The end of the weekend mail
Told you there’d be more.
Thanks, made for another good mail weekend.
Q: How do make plans in your line of work? Things change in a hurry.
Tim made it clear Raptors were a priority, their TV footprint is small and the brand has been diminished. Although attendance has been strong to me the quickest fix would be a talent upgrade.
Do have any sense if the new regime would be willing to be a luxury tax team? Also it appears MLSE kept the appointment leak proof.
Johnny C, Mississauga
A: Funny you should ask.
It was just the other night when a friend asked if I “was always on call” and I had to say, yes. Things happen when they happen and while there are minor things you might be able to slough off until the morning, most of the time if stuff happens, you have to react, quickly.
And, yeah, even this current regime is wiling to be a tax team in the right circumstances, they are right now, actually. But it’s one thing to be willing to pay a hefty tax, it’s quite another to find the right people at the right time under the right circumstances to get them in order to do it.
Q: Hi Doug, I hope this finds you well!
Just curious what the Raptors (the main guys anyways - Rudy, Demar, Amir, Jonas, Kyle, etc.) summer plans are - where are they spending it, how are they spending it, etc.)
Also, couldn't avoid reading about the Phil Jackson rumors - personally I'm a huge Casey fan and would like to see him back, but if you had to choose, Phil + new coach or Bryan + Casey, who would it be? Thanks!
A: Most of them will be spending the bulk of the time in their off-season “homes” with family. DeMar’s in Vegas, I believe Kyle’s in Philly, Jonas is going to be back in Lithuania and I think I heard Rudy was in L.A., as is Amir.
But they’ll get together at least a bit of the time, either working out in L.A. or in Vegas around the summer league season.
I don’t know that I can make that choice unless we know for sure who the second coach is. But I am of the belief that this franchise needs some consistency and not another period of constant change.
Q: My dad travelled the same bus/subway/streetcar route to arrive to work for the same company doing much the same job in the same office for over 35 years. And with most of the same co-workers. (And I think he ate the same lunch of mac 'n cheese with a side of chef's salad and a glass of orangeade at the same diner across the street, all that time, too.)
But times have changed. Recent studies show that these days most of us will have three or four career changes during our working lives, and often these are welcome challenges and offer us the opportunity to explore new interests and develop other abilities.
However, for professional athletes the road to career change may be not so welcome and the path difficult to navigate. If not treacherous. I've just finished reading the heartbreaking story of
Allan Iverson in today's Toronto Star, and while some of Iverson's troubles would appear to be related to issues of addiction, I'm wondering if the NBA player's association provides ongoing support and counselling for its members as they make the transition from playing to post-playing days?
Lorie P, London
A: I was telling a friend the other day about my dad, who was in the same circumstances and drove the same route to work for about 45 years; same house to the same office. I’d be stir crazy inside of 15 years, I’m sure.
And, yes, the Players Association makes available all kinds of counseling and post-career advice to anyone who needs it; and the good agents out there do the same thing. But it’s always up to the individual player and I don’t presume nearly enough of them do.
Q: Hope this helps fill your mailbag.
Read about Raptors pursuing Phil Jackson for a position similar to Pat Riley's in Miami. If that is true what are the odds of it happening? What does that do for BC option being picked up or not?
If/when the Raptors make the playoffs do you think there would be a dramatic increase in ticket sales similar to the Leafs?
What is your favourite colour?
When you are doing you IGBT and you mention about local knuckleheads in the stands, which arena has the the worse?
As always Doug, much appreciation for what you do for us fans whether we be irregular or not.
Ken L, Bath
A: I’m not going to lay odds on that at all, I’m afraid. And we’ll have to wait on the BC thing, too. It’s impossible for me to call with the information I’ve been able to get first-hand at this point.
I don’t know that they’d have the stones to hike them as much as the pucks did after a lockout-shortened season and nine years of missing the playoffs; that was gall to the Nth degree. But they would go up, of that should can be sure.
Know whose fans can be, um, bad? Sacramento back when they used to draw and Utah. A fair amount of profanity at both. Philly’s bad, but they’re bad sometimes in a humourous way.
Q: Hi - a couple of weeks ago during a game, the commentators were talking about a team and its point guard (sorry, I'm weak on the details because I had half an ear on the conversation) and they were saying that it's a great thing to have your best player be a point guard because he controls the game. Or something along those lines ...
Anyway, that got me thinking. (which can be dangerous) If you could start building a team with a star at *any one* particular position, would it be point guard? If all other things were equal, and you could have an all-star at only one position, and then put a supporting cast around that position, what position would you start with? Or would that matter, depending on the quality of that star? What would be the next thing you'd look for? Say your all star is a point guard, do you look for an experienced big man?
