Getting hit for a loss

BILL HARRIS -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:25 AM ET

Are the Raptors going to be able to get a star player in exchange for Vince Carter?

You have to wonder what the Raptors realistically can hope to obtain, given the questionable nature of some of the offers they have received recently.

It is apparent rival teams in the NBA are hoping the 7-13 Raptors are so desperate to make a change that their standards have dropped, and perhaps will continue to drop.

And according to league sources, the Raptors have dithered long enough that their ace in the hole, the Portland Trail Blazers, have adjusted their focus away from Carter and are trying to acquire Jason Kidd from the New Jersey Nets.

Much has been made in the past 36 hours about the New York Knicks supposedly maintaining, or possibly even increasing, their interest in Vince Carter.

But the Raptors would be nuts to buy what the Knicks are selling.

The Knicks have offered as many as four mid-range players -- Penny Hardaway, Moochie Norris and ex-Raptor Jerome (Junk Yard Dog) Williams presumably are involved -- plus some draft picks and cash for Carter and Jalen Rose.

The Raptors still are insisting Rose and his hefty contract be part of any deal for Carter.

With all due respect to Williams, who is beloved in Toronto, there's nothing particularly attractive about what the Knicks are peddling.

Heck, if guys like Hardaway, Norris and Williams were all that valuable, wouldn't they be playing more minutes for the mediocre Knicks?

As it stands, the best offer the Raptors received for Carter and Rose was that old one from the Blazers, and even that wasn't earth-shattering.

As you'll recall, the Raptors and Blazers have gone back and forth on a multi-player transaction that might bring the likes of Shareef Abdur-Rahim and Nick Van Exel -- both of whom have contracts that are expiring -- to Toronto.

Nothing is totally dead until some of those players get moved in other trades, but to be blunt, the Blazers are ticked at the Raptors right now for backing out on what Portland thought was a done deal involving Carter and Abdur-Rahim, but not Rose.

Meanwhile, the Raps have dropped four games in a row, their most recent setback being a painful 88-86 loss to the Nets on Monday.

The Raptors' six-game trip, on which they are 1-4 thus far, will conclude tonight against the Detroit Pistons.

The Raptors held a light workout yesterday at Oakland University in Rochester, Mich.

After the session, Raptors coach Sam Mitchell claimed ignorance when the subject of the trade rumours was broached.

When asked if the rumours make it harder for Mitchell to do his job, he responded, "No, because I have no idea what you're talking about. I talk to Rob (Babcock, Raptors general manager) every day and we haven't talked about any trades."

That could be the single most ridiculous thing Mitchell has said since he took the job.

Has Babcock told Mitchell he'll be kept informed?

"No, I'm the head coach and he would not tell me one thing about it, and I would just be surprised like everybody else," Mitchell said, sarcastically.

"Of course he would. But guys, we haven't talked about any trades, so I'm trying to figure out where all this is coming from, where this distraction is.

"Go talk to (the players). All I can tell you is what I see. To me, they are fine. They may tell you something different. If they tell you something different, do me a favour and let me know."

Oh, where to begin?

Rose: "Sometimes you over-consume yourself (with the rumours), and you go into the game and it becomes a mental burden."

Second-year forward Chris Bosh: "No matter what happens on the outside, you still have to come in and play basketball. But it's real tough."

No matter how the coach tries to spin it, the Raptors -- both the ones who are staying and the ones who presumably are going -- are in an emotional holding pattern, waiting for something to happen.

The big question: Will management have to lower its expectations to get a deal for Carter done?


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