The start of the weekend mail
Click. Write. Send.
Can’t be too sure what time we’ll be around tomorrow, though. It’s the annual Mighty Red Tigers Wrapup Party and buntoss at a local saloon where the kids shoot pool and the coaches and parents socialize.
(Yes, we are truly leaders of youth and shapers of men, aren’t we?)
Anyway, we’ll be around Sunday morning some time with the rest of the missives.
Q: Doug, do you think that a first round playoff spot is a minimum requirement for Raptor management this year to main their credibility (and jobs)?
Ron F, Toronto
A: Let’s see how the season unfolds before we rush to fire people, okay? I will say this, again, any time a team fails to make the post-season, everyone is held accountable. That’s the case here and with 29 other teams.
Q: Hello. Does body slamming your coach tend to limit the time you get on the floor? Does the same slamming get you traded for a couple of basketballs and a bunch of pylons?
Apropos of nothing, are you a fan of the 2000 year old man? Have you checked out comediansincarsgettingcoffee? Thank goodness training camp is upon us!
Bob E, Kanata
A: Who doesn’t love a little Carl Reiner and Mel Brooks?
They were a classic.
Q: Hi Doug. I know that this is not Basketball related, but from years of following your Blog and articles I know that you are a big proponent of journalistic integrity and will hold others in your field to account for being sensationalistic and bombastic. I've seen comments from you about the lack of true professional journalism from the standpoint of not being factual, not doing enough research and reporting false statements to generate reactions. I would really appreciate your perspective/reaction to the Margaret Wente situation at the Globe and any thoughts you have to her reaction statement.
Tom H, Guelph
A: Well, a lot smarter people than I have weighed in on this issue, as you know, but I do have a bit of an opinion, which may or may not surprise you.
Plagiarism, the lifting of original thought and passing it on as your own, is, to me, the most egregious thing a writer can do. It strikes at the very heart of our craft, if you want to use someone else’s point to make your point, make it clear. There is no other way.
These are difficult times for us, in some regards, though. The age in which we live makes every reader an editor, they have access to information and the ability to share it that didn’t exist up until a relatively short while ago. And because of that, we have to be extra diligent not to pass of the work as others as our own. And it doesn’t take much to do it, the use of quotation marks, a simple phrase of attribution, it’s easy; I don’t know if it’s ego that drives people to pass off the words of others as their own or laziness or whatever but it’s unconscionable and I’m glad people get caught and punished somehow.
Q: Hey Doug. You touched on something terrific today in your column - expectations. They seem to factor into the enjoyment/fulfillment of almost every entertainment in life, from sports to films. (I saw THE MASTER last night and was underwhelmed, not because it was flawed, be because my expectations were astronomically high).
It seems like running a sports franchise is an exercise in managing the expectations of a fan base, within the larger context of a plan to win a championship.
So what are the expectations this year for the RAPS? Squeaking into the 8th spot? If so, what's the larger plan? Gain some credibility in order to attract free agents, and draft craftily out of the lottery to win that elusive championship? I'm kinda bummed out that we've gone through a prolonged dry spell without sowing the seeds of a championship-calbre nucleus. Or are my expectations too low?
Adam B, Kingston
A: The expectations, clearly and oft stated, are to be legitimate challengers for a playoff spot, whether that’s sixth, seventh, eighth or whatever. And the larger plan is always – for every team in every league in every year – is to build a successful franchise that is consistently good and can chase a championship. But that takes almost as much good fortune as it does good management, it requires health, solid drafting, good coaching, and some players achieving unexpected suggest.
But as we’ve seen a few times, getting in the dance presents all kinds of opportunities – look at what happened to Chicago last season? – so if you get there, and keep getting there, who knows what will happen.
Q: Hi Doug, I can't wait for some real basketball to be on. I have two questions for you:
Since I'm moving around a bit, I don't anticipate having cable TV any time soon. I'm considering getting NBA League Pass Broadband. Now, I know that there are blackouts for local games, what I'm wondering if you can ask some poobahs at NBA TV Canada is whether I would be blacked out (living in Pennsylvania or maybe even Ottawa) because the Raptors games will be on TSN or Sportsnet?
Took 5-minutes to watch Antawn Jamison talk on NBA.com. The man looks like he's been in the gym with Antonio Davis. I remember in the early 2000s when the Raptors had Antonio Davis, JYD, Kevin Willis, Keon Clark, and watching those guys line up on the free-throw line was like a string of biceps. Even Vince was starting to chisel out. The modern NBA has guys a little leaner and more fluid, but who's the guy on the roster who will get the players into the weight room the most?
You have to admit -- as terrible as it is for the Vegas guys (I say that not having checked the spread) -- the "Touchderception" was great TV. I definitely stayed on a stool about half an hour longer than I would have otherwise to catch the finish of that game. You just knew something like that was going to happen.
David T, State College, Pa.
A: I will ask – or an Irregular will answer because they know far more than I do – but my thoughts are if you’re based in the USA, you should get Raptors games. But others will know better than I.
