The start of the weekend mail
Here’s a whole whack of questions and there are some leftover that I’ll get to later today for tomorrow morning as a special added bonus.
I’d finish them off now but there’s grocery shopping to do and then a shootaround to get to for the game-day Dino-bytes.
Have fun with this and we’ll be back around 7 for the usual IGBT.
Q: Derek's comment about sports psychologists reminded me of Tony Robbins (yes, the big head, big hands, late nite infomercial, fire walking Tony Robbins) telling the story of how he worked with Byron Scott when he was a Laker to improve Byron's shooting percentage. Robbins says it worked and it was documented by Life Magazine. My question, you have been around enough teams, enough guys, to see slumps and streaks... what is your opinion on sports psychology and what guys like Robbins can bring to the table?
David W, Oakville
A: The Raptors have a sports psychologist on a retainer as a consultant, have for years and it’s just another tool players or coaches can use if they see fit. I don’t for a second think they “solve” problems but if they can help in a small way by being offering advice, why not take advantage of them?
I think they bring an outsider’s look at an insular organism like a team and that can sometimes be good. But it’s not for everyone, there are players and coaches who’d rather keep things private, and that’s fine, too.
Q: Looks like our Lightning is off to another great NBL season and hopefully won't be looking back at the loss of Gabe Freeman. You've mentioned how the NBL is a helpful incentive for young Canadian players to work for a pro career, but is not necessarily a stepping stone to the big show.
But I was wondering - does the NBL give coaches a better chance to showcase their talents for the NBA. I think we've got some good ones; not sure if the gig here will advance any coaching careers. What do you think?
TL I, London
A: I don’t think it gives them any kind of resume boost, most coaches – primarily NBA assistants -- get jobs in large part because of who they know when opening occur. That said, the more you coach, the more different situations you have to handle strategically and in dealing with personalities so in that way it’d help.
But I don’t thing any NBA GM or head coach would say, ‘hey, this guy’s been coaching in Canada, we should give him a look.’
Q: Hi Doug. Thanks for the blog and all your other efforts to keep us entertained. Your company with my breakfest every morning is much appreciated.
I have a quick question about the way Raps games are being officiated. I am admittedly a fan of the Raps, and so there is at least some bias at play. However, it has seemed to me that we have been getting called for a whack of ticky-tack fouls and not getting the same treatment when we're on the offensive end.
Officiating in the NBA is a very hard job, but consistency is important. I know that they always give the 'name' players the calls, but we were getting whistled for everything against Dallas and Minny in particular and all their name players are currently on the shelf.
Is this just my own homerism at work here? Do the Raps need to earn a reputation as a halfway decent team before we get a fair shake? Did Dwayne at some point in his career say something unflattering about a Ref's mother and now finds his teams forever cursed?
What is your take on the way our games are being officiated?
Thanks for your efforts, and I am interested to know how you (and the irregulars) feel about this.
Matt S, Toronto
A: I think, generally, NBA referees do an outstanding job. Are the blown or missed calls in the course of a game? Yes, but not as many as you’d think.
I also think that every fan of every team thinks it gets a bad whistle on a handful of occasions every game so, yes, there probably is some homerism at work.
I’ll pass on this story:
We’re talking to Dwane on Friday about the game on Wednesday and the top of Valanciunas’s foul trouble comes up.
I had lots of comments about how Valanciunas doesn’t get the “respect” of the officials and how some of the calls are bogus and someone makes that point to Dwane.
“No,” the coach says, “those were all fouls.”
Q: Hey Doug, love the blog. My sister will be playing CIS basketball next year for the Ottawa U Gee-Gees and since I'm a hardcore basketball fan I would like to prepare scouting reports for her on opponents she is likely to guard. I am wondering what an NBA pro scouting reports includes or looks like? (Ex: tendency to go left, bad free-throw shooter, cheats for steals etc) If you could show us a detailed scouting report, that would be great. Another thing, I think Andrea Bargnani needs to get the ball on the block more often and especially early in the game. I find that he turns the ball over more frequently when he drives from the 3 point line to the rim. By getting the ball on the block, he can use his excellent mid range game to open up his drives. Also, by getting the ball early in the game, I think he is more likely to play harder on defense. What do you think? Once again thanks for the input.
