The end of the weekend mail
Yeah, sorry this is a bit late.
Turned out to be a lot more here than I’d thought and I lost Saturday night to a pre-wedding event for a brother-in-law that turned out to be a personal homage to my man Paolo because I had about four billion Pedavenas.
Q: Hi Doug,
Nice to see that the tall foreheads haven't let you sit around drinking mint juleps this summer while the Argos swoon.
I know that you don't follow the NCAA until March, but a hypothetical question regardless. How would this Development team plus Bennett and Olynyk have fared in this year's tourney?
One other question if I may.
With B and O and possibly Kabongo, there will be eleven Canadians on NBA rosters (I'm assuming that Kris Joseph sticks). Is there another country, perhaps France, that comes close, in total, to the Canadian contingent?
Enjoy the rest of the summer.
A: By my count, there’ll be 10 from France and Canada would indeed top the list today. Pretty impressive, isn’t it? Truly speaks the development of the sport in here.
And I’d say the FISU games team with those two lottery picks would get pretty deep into a one-and-done tournament.
Q: Alright Doug, so you enjoyed seeing the CFL game, regular readers know you’ve enjoyed certain jaunts to Italy, Beijing and so on. How about a list of your least favorite things you've covered? Heat, cramped conditions, poor infrastructure, boring events, unfriendly fans, lack of adult beverage facilities, any rationale is fine.
A: I can pretty much have a good time anywhere and dealing with issues just takes some patience but I will say this with absolute certainty:
The 1996 Atlanta Olympics were the worst run thing I will ever attend. Transportation was spotty to non-existent, we were housed in a concrete bunker of a college dorm, the computer system was only so-so and the people didn’t really want us there.
Oh, and there was a bomb.
Q: Hi Doug,
If we are to believe that all rumours have at least marginal truth within them, allow me a what if.
If Detroit was willing to part with Stuckey (who I believe would fit nicely into Casey's style) and you know Detroit needs a couple vets, can you see a Stuckey for Camby & Fields trade scenario? Raps get a tough player and actually more cap flexibility next year, Detroit gets a solid citizen in Fields and Camby a vet to lead in the room.
BTW - if Masai does nothing, the team is already better without #7, to quote Mr.Grage on PTS "he's just not a good shooter" - a little strong but stats don't lie.
Enjoy the summer, stay dry.
EP, Richmond Hill
A: Not sure Detroit would at all be interested in that deal, actually. But who knows, it’s just pretend any way. I’d probably make the call and see.
Q: Hya Doug, Happy Weekend. I am scratching my head for a reason the Sixers would take on Royce White, who has issues with flying, and the NBA schedule being what it is, requires some 100 flights. Is there an upside to this situation? Or is it about $$$/draft picks? Thanks as always for he awesome blog.
A: Since the Sixers seem to have quit on the season before it’s even close to beginning, a low-risk signing can’t hurt. I believe it will be an abject failure and wouldn’t do it in a million years, though.
Q: Hey Doug,
Want to praise and thank you for your recognition of Roughrider fans in Canada and Regina/Saskatchewan specifically we are truly an extremely passionate bunch sadly a great Rider fan was lost this past monday my Auntie Ashgari, but I digress to the question on the Raptors.
I would like to know your insight on the new staff being put together for Dwayne Casey, do you feel it suits the core group of guys? Do you feel they are better(for lack of a word), worse or just different?
A: You’re going to have give a little while to actually see the coaching staff in action, both in running practices and drills and their interaction with the players before I can really formulate an opinion.
But I’d probably be on the side of just different right now.
Q: Afternoon Doug.
The recent selections of four players from the TOD has got me thinking - does this just create a larger bulls eye on the Jays the rest of the way?
A last place team with 4 All-Stars? Others teams with better records but less individual recognition will surely want to prove a point when playing them?
Can you think of an NBA equivalent, say even two all-stars, where such individual success did not lead to team success?
As always, thanks.
A: It sure doesn’t make an awful lot of sense that a last place team should have four all-stars and I think what it does is point to the failings elsewhere – hello, starting pitching and defence – that have conspired to ruin the season.
