The start of the weekend mail
Good day, folks.
Same drill as usual, did as much as I could before fun called on Friday night so enjoy this and there’s a very little left for tomorrow.
That means there’s a bit of time to get in on the fun, would love to hear from you at email@example.com.
Q: Hi again and thanks for all your insights and hard work for us. Couple of questions. I noticed in the presser that you were the only one dressed as I would have been... (were those Chuck Taylors I saw? and yes you looked dazzling.. ).. so my question is regarding whether or not there is a dress code to these types of events, or if those who were decked out did so to 'impress and fit in', or perhaps they did it because they had a tv type report to do afterwards. Is there a rule of thumb or protocol for these events?
Second question: When you asked Ujiri a question, he seemed to give you a genuine smile of welcome and recognition....how would you describe your relationship with him? Is he perhaps more approachable than others who have such a power position?
Third: I heard that in the NBA coaching purges that one of my favourites, Alex English is now again unemployed. It seemed to me that the Raps offense took a step back last year and that he had done some fine work honing the offensive skills of the young forwards we had. I can’t imagine a better offensive teacher for Gay and DD. Any chance he could return? What is his reputation around the league? If we want to coach toughness what about a Laimbeer who has also had some coaching experience? Thoughts?
A: No real dress code as long as you look presentable and I think a golf shirt, shorts and black Chucks is more than presentable for a news conference in early June; in fact I had on much the same for the Finals practices in Miami on Friday. Now, if I’d had TV to do it might have been different but I was getting in and out for an important appointment and wanted to be relaxed.
Masai and I do go back a ways, I wrote about him early in his Toronto tenure the first time around; I think some of the smiles was because – in our role as a television studio audience we were asked to identify ourselves with name and affiliation and he already had a pretty good idea of who I was and where I worked.
As for the coaching thing? Alex is indeed between gigs now with the changes in Sacramento and, yes, he is an outstanding teacher and is held in high regard around the league, I can’t imagine he’d be out of work long.
But here’s the thing on a staff: While each individual member of it may have great skills teaching some aspect of the game, it’s still a group of men who have to work together and live together for months, closer than some families.
One thing you need to consider is the dynamic of the personalities as much as the talents of the men. They need to get along but be able to challenge the head coach without it becoming awkward, they have to be able to balance individual ideas with the common goal first in mind.
It’s not easy and to just think you can throw together three or fur guys with good backgrounds and individual talents and make it work isn’t always true.
Q: Is it just me or is it a crazy year for coaching changes? What's the Tally at now? Is Hollins officially out in Memphis? If so that's a crazy number of teams that are in the hunt for a coach...I'm glad we are not in the race :)
As a side note...just wondering how many "Will we hire Karl" emails/questions you've gotten so far :)
A: Well, until they announce officially Mo Cheeks in Detroit, the Pistons, Clippers, Nuggets, Sixers, Brooklyn are still open and we’ve had changes in Milwaukee, Atlanta, Charlotte, Phoenix, Cleveland and Sacramento. Memphis isn’t officially open yet, it will be.
I didn’t see Denver coming, few did, but figured we’d have 10. Why? An awful lot of is has to do with impatience in the front offices, cheap salaries that are easy to eat for ownership and timing.
This is probably the worst off-season for head coaches, which is too bad but I guess it’s just the way things go.
Karl questions? Too many and I think I nipped it in the bud quickly.
Q: The Denver Nuggets lose their GM and fire the coach "of the year" because the owner doesn't want to pay either fair market value...
No wonder there's only been 8 different teams win the 'chip since '86
What a silly league....no chance for competitive balance when profit remains the only important metric of success
Meanwhile Chelsea pays their coach 16M a year to come back to the club;
Outside trading for every lottery pick for next year or a NYC/Ewing type draft conspiracy* favoring Toronto,
What change what hope is there this team can ever be competitive or mere entertainment?
Perhaps a make good for the silly top 3 protected explanation draft rule, which denied Toronto Alan Iverson OR the mandatory high school +1 rule which saved the Raptors from drafting Greg Oden
Can the NBA even be saved from itself?
A: First off, and this is not aimed personally at you but since you’re the latest to bring it up, there’s this:
When did “’chip” become a thing? Of all the things, it’s the most stupid. End of rant.
So the very real chance that we could be watching a Memphis-Indiana final isn’t competitive balance enough for you? And there needs to be no change whatsoever, the pressure needs to be ratcheted up on under-achieving organizations to perform better and make better decisions but the CBA rules make it more than possible for them to compete. I would never change a thing that rewards prudence, solid decisions and the inevitable bit of luck teams need.
