Writing's on wall

BILL HARRIS -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 7:35 AM ET

Theoretically, Vince Carter could be traded on Christmas day. Now, we're not suggesting that's what's going to happen, with the Carters gathered around the dining-room table, ready to carve the turkey, only to be interrupted by a jarring, if not unwelcome, phone call.

But unlike the NHL, the NBA does not have an embargo on trades during the holidays.

Nonetheless, trades don't usually happen between Christmas and New Year's Day. But that has more to do with team executives taking time off themselves, rather than any technical limitations on roster moves.

Frankly, if the Raptors and the New York Knicks are going to get together on a Carter deal, it likely will come to a head this week.

Players who signed free-agent contracts last summer, as well as rookies, can be traded as of tomorrow (Dec. 15), according to league rules. So logically, if that's what has been holding up a Raptors-Knicks marriage, tomorrow could be the wedding day.

Regardless, the two teams continue to talk seriously about a multi-player transaction that would send Carter, Jalen Rose and one or two more players to the Big Apple for Allan Houston, Tim Thomas, Jerome (Junk Yard Dog) Williams and one or two others. Some draft picks and a few million bucks in cash might exchange hands as well.

Yes, we know Knicks general manager Isiah Thomas said on Sunday he has no intention of trading Houston, who just recently came back from a serious knee injury. But at the risk of being labelled cynical, by no means do we see Thomas' declaration as an iron-clad guarantee.

Most reports out of New York have indicated the only untouchable Knick is guard Stephon Marbury. Certainly, if Knicks centre Nazr Mohammed or guard Jamal Crawford ever were offered, Raptors general manager Rob Babcock's eyes might light up like a child on Christmas morning.

However, you can't blame Thomas for trying to dump his recycle bin on Toronto's front lawn, given the Raptors' current seven-game losing streak, their frustrated fans, their disgruntled stars, their volatile coach and the general sense of doom and despair at the Air Canada Centre, protestations of optimism notwithstanding.

Babcock claims he feels no pressure to make a deal. Insert your own punchline here.

The Raptors brass has gathered this week with some huge decisions to make. Understandably, no team wants to make a trade when it's desperate. But the Raptors may have backed themselves into a corner.

Do the Knicks represent the only realistic chance the Raptors are going to have this season of jettisoning Carter and Rose, both of whom have hefty mutli-year contracts attached to their names?

Carter could receive the gift of a change of scenery at any moment. Only then will he cast aside his psychological crutches, ignore the pain in his left Achilles, leap to his feet and cry out, "God bless us, every one!"

WEDDING BELL BLUES

The only NBA team that can challenge the Raptors in terms of goofy news is the Los Angeles Lakers. In many ways, Toronto is "L.A. East," without, you know, all the victories and the multiple championships.

Anyway, the latest soap-opera scene involves Kobe Bryant, his wife Vanessa and ex-Laker Karl Malone, who apparently made some comments to Vanessa recently that Kobe deemed to be inappropriate.

Essentially, Kobe has accused Karl of hitting on Vanessa. Among the things Malone allegedly said was, "I'm hunting for a young Mexican girl," after Vanessa -- who is a Latina -- asked him why he was wearing a cowboy hat.

Predictably, Malone's representatives have claimed he is innocent.

Without getting into an unsolvable "he-said, she-said" debate, the whole mess in L.A. brings to mind an amusing comment that spewed from the lips of a former NBA general manager, who shall remain nameless, a few years back.

In the heat of a volatile situation, where one of his player's wives was being far harder to deal with than the actual player, the exasperated GM turned to a reporter and said, "That's it! No more married guys! Single guys, we can manage. They're easy to figure out. But I can't handle the wives!"

Coincidentally, it was the mere thought of Malone, uh, "handling" Vanessa that brought Bryant to a boil.


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