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Referee chatter, D.C. travel and rosters in the mail

A: Kyle was actually part of a group that met last year which helped set the stage for the discussions that took place during all-star weekend. The one in L.A. was put together after the initial work was done last September but before this season seemed to be going off the rails.

And the more, varied voices you can have in the conversation can’t hurt.

Q: Firstly thank you for the tips on Boston, while a little (very) chilly it was a great city to walk about and the Italian you recommended was spot on (and also on our radar).  

We’ve moved on… to Portugal and recently had a chance to take in a FC Porto basketball match, not without incident though as children under 3 are not overly welcome in the stands…  Turned out fantastic thanks to some wonderful people and we enjoy the match from a private box, WITH our infant daughter.  I ramble, I am sorry, I fancy myself a story teller.

I this story: https://www.theplayerstribune.com/angel-mccoughtry-atlanta-dream-wnba, and it made me think if there are any players in the lower leagues, G league, that are playing overseas to help make ends meet?  Are there leagues overseas that pay a comparable amount to the NBA?

Also, while watching the “amateur” ball, as called by the ticket salesperson, I was curious what leagues, outside of the NBA, are the best in terms of talent?  

Sorry for the grammar and spelling, what Portugal lacks in basketball talent, they more than compensate in wine quality…

Richard (this time from Portugal)

A: It doesn’t happen a lot in the men’s leagues because they tend to overlap; although you will see some North American players try to hook on for 10-day or end-of-the-season NBA contracts when their leagues are finished. That’s primarily China because they wrap up early.

But, unlike for the women, it’s about opportunity rather than finances.

As for the best? It’s really cyclical but, historically, Spain has been the No. 1 European league for depth of talent. But none come remotely close – not within tens of millions of dollars – to the NBA money-wise.

I find it distasteful that a league purporting to be big time like the WNBA forces its best players — heck, all of its players – to play basically 12 months a year because it can’t pay them a liveable wage.

Q: Hello Doug,

As always your blog is a joy to read.

Quite the baseball game today, happened to have it on at work, and for spring training we were treated to some decent baseball, the good guys even won.

I have to pick your brain for some advice in regards to the Raptors, sort of.

I am turning 40 next Friday and my wife has agreed to accompany me to Washington to see the Raps on the road.  I couldn’t be more excited as we will be 6 rows behind the visiting bench and I’ve never been that close before.  I never miss a game on TV, but felt the special occasion warranted more than just tuning in.  As a well travelled man, I wondered if you could recommend and nice places to eat or grab a drink near the Capital One Arena, our hotel is close by.  If you have any favorite spots to visit when you are in DC, would love some advice.  Would love to take the wife out for some fun after the Raps beat the Wiz, so any advice you have would be a big help.

Once again, always a joy to read the blog.  If I did have a basketball question, it would be how much impact do you think Jamaal Magloire has had on the bench mob from his coaching position?  Poeltl and Nogeira are valuable bigs and it seems Jacob especially is developing into a tougher player than he initially appears.  Does Jamaal deserve some of the credit?

Keep up the good work

Wesley Mitchell

A: Oh, man, you’re gonna have a blast if the weather’s nice. Washington’s a great walking city, you MUST see the Vietnam Memorial and, if there’s time, the Holocaust Museum and any number of Smithsonian institutions will fill you up.

They’ve done an amazing job building up the area around the arena with bars and restaurants so you’ll have a large choice. I prefer Clyde’s for a post-game beverage and the food has always been top notch. And it’s always packed with a good vibe.

There’s also an Irish place right on the corner but the name escapes me, you can’t miss it,, though.

Jamaal’s a tireless workout guy with young bigs and stays on them to make sure they actually work at speed and on things they’ll use.

Q: I thought Milwaukee and overtime was a pretty entertaining way to come out of the all star break and a useful reminder that nothing is guaranteed. The situation with Norman Powell continues to intrigue me. I might have thrown him out there since he has played the Bucks so well in the past, and I am less devoted to so-called tight rotations than some. But then what do I know (hint: it’s what war is good for).