A: It probably would be the point guard because the true great ones can not only make themselves into all-stars, they can make it easier for relatively lesser-talented players to maximize their abilities. That said, it’s hard to find those guys so you hope the people you have improve.
I’d probably say next up would be a wing – small forward in the old vernacular – who can play off the guard’s abilities, either by creating and making his own shots or hitting three-pointers consistently.
And then I think you’d fill in the other wing spots and then find bigs.
Q: Jarret Jack seems to playing at quite a high level this year - his play during the playoffs so far has been great. I don't remember that kind of performance from him while he was here.
Is my memory faulty, has he improved his game exponentially, or was it the environment here?
Brad W, Courtenay, BC
A: He’s indeed having a great year and I don’t think too many people saw it coming at all. I’d chalk it up to his maturity as a man and as a player along with the right combination of teammates and a role he’s willing to accept.
So, I don’t know that his “game” has improved exponentially as much as it’s been a confluence of events coming together in a perfect storm.
Q: Hey Doug
Hope you enjoy the TFCs today!
I was hoping you would clear up a couple of questions about the salary cap.
You frequently say that using the amnesty on Kleiza and Bargnani would do essentially the same thing: bring the team under the tax but still over the cap.
Why is there a difference between the cap ceiling and the luxury-tax tier? How big is the difference?
It always struck me as curious that amnestying a 4-5 million dollar/year player would have the same consequences as the amnestying of an 11 million dollar player.
Alex H, Toronto
A: The TFCs were great; I could do without the buzzer-beater nature of the game and kept wondering where all the timeouts were down the stretch but it was fun.
There is a difference – and it’s always been a percentage of Basketball Related Income – between cap and tax to allow for a little wiggle room for teams. Used to be about 7 per cent of BRI, and it’s going to shrink, I believe, over the course of this CBA as the tax becomes more arduous.
So being the middle doesn’t make any difference in what cap exceptions you have at your disposal; meaning there is no financial benefit to doing one over the other.
Q: Hi Doug:
I, for one, am not unhappy with the Raptor's progress this year. I like the current core where each member has the potential to get better. If all the players improve their game for next year how much better can the Raptors be? If DeMar and Rudy each get better and work better with each other, do you think they could be the best dynamic duo since Batman and Robin?
Enjoy your summer, I am looking forward to the fall.
A: They’d be behind Batman and Robin, Burns and Allen, Martin and Lewis, Lewis and Clark, Astaire and Rogers, Rogers and Astaire, Lucy and Ethel and Fred and Barney and a whole raft of others.
Q: Hi Doug
I'm a first time writer, but regular reader of yours. Thanks for the high quality coverage of the Raptors.
I'm watching Jared Jack and Jared Bayless look pretty good in their back up roles on solid playoff teams. I can't help thinking that for all the point guard discussion around the Raptors over the past 5 - 6 years, management hasn't done very well assessing talent. They traded T.J. Ford to bring in Jack, traded Jack to bring in Bayless and then let Bayless walk and got nothing in return.
I get that Jose Calderon's expiring contract was a tradeable asset and that it brought in a higher end talent in Rudy Gay. Given the absence of a rare top tier point guard coming the teams way via the draft in recent years (like John Wall, Steph Curry or Kyrie Irving) it seems we're having to make do with the next tier of talent at that position. Which isn't a bad thing if you find a complimentary fit for your other parts.
I'd propose letting Lowry walk this summer (not pick up the contract option) and bringing back Jose, who in my opinion makes everyone around him better. They could then draft or trade for a young guard who Jose could mentor over the next few seasons as Jonus and Damar come of age.
A final thought... I know you're sick of the Andrea saga... But hey you do cover a non-playoff team with limited narratives... I think the team would be short sighted to trade him when his value is a an all time low. Frustrating player since he went down with the calf injury last season? Absolutely! Potential star coming in as a 6th man next year? We can hope.
A: If you could guarantee that letting Kyle go long before Jose would have to decide his future and knowing that the financial offers Calderon is likely to get can’t be matched here, I’m sorry to say you’re plan is too pie-in-the-sky.
Toss in the fact they don’t have a draft pick and it’s even more implausible.
Andrea? Who’s to say his value is at an all-time low? He could be worse and I’ve never proposed giving him away for nothing, if there’s deal that management thinks will improve the team, they have to make it.
Q: Doug, do we know what kind of problem Rudy was having with his left?
Glad to know he's had it corrected, but didn't know there was problem to start with.
A: We don’t. The organization is not the best with sharing medical information these days – a frustrated situation for the writers – but I’m told it was an out-patient procedure that was no big day and a success.
Q: Tom Anselmi was President and COO of MSLE. The new guy is President and CEO.
