The end of the weekend mail
Okay, this is way too long but have fun with it.
It’s Super Grandpa’s 84th birthday bash today, if something significant happens and I have to work, I’m going to be royally miffed.
Be back tonight some time to see what kind of day you’ve had.
Q: Doug: With tongue in cheek, I ask: Will the Raps fans rabidly cheer Nash, if and when the Lakers visit next year? He usually gets a great deal of applause for good but not spectacular plays. I hope that finally fans can get past the Canadian love affair.
Ken B, Matheson
A: Tongue in cheek, I will say this: Whenever the Lakers are in town, it seems there are more Lakers fans in the building than Raptors fans so I’m not sure there’ll be a difference.
In all seriousness I will say this and take the hits, as I’m sure I will on the days leading up to the game:
Ever since the NBA season ended, and even before now that I think of it, the message from Steve Nash was consistent.
He would take a look at all the offers in front of them, weigh them in a variety of different ways including, but not limited to, quality of life, teammates, city, chance to win, impact on his total life.
He did that, of that there can be no question and decided what he decided. Good for him. He told us what he’d do and did it and if you want honourable, that’s honourable.
I don’t see why anyone would have a problem with that, it’s not like he broke his word or even deviated from it one iota so to treat him differently this time when he’s in town from the other times he’s been in down would be, frankly, bush league and immature.
And I hope there are enough right-thinking people who agree with me that the fans don’t embarrass themselves.
Steve did what he said all along he would do and for that he deserves credit.
Q: Hey Doug. I was watching Prime Time Sports the other day and you were on it discussing the Landry Fields acquisition. When taking about Fields you mentioned he was very intelligent and how this was a positive.
Bob disagreed saying that his intelligence didn’t matter. However, I disagree. The league is littered with example of players who aren't the most athletic but because their intelligence they are able to make up for the physical shortcomings (Nash, Pau, etc).
On the other hand there are a plethora of players with amazing athleticism, that just can't seem to put it together (McGee, PJ Tucker, etc)
So with all that said: What do you think about the role of intelligence in basketball (or pro-sports)? Do you think it depends on position (ie pg's have to be smarter than C's)?
Rob H, St. John’s
A: I think intelligence is important but not the be all and end all.
And I’m not talking about book smarts, where you know Pythagorean’s Theory (A squared equals B squared plus C squared, if I recall) or this Higgs Boson thing (don’t ask what that is other than the God Particle, which is equally confusing).
What I’m talking about is the intelligence to process information quickly and correctly, having an analytical and inquisitive mind. About being able to process time and space quickly, to know time and score specifically and I don’t know that you can discount that.
It’s intelligence of a different vein and it’s terribly important.
No, the league isn’t populated by Ivy Leaguers or Stanford grads or dozens of others from the great academic colleges; it is dominated at the highest level, however, by smart people who have those attributes I just mentioned.
Q: Greetings, regarding Steve Nash angst specifically and angst in general. Not always immediately apparent is the distinction between sports as entertainment and sports as the pure pursuit of perfection (ie: winning, being the "best"). Realistically the expectation of perpetual dominance has to be more than a little misguided. Alternatively, being competitive, supports the concept of both the entertainment aspect of sport and, obviously the purer goal of the competition in the first place. Our HOTH were surprisingly competitive last season if one views the season game by game.
There has been mention of the "relevance" of the Raps, presumably based on their lack of on court results, however the strides necessary to build a contender appear to be happening.
So, finally the question, what truly could Bryan and the Henchmen really have done any differently than they have to get to this point? Bringing in Dwane has obviously paid dividends, whether they could win a championship with him is moot, in my opinion. Player and franchise development is still a few years away from being in a position where they are expected to win. And the supporting cast a few years hence may contain few of today's faces.
Thanks for what you do.
Doug T, Brantford
PS- Like a good IPA? try Muskoka Brewery's Mad Tom.
PSS- Looking forward to Downchild and Johnny Max at the Sanderson here in town a few weeks hence
A: I guess what they could have done differently – and this is Bryan rather than Dwane – is hit some home runs in transactions instead of bunt singles or pop ups.
They’ve tried a few things, none of worked spectacularly well, so I guess there’s not much more they could have done.
