The start of the weekend mail
Kind of a late night here (who knew that the hospitality suite would stay open until 2 a.m. central) so, no, I did not get up early to finish the mail.
But I’ve got this much done, have fun with it and I’ll get the rest knocked off between meetings this afternoon.
Oh, yes, we will be here tonight for the usual IGBT. Sometime around 8 p.m., okay?
Q: Hi Doug,
I read this quote from Steve Prefontaine and thought it communicated well what you often say about why players / teams shouldn't tank a season: "To give anything less than your best, is to sacrifice the gift."
Now for the question - I was watching the Raptors vs. Knicks game and they showed Patrick Ewing sitting in the crowd and then a shot of his jersey in the rafters. Does a player whose jersey hangs in the rafters get any lifetime perks from the organization that retired their jersey?
A: Oh, I’m sure they do and it probably changes from franchise to franchise but tickets, access, appearance requests would be the norm.
It’s not like the Knicks would ask Ewing to fork over the price of a ticket; if he wanted to go to a game, he’d call someone and they’d take care of him.
Q: Hi Doug, I love your blog, it's in my top 3 routine website check every morning! Thank you :). Two questions for you.
What are the All-Star break plans of the Raps? Do most go home, on vacation, to Houston, stay in TO? Just curious how they spend it.
I'm a girl and a sympathetic one at that, but I just can't feel sorry for Bargs anymore. I could have given the team better minutes last night. When his teammates see his effort on the floor, I can't imagine it endears them to him. Who are Bargs closest friends on the team, and do you get the impression that his teammates would also like to see him traded? Thank you so much. Have fun this weekend!!!
A: Most of them got away for a bit of a vacation, heard of plans for Vegas and St. Kitts and, I think, an L.A. Not too many here in Houston, Ross obviously and Kyle Lowry is supposed to be here for a union meeting and that’s about it.
Not sure if too many stayed in Toronto but they all have to be in Washington in time for an evening practice on Monday.
The team will have a charter leaving Toronto on Monday afternoon but most travelling players will get from wherever they are to D.C. on their own.
I don’t get the impression at all that any teammate “wants” him traded, they know the hassle that goes with that and don’t wish it upon anyone.
As for close friends? I really don’t see these guys in social situations often enough to be able to speak to it. But it’s not like he – or anyone – is shunned.
Q: Hi Doug, been a while since I have had something pop in my mind; keep up the patience. Pardon the preamble but I hope you can answer a few knowing you speak with professionals in the NBA. I read the Q&A after the fact, while I do not understand the hate for the young fella and I would not trade Andrea for a bag of balls I am hoping for a couple of answers. I understand the "rule of thumb" is to give your best player the first shot, would it make
sense to run the young lad into the block right away when he comes in to get him "engaged" into the game? How much is his elbow messing up his shot right now? Is he best suited as a scoring 6th man on a winning team, like earlier in his career? How much is he missing the defensive inside presence working
beside him as the other big? As much as I think it may be a mistake to get 50 cents on the dollar for him, would it be best for him to be moved to a change of scenery for his own sake?
A: Early in the year, when he was starting, I was a proponent of running the first couple of plays for him off the bat and they did. I’d say it’s probably the same now that he’s coming off the bench but I don’t think it needs to be post-ups, I think pick and pop is more is style.
And his elbow is fine or he wouldn’t be out there and, yeah, if the other big isn’t defending well, it’ll affect him.
Here’s the other thing: You don’t trade him for “his own sake” but for the team’s own sake.
Q: Hey Doug,
A lot of the initial angst over the Gay/Calderon trade was based on the perception that DeMar and Rudy had redundant skill sets. Even though it’s still a small sample size, is it fair to say a lot of that may have been overblown? They seem to enjoy playing together and their size and speed at both wing positions makes it tough for opposing teams to match up. Denver had to use Andre Miller at times against DeMar (so Brewer could check Gay) and he ate Miller up.
