The start of the weekend mail
Well, this is a pretty good start with a fair amount of London and other stuff hanging around for tomorrow before I finally get ready to get on the plane Monday night.
If you want to get in on the fun, give it a shot here.
Q: With Acy signed the Raps now have 3 rookies coming in next year in Val, Ross and Acey. What are some of the challenges the rookie situation might create for the team? How do you expect the rookie learning curve to affect team production? Do you think NBA life will be easier for the rookies because there are three of them going through the same thing?
Jeff M, Saint John
A: The biggest challenge I’ve seen, aside from having to compete against men every night in games and a depth of talent they are totally unfamiliar with, is the adjustment to the lifestyle.
Unlike college, where there might or might not be classes and study halls to attend, NBA rookies need a lot of self-discipline to do things like handle downtime responsibly, eat well, get some rest and act like professionals. Teams help – they have nutritionists that can be consulted, for instance – but it’s a big leap from student to employee and some kids find it hard to handle at first.
That said, I don’t think having three will be either a detriment nor a bonus to the Raptors next season.
Q: As a person who travels pretty frequently at work I really enjoy your little travel tidbits throughout the season. Whenever I'm away from work I find myself staying up later, eating a lot more and having a few more drinks than normal. How is it even remotely possible to stay healthy when you're travelling so much as you bounce from city to city (and country to country at times)? Please share lots of little London stories. Cathal's daily Euro minute was extremely interesting reading. Looking forward to yours.
Jeff M, Chatham
A: I can feel your pain, I think if you averaged my travel over the last five or six years, you’d probably be close to 125 days in a calendar year and that’s a bit.
Now, I’d love to say it’s impossible to stay totally healthy but that’s probably not true because a number of my colleagues can. But I don’t have the level of self-discipline needed to eat right, sleep well and get exercise on a consistent basis. Did go through one stretch where I dumped post-game chicken wings; it lasted about half a season.
And I’ll get you as many London stories in the usual morning fare as I possibly can; might not be as well-told as Cathal’s but they’ll be mine.
Q: Hi Doug. I think I know your answer. Would you rather trod the damp links of a British Open or be stuck in a gym riveted to summer league in Las Vegas?
Would the newspaper provide you with proper rain gear for the golf, or do you have to provide your own?
For all those wet golfers...Dee Clark...Raindrops?
Bob E, Kanata
A: I’d rather live in a wet bunker and let guys land balls on my head at the Open than be stuck in a Vegas gym in July. But that’s just me.
And we’re on our own for stuff like rain suits and the like, no clothing allowances for anything built into our deals.
Dee Clark? This Dee Clark?
Q: Greetings, Mr. Smith. Just wondering if you could consult Mr. Webster and Mr. Colangelo and explain to us a little better just what the heck "organic growth" means for an NBA basketball team. Thank you, sir!
David M, Ottawa
A: I actually once did ask Bryan about “organic growth” and got this, not verbatim but a close approximation.
You get a group of young seedlings, water and handle with care as they grow, fertilized with consistent coaching and a constant message, and hope they blossom.
Mixed metaphors aside, that’s the best I can do.
Q: Hi Doug- If we lose Jose we need a second and 3rd string guard. The Kings may have to many and the Jimmer (Fredette) is a 3 point shooter that we could use. Why didn't they swap JJ for him instead of a second round pick?
Doug L, Toronto
A: Without having been in on the negotiations, I would offer these two ideas:
Maybe the Kings don’t want to give up on the kid.
Maybe the Raptors want to get someone better somewhere down the line and had no interest.
Maybe they should have asked for Cousins.
Q: Hi Doug. Yesterday you made a mention on how it’s odd for Melo to comment on a fellow player's contract as "crazy.”
I'm wondering your take on BC's comment that he over paid a bit for Fields in order to get him... I don't have the exact quote in front of me but he mentioned something about overpaying for Fields. Is this not an odd thing for a GM to come out in say?
Jeff M, Saint John
A: Not really. I think Bryan might have alluded to it before, to coax a player away from existing team you might have to up the ante a little bit; it’s not a Toronto thing, please don’t go there, it’s pretty much league wide. To say it publicly? Don’t think it was terribly new, or a problem.
