The end of the weekend mail
All right, folks.
Have at this, I’ve got a quick little par-3 game with Super Son, about a kabillion loads of laundry to do, some packing to take care of and a big, old get-ready shopping spree to take care of today.
Q: Hello Doug! Yes, The Open has so much natural charm leading to unexpected moments it's always been one of my favourite sporting events. And do you ever tire of those wonderful player announcements? Just listening to Ivor Robson introduce Louis Oosthuizen and Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano is s a thing of beauty - and a joy forever. (Missed the presence of Neil Schietekat this year, though - that was some memorable.)
So, as you head over to Britain I wish you safe travels and many splendid performances to chronicle, and as so many of us here are hoping for great things for our women's basketball team, do you know if you'll be able to cover most (or all!) of their games? Thank you! And have much fun in London - hope you'll be able to do some "things I saw away from the Games" stories as well as all the sports stuff!
Lorie P, London
A: Well, the plan now is to see the five first-round games and then see where we are and I don’t imagine that changing once the Olympics begin.
And the plan certainly is to get out to a few non-Games events but there’s a chance it’ll two, or even three, events a day some days and time may be at a premium.
Q: This ground may have already been tilled. What special logistical challenges will you face in London covering the most gigantic of events compared to a day-to-day beat? Which of these are you least looking forward to and how will you cope with it?
James A, Victoria
A: The biggest logistical challenge, and it’s the same everywhere, will be transportation between events, wondering if the Tube goes where I have to go and how long it’ll take and if buses run at convenient times. But we figure it out rather quickly most Olympics.
Professionally, the biggest challenge is always knowing enough about athletes you’re not familiar with. In the past few days I’ve done features on beach volleyball players, and a couple of track athletes, so the process of learning has begun but there’s lots of reading and research still to. But that’s also the thing you look most forward to, the leaning process and tell stories about people from, perhaps, a different point of view. You always come away from Olympics with a renewed admiration for the women and men who compete.
Least looking forward to? Probably inevitable rain and security lineups; a tough part of the gig that's not a lot of fun.
Q: Hi Doug. Ask and ye shall receive!
Acknowledging that the final roster is not settled, who should we see on the floor when the HOTH want to go "big" or "small"? Similarly, who would you expect when the opponents change "size"?
As always, keep well and savour the refreshments!
Lee H, Richmond Hill
A: This is kind of a guess, actually, since Dwane’s going to need training camp to figure out who plays well with each other but I could see “small” being Lowry, DeRozan, Ross, Kleiza and Amir and “big” being Calderon, Fields, Bargani, Davis and Valanciunas. Those would be the extremes, I think you’ll see more of a mix more often.
Q: Hey Doug: Assuming Jose sticks around all season, can you see, based on match-ups, where some games it's Lowry-Calderon, and others, it's Calderon-Lowry? I think both are 'valid' starting point guards, so I wonder if the above situation would be possible? Thanks again for your efforts at keeping us informed, amused and entertained!
Tim H, Windsor
A: I don’t have any doubt that’ll be Lowry-Calderon and it’ll be one of the best combination point guard tandems in the league.
Q: Hey Doug: I've noticed that a lot of the national writers for our friends down south aren't giving the Raps much love (won't even make the playoffs!). Just wondering if your fellow grunts in other cities are feeling a little differently about how the team is shaping up. Thanks as always,
Thomas T, Antigonish
A: Differently? No. This team remains entirely irrelevant to a lot of the media at the moment. That’s not a bad thing, it’s just reality. Maybe things change once the season starts but guess we’ll have to wait and see.
Q: Hi Doug. Although, technically, teams can't speak to prospective free agents until July 1st, do either they or the player's agent secretly let it be known that they are interested prior to the July 1st date? Thank You.
Joe D, Mississauga
A: It would be a gamble, given the league’s history of frowning upon side deals (see Joe Smith/Minnesota) but I am sure there are back-channel conversations every year that allow for plausible deniability for GMs and other executives.
