The start of the weekend mail
With a few other things on the go, I didn’t watch that Detroit thing near closely enough to offer anything of substance to any discussion so here’s mail.
And there’s lots more where this came from to get me through tomorrow.
But, first ...
RIP, Larry Hagman.
Q: Doug. I caught just a little bit of Butch Carter on Prime Time Sports this morning on replay. Very cerebral discussion.
In the little I saw, he was talking about things that the Raptors needed to get better at, like maintaining intensity when the subs start coming in, winning the 1st quarter so the starters don't get too tired, etc. I wish I had seen it all.
My question is what do you see Dwayne Casey has to get better at in order to help the team succeed?
David M, Petawawa
A: I could take the easy way out and say a bit of everything, like we all do.
But there could be more creative offensively but the fact is they get a lot of good shots, they just don’t make enough of them.
Maybe a more firm rotation but, again, he’s got a couple of rotation guys hurt and no one’s really emerging by playing consistently well.
Q: Hey Doug:. In his article about the Gibbons' hiring, Not Grace Kelly said:
"A baseball manager really has only one baseball job -- handling the staff."
If you were forced to say that a basketball coach 'really only has one...job,' what would it be?
Thanks for keeping the ship righted in these trying times for Raptors fans!
Tim H, Windsor
A: Managing the egos.
Of players and their agents and their friends.
Q: Good day, would have to agree with the issue of traveling on American Thanksgiving, would be far preferable to be curled up on someone's couch, good meal and an ample supply of Sam Adams or Yeungling at hand.
Anyway, to the point, to what, if any, extent will the buzz around the Blue Jays affect their professional sport brethren here in Toronto? I find myself wondering if might be similar to teeing it up against someone that you know to be more accomplished at the game, a little added incentive to strive for a result?
Thanks for what you do.
Doug T, Brantford
A: The people who run the other organizations are so fixated on their own success that someone else’s big splash does really “drive” them at all. I know Bryan is a friend of Alex’s and would be glad for him and would wish him well – and I presume it’s the same for Brian Burke – but incentive to make one’s team better is internal.
Q: Is there a limit to the number of ludicrous questions I can submit before I am cut off from submitting any questions?
I think this is my first of the season... If the Knicks cannot find the same level of success once Amare returns as they are seeing right now, do you think the Knicks will try to move him and do you think Bryan might be interested if he could get Amare for a package that includes Bargnani and say Fields? (Is there smoke coming out of your ears or did I only manage to score an eye roll?)
David W, Oakville
A: Not in a jillion years would they ever, ever, ever consider that for even a blink of an eye. Been there, done that, seen the career-limiting surgery, now the cap-crippling, uninsurable contract.
I know that no contract is truly untradeable; I will say with 99.99999 per cent conviction that Stoudemire’s contract makes him untradeable.
Q: Is this the same person who never played for the National team.
Warren R, Surrey
A: Yep. And you’re the same person who’s never talked to an NBA player or coach? But have watched a lot of games from Mom and Dad’s basement, right?
That’s weak, son. Very weak. But thanks for reading.
Q: Ah U.S. Thanksgiving in the Texas triangle..._Do the locals eat a meal similar to us Puritans?
When will Ross get some decent playing time? They could have used his quickness on D in the fourth against Philly. How about a little more offense guy (the pasta king) versus a D guy (Mcguire) on respective possessions?
Marty Robbins..El Paso or maybe Houston by ...Dean Martin?
All the best!
Bob E, Kanata
A: Yeah, I get you on the Ross, think he’s earned a few more minutes because his attention to defence is coming; he doesn’t lose his man on every play now. Lots, not but every one.
Never been to El Paso, can’t see ever getting there, either. But …
Q: Hey Doug! Any insight into why Amir consistently gets more minutes than Ed Davis? Just about every game I've watched this year it seems like Davis has outplayed Johnson.
Erik S, Toronto
A: Both of them have been so up and down this season, I don’t think anyone can clearly say one has been better or worse than the other.
Q: Hi Doug. Appreciate all the work you do to keep fans updated on the Raptors. I grew up in the Toronto area but has been living in the Seattle area for the past 8-9 years. Still root enthusiastically for the Raps :). I read that this past Sunday was Jonas V bobblehead day. Wanted to see you know how I can acquire one. Are there any extras left over from the stadium give away?
I didn't know who I could contact so I thought I'd give you a try. Any help you can give would be greatly appreciated.
Allan K, Seattle
A: I’m told they ran out quickly; only possible place I could send you would be to the team’s website to see if there’s an on-line store or something. Sorry, that’s the best I’ve got.
