The start of the weekend mail
What’s that about the best laid plans?
Seems Friday got away from me (Thanks, Masai) and that meant a delay until this morning in getting to this stuff as I did my other normally delightful morning things.
Here’s this, I know there’s more there to look at, I just haven’t yet and will at some time today and be back tomorrow, too.
Q: Hi Doug
Thanks for the great writing.
I've got a thought and a question.
I find myself reacting to Leiweke's statements about making the Raptors more of Canada's team. I think you nailed it with your comments that it's all about the on floor product. I recall the excitement for the team during Vince Carter's run, coverage on U.S. network TV etc... They had the most exciting player in the game at the time and people wanted to watch.
My question is what are your thoughts on the gap between Colangelo's contention that the team is close and Leiweke's statements that he disagrees with Brian's assessment? I get that one guy is being promotive and trying to justify his work of the past 7 years or so and the other is trying to justify making a change, but how do you see it?
A: I probably lean closer to Bryan’s assessment, that they have a good core that needs tweaking and time. I understand Tim’s bold talk about not being a perennial 7-11 team, as he calls it, and I would understand that would be a failure.
But I also think 7-11 teams can grow to be 5-8 teams and then 2-4 teams with judicious roster moves; I don’t see the need to blow this up and become a 12-15 team to start over because there are some intriguing and interesting pieces here.
Are they championship contenders? Of course not and to think otherwise is ridiculous; are bits there to continue the incremental growth of the last three years? Of course there are. Do they need to make some moves? Obviously.
But I agree more with Bryan than Tim on this one.
Q: Hi Doug,
Great story on Matt Bonner. It's funny how fate put Sam Mithchell as Matt's first NBA coach. The two were very well suited for each other. Just curious if there is any progress on Matt's Canadian citizenship. Is he still interested in playing for Team Canada? With lots of up coming talent, do you think Matt could play a leadership role for the kids?
Also, do you have an update on Jamaal Magloire? The last we heard, he had a behind the scenes role with the Raptors. Is he still involved with the HOTH?
Terry, Antigonish, NS
A: Matt is not a Canadian citizen yet and I think his desire to play for Canada may be waning just a little bit, mostly because he’s getting a little bit older, his body needs rest time to prolong his NBA career, there are family concerns as well. But I will ask him next week at the Finals.
Jamaal? Still there. Doing an awful lot of important and good community work for the organization.
Q: Hi Doug
With all the angst about GMs coming in and turning a franchise around, it seems like there are lots of examples on our world and other sports of Executive of the Year (EOY) types going to another organization and not being as successful as they were. So whereas you could take an MVP, and the next year, barring injury, expect that they should still be above average, do EOYs have a shorter shelf life? For example, are other GMs warier about making trades with them, was their previous success due to luck in the draft gamble, or are they so affected the contracts they inherit and the ownership they work under, that it is difficult to be great continuously?
How is the get healthy program going this year?
A: They do have a shorter life, actually, because one wrong move made for whatever they thought were right reasons, can do harm to a roster that takes a long time to fix.
And I don’t think there is any trepidation on the part of other GMs to make deals with EOYs or anything like that; every GM thinks his deals are good deals and they’d make a deal with the devil himself if they thought it was a good one.
Health? Well, I’m still here so that’s the big step. As Sam used to say: It’s another day above dirt.
But thanks for asking, always a battle but we’re holding our own.
Q: Hello... Questions, questions...
Any relation to the Smith brewery in England?
Ever had a Brudenholzer?
Has Dwayne Wade ever travelled?
If you're say 6 feet, eight inches, 280 pounds, how far apart are your feet when you set your screen? Why is Lebron setting screens anyway?
Why hasn’t Mayor Ford's popularity plummeted? What sort of "stuff" does Mike Duffy have on our politicians in Ottawa?
Ahh...the DVP floods, when do the locusts arrive?
Bob E, Kanata
A: Samuel Smith’s organic lager is the best beer I think I’ve had, I wish it was available more readily in North America but, sadly, I am not of that family tree.
