Raptors general manager Rob Babcock is being criticized and second-guessed for the trade he made on Friday, and now for the way he negotiated the deal.
Babcock was vilified in many circles for trading former Toronto superstar Vince Carter to the New Jersey Nets for what is, in essence, two journeymen players, an injury-plagued former all-star who may never play in Toronto and two draft picks.
His judgment came further into question when the first-year GM admitted that he agreed not to play new Raptors Eric Williams and Aaron Williams in the game yesterday afternoon against the New Jersey Nets -- even though both had arrived in Toronto in time for the game (although, as it turns out, neither player could have played until the Raptors received the report on their physicals, which they did not have by game time).
Still, Babcock admitted that wouldn't have mattered, that he agreed when he made the trade with Nets GM Rod Thorn that the Williamses wouldn't have played yesterday because Carter was unable to play for New Jersey as a result of an Achilles injury.
"I'm a strong believer in fair play in sports," Babcock said. "We could have waited and done the deal after this game but rumours were all over the place, it's easier to get the deal done right away. You discuss these things and I think it's fair that neither of the parties play in this game. I don't think it would be fair to try to manipulate a deal to try to get a win like that.
"It's a tough situation," Babcock said. "There's no doubt if the players were to play for us and Vince wasn't playing for them, it would give us a clear advantage and I don't think it's the right thing to do."
Both Williams, who are expected to play tonight in Houston, admitted that it was tough being traded, particularly given that it is the holiday season and both have families in the New Jersey area.
"The dream would have been able to finish my career back home and me being a single parent, staying close to my son," Eric Williams said. "But it's a business and we have to understand that."
Both players come to Toronto with a reputation of being hard-working defensive specialists, something the Raptors direly need.
"I come to work every night. I've never taken a day off since I've been a professional athlete and that's what I'm going to try to bring to the team," Eric Williams said. "I bring a defensive presence and I understand what it takes to win games."