There’s an excellent array of questions in here, folks.
Thanks again for doing what you do.
We’re a bit later than usual because of the time zone stuff, I seem to have figured it out more quickly than usual.
For tonight and tomorrow, we’ll be up against crazy deadlines for the paper but we’ll get stuff up as quickly as possible after the buzzer on the website so check back often, click a lot, read right through to the end and let us know what you think.
The #1 and 2 league leaders in minutes played this season are Lowry and VanVleet. This is a concerning trend and one that I don’t expect to be sustainable throughout the course of the long NBA season, especially with regards to Kyle. If Nick Nurse wants to continue to have them both starting and finishing games, what can be done to help reduce their workload? Do you put Kyle on a load management program and sit him periodically? Or do you take Fred out of the starting lineup? Or should Masai be looking to acquire a third point guard such as a Jeremy Lin, who was serviceable in that role last season?
Speaking of Lin, if a team was to desire his services at some point during the season (ie. due to injury or need for added PG depth), would he be able to sign with an NBA team this year?
A: Well, as we’ve seen, the issue with Lowry’s minutes is no longer an issue, at least for two or three weeks. But even before Friday, I think Nick realized he had to trust the likes of Terence Davis or Matt Thomas or get Pat McCaw back. It was not sustainable and everyone knew it.
I also think Masai will eventually look to get a third point guard somehow but that’s going to take some roster manipulating.
I don’t know what Lin’s contract is in China but if he’s got an NBA out or wants to wait ‘til the end of season, he’s free to sign with any NBA team. It won’t be the Raptors. Been there, done that, saw the results.
Q: Hey Doug,
A couple of things on my mind this week. Given that you’re working on your tome (and hopefully not your demise), I was wondering if piggybacking on that you could do a “Where are they now” feature on the blog? Pick some obscure former Raptor and give us their whereabouts and what they are up to (Once a week? Once a month? NEVER?!).
How are the Mighty Quinn and Griff doing post Toronto Star? I assume you easily interact with Quinn on a regular basis. How about Richard?
A: Yeah, trying to do an ex-Raptor of the week each week in Nothing But Net and I’m sure that as the season drones on, we’ll get to some obscure ones.
The Mighty Quinn’s her regular superstar self, Griff actually graced us with his presence at the game the other night but I didn’t get to talk to him at length. By all reports, he’s living the high life.
Q: Hey Doug:
A bit of this, a bit of that.
I’m late to this, but better late than never. Don’t know you (other than being an avid reader), we never met, but I was thrilled for you – that you were at your son’s college grad ceremonies. Knowing the health challenges you went through, that you were there was so much more gratifying, I bet, than covering the Raptors’ Championship series.
Jose Calderon is on my list of favourite people to have ever played for the Raptors. Too bad he doesn’t have some kind of involvement with the Raptors. Wondering what are some of your most memorable Jose stories?
I know the “old wise men” covering basketball are people like Woj and Marc Stein. Who in your opinion are the young guns covering basketball stateside that one should follow?
Appreciated as always
A: You have to realize that, to me, even guys like Woj and Marc are “young” guys. But there’s a long, long list of what some might considered young reporters, guys like Sam Amick and Howard Beck and Jeff Zilgitt and Mike Lee who I read all the time.
Really, there are so, so, so many good storytellers out there, the list is basically endless and readers are the ones best served.
The graduation was really a helluva moment and, yeah, there was a time when I really wondered if I’d be around to see it. Can’t tell you how lucky I am.
Q: Hello Doug. I am writing today from the Tasmanian sea and we are currently in 14,000 feet of water. We will arrive in Sydney Australia tomorrow.
I seem to remember there something special about December 15th and trading. Is that when teams can trade the free agents they hired in the summer?
Considering the lack of depth on the Raptors, what would be a successful road trip? I’m thinking 2 and 3 would be good considering the talent of the teams are they are playing. What would you consider a successful road trip as to wins and losses?
I am surprised that Hollis-Jefferson and Stanley Johnson are not getting any floor time considering they’ve played for other teams in the past. I am surprised Masai brought them in if they are that weak. Is it that they just haven’t shown enough effort? Do they lack the skills to break into the roster? Do you think this will change as a season evolves?
Dave from Cornwall
A: Having gotten the New Orleans game but losing two key guys in the process, getting one more on the road would, I think, make it a good trip. But, really, it’s all about finding groups that work together, getting some depth pieces in place and was even before Kyle and Serge went down.
It’s a long season, at some point, both Johnson and Hollis-Jefferson are going to have to play; they just aren’t consistent or good enough right now. Doesn’t mean they won’t be, they just aren’t today.
Q: Hi Doug
Is there a reason why coach Nurse doesn’t mention RHJ & Stanley? If they don’t play, how can they become better? As new guys and coming from lesser teams, maybe they don’t have the same benchmark and will need to cultivate it on this team over time.
A: They have to become better in practice. When we asked about them, Nick’s very honest, Johnson makes too many mistakes at one end to make it easy to play him despite what he might be able to do defensively and, frankly, I wondered from the day he signed where Hollis-Jefferson would fit on this roster.
But they can earn playing time by showing more in practice, it’s not out of the realm of possibility.
Q: Sir; Are there any “under the radar” players you’re keeping an eye out for this season? Michael Porter Jr. has my attention, from Number One high school player, to an injury riddled start of a career, now with Denver.
