CANOE Network SLAM!Sports

 
SLAM! Sports SLAM! Basketball
  Wed, October 1, 2003


NBA NEWS
RAPTORS
NCAA BASKETBALL
SCOREBOARD
COURTSIDE BLOG
COLUMNISTS
COMMENT






PLAYER BIOS
MOVEMENTS
INJURIES
STATS


FIND A PLAYER:
CONF. STANDINGS
EAST STANDINGS
WEST STANDINGS
WEEKLY SCHEDULE
DAILY LEADERS














No re-Pete?
Raptors will let swingman become a free agent

By BILL HARRIS -- Toronto Sun

Raptors general manager Glen Grunwald said yesterday the club will not try to sign Morris Peterson to a contract extension before the window to do so closes this month.

"I don't think it's in the works right now," said Grunwald, whose team's exclusive opportunity to re-sign Peterson expires at the end of October. "The owners want to maintain flexibility."

So barring a stark change of heart on the Raptors' part, Peterson will become a restricted free agent next July 1, regardless of whether he finishes this season in a Toronto uniform or elsewhere. Peterson's name has appeared consistently in trade rumours for the past year (often packaged with Antonio Davis) and those rumours now likely will continue unabated.

The Raptors are unwilling to commit to Peterson, 26, for various reasons, some monetary, some discretionary:

- With so many other Raptors having signed lengthy, lucrative deals, the team doesn't want to lock up anyone else unless he's the next Michael Jordan.

- Even if the next Jordan came along, the Raptors would be reluctant to add significantly to their payroll.

- Peterson is not the next Jordan.

That's not meant to be critical of Peterson, who arguably has given the Raptors more than their money's worth since being picked 21st in the 2000 draft. He'll earn a relatively modest $1.65 million US this season in the fourth year of his league-mandated, rookie-scale deal.

But while the 6-foot-7 Peterson has developed into a serviceable swingman, the league is overloaded with serviceable swingmen. It's only the exceptional ones who get fat contracts.

According to sources, Peterson's representatives have a rather inflated opinion of how much he's worth financially at this point in his career, and that attitude undoubtedly helped to scuttle any contract talks before they even began.

In any event, the Raptors have made their decision. Peterson will enter this campaign not only looking to earn his next contract, but simply looking to earn his minutes on a team where his position no longer is secure.

"I don't look at it as a pressure situation," Peterson said yesterday as the Raptors opened training camp for players with under four years of experience. "I'm in the NBA. There are a lot of guys who would love to be in my position, coming into a contract year. But the priority is to win. The individual stuff doesn't even matter to me."

Athletes are great at saying things like that, but it's never 100% true. Peterson wants to win but he wants to be a major contributor, too. That's what every player desires.

It remains to be seen how much of a role Peterson will play for new Raptors coach Kevin O'Neill. When asked about his starters, O'Neill said he has pencilled in Vince Carter, Davis (if he remains a Raptor) and likely Alvin Williams, but the other two spots are up for grabs.

Peterson has started 185 of his 225 games as a Raptor, but this year he could lose his starting spot to Lamond Murray or Michael Curry. Murray has an advantage in that he's under contract for the next three seasons, whereas Peterson and Curry each has only one year remaining.

Predictably, Peterson claims he doesn't care whether he starts or comes off the bench.

"When I was at Michigan State, I didn't start till my senior year, and I had some success," Peterson said. "If it's starting, that's fine. If I come off the bench, so be it."

Asked what he has to do to earn his court time, Peterson said he wants to quit settling for jump shots and improve on defence, a process he believes began last season. He added he's looking forward to playing O'Neill's brand of defence as opposed to the strategies of the Lenny Wilkens regime.

"I think the past couple of years we kind of relied on help defence too much," Peterson said. "(O'Neill) coaches us to assume there's not going to be any help. You have to play your man and play hard defensively or you're not going to play. Guys are going to be held accountable."

Peterson personally will be held accountable for the state of his game when he starts sniffing around for a new contract next summer.

That's why this season is so crucially important for Peterson, even if it might be his last as a Raptor.









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


Results | Story