The start of the weekend mail
Okay, things – like a trip to Niagara to a really cool buntoss I’ll tell you about next week – got in the way so not nearly enough mail got done.
There’s this, though, and lots more tomorrow.
Q: Doug: I've been following the Jonas saga with interest, and hope that he can be the real deal. But what does the brain trust see that makes him a standout. I see a tall, thin, Camby, which is not bad in itself. However, please give your faithful readers some insight that would've made him a potential 2nd overall pick this year.
Ken B, Matheson
A: They see an athletic young 7-footer with a good work ethic, a bit of mental toughness and skills that can be developed.
And if he looks like a tall, thin Marcus Camby right now, that’s not a bad thing, at all. Marcus, a second overall pick, has had a tremendous career. Don’t imagine Valanciunas has the same defensive skills as Camby but he does have a more polished offensive game right now.
Q: Hey, Doug! I've got two short one's for you. Any word about the plans with Tomislav Zubcic? And when will next season's schedule be announced?
Keep up with great work and have a good time in London.
Toni H, Zagreb
A: No real plans for Zubcic yet, other than to leave him over in Europe for at least one more year and I don’t know any particulars of his contract or buyout because there was no sense exploring it from the start. I think right now they see him as some kind of stretch four but it’s far to early.
Schedule? I believe drafts are being circulated among the teams now, I’d guess an early August release, which will give me something to do when I’m in London.
But here’s the thing about the schedule people need to keep in mind: Because TV demands as many marquee matchups as it can get, especially on Sunday afternoons after Jan. 1 and for Turner on Thursdays, the league likes to wait to see who goes where in free agency before deciding. I can assure you they were waiting for any possible resolution of the Dwight Howard saga so his new team could get as many national TV dates as possible.
Q: Hi Doug. In a dream world if on July 1st you could have had (forget for a moment who was available) a stud point guard or a stud wing player, which would you have chosen? Personally I think the Raptors most pressing need was a wing player and that is why I am very disappointed in the Raptor moves so far.
Thanks Doug, enjoy London. Lots of stools over there me thinks!
Freddy W, Washington
A: Personally, I probably would have tried to find a stud wing but with the free agency crop played out – Gerald Wallace staying put, Nic Batum being matched at whatever by Portland, Ilyasova getting a lucrative offer in Milwaukee – I don’t think there was any chance to make a huge splash there. Too bad, but sometimes that’s just the way it is.
And given that, I have no qualms with them going hard after Nash and going quickly to Plan B with Lowry when that didn’t work out.
Q: HI Doug, follow your blog daily, thanks. Is it possible that a team made up of non-stars, like the current Raps, can jell and win a championship, like the most recent NHL champions? Has it ever happened in the NBA?
Don P, Brighton
A: It’s highly unlikely, I think you need that one seminal talent but there is a chance. I will hold up as evidence the mid-2000s Detroit Pistons, who didn’t really have a lot of star power but somehow won one championships and got to Game 7 of another NBA Finals.
Q: Not so much a question as a statement. I really hope that we, as Raptor fans, give Jerryd a big round of applause when he returns with the Grizzlies. The man loves Toronto and, perhaps more than any recent Raptor, played with a real chip on his shoulder and left everything out on the floor each night. As a fan base that respects blue collar players, we should give it up for him.
Matthew M, Hamilton
A: I would presume Jerryd, as much for his professed love for the city as for his play, will be warmly welcomed back whenever that is.
Q: Hi Doug. This seems like quite an active off-season? How does it compare to the famous summer of two years ago when Lebron/Bosh and Wade were free agents?
I had another question regarding the Raptors and it appears to be very difficult to build a strong playoff team as many free agents, if opting for less money are signing with strong playoff teams. Many of our stars have left for other teams. I know you mentioned that if you have a winning team it will attract free agents. It seems like we are in a catch 22 (hard to attract NBA All Star free agents and historically keep our own star players). Do you foresee this changing in the near future with our Raptors?
Monty M, Toronto
A: This has been a busier summer but with fewer “stars” in play; that LeBron-Bosh summer was truly unique.
I don’t have a clue what the future holds but I think you need to remember this: When they were good or at least okay, they kept all their free agents and got some to come (Dell Curry back in the day) and, frankly, the one summer they had money, they chased the guy considered the most lucrative free agent on the market and got him. Forget that the Turkoglu experiment didn’t work, he was a high-priced, coveted free agent and he chose Toronto. It happens.
Q: I think the Raptors still owe a game to St. John's, correct? What a great time to do that if they have their Training camp in Halifax.
Dave B, Cornwall
A: It would be a wonderful idea and one I would fully support and have been advocating for about seven years. The trouble is, the pre-season is etched in even before the final season is over so the logistics of doing it this year make it virtually impossible.
But if they are truly an organization that wants to do things “the right way” they had better schedule one as soon as they can find a willing travel partner.
I need my Water Street and a stop at the Narrows.
