No bullying Babcock
Raptors GM claims Vince isn't going anywhere unless its a sweet deal
By BILL HARRIS -- Toronto Sun
Rob Babcock yesterday drew a subtle line in the sand with regard to Vince Carter.
First Babcock seemed to confirm, through the ducking of a question, that Carter's agent has demanded a trade on behalf of the disgruntled Raptors star. Then Babcock, the club's new general manager, said that what a player wants isn't always what a player gets.
"My feeling is, if the player demands to be traded, it doesn't mean you trade him," Babcock said, a day before tonight's NBA entry draft. "I have to do what's best for this basketball team. If the best thing is to trade the player, and I can make our team better, then certainly I'll look at that. But if that's not the case, I'm not going to trade the player."
What about the damage an unhappy player could cause?
"This is a professional league and if a player is under contract, he should honour the contract, which means you play hard and give your best effort," Babcock said.
Babcock is free to claim he was talking in general terms rather than about Carter in particular, but you don't need a calculator to figure out that one plus one equals two.
According to numerous NBA sources, the message has been passed to Babcock that Carter wants out, and a list of preferred destinations may even have been provided. This, despite the fact Carter allegedly told a Florida newspaper this week that he was willing to give Babcock a chance.
Babcock talked openly about many things yesterday, but when asked point-blank if Carter's agent had demanded a trade, Babcock replied, "I've had discussions with his agent, but I'm not going to comment on trades or no trades."
After Babcock was named GM on June 7, he left phone messages for Carter that were not returned. However, the two ran into each other at the Air Canada Centre last week.
Babcock said Carter did not broach the subject of a trade during their hour-long discussion.
"My feeling leaving the conversation was that we were on the same page as far as basketball philosophy," Babcock said. "I think that's a very good start. What I stressed to Vince is, give us all an opportunity to get to know each other and find out whether you accept our philosophy. I like Vince. He's a good person, he's a great basketball player, and my hope is that he's going to want to play here in Toronto."
The key word there is "hope."
Babcock claimed he and Carter did not talk about whom the Raptors should hire as their next coach. When asked if he would seek Carter's input, Babcock said, "To me, a coaching decision is my decision, not a player's decision."
Carter, 27, has been upset since Babcock got the job, but it has little to do with Babcock personally. It also isn't strictly about Carter's preferred candidate for GM, Julius (Dr. J) Erving. Rightly or wrongly, Carter feels he was misled by the club's hierarchy during the GM search, and the Carter camp has concluded that as long as the ownership structure at Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment Ltd., remains intact, the Raptors never will be an elite team.
Babcock implied that he thinks Carter will cool down.
"Players these days sometimes just get upset and think they want to be traded," Babcock said. "Well, it's not that easy to make a trade. Sometimes it just can't get done because the salaries don't work.
"Players get emotional, coaches get emotional, GMs sometimes get emotional, and you're going to say things in competition that are emotional things. I don't take all those things too seriously at the beginning."
How serious Carter is about his trade request remains to be seen. Some of his beefs are quite legitimate. But if yesterday is any indication, Babcock is not going to be prone to doing whatever Carter wants, just because Carter wants it.