Raptors mailbag: Fred VanVleet’s farewell message trolls haters

LAS VEGAS—Hmm. It’s going to be 41C Sunday, 42C Monday and 42C Tuesday. Can’t imagine why I haven’t pushed to come to Summer League every year?

Anyway, have fun with another abbreviated mailbag while I try to find good stories to tell out here.

Also, remember the Summer League mantra:

“You don’t necessarily find out who can play but you often find out who can’t.”

(Questions have been edited for length and clarity)

Q: Like many fans I was crushed when Fred VanVleet signed with Houston. Who could blame him $130 million (U.S.) is a lot of money.

When I read his farewell message my heart sank when I read his comment “Fan favourite to most hated.”

Did he really think that was true? His performance was choppy last season and the haters did come out but why even mention that? I know that you’re not a mind reader but that comment stung as a loyal fan.

By the way, I think Norman Powell had the best goodbye message to Raptors fans ever. Can we get Norm back?

Happy summer!


A: I think he was reacting the way he often reacts, tweaking the (too) many people who simply could not understand how good he was here or how important he was to the franchise.

It’s their loss.

And I’m sure he didn’t mean to sting the folks who knew.

I can’t see Norm coming back, unfortunately.

Q: Hi Doug,

Just a few questions for you.

Our women are playing incredibly well in the AmeriCup this year! Do you think they have a chance of medalling?

I read that the men’s team is having an extended training camp this year. Was this always in the plans? Or is this as a result of the coaching change? When do you expect they will announce the roster?

I sure hope that you will be able to make the trip for the final rounds to watch both the women and men play in person so we can all have some insight into the team. It feels like such a momentous moment for basketball in this country! Will things finally go our way? I hope so, it feels like a LONG time coming. I am sure you feel it tenfold, having documented Canada Basketball for all this time!

Thanks for all you do!

Enjoy summer league,


A: I’m answering this Friday night at Pearson before the women played their quarter-final but they’ve looked really, really good and could finish first. A game against the USA in Saturday’s semifinal would be a stern test.

But since I’m going to be Vegas for a few days, I can’t get to Mexico to watch it. I’ll certainly catch up when it’s over going into GLOBL Jam next week.

The men? Their schedule was set long ago, the coaching change did not figure into it. A week or so I camp here, a couple of games in Germany and a couple in Spain before the World Cup.

And we’re still working on a way for me to get there. It’s an expensive proposition but we’re trying to figure it out.

Q: Hi Doug. When someone writes a book I assume there is a commission based on the number of copies sold or downloaded. But how does it work for library books where say two copies might be purchased but dozens of people read it?

BTW, I read and very much enjoyed your book, but checked it out of my local library. Sorry about that.



A: I wish I got a dime or a dollar for every time We The North was checked out of a library but, alas, that’s not how the game works. There are thresholds for royalties on sold copies, though.

Actually, libraries are one of the greatest places on Earth and I’m glad you use yours. I’m also glad you liked it.

Q: Where do you see the WNBA in 25 years, not in terms of revenue or interest, but scheduling. Right now, they play 40 games between May-September in essence, a summer league. They start when the NBA is winding down and end before it begins. Do you see a lot more games? Shifting to a parallel schedule during the (traditional) basketball season with the NBA?

Paul M

A: I think as the league expands the schedule certainly will, they are up to 40 this year and I can certainly see 56 or 60 in the next decade or so. But I do think it’ll remain a summer/fall league, I can’t see it going head-to-head with the NBA in the winter and spring.

Q: Hey Doug,

How close do you follow the WNBA? Aces look unbeatable right now and Chelsea Gray is becoming a must-see player with her jaw-dropping passes.



A: The Aces are sure showing what a Super Team can do and it’s almost like Becky Hammon knows how to coach a team.

But I wouldn’t sleep on New York, though.

Q: Hi Doug,

It’s finally time to watch some NBA (Summer League) action.

At least all that trade talk is done … yeah, right!