Not only hasn’t Wade ever travelled, I’d suggest 100 other NBAers are in the same boat, so much for “points of emphasis” which also includes illegal screens, which LeBron is as good at as anyone in the league. What I love best about James is that he is one of the most powerful physical specimens I’ve seen yet he someone falls down when run into by smaller, slighter men. Shocking, eh?
And Mike Duffy and Pamela Wallin and the rest of those people up there should thank their lucky stars every day that people here are more interested in the buffoonery at City Hall than they are about the malfeasance in Ottawa.
Q: Hi Doug
If you were the new GM of this team, what direction would you be looking to take? I mean there's not much flexibility to work with... will many guaranteed contracts, no cap room, and little in the way of tradable assets. There's the Bargs situation to resolve and maybe the Amnesty to use on He or Kleiza... but is it even possible for a GM to change a direction on a plan that is already set in concrete?
Also, do you think that the philosophy Ujiri employed in Denver, where he builds a team without an "All Star" player is counter what Tim and B.C's approach seem to be based on past decisions. Both seemed keen on bringing in that All Star player to build around instead of the balanced approach. Could this difference in philosophy be an issue, or would a new gm simply adapt their philosophy to the team they are given...
A: Yes, it is possible to make changes, not easy and not quick and while the salary situation is what it is today, it’s not going to be like that forever. There will be deals that expire – Lowry, Bargnani, Johnson, other small bits – so to suggest they are locked in for years is a bit of over-statement. But it won’t happen overnight that’s for sure.
As for “stars” I think what we’ve seen in the last three years is that this team is building as a team, which Bryan made abundantly clear after the Bosh fiasco. Yes, the addition of Rudy Gay gave them an upgrade in talent at a high cost but it came only after the foundation – DeRozan, Valanciunas, Johnson – was in place. As for Masai, I don’t know what his philosophy may be right now, I would presume it’s like every other GM, he will see what’s available at what price and act accordingly. He won’t – and shouldn’t – be so set in any ways as to ignore other possibilities.
There's no question that Canada has young talent that could be selected to join the Senior Men's National Team. I'm guessing that they'll need some veteran players too. Do you have any knowledge on who's interested to come back? I'm guessing they'd have a role for Rautins, English and Kendall.
Do you know who's healthy and interested?
A: I don’t know entirely who will be available when things get going in July and August but I do know both Rautins and English had tremendous D League and Spanish seasons last year and have skills this team may need. Kendall? I don’t know; it could be a pretty solid front court that’ll be hard to crack.
But they absolutely need some players who have been around the international game a bit.
Q: Hey Doug
Playing Raptor's GM with some friends and we were wondering what the looming Luxury Tax increases will mean for certain teams. The way I understand it this summer will not be too bad, but by 2015 the Luxury Tax and Repeat Offender Tax will be substantial. So does that make good players more available because of their contract size, or are they worth double the salary? Do you think it will be a factor in player movement this summer and which, if any teams, will be most inclined to make a move to get under the threshold? Are the Raps buyers or sellers?
A: I think more that at any time in the sport’s history, financial issues will become even more central to signings, trades and every imaginable roster move.
And, yes, teams will absolutely be looking to avoid “repeater” taxes or taxes at all when they build rosters.
Will that make “better” players available? I’d say it’ll make “expensive” players more readily available.
Q: I hope you don't mind a 2 part food question.
You've been made the grand poobah of Concessions at the ACC. What foodstuff needs to be added to current menu to make the GP "happy"?
Top 5 concession fare or special grunt spread that you have experienced at NBA arenas?
A: You know, it’s really hard for me to talk about concession stands in various arenas because I seldom, if ever, see them. They do serve a nice hot dog in Charlotte (our seats are basically in the stands and a halftime stroll through the concourse is good.
Now, you know I’m going to say all good arenas need a lot of good deep fried brown things, right? Solid, fresh fries; maybe some popcorn that isn’t made two days earlier, too. Other than that, the biggest problem I have with any facility concession food is that it’s all old; cooked and kept heated and I understand why it can’t be fresh but it still makes it unpalatable at times.