I have been ruminating on the situation of traditional journalistic enterprises with respect to what is happening in your workplace. There were some very thoughtful contributions from other irregulars last week. It is indeed ironic that never have such institutions as the Star and the Globe and their cousins in other democratic countries been more important. Not only are the disruptive monsters of social media, the Googles etc., appropriating all the ad revenue but they also filch your content without paying for it, while clearly failing to police sinister uses of their platforms. This is an insidious perfect storm. One of your columnists pointed out a while back that there was nothing logical about ad revenue becoming the bulwark supporting journalism, but it seems to me that those with all the ad revenue should pay (and pay handsomely) for giving away your content. If they won’t do this voluntarily, perhaps they should be compelled to by legislation. After all, Facebook is not going to investigate labour conditions in a meat packing plant or mercury poisoning on a reserve.

Maybe it’s generational, but I have never minded paying for journalism. I now have two subscriptions to traditional media, one to a non-traditional website, and a magazine subscription (young ones should ask their grandparents). When the Star had a paywall, I paid happily. Some solution must be found. Journalism is too important not to find one. If you doubt this, click on “Investigations” at the Star’s site map.

James A., Victoria

A: When to go to Norm on those nights and what you’re going to get from him when you do is one of the great gambles of Casey’s coaching philosophies and, yeah, I can see times when you’d think he’d help and then he doesn’t. And how long do you ride him if you put him in? A quick hook does nothing for him, or the team.

But there will be one night when he’s called on and he goes off, I’m sure.

Maybe the journalism thing is generational – I’m about the same as you – but I think everyone knows it costs money to produce top-notch stuff and we need to earn it. And people should pay it.

I am becoming more and more incensed with aggregators who take stuff and regurgitate it for free and are not held to the same standards we are.

Q: Yo Doug,
Greetings from sunny and warm Sarasota!
Shouldn’t 1st place players stop protesting officials’ calls (or non-calls)?
Time to quit being such babies (I’m certainly tired of it – especially from our “leading” players after most fouls)
Might have made a difference to have the point back from last night’s tech foul…
BBALL BARRY

A: And hello from rainy Mississauga.

Players from 1st to 15th should stop complaining so much, good or bad players. It’s tiring and it doesn’t work and it’s a bit unprofessional.

I entirely understand immediate and emotional responses to some situations and you’ll never get that out of the game entirely.

What truly bothers is the wailing, flailing and bleating on obvious calls. That’s just awful.

Q: Hey Doug. Jason Terry is one of the worst for standing for long stretches on the sidelines and this seems to have rubbed off on his teammates. He seems to enjoy annoying the fans- one year he told me to shut-up when I yelled sit down! Does the NBA have any guidelines about this?

Mike k London

A: No hard and fast rule except that players and coaches can’t go onto the court – that’s becoming too regular a thing for me and has to be better policed – but the league takes notice if they’re informed and quietly has a word with players who cross the line.

Q: Dear Doug,

This is purely my own observation and poor memory speaking, but it seems like DeRozan is the primary ball handler at the end of games more then in the past. I understand wanting to space the floor with Lowry and VanVleet but I feel it takes Lowry out of the play too often, further encouraging DeRozan’s ISO tendencies. I actually don’t have a problem with DeRozan taking the big shots but there are only a handful of players elite enough to create for themselves when the entire defense is watching them and DeRozan’s not one of those guys (at least, not yet).

My question is, do you think it would help the Raptors’ late game offense to have someone else initiate – trading spacing for ball movement? The play can still be for DeRozan to take the shot but now he’s not trying to create on his own. I also wouldn’t mind seeing a little more old school Lowry pick and roll action or dribble handoffs to mix things up.

The flipside is, and I’ve had this opinion for a while now, Coach Casey is forcefeeding DeRozan those end of game plays on purpose to prepare him for the postseason. I know they’ve publicly stated they’re gunning for the top seed but Casey has also been very public about his opinion that elite offensive players can consistently create something out of nothing and against all odds. Perhaps the team is willing to lose a few regular season games in hopes of making DeRozan one of those guys?

Thanks,

Alex from Toronto

A: I know they are never willing to lose games but I also know they don’t want to show all their end of game stuff in the regular season because they might need the element of surprise in some truly big game.

Friday there was probably too much DeRozan-instigated stuff in the fourth quarter and they never got the switches or matchups the wanted. DeMar also didn’t do as good a job as has been all year passing quickly out of traps and double-teams. I do think Lowry with the ball and a bit more VanVleet screen-roll stuff is best and what we’ll see more often.