Q: Hi Doug
Thanks for answering all the questions you do. Much appreciate. Two more to toss your way.
It seems to me that the NBA should do something about different with respect to the trade moratoriums. While I understand the concept is to allow the calculation of the salary caps for the following season, I think that it creates a really bizarre (and not great PR situation) when trades are announced by sources and the GM's can't say anything official. With the advent of social media, the situation seems even more bizarre. Heck Bargnani tweeted about being excited to go to New York (apparently without penalty from the league), and yet Grumwald and Ujiri were forced to sit back and say nothing about it. Certainly the excitement of the trade announcement is long since worn off. Perhaps allowing the GM's to say something like "yes, if all goes well with the salary cap we will execute the trade" would be enough. Thoughts?
I certainly appreciate completely that Marcus Camby wants to play on a contender at this stage of his career (support that thought as well actually). However, would it not then make more sense for him to show up to camp in the best possible shape, fight ridiculously hard for playing time over the early course of the season, and make himself desirable for a contending team to want?
A: Oh, I absolutely agree that the moratorium is unworkable and ridiculous and frustrating but I also don’t know what can be done to change it. Wish something could be.
And I don’t know about Marcus, I don’t think we’ll ever find out because there will be a resolution to the situation long before training camp arrives.
A quick question on Novak. He is generally described as a great three point shooter and has size, so he has referred to himself as a stretch four.
What does Steve Novak bring on defense? Can he guard the four spot to Coach Casey's satisfaction, in your view? If he can, that could open up some regular playing time for him.
A: Let’s say good three-point shooter rather than great, okay?
And sure, he can defend other stretch fours, he might not be the quickest or most powerful player in the league but he’s lasted seven seasons now and he’d have been cut adrift long before this if he was a huge defensive liability.
Q: You know Doug, I kinda liked "Tin Cup". Not "Bull Durham", but a few things in common.
Here's the question: Are the best coaches just "masters of probability", that is, don't play Tim Duncan because of the high pick and roll, or don't bunt because we have to play for the big inning. Is that how they keep their jobs safe? Do what they can justify statistically? If they take a chance, go with their gut or their imagination or just with someone they trust, will the second guessing have them coaching summer league? Is one of
the guys on the bench responsible for knowing the stats? That this is the best option without the ball, 13 seconds left, and down three?
Just as an aside, I never give up on a game with more than 32 seconds left and down by 12 or fewer. Tracy McGrady taught me that. 13 points in less than 32 seconds HIMSELF to win the game. Remains one of the greatest single performances I've even seen, sometimes mentioned, but not enough.
Art, Pasadena, NL
A: I think you hit the nail on the head with the coaches, they put people in position to succeed because of solid preparation and knowing the skills – and limitations – of the players. The gamblers might get away with a few things every now and then but the ones who last are generally those who are best prepared.
I guess you could call it “masters of probability” or simply knowing what people can and cannot do and acting accordingly.
Q: Do you get a summer holiday or all that travelling you do sufficient enough?
Here comes a new list- don’t think I have yet seen this one but I could be wrong. Right the top 5 athletes that gone Hollywood with success. I would imagine OJ would be near the top.
Don’t lose your shorts in Vegas and remember what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. A big fan of your work.
Scot from the grand nation of Norway.
A: Summer holiday would be a deck, a cooler and a barbecue; much to Super Family’s chagrin, the last thing I want to do is get on an airplane to fly somewhere and stay in a hotel.
How’s this for a top five?
Merlin Olsen, Alex Karras, Rick Fox, Jim Brown and the very, very best has to be Chuck Connors, doesn’t it?
Google him and see he played professional baseball and basketball and was, of course, The Rifleman.
Q: Hey Doug, long time since I've sent in a comment. How are things?! The Eagles are set to play here in GFW, NL this weekend for Salmon Festival, and when they announced the times that the bands would be on, another band came up. "JD & the straight shots." Which, upon further google review, appears to be Knicks owner James Dolan (JD), and they've been known to tour with the Eagles. I thought this was very interesting! Are you aware of any other big-wigs in the NBA-world that perform like this as well?
