The end of the weekend mail
And we’re done for another week.
Q: Hello Doug,
Here's something I've been pondering.
I understand that in this so-called individualized media-centric world (and that's a topic for another day) there is a place for low-brow gossip style content. I recognize that there is a segment of the population, I for the most part call them co-workers, which finds the search for the most masturbated-to show of all time a worthwhile endeavour. This niche is filled by Gawker and its sports-wing Deadspin.
I have no qualms with their existence. Every now and then they even entertain me. What bothers me, however, is the occasions when they attempt to be 'journalists.'
I remember listening to McCown interview the man who broke the Manti Te'o's girlfriend story. It was excruciating and not simply because he failed the turing test every three sentences but because he could not answer basic journalistic questions like "did you contact this person whom you just mentioned as being pivotal to the whole situation?"
The entire crackstarter fail was premised on someone from Gawker not knowing how to research a story without letting it out to the world. In my mind the craft and care that comes from learning the journalist trade is missing and it does a disservice to writers who put in an effort in trying to relate the news.
That all being said I placing my own semi-informed opinions aside and ask the professional: what is the current consensus in your world of Deadspin and its parent?
A: In this media landscape, where titillation counts as news as much as news does, there’s all kinds of room for all kinds of different places but I do think the definition of “journalist” is so blurred these days it’s almost scary.
I tend to put it this way: Readers, or web surfers, can believe what they want to believe but I do think they need to not just seek out information that affirms their points of view and find stuff that educates and challenges them.
I think the consensus on Deadspin and the others of that ilk is that they can do good work but everything has to be and should be challenged by readers.-
Q: Now that you're covering the Argos as well as the Raptors, you're interviewing guys from two distinctly different sports (two-way vs. one-way players, roster size, average salary, publicity, etc).
When you're talking to the players, do you notice much of a difference in perspective or attitude?
Mike D., Toronto
A: As I’m Argo Boy more and more often here’s the one big difference:
There are so many of them that there’s no need to go back to the same guys day after day after day so they don’t get at all worn out talking. Now, some of less enthralling quotes than others but they are always accommodating and respectful and answer questions honestly and that’s always welcome.
And, frankly, there is so little “news” that you’re always looking for angles that are other than “what happened in last night’s game” or “what’s going to happen tomorrow night.”
The pace is taking a little getting used to but the co-operation from the staff, the coaches and players has been great.
And I guess to your last point, there is a bit of a difference in perspective from them because they are just different from NBAers. They don’t make millions, they don’t have any sense of entitlement and they aren’t jaded or bitter from having to do media every single day of their professional careers like some basketball players have to.
Q: A question regarding players who have previously competed abroad for Canada: Do you have any anecdotes about players who drank in the overseas environment, or others who were reluctant to embrace it? Say, a guy who spent hours in museums or chatting up locals in broken Spanish in sidewalk cafes? Maybe another guy who only went out to go to McDonald's every day and hid in his hotel room watching ESPN? Maybe a guy with severe culture shock, or another guy who went back again not to compete, but see more of the country? Cheers.
A: I remember being in a scrum with Trady McGrady at the NBA Finals talking about his experiences in China and him telling us he found some restaurant in every city in the league that served “American” food and that he seldom went out so there are those who don’t assimilate at all.
But I also remember talking to Matt Bonner on several occasions where he explained how much fun he had, and how much history he soaked up, during his time in Italy so there are extremes and it really depends on the willingness of the person to grow as men.
On a Canada angle, I do recall the police being involved with the Canadian team at the world championships in Greece in 1998 over some scooter incident that may or may not have been caused by a minor accident, although exact details remain sketchy to this day and there were no arrests or anything like that.
A few weeks ago, I asked if you'd sign Greg Oden if you were an NBA GM. I think you may have referred to this question as a silly one that you were just going to ignore. Reports are now saying that Miami just signed him on a very cheap contract (1 Million) I feel like I can ask the question again, but maybe I'll put it a different way:
For 1 Million dollars, wouldn't you rather sign Greg Oden and hope he will contribute meaningfully one day or would you rather give the same money to Austin Daye or Solomon Alabi?
