All of the weekend mail
Well, you folks really loaded this up this week, thanks.
And there are a couple left over that I’m hoping to expand on in the usual morning fare this week.
Q: Hey Doug: You've just been made general manager of a newly formed team. They don't have a coach yet, so you need to hire one. What 'credentials' do you look at? Former NBA head coach? Former NBA coach? NCAA coach? Former player?
NOT that I'm suggesting (like many of your readers) think it's time for a change at the top of the Raptors!
Tim H, Windsor
A: I’d like a guy with experience in the NBA, not necessarily as head coach but someone’s who’s been on the bench for a while and that’d be my top priority. Experience as a player would be nice but not entirely necessary and I would never take a guy right out of college.
But the over-riding attribute would be communication skills; I’d need a guy who could make a point and be willing to listen to others.
Q: Good Morning. Pretty simple question and I know you have probably been asked a thousand times. What makes a good General Manager?
John P, Louisville
A: Good luck? Seriously, good GMs get breaks, I think.
But the four traits that come quickly to mind:
A willingness to gamble a bit in player acquisitions.
Someone who surrounds himself with knowledgeable people.
Someone who sticks to his convictions and doesn’t panic.
Someone who works hard at scouting – college, pros, Europe – trying to unearth someone who fits the program he’s trying to build.
Q: Hi Doug. There are obvious signs that this team has improved: DeRozan has done a great job with his footwork, attacking the rim, jumper; JV's energy on the glass; Amir's chemistry with Jose off the bench; and Ross' confidence in his shot are only some of the areas that I have been seeing with this squad. However, all the names that I mentioned would all be great role players on other teams, yet their our key players on this team. With Bargnani and Lowry being our key go-to guys, can this roster compete with the rest of the league when our key starters, key bench players and key go-to guys can be considered just solid role players on other teams? If not, wouldn't you agree that this team needs to address that issue?
M M, Newmarket
A: Compete for a championship? No, not yet. But “address” is a nebulous thing, right? Do you “address” it by allowing, perhaps, Valanciunas to become an all-star and Ross to become an above-average player and for DeRozan to continue his improvement? Or can you “address” it by moving one of those pieces and maybe another for someone you consider better? Or can you “address” it, perhaps, by getting lucky in a draft?
So, yes, it needs to be addressed but there are many ways it can be and one isn’t necessarily better than another.
Q: Hello. What with his statue phobia, is Lillard afraid of Bargnani on Defense?
Bob E, Kanata
A: Ding. Ding. Ding. I read this out loud in the media room on Friday night and got a handful of guffaws.
Q: Hi Doug. I hope you don't mind a glass-half-full type of email (my guess is you're not getting too many these days)._Do you think that not having a draft pick this year is a positive thing for the team, in that there's truly no reason to tank the end of the season? Mentally, will this help the team focus purely on getting better, regardless of playoffs, and set the team up with the right mindset for next year?
Follow-up: are you personally happy that you won't need to deal with hundreds of emails suggesting the Raps tank the season?
Charlie C, Montreal
A: Au contraire, mon ami. The fact the Raptors only keep their pick if it’s No. 1, 2 or 3 should they miss the playoffs may lead to even more calls for more losses so they cement a bottom-three chance going into the lottery.
Q: Hey DS. Given the recent turn of events in Duncanville aka San Antonio (What are your thoughts on the $250K fine?), I was curious: when a team/player is fined, where does that money go exactly?
Simone S, Toronto
A: It goes into the NBA/NBAPA charitable fund and is parceled out to the many good works the league and players do.
Q: Doug. With Mickael Pietrus sitting in France for the entire season so far, and with the Raptors having obvious interest demonstrated from last year, and their ongoing need for a 3 point shooter, any thoughts on why they would have waited so long to bring him in?
Chris B, Ottawa
A: Not sure there was “obvious” interest this year and they didn’t make any overtures because (a) at the beginning of the season, Pietrus was looking for more than a one-year, veteran-minimum contract and (b) they had Landry Fields and Alan Anderson. The renewed interest came when those two players got hurt and the fact each could – could – be out for another month made it imperative they find some solution.
