It might not be the greatest Ye Olde Mailbag ever but there is some good stuff here and given how busy/tough this trip has been I’m fine with a slightly lighter workload.

Enjoy while I catch another plane to another city for another off-day story.

Q: Hi Doug:
Do Raptor team members have access to a sports psychologist (either employed or contracted)?

Or does that role fall to coaches, to help them get through difficult times? If the former, do you have a sense of how many players use this support? Do most teams use these types of services?
Just curious.
Many Thanks.
Phyllis at Broad Cove (NS)

A: Yes, most teams either have an “adviser” available to players at all times or a psychologist on the team. There are also mental health programs offered by the league and the players’ association for any other issues that arise.

I wouldn’t estimate how many take advantage of the offer, but I would guess it’s about the same percentage as the general working public.

Q: Bigger surprise for you this season Sacramento or OKC? And which of the two has a more solid future? Also just heard about the death of Billy Packer, it should be mentioned. The best three-man broadcast team of all sports at any time was Dick Enberg/Billy Packer/Al McGuire on NBC’s CBB package.

Paul M

A: I would probably pick Oklahoma City as the more solid future bet; That’s a really good core and Gilgeous-Alexander is the best player on both teams.

And they’re probably more of a surprise, but I’m saying that because I’m not entirely convinced that the Kings missed the playoffs for a decade and a half this year. Import? Probably. endgames? Not sure at all.

Billy Packer’s news was sad, wasn’t it? Back when I was very interested in NCAA basketball, he was the Man and, yes, Enberg, McGuire and he was the soundtrack of March. Tough loss of a TV basketball icon.

Q: Hi Doug,

I hope you started 2023 dancing on Clifton Hill. Will you soon have a chance to sit on your favorite stool near the Golden Gate?

As the Raptors begin this 12 day 7 gamer, do you have any insight into the loss of Jama Mahlalela throughout the development process that the Raptors are using now? Do you think the technical and philosophical aspects of player and staff development and communication have changed since Jama left for the Warriors?

Or were the Bench Mob players just better?

Paul from Port

A: I had a nice long chat with Jama after the game on Friday night, it was nice to catch up.

He’s a hardworking, enthusiastic coach that players are drawn to, but the development process and the work involved hasn’t changed significantly.

This bench mob eventually had a two-time All-NBA at Siakam, an All-Star at VanVleet, a very good young 3 and D-type at Anunoby, along with very good young talent at times like Jakob Poeltl and Norm Powell. As five-man support units, it was an outlier.

Q: Hi Doug,

I hope the west coast road trip doesn’t stumble you too much. On the plus side, lots of predicted snow means plenty of time for shovel practice this week! (Glass more than half-empty perspective).

A few questions:

1) A few weeks after the close of trading, so who knows who will be here? However, if the Raps don’t make it through this season (i.e. don’t even make the play-in spot), they have about a 10 percent chance of being top picks and a likely top 6 pick. Not that that’s the goal, but lemons to lemonade?

2) I see Serge Ibaka requesting a trade. I’m not sure how often you get his “How Hungry Are You?” episodes, but the one with Jrue Holiday caught my attention. Giannis calls on the air and tells Serge “You’re just a role player!”.

Some dismissed this as a joke, but I wonder if that happened too close to home. Her thoughts?

3) Hypothetical hindsight…if Dragic hadn’t had “higher ambitions” and fully committed to the team, how big would the difference have been? (I hate his behavior but the guy can still play)

4) The Crowder/Suns situation… any insight? He looks like an older Precious to me, why aren’t there any takers?

Thanks again for keeping us posted on what our boys are thinking between games and your thoughts on where we are and where we’re going.

Bernie M

A: I don’t know what the final odds will be, but if you believe in Toronto’s talent assessors, they’ll get a player wherever they want.

Ibaka is a role player, that’s basically been his whole career, that’s not bad at all.

The drastic difference? The Raptors won 48 games without him, developed Scottie Barnes into backup point guard of sorts and Rookie of the Year, and propelled the franchise forward. If he made a difference, it was a good one.