A: Probably was a bit over-blown and what they seem to be able to do now is create space for each other, which is never a bad thing. Trouble is, it often comes of isolation plays and ball-stopping offence and I’m not sure how effective that is long-term.
Q: Hi Doug,
In an ESPN article talking about Hedo Turkoglu getting caught with steroids in his system, it mentions that Hedo informed the team of the positive test last week. It strikes me as an odd situation that the player would inform the team. Wouldn't the team be notified of a positive test? Can you explain anything about the process, if you know how it works?
Here is the ESPN article for reference:
A: Because the drug testing for all pro sports leagues is administered by a third party, the protocol is to tell the guilty party first. And I don’t know this for sure, but I could see a player being told of a positive first test, which would lead to a test on a
‘B’ sample and it could be in that time, that a player would tell his employer.
And I also don’t know that lag time would be between informing the player and then the league, can’t imagine it would too long.
Q: Doug - are the Raptors still paying some of Turkoglu's contract and if so, will they get a measure of relief now that he has been suspended?
And do you think that NBA teams will ever include in their contracts an "out-clause" should the player ever test positive for a banned substance? Or would the NBA/NBPA Anti-Drug Program preclude such a clause?
Thanks for all your work. It adds so much to the enjoyment of following the
Raps, a good bunch of guys to follow even if they're not YET above .500.
A: No, they were out from under any financial obligations the second they traded him. And since drug testing is collectively bargained with very specific penalties for getting caught, that’s all the recourse a team has.
Q: Hello good sir.
Ever envision any of the major league sports to fully adopt and embrace the WADA code on PEDs?
Peter D, Kitchener
A: I think as things move forward leagues will try to move toward more stricter testing but it is always a part of collective bargaining with a union and cannot be changed unilaterally by a league.But there is a Stern quote in the notebook I did Saturday night that addresses the issue.
Q: Rudy Gay is really good. There is no doubt about that.
But the Calderone trade irks me, it really does.
And the chatter on your blog and around other writings is that the Raps need a backup pg.
A don't agree.
I think they need a starter.
Kyle Lowry is not what was promised. He plays terrible defence. He turns the ball over like crazy - and often at the worst of times.
I think the agenda should be pretty clear: find a STARTING point guard.
All I can think about is how foolish Rap's admin was to say, at the beginning of the year, that they were giving him the keys.
Keys to what?
I think it’s pretty glaring when your third point guard can come in and finish games in the place of your starter - and we all agree that Lucas is a fine shooter, not a point guard.
So if he stays in and is more aggressive, a better shooter, and is providing a lift, then what is Lowry doing?
Imagine (I know you won't) Calderone at the head of this new beast.
Ren, Kirkland Lake
A: I understand your point and many have made it but the fact is they’ve beaten three quality opponents in this four-game winning streak and the only time Lucas finished a game was after Lowry was ejected.
Sure, Kyle may not be to everyone’s taste – including mine – but the team is getting results.
Q: Hi Doug
Thanks for continuing to do a great job, it is appreciated.
Quick thought about assists and the lack of them, specifically from our point guard.
I understand that it is going to take time to "adjust" with the new team configuration - but really, is the current assist trend from the point guard acceptable?
I know it’s not all on Kyle, but overall the numbers from the past set of games are atrocious.
What are your thoughts? What am I not seeing?
High Park Ed
A: There’s not a lot of ball movement in the offence now, that cuts down on assists a fair bit. But they are scoring more than enough.
Q: Hey Doug,
Since you are asking for mail, I will oblige.
In the theoretical scenario that Andrea is being shopped: if you are sitting in the GM chair, which of the following paths do you take:
a) the best talent, regardless of years/money on the contract or position
b) the best fit for the roster in terms of contract
c) the best fit for the roster composition (ie: backup PG or another big)
To be a little more specific, Milwaukee is being listed as a team that may be willing to deal. The best available talent would be Jennings/Ellis , while the rumored option is Ersan Ilyasova (better positional fit?).
