Big-man quandaryRaps not interested in Rodman but a Worm-like creature may be answer
By BILL HARRIS -- Toronto Sun
For the record, the Raptors have no interest in the Worm.
But if they want to add a big body without vaporizing their roster, the best they can hope for is a Worm-like creature.
Dennis (the Worm) Rodman, 42, is expected to debut with the Long Beach Jam of the American Basketball Association on Friday. Rodman, one of the best rebounders in NBA history, is trying to work his way back to the bigs and interestingly, his coach with the Jam is former Raptors player/ broadcaster/conditioning coach Earl Cureton.
"Dennis made a decision to come out here and do this for $850 (US) a week," Cureton told The Associated Press when asked if he expected any trouble from the notoriously ill-mannered Rodman. "Evidently, this is something he wants to do. I don't foresee him doing (crazy) things."
When asked yesterday if the size-challenged Raptors would consider signing Rodman, general manager Glen Grunwald said bluntly, "No." Fair enough, but this is a league where Oliver Miller has found employment again, so more is possible than initially meets the eye.
The Raptors (19-16) aren't at the desperation stage, but they have a minor dilemma. They need to add some size, but if they can't work out an acceptable trade, their only other option is to sign someone who is not currently employed.
Any young big man who doesn't have a job already is not likely to be better than the ones the Raptors possess. That leaves older guys with baggage, such as Rodman, or Stanley Roberts (who the Raptors have worked out and who also will be playing in the ABA), or ex-Raptor Charles Oakley (whose toughness has been missed since he talked his way out of Toronto two and a half years ago), or Tyrone Hill (who has been looking for work since the Orlando Magic ditched him earlier this season).
Now, the beauty of 10-day contracts is they last only 10 days. But someone like Hill, for instance, probably wouldn't bother to join the Raptors if he didn't have an assurance, written or otherwise, that he was going to last longer than that.
As the Raptors begin a four-game trip in Detroit tomorrow, it's unclear if rookie centre Chris Bosh, who has missed the past two games with a sprained right knee, will be available during the junket. Enthusiastic Scot Robert Archibald -- dubbed "Air-chibald" by press-row patrons on Sunday after he soared for a rebound -- might be able to hold the fort till Bosh gets back. Therefore, the best plan for the Raptors might be to stand pat for a few more weeks and see what possibilities emerge closer to the Feb. 19 trade deadline.
Only Grunwald can decide if his team needs more immediate help. Roberts? Oakley? Hill? Acie Earl? Benoit Benjamin? Big men in the NBA are like left-handed pitchers in baseball: They're always in demand.
Meanwhile, Rodman is trying to get noticed, which strangely never was a problem for him in the past. He insists he has been sober for three months.
"(Sobriety) has nothing to do with me coming back," Rodman told AP. "I had to slow down for my kids. I have four beautiful kids and they need a father to look after them because the way I was going was way out of control."
Rodman may want to leave that last part out when he sends around his resume.
Playing in the Big Apple is a religious experience for New York native and recent Knicks addition Stephon Marbury. "Basketball is not just basketball here," Marbury said. "Everybody knows about basketball in New York. That's why you have nine different people writing about one team." Nine different people? Sounds like a slow day at a Maple Leafs practice ... A winter storm in the Pacific Northwest last week opened the eyes of Seattle SuperSonics centre Jerome James. The Florida native offered this excuse when he showed up late for a home game: "This is the first time I've ever had to drive in snow. I'm in a Hummer and it's like a tank. I was spinning and everything. I have new respect for people who live in the snow. (A neighbour's lawn) was the best option for my tires to get some traction. I'll have to give him some money for his grass."
Inactive Canadian centre Todd MacCulloch of the Philadelphia 76ers said he feels fine "from the ankles up," but he still has no idea when, or if, he will be able to return to the NBA. He isn't pondering retirement yet, but there's no clear path of treatment for his genetic illness that leaves his feet numb and makes it almost impossible to run ... Former New Jersey Nets centre Yinka Dare, who died on Friday because of heart failure at the age of 31, forever will have a link to the Raptors. Dare took, and lost, the opening tip for the Nets against Toronto's Ed Pinckney in the Raptors' first regular-season game on Nov. 3, 1995 at the SkyDome.