Q: Hi Doug. A few questions for you:
During last week's Raptors/Spurs game, Calderon was called for a 5 second violation on an inbound pass. In those situations, are referees obligated to count out the time or merely do a silent count in their head before calling a 5 second violation on the inbound pass?
What are your thoughts on the current NBA draft system? Would you prefer something different such as rewarding only the 1st pick via the lottery and then slotting everyone else according to won/loss record?
Thank you and have a nice and safe road trip with the team this week.
Joe D, Mississauga
A: Referees do count out loud but it’s sometimes hard to hear, which is why they also use arm motions with each second. Plus, a player just has a sense of when he’s getting close to the five-second limit.
The draft? I have no problem with it; and since they only award the top three picks via the lottery, I’m not sure changing to one would improve anything. In fact, might it not make teams thinking about tanking even more if extra losses gave them at a shot at only one prize instead of three?
Q: Doug. Another excellent morning read. Thank you.
In these posts you are almost always addressed as Doug and while some have tried Dougie and others may have been rude (and edited), you have not yet attracted a nickname from the Irregulars. You have penned or adopted HOTH, TOD and HWSNBN as well as "Not Grace Kelly" and others. What is, or was in your youth, your nickname? How about setting up a poll for the Irregulars to establish one for you - BSP (bar stool prognosticator) or IAAM (it's all about me)? I like BSP - seems to fit and it can be adopted by your haters without much intellectual effort.
All the best.
David F, Toronto
A: I believe the bestowing of nicknames, good or bad, should be left to others and not something any individual can do for himself or herself. But thanks for the thought.
Q: Doug. Here is an idea which I think would help the integrity of the league.
MAKE IT A RULE THAT ALL TEAMS WOULD HAVE TO TRADE THEIR FIRST ROUND PICK PRIOR TO THE BEGINNING OF THE SEASON!!!__Any team not trading its pick would forfeit the pick. That pick could then be auctioned off come June.
Think about the implications...Poor teams not expected to do well, would be offered the most. Rather than endure a year of tanking, a team like the wizards may be offered immediate help now, good young talent now, or maybe a competitors pick next year. THERE WOULD BE NO REWARD FOR TANKING!! In fact late season games between under performing rivals who swapped picks would have "playoff atmosphere" games.
Feel free to pass the idea to Stern...his legacy could be one of eliminating unofficial tanking and making GM's more accountable to their fans.
Jim S, Whitby
A: I will say this, for all the ideas out there to modify the lottery/draft procedure, this is certainly one of them.
-Q: Hello Doug. Been thinking about legacies lately. Kind of a Good, Bad and Ugly scenario as it turns out.
The Good? The terrific TSN series celebrating the 100 Years of the CFL "Engraved On A Nation" was very well done and brought to mind some great moments (specifically the Argonauts 1971 Team) that I'd forgotten. So well done, TSN. And in fact, the entire 100 Years of the Grey Cup team.
The Bad? That some "Gilda's Club" cancer centres are 'rebranding' and dropping the name Gilda from their operations. Evidently there's a generation of people who don't know who Gilda Radner was. Thankfully, though, fans of what Radner did for women, comedy and cancer refuse to say "Never mind." They argue, that the name on the door matters — and that name should continue to be Gilda's and not some generic moniker devoid of personality. (How has "Lou Gehrig's Disease" not been 'rebranded' one wonders?)
And, now to the Ugly. It's now time for the Baseball Hall Of Fame voters to answer this question: Do Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and Sammy Sosa belong in Cooperstown despite drug allegations that tainted their huge numbers because when the Hall ballot was released Wednesday, Bonds, Clemens and Sosa were on it for the first time.
So, Doug, my question for you is what is the legacy appropriate for these three players, and I guess MLB itself: If you were voting, would you vote to allow Sosa, Bonds and Clemons into the Baseball Hall of Fame? Thank you.
Lorie P, London
A: I would not vote for them.
And while I understand the argument that there all kinds of reprobates and ne’er do wells in there already, none cheated the way those three did simply to gain a competitive advantage.
