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All we got for the weekend mailbag

Good morning.

Everyone enjoy the extra hour this morning to spend some time relaxing and doing whatever? I sure did, quite the welcome time.

And there’s still plenty of time in the day, too.

So have a read of this is you like, game’s at 6 p.m. and I need to work out one little kink and talk to the Tall Foreheads a bit more before we can resume the IGBT but it’s definitely in the plans for Tuesday from Dallas.

The excitement of a new season. I expect that it is similar for the coaches as it is for teachers, hoping for a few shining stars, knowing that there will be disappointments and hoping that the tall foreheads in the office let them try to make things work.

On that note , in your brief video summary, you made the important point that we should not expect a strong start but that they should progress well over the season to end well.  In your experience, how hard is it for those above the coach (GM and ownership) to have that same kind of patience when the losses start to build.

And how hard is it for the coach to feel secure if the team is losing , even as he can see improvements in the overall plan.

Further, what are the measures that you would use in the early season if the W/L record is not positive.

And to put you on the spot , please predict what Anthony Bennett’s stats and minutes played will be at end of season.

All the best

Q: I think the better GMs understand what their plans are and the need for patience over the long haul of the season. And it’s his job to calm ownership when things inevitably go sideways for a bit and while it’s hard, the good ones pull it off and don’t panic early in a season.

Coaches? They’re a different animal and, again, it’s the GMs job to reassure them and make them stay the chosen course by being supportive and patient. Secure coaches, some panic too quickly.

The measuring stick in losses is competitiveness, work ethic and maintaining composure.

Bennett? Unless there is some catastrophic injury or falloff in the play of others that moves him up from fourth on the PF pecking order, I don’t see him appearing in more than about 30 or games for an average of maybe eight or 10 minutes.

Q: Here’s the game. Take a drink every time Reggie Miller says “if you’re”. You’ll be unconscious long before half time.

Also, it seemed to me that a lot of players slipped and fell in the Raptors home opener. Is there a “break in period” for newly decorated basketball courts?

A: I can usually handle a few but that’d turn men into a modern day Foster Brooks!

No, no break-in period but this issue is it was so hot and humid in the arena because someone in facilities operations screwed up and had the temperature too high the court was just more slick with moisture than it should have been. They’ll hopefully figure it out by tonight.

Q: Hi Doug,

I know it’s a tiny thing, but I noticed in Wed. game against the Pacers, the Raptors bench was on the offensive end in the second half. I know generally speaking coaches prefer being able to get a close look at defense in the second half. Was this just a coincidence, or was it something the team purposely did?

A: It was a “backwards” game as friends call it, one of the few occasions it happens each season and it’s all on the visiting team. They have the option which basket to shoot at when and, you’re right, most like to be close to defence at key moments.

Q: Doug. Any chance Alex Anthopoulos got wind that a Montreal team is very close and he wants to be in on the ground floor?

A: Who knows but that had nothing to do with last week’s decision. It’d sure be cool and quite logical, though.

Q: Hello Coach… Will you enjoy the extra hour?  Well, October is shot, there are only 80 more games.  Can they go 82 and 0?

Are you or anyone you know growing any facial hair for Movember?  There is also the move part, for thirty days do something to get you moving.

Are we finally seeing the real TRoss?  Any projections for stats for the season?

Why doesn’t Scola go left?  Is he the basketball equivalent of our former P.M.?

If Bismack and Jonas were to play catch, who would be first to actually catch a ball?  Could they not take a tennis ball with them everywhere and just play catch with themselves?

How long does Shapiro stay with the Jays?  Does AA replace him in say 2018?

Do you have your ice scraper in your car?

Bob, Kanata

A: Not sure about 82-0 but was asking a buddy there if the parade would include a Mississauga driveby after he went past Drake’s house.

I will try to do some kind of physical activity each day because, trust me, Movember is not something I’m interested in.

I am not buying what Ross is selling quite yet, it’s part of my well-founded cynicism and since Joseph spins back left all the time, too, it’s going to be crowded on that side of the floor.

A guy I know who’s seen Bismack a long time thinks the guy who passes him the ball in traffic should be charged with the inevitable turnover because he should know better.

Maybe Alex is president and GM in Montreal in 2018?

