The end of the weekend mail
Told you there’d be a little bit more, got some of the lollygaggers in and some I’d mised.
Q: Hi - not sure if this is too late to fit in the mailbox, but sending it anyway.
This is good news and bad news. The bad news (I think!) is that the Raps are no longer your beat. (That is bad news for Irregulars, for you .....?) The good news is that you are now a roving reporter and you can cover whatever games you like. What are your dream road trips *with* matchups you'd like to see and why?
A: If I’m reading this right, it’s what other basketball games I could cover? Well, you know how I do those three games to watch as part of Nothing But Net each Friday? I’d love to have the budget and the space in the paper to wake up each Friday and find two compelling games in the next five days and go write lengthy takeouts on either people or issues that would run twice a week while I do the normal morning stuff. Alas, that’s a pipedream.
Now, if you’t taking me out of basketbal “beat” coverage entirely, I’d like to carve out a job where I could go write about the four major North American championships, the World Cup or whatever signficant summer event there was and the EuroLeague basketball championships.
That’d fill a year, wouldn’t it?
Q: Well, as you mentioned "Another Bites the Dust". If making the playoffs was the goal than it was a poor showing. If improving the team and learning to play together and play for each other, than I think the season was a little more of a success than a lot of folks might think.
I agree the team does need a solid veteran big with an attitude, and I think that is more important than a backup PG. I think that John
Lucas has shown that he can fill the job. He may not be all one would like but he provides a change of pace, and he can shoot which means
teams cannot play off him as they might at times with Telfair or another like him. If Fields can fix his shot, or if they find another 3/4 who can shoot the three and also get to the basket, than it is just the end of the bench.
I know I am just repeating stuff I have gathered from you over the course of the season, but your insight has made it easier for me to understand what I am watching and what I should be looking for.
And I thank you for that. It has made the games that much more enjoyable.
A: John Lucas, while a good guy, good teammate, good shooter, doesn’t have the necessary decision-making skills that a point guard needs. He doesn’t see open teammates, has a hard time getting the team into a halfcourt set. He’s a good third guard for emergencies and a shooter off the bench.
But I agree he might have been a better fit for this team than Telfair was in his 20 or so games.
Q: Hello Doug,
Hope you're enjoying your summer holiday (Although, I don't know about where you live but this morning there's snow resting on the almost-ready-to-bloom daylilies in my front garden. Guess I should turn the air conditioner off.)
So, in the blog the other day you spoke of the 'coaching carousel' and the old familiar faces and I'm wondering if you could name a couple of names we're all less than familiar with who you'd like to see get a chance to coach in the NBA. And, do you know if Pat Summit was ever approached to join an NBA coaching staff? Thank you.
And speaking of 'old-timers', didn't that old fossil Cliff Richard (who actually looked pretty fabulous carrying that torch at London 2012...do you think he and Tim Duncan sip from the same Fountain of Youth? Or is Cliff's more of a 'medical' miracle than a medicinal one..?) have a nifty hit way back when about a 'Summer Holiday'? Remember singing it with my sisters annually as the old family jalopy chugged and gasped its way up to Fenelon Falls.
Lorie P, London
A: The ice and the snow on the Smelly Ford Taurus this morning was a shock to my system, not to mention Super Dog. Sit on a patio one day, winter coat the next. Some Decompression Days.
The names I've got are basically familiar, they are current assistants like Mike Budenholzer in San Antonio, everyone expects Brian Shaw to be successful and I have long held that Michael Malone would be an excellent choice.
But I want to find a GM bold -- and secure enough -- to give Butch Carter another job and I don't think anyone would regret hiring Brendan Malone, either.
And I don't know about Pat Summit 100 per cent but I would doubt it, the time just wasn't right.
Q: Hey Doug,
When are the closing interviews going to take place?
A: For the media? Already done over the course of the last week of the season, lots of players had early flights out Thursday so there was no one day, which was 100 per cent fine with many of us, it allowed us to do end-of-season stories rather than inconsequential game stories in the last four or five games. And that stand around and wait Thursday after a season ends is, to me, the worst day of the year, by far. You never get anything to interesting and it's about five hours in a tiny room for about 40 minutes of actual work.
