The end of the weekend mail
This should wrap up the weekend and after hitting for the writing cycle yesterday, it might be time for a lazy morning in bed.
Until Argos practice and other, more delightful aspects of the day, that is.
Q: Hi Doug,
I noticed you had 3 little stories posted on the website very quickly following the confirmation of the gm hiring. I'm wondering if any of these stories existed in some form prior to the actually announcement. In expecting the news, did you have them all ready to go, were they in a rough draft stage, simply ideas or were they put together after hearing confirmation.
Also, I'm wondering if you heard any word on what took so long to make the decision. From the outside looking in, it seemed like he was reluctant to take the position, and was trying to get Denver to up the Ante... your thoughts?
A: I did have quite a bit of the work done before the official word came down; have always found it prudent to be ready to ease the inevitable stress of the actual moment. I had no idea when it would come down but I wanted to be ready for the readers as soon as it did with a little bit of substance.
I re-wrote and lengthened the original news story from the quick-hit one that was up on the web within minutes and also had a profile-like piece ready to go. It was held for space considerations and it should be in Sunday’s paper.
And I’m now going to debate that it took “too long” although I certainly shared the frustration of the days.
But it was only a week between when he got the original Toronto offer and took the job. In that time, the long weekend was lost since the Kroenke’s were unavailable, Tuesday was out because no was Masai going to disrupt the Patrick Roy announcement, as he shouldn’t have.
So, we were left with Wednesday and Thursday to meet with the Kroenkes – I know Masai to be an honourable and decent man and he would give his current employer every opportunity respond with a new offer and he would never do anything without speaking with them face-to-face.
So let’s say he sat with Josh Kroenke on Wednesday and said, I think I’m going to leave, as tough as that is. And if Kroenke said, we need a day or so to see what we can do in an effort to keep you, wouldn’t it be prudent?
So that leaves us Thursday for the Denver ownership to come back, Thursday night and Friday morning for Masai to discuss it with his family and circle of confidants and he told everyone what he was doing on Friday in the middle of the afternoon in Colarado.
Time-consuming? Not so much when you see how the week might have played out.
Q: I am sure you will be very busy covering the Ujiri issue. But I have question regarding expectations form a different perspective. Often we hear of athletes who begin to 'try too hard' when they sign a big shiny new contract. Now with Masai making sooo much more money, how do you think he will do balancing between doing his work and trying to make a big splash to justify the huge contract.
Thanks as always
A: I don’t think it does and here’s the main reason:
A five-year deal.
While there is no doubt he’ll want to hit the ground running and has some important decisions to try to make quickly, the time commitment he got from Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment should afford him time to deliberate and not feel forced into anything hasty to “prove” his value.
That said, if dynamically franchise-altering deals present themselves in the next month and he thinks they are worth doing, he will. But he will do it because he likes the opportunity, not because he feels compelled to make dramatic moves quickly.
Q: Hi Doug, greetings from Croatia!
I noticed that in his inaugural presser Leiweke said "at the end of the day" about 8000 times, give or take a hundred. In almost every interview Dwane Casey uses the phrase "heckuva" (a heckuva player, a heckuva game, move, dunk, etc.) several times, which I find very annoying when repeated that often. During your 18 years with the Raptors what phrases or buzzwords used by anyone in or around the team you found most irritating?
Also, do you think there's any chance that the new GM doesn't pick up final year of Lowry's contract (or packages his expiring contract with Andrea or something) and gets Jose back as the FA?
Always a pleasure reading you.
A: One stands out above all others and I am sure there are more but they cannot ever equal this one:
Mo Pete. Most definitely.
“Mo, do you think you guys played well enough to win?”
“Most definitely …
“Mo, is today Sunday?”
“Mo, are you legendary in these parts because you’re one of the true good guys in franchise history?”
It was classic and we loved it.
And there’s a lot more on Jose to come a few questions past here, the quick answer is no.
Enjoy Zagreb, will get there one day.
Q: Hello Doug,
I've been following our SWNT as they play a series of exhibition games over in Europe as best I can (and thanks for your updates!) and have noticed that The Pride Of London, Ontario - Miranda Ayim isn't on the roster. Do you know if she's injured or perhaps unavailable for another reason? Thank you.
Lorie P, London
A: She’s just finished her season with her pro team in Turkey and will meet up with the national team on the final leg of its European tour, I’ve been told.
But very much still part of the program.
Q: Greetings, been a little bit but Friday's column got me to thinking. In regards to the Lebron performance and how it now seems that he has sufficiently distanced himself from what was perceived as a particularly ill conceived "Decision".
I would suspect that us mere mortals think of our sports heroes as being primarily focused on attaining great heights as practioner of whichever sport that they happen to play. Most assuredly also to benefit financially from their prowess at their chosen sport. But perhaps something lost on us as fans would be the effect on the players and in turn, how they interpret professional sport as entertaiment.
Perhaps there are times when players do something because they are under the impression that whatever it happens to be will be deemed good theatre, and thus, a good thing to do. I am certain that also being human there are times when something occurs simply as a result of an ill considered reaction to whatever event has just transpired in front of them.