Q: Doug, could you do a quick sign-and-trade guide for dummies? During the Nash saga, some media reported the Raptors 'lost' Nash as soon as the Knicks and Suns talked sign-and-trade, but doesn't any UFA have the final say?
Nick M, Winnipeg
A: Yes, he does. And sometimes that final say means getting former teams involved to make deals possible.
So, no, they didn’t “lose” when the Knicks and Suns started talking, that was predictable to get Nash more money; the tide turned when the Lakers came hard to the table on the Monday night/Tuesday morning.
Q: Hi Doug. Two totally unrelated questions (feel free to ignore one or both, of course):
You mentioned, and it makes sense, that no GM will pull an offer made to a RFA prior to July 11th because no one would then want to deal with said GM or team (e.g., Landry). So why the difference with qualifying offers with members of one's own team (e.g., Bayless, Weems). What's the difference that I'm missing? (BTW, I don't particularly care about Landry, Bayless or Weems per se, just using them as examples.)
What do coaches, GMs, scouts look for during summer league games?
Diego S, Toronto
A: Qualifying offers are just cap placeholders in a lot of ways, prudent business moves that are not promises of anything; offer sheets are a firm commitment to a player; huge difference.
Summer League? Coaches look for skill development, footwork, shooting form, defensive awareness; scores of games and point totals are moot.
Q: Blake Griffin just became the first of his draft class to get extended. When do you think DeRozan will get extended, if at all?
Sid M, Toronto
A: I doubt he will, at least for this year. While he is a fine player in many regards, I think they’d like to see him in a true full season with Dwane and this group before they make any long-term commitment.
I will say this, though: With the way salaries are going, I think a case can be made now for an extension at what looks like a fair number. Trouble is, what the Raptors might think is fair and what DeMar’s agents might think is fair are probably two very different things.
Q: Hey Doug. Just wondering if you've got any word on how DeRozan held up against the USA national team. Really want to know what he's done over the summer to improve his game.
Rayan W, Mississauga
A: Talked to Jay briefly the other day, he said DeMar more than held his own, looked stronger and in good shape. But we won’t know for sure until we see him over the course of a training camp how, or if, his ball-handling has improved or how his shot is coming along. And since we have some of July and all of August and September before anything happens for real, there’s lots of time to work.
Q: Hi Doug. I'm often annoyed by the fickle nature of some of my fellow Raptors fans, and nothing bugs me more than the constant Jose-bashing. For all his flaws (which aren't as glaring as some might think), he's always been a consistent performer and a classy team-first guy... exactly the type of player fans should get behind.
On that note, here's a two-part Jose question:
I read somewhere that Real Madrid basically have a spot waiting for Jose if and when he decides to return to Europe. Do you have a sense of what his intentions might be beyond this season? Is he eager to go home, or do you think he'll go after (at least) one more NBA contract?
Assuming he's leaning towards the latter, do you think there'd be any interest, from Jose and from the Raptors, in having him re-sign here? It would have to be a cheaper deal than his current contract... but I think Jose could spend the final years of his NBA career as one of the best backups at his position (assuming Lowry is in it for the long term), and his experience would be invaluable on a young team, plus he'd be more than capable to fill in as a starter when required. Any thoughts? I'm especially curious to know if you think the botched Chandler trade from last season would impact his desire to stay with the Raptors.
Morgan T, Toronto
A: I have no sense of what lies ahead for Jose, this year or next year or any year, actually. Not sure he does, either.
But he will have played seven years in the NBA at the end of this contract, he loves Toronto and if he’s here I could see him coming back for sure, at a salary that’s workable for both sides. But we’re a long way from that point as the events of the past week have shown.
Q: Hey Doug. Care to share some memorable summer league stories from the past?
Fuzzy D, Devonshire
A: Not really, other than the day I watched Hoffa get 10 personal fouls in a game. That was a doozy of an afternoon.
Q: Doug, who gets the start - Calderon or Lowry?
Paul B, Toronto
A: To Be Determined. As is everything to do with the roster, the rotation and the starting five, only after training camp and a couple of exhibition games will things become clear.
Q: Is there any interest in Barbosa?
Robert S, Newmarket
A: Been quite quiet about Leandro, hasn’t it been.
And depending on what happens later today with the Fields offer and what, if anything, happens with Calderon, I would imagine a call will be made. Whether it’s returned is a question, though.
Q: Hi Doug, It's disappointing that we lost out on Steve Nash. But now that the option is off the table, where does that leave the Raptors in terms of cap space? Are there any other desirable free agents left on the market? Anyone that may lead Brian to want to spend some money? If not, what are Colangelo's options?
By the way, I'm thrilled that Aaron Gray is coming back. He won't get the same playing time he did last year, but he'll be great to have around the big rookie.
Terry M, Antigonish
A: Raps, right now, are at the cap; depending on what happens with Fields or with any amnesty plans before July 17, they don’t have an awful lot to spend. There’d be the mid-level exception, most likely, and veteran minimum exceptions of the Fields deal goes through.