I would do it in a second, even if the odds are low that he'd give you something near the 'average' NBA center - because those odds are still better than most 1 million dollar guys of doing the same.
Please don't tell me you still think I'm being silly?
PS - I totally accept that he may have had no interest in going to Toronto, but please entertain the hypothetical.
A: You need to show me where I said you were silly while throwing around those accusations. Thanks.
Yes, Greg Oden, who hasn’t played a minute of NBA basketball in four years and who has had three mircrofracture surgeries is probably worth a cheap non-guaranteed risk for a team that doesn’t really need him. But I, like about 26 other NBA GMs, wouldn’t give him a plugged nickel, let alone $1 million.
And I have to idea what you think Solomon Alabi has to do with anything but, yes, on this Toronto team right now and what it needs, I’d sign Daye over Oden. No question.
Q: Hey, Doug Smith
I apologize if this has been asked, but isn't there a pre-set number of days of protection from trades that prevent teams from trading players they recently acquired? Assuming he isn't bought out, does that mean the Q Richardson can't be dealt until December?
A: No, as far as I can see in my reading, he can be dealt on his own but not in a multi-player deal. It’s moot, though; they’ve made calls and there’s zero interest at the moment.
Just read Perk's farewell column about his humble beginnings covering Dave Pagan. Wonderful stuff, as always. But here's something that caught my eye:
Only the Sun was interested in a freelance story on the young Canadian Yankee and would pay $100 if it saw print. Now, $100 sounded like all the money in the world to a kids a few weeks out of his teens (even though that C-note turned out to be $25, another valuable lesson learned early.).
So, two questions:
1) How did $100 turn into $25? Surely Perk has told you this story, so please fill in the blanks for us and give us yet another reason to hate The Little Paper that Spew (not that we need any more reasons...); and
2) Speaking of "another valuable lesson learned early", do you have any such lessons to regale us with, drawn from your early days in the biz?
A: well, you have to remember it was 40 years ago and I can see a sports editor saying, “yeah, we’ll give you a $100” and then realizing, “hey, that’s way too much money for a kid, we’ll make it $25 and what’s he going to say?”
Not that I know that’s what happened but I’m five years younger than Perk so I have some of the same experiences and can guess pretty well.
My lessons? I grew up the hard way, slogging it out at every little paper imaginable so my lessons were all self-taught. The greatest lesson I ever got was a piece of advice from the one and only Bob Elliott when I first started doing a bit of big league work. He told me to be respectful of the other people on the beat and never interrupt or butt into a one-on-one conversation at a game or practice. Wish he could tell that to the too-many microphone holders out there today who think nothing of butting into conversations so we can do their work for them.
But that’s another story for another day.
If I have most of these right, the next thing I am going to work on is the Salary Cap rules. Don't worry, I won't bother you with those.
I do these things just for my own interest, and I am aware that very few are all that interested in the nuts and bolts.
I think I have finally figured out how the D-League and the NBA works - maybe. Could you confirm or correct the following please. Please read "Any team" for Raptors.
The maximum number of players a team can have under contract is 15 at the start of the season.
Raptors can send a player to the D League for a tune up, get some playing time etc etc. Can the player refuse to report?
They cannot send a player down to open up a roster spot for a player they want to sign if they have fifteen players under contract
The Raptors cannot sign a player to a minor league contract to play in the D League in order to keep other teams from signing him to an NBA contract.
If the previous one is correct, than any team can sign any D League player if they have an open roster spot.
A: Okay, let’s go through these in order:
Any player in his first three years in the NBA can be assigned to the D League and have to go; there are also provisions to send other players on rehab assignments although that has to be by mutual consent and I can’t think of an example of it happening.