Q: Hey Doug,
So NBA players need to be released from their teams before March 1st to be eligible to sign with a team and be in good standing for the playoffs. Does this March 1st deadline apply for players tendered qualifying offers by teams at the beginning of the season? Like, let’s say the Raptors held the contract rights to a 6’5” Euroleague MVP combo guard that can play a little SF and is currently putting up 17-4-2 stats in 26min a game while shooting 56%-49%-95% from 2, 3, and the charity stripe respectively for a perennial Euroleague powerhouse, and had offered the QO to him at the start of the year. What would be the statutes on signing that guy for the stretch run?

Lawrence G

A: The answer’s no but you’re mixing your salary cap metaphors, or something like that.

Qualifying offers only exist in the summer after NBA players become free agents; guys whose rights are owned by NBA teams aren’t under any financial obligation. Teams, I suppose, could outright release them but since they don’t cost anything and are assets, that wouldn’t make any sense.

Q: Hello Doug,

I also enjoyed seeing Scott Moir get into the women’s hockey game.  I was also impressed with Joanne Courtney carrying a four pack tray of suds to her seat at the game (wonder if she was going to share with her teammates).  Sometimes I forget that athletes are human as well, and that they share the same emotions we do.  Great to see.

Just a quick question this week.  Do you have any insider info on a replacement for Jerry Howarth?  I wouldn’t want to be the one to have to follow in his footsteps!

Santino

PS – Not sure where this whole print media thing is going, and I’m sorry you have to deal with the related dark clouds.  No matter where it takes you I will be sure to travel to all corners of the internet to make sure I will read what you’ve got to say.  Thanks for all you do!

A: I have nothing on the new Jerry, sorry. They will be huge shoes to fill and good luck to whoever gets the gig but even when I was hanging around home of the broadcast to do the McCown show earlier this week, there was no scuttlebutt to be obtained. Won’t be long, though, the season is rapidly approaching.

And who gets Zaun’s job?

Q: Hi Doug

It occurred to me that we in Toronto are experiencing a bit of a golden age in professional sports management/coaching. The Raptors are an excellent example with Masai down to Dwane but they are far from the only example. We have seen dramatic improvements in the fortunes of the Leafs, TFC, and the Argos when ineffective leadership was replaced with highly competent individuals. The journey is very much out on Jays at this point, but I am not very hopeful. I guess my main question is how do some teams manage to choose the right guys while other organizations just don’t ever seem to get it right, keeping in mind that all owners have the same ultimate goal? How valuable is it to have corporate ownership rather than a team being some rich dude’s personal toy?

To take a totally different tack. How about for the first round of NBA playoffs that East #1 plays West #8, East #2 vs West #7, etc? If one conference were much stronger they would be rewarded at this stage.

Bruce

Newcastle

A: Second part first: That’s intriguing but one issue that hasn’t been talked about a lot is not only the effects of travel on players but the geographical impact on fans. What if the No. 8 team in the East was from the East coast and No. 1 in the West was from California. What do you think the impact would be on TV ratings if you had to make the East fans stay up for 10 p.m. start and the West fans be done for the day and a 4 p.m. start? That’s a thing.

The first bit? I think there are two things.

One is simple luck of finding the right mesh of personalities and philosophies; and the second is management patience, which cannot be over-stated. Too many presidents and general manages and owners are simply too quick to fire someone instead of working with them to get better.

Not sure the ownership structure really matters, though. There’s always one guy a step up the ladder who has to make the call.

Q: Hi Doug,

Saw that Mark Cuban was fined the other day for saying out loud what everyone knows: Our team tanking is not such a terrible thing.  I don’t think it’s possible to eliminate tanking so here is an idea I heard a while back that I always found interesting: Once a team is officially eliminated from the playoffs, every game they win from that point improves their lottery position.  It should help with the integrity of late season games as every team would have something to play for.  What are your thoughts?

Phil 

Thornhill

A: That makes much sense and I would presume has been part of the all-encompassing discussion on draft/lottery reform.

Q: Hi Doug
Is Fred Van Vleet the polar opposite of Bruno Caboclo amongst the younger players?  Relatively normal body, very high level of basketball skills.  I don’t know where they would match up on the work ethic dimension.
I looked at Fred’s stats.  Even better than I thought they would be. Also, are the contract rules for undrafted players the same as those drafted 30?  I looked and didn’t find anything.
Jim Rootham

A: Fred will be under what’s known as “Early Bird” rights and Toronto will have the right to match but he can only get 175 per cent of his current salary or 104.5 per cent of the league-average salary, which is likely be around $ 8 million. Big payday coming for him.

