All right, that’s enough of that uneventful game, enjoy the mail.
Q: Doug – we really appreciated your list of forbidden foods now that you are a recovering heart patient. Who of us has not felt the loss of favourite foods when the doc says “never again”? Thanks for such a funny and smart description of this human dynamic.
The thing is – Many people believe they will ALWAYS be able to have the life they used to have…but of course the truth is that life is a continuous accommodation to inevitable change.
Which athletes come to mind as “Accommodation Stars” —athletes who had to change either because they grew older or experienced health challenges? Surely such athletes can be models for the rest of us – and help us avoid the trap of wanting to be “forever young”.
A: Those area the two reasons that athletes “change” aren’t they? Health and age.
I think we see today that guys like Vince Carter and Dirk Nowitzki have realized they can’t be the same athletes now that they were so they’ve altered their games a bit. I’d say Grant Hill did the same thing after he suffered a series of injuries and the one who “re-made” himself to accommodate the reality of his life was Magic Johnson, who came back as a power forward after leaving as a point guard when he first contracted the HIV virus.
It’s a realization of the human failings as time goes by and the bodies might rebel a bit and I think it speaks well of those who can.
Q: Hi Doug,
Did you happen to notice who made the inbound pass on the last play of the Raptors-Pistons game last night? I’ll assume you did notice it was our old friend Jose Calderon. Good on him.
Did you get a chance to catch up with him? How much longer do you think he’ll be in the league? He’s one of my favorite Raptors and he gets the honor of holding the single season free throw percentage record when he shot 98.1 percent for the 2008–09 season. He made 151 of 154 shots. That’s nuts.
A: I did notice, for sure. But did you notice that it was basically the same play that Sam drew up for Jose to inbound to Bosh at the end of Game 6 of the 2007 playoff series against New Jersey? And I swear if Jose gets a bit more air under the pass in Jersey they win that game, they win Game 7 back home and who knows how history unfolds if that’s the case.
And, yeah, I caught up with Jose at shootaround that morning, it was great, as you’d expect. He remains atop my list of all-time favourite Raptors.
How long? I figure he’s year to year and this might be the last. But you never know.
Q: Good evening Mr. Smith:
Right now the weather outside is frightful but writing to you is always delightful (sorry, but with the holidays approaching and all….)
My first letter of the season so I wish you continued health. I also confirm that I am now a Star subscriber, as many followers have become, mainly, because of you.
My query centers around coaching, and I write following the night when Coach Casey had his momentous return to the place where the Raptors play.
Over the past several years the Raptors have broken many records, and despite a couple of losses this week, we still have the best all time starting record to a season.
My question is this: how important is a coach to the success of a team, OR, is the roster more of a determining factor? I would guess the answer is that there are too many factors to isolate one or the other, but if there is no better way to analyze than defer to many factors, can you think of a situation where a change in coaching made the most difference to the success of a team?
Thankful for all you write and what it contributes to my day, and obviously, the days of many.
SB from Newmarket
A: I’ve said for years that coaches get too much credit when things go well and too much blame when they go south, especially when it comes to tactics because no matter how good a play is, if the players can’t make shots or the other team does something well, you can’t put that on a coach.
I think where they and do make a difference is how they deliver their message, how they handle managing the personalities they are in charge of. Want one playing out right now? There’s not a lot of roster difference in the Milwaukee Bucks this year but Mike Budenholzer has someone given them the freedom to play a bit more loosely and they are better than they were. It’s the tone and the message, how it’s delivered and its freshness that makes one coach more successful than the last.
Q: Hi Doug,
I know you don’t want much on this topic in the mailbag but I have to ask as I haven’t read anywhere about the one time-out the Raps had left but didn’t take before the final 1.2 seconds play against Detroit. Not saying the result would be any different but isn’t that a ‘by the book’ situation to take that final TO and setup the defence?
A: No, actually it’s not. The defence was set up with two seconds left and calling a timeout with 1.2 left would have let Detroit draw up a play.
I understand that it didn’t work out but the strategic decision to not use that final timeout was the right one, in my opinion.
Q: Greetings Doug. As I type this Raps have a 2-game losing streak! Time for a new coach? That guy for the Pistons looks good! Anyway as the NBA game has evolved does the need for the defensive 3-second rule need to be reassessed? It does tend to slow the game down a bit when it is called and I am sure that they could call it more often than they do now. Thanks
Mike k London
A: I can’t see the NBA ever thinking it’d be good to let a big man simply plant himself under the basket to dissuade opponents from getting to the rim while guarding no one so I do think there’s a need for the rule and that it should be strictly enforced.