No, they cannot send someone down to create an opening, players on D League assignments remain on the NBA team’s roster and, no, teams cannot sign players for the express purpose of putting them on D League teams to “protect” them.
And, yes, any D Leaguer not on assignment from an NBA team is an NBA free agent.
Q: Maybe I'm missing something with all this 'blow up the team' talk, but I for one would be very disappointed.
There seem to be two ways of building a team in the NBA - the 'band of brothers' approach where you acquire a group of young players and grow with them ( OKC or San Antonio and some other small market team) or you see how many egos you can cram into a locker room( e.g. any team from NY or LA, MIA).
I can get behind a band of brothers. The Raps were in virtually every game last year, especially during the last 60 games. Every game was close and entertaining, they competed, they suffered when they lost, you could celebrate with their enthusiasm when they won.
But in most of those losses, they only needed a couple more makes or stops each game to turn that 30 - 30 stretch into a 35 - 25 record or better. Over a season that puts them in the range of 50 wins and a strong move in the right direction.
JV should be more effective drawing double teams, Rudy can see and is now stronger and used to the team, Lowry is healthy, in better shape and fighting for a contract, Fields should have at least some of his shot back, Demar has always upped his game year over year and could be improved both on defence and from 3 and there should be a legitimate point guard on the floor when Lowry takes a blow. I know they still have to play the games but I see hope for a few stops or makes per game.
I'm looking forward to watching the lads in the fall. Am I delusional? Should I be looking for a seat on the negativity bus?
Garry from Vancouver Island.
A: Not sure you can get a seat on that bus, it would seem to pretty full by reading the stuff I see here and other places.
I think, right now, there’s every reason to await the coming season with the same sense of optimism as existed a year ago and perhaps more because I think the talent is better.
But, as everyone saw a year ago, things can go off the rails awfully quickly so I’d suggest we all wait until 20 games into the season before anyone gets too worked up.
Today? Feel good if you like; it’s always better than waiting with some sense of impending doom.
Q: You want some mail so I will try to help you out, although it may still be a little early for this question.
It is almost August and many teams in the East has made significant changes to their Rosters. Many Eastern teams have boosted their rosters while Philly seems to be tanking already to get a good draft pick. While a game hasn't been played yet and we have no idea who will be injured (and we know there
will be injuries) do you see the HOTH chances of a playoff spot better than last year, about the same or worst than last year?
I would think the Heat, Knicks, Pacers, Nets and Bulls will fight for the top spots. The Pistons have improved significantly. The Wizards played well at the end of the year with Wall back and Beal will have improved. If (and it is a big if) Bynum plays this year, Cleveland will be much better. Has Atlanta and Boston fallen completely or will they be hanging around the last
playoff spot? Can Milwaukee and Orlando still compete? Will Charlotte and the 76ers be the bottom feeders this year?
Dave B, Cornwall
A: I’d say, today, about the same. I think in August you can see them in a group from about six or seven to 12 and we’ll see how things unfold.
But that’s about as far as I’m willing to go now; let’s talk a month into the season when we have some idea of how things are shaking out here and everywhere else.
It’s a mug’s game to try and handicap anything now; I’m anything but a mug.
Q: D o u g , h a v e y o u e v e r b e e n t o T h e K e e ( t o B a l a ) f o r a c o n c e r t ? I t ' s m y p e r s o n a l f a v v e n u e . . . a n d m y f a v s h o w t h e r e w a s e a s i l y G e o r g e C l i n t o n a n d t h e P - F u n k A l l - S t a r s i n t h e S u m m e r o f 2 0 0 2 ( a n d a g a i n S u m m e r o f 2 0 0 3 ) - 3 0 + m e m b e r b a n d t h a t p l a y e d f o r 4 Ω s t r a i g h t u n t i l t h e O P P s h u t t h e m d o w n !