Now, Dwane’s a different case. What he has to do is transfer the development he got out of a team with no training camp, barely an exhibition season, an abbreviated regular season with precious little practice time to a team that’s ready to hit the ground running in September.
That’s where the progress is going to come.
PS: Had a Hop City ale last night while out with Stumpy and some friends; quite tasty.
Q: Hello Doug!. What a week, indeed! And that's only from my perspective. When the rumours, speculation, frenzy became too, too much at least I had the choice to shut down the computer, the phone and the all-sports-all-the-time radio shows and find some peace and pause on a patio with an adult bevie (or three) and watch the world pass me by. Not so for you, obviously, but at least your week included a beach volleyball gig. Which has got to be a pretty nice assignment! (It was women's beach volleyball, right???)
So, that brings me to (one of) my questions. And since so many of the questions, comments, whining and wailing lately have been so deeply and passionately felt, I'm going to keep this light and sort of silly, (which is pretty much my modus operandi, I guess) but still expecting an answer to which you've given your full concentration!
First, you mentioned today an article you wrote eons and eons ago about beach volleyball's initial Olympic exposure in Atlanta: do you have a link to the !_ article? It would be very cool to read! Was it when you were with The Star? Or did the Tillsonburg paper send you as its roving correspondent?
And second, lots and lots and LOTS of comments this week, and one of your commenter's comment commented (whew!) on the sheer number of them and wondered if it was maybe an all-time high? And you said that there'd been a fair number back in the TJ-Jose-PG-brouhaha (which oddly enough is when I started commenting, I think. No connection though I'm sure.) And for the first time I made use of the wonderful Archive feature on your blog page trying to discover when that record setting number of comments occurred. (Yes, I had a nice chunk of free time on my hands this week. And it was too hot to do much else.)
Anyway, wow! We are quite the prolifically opinionated, knowledgeable and even sometimes entertaining collection of people here, aren't we? And I only got as far back as Sam's firing...So, I'm wondering, Doug, (here's the question) have you ever - as I did this past week - had the inclination - and time - to take a stroll down your very own blog's Memory Lane?
The Raptor's complete story, I think - both the historical and hysterical - to be found there! Thank you!
Lorie P, London
A: I seldom look for a couple reasons:
One, I don’t need the aggravation (I keed, a little bit) and it’s rather time-consuming.
I have at times looked back at various blogs and stories to confirm things I’ve thought; that’s about the only time.
And I was scribbling for The Canadian Press at the Atlanta Games and I got the beach volleyball assignment. Was pretty neat, as I recall.
And after having spent about four hours watching a couple of matches and writing about them, hope I get to do a bit more in London.
Q: Hey Doug, just wondering if you know when Lowry will be introduced? Do you think they will wait until Fields is officially signed so they can introduce them at the same time?
David S, Calgary
A: No real clue, they’ll likely wait because the whole organization is packing up kit and caboodle and heading off to Vegas tomorrow for summer league.
Hope they take their time, I have a whole bunch of Olympic writing to do and need a couple of days.
Q: Hi Doug. Will you get a few minutes this season to sit with Steve Nash and get a more complete version of his thought process in this decision?
I hope he gets a shot at a championship this year, as playing for the Raptors would have helped the team while taking him one year closer to retirement.
Kevin M, Maple
A: I presume I’ll see him the day before the first Laker-Raptors game but not likely before unless I run into him in London or something.
Q: Hello Doug. It's been one of the more interesting weeks in Raptorland in quite awhile. Wondering if you think the Henchmen are done tinkering for the summer. If not, would you expect to see just minor fine-tuning, like an end-of-bencher or two, or do you think a veteran small forward may still be in the works? If nothing further happens, who do you see in that starting 3 slot, and how fluid do you think the rotation of forwards might be? Thanks again for all your work.
David M, Ottawa
A: Man, I wish I knew.
My gut tells me they are pretty close to done now that they’ve got Aaron Gray back – figured it would happen, didn’t think it would happen this soon – but, of course, that means huge trade tomorrow.
But I do know calls are still being made and taken but it’d have to be something rather significant and that doesn’t happen in a day or two.