Q: Hey Doug keep up the good work I look in the boxscore and see a stat for BA what exactly is that. Also on a missed free throw is that considered a rebound for a player on the stat sheet.
Jan V, London
A: BA is “blocks against” or the number of times in a game a specific player’s shot is blocked.
And yes, rebounding a missed free throw is a rebound.
Q: Haven't heard much about the National Basketball League of Canada lately. How's the second season going and what does it need to do to keep growing the league and sport in Canada?
Darren K, Kitchener
A: Unfortunately, this has been such a busy month – I think someone at home said it’s 24 days with either a game or a flight – that I haven’t been to a game or talked to many people about the league. I will in December, I’m sure.
But from what I’m told, things are going well. There’s a new expansion team in Windsor that’s doing good things, they just announced that Ottawa will have a team next year and the Montreal club, which got such a late start, is doing okay.
And it needs slow, steady growth with solid ownership that connects with the city.
Q: Hi Doug. I really like Kyle Lowry's game. He's tenacious. When we acquired him from Houston, we gave up a protected 1st round draft pick, and Gary Forbes.
I'm curious about a protected 1st round draft pick. I understand that the Raptors have up to 5 years to fulfill their end of the deal. So, if we tank this year (let's hope not!), and we have a top 5 draft pick, we can shift it to another year.
But I also understand that Houston has a say in the matter too. They can request that it's a higher draft pick (perhaps #10-15), rather than being stuck with a lousy pick. And they may also be able to dictate when the transaction is to be completed. Can you shed some light on the situation.
Gary D, Stouffville
A: No, the protection that’s on the pick remains, those trade negotiations are over and signed-off on; nothing can change in that specific transaction.
Q: Doug, I would like to get your thoughts on the man defence that Casey is employing. It seems like the help/rotation is complicated and has players out of position too often and leaving too many perimeter players wide-open or with a helpless defender closing from too far away. This reminds me of the D that the Raps tried to play under Jay Triano which was also very complex and ultimately failed miserably.
I am not saying they are in any way the same, but the results of defenders, too often, running around in chaos seems eerily similar.
Nick M, Hamilton
A: That may be what you see but it’s not what they want; they are trying to do precisely what they did last year, protect the paint and close out to shooters. It’s just not working as well right now.
Q: As painful/crushing as the last minute losses are (single tear) I still love watching this team play. So much talent and teamwork starting to gel. Good intro in my mind for the newbies if they can get through it - rough schedule, young team, lack of ref respect, early injuries, tough losses - Welcome to the NBA. From what you see is Casey spinning it to them that way?
Is it just a mental hump to get over and how long can it go with damaging the product?
The potential for a sustainable, quality team to grow together is the highest it's been since VC days.
Adam D, Peterborough
A: That’s the big question: How long can they handle this series of soul-sucking losses without imploding and it’s up to the coaches to keep giving some kind of positive reinforcement until they get some wins and see some fruits of their labour. It’s not easy but it has to be done.
Q: (Sorry - I don't have a question, just a comment.)__re: "I don’t know what, if anything, eventually will [happen] but if enough complaints are lodged against enough officials and the league agrees calls are being regularly blown, some official is going to pay some price."
I'd much rather that officials be given help to make the right call rather than being penalized for making mistakes. This help could be in the form of training, better use of available technology, or both. All referees, especially at the pro level, have extremely difficult jobs and mistakes will be made. Adding additional pressure by making them afraid of punishment does not seem like a good strategy to improving their performances.
Andrew W, Toronto
A: There is no perfect answer to missed calls; never has been, never will be in any sport.
Q: Hey Doug. What's it going to take for this team to start winning? Is there one intangible or just "be better at everything?”
Andrew C, Halifax
A: A couple of breaks, some big games from unexpected sources and a few missed shots by opponents would be on my list.
Q: Hi Doug, after the Charlotte game and watching Bargnani get bullied by Biyombo, especially down the stretch, would it be so terrible to have him on the second unit and Amir play with the first unit? Amir, not as offesively gifted, could've contained Biyombo and prevented a few Charlotte second chances, especially in the critical fourth. Between Kyle and Demar, I think there's enough offense to make up the difference, even more so when they go into the fourth with an 8 or more point lead. Bargnani will be the 5 on the second unit, playing with Calderon, who he's obviously more comfortable with. Plus it will be against the opposing team's second unit, so the damage won't be as great as their first unit guys torching him. Of course, this is all predicated on Jonas not fouling out and/or playing well. Have you heard or seen practices where Dwayne is thinking the same thing? Always a pleasure Doug! Keep up the good work!
Tim L, Mississauga
A: I don’t see how that makes them any better; different, but not necessarily better. And the flaw, of course, is that you point out to Biyombo “bullying” Bargnani and Biyombo, of course, is not a starter.
