As part of their continuing look at the Toronto Raptors' own free agents, the HQ talks to Joey Dorsey's agent, Lance Young, about Joey's future in Toronto, and the overseas' situation with current NBA players, thanks to the lock-out.
Recently on the site, we've been looking at various current members of the Toronto Raptors with uncertain futures here in TO.
These were players who the team hadn't made major overtures towards in terms of retaining beyond this past season, players like Alexis Ajinca and Joey Dorsey.
We broke down the pros and cons of keeping them, and even talked to the agent of one Raptor who had decided to ply his trade overseas next year instead of facing the uncertainty of the upcoming season, not to mention his tenuous role with the team.
During the discussion regarding Joey Dorsey, I brought up the fact that more than one trusted media source had noted that Joey's future may have been compromised by his apparent love for the Toronto nightlife. This also potentially explained his roller-coaster playing time last year, and I was eager to talk to someone on the other side of the coin regarding not only this situation, but Mr. Dorsey's future with the team.
We got that opportunity last week by way of Joey's agent, Lance Young, Senior Director of Octagon Basketball, whose clients include folks like David West, Steph Curry and Rudy Gay. Lance took the time to talk to me about Joey, but in the process, he also provided some very interesting insight on the current situation regarding NBA players and overseas job opportunities...
1. RaptorsHQ: I was recently talking to Roger Montgomery, the agent for Sonny Weems, and he ended up finding a good situation for Sonny overseas for next season. How hard is that and what does that process entail?
Lance Young: It's really tough. You know now there's so many guys (NBA players) that are available, it's really tough to find the right fit for these guys. The money might be ok, but the situation might not be; playing in Russia versus playing in Italy or Turkey or some of these other places. And there's certain places I wouldn't want to send my guys. There's probably only about 15 teams in all of Europe that can really pay big money. Two or three in every big market, and that's about it, so it's not like there's 60 jobs that are paying guys five hundred thousand dollars, it's just not out there. There are some really good deals that are being done, and then there are some ok deals. So it's definitely not easy, and I think a lot of these NBA guys just think that there is six or seven hundred thousand dollars out there for 50 or 60 spots when there are only a handful of jobs out there like that.
2. RHQ: Talk about Joey's season with Toronto, how did you feel it went?
LY: Well obviously he would have liked to have played more minutes and just been a little bit more of a contributor, but I think he realized that they had a lot of good, young players. I think Joey's still trying to find that perfect fit for him. He had glimpses of greatness with a few of his games with 20 points, the dominant rebounding, and some of the stuff he was doing, but, I think he's just looking for a chance just to play. All these guys that are young that really develop, it's because they have playing time. There's very few young players that go from their rookie to their sophomore to their junior year improving dramatically, sitting on the bench, it's just unheard of.
3. RHQ: Do you think long-term there's a place for Joey in Toronto? Have you talked with the Raptors about him coming back?
LY: Yeah, I think there's a great opportunity for him there, they've got some good pieces obviously with some of the new things going on with coaching and different pieces that they're putting together. Toronto's still a great city, and they've had some great teams up there in the past so it's not like a black hole and no one wants to play there, but Joey's just looking for an opportunity to play, that's the biggest thing. The money would be great, but he just needs playing time. Even to come off the bench and play 15 minutes a game consistently is what we'd be looking for.
4. RHQ: So is that the overriding thing? Have the Raptors made overtures to you that they'd like him back?
LY: They've said that they want him back. They didn't make him a qualifying offer so that obviously means that if they do want him back, they're not quite sure right now how things are going to go.
5. RHQ: There were some rumblings and rumours last season though that some of Joey's uneven playing time was due to his practice habits and the Toronto nightlife so to speak, affecting him. Was that the case at all?
LY: I don't think so, no one ever said anything to me about having problems with that stuff. I think Joey's more mature now than he was at Memphis, and during his years in the NBA he's gotten better and better in that capacity. I think most people now, don't have a problem with him, with anything. To me, it's more about him getting the experience of learning the plays, and finding that role. You know, he's been with three different teams now in the NBA, and he's never had a solid role with any of them, and that makes it hard for Joey to measure how he's progressed over the last three years.