So if you’re worried about whether the NBA can be “saved from itself” I think you might be too far gone.
Q: Hi Doug
Do you think there is a possibility that the Raptors bring over Tomislav Zubcic for the coming season. Any elaboration you can offer would be greatly appreciated.
Peter in Ottawa
A: There was talk a couple of months ago about bringing him over for the Summer League, or at least the practices before it, but I don’t know where that stands now that management has changed. We’ll find out in the next couple of weeks.
But I also have no clue whether the second round draft pick is remotely capable of playing in the NBA or whether he’d been an end-of-the-roster project.
Don’t imagine he shifts the balance of power either way.
Q: Hey Doug,
How do you think it reflects on the league and the game when players are fined only $5,000 (occasionally) for flailing around on the court, but are fined $75,000 for uttering a slur with non-malicious intent.
A: Don’t think it reflects on the league badly or well, two entirely different matters. And I saw this question before I wrote this David Stern story which directly addresses the small amount on the flopping fines.
But I’m entirely fine with the fine for Hibbert and his intemperate remarks; that’s a message that has to be sent to say even a heartfelt apology can’t mitigate senseless slurs, no matter how inadvertent they may be.
Q: Hi Doug!
Long time reader of your blog and love the job that you do. My question is not so much about the Raptors or sports for that matter, but your blog itself.
I'm really quite shocked by the personal insults that are directed at you from time to time through this blog and notice that your response pattern to them are not the same (i.e., sometimes you don't respond, sometimes you respond head on).
I was wondering if the tall foreheads at mother Star have you, and the other Star bloggers for that matter, follow a particular protocol for responding to such comments, or is it your own personal decision as to when and how you respond?
A: Nah, there’s no hard and fast protocol, best way to put it is that as long as I’m not too stupid, I can decide what to say and when.
And my personal decision on a case-to-case business could have to do with mood, the number of times the same dopes go off, the topic and whether I’m having a good day or not.
Some day, if I have the time to redact the vulgarity that spews form one guy who’s been banned not only from the blog but from the mailbag file, I’ll show you some that are so over the top it’d shock you.
Q: Hello... When do we see some of Masai's African big men on the Raptor's- Huskies'- Royals' bench? If you were Gray, would you be a tad nervous with talk of developing young guys on the end of the bench? Will Masai's scouting department be fewer than the number of suits reporting to the board?
If you were a betting man, will Lowry be the point guard for the Commonwealth this Halloween and into the season? Is the chicken safe?
All the best!
Bob E, Kanata
A: I wonder how long it took Solomon Alibi to phone Masai with “congratulations.” But young projects seems to be his idea for the end of the roster, which is always fun because they generally have interesting stories that’ll cover off a day here and there.
My bet is that Lowry is safe and if they mess with The Chicken, they mess with me and they don’t want that.
Q: Doug, thanks again for your hard work. I hope you enjoy the finals.
Now that Grant Hill and Jason Kidd have announced their retirement, do you think they will get into coaching? If so, do you think the Raptors should be interested? I think you have commented about finding a recently retired player to help coach the team.
A: There’s no indication either of them has any interest whatsoever in coaching so I can’t even hazard a guess what they might do.
And, sure, I totally think the Raptors would benefit from an ex-player on the coaching staff but I’d probably prefer someone with at least a bit of coaching experience. In a perfect world, that is.
Q: I have advice for Masai: Get Wendel Clark and Doug Gilmour on your team.
I know myself well enough to know that I am mostly ignorant about basketball and what it takes to build a winner and what it takes to build a profitable organization. Still, it seems to me that the players that we Torontonians and Canadians like the most are the same type of players who we like on the ice:
The workers (JYD, Garbo),
the cinderella stories (JMoon, Bonner),
and the humble and cerebral (Calderon, Rasho).
This in contrast with and the typical "hey look at how great I am" type of player and personality that we see populating NBA rosters and - dare I say it - today's hip-hop culture.
Do you think Masai can build a winning basketball team by thinking like a hockey fan? I think if he does this he`ll increase the fan base and maybe the worker ethic will rub off on players who would otherwise be prima donnas.
A: You don’t think there are prima donnas or “hey, look at how great I am” guys in the pucks? Ever see some goal celebrations?
But to answer your question, the very last thing Masai should do is build a basketball team by thinking like a hockey fan. First, no scripted fights in basketball; second, Toronto hockey fans – if that’s who you’re talking about – don’t seem to be like the most successful in the game, given the Leafs have played fewer playoff games than the Raptors in the last decade.
I agree fans tend to like the players who fall into those categories you mention; I would hazard a guess fans would love knuckleheads as much if they won more games.