Q: Hey Doug. I've following this team since the first time they put the logo on a Cheerios box. First 10 years, very exciting. Last 5 years, not so much. Which leads to me to ask: How has Bryan Colangelo gotten so much rope from management to continue leading this ship? In February, it will be 7 years that he has been the GM of this team, and despite dozens of moves, one first round exit is all that was accomplished. It seems to me that he and his scouting staff have missed on the vast majority of their draft picks, free agent pick ups, and trades. Perhaps the most damning fact is that the best players of the Colangelo era (Bosh and Calderon) were acquired by the previous regime. The latest contracts (Amir, Fields, DeRozen, Keiza, Bagnani) are all looking immovable right now. Even if a GM change was made, it could take the new guy 5 years to turn this around.
Can you please enlighten me as to what management sees in BC and why they continue to allow him to make these moves? Can you think of any other GMs in the league that have had such long tenures while accomplishing so little?
Mark F, Toronto
A: Actually, two playoff appearances, a division championship and a team that tied the franchise record for wins in a season. But why quibble.
Anyway, the first two years were successful and then he tried for almost two seasons to find a way to make things easier for the “franchise” player in Chris Bosh. No, they didn’t work but you cannot blame him for trying and then correcting his mistakes. Or trying to.
Now, you can perhaps blame him for not reading the Bosh tea leaves well but I have written – and you should know – that he did shop him in his final season, tried to get a No. 1 pick out of the Los Angeles Clippers and was willing to take back the bloated contract of Baron Davis to do it. He was rebuffed, but he tried.
Since that time, he has done exactly what he said he would do, even if that’s conveniently lost in the rabble at the moment:
Take his time building something that didn’t rely on one star player. This is the third year – his last under contract, as you well know, too – and the question is how far along in the process are they?
Did he draft well? Given the circumstances of the roster each year, go back and tell me who you would have taken instead of DeRozan, Davis and Valanciunas. It’s too early to talk about the 2012 draft but I think you might agree Ross looks good.
Were his free agent signings significant: Turkoglu was the very best player on the market, many thought, and he got him. Nash was beloved and coveted and if you read stuff that’s been written, if it were not for late Laker interest, he’d be here.
So he has charted a course – and been quite honest about it – and it is still unfolding.
His bosses will have this year to judge him and who knows what they will decide in April or May but anyone who is surprised by the journey this franchise has been on for three seasons just hasn’t been paying attention.
Q: Doug. A couple of questions. Did the Raps try to re-up Leandro Barbosa on the off season? Did they try but Barbosa received a better offer.
On many nights last year, Barbosa was the best thing the Raps had and he seemed to like TO. Wouldn’t he be a big upgrade coming off the bench?
With all these 4th quarter melt downs, is it possible that the Raps are not in condition?
Or, do the Raps not have the right personnel to play up-tempo all game and they run out of gas in Q4?
Paul N, Oakville
A: No, after acquiring Lowry and drafting Ross, there was never any interest in Leandro; not sure he fit where this franchise is headed. Nice guy, though.
And they’re in condition, the fourth quarter episodes had more to do with mental issues than physical ones.
Q: Hi Doug. Just a comment if I might. When did basketball in Toronto become more than entertainment? When did people start to look at it as a definition of them or their city?
We were at Sunday's game against the Spurs and it was as entertaining as any game I've seen in a long time, anywhere. Do I wish we would have won, heck yes. Do I wish we had more wins than losses, of course but this is a GAME, a form of entertainment. Death threats, swearing at players and reporters, come on people!
If anything is sucking the joy from this game it's the over the top reaction from adults who should know better. If you don't like it, don't watch it, don't support it. It's your choice.
Keep up the great work Doug!
K M, Huntsville
A: Well put.
Q: Over the last number of years in Raptorland, we hear, through the media, about certain players having a penchant for coming in early and staying late, on their own time, to work on certain aspects of their game. DeMar being the most notable gymrat. I have, however, never heard Bargnani's name mentioned as such. Is the media holding out on us or does Bargs just not roll like that?
