The start of the weekend mail, and some game stuff
Almost halfway through the pre-season, thank goodness for small mercies.
Yes, that was basically a turnover-filled snorefest Friday night and the best part about the second game of back-to-back tonight is that it will get us officially halfway through.
Still, there are little things that are to be looked at to see of they become big things and that’s what the coaches are doing.
What I am doing? Sitting at Pearson getting ready to fly, taking care of some other stuff and daydreaming a little bit. It’s one of those mornings.
But here’s some game stuff and some mail and there is an awful lot of room left in the mail bag for tomorrow if you so desire.
All kinds of weird and not-so-wonderful combinations on the floor last night, made it virtually impossible to get any flow going and when Dwane was asked when he thinks it’s time to get really serious about rotations and the such, he was quick to answer.
So you can look for more mixing and matching tonight and Wednesday and the Monday after, I guess; and if coaches only really need a couple of games to set their rotations, isn’t the further proof that the pre-season is about twice as long as it should be?
With 17 guys on the roster – and I don’t think they’ll make any moves until after the seventh game at the earliest – it’s impossible to settle on anything approximating a real game plan.
Lucky ticket buyers.
Not bad, folks
Yes, there were some boos for Andrea Bargnani but certainly not the venom reserved for the likes of Carter and Bosh and that was all right with me.
It was kind of light half-hearted hatred, people were booing because they felt they had to rather than from the heart.
Andrea, of course, was oblivious to it and if he didn’t play the game in the morning when we badgered him for quotes, he was even worse after.
But here’s one thing I heard:
You know his former Toronto teammates all quite liked the guy? His New York guys will, too. I’m told he organized a full team dinner on the night off before the game.
Can you see us?
All things considered – comfort at work station, proximity to press room and locker rooms, access in and out – Toronto is now 30th in the NBA in media seating.
Yep, dead last. And I’ve been in the 28 other arenas quite often and know what I’m talk about.
And you should care because at some point, it’s going to have some effect on our work, what we hear, what we see, the aura we get in the arena.
Too bad whoever decided to sell those new seats didn’t have the brains to think about the ramifications and rushed into it with absolutely no forethought.
Hope that guy or gal rises up the corporate ladder.
And now, the mail.
Q: Hi Doug - I have for a long time been intrigued by the play and hopefully potential of one of the raptors players. None other than Landry Fields. Here is a guy who seems to run the floor as well as anyone, good court sense, vision, passing skills, rebounding and an excellent cutter. No this is not a commercial for this player. If he could only share his passing and cutting to the basket skills with some of his teammates the team in my view would improve greatly. As for putting the ball in the basket hopefully that will improve as he recovers from last year's injury woes.
I would be interested to hear your views on this player and how Dwayne might use him to greater output advantage given the investment the team has made I him. Thanks.
A: I think he is perhaps the smartest player on the team, his intuition is off the charts, he just knows how to play. I think he will be quite valuable as the first wing off the bench and has the ability to defend multiple positions.
I don’t think he’s a huge offensive threat but on this team that is not his primary role so that’s not a big, big issue.
He just has a subtle way of playing that coaches and teammates value very highly.
Q: It will be interesting to see how this season turns out for the HOTH. There are many "experts" like Jalen Rose and Bill Simmons predicting that Rudy and Kyle will be traded before February. Only time will tell.
My question has to deal with JV and Rudy. When is JV eligible for Restricted Free Agency or Free Agency? In other words, when does he have to be paid the big money? Is the time frame different for higher draft picks than it is for say the number 12 or 15th pick?
As Rudy has an option for next year that is probably more than he can get in Free Agency (even in the crazy NBA), is JV due big money before Rudy comes of the books? Is Rudy's ego and self-worth high enough for him to refuse the option in pursuit of a bigger, longer term deal? Will he want to go to a contender? Will he want to go to warmer weather or closer to home?
As none of us really know what Rudy's decisions will be, how to you see that unfolding?
Dave B Cornwall
A: All rookie contracts are for the same length, regardless of where a player is taken. Jonas is under contract for three years, there is a team option for the fourth and if no extension is reached before the start of his fourth year, he would become a restricted free agent after playing his fifth season on a qualifying offer.
And since Rudy has this year left and one player option year, they will never have to pay them both huge money if they don’t want to.
