4th quarter, Lebron was on the bench, as was Wade and Bosh. The crowd and the players were rocking out to some tribal Caribbean song and the whole scene had a European soccer feeling. Too bad North American sports can't be like that more often.
Question, do you know (or can you find out) what song everyone was warbling?
Colin K, Ann Arbor
A: I wish I knew and I’m out of Miami so I’m not sure I’ll ever find out. Plus, I doubt I would have heard of it anyway so people could tell me anything. It was pretty cool, though.
Q: Doug. I think that there was no doubt that the Heat win in the final series was all about LBJ and a supporting staff that was good when it needed to be rather than "the Big three" and a supporting cast. I think the elephant in the room is the Lebron took leadership of this team from D-Wade. Where he seem to defer to him in the past he took the team on as "his team".
My question is do you think if Lebron was playing at this calibre when the Cavs reached the finals, do you think the Cavs would have won? I think that Bosh, Wade, Miller, Chalmers etc were not that much different than Williams, Parker, Verajao etc.?
A T, Niagara Falls
A: No, I don’t. Wade and Bosh were Hall of Famers compared to James’s supporting cast in Cleveland. Plus, that San Antonio team was pretty darn good.
And if you put this LeBron on that Cavs team and this LeBron on this Heat team, Miami wins by 100.