Jalen's journey takes detour

BILL HARRIS -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 7:48 AM ET

Jalen Rose sat in front of his locker stall, shoulders slumped, a look of weariness and confusion on his face.

It was 5:45 p.m. yesterday, and the 11-year veteran still was digesting the news he had been yanked from the Raptors starting lineup, replaced for the home game against the Utah Jazz by newcomer Eric Williams.

Asked to describe his emotions, Rose paused.

"I'm ... uh ... disappointed about being demoted," Rose said. Then after the game, Rose went so far as to say, "To be honest, I feel like I've been shown the door."

Rose, 31, touched upon a myriad possible reasons for coach Sam Mitchell's decision to make a lineup change. Both Mitchell and Raptors general manager Rob Babcock said it was about improving the defence at the start of games, and Babcock insisted it had nothing to do with ushering Rose toward the door.

But one of Rose's theories on why the move was made was intriguing.

"You can't trade Vince Carter for two guys who don't start," Rose said.

Rose was referring, of course, to the trade that sent Carter to the New Jersey Nets last Friday for Eric Williams, Aaron Williams, Alonzo Mourning and two future first-round draft picks. Mourning likely never will play for Toronto, leaving the two Williamses as the current bounty.

Interestingly, when asked before the game about where the Williamses were going to fit in as far as the lineup was concerned, Mitchell said he hadn't even thought about it.

Meanwhile, Rose already had been told about the change, and was talking about it in the locker room.

"When you're in this situation, you're damned if you're happy about it, and you're damned if you're not happy about it," Rose said. "There's going to be the train of thought that, 'Oh, he gets paid so much money, tell him to shut up and do whatever they ask him to do.' But there's also the train of thought that you have to give yourself the best opportunity, and your team the best opportunity, for success.

"I know I'm still a starter in this league, hands down. And for me to still have to go through the situation of not being a starter ... it bothers me some."

ULTRA-SERIOUS LOOK

Rose had an ultra-serious look on his face when he entered the game nine minutes into the first quarter, and he had a great first half, producing 12 points on 5-for-6 shooting in 10 minutes. Rose played another 10 minutes in the second half, but went scoreless.

"If 20 minutes is getting the most out of me, I guess something has to give soon," Rose said. He also said he has "seen this movie before," recalling his final rocky days with the Chicago Bulls.

Meanwhile, Eric Williams had 11 points, eight rebounds and five assists in 31 minutes last night. And the Raptors won 98-86, which still is the point of it all.

Rose believes if he weren't making so much money -- $14.5 million US this season -- people might view his contributions differently. He also believes that while being part of the Michigan Fab Five in college helped to make him famous, it was a curse in the sense that people are quick to believe he's a malcontent who doesn't get along well with authority.

"I always get in a situation where there's a picture portrayed that we have to humble him first, we have to break him down first," said Rose, who said he was dressed totally in black -- including black pearl earrings -- for a reason.

Rose was featured in a lot of the Carter trade rumours, but now Carter is gone and Rose remains.

"Once you make a big move like the Vince Carter move, you can't turn around and make another move tomorrow," Rose said. "It's going to be at least a month."

Rose will be able to adjust to coming off the bench, if he makes up his mind to do so, and if that's the way it is.

But like any proud veteran, he's going to have trouble accepting it. And so he should.


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