No insight into Crowder, but I don’t see teams clamoring to add him, so maybe the Suns are right about moving away from him.

Q: Hi Doug,
Take it easy and enjoy the West Coast trip – 7 games in 12 days, that’s a lot to ask, but this is this year’s NBA schedule – which has to be the strangest in recent memory.
The trading deadline is approaching and our heroes have had a disappointing year. Pinning the blame on the nurse or management or a player might be good for the Twitterverse, but it’s not the reality β€” many variables injuries, players just aren’t having a good year, expectations are unrealistic (Barnes until recently) β€” if Raps do nothing, they still think they can make the playoffs – but the expectations are higher.
In my opinion, this team lacks shooting and size that can make a difference. The more I watch this team the more I’m convinced that OG isn’t what we hoped it would be and it doesn’t seem to want to shirk its role as a 3&D monster and it performs way below average every time when he hits the ball on the ground – time to get him to shoot/center and picks. Easier said than done, but Masai/Bobby will find out. With the possibility of OG opting out after next season, its value is now higher than it was in the summer.
I would be good with a trade to Dallas:
OG & Birch for
Finley-Smith, Powell & Josh Green, and tips
I haven’t heard a rumor, but that kind of deal would be fair.
I look forward to hearing your take on the game and the future of OG.
IMO- ​​Fred & Gary will be retiring this summer.
Keep smiling 😊
Richmond Hill

A: I don’t do fake trades, but I can’t see how this one puts Toronto an inch ahead. Also, Dallas desperately needs ball handlers.

OG would start on about 25 other teams in the NBA, he’s a great – not great, great – defender who can make three-pointers at high volume. Exactly what good teams need.

As much as I’d love to see it, I doubt both VanVleet and Trent will be back when training camp starts in September. It’s possible, I just don’t think it’s likely, that either of them will get a financial offer that’s just too good.

Q: Our hard court heroes are getting an unusual amount of attention as the trading deadline approaches, and thanks for your rational assessment of the options available (and enjoy your road trip). I’m composing this before the Warrior game, so it might seem pretty silly in a few hours (or days) but I hope the front office doesn’t do anything except fire their own players – all of them (it goes without saying even that it’s not my money, so of course I’m happy to spend it). I’m willing to scrap the first half of this season other than to say that this may have been the unhappiest half of a season I’ve seen and as such the results cannot be trusted. Now, if the second half is going the same way, a reassessment might be in order, but there’s no rush.

That was a fun list of trade suggestions from fans in the Star today (and I’d trade Boucher and a pick for RJ Barrett if the Knicks front office suffered a meltdown).

However, I tend to agree with someone known as Coach Thorpe, who was introduced into my reality in a velvety voice by William Lou, who pointed out that all NBA teams want: an All-Star like Siakam, a point guard like VanVleet, a defender like Anunoby, a shooter like Trent, and a unicorn (a young player whose ceiling you can only guess at) like Barnes. Toronto has what everyone wants, and the Raptors will want them too if they trade them away.

By the way, a recommendation for the Raptors Show from me: The home chores around here require me to cook dinner most days of the week, and I’ve found it a pleasure to cook with Will and Alex. Aside from basketball, there is a lot of talk about food, which facilitates the culinary activity. A curried squash and cauliflower soup was a huge hit with the wife of the house recently and I give the boys full credit for helping me focus. Plus, frankly, her whimsical way of growing up in Canada as an Asian is instructive for this wasp.

James A., Victoria

A: Will and Alex certainly bring a unique perspective to the team’s coverage that is greatly appreciated.

I tend to agree with you: moving parts of this team just to do something seems counterproductive, I think the parts are there and need to be added, not drastically changed.

Q: Hi Doug,
Rap’s backyard buzzed when they had Batman (Lowry) and Robin (VanVleet). Did Fred rise to become Batman? And where is Robin? By the way, I still miss Mighty Mouse (Stoudamire). It was tough when we lost him.


A: The only Batman and Robin I care about are/were Adam West and Burt Ward. I don’t quite understand all the other chatter J


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