Marshall's issue a non-starter

STEVE BUFFERY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 7:29 AM ET

As long as he's talking about his beloved Pittsburgh Steelers, Raptors forward Donyell Marshall is a happy man.

However, when the topic of conversation switches to his role with the Raptors, Marshall's smile magically disappears.

Marshall has not really come out and complained about his lack of minutes. But the Reading, Pa., native certainly isn't over the moon about the fact that he's averaging 6.7 minutes in the team's past seven games, or that he has started a total of zero times this season after starting 74 times last year.

NOT HAPPY

So the question put before the 11-year NBA veteran yesterday was: Are you happy?

"Obviously, coming off last year, probably not," Marshall said. "But I'm going to do what I can do to help this team win and let everything take care of itself. The only thing I can do is play well when I'm out there, come in here (to practice) everyday and work hard on my game, stay strong and stay positive."

There have been suggestions that Raptors GM Rob Babcock and coach Sam Mitchell have decided to give less playing time to veterans such as Marshall and centre Loren Woods in order to facilitate the development of some of the youngsters on the squad, including rookie centre Rafael Araujo -- an unofficial rebuilding phase if you will.

"The only people who know if it's a rebuilding situation or not, is Rob and Sam," Marshall said. "I'm not going to get into a pissing match. Obviously, if I say it is, Rob's going to say it's not."

Marshall, 31, is averaging 10.2 points and 6.7 rebounds this season, down four points and almost four boards from last year.

"Last year, I played consistently," he said of the difference. "I was in the game all the time. I knew when I was going to play. I knew when I wasn't going to play. The main thing is, I played consistently last year, as far as minutes."

Mitchell gets edgy when asked about individual player minutes. The first-year head coach maintains that players decide on their own playing time, based on how they play, and not just offensively.

"It's not my job to try to figure out how much time a guy needs to get going," he said. "To me, it's not what you're doing offensively (that merits playing time), it's the other things, the rebounding, the defence, how active you are.

"We're going to need Donyell," Mitchell added. "He's an excellent shooter, he can rebound for us. I'm not upset with how Donyell's playing."


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