Q: Good morning Doug,

Long time since I last asked something so here you go:

The game against Boston made me think about another beloved Raptors, that is, Jose.

I’ve read somewhere he could lose his starting position with the Knicks and it seems to me it has only gone downwards for him since he left he Raptors (three teams in three seasons, for example). Do you share this analysis? Have you been in contact with him since his Raptors days?

Matthieu, Zürich but currently in Barbados

A: I’m sure that now in his 11th season in the NBA that time and age and all those summers of playing for Spain have caught up with one of the most genuinely nice guys I have ever met and if loses his starting spot, it wouldn’t really surprise me.

But I’m going to disagree that his game has gone downwards to any major degree for reasons other than time. The trade shook him up but he was okay in Detroit and if the Pistons thought for a second he would re-sign there as a free agent they were delusional because it simply did not fit with his family concerns. He went to Dallas and started 81 games of 81 he played with a playoff team in the West and has been saddled with an unspeakably bad Knicks team after being traded there.

History will look far, far more kindly on Jose than some Raptors fans were.

Yeah, we stay in touch electronically every now and then to say hello and see how things are going and it’s always nice to catch up in person.

Q: Quite often in post-game interviews Patrick Patterson is brutally honest. After Wednesday’s game he stated that the team was whining too much to the Referees in the first half. As we all know this is an on-going problem with the Raptors. But my question is, how are these comments accepted by the team? Does Pat confront the players with these issues he raises? Is he accepted for the knowledgeable player he seems to be or is he too far down the pecking order to be listened to? Do his comments have any effect on how the team plays the next game?

A: I know Patterson kind of well and I know that he would have said exactly the same thing to his teammates, who would have also heard it from Dwane Casey and would know it in hindsight themselves.

He’s a veteran and is respected as such and his word does carry weight but given the emotional nature of the game and the personalities involved, to think it carries over game-to-game is a bit of wishful thinking. Takes time for old habits to be broken.

Q: Hey Doug,

What are your initial impressions of the raps’ new junk yard dog, Demarre? Personally, I love his cutting ability and the threes are being delivered as advertised. Is there anything you would change about his game so far, or how he’s being used?


A: I like Jerome Williams a lot but he was singular and there will not be another so that is a comparison I will never, ever make.

Change? It’s somewhere else in here but if he could be a more proficient driver, I think that would make him better.

Q: Now that Vasquez and Sweet Lou have left I am hearing how bad at defence they are.  Why did they bring Lou to Toronto last year?   Is Masai listening to Coach Casey now?

A: You’re hearing it now? Did you take last season off?

They brought in Lou to shore up a glaring scoring deficiency knowing full well what he was.

And you’ve got it backwards: One’s the boss, one’s not.

Q: Doug: AA/Blue Jays questions.

To what degree has this change hurt their momentum going into 2016 especially around signing free agents?

How will players look at this? Isn’t it tough enough to win then you kill some of your positive momentum?

A: I think the current players facing free agency – and Estrada and Price are the only two that matter – will look at this with a raised eyebrow and will want to hear from Shapiro and whoever the new guy is about direction and philosophy. For others, it’ll be salesmanship as usual for whoever is doing the selling but significant change to a winning team is going to be hard to explain.

Q: Hi Doug,

I was somewhat surprised with what happened with the Alex Anthopolous situation.  It is really unfortunate that there was no common ground that could be found be the him and Mark Shapiro.  What are your thoughts with how Rogers handled the situation with both Paul Beeston and Alex Anthopolous.  On a side note it was nice to see a few of the Blue Jays at the home opener.

I am not sure if you are covering the game in Boston, but if you are – will you get a chance to catch up with Amir Johnson.  How is he fitting in with Boston?

I know it is relatively early in the season, but any initial observations and surprises from the few games that have taken place thus far.

Thanks as always,

A: I think the people most to blame in the whole episode – if “blame” can be ascribed” – is Rogers ownership and it goes back as far as them trying to oust Beeston and Anthopoulos with the poorly-handed Duquette-Kenny Williams mess of last winter.

The great Griff said this week that the Rogers people aren’t good baseball people, I think it’s more that they’re not good people people.

And, yeah, I did catch up with Amir, as I hoped you’ve ready.