Just to throw a name out there: Sam Dalembert. Put aside the fact that he's Canadian; he's a big body who could start at the five next to Amir while Jonas continues to develop. He's a big that would provide defensive intangibles without demanding the ball on offense. Better yet, he has an expiring contract.
Do you go for the blockbuster (Jennings/Ellis), go for the best available upside (Ilyasova), or the best roster/contract fit (Dalembert) ?
A: It’s always about talent but it’s not always that simple. You have to factor in financial concerns in the future, what you have on the roster at the moment and how it might develop and style of play.
But I guess the easiest answer is you go for the blockbuster if you can taking those other factors into consideration because they always seem to include the most talent.
Q: Hi Doug:
I am a regular reader and enjoy your blog and game stories.
You described the difficulty defending the Denver point guards for the Raptors in your blog. It seemed that most of the Denver players were taking it to the basket. As you indicated, the Knicks and other teams will see the tape. How do the Raptors change their defence to address the points in the paint?
I was a big fan of Jose, but I think Kyle is doing OK although he does not appear to be the defensive upgrade some people thought. What are your impressions of his play since Jose left?
A: His play has been what it’s been most of the year and the team is, what, 5-2 since the trade? That’s not too shabby.
As for addressing points in the paint and containing guards, your help defence and bigs have to be better, as they were in New York the day after the Denver game.
Q: Hi Doug,
I know right after the Rudy trade you were curious about the impact of losing Ed would have an impact on Demar. I'm curious to know what impact Rudy is having already on Demar and Terrence, in terms of a veteren presence in a similar wing position. Dwane said in he post game, that Rudy is a closer, and Demar is close to being that guy as well, and the Raptors would need a 2nd option, once the teams see them going to Rudy in late game situations. I think Demar practices with Kobe in the off-season, but having Rudy in the same locker room must be extremely beneficial. Hoping you can elaborate on that new relationship.
Maaz from Calgary
A: I don’t know that it’s locker room; it’s on the court.
Sure, they talk a bit but the impact during the actual game, creating space, dictating where defenders go, taking the pressure off teammates is far, far more significant.
And, yes, once teams start trying to take the ball out of Gay’s hands in those last-second situations with a second defender, it will allow DeRozan to face one man with a game on the line instead of one and a half or two.
Q: Hi Doug
Raps are playing great and Bargagni is contributing - now's the time to trade him.
Always believed they need to get a young big (perhaps a stretch 4), a veteran PG and maybe a pick - can you spell Timberwolves?
Can you provide a brief scouting report on Derrick Williams, who has not lived up to his being picked #2 in the draft a couple years back. Sound familiar?
A: Not going to do specific players but I will ask you this:
Why would Minnesota want to lock up $20 million in the next two years for a guy who plays the same position as the team’s best player (Love) and an emerging big like Pekovic? Like always, anyone dreaming up trade scenarios has to look at them from two angles.
Q: Doug, I enjoy the blog. Great reading.
I think that spring training brings out the "can't wait for summer"
instinct. Sort of like a real "groundhog day". Can't wait for the cold barley sandwich watching the boys of summer.
Anyway, I had heartburn last night from the sloppy play of the Raps, and all their turnovers. It was like sometimes they were just going through the motions and "oops" I dropped it or "I should have seen that coming". Part of it I think is that the receivers are mostly not moving when the turnovers happen.
Question is, how do you coach for that? Casey must have a cast iron stomach after watching those turnovers and resulting points. They could have won by 10 points if they would just take care of the ball. Do they sit the guy immediately after making a dumb non-play or what?
Jim A, Cambridge
A: Sure, heartburn Tuesday – in a game they won -- and a quite acceptable 10 turnovers and a win the very next night. With no coaching in between on the back-to-back. Funny how what’s an issue one night isn’t the next.
And, no, you do not sit a guy immediately after making a dumb play because dumb plays happen and you’ll eventually run out of players.