Q: Hi Doug. I have a question about how these new offer sheets are signed. It seems, according to how they are being reported in most media, like Lin and Fields didn't have a choice in signing an offer sheet with a "poison pill". I haven't read any editorials saying that Lin should have insisted on a more even offer sheet, instead of accepting the one that prevented the Knicks from signing. Could you explain how this process works? Thanks for your insight,
Charlie C, Montreal
A: Oh, they had a choice. No restricted free agent “has” to sign an offer sheet all; he could simply negotiate a new contract with his old team. But if you read the reports, and believe them, the Knicks told Lin to go find out what he was worth on the market and they’d match; he did, they didn’t for whatever reason.
But agents go and solicit offers, bring those offers to their clients and let them decide if they want to sign them.
Q: If the Knicks were really worried about the poison pill element of the Jeremy Lin offer sheet couldn't they have simply offered him a contract for the same amount of money but with terms that wouldn't be as detrimental to them on the luxury tax hit in year 3? I'm assuming once he signed the offer sheet they only had 2 options, match or not match to the exact terms of that deal but couldn't they have been more proactive about the whole thing considering the entire basketball world saw it coming.
Rob R, North York
A: Once the offer sheet was signed, they did have just two options. But they could have signed him on their own – albeit at a far lower overall salary because of their cap constraints – but didn’t.
Q: Hey Doug: Based on reading and hearing from several sources (including you), I get the impression that a GM could be 'graded' in three different areas: 1) draft; 2) free agency; and 3) trades. If you concur, how would you rate Bryan in each of the three areas?
Tim H, Windsor
A: You’ve got the three categories but the whole idea of rating is difficult because (a) do you rate against other GMs or (b) against his own past and (c) things are so non-linear that a good grade in one can have an impact on grades in others.
On the whole, I’d probably go with average, a bit blow average and average. Don’t see what other draft picks were available when he made any of his selections and, no, he didn’t hit a home run but not sure there were the pitches there to hit. He’s taken shots in free agency, which I think you’d appreciate but for a few different reasons haven’t worked out. And trades? Not sure there’s been many of huge significance but a protected first-round pick and Gary Forbes for a promising 26-year-old point guard might end up being a great one.
Q: Doug. I watched a bit of Summer League but have to admit I couldn't last through an entire game. It was interesting to hear comments about Terrence Ross though. David Thorpe is very high on him as are other ESPN and SI types. And our own Sam Mitchell (whose color commentary was more entertaining than the game) is really impressed with Ross. And for those Raptor fans who claim that if the team wanted to pick Ross the smart thing would have been to trade down from the 8th pick because Ross would have been available much later, Kevin McHale dashed those sentiments. During his in-game interview he told NBA-TV that the Rockets were hoping Ross would be available at 12 because he was their guy. Are these the type of comments you're hearing?
Joe S, Kingston
A: I’m hearing and reading all kinds of good things about Terrence Ross after five summer league games. But, I can’t caution this enough, it was five summer league games and a few practices that means very, very little in the big picture.
Q: Hi Doug. Is there a deadline on when you can Amnesty a player? Does it have to be before the season starts or can it be done at any time?
Also, once a team Amnesty's a player I understand that they cannot use it again. Given this logic, I would think it makes sense only to use it on a really bad contract. I hope the Raptors save it and do not use it on Jose as he is in the last year of his contract and the Raptors now have two good options at point guard.
Thanks as always for the great work.
Monty M, Toronto
A: The period for amnesty this year ran July 11-17 and, obviously, came and went without Toronto using it. It returns next July for another week or so and can still only be used on players who were with the team on July 1, 2011.
Q: Hi Doug. I'm looking at the San Antonio Spurs and I wonder why more teams don't stand pat from year to year? The familiarity is clearly beneficial - despite some key aging players the team seems to sustain a high performance level from season to season.
Why do you suppose that teams do not aspire to this model more often. Is it as simple as impatience or is it only because they have great players already?
Greg W, Ancaster
A: They all aspire to it, it’s a surefire way to succeed but unless you can turn from David Robinson to Tim Duncan to Tony Parker to Manu Ginobili, you’re likely going to fail.
It’s all about talent and building around it.
Q: Doug: Looking forward to snippets from England. By the way, does the Star send you 1st class on the plane? If you like fish and chips, please try some at one of the classic pubs with a few pints, and tell us whether or not it’s something special. Thanks for the great blog.
