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  Fri, May 7, 2004


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Does Vin-sanity still reign?
By BILL HARRIS -- Toronto Sun

It will become clear during the next few days whether Vince Carter's opinion matters to the Raptors anymore.

And in a wider sense, the Raptors are in the process of deciding what matters to them, too, as they zero in on their next general manager.

Does it matter what the fans think?

Does is matter what the media thinks?

Does it matter what the rest of the NBA thinks?

Does it matter what the players -- especially Carter -- think?

Those questions are not as loaded as they might seem. The answer to all of them could be a blunt "no." The owners obviously get to decide who works for the team, case closed. But make no mistake about the consequences of the process.

If the Raptors decide to hire a general manager without even having an official conversation with their star player's first choice for the vacant job, then the club might as well boot Carter in the butt and trade him right now.

Carter wants Julius (Dr. J) Erving to get an interview. Carter brought up Erving's name close to a month ago in a year-end meeting with Richard Peddie, the president and CEO of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment Ltd., and Larry Tanenbaum, the chairman of the board.

Erving publicly has said he would be interested in the job.

Meanwhile, Peddie, Tanenbaum and Raptors interim general manager Jack McCloskey this week granted second GM interviews to Jeff Weltman, the assistant general manager of the Denver Nuggets, and Rob Babcock, the vice-president of player personnel with the Minnesota Timberwolves. If that isn't an exclusive short list, it's pretty close, and an announcement could come as early as Monday.

Weltman and Babcock obviously are low-profile candidates compared with Erving, a legendary NBA player who most recently worked for six years as an executive vice-president with the Orlando Magic.

Erving certainly would have no trouble gaining the respect of the Toronto players on reputation alone.

But whether you think Erving is qualified to be the next GM of the Raptors or not, or to hold some other position with the company, is not the issue we're addressing here.

The issue is, if Carter has asked the Raptors to interview Erving, and if the team ultimately doesn't even bother to give Erving a formal phone call, what does that say about the relationship between Carter and his club?

This is not to suggest players ever should call the shots completely. But this is the same organization that took the time to consider Antonio Davis' personal candidate to coach the team, Sam Mitchell, last spring. In fact, Mitchell wound up being one of the final three candidates before the Raptors made the enlightened choice of Kevin O'Neill.

Does Carter mean less to the Raptors now than the since-departed Davis did a year ago?

Carter's general frustration with the Raptors is matched in many ways by the Raptors' general frustration with him. Carter's reputation has taken many hits during the past three seasons, and understandably so.

But it's worth pointing out that since 2001, when the Raptors came to within a missed Carter jumper of advancing to the Eastern Conference final, the team has been less talented going into each season than it was the season before. And in foisting Lenny Wilkens and O'Neill upon Carter as his past two coaches, it's hard to believe Carter's views could lead the Raptors down a more disastrous path than the one they've carved out already.

The notion of trading Carter no longer is blasphemous, so some observers will argue strongly that he should be seen and not heard. But whether he's talking about Dr. J or Dr. Phil, shouldn't someone in the Raptors offices pick up the phone when Carter calls?

As of now, Carter still is the Raptors' best player. While you can argue how much that should count for, it should count for something.









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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