And as you see more and more big men playing out on the perimeter and taking their defenders with them, you’re likely going to see fewer of those calls. But I do think it’s a necessary rule.
First a comment: subscribed to Mother Star for years and then stopped when they just weren’t being read in our house. BUT with the new paywall, I missed your stuff and the news I’d read online. So I’m back, trying a weekend only print sub and full digital access. Seems like quality online content has reached a tipping point, where good stuff is going behind paywalls. Interesting time of adjustment, but necessary as good content has value and the audience should pay one way or another.
Raptors? Steady as she goes. Seems like one adjustment for this team is there’s no sneaking up on people. They’re good and they have to expect teams will come at them with their best every night. Exceptional teams are ready for that.
Who on the current roster has coaching DNA down the road? Kyle thinks the game at a high level so curious if it would translate to coaching.
Keep on keepin on, Doug.
A: Thanks very much for the subscription, we appreciate the support always.
Kyle’s told us in the past that he didn’t want to be a coach because he didn’t want to coach guys like him so he’s out.
I would think Fred might have the personality and the smarts to do the job, eventually, and I wonder if a guy like Danny Green might not take a look at that career path eventually.
Q: Hi Doug,
1. I think from distributing the pom-pom stick to the wrong side of the court to even the most casual fans know what a three seconds violation is, basketball in Canada came a long way.
The Raptors lost the forth games this season. No one complained about the officiating on the last three games. But the Boston game? Not so much.
I know Boston beat the Raps and if Leonard made the last shot the narrative will be totally different. I am sure no one had a problem for him to take the last shot that missed. So yes, Raptor got beaten.
Having said all that, bad calls / trash calls / questionable calls were there all night long.
So, I know you hate this kind of questions, but can you explain why things like this happen on an occasional night like last night?
Most of the night the game were call correctly in my opinion. A missed /bad calls here and there everyone can live with. But last night? It really make your heart rate rises.
With gambling now moving to the next phase, fixing a game means millions of dollars on a gamely basics. How can we say for sure and trust the referee or the NBA? Even the most casual friends can call out a lot of questionable calls but NBA did noting about it. Don’t want to pull a WWE comparison, but some nights? It does feel that way.
2. Would you:
A. Wait for a buy out from Atlanta and sign Vinc Carter for his farewell tour
B. Use the last roster spot to sign Anthony since almost all small forward of the team are hurt now.
C. None of the above.
Thanks and have a great day
A: I refuse to nitpick individual play calls, you’re asking the wrong guy. Trust ‘em or don’t, I actually don’t care. I know many of them, they are honourable men and women doing the best they can at their terribly hard jobs.
None of the above.
We’ve seen guys such as Kevin Garnett and Dwyane Wade be welcomed back to finish their career with their original teams even after it’s clear they aren’t the same player that they were when they left those teams. Do you think a return to Denver would be a viable option for Carmelo Anthony to finish out his career? Considering how his past few seasons have gone, in order to finish out his career with some dignity, do you think he can go back there in a mentorship role? Would he even be receptive to a reduced role coming off the bench, or does he still believe he can contribute in the same role he has had his whole career?
A: If Carmelo Anthony was the last unemployed basketball player on Earth and the Denver Nuggets had four games for Game 1 of the NBA Finals, they might forfeit.
And I presume he’d be happy coming off the bench as he did in Houston but not “really” happy and that’s the issue.
Q: Hi again Doug! Another question for you if you wish. When Melo was a rookie would you have guessed that VC (HWMBNN -He Who May Be Named Now) would have an NBA career that would keep going after Melo’s ended? Of course it comes down to their different personalities….
Mike k London
A: Pretty crazy, isn’t it? And a testament to Vince, I’d say. We’ll have lots more on him this coming week with the Raptors headed to Atlanta and that will certainly be part of it.
Q: “Casey’s imprint on the franchise cannot be understated.” – Doug Smith
As one who was (and still is) mystified by his termination, your eloquent blog post of last November 14 confirmed what always came across in any of Dwane Casey’s public pronouncements, really from his first day on the job. In my naivety, I always believed that whenever his coaching duties ended, a place would be found for him in the Raptor executive suite as some sort of senior Embry-like reservoir of basketball wisdom. Surely the organization would not be so blinkered as to let this guy get away. So I continue to overrate sentiment and gratitude as operative principles when it comes to running an NBA franchise.
