All of the weekend mail
Long day, taking the morning off, have fun with this -- it's long but figured it was easier to run it all rather than break it up -- and we’ll see some of you later today.
Q: My questions don't seem as relevant after the big win in Phoenix, but one game isn't a trend. First, how do you rate the Rudy Gay trade now that we have a decent body of work to evaluate? Clearly the games haven't been as fun to watch. At one point, the common reply was "they're 7-2, so who cares". But now that their record with Gay is .500ish, and not too different than the 20-30 games before the trade (ignoring the 4-19 start), what are your thoughts? Is it possible to separate the two big changes - the addition of Gay, and handing the team to Kyle (from Jose)?
Second, what does Casey think about the poor defence the team has been playing? It seems to me that as individuals, they gamble a lot and make a few big plays on D. But that they get burned more often than not. And, most importantly for a Casey coached team, their 'team defence' seems terrible - no system, little effort, few fundamentals, and way too much individual play. Doesn't that absolutely drive him nuts? Why is he not doing more about it (i.e. sitting guys to send a message)? Or is this something that just takes time and practice, and we shouldn't expect big improvements through the end of the year?
A: The defence was answered in an early story for Saturday’s paper that I trust you saw so we’ll let that go at that.
And, no, the acquisition of Gay and the handing over of the team to Lowry cannot be separated, they will be forever linked. That said, look where .500 would get you, if you steal a couple of games past that it gets you somewhere else and the growth continues.
Q: Hey Doug.
I watched the Warriors game on TV the other day. I could have swore that I saw someone wearing a pair of one of those new Google Glasses in one of the front row seats at the game. Did you see that person, do you know who it was, and how did the glasses look?
Further on that, what are your thoughts on new technologies like this?
Would you consider wearing those glasses and hosting a live video streaming version of the IGBT? Talk about interactive! What do you think?
Thanks for great Blog all these year, keep it up!
A: I had someone else comment on that, too, and given where we were, it wouldn’t surprise me.
I, of course, couldn’t see from where we were sitting had to google Google Glasses but that would be a pretty wild way to do an IGBT, wouldn’t be?
Not sure how many, or any, of you who would want to see me role my eyes at some comments but it’d be neat.
And the way the world and technology and my job are going, who knows what the future might hold.
Q: Hello Doug,
Cute anecdote about those young ladies in Phoenix and their tattoos. Young ladies and their fondness for tattoos is a subject that strikes close to home as I've recently watched two of the Daughters walk up the aisle on their wedding days with their body art proudly displayed on their bare shoulders and backs. And as part of their wedding day attire...do you think tattoos fall into the "something old" or "something (that makes their mother) blue??? And yes, I know there's body makeup that will temporarily hide them on such occasions. Which is all well and good if the person in question actually wants them hidden. Sigh. Anyway, you and I both know that what one thinks is cool and hip when you're 21 isn't usually what you would choose to have on your body when you're 51.
But ... and here's the question ... if today you were to put a meaningful - or meaningless if you're going for guffaws - on your arm or somewhere else, what would it be? Wise
words from the Dalai Lama or Mahatma Gandhi? Or wittier insights from the likes of George Carlin and Rodney Dangerfield? Or someone else? Or perhaps - as some NBA stars have done - a self-portrait?
Now, truth, Doug! Exactly how did you happen to notice the artwork if it was located on the 'lower back'? :) Thank you! And safe travels home!
Lorie P, London
A: Suppose … “There once was a man …” wouldn’t work, right?
But why not go old school and just do “Mother.”
But it’d probably be more inspirational than comical but if I get one, I will have suffered some severe psychological or physical breakdown and it won’t really matter, I’ll be hidden away.
And we noticed simply because of the, um, uniforms the servers and saloon keepers were required to wear. We really couldn’t help it.
Q: Wow, that was fast. All the momentum from the Knicks win has dissipated sadly. It's another rerun of Ground Hog Day. Do you think senior management have seen enough positives that the HOTH are headed towards being a competitive team or do the remaining games have an impact on managements decision?
Johnny C, Mississauga
A: No, I have s feeling there is still some evaluating to do throughout the organization. But from the people I've spoken to, there is a general feeling that things are headed in the right direction. I can't get a good read, however, on the patience level at the very top.
And pardon a digression here but anyone out there foolish enough to equate the pucks and the hockey simply doesn't get it. They are two entirely different organizations working under absolutely different circumstances in entirely different leagues and the personalities of the men in charge are, frankly, apples and oranges.
I know enough of this group to realize that what happens in one doesn't necessarily have any correlation to what may or may not happen in the other.
