Raps enjoy life without Vince

Raptors' Jalen Rose loosens up at practice yesterday as Toronto prepares for a road game against...

Raptors' Jalen Rose loosens up at practice yesterday as Toronto prepares for a road game against the 76ers tonight. TNT reported last night that Rose may be headed to the Knicks for Penny Hardaway (Toronto Sun/Craig Robertson)

STEVE BUFFERY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 7:15 AM ET

Morris Peterson rarely says anything controversial, but the fifth-year Raptor confirmed a long held assumption about Vince Carter yesterday.

Which is ... the Raptors are a closer group with Vinsanity now plying his trade in the swamps of Jersey.

"This is a tighter-knit team, but I'm not going to say too much more about that," said Peterson, who scored a career-high 37 points against the Boston Celtics on Wednesday night. "The guys that we have now, we definitely are close."

In the months leading up to the Dec. 17 trade, which saw Carter dealt to the Nets for Eric and Aaron Williams and Alonzo Mourning, who is still soaking up the sun in south Florida, the atmosphere inside the locker room was often tense, as Carter rumours surfaced on a daily basis.

It was Vince Carter, all the time.

But with Carter gone, and the Raptors winning four of five at home, team unison seems to be the order of the day at the Air Canada Centre, and that includes some of the older players, such as Jalen Rose and Donyell Marshall.

However, according to TNT last night, the Raptors are involved in trade discussions with Minnesota, New York and Miami. According to TNT, Rose could be headed to the Knicks for veteran guard Penny Hardaway, while Marshall plus Eddie Jones could go to Minnesota, and Latrell Sprewell to Miami.

Second-year power forward Chris Bosh, who is establishing himself as one of the premier guys at the four spot in the NBA, suggested the Carter trade forced the guys to come together.

"We've always been tight. Everybody gets along with everybody. We hang out on and off the court. It's pretty much the same."

Point guard Rafer Alston agreed with Bosh about how the team has drawn together out of a need to spread the points around and play hard on defence.

"We're looking everywhere on the floor. It's a luxury having a guy like Vince or Kobe (Bryant) to draw double teams," he said. "Now we have to do it collectively."

However, veteran swing man Rose believes that too much has been made about the Raptors new-found contentment inside the locker room with the Vince Carter circus now playing in Jersey.

Rose said the Raptors weren't distracted by the rumours prior to the Dec.17 trade.

"Vince is getting a bad rap," he said.

The Raptors, 14-22, head down to Philadelphia to take on the 76ers, who sit only two games ahead of Toronto in the Atlantic Division.


Videos

Photos