Q: Let's turn away from the Raptors for a moment: What are your thoughts on the Dallas Mavericks after the dismal FA period they have had? From their championship team they are down Chandler, JJ, Jason Terry, Jason Kidd and had that high-school sociology experiment known as Lamar Odom during the lock-out season. All indications are that Dirk is the kind of fellow that makes a point of staying in one place for his career but at the same time the disappointment of going from a finals MVP to a likely non-playoff team in the span of an abbreviated season and the month afterward must be crushing.
Do you see Dirk requesting a trade, even privately, from the man upstairs? After Mr. Williams didn't go there and Kidd went to NY I had a look at their roster because Calderon might be a nice distributing point guard in Dallas but it turns out there is nothing there that the Raptors would want in return. Just to repeat: The Dallas Mavericks, 2011 NBA Champions, do not have a single player or combination of two players that could realistically be traded to the Toronto Raptors.
PS - If all Toronto fans were transported to Dallas this summer and became Mavs fans and you worked the beat through this FA period, would you have had to take up drinking as a hobby? Retire? Turn off the comments?
Mr. C, Ottawa
A: The Mavericks are a perfect example, I believe, of out-thinking yourself and taking a gamble that blows up in your face.
They valued cap space over all else in blowing up their championship team – letting Chandler go for nothing, losing Barea, getting Odom knowing they could get out of the deal after a year – all so they could have money to throw at Deron Williams and Dwight Howard and we all know how that worked out.
Now they have no proven point guard, no real roster depth, they facilitated Nash going to the Lakers by the trade exception they created in the Odom deal and, frankly, I know there are people in the league who are quite happy that a suddenly-financially prudent Mark Cuban seems to have out-smarted himself.
It’s a case in point showing how you should never anticipate and sometimes it’s not worth the hassle or trouble of making change on the off chance something better comes down the pike.
Best thing? I’m just glad Rick Carlisle got a long-term extension, this could be a very long year in Big D.
Sometimes the moves you don’t make are the best ones and I bet they are regretting half of what they did a year ago.
Q: Hi Doug. I have 3 questions for you.
First, what is your definition of a "super" team and who in the NBA currently qualifies as one?
Second, what is your personal opinion on the matter? Would you prefer to have your superstars spread out, or do you like having a few powerhouses playing at a high level.
Finally, is there anything the rest of the teams in the league can do to be competitive, other than trying to form their own supergroup?
As always, I find your blog to be highly "engaging"! Cheers!
Richard F, Victoria
A: I’m not entirely sure there is a definition other than to say the very good teams have multiple all-stars and have been together for a while to let them develop some familiarity.
And if I was a GM, my opinion would be that they’re great if you can put one together; as a fan and observer I think they might be good because they give everyone someone to shoot at. I think leagues need villains to coalesce fans and I think fans need something that stands out as a target.
What can other teams do? Simple, yet complicated, is try to accumulate the same kind of multiple all-star talent and take your best shot.
Q: Hey Doug. Love the IGBT! Im a long time Laker fan from the "showtime" era.
Any thoughts on what impact the Bynum for Howard trade/swap would have on the Lakers and Magic?
Who would you view as getting the better end of the deal assuming they both sign extensions?
Sean H, Mississauga
A: Here’s the one thing about Dwight Howard that’s kind of been forgotten: The dude is coming off back surgery and we don’t know how healthy he is.
And while a Bynum-Howard trade is intriguing, isn’t really swapping one talented big for another; are they really that different? Howard maybe has more defensive skills and Bynum might have more varied offence and is younger but it really can be seen as six of one, half a dozen of the other.
I don’t know who would get the better end of that deal; I don’t’ think it would cause a sea change to either franchise.
Q: I am upset that the Raptors are letting Jerryd Bayless go for nothing. What was the Raptors biggest offensive deficiency last season? They couldn't make shots from beyond the arc. Who was Toronto's best 3-point shooter? Jerryd Bayless shot 42.3%. Kyle Lowry (37.4%), Landry Fields (25.6%), Calderon (37.1%), and Terrence Ross (37.1%) aren't as good as Bayless. Wouldn't it be prudent for the Raptors to keep Bayless? As well, doesn't he actually enjoy living in Toronto?
Geoffrey E, Toronto
A: No, I don’t think it would have been prudent and your stats are nice if you take them in a one-year vacuum for each of the players (not to mention college stats for the rookie) and that’s rather nonsensical, isn’t it?