Q: Hey Doug. I agree with your thoughts on the insanity of the contracts dished out this off season. As a Bargnani fan, it certainly makes his contract look like a steal when you consider the Raps will have him for the next 4 years @ 10-11 mil. I think I'd take that over Hump @ 12 mil any day.
My question is, in your time around the team, how often do you hear about players complaining about the size of other players contracts? Or more specifically, jealousy over their teammates or colleagues contracts?
Curtis B, Ottawa
A: I have never heard anyone complain about a teammates salary or contract or even that of an opposing player. What I have heard is players give others the advice of “get your money” when it comes time to talk contract. But complaints or jealousy? Haven’t heard anything like that.
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: Doug. Three things:
Jose. I know you don't watch summer league but I hope you listened to the Raps who spoke. BC stated that Jose is the back up. Dwayne said he talked to Jose and the trade is more his reps than him. To which he and Sam agreed Jose is too professional to cause issues, and Sam said that Dwayne should play whoever gives them the best shot to win (interesting for what wasn't said.) And finally Lowry was on (after the taking himself to the top tier of point guards comments,) and named all the main Raps he will play with except Jose. Do you really think they can co-exist any way other than Jose getting 10 min. a game?
Dallas- Look not bad for a team that destroyed themselves, no? (And I do think they hoped Steve would go to Toronto so they could get Jose cheap too.)
And since I don't think you commented on it, the Dream debate. Why do people try to compare eras? It is like asking if Babe Ruth would be a star today, it is silly.
Bruce M, Winnipeg
A: Three things:
I didn’t see the Summer League interview, I was standing four feet away from Bryan here on Tuesday when he said, verbatim, in suggesting it would be folly to trade Jose without having a proven backup:
“The thing you have to be prepared for is replacing him. I think whether it’s a starting combination of Jose with Kyle backing him up or vice-versa … we’ve got two very solid starting-calibre point guards and it’s not easy to find that combination.”
So, whatever. But, yes they can co-exist and Lowry played about 32 minutes a night last season as a starter, it's not 10 for the other guy.
Dallas? Yeah, they rebounded okay, might be enough to be a top five or six team in the West. Good on ‘em.
And people love to argue eras, as silly as it may be. It’s what makes sports sports.
Q: How big an upgrade is Lucas vs Uzoh? As I recall his father was a pretty good guard, not that that means much. Once this is done that should be about it unless something happens with Jose wouldn't you think?
Gerry T, Halifax
A: Minor upgrade, shoots it far better, that’s for sure. But he’s still a third-string point guard.
Should be about it, yeah. But, as we know, you never know.
Q: Hi Doug. The poison pill contracts we have seen for Fields and Lin are legal, but are they good business? Can this be addressed in backdoor (and likely illegal according to the CBA) discussions? Or does this become a CBA point in the next round of labour discussions?
Kevin M, Maple
A: The risk of being charged with collusion, there is no way the GMs can or will discus this at any length. I’m not sure it’s good business – it certainly is for the players who reap the benefits – but if there are concerns they can only be addressed in CBA negotiations that are, happily, many years off into the future.
Q: Hi Doug. It seems that the Raptors make an extra effort to keep their players happy. i.e. Sending Barbosa to the Pacers, where he was deemed a "good fit" or paying James Johnson for two games instead of suspending him.
Is this the norm for other teams in the league? Is this noticed by players and agents, and could it result in the organization being able to attract talent that they otherwise might not?
Greg M, Halifax
A: I don’t know it’s the “norm” but I do know most teas would try to work with someone if they were going to be moved on, but only to a point. They wouldn’t do anything to harm their franchises but all things being equal, they’d the right thing for a player.
Do agents notice? I would imagine the team would bring up all the nice things it does in conversations to make sure it’s noticed.
Q: Doug. A year has passed since Commissioner Stern vetoed the Chris Paul trade to the Lakers. Did we ever find out the reason why the trade was blocked? Any chance that a Dwight Howard trade to the Lakers may get vetoed as well?
Gary D, Stouffville
A: The owners of the Hornets – the NBA – decided they didn’t want to do the Paul deal, as was their right at the time, for good or for bad.
And, no, no chance they step in to veto a trade since, as the saying goes, they don’t have any skin in the game any more.
