Fiery Raptors rookie coach Sam Mitchell admitted yesterday that dealing with the emotions and personalities of his players has been more difficult than he thought it would be.
"Yeah, because this is my first experience with these guys," Mitchell said following the Raptors' practice at Continental Airlines Arena in East Rutherford, N.J., where they will play the New Jersey Nets tonight. "I don't know them, but I'm getting to learn them every day.
"It's different when you get to know them in training camp and then getting to know them in the pressure of a game. That's a big difference, because guys are emotional. When they're not playing well and you're pushing them, everybody reacts differently. So you have to learn, 'How do I get to these guys?' or what you can say and what they can handle at that moment.
"It's a learning process."
It's commonly accepted that players today are more sensitive than they used to be, but Mitchell does not necessarily buy that.
"I give Chris (Bosh, 20) a hard time," Mitchell said. "I'm on him all the time. But Chris understands where it's coming from. It's just knowing different guys. You have to learn the nature of the person you're dealing with.
"(Keeping morale up) is part of my job, but it's also (the players') job, too. I can't always be the coach, the cheerleader, the rah-rah guy, the counsellor. I can wear only so many hats."
Raptors general manager Rob Babcock did not travel with the club from Cleveland to New Jersey, opting to do some scouting instead. Babcock actively is trying to trade both Vince Carter and Jalen Rose, preferably as a package. Also, there are strong rumours out of New Orleans that the Raptors are trying to work out a deal for veteran power forward P.J. Brown. Raptors forward Donyell Marshall likely would be involved in any transaction with the Hornets, since his contract expires next summer and New Orleans is looking to rebuild for the future.