The start of the weekend mail
Got a few left over for the morning but there’s still all kinds of room. You know the drill, if you want.
Have fun with this and one thing:
Alan Doyle can flat out warble.
Helluva birthday party.
Q: Finally, the TOD show some team speed, unfortunately it was on the way to YYZ. Speaking of speed, was pleased to read the HOTH are working on an up tempo offense but I'm tired of all the corporate rhetoric. We still have a top ten ticket price with a bottom third product. Hey but I'm guilty. I'll drink coach Casey's cool aid. Can his high demands be sustained for a full season?
John C, Hazelville
A: I wonder if they can, actually. I know they’re talking a big game and they probably can push the tempo a little bit but it’s hard to do (a) against good teams that get back on defence and (b) would probably be helped by creating turnovers and that’s not this team’s strength.
Q: Hi Doug. With regards to the football injuries, I don't think it will get any better until you remove the pads and make them play like rugby and Australian rules guys do. It also has the advantage of allowing the fans to connect more easily with players because they can see their faces. Thoughts?
Rodger H, St. George
A: I like both of those games quite a bit but they aren’t ever going to replace football over here, it’s too engrained in the sporting culture.
I’m sure there will be the odd teenage athlete who might take up rugby rather than play football but can’t see it putting a dent in anything.
Q: Hey Doug Just wondering what you think about the Royce White dilemma down in Houston. Ever seen anything like it before?
Brett F, Lethbridge
A: To all the others who asked a similar question, we’ll use this one.
I don’t know of a similar situation in NBA history, actually, and if there’s one out there, I’d love to hear about it.
I think it’s a very difficult situation (the details are here in Jonathan’s piece) and I laud the Rockets for trying to find some solution. And White’s candor has been refreshing, I hope it works out and serves as an inspiration to others who suffer a similar malady. That’s not just in basketball or sports, either; if someone who suffers from the same illness as White can say “hey, an NBA player is dealing with it, why can’t I?” some true good will have been done.
That said, it’s going to be tremendously difficult for this to work for an entire season, I think. The NBA travel is difficult and that’s travelling in charter aircraft and having every road whim dealt with. I hope White can put up with the long bus rides all season, I don’t know that he will.
Q: During the Yunel Escobar situation I noticed a few times a discussion of the use of translators to ensure proper communication and I wondered if anything similar exists in basketball. With players from all over the world, I can imagine some coming to the NBA with less than perfect English. Is there ever a case where the team provides help, especially in the first couple of years in North America?
What about from a grunt's perspective, it seems like Valanciunas has no problem communicating, but is that always the case? Ever have to interview a translator :-)?
Neil S, Thornhill
A: Oh, teams help all the time. They help set up translators – the Rockets had one travel full time with Yao Ming for at least a couple of seasons, same with Denver and Nene back a few years ago.
And, yes, I’ve interviewed translators in those two instances.
The Raptors have been the same. They helped Jose and Andrea get acclimated – neither had translators but could have if they wanted – and they did set up Jonas with some English lessons last season in Lithuania because they wanted him as comfortable as possible when he got here.
Q: Curious to know if that 1,300 pound rock is still around? Did it get any love on media day? Looking forward to a full season of Raptors basketball.
Andrew S, Toronto
A: The rock is indeed still around, although it didn’t travel here. And media day was on the main concourse of the arena, the rock’s down in the locker room so we haven’t had a chance to visit it yet.
Monday we will.
Q: Doug, 3 questions, 1st 2 related at the end:
It seems the Raps have an overload of players at the 4 spot. With Acy and McGuire coming in with new blood, who do you think will be the odd man out?
I am pumped about Lowry and think that Lucas III can provide good energy off the bench. Will Calderon fit in this new fast-paced, up tempo offense?
With what seems as extra players at both the 1 and 4, how likely is a trade before too long?
Mike H, Toronto
A: I don’t think either Acy or McGuire will play basically at all, actually. Maybe McGuire a wee bit in some specific defensive instances but that’s about it.
And I’m quite sure Jose is capable of playing whatever way they want him to.
Trade? Don’t imagine any team anywhere doing anything for probably the first 20 games of the regular season and the fact is, there are always going to be ‘extra players” on a 15-man roster regardless.
Q: Hi Doug. I know you don't like talking about possible trade scenarios, but when Colangelo hinted in an interview posted today that he could make a big splash in a trade later this year, I couldn't help but think about what it might look like.
My guess is that Jose and Amir would be Toronto's best trade assets, and their $16M in salary might get a solid veteran small forward in return. Assuming SF is still a need, John Lucas proves himself as a backup pg, and Ed Davis proves he is as good or better than Amir this year, this kind of trade would make sense for the Raptors who would be able to improve their starting unit, and not compromised their bench.
Lots of "if's", but I find it comforting to know there are still opportunities to improve the roster this year, to help their chances of having a successful season (which for me is at least making the playoffs).
Does this provide you with any comfort?
Graham V, Vancouver
A: There are lots of possible trade scenarios that I presume Bryan will explore as a matter of course, that’s what GMs do. Your scenario would be one possibility, for sure.
Comfort? Not in the least, to tell you the truth. In fact, trades are a lot of work so I’d probably be fine with nothing happening.
Q: Hey Doug. You talked about how there was no room on the Raptor roster for both Amir and Ed due to "over-stocking" :).
I know it's still early, but do you have an opinion on which has the better chance of sticking?
Elio M, Toronto
A: I think it’s safe to say at this time that both will be here for the foreseeable future, as I mentioned earlier I don’t see any team doing anything for about 20 games.
And I haven’t seen as much as a pre-season game, it’s impossible to say who’s playing well or if one is “out-playing” the other.
Q: Hey Doug. Saw 3 basketball articles this morning in the fish wrapper along with the blog, oh how I have waited for some basketball news. It is so refreshing to hear over the whining of the hockey (On a side rant: If the NHL wants to truly be respected then it needs to acknowledge that they are the only major sports league in the WORLD where teams deliberately put out an inferior product. Cut the shenanigans with the fighting – which is illegal in the game of hockey, and let the best players play. I don’t watch hockey to see Crosby and Ovechkin injured in the press box; and Raffi Torres and Matt Cooke on the ice...)
Now to my question: After the first week of interviewing the team and all the new faces, who should we be looking out for great quotes? Any Oak-like candidates in the room?
Any emerging personalities?
Looking forward to another season and this city desperately needs a team to step up and give us something to cheer for, and hopefully this squad can at least compete for a playoff spot.
Ollie H, Toronto
A: Oh, you folks are going to love John Lucas III. Engaging, intelligent, funny and willing to tell a story at any time. Not quite Oak but there’ll never be another one like him. I’m not sure how much Lucas is going to play but he may end up being a go-to guy for us regardless.
And Landry Fields has a nice dry sense of humour that we’ll be calling on frequently during the season.
Jon B, Lindsay
A: This is what I was talking about just a minute ago.