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  Tue, July 20, 2004


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Pucker up!
Mike Ulmer just doesn't understand why Raptors GM isn't kissing his players' butts
By MIKE ULMER -- Toronto Sun

Rob Babcock isn't worried.

He isn't upset.

He isn't bothered.

Six weeks into life as the general manager of the Toronto Raptors, everyone is telling Rob Babcock to panic and for the life of him, he can't find one good reason why he should.

"I'm loving this," he said yesterday. "There has certainly been a lot going on, but this is what I asked for."

Don't blame Babcock for not understanding the incredible pressure he is under. He's not from here. He's from Arizona to be exact, by way of Minnesota, a backwater on the basketball map where they don't know how to handle their superstars.

Kevin Garnett, considered by many to be the best basketball player on the planet, had this crazy relationship with Babcock and the rest of the Timberwolves front office.

He played.

That's it.

Just played.

Now, sometimes the club's managers asked Garnett things. They asked lots of players lots of things. "Do you know this guy?" "Do you consider him a good player?" "You had this coach in college, didn't you?"

"It's a great idea to get information from players," Babcock said, "but you don't give them decision-making powers."

Boy, does this guy have a lot to learn.

In Toronto, you spend your time on the Vince Carter mood watch.

Is Vince happy?

How can we placate his entourage?

Should I genuflect when he walks into the room?

Glen Grunwald's door was always open for Vince. Grunwald used to have regular lunches with Antonio Davis as well.

Last week, Babcock said he didn't stay up at night worrying about trading Carter.

Yesterday, he said the smoke signals emanating from U.S. based news services are sure nice to look at but that's about it.

"He has never personally asked me for a trade," Babcock said of Carter.

But have his representatives?

"I only deal with Vince," Babcock said.

There will be no exchange of coded messages, Babcock repeated.

"We just want Vince to have the chance to see what we're about," Babcock said. "I hope to speak to him when he is in town (at month's end) for his charity basketball game."

Now this is not to say that Babcock won't trade Carter or even that Carter, as mute these days as the Mona Lisa, doesn't want out.

But instead of wringing his hands or seeking forgiveness for not being Julius Erving, Babcock will only treat Carter as an extraordinarily well-paid and valued employee. Heresy.

Likewise, Babcock is botching the entire Morris Peterson affair.

The Raptors have not yet stepped up to trump the $5-million US a year the New Orleans Hornets tendered last week for Peterson, who averaged darn near nine points a game last year but did throw in a ton of indifferent defence.

Babcock says he understands Mo Pete's frustration and his complaints about feeling unappreciated.

"When you're a free agent, you're out of a job," Babcock said. "It's a very anxious time for a player."

Still Babcock shows no sign of acquiescing.

"It's up to the board," Babcock said. "I can't tell them how to spend their money."

No, but he can -- and I'm betting will -- tell them how not to.

Poor Rob Babcock. Doesn't he know Vince Carter and Morris Peterson are two of the key elements in a 33-49 season?

How do you replace guys like that?

Six weeks on the job and Rob Babcock has yet to kiss his first heinie.

You heard it here first. This guy just isn't Raptors material.









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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