Who gets ‘em in the weight room? It’s such drudgery, it’s generally a coach; they have scheduled days for lifting that comes from the top.
Not sure on this roster there’s one veteran who can command others to hit the weights; they do it, but not at any one person’s urging.
Q: Doug: We all hope that the calf injury to big Val won't be a lingering problem, but could you contact Reggie Evans and try to borrow his blue sports coat. I think he looked pretty neat on the sidelines, not to say quite dashing. The jacket looks classy with a boot cast. Thanks.
Ken B, Matheson
A: I’m waiting for the Reggie Evans Line Of Linen Sports Coats to hit the malls. I’m seeing standardized grunt uniforms in varying shades.
Q: I know you're not the biggest Lenny Wilkens fan – at least not when he was coaching the Raptors. But I tuned in to NBA TV a couple nights ago and they were rerunning an old game back when he was coach. The play-by-play guy (I have no idea who it was) said that Lenny was the best thing to happen to Alvin Williams' career. And Leo seconded the sentiment. I'm wondering what your thoughts on the matter are, being a big Alvin Williams fan. Was this just local announcer homerism or was there some truth to it?
G M, Vancouver
A: Lenny did give Alvin the opportunity and the confidence to become the player he did, and for that he should be given all due credit. Not sure if it would have happened with another coach – Butch for some reason had buried Alvin on the end of the bench – but Lenny did see something and gave Alvin his shot. It was by far the best thing he did here.
My beef with Lenny, and it was mentioned even when he was here, was that he simply did not work hard enough; practices were easy, there was no originality in game management, play calling, defensive systems. It was like he was retired and it rankled.
Oh, that he could be a tad condescending to us writers was a pain, too.
Q: Hi Doug. Agree with your assessment of the Jays season but I felt at the beginning of the season they had too many "ifs" and once the pitchers went down so did their season.
I don't want to be negative but don't you think Raps, even if improved, have too many "ifs"?
If Lowry brings what we think he can. If Jose can coexist with Kyle. If Double D can rise to increased competition. If Andrea can build upon last season. If Eddy D can get that jump shot working. If Fields plays more like his rookie season as opposed to his sophomore season.
You see my simple theory is those with the least "ifs" make the playoffs.
Freddy W, Cambridge
A: They have a lot, no doubt, but so do a lot of teams and I don’t know that all of them have to come to fruition to be a success. Am putting together a list of priorities that’ll be part of our big pre-camp Raptors package on Monday afternoon but let’s just say now that, in my opinion, the biggest involves Bargnani.
Q: Hi Doug. Thanks for the blog and the milestone that was reached in terms of views. I look forward to reading it everyday.
I had a question regarding social media as many of the Raptors are on social media (twitter) and it appears from the outside in that Landry Fields/Quincy Acy/Kyle Lowry and Terrence Ross have what appears to be a nice off court chemistry. How important are these relationships and can it have any impact on their on court play/relationships?
Monty M, Toronto
A: Not sure how important they are but it’s unquestionably true that the better guys get along off the court, the more chance they have of meshing well on it.
I think what we’re seeing is kids of basically the same age hanging out in the manner so many do, via social media. Guess it’s fun and it has to be seen as a good sign for the Raptors. Of course, a far better sign would be Landry tweeting that he’s playing like he did in his first year rather than his second and Acy tweeting that he’d grown three inches.
Q: Doug, I'm happy the Raptors will have competition for every spot -- hopefully it'll force players to be that much better.
My question concerns the point guard position. Since this spot is typically a little different than the other 4, in that a "pure PG" will act as a facilitator, could you see the player "winning" the starting spot getting the job because the other 4 starters are more comfortable with that PG, and not because the player is the "best" PG.
I guess the other way of looking at it is: should the starting PG be graded mostly on their ability to be a facilitator/floor general and not so much on their defence/shooting percentage and other stats (assuming that the other 4 positions are won on a combination of defence and shooting prowess).
Chris C, Toronto
A: I do think leadership, intelligence and a savvy on-court ability to know when to do what and with whom are the most important characteristics in a point guard. You’re right, shooting and scoring are significant but I believe other parts of the game are more important.
Q: Hello Doug. Why hasn't Leandro Barbosa been signed by a team yet? Former sixth man of the year. He's only 29 years old. Lots of speed in those legs still.
Gary D, Stouffville
A: Not sure why Leandro doesn’t have a gig yet but he is coming off a so-so playoff series with Indiana and just an okay Olympics; he was making a rather significant wage and might not want to play for the minimum – which I would imagine is the best offer he’d get – and, yes, he’s still quick but not as quick as he once was.
Maybe he’ll get a late deal – I keep hearing the Lakers have some interest – but I wouldn’t at all be surprised if he doesn’t spend the season playing in Brazil.
Q: Doug, how long till BC looks at locking up our "PG of the future" for longer than two years? Lowry has just one more year on his deal than Calderon. Does he wait for a Jose trade first?
Jordan C, Toronto
A: Why do anything? I think you wait to see how the guy plays there’s no rush, he can’t do anything now because of the CBA rules but even if he could, why do it?
