Monday, March 14, 2011

Dip-sticking back into Doug's mailbag

That title didn't make any sense. I'm sorry.

We got a couple positive comments on the whole thieving Doug's mail questions and answering them thing. Thanks for that. Thanks to DrunkJaysFan for the style that we're cramping. Thanks to God.

So here's the deal. I copied questions DS's last mailbag post without reading Doug's responses, and will provide real, non-nincompoop answers. But I'm filtering basketball questions only, so I'll be skipping the ones where loyal fans ask Doug about his bowel movements. Cool?

Q: Hi Doug. I am going to try to have two questions answered for the price of one.
First: if I am correct, you seem to imply that it is not clear whether the Raps should keep Reggie given that they already have a glut of bigs. But when I see his performances since he has returned and consider how well the Raps were playing before he got hurt, I don't really see why they should even think twice before offering him a contract. After all, he's become one of the top rebounders in the league (at least if stats are to be believed) and he brings the defensive presence the Raps miss so badly. What's your take on this?

Second: I really think that basketball is a beautiful sport to watch (movements, creativity, etc.). What's your take on that? What do you think makes basketball so special? What would be your top 5 of the sports you find "aesthetically pleasing" to watch?
Ooops, there are more than 2 questions in my message, sorry about that.
Keep up the good work.

Matthieu B, Bern, Switzerland

On this issue, Matthieu, we're both neutral. (Get it? Switzerland? Neutral?) But seriously, folks.

I'm of two minds on the Reggie issue. On the one hand, re-signing Reggie projects to be an expensive proposition. I doubt he'll take a pay-cut from his mid-level area deal and his Rodman-like performance when healthy this year should be enough to keep demand high. He's also 30 and due to regress. But the biggest issue holding me back from fully endorsing four more years of Reggie is that the power forward spot is the one position on this team that doesn't worry me. Some combination of Ed Davis and Amir Johnson will be occupying that floor space for years to come, and though he might be let go in the off-season, Joey Dorsey has shown the ability to rebound and defend in limited minutes. In short, there's a glut. Ideally, the money that could be spent on Reggie should be allocated to positions where the Raptors can replace worse players with better ones. A barrel scraping team should be shoring up on cap space and selling it for players with value, cross fingers on the draft or just plain go at it cheaply for a while.

That said... I think I re-sign him. I'll enumerate why.

  1. The Raps need the most immediate help at the 2, 3 and 5. They are in blind love with DeMar and Andrea and therefore don't understand that they need help at the 2 and 5. That leaves the 3. Maybe King Colangelo (and at this point I just assume he sticks around forever and ever) targets Kirilenko or Matt Barnes. But probably not. So the smart money is on this team not knowing what to do with smart money.
  2. PF glut aside, since no savior centre is on the horizon, the Raps will still need a four-man big rotation and I'll just have to hope that Bargnani somehow gets buried under a pile of pasta.(Seriously, can we find a dump truck, fill it with pasta and drop the payload on him? This isn't racist, by the way -- the dude does pasta commercials.) I think beggars can't be choosers in these troubled times and if all our good players play the same position, so be it. I believe Reggie's trade value in two years is higher than Linas Kleiza's right now. 
  3. I honestly, with my whole heart believe Bryan Colangelo understands basketball talent about as well as dogs understand calculus. I think that the resources he saves by letting go of Reggie Evans most likely go to pay an awful player. I'd love for the Raptors to focus on selling Barbosa or Kleiza for a can of magic beans but I don't see it happening... so go with the rebounder you know.
  4. Holy shit, this was long.
  5. "(at least if stats are to be believe)" I see what you're doing there Mattheiu (which I assume rhymes with a sneeze) you're trying to make me angry. It won't work.
Oh, and blah, blah, basketball is a beautiful, graceful game. It's Swan Lake in Nikes.

Q: Hey Doug. I was at the Friday night game at the O2 and was quite pleasantly surprised with the atmosphere. For me, I was quite anxious to see how James Johnson fitted into the Raptors... earlier, you had mentioned that JJ would grab a rebound and push the ball up the court as a point forward and that this was a luxury that the Raptors have never had. However, in watching JJ during the match, he did this a few times and each time he was way out of control, often leaving his feet on passes or holding the ball too long on the wing. So is this point forward thing something Jay wants or is this JJ trying to impress quickly on a new team?
And after a few games, what do you think of JJ overall and his future with the team?
Felix T, Loughbrough, UK

Thanks, Felix from most Britishy-sounding village ever. And kudos to you for attending the game. You'll be able to tell your grandkids about the historic Nets vs. Raptors Battle of Brittain 2011. Good show.

What do I think about James Johnson? With an obvious sample-size caveat, I'm pretty okay with his play. Defends and rebounds decently and is an above-average shot blocker. Needs to shoot better (or, barring that, shoot less). I don't see appreciable differences between Julian Wright and him but I assume only one of them will be returning to back up Kleiza (a part of my soul dies every time I write his name). I wouldn't mind if  both stuck around but I think it will depend on what happens in the draft.