6. RHQ: I've always been a big fan of Dorsey going right back to his days at Memphis, and a lot of the intangibles he brings to a team, the rebounding, the hustle, the grit, a lot of those things are qualities that are constantly in demand in the NBA; are these the things that you tell him he needs to focus on to carve out a spot for himself in the league, ironically, similar to say a Reggie Evans?
LY: Yeah, for sure, but I think it still comes down to opportunity. When he was at Houston, he was a rookie, and I don't think Rick Adelman ever had any confidence in him. Darryl Morey, and the front office in Houston, loved Joey. They thought he was really going to be a big part of that team. But Coach Adelman, I don't know what it was, just never had the confidence in playing Joey. So he was there for two years, then left, never got much going in Sacramento, and then this past year was in Toronto. For him, it's about getting the confidence from a coach going forward, that he can go out there and not mess up on a pick-n-roll, not turn the ball over. Once he can get in the flow of a game, he'll be fine. He's going to have an 18 rebound game, he's going to have 5 blocked shots. But when he's playing three or five minutes at a time, and that's all he's playing the whole game, it's kind of tough and he's probably trying to do too much because he wants that extra playing time. So he's out there and he'll have a charge, have a turnover, then the coach starts to lose confidence in him.
7. RHQ: I noticed on your client list you've got a lot of players who've flown under the NBA radar initially, and you folks have done a great job getting them into that NBA spotlight, guys like Wes Matthews and Landry Fields, and even Gary Forbes; Joey fits that mould too so from a long term perspective, are there certain NBA teams that you actively seek out because they're more willing to take chances on players like this?
LY: I'm not sure about the teams themselves but Joey and I have had a lot of conversations since the season's been over saying "this is his year," this is the year he has to prove that he's not just a minimum (contract) NBA player. Joey's good enough to be an NBA starter, if you look around the league and you see 5's and 4's that are starters, there's no reason Joey can't do that. I think that's kind of the million dollar question for me, for Joey, his Mom, teams, there's something that's missing there and we can't really put our finger on it. I keep coming back to playing time and role; when he was at Memphis, he knew his role. They used him as an enforcer, as a rebounder and defender. They had everything else around him, they had shooters, they had scorers, he just said, "you know what, I'm going to go out and get 15 rebounds a night, I'm going to block three or four shots, and I'm going to get my two or three dunks and one jump shot, and that's my game."
Since he's been in the NBA, I just don't think anybody's given him a chance to do that. Obviously it's on him as well as the coaching staff that decides to invest some money into him, so again, it's trying to find that right situation, that right coach in fact. It's not a system issue either, Joey can play in any system. It's not like he needs to get up and down the court more, or he's not fast enough etc. He just needs a coach that will give him a chance to play and try to develop through playing time, and not just through practice either. You know, there's a lot of NBA teams that practice two or three hours a week and that's it! So it's really hard to develop if you're not a legitimate rotation player.
8. RHQ: And in some ways then would you say that Dwane Casey is a better fit then for Joey, should Joey return, than Jay Triano because of the emphasis Casey puts on things like defence and even the advanced metrics, the same metrics that often are the one big plus when you look at Joey's performance so far in the league?
LY: Yeah, definitely. You know we had a player 10 years, 12 years back, Scott Pollard. Scott was drafted by Atlanta and sat on the bench for two years and never played. Scott's not great, but he can do certain things to help an NBA team win games. We talked to Atlanta and we ended up getting them to just release him with two years left on his deal, those were the old rookie contract days, and we knew that Sacramento could see some value in Scott. We got him to Sacramento for one year and then he signed a $35M dollar deal. Scott didn't improve that much over one year to go from a guy who never saw the floor to a guy making $6-7M dollar a year. They (the Kings) just believed in him, they knew he could come in and play defence and be an enforcer and that's what we have to do with Joey, just find somebody who will really give him a chance. He's a kid who works hard, I mean, I've been talking to him and he's running, working out, he's doing everything he can right now and just turning it up a bit trying to show people that he's ready.
RHQ: Great stuff, Lance, thanks!