Raptors watch

Frank Zicarelli -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:29 AM ET

IS STRICKLAND THE ANSWER? If the Raptors were willing to take a flyer on Vin Baker and his baggage, there appears to be room on the team's depleted roster for Rod Strickland.

Like Baker, Strickland has dealt with some personal demons -- driving under the influence, reckless driving, unlawful entry and battery -- but would fill a need on a Raptors team full of holes.

As expected, the Orlando Magic appeased Strickland by waiving the veteran point guard yesterday. Strickland wants to play on a playoff-contending team and the Raptors, despite their nine-game losing streak they took into South Florida, are contending for a playoff spot.

It wasn't immediately known if the Raptors even have an interest in Strickland but given the team's lack of depth in the backcourt and the lack of a veteran guard, he can't hurt.

In the past, the Raptors have expressed interest in Strickland but were, according to some sources, reluctant to pursue the point guard because of his baggage.

Another team in need of help in the backcourt is the Miami Heat, Toronto's opponent last night.

With rookie Dwyane Wade unavailable (foot) for at least the next seven days, the Heat was forced into starting Rafer Alston, an ex-Raptor.

Alston is the only player on Miami's roster who can play the point. Veteran Bimbo Coles remains on the injured list because of foot problems.

Strickland started 64 games for the Heat during the 2001-02 season and averaged 10.1 points.

Like the Raptors, the Heat also expressed interest in Baker, who spent the weekend with Miami president Pat Riley.

A WIZARD IN WAITING?

Lonny Baxter has attracted plenty of interest after the Raptors waived him on the weekend. He officially clears waivers at 10 a.m. today.

On Monday, Baxter sat courtside and watched the Washington Wizards -- who aren't out of the playoff race just yet -- upset the New Orleans Hornets.

Baxter attended Maryland and played collegiate basketball with current Wizard players Steve Blake and Juan Dixon.

The Raptors visit Washington tonight and they might be getting reacquainted with Baxter.


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