Q: Greetings Doug!
Had to chuckle when I read your comment about Sebastian Telfair's 'you gave this up' moment in the Phoenix/Raptors game. It made me think on the inevitable moment coming our way when Andrea is traded and comes back with a great game, that aside, we all know big egos can provide some entertaining payback. Any great or memorable 'in your face' moments you recall that you can pass along?
K MAC, Huntsville
A:Well,Vince coming back and hitting a series of wonderful shots and a game-winner would be at the top of that list but it's the lesser knowns I find mildly interesting. I've seen guys like Jerryd Bayless, Charlie Villanueva and Jarrett Jack relishing in big shots and making it a point to let the Raptors bench know that they could hit a shot.
Q: Dear Doug,
I read the blog every day even when I am too busy at work (end of obligatory thanks to Doug). Today you mentioned Natalie Achonwa making the first team in the Big East. Perhaps you have forgotten or didn't know about Kayla Alexander from Syracuse who also made the first team. She is a graduate of Milton District High School and was in my son's grade and some classes. (Chris Hadfield is also a graduate of Milton District High School.) She played on Canada's national junior team but has not made it on the senior national team, yet. However, she is leading the Syracuse women's team to its greatest season ever. I have never followed the WNBA but if Kayla gets drafted I will start following it. Is there any chance you could make some comments on the WNBA in future? You cover it a little but not much. Could you at least cover the Canadians in the WNBA? Is it possible to have a regular feature in the blog or an article chronicling the Canadian players in the NBA? I know there is Steve Nash, Tristan Thompson, Robert Sacre, and Cory Joseph. Are there others?
Richard G, Milton
A: Yeah, I absolutely blew it on Kayla Alexander, big mistake on my part.
And we'll try to dona wee bit better job on the WNBA but if the great Tammy Sutton-Brown doesn't play again, I don't believe there's another Canadian in the league.
You forgot Mississauga's Andrew Nicholson of Orlando on the Canadian NBA list.
Q: Doug: A question for the weekend: I concede that Rudy Gay has multiple talents that are welcome on this roster. To name one, I've been surprised by his playmaking ability, although less impressed with his ball handling if that's not too great a contradiction.
But how can he be convinced that he is not a three-point shooter? Is this a delicate conversation for the coach or is he okay with Rudy taking those shots.
James A, Victoria, B.C.
A: I know this staff well enough to know there are several cringe-worthy moments when some of those shots go up and that there are private, delicate and sometimes loud conversations. But it is a never-ending process and the knee-jerk reaction to say "sit someone down immediately" often does more harm than good. Sometimes you just have to put up with what's seen as a bad shot and move on.
Q: Hi Doug,
Is it too early to start talking about the possibility of old friend Glen Grumwald as executive of the year?
M. Sohail G
A: Depending on how the rest of the season unfolds, I can see him getting some consideration. I haven't personally given it much thought yet but he has made some astute and put together an old but effective roster. But I haven't looked all that closely at who the other "contenders" might be.-
Q: Hi Doug,
Was playing NBA 2k13, they have some classic teams in the past. Now the Raptors is playing the Lakers, this got me thinking, which pair of Lakers 1-2 punch are the best ever? Which pair will you pick to start your team?
The NBA logo/ 100 points man (Jerry West/ Wilt Chamberrlain)?
Magic and Sky-hook(Magic Johnson/ Kareem Abdul-Jabbar)
The black Mamba/The big diesel(kobe and Shaquille O'Neal )*
I think I will go for Magic and Kareem. you?
A:I don't see how many could make a case for either of the other two. Has to be Magic and Kareem, no?
Q: Hi Doug:
I was wondering what happened to the NBA mandating players to wearing jackets etc. during their arrival to the arenas? I remember the furor when the NBA instituted this policy as some felt it was discriminatory but, recently, saw images of Melo showing up in a baseball hat and a t-shirt. Did the rule get repealed? I don't really care one way or another and thought the rule was silly but I hadn't heard anything about the league eliminating the rule.
A: Not repealed but eased and I'm not sure precisely what the guidelines are regarding players who may not be active for a game. I do know jackets are required for inactive or injured players to sit on the bench which is why sometimes, if a player gets hurt during a road trip, you might not see him on the bench the rest of the trip.
Q: B. Arthur wrote this week that the relationship between Casey and Colangelo has become icy, just as the relationship between Sam Mitchell and Bryan Colangelo did. Do you agree with this assessment? If so, what is the cause of conflict?