Yes, the Raptors did not shoot the ball well from distance, no question. But in different circumstances, with a different offence run by a different point guard in a new year, who knows what’s going to happen.
They did the Bayless thing – and they didn’t let him go for nothing, he’s not even actually gone yet – for cap reasons; it was a business decision they made and it’s not a bad one.
And yes, he liked living in Toronto and will maintain a place here regardless; one has nothing to do with the other.
Q: Ryan Anderson had a good year last year with the Magic. I believe he is a RFA. Do you see him fitting with the Raptors at SF? Do you think there is any interest?
Dave B, Cornwall
A: No, I don’t think there’s any interest. Anderson’s more of a stretch four, actually, and they have one of those. They have other issues to address and the cost would be too much.
Good player, not a good fit right now on this team.
Q: Hi Doug. Now that the point guard situation's in hand, attention is obviously being directed at the SF position. I know names like Kirilenko and Ilyasova are being tossed around, but what about that Alonzo Gee kid in Cleveland? I honestly only know him from fantasy basketball (which, I know, says nothing about the player), but what do you know about him? Is he a guy they should look at? Is he restricted or unrestricted?
Finally, are there any other names that can realistically solve our weaknesses at SF (I know Jameson's available, but there's no chance. Just realistic options, please.)
Also, thanks for the diligence, but especially for the patience in your reporting over the last few days. I know you touched on it the other day and I couldn't agree more - you can't give up accuracy and integrity for speed in sharing a story. Keep it up!
Jarrod H, Markham
A: I don’t know that Alonzo Gee -- a restricted free agent who has received a qualifying offer -- is better than the guys they’ll use here; he’s different but not necessarily and improvement. Of course, I don’t do fantasy leagues so I don’t know about those numbers but I guess he’s okay. Not better, just another guy and they’ve got a lot of “another guys” already, it’d just be shuffling the deck.
Realistic names? Not sure there are any without a significant trade and I don’t know if that’s in the cards. If they could find $10 million over four years they should take a shot at Kirilenko but that’s not possible right now; the only other impact guy out there is Ilyasova and I don’t know that they have the money or the pieces to get him.
Q: The Houston GM looks like he was in a toxic position and he needed to choose Lowry or their coach Kevin McHale and Bryan was able to take advantage of that situation. My biggest concern about this trade is how Lowry will assimilate with the rest of the Raptors and his relationship with Dwane Casey. So it was a pleasant surprise this morning while reading your daily column you said, “he’ll be a huge hit with Dwane Casey”. Can you please go into more detail why you think Lowry will work out so much better in Toronto compared to Houston?
Michael D, Milwaukee
A: Except for one post-season outburst, I think Lowry worked out quite well in Houston and who knows what the true back story was to that one episode.
Why do I think he works here?
Casey loves hard-workers who are competitive and everyone I’ve spoken to about him says Lowry is that. I think – actually know – that Dwane values toughness over all else and Lowry is one tough kid.
And, as a guy who knows him well told me this week, he’s also maturing and I don’t think you can over-state the importance of that. Lowry’s going into his seventh season in the league, I bet he “gets it” far more now than he did even a year ago.
I don’t worry at all about him “assimilating” with the program or the team and, in fact, if he’s a tough kid who’ll get on teammates and demand more out of them, that’s a piece and an attitude the Raptors could use.
Q: Hi Doug. Firstly, I'd like to say I agree with you that we should give B-Co a break for the Lowry deal. In some ways Lowry is actually a better pick up than Nash would've been. He's a better defender, younger and much cheaper.
Secondly, I'd like to ask what you think about the Raptors thin frontcourt and whether you think B-Co has anything up his sleeve to fix that problem? Valanciunas looks like he'll be a good player, but doesn't look big enough to battle with the likes of Howard, Bynum, Perkins or Hibbert.
Thomas V, Toronto
A: I imagine they’ll try to find some veteran big body nearer the start of training camp – Aaron Gray? – but I think they’re fine now with Valanciunas and Amir Johnson and maybe even Bargnani.
No, they’re not as physically imposing as those four guys you mentioned but the reality is that two of them, and maybe three, are in the West, which means two games against them in the season so that’s not a huge issue. Plus, what you give up at one end you might get back at the other.