A: Can’t think of a current one of the top of my head but Wayman Tisdale would be the cream of that crop. An outstanding jazz bass guitarist.
Q: Hi Doug,
I was pleased to see you acknowledge that you were not a fan of Hansbrough.
It was yet another example of the consistency in your comments.
I appreciate that.
I am optimistic about Hansbrough. I agree that he is often out of control.
He would do well to spend some time with the Big Oak. There is a difference between being tough and being a goon. Oak knew the difference. I'm a bit optimistic that with some focused coaching and perhaps some maturity, Hansbrough will get there.
Have you heard anything about his locker room presence? I look at the success of the UNC and the improvement of the Pacers and wonder how much can be attributed to his aggression, high motor and intensity. I always felt that Kevin Garnett's greatest value was his ability to fire up his
teammates. Does Hansbrough bring any of this? Lots of fans hate him, but what do other players think?
Terry, Antigonish, NS
A: I honestly don’t have a clue what impact Hansbrough had in the locker room in Indy but I would get it would have been negligible and while his play could possibly be infectious, I don’t know that many would follow is lead. Fact is, he hasn’t accomplished squat in the NBA and does not have the cachet of a veteran who has been through significant games in a key role.
Other players, at least the ones I talked to, concurred with me: He was borderline dirty and while he was frenetic, he was not someone universally respected.
Who knows if he finally “gets it” but sometimes leopards just don’t change their spots.
Q: Hi Doug,
Today the deal went down with Pierce and Garnett hitting Brooklyn, but then I noticed that Andrei Kirilenko also signed there.
Apparently, Kirilenko opted out of a $10 million dollar contract for a one year $3.2 million contract with New Jersey.
My question is whether you have ever heard of a player dropping that much money when not in exchange for some term guarantees.
Maybe I'm just a skeptic, but could another deal with owner Prokhorov by at play?
Thanks for your insight and reality checks,
Charlie in Montreal
A: It’s unusual, indeed, and a lot of people around the league are dead certain there’s some side deals somewhere that helped make it happen. But thinking and proving are two entirely different things and I don’t know what, if anything, the league can do about it.
But it does smell a bit, doesn’t it?
Q: Hey Doug!
I don't know about you but when it comes to reality TV (other than my sports viewing which offers up more than enough reality most of the time, thank you very much) the one show that has always struck me as being head and shoulders above the rest is The Amazing Race.
And now there's about to be a Canadian version! Yes. Starting this Monday - and hosted by that Olympian Jon Montgomery (remember him? Following his Gold Medal win in Vancouver, he marched through a crowd of Canadian fans singing O Canada and chugging a pitcher of beer. Yeah. Our kind of guy. :)
Anyway, the teams were announced awhile ago (and there's even a couple of young fellas from London to cheer for!) and as I was reading their profiles it got me to thinking who I might have chosen to be my teammate if I'd applied to compete on the show.
So...assuming you are familiar with the premise of the show (Here's a quick summary from the website for those who are not..."THE AMAZING RACE CANADA will provide a uniquely Canadian take on the original series, with competitors discovering the world within the borders of Canada. Though the series' specific destinations won't be revealed until it airs, Canada offers divergent topography and disparate locales that are bound to add to the excitement and complexity of the show and its challenges, from Vancouver Island's tropical rainforest, Alberta's parched Badlands, the peaks of the Rockies, and the barren tundra of the Great White North, to the Boreal forests of Ontario and Quebec, the sea-faring ports of the Maritimes, the fjords of Newfoundland, and the teeming metropolises and undiscovered towns in between") please name a couple of former or current Raptors who would have the necessary skills to complement your shrewdness and travel savvy as a potential team for the next edition of Amazing Race Canada! And explain your choice, too...Thanks!
Lorie P, London
A: Oh, you’d want someone crafty and smart and able to adapt quickly to situations and someone who might have the power of persuasion to get you out of tough spots.
He’d be at the top my list and I’ll tell you, I bet someone like TJ Ford would be pretty good at that, too.