Q: Hi Doug. Well the Raptors are having a bit of a tough go to begin the season and that seems to be an annual occurrence. Many of us are hopeful that they will be able to pick up a bit as the schedule eases.
It seems the Raptors often have a tough schedule early, more road games then home games and a 4 or 5 game west coast trip in November. Is there any reason for this? Is there something that happens annually at the ACC that uses a lot of home dates early in the year? do other teams have home dates available early in the year, but less later on? It would be great if next year the Raps played 15 of their first 20 at home for a change.
Greg M, Halifax
A: No specific reason, it’s not like Chicago, which usually has a seven- or eight-game road trip in November when the circus takes over their arena, or San Antonio, which is always away for about two weeks around all-star because of a rodeo in their building.
It’s just the way it worked out this year; a bad break but nothing anyone can do about it.
Q: Hi Doug. I appreciate your basketball knowledge and opinion.
Andrea Bargnani - so frustratingly inconsistent! not being the greatest defender but making his shots is bearable. Not making his shots and being outworked defensively is just unprofessional. Does he have off court issues? Is he really a good team mate? Is it time for a change of address for him?
Herb H, Whitby
A: Probably wished you’d held on to this after his 34 points Friday, I bet.
Q: When one team goes small, inevitably the other team matches. Why doesn't it happen more often that the other team stays big to create a mismatch the other way?
David H, Mississauga
A: Mostly because coaches don’t see the overall benefit at the other end making up for the mismatches at the other. And most “smalls” are far more versatile than “bigs” so teams generally want to match up the physical virtues more than anything.
Q: Hi. Embedded video from ytube on your blog will not play on my iPad. Other places at thestar.com work fine, eg hobbit trailer. Could you ask a tech guy about it?
Jason M, Oakville
A: I sure will. I have no clue why that is – I’m still trying to figure out the magic of television – but someone might tell me what I’m doing wrong.
Q: Hi Doug. I fully agree that athletes should fetch what they can on the open market, given their short careers and the demands of their jobs. Maybe a small hometown discount if they really like where they are or doing so will help the team be more competitive, but I wouldn't suggest that any athlete should be expected to give up millions due to "loyalty".
I really am a Jose fan. His defense may be lacking at times, but he always gives a great effort and does an excellent job on the offensive end. Having said that, I am also excited about what Kyle Lowry brings to the table.
Jose has been well compensated for the last 5 years, even though I am a fan, I would say he has been a bit over-compensated. I would like to see the Raps keep both Lowry and Jose, but I think that they can only do it if Jose's next contract is much less for 2014-15 and beyond (when a Lowry extension would kick in).
What do you think Jose's market value would be next year? I think a 3 year contract for $20 MM may be doable for the Raps, but think that Jose may command a bit more than that. (say 4 years, $28 - $30MM). Do you think we can resign him and afford Lowry's extension?
Greg M, Halifax
A: I cannot guess at his market value, too many variables at play like what teams will have what cap space and what needs next summer.
I do know the Raptors will talk to him in the summer and hope they can come to an agreement. And I also think everyone understands that the next salary will be lower than this one; how much is the question.
Q: Doug. Should the Raptors offer a contract extension to Jose Calderon? Will they? If we've learned anything over the years, it's that two point guards are better than one point guard. Jose is a leader, an excellent teammate, has enjoyed playing in Toronto and doesn't pout when he has been made the "back-up" point guard. If the price is right (and no one bowls them offer with a great trade offer during this season), wouldn't it make sense to bring him back?
Alan G, Toronto
A: See above but know that they won’t talk about an extension now until the summer; doesn’t make sense from either side.
Q: Hey Doug. I have to disagree with your opinion on how officiating was handled last night. The refs cost the team the game and its not the first one this season. Raptors are now 3-9. The fan base is frustrated and angry.__Coaches and management have to know they are starting to lose casual fans, again. They should be angry, and they need to show the fans they are. Coach, or management, should have come out, in the game or media, and harshly criticized the officials.
At this point its no longer about appeasing the league(and it's desire that everything run merrily along) - It is about the fan base. Embarrass the league. Take the fine. Show the fans you care. Generate some excitement.
And, yes, I know the officials are going through a transition phase, adjusting to the new rule interpretations. And, its the hardest sport to officiate. But, they are doing a poor job of letting the players, and the rules, determine the outcome of the game.
Nathan T, Newmarket
A: Why come out and bash officials and spend about $35,000 of your money when the quiet, formal way to lodge complaints got exactly the same result?
Of course they’re angry but putting on a show for fans does nothing, really.