The start -- and the finish -- of the weekend mail
Anyway, more on that tomorrow; have a read of this and meet back here tonight about 7:30 for the big game.
Q: Hi Doug; First of all, your blog is great. When I first moved across the pond 10 years ago, it was a struggle to keep up with the HOTH and ever since I discovered your blog I haven't felt so left out. So thanks.
After reading the Derozan extension post, I started thinking. How much of your emotions get tied up in the Raptors? Obviously you're a fan, but you have to write with a certain amount of impartiality. It must be easier to write about them when they win, but do you get bummed when they lose (like the hardcore irregulars)? How does it all affect you?
Keep up the great work.
Jim L, London, UK
A: Actually, I’m not a fan, can’t be. I can cheer for a story but not a team.
That said, it’s only natural that it’s a bit more fun to cover a team that’s winning; the players and coaches are in better moods and often better to deal with, stories take on a bit more significance with a greater number of readers and it may be harder (or more) work, but it’s more fun.
(At least that’s how I recall it years ago when they were winning 47 games a year).
Q: There's an Adidas commercial on TV these days that strongly implies that Derek Rose is back playing for the bulls or will be soon. Is that true?
Paul R, Toronto
A: No, not true at all. You’re looking at all-star break, most likely and Rose himself said if there’s pain or an issue, he could miss full season. There is nothing imminent at all.
Q: Hey Doug I have two questions. First question, do you know what the "incentives" in DeRozan's new deal (does it include making the playoffs)? Second question, I remember you mentioning last week that you were in the selection committee that chooses the players who make the all-star ballot can you say which Raptors made the list or will I have to wait and see?
Pedro S, Lisbon
A: The incentives can range from personal performance, team performance or even extra promotional work and teams have to have “room” under the cap for them if they are achieved. It’s very, very complicated and I don’t entirely get it.
And, yes, I was on the committee along with Steve Aschburner of NBA.com, Kenny Smith of TNT and Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle. And I’m afraid the confidential nature of our deliberations includes not making our selections public until the NBA releases the ballot. I think that’s Nov. 13 or so.
Q: Hi Doug. It would appear you have risen to a whole new level of prestige within the NBA community. No sooner that you mention in your blog that the Nets-Knicks game should not be played in wake of the super storm, then the NBA changes its mind! That is what I would call persuasive power! So when did the Commissioner and his staff become "Irregulars"?
Mark L, Abbotsford
A: The tentacles reach far and wide, don’t they? But it’s even bigger than you think, it was New York Mayor Bloomberg who asked the NBA to postpone the game; that’s the kind of people we’ve got here.
Q: Three questions.
How does the loss on Wednesday look now that Charlotte has beaten Indiana? And is the sky falling? Three, regardless of whether I like that the NBA is continuing to play in New York despite the state of the city, is this situation something that could galvanize a team, particularly a veteran team, like New York? How about Brooklyn?
As always, thanks. Be safe. Peace
John D, Oakville
A: As I look out, the sky is not falling so I think everything’s okay one game into the regular season.
Sure looked last night like it might have galvanized the Knicks and their fans and I imagine there’ll be a bit more energy in the building here tonight.
Q: Good morning, Doug. An encouraging ray of hope, a connected story, and two questions for you: LaGuardia and Brooklyn? Like Lester B Pearson and Hazelville - if you have to go anywhere in the post-Sandy New York area, Brooklyn is your best bet as both airports are in Brooklyn, on the "right" side of the river, so hopefully it's not too bad for you. Actually had the "weekend of the year" there just recently. My wife had a work conference in New York in late July, just a two day, one night flying visit, and invited me along. It was great! Babysitter arranged, flew out of Buffalo, landed 11:30, taxi to Manhattan Hilton, checked in and straight to the concierge - last minute tickets to Wicked (great show) and reservations at Bobby Flay's Bar Americain. Delicious, truly one of the best meals I have ever had.
Which leads me to my two questions: best food in New York City? and best impromptu, spur of the moment, "time filler" while in an NBA city on duty? Oh, and if you will allow a third, have you ever had the chance to take "superwife, superson, or superfamily" with you because of interest, holidays, just because...? Thanks.