Q: Hey Doug,
Thanks for the daily read. Even though the Raptors news has slowed now, you have still found a way to keep this space fresh and interesting. I'll leave the Bargnani and Hansbrough questions for others and ask you these:
I noticed a few former members of the HOTH that performed well during the playoffs (Jack, Bayless, Belinelli). While I don't think that any of them should really be brought back to the HOTH as the team is currently constructed, which if any Raptor do you think left the team too soon?
Now that Marcus Camby is a Raptor again, (even if he doesn't play a game) he is officially a 'double dip' member of the HOTH. Are there any other 'double dip' Raptors?
I'm glad to hear that you are going to continue to be Argo Boy for a while.
I like that my favorite NBA writer is quickly becoming my favorite CFL writer. If you are going to be Argos Boy this coming week in Winnipeg, how would one be able to buy a drink for a Grunt? If you're looking for a good spots for meals, I can point you in the right direction.
A: Oh, I think everyone would agree that Tracy McGrady left too early; some would put Chauncey Billups on that list but few, if anyone, saw him developing into the player and leader he was when he eventually got to Detroit.
And a double dipper, a triple dipper I believe, was the loathsome Oliver Miller.
And, yes, I am Argo Boy in Winnipeg this week; not sure how much of Thursday night I’ll have to sample the local environment but I will be asking for recommendations later on. The Forks still a good spot?
Q: Most successful sports movies have dealt as much or more with the personal lives of the athletes as on court/field/ring exploits.
My question how much does this factor in determining an athletes current and future value?
Tiger Wood for example did suffer a couple of years and maybe continues to suffer based on what happened with his ex-wife. The psychological impact does impact on the on-field performance.
Steve Nash as another example, he went through a messy separation/divorce from his wife prior to becoming a free agent. It must have impacted his health and game, otherwise he would not be human. He must take a lot of crap from the opposition, just to get under his skin and gain an advantage.
As an evaluator of talent do they take this into account or just rely on historical performance?
While it is politically correct to say you need to in reporting, separate the professional and personal lives of athletes; the reality is their personal lives have a significant impact on their professional lives. If you were to do a true/successful biography of an athlete it would spend more time on their personal lives then on a compilation of statistics. Why not be politically incorrect and start discussing really why someone had a bad performance? The answer of course would be the athlete and club would hate you, but are you beholding to the the athletes and club?
Do the Raptors have a psychologist/psychiatrist on staff? Over 82 game season and 41 games on the road, there must be tension at times between the players/coaches/trainers/reporters. Do they let things sort themselves out? In reality problems do not sort themselves out and a lot of times they get worse.
A: Your premise is flawed. Athletes – the great ones – are able to quite easily compartmentalize their lives. What goes on in one aspect doesn’t carry over to the other. If it does, it’s talked or written about.
The Raptors had a psychologist on a retainer the last two or three years and she would visit six or seven times a season. I don’t know if Masai will do the same thing now that he’s in charge.
Summer life kind of gets in the way of the rest of the year routine, not that I find this a bad thing.
Found myself considering the effects of communication technologies this past few days. Stating the obvious but cell phones, texting etc etc has changed our world in so many ways but I find myself wondering what, if any, effect the new communication technologies has had on either the game being played, or the way the athletes approach the games?
Certainly from a fan's perspective the experience has changed (hello IGBT!) but has it also changed for those that play the games?
Thanks for what you do
Doug T, Brantford
A: You will notice a lot of behind-the-bench assistant coaches with iPads tracking plays and stats although they aren’t allowed to use them during timeouts.
But one of the biggest changes is the use of video as a scouting tool; some teams have cut back on advance scouting costs and simply edit video of every game back home to track trends and plays and stuff like that.
Q: Hey Doug,
I have a Dwayne Casey question for you. It was mentioned that last year he played a run-and-gun style that he didn't think fit the type of players the Raps had. I was just wondering how often a coach is forced to run a style of play that he doesn't agree with.
If you bring in a head coach, shouldn't those decisions be left up to your coach?