Brian V, Toronto
A: He, and several others, don’t roll like that. Doesn’t mean they are less dedicated, they could just have other stuff to do. I wouldn’t read much into it, actually, although now I fear many will.
Q: Hey Doug. Long time reader who enjoys your blog. I have been watching Andrea's post game interviews for years and he never looks happy or comfortable answering questions. (I know English issues years ago)
So I was wondering who is your favorite Raptor to interview on this years squad?
Also, who is the most difficult to get answers from?
Final question. Your favorite all time Raptor for doing post game interviews? Not just good quotes but someone who never made you guys wait around etc
Adam L, Clarkes Beach
A: This year’s team? Well, if Landry Fields ever gets healthy or John Lucas III plays some more or Jonas Valanciunas gets more comfortable with English, they’d be near the top, I’d guess.
And it’s not actually hard to get answers from anyone, I haven’t a single player blow me off all season so I don’t there’s really an answer to that. Some guys just answer questions rather than engage you in conversation but that’s fine.
All time? Jalen was always ready and waiting for us. And you know my love for post-game Oak.
Q: Doug. Big fan of the blog.
I can relate to your frustration with the actions of certain fans. I took my Dad to an English Premier League game this weekend between Tottenham Hotspur (he's been a lifelong fan and hadn't been to a game at White Hart Lane in almost 50 years) only for the away fans to do this.
We had no idea what the away fans were chanting during the game and were completely shocked when we found out.
Peter B, London
A: That’s terrible, isn’t it?
Cannot imagine what one would have to be thinking about to even be a part of it; mob mentality, I guess.
Q: Hi Doug. You often write frequently about how players evolve over time, how they are stronger/weaker/smarter/dumber etc than they used to be. Was wondering if you could give any insights as to how Dwayne Casey has evolved as a coach from last year to this year. Thanks for any thoughts you have.
Sohail G, Collingwood
A: I think he’s improved in his willingness to cede offensive control to the flow of the game rather than micro-manage; I think his ability to relate and communicate with the players has naturally evolved (not that it was bad last year, he just knows them a bit better) and I think he’s still as single-minded at teaching than he ever was.
Q: Hi Doug. Hello to our mutual acquaintance Ben @ Stratus!
Just wanted to know your thoughts on the flopping initiative and whether you have noticed any difference. If so can you use your place of influence to start an anti-jumping into the other guy, falling on the floor and looking to the ref before the ball is even dead program. Just watched Miami and San Antonio and that is half of the Heat's playbook.
David B, Etobicoke
A: As you know, I go to a lot of Raptors games so don’t have the depth of knowledge of what’s going on elsewhere in the league most nights but my impression is that the egregious flops are way down. There are still subtle ones but I think the combination of public warnings and relatively heavy fines is working; and the refs seem to be letting a lot incidental contact go, even if that “contact” ends up with players crashing to the floor.
And I’ll get on that other matter as soon as I can.
Q: Hey Doug, so does the suds taste any different in the thinner air of Denver? Just what, if anything the Raptors could say to Jose if they were to trade him at the deadline to a contender? What I'm alluding to is could they tell him that after he becomes a free agent they would really like to bring him back to the team as he would be a valuable backup and and that he could finish out his career here.
Scott M, Ilderton
A: They couldn’t tell him anything, actually, if it was after they moved him. That would risk a rather hefty fine from the league for having discussions with a player under contract to another team.
But I think both sides would understand it might be worth chatting about in the summer. But openly? They could do nothing; before hand, sure, and I would imagine they will if that point arrives but I don’t if that point will arrive.
Q: Doug. With the caveat that it was still early, you did say this stretch of games against teams closer to the Raptors talent level would tell us something about the team. With television as my only yardstick, to me the team doesn't seem to play with the same passion and enthusiasm they displayed last year.
But I'm more interested in your thoughts after seeing some of the other lower-rung teams, how you think the Raptors compare in the hopes for the future department? I'm worried that the Raptors' future is headed for that Milwaukee Bucks territory - the annual fight for positions 7-10 in the standings. The young talent that Cleveland, Charlotte, and Detroit is gathering seems more impressive and their rebuilds more promising.