As I watched an immensely impressive Detroit comeback on Wednesday, I found myself silently repeating Casey-isms, the most significant being that the Pistons were “playing with force” in the second half. As others noted, karma demanded a successful inbound play to secure a last second win, triggered by (of course) Calderon. Anyone who has studied the narrative arc of the Raptor franchise for lo these many years had to be grinning from ear to ear.
James A., Victoria
A: That was a pretty neat finish, wasn’t it? Who ever had Jose in the Rasual Butler role?
Q: Hi Doug,
Glad you are still around and getting over those darn inconveniences of heart attacks (I keed, I keed). The writing about Coach Casey and a good decent man was some of your best work, I think the only thing that could have made it better is if it was read to me by Stephen Brunt, (great voice). What the Raptors have built is truly a reflection of Coach Casey, young man finding their way, but guided by solid direction. Credit also Masai for his undying passion for be able to sell players on a great organization and what it means to be on a team that has a goal in mind. I never had any doubt in my mind that Kyle wouldn’t be the professional he is, and its great to see Demar do well with the Spurs. Monroe during the Pistons game proved exactly why he has a role with the team. It was never a question of if, but when an injury would happen and he would be needed. Great job by him and I am sure many more opportunities will present themselves over the course of a season.
Quick question on the last play of the Detroit game. Is it illegal to leave the player who is inbounding the ball alone and have 5 guys cover the 4 on the floor? My only other nit pick was I would have sooner seen someone with more length on Jose than Kyle but that’s why I am sitting in my house and those guys are in the NBA.
Continued health and as always, keep up the amazing work.
PS miss the old in game Blogs, the calls for DRINK and you having battles of wits with unarmed writers ?
A: Yeah, there’s no rule at all that says you need to guard the inbounding player and I’ve seen teams leave them alone. I also saw Butch Carter one time in Detroit put two guys on the Piston inbounding the ball and the Raptors won a game off the ensuing turnover it caused.
And, yeah, there might have been a case for a bigger, longer defender on Calderon but not sure it’s that big a deal.
Q: Hi Doug,
Do you think Masai has a big move left in him at the trade deadline to bolster the team’s chances at an NBA finals? If so, what is their greatest need? Thanks.
A: With all the uncertainty coming next summer, I would be stunned if Masai has a “big move” for February and I can 1,000,000 per cent guarantee you that he and Bobby haven’t thought about it at length at all.
Need? They need to keep this team together and let it grow. There is no crying roster need whatsoever.
Q: I think Dwayne is still pretty miffed at the Raptors. Did you notice he wasn’t wearing a tie? I bet that is a first?
Considering what I have read is that he is a stickler for presentation.
A: I did notice and I have no idea if it’s a first or not but I can also say with great certainty that even caring about it one iota is a waste of an iota of your, or my, time.
Q: Casey or Nurse or ???
Hi Doug, I am glad you are back in form and keeping up with the crazy schedule. I know it is early days but let us begin the discussion about coach of the year. I know Nick has a lot of tools and he seems to be using them all really well so far. If the Raptors continue at the same pace, they will win about 65 games. Does that qualify Nick to be in the discussion?
A: They get 65 wins and win the East? Yeah, he’d be in the discussion. And very prominently.
Q: Good morning Doug,
After your comments on Dwane Casey the other day one would have to think when the last second ball swished through the net Dwane was as stone faced and as rigid as we have come to know him over the years. To me he is still the Raptor and I congratulate him (and his team) on the win. A better coach and human that Toronto was blessed with for years.
A: Couldn’t have said it better myself.
Q: Hello Doug,
When Casey left Raptors he also left a bomb !! He is Fred !! He is short and chubby with limited basketball talents. On defence he always loses his man on screens and ends up up getting a forward two times higher than him. Anybody can shoot over him with ease. Most of his lay-ups are blocked and always gets an average and 20 minutes playing time !! What for ?? It is like playing 4 against 5 and in the mean more talented young players sitting on the bench !! His 3pt attempts not a sure thing. He should not be playing in NBA !! Tell me what you see in him that i don’t ??
As a Raptor fan since day one it really bothers me.
With my best regards,
A: The People! My People!
I’d love to tell you what I and every sane thinking NBA observer does but I suspect it wouldn’t make a difference.
Oh, did you watch Saturday?