No doubt this was touched upon back when Lebron's "Decision" was current, but is it not possible that the whole debacle was not even really his idea? Maybe some promotions guy's contribution to the roundtable one morning?
I can't help but think that so much of the life of a professional anybody in the glare of the media is so radically different than the rest of us that we really don't have the perspective to truly understand the whys and wherefores of the events that we read/watch/listen about/to.
Anyway, as always thanks for what you do, (and in particular for NOT referencing the antics of a local politician, way too much of that everywhere else.)
Doug T, Brantford
A: I see your point and it’s very possible that someone else came up with the original idea but it was still LeBron who had to have to final say in how that decision was announced.
Perhaps he took too much guidance from others and just went along with an idea without thinking it totally through but it’s still on him.
Q: Hi Doug, thx for the continuous good and interesting work!
My question is not a new one, but with the latest acquisition of Masai Ujuri, a different perspective will come with the move obviously.
First of all, I would like to say that I am pretty excited about a new GM and also like that Colangelo is still present with the team. Unlike apparently most people, I have been a fan of Bryan throughout the years and think his imput and reputation will be good for the team. That being said, he has had a few mishaps over the years, and getting rid of Jose Calderon is on top of that list, as far as I am concerned.
While I believe Jose to be an average point guard - only because there is SO MANY great ones in the league -, I love his heart, his competitive nature and his love of the city. I believe he still has a good 3 years left in him as far as starting at the position goes. With Ujuri now having the keys to operate freely, how likely do you see the Raptors buying out Lowry 6.2 million contract for a million and offering a deal to Calderon? I do not see Calderon demanding much more than 6-8 million a year.
Jean Serge B
A: I think there is little or no chance they buyout Lowry’s contract, nor should they and here’s why:
First, the option has to be decided in, I believe, the middle of June and I know it’s before the opening of free agency. If you let him go it does not give them nearly enough money to go spend on a replacement, they will have the mid-level cap exception left and that’s not enough.
Second, regardless of what we or you or they think of Lowry, he is an NBA starting calibre point guard on what will be a hugely affordable expiring contract and in that regard he is an asset you cannot simply give away.
Thirdly, if you let him go it will be a gamble that you might entice Calderon back for significantly less than his market value and there will be teams making far better money offers. And if he decides that as much as he loves Toronto that he’d rather spend the last four or five years of his career on a team closer to legitimate championship contention, what are you left with here?
A few dollars saved on Lowry’s deal and no point guard.
Can’t see why or how it would happen.
Lord knows I’ve been wrong before but don’t see that I can be on this one, makes no sense to do buy him out.
Q: I’ve never known what the team president's job description is in the NBA entails. Can you tell me?
A: No, I can’t.
And I doubt they can specifically, either.
It’s basically what the president of any large corporation does in many regards; set policy, hope those who work for you can implement it, work through the various aspects of the business that come up – sponsorships, TV contracts, other large deals, to give final approval or disapproval to projects done by others and to simply set the tone.
But to figure out a laundry list of daily chores? Can’t be done.
Q: Hi Doug
After Casey's first season at the helm everyone in the entire organization seemed to be touting the improved defensive numbers while, in my opinion, ignoring the significant drop in offensive numbers after Triano left.
I know you are not a big stats guy, and that they don't tell the whole story, but what were the offense and defensive numbers for the Raps this season? Also, what, if anything, can these numbers tell us of the team.
Also, from the training camp through the entire season the message from the team seemed to be they wanted to run, yet, if I'm not mistaken, there were towards end bottom of the league in Fast Break Points. Is this a reflection of personnel, coaching, injuries or some combination of all these factors.
A: There are so many numbers that can be crunched so many different ways I’m not going to look too many of them up; they’re out there in the ether somewhere.
But here are two: They were 14th in the league in offensive efficiency and 22nd in defensive efficiency; not stellar by any stretch.
We’ve been over the mistake they made by concentrating too much on offence at training camp and the heavy defensive price they paid starting an over-matched rookie centre in the first weeks of the season and that was a huge part of why they fell back.
The fast break points? Fast-break points are one of the most misleading numbers out there, they have to be points scored within six seconds of taking possession; so it really has nothing to do with personnel, coaching or injuries. Being in the top half of the league in offence, I would suggest they got enough “early” offence off transition to be quite all right.
Q: Hi Doug,
Memo to incoming GM : get in the 1st round and get a backup Point Guard.
Memo to knuckleheads: your act doesn't work on the road (this means you Lance Stephenson).
Question: Where have all the tough guys gone??? Haslem, Birdman, Hansborough...really...I'd hire Oak to go find himself reincarnated.
A: Oh, the day of the tough guy is long, long, long gone. No more Oaks, no more Mahorns, no more Maurice Lucases and he was the toughest one ever. The league doesn’t want them, they legislated their existence out of the game.
And we’re left with the “push and run” tough guys who give shots and immediately back pedal looking for someone to get in front of them.
Makes me laugh.