No real surprises at all after two games, defence pretty good, offence pretty shaky at times and everyone doing what he does.

Q: Hey Doug,

The Raps have looked like a team that has some new pieces to fit together so far but there seems to be a ruggedness that wasn’t there last year. Only two games in, but what have you seen from DeMarre Carroll, good and bad, so far? Also Terrence Ross seems to be a new man this season, much more self assured, have you noticed any changes?

A: It is truly too small a sample size but, as they, a hot take would be that Carroll is as advertised with his defence and work ethic and it was nice to see him knock down four three-pointers in Boston. Not sure there’s “bad” right now but he doesn’t really have the ability to break down defenders off the dribble and that’s problematic with a three these days?

Ross? This is not my first rodeo and I am reserving all comment on him until they are at least 15 games into the season. Many have been fooled before, I won’t be fooled again. (Hey, someone should write a song with that as a lyric!)

Q: Doug,

It seems like every coach he has gets frustrated with Bargnani for something or other. Has he regressed that much since his time with the Raptors?  His shooting was actually quite good with us,  but seems to have gone way downhill in recent years.

Dr. Justin

A: I think age, injuries and the fact he seemed to like the idea of being an NBA player more than he liked to do the work necessary to be a consistently good one has caught up with him and, frankly, I was a bit shocked he signed another deal.

That said, he did average about 20 points a game in back-to-back playoff years for Toronto so he did contribute to some good times here. Not sure how many guys have put up those numbers on winning Raptors teams.

Q: Hi Doug,

Happy Halloween. I may be late for the mail bag and if so, no worries. I haven’t written in a while and thought I should do my little bit as a loyal irregular.

Let me start by saying, “Doug Smith is a writing machine”! What did you produce this week? I think I counted at least 7-8 articles between Wed. and Thurs. alone. Thanks for all that, really enjoy what you have to say and how you write it.

I started what turned out to be WAY too long a response to your Friday morning blog question regarding corporate ownership of teams and media outlets… I hit the delete key eventually, figuring I wasn’t on staff at mother Star, just a reader.

Sad to see Alex A. formerly of the Jays hit the road, but most of us have had new bosses  imposed on us and have had to decide if we want to do stay or go at some point during our working lives… Typically just not with millions watching or caring.

I just read your Sat. piece on Friday’s game in Beantown. I appreciate the education aspect of your game analysis. I love basketball, but didn’t grow up playing it, so I get a lot out of your specific points of observation… Demar in the low post etc…

So, thanks.

Larry, B.C.

A: Such kind words and I appreciate them very much.

But never worry about lengths of response, it’s always good to hear what Irregulars think and I bet the others enjoy thoughtful comments as well.

Q: Hi Doug,

Long time reader first time asking,

How do you rank the current raptors team, when compared to all previous raptors teams? What is still missing for us to be the team to beat? Is winning a playoff series the goal of the current team?

Do you think we would make the playoffs if we were in the west?

A: This team – two whole games into its incarnation – has lots of holes. They need a creative three, better three-point shooting and a more well-rounded back up centre and to “rank” it is impossible. The 2001 team was the best ever and this one’s not close yet.

If you agree with the general consensus that the No. 7, 8 West teams are a combination of Dallas, Phoenix and Utah then, yes, they could be in a playoff chase there for sure.

Q: Hey Doug

Why all the fuss about Anthopolous?  I know that Toronto fans love him, but he sold the farm and all he ever achieved was sending one team to the World Series – the 2015 Mets.  I keed, I keed, but an objective look at his performance show as many hits as misses.  His most recent trade deadline deals are what people remember now, but the farm system is bare, we don’t know what the starting pitching or bullpen will look like next year or down the road.  Can we agree that he’s not perfect and that Shapiro has the right to make his own call?

A: The fuss was because I don’t think anyone can argue the team is on the ascent, he was a de facto local who loved the city and the organization and, yeah, he had some misses and hits like every other GM in pro sports everywhere but he could have been one two-on, nobody-out single from getting his team to the World Series.

Sure, Shapiro can absolutely do what he wants, or what his bosses want him to do, but as the great Mike Grange ™ put it, he was hired to fix something that turned out not to be broken.


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