Joe S, Kingston
A: Here’s the thing about young talent: You have no idea whether it will fully develop. I think you need a little mix of kids and vets, actually.
Funny you should ask this now, though. Here’s a little chart I put together for Saturday’s paper, in case you missed it.
Q: Hey Doug - a suggestion for a future list. The Nov 28, 2012 blog entry had 80+ comments. Would be interesting to see a list of the blog entries (and/or associated Raptors games) that have garnered the most comments.
Andrew S, Toronto
A: I don’t track them, actually. But that was a rather busy day, at least anecdotally. And I’m glad, I appreciate the time people take to write. Most of them, at least.
Q: Hi Doug. I know you have been telling everyone that chill about the Raptors, but as a fan from day 1, I am really getting sick of the losing, and consistent bad basketball. This has been going on for years.
I decided after last game, I will the Raps them 3 games to get a win, and show some promise. After that, I will quit complaining about the refs, Bargn's, and the bad defence, and quit watching for the leason.
Being a college fan, I will devote my energy to the Orange. 6th ranked team, and in some respects better basketball.
I hope you can start including some Orange coverage in your blog!
BTW, My three year old daughter may have some rebuttal to your peanut butter rules.
Ben S, Burlington
A: I’m not writing a thing about college basketball, I’ve got far too much other stuff on my plate. And if you do bail on watching games by the middle of the week, I hope you still come here to read.
Q: Hi Doug. I'm reading articles about bloggers quitting to cover the Raptors because they "sapped his will" , calling for more heat on Brian Colangelo, and countless comments calling for his head. And frankly, it just confuses me as most is obviously hyperbole. __Honestly, I don't know what to think--which is why I turn to you. __Just what are we suppose to make of BC's tenure here? How much more time should the organization give him? I am truly curious what a basketball mind thinks because I feel as a fan I have no clue how to judge this situation (at least without involving a lot of emotion). It's easy to blame one guy--but we all know that's not the case. There is plenty of blame to go around. But, is it wrong to say he is responsible? Not blame, but responsible, regardless of who is at "fault".__Thanks Doug. Looking forward to some guidance.
Mike G, Toronto
A: Sure, the man at the top, the Tallest of Foreheads, if you will, bears ultimate responsibility in any job. Basketball’s no different from widget-making.
But there’s an answer to a Colangelo question in here somewhere; I’ll let it stand as the answer here, if you don’t mind.
Q: Good day, not sure I will word this correctly but what I am trying to say is I have begun to find the tone of the IGBT somewhat troubling.
I completely and utterly support the idea that in no way should you be targetted in any way on a personal level by those posters that may have their own "agenda". However, varying viewpoints, while their validity may well be debatable, are still valid in the sense that they represent a personal opinion.
There was a point in the Memphis IGBT where in response to someone's angst, the response was (approx)"what did you expect?". Written words don't always convey the writers true intent and given the length of time that I have followed, enjoyed, learned from your writings I came to believe that perhaps my first take on the "what did you expect" may not have been from the perspective ultimately intended.
I, as I sort of felt foolishly, DID expect the HOTH to benefit from a full training camp, and come out reasonably to the same level as they played last year, at least insofar as the D goes, yes offence would be a work in progress. Agreed that the schedule has not been easy, but still consistent effort shouldn't be too high of an expectation. As I am sure most would agree, no one is thrilled with the manner of how the season has gone to this point.
Anyhow, main point, I can understand your frustration with some of the posts, however it comes across as unseemly (IMO) when you respond dismissively to these posters. I realize that it is your blog but the IGBT by its nature is interactive and the really outrageous viewpoints some profess don't reflect on you, the reasonable people (including the Irregulars!) are smart enough to see them for what they are. We all have moments when we want to throttle the person in front of us, most times it is best to let karma run it's inevitable course, they will get theirs.
At some point the tide will turn in the Rap's fortunes and all will be better but until that point negativity will continue to be part of the equation, which to some degree is something of a right of fandom. Passion goes all ways.
Thanks for what you do,
Doug T, Brantford
A: Point taken.