You know what I think I’d have on a menu for the smarter people I know? A good chicken Ceasar. Don’t tell anyone, okay?
Q: Playoff beards. Avoiding the chalk line on your way back to the dugout. The Jaromir Jagr salute (thankfully retired). The Jason Kidd kiss to the hoop before every flippin' free throw (THANKFULLY retired). I'd guess you've seen a few particularly peculiar superstitions over the years. Is there a Top Five in your rally cap? Any Raptors-specific gems you could share? Thanks
for the great blog! Oh yeah, and any idea why Kidd finally decided to drop that goofy habit?
A: Not sure I’ve got a top five but here’s some you might remember at least
Remember when Mark Jackson used to cross his arms after every made three? Or Larry Johnson making that arm gesture when he did? Or Reggie Miller’s arms in the air?
I kind of like Jose’s three-finger salute after a made shot – it’s been replicated around the league – and the Three Goggles that’s de rigeur now is kind of cool.
And, yes, the chalk line is HUGE, as is not stepping on the chalk outline of a coaches box if it’s there and never, ever, EVER start packing up the equipment with a lead in the top of the last inning. Don’t do it.
Q: Hi Doug, knowing you are around the game of baseball coaching your son's team and also keeping up with the Blue Jays I want to get your opinion on this and a pet peeve of mine.
I find it a disgusting habit or past time some players do. I know it goes back to chewing tobacco (again disgusting) but do players really need to spit especially between every pitch. Lawrie and Encarnacion are two BJ players that come to mind that constantly do it between pitches. Really, how much saliva can one guy have anyways that is building up in his mouth? It is a gross thing to be doing anywhere and not a good thing for my boys who love baseball to be seeing their favourite players team doing. Not a good example for kids. So what are your thoughts?
A: Not sure they “need” to but they do and, frankly, it doesn’t bother me one way or the other.
And there was a time, a very long time ago, that I’d have a big chaw of leafy Red Man in my cheek so I might not be the best one to ask to criticize that.
If you wrapped in bubble gum, that was cool, too.
Q: Hey Doug, driving downtown London today with the humidex screaming beyond 30 and hearing Steppenwolf on radio got my mind wandering to patios and backyards and music. And that means time for a list, or at least revisiting a list long time filed. I know it may depend if it's daytime or nighttime, if it's family or a bunch of friends, but I think some music has to be always playing.
For me at the top of the list has to be Bob Marley, just says summer patio with friends and liquids! Got to think the iPod also playing some Jimmy Buffett, mixed in with some Doobie Brothers and/or Steppenwolf works nicely maybe even some Steely Dan as the night winds down and things need to be a little quieter.
A: Bob Marley for sure, 100 per cent; and I’m okay with Jimmy Buffett. Wasn’t a bit Steppenwolf fan, to tell you the truth but if you’re doing the programming and don’t have Van Morrison on there a lot, we’re going to have a serious issue. That’s mandatory.
And you might want some George Thorogood and, this might catch some by surprise, but a bit of Kid Rock probably wouldn’t hurt. Dylan, too. A fair bit of Dylan, please.
The staples, of course, for right now, would be new stuff I’ve heard lately, Lumineers, maybe some Of Monsters and Men.
Sound like a good night?
Q: Hi Doug
What's the deal with the Raps financial, cap, tax threshold situation. I know that using the Amnesty on Kleiza will not get us under the cap... what about if we use it on Bargs? At any rate is it better to be over the cap so that we can get the mid level?? or can we get more than 5 mil under? I always find this situation confusing especially with the new tax penalties and such... Can you explain all this stuff again ?? Cap, luxury tax threshold, mid level-bi annual?
A: Yes, it’s fine to be over the cap but under the tax to have that mid-level and they can – right now – get there by using the amnesty on Kleiza; Bargnani would bring the same result, not under the cap enough, between cap and tax, but he’s a far bigger asset and a more capable player and should not be given away.