The start of the weekend mail
Well, here we go again.
More than enough to split over a weekend, thanks to you. Have at this for today and there’ll be as much here tomorrow, too.
Q: Hi Doug,
You have been told to invite five members of the Raptors (past and present) for your extended family's annual Canada Day BBQ, who is on the list?
A: Well, you want men who have lived lives and have some context to provide and wisdom to impart and stories to tell, right? Because that’s the very, very best dinner party imaginable.
So for this one, I’m going entirely old school pretty much and it starts and stops with Wayne Embry.
Then I’m bringing Sam to lighten things up and be Sam; I know Alex English is a fascinating man, I’d invite Garbo for some international perspective and here’s a man, now sadly no longer with us, that you may not have heard of.
John McLendon, Coach Mac, an advisor to Isiah early and a true, true pioneer.
Q: A lot about coaches & coaching positions in NBN today and it got me thinking about what a weird way of life these NBA coaches have. Not as well paid as the players normally, but a pretty well-heeled lot. They work on a contract for a couple years then "it's time for a change" and they're suddenly unemployed for a year. Or two. Some of these fellows are household names; one takes a broadcast job, his brother doesn't, just for instance.
The players play contract to contract, too, but they have a massive brain trust behind them trying to maximize their asset value and keep them in the game year to year - somewhere!
So my question is: what does an out-of-work top-ranked basketball coach do with free year or two -- if not broadcast commentary?
Seems to be a lot of them; and they seem to represent a lot of talent and experience that ought to be put to good use. Or do they just chill out till an offer comes along?
Thanks, as ever
A: You’ll find that a lot of them will coach. They might help run NBA clinics, they might volunteer in their cities and a few of them simply travel when they like to help out buddies who are still in the business.
I remember Brendan Malone one year he wasn’t coaching acting as something of a “guest coach” for, I believe it was, Seattle in the playoffs as another set of eyes.
Some just coast a bit, catch their breath and relax but the coaching bug is hard to shake.
What is your take on why coaches so rarely instruct their players to intentionally foul at the end of games when their team is winning. For example, in last night's Miami-Indiana game, the Heat easily inbounded the ball to Ray Allen who was immediately fouled near the end of regulation. While he hit just 1 of 2, they had a 3-point lead with something like 12 seconds to go.
Why in the world would they not have intentionally fouled the Pacers and given them two shots and make it a free-throw shooting contest (instead, they didn't and Paul George hit a 3 to put the game into OT)? What is the rationale?
Thanks, as always.
A: It’s not rare, actually, but it’s a total personal style and it varies from coach to coach.
Most, even the ones who do want their teams to foul, wouldn’t with 12 seconds left on the clock, that’s far too much time. Dwane, for instance, doesn’t want his teams to foul with more than six seconds to go; some coaches say not unless there’s less than four to go.
I don’t know Spoestra’s philosophy but I said on the tweeter when the George bucket went in that I couldn’t believe they didn’t foul David West when he was dribbling with about 3.2 seconds to go.
Personally? I’d foul, but only with less than five seconds to go up three and immediately on a catch, the one thing you cannot let happen is for the opponent to get into some shooting motion so he gets three free throws. That’s the inherent gamble.
Q: Hey Doug
I know that nothing is forthcoming until a General Manager is put into place, but is there any chance the Raps trade into the draft?
Apparently there are some teams looking to get out of the first round and its guaranteed contracts. Would the Raps want trade into this draft? I like a guy like Kelly Olynyk for his relatively polished game and versatility. He originally projected as a late lottery pick but some mocks even have him as a late first rounder. Would he be a fit for this squad?
Alex in Guelph
A: I don’t see any way, or reason, they should get into the draft unless they have to take back a pick in some bigger transaction.
It’s a weak draft, very few of the kids eligible will make any significant contribution next year and this team is too young as it is.
And no one connected with the team today has even hinted privately at a desire to get into the draft.
Q: Hi Doug,
Question for you!
We all know that attendance and interest is directly correlated with how well the Raptors are doing.
How does the success of the Raptors correlate with your world? Do page views go up when they are doing better? Do comments go up when they are doing worse? Etc...
Chris M, Toronto
A: They do, but not as much as some would think; nor do they drop off as much as some would hope.
I don’t have the exact raw numbers with me – I know the last seven days varied between 10,000 and 4,000 pageviews here and I cannot track the stories, just the blogs – but anecdotally, we do okay regardless of what’s going on record wise. A bit better, of course, when things are great but not appreciably.
For some reason, I’m pretty lucky to have a regular group of Irregulars and I appreciate it every day. (Some more than others, of course)
Q: Couldn't agree more about the 500.
Tony George screwed everything up in open wheel racing in North America, and it's gonna take a while for open wheel and the 500 in particular to get back to where it once was.
The glory days of Jim McKay, Jackie Stewart, Chris Economaki etc. broadcasting the race while wearing the distinctive yellow blazers for ABC are long gone but remembered.
Do you think the new generation of racing fans who love drifting, rally cross and monster truck will ever be taken in by the allure of open wheel rockets going into turn 3 at 200 mph plus, the way we did?
A: Man, I had totally forgotten about Chris Economaki! Thanks, a name from the past.
I think the olden days of the Indy 500 was the only time I’d sit at a TV and watch an event that already been held.
Now, I think interest this weekend might pick up a bit thanks to the Hinchcliffe bloke who is doing so well but not to the days before the ill-advised split engineered by George.
Q: Good day Mr. Smith
Long long time reader, third time writer. My questions haven't been answered in the past but no grudges at all. I'm sure that you receive too many emails to even possibly think of responding to all of them.