Q: Truly enjoy your insightful reports on the Raptors. This is my first time writing in. Why has there been no interest shown by the Raptors in obtaining Eric Gordon. We need a small forward. Is there any chance getting him or Iguodala with a Calderone amnesty or trade?
Gregory S, Toronto
A: I’m going to take it a bit easy since it’s your first. Eric Gordon, who is a guard, actually, agreed to an offer sheet in Phoenix right and was never, ever a factor here or anywhere else. Couldn’t happen and won’t.
I’m not going to play the Iguodala/Calderon/amnesty thing anymore except to say I don’t see them acquiring Iguodala and they, this moment, are 100 per cent not going to use the amnesty clause on Calderon.
Q: Doug. If we simply look past the "Flash of Nash" when we briefly thought Captain Canada might take the highest offer, how would you rate the Raptor's free agency/trade moves so far? Lowry deal looks solid - but what about the Landry Fields offer? I thought he was the steal of the draft during his rookie year and I love his basketball IQ. But, did the Raptors trick themselves into a bad offer for Fields by trying to block that Knicks-Suns deal? Or, is he a good fit with Toronto and playing here might allow him to raise his stock?
Thanks for your balanced perspective during these turbulent times.
Owen K, Ottawa
A: I’ll say this again: I don’t think it’s a bad offer given the economic climate now and in three years, who knows what the numbers on contracts will look like. It’s only money and I defy anyone who’s paid scant attention to the NBA transactions over the past year or two to tell me there are “untradeable” contracts. It’s simply not true.
And I think he is a good fit, like he was in his rookie year with a Knicks team where the ball moved and the offence flowed.
Is he an all-star? No, not close. Can he be an effective player? Certainly, we’ve already seen that he can be.
Q: Why does your colleague Feschuck have such strong negative emotions to BC? It borders on hatred.
A basketball question. When continuing to reference the 3 position, isn't that the spot that hopefully Landry Fields plays?
Thanks for the words of calm yesterday, i was amongst those extremely disappointed.
Doug S, Oakville
A: Dave hasn’t written a word about the Raptors in a year, leave him alone.
I think Fields can be a 3 a bit of the time, I think they see moments and matchups where they can have him and DeRozan on the court at the same time but I think they could use a bigger, stronger, more experienced starter there. It’s an area to be addressed, if at all possible but if the cost is too high, I’m pretty sure they’d be okay starting the season with what they’ve got.
Q: Doug ever since FA season started I have been waiting to hear rumors on Kirilenko. I feel he is the perfect fit at 3 for the raps. How come other then you mentioning him a few times, I have heard very little about him? ESPN never talks about him and it would seem to me if he was going to be playing in the NBA next year he would be someone teams should be looking at with all the big names gone. Is he staying in Russia next year? If not when will the Raps sign him? Surely the Russian community in Toronto is more appealing then Salt Lake!
Matt M, Vancouver
A: He’d be a very good fit at the $10 million a year or so he’s likely going to command. And I think they should see if they can do something with him; not that they will but they should try. And you don’t hear much about him because (a) other stuff is going on and (b) there’s nothing going on. There’s actually no definitive word that he’s going to come back, lots of speculation, but nothing concrete from him. He’s also kind of busy trying to get Russia into the Olympics this week.
But, and I’ll go over this again, if they have interest, it should have nothing to do with the “Russian community” and, if you’re thinking that’s a bench mark for him, it’s New York or Brooklyn a better spot?
Q: Hi Doug. With all that sound and fury breaking around, figured you might like some company in your nincompoop-hood.
Working on the assumption that both Fields and Lowry end up coming and that there is no real interest in Bayless or Weems, is there any benefit or harm to retaining one or the other, given that the qualifying offers may be the only ones they receive?
Lee H, Richmond Hill
A: Well, we’ve seen what they’ve done with the Bayless qualifying offer to keep some more financial flexibility and it wouldn’t surprise me in the least if they did the same with Weems. But there is no rush, it’s really cheap, it non-guaranteed money and, despite the hopes and dreams of far, far, far too many people here, I think we can agree that other teams aren’t beating the doors down trying to sign him.