Carter a real nightmare for Babcock

STEVE SIMMONS -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 6:54 AM ET

Rob Babcock must hate Vince Carter. I mean, wouldn't you? Here is this basketball lifer who finally gets a big NBA break, gets his own team, and everywhere he turns the same question follows him.

What are you going to do about Vince?

He turns on his radio and hears it. He turns on his television and sees it. He picks up his newspaper and reads it.

He heard it on June 7, the day he officially replaced Glen Grunwald. Not, what are you going to do with the Raptors? Not, how are you going to rebuild the soiled reputation of this franchise? Not, whom are you going to hire to coach?

Not even, who are you?

All of them, it seems, were sidebar issues.

So far, it has been 76 days and 76 nights of all-Vince, all-the-time, all consuming. The unmistakable odour from the Seinfeld car you just can't get rid of. In the meantime, Babcock has hired a coach, drafted a centre, signed a point guard, fired his scouting staff and found a way to employ most of his immediate family.

In that short time, he has found his own place to live, just not a place for Carter to go.

Imagine if it was you? Your team. Your challenge. Your job. And no matter what you do right, no matter what you think, there is this quicksand you are sinking into and you can't move forward, and you can't get going, no matter how much you wiggle. No matter what kind of brave face you put on.

Rob Babcock has waited his entire adult life for this kind of opportunity. On the day Vince Carter was born, Babcock was off coaching high school basketball at a private school in Mexico. From there it was on to another high school in Phoenix, and then one after that before vaulting all the way to a tiny college.

Before he ever spent 12 years in various capacities with the Minnesota Timberwolves and some time with the Denver Nuggets, he scouted part time in Detroit and Cleveland and Indiana and worked so long ago he actually was employed by a San Diego team in the NBA.

He has put in his time and it has taken only 29 short years for him to get the largest expense account in the office. But this one came with a shackle named Carter and without an expiry date.

On Tuesday, there was a charity golf tournament and never mind the closest-to-the-pin competition, this was all about the Raptor who wouldn't win the longest drive because he was too busy taking jump shots. Within two weeks, training camp begins. More Carter questions to follow. Will he attend? Will he play hard? How will his teammates react?

Babcock has a tough enough job making this work, rebuilding this mess, gaining public trust, suddenly being the only team of a Toronto winter, without the constant of the Carter trade request forever smothering him.

No matter how he views his team, no matter how his coach, Sam Mitchell, sees them playing, their plans are basically moot until they know the answer to the question that currently has no answer.

What are you going to do about Vince?

They can draw up a game plan. They can have short-term and long-term goals. They can believe they are headed in the right direction.

But they can't know. They can't possibly know. Until there is an answer, until a trade is made. Until they know who's going and who's coming .

Until then, Vince Carter is essentially holding Rob Babcock as basketball hostage. He can't escape. He can't move on. Some dream job.


Videos

Photos