Frank B, Cornwall
A: Sorry, but it’s not like they make proprietary scouting reports available to the media so, no, I can’t show you a detailed one. But I’ve seen one or two in my day and they include a lot of the stuff you mentioned – tendencies, favourite shooting spots, lapses that might be exposed, favourite play calls at specific times of games. It’s not rocket science, it’s pretty much common sense.
And, sure, Bargnani works well in the post – but only if he gets himself planted in the paint; if he gets pushed a metre or two out, he’s in no man’s land and is far less effective. He’s better at the elbow, in my opinion, or out at the top of the arc.
Q: When the Raptors drafted Terrence Ross I thought the would be getting 20-25 guaranteed minutes a night like Demar did. One of the reasons they said they drafted him was because of the need for a wing player to hit the 3. With Fields's struggles and the Raptors generally poor 2/3 rotation why is Ross not getting more burn? Do you think he would be better off with 20-25 mins a night?
John T, Mississauga
A: No, I don’t. And no, I don’t think he should be getting 20 minutes a night at all. He’s not physically ready yet, he doesn’t have consistent shooting range, he certainly isn’t strong enough to guard 3s and if you give him 20 minutes at the 2, that’s 20 minutes you don’t have DeRozan on the floor.
Yes, Ross is a good shooter with a lot of promise. But, no, he’s nowhere near ready for a major role and I don’t think one was ever envisioned for him as a rookie.
Q: Doug, based on reading your blog I know you have strong views about Hall of Fames and retiring numbers for various sports. Just wondering what you think makes someone worthy have having their number retired or being a hall of famer for all sports. I think if we look at statistics of a player and compare them with people of the same era that would help plus historically. But what about playoff success, winning awards, leading the league in scoring, being on the first, second, third NBA/NHL teams. Are there anyone you can think doesn’t deserve to be in the various halls?
George B, Kitchener
A: I’m going back to my old friend Potter Stewart (google him) for the basis of the determination of what makes a Hall of Famer.
I don’t know what the specific definition is, but I know one when I see one.
It’s not just championships or stats or all-star teams; it’s a combination of all of them.
And while I’d love to got through the lists of Hall of Famers in all sports, or even just basketball, and figure you who doesn’t “deserve” it, time precludes me doing that.
Q: Hi Doug, realize this topic has probably been talked to death already but I was wondering if you could reach out to your contacts within the Raptor's head office and see if the so called "poison pill" contracts that are being thrown around by teams (ala the one we gave Landry that screwed the Knicks and the one that the Rockets gave Lin that also screwed the Knicks) are being factoring into contract discussions?
I understand that teams writing the poison pill contracts average the cap hit but those accepting the poison pill have to take the hit as written (meaning we average Landry's contract over the 3 years so he counts 6m a year for us but for the Knicks he would have counted 5m each for the first 2 years and 8m the last year).
If Collangelo wants to ensure that retaining someone like Derozan is not going to screw up his cap space a couple years from now then it's maybe better to accept paying an extra 2m a year but average it over 4 years then taking the chance that someone will offer a similar contract to DeRozan where we would have to take a 15m cap hit in the same year that Barg's and Amir are free agents?
Anyway thought this would be an interesting slow news day discussion! Thanks again for a great column!
Abraham R, Toronto
A: Don’t actually have to “reach out” at all, we’ve already asked Bryan about the potential for something like a restricted free agent deal fit into his negotiations on the extension and he said it was a minor, minor factor.
It certainly wasn’t the prime reason they reached a deal and it wasn’t event a huge consideration. A small part of the thought process is all.
Q: While reading about your anticipation to read Rosie's book on Pat Burns, I thought that you'd be a natural choice to write the definitive biography of Jay Triano someday.