I thought it was a bit strange when the HOTH were 4-19 and Bryan was making less than charitable comments about Casey and Bargnani. We've all seen what a positive effect Bryan's comments had on Andrea. Lately, though, Andrea finds himself back in the starting lineup and Casey talks about getting his confidence back. Is Bryan pushing to get Andrea more minutes? Is it Casey's doing? Is it Andrea displaying something in practice?
A: I'm not sure "icy" is the right word. I'd suggest "normal." In almost any coach-GM relationship there is going to be some basic differences, it's the way of the world. Generally both are incredibly competitive, a coach will want better players, GMs will think the roster they have put together is fine and there are creative differences if you will. I don't imagine Dwane and Bryan are going to be seen skipping down Bay Street holding hands but I also don't think you'll see them wrestling at Nathan Phillips Square.
But when push comes to shove, they both want to win.
Bryan isn't pushing Dwane anywhere, they discuss issues and personnel and the ultimate decision is Dwane's as the ultimate roster decisions are Bryan's, regardless on what Dwane thinks of any possible signings or trades.
It can be a contentious relationship here and in pretty much every city in the league at sometime.
Q: Happy Weekend Doug.
Hope you are enjoying the sunshine of the west coast.
Your comment about uploading your gamer while using mass transit between Oakland and San Francisco made me wonder what your thoughts are on the GTA's transit future.
To that end, in all of your travels, which city's transit systems and ability to move people (by car or transit) have impressed you the most?
Which city's are the worst?
Also you have the benefit of having watched other city's transit systems evolve these past 20 years, are there any cities that you have seen improve or slip?
And finally, what are your thoughts on Toronto's transit dilemma and the future of the GTA? Is there a city Toronto should try to model?
Thanks and best wishes for safe travels, cool pints and savoury/sweet pizzas.
A: Hmm. Me and transit? Now that is a bit of a stretch, isn't it? But I am a driver so I have an opinion and I may as well throw it out there: I think the GTA needs more trains that reach to further distances. I'm talking Niagara, Guelph and Kitchener/Waterloo and Barrie and the north. Too many cars, not enough rooms for more roads and, of course, the ecological impact would be great. I doubt it works but what the heck, never hurts to dream.
I also have to admit that I seldom do mass transit on the road but it's often struck me that Chicago's works pretty well. I could be far off base on that but I do know in cities like Chicago, Atlanta, San Francisco and Philadelphia you can easily take trains from the airports to the city centre and you can't do that in Toronto.
As I highly respect your objective opinion in these matters, I am looking ahead to next year's edition of the Raptors. I am generally a glass half full kind of guy but I am not sure how to view next years team. They are a good but not elite team. They show glimpses but not enough consistency. If I am correct they have no draft picks next year. So the question is, what resources do they have to provide us hope for next year? If the squad is basically the same, are we looking for baby steps again next year? Is it a case of addition by subtraction (an amnesty contract or two)? Other teams seem capable of making quick turnarounds, so why not us? If you were GM for a week (because a day would not be long enough), what would you do with what is available to get this team over the hump? Been a faithful follower since day 1 but , man this is getting hard to take. I imagine there are many who similarly are tired of the promise of potential. Can we realistically expect that potential to ever materialize here? Thanks.
A: I'm pretty sure not too many people are going to like this but there is hope and a "baby" step can turn into a significant leap.
First off, I don't think this group needs a late-lottery pick this year, they are young enough and no one at that level is going to crack a rotation any time soon. That's just a contract.
And there are ways to add the bits and pieces they need - a tough, physical big man, an effective three-point shooter and a bit more depth at the one and, possibly, two.
What this group needs is time to gel and that's the biggest reason they can't go screwing around in the final 19 games or so. This team as currently constructed -- and that's after the trade and the horrid start -- will be a playoff team with a bit more individual growth and a couple of tweaks.
I don't share your assessment that other teams are capable of "making quick turnarounds." It is a process and once you get into the post-season, who knows what can happen.
Q: Hey Doug
I'm jumping the gun here, but I had a couple of questions pop into my head that I wanted to make sure I didn't forget.
First, are you still of the mind that Bryan Colangelo signed DeMar DeRozan to an extension too early? With his play this year vastly improved, he might have been in line for a much bigger raise than what he received. His play-making and rebounding are improving, as is his defence. He'll be very dangerous (if he isn't already) if he stretches out his jumper a couple of steps and starts making 3s.
More than anything, his consistency is up from years prior and he might be the most consistent Hero of the Hardcourt not named Amir Johnson.