R u n n e r s u p : T h e T r a g i c a l l y H i p , D a v i d W i l c o x , B l u e R o d e o a n d m a n y m o r e )
A: Man, I can vaguely remember, I think, seeing Max Webster there but that’s got to be 30 years ago. And seeing how I sometimes have a hard time remember (a) what I did yesterday and (b) to go home at a reasonable time I cannot vouch for the veracity of my memory.
But I have also not heard anything but positive about that iconic venue.
Q: Hello Doug!
Trying to familiarize myself with the FIBA Americas Championship taking place in Venezuela at the end of August. So, after reading the format for the tournament (teams from 10 countries are participating and Canada has to finish in the top four to qualify) I'm wondering if you can assess the field for me?
The two groups are: (A) Uruguay, Puerto Rico, Canada, Jamaica and Brazil; and (B) Mexico, Dominican Republic, Venezuela, Paraguay and Argentina. Could either one of these two groups be called 'The Group Of Death? (Did Canada draw a lucky or unlucky placement?)
And have the other participating countries named their rosters? If we don't finish top four, is there any recourse for qualification? A consolation round? (Something like our women's team had in qualifying for the 2012 Olympics?) What do you think the chances are for a top four finish? Is it too much, too soon to realistically expect for this young group? Or are some of the other countries involved also in 'rebuilding' modes which might level that playing field, as they say?
And...are you going to Caracas? :)
Lorie P, London
A: Without knowing final rosters, and we won’t see them until a week or so before the tournament starts, it would seem to me that the groups are pretty even. Hard for me to say, to tell you the truth but anecdotally, there doesn’t seem to be one far tougher than the other.
And, yes, in an effort to fill out a field that’s about eight teams too big at 24 countries, FIBA will award four “wild card” entries once the various qualification tournaments are over and history would suggest they will go to teams that finished one spot out of earning a trip to the World Cup on their own.
Sadly, Venezuela seems far too expensive a trip for me to take.
Q: Two years ago, the Blue Jays introduced a promising young starting staff and the result was implosion due to injury. This year they followed up with a starting staff boasting a wealth of experience and the payoff has been, if anything, worse.
Where do they go from here, and does anything replace growing your own players? The really striking thing about the current roster is how few are products of the Blue Jay farm system.
Is this development now the norm throughout baseball? If it is, I missed it; their great teams were built on a foundation of surplus homegrown players.
James A., Victoria
A: It does seem to be the norm, that teams that want to contend make major changes in the winter for existing players rather than taking the patience to develop a full roster of their own.
But I’d also suggest the best method is a combination, to develop players through the farm system and augment them with big-ticket winter acquisitions. The trick being, of course, that those big-ticket winter acquisitions have to pan out; they certainly haven’t here, especially the pitching.
Q: Hi Doug Smith
I'm a displaced Detroiter turned Torontonian. What are your thoughts on the Detroit Pistons offseason? Can they make a run at the 6th or 7th seed? Can Brandon Jennings and Josh Smith set the world record for missed mid range two's? Is this Andre Drummond's year to become a household name? I'm hopeful, but not optimistic for my team this year.
A: That’s a rather odd roster of volume shooters like Jennings and Smith and I don’t know how they’ll integrate the promising Drummond into the mix.
But in this East? Sure they can contend and I think the absolute best thing they did was sign Chauncey to bring a grown up into the mix.
Q: Hiya Doug
Chris Paul re-signs with the Clips for $107 mill, and John Wall re-signs with the Wiz for $80 mill. Both are reported as "max contracts". Doug, how can the both be max contracts for differing figures? What is the criteria? (I'm a believer that CP is worth the amount).
Thanks for the insightful and always-entertaining blog.
Happy (OMG it's) August
A: Yes, it’s August and it was like September cool when Super Dog dragged my sorry butt outside about 7 this morning.
Now, the disparity in “maximum value” contracts has to do with the original salary the players were working off (there are percentage bumps allowed) so all “max” deals are not created equally.