Bo K, Mississauga
A: Thanks, and I’m sure Jay would offer his thanks, too. And then we’d both wonder how big a seller that might be. Kind of a niche book and it’s hard to get a lucrative contract to write a niche book.
Q: Hey Doug: I plan on reading the Pat Burns book when I finish the latest Grisham book.
If you were to write a book about any Canadian athlete you wanted to, who would it be, and why?
T H, Windsor
A: It’d be Nash, for sure. So many layers, such an impact on his country and his sport. Someone good’s going to do one whenever he gets around to retiring and thinking about it but it’s been mentioned and he’s not close to that situation yet.
Q: Do you think the Raptors have enough NBA pros to put together 2 "teams" either of which could "start" or for that matter "finish" a game in the NBA? My point is to have two different looks to throw at an opponent and to have Dwane decide which team to start any given game. For example, sometimes Jose and his crew start with a pick and roll offense lead by a pass first point guard. Next half or next game, Kyle Lowry starts with his shoot first offense. And yes I sure do think Amir should be on Jose's crew along with Andrea Bargnani. Just as DDr is made for Kyle's crew. I mean, why have a group known as starters? What's the point? BTW Jonas is the only Raptor that I can see being ready willing and able to play on either crew.
Greg A, Nanoose Bay
A: No, not only do I not think they have the necessary talent, I can’t see that working. It’s a matchup driven game and what you think might work one night won’t work the next. You find out each night where you have advantages and try to exploit them the best you can.
Q: Love the blog. Look forward to the insight on a daily basis. On to business, it is very apparent Valanciunas is a keeper, but watching him play with the other starters is difficult. Lowry and Derozan are playing exceptionally and their chemistry is apparent, the three is by committee and Bargani at the four seems as always ready to break out. You can see that Valanciunas is raw and Bargani plays significantly better with Amir Johnson or Aaron Gray on the floor. Do you think it was a mistake to give him the starter’s role at the start of the season? It seems it has limited their options in the future when it comes to him.
Daniel D, Toronto
A: No, I don’t think it was a mistake at all, he had to see what it’s all about and while there are painful lessons to learn, sometimes you have to live with them.
But I will say this: Perhaps what they do is give him a shorter run at the beginning of games, five or six minutes instead of nine or 10 and get into the their frontcourt rotation more quickly.
Q: Doug, not sure if this has been answered before, but is there any anecdotal evidence as to how European first-year players hit and handle the "rookie wall" compared to their NCAA counterparts?
Sean S, Toronto
A: No anecdotal nor empirical evidence that I can think of. Most Europeans – like collegians – are used to playing far shorter seasons so I don’t know that if you really studied it – and “hitting the wall” is such a nebulous thing I don’t even know how you’d study it – that you would fine much difference.
Q: Hi, Doug! I've just read your fine piece on Carter which brought some memories and a couple of questions. I always wondered why, oh why would the Raptors cash out 10 million dollars to do a favor to a guy who never wanted to play for them? Wasn't there any other possibility to solve that out? And since Zo was the one who wanted out, shouldn't he take the hit in the breaking of the contract? Please, clarify.
And second - what happened with those two draft picks from that deal with Nets? Did Raptors use them or trade them (and if so, for who)?
Keep up the great work!
P.S.: It would've been so cool if you used that HWSNBN thing at least once in your story. Just for fun.
P.P.S.: Do you know if those purple inaugural season jerseys can be purchased in some official store or only on eBay?
Toni H, Zagreb
A: Man, haven’t had a Mourning question in a while. He was cap ballast, his deal had to be in the deal for the deal to work and they knew they’d have to buy out his deal when the transaction went through. Wrong? Sure but it happens all the time, it was just a bigger number than anyone here was used to seeing. It’s part of the business, a smelly part, but a part.
They moved one of the picks in a trade and got Joey Graham with the other and I don’t really know about the purple jerseys, imagine if you scoured the team’s website you might find more out.
Q: Hey Doug, question here..