My other question has to do with the defence of this team, specifically the major drop off from last season. The personnel is much more talented this year than last, yet the defence regressed big-time. Was integrating Valanciunas the biggest factor? Injuries? The total roster turnover in general? I guess the flipside of this comment is the Raptors have vastly improved their offence. Why can they only have one without the other?
Finally, obligatory Bargnani reference. Only, how about a nickname for him? HWSNBN 2.0? That's the best I could think of, though I don't think he deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as Vince (except for tenure). Or quite simply, the Enigma?
Thanks for making us Irregulars more knowledgeable about the game.
Alex H, Toronto
A: It remains to be seen if the contract extension was wise or financially prudent, right now it looks pretty good but it did come with no other bids out there to worry about and as much as I like DeMar and appreciate the improvements he has made, in these tax-aware financial times, I wonder how much he would have garnered in an offer sheet as a restricted free agent. I honestly don't know if there would have been a $36 or $38 million offer out there this summer for a young player still improving who had been in as many NBA playoff games as you have. Maybe be would, and if he did, the Raptors could have matched it.
As for the defence, we've been over it a bit since you wrote. It's a combination of a gambling point guard putting pressure on wings to get back and they haven't, a raw big man rookie who doesn't usually have talented enough teammates on the court to protect him and changing roster and rotation.
And, sorry, no long-term Bargnani questions, let's see if he's here next year. I have, however, referred to him as The Enigmatic Roman on more than a few occasions.
Q: Hey Doug. How big of an ovation do you think Jose is going to get on April 1st? Maybe the biggest ever for a returning player?
Can you think of any other returning player that has deserved a bigger ovation?
A:Nah, I still think it'll be behind Mo Pete and maybe even Matt Bonner but I'm sure it will be loud and heartfelt.
Now, if Jose goes out and kisses the logo like Mo did, all bets are off.
Q: Just read the article on Amir and loved it. It has been great watching him compete, grow and develop since he joined the Raptors. There certainly can no longer be any comments about him not deserving his contract. Do you think there will be or should be some consideration for most improved player award?
A: No, I don’t really. His numbers are really up only marginally over his career and while he’s having a greater impact at least anecdotally, his team is still a zillion games below .500 and a non-factor league-wide.
And there should have been no issues with the contract when he signed it; it was fair market value with an out at the end for the team and people simply didn’t want to realize or believe that.
Q: Hi Doug,
I'm wondering how Phoenix is doing without Steve Nash? Not the team, but the fans. They were spoiled for all those years and now they're having to adjust to the realities of what most NBA teams are like? I'm sure you can turn this into a research mission at a watering hole or two.
A: The fans aren’t happy, at least the very few I talked to over the day and a half there. They understand the need to move on but they had no idea it would be this bad this early. They are upset that ownership and upper management drove Dan Majerle out in the coaching change and basically miffed that the team’s taken such a step back.
But they are cheering lustily against the Lakers because if L.A. misses the playoffs, that’s another lottery pick for the Suns.
Q: Hi Doug,
I came across your blog recently, glad to find a sportswriter passionate about the Raptors!
I just have a few questions that I would like to shoot at a professional analysts:
Do you think Dwane Casey's rotations, as you have expressed as "gambles", are a root cause to the Raptors overwhelming dependence on our starting-5?
(Rotations causing a loss of confidence in players such as Ross, Bargnani and Valanciunas - who are in desperate need of a confidence booster. Specifically Bargnani, who needs an opportunity to win the respect of Toronto fans back for the sake of his own dignity)
Are you disappointed in Kyle Lowry's game-play/decisions as a Point Guard, ever since the departure of Jose Calderon?
I certainly am, he was one of best the point-guards in the Western Conference last year with the Houston Rockets. He shot fantastically, attacked the basket, defended tremendously and distributed the ball at an all-star level. Ever since he's arrived in Toronto he's taken backseat to players who are not as offensively talented as he is. Maybe he is taking a distributing approach but I think the team is overall suffering.
Last night, with DeMar's shooting completely off, Rudy injured, Fields-Bargnani-Amir offense slowing down in the second half, based on a team "offense hierarchy" or even a "salary hierarchy"
Lowry should have taken more shots! Every once in a while he hits unbelievable long-distance three pointers at the end of a game when the Raptors are down and I just ask myself, "where has that been all season long?" Alan Anderson with the ball in his hands, dribbling, in the fourth quarter is just wrong. He should be cutting and receiving. NOT creating his own shot. Granted he hit some big shots last night, but we still lost in the fourth because at that point there was no one to depend on, on the offensive end.
I am presumably one of the biggest Toronto Raptors fans in the world and I can't help it when potential is wasted. Can it all be because of Dwane Casey and the staffs rotation?