Q: Hi Doug. Your commitment to your blog is incredible.
Have you given any thought as to who you would like as a starting 5, and what your favourite story lines going into training camp are?
On another note, the Atlantic division figures to be really competitive this season. Has there been a season where all 5 teams from one division advanced to the playoffs? Where the heroes of the hardcourt a part of it?
Alex H, Toronto
A: Sorry, but I’m going to have to pass on the five storylines thing today lest I scoop myself and negate the work I’ve done already on a big piece for Monday afternoon here. Hope you understand.
And, from my research, never has a five-team division sent all five teams to the post-season.
Q: Hey Doug, know you don't like hypotheticals but I'm trying this one as it will speak to the Rap's needs: Say you can add two players to the Raptor roster from the rest of the NBA, salary is no constraint and your goal is to strengthen the team for both this year and the next five years, which two players would you take and why?
Gary M, Ottawa
A: Well, why wouldn’t you take the two best youngish players in the game, say LeBron James and Kevin Durant?
That’d be pretty much a no-brainer, wouldn’t it?
Maybe you make the case for a centre but since the best one just had back surgery, I’m sticking with the other two.
Q: Me again. Long flight to Austin. Any chance the Raptors can do a Cleveland ala LeBron and get Wiggins?
A: Sure. As long as no one complains about the agony of a season that makes them the worst in the NBA before the lottery turns out their way and Wiggins is as good advertised.
Go for it, I say.
Pretty cool that we’re thinking of tanking away an entire 2013-14 season before the 2012-13 training camp even begins.
Q: Doug, congratulations on 20 M hits. I've been reading you since 'Nuthin but (Inter)net'. You're the third thing I read daily, after the Star's Sports section, and my own emails.
What would get the NHL contract agreed to? Televising other hockey games with significant viewer numbers. In the USA, college hockey might be able to accomplish that. In Canada, those European & Russian hockey leagues that have NHLers playing for them might. No, the numbers won`t be the same, but they only have to be sufficient to scare the idiots trying to get more ...
Bo K, Mississauga
A: I wish I knew what would settle it, I’d probably sell the idea for a percentage of HRR and retire.
I imagine it’s like all negotiations, including one we all followed pretty closely a year ago: When both sides move to a 50-50 split of revenues it’ll signal a willingness to get a deal done.
I can’t see TV playing a role in it, actually. I’m not up to speed on what revenues the networks will lose, nor am I at all sure what savings they’ll realize in rights fees payments but the Americans care so very, very, very, very little about Canadian television – and hockey overall at this point in the sports calendar – that it’s a moot point.
And I see a news release today that says Sportsnet is going to beef up its coverage of junior hockey, which gives me another channel to ignore on off nights during the season.
Q: Hey Doug. Congrats on the 20 Million milestone! I don't see that you have commented on this in the last week so I'm curious what your thoughts are on Jalen Rose's locker room fight story about VC and Sam Mitchell, view it here.
My question is this - considering Jalen has made the jump from the court to the studio, does that mean any and all stories from his playing days, like this one, can be told out in the open now that he is a media-type?
I can't imagine VC or Smitch being thrilled about this story or any others from the Raps low points going public, being outright mocked even. If I was a former teammate I doubt I would be ok with closed door situations now being shared publicly.
What level of discretion should Jalen or any former players-turned-media guys have when it comes to locker room stories of the past?
Thanks and cheers
Kevin O, Toronto
A: I think he might have crossed a line; I also think he might have done his former teammate and coach a disservice but not asking them for comment if, in fact, Jalen – who I have an awful lot of time for, actually – considers what he does “journalism.”
And I haven’t spoken to Sam or Vince or anyone who knows them closely but I (a) don’t imagine they were impressed and (b) likely remember the incident differently.
Q: Your wrong on the regular first baseman! It’s the best thing to happen to the Jays in 2012 signing Encarcion. Replacement first baseman and DH well. Nuff Said!!!
Now 2nd base, center field, lost left field opportunities. Across the board (Encarcion aside) batting disasters!!!
More Murphy time through the winter. Everyone!!!
Don S, Toronto
A: Okay then, if Encarnacion is your first basemen, you have a glaring hole at DH. It’s one or the other.
Q: Doug: I like Jose, but as second string, or spot starter. He might put on a good show during camp, but the Raps need a change. I honestly think, that going forward, he should be traded. He still has a skill set, but his time in Toronto has come to an end. I mean no ill will, it's just that you can become too predictable, especially at point guard. Doug, should the best man always win?
Ken B, Matheson
A: Is it the best man? Or the right man? Not always the same thing, are they? Dwane mentioned it briefly this week when he said he needs to find a balance – both offensively and defensively – because it was sorely lacking last year. I have an idea how that balance might be best struck but, as I mentioned somewhere else in here, I have to save most of my pre-camp stuff for a pre-camp piece that should go up Monday afternoon.
Now, I’ll ask a question:
Why trade a guy in the last year of his contract who is still a very good player when you will be diminishing one of the strengths of your team, which is the fact you have two starter-calibre point guards on the team. I don’t get it, I honestly don’t.