Bryan and Dwane are doing media sessions on Monday late-morning.
Q: Hi Doug,
Maybe you've already covered this, but what do you think will happen with Gary Payton's (my all-time favourite player) induction into the HOF? Obviously, he will go under the Sonics name, but with the rights being held by the Thunder how do you envision that all going down?
A: I think it'll be wildly entertaining, pretty emotional and full of good stories. And there's a slight chance we'll understand them all despite Gary's rather unique use of the English language.
But there is not a question that regardless of how or where he finished his career, he will always be known as a Sonic.
I have never been an Andrea basher. While I still see his potential, I acknowledge that his 2012-2013 season was terrible. I can accept that it might be in everyone's interest if he were to be traded in the off season.
That being said, you and others have suggested that the Raptors might very well have to include another piece with him in order to find another team willing to take back Andrea's contract.
My question is what piece do you foresee as having to go with Andrea? I would assume that the five starters (Rudy, JV, Demar, Kyle, Amir) are to be included in the core that everyone talks about the Raptors have moving forward and wouldn't be a throw in to get Andrea moved.
Kleiza will likely be amnestied and Pietrus' career appears to be over and doesn't constitute an expiring contract, so they are out. Alan Anderson and Sebastian Telfair are free agents, so they could only be part of sign and trade and that wouldn't be an enticement on taking Andrea. Landry Fields' contract is a significant amount as well and given his need to recover from the nerve issue and rebuild his shot, I can't imagine that he'd be considered an incentive piece. So that leaves, Aaron Gray (a serviceable 5th big) and John Lucas III (a serviceable 3rd PG) -- neither of which would be an incentive -- and Quincy Acy and Terrence Ross. So I assuming the other piece will have to be one of them. Correct?
A: I see your point but there are all kinds of possibilities; hear me out:
What if a team needed cap or tax relief at a small level at the end of next year and even the year after and would take Kleiza to have two consecutive expiring deals?
What if a team needed some quick, small financial fix and would take Lowry (a PG would have to come back) and waive him to save more than $5 million this summer?
We’ve seen a summer that included a four-team, double sign-and-trade transaction so who knows what a creative mind could come up with.
I’m not suggesting any of those things would happen but there are ways to make a deal out of nowhere sometimes.
Q: Hi Doug,
I thought you took the easy way out yesterday with your answer.
A: It's easy. People can turn Cs into Bs and Bs into As by improving, getting more experience, working harder. I'm told students do it all the time; I didn't, of course, in my mis-spent youth but I understand it can be done.
I keep hearing how hard it is to build a top NBA team. Do you really believe DeRozen, Gay and Lowry will show the improvement (and consistent effort) that helped Amir move from an extra piece to a special piece?
But I do appreciate how it became all about you again.
A: Given the shot you took, I’m beginning not to give a rat’s butt what you do or don’t appreciate, to tell you the truth.
If you consider Amir a “special” piece, I would say DeRozan is equally special, as is Gay and Lowry could get better.
So yes, I believe DeRozan and Gay can get better individually as shooters and collectively as teammates, I don’t think it’s possible for you to dispute that Valanciunas is a great and bright future ahead of him.
And if you’ve been reading here, you’ll know I’ve harping on experience, familiarity and improved individual shooting skills as the way for the team to get better.
Q: Hello Doug,
From talking to staff and insiders, are you hearing anything to suggest that Andrea has taken responsibility for his dismal season as a bed he made himself?
I recall at the start of training camp, when Andrea was asked what he worked on in the off-season. He replied that he just rested. Then as the season started, I heard he came into camp out of shape.
Has he intimated to staff that his downfall this past season was a result of not working hard enough or is he putting it down to bad luck and just not finding his groove due to injuries?
Brian V, Toronto
A: Sure he did, every time he spoke with us. And I'm not sure where you heard what you think you heard about him being out of shape -- I challenge to actually find a fact to back up that rather bold assertion -- but it wasn't the case. And I was actually there to see it.
And the two injuries were indeed bad luck, no amount of "conditioning" could have prevented them