Since the raps still have their amnesty option. Is a team allowed to amnesty a player they signed after the new CBA.
For example, they signed Fields this offseason, so are they allowed to use it on him? Or it has to be a player that was already on the roster when the new CBA was issued?
Marc C, Toronto
A: No, the amnesty clause could only be used on players who were under contract with their teams on July 1, 2011.
Q: Hi Doug. Could you explain in 1000 words or less, what exactly is the Princeton offence that is giving the Lakers such fits? Is it a gimmick that has no place in the NBA, or is it more like the Triangle that takes a genius like Phil Jackson to implement? Meaning coach Brown should probably stick to something more fundamentally within his grasp?
Ken M, Toronto
A: I wish I could explain it fully here. Let’s just say it’s based on ball and player movement around the perimeter with lots of back door cuts and the need to read and react. It doesn’t depend on a lot of high or side pick-and-rolls and there’s virtually no post-up play or isolation. It’s not a gimmick and some teams have the personnel to use it, the Lakers, with as creative a point guard as has been in the game in decades and two big men who thrive on high screen-roll are not one of them.
Q: Doug, Bill Simmons was speculating on Grantland that Brian C will try one more deal to "save his job". The one he threw out was Jose and Ross for Rudy Gay. Do you agree that Brian will look hard for a deal for a three, especially given Field's early struggles?
Gary M, Ottawa
A: Once more into the breach: Bryan, and any general manager worth his corner office, is always looking to find ways to improve his team. It’s the job. So no, I don’t think there is anything going to “save his job” as much as there is thought and discussion to “do his job.”
Q: Hi Doug. I'm a long time daily-checker-inner(?) of your blog. You do a great job of keeping hardcore Rap fans who are no longer in Canada, such as myself, in the loop.
My question concerns Mikael Peitrus; reports say he is likely to get signed to a deal soon.
In your opinion is there any reason why the Raptors passed on a small forward like Peitrus in favour of a less established Landry Fields? Do you know if the team looked his way or made inquiries? I know you are quick to establish that these things don't happen in a vacuum but I can't help but wonder if Pietrus would have been a better pick-up until a more serviceable fit was found for that spot on the roster.
P.S. I had the pleasure of visiting Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese in London recently. Oddly enough the staff didn't recall the famous Doug Smith having visited? (I joke). Great pub sir, I'm glad you recommended it!
Cheers, keep up the great work!
Blake J, Leeds, UK
A: There were concerns about Pietrus’s knee, which are well-founded since he’s yet to find a home. Yes, the Raptors did their due diligence on him and decided to go another way for a variety of reasons: Salary, health, length of deal, the pre-emptive nature of the Fields signing among them.
And, obviously, you were at the Cheese when the B Team was working (I joke). But it is a tremendous pub, isn’t it?
Q: Hi Doug. I have a technical question about basketball. Is an assist awarded only to the last player who made a pass to the player who made the basket? If so, has there ever been any discussion as to altering the rule so that it is like hockey's rule on the assist. Often times, when watching the a game, I've seen that it's the extra pass that sets up the pass that eventually leads to the basket.
Joe D, Mississauga
A: Never been a discussion, no. Nor should there be, the game’s fine statistically the way it is; it’s not the pucks, which is a wonderful thing.
Q: Hey Doug. With Sam Mitchell getting some press for his HWSNBN comments, I was wondering why he never comes up in rumours for head coaching positions? Is he the least accomplished coach of the year in recent history? Did he tick off a bunch of NBA GMs while working for the raps?
Keep up the great blog!
Wil C, London
A: Can’t speak to the reason the handful of GMs with job openings don’t call and there is every chance that Sam is quite happy doing what he’s doing and living the high life that perhaps he’s not as anxious as you’d think to get back on that coaching treadmill. Haven’t spoken to him in a couple of months to see how good he’s feeling with the life he’s leading but I bet if I do, he’d tell me he’s quite content.
Least accomplished? No, I don’t. At all. He was a good coach. And I’m entlrely unsure of what “least accomplished” actually means.