Thank you very much,
A: First off, you presume far too much. I’m passionate about job, it has nothing to do with "passion" for the team I write about. Please remember that. It's my job, I do it well.
And here we go:
I just watched the bench score something like 52 points in Phoenix and it has been at times just as good in many other games so the "overwhelming dependence" on the starting five simply isn't true. Wasn't at the start of the year and isn't now.
And I'm not sure what Houston Rockets you were watching last year but there were stretches where Lowry wasn't the best point guard on his team and to suggest he was one of the best point guards in a conference that had Chris Paul, Tony Parker, Russell Westbrook, Steve Nash, Jason Kidd and I'm sure I'm forgetting someone else is, frankly, ridiculous.
Here's one other thing: every time you say, or anyone says, so-and-so should have taken more shots, please pause for one minute to consider the fact not getting shots could have something to do with the other team on the floor.
I'm pretty sure none of that will satisfy you but thanks for reading.
Q: How's Detroit liking Jose, Doug? Is he getting more appreciation than what he got here? Can't say I'm overly impressed with the new raptors look. I don't see Lowry as an upgrade. Gay is great but sucks at shooting the three. I think in the long run they will miss Davis too. What do u think?
A: Haven’t seen a Pistons game in person or on TV so I have no real clue; he’s a good player and they’re winning a bit so I imagine they quite like him.
I certainly wouldn’t put it in anything close your words – Lowry’s different, not worse; and Gay could make more threes – but Davis would still be the fourth big so until we find out who that is next year, you can’t even comment on it.
Q: Hello. The snow is going here. Lots of little surprises everywhere. Does anybody pick up after their pooch anymore? Any suggestions to get the good citizens to do their duty?
This season has been like our winter. We got dumped on early and often. Any little surprises stand out to you?
Will BC be the crap picker upper or will that be someone else's duty?
How about "Little Things Mean a Lot" by Kitty Kallen? She was way before everybody's time, but it is a good tune.
A: As a pooch picker-upper I’m with you on that. Too bad we couldn’t find a way to re-deposit those little surprises on the lawns or front porches of the offending parties.
I’m surprised at the defensive regression, which is like a second storm in a week, and I thought Ross would have more of an impact. The pleasant surprise has been DeRozan’s play.
I have to admit, you got me with this one.
Q: Hi Doug,
We've all heard about Bryan wanting to "stay the course or the plan" during the past couple of seasons. What does this mean going forward? We don't have a draft pick this year and I realize this doesn't usually provide any immediate results, but how do we get better next season?
Thanks as always for a great blog.
Jim, London ON
A: Not sure “staying the course” is the right phrase, it was “continued growth” because, frankly, “staying the course does not include trading for a new point guard and a starting small forward.
And, no, they will not likely have a draft pick this year and that’s not a particularly big deal to me; it’s seen as a crappy draft, they are young enough as it is with Valanciunas and Ross and anyone they get with the ninth or 10th or seventh pick is not going to be any better than anyone they have.
They will have some financial flexibility with some cap exceptions when things play out in July but no one knows how much.
The growth, and the improvement, is easy to see: They get better by becoming more familiar with each other, with personal growth like we’ve seen from DeRozan this year and age.
And who knows what trades Bryan might pull off; he’s got some assets to put in play.
Q: I quite enjoyed watching Sebastian Telfair play (Wednesday) night. Good scrambling, some points, some passes... but I'm told he has no future with the Raptors after this season.
If, as you're told, defense is his calling card, what is his going-away card?
As a long-time Jose fan, I'm happy to see a true pass-first point guard on the team. But my limited basketball IQ prevents me from seeing what part of Telfair's game would have to improve a bunch to make him a long-term prospect.
A: His going away card hasn’t ever been one specific thing. His shot is suspect, his size is suspect, his ball-handling can be suspect and his salary makes it easy to include him in deals as cap ballast.
And, who knows, if he has 15 more good games and they strike out in an attempt at summer upgrade, maybe they give him another non-guaranteed small-money deal. I don’t see and would consider it settling but they might.
Q: Hi Doug, I enjoy reading your blog every day. On weekend and while travelling I use my BlackBerry Playbook to go on line rather than carrying and opening my computer. However since The Star has updated its online versions of the newspaper, I can no longer find your blog on the “tablet” version. Is it simply not available on the “tablet” version or am I just technologically challenged enough to not find it.
A: As you may know, my Luddite tendencies come the fore whenever anything like this comes up but I have passed this on to the Tall Foreheads and will get an answer for you as soon as I can.
In the meantime, if an Irregular has anything, we're all ears.