A: Gotta clear this up a bit: He wasn’t “forced” to do anything. He thought, quite rightly, that he didn’t have the team to thrive in a slow, halfcourt game and wanted to create as much early offence as possible. It was his call and the correct one, I’d say.
Q: Hello Doug,
Here's a question about the Raptors assistant coaching staff.
I see that Nick Nurse will be joining the Raptors. He's had great success in the D-league, and I understand his focus is on offense, rather then defense.
Was Dwayne Casey unhappy that his assistant's contracts were not renewed? I personally liked the coaching style of Johnny Davis. Can't believe that he's not part of the team now.
And how much say does Coach Casey have in a hiring someone like Nick Nurse. Does he have a say in the matter? Or is he an influencer in the decision making? Or was the decision to hire all of these new assistants his, and his alone?
Gary from Uxbridge
A: I think he was okay with the decisions not to bring some of them back and sorry that some of them he wanted – Micah Nori and Eric Hughes – got other jobs.
And he was fully involved in the hiring of the replacements, he conducted interviews, did checks on them with colleagues they may have worked with and had the final say.
Q: Hi Doug,
Long time reader, but haven't written for a while.
When you look at the Raptor's roster, it's hard to fathom how we can be at or over the cap? Is there a way you can explain this for us, although I'll understand if you can't?
Also, is Anderson and Gray still on the team or are they gone?
Thanks as always for keeping us informed.
A: It’s easy to be at or over the cap, I think 25 or 27 teams are right now if I’m not mistaken. Salaries add up and here’s a quick look at Toronto’s from last season so you can see how.
Anderson is a free agent and the Raptors don’t have much interest anymore, Gray has a player option and Early Bird rights and should be back.
Q: Hi Doug,
I have been having an ongoing argument with a close friend on the subject and would like to get your take on it. As Hakeem has become some sort of low post guru to the stars, I wanted to get your opinion on how he would do if he was in the league right now. other than being fitly rich how do you think his game would translate in today's NBA. I know you don't like the what if game so please humour us.
We can all agree that Hakeem is probably in the top 5 of the best player at his position and I would even argue one of the top 5 players of all time. If younger readers don't know anything about him I would say YouTube his playoff game against David Robinson when Robinson got the MVP award.
Hakeem completely destroyed him and Robinson is no slouch of a defender. I contend that if Hakeem was playing today he would average about the same numbers due to the fact that he could shoot the midrange, post and was a excellent ball handler for his size. My friend contends that due to the rule changes he would not have the space to operate, would be fronted in the post with a weakside defender ready to provide some help defence. My friend also goes on about all the rules that Stern has implemented during his reign and how it has hurt the big man game in the NBA. He argues that players like David West would average more pts if they played in Hakeem's era. As most big men today are stretch players and not true post players, I can see that the big men game is a dying art and other that Duncan and a few others, it has been completely nullified. Not to say that they are still not coveted (Bynum's and Howard's contract can attest to that) but you never really here of a rookie lottery pick who is a superb post player. Most people will talk about how athletic or if they have a jump shot. A really good post player can almost play for ever, even when they are a shell of themselves athletically. Look at Duncan in the finals.
So to summarize:
Do you think Hakeem could do what he did in today's NBA?
Do you think that due to the rules changes since the mid 90's it has nullified the NBA big man, and why?
Thanks in advance,
A: I think he’d be a perennial all-star even now, his game was as much finesse as power and this now a game demanding more finesse than brute strength from bigs. And I don’t think the rule changes have done much to big men, actually; it’s more perimeter players who are able to thrive because of the no hand-check rules. In fact, being allowed to play zone defences might be beneficial to bigs who can protect the rim and don’t have to be glued to one player.
Q: Hi Doug
I want to thank you for your effort in writing all these basketball articles, but many MANY Toronto Raptors fans, including myself feel your just not much of a basketball guy. This is reflected through your insight of anything nba, and of course the stating of the obvious! I don't wish to bring up any examples, but maybe another time.
I'm sorry you had to hear this, but the purpose of this email to you is to inform you how Toronto fans feel about your articles. Hopefully you can do a better job.
A: Another satisfied customer!
I’m blessed, I tell you. Blessed.