Ken B, Matheson
A: Oh, I wish. Steerage all the way. But as long as it’s not a middle seat, I’ll survive. That reminds me to do on-line check-in tonight as soon as I can. Thanks.
And I’ll be all over pints and fish and chips, don’t you worry about that.
Q: Hey Doug, being a casual golf fanatic, are you reading Chris Zelkovic's Breaking 80 blog at the Globe and Mail? Awesome stuff for those of us who dare to try to get better.
On to Raptors question... If the roster stays as is, no further trades or significant additions, do you think they have enough to make the playoffs next year? Taking into account a clearly improved roster with new additions, and maturity factor for some of the mainstays, I'd say the 8th spot is not out of question. Injuries notwithstanding.
Dean B, Mississauga
A: I haven’t had a chance yet to read much of Zelk’s stuff but I know it’s got to be good. And the pro he working with, Bradlee Ryall up at Braeben here, is a great teacher; he helped us immensely with this story.
And I really can’t even guess at the playoffs, sorry. There are more roster moves to be made all over the East, it’s impossible to do. I will say that if nothing of substance changes, they should be in the race.
Q: Hi Doug. Last season I suggested that the Raptors ought to have a look at Jeremy Lin before he signed with the Knicks.
Remember Adam Morrison, the third pick in the 2006 draft? He's shooting better than 50% from beyond the arc in the summer league for the Clippers. Against the Lakers team, Morrison scored 22 points.
Given that the Raptors don't have anyone who shot over 40% from 3-point land last season (except the departed Jerrd Bayless), what do you think of Morrison? He'd be cheap and a much better signee than Rasual Butler was last December. Or will the Raptors put their faith in Alan Anderson and Linas Kleiza? Is there a downside to the Raptors offering Morrison a contract?
Geoffrey E, Toronto
A: Did you? Good for you.
Adam Morrison? Sure. I remember him. Kid who washed out in Charlotte, was buried in LA and moved to Russia? That’s the guy, right? And he’s having a good Summer League? Wow.
Seriously, I don’t think anything of Morrison, to tell you the truth. He’s no better, and not even as good in my opinion, than anyone currently on the roster. So, yeah, the downside is they don’t need him, they don’t need to tie money up in him and there’s no indication he’s even a minor upgrade.
Q: Hi Doug. Thanks for your contribution as always.
My apologies if this question has been asked & answered but is there any reason why they are not putting Raptors Summer league games on the Raptors TV channel? Is it because the NBA only sends crews to a few games and so there is no way to get it? I would have thought they would be dying for some relevant content in the off-season.
Fred H, Toronto
A: Yeah, NBA TV Canada takes the games that NBA TV provides and, actually, getting two or three Toronto games on wasn’t that bad.
No way MLSE could justify the expense of doing their own production and sending their own people for the few dozen viewers that missed two or three games.
Q: Hi Doug. I enjoy reading your blog - first time blogger. Hope you respond.
I'm a huge Jose fan (performance and personality) and to a large extent a fan of teams that retain and are loyal to their core talent in their pursuit towards greatness(Spurs as a case in point and how they've kept Duncan, Ginobili & Parker together). I think there's a lot to be said about teams that keep class guys like around for their careers. Jose is an excellent player and even a better person / team player. By putting him on the trading block like this we are behaving just like Chris Bosh / Vince did i.e.
I personally think Raptors should keep Jose and sign him to an extension (I don't think its going to be any bankrupting or a poor financial decision) - I suspect some of the communication around Lowry has been sub-par which has rubbed Jose the wrong way (based on interviews, Jose appears to be the kind of team player who doesn't get annoyed easily at the prospect of team getting better - never heard his objections about Jose trade).
All in all, we talk about identity and culture and I feel Raptors should extend this identity to how they treat their top tier and classy/loyal players (like a Canadian). Personally, its much more satisfying to build a championship team that way instead of trying become a revolving door of talent.
Rick M, Toronto
A: It’s a business, a hard business sometimes, that’s built on team success. While I see your point, there always needs to be dispassionate analysis of opportunities to improve a team.
Sorry, but that’s just the way things work.