A J F, Burlington
A: It’s been a while since there’s been time for a “good” dinner in New York but there’s an Italian place called Il Vagabondo (if indeed it’s still open) somewhere around Second and 62nd that’s really good (and it has a bocce court in the basement); time filler’s are also hard to come by, but I remember stumbling on to the Holocaust memorial in Boston one day, something I didn’t even know existed.
The family? They might make a trip every other year during the regular season, and they, of course, pick the good cities. Boston one time and I believe they’ll be in New Orleans having fun while I’m working this season. But it’s very much two trips; they do things, I work and we kind of meet up at the end of the day.
Q: Hi Doug. Bit of an off topic question for you. We have a 13 year old in the house whose just getting rid to start the application process for high school. She wants to get into journalism, just like you. She loves to write and over the last year, she's grown to enjoy your column every day as she really likes the way you interact sports news with other topics in your daily blog. Can you provide any advice as to what she should be focusing on during her high school years to develop her journalistic interests. Thank you and keep up the great work.
Joe D, Mississauga
A: Wow, there’s not nearly enough time or space here to answer this fully but this is what I try to tell school groups when I talk to them these days:
Learn multi-media, it’s the way the industry is going and if you’re not on the curve or ahead of it, it’s tough.
That, and read. A lot, different things, see how other people write because it’ll help you find a style you enjoy. Plus, you learn stuff.
I wish her nothing but the best, these are tough times but if you’re good, they’ll find you.
Q: Hi Doug. I was just wondering, I read and heard about NBA players who have expiring contracts, when asked if they want to stay with their present team and always the answer is "I loved this team, I loved this city" yadi yadi yada. Is that how they really feel or is it what their team PR people tell them to say. I remember this is the press release of Hedo Turkoglu before and when he went back to Orlando, he spew some fire about the Raptors. Thanks
Jacqui J R, Toronto
A: It’s not the team PR staffs who put words in player’s mouths but players – and coaches and managers – know what’s politically astute to say. It should probably be taken with a grain of salt.
Q: Hey Doug: I'm assuming that babysitting gig worked out well for you ;
Outside the world of sports, are there any 'famous' people who know you by name? Perhaps someone who is a regular at some particular arena, and has somehow met you?
Thanks again for all the work - including the return of Nothing But Net! - that you do for us. It is much appreciated, and I hope the Tall Foreheads don't actually charge what reading a Doug Smith article/blog/IGBT/NBN is worth!
Tim H, Windsor
A: Famous people? Know? Not really. I have some friends with a measure of fame but that’s about it. There are nodding acquaintances with some people – the regulars you see at games – but that’s about it.
Q: Hey Doug. Was reading an article in the Star about the 120 anniversary of the paper, and about the old building where legends were born. Fascinating stuff. You have been around for thirty years, and while I know you are from Niagara, do you have any recollection of the old building? Is there any legendary stuff to talk about in the newer one? Give us some history!
Ren R, Swastika
A: I wish I did, sounds like it was some kind of place. But by the time I got to the Star, we were fully ensconced at 1 Yonge. Been some renovations but that’s about it.
There used to be a bar on the first floor that was a bit of a gathering spot but that’s long gone – probalby for the good.
Q: Doug. Read a report that said whatever Tim Duncan did over the summer will serve as an inspiration to aging athletes everywhere because he looks great this season. That reminded me of an article I read a few months ago. (Sorry, can't remember the source.) Anyway, a trainer said that kids graduating from College into the NBA this year will routinely play into their 40's. It will become the norm given the advances in conditioning, diet, treatment, etc.
If that turns out to be true, could you see an NBA with at least twice as many teams? There won't be roster spots for the twenty-somethings with all of these old geezers tying up roster spots. (There might be hope for Vancouver yet.)
Joe S, Kingston
A: I disagree totally with that trainer. They may have better conditioning, dieting and medical treatment but most of the ones whose skills allow them to play for a long time will have made so much money they might not want to play into their 40s.
