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  Tue, February 17, 2004


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Faith in Christian?

By STEVE BUFFERY -- Toronto Sun

While Isiah Thomas has breathed new life into the charging New York Knicks, Raptors fans are beginning to wonder if Toronto general manager Glen Grunwald is still breathing.

With daring and aplomb, Thomas has completely revamped the once-moribund Knicks, who now are chasing the Raptors for playoff positioning in the Eastern Conference.

Grunwald has been very quiet since pulling off the three-for-three deal with the Chicago Bulls in December and, last we checked, the Raptors are still in urgent need of some experience in the frontcourt.

Teams have until the trading deadline on Thursday to make moves.

The Raptors, desperately looking for a big man to take some pressure off rookie Chris Bosh, are said to be most interested in Christian Laettner of the Wizards. Washington, meanwhile, is looking for someone to take on the last year of Laettner's deal and unloading him would put the Wiz about $10 million US below the cap next season.

The 6-foot-11, 245-pound Laettner would be just what the doctor ordered for the Raptors. He has averaged 7.1 rebounds and 13.7 points per game in 11 seasons leading up to this season, where he is pulling down 5.2 boards and scoring 6.44 points in 22 minutes per game.

Laettner, however, comes with some baggage.

Earlier this season, he was suspended for five games for violating the NBA's drug policy -- a news item that seemed to surprise no one. There have long been reports that he is not a great team guy. On the other hand, hailing from the Buffalo suburb of Angola, N.Y., coming to Toronto almost would be a homecoming for Laettner.

The three Raptors who have been continually mentioned in trade rumours have been Morris Peterson, Michael Bradley, and Michael Curry -- all of whom are in the final year of their contract.

Bradley, who is expected to come back this week after missing the entire season because of arthroscopic surgery on his right knee, has been unable to prove himself to new coach Kevin O'Neill and the Raptors did not offer him a contract extension in the fall. Peterson has been inconsistent this season but he's also the team's best scoring option off the bench.

O'Neill absolutely loves Curry, and well he should. The Raptors don't have the same fire, particularly defensively, when he is out.

Trading any of these guys, especially Curry, would be tough. But it was like the deal with the Bulls earlier in the season. The Raps had to give up rebounding and experience in the frontcourt (Antonio Davis and Jerome Williams) to get scoring (Jalen Rose and Donyell Marshall).

Another player Grunwald is said to be interested is Dale Davis of the Portland Trail Blazers. According to insiders, if the Blazers can get back a contract that expires after next season and a prospect from Toronto, they'll do the deal.

The 6-foot-11, 230-pound Davis has averaged 8.65 rebounds over his 13-year NBA career and is a natural centre.

There also has been talk that the Raptors would love to get a hold of Juwan Howard, whom the Orlando Magic apparently is shopping. The Chicago Tribune has reported that Rose has been pushing the Raps to get Howard.

A TRUE GLOBAL LEAGUE

NBA commissioner David Stern made some interesting comments at the all-star game, including the league's interest in expanding into Europe if certain economic and venue issues were properly addressed. If the NBA put some teams in Europe, North American-based teams likely would fly over for more than one game at a time.

It seems clear, given the popularity of the sport in Europe, that the NBA would go over well in Athens, Greece, and Madrid or Barcelona in Spain, and perhaps Italy.

Interest anywhere in the former Yugoslavia would be extremely high, but it's doubtful that there is enough money in those parts to sustain an NBA franchise.

AROUND THE RIM

There's lots of talk that the Knicks will go out and get Rasheed Wallace this summer ... Former Raptor Jerome Williams of the Chicago Bulls may be on his way to Philly for Aaron McKie ... Sixers GM Billy King subtly suggested last week that Allen Iverson might be on the trading block. King has now backtracked considerably ... A great idea kicking around for the NBA all-star game: The U.S. versus the World. Now that would be something worth playing hard for ... The Detroit Pistons want to find out whether heralded rookie Darko Milicic can play in the NBA and they plan to increase his playing time considerably in the remaining 28 games of the season. Milicic was drafted second overall in 2003 but has played all of 54 minutes this season.









Do you like the new-look Raptors heading into the 2013-14 NBA season?
  Yes, new GM made great moves
  No, they will still be a terrible team
  Unsure what to make of it


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