Raptors mailbag: The futures of Nick Nurse and Dalano Banton

It’s Easter and we’ve changed deadlines a bit so you get a pass for the low number of questions this week.

That said, they are solid questions and it’s an early one before Sunday’s season finale, so it’s all good.


Hey Doug. The reported “prize money” for the winners of a mid-season tournament doesn’t feel like it would be enough of an incentive to change how teams and players approach games that early in the season. There has to be more coming, right? Extra draft pick? More wiggle room under the cap or tax threshold? Higher payouts/bonuses? Something else? I could see supplementary bonuses being attached by the teams themselves in future contract negotiations, if there’s something substantial in it for the organization … Shrug.

My question is: If you were in charge of determining the incentives, what would you throw in that you think might be more alluring to the teams and players involved, if anything?


All but the last couple of games will also count toward the regular season standings, as I understand it, and will be within the division and the conference so they’ll impact tiebreakers. That’ll keep ‘em important.

And since I am sure some “new” broadcaster will throw billions at it, teams will benefit greatly.

The players? An extra million dollars or so per man will certainly help.

I’m not sure there’s more I would add.

I always wondered who gets to fly on the plane with the team? Do Matt Devlin, Jack Armstrong and Alvin Williams travel with them?

Why do you think the fans [including me] were so invested in the signing of Jeff Dowtin Jr.? From my perspective, he was just a really hard working player who deserved a spot. I also thought that about Justin Champagnie.

I hope we keep Dalano Banton. It’s really great to have someone from the city who looks like he has a lot of potential.

Happy Easter


Yes, the broadcasters all travel on the charter, as do the broadcast support staff, the many and varied members of the franchise’s social media team and the Open Gym crew. It’s a full flight!

I think Dowtin’s connection was just as you said: A hard-working underdog and fans love those types of stories.

Banton’s a free agent, I can’t imagine teams will be beating down the doors to sign him, and the Raptors are still intrigue by his talent so I suspect he’ll be back on much the same contract.

Hi Doug. Controversy and uncertainty abound this final week! Nurse? Dowtin? 7th? 10th? We truly will roll with whatever happens, knowing there’s at least an 83rd game to play. Besides that, nothing is certain! We live in interesting times!

Some questions:

1) Can you give an example, if any exists, of stuff that your editor or boss had a problem with? It may have been a while back, but curious to know what sort of thing needs to be run up the flagpole before we all salute it!

2) Along a similar vein, are there some stories that have to be sat on or put on hold, for a more appropriate time? Perhaps another book, if not a final set of articles before retirement (not pushing you to quit, just talking about stories that are best told with more hindsight, perhaps).

3) Depending on what happens this post-season, we may see everyone back, a couple guys leave, and or new coaching staff. If they decide to detonate the whole works, do you at least want one assistant coach to stay for some sort of framework rather than have all new guys with an all new coaching staff?

4) A Bronny James question: Too early? As far as I can tell, he is not even half as good a prospect as his dad (then again, how many are?) However, it’s common knowledge that LeBron wants to play with his son. How do you think this will play out? Do you use a second-round pick to force the Lakers into a deal?

Happy Easter! Hope you still have a few more weeks of Raptor games to write about!

-Bernie M.

Not sure there’s anything they’ve had “trouble” with; if it’s going to cause a big stir we talk about the sourcing but that’s about it.

There are sometimes nuggets of information that spill out that are best saved for deeper items later on. But not for long and not for a bigger project like a book.

I think there would need to be some measure of continuity — not that I know anything is going to happen — and sometimes that just occurs because of contracts.

Yeah, it’s too early on LeBron’s kid, I’d really have to wait to see where LeBron is when the time arrives.

With the regular season finishing, have you noticed any trends/changes offensively or defensively this year leaguewide? It seems like the use of the three has levelled off.

-Paul M.

I haven’t, really. Maybe there’s been a bit more zone defence played throughout the league and a continued decline in post-ups but basically it’s the same.

I guess if there’s one thing, it’s that more teams seem to be playing more multi-guard groups. But that could be just me.

Hi Doug. First-time contributor here. Been reading Ye Olde Mailbag for years and years too.

But I *have to* ask if you feel in any way responsible for the wheels flying right off the wagon of the Nick Nurse era?

What seemed to be a run-of-the-mill report you penned on rumours swirling around the NBA surrounding Nurse’s future with the organization has turned into a five-alarm fire and full blown debacle.

Did you ever, in your wildest dreams, envision *this* scenario playing out, especially at such a crucial stage of the season?

-Jaimen from Woodstock, Ont.

As I said last week, my responsibility is to get information and provide it to readers; what happens after that can’t be a concern.

And the whole thing has actually quieted down considerably, it was a nonstory in Charlotte after the first day and barely thought of in Boston.

The next time it’ll surface is whenever Masai Ujiti and Bobby Webster do their post-season media.

Hi Doug. Nick Nurse if nothing else is straightforward and honest. No question that everything is up for review after the season ends, which hopefully will still take a while. Nick’s interview hints that there may have been some disagreements with the front office over the season and lack of a decent bench may be part of that. In any case it seems like the feelings might be mutual.

With a year left on his contract it would seem unlikely that they would let him go into next year as a lame duck. On the other hand he is a highly-regarded coach and would seem like an asset that it would be foolish to let go with no return. I wonder how much the outcome with the pending free agents plays into both his and the front office’s decision?

Further regarding the Ime Udoka rumour, I find it hard to believe that given this organization’s focus on female empowerment and the strides they have taken in that direction that they would even entertain the thought of hiring him, regardless of his ties to Masai. Thoughts?

-Dave Mussar, Puslinch, Ont.

They — Masai — let Dwane Casey coach his final year without an extension twice and re-signed him both times. “Lame duck” isn’t a thing. Heck, Masai himself worked a final year of a contract with nothing guaranteed.

They interviewed Udoka when Nurse got the job, I have no clue whether they will again but, as I said, you’ll hear his name.

Hi Doug. Not sure if this reaches you before deadline (even us readers have to rush to file!).

It seems the lid of Pandora’s Box has been blown open these past couple days on Nick Nurse’s future. As you had the honour of first breaking the rumours in a mainstream outlet, how do you decide when it’s warranted to publicize a rumour versus letting it lie among the swirling churn of innuendo leaked by agents, rival execs, etc.?

I’m sure much more ink will be spilled on the topic, but why would Nurse voluntarily open the door to speculation at this late stage in the season? What’s his game?

Over the years I’ve read closely to try to see whether you “picked sides” on Casey vs. Nurse, and of your general opinion of Nurse since then, but you’ve maintained a consistent professionalism throughout.

Though when both your books came out at the same time, I couldn’t help but wonder if there was a friendly rivalry 🙂

Of course I read both and thoroughly enjoyed each of them.

Keep up the great work!


Let’s just say sometime the noise and the information come at you so often and from so many different angles that “chatter” can’t be ignored.


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