Q: Derrick Rose's SAT Scores Wipe Out Memphis' Record 38-Win Season. He cheated on his SAT by letting somebody sit to take the exam for him.
Under the NBA one year eligibility rule, he is ineligible to play in the NBA. All the Chicago Bulls win must be invalidated also to be fare with the other NBA teams. A rule is a rule, and there must be no exception just because you are Derrick Rose.

Angel B, Mississauga
It seems like a lot of strippers write into this mailbag, but anyways, thanks for your question, Angel. I love your work out by the airport. I should peek at Doug's response to gauge whether this is a joke or not. Let's assume it is. So I don't feel even worse for a stripper.

There's another question about whether a player has to finish his year on college so I guess some clarification is required: AIN'T NO ONE NEED TO GO TO NO COLLEGE. Thanks.

Q: Doug: Is Doug short for Douglas?
Justin S, Sudbury

And there we have it. The grandest question of them all.

Q: Doug, with the minor struggles of the Heat, there has been a lot of talk about having players that complement each other on a team. Even with the solid play of James Johnson, it appears that the biggest need on the Raptors is Small Forward. Can you describe the type of 3 that would fit this team moving forward and complement the pieces that are already here? There are some 3s with very different styles in the draft but we all know you don't touch the draft in early March. However, it would be interesting to hear what you think this team presently lacks from the Small Forward position.
Evan G, Thornhill
Gee, Evan. Players complement each other by playing better. Sorry, that was snide for no reason at all. I love Thornhill. First, what the Raptors "need" in a small forward is for another team to take Kleiza off their hands, or barring that, a giant cannon so he can be launched into the atmosphere. After that? Above average shooting and rebounding. I've always liked Josh Childress. or LeBron.

[I'm skipping a juicy question about "clutchness." I hope Doug has recognized that David Eckstein is the clutchiest player in any and all leagues including the NBA.]

Q: Hey Doug, how bout them Raptors?
Considering this seems to be the most cohesive group of heroes in years, who is least likely to be back and why?

In Sonny's case, does being bosom buddies with DD give him a demonstrable edge to keep the seemingly melancholy (of late) Compton kid happy in Canada?
Does Reggie's toughness & effort get him a new deal, or do they look at Chandler or another free-agent with more size to go with the three fours they have?
Is Jose back as the leader at PG, is Bayless still seen with upside, or do they look at a draft pick or veteran to replace either?
What's the hunger level for a three with Klieza out and no proven player or prospect at the position?
Wright, Alibi, Ajinca, Dorsey, any love in the organization for these guys?
In short, is this a drastically different team next year, or are the kids alright?
James K, Toronto
Do you write promos for Sportsnet Connected, James? Okay, I'll give it a go. This time I'll employ the ancient art of bullet points:
  • I'm assuming none of the free agents will be back and will be replaced by other inconsequential players. I'd like to see Reggie and Joey Dorsey return. I wouldn't mind Julian Wright on the bench for the minimum. I don't give a shit about Sonny Weems, or any of the 7 foot nothings. Of the players under contract, I'd love to see Barbosa, Kleiza, Bargnani and DeRozan traded. The only one of those guys who would potentially be moved is Barbosa but I'd fear it would be for an even worse player with an even worse contract.
  • Nobody cares who DeMar DeRozan's friends are and if they do, they shouldn't be allowed to run a basketball team.
  • See first question on Reggie. Wilson Chandler is restricted and I want no part in him.
  • Jose Calderon should not be moved. I'm not saying there isn't value deals to be made for him, but I am saying is that the Raptors are incapable of finding one. I'm torn about Bayless. When he arrived, I wasn't convinced he was an NBA player. Now, I'll consider that he has potential but ideally as a third, not second point guard. But, considering how Jarrett Jack fell off a cliff this year, I'm not unhappy with the PG situation. 
  • The "hunger level" for a 3 with Kleiza in is at orange. Or mango. Maybe Grant Hill would like finish his career in Toronto? Maybe?
  • As for Alibi and Ajinca, I accept that most every team needs a 7 foot nothing on the end of the bench because talented centres are just in too short a supply. So one of them can return. At random, I'll pick Ajinca because it's slightly more fun to say. I wouldn't mind Wright returning and I definitely want Dorsey's shoulders. I mean... nothing.
  • This team is not drastically different next year because it owns too little of perceived value. Unless they dangle Bargnani. Please, lordy, let them dangle Bargnani.
[Okay, even I'm getting bored and I'm a gigantic basketball nerd (my nerdom is gigantic, I'm rather unassuming]

There's a question about Danilo Gallinari. I don't hate him. Gets to the line at a very good rate, rebounds well. Better than Kleiza. 

In summary, I hate Kleiza. Also Bargnani. But I love me some mailbag.

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