Does this mean that Tom no longer has title of President? Is he now a COO?
So who will have final say on the direction of the teams? In other words, what will be their working relationship as normally the COO runs the operation?
Dave B, Cornwall
A: Yes, Tom is no longer president and is COO, which is no surprise to anyone.
The man at the top is Leiweke and will make ultimate decisions in concert with the board and ownership.
But here’s the thing: This is a billion dollar company with four sports teams, a handful of venues, condos, restaurants, bars and real estate. It is sooooooooo much more than sports teams it’s not even funny. And to think one man will handle everything is silly, he will hire and put in place people he trusts to do the right thing.
And I don’t have any expertise in CEO-COO dealings – and, actually, that level of business bores me to tears – but they’ll figure it out.
Q: Hey Doug
Love your blog, keep up the good work. My question is about your opinion on the art of blogging on a daily basis. These days there are literally millions of blogs on any topic you can think of, so I want to know from the perspective of someone who actually writes professionally, how has your blogging experience been.
What's the most challenging thing about it?
How does it compare to your regular gig and how do you see it progressing in the future.
Peter From Milton
A: Sure, there are millions of blogs out there because anyone with an internet connection and a laptop can do it if they want. Doesn’t mean that anyone seeking legitimate information and informed opinion should listen to them.
Personally? This has been fun, I enjoy the interaction for the most part – there are idiots how hide behind the cloak of internet anonymity who don’t have the stones to actually be accountable but you develop thick skin – and it’s been a pretty good ride.
The most challenging thing – by far – is finding fresh stuff five or six days a week that entertain, inform and engage. Haven’t had a day yet where I couldn’t come up with anything but it might turn out one day to be the case.
Compared to the regular gig? Tell you the truth, this is the regular gig and I have to reel in opinion and conversational style from stuff I write solely for the newspaper.
I was watching the TOD last night and realized how annoying the broadcast crew is. They should study Curt Gowdy and see how to let the game come to them, and how to shut up now and again and let the game breathe. Their constant barrage of inane statistics - so and so has hit .278 against Chicago since 1998 - good lord it was a different game then and he certainly was a different player then - just clutters up the airwaves. Tabler waits to see where the ball goes and will then opine that he's been working on that swing to right field, then say he's been working on pulling the ball when the next one goes to left. So my question is who do you like as announcers - any sport, and who does good basketball (when you get a chance to watch).
A: I’ve mentioned this so many times that Irregulars will be sick of it.
Vin Scully is the gold standard for any broadcaster in any sport anywhere. End of story.
Basketball? I like Mike Breen an awful lot and appreciate Kevin Calabro and I don’t see an awful lot of local broadcasts over the course of a season but the Orlando guys are really good.
And you know what? I’ve listened a bit of TOD on the radio lately for some reason and Mike Wilner is an up and comer, he does a really good job, in my opinion.
With that University of Michigan team's parents' pedigrees, and guys like Steph Curry and Al Horford and even former Raptor Ed Davis (I'm old enough to remember each of their fathers) being in the NBA play offs, it had me wondering who is the best father/son combo in the NBA. Do you have maybe a top 5 or 10 list - taking each family member at their prime of their career?
Geoff H. Toronto
A: I’ll do this is more detail some morning soon if you remind me; it’s not really the place here for it.
But here’s one to think of from the past:
Rick Barry and the clan.
And one to think of in the future:
Mitch and Andrew Wiggins.
But I’ll get five some morning soon when we can devote more time and space and it’s not lost in a 3,500-word mailbag.
Q: There's a school of thought that says because the Raptors have (deliberately, I believe) filled their roster with players who are generally pleasant guys and decent citizens, they lack killer instinct. In your experience is there a correlation between off-court demeanour and on-court aggression (or lack thereof). Does someone who's willing to bend the rules on the court to win usually have the same sharp edge in interaction with non-players (like grunts)? Or are there a lot of Jekyll & Hyde types (and if so, could you name a few)?
Mike D, Toronto
A: Not a lot of correlation, actually, although you have to realize I’m not around a lot of other players on a daily basis so my first-hand knowledge in limited.
I will tell you this from my experiences here: There have not been too more on-court aggressive, do what it takes to win guys in Raptors history than Oak and Alvin and both were great, soft-spoken (if you could translate Martian into English in Oak’s case) away from the floor.
Players, it’s been my experience, are able to channel aggressiveness on court without becoming confrontational people off it fairly well.
There was probably no player in my history who exemplifies that more than The Regend. He does, and will do, whatever it takes on the court to gain an advantage; off it, he wouldn’t have a bad word to say about anything or anyone.
These dudes are, for the most part, wired differently than you or I.