In the past my emails were very raptorcentric, but this time I'm going to one of my better hobbies and one I believe you enjoy as well, beer drinking.
Just to let you know about my pedigree, I've been to the Mecca of beers, Belgium and have had my fair share of tasting beers on most of every continent I've been on (most of Europe, north and central America, Asia). Africa is the only continent I have yet to step foot on and I can't say I have an extensive knowledge of their beers.
Anyways, I was in Mexico on a recent trip and happened to find myself in front the beer box. A watering hole that defines itself by serving the finest tasting beers of the world as well as local ones. Many of the ones I tried were fantastic but the one that takes the cake is Midas Touch. It's an American beer brewed in Delaware. Simply divine. It's a amber ale. So good I just had to share with you.
Have you ever had it? If not, do yourself a favor and you must try it. I am not sure how and where to find it yet. But man, it really is a beer drinkers beer. Delicious on all fronts whether it be initial, and after taste.
If your interested I can keep in touch once i find out where to get it.
A: Doctor, I am all in favour of hearing about new things to sip. I vaguely remember Midas Touch being on a menu in some saloon I was at – perhaps in Boston? – but I didn’t try it.
I’m a bit of a pilsner guy, will venture to wheat beers now and then but have yet to develop a taste for the heavy, dark stuff.
So whatever you’ve got, I’ll try and take a shot at.
Q: Hi Doug,
A fan, one time Torontonian, now based in basketball-crazy Beijing.
The Raptors have had players on their roster in the past who have served as average (above?) pieces as bench players: Billups, Bonner, Bayless, Jack, Evans.
Since leaving the Raps, these athletes are showing signs of being key bench pieces (at times starting) on playoff teams. In addition to a building a solid starting five, the raps have had difficulty building a strong, sustainable bench.
Does this say more about our sport economic landscape, social politics or about the Raptor in-house talent evaluators?
Of in-house evaluators, who sits on the table when that is discusses? Is there a table.
A shot-in-the-dark-slight-chance-you-may-really-dig-this-musician: Frank Turner.
A: I don’t think there’s one thing that it “says” because every situation is different, different players thrive or improve in different situations because maybe they get it, finally, or maybe they just fit better or maybe they just mature with time.
So I think it says more about circumstances than it does personalities for the most part.
Now, I don’t know if there’s a “table” but the braintrust would include the GM, his assistants and scouts, the head coach and members of his staff. It’s basically a collaborative effort but the guy with the big title makes the final call all the time.
Q: Hi Doug
Over this past season, small ball seemed to be the trend. Miami dominated with Lebron at the 4; the Knicks did well with Melo playing power forward; and Denver won a lot when they had Gallinari at power forward, too. It seemed that many people wanted to see Durant play the 4 more often as well. Then in the playoffs, the Dubs seemed to be doing great with Barnes as a stretch 4.
Now, most of the teams left have some pretty traditional big men: Indiana, Memphis, San Antonio. Is there something significant in that? In today's NBA, does big still beat small, or was this just a random thing? And is small ball popular largely because the Heat make it work with Lebron? Maybe it works for them because he's a superlative player, and other teams can't hope to duplicate that success?
Keep up the good work,
A: I think it’s probably random (again, if Westbrook doesn’t get hurt we might be thinking about how effective “small” is for the Thunder) and the Heat are certainly proof that it works simply because of the make up of their roster.
I think the move to “small” is a bit of a misnomer, you still have 6-8, 6-10 fours, just ones with what could be considered non-traditional skills.
What it is, mostly, is coaches adapting to what they have at their disposal and finding ways to maximize their talent.
Q: Hi Doug
Been an eventful week so far in Raptorland, and it's only Wednesday! I'm sure you're going to be inundated with questions about the big management changes, but two things came to my mind after reading the transcripts of the press conference.
Given that Bryan Colangelo is still held in high esteem by many teams and the NBA league (whatever local fans may think of him), and given his usually supremely confident nature, I find it hard to believe that he (as you've said before) couldn't get work elsewhere. Why did he agree to what seems to be a bit of an untenable position? It can't possibly be comfortable for him.
Lewicke talked about attracting stars to Toronto (yes I know, what else was he going to say), but it sounded like his solution was to build a better practice facility. I mean really? Would that really make that much of a difference? (Surely a winning team takes precedence).
Latinus est Graecus mihi
A: As we’ve mentioned, it’s absolutely not what Bryan’s first choice was but he has such an abiding interest in seeing this thing through he’s willing to change roles to still be a part of it. That said, if the presidency and general managership of another team came up, I’m sure he’d be interested but it would have to be a very good situation. He told us this week he’s got an NBA out clause is his contract but he’s not out seeking anything at this time.
A practice facility is certainly not the end all and be all and won’t be the one thing that decides whether a player comes here or not but these guys like to be coddled and to have an organization that will spend money to make them comfortable. It would just be part of a total package, a smallish part but one nonetheless.
And I will trust the Latin is a positive comment?
Q: Hi Doug
The revelation that Kevin Johnson was the mayor of Sacramento got me thinking... as a basketball fan who came of age in the mid-80s Magic Johnson was the man. And I remember the early 90s when KJ was lighting it up for the Suns and drawing comparison to Magic. Now, some 15 years after he retired, where do you think he stands in the pantheon of NBA point guards? Does he belong in the conversation with people like Magic in your opinion?
A: As good as Kevin Johnson was, and he was very, very good, I wouldn’t put him in the same category as Magic at any level; not sure I’d have him in my list of top 10 or 15 point guards, either.
But as NBAers who became politicians, he’d be close to the top of a list that probably begins with Bill Bradley.