And, no, no, a thousand times no to any kind of expansion. There’s enough bad basketball now, more watered down version would drive me stark raving mad.
Q: What has Kleiza done to merit sitting him on the bench in the opener when the small forward spot was so glaringly weak in an otherwise excellent effort?
Alan S, Toronto
A: Mostly just hasn’t played well. The other night Fields and Anderson weren’t good at all, offensively, and the time they might have gambled on Kleiza ended up being the time they used Lowry, Calderon and DeRozan.
Q: Hey Doug. Opening night is upon us, lets hope for a good season – because even as a dedicated fan, I struggle with a ‘Cleveland, Washington, Atlanta; 3 games in 4 nights during Mid February road trip’ and if the Raps are on their way to a 30 win season, it makes it even harder watch.
Anyway, question: Laker’s running a Princeton style offense – Effective? Lost 8 in a row in preseason (I know – irrelevant), dropped their home opener vs. a Dallas team with no Dirk. The offense looks terrible, it’s really slow. Nash walking the ball up the floor, no pick and roll basketball, and Kobe and Ron Artest sitting in the wing spots looking for kick outs or curling into the lane for a dump off pass from a big. I just wonder how long this experiment will last? You have one of the greatest pick and roll PG’s in the NBA playing with 2 dominant bigs – and you’re not running the pick and roll?
Overall the Lakers will be fine – there is just too much talent there not to be, but this team is not built to be good, there built to win it all.
Ollie H, Toronto
A: I’m going to use this as representative of all the “what in tarnation is Mike Brown doing?” queries this week.
I don’t think for a second that it’s the best offensive system for the talents on the roster and it’s a shame they’ve wasted all this time trying to put it together because it’s time they could have spent working on the team’s rather atrocious defence.
But I also think it’s a week into the season and the Lakers are old enough and smart enough to eventually get it and win on the strength of their talent. But it has to be the most frustrating week for players and fans in a very long time.
Q: Love the blog. Start my day with you! My question is about Quincy Acy. What role will he play on the team? Does he have a chance to play? To contribute? To grow into a regular NBA player?
Thanks for what you do.
David M, Petawawa
A: I don’t imagine he’ll play any significant role this season, he’ll practice and hopefully improve to the point where he’s capable of challenging for a spot in the rotation. As is the case with a large number of second round picks in the NBA every year.
Q: According to Steve Aschburner, Dan Gilbert recently said. ”The big lesson was if a player is not willing to extend, no matter who they are, no matter where they are playing, no matter what kind of season you had, you can not risk going into a summer and having them leave in unrestricted free agency and get nothing back for it.” In light of this, do you think OKC made a good move in trading Harden? He would probably leave this summer and OKC would get nothing in return (Lin, Fields).
Are the Raptors in the same position with DeRozen? If he won't agree to a deal this fall, what are the chances he will agree to anything similar this summer?
The new CBA was supposed to help teams keep their players. So, why is Houston able to offer Harden a 5-year deal when OKC could only offer him 4 years?
Bradley D, Cornwall
A: Total apples and oranges since Lin, Fields, Harden all would have been restricted free agents, giving their teams a chance to match any offer, in effect finding out what the market is rather than bidding against yourself by locking them up a year early.
If DeRozan plays here through this season now without an extension, he will be a restricted free agent; Toronto won’t necessarily lose him.
Q: Doug, I was reading an article about what Lebron might have to do for an encore (apparently winning a second championship wouldn't be enough). Has any NBA player ever averaged a triple-double over the course of a season?
Mike D, Toronto
A: The one and only Oscar Robertson averaged 30.8 points, 12.5 rebounds and 11.4 assists per game in the 1961-62 season, the only time a player has ever done that.
Q: Hi Doug. Very happy (as I'm sure you were as well) to see that Jay was chosen as the new head coach for the men's basketball team. Can you tell us anything about some potential roster changes? Could you see Sam coming back? What about these very talented young forwards now playing in Cleveland and Orlando?
Jeremy W, Tatamagouche, N.S.