Q: Hi Doug 

Regarding next year’s All Star ‘draft’, I’m not sure why it is that so many want to see it televised. 

The only drama that I can see unfolding is which players will be selected last. 

We could probably guess which ones will be selected first (no drama there, really) and then the middle rounds will be what they’ll be so … it’s not like it matters so much. Up to the end of the draft, I can only see it being moderately interesting at best. 

So, is it mostly that those wanting to see it televised are wanting to see who gets picked last? (Even if that’s not the case for some fans, it certainly IS the case for some others. As I’m sure you realize.)  

It’s easy to figure why the players chose to do it this year the way they did. Nobody, after all, wants the stigma of being publicly chosen last. And considering that they’re all All Stars with all the honours and accolades that go along with it, being the last guy picked would be something that that player might never shake and would certainly not deserve. It would be mentioned often, probably throughout his career. Even if not, it’d be repeated about a hundred times over the course of the All Star wknd. It would be needlessly embarrassing. 

I don’t think it’d be fair to the players. Not a one of them — again, All Stars — would be deserving of that humiliation — mild as you might imagine it’d be. And for those who so want to see it? Well … too bad for them. They’d be fine if it was done the way it was done this year. To my mind, the possible cost (a player’s embarrassment) would be way too high for whatever fleeting entertainment value those watching would get to enjoy. 

It’s what I think, anyway. Am I missing something? Blast away. 

SM

A: I think it’s more than who gets picked last, actually. Would one captain blow off a guy from his own team for some other player? Would a guy with a grudge against someone let him pass just out of spite. There’d be all kinds of fun things to dissect for a day or two.

Q: Hey Doug:
I noticed that you now infrequently post “DRINK” when the Raptors hit a 3-pointer. And, for every 3-pointer from JV (let alone some other Raptors) you would have inevitably posted “DOUBLE DRINK!” What would have 2 triples in a game from JV generated?
With the increased 3 pointers, it is a good thing you are no longer posting “DRINK”. Thank you, for contributing to keeping your Irregulars sober. Of course this is all in jest, I know you would never, ever encourage anyone to get drunk, let alone condone the resulting behaviour.
Putting on your Carnac the Magnificent headgear, what wisdom and answers do you foresee for the remainder of the Raptors’ regular season:
• Will they sign a veteran to fill up the 15th spot on the roster? Has the Vince Carter scenario vanished?
• Will the Raptors get to the 60-wins mark?
• Will they finish first in the Eastern conference?
And the answers are…
Finally, while you may have already addressed this, will the travel restrictions continue into the playoffs? I can’t imagine that the Star would not lift the embargo, especially in the event that the Raptors play in the conference final, let alone the championship series.
Appreciated as always,
Phil

A: It’s not so much “will” they but “can” they sign anyone. They’d like to – although I’m not sure it’s a huge need – but the list of available players at this moment is truly underwhelming for their needs.

I’m not sure they’ll get to 60. I think the franchise record of 56 is in danger but 60’s going to be a stretch.

Yes, they will finish No. 1 in the East.

Q: Hi Doug,

A question about the mailbag itself – why do you include the letters that seem to set you off? I know twitter can be a terrible place, and that it may be nice to show readers what it’s like to deal with the general public, but I would rather read heartfelt questions from actual fans rather than the trolls. 

Cheers!

Phil from Charlottetown

A: Every now and then I just like to let people have some real insight into the type of note/comment I get sometimes.

Q: Hi Doug,

Thanks for all you do to keep us informed.  Two things that inquiring minds want to know:

Does the Raptor have a shoe deal?

What events would be included in the Grunts All Star Weekend?

Thanks,

Andrew

A: I don’t know about a shoe deal but when I was talking with him/her/it the other night when the Bruno Mars costume was in play, the words “the guy who makes my clothes” came up so there’s some sort of deal there, I’m sure. But The Chicken should get everything for free, including green fees when he can bring a buddy along.

The Grunt All-Star Weekend program is a great one, too big for here. Tell you what, check back next week on some non-day after game day and I’ll give you my Grunt Olympics program. Deal?

TORONTO STAR