Q: Hi Doug. A couple of things spring to mind this morning. First, Landry Fields' game is reminiscent of fan favorite Anthony Parker. Am I crazy?
And second, still on Fields, what's with all the angst surrounding his contract? People act like it's their money being spent. At what point did fans become so concerned with player contracts? Has it more or less always been like this or does it seem so because of the 24/7 nature of the beast?
Danny M, Montreal
A: I guess you could see a bit of AP in Fields and that’s not a bad thing because Parker was a solid pro for a lot of years.
The money? People need something to chatter about, one guy says it’s too much, it becomes the story of the day and all of a sudden it’s commonly accepted by people who don’t really pay attention to the market or the reality of the situation.
Q: Hi Doug. First off, thanks for the blog and all the work you do to get it up here every morning.
My question is in regards to Kleiza. Coming into last season, Kleiza was coming off a great summer where he performed well with Lituania, and this summer going into the Olympics he's often the best player on Lithuania's roster, yet despite the odd game here and there, he seems to underperform at the NBA level.
Is this a simple matter of the calibre of the competition, or is Kleiza's game more suited to international play?
I like Kleiza, I think he plays tough, and can shoot the ball, and I'd love to see him have a break out year for the Raps.
Peter R, Regina
A: I don’t know that “under-perform” is the right word, especially for last season since he was coming off a rather substantial knee surgery and was battling a few other nicks during the season.
I do think he’s skilled and plays tough; if he comes to camp healthy and stays that way – the big question – I can see him helping a lot, actually.
Q: Hi Doug, hope you're having a nice calm summer before the storm of London hits!
Question: Who is responsible for the sheer mess that is the broadcast schedule. Who sells the games to 15 different channels and who approves these plans?
My buddy says Bryan, but I'm pretty sure he's in charge of running the team and the parent company, MLSE, handles stuff like this.
Josh S, Toronto
A: I guess, technically, since Bryan is the team president that kind of stuff probably passes across his desk but there are broadcast vice-presidents who work the deals with the various networks. It wouldn't be his "fault" if that's what you're getting at.
And, again, technically, there are four or five different locations on the dial where games might show up but it really is only two “networks” in TSN and Sportsnet. That they have multiple channels is just a fact of life, I’m afraid.
Q: Hi Doug. I was watching the presser and am impressed with the two guys. I got a kick when Landry was asked why he digressed in his second year, you can see Lowrey smerking as if trying to egg Landry to tell the truth and just say MELO.I am sure that your job this coming year will be a lot more enjoyable so enjoy and keep up the GREAT WORK YOU DO.
Aaron F, Thornhill
A: That was an interesting moment and, yes, both of them seemed to be quite engaging and entertaining at their introductory news conference. The proof will be how engaging and entertaining they are during the inevitable six-game losing streak or the stretch where they can’t make a shot to save their souls.
Q: Hi Doug, I believe Lowry has 2 years left on his contract. Is he a Restricted Free Agent and if so can the Raptors match any offers?
Brent F, North Bay
A: We’re getting a loooooooooong way ahead of ourselves but, yes, in two years they will have that option available to them.
Q: Does Kyle Lowry contract still have a team option for next year – or was it picked up as part of the trade? Also, when do the Raptors need to decide on whether they want to pick up the team option for Ed Davis?
Kevin F, Hillsburgh
A: No team option, two years left on Lowry, Raptors have team option on Davis for 2013-14 season, cannot see any way they don’t exercise it. Wouldn’t surprise me if it wasn’t done before the season starts. It’s paperwork, though.
Q: Hi Doug. Great reading your blogs from down here in Australia, even though I'm a Toronto boy. I'm not sure if this question was asked but here goes. Has there been any interest on Jonny Flynn?
This is a young guy that was drafted 6th only 3 years ago, sure he has had injury problems but who hasn't. He is almost a local boy, Niagara Falls NY. Would he fit in with the Raptors plans?
Will be home in Canada in a fortnight, and I can't wait. Best of luck with the Olympics.
Randy L, Sydney Australia
A: No interest at all; haven’t heard his name mentioned in any conversations I’ve had with anyone connected with the team. They weren’t enamoured of him at the draft, can’t imagine that’s changed.