A: I can’t really tell you about roster changes, there’s no real indication who might be available and around next summer when they begin the qualification process for the 2014 worlds.
Sam? Sam Dalembert? That ship has sailed; don’t see him coming back, don’t think he’d make the team (Nicholson and Thompson are ahead of him now, kids coming up behind will challenge) if he wanted to come back.
Q: Offense gets you into the league playing both sides of the ball keep you there/Do you think this is a play off bound team/also where is Garbo now? That boy could slide into the passing lane and deflect more ball.
Roy H, Markham
A: Will let you know about playoffs in April.
Garbo? Ran into him at the Olympics a few times, he’s working with the Spanish federation getting ready to host basketball’s 2014 World Cup. “You’re a big boss,” I told him. “They think I can help; you come to Spain for the worlds, I will make sure you have fun.”
I (heart) Garbo.
Q: Hey Doug. Since everyone is talking about extensions, it got me thinking. I believe Lowry’s contract is up in 2 years, do you see BC locking him up long term maybe next offseason? And what do you think he worth? Seems if he is good as advertised I could see him making in the 12 million a year range.
David S, Calgary
A: I am not going to presume for a second what a salary three seasons hence would be; but Bryan wouldn’t be doing his job if he at least didn’t explore an extension at the first moment he’s allowed. So, yes, they will look to do something whenever they can.
Q: Hi Doug. Seemingly within a span of a few minutes, former USC team mates DeRozan and Gibson signed virtually identical contract extensions. In your opinion, which team made the more prescient decision?
Frank B, Toronto
A: That’s an interesting question. I guess I’d say the Raptors for what they are expecting DeRozan to become. Not sure Gibson will play as large a role in Chicago than DeMar will in Toronto so maybe the Bulls invested about the same money in a lesser piece. But we shall see how Gibson develops. And DeRozan.
Q: Doug, when on the offense, a player tips in a shot that bounced off the rim from a team-mate's shot, does he get a rebound? I wondered that last night when Jonas scored on a put back.
Jim A, Cambridge
A: There’s a measure of subjectivity here that sometimes get forgotten. If a player has “control” he could get a rebound but it’s up to the quick eyes of the people on the stats crew.
Q: Great season opener for the Raptors, with the rock at centre court, lights going dark and fans beating on their light-up thunderstix. That's all great and gets everyone involved - I'm all for it.
What I hate? People throwing their thunderstix from upper bowl. What's the point of giving them out if you're going to throw it away anyway?
Talha A, Mississauga
A: I’m trying to figure out why they give them out in the first place, unless it’s to give people something to use when the beat the guy who wrote “Everybody clap your hands” senseless as a way of getting back at him.
Q: The news of the DeRozan contract had me wondering if the beat grunts ever get their noses out of joint when the details of a contract like this are leaked through the league office to a national reporter rather than through the team or an agent to a beat reporter who might have been tracking the story for months? I know it is really only a question of "who is first to report" but still... if it was me, I would be upset.
David W, Oakville
A: No, not really out of joint. Sure, it’s competitive and at some level you like to be first but we also realize there are people better connected, who work just as hard and it’s often a matter of who sends the right text or e-mail to the right guy at the right time.
Frustrating at moments? Sure. But a wise old friend once told me a very long time ago that 90 per cent of the stories are tied, five per cent you win, five per cent you lose and there’s nothing to get too, too worked up about.
Q: Hey Doug. Long time fan of your writing and the blog is daily reading regardless of where I am in the country on a given day.
I never played the game beyond church league (and then was only a back up!) so will confess that my in game technical knowledge is nil. Something I see with regularity puzzles me and I wonder if you could shed some light. Often a big will set a pick for the guard but the guard goes to the side of the pick rather than the open side. You would think that if they are not going to take advantage of the pick, why would they bother setting them? Thoughts?
Great effort last night. Hopefully once they play together longer the offense will come around so we won't have droughts at critical times.
Dave M, Puslinch
A: Couple of reasons, actually. Sometimes it’s to avoid being trapped by the second defender; sometimes it’s just to mix things up a little bit.