Trade talk is a big deal

BILL HARRIS -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:21 AM ET

Jalen Rose expects the Raptors to make a major trade soon.

He's not alone.

"To be honest with you, do I feel like there probably is going to be a trade? Yes I do," the veteran swingman said after the Raptors' morning shootaround in New Jersey yesterday.

It's no secret Rose and Raptors marquee player Vince Carter, who publicly requested a trade just before training camp, are being shopped aggressively by general manager Rob Babcock.

In fact, the Raptors en masse seem to be waiting for the shoe to drop, and most of the players who say they haven't been distracted by the uncertainty aren't being totally truthful.

The month-old rumours regarding a possible multi-player deal between the Raptors and Portland Trail Blazers heated up a little again yesterday.

As you'll recall, the two clubs have kicked the tires on a transaction that might see Shareef Abdur-Rahim (who has been playing well lately) and Nick Van Exel (who has a minor hip injury) headed to Toronto.

"If there was anything concrete, I'm sure (Babcock) would have said something about it," Raptors coach Sam Mitchell said last night.

Both Carter and Rose were in the Toronto lineup for the game against the New Jersey Nets.

RICH DEALS

The Raptors would love to package Carter and Rose, but the Blazers initially balked at taking on Rose's rich contract in addition to Carter's rich contract. The contracts of Abdur-Rahim and Van Exel expire at the end of the season.

NBA sources indicated that while Babcock has spoken to many clubs about Carter and Rose, Portland still may be the most realistic fit.

That's not to say there aren't other suitors -- and the New York Knicks continue to have significant interest -- but the Raptors' inconsistent play likely has pushed Babcock into the mind-set of doing something sooner rather than later.

Carter has adopted a passive attitude toward the trade talk. He obviously is hoping something gets done, but until it does, he knows he's powerless.

It was pointed out to Carter yesterday that the first thing on everyone's minds last Saturday in Cleveland when he missed a game because of illness was that he wasn't sick at all.

People looked at each other, eyebrows raised, and whispered, "Trade?"

"That's not my problem -- I had my own problems," Carter said.

Unlike Carter, Rose acknowledged he knows exactly what is going on with all the rumours.

"I feel like there's going to be a trade," Rose reiterated. "I feel like there's going to be a trade soon. But the thing I don't like is the badger, salt-in-the-wounds tactics that go along with it.

"The thing about sports in general is that people give us this gladiator mentality that just because we're big, strong, athletic and talented, we're not human and we don't see what's being written or hear what's being said.

"I work in the media (he has some regular TV gigs) so I follow what is being written and what is being acknowledged."

Rose believes that once a player is on the block -- especially someone such as himself, who has been traded before -- that an individual's weaknesses get exaggerated in a conscious or sub-conscious effort to justify the imminent deal.

"Some nights you can look at a tape of any player, the best player in the league or the MVP, and make his cup half empty or half full," Rose said.

"I know it comes with the territory, but it's the only negative thing I hate. I guess when they see that you're headed out the door, they're ready to kick you and say, 'Oh, it was valid why they got rid of that guy.' "

Valid or invalid, the strong feeling around the NBA is that the Raptors are close to pulling the trigger.

Everyone can sense something is going to happen.

Everyone can sense something has to happen.

Over to you, Rob Babcock.


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