Q: Hei Doug,
I understand your frustration with the seating arrangement at Raptor games and I do hope the big wigs in Raptorland sort it out. However, it got me to thinking generally about the basketball experience and I can imagine it is quite different from place to place. As a reporter, where do you feel most comfortable doing your job? Obviously at the moment, it isn’t in Toronto but maybe better in New York or Portland and why?
As a fan, where is the best basketball experience? I’m thinking things like food, maskots, half time show and general good feel atmosphere.
Last question why is the mascot called a chicken when he/ she/ it is a dinosaur? By the way, I hope he/ she/ it gets well soon.
Greetings from Scot in the grand country of Norway
A: Generally, I feel most comfortable on the floor, either on the baseline or courtside but a lot of those seats are gone. There are only two places that I can think of where we are still between the benches courtside and those are second-row seats in San Antonio and Phoenix.
The best seat I can think of is Indiana. We are right on the floor on the baseline right next to the Raptors bench. Good view, you can see and hear the interaction on the bench and a big bonus is we’re about 10 steps from the tunnel to the workroom and locker room.
For best basketball experience? Portland. Great knowledge fans, not much extraneous garbage to take away from the game and a great arena.
The Chicken? Been using it for years and years and years because I think all the stuffed animals are direct descendants of the San Diego Chicken.
Q: Hey Doug
What do you think the chances are that there will be a point guard controversy this year? Either a real one or a fan/media created controversy? It seems like it is almost a tradition for the HOTH to have debate as to who should be the starter or should play the most minutes or should be the closer or is the better for the team, etc. I can't even remember the last year that there was absolutely no controversy, was it back with Alvin Williams?
Good luck with the rest of the pre-season!
A: There will be none to anyone remotely connected to the team but if fans want to dream one up to give themselves something to talk about, that’s on them. There are no issues.
And I’ll you something about “point guard controversies” that is indisputably true: They are the figment of a lot of imaginations.
Q: Hey Doug.
Love the blog.
I was just listening to Bill Simmons and Jalen Rose season preview for the Raptors.
They were speculating that the Raptors will look trade Rudy Gay and Kyle Lowry at the earliest possible moment in an effort to get a top 5 pick in the next year's draft.
I don't put too much stock in their thoughts/opinions even though the segment was actually pretty entertaining.
Given you're much closer to the team and the people that work for it what's your take? Do you see the Raptors doing what they can with the current roster (top 6 at best) or re-building for future years by dealing away proven talent for possible future gains?
Q: Hey Doug, Ask and you shall receive
Here's the q: I was watching the Simmons & Rose season preview for the Raps. Interesting to get Jalen's take on playing in Toronto and also how little Simmons "The Sports Guy" seems to know about the city. Funny but I digress.
They seemed convinced that Rudy is gone by January. The better he plays, the more we get but the result is a foregone conclusion. Seems a bit rash to me but what are you thoughts? Thanks!
A: I heard it, too. Yawn. I’ve said this for months and will for at least a couple of more: Nothing is going to happen until they see what this team is through 15 or 20 games and then we’ll see. To suggest today that a trade is coming for sure is pure entertainment and speculation and should be treated as such.
So until some time passes, I’m not playing silly reindeer games.
This team, as it’s constructed, can finish anywhere from six to 12 or 13 in the East and once it starts to play, we’ll figure out what they have to do.
It's preseason which means there are plenty of franchise profiles and forecasts being done out there. One thing that's coming up again re: Toronto is that FA's don't want to come here because of the taxes. I've heard mixed information re: whether or not taxes, at the end of the day, are higher in Toronto.
This website claims Toronto actually has the 13th lowest income tax in the NBA: http://www.protectingtaxpayers.org/index.php?blog&action=view&post_id=37 .
Then there's the complex issue that players actually pay taxes where the games are played, meaning the only pay taxes for part of their salary in Canada.
Are taxes actually higher for the Raptors? Is it just an NBA urban legend? Either way, does it keep FA's away from the franchise?
A: Taxes are not an issue at all; the team has gone to great lengths to educate agents about ways to minimize tax obligations for players who only reside in the country for about 150 days a year.
All I know about taxes is that a friend does them for us and it works out well and I’m sure players are able to hire the smartest minds around to ease their tax burdens.
It is not an issue at all with free agents, consistent losing is the thing that keeps them away.