Some questions:

1) A question about try-outs: I assume all try-outs are by invitation only in the NBA, whether it’s for summer league, G League or whatever. There must be hundreds (thousands?) of undrafted NCAA and European players trying to catch a break.

2) When you look at all the players who left the championship Raptors as free agents (Kawhi Leonard, Danny Green, Serge Ibaka, Marc Gasol and Fred VanVleet) I understand the desire to trade a player for assets rather than losing them for nothing. Of course, you can always try to lock them into an extension, too. I fear next year being another “goodbye Kawhi, Hello Rondae (Hollis-Jefferson)” scenario. Thoughts?

3) I know, only one game, but the Markquis Nowell story is like a Hollywood script; another under-sized, undrafted guard impresses. Also the 7-2 centre (Moses Brown) didn’t look bad either. Ron Harper Jr. had a decent game too, is he still under (two-way) contract?

4) Bol Bol … why not here?

5) Bonus question: Rumours of a vets vs young guys split on the Raptors? Over-blown or is there fire where there’s smoke?

Thanks for keeping us in the loop!

Hope you can relax a bit once all the dust settles!

Bernie M

A: Yes, everyone here was invited by teams, generally right after the draft and from prior workouts, college scouting and the like.

I think every case of a player leaving anywhere needs to be judged on its own merits. I do not at all subscribe to the theory that making a deal just to “get something” makes any sense and it’s one of those blanket declarations people throw around that I ignore.

Yes, it was one Summer League game. They lost. There were good moments and bad. That is all.

I think Bol Bol’s going to get a deal in Phoenix. Plus, not sure Summer League is a place he needs to be.

As I said about a kabillion times from about December on last season, something was “off” with the mix of personalities with the team, and that includes the coaching staff.

Q: I know all things financial are tight at the Star, however, has the sports department decided to abandon all coverage of the Argos? The mobile app does not have a tab for CFL.

Yours truly

Adam Berel Wetstein

A: We actually had several staff-written stories leading up to the Canada Day game last Monday, the opener two weeks before that and they were on the website’s front sports page. I just looked at my phone, we don’t have a CFL but we also don’t have tabs for any of the local teams, either.

Click on the search tab, type in Argos and be surprised by what you see.

Q: Doug, I will tell you right now I respect you go no end … It was interesting that Gary Trent Jr. optioned in? Then Fred leaves on a ridiculous contract. Good for him. Personally I say the Raptors may sign a couple more veterans, then let’s see where they are at after 41 games. I’m not quick to give up on the core just yet. Tweak it a little or blow it up. I give them half a season.

Daniel K

A: I took out the “I heard this, doesn’t matter where I heard it” stuff, hope you don’t mind.

I think there might be an “opt in and extend” deal percolating out there with Trent or he’s quite happy to bet on himself and see where he is on the market a year from now.

Have you noticed that Masai Ujiri seldom, like never, blows things up and he seldom makes a significant deadline trade. Can’t imagine it happening now.

Oh, and they have 14 contracts, a “couple more veterans” aren’t walking through that door.

Q: Hi Doug,

So ESPN horribly and IMO incompetently drops the ball again, Jeff Van Gundy and Jalen Rose being obvious examples. This type of thing seems pervasive within all media and not getting better. OK, I get it that business is business but do the “smart people” making these calls have any clue how bad, unprofessional and classless this looks and poorly reflects on their companies?

It’s very discouraging and frustrating to see as a fan but it must be really tough for you all in the biz to work within this type of environment these days. I just want to say thanks and send out appreciation for the great work you and your colleagues do.

And I also wish a speedy recovery to Bob McCown, hope he bounces back as good as new.


A: This missed the deadline last week, sorry about that. It was early because of free agency.

But, yes, ESPN is terribly short-sighted and while I don’t want to play the “why him and not him?” game, there were some tremendously skilled broadcasters who were let go. And some who were kept.

We can only hope the good ones find gigs.

I heard Mr. McCown is out of hospital but he’s got a very long road ahead of him. We’re all cheering for the irascible old man.


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