Deal a matter of when, not if
By BILL HARRIS -- Toronto Sun
Glen Grunwald sure went to incredible lengths to inspire his Raptors to their first road win.
Can't you see Grunwald in his laboratory, eyes wild and hair electrified, exclaiming, "It worked! All those trade rumours worked! The players woke up and won on the road!"
And then, in a quieter, pensive tone as the general manager rubs his stubbly chin: "Now, if only I can do something about Milt Palacio's jump shot."
We're kidding, of course (although not about Palacio's jumper). There is substance to the trade rumours that have enveloped the Raptors over the past 48 hours. But there also was substance to the Raptors' 81-80 victory against the New Jersey Nets yesterday afternoon.
The Raptors (6-6) have another afternoon game today, at home against the Milwaukee Bucks (5-7). In theory it's a winnable game for the home side, so it's unlikely a big trade would be made official till afterward, as opposed to finalizing something and then facing the Bucks with less than a full complement (although the court time of the soon-to-be-dealt players might be slashed). After today the Raptors don't play again till Wednesday, so there'll be plenty of time -- on Monday, perhaps? -- to pull the trigger.
Sources yesterday suggested the trade talk between the Raptors and the Chicago Bulls has narrowed to a two-for-two scenario that would see Jalen Rose and Donyell Marshall coming to Toronto for Antonio Davis and Jerome Williams. In any event, Rose and Davis are at the heart of the matter and the accesories are negotiable.
Grunwald and Raptors coach Kevin O'Neill likely spoke last night after the team returned from New Jersey, and they probably will speak at length again today as they ponder trade combinations. Stories out of Cleveland yesterday hinted at the possibility of a three-team deal between the Raptors, Bulls and Cavaliers that might involve Cavs guard Ricky Davis. However, it's believed the Bulls would be more interested in Ricky Davis than the Raptors.
In any event, it still appears something major is in the works at least between the Raptors and the Bulls, so here's some unsolicited advice for Grunwald from someone with no power or influence:
* If you can trade Antonio Davis, do it. He needs a change of scenery desperately. And conveniently, so does Rose. Lately they've been wearing similar wistful expressions.
* If you're going to trade Davis, try not to trade Jerome Williams, too. This might be impossible, we know, since the Bulls have appropriate concerns about the health of Alvin Williams. But if both Davis and Jerome Williams were to leave, who would grab rebounds for the Raptors, equipment manager Kevin DiPietro? We know Jerome Williams and O'Neill don't see eye-to-eye. But minor differences should be put aside in the interests of what's best for the team, and that could be hanging on to the Junk Yard Dog, at least for now.
* If you can trade Alvin Williams, do it. Nothing against him, but O'Neill clearly wants Palacio to play the bulk of the minutes at point guard, even though Williams continues to start. Yours truly would have preferred to see a little more Williams and a little less Palacio as the Raptors blew a 20-point lead in the second half yesterday, but hey, a coach can play who he wants to play. And O'Neill has made his choice.
* Don't trade Morris Peterson. We know the Raptors could lose him next summer when he becomes a restricted free agent, but Peterson can help this year. He makes plays, as was evidenced again yesterday late in the game when he secured possession after a jump-ball, got fouled in the act of shooting and sank the game-winning free-throw. Peterson isn't perfect, but he's coachable and seemingly is rounding into form.
For now, it likely will be the same old Raptors crew taking on the Bucks today. But a new look is coming soon.