A: Yeah, he’d be one but I also wonder how long it’ll take in New Orleans for them to realize Nickeil Walker-Alexander is a better player that Lonzo Ball.
And I know he’s under the radar for the wrong reasons but the Nunn kid in Miami caught my attention.
Q: Good morning Doug,
You said in mail that you would be doing a follow up column on Spicy and more then likely covered this topic. I do not recall how he was last year in this area but man does he seem to be getting into foul trouble to start the year. Is this because the refs notice him more given the MIPY or is he simply trying to hard to build on his amazing year last year?
A: I did do a piece, even before Nick made my point for me. I don’t think it’s got anything to do with the refs, I think Pascal was a bit lazy on defence – not moving his feet, reaching too much, driving a bit out of control against double-teams – and I think that’s been fixed.
Q: With regards to Nurse I believe the question is will he want to stay with the Raps during a rebuild.
Kyle and Marc are gone next year and even if the Greek did come over the Raps would still be short a couple of premium players no?
And if the Greek doesn’t come over the situation becomes extreme.
A: I seriously have no clue what you people who use “rebuild” mean, I honestly don’t. It’s a ridiculous cliché that means nothing. Well, I guess it means let’s get rid of all of our good players for bad players and lose a lot so we can get a good young player and since it takes 5 years to get really bad and maybe 7 to get really good, I need a 13-year contract ‘cause ownership will eventually chicken out.
And maybe he doesn’t want to coach a team with Pascal Siakam, OG Anunoby and likely Fred VanVleet at its core but I find that hard to fathom. It’s one of 30 jobs like it on Earth, if you get one, I don’t think you give it up.
Maybe the situation becomes “extreme” (whatever the heck that means, too) or maybe you have a team that tries to win all its games, plays big ones and bad ones and evolves.
Q: In the year 2019 three sports franchises won their respective championships for their first time.
On June 12th the St. Louis Blues won their first Stanley Cup.
On June 13th the Toronto Raptors won their first NBA Championship title and on October 30th the Washington Nationals won their first MLB World Series.
Have two or more teams ever won their first sporting championship in the same year/season?
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Steven B, Pickering
A: I certainly can’t think of another time but I did not scour three league record books. Maybe someone else did?
Q: Good morning
Hope you are enjoying the time changes involved in your road trip. Just returned from and getting used to a seven hour differential, older you get the more challenge there is.
Sad to hear of the passing of Eli Pasquale, he was definitely a leader in the development of Canadian basketball. I was quite interested in the comments of Steve Nash, showing how crucial that Pasquale was to his basketball career.
That made me recall the comment attributed to Dizzy Gillespie about Louis Armstrong- simply – ” No him, no me “. I get the feeling that Nash was saying something similar.
Can you think of other examples in sports where there was a similar (non family) impact on someone’s career/life?
Was there any single person who had a similar impact on your career?
All the best.
A: I can’t think of one in another sport off the top of my head or that I know about but I’m sure it’s happened. There has to have been some Canadian pucks star who was guided or inspired by someone from another era.
Me? Nah, there really wasn’t. Lots of people influenced what I became but not one more than the other, really.
Q: As a surprisingly competitive Canada played the U.S. in the 1988 Olympics, Eli Pasquale outscored each American player (several future NBAers included) and led the game in assists, while the legendary Al McGuire called him Canada’s “best basketball player” on the NBC broadcast.
Between the mid-1960s and the turn of the century, I saw a lot of Canadian university basketball and I never saw a better player than Eli Pasquale (I admit a partiality for point guards; they tend to be normal sized). He was the Lowry-like beating heart of the first great team I had seen outside of television (they tended to crush opponents): five years of eligibility, five national championships commencing in Pasquale’s first year at the University of Victoria. Having seen them both play, his influence on Steve Nash seems obvious, well beyond being in the same town at the same time. I second every statement in your blog post last Wednesday.
This rather daunting road trip will be a severe test for the defending champions and here’s hoping a surprise lurks somewhere on the bench. At least one itch has been scratched with a new Siakam/VanVleet peanut butter and jelly sandwich commercial.
What question interests you most in Los Angeles? Which L.A. team are you most looking forward to seeing?
James A., Victoria
A: There are also a lot of Nick Nurse commercials out there, it seems, too.
At this point in the season, probably mostly because Paul George has not yet played, I’m interested in seeing what the Lakers look like on this trip because I can see that turning into a gong show at some point.
But, overall, I think the Clippers become fascinating in the “little kid on the block” kind of way.
Q: Hello Mr. Smith,
I emailed you many years ago about finding an article you wrote for the Woodstock Sentinel review many moons ago.
My early days playing basketball in Ingersoll and Oxford county, there wasn’t a lot of Canadian guards for me to look up to in the early 80’s. Eli Pasquale was one that I idolized and was sad to hear of his passing.
Again, media was different at that time so my knowledge of him was limited until I saw him play for Canada, I believe at the 1984 Olympics.
More sad than anything but just brings back memories of who I inspired to be like…..Yes things have changed for Canada basketball.
Did you ever meet or cover him when he was playing?
Do you think he gets the recognition he should or am I looking through “good ole day” glasses?
Faithful reader of your weekly newsletter,
A: I sure didn’t know Eli well but I’d met and spoken with him many times over the years at various basketball things and saw him play – more as a fan than a reporter – a bunch of times. Mostly got to know him through Jay because they were really tight.
As for “recognition” there is no doubt basketball people knew who he was and what kind of player he was but that was a different sports era and the general public had no idea.