Raptors star Vince Carter is hurting these days, and not just his feelings from being booed at the Air Canada Centre. It's early in the season but already Carter is so banged up he needs to have both knees and his left Achilles iced immediately following games, and often before.
Carter was limping visibly before and after Wednesday night's game in Orlando, an embarrassing 129-108 loss to the Magic, and is so sore that any possible trades involving the long-time Raptor may be put on hold until his health improves.
"No pain for me, I'm fine," Carter said following Wednesday's game.
"Yeah, right," he added sarcasticly.
The Raptors forward/guard, who is averaging a team high 16 points per game, acknowledged the grind of a very tough early-season schedule has taken a toll on him.
The Raptors are on a six-game swing of Eastern Conference teams and face the 6-8 Boston Celtics tonight at the FleetCenter.
"That's why I do this," Carter said, gesturing toward his iced knees and feet. "It's just maintenance. I figure, just do the maintenance and continue to ice (the soreness) and let your body settle at night and it will get better."
The problem is, the Raptors have been nailed with two grinding trips in the first six weeks of the season.
That leaves the coaches with very little time to practice and the players little time to recover from injuries.
"We as athletes, it's a little tough when you get injured," Carter said. "Most people take time off and give (injuries) time to settle down. This is our way of doing it, to rely on the ice."
Raptors coach Sam Mitchell was bemoaning the lack of time he has for practice. On the current six-game, 10-day swing, he'll be lucky to get in two quality practices, which is tough for a team dealing with a new coach and three rookies.
"It can wear on you," Mitchell said. "I think I'm edgy because I feel like already we've been on the road eight days, and it has just started. But that's the schedule we have. How did we get so blessed to get this type of schedule? I have no idea. But it wasn't the man upstairs, it was the one below who gave us this schedule."
To a man, the Raptors, now 7-10, believe if they can survive the first half of the season with a record close to the .500 level, they'll be in playoff contention as the sked eases up in the second half.
"If we stay above water and not get too far behind, we should be okay," Carter said.
Trade rumours involving Carter continue to swirl, particularly one that would send him to the Chicago Bulls for Eddy Curry and/or Tyson Chandler, and others to be named later.
Orlando general manager John Weisbrod said this week the Raptors offered Carter in a trade to the Magic last summer, but Weisbrod wasn't interested.